An assortment of October theatre news

Full casting has been announced for Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch’s upcoming production of Misfits, an innovative new hybrid of live theatre and digital content, playing 12-22 November 2020. Bookers will purchase a ticket which will allow them the choice of watching the show be performed live onstage in front of a socially
distanced audience or streamed to their homes, right up until the day of the show.

Misfits intertwines four inspirational tales of Essex resilience to make an unmissable world premiere by four of the region’s most exciting playwrights: Anne Odeke, Guleraana Mir, Kenny Emson and Sadie Hasler and will be co-directed by QTH Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul and Emma Baggott. The cast is Anne Odeke, who is also writing part of the piece, Gemma Salter, Mona Goodwin and Thomas Coombes. Continue reading “An assortment of October theatre news”

Review: The Exorcist, Phoenix

After a premiere in Birmingham last year…

 

Sean Mathias’ production of The Exorcist has resurfaced in the West End just in time for Hallowe’en in the hope of recreating the chills and thrills of the 1973 movie, despite the fact that it is notoriously difficult to get horror right in the theatre.

We saw a preview and there may have been wine involved, hence the gif mood-board presented here rather than your fully-fleshed review. So… Continue reading “Review: The Exorcist, Phoenix”

Review: And Then There Were None, Richmond Theatre


Ten Little Indians were not PC;
but better than th’original from Mrs Christie.

(So) Nine Little Soldier Boys were chosen instead;
To set up the rhyme, leaving ten people dead.

Eight Little Soldier Boys now touring the UK;
From Jan’ry to November with this well-travelled play.

Seven Little Soldier Boys might call this a classic;
Most likely since its done the rounds since the Jurassic.

(But) Six Little Soldier Boys cannot deny;
A master storyteller whose works will never die.

Five Little Soldier Boys might say to you;
Pay some attention here and get a big clue.

Four Little Soldier Boys will spot some TV stars;
Emmerdale, Blue Peter, Pascoe, crowdpleasers hurrah!

Three Little Soldier Boys will also see Paul Nicholas;
A permatanned acting colossus, his presence here will trick us.

Two Little Soldier Boys produced by Bill Kenwright;
But no role here for Miss Seagrove, I hope their future’s still bright.

(Now) One Little Soldier will give you guilty pleasure;
Directed by Joe Harmston, it’s a mystery to treasure.

The name of the show is And Then There Were None
Now I’m rhyming with Susan Penhaligon

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with 2 intervals)
Booking until 30th May, then touring to Gravesend, Crawley, Rhyl, Croydon, Cardiff, Harrogate, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Bury St Edmunds, Dublin, Leeds, Cambridge, Swansea, Torquay, Southend, Swindon, Ipswich, Tunbridge Wells, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Derby and Manchester

Review: Volcano, Richmond Theatre

“The most beautiful thing about having people to stay is when they leave.”

There’s always a danger, when delving into the realms of rarely-produced works by playwrights in the hope of unearthing of a gem, of forgetting that there are often good reasons why some plays gather dust on a shelf even whilst others are regularly revived. It is currently Noël Coward’s turn to have his back catalogue exhumed, in the form of this touring production of the 1956 play Volcano but though it is an addition to Coward’s oeuvre that might be appreciated by completists, it can hardly be said to be a salutary contribution to his legacy.  

The warning signs are there: the play was never performed in Coward’s lifetime (programme notes suggest it would have been too frank for the censors but the play didn’t even get that far as it was turned down flat by his producer) despite being written nearly 20 years before his death and came at a time when he had just become a tax exile, having moved to Jamaica amidst a cluster of colonial celebrity chums whose intrigues could well have inspired the events of seen here. Continue reading “Review: Volcano, Richmond Theatre”

Review: Bedroom Farce, Duke of York’s

“My mother used to say, Delia, if ever S-E-X rears its ugly head, close your eyes before you see the rest of it.”

Alan Ayckbourn’s play Bedroom Farce follows three married couples in their bedrooms over a long, long night as a troubled fourth couple, Trevor and Susannah spill forth with their problems and visit each couple sometimes together, sometimes apart, but always causing havoc and making everyone question their own marital stability. It arrives at the Duke of York’s from a run last year at the Rose in Kingston with 5 of the 8 original cast members for a 14 week run.

I realise it has the word ‘farce’ in the title, but is the sight of a man in a coat several sizes too big, or a poorly constructed desk falling apart really so hilarious? The theatre was full of people laughing loudly from the word go at everything put in front of them, but I was not one of them. This play was at its best when the physical comedy stopped and the wit in the writing was allowed to shine through, but these moments were too few and far between for me and even then it was often just too mannered and inoffensive. Continue reading “Review: Bedroom Farce, Duke of York’s”

Review: A Daughter’s A Daughter, Trafalgar Studios

“The problem with the young is not just that they think they’re right, but that they know they’re right”

A Daughter’s A Daughter, one of Agatha Christie’s lesser known and rarely performed plays , which was a very late addition to the programme at the Trafalgar Studios, running for just four weeks before The Caretaker takes over. It was written under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, who was Christie’s alter ego for more romantic material, and is seen here for the first time in over 50 years in only its second ever large-scale staging.

It eschews the familiar thriller territory of Christie’s regular work for a more intimate drama, a tale of the relationship between a mother and daughter who allow bitterness, jealousy and resentment to challenge the bonds between them. Returning from 3 years in the army at the end of the Second World War, Sarah Prentice discovers a cuckoo in her family nest, her mother Ann is now engaged to a chap who is equally unfond of the new arrival in the life of his betrothed. In a battle of wills, Sarah’s behaviour then forces Ann into making the choice between her daughter and her fiancé: Sarah ‘wins’ but at a massive price, as we follow the pair for the next few years as they futilely search for happiness and comfort in men and booze whilst not letting go of the resentment and selfishness between them. Continue reading “Review: A Daughter’s A Daughter, Trafalgar Studios”

Review: The Letter, Wyndhams

Based on a real life scandal, Somerset Maugham’s The Letter takes place in the house of a plantation owner, Robert Crosbie, and his wife Leslie in the British colony of Malaya in the 1920s. With her husband away on business, Leslie claims that she shot a mutual friend, Geoff Hammond, in self-defence, following an attempted rape, and the play focuses on the steps taken by the wife’s lawyer to convince the court of her innocence. Matters are complicated somewhat following the discovery of an incriminating letter which throws doubt on her innocence and her lawyer is forced to make a huge decision in order to save her.


I imagine that Jenny Seagrove is aiming for impassive here as Leslie, but just comes across as wooden and completely devoid of emotion. It is as stiff a performance as I have ever seen, she never feels relaxed or comfortable on the stage and it was quite hard to watch. Matters are not helped by the plummy accents which permeate this production, but lend it the air of farce. Anthony Andrews was just dull as the lawyer who faces a dilemma and I didn’t give two hoots about him in the end. Jason Chan’s Chinese lawyer clerk does well to try and rise above the questionable racial stereotyping; Andrew Charleson’s blindly devoted husband is fine and Peter Sandys-Clarke’s British consul was nicely observed.



The scene changes were bizarre with a bamboo screen wheeling its way across the stage languidly and sapping any energy that might have been built up, with only the opium den scene providing any real interest. Altogether though, it is an unfortunately dull play, only the one vaguely thrilling moment at the very beginning, and it is riven with racial and sexual anachronisms and such a dated idea of stiff-upper-lipped British reserve which make it hard to swallow these days. But even with those edges smoothed, the play The Letter is just fundamentally dramatically unexciting and this production is therefore really not worth the effort.