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

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

My Son's a Queer (But what can you do?), Ambassadors Theatre | Review


My Son's a Queer (But what can you do?)
Ambassadors Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 1st February 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Let’s start off by saying that this show is the most joyous and heartfelt 75 minutes I’ve maybe ever experienced in the theatre. Rob Madge has taken the highs and lows of their childhood to create a show which celebrates individuality in the most spectacularly jubilant way.


During lockdown, Rob became an online sensation after sharing their childhood home videos of the shows they’d put on with the help of family, and now these performances have been brought to stage in a flawless way. The show is a manifesto on being authentically who you are, and really couldn't do a better job at highlighting the joy and freedom that the Arts can bring. 


There are a number of incredibly poignant parts to the show, especially when Rob discusses the harsh way they were treated growing up by both pupils and teachers. They showcase how incredible their family have been and put forth such a strong message of acceptance. Whilst not everyone may have such a positive experience, the show has the lovely message that found family can be even better than those related by blood and if we all support one another, the world will be a much brighter place.


The great writing (Pippa Cleary), outstanding comedic timing, brilliant direction from Luke Sheppard and insurmountable talent of Rob Madge mean there truly aren’t enough adjectives to describe how moving and entertaining My Son’s a Queer is. Not only is it narratively successful, it also includes some wonderful vocal moments, as well as a spectacular array of costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight and the whole package is faultless; every element just works.


Rob is a natural storyteller and entertainer who has the audience in the palm of their hand from the get go. They'll have your cheeks hurting from laughing and your nose running from crying and it’s all worth it to experience this gem in the crown of brilliant British theatre. My Son's a Queer (But what can you do?) is everything theatre should be.

My Son's a Queer (But what can you do?), Ambassadors Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

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.

In Clay, The Vaults | Review

Friday, 27 January 2023

Thursday, 26 January 2023

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 25th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

One of the most moving and stunning pieces of theatre, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is currently making its way around the UK on a tour that is truly a must see. Based on Neil Gaiman's book with the same name, the play is a complex story which deals with the concept of memories and how we carry them with us, as well as forgetting them. A visual and emotional masterpiece, it's an intriguing tale which has many magical realism elements that are transferred to stage so well by Joel Harwood's adaptation and Katy Rudd's expert direction.

The show was originally staged at the National Theatre and many of their trademark features and overall aesthetic are completely woven through. From the start you are immersed in a world which is dark but enticing. Fly Davis' stunning set really embodies those childhood memories of imagining what spookiness lies just out of sight. A minimalistic moss covered design provides the backdrop for some moments of pure magic, where chiffon becomes an ocean and clever stagecraft movement (Steven Hoggett) is transformed into out of this world beings. There's also great contrast between the father's home which never truly feels complete since his wife passed and the nightmare world which is dark and loud.

The fantastical elements of the show feel strangely natural while still being awe-inspiring. Jamie Harrison's illusions are so well pulled off and are authentically magical and the balance of magic and genuine heartfelt moments is perfect.

Perpetually moving, the play perfectly captures grief and the painful fear that your lost loved one is being replaced and erased. These emotions are intensely portrayed not only through the action on stage, but via Jherek Bischoff's imposing and enchanting music which is utterly cinematic and combined with Ian Dickinson's sound design- so powerful. Alongside Paule Constable's lighting design, the whole thing is a masterclass is storytelling and theatricality.

As well as all of this, the cast of outstanding performers imbue every moment with sincerity and vulnerability. Keir Ogilvy really taps into the innocence of childhood whilst bringing to life the Boy who is struggling with the pain of losing his mother. As his Sis Laurie Ogden is fantastic at portraying her need to be loved and noticed through her's, and her families pain. Charlie Brooks fulfils that need as the chilling, omnipresent Ursula who is really what nightmares are made of. Trevor Fox as Dad has some really emotionally challenging scenes which are brought to life incredibly well. Finty Williams, Millie Hikasa and Kemi-Bo Jacobs have excellent chemistry as the Hempstock trio, and individually give wonderfully strong performances as well as coming together to provide some humourous moments. The rest of the ensemble work as one entity to bring the whole world to life with complete fluidity and power.

A spectacle of a show in the most quiet and beautiful way, The Ocean at the End of the Lane embodies everything that makes theatre so magical and is moving in all the best ways.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Moulin Rouge! the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre | Review


Moulin Rouge the Musical 
The Piccadilly Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th January 2023
★★★★

A tale of two halves, Moulin Rouge the Musical is both a spectacular spectacular and a chaotic conundrum. Based on the 2001 film of the same name, it tells the story of fated lovers Christian and Satine, who despite the hardships which surround them, just want to be free to love one another. This musical adaptation takes elements from the film but also puts an extreme jukebox spin on the whole thing.


The real issue with Moulin Rouge is the clunky, all over the place book, which, especially in act one, feels basic. Random lines of dialogue are interspersed with pop songs that come out of nowhere and elicit awkward laughter from the audience; and the show feels confused, as if it can’t decide whether to lean into the comedy or try to be a serious show. There are also a number of side character arcs woven in to further the plot, each of which feel too random and under-developed to really elevate the show in any way. The heart of the story is Christian and Satine love and it would be more effective if we only followed their story.


However, on the other side of the coin, the musical is a visual masterpiece which completely astounds. It's the epitome of razzle dazzle, and the set certainly the most spectacular in the West End right now. Derek McLane has created a sumptuous backdrop which has details hidden in every corner of the auditorium, from the elephant who towers over, to the mini Moulin Rouges embossed in the golden decadence of the facade. Paired with Catherine Zuber's divine costumes, you really couldn't ask for more in terms of aesthetics.

Also, after a pantomime-esque Act One, the musical really steps up a gear. In Act Two the stakes get higher, the performances get more intense and it really becomes the show you'd expect. As leading man Christian, Jamie Muscato is absolutely glorious, serving divine vocals throughout and also bringing a charming, comedic side to the role. Crazy Rolling is a superb stand out moment, as is El Tango de Roxanne, which includes both breathtakingly good vocals, and fantastic dancing by Amy Thornton and Elia Lo Tauro

Both Ben Richards and Matt Rixon as the Duke and Harold Zidler respectively, are good as the 'baddies' but do lack a darker level of menacing that would really add to their performances. As Satine, Melissa James has some great moments, especially her duet of Come What May, a moment where I felt things levelled up and I became much more invested in the story.

Perhaps the most effective part of the musical are the group numbers where the ensemble come together with upmost energy to perform Sonya Tayeh's abundant choreography. The opening Lady Marmalade number is particularly impressive and there's no denying how talented this cast are.

Overall, a three star act one, a five star set, and a four star act two make this a distinctly middle of the ground show and there's definitely elements of style over substance, but when it's good, it's really good and worth seeing for the Act Two opening number alone.

Moulin Rouge! the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Friday, 13 January 2023

Kurios, Cirque du Soleil, Royal Albert Hall | Review


Kurios, Cirque de Soleil 
Royal Albert Hall 
Reviewed on Thursday 12th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

Since its creation forty years ago, Cirque du Soleil, the Quebec based circus, has performed a number of shows with a variety of themes, always including their spectacular aerial and acrobatic routines. Currently playing at the Royal Albert Hall, Kurios is more of a traditional circus show, mixed with a whole heap of steampunk elements.

The storyline is incredibly loose and doesn't really matter, but it basically follows a 19th century inventor who creates a machine that opens the doors to a mystical new world. The cabinet of curiosities reveals a number of oddities that truly amaze and have you on the edge of your seat.

Thanks to Stéphane Roy's set design, The Royal Albert Hall has been transformed in to a vintage wonderland, with old-school lightbulbs and suitcases adorning the stage, while music is poured out of record players; all creating a transformative atmosphere that sets the tone without overpowering the performances. There's also some excellent lighting (Martin Labrecque) which helps to further the esoteric vibes of the whole thing.

Performance wise you couldn't really ask for more in terms of skill and energy, and I can only imagine what the physio and insurance bills must be for such an über talented cast. From trampoline somersaults to otherworldly contortion, there are tricks which have you holding your breath and hoping for the best. The precision with which the cast perform is impeccable to watch and the sheer amount of acts is quite impressive. At the start of the show, it's such a maelstrom of action that you need a hundred eyes to not miss anything.

It's hard to discuss the show's contents much more because a lot of the magic comes from being surprised so I don't want to give too much away. What I will say is that this show is a steampunk extravaganza, with some incredible wow moments, and Kurios is absolutely worth a visit for an evening like no other.

Tickets for Kurios are available at https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk/

Kurios, Cirque du Soleil, Royal Albert Hall | Review

Friday, 13 January 2023

Thursday, 12 January 2023

The Commitments (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


The Commitments (Tour
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 11th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

35 years after the publication of Roddy Doyle's popular novel The Commitments, the stage adaptation is making its way round the UK and Ireland to bring soul to the masses. Set in Dublin in the mid 1980s, it tells the story of a group of working class friends and acquaintances who are trying to start a soul band. Featuring classic songs from the 50s and 60s the musicals has got some real toe tapping moments but doesn't strike the right chord throughout.

The musical score is a mile a minute, with the likes of Tina Turner, The Beatles and Aretha Franklin filling it out, and whilst the performances are great, the structure and use of musical numbers leaves something to be desired. There's no variety; the songs are either performed as a rehearsal or performance and just fill a gap every so often. Instead of adding anything to the story, they are shoehorned in, therefore making the whole thing feel a bit clunky and surface level. The performances themselves are excellent and as a concert you'd be more than happy with what's on offer, but as a theatrical piece it doesn't flow in a particularly cohesive or captivating way. 

That being said, the highly talented cast do a great job of working with what they've been given. Namely, Ian McIntosh who's vocals are outstanding as Deco. He gives an arena worthy performance and is a joy to watch. The show especially excels in its ensemble moments, when the band come together to really show what they're made of.  Ciara Mackey showcases some lovely vocals as Imelda, Stuart Reid is fabulous as Joey, Connor Litten has some fantastic musical solos and Ronnie Yorke is hilariously over the top as Mickah.

Also impressive is Tim Blazdell's set, which reminiscent of Billy Elliot, uses various levels and moving elements to transform into multiple venues such as the bar and Jimmy's home, allowing some motion throughout and providing visual entertainment. Equally, Jason Taylor's lighting is extremely effective, especially towards the closing of the show.

Throughout the show there are moments that are really special but they are purely musical. Unfortunately the inconsistent and sort of abrupt script makes it very hard to connect to the characters and their plight in any way.  The stakes are never high enough and there's a distinct lack of fluidity throughout any of the plot line. There's some semi-romantic moments and some lowkey drama but nothing to really sink your teeth into and after an abrupt ending that seemingly comes out of nowhere, the show closes with a long encore that is one of the most enjoyable parts and makes a strong case for this to be purely a concert musical without bothering with a plot or script.

All in all, whilst it may not be everyones full cup of tea, there's absolutely an audience for this style of show and overall The Commitments is a feel-good celebration of soul that has you clapping along and feeling good. The strong performances make it worth a watch and whilst you won't be emotionally invested, it’s a harmless, musical way to wile away a few hours.

photo credit: Ellie Kurttz

The Commitments (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

Six the Musical, Vaudeville Theatre | Review


Six the Musical
Vaudeville Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 10th January 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Entering the Vaudeville theatre last night there was a bustling energy, not just because everyone was excited to see Six but because the cast of the highly addictive tv show, the Traitors were in the audience. Murmurs of “traitor” and “faithful” filled the air and the buzz was certainly something, who knew we’d all be so starstruck!? However, once the curtain was drawn it was all eyes on the Queens and a glorious 75 minutes followed.


Going into a new year it’s great to see that Six the Musical is as vibrant and wonderful as ever. The current queens of the castle do an outstanding job of keeping the energy of the show fresh and truly engaging so that both first time audiences audiences and longtime Six fans can feel like they’re experiencing something special. 


The cast, made up of Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, Baylie Carson, Claudia Kariuki, Dionne Ward-Anderson, Koko Basigara and Roxanne Couch are a complete group of powerhouses who give stellar solo performances as well as backing up and complementing each other brilliantly. The camaraderie on stage is clear to see and really adds to the overall message of empowerment and support which is at the heart of the show. Special mention must go to Baylie Carson who is an absolute dream to watch as they bring something completely fresh and charming to the role of Anne Boleyn; I cannot wait to see all their future theatrical endeavours (Fangirls UK please!)


Having been playing at the Vaudeville theatre since 2021 the show feels completely settled and has perfectly upgraded from its first long term home, the Arts, to now filling the space on the Strand. The bigger space allows more to witness to wonder of the musical but the clever, cosy set design means none of the intimacy is lost. Emma Bailey's design is the ideal backdrop for this concert style musical. The simplistic framework really allows the performances to shine but there are also some really clever elements such as the throne which rises up grandly. Paired with Tim Deiling's lighting, you really do get the fully visceral concert experience.


A Tudor tale like no other Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss' show continues to get better and better and there's no end in sight for its reign of brilliance. Six the Musical will have you bowing down to the queens and then on your feet to dance along with them- go see this show.


photo credit: Pamela Raith

Six the Musical, Vaudeville Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

Friday, 9 December 2022

Newsies, Troubadour Theatre | Review


Newsies 
Troubadour Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 8th December 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

As temperatures soar below zero, the heat is definitely up at the Troubadour theatre in Wembley as their long awaited production of Newsies sizzles and soars.


The musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein has become somewhat of a cult classic in the musical theatre world, with many fans around the globe despite the show only previously being performed in America and Canada. The 2017 Broadway pro-shot brought the show within touching distance but now London finally get to see it in the flesh, and the good news is, it was completely worth the wait. 


Telling the story of the New York Newboys and Girls who went on strike over unfair work conditions, it’s an unlikely plot for a musical but it mostly works so well. More than anything this is a show with dance at its core and it’s quite astounding to see so many talented dancers on stage, even more so when you hear their divine vocals which accompany the moves. Matt Cole’s choreography is fierce, sharp and so so strong. The energy and precision is truly mesmerising to see and is so appreciated by the audience who give several standing ovations throughout.


It's the plot of this show which lets it down somewhat. The pretty formulaic story doesn't exactly thrill and whilst it does touch on important issues, there's a lack of depth so you don't fully connect with the characters and their plight. Due to this there are moments where the pacing feels a bit slow, however this is quickly fixed every time a big dance number is performed. 


What is great is that despite some stilted moments in the story, the show as a whole is continuously moving. Morgan Large's semi-immersive set allows for action to be taking place at all times, whether through actors walking along sides or quite literally soaring into the audience. The grey-toned backdrop somehow feels gloriously colourful as various shades leap across the stage. The multi-level design allows for varying sight lines and there's something to discover in every nook and cranny. Mark Henderson's lighting design works in complete harmony with all of this and really brings some wow moments to life; it's a very well oiled machine.


The incredibly strong cast who make up this show (and must have a physio bill to rival any other) are the beating heart of it all. The varying characters of the Newsies all get small moments to shine and their interactions are very touching to watch. Leading the pack Michael Ahomka-Lindsay is charming as Jack Kelly, at moments too cool for school, and others afraid of his circumstance, his performance is really moving. Alongside him Bronté Barbé is sparky and witty as Katherine Plumber; her performance of Watch What Happens is a real stand out (although it could be a touch faster) and her portrayal of the role allows you to really engage and connect with her. Ryan Kopel as new newsboy Davey is delightful too. 


This has got to be one of the strongest casts in theatre right now and the astounding performances really need to be seen to be believed. Newsies is a hugely welcome addition to the London theatre scene and it's sure to delight anyone who sees it!


photo credit: Johan Persson

Newsies, Troubadour Theatre | Review

Friday, 9 December 2022

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Cinderella (Panto), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Cinderella (Pantomime)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 6th December 2022 
★★★★

It's that time of year again (oh yes it is) where audiences flock to their local theatres to see the seasonal panto, and this year the New Victoria Theatre, Woking are providing the glitziest of night's out with their version of Cinderella.

Getting the show off to a magical start, is Jenny Gayner as the Fairy Godmother, flying out into the audience and getting the children (and let's be fair the adults too) on the edge of their seats, ready for a fantastically festive night out. From then it's full-on, non-stop action, audience participation and slapstick humour. A complete maelstrom of energy, you wonder how the cast can consistently do two shows a week until December 31st!

With panto veteran Kathryn Rooney at the helm as Director, this is a show which has something for everyone including some great comedic, as well as theatrical moments. The best comedy comes from Brian Conley as Buttons who completely knows how to work the crowd, with just the right amount of audience participation and a great number of references to his own work as well as to the local area. The wonderful step sisters Claudia (Neal Wright) and Tess (Ben Stock) not only have an astounding wardrobe of over the top, ridiculous gowns, but they also have great chemistry with one another and are thoroughly entertaining throughout their time on stage.

What works so well with this production is that it truly feels luxurious and there is a whole lot of spectacle sprinkled in with the silliness. Aesthetically, the costumes are glorious; an array of sparkle and massive head pieces that look really great. Sarah Vaughan goes to the ball in dazzling glitz and even the Prince (Samuel Wilson-Freeman) gets some cracking costumes.  

Other "wow" moments also include the end of Act One snow (always a winner at Christmas) and the real life horses which are just adorable. Pyrotechnics and confetti also add to the drama and festivity of it all and the great vocals and choreography from the cast help make it more than just a laugh a minute, no substance show. 

Of course, like with any Panto, there are aspects which might not hit personally for every audience member, but you can't deny that there's at least a moment for everyone and hearing the children of the audience in fits of laughter is enough to make you feel the festive spirit. Cinderella provides exactly what you'd expect with a Christmas pantomime and you can't really ask for much more!

Cinderella (Panto), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 7 December 2022