Fiver, Southwark Playhouse

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by Amy Toledano

Do you ever think about where your cash goes once it has been handed over to the cashier? How many hands does a five pound note pass through before it gets to you? And what should you do if you see a fiver on the ground? Do you pick it up and keep it for yourself or see if the owner is nearby? These are the questions that Alex James Ellison and Tom Lees, the creators of new musical Fiver explore in their show.

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Ain’t Misbehavin’, Southwark Playhouse

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by Louis Train

The dresses sparkle, the band swings, and the dancers fly at the Southwark Playhouse, where Ain’t Misbehavin’ runs through June. This revival of the Broadway show from the 1970s, which strings together tunes from Harlem Renaissance man and jazz great Fats Waller, proves that when music is really good, it’s really good in any decade.

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Seussical, Southwark Playhouse

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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.

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Old Fools, Southwark Playhouse

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

“Why have you stopped eating?” Viv asks Tom at the nursing home. “Why have you developed an entirely different accent in your old age?” Tom could reasonably respond.

This is a slightly harsh opener; Old Fools is one of those productions that has a few things to pick at but is redeemed by its ending. From their first meeting to a cold garden in a nursing room, this is the story of Tim and Viv and Alzheimer’s.

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Pippin, Southwark Playhouse

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by guest critic Maeve Campbell

Scouring Broadway forums and Twitter feeds after seeing Pippin at the Southwark Playhouse did not illuminate meaning or clarify an overwhelmingly strange plot. I did, however, find a large cult following for the 1972 American musical, all positing and debating different plot theories. It made me wonder whether Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin is the theatrical equivalent of David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive, and whether this assessment makes it cooler? I’m not so sure.

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Angry, Southwark Playhouse

by guest critic Joanna Trainor

“Remember me; I sparkled.”

Philip Ridley’s ability to write about the most grotesque scenarios with the most beautiful language will never cease to amaze. The director tweeted to say he was glad I enjoyed the show, but “enjoy” never feels like the right word for Ridley. Uncomfortable, anxious, grossed out but oddly moved by the whole thing seems far more appropriate. And let’s face it, we wouldn’t want our in yer face theatre any other way.

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Mendoza, Southwark Playhouse

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by guest critic Nastazja Somers

A Shakespeare expert, friend of mine always says, “I love Shakespeare but I hate watching it, most of the time it bores me”. And isn’t it the truth? I get to see a lot of the Bard’s plays and most of the time I leave theatres feeling uninspired and craving a surprise. I yearn for Shakespeare productions that will move audiences whilst placing them in a centre a collective experience.

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The Cardinal, Southwark Playhouse

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Within 50 years of Shakespeare’s death, playwriting was changing quickly. Less flowery language and more powerful female characters are prominent in James Shirley’s rarely-staged The Cardinal, written in 1641. The plot is more streamlined, but some of the outdoor playhouse performance conventions linger along with the grandness of the king’s court. The story proudly flaunts influence from earlier revenge tragedies and is no less bloody, but easier to follow than some of those on stage a few decades or so earlier. In Southwark Playhouse’s smaller space with historical costumes, Justin Audibert’s production evokes the intimate atmosphere of indoor playhouses that were beginning to take over towards the end of Shakespeare’s career.

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