Review: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Donmar

Featuring the prime of the most excellent Lia Williams, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is an undoubted success for the Donmar Warehouse

“Miss Mackay thinks to intimidate me with quarter-hours”

Everyone has that teacher that they never forget. Sometimes it’s because they were brilliant, sometimes it’s because they bent the rules, sometimes it’s because they were so bloody-minded that they remain so unforgettable. For the selected few pupils of Edinburgh’s Marcia Blaine School for Girls who found themselves in the orbit of the entirely charismatic Miss Jean Brodie, it’s all three reasons at the same time that are destined to make her such an iconic figure in their schooling.

Based on the novel by Muriel Sparks, David Harrower’s new stage adaptation of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie not only marks the 100th anniversary year of Spark’s birth but provides a scorchingly fantastic opportunity for Lia Williams to inhabit the title role so fully as to sit proudly aside Maggie Smith’s Oscar-winning performance in the 1969 film. It’s a stunning piece of acting – elevated by stunning wig and costume work – that captures so much of that beguiling power that a teacher can possess. Continue reading “Review: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Donmar”

Review: Guy – a new musical, Bunker

Reflecting a more diverse gay community, Guy – a new musical offers up a sweet and queer rom-com at the Bunker Theatre

“I search, I find…
What am I looking for?”

‘Masc4masc’, ‘no fats, no femmes, no Asians’, ‘str8-acting’ – for all that apps like Grindr have revolutionised the gay dating world, it’s also allowed for a proliferation of retrogressive notions of masculinity that fly in the face of the freedom that embracing your queer identity ought to bring. And it is such a world that leoe&hyde’s latest piece Guy – a new musical seeks to tackle with a refreshing take on the genre.

Guy is determined to find love, but in all his insecurities about his weight and his looks and his lack of confidence, isn’t having much luck. Hours spent scrolling through profile after profile of ripped shirtless torsos aren’t helping- so what’s a boy to do? Guy shows us how the impact of a decision to make even just a small change can completely change your prospects, a slight shift in outlook can really make you see the world a different way. And crucially, show you that the way you see yourself is vastly different from how others perceive you.   Continue reading “Review: Guy – a new musical, Bunker”

Review: Kiss Chase, Bunker

A part-interactive, part-verbatim speed dating event with a difference – Kiss Chase down in the Bunker Theatre is a night full of potential

“Please fill out your connection forms”

Have you ever been on a speed-dating night? I haven’t (I’m not quite sure how a gay one would work, how do you make sure you’ve seen everyone in the room…answers on a postcard!). So the idea of Kiss Chase – the second show from theatre company Second Circle, written and directed by Hannah Samuels – was an intriguing one, as it promises “a part-interactive, part-verbatim speed dating event” in the confines of the Bunker Theatre, with the bar staying open throughout!

We’re welcomed in warmly by co-host Ruth, serenaded with the rules of the evening by t’other Jim, and then let loose on a series of mini-dates as those with red stickers on their badges move around the room one seat at a time. And the activities to do on these dates are fun enough, wisely steering clear of any place where lines might end up getting crossed and a relief for me given the number of women in the room and my rustiness in that particular game… Continue reading “Review: Kiss Chase, Bunker”

Casting for Arrows & Traps’ The White Rose announced

Arrows & Traps Theatre announce The White Rose: The Story of Sophie Scholl as their new production, along with full casting

Seven-time Off West End Award Nominated Arrows & Traps Theatre have announced their return to the Brockley Jack Theatre after their sold-out run of Chekhov’s Three Sisters earlier this year.  There, they will present The White Rose: The Story of Sophie Scholl, written & directed by Ross McGregor.

Based on a true story, The White Rose recounts the final days of Sophie Scholl, a 21-year-old student, who led the only major act of German civil disobedience during the Second World War. Sophie, along with her brother Hans, published underground anti-Nazi leaflets calling for the peaceful overthrow of Hitler. Continue reading “Casting for Arrows & Traps’ The White Rose announced”

Review: Cockamamy, Hope

Detailing living with dementia, Louise Coulthard’s Cockamamy at the Hope Theatre proves delicately heartbreaking

“You do remember, don’t you?”

Alice is your cool kinda gran – she likes a swig or two of rum, and she can quote Beyoncé. But she’s also keeping her valuables in the pan drawer, and hiding tins of spam around the house. And she’s struggling to hold onto the details of who she lives with, confusing her granddaughter Rosie for her own daughter, Rosie’s mum.  

Such is the world of Cockamamy, a Lustrum Award-winning play by Louise Coulthard, that uses her own experiences to depict the experience of how dementia can affect a household. And as Rosie’s relationship with her gran shifts, it is contrasted with the new connection she’s building with new squeeze Irish doctor Cav, exposing the challenges for both carer and the cared for. Continue reading “Review: Cockamamy, Hope”

#CastingbyClowns – I celebrate as Cate Blanchett and Lucy Cohu return to the stage

Such amazing casting news came our way yesterday, with not one but two of my absolute faves returning to the London stage in the coming months. The starrier of the two is Cate Blanchett, who will appear with Stephen Dillane in a brand new play by Martin Crimp’s directed by Katie Mitchell at the National Theatre in January 2019. The play is enigmatically entitled When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other – Twelve Variations on Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. (The torture presumably being the absolute scrum there’ll be to get tickets, as the show is going into the NT’s most intimate space, the Dorfman.)

But matching Blanchett in my personal pantheon in Lucy Cohu, an actor whom I’ve longed admired since she broke my heart in the double whammy of Torchwood – Children of Earth on the TV and Speaking in Tongues on the stage. She’s joining the cast of Florian Zeller’s The Height of the Storm, alongside Anna Madeley and Amanda Drew. And given that the cast already contains the previously announced Jonathan Pryce and Dame Eileen Atkins, this ought to be a good’un. That shows arrives at the Wyndham’s Theatre in October after a brief tour of Richmond, Cambridge and Bath. Continue reading “#CastingbyClowns – I celebrate as Cate Blanchett and Lucy Cohu return to the stage”

Review: The End of History, St Giles-in-the-Fields

Site-specific theatre done right – High Hearted’s The End of History sits us in the beautiful surroundings of St Giles-in-the-Fields and really makes us think

“Why are we here?”

Marcelo dos Santos’ The End of History is not just performed in the church of St Giles-in-the-Fields but it is set there too, a quiet spot of calm in among the bustling Soho streets. And as Crossrail forces yet another upheaval of the immediate surrounding area, dos Santos and director Gemma Kerr ask us to locate this development in the wider scheme of things, in a history of constant evolution and ponder what might be lost in the process.

This they do by colliding two individuals – charity worker Wendy and Paul, seeking to make his mark in the world of property. They’re both having a shocker of a day – she’s coming out of a long-term relationship and searching for somewhere to live, he’s waiting on some test results and the battery on his phone is going down fast because he can’t quite keep off Grindr. Or Scruff. Or Hornet.  Continue reading “Review: The End of History, St Giles-in-the-Fields”

Review: Shakespeare’s Mad Women – A Love Letter to Shakespearean F?!kboys, TheatreN16

Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Juliet get a moment to themselves in the intelligently amusing Shakespeare’s Mad Women – A Love Letter to Shakespearean F?!kboys, at TheatreN16

“If the world wants mad women, they can have them. This place is enough to drive anyone stark, raving insane”

Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Juliet walk into a bar…it sounds like the set-up for a great joke. Swap out the bar for an amorphous corner of the afterlife and you get the set-up for the delightfully titled debut production from Lady Garden Theatre, Shakespeare’s Mad Women – A Love Letter to Shakespearean F?!kboys, taking a short run at TheatreN16 after playing the Brighton Fringe last month.

This is the bit of the afterlife where Shakespeare’s female characters end up, specifically the ones who take their lives because of a man, and heaven knows there’s a lot of them. Juliet is the latest to join the group and when she arrives, she is naturally thoroughly discombobulated: instead of finding her Romeo with arms open wide, there’s two strange women drinking tea. Continue reading “Review: Shakespeare’s Mad Women – A Love Letter to Shakespearean F?!kboys, TheatreN16”

Review: Killer Joe, Trafalgar Studios

Killer Joe is a horribly misjudged revival at Trafalgar Studios that makes a mockery of #MeToo, you and all of us

“Is she doin’ anybody any good?”

Just to be clear, I’m using the ‘she’ in the quote above to refer to the play itself here – an misjudged, tone-deaf revival of Tracy Letts’ Killer Joe, a poor poor replacement for The Grinning Man at the Trafalgar Studios and a curious choice indeed for Orlando Bloom to make a return to the West End stage.

Written in 1993 and marking Letts’ debut, it is a scorchingly nasty look at working-class American life, the desperation it forces some into, the impact that an unconstrained popular culture has on society. And whilst it may have resonated then, all that chimes now is a warning bell to keep the fuck away. Continue reading “Review: Killer Joe, Trafalgar Studios”

Winners of the 72nd Tony Awards

Best play
The Children
Farinelli and the King
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two – WINNER
Junk
Latin History for Morons

Best musical
The Band’s Visit – WINNER
Frozen
Mean Girls
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Best book of a musical
Itamar Moses for The Band’s Visit – WINNER
Jennifer Lee for Frozen
Tina Fey for Mean Girls
Kyle Jarrow for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical Continue reading “Winners of the 72nd Tony Awards”