Review: Austentatious, Fortune Theatre

The ever-hilarious Austentatious return to the West End with a Monday night residency at the Fortune Theatre

“Forgive me, I did not know a mouth baby should be addressed so”

It’s been a moment since I’ve seen Austentatious. Their rise has been sure and steady over the last few years, graduating from monthly residencies at the Leicester Square Theatre to the Savoy Theatre and then on to a weekly booking at the Fortune Theatre, whilst also finding time for highly successful national tours and seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe. And that’s also not to mention that this is a side hustle for this company of very-much-in-demand comedians.

I’ve seen them just a few times over the years but weekly visits at West End prices are beyond even my devotion (that said, there is a loyalty card scheme…). But I couldn’t resist a visit to welcome them back to the bijou surroundings of the Fortune where we were treated to the surreal delights of Northanger Crabby. For the uninitiated, Austentatious is a show entirely improvised in Jane Austen-style and costume from a title suggested by the audience. Continue reading “Review: Austentatious, Fortune Theatre”

Review: SORRY, VAULT Festival

Improv group SORRY team up with Andrew Hunter Murray for a fricking hilarious night at the VAULT Festival

“There isn’t any wrong or right, just blow or strum”

The angels smiled on me when improv supremos SORRY announced another gig to follow their previous sold-out shows at the VAULTs this year. And not only that, their special guest for this one was none other than Andrew Hunter Murray, he of Austentatious and recent Sunday Times-best selling list fame.

I possibly didn’t laugh as hard anywhere else than at their show here last year and this time round was no disappointment either. Their format works extremely well – 15 minutes chat with their guest at the top of the show and then the rest of the time spent riffing on the subjects raised, in some brilliantly off-the-cuff and off-the-wall improv from Liz Kingsman, Alison Thea-Skot, Naomi Petersen, Sophia Broido and Lola-Rose Maxwell. Continue reading “Review: SORRY, VAULT Festival”

Review: IMOGENÉ: the improvised pop concert, VAULT Festival

IMOGENÉ: the improvised pop concert tickles my improv cravings in quite some style at the VAULT Festival

“I’m used to playing stadiums”

It’s no secret I love a bit of improv so an advisory warning of “strong chance of audience interaction, costume changes, excessive glitter and oversharing” is like manna from heaven. IMOGENÉ: the improvised pop concert promises all of this and delivers more in a highly amusing hour of made-up pop songs, crowd-surfing antics and audience banter which is deceptively slight, smuggling in some on-the-point truths about some weighty themes.

The show sets itself up as a rare chance to see an intimate concert of the megastar IMOGENÉ (once she’s got off the helicopter from Tokyo natch) and since she’s about to head into the studio with Mark Ronson, we gotta help her write some new songs. So dial down your inhibitions and toss your suggestions into the hat as there’s nothing quite like having a spangly leotard serenade you and lead you into some kind of new enlightened state of being. Continue reading “Review: IMOGENÉ: the improvised pop concert, VAULT Festival”

Review: The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen, VAULT Festival

I go and see The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen at the VAULT Festival and end up playing a tree with killer leaves

“What noise does purple make?”

Many things happened at The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen, but I’m sure you’ll agree that me making my VAULT Festival stage debut is one of the most noteworthy 😉 It just goes to show that even though that this is a family-friendly improv show with its eye on the kids in the audience, the adults alongside them have no chance of escaping being a significant part of the fun as well.

Like so many improvised shows, there’s a simple set-up. Three storytellers taking it in turns to come up with an adventure story based on an idea drawn from a hat and followed up by a series of audience suggestions which, given the imaginative freedom of the young, are as outlandish and random as they are really quite amusing, once woven into the tales by these talented comedians (Lord Lovell, Admiral Seward and Lady Brooke I think it was at this show). Continue reading “Review: The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen, VAULT Festival”

Review: Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T, VAULT Festival

Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T makes for a fun hour of queer Aussie humour at the VAULT Festival

“Did you know one in five artists are an absolute dickhead”

It’s a shame Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T only ran for one weekend at the VAULT Festival as his brand of irrepressibly warm cabaret has a real uplifting charm about it. It’s a relatively simple format – would-be musical theatre legend Harry Ledgerman is launching his new celebrity memoir with his talent agency manager wife Kristal Lee by his side and any number of friends who’ve come along to also share their secrets to becoming successful.

Naturally though, success is relative and Moss’ collection of misfits  – for he plays them all – are all wonderfully deluded in their own special way. Thus the scene is set for a rapidfire kick ball change through many aspects of showbusiness, accompanied by some nifty moves (check that Chorus Line choreography) and some uncanny vocal performances as Adele, Ricky Martin and Britney sit alongside Elphaba, Piaf and Dame Judi herself. Continue reading “Review: Mr. Henry Moss – QUADRUPLE THRE4T, VAULT Festival”

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”