Saturday, August 13

REVIEWS

Michael Flatley Celtic Tiger – The Shows Myst Go On
REVIEWS

Michael Flatley Celtic Tiger – The Shows Myst Go On

Michael Flatley’s famous ‘Celtic Tiger’ show opened in July 2005. This was his third big venture following ‘Riverdance’ which famously aired during the intermission on the 1994 Eurovision song contest and then ‘Lord of the Dance’ which premiered in 1996.  This production, which seeks to explore Irish heritage and world cultures, is available for viewing curtsey of ‘The show must go on’ series. What it quite apparent from the start is that unfortunately, Flatley’s production has not stood the test of time and entertainment has come a long way in the last 15 years. ‘Celtic Tiger’ feels more like a variety show than a collaborative piece of entertainment. There is a mixture of solo songs, dance sequels and instrumentals which I have no problems with if they all tied together and made...
Hamilton – Disney +
REVIEWS

Hamilton – Disney +

It has finally arrived! The very famous “Hamilton” has landed on Disney +! This hip-hop musical, officially titled ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’, first premiered on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in July 2015. One year later it was recorded with most of the original cast intact and this much anticipated recording is now available on Disney plus for your endless viewing. The story follows the forgotten American Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton and his ascent out of poverty and into power during the American War of Independence starting in 1776. Not knowing the story, it is true to say that it is educational to say the least. However, it also takes a great degree of concentration. This musical is completely conveyed through song and a huge percentage of it is rapped whic...
La Bohème – Royal Opera House
London

La Bohème – Royal Opera House

By the time it was retired in 2015, the Royal Opera’s previous production of La Bohème, directed by John Copley, had notched up 25 revivals in its 41-year history, so the pressure was on for its 2017 replacement, directed by Richard Jones and with sets and costumes by Stewart Laing, for what is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide. The play is set in the Latin Quarter of Paris in about 1830 where on Christmas Eve we meet four struggling bohemians living in a garret: a poet, Rodolfo (Michael Fabiano); a painter, Marcello (Mariusz Kwiecień); a philosopher, Colline (Luca Trittoto); and a musician, Schaunard (Florian Sempes), who arrives having had some good fortune and they agree to celebrate by dining at Café Momus. They are interrupted by their landlord, Benoît (Jeremy ...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet – BBC iPlayer
REVIEWS

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet – BBC iPlayer

‘There she is on the tellybox,’ I said. ‘Who?’ asked mother. ‘Maxine Peake,’ I said. ‘Oh,’ says mother. ‘We saw her at the Royal Exchange.’ ‘Did we?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘In Hamlet, A Streetcar Named Desire and Miss Julie.’ ‘Oh yes, I remember, I sat next to that travelling salesman from Didsbury with bad breath.’ ‘Yes, that’s right mother.’ She watched the tellybox and I thought there was no point telling her that they were all directed by Sarah Frankom and when Ms Peake won an award for outstanding contribution to British theatre she put down her success to the Royal Exchange in Manchester and Ms Frankom. Mother wouldn’t be interested to know that this thing on the tellybox reunited Ms Frankom and Ms Peake. ‘Don’t be so nerdy,` she’d say. ‘Who’ll be interested in that.’ Sadly, the R...
Les Blancs – National Theatre at Home
London

Les Blancs – National Theatre at Home

Writer Lorraine Hansberry was a remarkable woman who, despite her early death at age 34, conquered Broadway as the first black writer to see her play ‘Raisin in the Sun’ performed on stage in 1959.  She followed her father into activism and wrote for the newspaper ‘Freedom’, working alongside Africans and African Americans.  This work; and seeing a production called ‘Les Negres’ (The Blacks), inspired Hansberry to write ‘Les Blancs’, which she began writing in 1960 and completed it just before her death.   After her death the play was adapted by her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff.  The 1970 Broadway production was staged at the Longacre Theatre and the National Theatre’s production took place in 2016. The play follows the visit of journalist Charlie Morris (Elliot ...
The Almighty Sometimes – Royal Exchange Theatre
North West

The Almighty Sometimes – Royal Exchange Theatre

Back in February 2018 the Royal Exchange Theatre showcased the world premiere of Kendall Feaver's The Almighty Sometimes. It had won the Judges Award at the 2015 Bruntwood Award for Playwriting and well deservedly. Anna is eighteen, working and lives at home with her mum, Renee. One night, after meeting him at a party, she brings home Oliver. At twenty-one he's a few years older but they had been at the same school and he had been taught by her mum. Anna likes and trusts him with her secret. She has been seeing a psychiatrist since she was 11 and is on a combination of medication to control her mental health issues. Although her illness is never named, through the play it becomes obvious how serious her mental illness is. But as Anna is beginning to embrace adulthood, she also begins q...
Birdsong – Original Theatre Company Online
REVIEWS

Birdsong – Original Theatre Company Online

Written by Sebastian Faulks and adapted by Rachel Wagstaff, Birdsong was first staged by Original Theatre and toured between 2013 and 2018.  It was hugely successful with 4- and 5-star reviews and was seen by more than 250,000 people in 75 theatres across the UK and Ireland. As we pass the 104th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, this play is a timely reminder of the severe loss of life between 1st July and 18th November 1916.  On the first day of battle a man was killed every 4.4 seconds, the bloodiest single day in the history of the British Army.  The battle was described by war poet Siegfried Sassoon as a “sunlit picture of hell”. The play begins in France 1916. The Sappers (a team of ex-miners) were conscripted as tunnellers, setting mines a...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Bed Among the Lentils – BBC iPlayer
REVIEWS

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Bed Among the Lentils – BBC iPlayer

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads are well known for exploring the darker themes of society and the people within it. Bed Among the Lentils is no exception, diving into the alcoholism and infidelity which shape vicar’s wife, Susan’s (Lesley Manville) life. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, this dark, comic piece, particularly explores the role of the church in the sex lives of its parishioners and life behind the closed door of the vicarage. Opening in a tidy and old-fashioned kitchen, we meet Susan, a heavy smoker and heavy drinker, modestly, and somewhat drably, dressed, as she talks about her marriage to local vicar, Geoffrey. Black comedy is present from the start, as she describes Geoffrey’s recent sermon which explained how the institution of marriage gives a licence to sex and having sex ...
The Merchant of Venice – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
West Midlands

The Merchant of Venice – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

It is not often recognised that this is one of Shakespeare’s comedies and watching this RSC production from 2015 under the direction of Polly Findlay as part of the BBC Culture in Quarantine programme, one would be tempted to say it was a tragedy. I often say that less is more but Johannes Schütz’s set design is so bare that even with its pendulum constantly swinging, it is impossible to decipher a proper sense of time or place which is at the heart of this play about money and how it affects all involved. We begin with Antonio (Jamie Ballard), a prince among Venetian merchants who is unaccountably depressed despite his obvious success as a dealer in luxury goods. His friend Bassanio (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) in contrast is broke but remains reasonably cheerful as he has a plan to marry Po...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Nights in the Garden of Spain – BBC iPlayer
REVIEWS

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Nights in the Garden of Spain – BBC iPlayer

Number nine in the new series of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads is a remake of the 1998 monologue Nights in the Garden of Spain.  Originally featuring Penelope Wilton, it is now Tamsin Greig's turn to recreate Rosemary Horrocks.  Like the majority of the Talking Heads pieces, Nights in the Garden of Spain is set in Alan Bennett's semi fictionalised version of Leeds. It is the 1990s and Rosemary and her husband Henry live in a fairly well to do suburb of Leeds, on a street of mostly detached houses.  Henry is keen to sell up and move to Marbella and the passive Rosemary is going along with his choice.   But one morning as she is going to the shops, her neighbour Mrs McCorquodale stops her.  Her husband is dead and she needs help.  It transpires that she ...