Share |
Nov 19th

Priscilla Queen of the Desert @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
Grab your feather boa and head to The Waterside Theatre this week for the glitziest, campest show on the touring circuit, guaranteed to put some sparkle back into a cold, grey November.  Priscilla is the heartwarming, uplifting story of three drag queens who hire a battered old bus to travel across Oz from Sydney, through the outback and small towns, to change their lives and star in a cabaret in Alice Springs.

Priscilla Queen of The Desert started life as a film in 1994 with Terence Stamp as Bernadette and quickly became a cult hit across the globe, winning an Oscar for Best Costume.  Writer/Director Stephen Elliott and Allan Scott adapted the film to create the stage musical version opening in Sydney in 2006 which quickly became a massive success, adding 1970s pop songs.  The show has won a string of awards including WhatsOnStage.Com and Society of Box Office Managers for Best New Musical, as well Olivier and Broadway World UK Awards for Best Costume.

Jason Donovan reprises his role as Tick (Mitzi), which he first created in the West End.  Jason has had a varied career, starting out in Neighbours, then becoming a multi-million selling recording artist, playing Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, a succession of West End and touring roles, being a finalist in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and last year reaching the final Strictly Come Dancing.  Jason plays Tick, the gay drag queen who misses his son and yearns to see him, unbeknown to his friends, which is why he decides to cross the country and see his son.  It’s a tricky role to play to get the balance between being camp and flamboyant and portraying the inner turmoil he feels about not knowing how his son will accept who he is, but Jason plays it perfectly.  Amongst the exuberance, colour and sparkle, I Say a Little Prayer is heartfelt and sincere and provides some pathos to the comedy.
Bernadette is played by Richard Grieve, having previously played Tick in the West End.  Richard is best known as Jonny Foster in Emmerdale and in his native Australia, Sam Krantz in Neighbours and Dr Lachlan Fraser in Home and Away.  UK theatre credits include Footloose the Musical and Bells are Ringing.  He gives a stunning performance as Bernadette, with just the right amount of strength and vulnerability for us to really care about if she can find romance with Bob (Giles Watling).

Graham Weaver is wonderfully camp and outrageous as Adam (Felicia), so sure of who he is that he’s unable to comprehend the homophobic small-town behaviour they experience on the journey.
The show is so joyful and opulent, with sumptuous, colourful costumes that sparkle and dazzle and amaze as they become more and more flamboyant and ostentatious.  I loved The Three Divas flying in to open with It’s Raining Men and appearing throughout the show and the songs are all about having fun including Venus, Boogie Wonderland, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.  For me though the show’s theme tune has to be I Will Survive, as it perfectly expresses the strength and resilience they’ve all needed to survive the prejudices and biogtry they’ve all suffered.  The cast all belt it out creating a vibrant lasting end to the first and second acts. 

If you didn’t catch it in the West End, or even if you did and want to see it again (like me) you really don’t want to miss this show.  It's Entertainment with a capital 'E'!

Performances:   Mon 18 – Sat 23 Nov
Mon – Thu Evenings 7.30pm, Fri 5pm & 8.15pm, Sat 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Tickets:   £10 - £35 (Premium seats also available) 
Box Office:   0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)
Groups Hotline:  0844 871 7614
Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)
Online Booking: (bkg fee)
For further tour dates and info visit:

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
Nov 15th

One Man, Two Guvnors – 13th – 17th November 2012, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

By Jon Cuthbertson

Bringing 18th Century farce up to date (well up to 1963 actually) and making it appeal to a mass audience is a skill - and One Man Two Guvnors has this (and many more skills) in abundance!

Rufus Hound leads the touring cast of this production and makes a great job as the 'One Man' of the title, Francis Henshall. His wit with one-liners is indeed what he is known for from his stints on TV, but it was his remarkable timing in the physical comedy that impressed me even more. From tumbling over chairs to catch peanuts via madcap chase scenes to full on slapstick, Mr Hound shows great versatility and control in portraying the manic leading role. He is ably supported by a cast who have perfected the very difficult art of comedy, both verbal and physical, required of this play which is based very heavily on the commedia dell'arte roots of its original text. Amy Booth-Steel is fantastic as Dolly, frivolous, fun and sexy. Her comic timing was immaculate and delivery was pitched perfectly for laughs. Rosie Wyatt and Edward Bennett as the “Guvnors” were great foils for Mr Hound too and as with many of the other members of the cast, showed a great deal of versatility with musical abilities on display too. Talking of music, the soundtrack was mostly provided by live band “The Craze” – a suited up skiffle band with a great 60s vibe. Their opening set before curtain up certainly helped to build the audience into a frenzy, very much forgetting they had just stepped in from a cold and wet Tuesday evening in Glasgow.


The only criticism ever levelled at this play, has been the use of plants to enable some rather elaborate “ad-libs” and extended slapstick scenes. The fact is however that this play is based on the text of Gondoli, who was also given the same criticism for being the first person to “script” Commedia Dell’Arte, therefore it makes sense that this updated translation of his The Servant of Two Masters text would follow the same “set-ups”. And in all fairness this has to be the best use of this device I have seen for a long time!


Previous reviews have billed this show ‘The Funniest Show on The Planet’ and I don’t think this is too far from the truth. Peter Caulfield, as 87 year old, hard of hearing waiter Alfie gave one of the most dynamic pieces of physical theatre and it is easy to see why he has been snapped up by one of the county’s leading motion capture studios. And kudos must also be given to Alicia Davies who gave the most convincing performance of the night.


I cannot recommend this show highly enough – there is so much to tell, but it would spoil it all – so grab a ticket and then grab on to your sides as you belly laugh for 2 and a half hours. If they say laughter is the best medicine, this show should be on prescription!





Tue 13 – Sat 17 Nov

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets: £12 - £29.50


Box Office: 0844 871 7647 (Bkg fee)


Nov 18th

The Upstairs Room at the Kings Head Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

I feel so much like I’m made of glass. I splinter and break.

The London premiere of David K. O'Hara’s play takes us to an apocalyptic world. London is sinking; desperate people are throwing themselves off tall buildings, their brains eaten away by the constant acid rain. Everybody is trying to escape. 

Gordon, an American writer, is holed up in the decrepit attic room of a half-way house - a “holding place for those who seek a way out”. He is waiting for his forged travel documents from the Manager of the establishment and has prepared a cock-and-bull story for the authorities so he’ll be allowed to leave the country. Desperate to write, he rolls toilet paper into his typewriter. Gordon’s determination to leave is shaken when the Manager returns with Stella, a mysterious woman who was attacked by the Underground. Gordon feels strangely attracted to her. After some minor and major disagreements, they are beginning to bond. At this point Iris, a sprightly young girl, appears. She seems to know more about them than they do and shows them a way back to their pasts.

The small stage is perfectly suited for David O’Hara’s claustrophobic play. A dirty toilet with paper strewn all over the miniscule bathroom is separated by a flimsy curtain from the rest of the dingy room that is furnished with two sofas and a slide projector (set design: Holly A. Seager). Video and photographic projections provide a view into Gordon’s past and add to the narrative. The story itself is nicely told with a surprise ending. Lucy Wray almost steals the show as the energetic Iris as she explodes into the budding relationship between Gordon and Stella. Anthony Cozens is very good as the world weary writer but there is little chemistry between him and Liza Callinicos who plays the volatile Stella. Bret Jones convinces as the dubious Manager.    

By Carolin Kopplin


Until 8 December 2012

The King’s Head Theatre

Nov 21st

Shang - A - Lang at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe
Review by Sean Stirling

Shang A Lang

From the pen of the Catherine Johnson, the woman who sewed the plot round Abba's back catalogue of songs to create the international hit 'Mamma Mia', comes Shang-A-Lang presented here by Rapture Theatre. Based in Scotland this theatre company sets out to produce plays that would not normally venture north of the border. 

The play’s title comes from the 1974 hit single by glam rock sensations the Bay City Rollers; the One Direction of their day. The original production opened in London in 1998 and Rapture have been allowed to doctor the script slightly to include local accents and references. To be honest I can't imagine it being done any other way as it brings the play back to the “Rollers” place of origin.
Like Mamma Mia, the play centres round 3 women who have been friends since high school and are about to hit the big 4 0. First of all, there is Pauline (played by Lyn McAndrew), the sad single girl who nothing goes right for and who likes to remind everyone just how pathetic her life is. Then there is Jackie (Val Gogan) who is "happily" married and living in her husband's shadow. And finally we have Lauren (Julie Duncanson) the drunk, loud-mouthed, self-confessed slapper.
The three have arrived at Butlin's holiday camp for a 70's revival weekend where the girls plan to see their teenage idol’s; the Bay City Rollers. As the weekend unfolds the girls reminisce about the old days and come to the realisation that while some things have changed, there are some things that never change and, like the teenage girls they were in school, they long for each other’s lives.
All three actresses convincingly brought their characters to life and it seemed that a number of audience members could empathize with their predicaments.
Support comes from Stewart Porter as Vince and Iain Robertson as Carl, both members of a 70’s tribute band and who aim to make themselves fully available to women attending the revival, an idea they are soon to regret upon an encounter with Pauline, Jackie and Lauren. 
There are some very funny moments in the play but also some very strong language and full frontal nudity, so is not for the easily offended.
A soundtrack of 70’s hits are used throughout the play, mainly as interludes to change the simple but effective set. Occasionally these interludes verge on being slightly too long, perhaps this would be more entertaining if performed by a live tribute band, similar to the way live music is used in ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’. The rousing finale did bring the audience to their feet and they were happy to sing and dance along while waving their tartan Roller scarves.
The direction of Michael Emans is slick and serves he piece well. I particularly enjoyed the scene set in two different locations but staged in the same space creating an interesting overlapping juxtaposition for the play’s main characters. Choreographer Natasha Gilmore has created routines that truly encapsulate the era of bell bottom trousers and platform heels.
Shang A Lang
Kings Theatre, Glasgow
19 - 23 November 2013
Tickets £12.40 - £32.90
Order Tickets Online 
Nov 18th

Constellations at the Duke of York's

By Carolin Kopplin


Do you know why it’s impossible to lick the tip of your elbow?

Nick Payne’s intriguing metaphysical love story, first presented at the Royal Court Theatre, is based on quantum mechanics and the theory of “multiverses” or parallel universes. This subject is very present in film and on TV but has been sadly neglected by theatre with a few notable exceptions such as The Dark Materials.

Marianne, a talkative and bubbly quantum physicist, meets quiet, thoughtful Roland, a beekeeper, at a barbeque. They chat each other up and start a relationship. Or do they? In some of the universes Roland is married, in others Marianne and Roland get together and live through a relationship with all its ups and downs. They get married or not, admit to infidelities and part ways or not. It all depends on which one of the many multiverses you choose. There are infinite alternative possibilities as each situation is repeated in various scenes with different solutions. 


White balloons hovering over a bare stage seem to represent the various strings of the story and light and sound effects indicate the change to a different universe. The partly repetitive scenes could become boring, even in a 70-minute performance, but the actors approach each scene with so much enthusiasm emphasizing the differences that it seems like we see it for the very first time. Skilfully directed by Michael Longhurst and touchingly played by Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall, this unsentimental love story is witty and intelligent with a bittersweet ending – but you decide. 

I urge you to go and see this unique play. 

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 5 January 2013

Royal Court at the Duke of York's 
Duke of York's Theatre 
St Martin's Lane 


Feb 13th

Dracula at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre

By Edmée Sierts

Until mid-March, the Lion & Unicorn Theatre are running a production of a play based on Bram Stoker's famous Gothic novel. This being a well-known story, I was curious to see what this particular production was going to be like.

Cristinel Hogas as Dracula. Photo taken by Michael Brydon/Evcol.The story goes as follows: Jonathan Harker (Mark Lawson), a junior solicitor at a law firm, is sent off to Transylvania to finish up what appears to be some very simple proceedings with one count Dracula (Cristinel Hogas), who wishes to purchase some estate in London. The previous solicitor in charge of the case, one Mr Renflied (Grant Leat), has apparently gone a bit batty, and is currently residing in a mental institution run by Dr John Seward (Geoffrey Grant). Once he's arrived, Jonathan starts noticing some strange things. The count takes a fancy to Jon's fiancé, Mina Harker (Josephine Rattigan), who he considers to be some sort of reincarnation of his murdered wife. Jon ends up a prisoner in the castle, while the count travels to London. The count feeds on Mina's best friend, Lucy (Connie Jackson), about to be married to Arthur Holmwood (Anthony Matteo) and turns her into a vampire. Van Helsing (Mitch Howell), a Dutch doctor, enters the story a bit before that, and convinces everyone that Dracula is an evil vampire who needs to die. He uses Mina as bait to lure the count, and when he kidnaps her they follow him to Transylvania to kill him. It's a bit chaotic to explain in a short paragraph, but I assume that anyone who is not familiar with the story is probably not reading this. They will be in a cave somewhere, covered in animal furs and poking the ground with a stick.

The production itself is not bad. Never quite being drawn into the action, I had a difficult time being too enthusiastic about it, though. Luckily, the actors made up for that by being enthusiastic themselves. The actual set did not change throughout the entire play, and all the changes in scenery were made by changes in the light and audio landscape, which was for the most part effective enough. Initially, the pacing was good. Jonathan's journey to castle Dracula was quite quickly dealt with. Lucy's journey into death, however, took a bit too long for my taste. I also wondered if this show wanted to be taken seriously or not. It was a case of too comedic to be a drama but too serious to be a comedy. On the one hand, they kept the “creatures of the night” line, but not the hilariously over the top “I never drink... wine”, even though the stage is set for it and anyone with any knowledge of past productions of Dracula would probably be expecting it. On a pleasant note: it was nice to see a Van Helsing who is actually Dutch for once, and also using the occasional Dutch phrase. This is not an easy feat, so I'd like to commend Mitch Howell on doing a decent job of it. Renfield, too, was a pleasure to watch, although he is still the last man on earth I'd ever entrust a kitten to. 

To find out more about the production and how to get tickets, please visit the website over at

(Photo by Michael Brydon/Evcol)

Nov 21st

In Extremis by Neil Bartlett at the King's Head Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin


Mr Wilde, why are you here?

Neil Bartlett’s short 50-minute play was first presented at the National Theatre in conjunction with De Profundis to mark the centenary of Oscar Wilde’s death. The two-hander is now revived by Kean Productions with two alternating casts – Katie Copeland or Fiz Marcus as Mrs Robinson and Nigel Fairs or Charlie Buckand as Oscar Wilde. 

On the night of the 24th March 1895, Mrs Robinson, a society palm reader, agreed to see Oscar Wilde in her London flat - one week before his trial against the Marquess of Queensbury, later dubbed the 'trial of the century', which led to his downfall. In Extremis attempts to understand why one of the most celebrated men of his age enlists the help of a complete stranger, probably a charlatan, for advice about a potentially life-changing decision.

As this production is on only two days a week, it uses the set of The Upstairs Room. For that reason, most of the furniture and part of the wall are covered with white sheets. This is quite fitting as we are addressed by ghosts. The protagonists are long dead. As Oscar Wilde is standing in the ante-room, waiting for Mrs Robinson to receive him, his hostess introduces herself to the audience: “Interpretation is my profession.” She shares some of her secrets with us, confiding in us how she lets her clients wait to make them feel uneasy and that a good deal of her work is based on intuition and watching her clients. We learn quite a bit about the science of palm reading indeed. Finally, Oscar Wilde is admitted. He sits down, smoking incessantly. Whenever he opens his mouth a witticism escapes him: “Everybody should have his palm read once a month.” Yet there is a vulnerable and lonely man behind the self-assured and somewhat aloof façade, somebody who needs to talk, but he will not let his guard down. 

I saw Katie Copeland as Mrs Robinson and Nigel Fairs as Oscar Wilde. They both conveyed the constrictions of their characters, expected by society to keep their guard by being as politely insincere as necessary to hide what they really think. Both actors were very good but I was not convinced by the play itself. The narrative structure made it somewhat heavy-handed and the emphasis was actually on Mrs Robinson.

 By Carolin Kopplin


Until 9 December 2012

The King’s Head Theatre

Feb 22nd

Songs of Lear by Song of the Goat Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Photo credit: Song of the Goat Theatre

 Is my heart too large for you?

Song of the Goat Theatre are an internationally acclaimed Polish company who create contemporary performance based on ancient text, music, dance and song. They return to Battersea Arts Centre with the Fringe First Award winning Songs of Lear for only a few days, following sell-out performances of Return to the Voice in 2014.

The company does not perform King Lear in the traditional way but distills the energies and rhythms in Shakespeare's tragedy and brings them to life. Director Grzegorz Bral uses key scenes from the play to create a story out of gestures, words and music: "Each song is a starting point for another ‘dramatic poem’ where the music becomes characters, relationships and events." Inspired by a Kandinsky exhibition that he saw in London, Bral paints a musical landscape of the tragedy guided by the principles of inspiration, improvisation and structure. He believes that one should not show too much in a performance, only provoke imagination.

The actors are sitting in a semi-circle, dressed in formal black clothes. Only the actor playing King Lear is wearing a coat. The production is divided into 12 episodes that build on each other, introduced and conducted by the director who remains on stage throughout the performance. The show begins with the episode "First Paradiso Number One" when the world is still in order. But then, in episode two, rumours fly that the King is going to resign and the mood changes. The third episode shows King Lear expecting his daughters to express their love for him and the tragedy commences.

The musical variety of this performance is astonishing. The actors sing as a chorus, imitate musical instruments or emit sounds that transfer their emotions directly to the audience. The angelic hymns and the strong chorus pieces reminded me of the Carmina Burana but this is only one element of the performance. Soloists sing in Latin, Polish or English and recite lines from the play in English at crucial points. I was especially impressed by Cordelia's plea to her father, one of the most powerful scenes of the evening.

Grzegorz Bral has used the essence of the play and transformed it into a painting of sound and movement that touches us deep down inside. Song of the Goat have found the emotional music of King Lear.

By Carolin Kopplin


Until 22nd February 2015

Battersea Arts Centre

Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN

More information:

Running time: 75 minutes

Presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute in London. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Nov 28th

Death Ship 666 at the Jermyn Street Theatre

By Edmée Sierts

Michael Clarkson, (Rich Man) Anna Morris (Rich Lady) Carrie Marx (Holly Hobby), Andrew Utley (The Captain), Mattias Penman (The Architect), his hair, Rachel Parris (Grandma)

It is time to weigh anchor, hoist the main sail, find that there is no sail because you are on a steam ship and try very, very hard not to be embarrassed about your lack of knowledge of the nautical arts. Luckily, no actual sailing is involved as all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the tour of the magnificent Death Ship 666.

The play centres around a young woman, married to, shall we say, a rather strange technician who seems too busy plotting to get her pregnant. Of course, as luck would have it, a young architect falls head over heels in love with her and she soon figures out that she feels the same way. During their chaotic romance, two rich people are hatching an evil scheme, a young girl is trying her best to solve a mystery and a tour guide is desperately trying to finish her tour. Oh, and did I mention the American tourists, the builders trying to finish the ship after it's already left the harbour and the woman on board who is scared to death of drowning? I hadn't? Oh. Well, I did it just now so that's good at least.

One of the first things I noticed about the production is that the pace is extremely high. This is a good thing since it suits the nature of the story, which seems quite happy with the thought of throwing as many characters at you as is possible without confusing you entirely. Very often, said characters are running from one side of the stage to the other, maybe stopping once or twice to deliver some lines into the audience with the pinpoint precision of a gun firing shots. In some cases, they get together to form part of the stage as props. The stage itself is pretty minimal, but considering the nature of the performance and the size of the Jermyn Street Theatre, this is a very sensible state for the stage to be in. It should be said that the production doesn't need a lot of dress up either, since the entire feel of it comes from the dynamic performance of the actors, who wear their characters like coats they've owned since forever.

Mattias Penman (The Architect), his hair, Rachel Parris (Grandma). Photo by Simon Annand

Speaking of the actors, I definitely want to mention that their timing is excellent and their dynamic wonderful to watch. At the risk of sounding shallow, I often found myself somewhat mesmerised by the nature of Mattias Penman's hair, although I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one. Of course, this also says something about the nature of the production and the simplicity of the costumes in general. The swaps between the various characters, and believe me when I say that there are many, is fluent and believable because of this very simplicity, and the dialogue is witty, fast paced and has some wonderful pop culture references. I would gladly share them with you, but that would spoil the surprise so I won't.

Needless to say, Death Ship 666 is definitely worth seeing and I would recommend it to anyone with a funny bone and those in need of one. Thank you for taking the tour. Brochures are available near the exit and the special Death Ship 666 merchandise can be found in duty free.

Death Ship 666

More information about the production and the purchase of tickets van be found here:

Nov 29th

Arabian Nights at the Blue Elephant Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin
Kate Millest as a bottled up genie

Prepare yourself to be bombarded with imagination!

Hammer & Tongs Theatre present their spoof on the Arabian Nights, a collection of over 1,000 tales based on stories from the Middle East, India, and North Africa, at the Blue Elephant Theatre. This show already had a successful run at the Camden Fringe and includes five exciting adventure stories featuring kings, princesses, talking animals, genies, a flying horse made of ebony as well as some new characters: a philosophising crab with a French accent and a baby giant bird.

Kate Millest, George Clarke, and Helen Forster as another genie.

As the show begins, we witness how a king discovers his wife cheating on him with a sorcerer - consequently he has her executed. In his bitterness and grief the king decides that all women are treacherous. He begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. Eventually the vizier cannot
 find any more virgins in the realm. Schererazade, the vizier's daughter, offers herself as the next bride to end the killing once and for all - her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not finish it. The king, curious about how the story will end, is forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, she finishes the tale and the king calls for the executioner but Scheherazade immediately begins a new story, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again. And so it goes on for 1,001 nights.

Suzie Grimsdick

The actors change into a myriad of colourful characters as Scheherazade keeps telling the King stories to stay alive - a three-headed genie, a monkey prince who ends up as part of a ship's crew, a gigantic bird, a swarm of bees... Jennifer Rose Lee's production is very physical and fast-paced, surprising us with new twists and turns every minute on Bethany Heaton's imaginative set - drapes lined with stars and a truly magical carpet present the playground for this highly theatrical production. The ensemble is excellent: George Clarke, Helen Foster, Suzie Grimsdick, Kate Millest, and James Weal.

Don't miss out on this fun production!

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 14 December 2013

Blue Elephant Theatre
59a Bethwin Road (entrance on Thompson's Ave)
Camberwell, London, SE5 0XT
Box Office: 020 7701 0100