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: Cock, Minerva

Mike Bartlett’s Cock receives a stirring revival from director Kate Hewitt at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre 

“I suppose I like both, but that’s okay isn’t it, that’s okay?”

Sometimes you look back at a cast you’ve seen and think wow, I’m glad I booked for that. The original Royal Court production of Mike Bartlett’s Cock – revived here at Chichester’s Minerva – had a cast that included no less than Katherine Parkinson, Andrew Scott and Ben Whishaw enclosed in the claustrophobic intimacy of Miriam Buether’s brilliant design. So no pressure for director Kate Hewitt to live up to, honest…

And it is pressure that she lives up to, mainly because Bartlett’s play remains as fresh as a daisy (chain) nearly 10 years after it was written. Its exploration of fluid sexuality feels ripped out of the frothing mouth of clickbait-muffin Piers Morgan, its rejection of conventional sexual identity labels still a key issue for many, the complication of the dating world in the 21st century as sharply pertinent as ever.
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Review: Pinter Two – The Lover/The Collection, Harold Pinter Theatre

I’m somewhat seduced by the Pinter Two double bill of The Lover and The Collection at the Harold Pinter Theatre – fetch the olives!

“Did you show him the hollyhocks?”

Truth be told I’m not much of a Pinter fan though I do find the occasional production to be sufficiently compelling to keep me coming back to test my prejudices. And so the Pinter at the Pinter season certainly piqued my interest, if getting me rushing out of the door to book – it took a crucial recommendation to get me to the Harold Pinter for Pinter Two – The Lover/The Collection and I have to say I’m glad I allowed myself to be persuaded.

Both directed by Jamie Lloyd, they offer complementary but contrasting 60s aesthetics (beautifully realised in Soutra Gilmour’s design) – the first part more a sitcom going strange, the second a darker, more mysterious prospect from the off. And cast to the hilt in some of the most luxurious casting a single West End season has ever garnered, it’s all really rather captivating.   Continue reading “Review: Pinter Two – The Lover/The Collection, Harold Pinter Theatre”

Review: ERIS, Bunker Theatre

ERIS at the Bunker Theatre offers up a riot of sound, a queering of form, a boldness in style well worth seeing

You know what would really fuck them off? If you went out there and found the least suitable, most inappropriate, most outrageous hunk of a man that this fine city has to offer, and the pair of you rock up to that church service in May, arm in arm.

Now this is what you want your fringe theatre to do, really shake things up. The combination of writer John King and director Robbie Taylor Hunt really comes good in ERIS at the Bunker Theatre in a riot of sound, a queering of form, a boldness in style that really makes you sit up and pay attention.

Sean’s sister is getting married back home in Ireland but the invitation came with a caveat – you can’t bring your boyfriend, he’s too camp. Never mind that Tim and he have actually broken up, his return to the town of his childhood thus becomes loaded with a challenge to his very identity. Is the home you make for yourself more valid than the one you’re born in or can they co-exist? Continue reading “Review: ERIS, Bunker Theatre”

Review: Play Something, Drayton Arms

In covering the many decades of a gay relationship, Play Something misses a little something at the Drayton Arms Theatre

“You have to go through it to get through it”

We all have songs that remind us of loved ones and lost ones, special occasions and sad – the right piece of music can trigger the deepest of memories and emotions. So it is a notion rich in potential to be explored in a theatrical context and that is exactly what Paul T Davies has done with his play Play Something, receiving a short run here at the Drayton Arms Theatre in West London.

The first half of the play is constructed as something of a memory play. Older versions of the two characters watch on as their younger selves act out key scenes from their relationship and since music unlocks so much of that sensory memory, they intermittently call out to the onstage DJ ‘play the one to make love to’, ‘play the one for a celebration’, ‘play the Forever Song’… Continue reading “Review: Play Something, Drayton Arms”

Review: Unexpected Joy, Southwark Playhouse

I have a gay old time with warm-hearted new musical Unexpected Joy at the Southwark Playhouse

“I wanna show you what a woman can do”

One way to assess whether we’re getting closer to true equality when it comes to telling LGBT+ stories is when we can safely say that there’s a diversity in those stories. I can fully appreciate why some might feel frustrated at the simple primary colours of this coming-out story, of its (relatively) uncomplicated emotion but at the same time, isn’t it great to see a lesbian take on a mainstream rom-com trope, aimed at the silver pound to boot.

The Joy of Unexpected Joy is a baby-boomer era who is marking the one year anniversary of the death of Jump, her creative and life partner. And as she prepares for a concert celebrating his music, she invites her estranged tele-evangelist daughter and grand-daughter to share in the moment. And also to break the news that she is getting married, to a woman – that’s the unexpected bit, testing the familial bonds between these three generations of women.  Continue reading “Review: Unexpected Joy, Southwark Playhouse”

News: Cast for the West End transfer of The Inheritance announced

All but one of the original cast of The Inheritance will make the transfer into the West End at the Noël Coward Theatre

The ensemble cast of The Inheritance at the Noël Coward Theatre is now confirmed and will include: Hugo Bolton, Robert Boulter, Andrew Burnap, Hubert Burton, John Benjamin Hickey, Paul Hilton, Samuel H Levine, Syrus Lowe, Michael Marcus, Vanessa Redgrave, Jack Riddiford, Kyle Soller and Michael Walters. The main change is that Jack Riddiford joins the company in place of Luke Thallon who is going to be appearing in Chichester’s revival of Mike Bartlett’s Cock instead.

I absolutely adored The Inheritance when I saw it at the Young Vic and am glad that the brave decision to transfer this major new work into the West End has been made. It certainly deserves a bigger audience and I sincerely hope that they come – and why wouldn’t they, when you look at this lovely set of blossom portraits of the new cast by Johan Persson.

 

All photography by Johan Persson

 

Review: The Cluedo Club Killings, King’s Head

A queered-up take on the murder mystery, The Cluedo Club Killings makes the most of a brief new run at the King’s Head Theatre

“I know whodunnit”

The King’s Head Theatre’s six-week Queer Season has allowed for all sorts of LGBTQI+ stories to be told but one of its more pleasing aspects has been the flexibility in the programming, offering opportunities for smaller productions to emerge once again. Guy: a new musical will be popping back to London and after a well-received run at the Arcola earlier this year, Robert Holtom’s The Cluedo Club Killings similarly took the chance to spread its wings once again.

A queered-up take on the murder mystery designed to take on “the cis-het sausage fest” of Morse, Poirot et al, Nat Kennedy’s production is an enjoyably daft thing and is at its best when it fully embraces the glitter-soaked camp and ridiculous OTT-ness at its heart. Stabs of dun-dun-duh music, a shattered fourth wall, lesbian wannabe detective leads, scorchingly funny TV reporters, and a post-modern take on not just detective stories but horror film too – what more could you want.  Continue reading “Review: The Cluedo Club Killings, King’s Head”

News: Full casting for Company announced – but what does this really mean for a gender-switched production

Full casting for Elliott Harper’s Company announced – but what does this really mean for a gender-switched production. I crunch some numbers…

The full castlist for Marianne Elliott’s revival of Company has now been revealed, Jonathan Bailey’s casting as Jamie a late twist in the tale in a production trading on the interest of its gender-switching. Making Amy Jamie finally has the impact of queering the show as he remains partnered to Paul; but the rest of the show looks like it merely reinforces the heteronormativity of the world in general. Continue reading “News: Full casting for Company announced – but what does this really mean for a gender-switched production”

Review: If We Were Older, National Theatre

Alice Schofield’s New Views-winning play If We Were Older is an absolute triumph at the National Theatre – a bright new talent is discovered

“An old woman is staring at me holding hands with a girl on the tube…”

Wowzers! I was hoping for an enjoyable afternoon catching up on some of the plays that were shortlisted for the National Theatre’s New Views teen playwriting competition, but I wasn’t expecting to be completely blown away by the one that was victorious. If We Were Older by Alice Schofield (a student of CAPA College, Wakefield) proves a more than worthy winner and absolutely, completely, worth junking your plans for late Friday afternoon so that you can catch its final performance. 

On finally getting round to watching Patrick Gale’s Man in an Orange Shirt, I was left a tad disappointed in the conventionally linear way it explored its dual timestreams. And it is tempting to think that Schofield might have felt the same way, as as her characters Maggie and Daisy have a little contretemps on the tube, the fallout in which she explores each of their personal histories is beautifully commingled, their stories intricately entwined as we discover they’re so much more alike than they could ever know. Continue reading “Review: If We Were Older, National Theatre”