The King and I Aug 21st, ’18

london west end

 

It was everything that I’d hoped for. The kids were cute, the english teacher was great and had a powerful voice, the young lovers were endearing and Ken Watanabe was amazing. I left still humming “shall we dance, one two three” and that is high praise from me. I was a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see naoko mori,  but her second placement as Lady was very good. And I am happy that  i saw Watanabe,  who had visible fun on stage and transferred that enthusiasm seamlessly into his part.

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The Lieutenant of Inishmore Aug 20th, ’18

london west end

 

I initially booked this show because of Aiden Turner who is famous for mowing grass shirtless and brooding in a very sexy manner on TV. Lucky me, he’s also a good actor who thrives on stage and very obviously has a load of fun.

It all starts with a poor brutally slaughtered cat. Wee Thomas is Padraik’s black cat; Padraik, who went off to become an Irish hero and fight the British,  but as a splinter group that attacks mostly shops and the odd pills and marihuana dealer, whom he tortures with happy glee. Just when he’s about to cut his victim’s nipples, his phone rings and his dad informs him that Wee Thomas is poorly. (Because he wants to break the news of the black cat gently so as not to trigger mad Padraik’s really mad temper) . But it’s triggered, of course and mad Paddy on his way home to check on his only childhood friend, the little black kitten that would go on days long benders and come back with a swagger and really hungry.

At home his dad and Donny are fretting about how Paddy will react to the death of his cat. They even obtain a cat, albeit an orange one and start dying it with shoe cream. But while they desperately try to cover up the death of Tom, there are three members of the nra who wait for the splinter group coming back home. They even had his cat killed to lure him back home to stand trial for his rather mad endeavours.  Padraic though is greeted by Mairead, 16 years young and with a desperate crush both on him and on the freedom of Ireland. She’s a master shot and gets weak kneed when he kisses her.

Padraic of course sees through the cover up, kills the orange cat and is about to slaughter his father and Donny when those three nra members step in. Mahem breaks out. Padraic is almostbat his wits’ end, but all of a sudden sharpshooter Mairead takes out their eyes and just as they’re about to die they confess to Wee Thomas’ murder. If only Padraic hadn’t killed the orange tabby and if only said tabby weren’t owned by Mairead and if only ….  and just as dad, Donny and Mairead are cleaning up four dead bodies, the window slips open and Wee Thomas struts in, hungry and swaggery…

The blackest of comedies had me roaring with laughter, the cast was incredible and Turner, thankfully cast against his TVparts is allowed to shine. It’s an over the top, irreverent, fun, glimpse on the fight for freedom… oh, no, not really, it’s just a brilliant hilarious comedy full of vicious humour and pointed dialogue. And Aiden Turner didn’t even have to lose his bloodied shirt. 😁😁😁

 

The Book of Mormon Aug 18th, ’18

london west end

Fun. No, really, FUN! It’s funny to watch members of a nutty religion being sent to Uganda to bring new sheep into the fold. It’s funny to see them struggle with their sexuality and the terrible dangers around them, and how their naivety somehow saves them even from the brutality of a warlord. It’s fun to see the least of the Elders turning everything around with his hairraisingly outlandish lies, because all of a sudden they don’t feel so outlandish any more. Don’t fuck babies to cure aids, fuck a frog. Don’t mutilate women’s genitals or you’ll be turned into a frog that’ll be fucked to cure aids…

It’s especially funny to see christians laugh about the absurdity of the Mormon religion because quite frankly, pot, meet kettle.

The cast is amazing. Their energy ist boundless and the intro number Hello is a fantastic win. Just as the rousing number Hasa Diga Eebowai which means, roughly translated: Fuck you, God! And in the end everything’s great and they all live happily ever after in the name of the book of Arnold (which is the first name of Elder Cunningham), a brilliant parable on christianity with a dash of fanatism added for good measure.

Killer Joe Aug 18th,’18

london west end

 

It’s the demise of a dysfunctional family amid thunder and lightning as a catalyst, as if the electricity fuels the actions of otherwise inert people. Mom has left long ago, with a new boyfriend, Hick. The daughter, Dottie, is a bit slow from when her mother tried to smother her with a pillow. The son, Chris, is on drugs most of the time and in dire need of money. Father Ansel watches tv and his live in girlfriend Sharla has a new man already. Trailer park idyll. Until Chris comes up with a plan. Mom has a life insurance made out to Dottie. 50.000 $. If they give 25.000 to crooked cop Joe, they could start a new life – away from the trailer park.

Bad luck, though. Joe wants his money up front… but  – with a glance at teenaged Dottie – he’s willing to take her as a “retainer”… it takes a while and a thunderstorm for Chris to realise what this entails, but by then Joe has moved into Dottie’s room and Chris’s scruples about killing his mom come too late. Unfortunately mother didn’t leave a cent of her insurance money to her daughter. All goes to her boyfriend, Hicks and Joe can’t be paid. Also it turns out that Sharla knew this all along, as a furious Joe points out. And in a rage fuelled by yet another furious thunderstorm detective Joe uncovers Sharla and Hicks’ plot. They’d used Chris’ desperation to organise the murder of his mom, then prepared to leave with the money. Only Joe was faster. He took revenge on Hicks, and now comes to lay claim on  Dottie, and when Chris tries to defeat him with a gun, they fight. Until Dottie has the gun and with every thunderous lightning takes out another family member until all she can say is : baby…. Joe smiles brilliantly,  a baby? Thunder claps….

This play lives only through the presence of the actors, otherwise being full of plotholes and leaps in thought. Luckily the participants in this play were extraordinary.  Sophie Cookson as Dottie was magnificent, Adam Gillen as her brother amazingly disgusting, Neve Mcintosh and Steffan Rhodri as the parents made you consider parricide and even the stage with its derelict trailer contributed to the tristesse of the story. I was positively surprised by how tremendous Orlando Bloom was, though. He was cold, dead, awful, grimey, disgusting, intimidating and frightening, all rolled into this cocksure ugly lawman who exists outside the law. Yes, he is very good looking, and yes, we all enjoyed seeing him in the buff for a couple of blessed seconds, but the depth of character he displayed was truly remarkable. He’s smaller than I’d expected him to be, but his personality was much larger than I thought.

Frozen April ’18

london west end

I admit I came for Suranne Jones. I wanted to see her live. Of course she was ill/not there and replaced by Roisin Rae who was magnificent as the grieving, desperate mother who tried not to give up hope of finding her 10 year old daughter, neglecting her older daughter.

It takes years but they catch the serial killer, played by Jason Watkins. And by god, but he is brilliant. Pure evil, charming, manipulativ, he portays his character with vicious energy that frightened the living daylights out of me. Nina Sosanya plays the psychologist who tries to evaluate him and battles her own problems after her coworker/mentor/married lover died.

But as I said – it was Watkins who scared me shitless. The play is a nightmare scenario and the audience was riveted and squirming in their seats. I know, I was.  In the best possible way. But I didn’t do stagedoor. I was still too scared😨

Chicago April ’18

london west end

 

Stunt casting at its worst. Cuba Gooding jr doesn’t have the voice for the part and lacks the charisma for the part. His first dance number was actually quite good, a big number after intermission showed his failing stamina. During “they both reached for the gun” the chorus performed half the part of Billy Flynn. So, cuba gooding 👎

Ruthie Henshall (Matron “Mama” Morton)  was absolutely amazing! So were Sarah Soetaert (Roxie Hart) and Josefina Gabrielle (Velma Kelly). Absolutely fantastic. As was Paul Rider’s Mr Cellophane  (Amos Hart).  I just wish CG jr would have lived up to the hype – and the ticket pricing.

Instructions for correct assembly April ’18

london west end

 

“Maybe turn down the ‘opinionated’ dial?”

Harry (Mark Bonnar) and Max (Jane Horrocks) weren’t successful with their first attempt at parenthood. Their son, it turns out over the course of the play, died of an overdose, shattering their world. So, in perfect IKEA fashion, they’re giving it a second go. This time though they’ve got a 30-day money back guarantee and a not so easy-to-follow construction manual. (Self assembly is cheaper after all) They’re certain, as long as they follow it step-by-step, he’s going to be perfect.

But – just like with humans growing up and despite the fact that they can turn up or down the sass level of their custom made “child” … as soon as the warranty runs out, their new son reacts just like their dead child. He leaves. Seems it’s their “programming” that’s faulty. “How does your brain feel”, asks desperate mom Max while fighting the chaos in herself. “Straight lines” is her assembled son’s answer. And straight lines seems to be the solution to all of their problems. Straight lines, no more chaos. Smiles instead of tears. All thanks to a tiny chip….

 

“This might be a little more complicated than the bed but still, I’m sure it’s the kind of thing we can crack on our own.”

Writer Thomas Eccleshare makes his Royal Court debut and it’s brilliant.  On a stage that looks like a puppeteer stage at the beginning and end, we get glimpses of how complicated interacting between parents, between friends, between parents and their children is. And just when you think a dial could give you a well behaved child you realise: you can only change yourself…

Brian Vernel (Jån/Nick) is brilliant. Changing his behaviour, his voice, his whole character literally by the click of a remote control is amazing to witness. Mark Bonnar and Jane Horrocks are amazing as well, dealing with the grief of their real son and the realization that they can’t change their fate – fantastic work.

Stage door : incredibly friendly and outgoing and patient. We were incredibly lucky and happy with our booty. 😊 Mark Bonnar was the reason I went to see the play and he was very nice – and was allowed to use his Scottish accent in the play 😉