Sunday, August 1

REVIEWS

Oleanna – Arts Theatre
London

Oleanna – Arts Theatre

Oleanna first came to the stage in 1992 in the United States and 1993 in the UK. At the time, high profile sexual harassment cases had captured the attention of the US audience in particular, and heightened sensitivities meant that the play – which explores the shifting power dynamic between a female university student and her male professor – was received as controversial.  Nearly 30 years later, although our senses are maybe somewhat dulled to some of the nuances within the piece, we’re still having the same conversations and realising the full extent to which sexism in all its guises, male privilege and abuse of power have shaped and determined the world around us. We meet John and his student Carol in John’s perfectly angular, book lined office. The set is incredibly pleasing ...
Tommy On Top – Above The Stag Theatre
London

Tommy On Top – Above The Stag Theatre

Billed as a “giddy and gloriously foul-mouthed comedy”, the storyline on ‘Tommy On Top’ is one of jeopardy and hilarious lies. Our lead character, Tommy is a closeted Hollywood heartthrob struggling to keep a lid on his love life and he is willing to go to the greatest lengths to achieve his goal, to win the award for his latest movie. After all, no “out” gay man has ever won Best Actor at the Oscars. Fortunately, Tommy isn’t an out gay man, he is very much in the closet. Unfortunately, gossip hack Kiki (Becky Sanneh) suspects he’s got a lot more in his closet than just a freshly pressed white tuxedo... The development of a perfect theatrical farce takes careful planning and structure is everything. It is vital that things happen with exact precision so as never to get lost on the a...
My Night With Reg – Turbine Theatre
London

My Night With Reg – Turbine Theatre

Kevin Elyotand’s 1994 comedy ‘My Night With Reg’ is a heartwarming exploration of the lives of a group of friends set against the backdrop of a mounting AIDS crisis. Winning an Olivier Award for Best Comedy after its transfer to the West End's Criterion Theatre in its original run, this revival directed by Matt Ryan is an ambitious attempt to capture the fragile lives of the gay community in the 80s as personal insecurities and anxieties quickly gave way to a larger question about their legacy and mortality. This production by The Turbine Theatre is successful in highlighting some of these dilemmas but is unable to sustain the larger argument put forth by the playwright. The story follows the lives of 30-something men, some friends and others mere acquaintances, over a period of severa...
Sleepover – Unity Theatre
North West

Sleepover – Unity Theatre

This is my first sleepover. I am 54 and sitting on a bed in Kelly house, reading Just Seventeen and drinking Malibu, while four teenage female friends laugh, gossip, talk crushes & nipple hair, improvise dance routines & do a bit of karaoke – as well as snog some of their posters. This is All Things Considered’s delightful, nostalgia-fest, a 90-minute interactive celebration of friendship, sisterhood & all things teenage girl in the 1990s – a heady time where New Kids on the Block, White Musk perfume & Regal ciggies reigned. The audience (13 women & one privileged young bloke) are escorted to beds encircling the action on arrival by the cast; we’re immediately engaged in conversation & faced with a torrent of excitable questions - and from there things become ev...
We’ll Dance on the Ash of the Apocalypse – Camden Fringe Online
REVIEWS

We’ll Dance on the Ash of the Apocalypse – Camden Fringe Online

The threat of climate change is one we are all familiar with, and I don’t think any of us are unaware of the fate that could face our planet if we don’t make some changes to our habits. This play shows us one possible future: a desperate couple who met at a climate change protest are now living a hand-to-mouth existence in a stark bedsit. What does the future hold for them? We get our first inkling as the woman (Maite Jáuregui) reveals to her partner (Danny Horn) that she is pregnant, after they have shared a gourmet dinner of tinned pineapple rings. We learn about the beliefs, fears and struggles of this couple through frequent flashbacks, as well as from their conversations as they discuss what to do with this unexpected revelation. Filmed before a theatre audience and then ed...
Every Sinner Has a Future – Golden Goose Theatre
London

Every Sinner Has a Future – Golden Goose Theatre

The title of the play brings to mind ‘A Woman of No Importance’ by Oscar Wilde, when Lord Illingworth declared ‘Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future’.  In context Wilde’s play is vastly different, as the subjects are from a privileged society, something that is not the case with this play. Frank Scully is a 1960’s child, whose mother did the best she could for him under difficult circumstances.  Scully comes from an era before ‘black lives matter’, skin colour mattered and if you didn’t fit in, you were going to find it very difficult to get on in the world.  Like most young boys, Scully had dreams of what he would like to do, and when he was young his dream was to be a paperboy like the other boys.  He had his chopper bike, but why wouldn’t Mr Pate...
Magic Goes Wrong – The Lowry
North West

Magic Goes Wrong – The Lowry

Forget your David Blaines and Copperfields. As the late Tommy Cooper knew in his variety shows of old, there’s big laughs to be had in watching a stage magician flounder and fluster when a much-practiced trick goes spectacularly wrong. It’s a ripe opportunity for the kings and queens of all things Wrong, Mischief Theatre, the team behind the massive smash hit of The Play that Goes Wrong. Almost like the adult movie industry, just name any play or subject and there’s a strong likelihood there’ll be a ‘Goes Wrong’ version of it from this prolific gang. And so, to tonight’s fare, co-written with anarchic magic duo Penn and Teller. In terms of a synopsis, it’s right there in the title. There’s magic, and it goes wrong. Very, very wrong. Under the guise of a fundraiser for ‘Disasters ...
The Two Character Play – Hampstead Theatre
London

The Two Character Play – Hampstead Theatre

After its world premiere in 1967 at the very same theatre, Tennessee William’s The Two Character Play returns to Hampstead Theatre in a spellbinding production directed by Sam Yates. When the play was originally written, its writing style was panned by critics as being “too experimental” and categorized as a marked departure from William’s earlier texts that now serve as his dramatic legacy. However, it’s this very departure from the tradition that allows the Hampstead production to shine, combining a multitude of modern-day visual storytelling techniques and a stellar performance by its cast to create a magical and moving experience. As Yates adds, the intent is to create “a theatrical event that will showcase everything that's vital about the live experience” and it succeeds in doing pr...
Piaf – Leeds Playhouse
Yorkshire & Humber

Piaf – Leeds Playhouse

Imagine if instead of Beyonce the world’s biggest female star was a foul-mouthed Parisian street urchin who was blessed with a golden voice that lifted her out of the slums to global fame. That’s the story of Edith Piaf – aka The Little Sparrow – and this raucous revival of Pam Gems’ musical biography pulls no punches telling the tale of a damaged woman who flew high before crashing back to earth as like Lady Day she was totally unequipped for the price of fame. If anything, Gems tries too hard to pack in too much of Piaf’s rich life, overegging her rough beginnings, and the second half feels a touch padded. This is not an evening for the faint hearted as the C bomb is dropped a couple of times, among an impressive array of expletives, drawing gasps from some of the more genteel ...
Kaleidoscope – Alexandra Palace
London

Kaleidoscope – Alexandra Palace

Going to a festival during a pandemic may seem a strange choice. But if life is to get back to ‘normal’ then attending an event outside is part of the journey – plus you have to show proof you’ve been double jabbed. The difference with Kaleidoscope is in the setting of Alexandra Park. The gently sloping grounds cradling the main stage (Hilltop) mean you can watch from afar taking in the views of London as an accompaniment to the main act on stage. The awesome sound system means you don’t have to be right up front to hear the action, you can dance on your picnic blanket to your heart’s delight. And if you don’t like the main stage, there’s the bandstand or the terrace or the fringe theatre offering alternative entertainment. Short of options you are not. And talking of options, th...