Thursday, 14 July 2016

'Wild' Hampstead Theatre ****

In this day of age, it is really easy for secrets to be exposed, but some secrets are being made public and a number of organisations are competing to get the person responsible on their side and work for them. The Hampstead Theatre’s production of, Mike Bartlett’s freshly written play, ‘Wild’ is such a thought-provoking and stimulating show that starts to unravel in a good way, additionally, the offerings were number one during the whole performance.

‘Wild’ is supposedly set in a hotel room in Moscow where we’re habituated with American Andrew who has been incarcerated in the hotel room after he has been exposing classified information on a site like WikiLeaks is visited by an unnamed Woman who appears to work for an establishment similar to the one mentioned in the hope that he’ll agree to sign a contract with her and the institute that she works for. Their immediate introduction seems exceedingly obscure and the unnamed Woman is flirtatious and acrimonious with regards to how Andrew’s life is at risk, on the flip side, Andrew is anxious as he hasn’t got the foggiest what her place of employment is and is the Woman really who says she is. We are informed as with Andrew that America isn’t the safest place in the world anymore and that CCTV may have to be used to keep people impregnable. Over the course of the performance, Andrew obviously feels isolated from the world and because the Woman attempts to arouse him, but due to the fact that Andrew has a girlfriend and makes it very clear that no form of relationship is going to occur. In the process of the Woman’s interrogation you can see that Andrew is apprehensive and asks to see her credentials but she doesn’t seem to have her ID, nevertheless, the Woman who is a bit of a sozzled old seadog and in order to keep Andrew on side she sinks a blunt small instrument into her hand and happily makes herself bleed. To prevent himself from going insane, Andrew does a few fitness routines, notwithstanding, he’s really alarmed that a pseudonymous Man knocks on the hotel room door and claims that he is from a co-operation similar to the Woman’s, as well as, he has no forms of ID on him either so it is immensely sketchy as Andrew has to decide who is the most trustworthy person. There’s a really tearful moment from Andrew as he is really missing his family and girlfriend and has no idea when he’ll be able to speak to or even see them; as such he has a good cry and needs to be released from captivity. The outlandish conditions are about to be confessed when both the Woman and Man come into the hotel room together and it appears that the two have been conspiring together against Andrew all this time and at the finale, on what can only be compared to ‘The Trueman Show’ Jim Carey film, the hotel room is transformed into an empty TV studio or a black box theatre space and it seems that Andrew’s entombment has been a complete joke on his behalf. Bartlett’s narrative is colossally brilliant as Andrew who to be honest has brought the situation on himself, yet due to the Woman and Man keep pestering him for his allegiance it leads me to question whether anyone can be trusted and the plot seems to connect ‘The Trueman Show’ and ‘Big Brother’ together and "Big Brother is Watching You!" would be perfect in this scenario. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Wild’ to be vivid as the cryptic message that is conveyed through the character’s perspectives, furthermore the voice projections and movements did do themselves justice. Jack Farthing is astonishing as the cute lead role, Andrew; in particular how we see that he has no real understanding why he has been imprisoned in this fashion and his trepidation where he has been bombarded by Woman and Man shows that there is more than what is really happening and when he is suspended on the chair in the “hotel room”, it is a somewhat dystopian reality. Caoilfhionn Dunne is consequential as the enigmatic, Woman; mainly how chilling she does come across with how manipulative she is to Andrew where her horrible dialogue makes a grown man cry, on the other hand, when she makes herself bleed but in actual fact she has lied proves how brutal she is as a female and this is very worrying to be frank. John Mackay is wondrous as the smart, Man; primarily how we see that he does give the impression that he is more credulous than the Woman as he does not make himself look like a silly fool, paradoxically, throughout the show we get to see how organisations like MI5 or MI6 try to recruit their workers and experts and this is rather intriguing. 

James Macdonald’s direction is miraculous here as he has formed a production that presents a lot of twists and turns that definitely keeps you on your toes which is fantastic with regards to whether Andrew’s plight is totally real and how the whole circumstance makes it so hard to know who to trust in these situations, plus the classifications were terrific. Miriam Buether’s design was out of this world as the whole hotel room does appear to be like a standard hotel room from a chain of hotels, however the transformation is nothing like I have ever seen in a design and honestly it is mind blowing and Buether deserves to win an award for it. Overall, the experience of, ‘Wild’ was so surreal but with positive reasons for the weirdness and if you didn’t get a chance to see it then you have missed out especially with the design that is phenomenal.

Friday, 8 July 2016

'The Quiet House' Park Theatre ****

An astronomic bulk of married couples are determined to get pregnant, yet morosely couples cannot get pregnant in the normal way and have to resort to either IVF or adoption to become satisfied with their lives. The Park Theatre’s production of, Gareth Farr’s newest play, ‘The Quiet House’ was a really moving and informative show on one couple’s quest to get pregnant and the pressure each try of IVF has on their marriage, moreover, the depictions are dearly compelling and extremely smashing too.

‘The Quiet House’ is set on the ground floor flat somewhere in London where we’re familiarised with Jess and Dylan who have been laboriously trying to conceive for a baby for some time and from failed attempts, they use IVF for Jess to become pregnant. You can noticeably see that Jess and Dylan are desperate to become parents in a biological way and each and every IVF attempt does not go to plan wistfully and this causes Jess to feel really down. Also, her confidence starts to decompose and this causes Dylan to become increasingly fretful that their nuptials could be on the slide. Over the course of the performance, the woman who lives in the flat upstairs, Kim has a couple of weeks old baby which appears to be slightly awkward for Jess and Dylan as their desire for a baby boosts and when the baby is crying it really upsets Jess and it makes her feel like a catastrophe. Dylan is a devoted husband and when he has to inject the IVF solution in Jess’ body, he makes an attentive effort to make the atmosphere as romantic by dimming the lights and putting some passionate and smouldering music on as it could aid in a fruitful outcome, as such; it is a different way just like you’d be having sexual activity in bed. Throughout the show we can see that Dylan’s work are aware of his and Jess’ plans and Dylan’s line manager, Tony is somewhat considerate of Dylan’s feelings, yet, his work head does override his compassionate side and demands that Dylan has to travel abroad to oversee something, on the contrary, his business trip falls in the time frame where Jess has to be injected with the IVF solution and kindly asks Tony to re-arrange the trip, but no can do. In one moment Kim’s baby is waiting in the corridor inside of her pram and Kim has left her for some time and to calm the baby down, Jess takes the baby off for a wander, yet her good intentions are short-lived as Kim freaks out as Kim thought that her baby was kidnapped. As the plot progresses, there is more bad news for Jess and Dylan as their current attempt for IVF blunders which makes the situation worsen, then again, you can see the strength that they have, nonetheless, when Dylan returns from his business trip there is a small level of tension due to the incident with Kim’s baby. At the finale, Jess and Dylan give IVF another go and it seems that this could be a successful result, but as the outcomes is read out by Jess and Dylan, a blackout occurs which means we are left on tender-hooks. Farr’s narrative titillating as we are given the opportunity to observe one married couples longing to become parents and it is rather interesting to see how a male playwright has been able to write about a sensitive issue for women in such a delicate manner and this is sublime.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Quiet House’ to be gigantically dainty as we can see how they have portrayed the warm and soothing couple and the emotional moments have been carefully considered as to not offend audiences that may have gone through this. Michelle Bonnard is fantastic as the hopeful mother, Jess; especially how the willpower she has to get up the duff and when she is with Kim’s baby, we can see that how natural she is and that she’ll be a really good mother to her own child. Oliver Lansley is glossy as Jess’ loyal husband, Dylan; specifically how desperate he is to become a parent like his wife is and when he breaks down in tears in Jess’ lap, we can see the emotional toll that the IVF attempts are having on his heart, also, I liked the moment he injects the solution into Jess’s body shows us the intimacy of their relationship. Allyson Ava-Brown is decent as the upstairs neighbour, Kim; in particular how that there are aspects when she does leave her baby in the corridor alone does makes you think is she suitable as a mother, but most mother’s do leave their babies alone so it is largely normal to do that. Tom Walker is excellent as Dylan’s supervisor, Tony; chiefly when he is in the office where he is with Dylan and there is a level of how bosses sometimes have no clue of how their employees have personal issue and that work is not the most important thing to them and this is shown where he goes on about the business trip.

Tessa Walker’s direction is beauteous here as she has shown us the development of the use of IVF as a method of conceiving a baby and that the unfortunate amount of nose-dived attempts will make people i.e. Jess and Dylan be more ambitious with becoming parents, in addition to this, it is pleasing that we could see the needle being injected into Jess’ body which means nothing is off limits in this show. Ana Inés Jabares-Pita’s design is of a reasonable standard as the particularising of the London flat was good here and the white furniture does make you think is the flat places for a new born baby but then this precisely what all expectant mothers and fathers have to figure out in the preparation stages of a pregnancy. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Quiet House’ was an exorbitantly engaging production of the utilisation of IVF in the conception of babies and the yearning of having babies.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

'The Comedy About A Bank Robbery' Criterion Theatre *****

For the last two years, Mischief Theatre’s production of, ‘The Play that Goes Wrong’ has been making people roll in the aisles of the Duchess Theatre, then again, there is a question whether this is a one-hit wonder for the theatre company, but not in this specific exemplification. The West End production of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields’ 2016 play, ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ was an hugely gleeful show that leaves you in absolute stitches, what is more, the interpretations were eloquent and really funny.

‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ is set in Minneapolis in America where we’re introduced to prisoner, Mitch Ruscitti who has gone AWOL from jail and has a plan to embezzle a $500,000 diamond from a bank in Minneapolis who is handled by Robin Freeboys (Henry Lewis) and the bank’s antiqued intern, Warren Stax. Anyhow it appears that Mitch’s course of action is going to be destroyed by bossy mother, Ruth Monoghan (Nancy Wallinger), yet what she is not aware of is that her son, Sam Monoghan (Dave Hearn) is a pickpocket and has been doing this for some time. Due to this, Mitch goes to visit Robin Freeboys’ daughter Caprice who happens to be Mitch’s ex-girlfriend in the hope that she can help him with obtaining the diamond, on the other hand, when he sees Sam tries to court her, he does see red and for Sam, he has to imitate Robin Freeboys in a number of rather sticky situations so that he is not caught by the police due to his pickpocketing. When Warren Stax enters the room with an array of gifts, he goes down on bended knee with considerable difficulty and proposes to Caprice and in order to get rid of him as quick as humanly possible she accepts his proposal. Nevertheless, as Sam has been posing as her father, he accepts that Warren can be his daughter’s husband and when he comes into contact with the real Robin Freeboys, he calls him his soon to be father-in-law, understandably Robin is in utter shock and due to all the pressure of the bank and with Officer Randal Shuck (Jeremy Lloyd) investigating the whereabouts of Mitch it looks like Robin could be on the verge of a mini heart attack. Mitch is soon caught by the authorities, but with a little power of persuasion, the jinxed jail guard, Neil Cooper (Greg Tannohill) who initially helped him escape the first time gets a second chance to escape but under one condition that he will be given a cut on the price of the $500,000 diamond. Throughout the rail on the bank, Mitch, Caprice, Sam, Neil and another jail guard have to battle through a gargantuan amount of laser beams and at some point in this part, Neil ends up losing his life in a rather lethal shredder. However, Mitch finally gets his hands on the diamond and at the finale, Mitch and Caprice make a dash for it and escapes in a car, alternatively, Mitch accidentally drives the car off the cliff and it appears that Mitch and Caprice have fallen to their deaths in a hilarious way. Lewis, Sayer and Shields’ narrative is premium as they have cleverly incorporated an array of parodies from action movies  into a plot that is jammed full of diverting dialogue and the representation of how a hijacker endeavours to steal what they want and the betrayal of children to their parents and vice versa.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ was first-class as they have brought the high powered energy from switched characters such as; Chris Leask who plays the other lesser parts and the American accents were enunciated to precision and ease, moreover, the fight and stunt sequences which has been directed by fight director, Johnathan Waller and stunt consultant, Alex Frith of which were executed with such fluidly. Henry Shields is delightful as lead protagonist, Mitch Ruscitti; eminently how we see that his power of coaxing can be done with such straightforwardness with stupid jail guards, as well as, the scenes with Caprice conveys their comedic and strange relationship as he’s quite a villainous character and she’s the daughter of a bank manager. Charlie Russell is great as Mitch’s ex-girlfriend, Caprice Freeboys; conspicuously how surprising to see that she is going to be a part of Mitch’s plan to rip-off the $500,000 diamond in her own father’s bank, furthermore, we can see that she uses her looks to obtain male attention and with her countless love interests you can obviously see that she’s not a pleasant person whatsoever. 

Mark Bell’s direction is incredibly outstanding here as he has been able to stage a production that is critically splendid as the myriad of elements that change rapidly through Mitch’s strategy of kleptomaniacal the $500,000 diamond, in addition to this, the actual clowning aspects of the performance have been acted by fantastic and all-inclusive characterisations and the audience reaction does show its success. David Farley’s set design and Roberto Surace’s costume designs were comically stimulating as you can tell that the set and costumes are supposed to emulate the fun factor and the scenic elements were constructed and painted in the way in which the show is supposed to flow and that is to amuse and entertain people in a bank robbery scenario. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ was a stellar show and another stonker of a production from Mischief Theatre so they have two hit shows under their belt, let’s hope there will be another one and make it a hat-trick. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

'Blue/Orange' Young Vic ****

You know what, without exception all places of occupation have a higherachy and those in a positon of power usually bring those lower down no matter if their viewpoint is the legitimate one. The Young Vic’s production of, Joe Penhall’s 2000 play, ‘Blue/Orange’ is an inquisitive feature on mental health and the manipulation of senior doctors to younger ones, conjointly the enactments were spiffing in the main.

‘Blue/Orange’ is set in a psychiatric hospital in London where we’re acquainted with youthful doctor, Bruce and mental health patient, Christopher who are both seeing whether if Christopher can be discharged from the unit, nonetheless, Bruce is rather perturbed by Christopher’s immense erratic behaviour as he makes a considerable amount of strange and elaborate statements. As such; Brue thinks that for the safety of Christopher and the general public that it’ll be beneficial if her remains in the unit until he’s fully well. Notwithstanding, when Bruce’s superior Robert arrives to examine Christopher himself, we can see that the position of power and status is ever so prominent as Robert is immensely Machiavellian and tries to say that Christopher is bushy-tailed which he really isn’t and Bruce is adamant that Christopher needs to stay as he is a danger to the public. Over the course of the performance, the hostility between Bruce and Robert is rife as Bruce is endeavouring to make Robert see that he is not thinking of the welfare of the patient and conjures up an observation where he place an orange onto a table and asks Christopher what the colour of the orange is and form this, Christopher declares that the colour of the orange is blue. Unfortunately, Robert completely dismisses the experiment as Robert is writing a piece of academic research and it appears that he is degrading Bruce’s professional opinion which quite frankly is the more ethical one indeed but Robert is having none of it. As the plot thickens, we see another side to Christopher’s persona when he makes a complaint about Bruce because he made some comments about his skin colour and these claims are ludicrous, additionally, Robert is using his conniving tactics where he convinces Christopher to form a legal accusation against Bruce. However, Christopher’s complaint could lead Bruce to be sacked and his career is over before he can progress, furthermore, Robert has now taken over as Christopher’s consultant. Throughout the show, our allegiances transfer onto Bruce as Christopher is manipulative and Robert is a vile human being of a doctor, then again, when he had a discussion with Bruce we are informed that prior to these altercations that Bruce was desperate for Robert to be his mentor. There’s more angst as Bruce is on the warpath and confidently expresses to Robert that he is no longer going to be bullied by Robert and at the finale there is a final standoff where Bruce says with such force that he is going to make a formal complaint against him and he does not care about the consequences of it. Penhall’s narrative is optimum as we can visible see the abominable things that befall behind the scenes in NHS hospitals; what is more, it was provocative to see how devious some psychiatric patients are in the hope that they can get their own way.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Blue/Orange’ to be unreal as the strained atmosphere has been shown through delectable moments which conveys the good vs evil with regards to the care of NHS doctors. David Haig is brilliant as the calculating senior doctor, Robert; especially how frightening he is by the way in which he schemes against a younger doctor who proves that senior doctors do not necessarily know everything, likewise, he is exceedingly vile with how he communicates with Bruce and this is uncalled for. Luke Norris is alluring as young doctor, Bruce; for example how we can see that he goes through a lot of battles with making a case which his superior disagrees with, also, his character is the only one we can ultimately sympathise with as Robert is utter dimwit of a physician. Daniel Kaluuya is grand as mentally disturbed patient, Christopher; for the most part how his rapidly changing stories of whom his dad is and where he lives means that he is not ready to be a member of society and how he treats Bruce is disgusting as he is not as ill as he makes out and this is disquieting. 

Matthew Xia’s direction is miraculous here as he has been able to stage a revival of a play that really informs you of the reality of NHS hospitals, as well as, some moments of the show reminds me of the phenomenally gripping medical TV series, ‘ER’ where the superiors try to claim all the credit, what's more, the characterisations were so developed and portrayed the characteristics radiantly which is exceptional. Jeremy Herbert’s design is inspirational here as when you enter the Young Vic 
auditorium you walk through the waiting room of the NHS psychiatric unit which for me I didn’t think that would be my first part of the experience so in turn the set really immerses you into the show immediately which is awesome, plus, the flooring and the actual furniture were fully realistic as it reminds you of being in a hospital. Overall, the experience of, ‘Blue/Orange’ was an incalculably satisfying show that makes you think throughout and it’s always interesting to see what the Young Vic is up to next.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

'The Suicide' National Theatre, Lyttleton ****

Every so often, a play that was written nearly 100 years ago can genuinely be given a new lease of life, which in turn will leave you in stitches, as well as, leaving you to feel absolutely gobsmacked by some elements of the whole thing. The National Theatre’s production of Suhayla El-Bushra’s version of Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 play, ‘The Suicide’ was such a barrel of laughs, but with the serious moments being on par with the funny bits, moreover, the performances were top-notch too.

‘The Suicide’ in this contextualisation is set in a rough council estate in London where we’re cultivated with Sam Dembe who is at present unemployed and is despondent that he is reliant on his wife, Maya and mother-in-law, Sarah for financial support whilst he is looking for a job. In addition to this, Sam has to live in his mother-in-law’s flat which is a major blow to his pride and due to the fact that his JSA has been sanctioned he becomes exceedingly bad-tempered and plans to kill himself. As he records a blatant tirade it develops into him becoming a YouTube marvel; as such many of the residents in the block of flats and the local area think that this’ll be the perfect opportunity to gain some notoriety for not only Sam, but for their own personal gain. Over the course of the performance, Sam is confronted with his randy neighbour, Cleo (Ayesha Antoine), aspiring young filmmaker, Gil (Michael Karim), Patrick (Paul Kaye) a documentary maker and Councillor Brian Dawes (Paul Aron), the high-reaching local politician who all think that they could use this as a publically videoed event of Sam’s suicide to earn themselves some extra publicity for themselves. As Sam’s popularity mounts and with a suicide party being held at hipster, Erica’s (Lisa Jackson) café, this is taking its toll on Sam and Maya’s marriage to the brink of utter destruction as she is madly in love with Sam. Throughout the show, other members of the community such as; Igor (Tom Robertson) becomes a highly successful recording artist so all in all the majority of people have been benefiting from Sam’s misery, on the other hand, social services worker/manager, Min (Pooky Quesnei) is repulsed by this and tries to convince Sam not to go through with it.  As the time approaches to Sam’s suicide and when he appears to have gone through his self-immolation, the kids from the council estate, Shanice (Chloe Hesar) and Demitri (Nathan Clarke) want their claim to fame too  and now Sam’s suicide has not only become an internet sensation but a media storm too which is covered by daytime television presenters. At Sam’s funeral, everyone appears extremely emotion which Maya doesn’t really understand their emotions as they didn’t know him all that well, apart from Haigi (Sule Rimi) and his son, Isaam (Adrian Richards) and at the finale it is revealed that Sam chickened out on his suicide and we learn that he had to take a breather and comprehend what his life is and what is important to him and this is his wife, Maya and is also disgusted by the locals who have been cashing in on his misfortune. El-Bushra and Erdman’s narrative is commendable as the contemporary take on how vlogging and the whole hashtag phenomenon has been able to frame how El-Bushra has re-invited a well-known play, furthermore, the gut-busting dialogue works wonders in soothing Sam’s trauma which is quite alarming anyway.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Suicide’ to be skilfully portrayed as the outlandish methods of people show us how appalling people can be as someone is experiencing their own plight, plus, the movements and vocals were very good as well. Javone Prince is excellent as central character, Sam Dembe; precisely how we can see that because of his jobless status, it is causing him to think badly of himself and as he is struggling to cope with his life at it currently stands, the only resolution for his own mind is to kill himself, then again, along the way with all these bizarre situations, he is slightly regretting the over-hype. Rebecca Scroggs is super as Sam’s wife, Maya; generally how you can see that because Sam is not actually thinking about how much it is upsetting Maya, we can see that Maya is getting annoyed that she is madly in love with her husband and she wants him to understand that even though his life isn’t that good at the moment she will help him get his act together and become happy again.  Ashely McGuire is incredible as Maya’s mother, Sarah; especially by how ballsy she is as she is not afraid to go full frontal nude and I mean full frontal in front of hundreds of audiences members who looked enormously shocked such as the young teenagers in front of me who put their hands in front of their faces, also she is vastly funny too and it comes across realistic.

Nadia Fall’s direction is wonderful here as she has been able to show how one man’s melancholy can instil a media storm because of some idiotic people who will use this as a way to get their fifteen minutes of fame, additionally, there’s a pleasing level of characterisations as they convey what society is and it’s not good by the use of technology and social media which soon spreads like wildfire. Ben Stones’ set and costume designs is astonishing as we are transported to the whole council estate that is crafted through awesome scenic construction and scenic art, likewise, the lighting design by Paule Constable and video projection design by Andrzej Goulding added an extra sparkle to an already grand design concept, I was so so awestruck by how lovely and stunning the design is. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Suicide’ was such an agreeable modernisation of a play that really suggested that people can be quite nauseating with regards to how people are when others are in mental turmoil.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

'Show Boat' New London Theatre *****

Truthfully, we all aspire for greatness no matter what they are; such as performers who desire to become a big star in the hope that it’ll be a somewhat rags to riches scenario, nonetheless, these ambitions can be just a pipe dream and their careers will only lead to them strutting their stuff in small venues. The West End transfer of Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1927 musical, ‘Show Boat’ was an exemplary tale of hopes, dreams and the reality of racism and segregation, in addition to this; the representations were dazzling throughout this showbiz extravaganza.

‘Show Boat’ is set between 1857-1927 and is set largely on the Cotton Blossom show boat where we’re accustomed to the boat’s proprietor, Captain Andy Hawks (Malcolm Sinclair) where segregation has been enforced by Jim Crow. But there is a bit of trouble on the boat where a fist fight breaks out between engineer, Pete (Ryan Pigden) and performer Steve whilst on stage as Pete has been making advances towards Steve’s wife; as such, Captain Andy deludes the crowd that it is a melodramatic preview. Riverboat crapshooter, Gaylord Ravenal appears and instantly becomes besotted with 18 year old, Magnolia Hawks, a hopeful performer who is the daughter of Captain Andy and his wife Pathenia Ann (Lucy Briers), as well as, Magnolia likes Gaylord too and asks Joe (Emmanuel Kojo), the black dock worker on the boat for advice. He specifies that there are plenty more fish in the sea and when she tell Julie La Verne (Rebecca Trehearn) about it and like Joe, Julie says the exact same thing. She says that it is not easy to prevent love from occurring and states that she’ll always be in love with her husband, Steve Baker (Leo Roberts) and when Julie sings a familiar black song, Queenie (Sandra Marvin), Joe’s wife is surprised that a “white” person would know the song completely.  Over the course of the performance, Gaylord has taken over Steve’s part as he and his wife, Julie have to run away to the Northern states of the USA as the town’s sheriff knows that Julie is in fact mixed-race, but you wouldn’t know it though.  From this, Gaylord and Magnolia, now performing the role that Julie plays have proven to be a hit with audiences and because of their undying love, he proposes to her despite Magnolia’s mother’s objections, however, we soon learn that Gaylord is a murderer, but has never been charged for his crime, yet the nuptials go ahead anyways and it’s a lovely moment to see blacks and white uniting.  The years flow on by and Magnolia and Gaylord are residing in Chicago with enough money and have a child who is being schooled in a private school, unfortunately with Gaylord’s frequent gambling means he has lost all of his money and runs away from his responsibilities as a father and a husband. In essence, Magnolia, now strapped for cash to live on is reunited with Steve and Julie where they persuade a club manager to offer Magnolia a job and luckily enough he does so. Whilst performing one night, she is perplexed when her father is at the club and thankfully with his support the audience soon changes their reactions from jeers to cheers and due to this; she becomes a big star in the club and cabaret circuit. At the finale, Magnolia and daughter Kim (Christina Bennington) are back on the Cotton Blossom in a slightly frail state and when Gaylord returns to her life is re-introduced to Kim who seems to have been affected from the lack of a father figure, yet after a lovely embrace of a hug, a lot of issues have been resolved. Hammerstein II’s narrative and lyrics with Jerome Kern’s music is unparalleled as it is a rather political and social statement about segregating blacks and whites away from each other is despicable and how those determined to gain superstardom could have their dreams to tumble down.  Moreover, with musical numbers like, “Only Make Believe”, “Ol’ Man River”, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and “Til Good Luck Come Mighty” they capture the spirt of the whole thing. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Show Boat’ to be remarkable as the vocals and executions of the dance sequences were faultless by such an energetic and impressive ensemble that were increasingly comprehensive. Gina Beck is outstanding as Magnolia Hawks; predominantly how we see that for someone bombarded by showbiz for the most part of her life shows that she is desperate for fame and fortune. On the other hand, because of Gaylord’s rejection as he’s run out on her, her life is falling to pieces and her vocals in “Why Do I Love You?” is a rather painful insight into her poor life. Chris Peluso is wonderful as gambling addict, Gaylord Ravenal; exclusively how one small glint in the eye could lead to him becoming instantaneously attracted to this woman who then becomes his wife, nonetheless, we are not overwhelmed when he decides to leave his family to fend for themselves and his singing in “You Are Love” is smouldering as he realises that he made a mistake in rejecting his wife and daughter as they did nothing to warrant that.

Daniel Evans’ direction is superlative here as he has been able to present an extremely powerful revival of a musical that enables you to fully get into the groove of the performance and with Alistair David’s choreography I was immediately transported back to a time where black and whites were not allowed to be in communication with one another, paradoxically not on the Cotton Blossom where everyone practically gets on with each other.  Les Brotherston’s set and costume designs is gorgeous as there is such an in-depth attention to detail in capturing the actual mood of the Cotton Blossom and Chicago where the scenic art and construction by Rocket Scenery was as beautiful as you would expect, also the costumes cannot be criticised either and Paul Groothuis’ sound design and David Hersey’s lighting design finished off a prefect design. Overall, the experience of, ‘Show Boat’ to be a resounding success and it is time for West End theatre shows to re-think their ticket options especially for younger audiences who could straightforwardly fill the empty seats no matter what.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

'Kenny Morgan' Arcola Theatre *****

Some people have a lot of skeletons in their closet; especially with regards to keeping their sexuality a secret due to the fact that homosexuality was an illegal act prior to 1967, but an insight into the bumpy relationship between actor, Kenneth “Kenny” Morgan and playwright, Terence Rattigan could help us understand how hard it is to supress your sexuality and emotions. The Arcola Theatre’s production of, Mike Poulton’s new play, ‘Kenny Morgan’ was a momentous portrayal of someone who is on the verge of suicide as he can’t live with himself anymore, not to mention the executions were accomplished.

‘Kenny Morgan’ is set in a Camden Town boarding house in 1949 where we’re habituated with actor, Kenny Morgan who craves attention for some reason is rescued from two other residents in the boarding house, Mrs Simpson (Marlene Sidaway) and Dafydd Lloyd (Matthew Bulgo) as he’s decided to gas himself as he is in a suicidal frame of mind.  Thankfully, the gas meter has run out of money so his plan is unsuccessful and with a call to the GP, Mr Ritter (George Irving) he then looks through Kenny’s contact book and the first contact he sees is the illustrious playwright, Terence Rattigan; as such Mr Ritter calls the man’s home phone for him to visit. However, Kenny’s current boyfriend, Alec Lennox isn’t too impressed with Kenny’s behaviour as he is really in love with Kenny and due to Kenny’s attempt to kill himself, Alec is upset by it, yet, he grows jealous when Terence Rattigan makes an appearance.  Over the course of the performance, Kenny and Alec’s relationship is pushed to its limits as Alec is struggling to find acting work and he has been offered a meeting for a small part in a film in Birmingham, which he isn’t actually interested in pursuing, but Kenny’s attitude is making Alec’s decision a little easier.  In addition to this, the tension between Kenny and Alec accentuates where a celebration of a birthday causes an argument to occur; which in turn upsets both the men and after every confrontation, Alec resorts to venturing off to the pub and drinking heavily. Kenny who is in a pretty bad way calls Terence Rattigan for a shoulder to cry on and as usual, he is obliging and his neighbour, Dafydd comes to see how Kenny is getting on and is shocked when Terence enters the bedsit. It appears that Dafydd is a fan of Terence’s work and as an appreciation he invites Dafydd to see his latest play. Kenny’s partner, Alec brings his friend, Norma Hastings (Lowenna Melrose) into their bedsit, but as usual Kenny is annoying Alec and asks if he can stay with Norma for some time, understandably, Kenny becomes emotional by this and his suicidal thoughts are more prominent. Throughout this, Mr Ritter honestly says to Kenny that he is being childish because of his lacklustre demeanour and informs him of what happened to him in his homeland in order for Kenny to see that there are people in a worse off state than his dwindling relationship. At the finale, Alec comes back to the bedsit but with some bad news for Kenny where he states that their relationship is over and that he’ll be moving up to Birmingham for the film role, due to this, Kenny finally and sorrowfully goes through his suicide attempt and ends his life once and for all. Poulton’s narrative is cracking as we’re taken on a moving portrayal of Kenny’s emotional journey where his relationship with Alec has taken a tumble for the worse because of his attention seeking behaviour and it does hit home that even if you think your problems are really awful that there are other people who have tougher problems. 

One found the perofrmances by the company of, ‘Kenny Morgan’ to be mind-blowing as they convey the pureness of the characters’ own story i.e. Dafydd’s loneliness and Mr Ritter’s personal traumas as well as Kenny and Alec’s strenuous relationship.  Paul Keating is phenomenal as central protagonist, Kenny Morgan; especially when we see how emotional he actually is when it comes to Alec as this is the person he is in love with but due to the fact that he is an attention hogger he wants everyone to be around him conforting hem. Yet, I did like how his energy infused through his relationship with Terence Rattigan. Pierro Niel-Mee is transcendent as Kenny’s long suffering boyfriend, Alec; mainly when you can see the exasperation by Kenny’s unpleasant behaviour and this is only helping him become an alcoholic and to become distant when it comes to Kenny’s sexual advances, furthermore, when he decides to tell Kenny that their relationship is at an end it is a moving moment indeed as the two men are near to crying. Simon Dutton is supreme as the famous playwright, Terence Rattigan; essentially when he comes into the bedsit, you can see that there is an awkward tension that increases in time as Alec really dislikes him as he is also causing the relationship between Kenny and Alec to finish which for me is disgraceful, plus, as with people with money he comes across too aloof. 

Lucy Bailey’s direction is overwhelmingly good here as she has been able to transport us into an environment that is rather anxious as Kenny is the main focus of a man who is going through a turbulent time in his life and with the realisation that his sexuality is frowned upon shows us that being a member of the LGBT community in the 1940’s was not exactly a pleasant experience whatsoever and fundamentally bleak.  Robert Innes Hopkins’ design is out of this world as he has been able to grasp the dreariness of the Camden Town bedsit which in turn has allowed us to understand that the set itself has an underlying sadness within it such as the scenic art and construction through to the obscure presence of Jack Knowles’ amazing lighting design. Overall, the experience of, ‘Kenny Morgan; to be monumental, moving and excellent piece of theatre and from the Arcola Theatre which has become an admired place of mine.