Let's do it - let's fall in love!
Ruby in the Dust has already had a big success with their production of The Great Gatsby so expectations were high. The book by Joe Evans features a naive boy who is transformed from a concert pianist to a successful singer and cabaret star by Cole Porter. His aspirations to become a composer and lyricist himself, are suffocated by Porter who sees him solely as a performer because of his charisma and velvety voice. The young and attractive Sheldon Green conveys Hutch's vulnerability and pain very well. His rendition of "These Foolish Things" is heartbreaking. However, I don't think this portrayal of Hutch does the real Leslie Hutchinson justice. This Hutch is shown as an innocent boy who somehow becomes a gigolo and is then lured to London by Lady Edwina. This does not seem probable but is acceptable as fiction.
The production really belongs to Sid Phoenix and Nell Mooney as Cole Porter and his wife. Their characters appear real and they make Cole Porter's songs come alive. Nell Mooney's duet with Sheldon Green of "The Way You Look Tonight" is fantastic. Mooney is at her best when she quips to Hutch: "Cole likes men more than me" and then drowns her conflicting emotions in alcohol. Sid Phoenix appears aloof but is generous in his support of Hutch's career. He seems completely comfortable donning a flashy dressing gown and pearl necklace. Imogen Daines is very good as the selfish Lady Edwina and Andrew Mathys is believable as her husband who seems to enjoy the idea of an open marriage far less than his highly promiscuous wife. Patrick Lannigan is very good as the Lawyer.
There are many wonderful songs in this production, most of them by Cole Porter. The stage design is beautiful, with an art deco centrepiece, created by Chris Mone. A group of chorus girls dressed in fancy underwear compliment the atmosphere of a 1920s nightclub.
By Carolin Kopplin
Until 8th June 2013 in repertoire with The Great
Gatsby at the
Ruth Pickett, Ruth Lass, Kenneth Price, and Miles Mitchell
-- Photo by Hermione Hardwick
The Finborough Theatre presents the world premiere of Caryl Churchill's 1972 play, inspired by Frantz Fanon’s work Les Damnes de la Terre (The Wretched of the Earth). The Martinique-born psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary and writer eventually joined the FLA to fight for the independence of Algeria. But, when we encounter him he is still head of the psychiatric department of the Blida-Joinville Hospital in Algiers. The year is 1956 and Algeria is fighting desperately for independence from French colonial rule.
Tim Pritchett, Miles Mitchell and Benjamin Cawley
-- Photo by Hermione Hardwick
Through all this, Doctor Fallon remains rather passive - he listens and observes. His young colleague is a blatant racist who tells Dr Fallon from Martinique that all Africans are intellectually inferior because they don’t use their frontal lobes. The Young Doctor is involved in police interrogations, making sure that the suspects stay fit and talkative.
In her timely play, Caryl Churchill describes the effect of torture on the victims as well as the perpetrators. In a way, Hospital is the predecessor of her masterpiece Far Away. This is a very poignant work considering that torture is resurfacing as an acceptable means to deal with terrorism. Director Jim Russell created an intense atmosphere with some comic relief in the first scene due to the preposterous statements of Madam and Monsieur. Kenneth Price and Ruth Lass are very good as the French couple and Ruth Pickett impresses as their disturbed daughter. Miles Mitchell plays Fanon with quiet intensity. Simon Yadoo evokes fear and sympathy in equal measure as the Police Inspector. The torture victim was portrayed by a puppet – some of the most touching and intense moments of the play are due to its expressiveness (Puppetry Consultant and Maker: Emma Tompkins).
This is an important work. I advise everybody to go and see it!
By Carolin Kopplin
Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 April 2013
Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London, SW10 9ED
Angela Lonsdale, Amita Dhiri, Denise Black and Sarah Smart -
Photo by Richard Davenport
In November the Finborough Theatre presented thirteen new plays as part of “Vibrant 2012 - A Festival of Finborough Playwrights”. December is also devoted to new writing - the “Papatango New Writing Festival” (in partnership with the Finborough Theatre). This year’s competition saw 700 entries from all over the world and one of the two winners is Pack by Louise Monaghan.
This play is about bigotry versus tolerance. Stephie’s husband Simon, a taxi driver, is involved in the BNP and Dianna thinks she has him figured out as a hateful racist. But Simon donates money to help children in an African country. Nasreen is a Muslim, married to a Hindu who makes a living by selling wine – something Nasreen cannot condone. Although they have frequent arguments Nasreen is loyal to her husband, and therefore understands Stephie who refuses to leave Simon although she does no share his radical views. Deb is a single mother who struggles with raising her teenage son Paul. Touchy and somewhat abrasive, she tries to hide the fact that Paul has learning difficulties. Nasreen’s 7-year old son Sanjay is so gifted that he will take his GCSEs in a few months and Jack has won contests in maths which brings Nasreen and Stephie even closer together and isolates Deb. When Jack is accused of clubbing a boy half to death with a cricket bat, Nasreen turns away from Stephie.
Director Louise Hill created an intense production of this poignant drama with an outstanding cast. Sarah Smart is excellent as the good-natured Stephie who tries very hard to do the right thing. Amita Dhiri plays Nasreen with quiet intensity and dignity. Denise Black convinces as the well-meaning, somewhat self-righteous teacher who tries to guide her students to the right path. Angela Lonsdale conveys Deb’s vulnerability and helplessness as the single mother of a teenage boy.
Do not miss this extraordinary new play!
By Carolin Kopplin
Until 22 December 2012
118 Finborough Road
I’ve never been prejudiced, and you know
Almost everybody has seen the award-winning film Driving Miss Daisy with Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, based on Alfred Uhry’s 1987 play. This heart-warming story about an elderly southern lady and her kind-hearted chauffeur, whose working relationship eventually grows into friendship, spans 25 years - from 1948 to 1973, a time when major societal and political changes were taking place in the United States, most of all in the South. This story reflects those changes, yet on a more personal level as the two characters learn to overcome their differences and to rely on each other. Originally cast with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in the leading roles when it opened in the West End, the show now features Gwen Taylor and Don Warrington for the UK tour.
Daisy Werthan, a 72-year old matriarch, has just had another accident with her car. Therefore, her son Boolie decides that it is about time she stops driving and suggests getting a chauffeur. Miss Daisy is strongly opposed to the idea because she considers a chauffeur too expensive and completely unnecessary. Boolie interviews suitable candidates anyway and eventually hires Hoke Coleburn, who is getting on a bit himself. Miss Daisy won’t let Hoke drive her at first but after about a week of Hoke waiting around doing nothing she decides that he may as well drive her to the Piggly Wiggly. In the beginning, their conversation is somewhat one-sided as Miss Daisy thinks they have nothing in common: “Why do I talk to you? You won’t understand me.” As they get to know each other Miss Daisy, a former teacher, helps Hoke learn how to read and write, giving him a study book for Christmas. It is not a real gift though as Miss Daisy points out: “Jews don’t give Christmas presents.” When the Temple in Atlanta goes up in flames in 1958 due to the Jewish support for the civil rights movement, Miss Daisy realizes that she and Hoke have more in common than she had expected.
Gwen Taylor is excellent as the sharp-witted and stubborn
Miss Daisy as she battles with her increasing age and the
limitations that come with it. Don Warrington is superb as Hoke
Coleburn, a patient and good-humoured man who is trying to lead a
decent life in a hostile and racist society. Ian Porter
gives splendid support as Boolie Werthan who tries to do his best
for his ageing mother while running a stressful
If you are looking for a nice evening out, go and see this show.
By Carolin Kopplin
The show runs until 27 October 2012 at the Richmond Theatre.
Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1QJ
Theatre Royal Bath, 29 October - 3 November
Malvern Theatre, 5 - 10 November
Theatre Royal Brighton, 12 - 17 November
Derby Theatre, 19 - 24 November
Science was interesting 50 years ago, now we know too much.
In his sell-out show, Richard Coughlan, the King of Filth, presented a vitriolic and devastatingly funny view of our world today. Although I don’t usually watch stand-up comedy I liked Coughlan’s energetic and engaging rant against everything that is so wrong with society and people in general.
Introducing himself because he couldn’t really trust anybody else with this important task, Coughlan admitted that his life relied on his iphone and that he was really put off by laughter. Contemplating the difference between a live show and an online show he handed out placards with “ROFL” and other online lingo – probably to feel more comfortable with his live audience – or not. After badmouthing my German countrymen he realized that he had a German reviewer present and tried to bribe me with £5. But this won’t work with this reviewer (I would have expected £10 at least). Therefore, he gets exactly the review he deserves.
Coughlan, who had been bullied online by a fanatic accusing
him of being a devil worshipper and a paedophile, carefully
analyzed the evidence that “web-nut” held against him.
Needless to say, it didn’t amount to much but was highly
entertaining for the audience, in a twisted sort of way.
Coughlan then went on to seek parallels of Stephen Hawking’s
bestselling book A Brief History of Time and the
Bible – everybody owns it, nobody reads it - and then
summarized the American election – so far. His observations
were very much to the point, I’m sorry to say. After
investigating perverted sex practices in Sweden, Coughlan
targeted racists like David Duke and Geert Wilders. The show
ended with his observation of how the NHS deals with
abortions which was quite illuminating.
Couglan’s sense of humour might be filthy and shocking at times but I am all for that when it helps to get people out of their lethargy and actually makes them think about what is wrong with our society.
By Carolin Kopplin
If you would like to learn more about Richard Coughlan’s work, please check out the following youtube channels:
Lumenis Theatre in association with Southwark Playhouse presents
There’s Only One Wayne Lee and Magical Chairs by Roy Williams and Mary Mazzilli, a Double Bill of intercultural theatre as part of London- Beijing Connections. These two plays were double billed because Lumenis Theatre felt that there was a strong need to represent and give a voice to ethnic minority communities in a context that reflects our everyday lives. This double bill brings together the London African-Caribbean and Chinese communities in intertwined stories.
Magical Chairs by Mary Mazzilli
You don’t want to play with me, do you?
Magical Chairs is an allegorical experimental piece, an absurd play loosely based on Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs. Two trapped Magicians are trying to escape a room filled with chairs whilst a radio announcer describes the plight of abandoned and homeless chairs as if they were children. After all the smoke from the dry ice has cleared we see two young people grappling with growing up and adverse social attitudes to youth. Mazzilli means to achieve that the audience is brought to look at universal truths foreshadowing the consequences of our preconceptions and choices on the youth of today by storytelling. She sees the play as a dystopian scenario where young people live at bay, with no boundaries and little control over their environment and themselves.
The incompetent Magician (Chris Chan) considers himself the Greatest Magician of Chairs. Alexandre is only his assistant but thinks of himself as a far better magician: “I just don’t want to embarrass you in front of your chairs.” Director Jonathan Man introduces a veritable chair choreography as the two actors move through an atmosphere of Endgame struggling to escape.
Playing football is the way to go.
Willams’ play is based on There’s Only One Wayne Matthews, a story of friendship between two Black British teens. Jonathan Man originally directed this as a work-in-progress performance at Contact Theatre showing the experience of growing up in modern Britain. This production re-imagined the piece as a unique coming of age tale, where Wayne, a bookish British Chinese teen unexpectedly befriends Carl, the British African Caribbean school football captain. Set in 1970s Britain, where racism and intolerance were brazen and rife, this production shows what it means to try to fit in contemporary Britain, and the hitherto unexplored parallels and divergences between the different diasporas.
Carl Wilkins and Wayne
Lee –“the Irish Pelé” - both dream of becoming great footballers
with Carl being somewhat closer to his goal than Wayne as Chelsea
is interested in the talented boy whereas Wayne usually “falls on
his arse” when he tries to kick the ball. Wayne simply idolises
Carl, he strives to be like him. The play shows the life of those
two boys at school and at home. Wayne’s brother Dennis runs the
household since their mother died which left their father
devastated and weak and Wayne without any respect for him. Carl
lives with his mother and his irritating sister Chantelle. Carl’s
girlfriend is white, her family doesn’t know of his existence.
This play is very funny without shirking the more serious
questions. The relationship between Wayne and Carl and Wayne’s
learning process are the heart of the story. Alexandre Ross and
Chris Chan play all the roles with sometimes outrageously funny
Alexandre Ross and Chris Chan are truly exceptional in both productions.
Until 3 SEPTEMBER 2011
Show starts 7.45pm
Tue-Sat Matinee Starts 3.15pm Sat
Running Time 110 minutes with an interval Price £10
Vivienne Franzmann was a joint winner of the 2009 Bruntwood playwriting competition, and her winning script Mogadishu is now being premiered in the Royal Exchange’s main house.
In contrast with the exotic title (a fleeting reference to middle-class teenage gap years) the setting is a present-day inner-city school where a black schoolboy’s assault on a white female teacher becomes bizarrely twisted into an allegation of violence and racism by her on him.
Mogadishu is part examination of the downside of political correctness (cf David Edgar’s 2008 Testing the Echo, coincidentally also directed by Matthew Dunster), and part illustration of the devastating consequences when a lie gets out of control (also themes in The Children’s Hour and The Crucible). However because the playwright’s intentions are entirely invested in exonerating the teacher there is never any ambiguity in the drama (the events are clearly laid out in the first scene), and while the tragic back-stories flesh out the characters and provide some moments of tension they don’t raise the overall stakes.
I might have felt more emotionally involved if Vivienne Franzmann’s central character, the supposedly experienced, dedicated and savvy teacher Amanda, hadn’t been the least believable character on stage. Even when played with as much conviction as an excellent actor like Julia Ford can muster, Amanda’s naivety, credulity and apparent unfamiliarity with school, local authority and child protection procedures beggar belief.
However I have nothing but praise for Matthew Dunster’s fast-paced and spirited production, and the acting is universally brilliant. The versatile Ian Bartholomew excels yet again as a harassed, crumpled, spiritually beige head-teacher, while Fraser James and Christian Dixon are sympathetic as parents of difficult adolescents.
However the evening is stolen by the school children, a group of diverse, recognisable and memorable characters that would do credit to Shakespeare. Malachi Kirby is mesmerising as Jason, the confused, vulnerable and seemingly amoral man-child, easily switching between chilling school bully and browbeaten son. The comically nerdy Firat (Michael Karim) and passionate goth Becky (Shannon Tarbet) are also fine, contrasting well with Jason’s streetwise and cynical gang (Farshid Rokey, Tendayi Jembere, Tara Hodge, Savannah Gordon-Liburd and Hammed Animashaun).
Tom Scutt’s design of a revolving stage encircled by a high mesh cage is a massive sight-line problem if you’re not watching from the gods, and the whole-scale switching of sets between scenes (something of a Dunster trademark) is a distraction, but while Mogadishu is not an especially thought-provoking or revealing play it is still a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theatre.
Mogadishu is on until Saturday 19 February 2011
Evenings: Mon-Fri @ 7.30pm; Sats @ 8pm
Matinees: Weds @ 2.30pm; Sats @ 4pm
Box Office: 0161 833 9833
I’m one of the most irresponsible beings that ever lived. Why should I be responsible if you refuse to see me?
Based on Ralph Ellison’s first novel (published in 1952) Shining Myriad Theatre Company tells the story of a man who is invisible simply because people refuse to see him – a condition shared by African Americans and other individuals in the twentieth century and beyond.
Performed by the charismatic actor Vinta Morgan as a monologue this play distills the essence of the novel and brings it to a horrifying conclusion. Surrounded by lights, wires and cables the Invisible Man lives in his warm home in Harlem listening to Louis Armstrong who made „poetry of being invisible“, smoking, and taking the occasional swig from a bottle of Tequila. He does not pay any rent, one of the advantages of being invisible. The Invisible Man craves light because „Light confirms reality, gives birth to my form.“ In a captivating performance Morgan talks about his experiences as the Invisible Man and discusses important sociological and philosophical questions.
This is an important and a wise play.
25 November at 9.00 pm (performed by Claire Davina Johnson)
BOX OFFICE: 020 7704 6665
The Rosemary Branch, 2 Shepperton Road, London N1 3DT