Posts with the label off west end
Showing posts with label off west end. Show all posts
Showing posts with label off west end. Show all posts

Friday, 27 January 2023

In Clay, The Vaults | Review

In Clay
The Vaults
Reviewed on Friday 27th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 

A sweet tale of a female artist, specifically a potter/clay creator, in 1930s France, In Clay follows our protagonist Marie-Berthe developing her love of creating as well as looking at a few of her relationships and ultimately, the way she strives for and eventually defines, success.

Rosalind Ford takes the helm of this one woman show and does so with glorious affect. Not only does Ford play Marie-Berthe, but also a number of side characters such as her best friend Henrietta and her teacher Jean-Charles, all of whom you truly feel have entered the stage. With the noise of next door's performance and the rattling trains overhead, your attention could easily wander but Rosalind does a stellar job of keeping you engaged throughout. Her vocals are also gorgeous and an absolute treat to listen to.

Aside from the performance, the star of this show is the lovely music that is typically and gloriously French. Jack Miles and Rebecca Simmonds's songs completely embody French-cafe, pre/post war vibes and are so fitting to the story, with an especially wonderful scat section that really mirrors the freedom of art. A couple of the songs feel abruptly/imperfectly ended and could do with a slight rework but overall they're very smooth and the clever lyrics are so witty and compelling.

It's also impressive that there's a live four-piece band on stage, a sight not regularly seen at the Vaults, but Matt Herbert on keyboard, Rhiannon Hopkins on bass, Daniel Kemshell on guitar and Auguste Janonyte on violin do a great job and add even more to the feeling of being in France in the throngs of the creative, artistic circles.

For a 60-minute show, Rebecca Simmonds' book is surprisingly detailed and sleek; telling Marie-Berthe's story in a pacey fashion that never loses momentum or lacks emotion. From love to the pain of loss, a whole spectrum of life is explored and there's a wonderful celebration of fragility and putting yourself back together after you fall. Grace Taylor's direction allows the story to be told in a way that still feels free and spacious given the confines of the Vaults and Sorcha Corcoran's set design adds visual interest as well as mirroring the emotional turmoil on display in the piece.

All in all In Clay is a short, sweet, well-moulded show that with a few more tweaks on the potters wheel could be perfect. A great opener to the 2023 Vault Festival, it will be a treat to see how this musical progresses.

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

In Clay, The Vaults | Review

Friday, 27 January 2023

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Identity, Turbine Theatre | Review

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

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train, Young Vic | Review

Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train
Young Vic 
Reviewed on Friday 22nd February 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

Originally directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and performed by LABrynth Theatre Company, Stephen Adly Guirgis' Olivier-nominated Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, returns to London in a striking revival directed by Kate Hewitt.

Set for the most part in Rikers prison, New York, Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train is an intellectual and depth filled examination of justice, faith and redemption. Kate's direction does the perfect job of revealing both the desperation and life found in Guirgis' script, and brings it force in a sharp, to the point way.

The majority of the story is made up from pacy back and forth conversations between multi-murderer Lucius Jenkins (Oberon K. A. Adjepong) who is living his last few weeks before his death sentence, and young man, Angel Cruz (Ukweli Roach) who is battling a charge of first degree murder for shoot and evangelist who he believed was brain washing his friends. These conversations are intense and full of information. The pair debate their sentences, their actions in life and religion with an electricity that never ceases. Angel's attorney Mary Jane (Dervla Kirwan) addresses Angel and the audience as she narrates the story and tells us her part in the trial.  

The contradictions between the characters make lines unsettlingly blurred and its particularly ambiguous who's side the audience should be on. Joplin Sibtain as Valdez acts at times as a moral compass, and through his intense anger and lack of care for the prisoners, reminds us that they are murderers; but at other times, his lack of sympathy purely highlights failures in the American prison system and we again feels for the incarcerated men. This back and forth of the audience questioning morality, is a testament to Guirgis' outstanding writing as well as Magda Willi's long stage which brings these emotions to life in front of us. Glass frames move up and down the stage to show both physical and mental confinement and the clear glass allows us to look straight at the characters and feel as though we're seeing aspects that should be hidden. This brightness and clarity leads to a desire for exploration.

Perhaps the character who embodies self-questioning the most, is Charlie (Matthew Douglas) who at the start is an ally to Lucius but returns at the end to give a particularly moving monologue about how his initial views of the man, were clouded by his final view of him at his execution.

Everything about this production makes you want to ask questions and certainly doesn't leave you with an answer. From the impossibly loud scene transitions to the peaceful feeling when Mary Jane seems to be asking the audience for guidance, we are continually reminded of the balance between good and evil, and justice and repentance. Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train is riveting and engrossing from start to finish and spits energy in your mind, even after you've left the theatre.

photo credit: Johan Persson

Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train, Young Vic | Review

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Friday, 8 December 2017

Sinners Club, Soho Theatre | Review

Sinners Club
Soho Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 7th December 2017 by Shaun Dicks 

The Soho Theatre invites you to the Sinners Club. We find ourselves in the Upstairs space of this buzzing theatre in the heart of London’s West End. As we walk in we are welcomed by a room set in the round, decorated as an old school recording studio; many an old-fashioned rug, musical instruments and microphones, soundproofing on the wall as well as a few photographs. Scattered around the studio space are members of the band playing light Jazz music to set the mood. 

The concept of the album is simple, its based on the story of the last woman to be hanged in the UK. The original songs written and performed by Lucy Rivers and the band The Bad Mothers- tailored around the story of Ruth Ellis- are an eclectic mix of genres that seem to pulsate through Rivers as they affect her own character narrative as well as the albums. As Rivers enters to start the show, she is this fierce woman in black, taking control of the room. Rivers throughout the show is energetic and intriguing as she goes through the narrative of the concept album. 

However, one of her flaws was her reliance on the audience and audience interaction. The reliance on an audience is a double-edged sword dependant on the audience itself, it can be a struggle for an audience to lose inhibitions and join in. Rivers needs to pick her moments and judge the moments when she does or doesn’t interact. Another thing that needs altering within the show is the amount of dead air in-between songs. As a performer myself I appreciate the device of silence but when its long periods, it becomes a period of time for the audience to wander. 

Despite these flaws of the show, the music really made it- in a world of music made by computers in the mainstream and the jazz hands of the West End - this was a refreshing use of alternative types of music. The whole band was slick, and looked like they were having fun throughout the show. Rivers’ voice soared throughout, despite her over use of falsetto. What truly impressed this writer though was the musicianship packed within the show. The sheer volume of different instruments used was brilliant and to a very high quality. I personally appreciate musicians and musicianship, having worked with a few myself, so to have a live band and for it perform so well, it really brought a smile to my face. 

If you’re looking for something a little different, take up your invitation for the Sinners Club, because despite its flaws, there are many a good aspect of this show to enjoy. This show is the palate cleanser that the West End is craving. Try something different and enjoy a night of music that you will not forget in a hurry.

Sinners Club runs at the Soho Theatre until December 30th

photo credit: Kieran Cudlip

Sinners Club, Soho Theatre | Review

Friday, 8 December 2017

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Ordinary Days, Drayton Arms Theatre | Review

Ordinary Days
Drayton Arms Theatre
Reviewed on Saturday 2nd December 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

Christmas is approaching so spirits are high but as the days get colder we and darker we tend to crave the optimistic escape that theatre provides. Ordinary Days is just what we need- realistic, heartfelt and warm.

I saw a production of the show during my first year of university and was already a fan of the music and story but this production made me love it even more. Adam Gwon's musical tells the story of four people trying to find themselves in New York city. There's a couple: Claire (Natalie Day) and Jason (Taite-Elliot Drew) who are struggling to fill "The Space Between" them since they've moved in together. There's also a cynical graduate called Deb (Nora Perone) who meets aspiring artist, Warren (Neil Cameron) when he finds her notebook full of thesis notes. The Drayton Arms theatre provides a perfect, intimate setting for these character's stories to unfold.

The relatability of this show is really what makes it special. The characters are normal people who we can imagine in our own lives, their struggles are just like ours and the whole thing feels very genuine. The two storylines meet occasionally and highlight how our actions can affect others without us knowing. The hustle and bustle of city life is shown particularly well despite having almost no set and it really makes you think about taking a few more minutes each day to care about people you see on the tube, street or wherever!

Nora Perone as Deb is definitely the stand out performance, eliciting laugh after laugh through her humourous dialogue and hilarious facial expressions. The friendship which grows between her and Warren (played wonderfully by Neil Cameron) is touching to see as they help one another figure out what they want with life. They really bounce off one another and create some 'Beautiful' moments. Natalie Day is vulnerable but strong as Claire with some standout vocal moments such as 'Gotta Get Out' and 'I'll Be Here'. Her partner in crime, Jason, is portrayed fantastically by Taite-Elliot Drew; suitably boyish and genuine he is perfect for the role. 

This show is a reminder to cherish the here and now and always remember that we write our own stories as well as having an influence on others. With catchy music and real life humour, there's really not much to dislike! 

An intimate, character driven show, Ordinary Days is the ideal way to spend 75 minutes! So get along to the Drayton Arms theatre to fight those winter blues!

photo credit: Natalie Lomako

Ordinary Days, Drayton Arms Theatre | Review

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Gate, Cockpit Theatre | Review

Cockpit Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 15th September 2017 by Alex Saddiqi

Written and produced by Artemis Fitzalan Howard and presented by Deadpan Theatre, Gate is based around an average Thursday morning at ‘The Gate’ in Wapping and, like every first-born child in the generations before her, Eve (portrayed by Emma Dennis-Edwards) is guarding it carefully. It’s going to be a busy day- there are four new appointments booked in. The trouble is none of the clients knew they were coming… because to reach the gates you have to be dead.

The piece is set in the round which immediately I was really intrigued by. It made the piece more immersive and I was interested on how they were going to use the space and questioned “will it be as open to each side of the audience than I initially thought it would be?”. To answer this question, I would say that the actors used the space very well and opened up to the audience as much as physically possible in the space. Dependant on where you sit in the round, some moments and visuals can be lost during certain scenes but it does open up again eventually once more. 

There was stunning detail to set which really added to the production; from the waiting room tables to the cluttered computer desk, down to the Facebook pages that were made up purposely for the show.  The use of levels was very clever and gave us a break from looking straight ahead of us and also added to the immersive feel. 

The vocals of the ensemble who were mainly situated above really resonated throughout the entire theatre and added to the vibe of the piece- the sound was stronger and more precise. Vocals and harmonies were distinctive, precise and beautiful but sometimes got lost when some overpowered others, this, however, can be easily resolved. Overall the entire company had amazing musical timing and it was a pleasure to hear them.

The piece is very humorous and Eve, a character who stood out to me is very comical throughout. She held great power and status throughout the scenes especially in the opening; showed one of the strongest character developments throughout and was my personal favourite. However, as previously mentioned, the round space meant I was blocked from seeing her face and expressions at times but she tried her best to include the people in the back in a natural way that is still true to the scene. 

Each actor crafted strong characters and kept the pace and commitment up throughout. There is a great contrast of characters and each actor bounced off each other very well which made the situation feel more real. Each is relatable in the fact that everyone in the audience would know someone like one of five of the characters and they all had their own defiant traits, quirks and personalities that were made clear to the audience exceptionally. The whole cast had excellent comedy timing and it really showed through the audiences reaction. The audience reaction/response seemed very positive and they all seemed to love the piece as well.

I found that the overall storyline was easy to follow and the piece is such a brilliant concept. It's a nice fresh take on an afterlife/religious styled piece. The backstory of the characters was well presented. We learnt more about them as the story developed and it didn’t feel like an overload of information. The build up in some scenes felt a little rushed in but the tension and objective of the scenes were held well. There were a few prop and costume mishaps but the actors all carried on and played used them to add to the comedic effect.

I would definitely recommend to see this play and I would even go as far as saying that it’s one of the top ones I’ve see this year. The company are outstanding and give a spectacular performance of a brilliant play.

Gate runs at the Cockpit Theatre until September 24th

photo credit: Lidia Crisafulli 

Gate, Cockpit Theatre | Review

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Sunday, 3 September 2017

In Conversation With... Stacey McClean and Stevi Ritchie | Sword and the Dope | Interview

Sword and the Dope is a musical retelling of the story of King Arthur, written by a dyslexic who can not read or write music but wrote the show as a bet/joke with a friend. It has now gone out for over 150 shows at three different venues prior to this run. Sword and the Dope stars Stacey McClean and Stevi Ritchie who sat down with Rewrite This Story to talk all about the show.

Can you both give a brief overview of your career and what your highlights have been?

Stacey: I was once a member of pop band S Club Juniors. Highlights from my time in the band were probably performing a Wembley and for the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Also getting down to the final 24 and performing for Kylie in Dubai when I went to the judges houses for X Factor.

Stevi: I started performing at the age of 15 at my high school in Grease the musical and played Kenickie. I've always loved performing but got many knock backs. But 2014 I entered the X Factor and since then life has changed.

You’re both musicians, how has the transition to concert performances to musical theatre been?

Stacey: In ways it is very different. Put me on stage with a mic and a band and I can do it with my eyes closed, but theatre is a little more challenging for me. It's a lot more intense, there is a lot of preparation involved and a lot more a stake. 

Stevi: For me it's been amazing and I've always loved musical theatre I trained at LSMT. Playing a prince in this show is great and taking me out of my comfort zone but I love it.

Can you explain what The Sword and the Dope is about?

Stacey: Sword and the Dope is a comedy musical with a politics edge. Think Monty Python, Black Adder and politics in a way you have never seen! 

Stevi: A sideways telling of King Arthur with a modern day political twist. One review said British humour at it's best with great musical numbers, for me that sums it up well. 

What drew you to the production? Are your characters anything like you?

Stacey: I play Sir Lancelot, a Knight who is a huge fan of the Green Party, so nothing like me really as I'm not into politics in the slightest. My character reminds me of Hermione from Harry Potter, slightly irritating, bit of a know it all who no one wants to listen to. The script was what sold it for me initially, I laughed my head off when I first read it. 

Stevi: I loved the script and especially the songs they are amazing. The character is similar to me it's cheesy and he loves singing.

The Sword and the Dope is a retelling of the story of King Arthur, if you could retell any story which would you choose?

Stacey: Amy Winehouse, now that would be a fantastic role!

Stevi: I would retell the story of maybe Bruce Lee or Elvis Presley or Freddy Mercury.

Can you sum up the show in five words?

Stacey: Funny, ridiculous, offensive, rude and camp! 

Stevi: Witty, camp,cheesy,Funny,eccentric.

Is there a play or musical you’ve seen recently that you loved?

Stacey: I have been to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour at the Duke twice now I loved it so much.  

Stevi: I love Les Mis and Grease.

Do you have any dream roles?

Stacey: Dream role would probably be Sophie in Mamma Mia, the lead vocal in Thriller and anything Disney!

Stevi: Yes, Thenadier in Les Mis or Kenickie in Grease.

Whats a fun fact people might not know about you?

Stacey: I was one belt away from a Black Belt in Taekwondo when I was 7 but I gave it up because I wanted to sing!

Stevi: Think everyone knows everything about me due to the press and being in the public eye.

What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

Stacey: You have to have a thick skin in the industry otherwise you won't survive. The amount of times you get knocked back is not necessarily a reflection of how good you are, and that's something you have to be prepared for. I'm a firm believer that you get out what you put in.

Stevi: Just keep going and be you.

Thank you Stacey and Stevi for this interview. The Sword and The Dope is on at Waterloo East Theatre from Tuesday 5th September until Sunday 1st October.

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

*this is a sponsored post*

In Conversation With... Stacey McClean and Stevi Ritchie | Sword and the Dope | Interview

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Late Company, Trafalgar Studios | Review

Late Company
Trafalgar Studios
Reviewed on Thursday August 24th 2017 by Lucy Jardine

Late Company has transferred recently from Finborough Theatre to the tiny Trafalgar studios, where you sit, as if sharing the dining room, with the members of the cast.  Debra and Michael, a couple whose gay son Joel committed suicide after having been taunted online, have gathered, a year after his death, with Tamara, Michael and their son Curtis, to try and find some kind of 'closure', some kind of reparation. Curtis was responsible for some of the bullying. A place at the dining table has been laid for Joel.

The play benefits from this close actor-audience involvement - you are drawn into the play as it unfolds, and leave feeling utterly involved, transformed in some way by what you have witnessed.  We learn how Debra was unaware of videos that Joel had posted online, and how Curtis, moody Curtis, didn't think about what he was doing. We learn about Joel's depression - the sympathy that Debra displays, and the somewhat bullish opinions expressed by Michael that people should toughen up - that children are too protected. 

Tannahill's script sparkles with authenticity. How many times have these conversations played out up and down the country? As Tannahill himself questions, and has us do, how much are we as parents responsible for what our children do and see online? How much space should we give our children? The actors succeed in bringing these questions to  life in a very real, believable way - even if, occasionally, the Canadian accents lapse a little. If you want an uplifting night out at the theatre, don't go and see this play. But if you want to be challenged, go and see it tonight.

Late Company runs at Trafalgar Studios until September 16th

Late Company, Trafalgar Studios | Review

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Monday, 24 July 2017

I Loved Lucy, Arts Theatre | Review

I Loved Lucy
Reviewed on Monday July 24th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Just transferred from the Jermyn Street theatre to the Arts Theatre, I Loved Lucy is an autobiographical play, adapted from Lee Tannen's memoirs about his relationship with cultural icon, Lucille Ball.

A massive fan of the comedy star, Tannen uses obscure family ties to meet and form a friendship with Lucy. They bond with stories and fantasies over their games of backgammon as Tannen becomes a close confidant and sees a side of 'Auntie Mame' that very few got to see.

As someone who wasn't alive during any of Ball's life and who until writing this review, had never seen an episode of I Love Lucy, I don't suppose I'm the target audience for this play. There were a number of anecdotes and names which meant nothing to me purely because of my age and I felt I was an outsider looking in on the jokes. However, for most of the times I didn't laugh, something else came along which had me in hysterics proving you don't need to be a Lucy fan to enjoy this show. Tannen's script is witty and uses repetition extremely well to generate laughs.  Alongside the laughs there are also more heartfelt moments, especially in act two when Lucy realises she has peaked and can never achieve the same levels of fame and love again.

Tannen as the narrator is humorous and he doesn't shy away from showing his dark side as well as Lucy's but I found it strange at times how closely he paints the relationship. Tannen is shown as being one of Lucy's only confidants and the only person in her life. With her children and partners barely mentioned I feel that Tannen is an unreliable source and although it may have been true that Lucy had very few other relationships, it would be interesting to see why the others are so absent.

Sandra Dickinson captures Lucy's mannerisms and iconic laugh perfectly. She gives a truly wonderful performance and remains committed to the role throughout. Her comedic timing, although sometimes ever so slightly off is good and she delivers Lucy's slicing asides and witty quips with ease.

As the celebrity obsessed, excitable, Tannen, Matthew Scott is great and he gives a beautifully emotive performance. He not only plays his main role but a number of smaller roles such as the hotel receptionist and chauffeur where he shows off his versatility well. Dickinson and Scott's chemistry is great and although the stalkerish fan becoming best friends with the star is kind of strange, it somehow works and comes across in a natural way.

Anthony Biggs' direction makes good use of the black box Arts Theatre and he is unafraid of stillness for dramatic effect. Gregor Donnelly's simplistic set design adds just enough drama whilst keeping the flow of the piece.

I Loved Lucy is a joy to watch- great fun with an air of drama, glitz and glam.

I Loved Lucy runs at The Arts Theatre until September 2nd 2017

I Loved Lucy, Arts Theatre | Review

Monday, 24 July 2017