THEATRE REVIEW: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Duke of York’s Theatre

running until 2 September

After several years when it looked like this stage adaptation of Alan Warner’s novel The Sopranos might be stuck in development hell, writer Lee Hall and director Vicky Featherstone finally mounted the premiere of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour in Edinburgh in 2015. Since then, it has toured Scotland and the north of England before Londoners hailed its arrival at the National Theatre last year – a run which won Best New Comedy at this year’s Olivier Awards. Now Our Ladies are making their West End debut as the show transfers to the Duke of York’s, injecting a fierce dose of teenage rebellion into the walls of this Victorian playhouse.

The cast of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (c) Manuel Harlan

What’s thrilling about this show is that it allows these six young actresses to be very, very funny – in a way that isn’t offered all too often in the West End. Read More »

Theatre tour at the New Wimbledon Theatre

New Wimbledon Theatre
The New Wimbledon Theatre on a sunnier day

I spend a lot of my time in theatres. Big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones. Mostly I’m sitting in the auditorium, and when my day job does involve working behind the scenes, it’s normally in a rush of whatever event happens to be taking place. So I decided to take the opportunity to get an insight into my local theatre at a more relaxed pace.

ATG offers tours around the New Wimbledon Theatre (which it started managing in 2003) on the last Saturday of every month at £10 for a 90-minute tour – although if you get lucky like me, you’ll get a guide whose enthusiasm means the tour runs closer to 2 hours!

I only found out about the tour from a single email during the week, and the low level of marketing might explain we were a group of just four on Saturday. But I’m not complaining: the small group meant we got a lot more chances to ask questions Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: Guards At The Taj, Bush Theatre

playing until 20 May

As the Bush Theatre reopens its doors after a year-long £4 million redevelopment, Jamie Lloyd relaunches the main house with his European premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s Guards At The Taj, itself toying with the price of a beautiful building. Lloyd’s trademark blend of richness and gore comes to the fore in this intense burst of a story, which places human fragility alongside the majesty of great architecture.

Guards-at-the-Taj 7 (c) Mark Brenner
Darren Kuppan (Babur) and Danny Ashok (Humayun)

The play opens with a conversation between two imperial guards who aren’t allowed to be talking, about one of the most beautiful sights in the world that they aren’t allowed to look at. Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: Hip, Vault Festival

running until 5 February 

The Vault Festival has returned to its subterranean home under Waterloo station for a fifth year, once again fillings its buzzing spaces with a varied programme. My first taste of this year’s festival was Hip by Kriya Arts, a fascinating hour taking a peek into a stranger’s life, which reveals as much about the creator of the show as its subject.

hip-c-kriya-arts-3As with previous Kriya Arts shows, this is an ‘extra live’ performance, meaning – in a similar way to a relaxed performance – the audience are free to make noise, move around and even take photos. We’re also encouraged to get actively involved in the shaping of the show, choosing which elements to explore and reading extracts of letters or diaries. It makes the whole feel of the show more relaxed and instantly draws the audience together in a united experience; as well as a more accessible kind of theatre, this also suits the show’s subject matter as we are invited into the living room of a squat, making our way into the building after an introduction outside The Vaults front entrance.Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Road, White Bear Theatre

running until 4 February

Michael Wade, Robert Moloney and Keith Stevenson (c) Gavin Watson
Michael Wade, Robert Moloney and Keith Stevenson (c) Gavin Watson
“Hillbilly comedy” Out On Fried Meat Ridge Road has gained such success at LA’s Pacific Resident Theater that it has spawned two sequels, but it’s perhaps a risk to bring it to London without an audience’s local knowledge of state stereotypes and American references. Yet for every mention of Mountain Dew or prog rock bands, there is a dose of warmth and farce that give this show universal appeal.
Down on his luck, Mitchell (Robert Moloney) finds himself without much choice but to room with J.D. (Keith Stevenson, who also wrote the script) – who may or may not be the son of the son of God. Soon the full absurdity of the living arrangement becomes apparent, as a rag-tag collection of neighbours bring their problems to the ever-patient J.D.’s door. From Marlene the meth addict, to Flip the racist motel owner, to Tommy the gun-toting adulterer – the lovable J.D. can’t help but greet them all with kindness and patience. It’s this mixture of good-heartedness and sheer absurdity that lends this piece such a warm comedic focus, even as the other characters shout, swear and belittle each other.

Read More »