Review: The Stripper, St James

“Baby, you give me a hard-on”

If only, for Richard O’Brien and Richard Hartley’s The Stripper is a fantastically misjudged piece of theatre, an attempt at noir-ish convention dressed up in musical theatre clothing from 1982. This pair of Dicks give us a real dick, from Carter Brown’s pulp fiction story, in Al Wheeler, a detective trying to get to the bottom of the suicide of hot actress Patty Keller but do precisely nothing to address his dickishness. You could try and argue period detail with its 60s-set sexism but failing to interrogate it in this day and age is pretty much unforgivable.

Which is a shame as there’s the makings of something interesting here. Hartley and O’Brien’s score is an enjoyable mixture of period-appropriate musical influences that is toe-tappingly tuneful and catchy in places too. And director Benji Sperring has gathered a great cast of 5 who energetically cover a multitude of roles – Sebastien Torki and Gloria Onitiri both stand out. But where Sperring was able to tap into something with his most recent pulp project The Toxic Avenger, albeit still with a couple of tonal mis-steps, it’s much harder to reconcile what happens here. Continue reading “Review: The Stripper, St James”

Album Review: Scrapbook – The Songs of Robert Archibald and Verity Quade

“Don’t want to be dependent on a wink, a smile, or kiss.”

At the beginning of the year I unexpectedly caught a fun cabaret Scrapbook Live, showcasing the work of musical theatre writers Robert Archibald and Verity Quade, which I enjoyed considerably even though I hadn’t heard the CD from which much of the material was taken: Scrapbook – The Songs of Robert Archibald and Verity Quade.

Having now downloaded it, I gave it a listen over the last week and in some ways, it is a bit of a double-edged sword having seen the live gig. It gave me that nice sense of recognition with some of the more memorable songs which made it a fascinating listen, but it also reminded me of the energy that accompanied the renditions of the songs and the live accompaniment. I have to say I wasn’t a fan of much of the orchestrations on the CD, it sounds a little bit too processed, too artificial, keyboards instead of pianos but then that’s just what I prefer. Continue reading “Album Review: Scrapbook – The Songs of Robert Archibald and Verity Quade”

Review: Scrapbook Live, Leicester Square Theatre

“I’ll fill the pages with the scrapbook of our lives”

Scrapbook Live was a showcase event for songwriters Verity Quade and Rob Archibald who assembled a hefty crew of West End pals to come along and sing on a Sunday night at Leicester Square Theatre. The pair released an album of the same name last year (which can be bought on iTunes and at Dress Circle) and many of the stars on the cd were here to perform those songs, plus other material that Quade and Archibald have written, both standalone songs written for specific events and from musical theatre projects on which they are working.

Despite having resolved to have a theatre-free weekend, I couldn’t resist popping along, both to support new British musical writing talent (previously unknown to me) and the unique opportunity to see an intriguing ensemble. Whilst there were names here who I knew and was looking forward to, Anna Francolini and Cassidy Janson in particular, there were others who I had seen previously but not necessarily been blown away by, Rebecca Lock and Stuart Matthew Price. There was also the added value of random things like seeing Rosemary Ashe sing for the first time and getting a sneak preview of Emily Tierney before she becomes Glinda in The Wizard of Oz. Continue reading “Review: Scrapbook Live, Leicester Square Theatre”