Sunday 19th November

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Jon Pointing: Act Natural review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Jon Pointing’s debut solo show is an excruciating masterpiece of character comedy.

If you ever see better character comedy than Jon Pointing‘s Act Natural, you’ve struck gold.  Because Pointing’s debut, in which he plays hilariously flawed acting coach Cayden Hunter, is a delicately crafted and wonderfully acted masterpiece.

The conceit is that audience members are attending Hunter’s acting workshop, a set-up nimbly explained as he enters and pretends not to want attention while he readies himself for the session.  Of course, Hunter wants the opposite, made clear when he slowly changes his top onstage, breathing in and tensing his muscles.  From that moment, the stage is set for a perfect demonstration of vulnerable self-importance, a traditional and deep well for character comedy.

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Category: Comedy
La Soiree @ TCS
La Soiree @ TCS

Preview – La Soiree and La Petite Soiree

The multi-award-winning and much-loved La Soirée, returns to its favourite city this Christmas from 24th November to 3rd February 2018.  But who on earth has given them the keys to a proper West End Theatre?

Over the next few months, the phenomenal global hit will reside at the recently refurbished Aldwych Theatre.  Prepare to be captivated by the irresistible La Soirée as its motley crew of talented cabaret performers and circus sideshow misfits revel in their new surroundings.  And expect La Soirée’s heady cocktail of intimate cabaret, new burlesque and contemporary variety in a grander, plusher home.

This Christmas will also be the first time that La Soirée is offering La Petite Soirée – a family-friendly, fun and daring hour-long show for cabaret fans of all ages.  La Petite Soirée will play from 3pm on Saturdays and throughout the Christmas holidays.

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Category: Theatre
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Wil Greenway: These Trees the Autumn Leaves Alone review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Greenway takes his audience on another visceral journey with his latest lyrical tale of courage and memory.

In our Edinburgh Fringe preview, we predicted that Wil Greenway would soon rise to the top of the comedy storytellers.  After the Australian’s performances this month, he’s surely close to achieving this goal and gaining the recognition he deserves.  As with previous show The Way The City Ate The Stars, These Trees the Autumn Leaves Alone tells an atmospheric and entertaining story set in South-East Australia.  Its facts may be less dramatic but, as Greenway’s fans have come to expect, the destination is less important than the journey.

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Category: Comedy
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What’s On London’s Edinburgh Fringe Preview

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

With the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world’s largest arts event – officially starting today, we decided to follow the Highland herd and put together a list of the comedy shows we’re most looking forward to seeing this month and then subsequently in London.

Given the vast number of acts performing over the next month in this seventieth year of the Fringe, we can’t pretend our list is completely comprehensive, and apologise to the many worthy artists unmentioned below.  It reiterates just how spoilt for choice fans of live comedy currently are.  But we guarantee this: if you choose to see our suggested stand-up, character, storytelling, musical and sketch comedians, you won’t go far wrong.

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Category: Comedy
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Jon Pointing: Act Natural, Edinburgh preview

In the second of our Edinburgh Fringe previews, Ian Cater speaks to Jon Pointing about his brilliant comic creation, acting coach Cayden Hunter, in debut solo show Act Natural.

In our first Edinburgh preview last week, we started with a prediction.  So here’s another: Cayden Hunter will be the breakthrough character act of this year’s Fringe.  The arrogant, vulnerable, hilarious star of Jon Pointing’s debut solo show, Act Natural, has already got much of the London comedy world talking.  That buzz should extend north and, hopefully, onto our TV screens before long if executives can find a suitable vehicle for him.

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Category: Comedy
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Daniel Kitson: Something Other Than Everything review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Kitson’s new show at Camden’s Roundhouse is brilliant, hilariously and thoughtfully addressing the paradox of modern life that we’re both always, and never, alone.

In his fascinating book, How I Escaped My Certain Fate, Stewart Lee lists Daniel Kitson as one of a handful of comedians “whose talents far outstripped mine, who produced work I never thought I’d be capable of in my life”.  So when Kitson drops a new show, the comedy world takes note – this time with entirely good reason.  Because Something Other Than Everything is extremely ambitious, consistently hilarious and utterly brilliant – a tough ask of a two-hour uninterrupted show, and frankly a dangerous one given its full-bladdered 9pm start time.

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Category: Comedy
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Wil Greenway: The Way The City Ate The Stars review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Greenway elevates the art of storytelling with this lyrical, moving, funny and compassionate tale of love and tragedy in South-East Australia.

Eleven months ago, I reviewed Sarah Kendall’s show, Shaken.  In hindsight, and having listened to more of her work since on Radio 4, she perhaps deserved more than three stars.  However, I stand by the assertion that for storytelling to work effectively live, “it needs a higher laughter-count, or a more vulnerable and relatable narrator.  Kendall’s very talented, but projects an Antipodean toughness from the moment she bounds onstage talking forcefully about dick drawings and bowel movements.  As a result, she finds it hard to generate much sympathy from an admittedly difficult crowd, necessary before embarking on a story that portrays her younger self so unfavourably.”

I restate this to contrast Kendall’s countryman, Wil Greenway, who last night delivered an equally challenging story at Soho Theatre with a different outcome.  When he entered the stage after a short introduction from his folksy, melodious backing musicians (Will Galloway and Kathryn Langshaw), I was ready for a similarly forthright, Kendall-esque approach, given the Melburnian’s solid frame, thick auburn beard and topknot.  But it quickly became clear that Greenway’s a gentler type of performer and someone who could end up going very far.

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Category: Comedy
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Legally Blonde: The Musical review

Rating:

Over the past few days, City Academy has delivered an impressive amateur production of Legally Blonde: The Musical at Hammersmith’s Polish Theatre.  As Ian Cater writes below, Alan Pearson’s production features faultless choreography, admirable enthusiasm and a large cast that – by and large – rose towards the standard of its stronger performers.  And by not taking itself too seriously, the show satisfies a range of recipients, whether or not they love the film or its message.

Before Thursday, I’d never seen Legally Blonde or its musical spin-off.

This was largely through choice – rather than opportunity – as the tale of a Valley Girl, Elle Woods, who heads to Harvard Law School to win back her boyfriend and, in the process, disprove assumptions about her intellect ain’t normally my cuppa cha.  I don’t proffer this preface in an attempt to claim any cultural high ground, but to acknowledge how well this show and – in particular this cast – did in winning me over and recovering from a slightly sticky start.

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Category: Theatre