Review: McQueen, Theatre Royal Haymarket

“Am I going to make it?
‘You already know the answer to that question’”

One of the more surprising transfers of the year has to be McQueen’s journey from the St James to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, its commercial success over-riding a (largely) critical drubbing (here’s my original review). The play has been rejigged to insert an interval, rewritten to extend some scenes and add one whole new one, and recast to bring in fosterIAN award winner Carly Bawden for Glee’s Dianna Agron – this last change proving the most effective in altering the show for the better. My full 3 star review for Cheap Theatre TIckets can be read here.

Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Booking until 7th November

Review: McQueen, St James

“I came for a dress”

It has barely been five years since fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s death but 2015 has already seen Savage Beauty, a major retrospective of his work, open at the Victoria and Albert Museum and now McQueen, a biographical fantasia by James Phillips which is taking to the catwalk at the St James Theatre. And in keeping with the edgy energy of the runway shows for which he was renowned, this is no straight play but rather a highly theatrical production that tries to capture some of the imaginative artistry that characterised his work.

Model-like dancers strut their stuff on the stage in striking choreography by Christopher Marney, all made up ; fashionistas in exquisite headwear pose nonchalantly around them, a haunting pair of strange twins skip around the fringes and in the middle is Lee, a London lad done good but in serious danger of being overwhelmed by the empire he’s built around him. Into this mix, from the tree in his garden, comes the troubled Dahlia – maybe a girl, maybe a fairytale creature, either way she’s his companion on a night-time odyssey to get her a dress but which also forces them to confront the demons that haunt them both. Continue reading “Review: McQueen, St James”

Review: Hidden in the Sand, Trafalgar Studios

“When I put Neil Diamond on, people leave the shop”

The Turkish invasion of Cyprus may seem like an unlikely backdrop for a love story but in James Phillips’ self-directed Hidden in the Sand, it serves well as the catalyst for an emotional personal odyssey that stretches across Europe and over decades. Alexandra Chrysostomou’s happy life in the northern Cypriot port of Famagusta was ripped from her when the Turks invaded – there was barely time to collect a few precious belongings before fleeing with her sister Eleni, at a stroke reduced to the level of refugee. Eventually constructing a new life for herself in London, running a shop and subsisting on the memories of love and home, the prospect of a new relationship forces her to confront some of the more painful aspects of the past.

Sally Dexter’s Alexandra and Scott Handy as new beau Jonathan trace the nervous steps of a new relationship beautifully. As more mature souls, already bruised by life, their hesitant flirtation and subsequent opening up to one another is sensitively, superbly drawn. Her tempestuous Mediterranean spirit is almost too large for life, his linen-clad quietness the perfect foil to her broccoli-cooking ways, but she can’t escape the shadows of the version of the past that she has erected for herself, to protect herself, to delude herself into thinking the way things were was the way she wanted them to be. On her own she might get away with it, but the presence of her photo-journalist niece and indeed Jonathan means that reality can’t be escaped. Continue reading “Review: Hidden in the Sand, Trafalgar Studios”