A woman hunts for her former foster brother. Was he, like so many young black men, a victim of drugs or police or violence? Or did he just disappear?
Mr. Harper, best known for his sitcom role, is making his debut as a playwright.
Mikel Murfi’s virtuoso performance about the life and death of a redoubtable woman is a many-tongued wonder of Irish storytelling.
Final casting is announced today for the world premiere of MYTHIC, a new pop musical which gets its world premiere at London’s Charing Cross Theatre. The relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter can be sheer Hell - especially if that daughter is a Greek goddess with a taste for the Underworld. MYTHIC, by Marcus Stevens (Book and Lyrics) and Oran Eldor (Music), turns the ancient Greek story of Persephone on its head, with the gods as chart-topping rock stars, power-hungry politicians, and professional VIPs. In a world of Olympian celebrity, Persephone struggles between her mother Demeter’s expectations and a desire to find her own path. But her wish for independence comes back to bite her when she gets trapped in the Hell with Greece’s perennial bad boy, Hades. The journey that follows is an offbeat, emotionally-charged tale for ancient and modern times. MYTHIC plays a strictly limited seven-week season from Monday 1 October - Saturday 25 November. Georgie Westall (Persephone) was a Siren in Myth:The Rise and Fall of Orpheus (The Other Palace), The Wind in the Willows (UK tour and London Palladium), Eugenius! (London Palladium). Genevieve McCarthy (Aphrodite) made her film debut in The Spy Who Dumped Me. MYTHIC marks Genevieve’s professional London debut.Daniella Bowen (Demeter) was Rita in Made in Dagenham, Queens Theatre Hornchurch, Ali, Mamma Mia!, and Christine, The Beautiful Game, at the Union. Her West End credits include Million Dollar Quartet and Dreamboats and Petticoats. Michael Mather (Hades) Michael graduated earlier this year and the role of Hades will mark his professional debut.Tim Oxbrow (Zeus) was Markevitch and 1st cover/played the leading role of Falco in Bat Out of Hell (West End and Toronto), Judas, Jesus Christ Superstar (UK tour), Freddie Trumper, Chess, (Union).The cast also features Eloise Davies, Courtney Brogan Smalley, Jade Marvin, Jamie Ross, Ben Welch, Ben Lancaster.Creative team: Director/Choreographer Sarah O’Gleby, Musical Supervisor Chris Hatt, Musical Director Chris Ma, Designer Lee Newby, Lighting Designer Jamie Platt, Sound Designer Andrew Johnson, Associate Director/Choreographer Michaeljon Slinger Casting Harry Blumenau for Debbie O’Brien Casting.Produced by Steven M. Levy and Vaughan Williams for Charing Cross Theatre Productions.
London Musical Theatre Orchestra is proud to announce casting for their forthcoming concert version of Camelot at the London Palladium.Lerner and Loewe’s majestic Camelot, winner of four Tony Awards, returns to the West End for the first time in over thirty years. Packed with some of musical theatre’s best songs, LMTO’s concert version with full orchestra will celebrate the centenary of Alan Jay Lerner’sbirth at the West End’s favourite theatre, the London Palladium.The role of Arthur will be played by Olivier Award-winner David Thaxton (Passion / Les Misérables / Jesus Christ Superstar), Gueneverewill be played by Savannah Stevenson (Wicked / Aspects of Love / Follies), and Lancelot will be played by internationally renowned opera star Charles Rice (Mozart’s Requiem / The Barber of Seville / Candide).Sam Swann (Jekyll & Hyde / Mr Selfridge / Vicious / Wendy & Peter Pan) will play Mordred, Clive Carter (Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again / Oklahoma! / Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert / We Will Rock You / Into the Woods) will play both roles of Pellinore and Merlyn, Nimue will be played by Celinde Schoenmaker (Barnum / The Phantom of the Opera / Les Misérables), Matthew McKenna (Sunset Boulevard / Starlight Express / We Will Rock You / Legally Blonde / The Phantom of the Opera) will play Sir Dinadan, Sir Lionel will be played by Emmanuel Kojo (Girl From the North Country / Show Boat / The Scottsboro Boys), Sir Sagramore will be played by Oliver Savile (Wicked / LMTO’s State Fair / The Phantom Of The Opera) and Raphael Higgins-Humes (Lion King / Motown The Musical / Matilda The Musical) will play Tom of Warwick.The LMTO Chorus includes: Jake Byrom, Elissa Churchill, Charlotte Clitherow, Ed Court, Emma Fraser, Lee van Geelen, Erin Hair, Daniel Hall, Adam Hepworth, Matthew McDonald, Emma Oliver, Cameron Potts, Lydia Shaw, Rosie Williamson, Lizzie Wofford and Thomas Wright.The London Musical Theatre Orchestra is conducted by founder Freddie Tapner, who said: “I’m extraordinarily excited to have this sensational cast join LMTO at the London Palladium for Camelot, led by Olivier Award-winner David Thaxton and Savannah Stevenson. I’m particularly thrilled to introduce opera star, Charles Rice, to musical theatre fans – I know you’ll fall in love with his voice, just as we did at LMTO HQ when we found him. Camelot hasn’t been seen in the West End for 30 years, and we can’t wait to share this glorious score with you on Saturday 6th October.”Tickets for Camelot are on sale now.This much-loved musical brings the legend of King Arthur to vivid life with an extraordinary score and book based on T.H. White’snovel The Once and Future King. When Guenevere falls for Lancelot, one of the Knights of the Round Table, Arthur’s loyalties and beliefs are tested, and the fate of his beloved Camelot hangs in the balance.Camelot includes the songs “If Ever I Would Leave You”, “How To Handle A Woman”, “The Lusty Month of May” and “Camelot”.
One of the most beautiful and historical theatres in London’s West End is the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and perfect for the ultimate musical spectacle. Therefore 42nd Street, the 1980 Broadway hit with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble based on the 1933 hit Warner Bros film with music and lyrics by Henry Warren and Al Dubin, should be a perfect fit.Young Peggy Sawyer is fresh off the bus from small-town America and just another face in the chorus line on Broadway’s newest show ‘Pretty Lady’. But when the leading lady Dorothy Brock gets injured, Peggy might just have the shot at stardom she’s always dreamed of.Having previously seen it over a year ago and been blown away by the uniformity of the ensemble, I couldn’t wait to see this new cast change. 42nd Street has some consistently good areas: Mark Bramble’s direction and Randy Skinner’s choreography ensure the show looks on point, making the most of the huge Grade 1 listed, 2,196 seat theatre. Peter Mumford’s attention to detail with his lighting design literally shone through, with Douglas W. Schmidt’s set design and Roger Kirk’s costume design perfectly complementing the show. However, there were things that surprised me about the performance I saw. From a tap show that prides itself for its energy and consistency the show I saw came in two halves - act one and act two being completely different shows. The overall energy on stage for Act One was lack luster and unimpressive. A spectacle of this caliber should hit you from all angles and knock you sideways, but unfortunately the first Act did quite the opposite. The orchestra, eloquently conducted by Musical Director Jae Alexander, didn’t quite hit and felt underwhelming. For such a dance heavy show too, the energy from most of the ensemble was lacking: most notably in the kicks and arms, often creating messy lines. ‘Go Into Your Dance’ was one of the few saving graces of this Act. Act Two was a complete contrast. Much to the audience’s amusement, Tom Lister made a brilliant mistake with the line ‘Without a star, there’s no show’ by accidentally saying ‘Without a show, there is no star’, and this comment almost propelled the show into a new vibrancy and exciting energy. ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ was when this new lease of life truly showed, and by the finale I finally had my pulse racing - however for a show like this it was unacceptably late in the show. It was a shame too that the final numbers were the only times in the show that the orchestra fully filled the auditorium. Despite this act being much stronger, a couple of the ensemble members were still under-energized. I noticed lazy pliés from several ensemble members which is surprising given how competitive the industry is. It’s also sad to watch because it undermines the ensemble members giving everything into each move.Tom Lister as Julian Marsh was my stand out of the evening. Tom gave anexceptional performance, with a silky smooth, effortless voice that made me feel completely at ease and relaxed. He had the perfect level of charm mixed with authority to keep the piece alive, and his rendition of 42nd Street at the end was my favourite vocal moment of the evening. Ashley Day was a strong Billy Lawlor, giving confident vocals throughout and oozing charm at every moment. His dancing was sublime and always lifted the stage whenever he came on. Clare Halse gave a solid performance as Peggy Sawyer, giving bundles of enthusiasm to everything, and effortlessly gliding across the stage. Although her singing wasn’t as strong as the part suggested Peggy’s voice was, her tap and acting more than made up for it.Bonnie Langford as Dorothy Brock gave a good acting performance although it felt like she didn’t have as much fun with the role as she could have had. Her singing sadly missed the mark in the first Act with the high notes not sounding comfortable. That said her duet ‘About a Quarter to Nine’ with Clare Halse in Act Two was my highlight for her, and Dorothy Brock’s kind side came more comfortably to Bonnie.Jasna Ivir gave a great characterization to Maggie Jones, bringing solid comic relief with Tom Partridge (understudying Bert Barry). While Jasna had good timing and consistent vocals, sadly her accent when speaking the lines flitted regularly between an English and American accent. Emma Caffrey as Annie was another notable mention, with strong dancing and good energy, if not over-doing it on occasions.Ultimately, I felt watching 42nd Street that the show was flat, but it took a funny moment from Tom Lister to break the curse and lift the show to where it should be. For someone coming to see and expecting a big spectacle, I came away disappointed and felt like I’d been given a 70% performance.Review by Adam YorkeRating: ★★★Seat: H25 Royal Circle | Price of Ticket: £75
High Ridin’ is the latest play by James Hogan on at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington. Teenager Robbie travels to the North to find a job and a new life. Ex-bouncer Stan, just out of prison, gives him a lift. But not to the North. Instead, he takes charge and speeds off the motorway to a deserted house on the moors. But Ronnie doesn’t get exactly what he was looking for when he finds Stan has “More morals than Mary Poppins”.The play itself is confused. I came away unsure as to what writer James Hogan wanted the audience to get out of it. The characters were relatable, with the scenes written naturalistically and having some very witty lines - most notably ‘“I got two GCSEs.” “What in? Wankin ‘n’ chillin?”’. However, when watching the play, it didn’t feel like there was much at stake nor much of a character arc, making the audience feel like we’ve not gone on enough of a journey. On top of this, the mini montage at the end sits uncomfortably with the naturalistic style of the rest of the play.Award winning director Peter Darney stages the play well, balancing the space and making the most of the effective and detailed design by Fin Redshaw. Tom Michael Blyth leads the show well as Stan, standing out with a convincing performance showing tenderness behind the hard exterior of his character. His co-stars Linda Beckett (Ivy) and Chi-Cho Tche (Ronnie) do a good job bringing their characters to life. However some of the acting felt over-rehearsed, with a couple of moments lacking in spontaneity and consequently feeling forced.High Ridin’ was accompanied by a competent lighting and sound team of Sherry Coenen and Nicola Chang respectively, although from both there were moments that didn’t sit comfortably. With the lighting design there was a painting lit when on the wall, but it never seemed integral enough to the plot to have such a noticeable light on it. From sound design I felt a couple of sound effects weren’t subtle enough to create the full naturalism desired, and a couple of transition changes felt out of place with the play. That said, both had moments of genius that perfectly enhanced the mood of the piece subtlety.Overall I would say High Ridin’ is a play with a good heart in a warm and friendly venue, but just misses the mark.Review by Ben Everett RileyRating: ★★★Seat: E6 | Price of Ticket: £20.50
Richard Nelson’s emotionally transparent interpretation of a Chekhov masterwork, starring a brilliant Jay O. Sanders, makes us hear a classic anew.
Following last year’s record-breaking pantomime run which saw over 50,000 festive theatregoers pass through its doors, Woking’s New Victoria Theatrehave announced that the legendary Paul Chuckle will be joining the cast and starring alongsideStrictly Come Dancing’sCraig Revel Horwood inthis year’s must-see Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes, Cinderella, from Friday 7 December. Paul Chuckle will play Cinderella’s father, Baron Hardup, making his New Victoria Theatre debut. Best known as one half of the legendary Chuckle Brothers, Cinderellamarks Paul’s first pantomime following the sad passing of his brother and co-star Barry earlier this year. The much-loved duo were known to generations of children for their popular prime-time children’s television show Chucklevision, of which more than 290 episodes were made. The series proved to be so successful that in 2008 BAFTA presented Paul and Barry with an award for ‘services to British children’s television’.Paul said: “I’d like to thank everybody for their amazingly kind outpouring of love and support following the loss of our dear friend and my amazing brother, Barry. Panto was a huge part of our lives for over 50 years and I know Barry would want and expect the show to go on so I’m very happy to be starring in Cinderella in Woking this Christmas alongside our good friend Craig Revel Horwood. The three of us had a fantastic time doing panto together last year and Craig and I are looking forward to going out there, getting started and doing this year’s panto in loving memory of Barry.”During the mid-nineties Paul and Barry also recorded three series of their own TV game show and have toured the UK extensively, even releasing a charity single with Tinchy Stryder and performed in over 50 pantomimes at major venues across the UK every Christmas. Cinderella will reunite him with Craig Revel Horwood having starred together in pantomime for producers Qdos Entertainmentin Southampton last year where they won rave reviews for their performance. Joining them as Buttons will be comedian, magician and actor Phil Butlerand West End star Sophie Isaacs as Cinderella, who is currently starring in the hit-musical Heathersat the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Starring alongside them will be Suzie Chard and Wendy Somerville as Cinderella’s very vicious sisters and Oliver Savile, star of the hit musical Wicked as Prince Charming. This year’s unmissable family show will be packed with all of the ingredients New Victoria audiences have come to expect from Surrey’s biggest pantomime; lots of laughter, stunning costumes and sets, spectacular song and dance and quality entertainment for all ages, brought magically to life by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer and the team behind the theatre’s annual pantomime.Audiences shall go to the ball this Christmas as Cinderellatransforms from rags to riches, outwits her Wicked Stepmother and Sisters, and with the help of her hilarious friend Buttons and one very magical Fairy Godmother, wins the heart of the dashing Prince Charming. With tickets selling fast, audiences shouldn’t wait any longer to book their tickets for Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes. The clock is ticking…book your tickets to the Ball today!
In “Gloria: A Life,” Ms. Steinem will be portrayed by Christine Lahti, who isn’t shy about making suggestions about moments that belong in the script.
If you want to be surprised and leave the naturalistic British theatre for a little while, go down to Clapham to see Blood Wedding, the first part of what some have called the “rural trilogy” of Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca. Even though this new production by George Richmond-Scott is set in the urban jungle of London, the tone of Blood Wedding and its multicultural cast give it a true sense of foreignness that I greatly welcomed. The story tells of the Son and the Bride who are getting married very soon. They are being intently watched by the nervous Mother and Leo, the bride’s secret ex-lover. The play is full of symbols, passionate and dramatic elements that fuel its other-worldliness. This lends itself well to the Spanish heritage of the characters, swaying between tradition and the future. In addition, musical interludes elevate the play and remind us of the importance of slowing down – especially in this city.The Son’s Mother has been mourning her husband and worrying about her son’s fate every day. On the wedding day, she is very aware of how bad omens could take over. On the Bride’s side, the Friend is a joyful presence, very happy go lucky and encouraging about the future. On the other side of town, Leo and his Wife, who have been invited to the wedding, are threatening the day’s peace. The wedding party ends with the Bride and Leo, who are secretly in a self-destructing love relationship, running away into the night after the ceremony.The set by Christianna Mason is very bare, with dirty white walls showing wound-like cuts. Garage doors open and close, alluding to the city. The costumes are richer, with colours and textures of the wedding dress or the Wife’s wedding outfit giving life to the stage. The Son’s baby blue wedding suit is also very suited to his innocence – poor guy! As the lovers get lost in the night, the moon and the Homeless woman draw us into the irrationality and loss of control that happens at night. I find that London is a city that really closes down at night – in its centre, streets empty out very quickly. That is when new creatures appear, afraid of the elements. The lighting design by Jack Weir highlights the Moon’s shiny and tight garments and the night workers’ neon yellow jackets that will let no one hide. The cast is a strong ensemble. Maria de Lima is wonderfully nervous and stubborn as the Mother, and equally excellent as the Homeless Woman – what a strong costume, too. Miztli Rose Neville is sympathetic as the Wife and shows tiredness and frustration due to her new-born baby’s cries and absent husband. Camilla Mathias is also lovely as the joyful neighbour and friend, and enchants the audience with her guitar right before the second half. Yorgos Karamalegos as the Moon is sensual and dangerous while slithering around the stage. What I really enjoyed about this show was the embracing of the Spanish community in London and the introduction of outsider influences in a local theatre. In addition, the strong cast is a joy to watch. However, I think this show can be taken even further by showing us the moon even earlier and showing that infamous “blood” from the title. This being said, it is a different kind of evening that has made me curious about Lorca and Richmond-Scott’s work. Review by Sophie TergeistRating: ★★★★Seat: free seating | Price of Ticket: £16
Wicked has a huge place in the musical theatre hall of Fame now, being an international hit the show still runs on Broadway after 15 years and 12 years in the West End. Although the show hasn't changed very much from the original Broadway production, we look back at the years the show has been running across a few productions. The original Broadway production, one of the first West End companies, the non-replica production in Copenhagen, a few different companies along the West End run and the current cast we have here in London. Take a look and share your favourite moments of the show with us on Twitter! ElphabaIdina Menzel (2003), Kerry Ellis (2007), Maria Lucia (2011), Louise Dearman (2012) & Alice Fearn (2018)GlindaKrsitin Chenoweth (2003), Helen Dallimore (2007), Annette Heick (2011), Chandra Lee Schwartz (2012) & Sophie Evans (2018) FiyeroNorbert Leo Butz (2003), Oliver Tompsett (2007), John Martin Bengtsson (2011), Matt Willis (2012) & David Witts (2018)Madam MorribleCarole Shelley (2003), Harriet Thorpe (2008), Marianne Mortensen (2011), Louise Plowright (2012) & Melanie La Barrie (2018) The WizardJoel Grey (2003), Nigel Planer (2007), Steen Springborg (2011), Keith Bartlett (2012) & Andy Hockley (2018)BoqChristopher Fitzgerald (2003), James Gillan (2007), Kim Hammelsvang Henriksen (2011), Sam Lupton (2012) & Jack Lansbury (2018)NessaroseMichelle Fender (2003), Katie Rowley Jones (2007), Anais Lueken (2011), Zoë Rainey (2011) & Rosa O'Reilly (2018)Doctor DillamondWilliam Yonmans (2003), Martin Ball (2007), Kristian Boland (2011), Christopher Howell (2012) & Chris Jarman (2018)
Can a person make a living by working in a creative job? According to Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins's new musicalEugenius!yes, as long as one works hard and keeps believing. It's the year 1988 and Eugene (Rob Houchen) is a geeky schoolboy who dreams every night about his favourite super-hero, Tough Man. A superfan of comics, he sketches scenes of Tough Man's life on a scrapbook, hoping one day to become famous for his strips. His best friends Janey (Laura Baldwin) and Feris (Daniel Buckley) believe in his talent too and, when the opportunity to shine in front of a Hollywood producer arises, their support is crucial. Of course, the reality of the film industry is much less glamorous than what had seemed and, when experiencing it first hand, Eugene is compelled to review his life priorities. Furthermore, the evil that he thought was only a product of his imagination, turns out to be a real challenge for him and his friends.Despite the predictable happy ending and the archetypical traits of its characters, Eugenius!is considered a cult for its devotion to the 1980's, being imbued of references to the most renowned films and sounds of this decade. Everything can be spotted by a discerning spectator, from Marty McFly's unmistakable body-warmer to Michael Jackson's moonwalk. The hip-hop and breakdance steps in 'Who's That Guy?' are followed by evergreen romantic ballades like 'Comic Book Kind of Love'. Whereas 'Go You Genius' is a cross-breed between George Michael's Faithand Brian Adams's Summer of 69, with a catchy chorus that is bound to follow the audience home.An extravaganza of bright-coloured lycra leotards and leg warmers invades the spray-painted set for 'She's Amazing', a clear tribute to Flashdanceand the synth-pop era, whilst 'Hands Up' is reminiscent of Bon Jovi's sexy rock and many could find in 'Evil!" a nod to the glorious Rocky Horror Picture Show.What really makes this show so special, however, is the irresistible tongue-in-cheek humour and the exceptionally talented cast, directed with extraordinary attention to detail by Ian Talbot. Aaron Renfree's choreographies and Darren Lord's musical direction are stunning and each song is followed by the loud cheering and clapping of the audience.The ambitions of Eugenius!to become a cult are justified by a final standing ovation and, looking at the size of the cast, this production deserves a wider stage, which wouldn't look so cramped during the ensemble scenes. Hysterically funny and impeccably written, this is the musical that all those in their late-thirties/early-forties must fall in love with.Review by Marianna MeloniRating: ★★★★Seat: F23 | Price of ticket: from £39.50 (depending on dates)
I was a little apprehensive coming to see this show, I’m not sure why. Part of me thinks this may be because it’s a fresh, new idea and as theatre going audiences we have seen so many of these be full of flaws and not properly executed. Excuse the pun. However this show proved me wrong. The show tells the story of all Six of Henry VIII ex-wives, each having their chance to tell their story and compete to be the leading lady of the show. At its heart it shows us there is more to the story than the rhyme we all learnt in school and with the backdrop of the #MeToo campaign going on its so great to see this show fronted by Six empowered women with a full female band. Making a girl band out of some of the most famous Ex-Wives in history is an odd idea and may seem bizarre but it’s ideas like this that make the best and most successful shows. I mean who would have thought a musical about Cats would succeed? The directors Lucy Moss (also creator of the show) and Jamie Armitage along with Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography pull off a hot and slick show. The bad ass and rock concert staging with fully formed characters puts this show on a different scale than what we’ve seen in London in a long time. The show has been written by Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow and everything just fits together perfectly like a puzzle. The songs are hits, the writing is witty and the storytelling is both fascinating and clear. Each and every one of the girls were phenomenal. Each had their own personality and individually blew the roof off the Arts Theatre; as strong as they are on their own, together, they are one force of nature. Jarneia Richard-Noel had a fierceness and commanding presence as Catherine of Aragon and set the bar high as the first wife to share her story, Millie O’Connell as the cheeky and sassy Anne Boleyn gave us comedy and golden vocals, Natalie Paris had a truthful and compassionate interpretation of Jane Seymour with a voice that I could listen to for days, Alexia McIntosh was powerful both physically and vocally as Anna of Cleves and finished her number in a true Diva fashion, Aimie Atkinson gave a youthful and naughty performance as Katherine Howard with a voice you won’t forget and last but not least Maiya Quansah-Breed as Catherine Parr, being the voice of reason amongst the girls she was balanced but had a presence you couldn’t take your eyes off and polished that off with outstanding vocals. All have such unique and difference voices that are all stunning in their own wayand melted together to gave us the best girl band the world has ever seen. The band, directed by Katy Richardson, are fierce. That’s the only word I can think of! As essential to the show as each and every single wife and are truly what makes this show what it is. As a production, this is one of the most put together shows I’ve seen in a long time. This production has taken history, spun it on its head, challenged it and smashed it into pieces. Hamilton may be in trouble, theres new girls on the block and they've come to steal your fans. The music will be stuck in your head for days and this has to be one of the hottest shows of 2018. Get your tickets now, however I suspect we’ll see the return of this show to London very soon.Review by Mark SwaleRating: ★★★★★Seat: C17, Stalls | Price of Ticket: £36.50
When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s over hyped musical Hamilton was announced for London West End someone tweeted @JoeMofoBro: “Lewis #Hamilton might be a really good racing driver but I don’t see why they have written a musical about him”. It was a very good question and I am still not sure of the answer. However Fiona English thought it was a good idea and wrote this show and David Eaton wrote the music and lyrics for it in range of styles including hip-hop, jazz, blues, and rap. I have enjoyed his work and that of director Benji Sperring before at the Kings Head but not on this occasion.The evening gets off to a very slow start with a 10 minute delay in opening the House due to an overrun in the changeover from the previous show and then the audience is required to listen to the usual overlong plea for financial support from Adam Spreadbury-Mather, the Kings Head Artistic Director before we get a rather silly weak two page prologue about GDPR, Copyright and other disclaimers. It also apologises for the show being written quickly and asks if you don’t know anything about Lewis Hamilton or the rap musical “why on earth are you here”. The answer of course is to review the show!The fundamental problem is that while Lewis Hamilton is an amazing and successful racing driver he is a rather serious and dull individual in the media. He does not have the charisma or charm of previous British winners like Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart or James Hunt. We see him develop and end his relationships with Ron Dennis (the team boss) and Nicole Scherzinger (a Pussycat doll) and his rivalry with Alonso but the main things we learn is that he got to realise the value of sponsors and got better at media management.So we are left with the parody of the musical Hamilton and a detailed knowledge of that show would help appreciate that. Having seen it just once my knowledge was adequate but not sufficient although I could not help reflecting that the cost of a ticket for Victoria Palace would pay for an actor’s wages for a week at Kings Head! The costumes cleverly refer to the style and design of the original show and the music takes its starting point from that too. “Alexander Hamilton” becomes “Lewis Hamilton”, “the ten dual commandments” becomes the “F1 Commandments” and Kings George’s showstopper “You’ll be back” becomes Ron Dennis’s “he’ll be back” complete with crown. The choreography also draws influences from the original.The cast of four Letitia Hector (Hamilton), Liberty Buckland (Nicole), Louis Mackrodt (Alonso) and Jamie Barwood (Big Ron) work very hard, dashing behind the curtains to change, are all likeable and make the most of the shows limitations with their audience asides and glances.However there is too much exposition of Lewis’s progress, too much repetition in the format, the comedy is too weak and the end result is an overlong sketch which might suit a late night Edinburgh Fringe audience on their fifth show and pint of the day but is well below the standards the Kings Head can and will need to achieve in the run up to its move to its own new venue in 2020 when hopefully they can drop the plea for cash before each show and set standards for London’s own fringe venues.Review by Nick WayneRating: ★★Seat: Stalls Row H | Price of Ticket: £18
It was extremely interesting to see Abi immediately after watching the latest revival of Mike Leigh’s 1977 play Abigail’s party set in “theoretical Romford” suburbia in the seventies. Writer Atiha Sen Gupta imagines the same location in 2018 and the granddaughter of Abigail whose party took place next door to Beverly’s disastrous drinks party in the original play. She draws inspiration for the new piece from the structure and themes of the original play and updates it for the twenty first century.Abi is the fifteen year old great granddaughter of Susan who we have met in the first play as the reluctant guest but her grandmother, the 15 year old Abigail of the seventies play, is in hospital terminally ill. Just as in the first play we are watching a host set up for a domestic party while off stage another drama is playing out this time not next door but at the hospital. We never learn in the original play exactly what went on in the offstage party which two characters, Laurence and Tony drop in on but during the course of the new companion piece the writer speculates on what Mike Leigh might have imagined was happening and the consequences.In the course of the energetic monologue Abi, played by Safiyya Ingar, explores the shifts in tastes and technology. Gone is the music on Long Playing Records instead she connects her I phone to Alexa and selects her play list for the party. Gone too are the pineapple and cheese on sticks, a staple of seventies parties, to be replaced by Pringles. The art on the walls is replaced with modern images and we learn of Abi’s boyfriend of several months who she has yet to meet as the friendship and conversation have all taken place electronically! In some ways she is no different from her grandmother at fifteen on the verge of adulthood and sexually aware, but the pressures and influences have changed.Her relationship with her mother Patti, named after rocker Patti Smith, is strained and there are tired old jokes about the accountant that she became and married. However the mystery is who was Patti’s father and why does Abi have a stronger affinity with Abigail than Patti? The production is set in the same room set of the seventies play and referenceis made to the brown and orange wallpaper that was “never a good look” but it does feel a bit of a compromise as the logic of why Abigail moved into this house next door to her mother’s house and in forty years never changed the wallpaper, or why they are packing up the contents while she lies ill in hospital as a relatively young 55 year old is never explained properly.This was a very clever idea, called RETOLD, developed by Sarah Bingham who also directs the piece. She tales a piece of classic theatre and creates a new companion piece as a female response to the original plays. It in itself justifies reviving the original rather dated play ( see separate review) , adds to our interest and enjoyment and uses it as a springboard to create a new piece that resonates with today’s audiences and comments on modern life. It may not be as polished writing as the original or as enduring but I enjoyed it more than the revival for both its modern observations and its speculation on the events that took place in the original Abigail’s Party.Review by Nick WayneRating: ★★★★Seat: Stalls Row E | Price of Ticket: £10
The team behind Sh*t Faced Shakespeare, after their rip roaring Sh*t Faced showtime Wizard of Oz, bring us ‘Sh*t Faced Showtime Oliver with a Twist. It’s been two years since I have seen a sh*t faced production and my expectations are high. I first saw Sh*t Faced Shakespeare many moons ago when they were playing at the Edinburgh Fringe and the format hasn’t changed at all, it’s easy: One of the cast (they rotate so there is no chance of alcohol poisoning or liver damage) have been drinking for four hours before the show and they then have to go on stage and remember everything they have learned: sounds easy, right? Wrong. From the off were told just how much the actor has consumed; half a bottle of gin and another little can of gin. The controller of tonight’s show [insert name] quickly gives the audience some toys to make some sound and encourage more drinking if we thought the actor was becoming sober - perfect. Let me make it very clear, you’re not here to watch Oliver! You’re here to watch as one drunk actor is comically tries to remember what’s going on on stage and be as good as they can be. Our drunken actor playing Oliver is Jessica Hern. Her giggly entrance already sets the audience off. She does rather well to remember he staging and but the script is out the window. Dance was incredibly accurate so hats off to our inebriate thespian; what did go out the window was script. Oliver turned into the grandson of Dame Maggie Smith, walked 10 meters to London, threw apples into the audience and by the end of the piece had killed Bill and Nancy and adopted Bullseye the dog. It was wild to say the least. The Twist aspect came in the shape of the songs that were being sung, songs from fair lady and les miserables were thrown in to the mix to give a great little ‘Twist’. This is not a polished Musical production and nor should you expect it to be, it’s fun, light hearted and a very good way to start a good night out. Go and see this ASAP.Finishing on the 9th of September. Review by Samuel ClemensRating: ★★★★★Seat: Unallocated | Price of ticket: £17Photo Credit: Mark Sepple