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May 31st

A Judgement in Stone @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

A Judgement in Stone Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

As a jobbing actor I know only too well that to be able to keep working in the business is extremely tough, particularly for middle-aged women when the unemployment rate is 95%!  The balance of male to female roles is about 3 to 1, so to find a play with several good roles for women is rare. Building on the phenomenal decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, Bill Kenwright’s new  company The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, seeks to redress the balance with a new production adapted from one of the most celebrated works of the writer often hailed as the successor to Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement In Stone.

Rendell was first published in 1964 and was awarded a CBE in 1996. Her prolific output included film and TV as well as 80 novels and one of the genre’s most famous characters, Chief Inspector Wexford. Widely considered to be one of Rendell’s greatest works, A Judgement in Stone is loved for its brilliant rendering of character, plot and motive, and is undoubtedly Rendell at her thrilling best.

Featuring an all star cast, Sophie Ward (Young Sherlock Holmes; Heartbeat) stars as Eunice Parchman who struggles to fit in. When she joins a wealthy family as their housekeeper the very reason for her awkwardness, long hidden and deeply buried, leads inexorably to a terrible tale of murder in cold blood - on Valentine’s Day. Ruth Rendell’s brilliant plot unravels a lifetime of deceit, despair and cover-ups which, when revealed, brings a shocking revelation almost as ghastly as murder itself.

Attempting to solve the crime is Andrew Lancel (Coronation Street; The Bill), as Detective Superintendent Vetch, ably accompanied by Ben Nealon as Detective Sergeant Challoner, who gives a convincing performance as the observant side-kick.  Former 60s pop idol Mark Wynter plays the pompous George Coverdale, married to his second wife, Jacqueline (Rosie Thomson), who, with the two youngsters Giles (Joshua Price) and Melinda (Jennifer Sims), all meet a gruesome end.

The play opens with the arrival of the detectives, then features flashbacks as we meet all the characters in the days leading up to the crime.  There are lots of cross-over entrances and exits, which can be hard to follow at times, but generally it works.  Suspects Deborah Grant (Not Going Out; Bergarac) is very energetic as the bible-bashing Joan Smith, with Blue band-mate Antony Costa ‘givin’ it large’ as the ex-criminal gardener and Shirley Anne Field (The Entertainer; Saturday Night Sunday Morning) as the elderly cleaner usurped by the arrival of the new housekeeper.

The production is directed by Roy Marsden who is best known as an actor, particularly in his role as Commander Adam Dalgliesh in Anglia TV's P.D. James series, which he played for 15 years. His recent work for Bill Kenwright includes directing a UK tour of Susan Hill’s The Small Hand and the debut production for The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, Rehearsal For Murder.

If you enjoy a good ‘Whodunnit’ featuring actors you know, then this may appeal to you.  Personally, I found the play a bit too melodramatic at times, but to give Bill Kenwright his due he really does keep a lot of actors employed and continues to give audiences choices.

Performances at The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury:       

Tue 30 May – Sat 3 Jun

                                        Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm, Wed, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office:                         0844 871 7607 (Bkg fee. Calls 7p per min plus phone company’s access charge)

Groups Hotline:               0844 871 7614

Access Booking:               0844 871 7677 (Bkg fee)

Online Booking:               www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (Bkg fee)

 

A JUDGEMENT IN STONE - UK TOUR DATES 2017

Mon 5 – Sat 10 June                                                                          

Palace Theatre, Southend                                                                 

 

Mon 12 – Sat 17 June                                                                        

Derby Theatre, Derby                                                                       


Mon 19 – Sat 24 June                                                                        

Theatre Royal, Glasgow      

                                                               

Mon 26 June – Sat 1 July                                                                   

New Victoria Theatre, Woking                                                          


Mon 3 – Sat 8 July                                                                               

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

                                                    

Mon 10 – Sat 15 July                                                                          

Harrogate Theatre, Harrogate                                                          


Mon 17 – Sat 22 July                                                         
               

Regent Theatre, Stoke                                                                       

 

Mon 24 – Sat 29 July                                                                         

Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes                                           


Mon 31 July – Sat 5 August                                                               

Theatre Royal, Newcastle                                                                  

 

Tues 19 – Sat 23 September                                                             

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry                                                              

 

Mon 25 – Sat 30 September                                                             

Orchard Theatre, Dartford                                                                

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

30.5.17

@yvonnedelahaye

May 12th

Grease The Musical at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 

Review by Christopher Lowe

Grease is the word this spring at the King's Theatre Glasgow as David Gilmore directs this production of the smash hit musical.

It's 1959 and America is teetering on the brink of liberation driven by the power of rock 'n' roll and sexual freedom.  Tough guy, Danny Zuko, meets angelic Sandy Dumbrowski for some summer luvin' over the school holidays. When back at high school, things don’t seem so sweet as Danny tries to play it cool in front of his mates. After much frustration and determination, Sandy decides to put on those leather trousers and flashy red heels and she decides to grab her man.

As one of the most famous and loved musicals Grease is hardly a show that needs headline names to succeed.

“The Wanted” star, Tom Parker, appears in his element in the iconic role of Danny; full of charisma and rebellious charm. He works incredibly well with his partner, Danielle Hope; both with stunning vocals and fantastic theatre presence.

Eastender,Louisa Lytton, plays Rizzo with great success and her previous experience as an actress comes to the fore in this key dramatic role.

The cast members all had great energy throughout the performance. Everything about the show was a real trip down memory lane either for fans of the 70’s movie or fans of the original era! The choreography was on point, the character portrayals were terrific, the lighting was mesmerizing and the music was,as you would expect, crazily catchy.

By the end of the evening the audience were all singing and dancing and having such a great time. It is a very enjoyable, fun and energetic production. I would find it very difficult to believe that anyone would not be pleased with this show. It is a classic and you can't go wrong!

Grease The Musical

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Tues 9 May-Sat 20 May

Mon-Thu eves, 7.30pm

Fri, 5.30pm & 8.30pm

Sat, 5pm & 8.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

 

 Images by Paul Coltas courtesy of Ambassadors Theatre Group

May 11th

King of Pop - The Legend Continues

By Yvonne Delahaye

King of Pop - The Legend Continues Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre,

It’s an astonishing 8 years since the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson died tragically from a drugs overdose, administered by his physician Conrad Murray who was subsequently charged with ‘involuntary manslaughter.’  The worldwide outpouring of grief at the loss of such an icon hadn’t been seen since Princess Diana’s death in 1997.  MJ was a singer, songwriter, dancer, producer and philanthropist whose contribution to music, dance and fashion made him a global superstar for over 40 years.  His album Thriller is still the best selling album of all time, selling over 65 million copies worldwide.

Tribute acts have to work incredibly hard to sound like the artist they’re portraying, but to also get the facial looks of MJ, Navi must have gone to extraordinary lengths to look like his idol.  MJ actually used Navi to promote albums/concerts or act as a decoy for him to avoid the relentless pursuit of press and fans.  MJ hired Navi to sing at two of his birthday parties and gave him a standing ovation, describing his performance as ‘incredible’, so that personal endorsement gives him the credibility fans crave to ensure MJ will never be forgotten.  Navi is regarded as the ‘World’s No 1 MJ Tribute’ and has been touring his MJ show for 28 years.

This tour features MJ’s incredible guitarist, Jennifer Batten, who toured with MJ on three sell-out world tours.  Initially hand-picked to play on the Bad tour, MJ was so impressed that she joined him on the road for the next 10 years, playing on his Dangerous and History tours to more than 4.5 million fans worldwide.

It was good to see families in the auditorium, with very small children who weren’t even born when MJ was alive.  The ages in the theatre looked as though they spanned eight decades, which is testament to the enduring, all encompassing appeal of his music.

Navi’s a good entertainer and engages the audience chatting to us throughout the show and making jokes.  There were clearly a few problems with his mic and ear piece in the first half, which meant he was a bit drowned out by the band, but thankfully those issues were all resolved in the second half.  Then we were able to really appreciate his vocals and feel we were actually watching a real MJ concert, as he sang some of my favourites Bad, Thriller, Black and White, Billie Jean, Man in the Mirror and the lovely You Are Not Alone with everyone on their feet clapping, singing and dancing along.

Opening the show could perhaps have been a bit more spectacular, to build some excitement and anticipation of Navi’s arrival rather than him just coming on from the side maybe some smoke, lights arriving from the back centre stage would be more effective. It would also have been good to see more of MJ’s iconic ‘Moondance’, but it didn’t spoil the overall enjoyment  and a good time was had by all!

For tour details and bookings go to. www.atgtickets.com

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

10.5.17

 

@yvonnedelahaye

May 10th

Miss Meena and the Masala Queens at Watford Palace Theatre.

By Trevor Gent

Dazzling saris, grand Bollywood lip-sync dance numbers and adoring fans are now a distant memory for Miss Meena. The once famous drag queen has lost his sparkle and like his nightclub is washed up and out of date. The punters have gone and whilst the other drag queens are strutting high heels elsewhere, property developers are circling like vultures waiting for Miss Meena to give up the lease on the run down club. 

A new arrival brings a glittery rainbow of hope. But just as things are starting to look up for Miss Meena, a visitor from the past questions everything he stands for. The action is set in and around a drag nightclub for young Asian men in Birmingham. Although not a musical there is music and dancing in this colourful production.

The pressure of family loyalties and commitments are laid bare and cause confusion in various characters but primarily in Miss Meena (aka Abdul) and also Shaan, the 19 year old run away he takes in from the street seeing similarities from his own family situation.

 

Miss Meena and Shaan

It is sometimes slow and disjointed but there is humour and you really root for the two aspiring drag queens (rather unkindly nicknamed Pinky and Perky by Munni). This character has a few ideas of his own and takes advantage after the death of Miss Meenas father. This event closes the first act and leaves you feeling a bit flat.

The second act opens with the funeral and Abdul (Miss Meena) guilt ridden.  He tries to make amends and even agrees to an arranged marriage but with support from his friends at the club and eventually even his brother he returns to the club and starts again.

Essentially this is a story about having the courage to be who you are and it even throws in ‘I am what I am’ from La Cage Aux Folles in the glitzy finale. The mainly Asian audience enthusiastically applauded and were obviously familiar with the songs and dances but this may not suit everyone.

 

Miss Meena Dance 

Playing at:

Watford Palace Theatre from 5th to 13th May.

Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry from 16th to 20th May.

Greenwich Theatre, London from 24th to 27th May.

Theatre Royal, Windsor from 30th May to 3rd June

NST Campus Southampton from 6th to 10th June

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds from 13th to 17th June.

 

Reviewed by Trevor Gent

Photos Credited to David Fisher

May 10th

Lost - an evening of new writing in Bristol

By G.D. Mills

This week the Alma Theatre Tavern hosts a trio of new plays from three award winning writers. OK, two award-winning writers and a compulsive liar.

'City' by Pippa Gladhill is a hard-boiled tale of noir fantasies, improbable chess moves and unrequited love. Homeless gumshoe Frank faces his toughest case yet: a missing canine, a demolition site and a hostile security force. But he always has a plan...

'The Pasta Machine' by Andy Alderson is set in the flaming wreckage of a relationship. As Poppy arrives to collect her things from Tim's flat, she finds him drunk and primed for battle. Acrimony, betrayal and kitchenware feature heavily in a play that critics are describing as "New" and "20-25 minutes long".



'Dummy' by Andrzej Wawrowski is a twisted comedy-drama about unhinged children's entertainer Dennis Turp. From humble beginnings on the local circuit, Dennis has taken his show – with 'co-star' Charlie Chimpington – to the top. Now, as America awaits, the pressure is on. With a Machiavellian girlfriend, an ineffectual agent and a toy monkey with ambitions of his own, Dennis is cracking up.



Like Mr Tumble directed by The League of Gentlemen. Welcome to the dark side of light entertainment.

They will be performed at the Alma Theare Tavern on the 11th, 12th and 13th of May. Visit the website here for tickets and more details:

http://www.almatavernandtheatre.co.uk/theatreWhatsOnMin1.php

Images: Andy Alderson

May 8th

Voices from Chernobyl at the Jack Studio Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Karina Knapinska

 These people had already seen what for everyone else is still unknown. I felt like I was recording the future. (Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl)

I still remember the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in April, 1986. We were still in the middle of the cold war with Russia so very little information was shared. I lived in Munich at that time and we were warned by our government to avoid fresh milk for several weeks, venison and mushrooms - anything from the forest - for several years. And Bavaria is quite a distance from Ukraine. People in Ukraine were not warned. They continued eating fruit, vegetables, and dairy from their villages because the produce looked fine. After all radiation is invisible.

In the early to mid-1990s, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich collected hundreds of stories from people living in villages near Chernobyl when the catastrophe happened - the wives of the firefighters who sacrificed themselves to save others, scientists, government officials, and ordinary people whose lives were changed forever. 

Director Germán D’Jesús adapted Keith Gessen's translation of Svetlana Alexievich's book for the stage and his 60-minute play, produced by Ténéré Arte, is currently running at the Jack Studio Theatre.

April 26, 1986. People in the towns near Chernobyl are going about their daily business when an explosion destroys a reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Station. The government quickly tries to cover up the catastrophe whilst firefighters and workers are dying of radiation poisoning because they are spending far more than the allotted time in the radioactive environment, working without any protection. More than 600,000 fire-fighters and emergency workers are called in from all over the Soviet Union to put out the fire. Tourists arrive to look at the spectacle and the locals continue eating their contaminated produce whilst government officials do nothing to discourage them. When severely deformed babies are born, some with missing organs, others with missing or additional limbs, the extent of the catastrophe starts to sink in.

Oleg Sidorchik

The play, featuring a dedicated cast of six actors, lends a voice to the victims of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. Whilst the government was more concerned about protecting the state from the enemies of socialism than about the safety of its own people, many perished before they were finally evacuated from the contaminated areas, and the radioactive cloud moved on to bring contamination and death to other parts of eastern Europe, particularly Belarus, where Svetlana Alexievich was born.

The actors speak both English and Russian, which lends authenticity to the production. The cast all play a variety of roles but they still manage to create empathy for their characters. A newlywed young woman talks about how she could not even hold the hand of her dying husband because he was contaminated. A scientist describes the complete disorganization and disinformation after the explosion. And a worker talks about cleaning up the contaminated debris after the fire was put out, without a care for his own safety.

An unflinching and unsentimental account of one of the worst nuclear disasters.       

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 13th May 2017

Jack Studio Theatre

Running time: 60 minutes

In English and Russian (all Russian parts are accompanied by surtitles)

Photo credit Jack Studio Theatre.

May 7th

Brimstone and Treacle at the Hope Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Martin (Fergus Leathem) praying for Pattie (Olivia Beardsley)

All I want is the England I used to know. The England I remember.

Originally written as a BBC Play for Today in 1976, Brimstone and Treacle was initially banned due to its disturbing content. The play had its stage premiere at the Sheffield Crucible one year later. Matthew Parker, who just won an Offie Award as Best Artistic Director, now presents the 40th anniversary production of Dennis Potter's darkly comic and divisive play about prejudice and fear in English homes at the Hope Theatre.

1977. A suburb in North London. Mr Bates (Paul Clayton) complains about the bland sandwiches that his wife (Stephanie Bettie) serves him as his dinner after he has worked very hard all day. But Mrs Bates has a good excuse - she is the full-time carer of their disabled daughter Pattie (Olivia Beardsley) who suffered severe brain injuries in a traffic accident two years ago. Mr Bates sees in his daughter little more than a breathing cabbage but Mrs Bates remains hopeful that Pattie is still present somewhere deep inside her damaged brain. Mrs Bates is at the end of her tether as she hasn't been able to leave the house in two years. Mr Bates refuses to employ a carer because it is too expense, nor will he allow any visitors because Pattie is an embarrassment to him.

All of a sudden, Martin (Fergus Leathem) arrives on their doorstep, claiming that he loved Pattie and had proposed to her before she had her accident. When Martin offers to lend a hand with the care of his beloved, Mrs Bates embraces the idea, but Mr Bates remains skeptical - and rightfully so as there is something rather strange about Martin. Yet Martin manages to win him over by sharing Mr Bates' xenophobic ideas and "England first" ideology. 

 

Mr Bates (Paul Clayton)

Although Dennis Potter's play was written in the mid-1970s, it is still very relevant today. Paul Clayton's Mr Bates is a patriarch who considers his home his castle. He does not like the changes that he has experienced over the past couple of decades and wants back "his England" - the way it was when he was a child, which means getting rid of a large part of the current population. When Martin describes the unavoidable consequences of such an action, Mr Bates is appalled and denies that he would ever support such crimes - although he is a devout member of the Nationalist Party. Stephanie Beattie portrays Mrs Bates as a docile housewife who always tries to be pleasant for her husband's sake but is now so desperate to get out of the house that she doesn't mind leaving a complete stranger alone with her helpless daughter. Fergus Leathem playing Martin with a mix of smarmy charm and sardonic humour, delivers a clumsy one-note rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" to sway Mrs Bates' doubts. She trustingly dashes off to have her hair done, whilst Martin sexually abuses Pattie. Olivia Beardsley is outstanding as the severely disabled girl.  

Rachael Ryan's exquisite set features a stuffy living room with wallpaper with a rather unappealing floral design, suffocating any liberating thought. The sound design by Philip Matejtschuk ranges from Mantovani's violins to the wrath of God, adding to the eerieness of the story. 

Matthew Parker's production brings out the absurdity and dark humour of Dennis Potter's play. One finds oneself laughing before one chokes on one's laughter because this is really no laughing matter, or is it?

An outstanding rediscovery that should not be missed.

By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 20th May 2017

Hope Theatre

Running time: 90 minutes without an interval

Photo credit: lhphotoshots.jpg

May 4th

MAMMA MIA! - Milton Keynes Theatre

By Louise Winter

Reviewed 3rd May 2017

MAMMA MIA! poster

Oh, what a delightfully uplifting evening! The Milton Keynes audience collectively skipped out into the cold night, warm and energised by the Greek sun and sing-a-long finale! Truly an international stage phenomenon; running in the West End for almost twenty years, and a film adaptation which is still the highest worldwide grossing live-action musical film, MAMMA MIA! is cross-generational and resonates on a number of levels. This touring production is just wonderful and well worth a visit if you can get a ticket; MK was jam-packed last night with an enthusiastic, vocal and appreciative audience.

Judy Craymer creator/producer has said it was difficult to convince people initially that the play was to be an original story using ABBA songs and not the story of the band itself.  Incredibly, this particular play is so established that it is seems hard to imagine there was ever any doubt. Strikingly female-centric with the respective love lives of mother and daughter on show, it is also a story of a mother’s love for her daughter and the poignancy of that relationship. Craymer states that she noticed the songs by ABBA’s writers Bjőrn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson ‘fell into two generations: younger more playful songs such as ‘Honey, Honey’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ and more mature, emotional songs such as ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ – the latter in the style of story-telling, conversational songs that can be interpreted as between two people or the dialogue of inner turmoil. They might be ‘pop’ songs but there is so much more to them and this is what creates the synergy between the story, the songs and the performances in this production; credible, honest actors here tell stories through poignant and meaningful lyrics. There is an integrity at the heart of this show and ABBA’s music is universally loved, as evident both on stage and in the auditorium last night.

MAMMA MIA - Donna, Tanya, Rosie

Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

A strong cohesive cast, led by Donna (Helen Hobson) and Sophie (Lucy May Barker), are obviously having a blast every night and are spot on with dramatic and comic timing. Hobson is sexy as hell and Barker is charming. Both have strong voices and a lovely on stage chemistry – believable as mother and daughter. Their performance of ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ was emotional and touching. 

MAMMA MIA! boys

 Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Sophie’s ‘fathers’, Harry (James Hogarth), Bill (Christopher Hollis), and Sam (Jon Boydon’ are perfect. Donna’s ‘girl group’ friends Tanya (Emma Clifford) and Rosie (Gillian Hardie) are a complete hoot. Their rendition of ‘Chiquitita’ created guffaws and snorts from the stalls and ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ and ‘Take a Chance on Me’ were laugh out loud funny; reminiscent of ridiculous elements of French and Saunders in their prime.

MAMMA MIA! Hobson and Barker

Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

The ensemble, a young and very dynamic group, are strong of voice, exceptionally fine of figure – particularly the young men(!) and exuberant from start to finish. Setting and staging is straightforward and refreshingly uncomplicated, costumes a combination of flippers, flares, sequins and sandals, choreography (Anthony Van Laast) cheeky and superbly executed and the live band led by Richard Weedon are superlative. 

MAMMA MIA! stags

Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

All in all, a perfect night out!

 

MAMMA MIA! is at MK Theatre until Saturday 20th May

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 (bkg fee)

Groups Hotline: 01908 547609

Access Booking: 0844 872 7677

Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes (bkg fee)

 

May 3rd

Everything Between Us at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Dysfunctional siblings: Teeni (Katrina McKeever) and Sandra (Lynsey-Anne Moffat)

It horrifies me to be a human being.

David Ireland's dark comedy actually premiered in Washington DC before it went on to Belfast and Scotland in 2010. Produced by Solas Nua and Tinderbox Theatre, it won the Stewart Parker Trust Award, BBC Radio Drama Award and the Meyer Whitworth Award for Best New Play. It now receives its London premiere at the Finborough Theatre.

Just as Sandra Richardson prepares to take her seat on the newly formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Northern Ireland at Stormont, her long-lost sister Teeni storms in and punches the South African chairwoman in the face whilst hurling racial abuse at her. Sandra manages to drag Teenie into an empty, windowless room to calm her down. - Obviously this is not a realistic play or else Teenie would have been arrested by security and detained long before she could even come close enough to the chairwoman to attack her.

Sandra is a respected politician and the Protestant representative on the Commission at a crucial time in Northern Ireland whilst Teeni has just returned from Stavanger, Norway, where she lived in isolation, building ships. The two sisters have not seen each other in eleven years and it soon becomes clear that there is no love lost between them. As they fight and argue through years of unresolved conflicts, their relationship resembles the situation in their own country - or any country where fanatics try to torpedo any effort of peace and reconcilliation.

The two-hander focuses on the volatile Teeni (a tour-de-force performance by Katrina McKeever), who gets far more time to display her outrageous personality than her sister Sandra - shifting from stand-up comedy to pitiable loneliness before she erupts into another tirade of racial hatred. Sandra (an impressive Lynsey-Anne Moffat), who seems to have the patience of a saint, mainly listens but her character is not limited to being a goody-two-shoes. Although Sandra believes in reconciliation, she has dark thoughts and unresolved issues of her own, but Sandra is in control whereas Teeni is completely unpredictable.

The confrontation between the two sisters shows the difficulty of putting your past behind you. Both grew up as Irish Protestants, their father an Ulster Defence Association fighter who was murdered when they were children. Yet whereas Sandra is trying to overcome her prejudices and their violent history, Teeni's hatred remains unchanged: "Finians aren't people."

David Ireland seems to be an expert in using black comedy to dissect the irrationality of fanatics. His play Cypress Avenue, last year at the Royal Court, featured an Ulster loyalist who wanted to take revenge on his 5-week old granddaughter because he thought she looked like Gerry Adams.

Everything Between Us is not quite as shocking as Cypress Avenue, and Teenie's stand-up comedy act goes on longer than it needs to, but it is still a compelling play, sensitively directed by Neil Bull.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 16th May 2017

Finborough Theatre

Box office: 0844 847 1652

Running time: 70 minutes, no interval

Photograph by Tristram Kenton.

May 2nd

Twelfth Night at the Blue Elephant Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

If music be the food of love, play on.

The theatre company Original Impact draws upon performance art, popular culture and current affairs to create original work and is now presenting a modern, musical production of one of William Shakespeare's most popular plays. 

Sam Dunstan energetic production turns Illyria into a party island, defined by the words "To beer or not to beer (that is the question)" sprayed on the backwall. Duke Orsino (Andi Jashari), confident ruler of Illyria, is lusting after Olivia (Eve Niker), whose melancholy mood after her brother's death could not feel more out of place. Thankfully, she can count on her steward Malvolio (Timothy Weston) to calm her senses with his sombreness in this sunny paradise.

Sir Toby Belch (Joshua Jewkes) resembles a western tourist who has partied too long on Mallorca, complete with beer gut, sunglasses and white socks, whilst Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Dinos Psychogios) is turned into a rather hopeless DJ. Maria (Alexandria Anfield) is a self-confident bar maid and adored by Sir Toby for her wit. 

After an impressive storm scene that sees Katie Turner's Viola stranded on Illyria, Viola dresses up as the cheeky rapper Cesario, but she still looks very much like a girl. However, her scenes with Eve Niker's Olivia work very nicely as there is real chemistry between the two actors.

This is a very physical show with live music and a lot of slapstick. The songs have all been updated with Sian Eleanor Green's Feste emulating Whitney Houston and Andi Jashari's voice booming across the auditorium. There is no room for Elizabethan harmonies among selfies and mobile phones.

The cast speak Shakespeare's verse beautifully and the performance is entertaining, including many funny ideas. However, I felt that Sam Dunstan could have brought more to the production, there is little depth although Shakespeare's play offers so much to explore.

A fun night out.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 6th May 2017 at the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell

Running time: 2 hours plus a 15-minute interval