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”

Revew: Yes Prime Minister, Trafalgar Studios

“Do we have to deal with this tonight?”

When it was first announced that Yes Prime Minister would be returning to the London stage, the question ‘who hasn’t seen it yet?!’ was not unreasonably raised. (The answer, of course, was me, presumably amongst others.) Since opening in Chichester in 2010, it has played the West End twice and toured the UK twice but in shaky economic times, exacerbated by the unknown quantity of how the Olympics will actually affect audiences, the Trafalgar Studios have plumped for a return for this safe banker, which is currently booking til the 12th January 2013.

And safe it is. An update of the classic TV programme by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the pair crafted a contemporaneous version of their story which captures the main themes of ministerial ineptitude and the enduring survival and influence of the Civil Service. PM Jim Hacker is sequestered at Chequers in the midst of a conference and surrounded by gloomy news. When a chink of light appears in the form of a lucrative oil deal, hopes are raised but the offer comes with an enormous string attached and Hacker and his team are forced to balance ethics and morals with the potential deal of a lifetime. Continue reading “Revew: Yes Prime Minister, Trafalgar Studios”

Review: The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, Duchess Theatre

“I find it best that two men find out the worst about each other before living together”

After the Fantasticks finished its run somewhat abruptly, the Duchess Theatre now plays host to The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, a production that has been touring the country and how has a home in the West End for the summer. Jeremy Pauls’s play is a psychological thriller which deals with Sherlock Holmes, delving into the psyche of the man himself and his relationships with the ever-faithful Dr Watson and his nemesis Professor Moriarty.

Peter Egan and Robert Daws, taking over from Phillip Franks who played the role on tour, take us through Holmes and Watson’s first meeting and follow them as their association develops and deepens, providing intriguing insight into characters with which we are so familiar but about whom we actually know very little. The fallout from the infamous events at Reichenbach Falls form the crux of the show as they both deal with the challenges of Holmes’ actions.

Peter Egan’s Sherlock is at times magnificent in his pursuit of logic and cracking mysteries, at times close to being sociopathic in his inability to relate fully to other humans. It is in the examination of his demons, real and imagined, and his fears Holmes Daws’ Watson provides a lovely well-rounded characterisation to a familiar figure who is often side-lined, putting him at the emotional heart of the play, teasing back the protective layers of the great detective and finding that his needs are all too human despite what his facade might suggest.

There’s a lovely chemistry between the two actors as they play off each other, and the growing tenderness and affection between the two, although never articulated out loud, is plain to see. There’s mention of other characters, Irene Adler, Mycroft, Watson’s wife, but the focus is largely on the two gentlemen.
The set is nicely dressed as a dark but warm study, stuffed full of books and artefacts and memorabilia, a real bachelor’s pad. A wrought iron staircase runs up to a gallery which crosses the back, adding an extra level from which additional scenes could be played and shadowy figures loomed.

Surprisingly dark and oft-times humorous, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes made for a fun time at the theatre. Not a particularly challenging play, but engagingly intriguing and a majestic performance from Egan. It could be a little pacier and part of me thought it didn’t really need the interval, but not bad at all.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes (with interval)
Programme cost: £3.50
Booking until 11th September

Review: Public Property, Trafalgar Studios 2

“Young boys should be enjoying Nintendos, not old newreaders’ c*cks”

Tucked away in the basement of the Trafalgar Studios, Public Property is a new play, a “dark comedy”, written by Sam Peter Jackson. With a very attractive cast of Nigel Harman, Stephen Webb and Robert Daws, it is a sharply observed look at the world of celebrity scandal and spin doctors, and poses the eternal question: is all publicity, good publicity.
As a married but closeted, high profile newsreader with a new autobiography to sell, Geoffrey Hammond finds himself embroiled in a sex scandal when photographers catch him engaged in salacious activities with a 16 year old rent boy in his car. He turns to his publicist Larry to try and spin him out of what seems to be an impossible situation, but all is not what it necessarily seems as the long night goes on, revealing layers of deceit, the machinations of media spin and debates about the scandal-hungry press.

As the PR man Larry, Nigel Harman is excellent: wannabe Machiavellian in temperament and sharply dressed with a rapier wit, he spits out comic lines with verve and his interaction with his beleaguered client is a delicious exposition of a shifting power struggle in which there are no real winners. He also demonstrates a gift for physical comedy with some impressive leg muscles, I’ll say no more! As the homosexual newsreader, Daws is also good, petulantly defiant about public opinion on his private life, though craving their money through his poorly-received book and their adoration as a minor celeb. Although I did take issue with the underworked relationship with his male lover who was only made reference to intermittently despite allegedly being the love of his life, especially as this didn’t seem to fit with his emotional interactions with the rent boy Jamie. And given his desperation for his book to sell, I struggled to believe that he wouldn’t have had more inclination to use the situation as best to his advantage, his was a dubious moral centre to the play. Continue reading “Review: Public Property, Trafalgar Studios 2”