Saturday, 24 December 2016

'Aladdin' Prince Edward Theatre **

For people who know me personally or those who have been reading my reviews know that I am rather partial to cheesy things such as; pop music, films and musical theatre productions, nonetheless, there are moments when the cheesiness takes the biscuit and embarrassing really and some musicals can do just that and this is one such musical. The West End production of, Chad Baguelin, Alan Meaken, Howard Ashaman and Tim Rice’s musical adaptation of the 1992 Disney film, ‘Aladdin’ for me was a rather pitiful and over the top musical which exceedingly lacks in imagination and originality and furthermore, the performances were childishly lacklustre and grated the cheese into its entirety over the entire show. 

‘Aladdin’ is set in Agrabah, City of Enchantment where we are made known of beggar, Aladdin who accompanied by his three best friends, Kassim (Stephen Rahman-Hughes), Omar (Rachid Sabiti) and Babbak (Nathan Amzi) are notorious for stealing food in the area. For Aladdin, he has gone against his promises to his mother who is deceased that he’d never thieve again. At the palace of Agrabah, Jasmine the princess has aggravated her father, the Sultan (Irvine Iqbal) as she has once again turned down the marriage proposal to another prince and the Sultan states to his child that she must court a royal prince. The Sultan’s advisor, Jafar is hatching a plan to become ruler of Agrabah with the assistance of Iago (Peter Howe) need to enter the Cave of Wonders to obtain a lamp; unfortunately Jafar needs someone else to collect the lamp. When Jasmine meets Aladdin for the first time, love does indeed blossom and when Jafar and Iago rescues Aladdin from death; they lure him to the Cave of Wonders where Jafar demands that he must bring him the lamp. Over the course of the performance, Aladdin in the Cave of Wonders locates the lamp and as soon as he rubs the lamp a Genie pops out of the nozzle and explains to Aladdin that he has three wishes that the Genie can grant him and as such; Aladdin uses his first wish to become a prince. Aladdin’s friends are posing as royal associates bursts into the palace and announces the arrival of Prince Ali of Ababwa and intends to wed princess Jasmine and throughout this part of the show, Jasmine just does not want to know and Jafar suspects that something fishy is going on here . When Aladdin is given permission to marry Jasmine, Jafar exposes to everyone that Aladdin is just a street-rat and all hell breaks loose and Jafar has manipulated the Genie to be Jafar’s slave. In order for all to return to normal, Aladdin has to rescue Jasmine, the Sultan and his friends to destroy Jafar’s dictatorship and at the finale, Aladdin defeats Jafar, the Genie is given his freedom and the Sultan allows Aladdin to marry his daughter Jasmine and the rule of marrying a prince is then revoked.  Baguelin’s narrative is enormously clichéd and relatively unfunny as the musical plotline is a carbon copy of the film’s narrative and the musical numbers such as “Friend Like Me”, “Prince Ali”, “A Whole New World” and “Somebody Got Your Back” did not really cut it for me and was not that creatively written and I would have liked more original musical numbers.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Aladdin’ to be truly monotonous as well as the vocals and the dance sequences did not make me that engaged and in actual fact I would rather have consumed a few stiff drinks instead of seeing these rubbish portrayals.  Dean John-Wilson is disappointing as the lead role, Aladdin; especially how cheesy and tedious he comes across and for me that I could not connect to the character which was saddening and his vocals in “Proud of Your Boy” wasn’t that good really. Jade Ewen is woeful as the pretty Princess Jasmine; specifically how yes she is a pretty woman but I just felt that there should have been more substance to her performance and there needed to be more passion between Aladdin and Jasmine and I didn’t see the romance whatsoever. Trevor Dion Nicholas is tasteless as the supposed flamboyant, Genie; mainly how the one-liners just fell as flat as a pancake and for me his depiction was a bit disrespectful to the late Robin Williams who really invented the character to be so hilariously compelling and I simply questioned his motives for the role. Don Gallagher is unpleasant as the villainous, Jafar; for example how shocking the casting of a white man in a role that should have gone to an Asian actor shows how little to the imagination and realism to the community of Agrabah and some parts of his performance just kept crashing down around the show in itself.

Casey Nicholaw’s direction and choreography is horrendous here as he has not successfully presented an original story that incorporates the film but with a fresh twist and for me, the clichéd elements just did not work in increasing my engagement to what could have been amazing, sadly this is no the case and characterisations lacked fluidity. Bob Crowley’s set design and Gregg Barnes’s costumes designs were not that exceptional as the set was too in-yer-face and the costumes were too vibrant and words could not describe how unimpressed I was by what was shown here and I think the set  could have been toned down a considerable amount and I didn’t like it that much. Overall, the experience of, ‘Aladdin’ was not Disney Theatricals’ most polished pieces of work and I just hope that ‘Newsies’ turns up to the West End really soon. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

'Motown: The Musical' Shaftesbury Theatre ****

Berry Gordy Jr did revolutionise the music landscape forever as well as how the general public treated black musicians due to the fact that racism was colossally larger than racism is today and this is all thanks to the genre of music that is Motown. The West End production of Berry Gordy Jr’s 2013 musical, ‘Motown: The Musical’ was a phenomenally stimulating tale of how Motown radically transformed the music industry and as such has inspired the music acts of today, additionally, the offerings were outstanding throughout.

‘Motown: The Musical’ commences in 1983 where famous signers are brought together to celebrate Mowtown Records’ 25th Anniversary, however, we are transported back the 1950’s and acquainted  with Berry Gordy Jr who is meeting with Smoky Robinson and his bandmates from ‘The Matadors’ where Gordy says that they have to rename their group to ‘The Miracles’ to make an impact. He soon launces his own record label in 1959 called Motown Records in Detroit from money he inherited and because of this a musical juggernaut was born. Over the course of the performance, Gordy goes on a search for more artists and signs such groups and solo performers like;  The Marvelettes, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas to increase his catalogue of pop stars.  As the show progresses along, Gorky’s label Motown Records begins to become increasingly popular with listeners and when it is revealed that the artsts are in fact black, some racist comments obviously materialise.  Throughout the course of the 1960’s, Motown Records’ music dominates the Billboard Charts and in this moment of jubilation, we see that The Supremes’ lead singer, Diana Ross and Gordy are in a relationship and noticeably the cracks are forming  and this is only because of Gordy’s behaviour and it only gets worse when Diana goes solo. With the popularity of Motown increasing daily, numerous artists such as; The Jackson 5 sign up to the label and in the background, Gordy has been experiencing changes to the music that is produced and written when song writing/production team, Holland-Dazier- Holland AKA, ‘H-D-H’ dispense of their services to Motown which in turn leads to Gordy taking them to court because of breaches to their agreed contract. The 1970’s shows a slight decline in popularity especially in the late 1970’s and in the 1980’s, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye decide that it is time to leave Motown and find other labels to work with and the music mogul begins to become despondent with his work and life in general. This is displayed by the fact that he is apprehensive to turn up to the 25th Anniversary, nonetheless and at the finale, Gordy’s former flame and former star, Diana Ross nudges him along and he does make an appearance to the party which basically is a thank you to Gordy as he modernised not only the music industry but attitudes towards the black and ethnic communities all over the rest of the developed world. Gordy’s narrative is particularly excellent as we get to the rise and fall of Gordy himself from music magnate to a depressed mess and even though some may find the narrative a bit pretentious as Gordy has written the show himself, I find that there is nothing wrong with the show being a little aloof. And with such musical numbers e.g. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, “Singed Sealed Delivered”, “Dancing In The Street” and “I’ll Be There” did make you want to dance in the aisles as they are tunes we do know mostly lyric by lyric.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Motown; The Musical’ to be luminously spiffing as the vocal abilities and chorographic sequences were categorically gripping and spellbinding actually and a cast of mostly black performers suggest that there was a true representation of the black community on stage. Cedric Neal is wonderful as central protagonist, Berry Gordy Jr; mainly how similar he is to the real Gordy himself and his persona of the character has enabled me to delve deeper into who Gordy was a man and a businessman who wanted a minority community to triumph in a creative industry that was dominated by white music. Lucy St Louis is fabulous as the music icon that is Diana Ross; specially in how we again like Gordy, we see how Diana proved herself to be a terrific performer and how hard it must have been to be in a relationship with not only a colleague but her boss too and her vocals in Ross’ numbers were remarkable. Obioma Ugoala is grand as Gordy’s first music signing, Smokey Robinson; for example how with the initial meeting with Gordy in 1957, a musical giant was born and the music scene was changed forever but for the good and I found the performer himself conveyed the brutal and cutthroat moments that happens in music. Sifiso Mazibuko is blissful as the sensational and smouldering singer, Marvin Gaye; predominantly how we see that he and Gordy had a rather pleasant and loving friendship and the two of them supported each other through the tough and amazing times and it is truly upsetting when he decides to leave Motown and in less than two years he was murdered by his own father for strange reasons.  

Charles Randolph-Wright’s direction is gloriously magnificent here as he has been able to bring us the audience into the music label Motown Records and focussing in on Berry Gordy’s journey of fame and fortune and the characterisations were comprehensive throughout and with the fabulous choreography by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams we are transfixed by music and sparkles that Motown was and is still popular even to this day.  David Korins’ set design and Esosa’s costume designs were extraordinary as the finest details from the set to the costumes brought an abundances of sparkle and glitter which is what you would hope from a show that is based on the Motown Records’ label and the work of Natasha Katz’s lighting, Peter Hylenski’s sound and Daniel Brodie’s projections captured the glitz and glamour that the music industry is supposed to be like where gold recorded are presented aplenty all over the walls. Overall, the experience of, ‘Motown: The Musical’ was clearly a blast from the past where Berry Gordy Jr, a talented music executive and creative helped a decline in racist attitudes and developed the talents of artists like Michael Jackson to superstardom. 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

'A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer' National Theatre, Dorfman ***

Cancer is the illness that just will not go away and when you or someone you love is diagnosed with a form of the cancerous cells in their body it becomes even more personal and the fight for the cure is increasingly desperate. The National Theatre’s production of Bryony Kimmings, Brian Lobel, Tom Parkison and ‘Complicite’s musical, ‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’ was actually an enjoyable musical effort unlike the Arcola Theatre’s horrendous musical, ‘Happy Ending’, moreover, the enactments were rather divine over the entire show.

‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’ is set in a conventional NHS hospital where we are made known of mother, Emma who clenches her baby son in which she has brought him in for tests as there is a possibility that he may have some form of cancer. The writer, who is in fact a performance artist, explains that no one would visit a theatre with such an upsetting scenario so her purpose is to portray a scenario into a more uplifting manner. Over the course of the performance, as one of the nurses takes Emma’s son to be comprehensively tested, Emma meets those who have been affected by cancer, specifically a terminally ill Laura (Golda Rosheuvel), young man Stephen (Gary Wood) and Gia. Furthermore, it is clear that from this journey of Emma who is still awaiting the results to see whether her baby son has cancer, we are given an interesting opportunity and lesson into some of the biology but through glittery clad cancer cells, on the other hand, despite the funny aspects of this, there are the harsh realities that instils what cancer is. We also understand that cancer affects family members and this is shown through Stephen’s overly protective Mum (Amy Booth-Steel) and this is exactly what it is like in real life. Throughout the performance, we learn that cancer can be inherited and this is conveyed through the young girl, Shannon (Rose Shallos) who in actual fact massively courageous and displays a more philosophical approach to a cancer diagnosis. Additionally, we do get to see the pressure that nurses and doctors go through on a daily basis and these in this plot include Dr Lacey (Jenny Fitzpatirck), Dr Jones (Lottie Vallis), Jackie (Francesca Mills) and Ben (Max Runham). The room is engulfed with some blobby figure in order to bring Emma even  more into an anxious state and at this explicit moment Emma only wants to know if her son is okay and is growing even more frustrated. Emma comes into contact with chain smoker, Mark who because of the fact that he has somewhat aided in the progress of his cancer to become worse that he has become estranged from his daughter and he explains this to Emma so eloquently and desires for a reunion. At the finale, Emma is given the tragic news that her little boy has cancer and Emma’s world comes crashing down all around her and it appears that after each performance, a cancer survivor is brought onto the stage and says their own story of their personal battle with cancer and we are allowed to stand up and say one person that we know who has passed away due to cancer. Kimmings’ narrative accompanied by Lobel and Parkinson’s music and lyrics were reasonably accomplished and on the cusp a little bit amusing as the topic of cancer states that we should all try to remain positive despite the fact that this is a life-threatening illness and this is displayed through sympathetic musical numbers.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’ were superb and impressive through beguiling vocals and dance sequences that somewhat reminded me of the National’s musical, ‘’ which is the style that Norris has envisioned for the musical works that are staged there.  Amanda Hadingue is smashing as central protagonist, Emma; essentially how throughout the entire show we see that she that the nervousness of her son’s diagnosis is just what any mother would be like no matter what age they are and it was interesting to see her interact with people who are dealing with the cancer in their bodies allows her to learn about cancer. Hal Fowler is striking as chain smoker cancer victim, Mark; primarily how over the course of the show itself, we at first have a misconception about him as he is not exactly well dressed but this opinion is soon changed as we get to see that his relationships has been shattered due to the fact that he consistently smokes that this is why he has a fractured father-daughter relationship.  Naana Agyei-Ampadu is exceptional as another cancer sufferer, Gia; generally what most impresses me about her performance is her actual vocals in a lot of the musical numbers that she is in is so excellent and shows how large her vocal range actually is and the story of her cancer is rather moving too and fully engages Emma as it is also about people learning from others who have cancer cells.

Bryony Kimmings’ direction is rather imposing here as she has been able to work with her own narrative and present a heart-warming take on cancer which in writing would be a look of pure shock, nonetheless, the tale of a mother who receives such devastating news shows how cancer is around everywhere and it is a virus no matter if you have it or not, plus Lizzi Gee’s choreography was exceedingly good too. Lucy Osborne’s set design and Christina Cunningham’s costume design was particularly triumphant as I was transported to the NHS hospital and it really worked well on the Dorfman stage and the costume designs especially the glitter cancer cell costumes showed a sort of educational element to the show design.  Overall, the experience of, ‘A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer’ to be rather grand but for me the subject has been undertaken with such a sympathetic viewpoint which adds to the impressive nature. 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

'Blue Heart' Orange Tree Theatre ****

It is comprehensively safe to say that some playwrights have an odd and peculiar way in how their plays are displayed due to such themes with regards to social and political contexts to an audience of varied ages. The Orange Tree Theatre’s revival production of Caryl Churchill’s 1997 play, ‘Blue Heart’ which combines two one act plays, ‘Heart’s Desire’ and ‘Blue Kettle’ was an intriguing and positively bizarre show, in addition to this, the interpretations were pleasantly acted.

‘Blue Heart’s first act, ‘Heart’s Desire’ is set in the kitchen of a family house who are awaiting the return of their daughter, Susy (Mona Goodwin) who has been travelling across Australia. Over the course of this section of the play, father Brian (Andy de la Tour), mother, Alice (Amanda Brown) and aunt Maise (Amanda Boxer) go through the same scene over and over again, however, as the same moment is repeated, some increasingly strange things occur such as a giant emu costume with someone inside of it. In addition to this, Susy’s brother, Lewis (Alex Beckett) appears to the family disappointment and this is due to the fact that he is a compulsive alcoholic and is dressed only in just a pair of Y Front tiny pants which suggests that there is a rivalry between the two siblings as Lewis perceives that Susy is their parents’ favourite child. In a rather interesting trail of events, Susy is only ever present at the end of the first act which only suggests that the repetition of the same scene but with extra moments added as the most poignant part of this story. ‘Blue Heart’s second act, ‘Blue Kettle’ takes on a completely different path where fraudulent man, Derek (Alex Beckett) cons a mammoth amount of women in which he tries to convince them that he is their long-lost son, in order to obtain all their money. Throughout this section, the women that Derek is lying to, Mrs Plant (Amanda Boxer), Mrs Oliver (Amanda Brown), Mrs Vane (Janet Henfrey) and Mrs Clarence (Mourousia Frank) are lead to believe that they are in fact Derek’s mother and we all know that this is a long list of lies and deception. Derek’s Mother (Gillian Axtell) is unaware of her son’s illegal activity, nonetheless, Derek’s girlfriend, Enid (Mona Goodwin) knows of Derek’s role as a con artist and is appalled and declares that she and Derek are over and at the finale of the entire show, Derek is left all alone and in my viewpoint, he deserves not the have an easy time as conning elderly people is vile and immoral as you should respect your elders. Churchill’s narrative is riveting as both of the short plays have an array of atypical moments are momentous and to be truthful I kind of knew what I was expecting with the likes of her previous work i.e. ‘Love and Information’ which means that Churchill’s work does not go through a linear route.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Blue Heart’ to be eminently portrayed as the two roles that most actors depict encapsulated the versatility of Churchill’s play  and there were a lot of funny bits especially in ‘Heart’s Desire’. Alex Beckett is brilliant as both Lewis and Derek; mainly as Derek in ‘Blue Kettle’ and how realistic he comes across as a dastardly villain who thinks it is good to manipulate older women and for him to thieve their hard earned money and there is an intensity that resonates in both the physical and vocal aspects of the character.  Mona Goodwin is great as both Susy and Enid; predominantly how even though Susy is not that visibly present in ‘Heart’s Desire’ we can see that she is warming and overjoyed to be reunited with her family and in ‘Blue Kettle’ we see the difference in Enid and this is exactly what true drama training is all about.

David Mercatali’s direction is swell here as he has been able to present a rather thought-provoking take on Churchill’s play and this has been captured with such splendour as both of the short plays have both been given the same amount of time to give the revival a fitting chance and I liked the characterisations too. Angela Davies’ design is pretty cool as we are transported to both locations and the transformations which has been seamlessly and flawlessly aides by the stage management team and the lighting by Chris Swain and sound by Max Pappenheim was of a terrific level of finish and they portrayed the themes and the flow of the story which is what design is supposed to achieve anyway. Overall, the experience of, ‘Blue Heart’ to be a inexplicably compelling show that connects two short plays in one way or another and yet again, the Orange Tree Theatre has produced another excellent production. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

'Dead Funny' Vaudeville Theatre ****

Without any shadow of a doubt, British comedy is the best in the entire world as us Brits are widely known for our dry and witty sense of humour and British situation comedies AKA sitcoms have provided us with some of the most hilarious moments broadcast on British television and British comedians and comediennes are hugely admired. The West End revival production of Terry Johnson’s 1994 play, ‘Dead Funny’ was a roll on the floor play about a group of comedy enthusiasts who cherish their hobby; furthermore, the performances were thrillingly funny.

‘Dead Funny’ is set in 1992 where we are introduced to husband and wife, Richard and Eleanor who are hosting an annual meeting where they discuss and re-enact classic sitcom moments that we should all know and love. Eleanor is not as much of a fan of comedy unlike her husband; Richard who is a bit of an obsessive, nonetheless, when Richard’s friends, Brian, Nick and Lisa come over to Richard and Eleanor’s the drama is soon started. Over the course of the performance, we see that the group show their love for the comedians especially Richard and Brian and it appears that both of the men are a little bit too obsessed with their hobby and Eleanor knows that this passion is really ridiculous. There’s a dark undertone within the story as Eleanor is yearning to have a baby with spouse Richard, nonetheless, Richard does not want to be a father just yet which makes their marriage to become rather awkward. Progressively, Richard and his best-mates wife, Lisa commence an illicit affair and they even have the audacity to have sex in Eleanor’s living room and in order for both their marriages to survive they vow to keep this hush hush. Apparently they are supposed to be joined by more guests coming to the gathering and it is obvious that they’re not coming as they are at someone else’s. Throughout the duration of the plot, it is revealed that Lisa has become pregnant and you can guess who the father is and when the secret is exposed, Eleanor throws Richard out of the house and he stays at Brian’s as he has nowhere to go and it is obvious that Richard and Nick’s friendship is over. Both Eleanor and Nick are completely betrayed by their spouse’s deception and it takes a relatively long time for the group to patch up their problems and at the finale, Nick unleashes all of his anger onto Richard and the meeting is sprung a huge astonishment when the rest of the members of the group are actually coming so a huge clean-up operation is needed. Johnson’s narrative is rib-tickling and startling at the same time as the comedic lines and the discussion of British comedy icons suggest that we have down to earth humour, moreover, the shocking elements such as; dishonourable cheating does wonders in capturing a different spin to the plotline which is lovely.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Dead Funny’ to be terrifically spiffing as the entire company have created a joyous amounts of vocal abilities and the fight sequences to the imitations of the Brit comics were majestic. Katherine Parkinson is awesome as the desperate hopeful mother, Eleanor; mainly when she begins shunning and mocking Richard’s hobby and how much she disapproves these meetings and over time we see her upset by Richard’s cheating and how the only thing she has ever wanted has somewhat been taken away from her. Rufus Jones is fantastic as Eleanor’s lying husband, Richard; especially when he attempts to imitate the legend that is Benny Hill and how realistic he comes across, furthermore, even though I hate cheating spouses, the sex scene with Lisa is actually quite funny and it does show a sinister black humour there. Steve Pemberton is brilliant as Richard’s friend, Brian; largely by the fact that Brian is even more of an obsessive of British comedy such as his re-enactments of Frankie Howerd and Sid James, but when he has to collect Richard’s stuff you can see that he really wants to have the group to be re-united and let bygones be bygones. Ralf Little is excellent as another one of Richard’s friends, Nick; for example how you can see that he is the more quieter member of the men but still a massive lover of Brit comedy, on the other hand, as the secrets and lies are exposed his character portrays his rage and I did get moved as he became a bit teary eyed and the scenes where he smashes cakes into Richard’s face shows that Richard deserves it. Emily Berrington is grand as Nick’s wife, Lisa; predominantly where when she has sexual activity with Richard, it shows that she has totally forgotten the “girl code” and you can see that Eleanor and Lisa aren’t actually haven’t got the strongest of friendships so she doesn’t appear to feel too guilty towards Eleanor but to Nick it is noticeable that she regrets it.

Terry Johnson’s direction is voluminous here as he has presented such an amusing revival which encapsulates to wonder of British comedy and with so many legends passing away it is important to keep remembering what impact these people had on a nation and the fight direction by Ruth Cooper-Brown connects the tension and the destruction of a vital friendship group and this has been shown in a funny manner. Richard Kent’s design is ceaseless as Richard and Eleanor’s house has been realised through outstanding construction and scenic art and I was impressed by Paul Pyant’s lighting and John Leonard’s sound, also the safety curtain with Ian William Galloway’s video design and animation portrays that all elements of design have been brought together in a gracious way. Overall, the experience of, ‘Dead Funny’ was a laugh out loud show that celebrates the British comedy greats that will instantly make you want to watch a show on ‘Gold’ or ‘Dave’ when you venture off home. 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

'Deny, Deny, Deny' Park Theatre ***

In today’s sporting culture, athletes are resorting to taking performance enhancing drugs in order to triumph in their sports events and this has lead to the rules and regulations to be increasingly tightened, so which of the athletes are actually genuine and winning fairly? The Park Theatre’s production of, Jonathan Maitland’s play, ‘Deny, Deny, Deny’ portrays how manipulative trainers can be and how relationships are put to the test, likewise, the offerings were of a good standard.

‘Deny, Deny, Deny’ is set in the present where we are made known of runner, Eve and her sports journalist boyfriend, Tom  who even though they’re from the opposite ends of the sporting landscape, it appears that their bond is immensely strong. At first, Eve follows the rules by drinking healthy protein shakes that is full of the nutrients and this is because Eve is striving for an Olympic Gold medal but by winning it in a genuine way. However, when Eve who is currently searching for a new coach and when she meets scary and disturbing sports coach, Rona, Eve’s honestly will cease to exist as her quest for success will ultimately damage all aspects of her life. Over the course of the performance, Rona forces Eve to dump her boyfriend, Tom because Rona explains that Tom will ruin her chances of the gold medal and Rona introduces Eve to a radically awful solution where the athlete injects chemicals with a protein solution that increases levels of red blood cells that intensifies oxygen delivers into the muscles which in turn aids in the athletes performance. Rona for me personally is a vulgar piece of work where she uses transphobic language to ridicule a transgender athlete in a press interview and as such; it appears that she will resort to great lengths to promote Eve despite the fact that she is hurting a community that I most admire. Progressively, when Eve’s ex-boyfriend, Tom who forms an alliance with Rona’s former protégée, Joyce who has a few scores to settle and Tom and Joyce are increasingly keen to expose Rona’s disgraceful methods in order to get her rising star to the top and this is also due to the fact that Eve is moving more to the top of her game. Throughout the performance, we see an almighty class between Tom and Rona where again, she goads him and states that what he does for a living as a spots journalist is pathetic and that his positon in the sports world is non-existent.  A full investigation is soon launched and Rona is suspended from sport for the foreseeable future and at the finale Eve and Tom somewhat reunite and unfortunately their relationship can never be resolved which shows that Eve thought about herself and not the consequences that taking these shots would do to her career and her reputation in the sporting arena.  Maitland’s narrative is rather stylish as the scenes are slick and quick  which is a bit like an athletics event and in actual fact in today’s sporting doping scandal is quite prominent and poignant as this is exactly what is going on and many athletes are suspended for doing the same thing as Eve has done.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Deny, Deny, Deny’ to be excellent as an array of the moments in the plotline conveys the bitterness and the not truthful tensions that exudes from the characters from the proxemics specifically. Juma Sharkah is impressive as the wannabe gold medallist, Eve; principally how we see that with accepting Rona’s offer as her sports coach would lead to her downfall and it is a shame to see that as she basically pushed her boyfriend Tom to the bottom of the pile which makes her an unsympathetic individual. Zoe Waites is fantastic as the villainous sports coach, Rona; expressly the vindictiveness that she shows when she presses peoples buttons i.e. Tom and with this it suggests to me that she does not have a decent side to her and that she has destroyed Eve’s chances for success and this is not right. Daniel Fraser is lovely as Eve’s journalist boyfriend, Tom; largely how pretty upset he becomes as Eve shows a lack of trust and when she dumps him, I see that with Tom that he has to get revenge in order to make him feel much better and I liked the moments that he has with Rona and it is obvious they hate each other. Shvorne Marks is pleasing as Rona’s ex-star, Joyce; predominantly how at the beginning of the play we see that she has the correct attitude when it comes to earning her trophies and when her coach knows she won’t partake in any activity that is not appropriate then she will be sacked and pulled down to the dumper.

Brendan O’Hea’s direction is stunning here as what he has accomplished with Maitland’s plot allows the audience to be transfixed in a momentous story about what really goes on behind the scenes in the world of sport and the unjust acts that sports coaches can put on their athletes and how the relationships of people can be finished because of pressure from an individual and the movement direction by John Ross really captured the athleticism of the track and field parts that are there in the show. Polly Sullivan’s design is sound as a pound as she has tried to show how athletes are trained such as the gymnasium and the actual track and field stadiums and with the lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Mic Pool aided in the movement sequences that could be compare to the West End hit, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. Overall, the experience of, ‘Deny, Deny, Deny’ to be an insight into what can occur and that you need to be really careful with which coach you should choose. 

Friday, 11 November 2016

'Where Do Little Birds Go?' Old Red Lion Theatre ****

For some of you, you might perceive that ‘EastEnders’ characters, Phil and Grant Mitchell are the toughest brothers imaginable, however, you would be thoroughly mistaken as the notorious sibling duo, Ronnie and Reggie Kray definitely caused an almighty stir in London during the 1960’s along with their many accomplices and proved how ruthless they were.  The Old Red Lion Theatre’s production of, Camilla Whitehill’s one woman play, ‘Where Do Little Birds Go?’ takes us on an enticing journey of one woman’s story in which she was physically kidnapped by the Kray Twins, additionally, the presentations were earnestly illustrated.

‘Where Do Little Birds Go?’ is set in 1972 where we are familiarised with 24 year old, Lucy Fuller  who at the age of 18 commenced work at the very same club in which Ronnie and Reggie Kray spent many days guzzling booze and obviously plotting some kind of criminal activity. Lucy explains how she became involved with not only the Kray Twins, but with London’s most villainous gangsters such as; Frank Mitchell. Lucy left Hastings, Kent to London at the age of 18 to become a first-class performer, unfortunately the realisation of the situation is that she ends up working in a rather sordid club which is crammed full of that are involved in criminality but she was unaware of who they were and how brutal they were. Over the course of the performance, Lucy goes on to say how she initially came into contact with the Kray Twins and how much of a smooth operator the both of them were and throughout the many conversations they had and how sleazy they became. It appears that Lucy had a rather positive relationship with her Uncle Keith and the countless good times they had; specifically when they spent Christmas with him and her Aunt Val. Progressively, with regards to Lucy’s career it seems that her career desires are falling down the plug hole which lead to her resorting to prostitution which in turn is not exactly how she figured out how her life would plan out. When another infamous criminal, Frank Mitchell escaped from Broadmoor mental institution with the assistance of Ronnie and Reggie Kray, but unluckily for Lucy, she falls victim for being somewhat involved with the Kray’s and is kidnapped and forced to have sexual intercourse with the crazed criminal and the explanation of the night with Frank suggests that Frank is physiologically damaged and his frustration show that he is a danger to everyone and himself too. At the finale, Lucy conveys that the Krays were arrested for the abundant amount of crimes and Lucy is now in a flourishing relationship with a gentleman who treats her like a princess and her career is going well too. Whitehill’s narrative is truly fascinating as we get a full understanding of the powerful influence that Ronnie and Reggie had on London and a journey where it is seen through the eyes of an employee makes you see that dreams are dreams and that these hopes and aspirations are not realistic whatsoever.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Where Do Little Birds Go?’ were compelling and for a company that consisted on one person allows you to fully concentrate on the one character, not an array of many. Jessica Butcher is dazzling as the only character of the entire play, Lucy Fuller; for example how she transported us into how manipulative the Kray Twins were towards her and what was incredible was how Butcher could carry the story without me becoming bored and learning all those lines was outstanding  as this is a challenging task for any actor.

Rosalyn Newberry’s direction is wonderful here as she what she has completed is engage an audience to just the one character and how the chilling stories of the Kray’s forcing a woman to have sex with a mentally unstable criminal portrays that in an environment on London that was a hotbed of criminal activity that Lucy could easily be messed up, but in this case, it doesn’t happen here.  Justin Nardella’s set and costume design is smart as we are brought into the life of a London bar to such panache and I liked all the textured from the set to the costumes that captured the early 1970’s vibe and the lighting by Jamie Platt and sound by Benedict Taylor complemented to dimness of being an element of the Kray Twins’ life. Overall, the experience of, ‘Where Do Little Birds Go?’ was a superb and gratifying monologue performance of working with the Kray Twins and the life of a prostitute who was pushed to having sex with crazed maniac Frank Mitchell.