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

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre | Review


Operation Mincemeat
Fortune Theatre
★★★★

If you're looking for a unique and intriguing musical, then look no further than Operation Mincemeat in its West End transfer to the Fortune Theatre. This production tells the incredible true story of a WWII deception operation, that although morally grey, helped Britain win the war and it does so with style, charm and heart in spades.

The star of this exciting musical is undoubtedly the music which manages to be both catchy and poignant, with some of the wittiest lyrics in the West End right now. The book, music and lyrics are expertly constructed by SpitLip founders David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson, ZoĆ« Roberts and Felix Hagan (four of whom also star) and the whole show is maelstrom of musical magic. You'll find yourself continually laughing out loud and then all of a sudden wiping tears from your eyes as this hug of a musical manages to wrap you around its theatrical finger.

Every performance from the talented cast -completed at this performance by Claire Marie Hall, Jak Malone and Geri Allen (in her cover debut)- is a standout one. The precision with which they perform is just astounding and thanks to the script, there's a perfect balance between humour, satire and drama.

Aesthetically, Operation Mincemeat is a sleek mission. Ben Stones' set and costumes are perfectly evocative of MI5 and wartime London, as well as having a healthy dose of camp dramatics. One scene in particular features costumes perfect for a bedazzled version of Sweeney Todd! Really clever direction by Robert Hastie and joyous choreography by Jenny Arnold both let the story and performances to soar and ideally balance the line between allowing the performances to be genuinely funny without being cringe inducing. Shoutout must also go to Publicity Designer Bob King Creative for the genius artwork which accompanies the show. Once you see it, you won't un-see it!

In summary, this show is the epitome of fun. Poking fun at everyone and everything it is a satirical, stupendous, stomper of a show that will have you entertained and inspired. The new must-see musical, it needs to be booked immediately!

Reviewed on Tuesday 2nd May 2023

Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Thursday, 4 May 2023

Pentatonix: The World Tour, Eventim Apollo | Review


Pentatonix: The World Tour
Eventim Apollo

After having their concerts postponed in 2020, the Grammy Award winning group Pentatonix have finally made it to London with their world tour. Featuring the classics that made them popular such as Daft Punk and White Winter Hymnal, as well as soulful pieces from their most recent album, The Lucky Ones and some extra musical gems, the group proved that it was well worth the wait as they showcased their impressive range and versatility. As expected, their harmonies are spot-on and their ability to create complex sounds using only their voices continues to be astounding.

Having last seen them perform in 2016 what was immediately striking with this tour is just how amped up and emphasised the production value is; everything feels bolder and sleeker. This is in no small part thanks to the excellent lighting design by Damian Rogers which is so impeccably programmed to sync up with every beat and emotional inflection, it becomes a show all of its own. Equally the choreography perfectly complements each song and adds a real element of interest. The production team have done an incredible job of creating a concert experience that was not only musically impressive but also visually captivating.

What really makes the concert stand out is the energy and passion that Pentatonix bring to the procedings. The group have a palpable friendship and support network which shines from the stage and creates a really lovely atmosphere. Plus, they interact with the crowd, share stories and jokes, and make everyone feel like they are a part of the experience. It's clear that they genuinely love what they do and enjoy connecting with their fans.

Where before this could have been a 10/10 musical concert, now it’s a 10/10 musical spectacle. The bold elements don’t take away from the vocals, in fact they frame them perfectly and highlight just how tight and strong the vocal quintet are. It’s a matured and elevated experience and the talent and passion on stage make Pentatonix really shine. Hopefully it won't take seven years for the group to return to the UK because we need more!

★★★★
Reviewed on Wednesday 3rd May 2023
photo credit: Ben Hausdorff

Pentatonix: The World Tour, Eventim Apollo | Review

Thursday, 4 May 2023

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Toby Sebastian, Omeara | Review


Toby Sebastian
Omeara 
★★★★

Since originally releasing music in 2013, Toby Sebastian has been firmly carving his name in the music industry and this year has embarked on his first ever headline tour, which last night reached London's Omeara in a spectacular fashion.

A wonderful showcase of Toby's vocals and stellar song writing, the evening provided a mixture of fan favourite songs, as well as material from his upcoming album; all of which was received with warmth by the crowd who bopped along throughout. Also well received was a surprise appearance by Bridgerton star, Simone Ashley who got to showcase her hauntingly beautiful vocals in a duet of Rusty Snare. Fingers crossed we'll see the duo pair up again in future.

Striking throughout the evening was Sebastian's innate musicality which shone through as he poured his heart into the performance. His unique blend of indie and rock perfectly matches the raw, emotional sound of his voice, which particularly soars in his falsetto moments. These virtuosic sections were some of the best and most captivating of the set. In a bigger venue, with a slightly better sound system, one can only imagine how spectacular Toby would sound.

Equally, the evening had some really high octane moments, especially in the closing rendition of Train To Mexico which felt like a party and was certainly a fan fave. Sebastian really lets the music speak for itself and doesn't interact a huge amount with the audience which means sometimes there's a feeling of disconnect, however, his charisma still shines through and he really gives his all musically.

The three piece band work together like a well oiled machine and everyone seems like they're genuinely having fun on stage which is a real treat to see. 

Mention must also go to Louis Oliver who performed a super solid opening set and really charmed the audience through his raspy, incredibly powerful vocals. 

Overall a well-curated set list, and a solid and evident appreciation for music and performing made this a really special night. Whilst there's no release date yet for Toby's next album, the sneak peeks say it's going to be a really enjoyable listen; and the next tour which will hopefully accompany it will be so worth attending!

Reviewed on Tuesday 25th April 2023
Photo credit: Mike Palmer

Toby Sebastian, Omeara | Review

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Friday, 21 April 2023

Ain't Too Proud, Prince Edward Theatre | Review


Ain't Too Proud
Prince Edward Theatre
★★★★

A hit on Broadway, Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, has finally opened in the West End and is a thoroughly entertaining, charismatic and soulful journey. The musical, with a book by Dominique Morisseau is a breathtaking celebration of the legendary Motown group, The Temptations, and their iconic music. Taking you on a journey through the highs and lows of stardom, it showcases how some of the most famous music was created and provides a really really fun night out.

The heart and soul of this musical are the performances which are unanimously nothing short of spectacular. The cast deliver powerhouse vocals that charm and mesmerise throughout and there are so many standout moments. The whole cast are spectacularly strong but mention must go to Cameron Bernard Jones, Tosh Wanogho-Maud, Ryan Carter and Michael James Stewart who really shine in their solo and ensemble moments. Each member who becomes part of The Temptations, does so with a real sense of nuance and the varying personalities and talents are showcased throughout; really capturing the essence and ethos of the original group.

Above all this is an ensemble piece, with some of the strongest moments coming when the cast unite both vocally and choreographically. Sergio Trujillo's choreography is some of the best in the West End right now, the sheer slickness and precision is a wonder to behold and the energy created on stage is supremely infectious. Featuring iconic hits like My Girl, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, and Ain't Too Proud to Beg, the show is a top-tapping fest of gusto and spirit.

The storytelling is mostly compelling, and the narrative (led by Sifiso Mazibuko) is engaging from the start. Spanning the long and tumultuous history of The Temptations, from their humble beginnings to their rise to stardom the show has a lot to fit in, and especially in the first act it feels a bit too much. Whilst every performance is engaging, it does feel a little too long and seems to keep going even when there's a natural break point. However, the story is a poignant and emotional one that delves into the personal struggles, triumphs, and dynamics of the group and includes some powerful messages. Alongside the musical elements, the show touches on themes of friendship and brotherhood, as well as shedding light on the social and political challenges faced by The Temptations and African American artists during that era. A poignant reminder of their impact on American music history and the enduring legacy they left behind, Ain't Too Proud is a strong celebration of The Temptations.

Ain't Too Proud is a wonderful addition to the West End that features dazzling production value, and timeless music. A celebration of The Temptations and their impact on Motown, it will leave you humming their hits long after the curtain falls. 

Reviewed on Wednesday 19th April 2023
photo credit: Johan Persson

Ain't Too Proud, Prince Edward Theatre | Review

Friday, 21 April 2023

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

The Mousetrap (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


The Mousetrap (Tour) 
New Victoria Theatre 
★★★★ 

“The World’s longest running play”, The Mousetrap is a classic whodunit play that has been running for 70 years in London’s West End and is now embarking on a UK tour. Seeing this touring iteration, it's easy to see why it has stood the test of time and continues to charm audiences.

The play is well-written and tightly plotted, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience guessing until the very end; Agatha Christie proves again why she continues to be one of the most lauded and loved mystery writers. The characters are interesting, and the performances by the cast are generally strong. Todd Carty as Major Metcalf and Kieran Brown as Mr Paravicini give especially strong performances and really engage the audience.

One of the things that impressed me about The Mousetrap is how it manages to keep you engaged and guessing throughout the entire performance. The play does an excellent job of setting up the mystery and then slowly unraveling it, with each new revelation leading to more questions and intrigue. Not only this, but sprinkled amongst the mystery of it all, are some really humorous moments which go down very well and make the pacing really work.

The set design and staging of the play are simple yet effective, and the use of lighting and sound helped to create a suitably ominous atmosphere, without being gimmicky or over the top.

Overall, The Mousetrap is a fantastic play that is definitely worth seeing for two hours of escapism. Whether you're a fan of murder-mysteries or just enjoy a good story, this play will not disappoint. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thrilling and entertaining night out at the theatre. Find out for yourself Whodunit at your local touring theatre!

Reviewed on Tuesday 11th April 2023 by Valerie Field

The Mousetrap (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Sunday, 2 April 2023

For Black Boys..., Apollo Theatre | Review


For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy
Apollo Theatre
★★★★

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is powerful and thought-provoking production which offers a unique perspective on the challenges faced by young black men in today's society. The exceptionally strong play tackles heavy topics such as mental health, racism, and police profiling, all with a skilful blend of humour and heart that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish. For Black Boys... is a must see in its limited run.

The performances from the cast, made up of Mark Akintimehin, Emmanuel Akwafo, Nnabiko Ejimofor, Darragh Hand Aruna Jalloh and Kaine Lawrence are universally strong, with each actor bringing a unique and enticing angle to their role. Ryan Calais Cameron's writing is equally impressive, with sharp dialogue and powerful monologues that strike you whilst watching and also stay with you long after the play has ended. What's so effective is how the show flawlessly integrates spoken word, music, and dance to create an immersive and multifaceted experience. The whole thing is utterly seamless and flows with such a strong balance of urgency and intimacy.

The set design (Anna Reid) and lighting (Rory Beaton) add to the immersive experience, transporting the audience to the therapy room, without feeling basic; and the use of multimedia elements and striking choreography (Theophilus O. Bailey) add extra layers of depth to the production. As a whole it feels incredibly modern, relevant and powerful; a stunning representation of why new British Theatre is so necessary.

The show tackles important and sometimes taboo topics surrounding mental health, masculinity, and the experiences of young Black men and it's often incredibly moving; but what works so well is how these important social issues are balanced with humour and light. The authenticity which runs through the piece makes it feel so personal, and the audience really go through the journey with the performers.

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is a deeply moving and important work of art that, is a must-see for those interested in social justice, mental health, and ultimately, the power of storytelling. When the ensemble come together, they create some of the most powerful theatre seen in the West End in a long time.

Reviewed on Saturday 1st April 2023
photo credit: Ali Wright

For Black Boys..., Apollo Theatre | Review

Sunday, 2 April 2023

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Eugenius!, Turbine Theatre | Review


Eugenius!
Turbine Theatre
★★★ 

After a London Palladium concert and subsequent runs at The Other Palace, the comic book tale of Eugenius! has been on the radar of many theatre lovers, and fans were thrilled to hear of the show's reworked return at the Turbine Theatre. The sweet characters and over the top tale are back like before, but somewhere along the way, the musical has lost some of the sparkle and infectious joy that previously made it such a charming production.

Eugenius! tells the story of Eugene, a self proclaimed geek who creates a comic book and gets thrown into a world of Hollywood movies and space dramas. Alongside him are his best friends Janey and Feris who are all trying to make it through school and retain their identities and friendship. With a number of witty side plots and caricature characters, there's lots to be enjoyed, but compared to previous versions of the show, there's not as much of a wholesome, uplifting vibe.

The small Turbine space which works so well for other shows, feels like a hinderance for Eugenius. There's not enough space for the show to reach its soaring potential and some of the bigger moments are squashed. This is through no fault of Andrew Exeter's set design which effectively brings the comic book world to life, as does Andy Walton's excellent video design which is wonderfully aesthetic and in keeping with the show; but nothing fully takes away from the feeling of the show longing for a larger space. Mention must also go to the really well thought out design of the foyer and entrance to the theatre which is adorned in every space with Tough Man posters, as well as comic book memorabilia and neon lights, all of which help to create an immersive experience and are a treat to explore.

Cast wise, the production is bursting with talent. Elliot Evans is endearing as Eugene, and brings a really lovely sense of vulnerability to the role whilst also providing stunning vocals, which especially soar in act two. As his partner in crime (who feels firmly in the friend zone) Jaina Brock-Patel gives a humourous performance and really leans into the comedy which is fun to watch. Equally humourous is James Hameed as Feris who is a funny character for the most part, but sometimes a bit one dimensional. The trio are strong and there are some touching moments. Their chemistry isn't bursting off the stage but they certainly do a good job and really come into their own towards the end of the show.

Dominic Andersen is fabulous in all his roles, especially as the movie star Gerhard who has some of the most laugh out loud moments in the show. As Super Hot Lady, Maddison Firth is great and her solo number is very high octane, although it's somewhat overpowered by so much happening on stage, so she doesn't truly get a chance to shine. There are also some sound issues which plague the show and mean a fair bit of dialogue is lost. The show as a whole is loud, perhaps too much so at points, but the vocals are often too quiet so we miss the talent of the cast.

The 80s-esque music that has references to lots of iconic songs, is really wonderful and you can't help but bop along to the self-aware, hilariously literal tunes. Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins have written some incredibly catchy pieces that continue to shine in this rendition of the show. They also have some sneaky cameos on bedroom posters and music videos which are a nice touch. 

It's definitely nostalgic and energetic but this isn't the best Eugenius! has been. There are some great moments but the musical never evokes the same feelings of feel good empowerment and unity that it did previously. Hopefully there will be future iterations of the show where are the stars can align to create the ultimate version.

Reviewed on Wednesday 22nd March 2023
photo credit: Pamela Raith


Eugenius!, Turbine Theatre | Review

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

The Way Old Friends Do, Park Theatre | Review


The Way Old Friends Do
Park Theatre
★★★★

The Way Old Friends Do is a heartwarming play set to the backdrop of ABBA, that has you feeling an array of emotions and having a really good time. Written by Ian Hallard and under the expert direction of Mark Gatiss we are taken on the journey of music, friendship and found family.
 
The talented ensemble cast that bring each character to life in a charming way. Rose Shalloo is a complete stand out, continually bringing an infectious energy and providing some of the most endearingly humourous moments. James Bradshaw and Ian Hallard give well thought out performances and have an excellently witty chemistry with one another.

Janet Bird's set design is simple but effective, allowing the focus to remain on the actors and their performances. The revolving set cleverly transforms to a number of rooms whilst maintaining the ABBA-ness of it all.

This is a heartfelt play explores themes of love, loss, and friendship in a way that feels both universal and deeply personal. The story is filled with moments of both joy and sadness, that feel mostly natural and have you invested in the lives of the characters. The second act does suddenly take a turn to drama and comes across somewhat rushed, without enough development to truly hit home but overall things are well paced, and it's a sweet tale that celebrates friendship.

Overall, The Way Old Friends Do is a production that I highly recommend. It's a touching, well-crafted play that will stay with you after the final curtain call and have you wanting to create your own ABBA tribute group!

Reviewed on Tuesday 21st March 2023
photo credit: Tristram Kenton

The Way Old Friends Do, Park Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Further Than the Furthest Thing, Young Vic | Review


Further Than the Furthest Thing
Young Vic
★★

The Young Vic's current revival production of Further Than the Furthest Thing is somewhat adventurous, with some redeeming qualities; but ultimately it's piece that falls short of providing any truly moving or effective moments. The production has some visually stunning aspects and some really impressive performances, however, the pacing and overall coherence leaves much to be desired, and has you exiting the theatre feeling somewhat dazed.

Zinnie Harris’ 1999 play tells the tale of a remote island who's peaceful world is upended by the evils of the wider world. Based on the 1960s history of Tristan da Cunh, the source material provides some interesting insights but the script itself is disjointed, and often makes the story hard to follow. The themes of colonialism and displacement are important, and there are some comments which really stand out, but the overall execution lacks depth and nuance and keeps any solid points from being made. The transitions between scenes are also clunky and disrupt the flow of the play, leading to a sense of confusion and continual detachment from the characters.

Furthermore, the sound design and lighting choices are often distracting and do not add to the overall experience. At times, the sound effects are overly loud and jarring, while the lighting feels gimmicky and unnecessary. Soutra Gilmour's set offers some moments of visual excitement. The clever projections make the piece feel almost like an immersive art installation and the revolve allows all angles to be shown to the audience, but there's never enough oomph to really bring the show to life.

That's not to say the performers don't do a solid job with what they've been given. Jenna Russell especially gives a captivating performance, bursting with charm and charisma. Gerald Kyd is mysterious as Mr Hansen and Cyril Nri has some of the best character development, as well as great chemistry with Russell.

Overall, Further Than the Furthest Thing has some admirable aspects, but they are very much outweighed by the weaknesses in the production. It's truly a tale of two acts, which could work on their own but the general lack of cohesion really hinders the strong messages trying to be portrayed. While it may appeal to some theatre-goers, I personally found it underwhelming and would not recommend it as a must-see performance.

Reviewed on Friday 17th March 2023
photo credit: Marc Brenner

Further Than the Furthest Thing, Young Vic | Review

Saturday, 18 March 2023