THEATRE REVIEW: All My Sons, Rose Theatre Kingston

running until 19 November

David Horovitch and Penny Downie as Joe and Kate. Photo: Mark Douet | All My Sons | Rose Theatre Kingston
David Horovitch and Penny Downie as Joe and Kate. Photo: Mark Douet

My last visit to the Rose Theatre was for the English language premiere of Good Canary with fresh young talent, complete with digital projections. All My Sons couldn’t be more different, but on entering the auditorium it is strangely refreshing to be greeted with a lovely, sprawling, traditional set. Michael Taylor’s design is a beautiful rendering of a classic American family home: veranda, porch, white picket fence, the works. It’s the essence of the American dream – just waiting for trauma and tragedy to come pouring out through the cracks, as we know they inevitably will.

Michael Rudman’s production take its time, quietly introducing us to the family relationships then gently exposing the distrust, the anguish and the guilt underneath the apparent calm. Read More »

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THEATRE REVIEW: The Plough and the Stars, National Theatre

running until 22 October

THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS by O’Casey,
Josie Walker as Mrs Gogan Credit: Johan Persson

The National Theatre’s new production of The Plough and the Stars marks the centenary of the Easter Rising, a major event in Irish history that I’m ashamed to say I don’t know very much about. Given its absence in most English curriculum history lessons, I wonder how many of last night’s audience were that well-informed either (at least before they’d read the programme notes).

Luckily Sean O’Casey’s play doesn’t require you to know too much historical detail. It’s not a documentary of the Rising, but a character study of ordinary Dubliners: the patchwork of wit, humour, tragedy, eccentricity and courage that became the backdrop for bloodshed and the historical catalyst for Troubles to follow.

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THEATRE REVIEW: High Society, Old Vic

runs until 22 August

What a swellegant, elegant part this is… This glorious vintage musical is a gorgeous summer hit

Marking Kevin Spacey’s final production as Artistic Director at the Old Vic, this revival of Cole Porter’s gloriously silly and frothy musical takes a little while to get going, but when it gets in full force it is a delight to behold.

cw-6849-mediumKate Fleetwood stars as a mature but pretentious and flighty Tracey Lord, joined by the charming Rupert Young as her ex-husband C K Dexter Haven, and the wonderful Jamie Parker as new love interest Mike Connor, all while she is planning her wedding to the rather drippy George Kitteridge (Richard Grieve). Meanwhile her parents are estranged, Uncle Willie (Jeff Rawle) is causing chaos, and to top it all there are journalists trying to get the scoop on all the goings-on. Add more than a dash of alcohol at the “swellegant, elegant” pre-wedding party, and it’s a recipe for chaos.

This production does take a while to get into its stride; the first few scenes are sleek but a little flat as we are introduced to the cast in a rather contrived way. Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre

currently booking until December 2015

Fulfils everything you want from a big West End musical: impressive set pieces, high drama, big powerful anthems and a stunning central performance

I’ve been waiting a long time to see this classic, ever since this new West End revival of Miss Saigon was announced. Having had a recent cast change, it’s a good time to see the show which is currently in its second year at the Prince Edward Theatre.

Transporting the story of Madame Butterfly to the Vietnamese War, the musical covers a three year period and shifts geographically from East to West – and back again – as the consequences of the central romance continue to be felt. It really is an epic, and it’s about time that I ticked this one off the list.

Miss Saigon - Eva Noblezada as Kim and Alistair Brammer as Chris - Photo credit Michael Le Poer Trench
Eva Noblezada as Kim and Alistair Brammer (previous cast member) as Chris. (c) Michael Le Poer Trench

The star of the show is undoubtedly Eva Noblezada as tragic heroine Kim. Unbelievably making not only her West End debut but her professional theatre debut, Noblezada looks every bit the seasoned performer as she enraptures the audience with her incredible vocal power and range, and her undeniable stage presence. Read More »

THEATRE REVIEW: Closer, Donmar Warehouse

runs until 4 April

 (Photo: Johan Persson)
Rachel Redford (Alice) and Rufus Sewell (Larry) in Closer (Photo: Johan Persson)

Most of the reviews for this revival of Patrick Marber’s modern classic focused on comparisons with the original 1997 production; I’m coming fresh to the play, having never seen it on stage or even the film adaptation. For me, the success of the play lies in Marber’s caustic yet poetic dialogue, and his keen yet brutal observation of human relationships. While the focus is primarily on sexual relationships, it also goes wider and deeper than that, exploring our interactions and insecurities with alternating ferocity and calculating detail. More than anything, it still feels like an up-to-date, on-the-money representation of the time and the people that inhabit Marber’s carefully-chosen locations: I would certainly not call it dated.

The small space at the Donmar suits the piece perfectly, its boxy nature enclosing the action and giving an episodic, almost filmic feel to aspects of the show, which is highlighted during the chatroom scene in which we get a ‘split screen’ effect. Read More »