Monday 10th December

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Wil Greenway: Either Side of Everything review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Wil Greenway delivers more warm and engaging storytelling, but loses something in this style experiment. 

Over the past few years, a Wil Greenway show has virtually guaranteed a charming, poetic experience filled with passion and laughter.  This year’s iteration, Either Side of Everything, is ultimately no exception but something seems to have been lost in the Australian’s experiment towards comedy and multiple storylines.

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Category: Comedy
wil2-PhotoCreditEdwardMoore

Wil Greenway: Either Side of Everything, Edinburgh preview

In the first of our Edinburgh Fringe previews, Ian Cater speaks to Wil Greenway – one of the most soul-stirring, poetic storytellers around – about his move towards comedy in new show Either Side of Everything.

The first time I saw Wil Greenway walk onstage, he looked very much your archetypal Australian hipster: bright shirted, bare footed, big of beard, all perched on a strong frame growing down from a top-knot.  He was only lacking a surfboard and a can of Fosters to complete the picture.

But book split from cover the second he opened his mouth and unravelled a softly spoken story full of heart, humour and small-town heroism.  The fluid in his eyes ebbed and flowed to the rhythm of his words: full of mischief during each well-worked metaphor; packed with pain when retreating to gather himself during folksy musical interludes from singer Kathryn Langshaw and guitarist Will Galloway.

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Category: Comedy
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The One review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer and Reviewer

Vicky Jones made her name directing the enormously successful Fleabag before writing and directing last year’s Touch.  Both dealt candidly with sex and relationships – themes Jones says are explored even more “brutally” in her first stage play, The One.  

Its initial run went a little under the radar in 2014 despite Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag‘s star, playing Jo – the central role written with her in mind.  Now The One is back at Soho Theatre with a new cast directed by Steve Marmion, and stands out as a powerful and hugely relevant piece of work.

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Category: Theatre
Robert Day © Laura Rogers and Daivd Haig
Robert Day © Laura Rogers and Daivd Haig

Pressure – David Haig shines in D-Day inspired play

Rating:

By Sandip Kana

Pressure, David Haig’s wartime drama about Second World War weathermen, has now hit the West End and looks set to succeed.  After all, if there are two things the British love, it’s complaining about the weather and reliving our most memorable battles.

The splendidly written and skilfully acted play centres on the period leading up to the D-Day landings and the pivotal role played by weathermen in calculating the optimal date to launch the largest seaborne invasion in history.

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Category: Theatre
Chicago: The Musical © The Phoenix Theatre

Chicago The Musical

Rating:

Sandip Kana, What’s On London reviewer

Despite good performances from much of the cast, Walter Bobbie’s new incarnation of the frank and funny classic lacks a slice of razzle dazzle.

It would be difficult not to have noticed the large array of promotional posters across London heralding the return of Chicago, pitted as one of the West End’s ‘must see’ musicals.  But although there are a number of commendable aspects to this production, overall it is disappointingly flat compared to previous stellar iterations.

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Category: Theatre
MARK THOMAS 3 - Please credit Lesley Martin

Mark Thomas: “Stop seeing refugees as victims. They’re humans showing remarkable courage and imagination.”

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

When picturing the West Bank, many think of people blighted by shortages, air raid sirens and fear – the result of decades of fighting and Israeli occupation.  Accordingly, most attempts to improve the lives of over half a million refugees sandwiched between Israel and Jordan focus on better access to food, water and jobs.  

But Mark Thomas – the leading campaigning comedian – saw people needing creative outlets and, vitally, laughter.  He set up a series of comedy courses in the Jenin Refugee Camp – among the most radicalised and allegedly responsible for 28 suicide bombings during the Second Intifada – with the aim of putting on shows for locals to enjoy.  

This week and next, Thomas tells the story of this incredible initiative in Showtime From The Frontline at Theatre Royal Stratford East, alongside Faisal Abu Alhayjaa and Alaa Shehada – two talented Palestinian performers who graduated from the course.

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Category: Comedy
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Tom Walker: “When Pie’s shouting at the Tories, he’s also satirising the Left in the same moment.”

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

By any metric, 2016 was an extraordinary year, not least for Tom Walker whose comic creation, Jonathan Pie, surfed into the satirical landscape on a wave of deceptively insightful diatribes about austerity, Brexit and Trump.  Soon, millions of people awaited the spoof news correspondent’s latest rant-filled take on current events – in short and sharp three-minute instalments – with bated breath.

Seizing the moment, Walker – together with comedian Andrew Doyle – penned a solo show giving greater depth to the Pie character as he struggled to host segments of Children In Need.  The result was a success, receiving a four-star review here and praise for its “ability to spew out persuasive points amongst the bile”.  Tomorrow night, Walker returns to Hammersmith with a second live show, Back To The Studio, addressing the way we consume news and avoiding his main mistake from last time around. 

“That first show was a massive learning curve,” Walker says, “because I’d never done anything like it.  I’m an actor, not a stand-up comedian, so I foolishly made it too contemporary, focusing on austerity and the Tories.  When I wrote it, Brexit was miles off and though Trump had announced his nomination, everyone still thought he was a joke.  So on the morning after the Brexit vote, I had to scrap a third of the script and rewrite it.”

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Category: Comedy
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Adam Riches: “Acting didn’t satisfy the side of my brain that was interested in challenging myself riskily.”

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Adam Riches may be one of the most charming, loquacious masochists around.  

The performer whose commitment to art saw him shatter his right leg from the knee down when performing at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008 but reappear four days later in a wheelchair.  A character comedian who acknowledges that his chosen style – often incorporating a large slice of audience participation – means “effectively ruining your sketch immediately from the ideal”.  And a risk-taker who’s chosen to revisit a show that, in his own words, “bombed so badly in 2003 that it took me a very long time to get over.”

Given this, it’s no surprise to see the former Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner take the unusual step of putting on five different shows at Network Theatre this week as part of Vault Festival, including that ill-fated 2003 production, Plat Du Nuit: The Comeback Special.  He’s actually taking on seven scripts, given that Thursday’s performance combined three works-in-progress – Coach Coach 2: Coach Harder, The Lone Dueller and The Guy You … – that will develop into stand-alone shows at this year’s Fringe.  This partly explains why he’s taken on this challenge.

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Category: Comedy