Chorus Line Sept.17th, ’16



The precision of the actors/ dancers just blew me away. We all know that the musical is one long audition where the candidates have to open up about their innermost – often childhood – dreams. We get to like them… and it breaks our hearts when they get injured or fail. Which is of course what the play wants: to make you feel for each person on stage in two short hours. And Donna Feore’s direction does exactly that. Also she has a great and accomplished cast that lives up to what is expected of them.

But what really got to me: Juan Chioran – the night before I’d seen him in little night music, as furiously jealous Count, in one scene hobbling around with his pants down to catch Fredrik to press him into a duel, and there he was Zach, the man who is hiring, dancing and kicking in perfect unison with the other dancers. It freaked me out how talented these people on stage actually are. May I never forget that again.

A Little Night Music Sept. 16th, ’16



It’s great to see Ben Carlson on stage in a comedy. His timing as the clueless husband of the too young trophy wife was just irresistibly funny. The story is I think well known (also I saw it before on Broadway so you can find it in my own blog. It’s about a husband finding out he married the wrong woman (girl, in this case), about a successful actress realising she needs more than another fling outside her profession and a child watching the night smile three times – once for the young, (as the young wife finds love with her husband’s son and two servants indulge in a fling) once for the adults, (the actress (Yanna McIntosh) and the married man(Carlson as Fredrik)  coming together for good this time, the married lover (Juan Chioran) getting back to his understanding wife(Cynthia Dale)) and once for the old(Rosemary Dunsmore), who smile over long gone stories while they slip into the last sleep.

With a great cast and an incredibly elegant choir the Avon also outdid itself with a lavish stage design. Sondheim’s songs never sounded better (I’m absolutely certain that this is not a musical but something so much greater) and “Send in the clowns” brought me to tears. It’s a wonderful production with lavish costumes.

An absolute winner, unless you sit next to a continuously farting man who stank to high heaven. Sigh. Oh well.

John Gabriel Borkman Sept.15th,’16

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In a world of ice and snow, the cold creeps inside you and kills.

This is a play about responsibilities and acceptance – we delve into the ugly hidden depths of a pathologically dysfunctional family with no sense of belonging, to the music of pacing to and fro, all the time, every day and night, and it hurts.

John Gabriel Borkman (Scott Wentworth) is a bank manager who got caught embezzling money – a lot of money – from his clients. After five years in jail he has been home for eight years but his desperate, futile,and ineffective attempts at proving his “innocence” have kept him locked and pacing in the upper ballroom of his once grand mansion which now is derelict and filled with papers, letters and files. The lower floor belongs to his wife Gunhild (Lucy Peacock) who hasn’t spoken to him since his trial. She too is trying to prove something. She feels betrayed – she’s better than being the wife of a criminal. so her son Erhart (Antoine Yared) will have to rectify the situation, he must restore the house to former glory and therefore must sacrifice his life to that cause.

Into this oppressive, cold and sickly family barges Gunhild’s twin sister Ella (Seana McKenna) with a plan of her own. She was the only client of Borkman who didn’t lose money. She was Borkman’s love. A love that got sacrificed for the career Borkman had, advancing from the simple miner with the urge for a better life than listening to the or sing when it comes loose, to a banker with status. Now she wants Erhart – the son she never had but whom she took in for years because Gunhild couldn’t cope – to care for her – in exchange for money.

Ella is the catalyst that brings everything down. Gunhild reveals her controlling, bitter self, Borkman is deluded enough to hang onto his shiny past to make it right there instead of trying to start anew. And Erhart has found a more cheerful prospect on life in the arms of a “naughty” ill reputed woman and won’t fulfill his mother’s dreams of justice, nor his father’s dreams of work, nor his aunt’s dreams of having a carer in her last days.

The tragedy is that neither of them actually advances. Ella will be clinging to Gunhild who in return will inherit money. Erhart goes from one dependency (his mother) to another (the woman of ill repute who takes him with her) and Borkman? When he finally leaves the upper ballroom to breathe in the fresh cold air he sees his plans before him again. Imprisoned in a past that never happened he envisions an or- fuelled future that already started without him. An icy iron hand clasps his heart… alone , even though Ella is with him, he dies in the snow, only finalising what had already happened years ago.

The two sisters try to grasp each other…


The play was so riveting I went to see it twice. A stellar cast feeding off each other on stage is a rare thing and should be worshipped like that. Wentworth once again dominated the play, his self assured delusions frighteningly real. That he takes his bows jokingly in the rhythm of the dance macabre did make the transition from wintery Norway back to Stratford easier. His warm demeanour towards this still awestruck fan was a huge bonus.

As you like it Sept.15th, ’16

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Yes!!! Interactive Shakespeare!!! Everyone in the audience got a little baggie with a twig, a blue fan (the colour is of importance), a clothes pin, a poem, a paper crown, but also stones, carrots,stars. And then we turned into trees, waves, we got glowing stones for a barbeque, little boxes that made sheep sounds and bells, so that we could play goats. We clapped, sang along with the actors, some audience members even got on stage to dance. To say that was brilliant would be underselling this event.

Add to that a fantastic cast, led by the goddess Hymen (Robin Hutton) who directed the audience both on stage and in the rows and magic is happening.

Set in the 1980ies in Newfoundland (one actor spoke the dialect but was mercifully translated … damn, it’s a totally different language) you have daring costumes (yes, we did wear that kind of atrocities in public. May those times never return!!) the story about a disgraced duchess who runs into the woods, a young woman, Rosalind, who is cast out by her uncle (Scott Wentworth) and flees with his daughter into the woods while dressed as a man, followed by Orlando, another cast away younger son,who’s in love with Rosalind, meeting a Shepard and his shepardess, finding shelter, becoming better versions of themselves and finally finding the love they all were looking for – with a little help of a goddess of course. It could be a fluff piece but it fits right into the festival’s theme of fugitives, finding new home and happiness despite large obstacles being shoved at the individuals.

Robin Hutton was a brilliant Maître d. , organising the audience with the help of the actors, so that in the end we all were part of the play.

I also love to see actors doing Macbeth one day and As you like it the next (or like Scott Wentworth As you like it as a matinee and John Gabriel Borkman in the evening) – it shows off the great range of talent this rare company possesses. It was an amazing play and is definitely must see theatre in the best Shakespearian way.


Macbeth Sept. 14th, ’16

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Another Macbeth! This time without transporting it into the now (or rather the 60ies in South Africa, even though I liked the idea back then)

No, this time it’s the classic approach with lots of thunder, lightning, howling, three exceptionally frightening wise ladies, and a cauldron that is cooking up some dangerous, evil things. It’s truly a nice change to all that “adapting” that happens in the Aeneid. Again the cast is great, the interaction between Macbeth Ian Lake and his lady Krystin Pellegrino reminded me a lot of that one scene in “slings and arrows” 💬👇- in other words: brilliant. Scott Wentworth as Banquo was fantastic – no surprise. I have up until now loved everything he’s done at the festival so far. Again he is tackling a father’s part (merchant of Venice was one of his strongest parts and I loved him in it) and it’s great to see him change from warrior to doting parent. The chemistry between the actors works, therefore a great evening is had by all.

No great surprises, but a solid performance and a credit to the festival.


☝💬 The scene I was referring to: in the TV show, when Macbeth returns from war, his wife – unbeknownst to the actor playing the lead – starts kissing him, then in a surprise mone rips off his pants to the deafening applause of the audience. Well, the pants stay on in this production,but boy, that shirt off scene… is it getting hot in here???

The Aeneid Sept.13th, ’16

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This is a shiny example of a play you either love or hate. So let me tell you why I don’t love it 😉

First of all: the cast was very good. Aeneas (Gareth Potter), Ascanius (Malakai Magassouba) and Hector (Mike Nadajewski) are doing a great job. I also liked the stage design, minimalist and dark, it lent an additional flair of depression and anxiety to the production.

But. What I didn’t realise beforehand but probably should have guessed: this was a total rewrite – and admittedly the logical way to deal with the ancient play in this day and age. So we have fugitives running from their burning homes in the face of a war they don’t want, to places where they’re not wanted, repeatedly giving up security and happiness for what they think is their right: land. Not A land, but land to rule over. Slowly everybody dies around Aeneas, (the princess being another fugitive who has a job, the trip into the underworld a drug addled nightmare, friend Ascanius prostituted out to the female rug dealer and finally as the last of his friends dying in the last desperate attempt to flee from yet another fugitive camp) until Aeneas, his young son and his new lover/wife find a place where they are allowed to stay, a land for them. Hope blossoms.

Unfortunately I had one feeling throughout the play: the irrational urge to scream: thank you, Canada, with your 20.000 fugitives, mostly families, for telling me, the European, overrun by approximately 2 millions of fugitives, mostly young men, that these people need help and support. Franco Canadian writer Olivier Kemeid (who apparently won prizes for this play) draws a bleeding heart picture, efficiently omitting the glaring problems European countries face under the onslaught of fugitives. Yes, I do want to help them, and I did/still do. Yes, nobody should have to run from his home. But to make fun of overwhelmed officials who are bound by laws is a cheap way of creating sympathies and in my case played not in the narrative’s favour. To leave out the problems of concerted attacks on female victims because they dress differently in the streets or -even worse- in public swimming areas, the fact that so many young men come without any passports because they are advised to burn them in order to conceal their origins and lastly the -luckily very few- men who come in the guise of fugitives but are in truth part of IS’ agents … all that makes for a poorly written one sided script that misses diversity as much as another angle of approach.

Mr Kemeid’s family apparently was forced to leave Cairo in 1952 and came to Canada. In his small autobiographical blurb in the programme he emphasises that they didn’t claim to be of a chosen people – an uncalled for slight against Judaism. He speaks of the Epic of the dispossessed and how Aeneas seeks a state, a country for his son, in which they can live , basically ruling out any form of adopting another peoples’ way of life. It is this kind of entitlement that is actually building walls between people. Walls that are enforced by an almost stubborn inability to at least learn the new language that some fugitives make their own. It would have been nice if these problems were addressed in the play, but that – seems to me – was to much to want from this script.

Fun facts: according to my wonderful host Joan, a couple of British guests left at intermission, calling the play “rubbish”. And even some of the actors themselves aren’t totally sold on it: at least one can’t wait till It’s done.


Clinton The Musical Aug., 2016


William Jefferson Clinton / Simon Burke

I don’t even know where to start.

It’s brilliant. Amazing. Hilarious. Irreverent. Crass. And brilliant again.

And with a light hand picks up current politics as well as the shenanigans of the Clintons back then in 1998.

So let me start with a bit of meta-info:

Michael and Paul Hodge are the playwrites (Michael, the older one, is also a barrister) and came up with the idea of a musical about Clinton by way of a joke made by a friend of theirs. It took a bit, but they finally brought the musical to Edinburgh’s fringe festival and later on after a couple of rewrites for the US-market (you don’t need to explain this, everybody knows!) to Off-Broadway winning prizes along the road. And even though the show wasn’t actually acknowledged by the White House, some official men in black came one night and laughed heartily at the irreverent jokes – as well as some friend of Monica’s who actually believed Miss Lewinsky would have found it fun to watch.

The story is known by everyone who wasn’t living under a stone in the late 90ies (or not born yet): We are following William Jefferson Clinton’s imploding double life – he himself said in his autobiography that he felt sometimes as if he was leading parallel lives; on the one hand the suave and charismatic diplomat who steered the US of A out of financial troubles and into a better future, and on the other hand the still charismatic but also roguish and reckless saxophone playing entertainer who strayed from the married way more often than not.

Which of course led to pretty intern Monica Lewinsky and the Republicans’ war against the President. And even though his political opponents had the “stained dress” and witness statements, they weren’t able to dethrone the charismatic president. Neither Kenneth Starr who investigated Clinton’s affairs (and has just been fired/retired from his university job because of … wait for it — a sex scandal involving the football team), nor Newton Gingrich, the Republican speaker of the house, who began coughing while criticizing Hillary Clinton for coughing, have been glaringly successful since Monica-gate.


Now finally on to Clinton The Musical

When the curtain rises we see a person in pants sitting with their back to us, the audience, smoking a cigar. The impressive leather chair turns – and it’s Hillary Clinton (fabulous: Lisa Adam), telling us she ever only loved two men her whole life, and they were one. Enter William Jefferson Clinton, suave, charismatic, statesmanlike (the sublime Simon Burke), introducing himself with “I’m William Jefferson Clinton”  –  in struts another man from the other side (radio morning show host Matt Dyktynski) with the same line, just adding “But you can call me Billy, darling”. So while William Jefferson is trying his best to win the Presidency in order to give people a better life, in order to have a legacy (cue Hillary stage whispering “Legacyyyyy”) with telling them that he’s from Hope, it is the roguish Billy – he plays the Sax!!! – who wins over people, because he knows that “people have the attention span of a congested gold fish and politics is showbiz for ugly people!”

The Clintons win – WJ paints the future in The Me I See in glorious colours (Simon Burke’s voice is incredible sigh) – then try to get rid of Billy for the term. Because he lies (I’m creative with the truth) and has no moral compass (I just don’t use it) and because he’s trouble (no! Trouble finds me). This of course sets the stage for a power struggle between the two Williams for the White House and for dominance over Clinton himself. While William and Hillary celebrate their win (would I ever lie) out of the shadows comes a bored intern leading a group of tourists – and stops in her tracks because MR PRESIDENT!!!! I’m Monica (Megan Kozak, her first engagement and boy is she talented)… and off it goes with a kiss that takes minutes there on the steps and Billy declaring his love to Monica – would I ever lie – it’s a brilliant 4some happening; two duets merging into one brilliant song.

Meanwhile at the Republican’s headquarter “a Starr” is wished upon… Ken Starr (Brendan Hanson), the prosecutor, emerges from behind a wall-door in a black coat and hat and he wants Clinton buried deep. In his intro it turns out he wears leather chaps over an american flag thong. It is a safe laugh of course, but also a bit cringeworthy. He dug up a land deal in which the Clintons lost money “Whitewater arrrghhhh” and feeds that to the press. and even though nobody really knows what Whitewater (arrrrrgghhhh!!!) is, WJ is in trouble for the first time as the press is covering the story “today… and tomorrow… and the day after that”. Because the Republicans and especially Newt Gingrich (hilarious and whiney and great Luke Hewitt, snacking throughout the show!) want Clinton and his health care plan by Hillary (“a witch!!” hisses Ken Starr) dead and buried. and it works because congress says “nay”.

And then there’s Monica who is “fucking the fucking president, oh yeah, u hu! I’m fucking the fucking president shazam!!!” but as she can only see one Bill Clinton at a time, she’s devastated when WJ breaks up with her. The budget is – thanks to Billy’s plan to outmanoeuver Newt – balanced, people love their president, Hillary urges both men to work together (you must go both ways) to get re-elected, so “what could go wrong?” A subpoene, that’s what could go wrong.

It’s all downhill from then on – WJ doesn’t want anyone to know about Billy and therefore lies to Starr, his State of the Union-address doesn’t have anything sexy or legacy worthy in it and the press is asking about Lewinsky. In a rousing song about A Place Called Hope William dreams up his vision of America, a vision he’s had since before he was born… “where fox news were made illegal, where everyone would have an education, a house and such, and would need no guns because there are none and would go to church, but not too much. Where two gay men would marry, and adopt a child named Harry and join the Milit-ary and it would be heaven for them. … in a place called Hope”. There’s no time for that, though. Cast aside, Monica decides to side with Starr who – snake like – has waited in the shadows for her call. Together with Monica’s “friend” Linda Tripp (an amazing Clare Moore in a christmas themed pullover, who also doubled as a reporter, Eleanore Roosevelt and Callista Bisek) he has the witness, the DNA, the dress and Monica to ruin WJ, who in the meantime has confided in Hillary (she has plans of her own, to make 8 years in the White House into 16 and Trump plays his part in this…) who is devastated.

Only a miracle can now save the President. A miracle in the form of Callista Bisek – who has intimate relations with Speaker of the House Gingrich. She reluctantly after being outed by Clinton helps WJ understand that he will succeed only when showing his dark side, or in his case: Billy to the people who are judging him.

The trial in front of the congress is about to start, with Billy watching if his alter ego is going to be thrown out of office. But with political half truths William Jefferson manages to escape Starr – he first asks for the paper about sexual relations being explained, which both Starr and the Sheriff (Luke Hewitt obviously enjoying the song) then interpret: “if it’s groin, labia or glands, breast, hands or chest….then it is … sexual relations”. But, what a regrettable oversight indeed, the MOUTH is never mentioned. And President Clinton’s statement that he never had sexual relations with Monica therefore was correct.

Meanwhile Hillary is crushed. Betrayed once again by her unfaithful husband she sobs into the huge desk in the oval office, when Eleanore Roosevelt steps out of her portrait (it’s so lifelike, remarked WJ in the beginning) and gives out good advice to Hill: you’re like a bag of tea – you never know how strong you are until you’re put into hot water. Hillary should stay true to her husband – not out of love or for the marriage – no, for the country. Hillary misunderstands again: she won’t be discarded like a tea-bag – she’ll be president – a bitter brew but strong!

At congress it’s all about dismissing Clinton, who finally admits his sins, showing that he is just human. Even Billy helps to get Monica to forgive him and Callista – who wants Newt for herself – is center stage singing “I’m fucking the fucking speaker, oh yeah!” Then even Hillary joins her husband at congress, waiting for the verdict but the two Bills already have a plan – the lights go out. And in red glittery jackets they appear before congress: two men who make one hell of a president. Clinton is not thrown out of office, Hillary goes on to announce her candidacy for president – just not right away, tea needs time to brew after all – and the two Bills strut down the stairs “Then we’ll be fucking the fucking president, oh yeah, shazam”.




Are you still with me? good!

The cast is marvellous. Seven people, on stage almost all the time, their chemistry is shining through the play. A riot Lisa Adam who unabashedly hogs the stage with her  energy. Her antics in her dreadful water colour suits are amazing. (Set and costume designer Bruce McKinven really outdid himself with a brilliant White House dominating the rotating stage and the dated dresses he created! loved it!!)  She is the ecstatic worshipper, the air guitar player, the driven politician and the gleefully echoing “Legacyyyyyyyyyyyy” wife and brilliant.

Clare Moore as Eleanor Roosevelt’s portrait is quoting the past first lady and being misinterpreted by Hillary – she is brilliant in her multiple parts, as a reporter (what the fuck is Whitewater arrrghhh???) as well as the American woman. And I love her Callista who really hates WJ but still talks sense to him.

Luke Hewitt: I almost broke something laughing when he slurped canned peaches during the impeachment scene (I love peaches!! he’d confessed before). His portrayal of a whiney, not very clever politician who does, well, nothing at all is hilarious and awesome – he is snacking through all his Gingrich scenes leading to slapstick comedy with a too tight belt or a too tight corset or a moment of clarity when he asks Ken Starr if it’s bad to have an affair… asking for a friend…

Which leads me to Kenneth Starr played by Brendan Hanson. Now, don’t get me wrong – he’s a good actor with a strong set of pipes and some hilarious one liners written into his part. But… One newspaper wrote about his almost aggressive portrayal of a gay man. And that was my problem with his interpretation. Of course the whole musical is way over the top (in a truly brilliant way) and blunt and fun, but I cringed when he started slapping his bare buttocks or got the definition of sexual encounters on paper out of his fly. Yes, it’s a programmed laugh, yes, it’s entertaining, but less would have been more, at least for me.

On to the two Clintons. Matt Dyktynski managed to be roguish without being sleazy, and made it very easily believable that women were falling for him left and right. When it is stated that the National Guard was procuring women for him, he steps in, enraged “That is a blatant lie. I procured them myself!” and I swear, me and every woman in the audience believed him. When I met him after the show I gushed a bit and he answered: I live to give! I’m not quite sure if he realised that this tagline was so Bill Clinton I almost choked on my water.

“I’m William Jefferson Clinton” are the first words Simon Burke sings when entering the stage. He sings it American, his accent flawless. When he talks, his voice is slightly hoarse and has the drawl Bill Clinton has. He’s one minute suave, the next comically wringing hands, being afraid of Hillary or trying to bring order to chaos and not succeeding. His talent shines – even more so when the sheet covering the huge portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t budging and he improvised, which brought on more laughs. I especially adored his “The me I see” – his first big number, ending on a high note and perfectly executed every time I saw the show. Or his A Place called Hope – the lyrics both earnest statement and hilariously surreal, he creates a new world with his voice, a world we all would love to live in, never falling out of his American accent. Which brings me to the impeachment scene: I swore I saw Clinton sitting in this chair, playing with his glasses, shrewdly commenting around the truth. Even his gestus was on point!  His voice (yes, I am a huge fan, so sue me) is rich, velvety, belting when necessary, lyrical in intimate duets. I was so lucky to see this performance.


Also: huge thanks to the cast, the people of the black swan theatre and everyone involved for making me feel like a VIP – I have never been so well treated. I am still in shock and awe about it. Just please believe me when I say I loved every second of it and am hugely grateful.

My gratitude to Simon has no bounds. Nor has my admiration and love for him. Thank you for making this trip an extraordinary experience. You rock.