A show I was really looking forward to and a theatre I love dearly – this mustn’t be the end for either DIVA: LIVE FROM HELL or the Jack Studio Theatre
“So sit down, shut up and listen to my story”
A musical riffing on All About Eve? Check.
An exciting performer fresh from a stand-out turn in Operation Mincemeat? Check.
An award-winning fringe theatre with some of the friendliest folk in town? Check.
Any show that refers to itself as eternal campy torment automatically goes to the top of my list and I had high hopes for DIVA: LIVE FROM HELL, a one-man musical with book and characters by Sean Patrick Monahan and music & lyrics by Alexander Sage Oyen. Not least because it was going to give us another chance to see Jak Malone up close and intimately, his Hester having proven to be an extraordinary thing (well worth checking out if/when Operation Mincemeat returns).
For now though, the Jack Studio Theatre has suspended all performances until June 2020.
The short and sweet fifth series of Sally Wainwright’s excellent Last Tango in Halifax is a much-needed shot of the warm and fuzzies
“I’m not deluded. Nice things do make me happy”
With an almost unerring sense of timing, Sally Wainwright gave the nation a shot of the warm and fuzzies with the perfectly short and sweet fifth series of Last Tango in Halifax. Having to wait for three years for it certainly built anticipation but it also had a powerful effect on the storytelling. In a series that has long been rooted in everyday life, allowing so much of that life to happen before revisiting them (as opposed to the laziness of a time jump) really deepens the context. Also, the official confirmation of the Wainwright shared universe was a real delight, how I would watch these avengers assemble!
So the ‘opposites attract’ element of Alan and Celia’s late-blooming relationship is now manifested in deeper ideological differences on subjects such as Brexit. And Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid play this sense of shifting priorities beautifully as his attention turns to his new job at the supermarket and hers is swallowed up the potential of a new kitchen. And as their families look on slightly aghast, there’s a real sense over the four episodes that this core marriage might actually be in peril. Continue reading “TV Review: Last Tango in Halifax, Series 5”
From Virginia and Vita, to Mia and Lottie, Misha Pinnington’s swooningly romantic V&V explores how technology has impacted communication in relationships at the VAULT Festival
“I’ve been doing something so odd, so queer”
The business of conducting a love affair has alwas been particularly charged, as senses are heightened in the erotic rush and emotions brought closer to the surface. But in the world of romance and relationships, communication is key. Misha Pinnington’s V&V explores how even with a century of technological advancement, telling someone how you feel can be an absolute minefield.
From the carefully composed letters between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf to the scrolling message screen of the dating app on which Mia and Lottie meet, Pinnington compares and contrasts these love stories, asking what if anything has really changed for matters of the heart – lesbian, straight or otherwise. And in her smartly directed production for Sprezzatura, it proves a deeply affecting and romantic experience. Continue reading “Review: V&V, VAULT Festival”
Some stunning animation work makes Too Pretty To Punch a powerful exploration of growing up trans at the VAULT Festival
“I am a human through and through
Whether I am or not is nothing to do with you”
You want to say it gets better, and it many ways it does. But for every two steps forward in the case of advancing LGBT+ – and specifically trans – awareness and acceptance, there’s at least one step back – just look at Suzanne Moore’s Guardian-sanctioned transphobia this very week.
So taking the opportunity to actually listen to trans voices, to experience just a little of what it might be like to be on the receiving end of such opinions, has never felt more significant. Transgender/non-binary multimedia performer’s Edalia Day’s Too Pretty To Punch offers such a chance right now, as they explore the experience of growing up trans in a society that is just a little too keen on people fitting neatly into boxes. Continue reading “Review: Too Pretty To Punch, 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”
ARABITCH at VAULT Festival is the queer Arab clown show you didn’t know you needed, and comes with some top Arab pop recommendations
“There aren’t any Lebanese lesbian bookclubs around”
You don’t get many queer Arab clown shows to the pound so that alone (along with one of the best titles of this year’s VAULT Festival) makes ARABITCH an intriguing prospect. And as a work in progress, it certainly has the ingredients for a powerful exploration of intersectional gender politics, specifically how to resolve being both a member of the LGBTQ+ community and Arabic.
Writer/performer Sara Dawood does this through a wide-ranging hour which feels like its heart lies in cabaret, an aura well-cultivated in Serafina Cusack’s production and the intimacy of the Pit. Participatory game shows sit alongside spoken word interludes, confessional coming out stories are followed by exuberant dance, there’s even a measure of dragged-up time-travelling body-swapping. Continue reading “Review: ARABITCH, VAULT Festival”
Who couldn’t love a LGBT+ rom-com – Robert Holtom and Tom Wright’s Dumbledore Is So Gay is like a gorgeously warm embrace at the VAULT Festival
“It’s not how I imagined it, but it’s great”
There’s something beautifully sweet about Dumbledore Is So Gay, a LGBT+ rom-com set in a world of magical realism that gives you hope that things can sometimes get better. Written by Robert Holtom (The Cluedo Club Killings) and directed by Tom Wright (My Dad’s Gap Year, which I now wish I’d seen), it is an adorably funny piece of theatre with a fair amount of potential.
Age 12, Jack can’t stop getting a boner in French class every time he looks at his best friend Ollie but as his parents change the channel when Graham Norton comes on, he knows he can’t be honest about himself. As the years go by, key relationships develop but not always in the way he is expecting so at a crucial moment, he decides to whip out his time-turner and do it all over again, only better this time. Continue reading “Review: Dumbledore Is So Gay, 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”
I correct the error of missing the vibrant energy of Debris Stevenson’s Poet in da Corner at the Royal Court
“You writing lyrics about me?”
Debris Stevenson is a multi-hyphenate of a different order – grime poet, academic, dancer and now playwright as her 2018 hit show Poet in da Corner returns to the Royal Court ahead of a UK tour. I didn’t catch it then, not having ever listened to Dizzee Rascal’s album Boy in da Corner meaning that it didn’t have instant appeal but on this evidence, I was clearly wrong to have given it a miss, its vibrant energy thrilling to behold in this richly theatrical space.
Sitting in the realm of semi-autobiography, Stevenson’s story focuses on her East London upbringing in a Mormon household where schooltime meant working through being bullied, her dyslexia and the need to test her sexuality. At a moment of particular despair, she’s given a copy that Dizzee Rascal album and it is like a light is switched on, grime offering her a way to build her confidence and explore all of those feelings, discover who she really is. Continue reading “Review: Poet in da Corner, Royal Court”
The Thelmas’ Santi & Naz presents Partition through a much more personal, intimate lens at the VAULT Festival
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim, or I’m Sikh or our friends are Hindu. We’re all the same inside.”
The recasting of historical narratives through the eyes of those whose stories are rarely heard is one of the most culturally significant things theatre can do, IMHO. So The Thelma’s Santi & Naz is certainly right up my street, as it explores Partition through the eyes of two young women.
They’re fast friends, the bestest of best, but as Santi is Sikh and Naz is Muslim, it’s a relationship that is destined to become more tangled. But where Guleraana Mir and Afshan D’souza-Lodhi’s play takes us, is into a more intimate, but no less complicated, version of their world. Continue reading “Review: Santi & Naz, VAULT Festival”