Ain’t Misbehavin’, which has also recently been revived in London. Before the concept of the jukebox musical came along to build a narrative around existing songs, both of these shows presented a much more loosely-connected collection of hit songs of the 1920s and ‘30s; although unlike the earlier show, Blues in the Night doesn’t theme itself around one specific composer or performer (although songwriter Bessie Smith seems to be represented more than most.) Instead it dips into a variety of jazz and blues standards and gives them to three women and a man in a dingy hotel/bar in the wee small hours of a hot Southern night. The title suggests this could be quite a downbeat evening but while a lot of the songs deal with trying to cope during the Great Depression, as well as with the ubiquitous musical theme of personal heartbreak, most of the time we’re in for a much more upbeat, defiant and sexy mood.
Tuesday 30 July 2019
Saturday 27 July 2019
that particular production was an incoherent car crash that was 50% sales presentation for a property development and 50% people desperately shouting "immersive!" at you while asking for money for four hours, it's probably easiest all round to just treat Thomas Otway's Restoration thriller as completely new to me. Prasanna Puwanarajah directs a mercifully coherent production, although how much sense the plot itself makes remains up for debate. Jaffeir (Michael Grady-Hall) is recruited by his best friend Pierre (Stephen Fewell) to join a bloody rebellion against the corrupt ruling class of Venice; both swear loyalty to the cause, but each also has a personal vendetta against some member of the senate which is the real clincher in wanting to bring them down. In Jaffeir's case, it's his senator father-in-law Priuli (Les Dennis,) who disapproved of the marriage and went out of his way to punish him for it.
Thursday 25 July 2019
Tuesday 23 July 2019
Thursday 18 July 2019
Tuesday 16 July 2019
Saturday 13 July 2019
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button premiered there, and if Fiver doesn't come with quite the same gut-punch of having witnessed something very special, Alex James Ellison and Tom Lees' show about a five pound note shows off a prolific talent for composing a strong tune. The writer-composers also direct, and Ellison appears in the cast as a busker who kicks off the story when an audience member puts the titular note in his collection jar. He sticks around as narrator and guitarist for the rest of the show, but his co-stars Luke Bayer, Dan Buckley, Aoife Clesham and Hiba Elchikhe do most of the vocal heavy lifting from here on in.
Friday 12 July 2019
Young Chekhov on the Olivier stage - adaptor David Hare, director Jonathan Kent and star James McArdle. Building the whole show around the latter, Hare has transported Henrik Ibsen's weird social fantasy Peer Gynt to Scotland, although much of the mythology remains jarringly Nordic. Retitled Peter Gynt, it sees McArdle's title character starting out as a lovable fantasist, returning to Scotland from a war in which he's seemingly made a name for himself, except all his exploits start to sound suspiciously familiar to anyone who's seen any movies*. In reality, his biggest claim to fame is fighting mechanic Duncan (o hai, Lorne McFadyen,) but he gets the idea for a bigger stunt when he finds out his ex-girlfriend Ingrid (Caroline Deyga) has got together with Spudface (Martin Quinn) in his absence.
Thursday 11 July 2019
Tuesday 9 July 2019
Monday 8 July 2019
2nd May 1997, and with his latest play's opening scene taking place about six months after that date it's clear he's not yet done interrogating what the hope and optimism of Tony Blair's first victory actually ever amounted to. Blair is much more of a background noise than a central theme in The End of History..., a family drama spanning twenty years that often has the feel of a sitcom that's gone unusually dark. Sal (Future Dame Lesley Sharp) and David (David Morrissey) are a kind of embarrassing sitcom mum and dad (right down to the clichéd trope of the mum who's a terrible cook,) with the main source of embarrassment being their commitment to their left-wing beliefs and causes, their enthusiasm for which has never dulled.
Friday 5 July 2019
The Bridge, Open Air Theatre and Globe are all showing off their Bottoms, and it's the second leg's turn for me as director Dominic Hill is brought in from Glasgow to Regent's Park for a new take on the play that must surely be the venue's most-performed. It's the story of Oberon, King of the Fairies (Kieran Hill) and his plan to humiliate his Queen Titania (Amber James) into giving him a changeling child of hers, with a plot involving a love potion; and the mortals who get caught up in the middle of the chaos when they wander into the woods, including a troupe of amateur actors and a quartet of starcrossed lovers.
Thursday 4 July 2019
The Old Vic's 2012 production of Noises Off was only the second show I reviewed on this particular blog, so given Michael Frayn's play is regularly described as the greatest farce (and one of the greatest comedies in general) ever written it's probably not that surprising if someone thought it was time for it to return to London. The Lyric Hammersmith is where it premiered in 1982, and as it's currently in a bit of a limbo state between artistic directors Jeremy Herrin has grabbed the opportunity to bring the play back to where it all began. It's a farce within a farce within a farce, as director Lloyd (Lloyd Owen) attempts to preside over the technical rehearsal of Nothing On, a creaky and convoluted farce about to embark on a national tour after nowhere near enough rehearsal. The cast barely know their lines let alone their blocking, but that's not going to cause as many problems as the company's personal lives.