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HAY FEVER – Duke of York’s Theatre, West End

In London theatre, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

This is a play I know extremely well. My own production (“one of the best the Nuffield Theatre has housed” – Guardian) formed part of my Theatre Studies degree at Lancaster in 1973, the year Noel Coward died. I have seen every major revival, and some dodgy tours, from the splendid Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray version which first inspired me as a teenager at the Grand Theatre Leeds, to glossy London and Chichester productions with Dame Judi, Maria Aitken, Penelope Keith, Geraldine McEwan and Diana Rigg. And the awful one with Lindsay Duncan strutting about in jodhpurs.

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Review: Meat (Theatre 503, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

In the pub below the theatre, the waitress apologized that they’d run out of tomato ketchup. Two minutes in to Graham Turner’s wholly authentic performance as slaughterhouse worker Vincent whose mantra is ‘you’ve got to cut the carotid artery’ as a means of dispatching an animal, we knew why. Vincent is struggling with the grinding […]

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Review: Meat (Theatre 503, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

In the pub below the theatre, the waitress apologized that they’d run out of tomato ketchup. Two minutes in to Graham Turner’s wholly authentic performance as slaughterhouse worker Vincent whose mantra is ‘you’ve got to cut the carotid artery’ as a means of dispatching an animal, we knew why. Vincent is struggling with the grinding […]

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Review: Noel and Gertie (The Cockpit Theatre, London)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Noel and Gertie is a confection wherein the music, lyrics and play extracts of Noel Coward are used to illustrate the close friendship between the vastly talented author and his intermittent co-star but lifelong friend Gertrude Lawrence. In their stage heyday, they were as photographed, gossiped about and feted as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. […]

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Review: Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (Richmond Theatre, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

On the night an angry mob set fire to police cars and an Aldi supermarket in Tottenham it seemed wholly appropriate that the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain should not just lead in to its set with the Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy in the UK’ but actively encourage the entire Richmond audience to sing along with […]

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Review: Slay It With Music (The Space, London)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Would Bette Davis be seen dead on the Isle of Dogs? Could the East India Dock Road ever be confused with Sunset Boulevard? Only in the curious conjunction of Michael Colby’s comedy thriller musical with the slightly creepy, faintly gothic converted chapel which is ‘The Space’ theatre in London’s Docklands. The two combine in an […]

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Review: Fings Ain’t What They Used T’Be (Union Theatre, London)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

I confess it, I have previous with this show: in the mid-eighties I was in a fringe production which was selling so badly that one wet Wednesday we’d just decided to give the seven people in the audience their money back when we got a phone call to say that Lionel Bart was on his […]

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Review: Under Milk Wood (Pentameters Theatre, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

In the week they buried Elizabeth Taylor it seems appropriate to revisit Under Milk Wood, in which she appeared briefly as Rosie Probert at the height of her partnership with Richard Burton in the 1971 Technicolor version. Even though playing a bit-part, Taylor was famously difficult, refusing to travel to Fishguard where the movie was […]

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Review: Buried Child (Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Although set in the remote boondocks of Northern Illinois, on a near-derelict farm, we are not in any new territory with Sam Shephard’s ‘Buried Child’. The possibility that an outwardly-naturalistic family shelters a dark secret which through the arrival of a stranger is revealed to devastating effect over three drawn-out acts is a theatrical motif […]

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Review: Snake in the Grass (The Print Room, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

In 1985, Susan Wooldridge made her name as Daphne Manners in ‘The Jewel In the Crown’ by having a nasty shock in an overgrown garden. You turn your back for 25 years and she’s at it again this time in a tense and twisting three-hander by Alan Ayckbourn which combines his well-documented empathy with the […]

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Review: Parsifal (The ENO at The London Coliseum)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

As a first-timer at a Wagner opera (is this ‘losing my Waginity?) I wondered what was the thread that binds his audiences in such strong defence of his work, and whether I’d feel any different afterwards. The first thing to note is how expert this particular Coliseum audience was at going to the theatre. Sociable […]

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Review: Troy Boy (Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Opera may not be the new rock and roll but a phalanx of brave companies with funky modern productions in a series of fringe theatres and pubs may soon ensure that no North London landlord will be able to hold his head up at the Licensed Victuallers Association without boasting of some Puccini served up with the pork scratchings. […]

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Review: La Boheme (Soho Theatre, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

A short sprint across Leicester Square, Jonathan Miller’s new and lavish production of ‘La Boheme’ is at the Coliseum, with a cast of 40 and a magnificent two-tier revolving set. When Dr Miller himself went to see OperaUpClose’s production above a ramshackle Irish pub in Kilburn, he pronounced it a ‘revolution in opera’. Now it’s migrated […]

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Review: Iolanthe (Union Theatre, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Whilst The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance have had a number of recent and successful modern treatments, wresting the rest of the Gilbert and Sullivan canon from the dead hand of D’Oyly Carte and its historically reverential staging has proved more difficult, so Sasha Regan and her all-male company at the Union Theatre are to […]

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Review: Bells are Ringing (Union Theatre, London)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

When you examine the 1956 credentials of Bells Are Ringing: book by Comden and Green, score by Jule Styne near the top of his game three years before his impeccable ‘Gypsy’, originally directed by Jerome Robbins and choreographed by Fosse, and whose kooky comedienne star Judy Holliday beat Ethel Merman and Julie Andrews to the […]

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Review: Theatre Souk (2-4 Picton Place, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

If you’re the kind of theatregoer who likes to arrive ten minutes before curtain, settle into a red plush seat with a box of Black Magic and a programme, this is not the show for you. Although perhaps it should be. There’s been a tidal spate of ‘site specific’ theatre experience in London recently, from […]

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Review: Assassins (Union Theatre, London)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

U.S. Presidents get a raw deal from musicals … in Kaufman and Hart’s 1937 I’d Rather Be Right George M. Cohan starred as Franklin Roosevelt who despite his polio paralysis sings and dances – at least in Annie he remains confined to his wheelchair whilst the ginger moppet bawls a succession of shaky key-changes into […]

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Review: The Reindeer Monologues (Above the Stag Theatre, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, but there’s rape here tonight in Santa’s pervy wonderland … At North Pole Central, a traumatized Rudolph beats his hooves softly against the walls of his padded cell, Cupid admits his masochistic taste for the whip and describes Santa’s grotesque […]

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Review: The Northerners (Finborough Theatre, London)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

It’s general election year, the economy is reeling from the cost and shame of an unpopular war, development of radical new technology has made experienced workers too expensive to employ, and depressed wage rates for the rest. Strikes and confrontations between management and unions have become the order of the day … But this is […]

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Review: Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi (Union Theatre, London)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Ever since Garbo leaned against the door-jamb of her luxury suite and murmured ‘I want to be alone’, the glamour and intrigue of Grand Hotels has captured public imagination. In Liverpool, the landmark Adelphi Hotel had its profile boosted by carriage trade from the ocean liners arriving from the New World and statesmen, gangsters and […]

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