Blondel, Union Theatre

https://i0.wp.com/7210-presscdn-0-59.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/BLONDEL-Blondel-played-by-Connor-Arnold-featuring-the-washer-women-Lauren-Byrne-Courtney-Bowman-and-Michaela-Stern.-Photo-by-Scott-Rylander.jpg

I am often impressed with theatre’s ability to transform the most serious of topics into bouncy, chirpy musicals. Tim Rice and Tom Williams looked to the Crusades for their comedic tale of Richard I’s court musician, Blondel, but discarded much of the history. This 1983 show has some great numbers, but its frivolity and insubstantial book focusing on a personal journey rather than the larger political landscape is diminutive rather than powerfully sweeping. This is no Les Mis or Miss Saigon; it is instead an under-developed documentation of a rise to fame – but it still has its moments of fun.

Continue reading

I Am My Own Wife, Wimbledon Studio Theatre

https://i2.wp.com/www.akg-images.de/Docs/AKG/Media/TR3_WATERMARKED/0/6/4/a/AKG1886989.jpg

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf was a collector and museum curator in East Berlin who survived WWII and the the Stasis, and murdered her abusive father when she was a teenager. More remarkably, she was transgender. I Am My Own Wife is primarily her biography and a tribute to her achievements, but also the research process by playwright Doug Wright. Wright set out to make a play about her, but was so affected by her stories that his reactions make their way into the text. It deservedly won all major American theatre awards after its Broadway premier in 2003, but Unusual Theatre Company’s production doesn’t serve the text as well as it could.

Continue reading

The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross Theatre

https://i0.wp.com/charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/images/uploaded/Braille_8_gallery.png

Discovery of the evening: Louis Braille was a child when he developed the alphabet of raised dots into the writing still used by blind and visually impaired people around the world today. It’s an especially impressive feat considering the run down and under-resourced institution he attended, Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris. However, the prevalent hostile attitude towards disabled people was a constant obstacle towards the system’s adoption; even the belief that blind people could be academically educated was radical at the time.

Continue reading

Bubble Schmeisis, Battersea Arts Centre

https://files.list.co.uk/images/2016/08/04/nick12-lst213950.jpg

Nick Cassenbaum grew up in London’s Jewish community and experienced all the cultural mores that go with it – Spurs games, dubious summer camps, trips to Israel and discovering his willy isn’t like the other boys’ at school. Like many young people as he got older, he hadn’t quite found his place in the world. Until he went with his grandfather, Papa Alan, to the Canning Town bathhouse.

Continue reading

101, Theatre N16

101, Theatre N16 (1)

By an anonymous guest critic

Interactive theatre is hard work. Horror theatre is also palpably difficult to get right. In this case, the combination of the two proves too much for this able company of actors. Oneohone – a company specialising in interactive pieces – showcase a series of six shows, and I can only imagine that the other pieces were more successful than the piece that I see, which was at times a stilted, awkward affair.

Continue reading

Miss Nightingale, The Vaults

https://i2.wp.com/www.gaytimes.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/1st-kiss-Nicholas-Coutu-Langmead-Conor-OKane-in-Miss-Nightingale-Photo-Robert-Workman.jpg

By guest critic Alistair Wilkinson

Fly to the front line. Sing some songs. Win the war. Live happily ever after. Sounds easy, right? That’s the idyllic goal that two queers, an unmarried mother and an unborn child feel in Matthew Bugg’s dreamy production of Miss Nightingale. This gorgeous depiction of 1940’s Britain hits you right in the feels and pulls on all heartstrings. The set provides an intimate cabaret club vibe, decorated with posters stating memorable lines from the wonderful songs that are performed throughout.

Continue reading

The Kid Stays in the Picture, Royal Court

https://cdn.thestage.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/22163612/Kid-Stays-In-The-Picture-Royal-Court-4291.jpg

By guest critic Willa O’Brian

The American dream is a tantalising thing. Even the grubbiest kid from New York, the son of a nobody dentist, can become a film star and producer. This is Robert Evans’ story, the man responsible for pictures like ‘The Godfather’. Complicité’s Simon McBurney adapted the show from Evans’ autobiography, which paints a picture from a better time: when movies were pictures and hard boiled men tacked “see?” on the ends of sentences wreathed in cigarette smoke. It is visually sumptuous and the cast of eight are a constantly churning ensemble that whip the story into a froth and delivery a sensory overload of American tropes and history and multi-media tricks. Given the subject matter, the desire to incorporate all of these elements makes sense.

Continue reading