10 questions for 10 years – Alex Ramon

Tinkle, drizzle, bubble and gush! Alex Ramon, the man forever Boycotting Trends takes up the 10 questions challenge

My world, and the UK theatre blogging scene, has been all the poorer since Alex Ramon swapped London for Łódź. We first bonded over Avenue Q, he introduced me to Propeller and encouraged me out to Richmond more times than is probably reasonable – there’s no-one I’d rather share a show and a Wetherspoons curry with.  It is well worth keeping an eye on his ever-eloquent writing at Boycotting Trends.

10 questions for 10 years – Samuel Barnett

Original History Boy Samuel Barnett takes on the 10 Questions for 10 Years challenge 

Even though I demurred from seeing The History Boys on stage, I’ve loved much else of Samuel Barnett’s work in so many ways. London was cruelly cheated of his Viola but it was in some of his earlier plays that he really stood out for me.
The Way of the World in Sheffield
“I really enjoyed that kabuki drop at the beginning…and I loved playing Witwoud. It was a joy to play a character who is so much funnier, brighter and wittier than I am. I loved the cast too. ”
and James Graham’s The Whisky Taster
“That remains one of my favourite jobs. The writing, the cast, our amazing director James Grieve, and playing in the old Bush theatre: it was one of those rare jobs where everything came together so perfectly. I adored working so closely with Kate O’Flynn, who is just phenomenal. Perhaps my favourite bit was the last few lines about the colour of love, and the snow falling. Got me every time.”

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10 questions for 10 years – Tom Wells

How many of us can say we’ve inspired some branded condoms?! Find out more as Tom Wells becomes the first person to answer 10 questions for 10 years

From Me, As A Penguin to The Kitchen Sink to Jumpers for Goalposts and much more besides, Tom Wells has perfected the art of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. His wry observations and relatable characterisations lead to an often profound beauty that makes him, for my money, one of our most important playwrights, LGBT+ or otherwise.

Review: Little Death Club, Underbelly Southbank Festival

Life is more than a Kabarett at the hugely enjoyable Little Death Club now at the Underbelly Southbank Festival

“Es is nicht sadistich
Nur ein bisschen voyeuristisch
Ich mache wass ich will mit dir”

On the one hand, you might consider Little Death Club as just another late night cabaret show (albeit one spelled kabarett, the Weimar way). But on experiencing this extraordinary hour, currently residing in the South Bank’s Spiegeltent, you see that it really is more than that, something ferociously committed to the spirit of defiance in which this form was birthed.

The evening is compered by the incomparable Bernie Dieter (feathered shoulderpieces to die for, co-creator too along with Tom Velvick) but more significantly, she’s an integral part of the entire show. There’s no sense of her just clocking in to just introduce these performers, she’s fully invested in them, in their stories and even in the shortest of interludes, is able to convey something of this connection. Continue reading “Review: Little Death Club, Underbelly Southbank Festival”

Review: Thrill Me – The Leopold & Loeb Story, Hope Theatre

A twisted but thrilling true crime two-hander – Thrill Me – The Leopold & Loeb Story is a must-see at the Hope Theatre

“If this keeps going on I’ll go crazy
I’m aroused, you’re conveniently lazy”

How far to go in the name of erotic obsession? You’d hesitate to call Thrill Me – The Leopold & Loeb Story a love story, what happens here is far too dark and twisted for that, but what you do get is a horribly fascinating study of twisting power dynamics and blurred moralities. And with sex thrown into the equation, it becomes a heady combination, enough to drive you to…well, you’ll see.

Stephen Dolginoff’s one-act musical is based on the true story of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold but rather than glorifying their crimes, including murder, it focuses on the extraordinary relationship between these two men in 1920s Chicago. Lovers, abusers, conspirators, victims, they slip and slide from pillar to post as we try to make sense of who they are and what they do to each other.
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Review: Cry Havoc, Park Theatre

Cry Havoc proves a rather slight look at contemporary international gay relationships at the Park Theatre

“I threw up in the back of a taxi once in Chipping Sodbury”

I wanted to love Cry Havoc but it didn’t quite do it for me. Set in present-day Cairo, Egyptian Mohammed is being comforted by his lover Nicholas, a British academic after being imprisoned and tortured by the authorities for his sexuality. Their relationship is of course a secret but as Mohammed’s family and community turn against him, Nick is determined to ‘save’ him.

But it isn’t just as simple as upping sticks to the UK and playwright Tom Coash attempts to portray the worlds of difference between gay life in these two spheres. Nick is the embodiment of Western liberalism and Mohammed is the firebrand revolutionary who wants to provoke change from within. With such a cultural divide between them, does love stand a chance? Continue reading “Review: Cry Havoc, Park Theatre”

Yet-another-re-review: Company, Gielgud Theatre

Just the one more trip to see the glorious Company at the Gielgud Theatre before it sadly depart

“You can’t stay in your thirties forever”

I went back, again. Well I had to, at least while the above quote is still true for me for a couple more months. There’s not much left to say about Company that I haven’t said already here, or here, or here and it remains an absolute pleasure to watch, a show I could sit through time and time again even more so than I have already. It will be very much missed.

And I do think it really has gotten better as the run has progressed, performances deepened and matured, but also deliciously playful – I swear the magnificently brassy Patti Lupone has done something different every single time and it has been wonderful for it. It will be fascinating to see how Marianne Elliot’s production fares on Broadway and who, if anyone, transfers with it. Continue reading “Yet-another-re-review: Company, Gielgud Theatre”

Review: Queer Trilogy, Drayton Arms

The Queer Trilogy of A Sticky Season, Minor Disruptions & Crystal Bollix presents The Bitch Ball proves something of a mixed bag at the Drayton Arms

“I am finally ready to learn”

Recent Mountview grads Jack Donald, Katie Paterson and Alexandra Christle have banded together to mount Queer Trilogy, a triple bill of shows at the Drayton Arms that probes interestingly at queer identities, how they’re shaped and formed by past and present but also complicated by the mere act of being. They’re further challenged by being bound together in this format which doesn’t necessarily suit them so well.

For they are three disparate, diverse pieces. Christie’s Crystal Bollix Presents The Bitch Ball is a drag act that delves into the social construct of the word bitch and how its continued cultural significance filters down to the individual. Through the use of lip-syncing and some very game audience participation, Bollix’s personality shines through but the piece doesn’t quite have the emotional resonance to achieve the depths it wants. Continue reading “Review: Queer Trilogy, Drayton Arms”

Review: Romance Romance, Above the Stag

Caught in a bad romance, a gayed-up take on Romance Romance does nothing for me at the Above the Stag theatre

“There are days he blows his fuse now 
And there are nights he’s just not there”

Romance Romance was nominated for 5 Tonys in 1988 and performance nods aside, you have to wonder what the standard of the other nominees was (actually, they included The Phantom of the Opera and Into the Woods…!) as its charms really rather eluded me. 

Steven Dexter’s production reframes Barry Harman’s book and lyrics into a gay context which certainly has interest. But the disparity of the two acts, based respectively on Arthur Schnitzler’s The Little Comedy and Jules Renard’s Le Pain de Ménage, means it is a curiously disengaging watch. Continue reading “Review: Romance Romance, Above the Stag”

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”