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            REVIEWS ARCHIVE JANUARY - MAY 2018

 

 

 

RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET

Upstairs at the Gatehouse 12th May – 17th June

*****

“Sci-fi Shakespeare with heart and soul and rock ‘n’ roll”  

As Director John Plews says in the programme of his production of Return to the Forbidden Planet “this is Shakespeare, but not as we know it”. Currently showing Upstairs at the Gatehouse in the very pretty Highgate Village (London, but not as we know it!), this production by Ovation is a revival of the original ... Read More

 

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE Drayton Arms Theatre 29 May - 16 June 2018

*****

‘Sharp, funny, slick and humane, if only all days in class could be this life-enhancing.’

Watching high school kids spelling words out loud may sound like watching paint dry but THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE proves there’s joy in the most unlikely of settings. A Broadway hit in the 2000s, it’s a musical about 10 geeky kids competing for the prize in the title, with three pretty equally geeky adults supervising.  Read More

 

THE NIGHT ALIVE

Jack Studio Theatre until 9th June 2018

****

‘filled with pathos and humour’

First Knight Theatre have brought to life a blistering version of Conor McPherson’s intense and touching play. Read More

 

ADAM & EVE by Tim Cook

The Hope Theatre 22 May – 9 June 2018

*****

‘knowing who to trust is not always straight forward in this searing indictment of social media … ’

With #metoo debates rocking the foundations of society through connectivity on social media, this play pins down one of the most disturbing consequences of hysteria.  Whilst these debates need to happen, there is going to be some fall out.  This play cleverly explores that very area.  Read More

 

 

THE GIFT OF THE GAB by Simon David Eden

The White Bear, Kennington 15th May – 9th June 2018

**

'There are good elements: the cast are excellent; the set design is superb and the direction was fluid and strong'

‘The Gift of the Gab’ centres on a greasy spoon café in Brighton in 1979. The story follows the café regulars, a group of salesmen grifters, and the Italian café owner and his daughter who are immigrants. Gabe, one of the salesmen ... Read More

 

TRAINSPOTTING LIVE based on the novel by Irvine Welsh

The Vaults, Waterloo, 27 March -3 June 2018

****

‘It’s at the audience’s throat, often literally, the moment they enter the performance space …’

It is frightening to think that it’s over twenty years since Irvine Welsh’s classic novel TRAINSPOTTING was first adapted for the stage. I first saw Trainspotting in the late 1990s. For me, seeing the astonishing original touring production in a tiny, long since closed, Southampton venue, was a life changing experience. Read More

 

ISAAC CAME HOME FROM THE MOUNTAIN By Phil Ormrod

Theatre 503, Battersea, 9th May- 2nd June 7.30pm

****

‘The collaboration of set design, direction and movement was an exciting addition to the piece.’

A northern town with bleak prospects for most of the young people leads both Chris Scofield (Kenny Fullwood) and Bobby Wainwright (Charles Furness) into a friendship while working for Mike Scofield (Ian Burfield). Scofield has an abrupt, angry persona and his son Chris is obviously intimidated... Read More

 

BREAK OF NOON by Paul Claudel

Finborough Theatre until 5 June 2018

**

“…Claudel seems to take an interminably long time to really say very little at all…”  

Fans of Paul Claudel’s work might wonder why in his lifetime he himself refused to allow Partage De Midi to be placed upon the stage for over 40 years. Read Here

 

SEX WITH ROBOTS AND OTHER DEVICES by Nessah Muthy

Kings Head Theatre 15th May – 2nd June 2018

***

‘…wonderfully calculated and makes for very realistic and sometimes unnerving

Nessah Muthy’s Sex with Robots and Other Devices explores extremely topical and current themes regarding the rise in interest in ‘sex robots’.

Where this play excels is in the handling of the subject. Muthy looks at the robots as marriage/relationship fixers, as well as a way of emulating a previous partner/lover. Read More

 

F*CKING MEN by Joe DiPietro

Kings Head Theatre 16th May – 2nd June 2018

***

‘…the piece has a heart and packs a punch …’

F*cking Men is an honest account of relationships and sex as a gay man today. DiPietro’s dialogue is sharp and witty and in bursts, very poignant and sad. He weaves together his ... Read More

 

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAIN by Felicity Huxley-Miners

The Old Red Lion Theatre 15th May – 2nd June

**

‘There’s the kernel of something really special here’

Ellie stops Rob from jumping in front of a train. They’ve never met before, but then she invites him back to her place to have sex with her. There begins an unbelievably intense 3-week relationship ... Read More

 

LOLITA inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s novel

Lion and Unicorn theatre, Kentish Town, 3 – 20 May 2018

****

‘ … retains the spirit of the original work’

This is a stage adaptation by Victor Sobchak based on Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist is a middle-aged literature professor who is obsessed with a 12-year-old girl ... Read More

 

ARCHIVE REVIEWS 4 & 5 STAR 2018

 

KES by Barry Hines

Brockley Jack Studio Theatre 2-19 May 2018

*****

“The Brockley Jack can be enormously proud”  

Some years ago, I did a bit on a film called ‘Stiff Upper Lips’. In the production was that great actor Brian Glover. We were put up in some swanky hotel, somewhere in Rome, where one night Brian and I shared a bottle... Read More

 

WORTH A FLUTTER by Michael Head

The Hope Theatre 1 – 19 May 2018

****

‘outrageous characters bring a tremendous sense of fun’

It is easy to suppose that this play is about gambling, but its focus is elsewhere. During the play we are reminded that life gives us a set of cards and we must deal with them the best we can. In this hilarious comedy the love lives of the central characters intertwine, watched by several others, including a pervy neighbour, a belligerent Grandad and a Scottish penis. Read More

 

THE BUZZ

Bread & Roses Theatre, Clapham 8 - 19 May 2018

****

‘an intriguing piece which navigates frequently explored topics in intelligent and unexpected ways.’  

The Buzz is a play about the compromises we make, such as sacrificing your career for your relationship, or indeed sacrificing your relationship for your career. Or is it? Lydia Rynne’s captivating new play shifts gears several times. It takes the audience in some unexpected directions and ... Read More

 

GRACIE by Joan MacLeod

The Finborough Theatre 15 May 2018

*****

“An intense performance where every tiny gesture holds huge significance.”  

It may seem strange, when speaking about a play that features a single female performer, to begin by talking about the brilliance of the team effort. But the more that I watched of ‘Gracie’, the more I began to appreciate the synergy of vision between all the elements that were ... Read More

 

OH NO IT ISN’T!

Hope Theatre, Islington, 13-14 May 2018

****

“Art imitating life – even in panto!”

As a pantomime stalwart I was intrigued when the press release for this show pinged into my in box with a note from the Editor saying, “this one’s right up your street”, and it was. Joined by my Bessie mate, who just happens to be a judge for the Great British panto awards, we sashayed into The Hope ... Read More

 

STRIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN by Jennifer Banks

The Drayton Arms (On Tour) 13th May 2018

****

‘Filled with amusing and recognizable characters, buoyant humour and heartfelt moments’

‘Strife In A Northern Town’ is a comedy chock full of lively and engaging characters, including competitive phone receptionists trying to out-nice each other, sapphic speed dating where an unlikely couple meet, supermarket pals who work at Cheap ‘n’ Cheerful - one who is sex-obsessed and ... Read More

 

MASTERPIECES by Sarah Daniels

Finborough Theatre 24 April – 19 May 2018    

****

‘The relevance of the themes give this 80s-penned play a new and modern lease of life.’

Following on from Paper Cut’s revival of Edwardian feminist drama ‘Just to get married’ comes another reissue from the feminist canon, this time of Sarah Daniels’ 1980s fable Masterpieces. First written in 1983, this is a series of scenes and vignettes based around one ... Read More

 

TRAITORS, CADS AND COWARDS by Martin McNamara

Wandsworth Prison 14 May 2018, part of Wandsworth Arts Festival

****

‘… a very intelligent play’

This drama is set in Wandsworth Prison during WW1. After playwright Martin McNamara did his initial research at the prison, ... Read More

 

BROKEN by Matthew Lyon

The Old Red Lion Theatre until 12 May 2018

****

“…ferocious barrage of blank verse and a captivating physicality…”

‘Shall I compare thee to a Shakespeare play?

Thou art more ugly; and irreverent…’

Sometimes I wonder if there is a limit to the number of ways in which Shakespeare’s work continues to be re-worked, parodied,  ... Read More

 

TUMBLE TUCK by Sarah Milton

King’s Head Theatre, Islington 24 April – 12 May 2018

****

‘A brutally honest show, funny and captivating with chilling moments … ‘

TUMBLE TUCK is headlining King’s Head Theatre ‘Who Runs the World’ season of work by female playwrights and is produced by Louisa Davis.  Davis is interested in changing the fact that the theatre industry is heavily dominated by male writing.  As a result, we should expect to see work coming through which is shown from the female perspective.  Read More

 

BABY BOX written by Laura McGrady

Kings Head Theatre 1 - 6 May 8.30pm

****

‘The acting was cracking’

The Kings Head theatre has created a feminist month with Who Runs the World? BABY BOX doesn’t shy away from issues regarding the female body and it cleverly raises the awareness of much misunderstood women’s disease endometriosis. The story is about ... Read More

 

DISTURBING THE DUST

The Bread and Roses Theatre1st – 5th May 2018

****

‘‘Disturbing the Dust’ is small in scale but vast in feeling.’

As part of the generation that grew up with the Toy Story trilogy, I have to say, I was excited to see the ‘toys coming to life’ concept played out on stage. Lost Key Theatre’s debut production ‘Disturbing the Dust’ examines the lives, loves, and losses of four toys gathering dust in an attic. Extremely well thought through and sprinkled with moments of delight, beauty, but also grief; ‘Disturbing the Dust’ is small in scale but vast in feeling. Read More

 

THE TWINS MACABRE: SLAY

The Arches at St Mary’s Church, Putney 4 & 5 May 2018

*****

‘sinister, thoroughly engrossing and wickedly funny’

The Twins Macabre are back and running amok with their new show ‘Slay’, a horror-comedy sketch show laced with comedy songs. Originally part of the London Horror Festival at The Old Red Lion, I caught this ghoulishly entertaining show at The Arches, ... Read More

 

GAPS

Katzpace Theatre, 22 April- 2 May 2018

****

‘Realistic, relatable and relevant

Gaps is a newly devised play by the excitably named production team, Woohoo Debbie.  Woohoo Debbie formed in 2017 with the aim of devising new work which bulb from existing texts and then blossom becoming explorations into the realms of our modern world ... Read More

 

THE WHITE PLAGUE

Landor Space, SW9 9PH, 7 – 22 April 2018

****

“a production worth seeing for those who enjoy theatre delivered in a non

The White Plague places its audience in a world where humans are, one by one, losing their sight. These people are quarantined and see nothing but white. During the production, this is represented by the white eye masks each audience member wears for most of the show. Read More

 

SEX/CRIME by Alexis Gregory

The Glory, LDN E2, 9 – 28 April 2018

*****

'… has touches of brilliance – being taught to ‘feel emotion’ is the worst pleasuring agony of all'  

... we are in a dungeon, a dungeon covered with plastic sheeting, surely signalling that a murder is about to happen.  The cast are just named ‘A’ and ‘B’.  ‘B’ is paying for the pleasure of being murdered by ‘A’ in a business transaction.   Here the script (written by actor Alexis Gregory) has touches of brilliance. Read More 

 

HAPPY WARRIORS by James Hugh Macdonald

Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village 28 March – 22 April 2018

****

‘robustly witty and sharply cruel … ‘  

Based on a true story, the play features an imagined re-construction of the witty repartee between Winston Churchill’s son Randolph and eminent writer Evelyn Waugh during their time billeted together ... Read More

 

VICTIM by Martin Murphy

Kings Head Theatre 31st March – 21st April 2018

****

‘Beresford’s performance is an absolute wonder’

Martin Murphy’s play Victim looks at the complicated and fragile relationship between a prison guard (Tracey) and an inmate (Siobhan), both played by the superb Louise Beresford ... Read More

 

PLASTIC by Kenneth Emson

Old Red Lion Theatre 3 - 21st April 2018

****.5

‘Some will escape the small town and some are destined to repeat their lives over and over in this intense new play.’

As an adult it’s all too easy to forget the intensity of the teenage years: the yearning, the desperation to fit in and the feeling of constantly being on the edge of a precipice. It’s also easy to forget that almost all of us carry a small remnant of our ... Read More

 

THE MIKADO, Gilbert and Sullivan

King’s Head Theatre 22nd March – 21 April 2018

*****

“Do not miss this high-octane show”

Charles Court Opera’s website employs the strapline ‘Masters of Gilbert and Sullivan in small spaces’, and it’s 100% right! The company’s current production at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington is absolutely awesome. If you’re used to watching performances in ... Read More

 

WHITE GUY ON THE BUS by Bruce Graham

Directed by Jelena Budimir

Finborough Theatre 27 March - 21 April 2018

****

‘a provocative look at race and class [that makes for] a challenging watch’

Bruce Graham’s White Guy on the Bus receives its European Premiere at the Finborough Theatre in a tremendously convincing performance directed by Jelena Budimir. As timely as ever, this provocative look at race and class ...Read More

 

THINGS THAT DO NOT C(O)UNT Written and performed by Nastazja Somers

The Kings Head Theatre 8th & 9th April

*****

‘Somers really has a flare for creating atmospheres to immerse us in’  

With a good show you can often understand almost exactly everything about it from the first two minutes of the action. This is certainly true of Nastazja Somers’ ‘Things That Do Not C(o)unt’. Opening with Somers in a floor length red evening gown slowly tearing apart a large juicy orange and eating it ... Read More

 

OUROBOROS  

Written and performed by Charlotte Fox

The Rosemary Branch Theatre 30th & 31st March 2018

*****

‘a phenomenal show that all actors should go and see’  

Ouroboros, an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. Often taken to symbolize introspection, the eternal return or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself. It also represents the infinite cycle of nature’s endless creation and destruction, life ... Read More

 

FACES IN THE CROWD

White Bear Theatre, SE11, March 20th – 31st  

****

‘…a strongly crafted observation of the pressures we encounter with love and marriage in modern Britain’  

Dave [Adam Bone] and Joanna [Bonnie Adair] were a married couple in Sheffield, whose relationship broke down under the pressures of expectation: expectations to have children, pay off the mortgage, pay off ... Read More

 

BALLISTIC by Alex Packer

King’s Head Theatre until 17 March 2018

****

‘Food for thought in a timely and urgent play.’

As the recent Florida school shooting continues to be headline news around the world, the debate never really extends to examining the reasons why these young men commit these horrific crimes. Perhaps it’s less confronting to talk about arming teachers rather than looking at how ... Read More

 

Top Pick LPT magazine, Read our interview with playwright Robin Hooper here

FOUL PAGES by Robin Hooper

Directed by Matthew Parker

The Hope Theatre, Islington, until 17 March 2018

****

‘a highly entertaining success for the Hope theatre’

In its sixth in-house production, the Hope Theatre presents the world premiere of Robin Hooper’s ‘Foul Pages,’ a comedic and beguiling look at the backstage squabbles and sexual politics preceding a performance of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’. ... Read More

 

SUPERMAN & ME AND A FESTIVAL OF OTHER LOVES IN CRISIS presented by Little Pieces of Gold & Canal Café Theatre

Canal Café Theatre 12th – 14th March

****

‘The evening showcased powerful, female-led stories and writing, covering everything from race, to power, to infidelity and love’

First up was Suzette Coons Superman & Me, a visceral and comedic look at marriage troubles in mid-life. Led by a stellar pairing of ... Read More

 

THEN AGAIN

Created, devised and presented by Tremolo Theatre

King’s Head Theatre, Islington 11 & 12 March 2018 and on tour

****

‘thoroughly enjoyable, highly energetic short show’  

Then Again is a thoroughly enjoyable, highly energetic short show from a Bristol-based company currently on tour outside London. Millie (Hanora Kamen) is a geeky science student who, rather than ... Read More

 

THE LADY WITH A DOG Adapted from a story by Anton Chekhov

Written and directed by Mark Giesser

White Bear Pub Theatre, Kennington, 20 February – 10 March 2018

****

“Care for a Jelly baby?”  

Chekhov’s original story was published in 1899. It describes an illicit affair between Dimitri Gurov and Anna Von Diderits. Their affair begins while both are vacationing –singly- in the Crimean sea resort of Yalta.  Giesser has moved the action to ... Read More

 

HEAR ME HOWL

Landor Space, SW9 7-9 March

***1/2

‘…a funny and thoroughly contemporary production that all millennials will relate to…’

Upon entering the Landor Space we are greeted with a simple yet striking image: a lone woman sat at a drum kit. She carefully prepares both herself and the kit: making little tweaks to the instruments while seemingly running through an intense mental monologue. Read More

 

PLAYLIST

Presented by Wolab

The Kings Head Theatre 4 – 5 March 2018

****

‘Wolab has struck upon a winning formula for a scratch night’

‘Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought’ or so said American Lyricist Yip Harburg. So, Playlist, a night curated by theatre company Wolab, seems to be attempting to find ... Read More

 

GLITTER PUNCH by Lucy Burke

Vault Festival 2018 28th February – 5th March

****

‘a fiercely modern bildungsroman’  

Glitter Punch has been doing the rounds; it’s been on in multiple venues to 4 and 5 star reviews and had changes of cast too. I was interested to see what it was about this play that has been proving so popular ... Read more

 

Top pick LPT magazine, read our interview with Director Dave Spencer here

THE SOUL OF WITTGENSTEIN by Ron Elisha  

Omnibus Theatre 6 – 25 February 2018

****

‘It was a joy to watch a genuine relationship grow on stage’

The Soul of Wittgenstein, based in 1941, explores the relationship between John Smith, an illiterate cockney, and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein ... Read More

 

Top pick LPT magazine, read our interview with Henry Darke here 

BOOBY’S BAY by Henry Darke

Finborough Theatre, 30 January – 24 February 2018

****

'Lovely on the ear, a play with breadth and depth'  

Booby’s Bay is about the displacement of the Cornish people due to excessive tourism.  Billed as a play about the housing crisis, it quickly turns into a play about language and ... Read More

 

THE UNGRATEFUL BIPED written and performed by Philip Goodhew

Directed by Rupert Graves

White Bear Theatre, SE11, 30th January - 17th February 2018

****.5

‘Brave and uncompromising’

Ladies and gentle-germs, may I present the underground man also known as the Ungrateful Biped, perhaps the most cheerfully misanthropic character to cross your path in a long time (and that’s saying something). Created by Dostoyevsky in the 1860s and brought bang up to date ... Read More

 

THE JUNGLE BOOK based on Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories

Tabard Theatre 14 -17 February 2018

****

‘…an engaging piece of theatre that captivates the young audience and has plenty to amuse the adults’  

It is a tale that has been adapted many times, perhaps most famously by Disney, and Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories continue to fascinate children. Jellyfish Theatre Company have gone back to the original texts and constructed this charming hour long version ... Read More 

 

STATEMENTS

Written and Performed by Sam Clayton

Kings Head Theatre 14-15 Jan/ Bread and Roses Theatre 13-17 Feb 2018

****

‘intensely rich and well researched’

Statement (verb); officially assess (a child) as having special educational needs. Sam Clayton’s one man show explores the process of educating a statemented child from a variety of angles: teachers, parents, doctors, SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator), and the children themselves ... Read More

 

Triptych of Comic Operas

King’s Head Theatre 11 and 12 February 2018

****

“Modern operas with an irrational twist”  

Irrational Theatre's Triptych of Comic Operas is just that - a trio of satirical and certainly irrational pieces linked by the relationships of three characters in each opera, and the same three singers who portrayed them. ...Read More

 

DROLL: THE MUMMERS Devised and Presented by The Owle Schreame

The Pit (Vaults Festival) 8 – 11 February 2018

*****

‘it’s impossible not to be swept up by the lusty immersive experience’  

Mummers Plays (no, I hadn’t heard of them either): folk tales performed by amateur actors, dating back to the 13th Century, passed down in a purely oral tradition for hundreds of years. The foundation of each comic tale involves two people who fight, one dies, ... Read More 

 

THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH by HP Lovecraft

The Etcetera Theatre 10 February 2018

****

“…Lovecraft's velvety prose provides a firm foundation for this fantastically surreal and ludicrous stage adaptation.”  

It may seem strange to talk of high production values when the set of the show in question consists of literally nothing more than a couple of airing rails, ragged clothing hastily ... Read More

 

LITTLE DID I KNOW by Doc Andersen-Bloomfield

Bread and Roses Theatre, Clapham, 6-10 Feb 2018

****

‘A strong and touching play that tells us more about the refugee crisis than any news item’

This play is in the top three of the Bread & Roses playwriting award. It’s not hard to see why. It tells the story of Aneesha, (the wonderful Natali Servat) a refugee escaping the civil war in Syria and making it ... Read More 

 

FEAR AND MISERY OF THE THIRD REICH by Bertolt Brecht

Jack Studio Theatre, SE4, 16 January-3 February 2018

****

‘An important and apt revival for these troubling times.’  

How theatre continues to react to the momentous events of 2016 is intriguing. There have been a number of new works exploring Trump and Brexit, including at the National Theatre. But which plays from the past can provide an insight into the current situation? Read More

 

EAST by Steven Berkoff

King’s Head Theatre 9 January to 3 February 2018

*****

‘This excellent revival, directed by Jessica Lazar, captures East’s articulate anarchy… Not to be missed.’

Sit down and prepare for a verbal assault that will leave the audience reeling. Novel, hilarious, bawdy, relentless – Steven Berkoff’s classic play East is back in town, returning to the King’s Head Theatre where it was performed forty years ago. Read More

 

BOYS IN THE BUFF

The King’s Head Theatre (25 Nov – 9 Dec 2017)& 11th Jan - 3 Feb 2018

****

‘Comedy without crassness, heart without histrionics’  

‘Nakedness is uncomely...Therefore set it down: That a habit of secrecy is both politic and moral.’ So said British statesman and philosopher Francis Bacon. And it is not untrue that the British are somewhat known as prudish ... Read More

 

IMAGINATIONSHIP by Sue Healy

Finborough Theatre 7 - 23 Jan 2018

****

“...everyone knows those classical Greeks were benders”

For various reasons I know Great Yarmouth quite well. It’s a town not far from the Norfolk Broads and where Sue Healy has set her play ‘Imaginationship’. Great Yarmouth is a ‘complicated’ place. Read More

 

INTO THE NUMBERS by Christopher Chen

Finborough Theatre 2 - 27 January 2018

****

‘a play of ideas, particularly the nature of history and how we construct meaning from the range of disparate facts’  

In 2004, a young American historian, Iris Chang, killed herself, seven years after her book The Rape of Nanking was a worldwide bestseller that highlighted the mass execution of tens of thousands of Chinese ... Read More

 

TOP HAT

Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate, until 28 January 2018

*****

'rich with romance, dazzle and wit’  

Irving Berlin’s musical is brought to us through the lens of RKO’s motion picture starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  Based on this film and its book by Matthew White & Howard Jacques, it has lost none of its dazzle and wit.  

Read More  

 

PETITE PANTOS

Drayton Arms Theatre 9-13th January

*****

‘Two Petite Pantos with hearts and souls of GIANTS’  

Like all theatre, pantomime can be a David and Goliath affair. Big theatres, big stars, big budgets and big ticket prices versus shows like Petite Pantos at the Drayton Arms pub theatre. Had I been ... Read More

 

A FISH?

Written and performed by Oh Standfast

Etcetera Theatre 10th January

Black Box Festival (Work in Progress)

****

‘I have no idea what I watched but I loved it’

‘If you think this is funny, it’s comedy. If you think this is clever, it’s poetry. If you don’t understand it, it’s art’. An astute statement and fair warning at the beginning of his show, ... Read More