Benny And Hitch concentrates on the turbulent relationship between the director and his often first choice composer, Bernard Herrmann. They worked together on an unbroken stretch of eight films from 1955 to 1964 and the composer also contributed to the TV shows made concurrently.
‘Often finds the sweet spot between the comedy & tragedy’: THE WALWORTH FARCE – Southwark Playhouse Elephant
Writer John Mortimer once said “Farce is tragedy played at a thousand revolutions per minute”, a notion which Enda Walsh seems to have taken to heart in his 2006 play The Walworth Farce at the Southwark Playhouse Elephant, featuring, as it does, distinct elements of both to provide a fascinating hybrid.
‘The plot veers from the ridiculous to the outrageous’: WINDFALL – Southwark Playhouse
Although Windfall at the Southwark Playhouse purports to be a farcical comedy, I only found myself intermittently chuckling; the rest of the time I sat with my metaphorical head in my metaphorical hands.
‘It is in the scripting that proceedings stumble’: WINNER’S CURSE – Park Theatre
The latest piece to grace the stage of the Park Theatre is a curious beast, and no mistake. Taking the form of a (fictional) lecture with illustrative acted examples, a healthy dose of audience focused exercises and with a generally high level of comic content, Winner’s Curse never quite makes up its mind what it wants to be or is trying to do.
‘A time for making discoveries about oneself’: TALKING HANDS – Deafinitley Theatre (Online show)
The lockdown experience was, of course, an infinitely lonely and disturbing one for many and involved living life rather differently. It was also a time for making discoveries about oneself and that is one of the key themes running through Talking Hands, five short pieces (average playing time, 20 minutes) from Deafinitley Theatre.
‘Chilling & contemporary’: NOTRE DAME – The Space (Online review)
Ever since Covid’s early days pioneering company Threedumb Theatre has developed and sustained the idea of the one shot livestream; this is unedited and raw but captures much of the spontaneity and edge which comes with live performance. Their latest, Notre Dame, is probably their most ambitious.
‘Can leave the listener wanting & needing more’: OUR VOICES – Small Truth Theatre (Online show)
Small Truth Theatre has commissioned a series of micro plays recorded as part of its Digital Caravan space (their original mini theatre on wheels being decommissioned because of the need for social distancing). About a month ago they put out a new set of material under the umbrella title of Our Voices consisting of four short pieces inspired by interacting with young people in and around the company’s north Kensington home.
‘Will ring more than a few bells’: Interdimensional Phishing Scam/Penumbra – Chronic Insanity (Online review)
It’s been an absolute age (well, about a year anyway) since I visited those innovative people at Chronic Insanity. They are well known for pushing boundaries of the possible in both live and digital situations. And that’s not to mention the sheer amount of work they produce; the aim is 12 pieces of drama every year.
‘Definitely an ensemble piece’: BEDROOM FARCE – BBC Sounds (Online review)
One of Alan Ayckbourn’s biggest ever successes, 1975’s Bedroom Farce, has only just made the transition in an entertaining production from Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres which premiered in two parts across New Year’s Eve/Day. It is now available via BBC Sounds.
‘An engagingly intimate production’: SALT-WATER MOON – Finborough Theatre
If you want to see a couple of young actors bringing truth and sincerity to a well structured piece of dialogue and elevate it towards the stars which provide a backdrop to this piece, then head for the Finborough for Salt-Water Moon.
‘Being right at the heart of what is happening’: Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience – Old Metal Exchange
The War Of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience from experts in the field Layered Reality takes H.G. Wells’ famous novel, adds a heavy layer of input from the famous 1978 concept album masterminded by Jeff Wayne and has its audiences (in groups of no more than a dozen) moving through 24 separate scenes in the remnants of an old Metal Exchange in the heart of London’s financial district.
‘The social divide is front & centre’: A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY – BBC iPlayer (Online Show)
What is certain is that if you want an account that’s faithful to the spirit (sorry!) of the original but doesn’t let proceedings drag on (it comes in at under two hours without missing much out) then Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story is certainly worth your attention.
‘Excellent characterisation’: GREY MAN – Online Review
It’s that time of year when days get shorter, nights get longer and tale telling revolves around the supernatural. Just a couple of days ago the last thing I saw on stage, Here, was (partly) a modern day take on the ghost story. Now for good measure comes Grey Man, a piece of digital theatre written by Lulu Raczka, which investigates similar spooky territory. The piece has been subtitled “A Stage And Screen Experiment” which, as it turns out, is exactly what it is.
‘Contains some remarkable writing’: HERE – Southwark Playhouse
When individual members of a family are facing a variety of problems, can looking back at their collective past help to resolve matters or does that simply serve to make things worse? This is the premise behind Here by debut playwright Clive Judd, the 2022 winner of the Papatango Prize for new writing currently in production on Southwark Playhouse’s main stage
‘The central performance is phenomenal’: THE POLTERGEIST – Arcola Theatre
Philip Ridley’s The Poltergeist is an irresistibly restless creation which emulates the troublesome violent spirit conjured up by the title. The firework cracking solo piece has had a checkered history. It was first produced at Southwark Playhouse where its run was stymied by Covid lockdown but played out in a deserted auditorium to broadcasting cameras for a criminally brief three performances; it blew away the competition to scoop the Off West End OnComm award for a live streamed piece. It then became an on demand video which has haunted the recesses of the internet ever since and been spoken of with increasing admiration for those of us who saw its glorious beginnings.
‘Hauntingly different & mostly in a very good way’: THE DARKFIELD TRILOGY – Canary Wharf
Darkfield promoted site specific theatre even when we couldn’t actually go anywhere. Their neat answer was to get you using spaces in your own home or in permitted public places such as a park bench. Now they’ve gone back to an idea which they used prior to the great lockdown with a trio of short pieces taking place in converted shipping containers currently located in Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands.
’An impression of these literary figures at the height of their powers’: STUMPED – Original Theatre (Online show)
Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett meet in a cricket pavilion and end up as trapped as some of the characters in their plays
‘Experience it if you can’: ROSE – Park Theatre
September 2020 and the pandemic was quietly raging. So too was Maureen Lipman in Hope Mill Theatre’s online production of Martin Sherman’s intense monologue Rose; her performance was routinely recognised as a tour de force. The piece won many plaudits including an Off West End Offie and featured as one of my 20 For 2020. Since then it has been restreamed more than once and also appeared on Sky Arts – indeed it is still available on their catch up channel Now TV. But for the real undisputed deal, and if you’re near enough, head to the Park Theatre in Islington where the production is playing until mid-October.
‘Comic invented history which entertains & informs’: Three Women & Shakespeare’s Will / Mrs Pack (Online Show)
Three Women & Shakespeare’s Will comes from the pen of Joan Greening who has made something of a speciality of writing about historical figures connected to the arts, albeit in imaginary settings/situations. Thus in recent years she has given us the relationship dynamics of three literary sisters in At Home With The Brontës and a trio of Rosetti’s Women and their influence on the titular painter.
‘Out of the ordinary’: ODDS ON – Touring (Online Show)
So, it was with a sense of keen anticipation that I approached Dante Or Die’s latest piece entitled Odds On which is currently on a “digital tour”. It’s a piece about the world of online gambling and its effects on an individual who gets sucked into a vortex and only narrowly avoids disaster. Having revelled in their earlier piece, and noting that Tim Crouch was on board as the project’s dramaturgist, I expected it to be out of the ordinary – and it was.