Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Theatre Roundup February

It proved to be a better month for theatre selections, although there were quite a few more this time.  A couple of the performances I’ll have to come clean up front and say they are not really being reviewed because I have friends who are or have been involved in their productions, and I wouldn't want to be accused of favoritism. Also apologies for the late posting of this blog, hence I've called it a round up rather than a review.

4th February 2013 
Anjin: The Shogun and the English Samurai
Sadler’s wells.
Directed by the Royal Shakespeare Company's Artistic Director Designate, Gregory Doran.
The story of William Adams, known in Japanese as Anjin, was an English sailor who was believed to be the first Englishman to ever reach Japan. The play was advertised as “An epic tale of friendship, honour, love and sacrifice.” It was certainly epic. Presented in a mix of English and Japanese with alternating subtitles for which ever language was being spoken meant that you actually spent a lot more time looking either up above the stage or off to the wings to read the subtitles rather than watching the performances. This did become quite tiring on the eyes after a time. However, the overall presentation was good and the international cast blended well to tell the story.
The show ran between 31 Jan - 9 Feb 2013

6th February 2013 
The Lost Theatre.
A new short performance from physical theatre group Limb2Limb.

Alex and his sister Kate have that typical relationship, friends one minute and fighting the next. However, as the story progresses all is not what it seems in this slick and quirky short play.

This is theatre group I hope to see more from in the future.

8th February 2013 
Romeo & Juliet
Upstairs at The Gatehouse

A modernised to some degree version of the play by Mr Shakespeare. Set in the 1960s and in Brighton, following the great bank holiday fight between the Mods and the Rockers.  For me, if you want to try resetting a play like this then either do it right or don’t bother. The dialogue followed mostly the original but with some changes, but not the obvious ones, money was left as written and so were location names even though the set was clearly under the pier at Brighton. The set was obviously designed before the theatre was seen as I’m sure the pier was supposed to be for the balcony scene, but as it was hitting the roof and with no way for the actors to reach it – it felt clumsy.  I can’t say I’m a great fan of theatre seating where the audience sits on 3 full sides of the stage, you lose so much and in this small space I felt the audience were very much in danger of having the cast land in their laps or having their feet following the same fate as some of the characters.

14th February 2013 
Glasgow Girls
Theatre Royal, Stratford East
From 8th February 2013 to 2nd March 2013

A moving and dramatic musical telling the true story of a group of teenagers in 2005 from Drumchapel High School in Glasgow who fought against the deportation of a Kosovan school friend. With good support from their teacher Mr Girvan (Callum Cuthbertson)and histerical neighbour Noreen (Myra McFadyen), this show delivered laughter and tears.

19th February 2013  (Preview night)
Pleasance Theatre
From 21st February to 10th March

The first I’m ducking out of reviewing as along with Phill Jupitus as Sir Francis Whitford the cast also boasts an old friend Mr John Dorney, he of the Big Finish acting and writing fame.  (See shameless promo spot below)

The play did well last year at the Edinburgh Fringe so transferred for a London run. Although styled on the Yes Prime Minister  productions the play was carried by the manic performances of the cast giving the laughs rather than the plot.

20th February 2013 
Union Theatre
The second I’m going to duck out of, for amongst the creative credits is Mr Andrew Ashenden, Fight Director. (I’ll include a shameless plug for his books below)

Not one of my favourite musicals to be honest and staged in the three sides I mentioned above. However the fight really got the audience’s attention at the start and as I sat there with Andrew watching it we had to take pleasure in the intake of breath from the people sitting around us.  My main problem, even though it was a small venue and full sold out for the whole run, if the performer turned away no matter how well they belted the songs out the words became muffled.

22nd February 2013 
Dear Edwina
The Lost Theatre
From 20th February 2013 to 23rd February 2013

Edwina Spoonapple, advice giver extraordinaire solves people’s problems to music. But Edwina has her sights set on appearing in the 'The Kalamazoo Advice-A-Palooza Festival', but will she and her team make it? Two different casts performed over different matinees and nights for this youth theatre production from Act Now Entertainment. I’m not sure which cast we saw, but there was some very promising up and coming talent on show.

28th February 2013 
Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy by Jonathan Harvey
The Lost Theatre                                                                 
From 28th February 2013 to 2nd March 2013
Another youth theatre production from Lost Theatre.
When a stranger comes to town asking about Darren, the boy that was recently stabbed to death, we find out all is not quite what it seems. The play starts at the end and works backwards which is ok but does require a level of commitment that did not quite come over from all the cast. With the audience being presented with the effect before the cause everything has to be crystal clear and some cast were too busy delivering ‘attitude’ and as a result were at times unfortunately quite incomprehensible.

 Next post will be an update to the coffee stick house models. Promise !

Oh and I nearly forgot ..

John Dorney's latest Big Finish audio adventure

Andrew Ashenden's Stage Combat books