Saturday, 16 March 2013

We've Moved!...

... to a brand spanking new website!

You may have been directed to this Blogspot page through one of our old links, but to check out our brand new website with all of the latest updates, offering a whole lot more, than head to http://www.whatspeenseen.co.uk straight away.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Ballet Revolución - review

Written By: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Sadler's Wells, London
****

Ballet Revolución is described as dance theatre in the programme forward from Lise Smith, but it's not really dance theatre; it's a dance bonanza demonstrating all that these exceptionally talented Cuban dancers can do. A fusion of ballet, contemporary, hip hop, Samba, and rumba which is linked by the overall theme of sensuality and celebration thereof. The choreography by original Tap Dog dancer Aaron Cash and Roclan Gonzalez Chavez is extremely crowd pleasing and their fusion of classical ballet with hip hop and contemporary causes many a gasp from the audience.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Lysistrata - review



Riverside Studios, London
***

It’s every serious theatergoer’s nightmare; turning up to the theatre only to find that you’re sharing the experience with a gaggle of giddy GCSE Drama students. Fortunately this particular group seemed well trained in theatre etiquette and they were perfectly amicable throughout the performance – well done to whichever school they were from. As much dread as they instilled it quickly became evident that they were the target audience for Theatre Lab’s musical and modernised adaptation of Lysistrata, an entertaining and raunchy affair that opts out of substance in favour of low-brow comedy. 

Making Dickie Happy - review

Written by: Jessica Lorimer (@JessLorimer3)

Tristan Bates Theatre, London
***

Plenty of long stemmed cigarettes, bourbon on the rocks and bed-hopping contribute to a world of 1920’s glamour for Jeremy Kingston’s Making Dickie Happy. A tentative exploration into the meeting of Agatha Christie (Helen Duff) and Noel Coward (Phineas Pett) on the cusp of their subsequent stardom awaits avid fans of both authors.

Dracula - review

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods watch it?
Fairfield Halls, Croydon
Was Woods won over?
**


Vampires have become something of a hot topic in recent years, and with the tagline ‘The Original Twilight’, Ninon Jerome’s production of Dracula sounds keen to put all these new vampires in their place by bringing Bram Stoker’s original bloodsucker to a modern day audience. Sadly, any clever exploration of themes, and how they relate to the 21st century, is lost in the confusing direction and a myriad of poor design decisions.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Black Pudding - review


Written by: Kirstie Ralph (@kjralph)

The Bussey Building, London
****

The first night of Wind-Up Collective’s quirky cabaret Black Pudding is a triumph, striking the right balance between the entertaining, thought-provoking and simply bizarre. The company succeed in bringing to life the fairy tale stories of childhood, with an extra helping of silly audience interactions and melodrama. References range from Made in Chelsea-type shows to general pop culture, to add some 21st Century spice to stories we think we know. The Bussey building café, located in Peckham Rye, is a gem of a location for this show, providing the informal atmosphere needed to stage a performance of this nature.

Mydidae - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
Trafalgar Studios, London
Was Peen keen?
*****



There must be something in the water at Trafalgar Studios – that’s right, the actual, flowing water that they use in this production – to help make it so damn brilliant. It’s a good job it is so fantastic, to make all of the plumbing work worthwhile.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Purple Heart - review


Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Gate Theatre, London
*****

Bruce Norris is a master manipulator of language; his play Clybourne Park won every drama prize available to it (including a Tony, Olivier and the Pulitzer Prize), and Purple Heart exhibits once again his deftness and skill. Superb performances from Nathan Kiley (Thor), Rosemary Prinz (Grace), Christopher Evan Welch (Purdy) and Laurie Metcalf (Carla) bring to life this twisted, traumatic tale of mishandled and misplaced love. All set against the oppressive backdrop of 1970’s Vietnam disillusionment and domesticity.  

Friday, 8 March 2013

Laburnum Grove - review

Written by: Christianna Mason (@Christianna_L_M)

Finborough Theatre, London
***

A comedy so mellow that, were it not for the second half, the audience would be lulled into a chuckling doze; this play is a perfect jibe at the sleepy, comfortable middle classes of 1930’s north London.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Facts - review



Finborough Theatre, London
*****

An Israeli, a Palestinian, and a Jew walk into an interrogation room… whilst potentially being the set up for a rather non-PC joke, it also forms the basis of Canadian playwright Arthur-Milner’s politically charged UK debut. And what a debut; Facts is as nerve-racking as they come, blending a highly intelligent script with a tension that grips like a vice, it’s both exhilarating and poignant.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Centre Stage on What's Peen Seen?: Jack Thorne

BAFTA award-winning Jack Thorne is a writer for Film & TV, with series such as Shameless and Skins firmly under his belt. After making a brave switch to the London stage, his latest play Mydidae went down a treat at Soho Theatre. Having now transferred to Trafalgar Studios in London's West End, we've had a little chat with Jack to find out how he's feeling, the truth behind his latest superb project (we raved about it here) and we discover why he loves his job so much. 

(Oh, and psst, we have a competition going here until the 8th March 2013 for you to win a signed poster for this very production.)

Dorothy in Oz - review

Written by: Rachel Hopping (@roadtorach)

Where did Hop pop?
Waterloo East Theatre, London
Was it top for Hop?
***

Immersion Theatre’s raucous, hilarious take on James Michael Shoberg’s update of The Wizard of Oz traps our bipolar heroine Dottie (tortured by the otherworldly barks of her dog Toto), in the Ozlin Mental Health Facility.  Subject to illicit experimentation, betrayal, sexual harassment and administrative frustration, she confronts enemies and makes lifelong friends in her quest to find her way home. There’s flashing lights, pounding rock music and much screaming and fighting in this stuffed-to-bursting production, which is in parts hilarious, heartfelt, and totally unnerving.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Losing the Plot - review

Written by: Naomi Lawson (@NaomiMLawson)

Fairfield Halls, Croydon 
***

In 1993 John Godber was reportedly the third most performed playwright after Alan Ayckbourn and William Shakespeare. But in 2013, where a whole host of new British playwrights have made their mark in the twenty years since then, does Losing the Plot (the fourth play written for the John Godber Company) still make a mark?

Trelawny of the Wells - review

Written by: Christianna Mason (@Christianna_L_M)

Donmar Warehouse, London
*****


“Well…it’s not exactly A Chorus Line” one audience member shrewdly points out during the interval.  It certainly isn’t and it’s all the better for it. Witty, stylish and clever; this play is about theatre people, for theatre people.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Hot Property - review

Written by: Dombo (@DomOJFryer)

Where's Dom gone?
Etcetera Theatre, London
Was Dom fond?
***


It's difficult to gauge exactly what about this piece is so interesting. Is it the narrative? Is it the acting? Is it the fact that the set cost maybe £4 maximum? That’s not a bad thing; Dragon's Den would have a field day.

Kiss Me, Kate - review

Written by: Wendy Haines (@Wendyfer1)

Old Vic Theatre, London
****

Kate doesn’t want to be kissed, but things just aren’t that simple. Trevor Nunn has achieved a winning, albeit comfortable staging of Cole Porter’s meta-musical Kiss Me Kate: a hectic, jazzy escapade following the leads in a Taming of The Shrew musical both on and off stage.

A Chorus Line - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
Palladium, London
Was Peen keen?
****



A Chorus Line is 120 minutes of musical theatre celebrating itself, purely demonstrating the glitz of performing on a big stage, but the hard graft that comes in equal measure. This is a major revival of a groundbreaking American musical suitably timed to pay a great tribute to the multi award-winning composer, Marvin Hamilisch, who unexpectedly passed in August 2012.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Kinky - review

Written by: Elodie Vidal (@ElodieVidal)

Ovalhouse, London
*****

A show about kink. You probably have a mental picture of what such a production might be like, but the good thing is, Clare Shucksmith, creator of Kinky, knows you do. She also has a pretty good idea of which images your imagination is likely to conjure up. Flanked by creative and performing partner Zoe Hinks, she constructs a delightful piece that, in its raunchy affair with performance art, confronts all the expectations and stereotypes standing in her way.

COMPETITION: Win a signed poster for Mydidae!


With the announcement that Jack Thorne’s Mydidae is to transfer to the Trafalgar Studios after it’s hit run at the Soho Theatre we’re delighted to announce that we’re offering one lucky reader a chance to win an exclusive signed poster.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Your Place Or Mine - review



Ovalhouse Theatre, London
**

Your Place Or Mine is the latest project undertaken by Tim Redfern and David Sheppeard that takes place in the Café Gallery of the Ovalhouse Theatre. The short piece explores the difficulties that two colleagues face when attempting to downsize an archive, discussing what makes a history worth saving.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Girls! Girls! Girls! - review



Written by: Jess Nesling (@JessNes1)

The Pheasantry, London
**

Babette’s Feast, the quartet composed of vocalists Emma Ruth, Verona Chard, Tamsyn Salter and Sophie Burnham, took to the small stage of The Pheasantry for a performance advertised as a “delicious musical double bill”. The repertoire took the audience on a tour through the ages, from Glenn Miller to Paloma Faith; but something was lacking.

Bottleneck - review



Written By: Lily Grouse (@LilyKG)

Soho Theatre, London
*****

This is one of those occasions in which I was genuinely blown away. Bottleneck is a powerful script, and its realisation on stage is just as strong. Playwright Luke Barnes captures the 1989 Hillsborough disaster with a sensitive and personal approach, his piece bursting in equal measure with moments of trauma and comedy. I urge you not to pass up the opportunity to see it. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Bitch Boxer - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Soho Theatre, London
****

Charlotte Josephine has crafted, and is now delivering, a genuinely excellent piece of theatre, which incorporates all the rhythms and pace of a boxing match into an hour and a half monologue. Her words jab and fall back, daze you, knock you down only to lift you back up again with a funny observation. It is the touching story of Chloe, an amateur boxer looking for Olympic glory whilst coming to terms with a family tragedy.

The Deep Space - review


Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

Old Red Lion Theatre, London
***

Sprocket Theatre don’t waste any time in setting the mood for their presentation of Lila Wheelan’s bleak new play The Deep Space. On entering the dimly lit auditorium, the audience is greeted by a girl in a tracksuit huddled on a camp bed, a traumatised look across her face. This proves a fitting warm-up for the oncoming slew of gritty drama and disturbing realism, and although the emotional punches it throws certainly sting, they lack the heavyweight to knock out.

The Mikado - review

Written by: Chris O'Shaughnessy (@ChrisSE20)

Tabard Theatre, London
****

For the first ten minutes this version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Mikado, here set in the trendy The Royal Japan Golf Club and Spa (a green, pink and black Japonaiserie conservatory by Christopher Hone) - an axe among the golf clubs displayed on the wall - comes across as a fairly pedestrian, small-scale, bargain-basement, youthful rendering of this perennial classic. But with Ed Norwood’s entry into the mix as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, the production shifts, gloriously, into an entirely different register - effervescent, fun-filled - and stays that way until the finale.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Coalition - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

The Pleasance, London
****

Coalition is a very satisfying play (if you voted Lib Dem and were subsequently sorely disappointed), and an impressive debut from Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky (also directing), which doesn't necessarily make an earth shattering point but neatly sums up a wealth of opinion on our current government. Matt Cooper (Thom Tuck), the central character, is a thinly veiled equivalent of Nick Clegg, desperately trying to out manoeuvre the Tories by playing dirty and betraying his Lib Dem ideals. 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Linck - review

Written by: Caroline Mathias (@caroveraclare)

The Last Refuge, Peckham 
***

Catherina Linck had an extraordinary life: she grew up an orphan, lived in a religious community, lived as a man, fought as a soldier, and married a woman at a time when homosexuality was illegal and stigmatised. Linck was executed in 1721 (this isn’t a spoiler – the flyer describes ‘the only woman ever executed for sodomy’), but to see this story played out today as the UK moves towards legalising gay marriage is apt and thought provoking.

The Magic Flute - review

Written by: Wendy Haines (@Wendyfer1)

Riverside Studios, London
***

The Merry Opera Company were founded in 2010 with the intention of touring new interpretations of classic opera translated into English. Their new adaptation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was translated and directed by Kit Hesketh-Harvey, who is no stranger to adapting operas. All the music in the show is from the original opera, but a touch of pantomime, the English language and the story of Mozart’s death have been added to make the performance more accessible. The question to ask is whether the production is dealing with the things that they claim make classic opera inaccessible, and whether the company’s additions actually help this one in particular.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Stop Kiss - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent (@daisytgpoetry)

Leicester Square Theatre, London
****

Marking a fantastic directorial debut from Libertine Productions’ Noah James, Stop Kiss is the touching story of two friends-turned-lovers whose time is unexpectedly cut short after a violent attack sparked by their first kiss.

Horrible Histories, Terrible Tudors - review


Written by: Andrew Crane (AndrewRCrane)

Fairfield Halls, Croydon
****

Imagine a history lesson on the Tudors, aimed at pre-teens, delivered by a quartet who can best be described as a mash up of Monty Python and Blackadder. You’ve probably just imagined the best history lesson imaginable, and that’s exactly what this is; an energetic, panto-esque, headfirst dive into the more unsavoury parts of the Tudor reign. However be warned, this is not for the squeamish…

Freakoid - review

Written by: Chris O'Shaughnessy (@ChrisSE20)

Ovalhouse, London
***

Imagine a quivering, barefoot, genteel Joyce Grenfell narrating her way apologetically through a bizarre Kafkaesque nightmare somewhere in a futurist world dominated by electronics, and you will get the flavour of Emma Adams’s one-woman show Freakoid.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Secret Variety Club - review

Written by: Lauren Buckley (@LaurenBuckers)

Queens Head Pub (Piccadilly), London
****

If your idea of a good night out is a laugh with your friends in the pub then you’re in luck because The Secret Variety Club at the Queens Head Pub in Piccadilly is just that. Even if that’s not your ideal night out, it is a great opportunity to witness some new comedy from a whole range of acts as the evening stays true to its name in variety, from all-female sketch troupes to stand-up comedians to character acts.

Love on Trial - review

Written by: Naomi Lawson (@NaomiMLawson)

Ovalhouse, London
****

Any play that begins with a rendition of George Michael’s Faith certainly captures the attention of an audience. And indeed, Bilimankhwe Arts’ Love on Trial is a one-man play about illegal homosexuality in Malawi, another of the Ovalhouse’s Counter Culture commissions, where our attention is gripped throughout.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Tailor's Last Stand - review

Written by: Elodie Vidal (@ElodieVidal)

Barons Court Theatre, London
**

Granddads are amazing. They might have been war heroes and freedom fighters, but stealing the guests’ biscuits off the table is still on their list of priorities. It’s that particular fondness reserved for elderly men, laced with respect and innocent fun, that The Tailors’ Last Stand captures, telling the tale of four eighty-something communists having their last trade union meeting in an endearing and light fringe production.

Double Bill: A Ballad of Missed Opportunities & To London, Love Me - review

Written by: Kirstie Ralph (@kjralph)

Rich Mix Theatre, London
**

The first of a double bill was A Ballad of Missed Opportunities, devised and performed by Nohar Lazarovich and Jonathan Rogerson.  This was the duo’s debut performance of their first public piece. Perhaps this is why the show was clunky and, unfortunately, very awkward to watch at times. The central theme, concerning missed opportunities as the title suggests, never developed into anything more substantial.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs - review

Written by: Alex Hiscocks (@alexislawl)

Waterloo East Theatre, London 
***

Guiltily, as I left the theatre, I turned on my iPhone. Mike Daisey’s monologue had struck home and suddenly the finely designed lump of materials in my hand had a history that I’d never even considered. The story of your device, whatever brand it may be, doesn’t start when it magically appears in a box on your front door or in a store. It starts instead on the other end of the world, your device will pass through hundreds of hands (not machines) before it lands in your own. As I left the theatre my phone had suddenly developed it’s own eerie, dark past. Suffice to say, I will never look at my phone the same way again, and I don’t think anyone else who enjoyed this monologue with me will either.

Odyssey - review

Written by: Caroline Mathias (@caroveraclare)

Battersea Arts Centre, London
*****

The Paper Cinema's Odyssey is described as a combination of live music, illustration, puppetry and ‘manual animation’, all things I like. I am hopeful of great things as I approach the beautiful Battersea Arts Centre. This is The Paper Cinema’s return to BAC after touring nationally with this ancient tale of a father’s journey home from the Trojan War. The action – a story whose outlines I remember from school but whose details I had largely forgotten – is illustrated, filmed live and projected onto the sail of Odysseus’ ship.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Chess - review

Written by: Stephen St. Clement

Union Theatre, London
****





Given that the Union Theatre’s production of the rarely performed musical Chess comes with the official endorsement of its co-creator Sir Tim Rice, expectations are high for this first major London production of the show since 2008. So high, in fact, that by press night the entire one-month run had already sold out, rendering this review somewhat redundant. Nevertheless, it is well worth marking this latest, “definitive” chapter in the on-going saga surrounding a show which has undergone more rewrites than a BBC Newsnight Special.

Monday, 18 February 2013

A Saint Valentine's Day Murder - review

Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

The LOST Theatre, London
***

Just to clarify, in case anyone else shared my initial expectations, this show has nothing to do with The St Valentines Day Massacre or prohibition-era American gangsters. Those looking for the dark and violent antitheses to Valentines Day may be confused, although judging by the auditorium rammed full of amorous couples, I might have been the only one. Ham-acted, predictable and wholly unoriginal; but with tongue firmly welded to the inside of cheek, you might find that there are a few laughs to be had. 

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari - review



Arcola Theatre, London
*****

Perhaps the best introduction to The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and indeed to this company came at about an hour into the piece when the audience is presented with the line: “We don’t have much, but we’ll dazzle them with what we have: a few sheets, some wood, and plenty of imagination” and dazzle us they did. You will never see a company who can captivate so completely with so little as Simple8. Self-described as ‘poor’ theatre, they adapt this cinematic classic on a shoestring budget with such incredible skill and effect; it will simply blow you away.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Blackshaw New Writing Night

Written by: Adam Jay (@AdamJBJay)

Upstairs at The Horse, London

What is more brilliantly warming on a cold February evening than a collection of brand new writing? The evening of plays, poetry and comedy sketches was at The Horse pub in Lambeth, by the Blackshaw Social Club.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Great Expectations - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
Vaudeville Theatre, London
Was Peen keen?
***



It’s not quite white-knuckle, but a surprisingly short and scary ride. This production of the great classic has done away with every ounce of flesh that Dickens lovingly first scribed it with, and we’re left admiring the beauty but wanting so much more: it’s best not to approach with any great expectations. It’s a quietly confident touring production that has pulled up in town for a little while, doing a worthy job of feeding the fans of Charles.

The Secret Garden - review

Written by: Natasha O'Neill (@natashaoh)


King's Head Theatre, London 
***

An orphaned little girl moved from India to England; a man so damaged with grief he can't bear to stay within his own home and care for his son and niece; a garden once forgotten, left to die, brought to life again. The Secret Garden in Concert tells the tale of Mary Lennox, who is to live with her uncle after the tragic loss of her parents. The back of an Islington pub is perhaps the last place you'd expect to find such a tale, but whilst the space is not entirely transformed into a flourishing garden, the fake flowers, hanging ivy and fairy lights speak of a kind of kitsch innocence that often seems to have been lost. They tell a story of childhood, loss, and the rekindling of hope.

Journey's End - review

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods watch it?
Greenwich Theatre, London
Was Woods won over? 
****


Sell A Door Theatre Company’s most recent production of Journey’s End is a testament to the relevance of classic plays. Over 80 years after it was first performed; it still manages to find a comfortable place with a modern audience, and amongst the abundance of new writing that is currently prevalent in British Theatre.

Friday, 15 February 2013

9 to 5 The Musical - review

Written by: Elodie Vidal (@ElodieVidal)

Richmond Theatre, London
**

9 to 5 has tremendous potential. As a Broadway musical, it promises high-energy musical numbers and a charismatic cast; as a piece with the score written by Dolly Parton, it promises feisty music; finally, as an adaptation from a 1980’s comedy film, it promises humorous nostalgia. In the end however, the version of the show offered in the UK tour is so stripped down that all this potential finds itself diluted beyond recognition.

The Lady's Not For Walking Like an Egyptian - review



Ovalhouse, London
***

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Ovalhouse, and to celebrate the occasion the theatre has commissioned five counter culture pieces, each covering one of its five decades of history. This does not mean that The Lady’s Not For Walking Like an Egyptian is a session of 1980’s nostalgia, declares the producing duo Rachel Mars and nat tarrab, known as Mars.tarrab – except, perhaps, for the gleeful tribute to the rah-rah skirt paid in the first few minutes of the play. Instead, the pair’s devised work employs the decade to highlight today’s prevalent themes of the female voice and power. The result fittingly honours the counter culture ethos of the Ovalhouse.

Swan Lake - review


Written by: Lily Grouse (@LilyKG)

Richmond Theatre, London
*****

Swan Lake, set to Tchaikovsky's wonderful score, is one of the world's best-known ballets, and the audience’s enthusiastic response in Richmond Theatre is a testament to this production’s perfect execution. I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing the Moscow City Ballet, a company with such a fantastic reputation, reviving their signature piece, and I certainly was not disappointed.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

COMPETITION: Win a singing masterclass with 'Wicked' star Sam Lupton!

Sam Lupton is currently appearing in the West End hit Wicked, and following our interview with him, we're very excited to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a singing masterclass with Sam. To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is answer the question below:

FEATURE: What should you do this Valentine's Day?

... or rather, Valentine's Week?! Well, fear not, because if you're stuck for plans then we've got the resource right here to help you decide where you should be heading, and which theatre show to see to settle that love-based undecidedness. There are some cracking shows for you to check out, so all you have to do is answer the questions in the flow chart below - and answer them honestly - to find out which one we here at What's Peen Seen? and our friends at ATG Tickets think you should head for! On top of that, we've put together a sizzling hot offer for you.

Centre Stage on What's Peen Seen?: Sam Lupton

Sam Lupton, currently starring in the award-winning West End hit musical Wicked, took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and have a chat with us here at What's Peen Seen? about his life in theatre, aspirations, and upcoming projects; and offers some advice for those pursuing a similar career.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

1001 Nights - review

Written by: Natasha Shah (@Tash_Shah)

Unicorn Theatre, London
****

From Syria to London with whirlwind stops through Basra and Baghdad, 1001 Nights journeys across the world in 80 minutes. Well, 70 actually (almost). Transport Theatre Company’s latest offering is a devised piece borne out of the stories of Arabian Nights. Our story begins in Damascus, where we find the exceptionally well-read Shahrazad and her doting parents. In the retelling of one of her favorite stories, Shahrazad’s father breathes life into the tale of Abu Hassan and his enormous fart, wonderfully weaving words and laughter into their world. However, their joy is short lived as Shahrazad and her Father are forced to take flight from their home country and travel to London to seek safety from the ensuing war, leaving their passport-less Mother behind. Finding themselves in contemporary London, the piece simultaneously follows the family’s story whilst also telling the many tales within Shahrazad’s storybooks.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Hamlet - review



The Rose Theatre (Bankside), London
****

For the first time in 419 years, Hamlet returns to The Rose, Bankside. It makes its come back in the form of a nerve-jangling kitchen sink drama which focuses upon the relationships between characters and the harrowing effects humans have upon one another. We enter the cold, dimly lit performance space to the jarring sounds of a radio tuning itself and of intermittent white noise, which immediately sets one's teeth on edge as it sets the premise of the play. We, as an audience, are excruciatingly close to the action and occasionally play the roles of Hamlet's confidants; employing direct address and minor audience interaction, director Martin Parr involves us in the narrative as much as the actors themselves.

A Woman of No Importance... or Somewhat Little Importance Anyhow - review

Written by: Jess Nesling (@JessNes1)

The Hen and Chickens Theatre, London
****

What really goes on behind closed doors? Katherine Rodden’s new play reveals that even the most outwardly perfect family is far from flawless. This charming new comedy of manners from Paradigm Theatre Company, directed by Cat Robey, takes inspiration from Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward and mixes it with a splash of Sainsbury’s own Merlot to comic effect.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

MONEY: The Game Show - review

Written by: Sophie Talbot (@sophietalbot_91)

Bush Theatre, London
****

For a show about the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, written and directed by Clare Duffy, it is oddly bursting - quite literally - with verve, dazzling charisma and boisterous fun. Though it’s not all fun and games, as Duffy’s concurrently stern theatricality of the 2008 global financial crisis brings to head the question of what money is really worth.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Midnight Tango - review

Written by: Alisdair Hinton (@AliHinton88)

Phoenix Theatre, London
*****

No puns or clever lines, no smart word games playing on the shows themes, Midnight Tango is a joy, a triumph from start to finish. Go and see it. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

LIFT - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Soho Theatre, London
***

New British musical theatre which strives for originality and innovation is what the art form needs to ensure that it continues to gain credibility. Craig Adams (Composer & Lyricist) and Ian Watson (Book) with direction from Steven Paling have provided a dose of this with their production of LIFT. The story is constructed and narrated through the imagination of a Busker (George Maguire) who visualises the lives of people he sees every day on his way up to Covent Garden in the famous lifts.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Siro-A - review

Written by: Wendy Haines (@Wendyfer1)

Leicester Square Theatre, London
***

Technologically experimental group Siro-A call themselves the next generation of entertainment. Originating from Japan, many declared their self-titled spectacle as “visually stunning” at the Edinburgh Fringe, and this is true, but in terms of artistic content it is not much beyond “Ooh look at the pretty lights!” A blend of clever visual manipulation and repetitive electro beats, it’s difficult to determine what it leaves you with.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo - review

Written by: Lilian Tsang (@Lilian_Tsang)

Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham
*****

The Company of Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, also known as ‘The Trocks’, is a rare breed. As those who know a little about ballet can tell you, traditional male ballet dancers never go en pointe (which means dancing on the tips of the toes) because it’s meant to be the female dancers’ domain. However, the all-male ensemble of the Trocks rebels against this tradition. The dancers played both male and female characters in five extracts from well-known ballets, including Les Sylphides, Swan Lake and Walpurghis Night. In a show that lasted approximately seventy-five minutes, these sixteen remarkably strong men danced en pointe most of the time, which is a great feat in itself.

Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai - review

Written by: Alisdair Hinton (@AliHinton88)

Sadler's Wells Theatre, London
**

You might think a play that lasts in excess of three hours, covers the events of fifteen years and is performed in English and Japanese with subtitles sounds like it could be hard work, in the case of Anjin – The Shogun and the English Samurai you'd be right. Director Gregory Doran takes control of a difficult show in which the characters emotional journey's range from seemingly non-existent to incomprehensibly drastic, whilst the narrative manages to be both overly simplistic and simultaneously impossible to follow. So where does it all go wrong?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sour Lips - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent (@daisytgpoetry)

Ovalhouse, London
*****

Gathered in the bar area of the Ovalhouse Theatre, guests are aware of an underlying sense of excitement as they await the highly anticipated return of Omar El-Khairy’s cultural explosion Sour Lips. Originally developed through the Ovalhouse FiRST BiTE programme in 2012 (and now in association with Paper Tiger) as the theatre itself celebrates its 50th birthday, Sour Lips marks the open to Ovalhouse’s Counterculture season which aims to promote new political voices through challenging original plays that are as bold as they are stylish. This show is force that tears through its audience, working relentlessly in order to achieve its soaring ambitions.

Woody Sez - review

Written by: Sophie Talbot (@sophietalbot_91)

Ashcroft Theatre (Fairfield Halls), Croydon
****

There’s a surprising lack of spectacle for a show which comprises over thirty songs. Instead, David M Lutken and Nick Corley dazzle with heart and spirit in their understated tribute to the life and music of folk-singer, Woody Guthrie.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Lean - review

Written by: Ed Theakston (@EdTheakston)

Tristan Bates Theatre, London
*****

Written by Isley Lynn, a graduate of both the Royal Court and the National Theatre Aftershocks young writers’ programmes, Lean is an incredibly powerful piece of new writing. Lynn puts front and centre the subject of male anorexia, and treats it sensitively while managing to be informative.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Turn of the Screw - review

Written by: R. J. Brown

Almeida Theatre, London
*

In 1898, Henry James published an intense psychological tale of terror that would become a staple in the gothic establishment, made up of a distinct blend of supernatural ambiguity and sexual repression. Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s adaptation however, currently running at the Almedia Theatre and co-produced by Hammer Theatre of Horror, lacks any of this distinction. It staggers in an indulgent verbosity that can border on the tedious as much as it can be strikingly enthralling.

COMPETITION: Win two tickets to a production of Romeo & Juliet!


This week we’ve got another exciting competition for you to enter. We’re giving our readers a chance to win two tickets to The Hiraeth Artistic Production of the classic love story Romeo and Juliet at the theatre Upstairs at the Gatehouse.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Centre Stage on What's Peen Seen?: Zuri Warren


Encompass Productions are staging a brand new production of Who is Moloch? written by Pamela Carralero and directed by Zuri Warren, playing at the Press Play House for a limited run. Below, director Zuri Warren tells us all about his anxieties, inspirations and challenges. 

Oliver! - review

Written by: Alex Hiscocks (@alexislawl)

Richmond Theatre, London
***

If you look really, really closely at the programme (and I mean really close, eyes within inches of the page close) you will see that this particular production of Oliver! is in fact not a professionally arranged show. The whole cast and crew are amateurs and have spent their free time putting together this take on the ever popular tale of the young workhouse boy without ever seeing a penny of the proceeds. When you bear this in mind, the show is admirable. However when this key piece of information is hidden so blatantly it’s clear that the company did not want you to consider this performance as merely ‘amateur’. So in writing this review I bear their assumed intention in mind.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Centre Stage on What's Peen Seen?: Isley Lynn


Isley Lynn is a playwright and poet whose work has been produced and supported by National Theatre Studio, Nabokov, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Arcola, BAC and IdeasTap. This year, she received Special Commendation from the inaugural Soho Young Writers Award. She recently graduated from the Royal Court Young Writers Programme.

Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke it – review



Etcetera Theatre, London
***

The ‘Pay Nothing, Play Anything’ festival at the Etcetera Theatre offers a fantastic opportunity for small and/or upcoming companies to experiment, to show something new and original, to showcase some incredible talent. Latissimus Productions don’t quite manage to take advantage of this with their double bill of short Chekhov plays, but they do manage to provide a neat little production, which should provide a few chuckles. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Mare Rider - review

Written by: Jess Nesling (@JessNes1)

Arcola Theatre, London
***

Kathryn Hunter may only be playing a mythical character but she is magical to watch on stage. The Olivier award-winning actress returns to the Arcola Theatre in East London to perform in Leyla Nazli’s surreal new social piece, Mare Rider.

Gruesome Playground Injuries - review

Written by: Miranda Blazeby (@MirandaBlazeby)

The Gate Theatre, London
****

The Gate has become well known for being a small venue that consistently stages big productions. Gruesome Playground Injuries is no exception and eventually leaves us feeling as raw, battered and bruised as the characters themselves.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Blues in the Night - review

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods watch it?
The Last Refuge (Peckham), London
Was Woods won over?
***


Being someone who by and large has never been a particular fan of either Blues or Jazz music, Blues in the Night was always going to have its work cut out in order to impress. But impress it did. If you are into either Blues or the 1930’s time period, stop reading for a moment and buy a ticket.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Straight from the Heart - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent

Leicester Square Theatre, London
***

Returning to the Leicester Square Theatre, Straight from the Heart is a warming tale of love told in the midst of upheaval and confusion in the shadow of life-threatening illness. In association with the British Heart Foundation, the show tells the true story of a relationship that is pushed to its limits in the face of catastrophe when the lives of loving couple Bob and Cath are jeopardised.

Metamorphosis - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
Lyric Hammersmith, London
Was Peen keen? 
*****




We can argue that this isn’t one of the best plays ever written and it’s probably not an uncommon thought. But Vesturport Production have put together this stunning show to tour the world with, and have done so with courage, sheer talent and passion – all to much deserved rapturous applause as well. It’s a fantastic tale of a heart-breaking way to deal with the family breadwinner turning into a bug.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Deadly 7 - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Etcetera Theatre, London

***

A beguiling infusion of film, music and dance makes up Open Hand Productions current project Deadly 7, currently playing at Etcetera Theatre for a handful of nights.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Red Shoes - review

Written by: Naomi Lawson (@NaomiMLawson)

Etcetera Theatre, London

***




Battling through a snowy Camden to the Etcetera Theatre, surrounded by the young and trendy making their way to equally trendy bars, one experiences a London that is a far cry from the one Guy Jones deals with in his adaptation of the classic fairy tale The Red Shoes. Under MaryClare O’Neill’s direction, this Straight on Till Morning Theatre production promises a combined tale of two girls with an illicit attraction to a pair of red shoes, one residing in the world of Hans Christian Andersen, and the other in the aftermath of the 2011 London riots. Promises and reality, however,  do not always coincide. 

The Jess Docker Show - review



Pentameters Theatre, London
***

First of all, it must be noted that the Pentameters Theatre is a wonderful little gem nestled at the top of a winding staircase above the Three Horseshoes Pub in Hampstead. It showcases both new writing and revamped classics alike. The Jess Docker Show by Harry Saks is a satirical look at how the 'trash culture' of programs such as The X Factor and Big Brother are creating a dumbed-down society in which it is difficult to maintain artistic integrity and survive within the arts industry.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Trojan Women - review

Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

Brockley Jack Theatre, London
**

Nameless Theatre present Howard Coyler’s new adaptation of Seneca’s Trojan Women, a brave concept to perform the epic Greek tragedy in a black-box theatre and unfortunately it’s a risk that doesn’t pay off. A few moments of well-conceived tableaus are lost in the monotonous tone; this is a play that feels much longer than it’s hour and fifteen minutes running time.