As the very epitome of the romantic comedy genre Much ado About Nothing contains all my very favourite tropes; the belligerent sexual tension between Beatrice and Benedict, mistaken identities, and of course the old bluff the eavesdropper stunt. I honestly forgot how funny this play and this newest version on at The Globe makes the most of every single beat and joke.
Set in Revolutionary Mexico, director Matthew Dunster brings new life into Much ado About Nothing. The costumes and music where so vibrant and full of life. It felt like a classic RSC production but will an extra dose of festivity, lighting up our currently greyish corner of London.
There were so many fantastic comedic moments. Beatriz Romilly, and especially doe-faced Matthew Needham nailed it as Beatrice and Benedict. Both characters encumbered with crippling wit that initially cannot co-exist. Every joke, not matter how hideously punny, was not wasted.
Dog Berry and his group of comical watchmen become an American film-director and his three camera-men stodges. Every word the bumbling American says gets hysterically lost in translation – an excellent addition to the play as Dog still remains the incompetent hero of the piece.
Much ado About Nothing marks the penultimate show in Emma Rice’s final Season as The Globe’s artistic director. She quite dramatically left the post after, what seems to be, artistic differences with The Globe’s board. She is to be replaced by actress Michelle Terry. Perhaps an actor-led Globe will be good for it’s future – after all isn’t that how The Globe was run originally? Run by the people who wrote and acted in the plays? I look forward to what this different perspective will bring.
You can get £5 yardling (standing) tickets at The Globe which I highly recommend you do whilst you still have the ability to stand for 3 hours!!!
This wonderful re-imagined play is on until 15th October
Queen Anne ascended to the throne in 1702 after her brother-in-law King William died. She was not glamorous or beautiful, she failed to produce any heirs and reigned for only 12 years.
RCS’s Queen Anne, now transferred to the Westend, marks Anne’s development into a strong leader. It portrays the unhealthy relationship been Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough and it’s eventual demise.
Anne, played by Emma Cuniffe, is pathetic, obsessed with her best friend and emotionally manipulative. Marlborough, played Ramona Garai, is cunning and politically manipulative. Refreshingly, it is not a feel-good play about friendship and female loyalty as one might imagine. My heart swells to find a play of this kind on the westend with women as the focus. Anne and Malborough make and undeniably engaging pair, especially as the ‘puppet master’ gets tangled in her own strings. Garai and Cuniffe’s performances are well matched. Natalie Abrahami’s production is at times fast paced but at other times rather static, there is quite a bit of dialogue which can be difficult to wade through if you’re having trouble catching up with the political machinations. The satirical musical interludes (led by James Christie as the dapper Lord Maynwaring) are immensely entertaining and allow the peasants with short attention spans (me) to get the jist of things. Costumes are also gorgeous, elegant dresses just shy of the extravagant Georgian era.
For those not well versed about this period of time (like myself) it can be a little difficult to follow, but I am quite rewarded in what I discovered about this rarely acknowledged Queen. For example it was her reign that lead to the development of the two party system we have today. And she also solidified Protestant rule in Britain by naming her successor the German King George.
Queen Anne is running at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until September 30. Cheapest tickets are £15. There are also day tickets in person at 10 am on the day of the performance. £10 or £5 for 16-25s
In 2015 the charity Kids Company went bust just a week after receiving a government grant of 3 million pounds. Founder Ms Batmanghelidih was accused of mismanagement. She argued demand for Kids Company was unsustainable due to institutional failings by the government.
The Committee is a verbatim piece from the transcripts of the evidence given by Batmanghelidih and chairman Alan Yentob. And, of course, adapted into a musical. I’m determined to believe that anything can be turned into a musical and I haven’t been proved wrong yet (does anyone remember that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were they all start singing randomly and, initially, nobody really notices – well it was a bit like that.) The Committee was very interesting to watch, I had only briefly heard about it in the news when it happened at the time so it was all very enlightening. however, if it had not have been a musical I probably would have switched off – on the surface the issue doesn’t appear very thrilling.
The singing is skillful and operatic. Batmanghelidih, played by Sandra Marvin, sings woefully of the injustice she has witnessed working with the charity. The musicality of the hearing allows you to feel partly sympathetic to Batmanghelidih. Despite her apparent failings she did try to fight for poverty stricken children of which there are simply too many. Although nobody really comes across very well. Despite seeing ‘The Committee’ I’m still not sure who/what is blame for the Charities failure – at least I’m sure there are several contributing factors.
The Committee is on at the Donmar Warehouse until August 12. If you are under 25 you can see it for free. Sign up at The Donmar Warehouse website for Young and Free email alert for when they release free tickets.
Set in the cubicles of a magazine publishing company, three twenty-something editorial assistants all viciously vie for the next step up the ladder. Initially, Gloria reminded me of Ugly Betty. It felt like watching significantly less glamorous Ugly Betty. It had similar themes of ruthless ambition in a dog eat dog world, although now within a slowly dying industry being consumed by the internet. The titular character Gloria is the office freak who is the butt of everyone’s jokes. Everyone in the office seems to be overtly unhappy but lacking in inspiration as to what to do to change, that is until something major happens at the end of the first act that shakes everything up.
SPOILERS AHEAD- Do not read the text in bold if you’re planning on seeing this play, it may inhibit your enjoyment.
Major spoiler warning! Gloria, having been snubbed one too many times, goes on a killing spree in the office. It’s sudden, bloody and visceral. I was lulled into a false sense of security thinking I knew what I was going to get from this play. I was left in a state of shock in the interval. The second act focuses on the survivors of the incident and they way in which they exploit the tragedy, gaining book and television deals. For survivors Kendra (Kae Alexander) and Dean (Colin Morgan) Gloria is the most significant thing that has happened to them. I found it all strangely relevant owing to the recent spat of tragedies this country has faced – which couldn’t have been predicted whilst the play was in post-production. Do people, whether knowingly or not, exploit tragedies for their own gain? The character’s come from a world of constant ambition so when they are thrust into a life post-disaster they are still unable to let go of their ruthlessness. It’s a fascinating and engaging story.
The cast of six are fantastic across the board. Comically multi-roling a range of different characters. Colin Morgan is especially good as the haggard yet sassy Dean (It’s been five years since the end of BBC’s Merlin and I’m still not used to Colin Morgan playing grown-up parts!) Kae Alexander also makes an amazing Kendra, caffeine-fuelled and motor-mouthed.
Brandon Jacobs-Jenkin, an American playwright, recently had a second play on in the London theatre scene – The Octoroon which closed yesterday at The Orange Tree Theatre. For those who enjoyed that I would strongly recommend seeing Gloria. If you do want to see it you are in luck! An extra week has been added to it’s run. Gloria will be at Hampstead Theatre until July 29th.
Hampton Theatre have an £10 under 30’s deal that apply to certain seats- which I personally love! It’s not just students who are poor. In my experience twenty-somethings are even more strapped-for-crash than students.
There is also a petition started by a Colin Morgan fan base asking Hampton Theatre to have the play recorded for those who do not live within travelling distance of London –> Petition to Hampton Theatre
New York, 1985. Mid Reagan era. Mid AIDS epidemic. Tony’s Kushner bizarre, magnificent, two part play can only be described as a epic, theatrical marathon. This is why I love theatre.
The play follows a group of people all somehow connected. Prior Walter (Andrew Garfield) suffering from AIDs, hallucinating his ancestors; his Boyfriend Louis (James McArdle) suffering from his hallucinating lover; the closeted Roy (Nathan Lane) also suffering from AIDs and hallucinating dead people; Harper (Denise Gough) suffering from an existential crisis and hallucinating Eskimos and her husband Joe (Russel Tovey) the closeted republican. There’s a thin line between hallucinations and reality, all the while there’s an an overwhelming anticipation of something coming. The whole show is seriously freaky and I’m told part two only gets freakier. Just when I got comfortable and thought I knew what I was watching the set unfurled itself like an ominous labyrinth.
The performances are faultless from everyone of the all-star cast. What could potentially be boring, stereotypical characters are developed in 3 dimensional humans that jump off the stage. The use of multi-roling is also the best I have seen in a long time.
Usually I would say that a two part play (the first act having two intervals!) is a little indulgent – it does no favours for the battle for theatre inclusivity. However I can excuse it in certain exceptional occasions (Harry Potter – OMG so good) for which this is one. I just hope this does not become a trend in future play-writing. It’s difficult enough to get tickets to one play! I’m having to watch part two at my local cinema with National Theatre live on the 27th of July. I cannot wait!
Angels in America is at the National Theatre until the 19th of August. But good luck getting tickets because everything is sold out! My friend Amy, got these tickets through the £20 ballot which you can enter. Or there are £15 (£30/33 for double show days) day tickets if you show up before 9:30am. Although, apparently quenes for Angels in America have been known to start as early as 6am!
It seems to me that the West-End is trying in vain to find the new equivalent of ‘Billy Elliot’. I have recently sensed a theme of new “home grown” musicals being based off quirky and classically British films. ‘Bend it like Beckham’, ‘Made in Dagenham’ and now ‘The Girls’. All these a bit hit and miss, and all with disappointingly short runs.
‘The Girls’ by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, is based off the real life story of a Yorkshire WI group who scandalously posed for a nude calendar and in doing so raised millions for Bloodwise (a blood cancer research charity). This was done in the memory of one of the group’s husband who died of blood cancer. Their story was originally made into a film, ‘The Calendar Girls’, and then into a play of the same name. Firth and Barlow obviously figured that a musical should naturally be the next evolution of the story.
It’s a bitter-sweet, yet heart-warming story. It deals with themes of grief and what to do with life after the loss of a loved one. Joanna Riding’s performance as the widowed Annie is beautifully honest and relatable. Her chemistry with Best Friend Chris (Clare Moore) was particularly strong. In fact it was the chemistry the whole group of girls had that was a strong point.
I, however, found that the show dragged. Like, really dragged. The first act was as slow as a lazy afternoon walk through the hills of Yorkshire. I often found myself thinking “Do you really have to sing about that?” Plus quite a few of the songs were not particularly memorable. Thankfully the pace picked up in the second act, when the group hilariously got their kit off. Each member of the group had their own battles to face and their own reason to do the calendar. When it finally came round dis-robing the event was all the more riotous because of those battles. Props to the fantastic group of actors for such inspiring confidence! I’m not going to lie, I saw quite a few nipples.
I’m a bit on the fence with The Girls. For me it was a problem with pace. A whole half hour could have been shaved off the 2 hours 45 minute running time in my opinion.
The Girls is on at the Phoenix Theatre and is closing on the 15th of July. But a national tour is starting on the 15th of August in Leeds!
To find out more about the work Bloodwise go to–> https://bloodwise.org.uk/
1979. Bristol. A bunch of no good, scrappy youths are tricked into building a playground out of junk by their groovy, flare wearing mentor. Junkyard, a charming musical by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), harks back to a time where children ran free and savage.
This ensemble cast are each exceptional at portraying this sense of youth and adventure in this unique coming-of-age tale. There’s a sense of disillusionment, yet a powerful spark of childish optimism. There’s light and shade to all the characters. Admittedly the first act is an extremely slow burner. The songs felt dreary, repetitive and not particularly emotive. I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. But when the second act came rolling in I fell in love with the group and I fell hard. Erin Dotherty’s performance as Fiz was timed to comedic perfection. And Jack Riddiford’s mischievous Higgy won my heart with his cheeky/creepy smile and completely erratic characterisation.
The playground itself was any child’s (and probably set designer’s) dream. The actors constructed it themselves throughout the play. An impressive barricade was even constructed during the climax of the second act – one that could possibly rival Les Mis! I was tempted to get up and play on it myself, despite the fact I’d probably get a splinter and a life-long ban from The Rose Theatre.
One might assume that having not spent my childhood in the 70’s or 80’s I would not be able to connect with the sense of nostalgia the play evoked, yet the message of the story is still relevant to today’s generation. Children will always have the right to play no matter how many times the term ‘childhood’ is redefined. And places like the Lockleaze playground in Bristol should always be there to facilitate that right.
A feel good show that is not for all the the family because the word punt* is used quite a lot.
Junkyard at The Rose Theatre closes on Sunday the 30th of April.
Special thanks to @amymccann39 for booking these tickets. The Rose run a under 26 £5 offer for certain performances, Mon-Thurs & Matinees.
*what rhymes with punt?