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😨

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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 😉

The Best Man April ’18

london west end

 

May the best man win. A democrat and a republican fight for the approval of the US-president for their presidential campaign. The democrat – Martin Shaw – is every democrat’s wet dream, honest to a fault. Jeff Fahey is the intelligent version of Trump, using every dirty trick in the book. In the end, over the dead president, the democrat gives his votes to an unknown candidate, thus outmaneuvering the Trump double. (I wish that had happened in real life as well)

Done in a classical way the play takes place in two realistic hotel suites, and is directed rather uninspired and plain. But Shaw and Fahey, already combattants in 12 angry men, make the play sparkle and work. Their two characters go at each other’s throats and manipulate and fight, and it’s – not least because of the current political climate in the US – with frightening joy the audience watches.

And if I ever find the idiot who wasn’t able to turn his fucking phone off THREE  TIMES I might just shove it up his private parts

Stage door: Jeff Fahey is incredibly charming and friendly and sweet. Martin Shaw signed! Well, for about ten seconds 😉

The Treatment Apr. ’17

london west end

Anna (Aisling Loftus) has a story to tell.

We are in the minimalist office of a pair of filmmakers Jennifer (Indira Varma) , clearly the more driven part of this work and pivate relationship,  and Andrew (Julian Ovendon), the more hedonistic part, where they both try to find a new treatment for a movie.

There’s Clifford (Ian Gelder) , who once wrote a play that made it to broadsway and since then has written a new play each year in the hopes of recapturing his erstwhile success. He lives for this but has to sell his last valuables just in order to survive,  not that he would  actually say that, even though he tells everybody who stops at his flea market stand his story.

The story he wants to sell to Jennifer and Andrew for quite a while now, is about an artist who paints a pair of lovers after he watches their love making with  their consent. When he is run over by a bus, his apartment is sold to a religious woman, who, after discovering his secret studio, destroys his masterpieces because they offend her religion.

Anna’s story is different.  She tells about her life, clearly traumatised, of being tied to a  chair by her husband, being worshipped, being told stories. Not being allowed outside… Jennifer tries to spicen up the tale by alleged sexual assaul, violence, but Anne is adamant:  nothing like it happened.  She’s just being kept like a treasure in a safe place.

As she tries to run, she meets an apparently blind taxi driver, who navigates the streets of New York seemingly by sound only. Still, he’s sunny and friendly, an aberration in an otherwise cold world.

It’s now that Jennifer and Andrew call Clifford to get Anne’s story in the form of a treatment. The story has already changed significantly due to Clifford’s input, and the ideas a director – apparently Jennifer’s ex lover – offers.

By the time Andrew seduces Anna while Clifford is watching in the shadows, Anna’s story has merged into Clifford’s story and taken on a new life. A life Anna hadn’t lived. A life distorted from reality. It’s then Anna’s husband finds her, changed, more mentally hurt and violated  than before,  and he accepts her challenge. He blinds Clifford to avenge Anna.

The movie is a huge success. Jennifer basks in it until she realises that her secretary,  who played Anna, is the star – and the director’s new fling. Andrew is on his way to search for Anna.  He finds her, sitting in a chair as if bound, waiting for her husband to come and cook for her. When he arrives a fight breaks out and she flees this violence.  A gunshot rings. Jennifer has killed Anna. Her panic had made her blind to the fact that it was Anna running towards her.

The blind cab driver has a new client. A client he’s very proud to have. It’s Clifford who finally and thanks to his script for the movie is famous again.

How do we perceive truth. Is my version of my truth the right one or even the only one? How much are we all influenced by preconceived notions of “truth”? How much are we letting ourselves be influenced by the truths od others? Hwo much are we destroying others when we pin our truths onto them?

The play gives us a lot of questions and some answers but it is the actors who make us believe and think and feel with them. Indira Varma as the cool, high heeled domina like interrogator was just brilliant. Julian Ovendon creeped me out – so that’s  a thumbs up as well. I liked Aisling Loftus but got put off by some of her mannerisms she probably created for her character. And I absolutely adored  Ian Gelder, who incorporated the needy, talkative, lonely writer, who who had to sacrifice his sight for his lifelong dream. There’s a scene where the cast is celebrating and dancing – utter perfection.

Yup, saw it more than once. Even met Ben Daniels, when I  tried to not fall out of a taxi, when he was in the audience just like me.

Red Velvet Jan.25th, ’16

london west end

 

I had seen the play in 2012, when it played at the Tricycle Theatre very off West End and I loved it then. The story of now almost forgotten Ira Aldridge, the first Othello of colour in London, who was run out of town after only two shows, and made it in the rest of the world was gripping and heartwrenching and Adrian Lester, calmly putting white make-up on to play Lear, was an image that rocked me to the core.

It’s even better now. The casual discrimination displayed in every word the fellow – white – actors utter, the thoughtless xenophobia and therefore hostility against Ira Aldridge comes through as even more pronounced in the light of a global refugee crisis. Add to that the artistic “war” between Kean’s baroque and stencilled way of staging Othello, and Aldridge’s much more modern, method interpretation of the Moor and you can see the characters clash. It is due to Lolita Chakrabarti’s writing that is timeless and yet so current, (and Indhu Rubasingham’s directing) that this play elicits gasps from the audience and tears at the end. And it is thanks to the brilliant cast that the play has you entranced.

Ira, now an old man, is playing in a Polish town – best paid actor of all times-, when a very young reporter comes in and tries to interview him. And she asks the one question that you do not ask: Why aren’t you working in London.

It is in flashbacks that Ira remembers the humiliation, the hatred and desperation that had cut his stay short. All that just because his skin was not white. It is a subtle kind of revenge that he has to white-face in the end, to play King Lear …

Adrian Lester is a force of nature, full of passion, fury, desperation and brilliance in this part. His monologues are a joy to watch and listen to. When he recollects his first theatrical experiences in America, his friendship with Pierre Laporte (Emun Elliott) he paints the joy and happiness with his words. When he begs Laporte to let him stay he breaks every heart in the audience. He certainly broke mine.

For me Lester is currently the best and most versatile Shakespeare actor Europe has. To watch him on stage is a privilege.

Peter Pan goes wrong Jan.24th, ’16

london west end

 

Peter Pan. You all know the story. Wendy and her two brothers are “stolen” by Peter, who brings them to Neverland, where they meet the little fairy Tinkerbell, the Indian princess, the crocodile and the pirates, with Captain Hook who tries to capture Peter to exact revenge for his lost hand.

Peter Pan goes wrong. Oh it goes wrong. So much. I cried laughing. Gabe was ordered to pass on a huge electric cable over her head. They were searching for a hammer this time. Then almost threw it over the audience because they needed to secure some of the seats in the theatre. The dog was found, btw (see The Play that goes wrong). They tried to capture the stagefrightened Tootles / Lucy Grove (Ellie Morris) but she escaped numerous times through the audience. Brad Pitt isn’t in the play as well. But Peter Pan / Jonathan Harris (Greg Tannahill) has many and fantastic philantropic causes and adopted two kids, no wait, that’s Pitt again. (yes, those are quotes from the program). Oh and we all mourn the loss of Nadia, the ten foot Nile crocodile that had to be euthanised shortly after arriving in London as it broke loose and wreaked havoc (another quote)

There is not one flying sequence that works. Peter is trying to … mount every woman on his stage and succeeds mostly. The brilliant narrator (Tom Edden) is constantly fighting with his moving chair – and losing. Tinkerbell / Annie Twilloil (Nancy Wallinger) is wearing a tutu with lights – and gets electrocuted (that cable Gabe had to pass on wasn’t as safe as they had hoped). Captain Hook / Chris Bean (Henry Shields) is brilliant with his hook for a hand and slowly losing his cool and his mind when he’s trying to open a bottle of poison to FINALLY kill off Peter. While he struggles with the cork, the audience is “encouraging” him till he mutters: “you’re not helping here. people have to catch trains, you know!” The cork goes back in again and my seat neighbour (3rd row) yells: “Hey, get it on, I have to catch a train!”  I think I died from laughing so much. The look on poor Hook’s face – priceless!!!! Also – Captain Hook insisted that “this is not a pantomime!” – audience: “oh yes, it is!”, Hook “Oh, no it’s not!” …. that went on for quite a while and a couple of times. There was even an incident we all could scream “He’s behind you!!!”

The play’s last scene is making good use of their revolving stage – only the damn thing revolves so fast you barely can see the actors, trying valiantly to stay on the ship, in the bed, on the tree, on the ship, the bed, the tree, ship bed tree, shipbedtree…

they’re having another play out soon. The Comedy about a Bankrobbery, which is a comedy about a bankrobbery. I’ll book as soon as they start selling.