Saturday, January 28

REVIEWS

<strong>The Elephant Song – Park Theatre</strong>
London

The Elephant Song – Park Theatre

When a psychiatrist misses work unexpectedly the head of the hospital, Doctor Greenberg (Jon Osbaldeston) covers for him. One of the patients, Michael (Gwithian Evans) claims to know Doctor Lawrence’s whereabouts but will only cooperate if he gets something in return. Nicolas Billon’s cleverly plotted script teems with intrigue, as two mysteries unravel throughout the play; Doctor Lawrence’s disappearance and Michael’s past related to his peculiar obsession with elephants. As he saunters in singing with abandon, we hear him before we see him, which already establishes the notion of prejudice in the play. Evans’ portrayal of Michael is immaculate, from his jerky movements to the playful yet calculating gaze. His sharp delivery indicates a disregard for social norms and Evans gives us a ...
<strong>Richard O’Briens Rocky Horror Show – Sheffield Lyceum</strong>
Yorkshire & Humber

Richard O’Briens Rocky Horror Show – Sheffield Lyceum

It was with growing anti……….. pation I waited for the show to start. With an audience full of sparkly tailcoats and top hats, green surgical gowns, heavy rocker leather jackets and more basques, corsets and suspenders than you can find in Ann Summers, it seemed that this was predominately, no virgin audience, on the opening night of Richard O’Briens Rocky Horror Show at the Sheffield Lyceum, let the shouts outs begin! Having seen the show many, many times before I was wondering if this production would fill me with the amazement my first encounter did, as an innocent 14 year old schoolgirl some 42 years previous! The music teacher; who took our school trip; certainly didn’t do his homework first and was horrified he may lose his job when parents heard about the show. And as for me? I was ...
<strong>Hamlet – Southwark Playhouse</strong>
London

Hamlet – Southwark Playhouse

Lazarus Theatre Company offer a different approach to producing a Shakespeare production.  Reimagining the classics is their game, collaborating with their artists, they have an emphasis on ensemble work, which was in evidence in this Hamlet production.  Lazarus have co-produced this show with Southwark Playhouse’s Shakespeare for Schools Project, and the youthful cast encouraged a younger audience to come along to watch. Hamlet was a reluctant choice for Artistic Director Ricky Dukes, as he felt that it has been exhausted, and there can be an issue of what can we add to a production, but they need not have worried, this production packs a punch and enables Shakespeare’s language to work within this ensemble framework.  The opening scene is a case in point, The Voice ...
<strong>You Are My Sunshine – Unity Theatre</strong>
North West

You Are My Sunshine – Unity Theatre

Izzy Campbell took on the daunting task of writing and starring in her own work. You are my Sunshine shines a light on the difficult conversations that families have about mental health. With only two performers, the task was big, and they made a large effort to try and make it succeed. It begins with music, a common device for the bringing on of characters, but in this case, it went on for too long and the dialogue got lost. Faye Donnellan chose a simple setting of a living room set-up which worked for the intimacy of the conversations that followed. Yet, the yellow balloons, the same ones on the poster, were rid of in the first scene, perhaps they could have had a bit more relevance throughout the performance to be deemed necessary to have onstage. The character of Emily, played b...
<strong>And Then The Rodeo Burned Down – King’s Head Theatre</strong>
London

And Then The Rodeo Burned Down – King’s Head Theatre

Coming direct from New York City in association with theSpaceUK, following a successful week-long debut run in Edinburgh and winning the coveted Fringe First Award; Chloe Rice and Natasha Roland have been collaborating for nearly ten years, writing, and performing their own material.  Ye hawing their way into the King’s Head Theatre, their rodeo clown show packs a lot into the hour. With country and western music piped into the theatre, the clown puts on her make up ready for the show.  Star of the show is the lassoing cowboy, and oh boy, does Dale the clown want to be a cowboy, but our clown has a shadow, someone who wants to be a clown.  Dressed in cowboy clothes, the pecking order of life is dissected, with the cowboy representing the top of the food chain and the ...
Unsolicited (An Unsafe Space for Straight Men) – Royal Court Theatre
North West

Unsolicited (An Unsafe Space for Straight Men) – Royal Court Theatre

Every woman knows the importance of identifying your exits, they plan their routes home from nights out and experience the momentary panic when the taxi driver takes an unfamiliar route.  They have been educated from birth that it is their responsibility to prevent men from raping them, by dressing appropriately, not wearing headphones, holding their keys in the correct manner.  And so, we join All Things Considered Theatre aboard the Spice Up Your Lifeboat as they navigate the treacherous, sometimes deadly, Sea of Misogyny.  Four multi-talented performers (Ashleigh Owen, Frankie Gold, Holly Wright, Shannon Lavelle) bedecked in sequins and glitter guide us through this exploration of unsafe spaces, unwanted dick pics, harassment and more with All Things Considered’s usua...
<strong>Singing with Friends – Rainhill Village Hall</strong>
North West

Singing with Friends – Rainhill Village Hall

A simple title yet, as director Paul Robinson says in his notes, full of meaning. This was so much more than a show: it was the history of a company that goes back over seventy years; it was the meaning of family that the company has come to embrace; it was the tale of putting on many a production; but most importantly it was the journey and story of many individuals whose combined whole is so much more than these words can do justice. A Broadway musical medley from the entire ensemble with live band accompaniment consisting of Paul Taft (guitar), Kevin Bates (bass) and Amy Gray (drums) led by musical director and maestro on the piano, Wayne Oakes, got the evening off with a bang, with Charlotte Orme injecting some real energy into Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Bet Davies’ pro...
<strong>Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort of) – The Lowry</strong>
North West

Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort of) – The Lowry

Sending up classical literature is nothing new but there’s still nothing quite like the sight of one of its most iconic characters busting out an accordion whilst her mother has an asthma attack on the chaise longue.  Welcome to the most irreverent interpretation of Austen you’re ever likely to witness. A madcap mix of petticoats and profanity that prompts everything from schoolgirl sniggers to flat out belly laughs, like a foul-mouthed French and Saunders spoof on steroids. Here, Austen’s familiar tale of the Bennett brood, with their overbearing mother desperate to marry them off lest they lose their fortune and home to a most disagreeable male relative, is told through the view of the servants of the Bennett home of Longbourne. They highlight with hilarious effect, not on...
<strong>Mamma Mia – Wolverhampton Grand</strong>
West Midlands

Mamma Mia – Wolverhampton Grand

The brainchild of creator/producer Judy Craymer, “Mamma Mia” is a thundering juggernaut of a success.  Running on the West End for over 20 years (and 14 on Broadway), it boasts audience figures in the multi-millions, two movie spin-offs, and grossing over £3billion in its near-quarter-century lifetime.  “Mamma Mia” translates to “Mega Money”, and this doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, as theatregoers continue to flock to it in their droves.  For anyone wanting to banish the January Blues and escape to a Greek island for a fraction of the price, the current UK tour is playing right now at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre. “Mamma Mia” sees bride-to-be Sophie (Jess Michelmore) needing answers around her father’s identity which has remained a secret for 20 years.  On...
<strong>Girl from the North Country – Sheffield Lyceum</strong>
Yorkshire & Humber

Girl from the North Country – Sheffield Lyceum

For Bob Dylan fans this production is a delight. Boldly written and directed by Conor McPherson this powerful production uses Dylan’s back catalogue ranging from 1965 to the present day. With songs such as ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ‘Make You Feel My Love’ (recently covered my Adele) sitting alongside less obvious choices, Dylan’s music is used not to progress the storyline as in most musical theatre but to give the story an ambience, a mood, a feel. The lyrics are not used to tentatively tie the plot together but instead almost transcend it and have an almost supernatural feel to them. The cast do much to aid this by singing directly to the audience into a microphone, breaking down the 4th wall and giving the audience a real insight into the characters private and internal thoughts and s...