I’m well overdue for a theatre diary, aren’t I? So here goes with a quick one on more new plays I’ve seen in recent (and not-so recent) weeks that I’d recommend catching and haven’t yet managed to squeeze in to separate blogs.
New drama about traumatic amnesia is based on a good idea, but is just too bland to stay long in the memory.
In a hospital bed lies Michael: Alistair McGowan, motionless in a coma, we learn, for three weeks. His mother Carol (Maggie Ollerenshaw) holds his hand, has been sleeping in a chair and tending the flowers on his nightstand. Enter – with competing flowers – the third player Paul (Daniel Weyman).
This special annual edition reviews the highs and lows of the 2015 London theatregoing year, including assessments of the programming at flagship institutions and trends in the West End, Off-West End, fringe and beyond.
Tom Conti and Laurence Fox will star in the world premiere production of The Patriotic Traitor, opening at London’s Park Theatre 17 February – 19 March, with a press night on 23 February.
When news of the Park Theatre’s pantomime, Rapunzel, came through earlier this year, I remember clocking the name of the hero character Prince Corbyn – names are never a coincidence when it comes to pantomimes, surely? But had naming considerations also played a part in casting the role? Finding an actor named Alex Hope to […]
I’m a bit late on the curve catching this, but it runs all week with two more matinees, so Roll up! Shudder as you savour the freakish world of celebrity PR agents, tup’n tell journalism, fake reality-shows, slut-shaming, and career dieting . Meet some of the most topically revolting of contemporary male characters: all but one equipped with seriously wrong beards, from the Mark Thompson Bristle to the Russell Brand Silkie. Applaud the author’s creation of four cracking female parts, alongside and agin these monsters.
Richard, one of the central characters in Daniel Dingsdale’s debut play Dark Tourism (like me) has a thing for quotations. The irony is that he’s a peddler of lowest common denominator culture, a “celebrity” PR with a hotline to the tabloids, who once dreamed of high-brow literary success.
It would be easy to dismiss Roaring Trade as ‘Boring Trade’, a 2009 quadrille for four unpleasant people in a dealing room which was stale long before the recession cut the rug from under bond trading.
Analysis of its theatrical failures is more complex: the set has the feel of ‘Enron’ but random scrolling data on a projected Bloomberg screen is neither realistic nor kinetic – post-Curious Incident we expect far more from back projection.
On this week’s bumper podcast, the London theatre bloggers discuss West End musicals Kinky Boots and Dusty, as well as Off-West End plays Hatched ‘n’ Dispatched, The Man Who Had All the Luck and And Then Come the Nightjars.
‘Write what you know’ remains the best advice to any author and the story of how Michael Kirk picked up the plot of Hatched ‘n Dispatched from his 9-year-old observations of sexual shenanigans round the back of the Railway Institute in Derby is priceless. But years of exposure to sitcoms and pantomime mean his script, particularly in the larkier first half, can sound derived: the moment when Wendi Peters as grotesque matriarch Dorothy sends her daughters into the kitchen to cut sandwiches for a funeral with “you slice, I’ll butter” is lifted directly from an early Victoria Wood standup routine.
It is 1959, Arthur is dead and as his family gather for the wake, there are drunken giggles to be had and secrets to be spilled. They don’t write ‘em like this any more and more’s the bloody pity, for in his debut full length play Michael Kirk together with Gemma Page has captured a slice of British social history, hinting at the incisiveness that once hallmarked the BBC’s Play For Today and which latterly Mike Leigh can occasionally capture on screen.
After 17 years away, the grown-up daughter returns with the illegitimate child which got her thrown out. One of her brothers is having marital problems, whilst also being a doctor. Her other brother is autistic. Her mother is a basic, frustrated housewife and her father doesn’t understand anything but definitely has affairs. The grandchildren also don’t get on.
Jonathan Maitland’s AN AUDIENCE WITH JIMMY SAVILE, which recently broke the all time box office and attendance records at Park Theatre in London, and is playing there until 11 July 2015, will transfer to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 11 to 22 August 2015.
Extraordinary man. Extraordinary acts. Extraordinarily brave both of Jez Bond to commission it for the Park Theatre and Alistair McGowan to lend his immaculate skills as an impressionist to the portrayal of a beast.
SHOCKING, SHAMING, MAYBE SALUTARY It is a cliché to say that over decades of TV fame, showy fundraising and hidden sexual crime Savile ‘groomed the nation”. There were indeed encomia – which Maitland pitilessly uses verbatim – from Prince Charles … Continue reading →
In Bomber’s Moon James Bolam plays the kind of sharp-tongued and witheringly sardonic octogenarian most of us can only dream of becoming: and the first half of William Ivory’s play is peppered with funny and vulgar rapid-fire banter between Bolam’s chair-bound Jimmy and doing-it-by-the-book care worker David from his first day in the job. Since Ivory is also […]
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When Margaret Thatcher died on 8 April 2013, she remained alive and well in two West End characterisations, neither particularly flattering. In Billy Elliot The Musical, during the “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher” set-piece, her giant Spitting Image-style head loomed large above a group of festive miners, one kitted out in a trademark Iron Lady blue […]
On the night of the televised 7-way leadership debate, Dead Sheep at the Park Theatre makes you realise how Margaret Thatcher would have wiped the floor with all of them. In much of the political drama across London in the run up to the election, Thatcher is envisioned as a monster, but this play ranks her alongside Churchill as the most significant […]
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The Off-West End play has very much been the thing for me in the past few weeks of theatregoing. Here are five (four of them brand-new plays) worth squeezing into your theatregoing calendar this month – and when I say this month, I do mean this month. As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order, […]