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

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Pippin, Garden Theatre | Review


Pippin
Garden Theatre, Vauxhall
Reviewed on Friday 18th September 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

After six months of a world with no in person theatre, it feels almost foreign to see a stage in front of you with real life performers, performing real life music, but ever so slowly it's becoming the norm again. Well, the new, socially distanced norm.

The Garden Theatre in Vauxhall are paving the way for the reopening and reconfiguring of venues as one of the first to put on productions in this post-lockdown world. The latest in their programme being Stephen Schwartz's Pippin; the tale of a boy trying to prove he's extraordinary as he finds his place in the world. A show which often excels by involving the audience could be a strange option given the regulations, but the cast do an outstanding job of making you feels as though you're getting a personal performance and that you're part of the story, without being too close. The team of "players" who are often shown as circus performers, are in this production, a hippie tribe who are telling the tale of young Pippin. Together they weave a story of drama and excitement which feels truly uplifting and joyous during these unpredictable times. 

Thanks to Steven Dexter's Direction, this is a production which highlights all the wonderful parts of fringe theatre and Nick Winston's choreography is overwhelming in all the best ways. Bursting from all nooks and crannies every movement feels both precise and free and it's amazing how much power has been fit into such a small space. Plus, the way so many dance styles (including wonderful homages to Bob Fosse) flow into one another, is truly sensational to experience.

The title role is taken on expertly by Ryan Anderson who relentlessly showcases his brilliant vocals and outstanding dance ability, whilst making Pippin a multi-faceted, endearing, earnest and infuriating character. His renditions of Corner of The Sky and the motif versions which are consequently peppered throughout are beautiful and controlled oh so well.

Pippin's glamourous, manipulative "normal" step-mother is played excellently by Joanne Clifton who also takes on the role of the sweet and sassy Grandmother, Berthe. Each moment of Clifton's stage time is completely electrifying. Whether she's ad-libbing hilariously or leading the audience in a singalong she finds a way to completely draw the audience in.


It would be shameful to not mention the rest of the cast who bubble with energy throughout. Harry Francis is playfully enjoyable as the self-obsessed bother Lewis and sweet Theo who longs for a father figure and also provides vocals which stand out due to their exceptional power and mastery. As Charlemagne Dan Krikler is dominant and impressive and his Gilbert and Sullivan-esque solo is a right treat; he leaves you wanting more from him once his individual moments end . Tsemaye-Bob Egbeis takes on the role of the Leading Player with ease and freedom. Her vocals soaring above the sounds of passing busses and her movement around the stage oozing authority. Completing the cast, Tanisha-Mae Brown thrives in the intimate moments of the show and is in beautiful contrast to the more high-octane, over the top moments of the story.

The only downside to this production is the sometimes questionable approach to social distancing. While the staff are brilliant and it appears lots of measures have been put in place such as temperature checks, table service, copious amounts of hand sanitizer and social distancing before the show, the actual auditorium is somewhat cramped. Seats are very close together which it does feel strange when everything else is so organised. Whilst the audience does only seat 50, it would perhaps be better to have even fewer seats for the moment.

Despite this, the terrific cast of triple threats make this bittersweet, upbeat and consistently enjoyable musical a must see (covid permitting, of course). There's magic to do and the Garden Theatre are certainly doing the most they can in these crazy circumstances to do it.

Photos by Bonnie Britain Photography

Pippin, Garden Theatre | Review

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Identity, Turbine Theatre | Review


Identity
Turbine Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 11th March 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Described as a "controversial and captivating masterpiece", Identity endeavours to showcase "society's negative perceptions" and highlight that being true to yourself and owning your insecurities is a way to thrive. With the constant pressures perpetually hurled at us via social media, as well as those around us, it's always important to be reminded that we're not alone in our struggles. This show certainly does that, and it's exciting and innovative in its approach.

Caitlin Elizabeth Taylor opens the piece by battling with a Polaroid camera, continually reaching and then drawing herself away from it. It's from this moment that her battle between hiding and owning her identity begins. Having composed some of the music and spoken word, it's clear from Caitlin's fierce performance that this piece is special to her. She boldly throws herself around and strikes a great balance between aggressive stress and introspective peace. 

Whilst Caitlin does an excellent job of leading the show, it's during the ensemble (made up of Callum Sterling, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda, Marina Climent and Luke Cartwright) moments when it really comes to life. The interpretive and super sharp dance numbers are effective and emotive, even if they are a little aloof at times. Visually the way they pulse and leap around stage is exciting, but the use of sound adds another layer. It isn't just the movement that's synchronised but every breath feels as though it's coming from one entity. Equally, this unison makes the moments where the ensemble fall out, even more effective. Christopher Tendai has done a great job of incorporating contemporary dance, with Afro beats to create something which looks and feels stirring.

As well as Caitlin's music, the motion is also accompanied by the incredibly soulful sounds of Sam.G (aka Shekinah Mcfarlane). Her beautifully expressive music is evocative by itself, but when combined with the choreography, a really strong narrative is created.

Over an hour, we are taken on a journey of discovery. This piece finds a solid middle-ground between in your face expression and pared back simplicity. This is in part, thanks to Charlotte McAdam's lighting which is effective throughout; especially during striking strobe light moments where Caitlin's character contorts against the black backdrop.  

Thanks to the killer cast and evident love for the work which is engrained in every moment, this is a great show to experience purely to start up a new conversation about being you. A very promising production, Identity is sure to fire up anyone who watches it and would be a great piece to showcase in schools as a subtle reminder to be a little kinder.

Identity, Turbine Theatre | Review

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Seussical, Southwark Playhouse | Review


Seussical
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 27th November 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Seussical is a colourful whirlwind of a musical which takes the works of  Dr. Suess and winds them into a magical, heartfelt story of acceptance and love. We follow JoJo, a Who with a larger than life imagination who, along with the rest of the Whos, live on a tiny speck of dust which is found by Horton the elephant. Horton vows to protest this speck with all his might which leads to a story of ups and downs and a whole host of characters.

Aesthetically this is a beautiful production. The pops of colour both in the set (Justin Williams and Jonny Rust) and the costumes (Rachel Cartlidge) really emphasise the story book feel and bring this wacky world to life in an over the top but never tacky, way. The costumes cleverly differentiate the characters without becoming cliched or predictable.

Marc Pickering leads the cast sublimely as the Cat in the Hat. Absolutely commanding every inch of the stage he touches and demanding the audiences attention with every brow raise and smirk; he is utterly hysterical and clearly born to be seen. Amy Perry is sincere and relatable as Gertrude, Anna Barnes is suitably energetic as JoJo and Adam Dawson and Daisy Steere are outstanding as Mr and Mrs Mayor and they totter around the stage with humourous aplomb. 


Scott Paige is endearing and vocally faultless as the lovable Horton and it's great to see him helming a show after standing out in Eugenius and The Addams Family. Paige brings a heart and warmth to this story that makes it the perfect show for a cold winter evening. The entire cast are enthusiastic and full of life from the get go; with tasteful audience interaction, energetic, sharp and fitting choreography (Chris Whittaker) and a boatload of originality, they make the production sleek and engaging.

Captivating and innovative, Seussical is a musical for all the family that is sure to delight and enthral from start to finish. Presenting an over the top look at some crucial and relevant social issues, it's a show for everyone, that is extremely well thought out and will leave you feeling warm inside, with a smile so wide.

Seussical runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 29th December 2018

photo credit: Adam Trigg

Seussical, Southwark Playhouse | Review

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Six, Arts Theatre | Review

 
Six 
Arts Theatre 
Reviewed on Friday 31st August 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★★ (it seems only right)
 
As someone who grew up spending her weekends visiting Hampton Court Palace, Six is  pretty much my ideal musical. Bringing the wives of Henry VIII to us live in concert and changing HIStory to HERstory this show is a celebration of girl power and shows us that there's far more to the rhyme we all grew up hearing.
 
Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six is fresh, modern and unlike anything I've experienced. The lyrics are fast paced and extremely clever but draw you in so much that at no point do you find yourself struggling to understand them. Each Queen has a distinct style which works fantastically. From the jazzy feel of Catherine Parr's solo to Catherine of Aragon's Beyoncé style song, all the music feels relatable and makes you feel you could be friends with any of the Six ladies.
 
 
Each Queen is inspired by current pop-stars with the cast bringing clear influences from pop culture as well as making the roles truly individual and memorable. As their respective wives (Ex-Wives *mic drop*) Jarneia Richard-Noel, Millie O'Connell, Natalie Paris, Alexia McIntosh, Aimie Atkinson and Maiya Quansah-Breed are outstanding. It's unfair to talk about them individually as they all bring so much to the show and despite having solo's, make this show the united, ensemble piece it's meant to be.
 
The Ladies in Waiting aka the on stage band bring energy and even more power to Six. Emma Bailey's set is simplistic in the tiny space of the Arts Theatre but extremely fitting, with the black box almost becoming a chapel where we can worship these powerful women. Tim Deiling's lighting helps achieve the pop concert vibe and is especially effective in Haus of Holbein where Anna of Cleves' tells her story accompanied by strobe lights and fluorescent neck ruffs.
 
 
Carrie-Anne Ingrouille's choreography is sharp and fills the space extremely well. Alongside Gabriella Slade's fabulous and flirty costumes and Jimmy Jones' chiselled makeup looks, the ladies really do own the Arts Theatre and become the hottest girl group in London.
 
Six is inventive, coherent, uplifting and full to the brim with talent. The varying tempos and genres make the piece continually engaging and the "Britishness" of it all is truly wonderful when so much of the West End is currently/soon to be dominated by imported shows. Henry VIII may have been the Tudor King, but these Queens are the rulers of London theatre.
 
Six runs at the Arts Theatre until  14th October, and then tours around the country
 
photo credit: Idil Sukan

Six, Arts Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Friday, 3 August 2018

Sacrifice, Soho Theatre | Review


Sacrifice
Soho Theatre 
Reviewed on Thursday 2nd August 2018 by Shaun Dicks
★★★★

Millennials, calling all Millennials. Take your faces out of the illumination of your phone (after reading this review) and pay attention. This is all Sacrifice asks of you. The run is limited. The length is short. But the message is powerful. Sacrifice brings to the spotlight the crisis that we as a generation face. Extortionate house prices, lack of opportunity outside university, gentrified communities and increasing debt. Using archetypal characters, you are given a cross-section of the those that make up society and presented to you is a story of a group of young millennials trying to get by while chasing their dreams in a city that is ruthless and stone cold. 

Despite all the severe topics that are brought to the fore here, Sacrifice is an incredibly witty and humorous play. The jokes are well planned in the script and executed perfectly by the ensemble cast. One liners come thick and fast, the next one easily as funny as the last. The presentation of the script is outstanding as the performers are snappy and make words buzz with energy as the exchanges go on. Overall, the work the whole cast put in pays off, as their performances shine through. 


What really got to me as I as watching this piece was how unrelenting this show is when it comes to the truth. This show, I believe is the beginning of opening up conversations about the crisis we face today. A crisis that gets white washed in the media. This brings the problems to our very front door. Sacrifice is a ruthless dissection of human psychology and the nature of millennials. This show urges us to challenge what we’re told and fight for more than the scraps that are being handed out. When it boils down to it, the show is about the ever-growing class and wealth divide in this country. 

So please, I beg you, get off your phone, run down to the Soho Theatre, watch Sacrifice while you can. Don’t do what you do in elections and referendums; stop ignoring and start acting. Watch this show, try to tell me you don’t see and hear some familiarities. This here is art imitating life. 

Sacrifice runs at the Soho Theatre until 4th August

photo credit: Mark Douet

Sacrifice, Soho Theatre | Review

Friday, 3 August 2018

Friday, 27 July 2018

In Conversation With... Ian Stroughair aka Velma Celli | Interview

Ian Stroughair aka Velma Celli has the voice of an angel, is as hilarious as they come and truly knows how to put on a show. After seeing Velma Celli's West End Christmas I was completely overwhelmed and have since been following Ian's career (and life) on twitter. His latest venture is Iconic- A History of Drag which will be playing at the Edinburgh fringe...


How did Velma Celli come about?
Well, I have always been a singer much to my siblings annoyance. At age 14 I auditioned for a new musical called ‘Kes’ at The York, Theatre Royal. It was a professional show which needed an ensemble of kids. Much to my surprise I was cast. It was my first time on stage. I joined a Ballet school in York just before my sixteenth birthday. 3 months later my Ballet teacher sent me for an audition for a Theatre School. I got in and started that summer. 

After 2.5 years I was out into the world and working as a singer/dancer/actor. I have appeared in West End and musical productions of Cats, Fame, Chicago, Rent and also appeared on Eastenders as myself…. I know, CAMP!!!!

When I was in Chicago I was asked out for an evening of drinks by the “girls" In La Cage and Priscilla. I bought a dress and some makeup and dragged myself up and out of stage door and met them in Madame Jojo’s. Apparently I ended up on stage belting out some queen and dropping into the splits. I can’t remember this, #gin! When I was leaving the manager asked me back the following week and I have never looked back!


You've had a very varied career, what's your favourite part of performing as Velma and creating your own show?
The freedom. When you are in a West End musical it's very strict. You are directed to give the same show every night and there is little room for your own creativity and interpretation. Velma is mine and she can do whatever she wants. Sing whatever songs she like. It’s very freeing!


You're taking your show, Iconic- A Brief History of Drag to Edinburgh. What can people expect from the show? 
Iconic - A Brief History of Drag is a journey through my most favourite moments in drag history, whether it be music, pop culture, film or theatre it's those Iconic unforgettable drag events that inspired me to do drag and cultivate me into the queen I am now. They can expect to laugh (a lot) cry (a bit) and learn a bit about drag, things that people may not know. The past hero’s. A blooming good night if anything else!


Can you sum up A Brief History of Drag in 5 words?
Heartfelt, funny, camp, belt and emotional 


You have a stunning voice. How do you keep it strong and healthy whilst facing the strains of touring?
Thank you. Lost of water and vocal rest. Healthy food!


If you could go back to any era, when would you go to and why?
I would have to say the 1960’s. I believe I am quite the hippy! 


What's your number one piece of advice for aspiring performers who would like to carve their own, unique career?
WORK HARD. Work harder then repeat. This business is not for the faint hearted. It’s tough at times and the competition is high so armour yourselves with as much knowledge and learn as many skills as possible. Bring something to the party too. The odds of getting cast are extremely slim so I encourage all my students to write their own material and / or shows.

Thank you to the incomparable Ian Stroughair/Velma Celli for your amazing advice and story. Iconic- A Brief History of Drag will be at the Edinburgh Fringe from the 1st-26th August, at Assembly Checkpoint.  

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

In Conversation With... Ian Stroughair aka Velma Celli | Interview

Friday, 27 July 2018

Thursday, 24 May 2018

In Conversation With... Freya Parks | Teddy | Interview

Teddy runs at the Vaults until June 3rd, it is an innovative show which not only showcases the actors on stage, but also the musicians. One of whom is Freya Parks who talked to us all about her experience with the show...




Teddy is such a fun show, it must be amazing to be a part of! Have you had a favourite moment so far?
Yeah it's a complete dream to be playing rock 'n' roll on a stage! 

Looking back I think my favourite moment was probably when everything came together the first time we performed to an audience. That was when we all realised how wild and intricate and special what we'd created really was. That's always a good feeling. 


For anyone that hasn't seen the show, can you explain what it's about and how you fit into it? 

It's about a Teddy boy and Teddy girl (Teddy and Josie) and the adventures they have during a rainy Saturday night in Elephant and Castle in 1956. After their paths cross, they discover they're both massive fans of an American band called Johnny Valentine & the Broken Hearts and so do anything they can however risky to get into their gig. Then everything kicks off... 

I play Jenny O'Malley, the bassist, a lady with sass who keeps her boys (fellow band mates) in line! 


Teddy is set in the 50s, if you could transport to any other era, when would you go to and why? 
I could quite easily spend every night at a Weimar Cabaret in the 20s. Thinking about it, the 20s and 50s were both quite wild times as there was a similar post-war attitude of making the best from nothing, living in the moment and partying amongst the rubble. They must've been exhilarating times to live in. 


You not only get to play live during the show, but also after the show. What's been your best audience reaction post-show? 

The audiences always impress us with their dancing but there was one particular Friday night during our cover of Johnny B. Goode when a guy - who was joyously reliving his youth - jumped up onto Johnny Valentine's platform, grabbed the microphone and sang the rest of the song to perfection! I'm really glad there's video footage... 



In 5 words, can you tell us why people should come and see Teddy? 
Female-empowering, gritty, nostalgic, heartfelt....ROCKIN'!!! 


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

I recently read Teeth 'n' Smiles by David Hare. It's a bit like Teddy but a decade later! I'd love to have a bash at that. 


What's your number one piece of advice for aspiring performers? 

If it's really what you want to do, keep going no matter what and whenever you hit a lull, surround yourself with other creative things - just keep your mind active! You never know what's round the corner. 

Thank you so much Freya for taking the time to do this interview. Teddy runs at The Vaults until 3rd June.

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

In Conversation With... Freya Parks | Teddy | Interview

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Honest Lies, Etcetera Theatre | Review


Honest Lies 
Etcetera Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 6th March 2018 by Shaun Dicks
★★★★

‘Amateurs do it for fun, artists do it to live.’

This is one of many quotable moments of Honest Lies. The show is a commentary of the Theatre Industry as a whole; it’s peaks, it’s troughs and everything in-between. It tells the story of Claire and Sam, a couple, who are both actors. Claire has just delivered the performance of her life, or so she thinks. When she returns home, Sam is waiting for her, and gives a very blunt opinion of her performance. We follow their night as they fight, make up, practise Shakespeare with Gummy Bears and descend into an unexpected twist.

The script written by Christopher Walthorne is flowing, frank and prophetic. The script is really well written, containing deliciously sizzling dialogue and a very well-crafted commentary on theatre. One stunning moment of commentary was delivered by Claire played by Georgie Matthews, where she gave an unapologetic monologue about the state of female roles in modern theatre and the position of women in theatre. Matthews lets the words out with a passion that is second to none; she was saying what every woman in theatre wish they could say. Matthews delivers a well-rounded performance, with a fully fleshed out and realised character. 

Sam, played by Alexander Jeremy was another wonderful performance, giving a scathing but humorous character who is a contradiction in himself. His performance is well pitched and gives a good contrast in energies in the beginning of the piece.

The Etcetera theatre is in the colourful and artistic Camden. It’s part of a great group of theatres that do a box office split, therefore supporting new and innovative new work like Honest Lies. This show has an amazing twist that surprised me in the best way possible, it is something that I have never seen before in theatre. I sincerely hope that this show has a long life ahead of it. It deserves to be seen in its limited run and taken further, onto a larger stage. If you want something different and innovative, Honest Lies is for you. Check it out and support new theatre.  

Honest Lies runs at the Etcetera Theatre until March 10th



Honest Lies, Etcetera Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Hanna, Arcola Theatre | Review


Hanna
Arcola Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 5th January 2018 by Shaun Dicks 
★★★★

‘If I could go back in time, would I make it not happen? And I always shrug and give the same answer: Ah – Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda.’

These are the musings of Hanna, a young single mother, her life has been turned upside down. She has been told that her daughter isn’t her daughter. This is a story that tackles the idea of family. In this modern day the term ‘family’ is broader than it ever has been before. This story takes on the idea of, if you raise a child all their life but they truly aren’t your biological child, does that still make them family?

Hanna written by Sam Potter is a true modern text; its witty, dramatic, humorous and surprising. The script is well written, it intertwines the humour of the young millennial single mother, with the drama of the situation and ends in a surprising way. The direction by George Turvey is simple but effective, the staging is very minimal and leans towards more Stanislavski and his methods but the way the text is carried is very Brechtian in regard to its use of audience interaction.


Sophie Khan Levy as Hanna was humorous and endearing. She was able to create a very well rounded and thought out character in her interpretation of Hanna. She portrayed an immature maturity flawlessly; Hanna was a fully realised woman, there were no flaws in her character work. The text, despite a few stumbles, was very well paced. Levy makes you feel for Hanna, she creates an empathy for Hanna and makes the audience want to follow her story. She takes you all the way to the peak of the rollercoaster before letting you drop.


This show is raw, unrelenting and honest. Its a show that you should see. It tackles red hot issues that affect people on a regular basis and very much needs discussing more. Catch Hanna if you can, you’ll be better off for seeing it.

Hanna runs at the Arcola theatre until January 20th 2018

photo credit: Robert Workman

Hanna, Arcola Theatre | Review

Saturday, 6 January 2018