News, Reviews and Features


These are all of our in-house news and features as well as syndicated article excerpts from our 45+ theatre bloggers. You can also access All Our Mates' Posts in comprehensive list form and view individual author pages.

NEWS: Major cast changes for The Phantom of the Opera

In London theatre, Musicals, News, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

From Monday 7 September 2015, there will be major cast changes in the smash hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical“THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA” at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End. John Owen-Jones returns as ‘The Phantom’ from Monday 7 September 2015 having most recently played the part in the spectacular new production of the show on tour in the …

RICHARD II – Shakespeare’s Globe

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Richard II is one of Shakespeare’s great treats and, for
this writer at least, contains some of his most beautiful writing as well as
one of the more fascinating storylines in the canon. Somehow though, this is my
first experience of seeing it performed live. I’ll confess to having trouble picturing
Charles Edwards as Richard.  I’ve always enjoyed Edwards’ work but this is
a little bit different to his recent roles.

Thankfully I was wrong (and not for the first time) to be
concerned! We’ve seen petulant Richards, childlike Richards and recently Ben
Whishaw’s ethereal monarch in the BBC’s majestic Hollow Crown series. Edwards gives us Richard the bon-vivant, letting
loose with sardonic asides that his pandering courtiers fall over themselves to
laugh at. He’s lost in his own world and thinks himself hilarious, making his
eventual fall all the more harrowing. When he realises he is lost and bids his
followers sit with him and tell stories of former kings it’s harrowing,
especially when, with a lost look on his face he reaches out and clutches the
hand of an audience member.

David Sturzaker,
who shone earlier this year as Gratiano in Shakespeare’s
Globe
’s Merchant of Venice is excellent as Bolingbroke, merciless in the
face of those who wrong him he nevertheless seems reluctant to take power until
he realises it is his only choice.

Director Simon Godwin
balances the humour and the sorrow well, taking pains to ensure that the
funnier lines hit home. Sadly the dramatic moments fall a little flat as
several of the cast seem hell bent on reducing the running time by gabbling
through their lines as if they might miss their train home. The exception is William Gaunt who delivers his namesake’s
fervent elegy to his homeland as a masterclass in understated grief.

Gaunt’s passionate dismissal of Richard “Live in thy shame, but die not
shame with thee!

cuts like a knife and still rings in the ears when the former sovereign meets
his end.

NEWS: The RSC Announce Full Casting For Henry V

In London theatre, News, Plays, Regional theatre by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

It won’t shock any of our readers to hear we’re very excited about The RSC presenting Henry V as part of their winter season. Their Henry IV was a highlight of 2014 and both productions, alongside the acclaimed Richard II from a few years back, head to London for an exciting run of the “Henries” cycle!

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, continues his exploration through Shakespeare’s History plays as he directs Henry V, opening in Stratford-upon-Avon, before being broadcast to cinemas and transferring to the Barbican in London.

Alex Hassell, who played Prince Hal in both productions of Henry IV and recently played Biff Loman in Doran’s production ofDeath of a Salesman, plays the title role of King Henry.

Doran’s History tetralogy culminates in January 2016 at the Barbican in London, with a major theatrical event marking the start of the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death, King & Country, a complete 4-play season cycle of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V playing in repertoire. Following the Barbican season, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V tour to China and are then re-joined by Richard II in Spring 2016 for an exclusive season in the US, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

The RSC is delighted to announce J.P. Morgan as the Global Tour Premier Partner for all four productions. J.P. Morgan will be supporting the upcoming tour in the UK, US and China where the RSC will perform Shakespeare’s History Plays.

October 2015, also marks the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt whilst Henry V performs in Stratford-upon-Avon, bringing added resonance to the play which uses the battle as the famous centrepiece of Henry V’s reign.

With the start of rehearsals for Henry V, the RSC begins the first pilot in the initiative to produce new, theatrically viable, Chinese translations of all Shakespeare’s 36 plays, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the First Folio in 2023. The RSC will create the translations in collaboration with Chinese writers and translators, who will be embedded into the RSC’s rehearsal process. Professor Zhang Chong, from Shanghai’s Fudan University will be the translator for Henry V working alongside playwright and Deputy General Manager of Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, Nick Yu.

The full cast for Henry V includes: Daniel Abbott (Gloucester/Monsieur le Fer); Martin Bassindale (Boy); Antony Byrne(Pistol); Sean Chapman (Exeter); Oliver Ford Davies (Chorus), Nicholas Gerard-Martin (Orleans/Bishop of Ely); Robert Gilbert (Dauphin); Alex Hassell (Henry V); Jim Hooper (Canterbury/Erpingham); Jennifer Kirby (Katherine); Jane Lapotaire(Queen Isobel); Sam Marks (Constable of France); Dale Mathurin (Bates/Bedford); Chris Middleton (Nym/Warwick/Governor of Harfleur); Evelyn Miller (Rambures/Lady-in-Waiting); Keith Osborn (Montjoy/Scroop); Sarah Parks (Mistress Quickly);Leigh Quinn (Alice); Joshua Richards (Bardolph/Fluellen); Simon Thorp (King of France); Obioma Ugoala (Grey/Gower);Andrew Westfield (Westmoreland/MacMorris) and Simon Yadoo (Cambridge/Williams/Jamy).

The Henry V Company will perform across all four plays of the King & Country cycle and are joined by David Tennant (Richard II); Julian Glover (John of Gaunt); Jasper Britton (Bolingbroke/Henry IV); Matthew Needham (Harry Percy/Hotspur/Mowbray) and Emma King (Lady-in-Waiting/Lady Mortimer/Doll Tearsheet).

The productions are designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis with lighting by Tim Mitchell. The music is composed by Paul Englishby with sound by Martin Slavin. The Movement director is Mike Ashcroft and the Fight director is Terry King.

Henry V will be broadcast ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ to cinemas in collaboration with Picturehouse Entertainment on 21 October 2015

To book tickets call 01789 403493 or online at www.rsc.org.uk

RICHARD II – Shakespeare’s Globe

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Shakespeare’s Globe, London

****

Written by William ShakespeareDirected by Simon Godwin
Charles Spencer
Simon Godwin hones his focus in on the fallible nature of authority, in a smartly paced production with plenty of humour. His Richard II is an examination of the facets of hierarchy and begs the audience to consider the true origins of power. Is the right of Kings truly a gift from God? Or is it an innate and simplistic ability to rule justly and fairly, possessed of any man willing to seize the opportunity? Therein lies the central conflict between Charles Spencer’s enigmatic Richard and David Sturzaker’s earnest Bolingbroke. 
Designer Paul Wills has crafted a technically intelligent set, casing every wall and pillar in a slightly decayed gold leaf. The extravagant opulence of Richard’s court is immediately captured in the garishly blanket plating of every surface, yet the hidden rot of his rule is also reflected in the decay. Just as the surface of the very walls is aged and scratched, so Richard’s personal façade can only last so long. Richard himself, clad as he is in light creams and further gold, often disappears into his own throne, lost in the architecture of his surroundings and blind to the threats of the more darkly clad Bolingbroke, Northumberland and Willoughby. 
As Richard, Charles Spencer’s central performance captures the glib swagger of a man raised in a form of regal captivity. We see the young boy crowned in a coronation prologue and in so doing understand Richard’s inability to see beyond the needs of his immediate entourage and desires. He is not inherently selfish, simply a man told since his pre-pubescent years that his actions are the will of God. Spencer is especially strong when physically handing over the crown to Bolingbroke. The former king is reduced to a linen clad waif, not mad, simply unable to fathom the recent turn of events. Spencer delicately portrays the sickened confusion of a man who has lost his spiritual foundation. 
Godwin keeps the play motoring along and whilst a couple of actors seem to slightly rush their lines, it gives the production a sense of welcome pace and comedy. Exchanges between Richard and his courtiers are fired off with precise timing and a catty wit. These scheming felines spit snide remarks behind closed doors and in one scene cackle over some odd catwalk-like entertainment. It all feels very ‘high fashion mogul’. There are also some fantastically funny set pieces that lift what could’ve been a rather drab second act. Sarah Woodward and William Chubb, as the Duchess and Duke of York, do fine work on their knees in a farcical squabble over their sons’ misdeeds, whilst the biggest laugh of the night came from a sequence involving as many thrown gauges as you are likely to see in a single scene. 
If the production lacks anything, it is perhaps a degree of narrative investment. Sturzaker’s Bolingbroke is likeable and well acted, but lacks that enigmatic zeal that would convince an audience of his ability to rally the disgruntled Lords to his cause. Also, both the Dukes of Richard’s court and Bolingbroke’s eventual sympathisers lack a sense of individual identity. They blur into a mass of camp malevolence and haughty aggression respectively, which robs the play of a sense of character depth. 
This aside, Richard II delivers in terms of a charismatic central performance from Charles Spencer and a slick sense of pace throughout. Godwin’s direction has clarity and his deft touch for the light-hearted encourages the audience to find humour in the pomp and reverence of sovereignty, as well as pity for a young boy King doomed by ideals thrust upon him.

Runs until 18th OctoberGuest reviewer: Will Clarkson
Photo credit: Johan Persson

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER – The Glory

In Cabaret, London theatre, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

With David Suchet currently bashing Lady Bracknell’s back doors in in the West End it seems almost a logical sequence that trash drag supremo Jonny Woo should assail Katharine Hepburn’s New Orleans matriarch role in Suddenly Last Summer.  Except he looks nothing like Kate, veering instead towards a creamy mash of Hattie McDaniel in Gone […]

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Review: Elio Pace – The Billy Joel Songbook (RIchmond Theatre)

In Cabaret, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

A shouty songbook show with a 1980s ‘Opportunity Knocks’ loser? Of hard rock? On a Sunday night? At the arse end of the District Line? What have I done to deserve this? Even though I’m a long-time Billy Joel fan, the prospect of a soundalike gig on the wrong side of town felt like a mission. The […]

The post Review: Elio Pace – The Billy Joel Songbook (RIchmond Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

Review: Elio Pace – The Billy Joel Songbook (RIchmond Theatre)

In Cabaret, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

A shouty songbook show with a 1980s ‘Opportunity Knocks’ loser? Of hard rock? On a Sunday night? At the arse end of the District Line? What have I done to deserve this? Even though I’m a long-time Billy Joel fan, the prospect of a soundalike gig on the wrong side of town felt like a mission. The […]

The post Review: Elio Pace – The Billy Joel Songbook (RIchmond Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

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NEWS: Union Theatre revives Madness musical Our House, 19 Aug-12 Sep

In London theatre, Musicals, News, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

The 2003 Olivier Award-winning Madness musical Our House, with a book by Tim Firth, is revived Off West End at London’s Union Theatre, for a limited season from 21 August to 12 September 2015 (previews from 19 August). It’s directed by Michael Burgen, with choreography by William Whelton and musical direction by Richard Baker. Sasha Regan produces.

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NEWS: Robert Powell stars in autumn tour of Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III

In London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases, Regional theatre, Touring by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Following critically acclaimed sell-out runs at the Almeida Theatre and in the West End, King Charles III embarks on a UK tour this autumn. Robert Powell will take on the role of King Charles. The production opens on 4 September 2015 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and then visits Richmond Theatre, Newcastle Theatre Royal, Nottingham Theatre Royal, Milton Keynes Theatre, Cambridge …

MACK AND MABEL – Chichester Festival Theatre

In Musicals, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

This is a tale of romance and of the lure of cinema: tricky on the stage. Mack Sennet, a clownish film director, is losing his beloved star, Mabel Normand, to the dreaded, meatier features. He leaves the emotion and the drama to the other directors, he says: DW Griffiths and the like. The issue is that, as Sennet would have wanted, Mack and Mabel is all performance and little gut. Extremely talented people are behind this production, but the material they chose does them little favours.