Final WOS Blogs

Verbatim rights & wrongs

Monkey Bars publicity image

This week I’m back at a subject that continues to niggle me – ideas of morality in verbatim theatre. When we use people’s voices onstage in edited pieces of drama, how fine is the line between representation and exploitation?…read more

Theatre buildings & communities

Bristol Old Vic

The oldest working theatre in the country, Bristol Old Vic, turned its lights back on last week after 18 months of refurbishment. This week warm reviews of its opening production, John O’Keeffe’s Wild Oats, show it is in as rude a health as it was when it housed rowdy 18th century audiences…read more

Lyric keeps it local

A scene from Morning at the Lyric Hammersmith

A blend of robust poetry and agile circus, I was recently wowed by Ockham’s Razor’s Not Until We Are Lost at Artsdepot. But it wasn’t only the stunning aerialism that captured me – just as impressive was the skill displayed by a choir of local singers who had been brought together for these performances…read more

Horror on stage? A chilling thought

Original poster for Let The Right One In

When I read that the National Theatre of Scotland was to do a staged version of Swedish horror film Let The Right One In I got chills down my spine for all the wrong reasons. Horror is notoriously difficult to do on stage and even with the formidable partnership of John Tiffany and Jack Thorne at the helm it seemed a doomed prospect – after all the NTS turned The Wicker Man into a musical earlier this year….read more

And in the end…

Poster image for A Life at The Finborough

So it’s pretty presumptuous to title my final Whatsonstage.com blog with a Beatles lyric used to signify the end of their journey, but I’m going to do it anyway because endings are what form the basis of this blog…read more

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Exeunt Critics’ Picks of 2011

LOTS of fabulous picks here by some people who really know their stuff including some expected and not so expected pieces. Wish I could have mentioned London Road, wish I could have seen Mission Drift…

Originally published on Exeunt

Of course we are wary of the arbitrary nature of these things, the artificiality of seasons, the ordering of experiences into peaks, the hierarchal maps they reproduce, the dangers of placing Fabulous ones next to Those who have just broken a vase.  However at some point you have to be practical.  Our critics have valiantly seen a metric stage-tonne of theatre this year, so what better to relive with sufficient context their most notable moments? And from here it looks like they have produced a list unrivalled for its scope, depth and surprises.  So without further ado-ing, and in no particular order…

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Review: Aladdin at the Lyric Hammersmith

Written for What’s On Stage

Two worlds collide at the Lyric Hammersmith this Christmas. Aladdin is an X Factor style mash-up of street hip-hop and traditional panto. It’s a rocky union but eventually, just like the Princess, you’ll be won over.

Initially Steve MarmionMorgan Lloyd Malcolm and Joel Horwood let the street vibe take over. Hip-hop stereotypes are thrust into our faces with a ferociousness that is dizzying and at times confusing. Aladdin, instead of appearing as a maverick hero, is presented as a gormless ‘youf’ and the cast push their attitudes uncomfortably hard.

But as this production flies into the second act the story picks up. Songs like “You Can’t Wish That” are panto gold and the magic carpet is a piece of stage trickery which will delight adults and children alike. Incongruities that irritated before (why does the Emperor keep coming on with an array of different stuffed animals?) are forgotten as the narrative unpacks at a pace and the cast settles into the rhythm of this hybrid piece.

The Panto Young Company are a trusty chorus, bounding about Tom Scutt’s swirling bubble-gum set with energy and verve, whilst Philip Gladwell’s florescent, psychedelic lighting almost steals the show.

Vocally the cast are fantastic with Sophia Nomvete particularly impressive as the explosive Ringo, the disgruntled ‘Voice of the Universe’. Steven Webb as Wishy Washy, the monkey that speaks in ‘text message’ (like LOLZ!), treads the thin line between innocence and cynicism charmingly and maybe it’s just that I’ve always gone for the bad guy but Simon Kunz as Abanazer is a thing of evil and a joy forever, more than deserving every ecstatic boo that he gets.

Runs until 31st December

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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