News: #AllTheWebsAStage details announced

All the Web’s a Stageis a streaming initiative consisting of 12 marvellous jam-packed hours of all your favourite performers from the West End and theatre to comedy, drag and magic!

It’s fitting that the free livestream will be held on Thursday 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday and the date that theatres began their process of restoration after strict censorship in 1661, the last time British theatres were ordered to close for a prolonged period. 

The livestream is raising money for our artistic comrades who have been severely impacted by Covid-19. Whilst we appreciate the government’s initiatives, and the support made available for many self-employed workers, there are still many freelance artists who fall through the cracks of these new government programs. As a result, thousands of artists who are now unable to earn an income are facing the coronavirus crisis with no available financial support.

You can watch the livestream on the Theatre Together website or on the Theatre Together Facebook page this Thursday from midday. Continue reading “News: #AllTheWebsAStage details announced”

Review: Nearly Human, VAULT Festival

This ain’t your regular brass band… Perhaps Contraption’s wonderfully different Nearly Human is a triumph at the VAULT Festival

“We are, each of us, a little universe”

Nine brass band musicians walk into a fringe theatre and what do you get? You will never, in a hundred years, guess. Rather unhelpfully for a reviewer, Perhaps Contraption’s Nearly Human is one of those shows that pretty much defies description. But then, should we expect anything different from a group that describes themselves as “part choir, part chamber orchestra, part avant rock troupe” and influenced by “jazz, punk, art pop and post-minimalism”.

Nevertheless, I’ll give it a go, as I can’t remember feeling as startlingly and strangely exhilarated as I did here. Drawing on the work of cosmologist Carl Sagan, Nearly Human straddles an intersection between performance art, live theatre and music to create its own state of being, which punts concert hall convention way over to the other side of the universe. I mean, even just to watch these musicians play with such physical abandon feels like a treat (call me, Mr Orange Trombone man – swoon). Continue reading “Review: Nearly Human, VAULT Festival”

Review: Inside Pussy Riot, Saatchi Gallery

“Failure to do this will result in your fellow inmates being punished”

How far can immersive theatre push you? How far should immersive theatre push you? The disclaimer for Les Enfants Terribles’ Inside Pussy Riot warns us it is “not for the faint hearted, come prepared to demonstrate and stand up for what you believe in!”. But given that it is trying to give audiences a taste of what it is like to be on the wrong side of a totalitarian regime, from arrest to trial to incarceration with a bit of forced labour in there for good measure, there’s a limit to how far they can actually go.

Marking the 100th annversary of the Russian Revolution, Inside Pussy Riot revisits the experience of Nadya Tolokonnikova and her post punk, feminist art collective colleagues in Pussy Riot, who were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment for performing less than 40 seconds of an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral. From the opening moments when you’re invited to pick a balaclava (a range of colours available) to the climactic encouragement to raise your voice in protest, there’s quite the journey ahead. Continue reading “Review: Inside Pussy Riot, Saatchi Gallery”

TV Review: Doctor Who Series 10

Episodes, in order of preference
World Enough and Time
Extremis
The Doctor Falls
Thin Ice
Knock Knock
Oxygen
The Eaters of Light
Smile
The Pilot
Empress of Mars
The Pyramid at the End of the World
The Lie of the Land

Top 5 guest spots
1 David Suchet’s Landlord was as perfectly written a character as befits one of our more superior actors
2 Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Kieran Bew and his astronaut in Oxygen was no exception
3 Nicholas Burns‘ malevolent Sutcliffe was a delightfully Dickensian villain 
4 Another theatrical delight of mine is Anthony Calf, impressive as the pseudo-Victorian Godsacre
5 Rebecca Benson’s young Pict impressively led The Eaters of Light from the front, a perfect vessel for Rona Munro’s vision

Saddest death
Michelle Gomez’s Missy has been a brilliant breath of fresh air and whilst her decision to follow Moffat and Capaldi out the door is understandable, it isn’t any less disappointing. And perhaps the timey-wimeyness of the circumstances around her passing mean that maybe this isn’t the last we see of her…

Most wasted guest actor
I don’t what I expected from the reliably excellent Samantha Spiro in Doctor Who but I didn’t get it from her part in The Doctor Falls.

Gay agenda rating
With Bill onboard, A+!

Review: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Park Theatre

“There is a new face on the frontier”

Westerns have never been my thing so The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was all brand new information for me. Jethro Compton’s production uses Dorothy M Johnson’s original short story as its primary source material rather than the more famous film and purely by virtue of putting a Western on a stage, possesses something unique as it is a genre that has barely been touched, at least in my memory, by any London theatre. And it is also a surprisingly effective treatment that makes it one of the more atmospheric shows of the year.

Compton errs towards something of a cinematic style – Jonny Sims’ music swoops around the theatre, Robert Vaughan’s voice as a narrator guides us through the story, and Sarah Booth’s single set design contains all the action, told as it is largely in flashback. The plot doesn’t hold too much surprise so I’ll say little about it here but the play is best when it focuses on the love triangle between Oliver Lansley’s lawyer Ransome Foster, Niamh Walsh’s illiterate bar owner Hallie and Paul Albertson’s Barricune who rescued Ransome from a tight spot. Continue reading “Review: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Park Theatre”