Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Abiona Omonua. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Abiona Omonua. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday 23 February 2024

Just For One Day at the Old Vic REVIEW: Pitch Perfect Peformances

Just For One Day: The Live Aid Musical
The Old Vic

Written by John O'Farrell, Just For One Day transports audiences back to 1985, to the historic Live Aid concert held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium and JFK Stadium. Through the eyes of various characters, including musicians, organisers, and fans, the musical captures the spirit of unity and hope that defined this iconic event. Against the backdrop of global issues and personal struggles, the show celebrates the power of music to inspire change and bring people together.

With direction by Luke Sheppard, the musical is a poignant homage to the legendary Live Aid concert, offering a nostalgic journey through one of music's most iconic moments. While the musical may not reach the heights of the original event, it nonetheless succeeds in capturing its essence and paying tribute to the artists and activists who made it possible. It's definitely a musical that can appeal to and appease a wide range of audiences; as someone who wasn't alive during the original concert, I completely felt the importance and excitement that surrounded it, whilst my mum who regaled her story of watching the concert on a tiny screen in Cyprus during her honeymoon, wholly felt the nostalgia and related in a different way.

The strength of Just For One Day lies in its stellar cast, who deliver powerful performances that breathe life into the characters they portray. Craig Els leads the show as Bob Geldof and does a stellar job, bringing a brilliant amount of humour but also a sense of gravitas when discussing the atrocities of the Ethiopian famine which put the whole thing in motion.

Danielle Steers shines every moment, bringing her usual astoundingly soulful vocals, whilst Jack Shalloo is a complete standout as Midge and Abiona Omonua is charming as Amara. At this performance Margaret Thatcher was played by Kerry Enright who is absolutely fantastic, providing some of the most hilarious and well characterised moments of the show. Vocally this is a cacophony of powerhouses, with everyone providing killer moments but special mention goes to Olly Dobson and Collette Guitart who really shine, I wish they got more solo moments! Rhys Wilkinson also brings fantastic characterisation to all of the roles he plays.

Unsurprisingly, the musical's soundtrack is another highlight, featuring an array of classic hits from the 1980s that have audiences tapping their feet and singing along. Accompanied by a talented live band, the music transports viewers back in time, evoking the same sense of excitement and camaraderie that defined the original Live Aid concert.

Where the show doesn't quite work is with it's book. The production takes a deliberate approach to steer clear of hero worship towards Geldof, opting instead to spotlight the unsung heroes who contributed behind the scenes. However, while the inclusion of fictionalised narratives aims to showcase the efforts of everyday individuals, these characters often come across as shallow and their dialogue occasionally falls into clichéd one-liners. The sentiment is lovely, but it's not hugely impactful. However, the way music is woven into these stories is really admirable; songs aren't just shoehorned in, they're used to develop the stories being told and even seem to take on new meaning in the context of the show.

Another aspect which falls flat is the actual trauma which prompted the concert. There are some attempts at highlighting the pain and horrors of the famine but it feels a bit sanitised and brushed over, so as not to detract from the feel-good feeling the show pushes. Of course no one wants to fetishise the suffering of others, but in omitting a lot of the horrors, it doesn't allow the show to have quite as strong of an emotional impact.

Visually, this show is a feast for the eyes, with dynamic staging (Soutra Gilmour) and vibrant costumes (Fay Fullerton) that capture the spirit of the 1980s. Creative use of multimedia elements (Andrzej Goulding) and striking lighting (Howard Hudson) further enhances the experience, immersing audiences in the sights and sounds of the era. This is a show that really lends itself to touring and could certainly thrive and develop in that capacity, it will be interesting to follow where it goes after this initial run.

Just For One Day may not be without its flaws, but it's a heartfelt tribute to Live Aid and its message of hope and solidarity make it a worthy addition to the stage. For fans of 1980s music and those who fondly remember the original concert, this musical is sure to strike a chord.

Reviewed on Thursday 22nd February 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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

Sunday 9 July 2017

Wig Out: Rehearsed Reading, National Theatre | Review

Wig Out: Rehearsed Reading
Lyttleton Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Friday July 7th 2017 by Jessica Harris-King

As part of National Theatre's Queer Theatre month, a rehearsed reading of Tarrell Alvin-MCcraney's, Wig Out was performed in the Lyttleton Theatre. Having attended on the strength of being a huge fan of Tarrell's oscar-winning film Moonlight, I was unaware of what to expect and ultimately more than pleasantly surprised. The play centres around the house ball culture mostly based in the US, and takes place over the course of 24 hours. We follow the journey of the House of Light *snaps* as they get ready for a ball thrown by their rivals, House of Diabolique. 

The residents of the House of Light include the colourful characters of 'mother' Rey-Rey (Tarrell Alvin-McCraney), 'father' Lucian (Ukweli Roach) daughters, Venus, gay drag queen (Craig Stein), Ms Nina/Wilson (Kadiff Kirwan), a gay person who presents as feminine and identifies as gender non-conforming, Deity (Kobna Holbrook-Smith) a gay man, who is Venus' love interest and DJ to the House of Light and the three fates (Alexia Khadime, Abiona Omonua and Cat Simmons), a trio of women who often act as narrators for the show, telling the story through humour and singing throughout.

The opening line of the show, as said by Venus "By the time this play makes its way to you, most of the language will have been antiquated" sets the tone of the piece as time (or lack of it) is very much a theme in the piece. It’s presented obviously to us through the fact that the house only has until midnight to prepare for the ball, but also more subtly later in the show, as Rey-Rey’s struggle as an aging member of her house is clearly seen to be getting to her. 

The theme of gender is also presented to us when we, along with Nina, meet Eric (Tunji Kasim) a gay man who although likes Nina, is uncomfortable with her presenting as feminine, resulting in her going as ‘Wilson’ during their time together. Kirwan’s performance is truly one of the highlights of the show and his on-stage presence is mesmerising, he brings both equal parts humour and vulnerability to the role, making Ms.  Nina one of the stand-out characters of the show. 

Venus comes a close second, especially during the second act when she and Deity do a hilarious lip-sync to a Beyonce and Jay-Z song. Craig Stein and Kobna Holbrook-Smith have great chemistry and in this scene it really shows. Throughout the piece, there a various modern pop culture references, reminding us of the fact that the culture being portrayed on stage and the issues, are happening right now in the present day. Jonjo O’Neill and Tom Rhys-Harries also perform expertly as, House of Light rivals, Serena and Loki, their performances in the second act being particularly entertaining. 

Overall this performance was a treat to watch and one can only imagine how incredible it would have been, seeing it in all its glory.