Best of the Blogs: The Mates give their verdicts on Bitter Wheat, Present Laughter, On Your Feet & more

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, Native, Opinion, Plays, Quotes, Reviews, Sticky, Ticket recommendations by Lisa Martland

From the moment a high-profile West End opening date is announced, so begins the speculation of whether said production will deliver and meet the expectations of those theatregoers keen to see a specific performer, play or musical as early in the run as possible.

During the last week of theatre (23-30 June 2019), there have been a number of much-anticipated openings, two of which have featured popular actors whose names immediately put bums on theatre seats. In the case of Matthew Warchus’ production of Present Laughter at The Old Vic, Andrew Scott appears to have delivered exactly what the fans hoped for and helped redefine (alongside the rest of the show’s cast) a Coward classic at the same time. In contrast, the heavyweight combination of actor John Malkovich and writer/director David Mamet seems to have left both critics and audiences disappointed with one of the first mainstream dramas to tackle the #MeToo crisis.

Carrying on a new series, our editor Lisa Martland has picked out her Top Picks from the last week including Anne Cox’s thoughts on Present Laughter, while Aleks Sierz reports from Bitter Wheat.

Elsewhere the 40-plus affiliated bloggers who contribute to My Theatre Mates have been busy covering every possible style of theatre up and down the country. Subjects covered have been as diverse as Gloria Estefan’s life and career (Helen McWilliams – On Your Feet), ‘child abuse, victim blaming’ (Shane Morgan – The Hunt) and the experiences of British Vietnamese family (Rev Stan – Summer Rolls). They all make a fascinating read.

Present Laughter – The Old Vic, London
Anne Cox: “Noël Coward would have thoroughly approved of Andrew Scott’s gloriously outrageous turn as ageing matinee idol, Garry Essendine, in The Old Vic’s reinvention of Present Laughter.’
Bitter Wheat – Garrick Theatre, London
Aleks Sierz: “John Malkovich is back in town – and he’s starring in the most controversial play of the year. Trouble is, it might well also be the worst.”
On Your Feet – London Coliseum ★★★★★
Helen McWilliams: “The tale is one of love, hope, tragedy and strength as well as an abundance of musical talent. If you love Gloria Estefan you will adore this show.”
The Hunt –Almeida Theatre, London
Shane Morgan: “The Hunt will certainly divide opinion and it is loud and clear in its desire to provoke discussion. It is also an intelligently written adaptation steeped in theatricality whilst providing a nod to its source material.”
Bare: A Pop Opera – The Vaults, London
Olivia Mitchell: “The performances are strong and the music itself is extremely clever and mostly engaging. For fans of Bare this is a must to tick off your list, but I suspect it will be a bit of a marmite show.”
Dark Sublime – Trafalgar Studios, London
Shanine Salmon: “On one hand it is about fandom and the relationships fans have with celebrities but it is also about the relationships celebrities have with their work.”
Summer Rolls – Park Theatre, London
RevStan: “Actress and writer Tuyen Do’s first full length play Summer Rolls brings a story about a British Vietnamese family to a UK stage for the first time.”
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Lisa Martland
An editor, writer and critic, Lisa Martland is the founder of Vuelio top-ranked website Musical Theatre Review which she set up in 2013. She has largely single-handedly developed it into one of the UK’s must-read sites for professionals and expert followers of the sector. In 2018, Lisa also joined the Terri Paddock Group, taking on the role of editor for both MyTheatreMates and our sister musical theatre site Stage Faves. Formerly, she was deputy editor at The Stage Newspaper.

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Lisa Martland on FacebookLisa Martland on InstagramLisa Martland on RssLisa Martland on TwitterLisa Martland on Youtube
Lisa Martland
An editor, writer and critic, Lisa Martland is the founder of Vuelio top-ranked website Musical Theatre Review which she set up in 2013. She has largely single-handedly developed it into one of the UK’s must-read sites for professionals and expert followers of the sector. In 2018, Lisa also joined the Terri Paddock Group, taking on the role of editor for both MyTheatreMates and our sister musical theatre site Stage Faves. Formerly, she was deputy editor at The Stage Newspaper.