Review: Avenue Q, Greenwich Theatre

“You gotta go after the things you want while you’re still in your prime…”

Since co-writing Avenue Q in 2002 with Jeff Marx and book-writer Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez’s career has sky-rocketed with the mega-musical The Book of Mormon and Disney behemoth Frozen so the opportunity to revisit life with the puppets in the less salubrious parts of New York is a welcome one. Sell A Door’s production opens at the Greenwich Theatre and then will go an extensive tour of the UK, visiting 19 more theatres across the country to spread its often outrageous but always warm-hearted tales of the trials of day-to-day living in the big city.

So we follow fresh young graduate Princeton as his idealism gets slowly crushed by temp jobs and mounting bills and relief can only be found in booze and casual sex. Told in the style of an adult version of Sesame Street, the show is blessed with a brilliant witty score from Lopez and Marx which keeps a welcome edge to the show’s gooey heart and songs like ‘The Internet is for Porn’, ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist’ and ‘If You Were Gay’ are instantly memorable classics which sit easily next to the bittersweet emotion of ‘It’s A Fine Fine Line’ and ‘Fantasies Come True’.  Continue reading “Review: Avenue Q, Greenwich Theatre”

Review: The American Clock, Finborough

“There’s never been a society that’s not had a clock running on it”

Venturing into the lesser performed works of a playwright, even one as well-renowned as Arthur Miller, is always a tricky manoeuvre. There’s often a good reason plays collect dust on the shelf and so it takes a keen eye to spot the potential for revival and reassessment in a new production. The Finborough have become one of the premier spots in London for unearthing such gems and are hoping that they have struck gold again with Phil Willmott’s new take on Miller’s 1980 play The American Clock, which hasn’t been seen here since its first (albeit Olivier-award winning) run at the National in 1986.

The play was inspired by Studs Terkel’s oral history Hard Times and also Miller’s own recollections from the 1930s, to tell a wide-ranging tale of how the Great Depression actually played out for the American people. Using an episodic structure to work his way through stories of nearly 40 characters, the focus finally settles mainly on one well-off upper middle class family, the Baums, who are forced to relocate from their Manhattan townhouse to a relative’s spare room in Brooklyn, their struggle to deal with their changing fortunes ultimately sending mother, father and son reeling off in tragically different directions. Continue reading “Review: The American Clock, Finborough”

Review: Double Falsehood, Union Theatre

“I invite thee, consuming desolation, to this temple”

Well it is not so much desolation that can be consumed at the Union Theatre in Southwark but rather the first professional production of the play Double Falsehood since 1792. It is most notable for being a play that was controversially included in the Arden Complete Works of Shakespeare last year despite its provenance being hotly debated. As it is understood in this Clown’s mind, Double Falsehood is a 1727 adaptation by Lewis Theobald reportedly based on a 1613 play called Cardenio by Shakespeare and John Fletcher (who also collaborated on Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen). There’s reams of debate and scholarly concerns about this but ultimately, it should not be allowed to detract from what is an interesting production here.

Set in Andalucía around the court of Duke Angelo, whose youngest son Henrique causes a whole world of trouble when he rapes and abandons servant girl Violante and then decides to pursue and marry Leonora who just happens to be betrothed to his friend Julio. The fall-out from these events sees everyone scattered, themselves and their families left behind distraught, throughout the local countryside and it is left up to the noble older son and heir of Angelo, Roderick, to round everyone up and reunite lovers, parents and children and ensure that justice is served in the Spanish hills. Continue reading “Review: Double Falsehood, Union Theatre”