Sunday 21st January

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What’s On London Comedy Awards 2017

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Now the New Year bells have finished chiming, it’s time to announce our Comedy Awards for the year just gone and news of where you can catch these fantastic acts in the months ahead.

There’s no shortage of talent around, so whittling down the vast forest of performers to a handful for each category has been tricky and some excellent comics have had to be overlooked.  On the plus side, that competition for bums on seats is driving artists onto new heights, constantly pushing boundaries of subject matter, delivery style and occasionally taste.

This is superb news for Londoners because, despite underlying political and economic uncertainty, its comedy scene is thriving.  While leading lights like Soho Theatre, Leicester Square Theatre and The Comedy Store will always drawn top acts and expectant audiences, it’s been fantastic to see less established venues such as 2Northdown and The Bill Murray host some of the biggest names in comedy this year, while monthly events like Suspiciously Cheap Comedy, Knock2bag and Rye Laughs regularly put on the best mixed bills in the country.

So take our advice and fill your 2018 with grins, chuckles and snorts by heading along to those venues or catching our top picks in stand-up, character, storytelling, musical, sketch and improvised comedy for 2017.

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Category: Comedy
30 CHRISTMASES - Production Image (3), image by Josh Tomalin

Thirty Christmases review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer and Reviewer

A marvellous musical comedy that manages to turn family trauma into heart-warming festive fare.

The story of a brother and sister trying to come to terms with a traumatic event may not sound like the most promising basis for a feelgood Christmas production, but few shows have quite so much festive soul as Thirty Christmases.

Part of that stems from the acting on display, with Jonny Donahoe, Rachel Parris and Paddy Gervers comfortably translating the warmth and humour of their comedy onto the stage.  But it’s mainly in the writing, with Donahoe managing to merge a cynical deconstruction of this objectively absurd annual event with sufficient affection and positivity about the human spirit.

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Category: Comedy
30 CHRISTMASES - Promo Image (1), image by Anna Soderblom

Jonny Donahoe: “If Christmas resonates of loss, grief or even guilt, you can’t escape that.”

Next week, rebellious musical comedy Thirty Christmases makes its London debut.  The brainchild of playwright, actor and musical comedian Jonny Donahoe – who stars in the show alongside Rachel Parris and Paddy Gervers – offers an intriguing alternative to more traditional glitzy festive fare.  

Ahead of the three-week run at New Diorama Theatre, Ian Cater caught up with the engaging Donahoe to discuss the show’s origins, and a host of topics ranging from Victoria Wood to reindeer sex.

For Andy Williams, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  “But for a lot of people, it’s traumatic,” Jonny Donahoe explains, with the patient, persuasive voice of his Every Brilliant Thing character, rather than the booming baritone heard at a Jonny and the Baptists gig.  “If it resonates of loss, grief or even guilt, you can’t escape that.  And it’s compounded by the fact that everywhere you go people are signposting that they’re having a joyous time.”

That harsh reality forms the backdrop to Thirty Christmases, written and performed this month by Donahoe at Euston’s New Diorama Theatre.  If it sounds a heavy premise for a festive show, that was the 34-year-old’s intention.

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Category: Comedy
glengarry-glen-ross-christian-slater

Glengarry Glen Ross: Christian Slater rises high in conman drama

Rating:

David Mamet’s new Playhouse Theatre revival is a solid production that provides a tense insight into the corrupt networks of American capitalism.  The revival of Glengarry Glen Ross – 34 years after its premiere – maintains good chemistry between a strong cast and packs plenty of laughs throughout.

It has to be noted that on the night I attended the production, Robert Glenister – who plays Dave Moss – became unwell during the performance and was replaced by understudy Mark Carlisle.  This understandably created a strange atmosphere, with Carlisle performing manfully even though relying on a script, while the other cast members rallied round.  Thankfully, Robert has made a full recovery and rejoined the cast for future performances.

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Category: Theatre
Good-Girl-PRESS-IMAGE-1

Good Girl review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer and Reviewer

Naomi Sheldon has announced herself onto the dramatic comedy scene with this impressive debut exploring teenage rage and untreated anxiety.

As a powerful monologue delivered by an assertive, confessional and sexually liberated female lead, Good Girl has inevitably attracted comparisons to Fleabag.  But whereas Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterpiece provides a platform for a fully-formed, heavily-flawed, mid-thirties voice, Sheldon’s semi-autobiographical play charts the development of a young woman coming to terms with what society expects of her, namely being a “good girl with neat, little emotions”.

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Category: Comedy
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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
WilGreenwayTheseTrees

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