“Do you want puppets?”
No matter the weather, as you walk into the Lyttelton’s auditorium for Pinocchio, you’ll find that it is snowing. A simple trick but one that inspires just the right childlike wonder for an adaptation of such a popular fairytale, but it is also a sense of magic that John Tiffany’s production of Dennis Kelly’s adaptation sometimes struggles to hold onto, as darkly disturbing as it is exuberantly heartfelt.
That darkness comes from several directions. The narrative cleaves closely to the moral instruction of a fable so Pinocchio’s struggle with the dark side is presented as a straight-up choice between good and evil – make the wrong choice in dealing with the Fox or the Coachman and things could end up pretty grim, as we witness in a particularly brutal bit of puppet mutilation (it shocked even me!). Continue reading “Review: Pinocchio, National”
“I’m smoking hot
Cos I got the lot
And what I got
You have not”
What better time to give the concept album for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie a proper listen than on my way back to Sheffield, albeit to see a different show. Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s musical was a deserved sell-out success earlier this year and to accompany it, this recording of some of the songs, sung by the composer, a couple of the performers and some special guests was available to purchase in the foyer and is still around online. It truly was a cracking show and what this record shows, it is also a stronger score than you might initially give it credit for.
‘If I Met Myself Again’ is possibly the best track that Dusty Springfield never sang. A torch song of the highest order, replete with plaintive brass motif, Josie Walker (as Jamie’s mum) nails the ruminative mood with real heart and zero self-indulgence, it really is a gorgeous song. Walker’s second moment in the spotlight comes with ‘He’s My Boy’, a no less moving expression of maternal love in all its restrained passion. Jamie himself – John McCrea – only gets a brief moment to shine on its reprise ‘My Man Your Boy’ which is a bit of a shame as as emotive a number as it is, it doesn’t capture the effervescent star-making quality of his lead performance. Continue reading “Album Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Concept Album”
“Liberté, égalité, fraternité”
The uninitiated might take the existence of braille for granted but Sébastien Lancrenon and Jean-Baptiste Saudray’s The Braille Legacy dramatises the fascinating and moving true story behind its invention. Translated by Ranjit Bolt, the musical slots neatly into Thom Southerland’s takeover of the Charing Cross Theatre and supported as it is by the Royal National Institute of Blind People, it makes for an interesting piece.
Blinded in a childhood accident, Louis Braille’s keen intelligence saw him ruffle feathers at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth where he resided, mainly because prevailing societal attitudes considered the blind to be untrainable. Frustrated by the limits of the opportunities open to him and his schoolmates, he began to develop the tactile code which would unlock the key to reading text – it would be, however, a far from simple journey. Continue reading “Review: The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross”