by Romy Foster
It’s opening night at Theatre Peckham and I am one of the first to see The Wonderful performed in front of a real, live audience (they only had their dress rehearsal THAT DAY). I followed the yellow brick road through the foyer to my seats and eagerly awaited this Peckham-ised twist on the lovable children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz.
by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Everyone deserves a happy ending, and as we head towards the festive season, messages of hope and forgiveness start to provide us with a real sense of magic. This is perhaps what the RSC is tying to do with its winter production of The Magician’s Elephant, based on Kate DiCamillo’s book. A young orphan is told by a fortune teller that he will find his sister if he follows the elephant. But there has never been an elephant in Baltese…or has there?
It’s a fairly traditional arc, with our suffering hero going on a journey of discovery, helped and hindered by plenty of interesting characters. It begins with a mesmerising opening scene. A magical narrator (Amy Booth-Steel) introduces us to the town and her sleight of hand provides ripples of anticipation and excitement around the theatre.
Our hero Peter (Jack Wolfe) is excellent. Naive and curious with an excellent voice and stage presence, he is totally believable as a young boy looking to belong. The police chief (Forbes Masson) provides the comedy, while the young couple (Melissa James and Marc Antolin) guide our hero on his quest. Antolin and James are wonderful to watch. Their chemistry is genuine, but their sadness is heartbreaking; in spite of this their concern for Peter is very natural and touching. Summer Strallen plays the ‘villain’ – a spoilt, childlike countess who is incensed that the elephant’s arrival has stopped people talking about her. But the real star is of course the elephant, which is an impressive feat of stage design and incredibly realistic. The lighting works well to create a mysterious ambiance which is effective and intense.
It’s a lovely story, with simple songs that children will enjoy and a nice sprinkling of humour for the adults. Although a good production, it feels quite safe and there’s little to make it stand out from other musicals. At times it is very hard to hear some of the actors, especially those speaking quickly. There are also certain topics that make the story very dark in places and almost unsuitable for very young audience members. That said, this is still a magical production that leaves you with a fuzzy, festive feeling of joy.
The Magician’s Elephant runs through 1 January.
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By Diana Miranda
Maybe You Like It Productions has just finished a run at the Camden Fringe premiering their comedy Pleading Stupidity, a show written and directed by Caleb Barron and inspired by the real case of the ‘Dumb and Dumber bandits’, as the media called them. The show tells the story of two Aussies who robbed a local bank during their gap year in a Colorado ski town, whilst wearing name tags from their jobs and making no attempt to hide their accents. The crime was solved in eight minutes.
by Michaela Clement-Hayes
“A man may break a word with you, sir, and words are but wind;
Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.”
It is a brave author that uses the word ‘comedy’ in the title of a play. Expectations are high, humour is anticipated and disappointment likely. Happily, this is not the case with the RSC’s current production of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors: a tale of mistaken identity and separation (of two pairs of twins) at birth.
By Stephanie Watkins
After the past year, Friends fans truly have been spoilt for choice for new content and activities, from “Friends Fest” around the country, to the big reunion, and discovering that Ross and Rachel were, in fact, real. However, someone we don’t often hear about when talking about the sensational six is who some consider to be the seventh friend. The man behind the coffee and presumably the “reserved” sign at the table, Mr Gunther CentralPerk.
by Diana Miranda
Freya, a teenager, is dealing with the micro-universe of lockdown life. She delves into music to evade an annoying younger sibling and two stressed-out parents struggling with employment insecurities. While dealing with home school, Freya daydreams about a boy and wishes she could know if her dreams are reciprocated. Enter Mab, Shakespeare’s neglected character now brought centre-stage in this new play by Danielle Pearson.
by Laura Kressly
About four and a half months since seeing last seeing live, in-person performance, I’m in a park 20 minutes away from my flat, about to watch a one-person, outdoor show. It feels slightly surreal given the times we live in, but Bard in the Yard embraces that, and truly lifts a mirror up to pandemic life today.
by Euan Vincent
This is Tim Crouch’s retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night through the eyes of the
blighted and picked-upon puritan, Malvolio. It’s the fourth time Crouch has written such an adaptation, which he hopes will “unlock Shakespeare for young audiences”.
by Bryony Rae Taylor
Notflix is performed by an all-women musical improv troupe. They ask audiences to suggest a film which has not yet been made into a musical, so that they can make it into a musical – and then they make it into a musical.
The film on the night I am there is The Holiday, the one where Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz house swap and LOVE HAPPENS. You know the one.
By Euan Vincent
Director Jack McNamara promised very different performances for each part of Thibault Delferiere’s Spirit trilogy. Attending Lion, we begin to see what he means. Audience filter in to find a desolate Delferiere sitting in a cage. Food is once again dangling from the ceiling, but whereas in the first it was an innocent apple, here a large chunk of meat, tantalises Delferiere from above.