Hello! And the first review of 2010

So….you kinda know what I’m going to say – there was no ‘The Best of 2009′ which in a way is sad because it means I didn’t get to mention It Felt Like A Kiss, Mother Courage, Found In The Ground, Kristen Schall and Kurt Braunohler, Spring Awakening or Cat On A Hat Tin Roof.  But on the other hand it’s always nice to start with something new – and so along with a preview of the New Year and a deeply heartfelt blog on identity in theatre – here is the first review of 2010.  A suitably tub thumping endeavour, LADS is a very pleasant way to start the New Year.

Written for What’s On Stage 09/01/10

In the land of fair Wetherspoons, four rowdy Knights of the Pub Table share their stories of beautiful (if a bit drunken) maidens and battles between (brawling) brothers. Flying under the stylistic banner of the distinctive Steven Berkoff, their tale is a full on ‘wham bam thank you mam’ production, with grotesque physicalization taking centre stage.

Jobless, Actless, Faithless and Dependable, otherwise known as Nick, Jimmy, Paul and Rich are four disparate youths bound inextricably together through the ties of friendship. Whilst heading out for a night on the tiles, they encounter all of the usual obnoxious suspects whilst embarking on a huge amount of drinking – so a standard night out in London then.

But this is not to say that this is a standard piece. Raucous and bombastic LADS is an exhilarating ride, not to mention hugely funny. Writer and director James Kermack’s spot on observations are extended into sharply crafted and theatricalised moments of chorography. The energy of his direction carries you away on the whirlwind of affectionately mundane excitement that everyone feels at the promise of a night out on the town with your pals.

Our four lads are played with great verve by Geoff Breton, Drummond Bowskill, Josh Boyd Rochford and Danny John Noonan. As they embody the rabble that these boys encounter we see greasy bosses and nasal gaggles of girls float caustically in front of our eyes. As they banter with one another the brotherly bond that ties these four Knights together is tangibly there.

Of the four it is Bowskill who steals scenes however, giving a comedy performance that would rival that of all the great buffoons. Infinitely charming Bowskill seems to sit more within a Commedia Dell Arte tradition than the Berkoff that surrounds him.

As with the autocratic Mr Berkoff however, in the midst of all this revelry it all gets a bit much. This company are forcefully leading their audience by the hand instead of inviting us to follow them and awkwardly, at points, it feels a little like an edition of Nuts with the agony aunt page at the end.

But even if Kermack falls down in the more naturalistic scenes, LADS is still a textured and confident piece of theatre which shows the emergence of a strong talent. Shakespeare it’s not, but for pure balls out entertainment, LADS is guaranteed to blow away the January doldrums.

Runs until 23rd January 2010. For more details go to the Canal Cafe Theatre

Punk Rock at The Lyric Hammersmith

Like an open wound that is scratched and pressed in front of you, some moments of Punk Rock are unbearable to be put through and watch.  The continual intensity, which simmers below the pithy surface of Simon Stephens’ new play, the sexual games, status plays and open bursts of bullying aggression, all add to a feeling of the inherent pressure which permeates the world of today’s young people and calls uncomfortably to memories of our own youth.  But when this ideas-led piece takes a turn into the melodramatic and the potential for violence explodes into actuality, it concludes in annoyingly clichéd climaxes which seriously disappoint.

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A delicious little something to fill the gap

So I’m taking an age to finish my next blog post and wanted to make sure that you all didn’t forget about me or think I’d sunk without trace after two (fairly) productive weeks.  So here for your delectation are my thoughts on a fantastic little show now on at the Novello called Spring Awakening, ok it’s not so little but it’s definitely fantastic and I’m not even a FAN of musicals - have you seen it? Did you share this view? Thoughts on a postcard. 

Spring Awakening – Novello Theatre

There’s definitely something in the air at the Novello Theatre since the arrival of Spring Awakening, the pop/punk/thrash musical which has been taking the Lyric Hammersmith by storm. Crackling with edgy sex appeal and blistering new music this really is the indie rock star of the current West End scene, slicing through the old establishment with a microphone in one hand and a 10 page essay on human reproduction in the other.

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