by Maeve Campbell
It’s difficult to work out who the musical Seussical is for and why its been revived. Trying to imagine how a ten-year-old might watch this show doesn’t help answer these questions. In fact, it clouds the answer even more. I think if I was ten and watching this show, I’d feel utterly patronised by it.
by Laura Kressly
Changez and an American tourist sit in a cafe having a cup of tea at the best cafe in Lahore. As they wait for their drinks, Changez narrates the story of his life in America as an Economics student at Princeton University and an analyst at one of the top consultancies in New York City. As a young man, he had the world at his feet. His world is very different now.
by guest critic Amy Toledano
It is rare that a new musical has the kind of oomph that Broken Wings has in a run lasting just four days. This show has shown that a brilliant cast, outstanding musicians and phenomenal score can create true magic.
by guest critic Lara Alier
Re-imagining a classic is a courageous act. Tom Crowley’s adaptation follows the journey of a young man struggling to find his place in modern day England and it’s pervasive class system.
Think of your favourite stories as a young child. What did they have in common? Adventure. Youth. Fantasy. Foreign lands. Probably at least one good fight. Stories like Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Peter Pan are still popular, and for good reason. They’re compelling, well told stories.
But as a proud killjoy feminist, returning to these childhood favourites as an adult has proved troublesome. Action to the Word’s fairly solid reinvention of Peter Pan for seven actor-musicians is a fun, inventive adventure story that stays close to the original.
You’re fast asleep in your bed, in a small English town. Then some mysterious noises outside wake you, and on looking out your window you discover a gang of pirates is trying to steal your family home. What do you do?
Ask to join them, of course!
Harry receives a children’s book manuscript from an unknown writer, Heather Eames. Impressed, he wants to discuss an advance, rights and making her book the Next Big Thing, but Heather’s based outside of London, heavily pregnant and ill. It doesn’t really matter that they can’t meet in person, so they move forward with negotiating. Three books, several films and endless merchandise later, the public are desperate to meet this mysterious author. But she still refuses to meet her publisher or her fans. Harry pushes and pushes until the truth is revealed.
Originally a novel by Emma Donoghue that swept up the award nominations last year after being made into a film, Room is now a play. Adapted by the writer for the stage, it stays true to the original story of a young woman abducted at 19 and imprisoned as a sex slave. After two years in captivity she gives birth to her son Jack. Five years later as they celebrate his fifth birthday, all Jack has ever known is the inside of the shed. To ensure he copes, Ma’s taught him that the only things that are real are what’s inside the room. Everything outside isn’t real, and the pictures on their telly exist only in the small box. But Ma’s had enough and wants Jack to help them escape now that he’s big enough.
Meggie (Katherine Carlton) and her bookbinder father Mo (Paul McEwan) love books. They also share a fantastical gift that’s causing them to be chased all over the world (or Europe, at least) by fictional characters that aren’t very nice at all. Cornelia Funke’s young adult novel Inkheart is adapted for the stage by director Walter Meierjohann in a high-spirited production with inventive staging. The mountain of books and projections that make the set effectively reinforce the importance of the stories that drive the action. The plot is rushed and over-complicated though, particularly for a family show. Books generally have way more content than will fit into a reasonable timeframe, and Inkheart feels like Meierjohann tries to fit the entire novel into two hours on stage.
This is a great play for villains: Will Irvine is Capricorn, a ruthless, Dr Evil-like pursuer who needs Mo to help him bring his assassin, The Shadow, into this world. His stooges Basta (Darryl Clark) and Flatnose (Griffin Stevens) provide excellent comic relief with a dash of audience interaction. Rachel Atkins is the intimidating, book collecting Great Aunt Elinor and the nonspeaking figure draped in black, Mortola. They all provide an excellent foil to the protagonists, even though Meggie is feisty and temperamental (a fantastic role model for young girls struggling to assert themselves). Mo is gentle and kind, with a warm heart and an inner secret – a complex, developed character that adults can relate to.
The pace in the first act ticks along nicely but after the interval, there seem to be leaps in time and space caused by huge chunks cut from the original novel. There are several twists and reveals, making the second act crowded with information. The character development from the first act is neglected in favour of chucking plot points at us, one after the other. Though, this is a story about a long love affair with books and their power, as well as the power we have to write the stories of our own lives. It’s an adventure, a love story and a coming of age tale with great performances, and a flawed, unexpected narrative. Much like our own lives.
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