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.

I WENT TO A FABULOUS PARTY – King’s Head

In Edinburgh Festival, London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Fridays aren’t serious reviewing nights and the friend who suggested this piece to me described it as “some shit for gays” which despite our shared and enthusiastic homosexuality is the shorthand we use for frothy-to-filthy comedies of the sort often presented at venues in Vauxhall. But the King’s Head was on the way to a nice restaurant, so what the hell, and it’s a preview for the Edinburgh Fringe which may save me the bother of two urticarious weeks in midge-ridden Scotland.

Diary of a theatre addict: 11 shows across 8 days – (nearly) all great! A record?

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

Across the eight days and nights between last Sunday and tonight, I’ll have seen 11 shows, and (excepting tonight which I’ve not seen yet and one of which was a critics’ preview and I’m therefore not in a position to comment publicly on yet), I’ve loved eight out of the nine. That’s an incredible strike record for one week, and one of those runs of great shows that you only dream of. It helps, of course, that I was playing catch up on six of them, so I was in (comparatively) safer hands than going blind to yet-to-be reviewed shows. But there’s also a fear that a show won’t live up to the good reviews youv’e already read and absorbed.

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DREAMERS – Oldham Coliseum

In Manchester, Musicals, Regional theatre, Reviews by Kristy StottLeave a Comment

Oldham Coliseum is proud to present the world premiere of Dreamers, a new musical set in the 1990’s written by Cathy Crabb and Lindsay Williams. The narrative is set around Oldham’s legendary nightclub Dreamers – the only indie club in town, famed for its music, the variety of the people who went there and the bouncer who kept everyone under control. If you were around Oldham in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s – you probably have a few stories to tell about Dreamers too and this production is certainly loaded with witty humour, warmth and nostalgia, giving the Oldham audience a cheerful trip down memory lane.

NEWS: Kneehigh’s Rebecca Heads to The Mayflower

In by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

REBECCA is
timeless; the book beloved by generations and the iconic Alfred
Hitchcock Oscar winning film a classic. Now REBECCA arrives on the stage! Emma
Rice, the award winning director, has created a spellbinding new production of
Daphne du Maurier’s masterpiece which conjures Cornish romance and theatrical
magic. REBECCA is at Mayflower Theatre from 30 November – 5
December 2015.

Following the
mysterious death of his first wife, Maxim de Winter returns to Manderley with
his new young bride. Surrounded by memories of the glamorous Rebecca, the
new Mrs De Winter is consumed by jealousy. She sets out to uncover
the secrets of the house and a past fiercely guarded by the sinister
housekeeper Mrs Danvers. All is not what it seems in Manderley… 

The cast is led by TRISTAN
STURROCK
as Maxim de Winter, EMILY RAYMOND as Mrs Danvers with
Richard Clews, Katy Owen, Ewan Wardrop, Andy Williams,
Lizzie Winkler
and introducing IMOGEN SAGE as Mrs de Winter.

Tristan Sturrock originated the
roles of Alec in Brief Encounter and Tristan in Tristan & Yseult and
has gone on to play both in the West End and across the UK, America and
Australia. His one man show Mayday Mayday has played successful
seasons in Edinburgh and New York.

Kneehigh Theatre is
one of the country’s most celebrated companies. Based in Cornwall, just a stone
throw’s from Daphne du Maurier’s home, the company has grown from humble
beginnings and has carved a global reputation for their extraordinary shows.
They have created productions with the National Theatre and the Royal
Shakespeare Company and their international hits include Trsitan &
Yseult
and Brief Encounter. Talking about Tristan & Yseult, The
Guardian said that “if this show doesn’t make you fall in love with the
theatre, there’s no potion on Earth that can help you”.

The multi-award
winning creative team is led by EMMA RICE, Kneehigh Theatre’s Joint
Artistic Director. Known for her “remarkably inventive, eye-catching
theatricality”
(San Francisco Chronicle), Emma’s credits include The Red
Shoes, Don John, Brief Encounter
and Tristan & Yseult.

Design is by LESLIE
TRAVERS whose credits include Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach. Lighting
design is by TIM LUTKIN, winner of the 2014 Olivier Award for Chimercia. Sound
design and original music is by Olivier Award winner SIMON BAKER and casting by
SARAH BIRD.

Rebecca is presented by David Pugh & Dafydd
Rogers, the multi-award winning producers of ‘Art’, Brief Encounter, God of
Carnage
and Calendar Girls in association with Steve & Jenny
Wiener. A Theatre Royal Plymouth production.

Tickets for Rebecca
Mon 30 November – Sat 5 December are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office
tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk. Ovation Restaurant bookings: 02380 711833

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THE DRIVER’S SEAT – Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

In London theatre, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

The National Theatre of Scotland’s adaptation of Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat has a righteous fury, combined with a drive born out of cleverly harnessed technology and a tight ensemble. However, it does not always seem sure of itself and as a result is a curiosity rather than a convincing piece of theatre. Taking a stress-induced holiday from her job in an unspecified ‘North’, Lise travels to Naples, apparently seeking romance. It is not much of a spoiler to say she will end up murdered, as we are told this very early on. Instead the focus is on how and why this will happen.

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FACE THE MUSIC – Ye Olde Rose and Crown

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

History Lesson: there’s no shortage of backstage musicals. There’s no shortage of musicals set in the Depression or prohibition era either – from Annie to Chicago to Windy City everyone from the Gershwins (who did it in Of Thee I Sing) on down has had a crack at it, and our home-grown Phil Wilmott is just about to launch one actually called Prohibition.

FACE THE MUSIC – Ye Olde Rose and Crown

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

History Lesson: there’s no shortage of backstage musicals. There’s no shortage of musicals set in the Depression or prohibition era either – from Annie to Chicago to Windy City everyone from the Gershwins (who did it in Of Thee I Sing) on down has had a crack at it, and our home-grown Phil Wilmott is just about to launch one actually called Prohibition.

Two Jacks – Review

In London theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

***
Written and directed by Bernard Rose

Jack Huston
There’s a stylish cast and concept to Two Jacks, out this month from Bernard Rose.
Taking an idea from Tolstoy’s Russian fable The Two Hussars, Rose pitches his tale straight into a genre of updated Hollywood noir. It makes for  neat conceit and in a movie set entirely in and around Tinseltown, the atmosphere Rose that creates of smoke filled poker parlours, bare-fisted brawls and beautiful women casually seduced, could be straight out of Raymond Chandler. 
There is a hint of real life imitating the art on screen, for as the story tells of fictional wild film director Jack Hussar seducing the beautiful Diana (a sizzlingly demure performance from Sienna Miller) and who, years later sees his son Jack Jnr return to become entangled with Diana’s daughter, Rose casts Danny Huston to play the older man, with his nephew Jack playing the younger man. That both men are direct descendants of legendary director John Huston contributes to the story’s grit and that Danny Huston, in both appearance and demeanour bears more than a passing resemblance to Jeremy Clarkson, only adds to the tale.   
Two Jacks’ womanising, gambling, alcohol and thundery rainstorms are timeless nods to Hollywood’s darker side and with Jacqueline Bissett playing the (much older) Diana many years into the plot, the classy credentials of Rose’s cast are only enhanced.
Whilst the movie is mostly chic and the acting a delight, Rose is let down by occasional script naiveties and also a budgetary constraint (I guess ?) that sees him not only write and direct, but also photograph and edit the movie too. That’s unfortunate for there are moments of poor continuity, lighting and focus-pulling, that would never have made it out of a decent film school, let alone form part of a commercial release.
Bringing the picture straight out to the DVD and download markets after playing the festivals a couple of years ago is probably wise, with Two Jacks making for a wonderfully romantic movie, beautifully performed.

Out on DVD and download 29th JuneTrailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4qMZy3wFwg&feature=youtu.be

The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) – Review

In London theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

ALERT:

THIS REVIEW COMMENTS UPON A VIOLENT HORROR MOVIE
IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED, OR OF A SENSITIVE DISPOSITION, THEN PLEASE DO NOT READ ON

Certificate 18
***

Written and directed by Tom Six

Dieter Laser
The Human Centipede 3 – Final Sequence (HC3) marks the last chapter of Tom Six’s trilogy of everyday folk who find themselves joined, stitched mouth-to-anus, to their fellow citizens. Throughout his series, Six has tended to play fast and loose with the word “centipede”. His first movie’s creature featured only 6 legs (formed of three unfortunates) whilst the beast in Final Sequence, formed of 500 souls, sports 2,000 limbs- but this is Hollywood so what’s a leg-count here or there anyway?
The movies’ notoriety has snowballed with each emerging sequel. HC1 took a “traditionally” horrific take on Six’s vision, with German actor Dieter Laser portraying the deranged Doctor Heiter, who was to hand-craft the first creature, in an unflinchingly dark movie.
HC2’s raison d’etre could not have been more corny, even if its metier was still born of a heart of darkness. Laurence R Harvey played Martin, a ghastly misfit, who is introduced to us watching a DVD of HC1, before going on to replicate Heiter’s experiment himself. 
With the third film, Six adopts an end of term/semester approach to the concept. Where HCs 1 and 2 were dark, Final Sequence lobs in some ironic comedy and in so doing offers us what is possibly (and literally) the most tongue in cheek film ever made. 
Set in a prison in the southern USA, Six indulges himself with an outrageous grindhouse satire. Think of 2011’s Hobo With A Shotgun that starred Rutger Hauer and you start to get an idea of ​​Six’s skewed reality.
As a further nod to the franchise’s heritage, both Laser and Lawrence return. This time the German plays Bill Boss, the stetson toting prison governor (deranged, natch) who also sports a phallus-replacing six-shooter, with Harvey as Dwight, his trusted sidekick accountant. When Dwight suggests that a human centipede would make for an ideal punishment in addition to incarceration, the movie takes off . 
Along the way, Six makes no bones about offending and exploiting everybody. Men and women alike are horrifically violated (there is no one-side sexploitational misogyny here), religion is mocked, with Hollywood B-listers Bree Olson and Eric Roberts adding to the carnage.
A satirical sub-theme hints at the story offering a version of violent and medieval punishment that much of the USA’s right of centre population would happily see meted out to criminals. Six has to tread this particular mockery carefully especially as he is on record (and confirmed in a movie cameo) as saying that the idea of ​​the centipede came to him initially, as an appropriate form of punishment for paedophiles. 
There’s minimal CGI on display here and what you see is the action that Six has photographed. Those with an insatiable appetite for taboo-busting cinema that includes, amongst other moments, scenes of castration, boiling-waterboarding and the eating (literally eating, this ain’t porn) of both genders’ genitalia will be more than entertained by what Six, his designer Rodrigo Cabral and their uber-talented special effects team have come up with. Oh, and just like in real life, the bad guy comes out on top too.
If you like your horror bloody yet still ridiculously overdone, you won’t be disappointed. 

In cinemas from 10th July
Trailer http://youtu.be/xr-31o8xXqY

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KAFKA’S MONKEY – HOME, Manchester

In Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Kristy StottLeave a Comment

There are not many performers who could accomplish what Kathryn Hunter has achieved in this version of Kafka’s A Report to The Academy, interpreted for the stage by Colin Teevan and masterfully directed by Walter Meierjohann – her transformation to a monkey is beyond physically impressive. Hunter is wholly mesmerising throughout the performance- from the top of her jaunty bowler hat right down to the tips of her crooked fingers when she extends her hand to greet. She holds a command over the language and projects it with a rich and expressive tone of voice and incredible physicality. From the moment that we first see her shuffle across the stage, her body depicts a bewildered beast trapped halfway between ape and human. Hunter performs with wit and precision – furrowing her brow, her arms swinging and contorting uncomfortably and her loping gait – every sinew of her body works to create an entity trapped between the two different states of being. Startled by the world, she exhales heavily through her nostrils admitting that questioning freedom “leads to the most profound disillusionment”.

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The Mates welcome criticism, especially of ourselves

In Features, London theatre, Native, News, Opinion, Quotes, Regional theatre by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Terri Paddock today responded to Megan Vaughan’s recent article in The Stage on MyTheatreMates’s “damaging business practices” – and here she explains why, however fallacious, she welcomes Megan’s harsh criticism. This is a full version of Terri’s piece – as well as links to the two articles for The Stage.

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NEWS: The 39 Steps ends nine-year run at Criterion Theatre on 5 Sep

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

On Saturday 5 September 2015, The 39 Steps will close after nine years at the West End’s Criterion Theatre. Based on John Buchan’s 1914 spy thriller The Thirty Nine Steps and adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow (Desmond Oliver Dingle/The National Theatre of Brent), The 39 Steps is directed by Maria Aitken, with design by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Ian Scott, sound by Mic Pool, and movement by Toby Sedgwick.