20 shows to look forward to in 2020

I look ahead to some of the 2020 shows exciting me most with an emphasis away from the West End, looking mostly instead at the London fringe and across the UK 

Sure, there’s all sorts of big ticket shows coming to London in 2020 (with big ticket prices too to go with their big names), like Sunday in the Park with George with Jake Gyllenhaal, Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg, A Doll’s House with Jessica Chastain. But there’s so much more to discover if you venture away from Shaftesbury Avenue…

1 The Glass Menagerie, Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe at the Barbican
Not that I want to be predictable at all but Isabelle Huppert! Acting in French! Right in front of you! I understand that van Hove-fatigue might be setting in for people but only a FOOL would pass up the chance to see one of our greatest living actors. A FOOL! 

2 The Glass Menagerie, Royal Exchange
And if you wanted to do a direct compare and contrast, Atri Banerjee’s revival for the Royal Exchange will be worth checking out too for an alternative perspective. 

3 The Wicker Husband, Watermill
Even before Benjamin Button tore my heart apart, I was excited for the arrival of this new musical by Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark but now, the bar has been raised even higher. And the gorgeous intimacy of the Watermill feels like a perfect fit.


4 Children of Nora, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam
Me: “I don’t need any more Ibsen in my life”
Also me: Robert Icke revisiting the world of A Doll’s House through the eyes of the next generation? Yes please.

5 Romantics Anonymous, Bristol Old Vic
I don’t think I thought this delicious Koomin and Dimond musical would ever actually return, so this short run in the UK ahead of a US tour feels like a real blessing. Now where did I put my badge?
Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2020”

September theatre round-up

A quick round-up of the rest of September’s shows

Mary Said What She Said, aka how far I will go for Isabelle Huppert
The Provoked Wife, aka how far I will go for Alexandra Gilbreath
A Doll’s House, aka if we must have more Ibsen, at least it is like this
Falsettos, aka finding the right way, for me, to respond
The Comedy Grotto, aka a sneaky peak at Joseph Morpurgo
The Life I Lead, aka something really rather sweet
Blues in the Night, aka all hail Broadway-bound Sharon D Clarke (and Debbie Kurup, and Clive Rowe too)
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, aka well why not go again Continue reading “September theatre round-up”

Review: Jinkx Monsoon & Major Scales – The Ginger Snapped, Leicester Square Theatre

Jinkx Monsoon & Major Scales’ cabaret show The Ginger Snapped mixes music, musings on mental health and moments of queer solidarity at the Leicester Square Theatre

“Take it from the whore’s mouth”

The best cabaret shows always find the sweet spot between concert and confessional and in The Ginger Snapped, Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales manage to do just that. As a promised show disintegrates into a pseudo-therapy session, the pair delve into the murky waters of fame and fabulousness to reveal some of the toll it can take on one’s mental health.

Winner of season five of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Monsoon’s strengths are immediately apparent with the opening number which encapsulates everything about the kind of performer she is. Bantering with the audience, cracking jokes, working in all kinds of interplay with accompanist Scales and delivering some straight-up powerhouse vocals, there’s no mistaking this is the real deal. Continue reading “Review: Jinkx Monsoon & Major Scales – The Ginger Snapped, Leicester Square Theatre”

Review: Notflix, VAULT Festival

All-female musical improv – Notflix is an early evening treat at the VAULT Festival

“This ain’t a hoedown
This is a showdown”

Because everything is better as a musical right? Notflix‘s spin on the improv wheel is that they come up with an improvised musical interpretation of a film suggested by an audience member (sadly not mine, Dangerous Liaisons le Musical will have to wait for another day). And interpreted is the key word, as no knowledge of said film is necessary as the all-female company riff endlessly and inventively in and around the film’s title. 

So this performance saw Independence Day: Resurgence the musical and I don’t think a single cast member had seen it (me neither). But no matter, as we were soon whisked off into a world of savage alien brothers from Zorbatron, horny rednecks on Earth and a plucky spaceship crew who might possibly just be able to save the day… And it was fricking hilarious. Continue reading “Review: Notflix, VAULT Festival”

Review: Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her!, VAULT Festival

Witch please! Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her! is some comedy that makes you think at the VAULT Festival

“Write a funny story about witches they said…”

Pass it round, Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her! An innocuous schoolyard taunt serves as the starting point for a veritable odyssey of discovery for Morgan as she seeks to reclaim the word from its long and troubled history. And as we find out, it is a history that is as often appalling as it is surprising, though accompanied by her new husband Tom Moores (in a fetching black catsuit, natch) and some hefty vocal power, it’s an entirely engaging journey. 

In some ways, the show serves as an interesting companion piece to Call Me Fury seen earlier at this year’s VAULT Festival, also seeking to reappraise societal interpretations of witchcraft with a musical twist. Morgan’s comic grounding clearly directs the show in a different direction but there’s still something so compelling about looking at the many ways the patriarchy has abused the term in order to maintain the status quo.  Continue reading “Review: Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her!, VAULT Festival”

Review: How To Date a Magical Creature, VAULT Festival

Pushing the boundaries of improv beyond the mortal realm, How To Date a Magical Creature is a comic highlight at this week’s VAULT Festival

Sometimes you just have to murder David Attenborough””

The beauty of improv is, of course, that you can make up anything you like and so it follows that you can base an improv show around anything. Which is, I think, how we’ve ended up with How To Date a Magical Creature, a Parky-style chat show with a guest list made up of an array of fantastical beasts suggested by the audience . 

And from their imagination at this show, were plucked such luminaries as the Loch Ness Monster with wings, an ethnically ambiguous unicorn, and the Mongolian deathworm, not to mention Turnip the teenage witch and Hades. An eclectic and impressive mixture, all put through their paces by effortlessly charismatic host Toby Vanilla (Jonah Fazel), a man who knows just what his voice can do… Continue reading “Review: How To Date a Magical Creature, VAULT Festival”

Review: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, The Other Palace

So much fun to be had with the hilarious guys of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at The Other Palace

“It’s time you felt my gay-rage”

I’ve been watching the Showstopper crew for as long as I’ve been blogging (the King’s Head was a great venue for them), so it’s a real treat to see them constantly move onwards and upwards, stepping up from their monthly West End residencies (which they’re still continuing) to a fully fledged 7 week run at The Other Palace, during which they’ll celebrate their 1,000th show.

For the uninitiated, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is a show that is made up on the spot by a group of disgustingly talented comedians, taken from ideas given by the audience in terms of musical influences, plot twists and titles. It’s as simple as that and it is ingeniously done, night after night, to produce a brand new musical each time, which has never failed to leave me helpless with laughter. Continue reading “Review: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, The Other Palace”

Review: Sorry, VAULT Festival

The joy in improv is being right there in the room and with the comedians of Sorry, there’s such joy, catch them at the VAULT Festival in March

“Sorry I’m late, there were fishermen wanking on the Northern Line”

Improv done well is one of the greatest pleasures I know, and Sorry’s take on the form, which is inexplicably only playing at the VAULT Festival for a couple of dates, has to be some of the best I’ve seen. Over the hour of inspired improvised insanity, the audience was crying with laughter, half the company were helpless too and as ever, you had to be there to even begin to comprehend how funny it was.

To provide the inspiration for their improv, Sorry’s shows begin with a chat with a special guest (tonight saw them invite Dust playwright Milly Thomas) which throws up all sorts of ideas which are then incorporated into the comedy routine that follows. Thomas proved extremely game, revealing a hatred for salmon and a love for giant freaky dolls among other things, which set us off for great things. Continue reading “Review: Sorry, VAULT Festival”

News: Austentatious and Murder She Didn’t Write announce extensions

Great news as both Austentatious and Murder She Didn’t Write announce extensions although #ImprovSundays look to be over 🙁

Following a season of smash-hit performances during 2018 (a fair few of which I managed to see), Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel have announced that they will begin a Monday night residency at the Fortune Theatre, London from 18 February 2019.  And in particularly good news for fans of the troupe, a new loyalty card is also being introduced offering a fifth performance for free once you’ve attended four performances at the Fortune Theatre. 

And similarly coming off a successful year, Degrees of Error’s hilarious Murder, She Didn’t Write will continue their monthly shows at the Leicester Square Theatre as their residency has been extended with shows now booked until May 2019. In addition to this, they are due to embark on a national tour where they will bring their Agatha Christie-inspired improv to audiences across England come the New Year.

Continue reading “News: Austentatious and Murder She Didn’t Write announce extensions”

Review: Austentatious, Savoy Theatre


The first of three opportunities to see Austentatious at the Savoy Theatre in December in a hilariously scandalous affair indeed

“We’ll buff them in the vestry”

Spreading festive cheer all month long at the Savoy, Austentatious’s Christmas season got off with a bang (ooh vicar) with the saucily inclined Carry On Follow That Carriage. As ever, trying to describe the experience of watching a lost Jane Austen come to life in front of you is to be on a hiding to nothing but among the joys here were erotic flipbooks, bible polishing, dogging in Stevenage, the joys of a reverse flicking and – don’t tell PETA – all kinds of avian murder.  

And even when you think that there’s no way this surreally random collection of story threads could ever come together, the skills of this improv troupe becomes apparent as a resolution hoves into view as if never in doubt. Cariad Lloyd’s bawdy card-playing sister was a hoot, I loved Amy Cooke-Hodgson’s Mrs Bryce and Graham Dickson’s reactions to Andrew Hunter Murray’s late-blooming physicality were inspired. Honestly, there’s few better ways to spend a Sunday evening.  

Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Photo: Robert Viglasky
Austentatious is next playing at the Savoy Theatre on 9th and 16th December