All posts filed under: theatre review

Stage Review : To Sir, With Love at Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre, UK

The book To Sir, With Love was set not long after the end of WWII in London’s East End. This powerful, autobiographical story by novelist E R Brathwaite is about education, schooling, social divide, and narrow minded attitudes that were entrenched in people both in-school and on the outside. The main theme however, is the racial discrimination against black folks and against those neither black nor white children born to parents with ethnicity that they do not share. Arguably the story made more famous by the film starring actor Sidney Poitier and singer, Lulu, because the film sucked in a 1960’s vibe which people could relate to. Largely because the comprehensive system had kicked in by the end of that decade, so, perhaps, allowed for a degree of creative license to tell the tale with more ‘swing’. This production however, brings the story right back to its original post war placing, only this time it’s an inner-city school in Birmingham, West Midlands.  The period setting is slightly confused and I wonder where the misinterpretation comes …

Stage Review : Betrayal (A Derby Theatre Production)

The story of Jerry, Emma and Robert is told in a kind of reverse chronology of events as to how the trio’s love lives were once intertwined. Betrayal is a memory play. Jerry and Emma meet in a bar in the opening scene. Conversation is polite and a little awkward. They haven’t seen one another for a long time, nevertheless, they are old friends who met many years previous through association with Emma’s husband, Robert. Actually, we learn that the two men, Jerry and Robert, have remained in regular contact. They still meet for lunches on occasion as they both work in publishing. So, Jerry and Emma’s café catch-up is similar to when someone meets up with a Facebook friend. They appear interested to hear news about each other’s spouses and of the well-being of both sets of children, but as Robert remains a ‘mutual friend’ the pair are already, to some degree, aware of what has been occurring in each other’s lives. It’s that kind of conversation. As the talk progresses however, and tongues …

Stage Review of ‘What the Butler Saw’

What the Butler Saw All scenes take place in a clinic room. Doors off lead to and from the garden, a backroom, and to other parts of the larger building. The opening scene begins quite sedately with Dr Prentice conducting an interview for a secretarial position. Interviewee, Geraldine is soon stripping from behind the curtains at the request of the doctor. This she does unwittingly and without question. In the meantime, the doctor’s sex starved wife enters unexpectedly and she is wearing only underwear under her coat. Another medical ‘professional’ Dr Rance comes along and provides a madcap diagnosis of the couple’s marital problems. Later a black mailing bell boy, accused of sexual harassment, enters. Finally a policeman and we think the whole thing will settle down. Of course, it doesn’t settle down, the six make their entrances and exits at different times. The two doctors are the only two characters who remain in their day clothes/white coats throughout. The two youngsters swap identities and therefore their genders too. The policeman is drugged and bloodied …

Stage Review of Amédée By Eugene Ionesco. Freely adapted by Sean Foley

I saw and heard everything but I’m none the wiser of what the play is meant to represent or any closer to making any sense of it, and this, evidently, is the thinking space conclusion that playwright, Eugene Ionesco first intended. I overheard someone say when asked if they liked it ‘yes, it was good…’ then a slight pause followed by the reaffirmation ‘bizarre, but good’. Reflecting on what we saw: We saw a strange couple (Amédée and Madeleine) trying to cope with a shared problem. One that has been growing and growing. One that they have failed to get to grips with over a fifteen-year span and because of it they both appear to have lived a very insular and frugal existence inside a one bed-roomed flat. Though the title suggests this is going to be about Amédée. I think we did not really get to know him. We know ‘the problem’ had made Amédée terribly indecisive and he possessed no ability to concentrate. We see a weird, scatter-brained character living on his nerves …

A Night at the Circus – Stage Review of CIRQUE BERSERK

Cirque Berserk is an extremely reputable version of a circus troupe touring theatre land and there is much more than just a tipping of the hat to the traditional in their work. Gymnastic, acrobatic, and agility talent is evident in all performances, as well expert timing and the sharp minded actions of trained minds. Much strength and concentration apparent in set skills and it is very obvious how much of a life’s work this is for most. This show will present its audiences with a lot of visual fun wherever it goes. The ‘Berserkers’ are made up of a multicultural array of circus performers mostly from South American and Eastern European countries, also, France, Mongolia and Kenya. Many are similar in their physicality within their individual ethnic groups so the stage had a real feel of the exotic. Supporting acts are the Berserk Dancing girls who hip roll and step left-and-right stage front, while the performers make those all-important stage prop changes behind. I would never wish to be pinned down to a conclusion where …

Stage Review – What’s in a Name? At Birmingham Repertory Theatre

In this rather fine Peckham home, French teacher, Peter is somewhat fixated with words, names and their meanings and he falls hook line and sinker for brother-in-law, Vincent’s wind-up about baby naming, and so ends up accusing him of being egocentric. Throw the all-seeing, all-knowing minds of their wives (Elizabeth and Anna) into the mix. Plus, a surprise confession by old friend, Carl and that evening of convivial speak and social pleasantries turns somewhat savage – suddenly the gloves are off! Definitely an echo of a family sitcom, with a touch of Abigail’s Party and Absent Friends in respect to being a social get-together which turns into a mighty barney. I like the split thinking of this play’s structure. Firstly, there’s something perpetually fascinating about names. The title immediately gives away the fact that ‘names’ are going to be explored. The other thread is nodding to the fact that people, in their huddles, pass judgement on others, share private jokes about others, and they hide such familiarity and bias from those involved. It is toe …

Stage Review: The Exorcist

I do not need to overview the story as it is a classic in the public psyche. An explicit tale of demon possession and religious dogma. A ‘hell is burning’ binge of a tale! I have never read the bestselling book of 1971 and it has been ages since I saw the iconic film of 1973 based on story, so I am not really comparing this UK premiering play by John Pielmeier with anything that has gone before. I know this much, that this stage setting has not brought about anything which is trans-formative, as is often the case when a novel has been adapted for stage. Yet the story lends itself very well to theatre and though it is such a brave undertaking, this is quite masterfully presented, and one thing, in early scenes, it is seriously creepy. The special effects and the artistry of creatives Ben Hart, Duncan McLean, Adam Cork, and Tim Mitchell, are the reasons why. Plus, a stand-out performance by Clare Louise Connolly as Regan, who gives it her all …

Stage Review: Paradise of the Assassins

This project/production is Arts Council England funded and the hand-outs received are actually a complete text in full book format which is unusual. ‘Unusual’ being the operative word for this evening. More about that to come. Firstly, I must be clear about one thing, this old story is fascinating and it will draw you in spite of yourself. Break-neck and full of ferocity. A Muslim story, an ‘anti-parable’ if such a word exists. In a Persian (Arabian) setting at a time when the Mongol Empire was still strong. Hussain (Asif Khan) and his love Zamurrud (Skye Hallam) are on their first Hajj. They’ve been walking for a long time and the mountains are stretching ahead, so they rest and Hussain tends to Zamurrud’s blistered feet. When they disagree on which trail to pick up, Zamurrud reveals her true reasons for coming to the valley. And we are suddenly engaged in her quest for the truth about what had happened to her brother on his past pilgrimage to Mecca. So the story continues and it is …

A return to the Apollo Theatre for Peter Pan Goes Wrong 

Mischief Theatre’s smash-hit Peter Pan Goes Wrong returns to the Apollo Theatre London for a limited festive season.  Recently nominated for Best New Comedy at the 2016 Olivier Awards Theatre, TSS is sharing a review of this fabulous funny show by theatre critic, Debra Hall which was written during its 2015 touring run Hall suggests that you fly on over to read it by clicking on the link below and then recommends that you catch Peter Pan Goes Wrong this festive season Supporting a different cast to those members in the tour but who are deemed to be as equally talented! Peter Pan Goes Wrong is set to run at the West End from October 20th 2016 until January 29th 2017. You can book through Official Theatre Source: Stage Review – Peter Pan Goes Wrong