Wednesday, 31 August 2016

'Allegro' Southwark Playhouse ****

I am certain that most people would know the musicals from the iconic duo, Rogers and Hammerstein such as; ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘The King And I’ and ‘South Pacific’, but there are some shows from them that have not been staged for some time or in actual fact never been performed professionally whatsoever. Southwark Playhouse’s production of Rogers & Hammerstein ‘s musical, ‘Allegro’ which receives its European premiere was a beautifully captivating story, by the same token, the interpretations were exquisitely acted over the whole shows duration.

‘Allegro’ is set in the USA where we are familiarised with the birth of Joseph “Joe” Taylor Jr who’s father, Joseph Taylor Sr (Steve Watts) is the local town’s doctor and his mother, Marjorie Taylor (Julia J Nagle) are overjoyed by the birth of their first child. The locals of the town think that Joe will be immensely successful as we see Joe Jr progress through his childhood, Joe Jr experiences the death of his own gran, Grandma Taylor (Susan Travers) and as such; he is helped through his grief by Jennie Brinker and from this the two form quite a good bond. However, he hasn’t got any knowledge of what romance is and has not got the foggiest about asking her out on a date and due to the fact that Joe Jr is going to be going to university to study medicine it appears that any relationship will be out of the question. When Joe is at university, he meets Charles Townsend and the two form a good friendship where Charles instructs Joe on the many methods on how to woo the girls for example, Beluh (Leah West), on the other hand, he seems to be more concerned to what Jennie is doing and when they are reunited with Jennie, he quickly proposes to her and she accepts his proposal. Then again, not everyone is pleased by his choice of woman; specifically the ghostly figures of his mother and grandmother as well as, Jennie’s living father, Ned Brinker (David Delve). Over the course of the performance, Joe isn’t doing so well with his career as he is the assistant for his father-in-law, yet, when Joe is given a job in a posh Chicago hospital where his friend Charles is working and with a good push from Jennie, he welcomes the offer with open arms and because of this, he has to leave his father behind. The hospital itself is increasingly pretentious and Joe has become too heedless in his practices and is caught by the nurse, Emily West and thankfully lead physician, Bigby Denby (Matthew Woodyatt) is pleased with his work. On the contrary, during the countless of parties that they have to attend, Joe Jr’s wife, Jennie becomes infatuated by a sponsors charms and his name is Brook Landsdale (Samuel Thomas) whos wife, Mrs Landsdale is being treated with drugs by Joe Jr no less.  When Joe Jr is informed that his spouse has been having an affair, he decides to resign from his job and return to his hometown and work with his father, Charles and Emily in a place where the health of the patients are more important so at the finale, Joe Jr is now proud of what he has achieved in his work because he has proper morals and with a team that he respects, what more can he ask for. Oscars and Hammerstein’s narrative is awe-inspiring as we are taken on a journey of Joe Jr from his birth to his career as a doctor and with musical numbers such as; “Poor Joe”, “You Are Never Far Away”, “Money Isn’t Everything” and “Come Home” were so marvellous and brilliant composed and written. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Allegro’ to be stupendous as the vocals from all and the dance moments were really terrific and they really incorporated the audiences as part of the whole performance. Gary Tushaw is gripping as lead protagonist, Joe Jr; especially how we see his journey as a student through to his job as a doctor and it was pleasant to see that he understood that he should go back to his routes and divorce his wife who is rather duplicitous; also his vocals in the musical numbers were wondrous. Dylan Turner is sublime as Joe Jr’s university friend, Charlie; primarily how different he is compared to that of Joe Jr as he goes with the flow rather a lot, but the friendship with Joe Jr and himself is very truthful and exceedingly pleasant to witness i.e. the scenes where he teaches Joe Jr about the art of seduction. Emily Bull is brilliant as Joe Jr’s appalling wife, Jennie; mainly how selfish she comes across where to be honest she should be focussing on the love she should have for her husband all she seems to care about is money and forces Joe Jr away from the people that he cares about and for her to cheat shows how horrendous she is. Katie Bernstein is nice as the nurse, Emily West; predominantly how we see that from her introduction to Joe Jr, we can see that she is the one that Joe Jr should have married as she makes Joe Jr comprehend that Joe Jr needs to return to his home town and help those who will appreciate his care. 

Thom Southerland’s direction is dynamite here and with Lee Proud’s choreography have helped present a premiere in the European continent with such tenacity and ease as we can see that people need to think about is that “Money Isn’t Everything” and that it is those who have helped you in some way mean more and that it’s them who should be given more love like Joe Jr realises about his father’s compassion for him. Anthony Lamble’s set design and Jonathan Lipman’s costume design were exceptional as we are transported to the many places of the USA and with the simplicity of using a contraption to move really worked and the costumes looked so attractive and greatly made by the costume makers. Overall, the experience of,’Allegro’ was one of pure delight and another miraculous production produced by Danielle Tarento who is one of the UK’s most prolific theatre producers.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

'The Threepenny Opera' National Theatre, Olivier ****

To those who are currently training in theatre or to those who have been trained in the performing arts, we all have either productions or practitioners who have inspired us to get into it in the first place one way or another, and for me Bertolt Brecht and his Epic Theatre was what galvanized my passion for theatre in the first place. The National Theatre’s production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s 1920’s musical, ‘The Threepenny Opera was such a masterpiece of a revival and adapted so well by Simon Stephens, as well as, the delivery of the depictions were impressively conveyed throughout.

‘The Threepenny Opera’ is set in East London where we are habituated with crook, Captain Macheath AKA ‘Mack the Knife’ who has just become married to Polly Peachum and due to this, her father, Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum is frustrated that his own daughter has become the spouse of a crook. In order to wreak revenge of Macheath for marrying his daughter; as such, Peachum forms allegiances with Chief Inspector ‘Tiger’ Brown (Peter de Jersey) to get him arrested for his crimes, nonetheless, he was once one of Macheath’s former army colleagues. Over the course of the performance, we can obviously see that the nuptials between Macheath and Polly is not that truthful as Macheath is involved sexually with prostitutes and appears that Macheath will never be trusted especially in the company of women. In addition to this, Macheath is told by his wife, Polly that her father and mother, Celia Peachum (Haydn Gwynn) are conspiring against him and will get him arrested and eventually be hung for his acts of criminality and he has to depart London so this doesn’t occur. Due to this he states to his gang, Robert AKA The Iceman (Dominic Tighe), Matthia AKA The Shadow (Jamie Beddard) and Walter AKA The Scholar (Andrew Buckley) that his wife will be in charge whilst he is away.  Prior to his departure, he visits his favourite brothel and says a fond farewell to his ex-girlfriend, Jenny Diver (Sharon Small), on the other hand, she has deceived him and is involved with police and Peachum’s quest  to have him arrested and therefore he is captured and taken to jail and face his fate.  Throughout the performance, we see that there could be a cat fight between Polly and Lucy, another one of Macheath’s conquests specifically when they see him in jail at the very same time. Macheath escapes his incarceration, but as soon as he is recaptured rather rapidly and due to the fact that Jenny is being paid by the Peachum’s, yet they won’t pay her and slam the door in her face. Macheath, who is back in prison is notified that he will be executed and he begs his gang members and wife to pay for him to not be hanged, nevertheless, no one will help him and at the finale, he prepares to face his ultimate destiny and luckily enough for him the queen pardons him and he is then released and sent on his way out of the jail. Brecht and Weill’s narrative is pretty amazing as there are a lot of Epic Theatre techniques present in the plot such as sets being used only once and constantly being reminded that we are in a theatre space etc. Moreover, musical numbers like, “Cannon Song”, “Jealousy Duel”. “Song of the Insufficiency of Human Struggling” and “Cell from the Grave” added a lot of spectacle to the whole to do.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Threepenny Opera’ to be exceedingly charismatic and brilliantly thorough with regards to the vocal abilities and the execution of the movement sequences. Rory Kinnear is outstanding as central character, Captain Macheath; expressly how we see that his love life is rather complicated and because he has just become married, we know that this marriage could just be a stunt, then again, when he is near his final few seconds, you can see there’s a hint of remorse for what he has done in his life.  Nick Holder is tremendous as the large, Jonathan Peachum; mainly the moment where he does a sequence that involves him wearing high heeled shoes and he does this with such poise and elegance and to be honest he was so light on his feet and appeared natural wearing them. Rosalie Craig is excellent as Macheath’s new wife, Polly; for example how somebody who does have the facial features and personality that is rather geeky can actually be married to a man such as Macheath, on the contrary, you can see that there is an inner strength when she refused to offer her husband any money and leave him to perish.  Debbie Kurup is wondrous as Macheath’s supposed girlfriend, Lucy Brown; predominantly the fact that she has a fearless nature and is not afraid to be so harsh and ballsy to Polly and there is a tense atmosphere that is shown through her personality. 

Rufus Norris’ direction is incredible here as he has been able to transport us to an era of theatre that made you question what you had seen which is another one of Brecht’s Epic techniques and a revival that shows how gangsters can actually be given their comeuppance, furthermore, with Imogen Knight’s choreography, there is a slight modern twist to the dance arrangements yet with the expressionist detailing. Vicki Mortimer’s design is joyous as she has been able to capture the whole Brechtain atmosphere to an audience who may not be aware to what a revolutionary he was in theatre as a whole and I was taken through Macheath’s journey from marriage to his near death expeience and this is done by fantastic scenic welding and construction and simple scenic art and just great. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Threepenny Opera’ was a production that excited me actually brought me back to my GCSE Drama days and leaning about Bertolt Brecht and Epic Theatre from the phenomenal teacher that is, Kate Soper.

Friday, 26 August 2016

'The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor' Old Red Lion Theatre ***

The undeniably extravagant and flamboyant Stephen Tennant which supposedly was the catalyst for characters, Cedric in ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ and Sebastian Flyte in ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and the great uncle to orphan, Simon Blow due to the fact that he lost both parents gives us a personal story about someone who he respected. The Old Red Lion Theatre’s production of, Simon Blow’s current play, ‘The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor’ does itself justice presenting a biographical play but with different character names etc., what is more, the portrayals were greatly acted.

‘The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor’ is set in the mansion of Uncle Napier where we are introduced to orphaned Joshua who is a penniless youngster has chosen to visit his great-uncle Napier who is rather affluent with money and resides in a large mansion. Luckily enough for Joshua, Uncle Napier develops a soft spot for his great-nephew and asks Joshua to become his carer and new heir to his estate and as such; he has to be by his great-uncle’s bed side despite the fact that he already has a servant by the name of Matthew (Paul Foulds). Uncle Napier’s cousin, Patrick (John Rayment) is competing for the money and because of the progression of Uncle Napier’s relationship with Joshua, he is alarmed that he may not be successful in obtaining the money and estate that he most desires. Over the course of the performance, we see that Joshua and his builder boyfriend, Damien are having problems with their fledgling relationship as Joshua is constantly visiting his uncle as well as the fact that Joshua thinks that Damien could be perceived as a bit of a ruffian if he eventually meets Uncle Napier. On a slightly different note, Uncle Napier has regular visions of his younger self where he had sex with French escorts and how the presence of his mother, Helena (Elizabeth George) still has in his life because the both of them are living in the mansion as ghostly figures.  As the relationship between himself and Joshua is strengthening by the day, yet when Joshua introduced his boyfriend, Damien to his great-uncle, Uncle Damien is less than thrilled that Joshua has brought him into his home. Throughout the performance you can see that Uncle Napier just sits around listening to show tunes, nonetheless, he has been finishing an unfinished novel which is in the process of being published. Nevertheless, Uncle Napier quite frankly is exceedingly perverted and even has the fearlessness to make a move of Joshua’s boyfriend, on the other hand, Damien does agree to having sexual intercourse with Uncle Napier but when they have done the deed, Uncle Napier lays back in his bed and passes away with Young Napier and his mother, Helena by his bed side so he isn’t on his own at his last breath. At the finale, Joshua is informed that Uncle Napier did not amend his last will and testament in time so the selfish cousin, Patrick is the heir to the whole estate leaving Joshua with nothing and basically back to square one but with Damien holding his hand all the way. Blow’s narrative is reasonable as we can see how his own personal story into a theatrical experience of he (Joshua in the play) had formed a strong bond with his great-uncle, but I would have liked to have seen some more scenes with Joshua and Damien as we see too much of Uncle Napier lying on his bed like a Greek God, then again, not a bad plot line just needs more refinement. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor’ to be charmingly portrayed and I can see that there has been a sturdy camaraderie with the company as I had a decent conversation with them after the performance.  Bernard O’Sullivan is pleasant as the flamboyant, Uncle Napier; predominantly where he seems to have a sense of safety with his mother’s ghostly figure being in the mansion, also, the moments with Joshua could suggest that he did want to a father but his sexuality affected that from happening. Jojo Macari is great as Uncle Napier’s great-nephew, Joshua; especially how we see that there is pain in the core of himself due to the fact he hasn’t got any living parents, however, when he is with Damien there are some lovely moments with the two as two levels of class in a relationship can be rather delightful. Denholm Spurr is attractive as Joshua’s boyfriend, Damien; for example how you can see that he is not happy with the fact that his partner is always with his great-uncle and that he should be spending more time with him and this is shown with the tension that is conveyed when he is acquainted with him. Nick Finegan is good as the Young Napier; specifically in the flashback when he is in France and we can see how the older form of Napier has become the way he is as it appears that he has never had a long running relationship and uses escorts as the means to smooth over this missing aspects of his life. 

Jeffrey Mayhew’s direction is agreeable here as he has presented a fair effort of showing us how the life of Simon Blow and his great-uncle’s relationship in a dramatic piece of artistry, on the contrary, I would have liked it is he could make us a little bit more enthralled in some parts, but that was rather minimal and the characterisations were fully clad. Rosie Mayhew’s design is pretty excellent as I was definitely transported to this part of Joshua and Uncle Napier’s life, plus Sam Waddington’s lighting design and Jack Lord’s sound design was terrific as it helped justify the dark and vibrant environment of the whole show and for two graduates who graduated this year, they were so on point with their work. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor’’ to be a gracious one and one that must have been rather interesting for Simon Blow to have written and acted on a stage that I very much love.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

'Exposure the Musical' St James Theatre **

There is a significant difference between what a photojournalist and a paparazzi does for a living with regards to their artistic merits, on the other hand, what transpires when a photographer has to understand about the rights of people’s privacy; specifically celebrities etc. The St James Theatre’s production of Mike Dyer’s musical, ‘Exposure the Musical’ was to be honest dull as dishwater and quite frankly amateurish which was quite disappointing, likewise, the performances were colourless and unappealing and this is throughout the entire show.

‘Exposure the Musical’ is set mostly in London where we are enlightened with photojournalist, Jimmy who has recently returned from taking a series of photographs of war with PTSD is reunited with childhood friend, Pandora who is now a famous popstar. Jimmy and Pandora have a previous history and we learn that Pandora used to fancy him and you can still that she still has feelings for him and due to her fame she gets herself into a real wave of self-annihilation such as drug taking and consuming alcohol. Over the course of the performance, Jimmy’s Father (Kurt Kansley) was a photojournalist who actually died on duty when Jimmy wasn’t even born so he gained his photography skills from him. However when Jimmy meets Pandora’s PR officer, Miles Mason, he offers Jimmy a huge wad of money and a new camera so that he can have the CEO (Zeph Gould) caught on camera having sex with someone that is not his wife. On his journey to Pandora’s party, Jimmy finds a homeless woman called Tara who is making angels out of coke cans and sells them to the public but when Jimmy tries to take a photo of Tara without her permission; as such Tara is not happy about it and tells him so, nevertheless, the two begin to talk in a friendly manner and she offers Jimmy one of her angels as an appreciation that he gave her some of his time. When it rains, he offers to take Tara back to his apartment where she seems to appreciate his work, yet, she sates that he should be asking people’s permission before taking the image and displaying it to the public. Throughout the performance, with Jimmy’s involvement with Miles, Jimmy is shocked to discover that Pandora is the one who has been having the affair with the CEO and with a cocktail of drugs she kills herself due to an overdose which is what happens with people in show business. Progressively, it is known that Miles is a master manipulator and kidnaps Tara so obviously Jimmy goes to rescue his new found love and due to a lot of violence which nearly ends Jimmy’s life. After a bizarre sequence that conveys the seven deadly sins, Jimmy has a weird heart to heart with his deceased father who soon reminds him of the ethics behind his work and integrity. At the finale, Jimmy and Tara are on holiday in the same location where his father was murdered and places a photo that was taken by his father as a mode of respect and apologises for his and his father’s mistakes within their photography. Dyer’s narrative and music and lyrics is increasingly messy and anarchic as there are too many elements that is present in one plotline which in turn does not work and the scene that features the seven deadly sins was particularly unnecessary and shoddy and the musical numbers such as; “Capture The Moment”, “Living The Dream”, “Love Comes Knocking” and “7even Deadly Sins” were pretty uninspiring and rather forgettable.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Exposure the Musical’ to be exceedingly mediocre and rather clich├ęd which is pretty lacklustre and to be honest the feel of their performances proved rather out of their depths. David Albury is substandard as central protagonist, Jimmy; largely how in most of the show he has his top off and how he is at the point where he sings “Bandit Country” with Miles, he doesn’t cut it and even some of the moments with Tara, I just didn’t believe the relationship whatsoever. Natalie Anderson is disappointingly average as homeless, Tara; for example how I just couldn’t comprehend that the character was homeless and malnourished as she appeared quite sprightly and even with the “Innocent Skies” number there wasn’t much to rejoice about and was a bit uncomfortable to listen to. Michael Greco is mind-numbing as the scheming PR officer, Mile Mason; predominantly where we see that the ulterior motives of exposing someone for their debauchery wasn’t that well conveyed and within the seven deadly sins sequence, I wasn’t impressed with his delivery in the musical number. Niamh Perry is okay as popstar sensation, Pandora; especially how we can see a bit of realism of someone who has it all with regards to her fame can in fact be that depressed so she was somewhat watchable, she does remind me of singers like, Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears for their drug use.

Phil Willmott’s direction is woeful here as he has constructed a musical performance that for me was too cheesy for my liking even though I do like a bit of cheese sometimes but this just takes the biscuit and Lindon Barr’s choreography reminded me of a poor school production where the choreography is just embarrassing. Timothy Bird’s set and video design and Carla Goodman’s costume design is dreadful here as I really didn’t see the yearning for so much going on at once and to be honest the costumes themselves looked like a cheap H & M or even worse a Primark fashion show and the set was horrendously ludicrous. Overall, the experience of, ‘Exposure the Musical’ was jammed pack full of lamentable moments and one of the worst musical efforts that I have even seen in my life and it’s a show that is dead in the water.

Friday, 19 August 2016

'The Trial of Jane Fonda' Park Theatre ***

Jane Fonda is internationally renowned for her acting work and her 1980’s fitness videos, then again, to some American’s she is known negatively for her controversial viewpoints that opposed against the Vietnam War and many of those who fought in the war were obviously not impressed by them. The Park Theatre’s production of, ‘Terry Jastrow’s play, ‘The Trial of Jane Fonda’ was a pretty daring endeavour to suggest that veterans were wrongly talked into a war that was unnecessary, furthermore, the representations were particularly effective.

‘The Trial of Jane Fonda’ is set in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1988 where we are enriched with the actress, Jane Fonda who is meeting a number of Vietnam vets who are striving to prevent her latest film project, ‘Stanley and Iris’ from being filmed in their area. The meeting is held in the church hall where Reverend John Clarke is coordinating the discussion where five other men, Buzzy Banks, Joe Cellano II, Larry Bank (Alex Gaumond), Reggie Wells (Ako Mitchell) and Tommy Lee Cook (Mark Rose) are reluctantly sat there where they’re demanding answers from Jane as to why she deceived her nation and the armed forces. Throughout the course of the performance, we see that the former soldiers are verbally aggressive towards Jane, specifically from Buzzy and Joe as they feel that she has betrayed the thousands of American servicemen who had died in the war. However, Jane makes it clear that the president at the time, President Nixon lied to the people of the United States of America as he has been plotting to bomb Vietnam’s lifeline of dykes which would ultimately make them completely unable to strengthen themselves. As such; she makes it clear that a gargantuan amount of innocent men, women and children perished in this unjust war. There is so much conflict that arises from Jane and the men and their actions towards her are rather inappropriate and deplorable where they deface some of the memorabilia that features Jane Fonda’s face on it such as a toilet seat and a poster from a previous film of hers. Over the duration of the war, we learn that Jane stopped working as an actress so that she could fully concentrate on her campaigns against the Vietnam War in which she gathered support from university students and to the hippies, and from her conversations she begins to obtain a microscopic level of respect from the ex-soldiers and it appears that Reverend John Clarke has a lot to thank Jane Fonda for as he found a new path which is to follow the work of the Lord God. You can visualise how barbaric the Vietnam War from both sides as we are informed that Reggie was left paralysed from a bomb that was left from a Vietnamese child so we can see why they are not happy with Jane’s support to the Vietnamese people. There’s a moment when Jane explains that she was manipulated by army officials where she was pictured sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun where she was belly laughing which was to convey that she did support Nixon’s decision to bomb the country of Vietnam. At the finale, Jane and the soldiers appear to have settled their differences and in actual fact some of those who supported their place in the war soon change their opinion and when Jane walks out of the church hall, her filmic location is given the greenlight.  Jastrow’s narrative is definitely an informative piece of artistry on an actress who campaigned against Nixon and the Vietnam War and how war veterans challenged her in quite an uncomfortable manner, yet there are some sticky and stilted moments that made the plot a little less cohesive.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Trial of Jane Fonda’ to be accurately appealing as they encapsulated the awkward reality of Jane Fonda’s disapproval of the Vietnam War, in addition there is a great balance of tension that exacerbates through the ex-soldiers. Anne Archer is fascinating as the lead protagonist, Jane Fonda; essentially how awesome and factual she looks as the actress and the build up to how she was manipulated by the American Army, also there are places with the veterans where she comes across as the victim rather than the bull. Martin Fisher is likable as Reverend John Clarke; generally where we see that he in fact presents a more calm and collected individual who has more reverence for Jane Fonda than his place in the war as she enabled him to follow his path now, also I liked when he kicked the soldiers out for their disgusting actions. Paul Herzberg is suitable as the brash, Joe Cellano II; exclusively at the moments where he finds it testing that he is being forced to re-examine whether the Vietnam War was a good thing, then again, I found that the he came across quite frighteningly by his treatment towards Jane Fonda which could signify a little bit of male chauvinism and a small element of domestic harm. Christien Anholt is impressive as Buzzy Banks; primarily where we see that how conflicting he is and with Jane Fonda’s presence in the church hall makes him somewhat shudders and squirm as with all the other men, he has an obvious problem that the woman was correct and their President was in the wrong.

Joe Harmston’s direction is pleasant to a point here as he has tried to depict to us that the legendary actress that is, Jane Fonda proposed to testify against a war that obliterated American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians and this comes across due to the increased rigidity from the vets and Jane herself, but there could have been more tightness in the actual flow, yet it is a fine effort. Sean Cavanagh’s set design and Roberto Surace’s costume design are smart as the set consisted of a backdrop of the American flag and with Louise Rhoades-Brown’s video projection design that features footage of speeches from Nixon and the war it helps us understand the conflict a lot more. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Trial of Jane Fonda’ was a somewhat enchanting story which Jane Fonda was apprehensive about having a moment in her life being made into a play, but it was good to see how Nixon was a scheming man who did not care about the impending chaos.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

'Bugsy Malone' Lyric Hammersmith ****

Like I have expressed in previous critiques on shows, it is always wonderful to have childhood memories come flowing back and a musical whether on stage or in a musical film is exactly on those adolescent remembrances. The Lyric Hammersmith’s production of Alan Parker and Paul Williams’ 1970’s musical, ‘Bugsy Malone’ is without any shadow of a doubt a magnificent revival that recaptures those cherished childhood memories to such exuberance, in addition to this, the offerings were flawlessly conveyed.  

‘Bugsy Malone’ is set as we all know is in the 1920’s gangster underworld where we’re familiarised with two dim-witted gangs who are managed by their leaders, Fat Sam and Dandy Dan (Archie Barnes/Alesandro Bonelli/Oliver Emery) who are trying to fight for a most treasured weapon called the Splurge Gun.  Struggling boxing promoter, Bugsy Malone becomes infatuated with singer, Blousey Brown who has series ambitions of becoming a Hollywood star and wants to be given a chance to sing at Fat Sam’s club called, ‘Fat Sam’s speakeasy’, however, Blousey has some competition for Bugsy’s affections and it is the club’s leading performer, Tallulah. As such; there is a bitter rivalry that forms between the two girls as Bugsy is quite the charmer.  Over the course of the performance, Fat Sam is really besieged with worry as many of his gang members are being killed with the Splurge Gun and he hires Bugsy to help him reign victorious over Dandy Dan’s gang. With this, Bugsy then promises to Blousey that he will take her to Hollywood with the money he has earned from Fat Sam. As the battle intensifies, it appears that Fat Sam is not prioritising his club and due to this when Fizzy (Elliot Aubrey/Denzel Eboji/Meki Manu) asks Sam for an audition to be a dancer; Sam is too preoccupied to grant him one.  As the search for the for the Splurge Gun becomes more and more of a priority, Bugsy seeks out his boxing pals and some of the unemployed men such as; Babyface (Emily Beacock/Jaydah Bell-Ricketts/Leah Leyman) to outmatch that of Dandy Dan. With regards to Bugsy and Blousey’s relationship, he keeps breaking his promises to take Blousey to Hollywood; nonetheless, with the money he has earned from Fat Sam he finally comes up with the goods to take Blousey to Hollywood, this means that he must love her to pieces.  The main battle comes to an almighty head where Dandy Dan blusters into Fat Sam’s club and all hell explodes and the two gangs use Splurge Guns and cream pies and at the finale, the two gangs do find a common ground with one another and they do end up seeking some friendship with a big song and dance piece that we can all get involved with. Parker’s narrative is brilliant as the slapstick comedy does flow similarly to the film version and the music and lyrics from Williams does make you appreciate that you had as a child and musical numbers like; “Fat Sam’s Grand Slam”, “Tomorrow”, “So You Wanna Be A Boxer” and “You Give A Little Love” really captured the spirit of the family musical.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Bugsy Malone’ to be stupendous as the whole company is fundamentally children apart from the ensemble and it is delightful to see the professionalism that these children have as it looks like they have been doing this for decades, not just a matter of years. Mark Charles/Louis Doran/Adryan Dorset-Pitt is amazing as Bugsy Malone; in particular how we see him trying to earn money through unsavoury means, yet I liked how he come across in the “Down and Out” sequence where we see that he really wants to help those unemployed to feel wanted and the scenes with Blousey were pretty cool. Danya Cherry/Chapman Dixon/Tabitha Knowles/Georgia Pemberton is terrific as Bugsy’s love interest, Blousey Brown; specifically how we see her dreams of superstardom start to fall a part due to Bugsy not living up to his promises, also with the conflict between herself and Tallulah we can see that there could be fireworks with the pair. Vincent Finch/Max Gill/Maddison Tyson is fantastic as Fat Sam; especially when he has so much pressure being put on him as Dandy Dan is killing each of his gang members off one by one and when Knuckles loses his life, we can see a slight feeling of vulnerability from Sam that may not have been expressed in the original 1970’s film, moreover, with Tallulah we can see there’s something there. Olivia Shaye Materson/Rhianna Dorris/Leni Zieglmeiser is lovely as the flirtatious, Tallulah; generally how you can see that herself and Bugsy did have a previous relationship and thankfully there’s some but very minute similarities to the role that was initially played by, Jodie Foster and she gives her own spin on the role which is grand to see.

Sean Holmes’ direction is outstandingly resplendent here as he has really helped fill in the cracks in the original film without ruining what we already know, what is more, he has staged a revival that is noticeably rejoiced by the audience and with Drew McOnie’s glistening choreography they have captured the family elements as well as the1920’s environment to such precision. Jon Bausor’s design is opulently dreamy as we are definitely transported to the gangster’s paradise and the costumes were on point too which makes the show even more impressive, moreover, the scenic art and constructive lived up to my expectations and didn’t disappoint me. Overall, the experience of, ‘Bugsy Malone’ was such a distinguished and charismatically enjoyable and this musical did make me retain the lyrics of the songs and that is what makes a musical fruitful.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

'Sunset at the Villa Thalia' National Theatre, Dorfman ***

As we the people of the United Kingdom try and fathom how the result of the EU Referendum and what an impact it’ll have either positive or more than likely negative circumstances, yet, some nations have suffered catastrophic economical disasters such as; Greece in particular. The National Theatre’s production of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s new play, ‘Sunset at the Villa Thalia’ does combine the Greek economic crisis and unlikely friendships in a satisfactory manner, moreover, the interpretations were competently depicted.

‘Sunset at the Villa Thalia’ is set in the Greek island of Skiathos in both 1967 and 1976 where we are acquainted with English couple, Theo and Charlotte who are renting a house from Stamatis (Christos Callow) and his daughter Maria (Glykeria Dimou) as Theo is writing an up and coming play and see this island as a real motivator for him. They are soon interfered with American couple, Harvey and June who are largely over the top and try almost a bit too hard to commence friendship from Theo and Charlotte as it is obvious that Harvey is an admirer of Theo’s works which somewhat freaks Theo out but is still flattered. Over the course of the performance, we see that Theo and Charlotte’s friendship with Harvey and June is increasingly awkward as they do not appear to have a lot in common with each other a part from their love of the house. Due to the fact that the country is about to face an economic uprising, Harvey tries to persuade Theo to purchase the Villa Thalia so that Stamatis and Maria can move to Australia and start a new life for themselves. Stamatis is of course slightly apprehensive about it, but with quite a lengthy amount of encouragement from Harvey he agrees to sell the house to Theo and Charlotte. Nine years later and Theo and Charlotte are still the owners of the Villa Thalia and this time they have two young children, Adrian (Thomas Berry/Billy Marlow/Ethan Rouse) and Rosalind (Sophia Ally/Dixie Egerickx/Scarlette Nunes) who are on holiday there. It appears that the marriage between Harvey and June is rather strained and this is evident when June has a talk about it with Charlotte and it seems that their marriage could be over. Charlotte is beginning to hate being the co-owner of the Villa Thalia and when Harvey attempts to do some Cossack dance with her children she gets extremely angry and turns the traditional music off as she has just been informed that Maria has been living rough in Australia so with this she is disgusted in herself and Theo for buying the house in the first place. Throughout the second act, it appears that Theo and Charlotte are going to be selling the house for a retreat closer to home in England; as such when Harvey and June are informed of this news, they are disappointed in Theo and Charlotte, however, their decision is final and the villa is put on the market.   At the finale, we are flashbacked to when Maria as a child and the nanny, Agape (Eve Polycarpou) makes it clear to Maria that the house should remain in the family name, but with the house on the market in 1976 with people not in the family name, this has not occurred. Kaye Campbell’s is conventional as yes there are moments where the Greek crisis is described, but there was little analysis about it where the central focus of the plot is the strange friendship of an English couple and an American couple so we could have had half and half but there you go. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Sunset at the Villa Thalia’ to be pleasantly portrayed as we can see how people from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are so opposite in many ways and there was a good level of camaraderie that existed here. Sam Crane is great as writer, Theo; specifically how we see that he has a passion for the Villa Thalia in a considerable manner but we see his love for the place decrease as he is more concerned for his family as constant travel is somewhat tiresome for young children. Pippa Nixon is acceptable as Theo’s wife, Charlotte; essentially when she does seem to have a real conscience by how upset she is when she finds out about what Maria is up to and when Harvey kisses her she does seem to be perplexed as she does like June somehow. Ben Miles is courteous as the overbearing American, Harvey; mainly how he comes across hugely domineering by pressuring Theo to buy the Villa Thalia from Stamatis and this is shown throughout as we soon discover that he finds comfort in not only the villa but with the friendship with the English couple. Elizabeth McGovern is congenial as Harvey’s wife, June; for example how at first she is a bit too melodramatic but over time we are sympathetic towards her as when she pours her heart about her marriage to Charlotte there is obvious problems that there’s an emotional side to her.

Simon Godwin’s direction is tolerable here as we are given quite an standard account about how one villa on a Greek island can bring two couples together as we see that he has pushed the culture divide to its ultimate limits, on the other hand, this is helpful with the Greek crisis in the background which makes the friendships even more fraught, plus the characterisations were not too bad either. Hildegard Bechtler’s set and costume designs were awesome to be honest as the attention to detail in the Villa Thalia and through to the costume helped us understand the position of the hierarchy of people, furthermore, the scenic art and scenic construction was outstanding which is not surprising f from the National Theatre’s workshop team of craftsmen and craftswomen.  Overall the experience of, ‘Sunset at the Villa Thalia’ to be a suitable production but for me it’s not one of the most accomplished shows I have seen at the National Theatre.