Reviews

West End & Broadway Songbook

OVER the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to go to various London fringe theatres to see some fantastic concerts with Colin Billing (one of Big Little Theatre School’s founders) at the helm. Tonight I didn’t have the hassle of getting to London because London, together with a crop of starry West End performers, came to the Regent Centre – and boy, what a phenomenal night it was.

Travel Through Time - A Musical Journey

OVER the years it has been traditional for the press to be invited to P&P’s annual autumn concert at its main venue, the concert hall at Lighthouse, rather than to one of the charity fundraising evenings at the Regent Centre, but this year we were asked to go along to the latter.

The History Boys

THIS is probably Alan Bennett’s best-known and successful play, thanks to its long West End run and popular film. Whether it is his best is another matter. It is certainly a clever piece of writing that tackles many – too many? – important topics, notably the nature and purpose of history and of education generally.

Oh What A Lovely War

HOT on the heels of their previously thoroughly enjoyable High Society, WMOS did not disappoint with this foray into more serious work. This show is not easy to strike the right balance with and I did feel uncomfortable at times throughout the evening, showing that the directorial flare with the satirical messages were getting through. The end of Act 1 was particularly well presented and I smiled with amusement, then realised why I was smiling and that perhaps I should not have at the baa baa baa of the soldier sheep following orders that had such catastrophic consequences. It is that kind of intended juxtaposition that makes this show by turn funny, sad, informative and shocking.

Lorelei's Ladies Of Lounge

THE programme describes this as ‘a cabaret show that mixes show numbers with jazz plus a spoonful of Lounge – topped off with a few vintage songs’. Well yes, that’s a pretty fair description but it just doesn’t go far enough. In fact it makes the evening sound rather ordinary, and what I experienced tonight was anything but.

Vanity Fair

THERE are rare weeks when I don’t go to the theatre at all, but this week is not one of them. Having seen shows on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and with another one booked for tonight, Saturday evening, the prospect of also spending my afternoon at the theatre didn’t fill me with unalloyed joy – but how very sorry I would have been to miss this outstanding production.

Oliver!

THE story of Oliver Twist that Charles Dickens wrote in 1838 was truly about London’s underworld, which was a far darker place than Lionel Bart’s musical has often implied. Hordes of small children and a dog always guarantee the ‘aah’ factor, and the populace usually seem remarkably cheerful given the circumstances in which they live.

Pack Up Your Troubles

ANY society that serves up boiled beef and carrots as the interval meal during its 1914-inspired old time music hall has clearly thought things through, and I can honestly say that I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at this show. In fact, if I had a free evening before the end of the week, which sadly I don’t, I could happily sit through it all over again.

Passion: Line Of Departure

THIS superb new play by Stephanie Dale has evolved from interviews that AsOne conducted with Dorset people who were willing to talk about their direct experience of war, plus people who had family who had fought in World War One or had been deployed to Afghanistan. The interviews were recorded and used as a piece of verbatim theatre – using the precise words spoken by those people.

Frankenstein

THE difficulty with any new version of this classic story is that you are competing against a mammoth back catalogue of adaptations; be it radio, film, television or, as it is in this latest reanimation, the stage.  With an embarrassment of diversity finding one’s own slant, its unique selling point, is a challenge unto itself.  The tale of a scientist who makes a living being by assembling the limbs of the dead, only to see his creation turn on him, remains as potent in today’s world of genetic engineering as it did almost 200 years ago.  First published anonymously, it has come to be seen as one of the first major novels by a woman and one of the world’s first science fiction narratives.

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