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Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Bat Out of Hell, London Coliseum | Review

Bat Out of Hell, London Coliseum | Review

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Bat Out of Hell
London Coliseum
Reviewed Tuesday 20th June 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★


Let's make one thing clear: this show is epically crazy. Jim Steinman's rock musical is like nothing else currently on any West End stage. It feels like a rollercoaster ride where things are constantly being thrown at you from every direction: the great, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of rock music are all thrown together to create a show like no other.

The new show based on the music of Jim Steinman tells a Romeo and Juliet-esque tale mixed with Peter Pan themes and a whole lot of randomness. If you don't like out there shows then this definitely isn't for you but if you're up for a wild ride then stick around. The songs have very little relevance to the storyline and it kind of feels like an excuse to put on a massive budget concert every night but somehow they kind of fit and work in the context. Each one is performed so much energy and excitement that you can forgive them for not technically fitting in. Each song works as it's own performance instead of fitting perfectly into an overall narrative.

Bat Out of Hell is set in a sort of dystopian world where a man named Falco rules a derelict, broken city where 'The Lost', a bunch of genetic mutants who don't age past 18, live in their underground lair known as 'The Deep End'. The leader of this mutant group is  Strat who despite barely knowing her, is head over heels in love with Falco's daughter, Raven who longs to escape her boring life. One fateful night Strat visits her room and from there on we fall down the rabbit hole of craziness and things get even more mental. I did say it was crazy! Overall I would describe it as a rock retelling of Peter Pan through the eyes of someone who's had a few too many!

Whilst the writing of the show isn't stellar and there are faults with it, the cast are a talented bunch indeed, with voices that raise the roof. Andrew Polec as Strat and Christina Bennington as Raven have great chemistry, although it is particularly cheesy at times they work well together and their booming voices compliment one another very nicely. The pairs voices are stunning and goosebump inducing. Another cast member who will give you chills is Danielle Steers (Zahara) who received a gasp from the audience when she sung her first solo notes. Danielle's voice is strong and sexy and when she joins with Dom Hartley-Harris (Jagwire), especially in Act 2, they really create a magical vocal moment. 

As Raven's parents who have fallen out of love and are trying to regain their spark, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton (Sloane) are outstanding. They are witty and suitably mental with their performance of "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" becoming it's own mini show within the show. Both their voices have the right amount of attitude and drama to command the stage and ring out above the ensemble.

Jon Bausor's set is mental, with fire balls, motorbikes and so many more surprises to always keep you on your toes. The use of screens is extremely clever, not only mimicking the screens you get at a concert but also acting as a kind of cctv camera, showing us close up action which we wouldn't normally see- it really reminded me of Robert Icke's Hamlet.

The pyrotechnics are intense but not so overdone that they become gimmicky. Emma Portner's choreography fits the weird world of the show but is a somewhat weird mix of things, conjuring up Michael Jackson "Thriller" vibes mixed with Maddie Ziegler's iconic dances for Sia. It's sharp and popping and fills the vast stage of the London Coliseum well. Patrick Woodroffee's lighting is eccentric and blinding, the exact lighting you expect from a rock concert. But as the Coliseum is smaller than an arena, the bright lights are exemplified and add to the psychedelic experience.

Now this definitely isn't a masterpiece of musical theatre but it is a jaw-dropping spectacle that really has to be seen to be believed. There are more than just moments of gold and flashes of light- it's an extravangaza for the eyes and ears which will definitely leave you feeling something?!

Bat Out of Hell runs at the London Coliseum until 22nd August 2017.

Idina Menzel, Royal Albert Hall | Review

Idina Menzel, Royal Albert Hall | Review

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Idina Menzel
Royal Albert Hall
Reviewed on Thursday June 15th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

If you're a theatre fan then I'm sure you've heard of Idina Menzel. The last time she played the glorious Royal Albert Hall, she was known among the theatre community for creating the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked but since then has reached a stratospheric level of fame. Thanks in part to John Travolta mangling her name, but mostly for her role as the Queen herself, Elsa in Disney's hit movie, Frozen.

Compared to previous concerts, Menzel sung less of the classics and throughout her almost two hour concert, pulled a lot from her eponymous fifth studio album which was released last September. She came out with a power strut, and after a couple of mic issues started playing her drum and swinging along to the upbeat "Queen of Swords", gradually transitioning to the sweeter "Small World" then to the audience favourite "Season's of Love" from Rent. The fans cheered and joined in as Menzel cracked a smile, obviously enjoying her performance at the iconic venue already.

Idina is clearly very comfortable on stage; her personality and self-deprecating humour flowing easily and filling time between songs along with little anecdotes and witty comments to the audience. Aside from the humour, she was also unafraid to get personal. Before bursting into the upbeat "Cake", Idina explained that she wrote it after a conversation she had with her fiancé Aaron Lohr.

"I said to him 'Are you sure you wanna marry me because I have a lot of issues?'" she shared and explained why his response made her love him even more and inspired this song. "he said 'I can handle you, honey. It's  all good, you're cake'" And so we heard Idina tackle the song with vigour and excitement before moving into a wonderful cover of Led Zepplin's "Black Dog".

Another of Menzel's recent achievements was starring in the remake of Beaches alongside Nia Long so it was only fitting that she included her beautiful rendition of "The Wind Beneath My Wings" which smoothly transitioned into the mighty "Defying Gravity" earning Idina her first standing ovation of the night.

A wonderful moment during the concert was when each of the band members got a little solo/improv moment to show off how talented they all are, especially Idina's back up singer who was outstanding in the cover of Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady" and stole the stage with her huge voice.

The moment soon came which delighted many of the younger audience members as well as most of the older ones, when Menzel performed a wonderfully arranged mash up of the The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" and the Frozen hit "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?". The almost a cappella "For Good" was another lovely moment which achieved a second standing ovation.

As the last piece before the encore of "I See You", Idina asked all the little children in the arena to come to the stage to help her perform "Let it Go" which was extremely adorable and hilarious as most of them looked terrified the minute the mic was near them! Menzel made sure none of the children were scarred for life and let them repeat the song as many times as it took for them to feel comfortable.

I found it to be somewhat more sombre and reflective than her previous concerts but I guess that comes with having to adapt to younger audiences and it was nice to see a different side to Idina. This was a memorable night for sure and I'm sure a treat for Menzel as well as her fans!


See my concert vlog here:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY8m8Em9Wnk

photo credit: Steve

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Duke of York's | Review

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Duke of York's | Review

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Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour
Duke of York's Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday May 31st 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

When I saw Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour last summer at the National Theatre I instantly adored it. I started praying for a transfer and telling anyone who would listen to go and see it. I gave it the number six place in my top shows of 2016, five stars in my original review and was overjoyed when it scooped up the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. I'm pleased to say that I loved it just as much the second time in it's new West End home: The Duke of York's and will be raving to everyone again to snap up a ticket!

Our Ladies is exactly what the West End needs right now, it's a fresh, exciting, fun and unique theatrical experience for all ages (...well most ages!) The show manages to be angelic, vivacious, electric and foul-mouthed at the same time and more than anything is a celebration of females.

The six superstars of the show play every single character in the narrative, from their choir master, hilariously named Condom to a series of suspiciously shady middle-aged men. The girls are backed by an all female band who accompany the fantastic musical interludes. The girls are outgoing and dramatic but behind all of that have their own fears for their futures and impending adulthood. 

The girls are absolutely wonderful, not only being hilarious in the comedic moments, but quiet and sentimental in more emotional scenes. They all have incredible voices too, moving seamlessly from Bartók to ELO with emotion, energy and poignancy. Isis Hainsworth is sincere in her portrayal of Orla who has just come back from a 'miracle' cancer recovery at Lourdes, Karen Fishwick is extremely versatile as Kay, switching from on the floor drunk to heartbreaking honesty perfectly. Caroline Deyga as Chell is hilarious and larger than life and Kirsty MacLaren as Manda is just lovely! For me, Frances Mayli McCann (Kylah) and Dawn Sievewright (Finnoula) are the standouts of the group, with absolutely stunning voices and completely faultless performances, but the entire cast are perfect and work together like real life school friends, creating an extremely realistic  albeit extremely shocking portrayal of growing up.

Directed by Vicky Featherstone and at an hour and fourty five minutes, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour provides a tight-knit, laugh out loud, heartfelt story of six girls making their way through life. The raw authenticity generates a warm and relatable vibe of no strings attached purity and fun. Our Ladies is an unmissable production which I highly recommend you go and see!

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour runs at the Duke of York's until November 2nd 2017

Book tickets for Our Ladies or any other show with TodayTix and receive £10 off with my code: https://www.todaytix.com/refer/TFKMJ/

Funny Girl (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Funny Girl (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

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Funny Girl (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday April 25th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

Funny Girl is one of my absolute favourite musicals  and was one of the first reviews I ever wrote (which you can read here.) I saw the show when it was in previews at the Savoy Theatre and never had the chance to go back so I was very excited to see it again on it's UK tour to see if it still lived up to my initial praise. I am very pleased to say that it did and even exceeded it!

Funny Girl tells the story of the young Jewish girl, Fanny Brice who longs to be a star and is not going to take no for an answer. Whilst many people in the industry brand her as "not pretty enough", her comedic talent, natural stage presence, strong voice and sheer determination allow her her big break as she becomes a star with the Ziegfeld Follies. Along the way she meets the mysterious Nick Arnstein and we follow the ups and downs of their rollercoaster relationship. 

The simplistic but beautiful set and staging takes the audience to 1920s New York perfectly with the precise amount of extravagance and spectacle to add to the show and story without detracting from it at all. Most of the scenes take place on the created stage and backstage where Fanny is performing and the use of other theatrical elements is very cleverly used such as spotlights, curtains and mirrors. 

The entire cast are sublime with the versatile, energetic ensemble completely bringing the ornate dance scenes to life. Especially impressive was the dance which included pointe shoes with taps on them. The choreography is spectacularly sharp and show-stopping and executed faultlessly.

Natasha Barnes as Fanny Brice is completely and utterly mesmerising. Her stage presence is outstanding and she absorbs the audience into the world of Miss Brice flawlessly. Her portrayal is warm and witty, with sensational vocals and sublime comedic timing. It's not only her high energy moments which are impeccable though but the quiet moments of vulnerability where we really see what a brilliant actress she is. Music That Makes Me Dance was a particular stand out moment for me as the entire audience was not only silent but seemed as if they were so enraptured in the moment that they were holding their breath. It was a truly magical theatrical moment. I was thoroughly blown away by Barnes and can't wait to see her continue to become a star of the stage and the blazing supernova she deserves to be. 

Fanny's charismatic love interest is played by Darius Campbell who takes on the role very well. He is engaging and his strong voice carries well and pairs flawlessly with Barnes' especially in Who Are You Now which is touching and emotive. He has just the right mix of charm, wit, mystery and darkness to fully show the multiple layers of the problematic Nick Arnstein.

I am so impressed by this entire production and it is absolutely the best touring production I have seen. The calibre of every moment is top notch and I was mesmerised throughout. Funny Girl has every element necessary and ticks all the boxes needed for a wonderful theatrical experience. Natasha Barnes steals the show with her astonishing performance; she is truly the greatest star and a complete inspiration.

Funny Girl runs at the New Victoria Theatre until April 29th 2017 before continuing on it's UK tour.

Grease (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Grease (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

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Grease (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Monday April 24th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

Grease was certainly the word last night at the opening night of the show at the New Wimbledon Theatre. The classic hits and story which are loved by many had brought a varied crowd who all seemed extremely excited for a carefree, upbeat night at the theatre. With an abundance of hair-gel and budding romances that's exactly what the production provides, it's not faultless but it's feel-good fun.

The onstage band open the show with a high energy performance of 'Grease is the Word' which created an electric atmosphere and introduced the powerful instrumental players and ensemble in a brilliant way. Leading the cast as the sweetly innocent Sandy is musical theatre favourite Danielle Hope who is marvellous in the role. Her voice is strong and she captures the character extremely skilfully. Danielle certainly shines in the role with her rendition of the 'Sandra Dee Reprise' being a particular standout of the whole production.

Her romantic counterpart Danny Zuko is played by The Wanted's Tom Parker who seemed slightly out of place and nervous but did come across well at points. As the show went on he seemed to settle into the role more but there's definitely some room for improvement in terms of overall performance. Similarly, the other celebrity name, Lousia Lytton as the fiesty Rizzo is lacking a certain something. Her energy is high and her sass comes across well but her vocals let her down at points.

The ensemble are absolutely outstanding though, with each one owning their quirky roles perfectly and showing off their boundless stage presence. Gabriella Williams is absolutely splendid as Patty Simcox, her dancing, acting and whole performance is stellar and she provides hilarious comical moments through her peppy, excitable, exaggerated performance. I also loved Michael Cortez who was extremely energetic and had some brilliant one liners which he delivered with great comedic timing. 

Arlene Phillips' choreography is retro and sleek and creates a great visual. The energy is the real key in this show and each move seems well thought out to provide optimum power and spirit. 

You can't fault the production values of this show and despite some lacking moments it ticks all the boxes for an infectious night out and will please anyone who is a fan of the iconic musical. 
Grease runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until April 29th 2017 before continuing on it's UK Tour.

Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre: Behind The Scenes | Review

Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre: Behind The Scenes | Review

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Half a Sixpence got the number 9 spot in my Top 10 Shows of 2016 and a glowing 4 star review back when I saw it on press night so I was extremely excited when I was invited to a special bloggers event to see it again.

The event was held at the Noel Coward Theatre for a number of bloggers, vloggers and stagey people. I saw some familiar faces as well as meeting some new people and it was a really lovely opportunity to spread the theatre love. We started off by having a talk from the charming, witty, supremely talented and just generally lovely Charlie Stemp who told us all about his audition process for the role of Arthur Kipps, the transfer from Chichester to London, his journey learning to play his banjo Babs and all about his new rockery!

After that we were taken up onto the stage where we were taught a section of the "Flash Bang Wallop" dance by dance captain, Jaye Juliette Elster. The section we learnt was only ten seconds long but we all had an absolute laugh prancing around pretending we were in the show. I for one will be using the choreography as my party trick from now on!

Once our little boogie was over, we went for another Q&A/chat with some more of the cast: Charlie Stemp, Emma Williams, Bethany Huckle, Sam O'Rourke and Jaye Juliette Elster. They are all such lovely warm people and it's evident from hearing them speak, how much they love the show and being a part of it. Particularly funny were the anecdotes of onstage mishaps such as when the revolves broke in Chichester and when the bike got stuck on stage in the finale and the cast had to cleverly force it off whilst still smiling and waving as if nothing was wrong! The cast are so warm and genuine and it was just lovely seeing them laughing and loving what they do and it certainly shows on stage with spades of enjoyment and energy flying around from start to finish.

We then left the cast to warm up for the show and made our way to the bar for some pre-show drinks and Instagram selfies (here's my stagey insta!) The show was wonderfully joyous and uplifting and even better than I remembered it. My views are pretty the same as before so I won't bore you with another review where I repeat but you can see my original one here. To sum up the show I would say that it's full of life, heart and love and provides a perfect treat to leave you feeling content and warm inside.

When the show was finished and we were all on a stagey high, we were given a backstage tour which was wonderful and a very exciting opportunity to see the props and sets close up. I filmed some clips of the stage and dressing room which will all be in my vlog which will be posted on: https://www.youtube.com/rewritethisstory It was incredibly interesting to see everything close up and see how much work goes in backstage to  create such a flawless performance for the audiences night after night.

We all parted ways feeling like we could jump for joy and sing all the way home!

If you haven't seen Half a Sixpence already I really implore you to hop down to the Noel Coward Theatre and see it in all its glory! It's currently booking until 2 September 2017 with tickets available at www.halfasixpence.co.uk

42nd Street, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane | Review

42nd Street, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane | Review

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42nd Street
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Reviewed on Wednesday April 3rd 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

It seems that 2017 is the year of old Hollywood musicals coming back into fashion. The West End is getting a smattering of big budget, glitzy, over the top glamorous productions and I'm certainly not complaining about it!

42nd Street is a timeless, Classic, toe-tapping 'backstage-musical' which is sure to be a hit. Telling the story of struggling performers trying to get their big Broadway break we see their trials and tribulations and meet the young chorus girl Peggy Sawyer as she is thrown into the manic theatre world with the chance of getting her big break.

The choreography (by Randy Skinner) is key in this show so if you're not big on dance heavy performances then it's not for you. Personally though, there's not much that's more exhilarating than a beaming stage full of crystals, colours and thunderous feet pulling off steps with ease and grace.

The show runs seamlessly with smooth costume changes, especially when a seemingly unorganised array of dresses suddenly arrange themselves into a sensational rainbow.  Douglas W. Schmidt's set design is ambitious, exciting and magical and certainly creates a spectacle. The silhouette work is slick and spectacular and the moment when the mirror rises to show impeccable synchronised company work, there were audible gasps of awe from the audience. Every moment of this show is a complete extravaganza of brilliance and it's full of moments which will leave you open-mouthed.

The stars of the show are wonderfully cast, with Clare Halse portaying Peggy Sawyer's energy and vigour extremely well. Sheena Easton's vocals as the fading star Dorothy Brock are impeccable and Tom Lister as Julian Marsh is strong but charming and hits each note with dexterity.

Of course, this show would be nowhere as brilliant without its unblemished ensemble work. There are beaming smiles all round, faultless feet and enough energy to power the underground! The stage is filled with colour and life and each moment just works. The show is certainly one of the biggest and flashiest I've seen recently but everything fits and nothing feels too over the top. Everything has a place, nothing is there just for the flashiness, it all works to give the show drama whilst still remaining cohesive- utterly faultless.

42nd Street earned the royal seal of approval from the Duchess of Cambridge herself and I'm sure it will continue to be loved and praised by everyone who steps into the huge Theatre Royal. The stage is large, the cast is large and the whole thing is bigger and brighter than you can imagine. If you want to step back to the decades of glitz and glamour, be blown away by talent, have your ears tapped off and escape the real world for a few hours then 42nd Street is the show for you! Go see it and be prepared to tap all your way home!

Watch my 42nd Street vlog: https://youtu.be/-7FksKHBGoc

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

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!

Hamlet, Almeida Theatre | Review

Hamlet, Almeida Theatre | Review

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Hamlet
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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Swifties
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

Ghost (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Ghost (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

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Ghost (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 27th February 2017 by Valerie Field
★★

Despite all the drama and speculation that has been surrounding this show, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very moving and well acted. I have never seen the film but know of the story and have heard all about the iconic scene at the potters wheel so I was a bit surprised that more wasn't made of that scene on stage. The fact that this is my only major criticism shows how much I enjoyed the show.

The scenery was great and scene changes were smooth and convincing with each set feeling exactly like the place it was portraying and the characters fit into it perfectly. The special effects were brilliant and really added to the show, although sometimes they did feel a little unnecessary, altogether they added a very nice layer to the performance.

The acting, dancing and songs were great and very entertaining, memorable and enjoyable. Carolyn Maitland was wonderful as Molly and has fabulous chemistry with Andy Moss as Sam. Both their voices are strong and they are convincing as the characters.

Jacqui Dubois as Oda Mae was a definite stand out and was fantastic on stage, stealing the show at points and really showing off her star power. Garry Lee Netley as the Subway Ghost deserves a special mention as he was a great presence on stage and suited the character wonderfully.




My only other criticism is that I did feel sometimes the orchestra was a bit too loud when the solos were being sung as it seem to drown the singer's voices slightly. This was probably just an issue that night. 


Apart from that the show was great and I enjoyed it immensely and will definitely recommend it. The cast are strong and well rounded. The sets, costumes and effects fit the show precisely and overall it was a great night out seeing a much loved musical. All in all I think the whole show came together really well and was a very entertaining evening.

Ghost runs at the New Victoria theatre until March 4th and then continues on it's UK tour.

Photo credit: Matt Martin
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