Tuesday, January 25

REVIEWS

Carousel – Lincoln Centre
REVIEWS

Carousel – Lincoln Centre

One of the joys of lockdown has been the opportunity to see shows that were missed due to timing or location.  The enjoyment of these productions has been slightly bittersweet as theatres have remained dark and the industry has faced incredible hardship.  However, the latest government announcement provides some hope for the future as audiences accustom themselves to social distancing, and producers figure out how to make it financially viable.  The Lincoln Centre’s 2013 production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic Carousel seems appropriate in tone for the new normal with its hopeful rather than happy ending.  The show is not without its issues for a contemporary audience, particularly in its handling of domestic violence, but the Lincoln Centre production cel...
Faust – Royal Opera House
London

Faust – Royal Opera House

Everybody knows the tale of Faust although Gounod’s popular five-act, Parisian grand opera from 1859 is in fact adapted from Michel Carré’s play ‘Faust et Marguerite’ which was itself based on Part I of Goethe’s epic poem Faust. Very much reflective of the nature of Second-Empire Paris at that time, the obvious question is whether its themes remain relevant and recognisable to a 21st C audience. Director David McVicar wisely recognised that human nature doesn’t really change and the issues of sensuality and hedonism, religion and morality, bourgeois consumption versus socialist redistribution, to name but a few at the heart of this opera, continue to go hand in hand, and his richly layered 2004 production for Royal Opera House brilliantly captured these through the artificial edifices ...
Goodbye The (After) Life of Cook and Moore – Museum of Comedy, London
London

Goodbye The (After) Life of Cook and Moore – Museum of Comedy, London

This reviewer will start this review by admitting that she is old enough to remember Pete and Dud in later episodes of Not Only But Also so it was with both trepidation and anticipation that this production was watched. Produced at London's Museum of Comedy in February 2015 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Peter Cook's death, the play takes an irreverent and rather surreal look at what might have happened to Pete and Dud in the afterlife. Peter Cook died aged 57, on the 9th January 1995 from a gastrointestinal haemorrhage, most likely due to his years of excessive drinking. Some seven years later on the 27th March 2002, Dudley Moore followed his one time comedy partner to the afterlife after spending fourteen years battling the effects of progressive supranuclear palsy. He was ...
Newsies: The Broadway Musical – Disney+
REVIEWS

Newsies: The Broadway Musical – Disney+

It was with some trepidation that I sat down to watch Newsies, from the comfort of my own couch. I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me. Surely a show that belongs on the stage should only be seen from a seat in the theatre, right? Wrong. This film of the 2017 Broadway production now on Disney+ shows just how easily you can watch a stage show without even leaving the house. Perfect in the current circumstances. The first thing that struck me was the enormity of the scaffolding set. This provided many interesting visual aspects throughout and was a fantastic way to represent the environment of the ‘Newsies’. At the end of the first number we see pairs of ‘Newsies’ in different sections of the set, all standing as one and the impact of that image was a clever inkling to the rest of th...
Double Bill: The Masks of Aphra Behn and Oranges and Ink
REVIEWS

Double Bill: The Masks of Aphra Behn and Oranges and Ink

Claire Louise Amias’s pair of plays resurrect Aphra Behn from a place of relative obscurity into sharp relief as a chatty, warm, and witty raconteur. Directed by Pradeep Jey and Alex Pearson, they were originally presented at the Tristan Bates Theatre as part of the Women and War Festival and were streamed together as part of the Online Fringe Festival this spring. Behn is a complex and fascinating character from the Stuart era. Born in Kent, she worked as a spy in Antwerp, had a brief marriage to a Dutch merchant, and was the first female playwright to make a living from her work. Played by Amias, she is presented as a historical gossip, a pragmatic conversationalist, and a feminist ground-breaker. In The Masks of Aphra Behn, we hear a fraction of her life story, yet I wanted to ge...
Amadeus – National Theatre
London

Amadeus – National Theatre

Director Michael Longhurst’s 2016 production of Peter Shaffer’s iconic play is a stunning piece of theatre starring Lucian Msamati as Salieri alongside Adam Gillen as Mozart with the musicians of Southbank Sinfonia cleverly weaved into the action providing live accompaniment to the story. We begin at Salieri’s end as he recalls the almost Faustian bargain he made with God at the age of sixteen: to become a fêted and famous composer in exchange for living a virtuous life and honouring God at every turn. Fast forward to 1881 Vienna and all Salieri’s dreams have come true in the court of Emperor Joseph II (Tom Edden). But nobody expected Mozart. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A rowdy young prodigy who arrives with his wife to be, Constanze (Karla Crome), determined to leave his mark  Wh...
Robin of Sherwood: Fitzwarren’s Well – Spiteful Puppet
REVIEWS

Robin of Sherwood: Fitzwarren’s Well – Spiteful Puppet

Fully capturing the atmosphere of a story can be very difficult to do in audio dramas, especially when that story is set in the great outdoors, but in this new audio adventure from Spiteful Puppet, Robin Hood is given a new lease of life. Based on the world created in the 1980’s TV show from Richard Carpenter’s, this is a brand new adventure written by Jennifer Ash and directed by Barnaby Eaton-Jones, and features original and new cast members. From the opening of the piece the forest atmosphere is beautifully created with excellent sound effects. However, we’re not actually with the Merry Men in the depths of Sherwood, who have all been cursed with a deadly and serious illness, but with Marion (Judi Trott) as she asks the mysterious shaman Herne The Hunter (Daniel Abineri) for help. ...
The Tempest – Shakespeare’s Globe
REVIEWS

The Tempest – Shakespeare’s Globe

Often played as tragedy with revenge at its heart, it is refreshing to see director Jeremy Herrin bring a fresh perspective embracing the spirit of the supernatural in this tale of forgiveness, generosity, and enlightenment set on a remote and mysterious desert island with this production from 2013. Twelve years earlier, Prospero (Roger Allam), formerly Duke of Milan, was usurped by Alonso, King of Naples (Peter Hamilton Dyer), Alonso’s brother, Sebastian (Will Mannering), and his own brother Antonio (Jason Baughan), and cast adrift with his three-year old daughter, Miranda (Jessie Buckley). Before they were put to sea Gonzalo (Pip Donaghy), his loyal counsellor, ensured he took his magic books, and now living on an island, he has used his magic art to reign over the native Caliban (Ja...
Hamlet – Royal Shakespeare Company
REVIEWS

Hamlet – Royal Shakespeare Company

In this 2016 production Simon Godwin’s version completely re-imagines Hamlet from a visual perspective.  The text largely remains the same, albeit tweaked in places and the small changes have accelerated the pace of the play - it rarely rests on its laurels. The African theme brings a freshness to one of the most regularly performed of Shakespeare’s plays.   Dressed as military guards Barnardo (Kevin N Golding) and Marcellus (Theo O’Gundipe) have asked Horatio (Hiran Abeysekera) to come along to see the ghost that has a likeness to the dead King to prove that they are not crazy.  The scene is dark, and it creates a feeling of menace but undershoots slightly as there is no ghostly apparition and we must wait until the next scene before we see the ghost of the King.&n...
The Space Between – A musical short by David Hunter and Caroline Kay
REVIEWS

The Space Between – A musical short by David Hunter and Caroline Kay

The Space Between is a short musical for the times we live in. Filmed entirely in a medium of zoom meetings and WhatsApp/FaceTime calls, as a young couple reflect on their broken relationship, first with their confidants, and then with each other. The music is fun, and a good representation of modern musical theatre. The opening number in particular is sensationally written and delivered, and also has the strongest vocal - it is the best of the three numbers contained within the short - although all three are meaningful and entertaining. The performances from Hunter and Kay are relatable, fun, and vocally very strong. The key point to this work is that musical theatre (of a top quality) can still be made at this difficult time. We all miss it, and we all want to do what we ca...