The Room. Written as a radio play (and later revised for the stage) in 1963, it’s hard not to see The Ruffian on the Stair as a response to Pinter’s debut from a few years earlier. Both short plays are set in a poky apartment in a larger building, in which the lady of the house is terrorised by unwelcome visitor(s) when her husband is out, driving a van for what is probably some nefarious purpose (although in Orton’s case, the purpose is eventually made very clear.) Joyce (Lucy Benjamin) is a former (and possibly current) prostitute now living with Mike (Gary Webster,) whom she calls her husband - although whether or not they’re actually married seems up for debate.
Thursday, 31 January 2019
Tuesday, 29 January 2019
Caroline, or Change currently transferred to the Playhouse, a few feet away her 1997 show (with book and lyrics by Brian Crawley) gets its UK debut at the Charing Cross Theatre. Another link to the composer’s more recent work is Fun Home’s leading lady Kaisa Hammarlund, looking significantly less like Sue Perkins as she takes the title role in Violet. Set in the Southern US states in 1964, Violet is a woman who was hit in the face with an axe by her father when she was 13 (probably by accident, although she doesn’t seem entirely convinced.) The resulting scar makes people recoil at the sight of her, and as the play opens she’s leaving her small North Carolina town and getting on a Greyhound bus to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to see a televangelist and faith healer she hopes can restore her looks.
Friday, 25 January 2019
Wednesday, 23 January 2019
Hamilton, and the good news is that however much reviewers (including me) like to compare the latest ones to the Broadway juggernaut, none of the British entries have really used Lin-Manuel Miranda as a template, each instead taking its own eccentric path. SIX is the first of the current crop to be sent back across the Atlantic – a Chicago production in the spring will be hoping to carry on to New York – and it’s hard to think of a piece of English history that’d be an easier sell to American audiences than the six wives of Henry VIII. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’ musical played a short run at the Arts Theatre in the autumn, when I was too busy to catch it, but it’s now returned there after a national tour, and is already booking a year in advance. And it’s not hard to see why, as the publicity campaign must be getting help from enough enthusiastic word of mouth to fill the small theatre for a while.
Thursday, 17 January 2019
Jesus Christ Superstar that mean I haven’t written the millionaire supervillain off completely; and I vaguely remember enjoying the Menier Chocolate Factory’s production of Aspects of Love nine years ago. But I think on that occasion I must have just enjoyed looking at Michael Arden for three hours because revisiting it now at Southwark Playhouse it turns out the show is a right turd. This is the latest of Jonathan O’Boyle’s musical revivals to transfer from Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre, and in fairness I don’t have much issue with the production itself or the cast. Set mainly in France between 1947 and 1964, it begins with 17-year-old Alex (Felix Mosse) getting an Ibsen boner for actress Rose (Kelly Price) and inviting her to spend a fortnight with him at his wealthy uncle’s country house.
Tuesday, 15 January 2019
Thursday, 10 January 2019
Tuesday, 8 January 2019
Been So Long, recently reinvented as a Netflix film, had a strong flavour of London but the playwright subsequently moved to Los Angeles, and that’s the location, and the atmosphere he tries to capture here. This is partly through a film noir-ish feel to the story of Blaz (Gabriel Akuwudike,) who spends three years in prison after a robbery goes wrong. His friend Karl (Benjamin Cawley) was the one who talked him into it, but managed to get away; but apart from missing his friend he doesn’t seem to have much regret for what he got him into, if anything acting like he’s the wronged party.
Saturday, 5 January 2019
Thursday, 3 January 2019
The Birthday Party, and sees the playwright make no bones about the fact that his style is going to be eerie and ambiguous. Soutra Gilmour’s revolve stays still this time as a single, large but comparatively cosy room, but the rest of the boarding house it’s in is as much a character in the short play as anything else: Rose Hudd (Jane Horrocks) knows she has neighbours but doesn’t seem to know them; she’s fascinated with who might live in the dark, damp basement, and thinks people also live in the floors above them, but nobody seems to know how many floors the building actually has.