Review: Jericho’s Rose, Hope Theatre

A striking look at immigration and dementia, Jericho’s Rose brings the loop pedal and no little invention to the Hope Theatre

“If you’ve forgotten
And I can’t remember
How will we ever know?”

There’s no place like home; wherever I lay my hat that’s my home; home is where the heart is; you can never go home again – from Judy Garland to Maya Angelou, everyone has something to say about home. And we can add Lilac Yosiphon to that list, as her striking show Jericho’s Rose takes up residency at the Hope Theatre.

Formally adventurous and deeply felt, Yosiphon explores this notion of home from two key perspectives. Her own as an artist trying to put down roots in London but finding something of a hostile environment as she applies for a visa, and her grandfather’s as he comes to terms with the ravages of Alzheimer’s. In such an uncertain world, can anywhere be considered home? Continue reading “Review: Jericho’s Rose, Hope Theatre”

Review: The Distance You Have Come, Cockpit

A Scott Alan song cycle promises much but The Distance You Have Come doesn’t quite deliver at the Cockpit Theatre, despite its excellent cast

“I deserve to be seen
This dream feels way overdue”

Scott Alan’s reputation as a songwriter is without question. Over a number of albums over the last decade (a fair few of which I’ve reviewed here), he’s been able to count on an extraordinary array of performers to bring his music to life, songs which are unafraid to chart the lows as well as the highs of living, loving, losing, dreaming… The Distance You Have Come sees him maintain that quality of guestlist in a live setting, as he entwines together over 20 of his compositions into a song cycle.

It proves a curious enterprise though, one which doesn’t quite cohere in a way that the quality of these songs deserves. Alan wrote the book for the show, as well as directing, and you do wonder whether an outside perspective might have helped. The book tries to do an awful lot in the space of a few snatched sentences between songs and its ambition feels somewhat unnecessary if the show is to be a song cycle rather than a fledgling musical. Continue reading “Review: The Distance You Have Come, Cockpit”

Review: Company, Gielgud

The company of Company are simply sensational at the Gielgud Theatre – Rosalie Craig, Patti LuPone, Jonny Bailey…just book now!

“Everyone adores you, what an awful thing”

Phone rings, door chimes, in comes an adaptation of Company that subtly but definitively realigns it for a contemporary audience and makes you wonder how you could ever go back to the original as is. Marianne Elliott’s reworking is most notable for the regendering of its lead character – Bobby becomes Bobbie in the extraordinary hands of Rosalie Craig – but the changes it makes filter right down through the show, reflecting the changes in society since the show was written in 1970.

Sometimes it is overt. Amy becomes Jamie here, and Jonathan Bailey’s show-stopping delivery of ‘Getting Married Today’ (seriously, best priest in a show, ever) is underscored by the fact that gay marriage is a thing now. Less obvious is the switching of roles for Susan and Peter, she’s the professional go-getter and he’s the one who faints at the sight of blood. And even Larry becoming something of a toyboy for Joanne speaks towards an important rebuttal of the kinds of cultural stereotype that have been allowed to persist.  Continue reading “Review: Company, Gielgud”

Review: On Your Head Be It, London Horror Festival at Old Red Lion

My first foray into the London Horror Festival sees me take in On Your Head Be It at the Old Red Lion Theatre

“Do you want to be caught by the police?”

There’s nothing quite like being smacked around the head by the brilliance of a theatre company and that was my experience the first time I saw Out of the Forest Theatre with their striking take on the story of Lizzie Borden – Bury the Hatchet. So of course I was delighted to find their newest show popping up as part of the London Horror Festival at the Old Red Lion.

Written by and starring Joseph Cullen and Sasha Wilson, On Your Head Be It – A Cautionary Tale is the story of a couple trying to enjoy a bit of holiday in deepest Wales, a break from the old routine. After a rocky journey there and a few bottles of sauvignon blanc have been downed, it soon becomes clear to what extent Stuart and Eleanor are no ordinary couple though. Continue reading “Review: On Your Head Be It, London Horror Festival at Old Red Lion”

Review: Much Ado About Nothing, Katzplace

A youthful and enthusiastic Much Ado About Nothing from Exploding Whale in the Katzpace Studio Theatre in London Bridge

“Is not that strange?”

A new theatre for me is always a treat and one tucked away under a bierkeller even more so (I still don’t know how I resisted some pre-show spätzle to go with my lovely Rosarda beer…). Katzpace has been open for a year in the basement of the wittily named Katzenjammers and it even has its own theatre company in residency – Exploding Whale – who are currently mounting a revival of their 2015 production of Much Ado About Nothing.   

In this quirky little 50 seater studio, a quirky little adaptation emerges, wittily directed by Mischief Theatre’s Ellie Morris. Relocated to a modern office setting, its first half is full of delightful little twists. Office politics in place of military tensions, work parties in place of masquerade balls, and the consequent tangled inter-relationships as suited to strip-lighted open plan rooms as they are to Sicilian sunshine. It’s a surprise they haven’t gone the whole hog and have war break out because someone used the microwave to reheat fish!   Continue reading “Review: Much Ado About Nothing, Katzplace”

Review: Murder She Didn’t Write, Leicester Square Theatre

Improv Sundays continue with a return visit to Murder She Didn’t Write at the Leicester Square Theatre

“It is a clown’s lot not to be happy in life”

Just a quickie for this as I wrote up Murder She Didn’t Write last month (review here) and there’s not too much more to say about them, than to reiterate if you’re not watching improv on a Sunday, you’re doing London wrong. This Sunday’s show saw us solve The Case of the Seatless Unicycle, a tragic tale of cats’ birthdays, clowns(!), and cupboards which saw the Degrees of Error crew having a whale of a time and possibly smuttier than ever!

The very notion of an improvised show means it is hard to review it properly, you will never get to see the show I saw (pauvre Marcel…) and it’s likely I’ll miss the one you see when you take my advice to book after reading this. But you can rest assured that this is a talented company of comedians who have the relaxed ease of knowing they’re good at what they do and if they try just hard enough, they can make each other laugh just as much as the audience. (I do love a good corpse.)

Photo: Jamie Corbin
Murder She Didn’t Write next plays at the Leicester Square Theatre on the 18th November, further touring dates here

 

Full list of 2018 UK Theatre Awards winners

The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide Awards to honour and celebrate outstanding achievements in regional theatre throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they have just announced the winners for the 2018 awards, which include a well-deserved Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre for Maxine Peake – take a look at her acceptance speech here. 

Continue reading “Full list of 2018 UK Theatre Awards winners”

Review: The Humans, Hampstead Theatre

Better than Eclipsed??!! The Humans leave me disappointed at the Hampstead Theatre

“You can never come back”

Huh. The Humans arrived at Hampstead Theatre with the glow of its 2016 Tony Award for Best Play still shining, particularly as its original cast have come over the Atlantic with it. And while I’m hugely appreciate of the opportunity to see another member of The Good Fight cast onstage, and the cast as a whole really were excellent, the play left me somewhat cold and unconvinced of its prize-winning pedigree.

On entering, the heart sinks at the realisation that we’re relying on the much-abused trope of a family coming together around the dinner table and sure enough, beneath the façade of familial jokes and enforced holiday bonhomie (it’s Thanksgiving natch), there’s a whole world of secrets and lies waiting to burst forth. Writer Stephen Karam also layers in a trip to a whole other genre which certainly grabs the attention, but that’s not to say that it works. Continue reading “Review: The Humans, Hampstead Theatre”

Review: The Inheritance, Noël Coward Theatre

After a scorching run at the Young Vic, Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance makes a well-deserved transfer into the West End

“I couldn’t leave this place, not in my mind, not in my heart”

After a scorching run at the Young Vic, Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance makes a well-deserved transfer into the West End. And though the seats (and some of the sightlines) at the Noël Coward Theatre make it a little bit more of an endurance test over its near-seven hours of drama, the experience remains a truly soul-enhancing, life-enrichening thing.

All but one of the original cast have returned (Jack Riddiford stepping in for Luke Thallon who has turned to alternative Cock in Chichester), but none of the production’s magic has been lost. Indeed, for those who have seen it before, it is almost better second time round as the exquisite agony of knowing what is to come deepens so much of the first part. Continue reading “Review: The Inheritance, Noël Coward Theatre”

Review: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Finborough

New at the Finborough Theatre, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City proves gently compelling

I can make cancer jokes. Because I have cancer”

Deep breath – Halley Feiffer’s play is entitled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, an entry into titles that are amusingly long when you start to read them but soon end up trying the patience (qv We Are Proud To Present… and I’d Rather Goya). Overall though, the play is better than that.

A wee slip of a thing at barely 80 minutes, it’s a admirably bold take on ‘the cancer play’. That much is clear from the ribald humour of its opening sequence and an initial sense that the focus isn’t going to be on the two women in the hospital beds, but rather their adult children – Cariad Lloyd’s Karla and Rob Crouch’s Don – who are putting in the hours at their bedsides. Continue reading “Review: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Finborough”