Posts with the label comedy
Showing posts with label comedy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comedy. Show all posts

Friday, 13 April 2018

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, Criterion Theatre | Review

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery
Criterion Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 12th April 2018 by Emma Gradwell

Written by Mischief Theatre founders Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery gives you a grouping of incompetent thieves as they try to steal a rare diamond from Minneapolis City Bank during the summer of 1958 – very much a homage to American screwball cops and robbers comedies. The play begins with escaping convicts and corrupt Prison Guards plotting the heist. The tone is set from the start that this is very much a modern farce, with “Naked Gun” style misheard and misinterpreted words and phrases. 

The farcical plot concerns a dubious banker by the name of Robin Freeboys (played by Leonard Cook) whose name produces many comic moments when misheard as “robbing three boys”, inexplicably being entrusted with a rare diamond owned by a Hungarian Prince. The mantra from the start is that everyone in this town is a crook of which we are often reminded by Mr. Freeboys underpaid but very smart receptionist, Ruth Monaghan (gloriously played by Jenna Augen). You have to keep watching to the end to find out who finally bags the jewel. 

Aggressive and gruff prison escapee Mitch Ruscitti (played by Matt Hunt) returns home to his beautiful but tricky girlfriend Caprice (played by Holly Sumpton) who happens to be the daughter of Mr. Freeboys. Caprice is entertaining loveable petty criminal Sam (played by Sam Fogell) that she met at the bank, he also happens to be the son of bank employee Ruth. What follows is an impeccably timed scene involving concealing Sam all around a malfunctioning mechanical bed ending with him assuming the identity of Robin Freeboys with a ridiculous disguise made up of household objects. 

The story continues with obvious visual and verbal gags coming thick and fast. The sporadic doo wop musical interludes are cute and beautifully done. One of the highlights is a scene in the bank set at a perilous 90 degree angle to obtain a birds eye view from the banks vents system where the crooks are attempting to get to the vaults. Ageing intern Warren Slax (gamely played by Peter McGovern) is anchored by a safety harness as he tries to manoeuvre his way around the “office” while carrying out menial tasks for the demanding Mr. Freeboys. It is very hard to pour a coffee when gravity is not defied. 

A special mention needs to go to Chris Leask who marvellously plays “Everyone Else” in the play. His facial expressions alone had the audience roaring with laughter. A three way fight between Caprice’s unwitting lovers ensues. The lovers are a hillbilly, a decrepit nursing home resident and an angry German. Playing all three parts and being on the giving and receiving end of the punches is no mean feat. Wonderfully performed and slickly directed. 

The jokes do become repetitive and are not really very clever. If it’s an evening of high-brow culture you are after then this definitely is not the show for you but if you want to just sit back and watch a bit of silliness then this will tick the right boxes.

Photo credit: Robert Workman

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, Criterion Theatre | Review

Friday, 13 April 2018

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Showtime from the Frontline by Mark Thomas, Theatre Royal Stratford East | Review

Showtime From The Frontline
Theatre Royal Stratford
Reviewed on Tuesday 10th April 2018 by Nicola Louise 

Walking into the Theatre Royal Stratford East, you're greeted with a medium sized board with images projected on it with a no smoking poster written in Arabic and a no guns sign with tape around the wall, the three chairs sitting on the stage await the comedians. The set is basic and unchanging but there is still a wonderful atmosphere.

Mark Thomas walks on stage followed by Faisel Abu Alhayjaa and Alaa Shehada, the introductions begin and the comedic race begins.

Showtime from the Frontline is a story telling performance based on Thomas's experience in the Jenin refugee camp, Palestine. He tells the story of how he came to be in the camp and how the comedy workshop was set up to bring comedy and laughter to the Middle East. 

Setting up a comedy workshop in a Palestine refugee camp was never going to be easy, but with the help of Thomas's very funny and talented students, Alhayjaa and Shehada, it became a ride to remember. The audience are taken on a journey right into the heart of the workshop and are shown and told exactly how this was done.

The show never slows the pace, and from beginning to end you're captivated, wanting to know how the story transpires. With real life footage of other students within the camp and workshop, the show is both hilarious and thought provoking.

Showtime from the Frontline highlights the struggles facing Palestine with Israel in a way that's light-hearted but also shines a light on the real life issues going on.

Ending it's tour at the Theatre Royal Stratford East until the 21st of April I couldn't think of anywhere better for such a performance of it's kind.

photo credit: Steve Ullathorne

Showtime from the Frontline by Mark Thomas, Theatre Royal Stratford East | Review

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Ruthless, Arts Theatre | Review

Arts Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 23rd March by Olivia Mitchell

I've never felt as lukewarm about a show as I do this one. Ruthless wasn't bad but it also wasn't good. Overall the cast were strong, the songs were pretty catchy and there were moments of humour but I really can't describe it as anything else but "meh", which is annoying because I really did want to enjoy it.

Ruthless follows a young girl Tina Denmark who wants to be a star and will do anything in her power to achieve it. Her mother is a typical generic housewife who does everything she's meant to do and never anything self-indulgent. Then we have Sylvia  St.Croix, the talent scout, agent, ever present 'pusher' who comes out of no where and stays for the duration of the show.

The story is genuinely funny (at points) and although predictable, it is entertaining to see this camp, spoofed, mixed up story play out. But there's just something which doesn't work. Satire is used cleverly, especially with Tina's mum in the opening number and I enjoyed spotting the musical theatre references such as Mame and Sunset Boulevard but there's only so much repetition of jokes one person can take!

As for the cast, they're strong and entertaining. Our Tina Denmark who perfectly portrayed the stagey maniac was Anya Evans. Anya's performance is stellar and she really was born to be on the stage. Her determination mixed with her psychotic side is extremely entertaining to watch and I would gladly go back just to see her again.

Ever the audience favourite, Tracie Bennett is great as theatre critic, Lita Encore. Although the drunken swagger is somewhat cringey, she give a fabulous performance and commands the stage during I Hate Musicals. 

The name of the show, Jason Gardiner is good but generic. His camp, audacious Sylvia St. Croix is fun to watch but not shocking in any way. I get that the whole thing is a sort of parody but it would have been great to have a touch more originality with the way he plays the role.

As the mother, Judy Denmark, Kim Maresca is wonderful. Her embodiment of the role is cheesy but not too over the top and her voice wows, especially in act 2. Harriet Thorpe is suitably biting whilst Lara Denning is sharp and witty.

This show isn't a masterpiece but while I wasn't the biggest fan, I know others who will lap it up. There's certainly a market for this over the top, zany, crude show and I can see it doing well but for me it just needs some tweaking to take it from "meh" to something special.

Ruthless runs at the Arts Theatre until June 23rd.

photo credit: Alistair Muir

Ruthless, Arts Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Friday, 2 March 2018

Bismillah! An Isis Tragicomedy, Vault Festival | Review

Bismillah! An Isis Tragicomedy
The Vaults
Reviewed on Thursday 1st March 2018 by Nicola Louise 

I’ve never really been a fan of shows with a single set (or no set in this case) and two people. It always seemed a bit boring (not that it was the actors fault, the writing was just not up to scratch), so when I decided to attend Bismillah! An Isis Tragicomedy I was little apprehensive.

Currently being shown as part of The Vault Festival at Waterloo, the tunnels provide the perfect setting for what is meant to be a holding cell controlled by Isis- as you walk in and take your seat there’s already something happening. A solider is tied to a pole in the middle of the stage with a bag over his head, he’s struggling and the action begins.

Bismillah, written by Matthew Grenhough -who also plays the prisoner of Isis- is a perfect mix of comedy and true horror. The IS solider played by Elliot Liburd arrives with food and water and the show starts; conversation flows between the two soldiers and they find themselves bonding over shifts at Wetherspoons and a £4.39 meal deal at the airport.

It soon becomes clear however, that Liburd’s character has some issues with himself. As he starts to lose his temper, you can see the confidence in Grenhough’s character leave his body as he suddenly becomes a terrified little boy.

Both actors performed Grenhough's thought-provoking script well, asking the questions: How well do you really know somebody? How different are we to them? Just because the news reports one thing does it make it true?

Never before have I been gripped so much in 75 minutes watching a conversation between two people than I have seeing this show. As this show was first staged in 2015 a few things are a little out dated but still work. Even the over use of pop culture but that’s what makes this show what it is.

Bismillah! An Isis Tragicomedy is currently showing at the Vault Festival until the 4th March 2018. Get your tickets quick.

Bismillah! An Isis Tragicomedy, Vault Festival | Review

Friday, 2 March 2018

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Play That Goes Wrong (UK Tour), Storyhouse | Review

The Play That Goes Wrong (UK Tour) 
Reviewed on Monday 29th January 2018 by Becca Cromwell

The Mischief Theatre company, founded in 2008, is well known for providing family entertainment and great comedy and they certainly didn't disappoint with the UK Tour of the West End hit, The Play That Goes Wrong. This is not the first time their shows have been on tour, with Peter Pan Goes Wrong being a massive hit in 2014. I went in with high expectations. 

Before the house lights went down, members of the cast were walking around the auditorium asking the unsuspecting audience members whether they had seen a dog. Causing mischief before the show even started. They asked an audience member to help them fix the mantlepiece on the stage, which in due course turned to chaos. 

As the lights dim, we are introduced to Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, who are putting on a performance of Murder at Haversham Manor... The society is famed for its bad productions! They begin the first act of their play, and it all goes downhill from there and side-splitting hilarity ensued. 

With very few cast members, I was surprised at how well put together  the whole show was. The stunts and physical work especially were extremely impressive from all cast members. 

Kazeem Tosin Amore played Robert (Thomas Colleymoore) and gave an impressive performance. His gravity-defying stunts in the study were envious! 

Bobby Hirston as Max (Cecil/Gardener) was incredibly funny, with his performance gaining laughs more or less every minute he was onstage. 

Jake Curran brought the Director/Inspector to life with great vigour. With great physical work and hilariously over the top acting as the Inspector it was certainly a memorable performance!

Catherine Dryden played techie turned star Annie, who saves the show in its moment of need and was hilarious in doing so. Definitely a standout of the show. 

Steven Rostance gave a hilarious performance as the 'murdered' Charles Haversham, who gained large applause when he finally did get the right scene. 

Elena Valentine played Sandra (Florence Colleymoore), and gave an exciting performance, particularly towards the end in the 'two Florences' scene. 

A special mention must go to Gabriel Paul, who played Trevor, the Duran Duran loving sound technican. Hilarity ensued every time Gabriel entered the stage. 

Benjamin McMahon portrayed Dennis (Perkins) well, using superb and memorable facial expressions throughout.

Fair to say I enjoyed the show. The rest of the audience loved it too, with many leaving with tears of laughter still rolling down their cheeks. 

The use of set was fantastic. Everything was so well organised and well timed that pieces repeatedly falling down should not have been as funny the second or third time round, but were! Pieces of set collapsing, blowing up and coming off are not easy to time right on top of saying lines and remembering to act, so the tech team and stage hands and directors need their very own round of applause for this alone. 

The cast took their bows to extremely well deserved rapturous applause. Bravo to them all!

The Play That Goes Wrong is on a major UK tour until October, so grab your tickets while you can!

Photo Credit: Robert Day

The Play That Goes Wrong (UK Tour), Storyhouse | Review

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Jack and the Beanstalk (Pantomime), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Jack and the Beanstalk (Panto)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 12th December 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

Now I must admit, I'm not the biggest panto fan but I thought I'd give it a go this year so popped along to Wimbledon to see Jack and the Beanstalk and I was pleasantly surprised! Festive favourite and seasoned Dame, Clive Rowe takes on the role of Dame Trot whilst comedian Al Murray is a panto newbie as the landlord, Al.

Directed by Thom Southerland, Jack and the Beanstalk focusses on the humourous rapport between Rowe and Murray rather than an actual storyline. Panto isn't Shakespeare and of course the plot isn't meant to be dramatic or emotive, but at times it did feel a little too bare and in-cohesive and was somewhat of a let down. However, the witty one liners and and magical moments saved the show.

Despite some of his jokes falling a bit flat, Murray is hilarious as the Pub Landlord and his audience interaction is fantastic. He really knows how to warm and audience up. I also appreciated how much he was able to not take himself seriously and just brush off when a joke doesn't work. Clive Rowe as Dame Trot is fantastic and again, works the audience wonderfully. The two are really a winning pair; bouncing off one another and pushing each other to corpse at every possible moment. I loved this interaction and they really made the show.

I personally wasn't a fan of the music used. The songs are forgettable and felt put in for the sake of it. The children involved however, seemed to be having the time of their lives which was lovely to watch.  Liam Tamne was great as Jack but I would've liked to see more of him. Despite being the title role, he was barely in the show and his relationship with Princess Apricot came and went at lightning speed. The second half especially felt like a mad dash to rap up the story.

The special effects were magical and definitely make the show for the children and adults alike. The dramatic helicopter scene at the end of Act 1 was unexpected and exciting and the 3D scene in act 2 added another level of interest. 

At the end of the show everyone was buzzing and seemed to have really enjoyed their night at the panto. Don't expect a masterpiece, but for a fun, lighthearted show full of one-liners and audience interaction, take a trip to the New Wimbledon Theatre and experience this show for yourself.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs at New Wimbledon Theatre until January 14th.

photo credit: Craig Sugden

Jack and the Beanstalk (Pantomime), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Jayde Adams is Jayded, Soho Theatre | Review

Jayde Adams is Jayded

Soho Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 11th December 2017 by Shaun Dicks

Open on the West End, Soho Theatre. A hotbed of theatre and comedic excellence. We find ourselves in the Downstairs space, the set up is of a comedy club. The bar, a scattering of tables and chairs, and an elevated stage that’s dressed with a park bench and a piano. We are welcomed with music from Musical Theatre and Pop Culture. As I wrote before the show, we are in for a hell of a night.

A hell of a night was had by all. Jayde Adams is a beautifully voluptuous woman who takes us on a journey full of laughs. She takes us through a wonderfully crafted set all about popularity and success. Through various devices like mime, song, best friend tests and audience interaction Adams made me cry laughing. Her timing was so perfect, so on point that despite a few word stumbles, everything landed. 

One of the highlights of the show was Adams use of song, her original songs were Tim Minchin esque and her not so original songs were executed perfectly. The musical aspect of the show was truly satisfying. Another highlight was Adams’ use of the best friend test. This involved using a member of the audience, which by nature is a tricky thing, but Adams navigated it perfectly. This writer was buying what she was selling when Adams broke out the wigs and fan, giving the audience a BeyoncĂ© moment that we will never forget. She was willing to improvise and play with the audience as the show went along. She had the audience in the palm of her hands. 

As Adams said during the show, she smashed it. Adams reminded me of my Aunt, with her warm Bristolian accent shewas crass, boisterous and unapologetic in the best way. It is a show that deserves to be seen, it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made. You will cry with laughter. A sprinkle of happiness in the holiday season.

Jayde Adams is Jayded, Soho Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Friday, 4 August 2017

In Conversation With... Rufus Hound | Interview | The Wind in the Willows

Rufus Hound started out his career as a comedian but over the last few years has been a frequent star of the stage and is currently making audiences laugh starring as Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows at the London Palladium. He was lovely enough to do an interview with me where he talks about his transition from comedy to theatre and much more...

For anyone that doesn't know, could you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

Sure. I started off as a stand-up comedian having grown up as a kid always wanting to be a stage actor and when the opportunity to do actual stage acting arose, I couldn't quite believe it. Jumped at it with both hands and that's really what I've concentrated on doing even since. It's been how I've earns a living I think for the last sort or four years, five years. Starting with Utopia at the Soho theatre, then One Man, Two Guvnors, then Neville's Island for Chichester and then Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at The Savoy, then War of the Roses and the Kingston Rose and Don Quixote for the RSC and I'm currently in The Wind in the Willows. So there are my career and highlights so far.

I read that it was during a summer job with a PR agency that you decided to go into comedy. Had you always wanted to perform or did you have other career paths in mind when you were younger?

I guess I've sort of already answered this but from about the age of three I watched The Muppet Show and thought "that's what I wanna do, I wanna do theatre". And the lovely thing about theatre, well one of the lovely things about being a kid is that your opportunities to show off are largely limited to school plays and the like. So yeah, from about three to seventeen I was like "that's all I wanna do". Then as eighteen dawned on me and nineteen dawned on me I realised that that was something that was going to cost a lot of money to train to do and the likelihood was that I wouldn't you know, succeed in trying to do it. So, I put that dream in a drawer.

I decided to go into comedy because I always liked standing up, I liked showing off, I like making people laugh. So I started going out with a woman who was a judge at a lot of new act competitions, saw what people were doing and thought: "I could do that". But as I say, once the opportunity to do more acting came up, that was what I did!

Was the transition from comedy to presenting to tv and eventually theatre a difficult one or was it a natural transition?

It wasn't really natural, it's just that in life you get somebody saying "do you wanna give that a go?" and then if you're smart you can kind of have a look round, work out what other people are doing and how you could best do it, and hopefully don't muck it up so badly that that you never get another chance. Each job you learn on and you grow in each way. But yeah, I've never learnt how to do comedy or presenting or radio or theatre. No one's ever taught me how to do those things, you just give them a go, keep your ears pinned back, keep your eyes open and try and work out how the best people people bring about their best.

What keeps you motivated to keep working even when you get knock backs?

I have a mortgage and I have two children!

Do you have any hidden passions that you'd like to pursue?

Yes. They're not really so hidden but I really enjoy woodwork and currently where I live there's no space to have a kind of workshop or anything like that in order to do woodwork. But yeah maybe in the next couple of years we'll move somewhere with a bit more space and yeah, you'll largely find me under a pile of wood shavings.

The Wind in the Willows is a wonderful family show. What attracted you to the show in the first place?

When I was working on One Man, Two Guvnors, Pete Caulfied out of the blue, said to me "If you ever get the chance to play Toad, take it you'd be brilliant." A couple of years later, out of the blue, Matt  Kingsley in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels says to me "you know, if you ever get the chance to play Toad, you should take it" and I went: "you're the second person to say that to me". And because both of these were really out of the blue, it just totally stuck in my mind that I was, in the esteem of people that I respected, a good person to take on this role. So when the opportunity to play it came up, I jumped at it with both hands!

What do you think people will be saying on the train on their way home from the show?

Poop poop probably! We now live in the age of social media where people tweet you what they're talking about on the way home from the show. By and large it seems to be that anyone with kids is having to deal with and overexcited young person who is shouting to them about the flying, the sets, the mice, the weasels are very popular, the weasels and stoats! So yeah, people just come away from it knowing it was a big, warm hug of a show really.

Besides yourself, who else would you like to see play Mr Toad?

Crumbs. That's literally the last thing in the world I've thought about! I've been so focussed on doing it myself that I would never really deign to think of how somebody else might do it. Who would I like to see play it? Er...... I really don't know, I'm really struggling on that!

Can you sum up The Wind in he Willows in five words?

Yes! Big, warm, family, massive... hug!

What are some of your dream roles in theatre?

I'd really like to play Thenadier in Les Mis for a short run just because nothing would make my mum happier. I'd also really like to be in anything Tim Minchin has ever done.

What's a fun fact people might not know about you?

Ahhhh, I dunno. I think in this day and age everyone knows everything about everyone pretty much! But.... I was a Klansman in the first production of Jerry Springer: The Opera. There were some photographs taken and the protagonist is there surrounded by Klansmen and I was one of those. I was also a hillbilly having the tar knocked out of him on the floor. So if anyone has got any connection to Jerry Springer: The Opera then I was in it at about the age of twenty, in a very minor way.

Whats your number one piece for can aspiring performer?

Don't give up. The only thing that stops you from being a performer is stopping!

A huge thank you to Rufus for taking the time to do this interview. The Wind in the Willows is at the London Palladium until September 9th.

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

In Conversation With... Rufus Hound | Interview | The Wind in the Willows

Friday, 4 August 2017