Share |
Jun 29th

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

By Trevor Gent

Celebrating 10 years of the Iris theatre at St Pauls Church Covent Garden. My first visit to this unusual venue for theatre certainly was an interesting one and did not disappoint.

Most of the play is staged in the open air (so come prepared for the elements) and the audience follows the cast as they go from scene to scene. You really feel engaged as you are so close up to the action. The use of eerie sounds added to the atmosphere and the witches depicted as strange insect like creatures was a first for me too.

Macbeth 1

In this new production directed by Daniel Winder, you experience the greatest psychological horror story ever told. Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a terrifying journey into the mind of a murderer. Inspired by the psychosexual imagery of Hieronymus Bosch, this production weaves its way around the grounds of St Paul’s Church; reflecting the play’s journey into the twisted mental landscape of Macbeth as he rises to be king.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, superbly played by David Hywel Baynes and Mogali Masuku maintain interest and the other characters certainly play their role admirably too. Shakespeare may not be for everyone but this venue certainly seemed to fit well with the style of the piece. Especially the very atmospheric section in the church itself at the end of the first act.

Macbeth 1

Be warned though this venue has no toilets but they are available in the Covent Garden Piazza not far away. There is also some noise pollution as it is so close to Covent Garden and mostly in the open air but this did not distract from my enjoyment of the performance.

Macbeth plays at the Iris from 21st June until 29th July.

Click here for detail and to buy tickets http://iristheatre.com/event/macbeth/

Reviewed by Trevor Gent

 

Jun 25th

The Kite Runner, Playhouse Theatre

By Douglas McFarlane

Kite Runner

 

I'd seen the film, and a colleague reviewing for another site had read the book. Both of us sat at opposite ends in the front row of the lovely Playhouse Theatre handy for Embankment Station.

We hadn't realised each other were there until the break. A few weeks earlier we had met on the set of a commercial we were both cast in, and realised through talking that we both lived in the same home town of Teddington. After watching it we were both enthused and motivated to write great reviews as we discussed it in detail going back over the bridge to Waterloo station with fantastic views towards the House Of Parliament and the London Eye.

It's a great night at the theatre and highly recommended from two reviewers.

What's it about ? 

It's a father-son story, to a background of war, touching on bullying and immigration. But most of all it's about friendship. With parallels to Blood Brothers, it tells the story with narration, of two young friends growing up in a household in Afghanistan. Each of them are from different social and religious backgrounds. They both have a love of the sport of kite running and their skill and passion brings them closer together.

Kite Runner's strength is it's story telling. The author had clearly close understanding of the subject and grew up in a similar environment so there has always been some speculation as to it's auto-biographical nature.

This production is brilliant. All carefully considered and thoughtful use of sounds, lights and shadows to represent the story and make it a visual delight from a simple set. A cast that interacts wonderfully with the narration and a beautiful and delicate flow throughout the play showcases the amazing talents of the production and technical team. From the amazing hypnotic sound of the timbala player, to the cast playing notes on some sort of mortar and pestle, to the shadows lighting the background telling part of the story or showing an active crowded backdrop.

There's some great talent in all the cast, many of them having to double up with different characters and actors but each delivering great nuances and visible emotions drawing you into their pain. Especially from the front row. 

There's no doubt the star of the show is David Ahmad. He has a lot of work to do being onstage for the entire play, narrating the story in one tone of voice, then switching to either young or older versions, and displaying a wide range of emotions wonderfully. He does in a subtle way. No big dramatic stage presence or vocal projection was needed. It was almost film acting on stage, where the more subtle your move or facial expression, the better the performance. 

I hope Kite Runner will win some well deserved acclaim and keep running and running. It teaches us a lot about today's modern world. It challenges our relationships with our loved ones as well as strangers. It makes us think about religion, war and the impact they have on real people around the world. Kite Runner manages to be happy, sad and funny and thought-provoking. What more do you want from a West End play.  

Get booking if you want to see it in London because it moves to Glasgow in September and then Brighton.

 

Find tickets on ATG's site.

 

Review by Douglas McFarlane

Jun 23rd

Forced Entertainment and Little Bulb Return to the Battersea Arts Centre

By Carolin Kopplin

 

Tim Etchell's Forced Entertainment returns to the Battersea Arts Centre, as its London home, to reinvent Dirty Work – a performance created nearly 20 years ago, that draws the audience into imaginary performances with casts of thousands. Following closely behind is the creative Little Bulb Theatre who will fill the BAC Courtyard theatre with their joyful musical melodrama, Extravaganza Macabre

DIRTY WORK (THE LATE SHIFT)

By Forced Entertainment

Returning to their 1998 performance Dirty Work, Forced Entertainment have created a new version of the piece that digs deeper into the comical and unsettling territory they established just before the turn of the Millennium.

The new work, Dirty Work (The Late Shift) develops the simple but immensely generative form of described or virtual events and celebrates the power of language to make things happen, co-opting the imaginative capacities of the audience to fill the stage with a delirium of images, scenes and events in bewildering and unnerving succession.

In Dirty Work (The Late Shift) two performers conjure an extraordinary performance in a collaborative and competitive act of description. From vast explosions to sub-atomic particles, with daily life, political interludes, dramas and cabaret turns in between, no event is too large and no image un-stageable for the protagonists, whose game of virtual theatre takes the audience on a roller coaster ride.

From theatrical spectacle to historical events, daily life to impossible feats, cabaret to political speeches, and from sublime beauty to vivid terrors, everything is here, in provocative, intimate and comical style. Accompanied by the sound of piano on a battered record player, Dirty Work (The Late Shift) explores and exposes a world in which real life is so often presented as spectacle.

Listings Information:

Title: Dirty Work (The Late Shift)
Artist/Company: Forced Entertainment
Venue: Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN
Date: 27 Jun – 1 Jul
Time: 7:30pm (Running Time: 85 mins)
Price: £17.50, £15, £12.50 concs
Age Recommendation: 16+
Booking Link:
www.bac.org.uk/dirtywork
Box Office: 020 7223 2223
 

Extravaganza Macabre by Little Bulb Theatre

Little Bulb Theatre returns to Battersea Arts Centre’s new open-air Courtyard this summer to delight family and fun-loving audiences with the joyfully silly production, Extravaganza Macabre, from 4 – 29 July.


A celebration of melodrama, music and mischief set in Victorian London, Extravaganza Macabre was created especially to launch Battersea Arts Centre’s Courtyard last year. Having gone down a treat, the production invites audiences to get up-close to the slapstick action across ground floor and balcony levels, with Pimm’s and picnic hampers chock-full of British favourites available to add to the summertime experience. 

Extravaganza Macabre tells a tale of two passionate lovers separated by a freak storm which leaves their fate in the clutches of a scheming villain set on keeping them apart forever. With only a clairvoyant maid and a loyal urchin to come to their rescue, a whirlwind of plot twists, original music hall numbers and audience interaction ensues, recommended for ages eight and up. 

The new 75m2 Courtyard is a unique and intimate space nestled at the heart of Battersea Arts Centre’s beautiful old town hall building. Designed by Stirling Prize winning architects Haworth Tompkins, the Courtyard was inspired by the radical Teatro Oficina in São Paulo, Brazil. With walls made from a bold mix of old red and shiny white bricks, trapdoors and surprise entrances and exits spread across three levels add to the 360 degree, open-air fun. The auditorium levels, made by Steeldeck, form the UK’s most intimate open-air theatre structure. 

Listings Information:

Title: Extravaganza Macabre

Artist/Company: Little Bulb Theatre

Venue: Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN

Date: 4 – 29 July

Time: 7:30pm | Saturday Matinees 2:30pm

Price: Stalls (Seated) £20 - £25 | Balcony (Standing) £10 - £15

Booking Link: www.bac.org.uk/extravaganza

Box Office: 020 7223 2223

Jun 13th

Dreamboats & Petticoats - King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Sean Stirling

Do you wanna dance? If the answer is “yes” then the King’s Theatre, Glasgow is the place to be this week where the 1960’s juke box musical, Dreamboats & Petticoats, makes its triumphant return as part of its current UK tour.

Dreamboats started life as a series of compilation albums featuring hit songs from the likes of Roy Orbison, Neil Sedaka, Connie Francis, Chubby Checker, to name but a few. Music of this era has been successfully imitated on stage in musicals such as Grease and Hairspray but the songs that gave inspiration for these shows now have their own vehicle in this musical which is jam packed with over 40 of some of the greatest chart toppers of the 1960’s.   Included among these treasures are To Know Him Is To Love Him, Bobby’s Girl, The Great Pretender and Let’s Twist Again. The score also features a couple of original songs written especially for the production, which you would find hard to believe that weren’t standards of the era.

The plot is streamlined in order to join this musical cavalcade together.  We are transported back to a time before snapchat, fidget spinners, bottle flipping and dabbing when being a teenager meant you went to your local youth club to play rock and roll (or table tennis) and learned how to deal with the turmoil that is young love.  Schoolboy Bobby (Alistair Higgins) longs for an electric guitar so that he can join a band to impress the older and sassy Sue (Laura Darton).  Sue has her eye set on the band’s newest front man, Norman (Alastair Hill) but his attention is purely focused on himself.  Meanwhile schoolgirl Laura (Elizabeth Carter) wants to be Bobby’s girl.

Alistair Higgins is an endearing Bobby with the warm baritone of a young Elvis Presley and the tender falsetto of Frankie Valli.  Elizabeth Carter is a sweet Laura with a voice that could melt even the coldest heart.  Laura Darton and Alistair Hill are matched well in a relationship reminiscent of Kenikie and Rizzo in Grease.  Jimmy Johnston, who you might recognize as playing Will Parker in the filmed production of the National Theatre’s ‘Oklahoma’, holds proceedings together in his dual roles of Bobby’s dad and older Bobby.

The principals are also supported by an amazing quadruple threat company who not only play minor characters, but are also the fantastic onstage band, often playing instruments and dancing at the same time.  They also provide backing vocals throughout the show.  Two songs in the production are performed a cappella by the full company and the results are heavenly.  This production is to be highly commended for its use of live music.

The design is simple but effective making use of album covers and advertisements of the era.

The audience members at Monday evening’s performance lapped all this up and were up on their feet, dancing, singing and cheering along to the rousing finale.

Dreamboats & Petticoats

Monday, 12th June - Saturday, 17th, June

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Jun 13th

NEW SUMMER SEASON AT THE FINBOROUGH THEATRE

By Carolin Kopplin

The new Summer Season features two premieres of new writing and two rediscoveries. The two new plays – Continuity by new Northern Irish playwright Gerry Moynihan and the European premiere of Dolphins and Sharks from new African-American playwright James Anthony Tyler – were both originally seen as staged readings as part of Vibrant 2016 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. The two rediscoveries are Just To Get Married by renowned suffragette Cicely Hamilton, first performed in 1910 and last seen in London in 1918; and Windows by John Galsworthy, which premiered in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 1922.

 

The season opens with the first London production in over a hundred years of Just To Get Married, a romantic comedy by renowned suffragette Cicely Hamilton, playing for a four week limited season from 25 July-19 August 2017. It runs concurrently with the world premiere of Continuity by new playwright Gerry Moynihan, playing Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees between 30 July-13 August 2017.

 

The season continues with the first professional UK production in 85 years of Windows by John Galsworthy, directed by Geoffrey Beevers, well known for his work at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. Described by its author as “a comedy for idealists and others”, Windows plays from a three week limited season from 22 August-9 September 2017.

The season concludes with the European premiere from new African-American playwright James Anthony Tyler, Dolphins and Sharks plays for a three week limited season from 12 September-30 September 2017.

 

Elsewhere, two sell-out Finborough Theatre productions transfer in June: Incident At Vichy by Arthur Miller transfers to the King’s Head Theatre from 7-25 June 2017; and My Eyes Went Dark by Matt Wilkinson transfers to 59E59 Theaters, New York City, from 7 June - 2 July 2017.

 

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson said: "Our new Summer Season is evenly balanced between our artistic policy’s twin strands – to present essential new writing, alongside genuinely unique rediscoveries. We have also just relaunched our Friends Scheme, making it even easier to support our award winning work.”

 

For full information, please visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Photo credit: KinoLOWRES