2019 BroadwayWorld UK Awards Shortlist

Best Actor in a New Production of a Musical
Andy Nyman, Fiddler on the Roof, Menier Chocolate Factory
David Hunter, Waitress, Adelphi Theatre
David Ricardo-Pearce, Kiss Me, Kate, The Watermill Theatre
Kayi Ushe, Kinky Boots, UK Tour
Tom Bennett, Only Fools and Horses: The Musical, Theatre Royal Haymarket
Tyrone Huntley, The View UpStairs, Soho Theatre

Best Actress in a New Production of a Musical
Amara Okereke, Oklahoma!, Chichester Festival Theatre
Audrey Brisson, Amélie The Musical, UK Tour
Caroline Sheen, 9 to 5 The Musical, Savoy Theatre
Rebecca Trehearn, Kiss Me, Kate, The Watermill Theatre
Samantha Pauly, Evita, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Sheridan Smith, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, London Palladium Continue reading “2019 BroadwayWorld UK Awards Shortlist”

Nominations for the 2019 UK Theatre Awards

The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide Awards to honour and celebrate outstanding achievements in regional theatre throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they have just announced the nominations for the 2019 awards, the results of which will be revealed at a ceremony on Sunday 27th October. It’s always interesting to see a different perspective on award season, particularly one that doesn’t focus on London productions, but it does make me wish I’d could have taken in a few more of these UK-wide shows from this year.

Best New Play
LIFE OF PI adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti from the novel by Yann Martel – a Sheffield Theatres production
THE WATSONS by Laura Wade – a Chichester Festival Theatre production
ULSTER AMERICAN by David Ireland – a Traverse Theatre Company production at Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Best Musical Production
THE COLOR PURPLE
directed by Tinuke Craig – a Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome co-production
STANDING AT THE SKY’S EDGE directed by Robert Hastie – a Sheffield Theatres production
WEST SIDE STORY directed by Sarah Frankcom – a Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester production Continue reading “Nominations for the 2019 UK Theatre Awards”

Review: The Rover, Swan

“Come, put off this dull humour with your clothes, and assume one as gay and as fantastic as the dress my cousin Valeria and I have provided, and let’s ramble”

I’ve not been heading up to the RSC with that much regularity recently, but I’ll go anywhere for Alexandra Gilbreath and given that The Rover had the added bonus of Joseph Millson, the trip was a no-brainer. It also helped that it was written and directed by women, not that frequent an occurrence in Stratford. And written not just by any woman, Aphra Behn was one of the first professional female playwrights and this play dates from 1677.

And directed by Loveday Ingram, it is a sprightly bit of fun indeed. Set in the heady mist of carnival time, all bets are off as the normal rules of society are suspended. Three sisters disguise themselves to escape the strict futures ahead of them, and a group of Englishmen arrive in port ready and willing to create the lads on tour archetype. Chief among the sisters is Hellena, due to enter a nunnery so more than happy to make the acquaintance of the rakish and randy Willmore. Continue reading “Review: The Rover, Swan”

Can’t Be Fecked With A Review: Man and Superman, National Theatre

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man”

Not gonna lie, the prospect of Man and Superman has had me vacillating between

and

after ill-timed illness meant we couldn’t use our £15 seats in the front row. Some stalking of the website got me another cheap seat but this time up in the circle slips which is somewhere I never want to sit again – it may be a bargain but you sacrifice an awful lot to tucked away up there (although the individual seats are quite nifty themselves).

The play itself isn’t bad, not as good as I’d hoped in all honesty given how lovely and sunny it was outside, and I rarely felt that inspired by it (a consequence of being much farther away than I’m used to I think). So for this one, I’m abdicating my blogging responsibilities and you’ll have to look elsewhere for a review…

 

Running time: 3 hours 40 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 17th May

Review: The White Devil, Swan

“Sum up my faults, I pray”

It feels a bit of a shame that one of the centrepieces of the RSC’s Roaring Girls season is a play that doesn’t manage gender parity in its cast, even with some cross-gender casting. This may speak of the nature of Jacobean Theatre, for it is Webster’s The White Devil of which we speak here, but Maria Aberg’s reputation precedes her and so it was a little disappointing to see that the opportunity hasn’t been seized here – if not now, then when?
 

And though I’d heard such great things about this production, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed here. Part of lies in the play itself – I can’t deny that I just don’t really like it and though it is updated to the debauchery of the 1980s Rome club scene here, the messy chaos of the pursuit of naked self-interest that proves Aberg’s main focus dominates too much and often to the detriment of the storytelling. Continue reading “Review: The White Devil, Swan”

Review: Barefoot in the Park, Richmond Theatre

“Take care of him, make him feel important, then you’ll have a wonderful marriage – like two out of every ten couples”

The big noise around Neil Simon in London at the moment may be around the revival of The Sunshine Boys which is about to open at the Savoy, but there’s also the chance to catch another of his plays, Barefoot in the Park, as it tours around the country starring Maureen Lipman and also featuring a rare foray into the director’s chair for her.

The 1963 play is simply but effectively conceived: a couple of young newlyweds move into their not-quite-ready Manhattan apartment after a short honeymoon, but find that the glow of the honeymoon period doesn’t always last quite so long as they face the realities of living with another person. On hand to offer advice to Corrie and Paul as they navigate their way through the shifts in their relationships over a handful of scenes are Corrie’s mother Mrs Banks and their spirited upstairs neighbour, the Hungarian Victor Velasco, who start to form their own connection as the booziest of dinners leads to unexpected events. Continue reading “Review: Barefoot in the Park, Richmond Theatre”

Review: Rattigan’s Nijinsky, Chichester Festival Theatre

“The English vice is that we don’t own up to our emotions…we think they demean us”

Rattigan’s Nijinsky is something of a companion piece to the production of The Deep Blue Sea with which this is playing in rep at the Chichester Festival Theatre and sharing much of its cast. Looking to make their own unique tribute in the centenary year of Rattigan’s death, new pieces have been commissioned to play alongside his plays and here, Nicholas Wright has embroidered a story around the mystery of Rattigan’s 1974 unproduced and unpublished screenplay about ballet dancer Nijinsky and his passionate affair with Ballets Russes impresario Diaghilev.

Having been able to examine images of the original work, Wright has incorporated scenes into his own play, so we get to see Rattigan’s version of the tumultuous love affair between the older Diaghilev and his protégé, the man often cited as one of the greatest dancers ever, and the strain it was placed under due to Nijinsky’s mental fragility, something exacerbated (or even caused by?) falling into marriage with a woman. These scenes are interspersed with a modern-day (1974) narrative with an ailing Rattigan sequestered in his suite at Claridges and having to deal with Nijinsky’s widow, Romola, who is virulently objecting to his version of the events of her earlier life. Continue reading “Review: Rattigan’s Nijinsky, Chichester Festival Theatre”

Review: The Deep Blue Sea, Chichester Festival Theatre

“Moderation in all things has always been my motto”

Whereas productions celebrating Sondheim’s 80th birthday lasted all the blessed year long, the flurry of Terence Rattigan plays, marking the centenary year of his birth, seems to have died out in London at least. But in Chichester as their season moves into full swing, the first of a number of Rattigan productions starts with The Deep Blue Sea, a preview of which I caught on my first ever trip to the Chichester Festival Theatre.

It’s actually my second The Deep Blue Sea of the year, the first I travelled to the West Yorkshire Playhouse for to see Maxine Peake play the lead role and though several people had said to me that they thought she was too young for the role, as it was the first time I’d seen the play, it didn’t really affect me that much: having seen this production I see how that skewed the whole dynamic of the show. Here, director Philip Franks has stayed closer to the original intent by casting an older actress as Hester, in this case a stunning Amanda Root, which made the tangled nature of the relationships around her make more sense. Continue reading “Review: The Deep Blue Sea, Chichester Festival Theatre”

Review: How To Be An Other Woman, Gate Theatre

“After four movies, three concerts, and two-and-a-half museums, you sleep with him. On the stereo you play your favourite harp and oboe music. He tells you his wife’s name.”

It’s a long quote to start off a review with I know, but it made me chuckle for ages and it is still raising a smile now as I look at it. This marked my first visit to Notting Hill’s Gate Theatre, a tiny 70 seater above a pub but with an impressive reputation for attracting talent. Based on a short story by Lorrie Moore, How To Be An Other Woman is about Charlene, a young New Yorker who falls into an affair with a man who happens to be married and despite her best intentions, she finds herself fulfilling all of the clichés around being a mistress.

The story reads as a set of instructions and so lends itself quite well to being acted out, but in Natalie Abrahami’s adaptation, the character of Charlene seems to be used as an everywoman figure, rather than telling the story of an individual, as we start off seeing four shop assistants who then take us through the play. Morris’ writing is wry and funny and if I say it reminds me of early episodes of Sex and the City, then I mean it as a compliment, this is Carrie before you wanted to slap her. There’s a pleasing briskness to proceedings, very little maudlin soul-searching but rather a self-awareness to the protagonist who despises her behaviour even as she does it.

The cast of four cover all the characters and even rotate playing Charlene and her lover, the balletic changing into the beige raincoat that marked an actress becoming Charlene was just lovely and I was a little disappointed when they stopped doing it in the middle of the play. The use of movement and dance was mostly effective, though the mix of choreographed routines and more expressive movement didn’t always work for me (I liked the ‘putting on the coat’ move, I did not care for ‘expressive climbing into bed’), but most crucially, in the brilliant montage of cheesy dance moves at the New Year’s Eve party, the running man was omitted: unforgivable!

Fresh from the triumphant run of After the Dance, Faye Castelow impressed here, especially in her narrating role as she does wry humour extremely well; Cath Whitefield was probably the best at slipping into the role of the male lover disturbingly convincing at times and Samantha Pearl was also strong. Unfortunately, Ony Uhiara has lost her voice so whilst she was onstage acting, her lines were being read in for her which was the first time I have actually seen that happen so it took a little getting used to.

As a preview, it seemed in very good shape already, but it felt like the ending could use some work, tightening it up to provide a more definitive conclusion. Altogether though, it was quite a nifty little piece, imaginatively staged and attractively presented and a good introduction to a new venue which I will have to add my list of ones to keep an eye on.

Running time: 1 hour (no interval)
Programme cost: free, but it doesn’t look or feel it, most impressive.
Booking until: 2nd October

Review: After the Dance, National Theatre

“It’s the bright young people over again, only they never were bright and now they’re not even young”

After the Dance is one of Terence Rattigan’s lesser-performed plays; its less-than-stellar original reception due to its unfortunate timing, opening in 1939 as it did, meant it was a relative commercial failure. Rattigan’s personal antipathy to the piece because of this led to the play being excluded from anthologies of his work and it is only really after his death that it has been considerably re-appraised and now considered one of his masterpieces (according to the National Theatre website anyway!).

A cast of 25, under Thea Sharrock’s direction, tell the story of a group of wealthy London socialites, and their hanger-ons, as they set about the business of partying and just generally having a right rollicking good old time. The year is 1938 though, and these are the people who survived the horrors of the Great War, bright young things of the 20s unwilling to let go of the illusions of their youth even as the world tumbles towards another major conflict. At the centre of pile of empties are the Scott-Fowlers, Joan and David the ultimate party couple who got married for kicks and giggles yet find themselves 12 years later still together. Continue reading “Review: After the Dance, National Theatre”