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An American in Paris, Dominion Theatre | Review

An American in Paris, Dominion Theatre | Review

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An American in Paris
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 23rd March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

If you've been reading this website for a while then you may remember my 'Get Excited' post last summer about An American in Paris from when I went to its press launch. From that day on I was extremely excited about the show so when I got the chance to review it I jumped! The show is visually and technically stunning and did not disappoint.  

An American in Paris tells the story of three men who fall in love with the shop assistant/ballerina Lise who is living with her own dark secret. Whilst the plot and dialogue is extremely minimal, the storytelling is done beautifully through incredible dance and Gershwin's music embodies the romantic, classic, musical theatre nostalgia which has been missing on West End stages for so long. 

When a show looks and sounds so stunning, it is easy to overlook to plot failings and just appreciate the show for the spectacle it is. In dull plot moments, the music and dance takes over with wordless ease and fluency that takes the audience into the idealistic, Parisian world.

Bob Crowley's charming artwork adorns the backdrop throughout, bringing the post-war Paris to life with a number of glimmering, shadowy sketches. The colouring of the whole production is beautiful and it's easy to feel immersed in every location throughout the show. There are show-stopping moments as well as more intimate moments, but it all feels equally well thought out and truly s'wonderful.

Jane Asher is great as Henri's mother but her accent does need a little work at times. Despite this her performance is solid and she shows the varying emotions of the character well. Christopher Wheeldon's sharp production starts off quietly with a swastika banner dramatically being unfurled to show a multicoloured flag on stage. Every moment of choreography is stunning and the whole production works cohesively together to create a visually striking show. 

Leanne Cope is absolutely exceptional as Lise, completely owning every moment on stage and performing breathtaking dance scenes with ease and elegance. Lise and Jerry have some truly beautiful scenes together with Robert Fairchild the perfect partner to Leanne. His movement is strong and striking whilst being warm and welcoming at the same time.

Both other men, Haydn Oakley and David Seadon-Young are brilliant in their roles and help to helm the dazzling cast. Each moment is exhilarating and radiant and the space of the large Dominion Theatre is used well. I personally think the show would work better in a more intimate theatre but there's no doubt that this production is something special. It's certainly an extravaganza which needs to be seen and is sure to leave its audience feeling warm and content. An American in Paris is a really lovely, lovely production.

Sister Act (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Sister Act (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

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Sister Act
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 20th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Based on the 1992 hit film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Sister Act tells the tale of nightclub singer Deloris who witnesses her violent partner commit a murder. Forced to be a witness and then forced into hiding, she ends up staying a convent which is under threat of being closed down for not attracting enough people to it's Sunday services. The production is full of glitzy outfits and laugh out loud moments and despite falling slightly flat at times, it is full of great performances and leaves the audience feeling good.

Craig Revel-Horwood's choreography is exciting and full of funny moments. Namely a slow motion scene which worked wonderfully and was warmly received by the audience, as was the majority of the show. Craig's production captures the spirit of family and friendship wonderfully and ensures the audience has a fun night out but it's hard to miss the weakness of the plot. The story is just a little too silly and basic to be fully effective but for a lively girls night out that can be overlooked and enjoyed for the laugh that it is.

Overall there is a high standard of performance with Alexandra Burke's leading lady Doloris holding her own throughout. She is sassy, likeable, over the top and delivers her comic lines wonderfully. Personally I struggled to understand what she said a lot of the time due to under-annunciated consonants but her singing and comic performance was fabulous and she fits into the role perfectly.

Each of the nuns have their own personalities which shine through from beginning to end and each of the individual stand out moments really add to the production. It's wonderful to see such a strong cast with an ensemble that are tight and seem to genuinely be enjoying themselves.

Sister Act is full of solid performances, buckets full of laughs, fabulousness and a whole lot of joy. Even though the story is silly and simplistic, it works wonderfully as an exciting night out and I'm sure it will continue to thrill audiences around the country.

Sister Act continues to play at the New Victoria Theatre until March 25th before continuing on it's tour.

Photo by: Tristram Kenton

West End Live Lounge, Union Theatre | Review

West End Live Lounge, Union Theatre | Review

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West End Live Lounge
Union Theatre
Reviewed Sunday 19th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

When I say last night was a perfect Sunday evening, I am not exaggerating at all. With the amount of talent that was in the room it was hard not to have a brilliant time! The West End Live Lounge at the Union Theatre was the first of what I hope become many concerts created by Shaun McCourt and Leigh Lothian. The premise of the concerts is that as many West End stars as possible are brought together to perform incredible music with all proceeds going to charity. There are no musical theatre songs to be heard so all performers are able to step out of their usual boxes and really explore and show off their musicality.

The star studded line up included: Marisha Wallace, Gabriela Garcia, Arun Blair, Tyrone Huntley, Phoebe Street, Kelly Agbowu, Natalie Green, Leigh Lothian, Matthew-Seadon Young, Sejal Keshwala, Laura Tebbutt, Nicola Avino, Iain Mattley, Paul Wilkins, Laura Mansell, Brady Isaacs Pearce, Jamal Andreas, Jonny Howe, Katie Brayben, Marcus Ayton, Gary Wood, Lauren Ingram, Adam Bailey, Oliver Savile and Andrew Bateup.

There were a number of lovely duets and trios as well as fabulous solos and the performers also got to show off their other musical abilities such as piano playing which was very impressive. The intimate atmosphere of the Union Theatre in Southwark was the perfect setting for the evening with the whole evening having a warm, laid back, friendly feeling. The stage, complete with sofas and a table added to this vibe and the overall mood was perfect for a relaxed Sunday.

The overall quality of performances was extremely high and every member of the cast and ensemble were flawless with wonderful song choices and joyous performances. There were a number of particular standouts for me. Firstly, Gabriela Garcia and Arun Blair who did a lovely, sweet, and harmonious medley of Rihanna and Sam Smith with a cheeky bit of Into The Woods mixed in! Their chemistry was evident and their voices just work so well together that it's a joy to see and hear them perform. Tyrone Huntley and Marisha Wallace were other standouts and were a theme of my weekend having seen Dreamgirls on Saturday (review coming soon!)

Tyrone's dulcet tones were perfect for the Michael Jackson hit 'Rock With You' and Marisha brought the house down and earned a well deserved standing ovation with her insanely good rendition of 'Natural Woman'. Natalie Green sang Sam Smith's classic, 'Lay Me Down' which was truly stunning.

The whole night was full of joy, friendliness and sweet, sweet harmonies. It was so lovely to see so many people come together to perform and raise money for UNICEF and I really hope there will be many more West End Live Lounges to come! Make sure to keep and eye out on Twitter to make sure you don't miss the next event which is sure to be as incredible and inspiring as this one!

Check out West End Live Lounge on Twitter:

La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

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La Cage Aux Folles
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 15th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

We're starting to see glimpses of summer but if you need something else to warm and brighten your life then the UK Tour of La Cage Aux Folles is the show for you! The production is high-kicking, glitzy, high energy and feather filled.

The Tony Award winning musical tells the story of Albin and Georges, a couple living idyllically in France. Albin moonlights as the drag star Zaza in the glamourous club: La Cage Aux Folles, which is owned by Georges. Their peaceful existence is put to halt when Georges' son (played by Dougie Carter) announces that he is engaged to Anne, the daughter of a politician: Dindon (Paul F Monaghan), who is against all things homosexual and wants to close down Georges' "den of debauchery"!

This is a story of love, family and individuality. The family struggle to stay as a strong unit whilst trying to change themselves to impress Anne's parents, therefore allowing their son to be happily married.

John Partridge, veteran of the stage, plays the larger  than life Albin. Having recently seen John in Chicago, I was extremely impressed at his versatility on stage and ability to transform into someone else completely. The role is demanding both physically and emotionally, with moments of laugh out loud humour, to quiet moments of pin drop silent emotion. John perfectly nails the character, with the the right amount of sincerity and vulnerability to balance the over the top flamboyance. 

Partnered with Adrian Zmed as Georges, the pair have a believable and touching relationship which works very well in the theatrical setting. West End legend, Marti Webb also gives a lovely performance as Jacqueline.

Overall the show is full of life, laughs and lunacy. There is enough energy to power London and enough sparkle to give the Chrysler building some serious competition! Every performance is energetic and the production is really a gem! For a fun, carefree night out, be sure to make a visit to La Cage Aux Folles!

La Cage Aux Folles runs at the New Wimbledon theatre until March 18th 2017 before continuing it's tour.

Shirley Valentine (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Shirley Valentine (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

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Shirley Valentine
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 13th March 2017 by Glenys Balchin

I am old enough to have seen the Oscar nominated Shirley Valentine film nearly thirty years ago but never the play. Therefore I was not sure whether or not I would enjoy the one woman show without the famous Costas played by Tom Conti in the film. But I was not disappointed. Jodie Prenger shone as brightly as Pauline Collins had thirty years ago as Shirley Valentine.  

For the duration of two hours Jodie Prenger marched and swaggered to dominate the stage and all the time cleverly engaging and drawing in her the audience.  You totally forgot she was on her own as she brought the other characters to life on stage. I would certainly recommend this show to my friends but with the caveat that they are women of a certain age.

The play itself is about a bored and disillusioned Liverpudlian housewife who is trying to find her identity and get back her “unused life”. Her adventures starts when her best friend invites her to go to Greece on holiday with her. She takes up the offer of a trip as she feels dissatisfied, neglected and ignored by her husband and family, now that her children have flown the nest. She goes to Greece for a two week holiday but decides to stay and as she feels no one would miss her at home.  

Don’t be mistaken into thinking this is a Greek tragedy, it is a heartfelt emotional comedy with Jodie Prenger performing with impeccable comedic timing to make you laugh and cry at the same time. Willy Russell is amazing in understanding the psyche and intellect of women. This comedy may have been written three decades ago, 1986 to be exact, but is still just as relevant today, which in a way is a sad thing for me to have say, as you would have thought that we would have moved on. On saying that the age of the leading lady probably would now be older and there certainly are more opportunities for women these days to follow, as long as they have the right encouragement at home.

As for depicting the era I thought the kitchen set was a throwback of my Mum’s kitchen in the eighties when I was growing up so, for me it was a real nostalgic trip down memory lane. I thought it was a good decision to keep to the original decade of when the play was written rather than updating to the current day. The special effect when Jodie Prenger cooks eggs and chips during the play added an authentic touch plus Jodie really knew how to work the kitchen so fully believable. 

My only criticism on not depicting the 80’s accurately would be Jodie’s hair which was more the fifties style rather than over permed shaggy haircut or that of the late Lady Diana’s hair style. The music could have been more eighties and when she was in Greece a little bit more Zorba but that may have distracted from the performance.

There is no doubt that Prenger owns the stage and mesmerises her audience with her larger than life personality which carries this revival of Shirley Valentine from the opening to the curtain call. To give an amazing performance like Jodie delivered must be attributed to the way she has been directed by the legendary Glen Walford, who has skilfully nurtured Jodie’s talent to enable her to deliver a fast-paced performance which does not falter nor lose energy from the fast paced monologue.

My first thought of seeing Shirley Valentine is that it would feel out-dated, not funny and never equal the performance of Pauline Collins, so I was very happy to say that I have been proven totally wrong.  The Willy Russell script has clearly stood the test of time, and Jodie Prenger was absolutely sensational in the part.  It was a great night at the theatre it made me laugh but at the same time I came home thinking about my own “Unused Life”. 

If you are a woman of a certain age then this show is a must for you, it will make you laugh, give you great pleasure and happiness a real nostalgic trip back to the eighties. 

Shirley Valentine runs at the New Victoria theatre until March 18th 2017 before continuing on its UK Tour

Honeymoon in Vegas, London Palladium | Review

Honeymoon in Vegas, London Palladium | Review

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Honeymoon in Vegas
London Palladium
Reviewed on Sunday 12th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Founded in June 2015, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO) prides itself on giving beautiful music a place to be heard and showcasing lesser known talent and works. On March 12th 2016 the orchestra accompanied a stellar cast who performed Jason Robert Brown's short lived 2015 Broadway musical, Honeymoon in Vegas

Samantha Barks and Arthur Darvill led the cast as the engaged Betsy and Jack who are on their way to finally getting married. They've been a couple for five years but Jack is afraid to commit to marriage as he believes he's under a curse from his dead mother. Her dying wish was for him never to marry and he's taking any measure he can to ensure this is kept, despite this, he suggests an elopement to Vegas. Once again he gets cold feet and makes his way to a poker game organised by Tommy Korman. Unbeknownst to him, Korman wants Betsy (a dead ringer for his late wife) for himself and is ready to offer Jack an ultimatum.

The story is bizarre but that's what makes it exciting. The absurdity allows all kinds of craziness to take place on stage and makes the production truly hilarious and impressive. The LMTO's musical director, Freddie Tapner introduced the performance, stating that the music and score would be telling the story and that it was up to the audience to imagine dances, costumes, set changes and a herd of parachuting Elvis'! This worked wonderfully and it was surprising how little was lost by this being a concert rather than a full blown glitz and glam production.  

BWW Review: HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, London Palladium
Each member of the cast, chorus and orchestra worked harmoniously together to pull of an effortless performance. Simon Lipkin is a brilliant performer and he stole the show each time he appeared on stage, leaving us all laughing and feeling thoroughly entertained. Maisey Bawden was hilarious as the Hawaiian Mahi and had the audience in the palm or her hand as she caused everyone to laugh out loud.

Samantha Barks and Arthur Darvill's chemistry was evident throughout and they seemed to really enjoy performing together, bringing the loved-up couple to life charmingly. Barks' voice seems to get better and better and after her success in The Last Five Years it was an absolute joy to see her perform another of Jason's scores which suit her voice so perfectly.  She gave a truly stellar performance. Darvill's voice was a surprise to me, it's effortlessly smooth and fits the easy swing feel of Honeymoon in Vegas to a tee, he gave a brilliant heartfelt and comedic performance.

If the outstanding performances weren't enough, this production was made even better by the fact that it was conducted by Jason Robert Brown himself as the LMTO's first ever guest conductor. Brown is funny, witty and animated and brought a wonderful sense of style to the whole performance. He even stepped down from his podium and played the ukulele at one point which was a real treat.  

The various standing ovations were a sign of how well done this production was and how much the audience loved this rarely performed piece. I don't think anyone would be complaining if it made a return to the West End stage and I hope we can keep Brown and his brilliant writing on this side of the pond!

The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Southwark Playhouse | Review

The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Southwark Playhouse | Review

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"The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a fresh, visceral, exciting and moving production done perfectly in the intimate Southwark Playhouse space"

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Wednesday 8th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Adapted for film in 2015 and based on the 2002 graphic novel by Phoebe GloecknerThe Diary of a Teenage Girl tells the story of Minnie, a teenager in San Francisco in the 1970s and her scandalous affair with her mothers boyfriend Monroe. There's drugs, sex, drama and a whole lot of growing up. This a fresh, shocking and overall moving piece of theatre done wonderfully in the intimate space of the Southwark Theatre.

Rona Morison's fantastic performance is central to the whole production and she executes each moment with ease and brilliance that is both innocent and experienced at the same time. Morison's performance is detailed and nuanced at times and just full out in your face crazy at others but each moment and movement seems well thought out and gets the story across smoothly and inventively.

The rest of the small cast give equally as wonderful performances, working together to create a disquieting parade of unsatisfactory adults. Rebecca Trehearn's portrayal of Minnie's lost, Bohemian mother is erratic but thoughtful and her time on stage brings a freshness to the production. Jamie Wilkes as Monroe comes across as more self-loathing and alone than a sexual predator and throughout the blame for Minnie's harsh coming of age is not really placed on him. Instead the focus is on the coming of age itself. 

Cleverly mixed into the performance are projections of Gloeckner's original illustrations which are charming and witty. The story telling is powerful with the actors putting their all into each moment  and being helped along with lighting and staging. 

James Nicholson's sound is done super effectively, with uncomfortable noises accompany the harsher moments of the story and portraying the torment the characters feel.

At 90 minutes straight through, this is an extraordinary look into the dramatic development of a young woman. The audience are taken on a whirlwind ride from start to finish, full of stand out performances, humour, sadness and quirkiness. All in all its a brilliant production, extremely crude at points but absolutely wonderful and crazily enjoyable.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is at the Southwark Playhouse until March 25th

Photo credit: Darren Bell

In Conversation With... Billy Cullum | Interview

In Conversation With... Billy Cullum | Interview

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Billy Cullum, has already had an impressive and extensive career starring in shows such as Spring Awakening and Jesus Christ Superstar. He's currently taking on the role of Mark Cohen, the introverted film maker in the 20th Anniversary tour of Rent and wowing audiences across the country with his incredible performance. I saw Rent for the fifth time last night and was as moved as I was the first time. It's truly a brilliant production. 

Not only is Billy a wonderful performer but also a wonderful person and he was nice enough to answer these questions about all things Rent, performing and life in general!

For those that don't know, can you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

I trained at the Arts Educational School of Musical Theatre and graduated in 2010. My first job was a small scale musical of Alice in Wonderland that toured all around Italy. It was hard work but getting paid to travel all around such a beautiful city made all the early mornings and get-ins worthwhile. I then went on to play Jesus in Godspell at the Union Theatre followed by one of my dream roles as Moritz in the UK Tour of Spring Awakening. I then performed in Hair, Merrily We Roll Along before my West End debut in the RSC’s Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre. Roald Dahl was becoming a running theme as I then joined the cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Being an Oompa Loompa was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! After this I joined the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. It was an incredible piece to be a part of. I understudied and played the role of Jesus. Now I am lucky enough to be in one of my favourite musicals and playing one of my dream roles as Mark Cohen in Rent

Was being a performer what you always yearned for or did you have another career path in mind when you were younger?

Performing is the only thing I’ve ever really focused on from the age of 3. It wasn’t until I was about 16 though that I thought it could become a career. I’m a songwriter and a recording artist which is something I love to do as well. I’m just about to release the first single ‘Lost in You’ from my debut album which is released 03.03.17.

Rent is one of the most iconic musicals ever, do you feel a lot of pressure taking on such an important role?

When I got offered the job I was ecstatic. I was so excited. Then it hit me that this musical has such a strong following. It means so much to people. It really has a place in people’s hearts so the pressure slowly started to dawn on me. I then had to go into the rehearsal room on the first day and let all that pressure go and focus on my portrayal of Mark. I like to think I’ve made him my own and I have enjoyed exploring him. He’s very complex and intricate which I don’t think many people realise. 

The cast must be so close with this production, have there been any standout funny moments on or offstage between you all?

There have been MANY funny moments. My favourite though has to be when Layton Williams who plays Angel got his coat stuck in his wig as he was about to go full throttle into 'Today For You'. Somehow, he managed to sort out the issue whilst incorporating it into the song with humour and sass "My Wig! Help me out with my Wig!" It was pure genius! 

Has the show changed at all going from tour to the St James and then back on tour?

It naturally changes to fill different spaces. The St James was such an intimate setting which I loved. It was very intense. Performing in bigger venues such as Edinburgh Festival Theatre lets other moments thrive more. The show always has the same heart but it definitely feels adapts beautifully to each venue.

How are you enjoying touring life? What do you miss most being away from home?

I’m really enjoying it. I love seeing different places I wouldn't necessarily chose to go to. The thing I miss most about being away is my loved ones and my dogs. 

Can you sum up the show in 5 words?

Live and Love without fear.

If you could go back to any era, when would it be and why?

I’d wanna go back to the caveman era. I wanna know how I would survive!

If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next?

Oooh. I think it would have to be Next to Normal

What's the best piece of advice you're ever received and what advice would you give to aspiring performers?

"Just Be You" is the best advice I’ve ever had. It really works. That’s the advice I’d give to any aspiring performers. Don’t try and fit a mould because someone told you to or because that’s how you get work. I like to think I’ve been employed because of my talent and character and I’ve done that by simply being me. To add to this I would also say never give up. Focus on your own path, it’s so dangerous to compare yourself to others. If you really want it don’t give up. Your time will come.

Thank you so much Billy for doing this interview; go see him in Rent and make sure you purchase all his new music!

Rent is playing at the New Victoria theatre, Woking until March 11th. Visit  for tickets

Hamlet, Almeida Theatre | Review

Hamlet, Almeida Theatre | Review

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Almeida Theatre
Reviewed on Saturday 4th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Shamefully, most of my Shakespeare knowledge has come from school English lessons so I'm not the most educated on the Bard but I jumped at the chance to see this highly anticipated production of the great tragedy Hamlet. At almost four hours long you might think you'll lag towards the end but this production is so well done that you'll be gripped and wide awake throughout!

Andrew Scott of Sherlock fame takes on the mammoth feat of playing the iconic, Hamlet. You  need skill, stamina and sincerity to carry this very long play and Scott has all of these in spades. He holds the play up and commands every moment, showing a thousand different emotions and really taking the audience on a crazy, dramatic journey. Each word he speaks is filled with emotion. From quiet whispered moments to loud shouts and screams, he manages to involve the audience and create a real sense of intimacy. His performance is absolutely outstanding.

Peter Wight is brilliant as Polonius; nosy and sneaky but still likeable. Jessica Brown-Findlay as Ophelia transforms from joyful innocence to grief-stricken craziness wonderfully and gives a truly moving performance in her final scenes. Juliet Stevenson's Queen and relationship with Angus Wright's Claudius are very convincing and just shocking enough. They work very well together, showing a lot of character development throughout and using the text in new and exciting ways.

Hildegard Bechtler's set is simple but crazily effective. It seems to become more opaque as the play moves on, with the clever use of curtains and screens becoming ingrained in and crucial to the performance throughout. Along with Tom Gibbons' sparse and overwhelming score a sense of drama and being trapped/followed is ever present.

Robert Icke has created a truly brilliant production. From explosive moments to moments of silence, the audience are kept gripped and the four hours goes by in a tick. The performance is humorous and shocking at the same time whilst embodying the eerie intensity that Shakespeare is so well known for. Every crevice of the play has been fully thought through and the character work from rehearsals is clear in every moment on stage.

This is an impeccable production from a stupendously talented and well rounded cast. The show has been brought into the modern world perfectly and effectively. There's light and shade, humour and sadness, love and hate and so much more. Truly brilliant!

Hamlet runs at the Almeida Theatre until April 15th. The production is currently sold out but it's well worth queuing for a return ticket!

Photo by: Manuel Harlan

Swifties,Theatre N16 | Review

Swifties,Theatre N16 | Review

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Theatre N16
Reviewed on Wednesday 1st March 2017 by Esther Matthews

Swifties…To start, I didn’t hate it. Overall I could see what the script writer and director were trying to do however somewhere in the mix something went slightly wrong. 

Swifties, based on the French play The Maids written by Jean Genet, follows the lives of two girls who claim to be Taylor Swifts “Biggest Fans” and how their attempt to murder the superstar doesn’t quite go the way they wanted. Isabella Niloufar and Tanya Cubric were brilliant as the plays main characters. Their portrayal of two slightly mad teens was humorous but terrifying at the same time. They are ones to watch out for in the wider theatre circle. 

Theatre N16 is situated above a pub in Balham, it was the perfect setting for a play like this. The theatre itself was very small with only a handful of chairs to sit on making your experience very inclusive and intimate. The set was very minimal with simple lighting which pulled you into the scene. As an audience member sometimes big sets and props can capture your attention but the actors managed to keep you captivated throughout. 

I had a problem with the script. There didn’t seem to be any structure to it. The girls did a good job at improvising but overall the script lacked good dialogue and felt slow. The Maids is rarely done in large venues or professional theatre but I think it is a very relevant story with many important themes. In the current social climate this is the kind of work that needs to be noticed. It highlights the trouble that we as a nation have with race, gender and social media/celebrities. 

For such a small stage the director did a good job. Luke Davies has had rave reviews from his previous production and if this play transferred to a larger venue I can understand what his vision would be. 

I would recommend seeing Swifties, there are good and bad points to make about this production. It certainly leaves you with questions.  

Swifts runs at Theatre N16 until March 11th

Ugly Lies The Bone, National Theatre | Review

Ugly Lies The Bone, National Theatre | Review

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Ugly Lies The Bone
Lyttleton Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 1st March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Unless you've ever been on a tour of Afghanistan as a soldier, I would assume it's pretty impossible to ever know what it must be like. To experience pain, death and sadness so up close must be truly horrific and coming back to a family and community who have changed and moved on without experiencing that? I can't imagine.

Ugly Lies The Bone, a new play by American playwright Lindsey Ferrentino, aims to shed light on this as well as exploring virtual reality therapy which trials show, has been successful in reducing pain levels in those who have suffered serious injuries.

The play tells the story of Jess played by Kate Fleetwood, who has come home after three tours of Afghanistan to her Florida town in the heart of Nasa county. Awfully disfigured and struggling to deal with the constant pain, she must learn to adjust to her life which is not as she remembers it.

In a bid to move on with her life she agrees to take part in an experimental virtual reality therapy programme which aims to reduce her pain levels. She is taken into a virtual world of snow capped mountains and delicate, falling feathers where she begins to experience life without pain again.

Over the course of 90 minutes we watch the story of Jess and those around her adapting and recovering both mentally and physically.

Kate performs the cynical, frustrated character very well, showing the struggles very truthfully through a stunning performance. Ralf Little is also wonderful as the bumbling Stevie who is facing an internal struggle of his own.

For me, I found the play fell a little flat. Because we didn't get to see Jess before her injuries it was hard to see any character development and therefore hard to see how the virtual reality therapy worked. Overall there was just not enough character development and I felt that there was not enough solid dialogue or storyline to make the audience empathise with them.

The set and stunning design are brilliant and really do immerse the audience in the virtual world but I would have loved a stronger storyline to back it up. The whole cast give extremely solid performances but no real plot means there isn't a final resolution and overall there is a flatness.

Ugly Lies The Bone is on at the National Theatre until June 6th.

Photo: Mark Douet
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