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, ‘wonder.land’ 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.

Monday, 31 October 2016

'Magnificence' Finbourough Theatre ***

Surprisingly, the United Kingdom have endured quite a few moments where poverty, homelessness, rising inequality, unemployment and industrial disputes have caused people to actively protest against the political powers of the time and in the 1970’s it occurred rather a lot. The Finborough Theatre’s production of Howard Brenton’s 1973 play, ‘Magnificence’ was an acceptable revival and poignant due to Brexit etc. moreover, the executions were modestly portrayed.

‘Magnificence’ is set in London, 1973 where we are habituated with five young activists who have sought refuge in an abandoned flat who are hell-bent at protesting against the political powers of the day. The activists consists of their leader, Jed, Cliff (Tyson Douglas), Mary, Veronica (Eva-Jane Wilkins)and Will (Will Bliss) and for all five of the group, it is integral for them to challenge how the social and political struggles are affecting the people of the United Kingdom; specifically the young men and women as they all envisage that their future is in jeopardy. Of course we see that some of the group have completely opposing views of their protest such as; Veronica thinking that some of Jed’s motives are pretty stupid. Over the course of the performance, the police are on to the group where the Constable and Slaughter (Chris Porter) are spying on the squat in which the activists are living in and due to this, they are planning to seize entry and arrest them. It appears that the group will resort to great lengths to prove their worth against government figures and it soon known that from Jed and Will that other protestors have been attacking MP’s and for this group in particular are making homemade bombs in that Jed will be responsible for the detonation of it.  Throughout the performance, Mary becomes pregnant with Jed’s baby and when the Constable forces entry into the squat and in turn he hurts Mary rather forcefully and because of this, Mary loses the baby, as well as, the rest of the group are arrested and are sent to prison for some time. We the audience are soon transported on a different tale where ancient school teacher is wanting a bit of action with a student by the name of Babs (Hayward B Morse) in which the student obliges to. At the finale, Jed who has been released from prison and despite that he has supposedly reformed his behaviour and his hate for the powers to be and when he meets Alice, he loses his marbles and viscously punches him to the ground in his own back garden and Jed tries to use one of his old homemade bombs onto Alice himself so as you can see, Jed has not really learnt his lesson and that his protest is hardly working. Brenton’s narrative is satisfactory as yes we do understand what the group are attempting to protest about but what I did not really see was what was the conclusion of the initial protest and to be honest, was the scene with Jed and Alice truly necessary? You can be the judge of that yourself.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Magnificence’ to be quite agreeable as they have captured the harshness of a group who had a plan, but then their plan of a riotous protest is soon prevented by a lovely stint in a prison cell (well not that lovely).  Joel Gilman is good as leader of the group, Jed; predominantly how we see that he has a real desire to change the treatment of the people through radical methods, however, this becomes a load of nonsense and he is convicted of acts of terrorism and this is why he takes all over his bitterness of his failure onto an innocent man and this shows he may need to have some counselling.  Daisy Hughes is adequate as Mary; especially how we see that just like Jed, she wants to make a difference but not as extreme and when she miscarries due to the Constable, she then comprehends that this fight against the government is not going to work and this fundamentally closes the door on her and Jed’s relationship and she has lost her baby because Jed would not stop.  Tim Faulkner is tolerable as both Constable/Alice; mainly how as Alice we get to see a little vulnerability that is present in this play and his versatility to the Constable to someone who is of an authority figure allows you to see that this performer can be completely different and indicates that his training has been rather fruitful as his voice changes between the two diverse characters.


Josh Roche’s direction is plausible here as he has presented a decent revived production of a play that has not been performed for a long time and with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union it has an important statement as protests are obviously going to happen but hopefully not to the extent that Jed had organised, furthermore, the characterisations were congenial too as you get into the minds of the characters; largely from Jed. Phil Lindley’s design is amenable as for me, I liked how that in the squat the layers of ripped wallpaper suggests that the country and the world keeps moving forward and the other locations were helped with the pleasant lighting by Joe Price and soundscape by Hugh Sheehan which makes it more intriguing.  Overall, the experience of, ‘Magnificence’ was an appropriate political play which actually has a number of moments that are related to contemporary issues such as Brexit. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

'The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures' Hampstead Theatre **

You can sometimes tell that a play can be a bit of a mouthful because of its title, specifically the Bush Theatre’s production of, ‘We Are Proud to Present…’ a number of years ago and for me individually the play’s title can be exceedingly pretentious and longwinded too. The Hampstead Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s play, ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures’  was rather aloof and for me it appeared there was an array of nonsense and actually quite dull, additionally, the performances were tedious.

‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures’ is set in Brooklyn, New York City in 2007 where we are acquainted with the Marcenatario family who have been brought together due to the fact that the Patriarch of the family, Gus (David Calder) is yearning to commit suicide as he is suffering from Alzheimer’s and is seeking acceptance from his family. Fractious energy intensifies as Gus’ three children, lawyer Empty, gay history lecturer Pill and labourer V (Lax Shrapnel) have opposing views on this as Gus is their parent, and furthermore, Gus’s sister and ex-nun, Maoist Cleo (Sara Kestleman) has her say on the subject too. Over the course of the performance, the Marcenatario’s relentlessly quarrel with one another when they talk over one another as they discuss the pressing issue of Gus’ suicide plans and this is a regular occurrence in the play. The tension becomes rather overwhelming when the ex-spouses and present partners enter the fray and begin to argue about Gus’ own self-destruction and this includes Pill’s soon to be former boyfriend, Paul Davis (Rhasan Stone), Empty’s ex-husband, Adam Harvey (Daniel Flynn), V’s wife, Sooze Moon (Katie Leung) and Empty’s girlfriend, Maeve Ludens (Sirine Saba). One sources of the conflict is who will be the new owner of Gus’ house and we soon learn that Adam has already purchased the house which leaves the family gob-smacked. On a slightly different note, Pill has a been visiting a male escort, Eli who in actual fact is one of Pill’s students and it seems that Pill does have a soft for Eli despite that Pill is seeing Paul and Eli is in need of the cash. Throughout the performance, Gus has some deep and meaningful scenes with all three of his children and how he is a much needed person in their lives. Nonetheless, Gus is adamant that he will go through his suicide plans and the instruments are placed neatly on the table and in the process he is interrupted by Pill’s toy boy, Eli and at the finale, Gus goes through with what he originally planned to do and now the children are left to mourn and of course bicker. Kushner’s narrative is enormously verbose as the political elements within the plot does not cut the mustard is just vague and boring and the actual premise is disjointed and simply ludicrous and a bit of a shambles if I am brutally honest.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures’ were slightly horrible as I couldn’t get into the characteristics of the roles due to an abysmal lack of emotions and this is truly disastrous and garbage. Tamsin Greig is surprisingly lacklustre as Gus’ daughter, Empty; mainly the moments where she is with her apparent love of her life, Maeve and these moments appeared rather limited and this is a shocker as Greig is an awesome actually normally and also there wasn’t a decent amount of realism within the dynamic she has with her father. Richard Clothier is average as Gus’ gay son, Pill; especially how false he comes across where he tries to persuade Paul to stay, then again, it is rather harsh to see how he treats his toy boy,Eli and this is not exactly how you should be with anyone a part from the fact that he is an escort. Luke Newberry is satisfactory as Pill’s male escort, Eli; primarily how at times he does prove quite normal because the Marcenatario family are a bunch of nutters and more often than not he has quite an intelligent mind and he must like Pill enough for the constant sexual advances.


Michael Boyd’s direction is horrendous here as he has not really been able to smooth round the edges of a plot that just doesn’t do it for me and the appalling characterisations from the company means there must have been a limited amount of rehearsal time and I just lost too much enthusiasm and excitement as the performance went on.  Tom Piper’s set and costume design is extremely cruddy as the set itself may be rather large and this could not improve the show itself and the costumes did not impress me either and I was not taken to a Brooklyn atmosphere and did not look that great on the proscenium arch stage whatsoever. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures’ wasn’t that appealing and probably one of the shoddiest shows I have seen at the Hampstead Theatre and a waste of three and a half hours of my life which I won’t get back.