Saturday 23rd October

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Claire Machin, Sophie-Louise Dann, Joanna Riding, Claire Moore and Debbie Chazen in The Girls
Claire Machin, Sophie-Louise Dann, Joanna Riding, Claire Moore and Debbie Chazen in The Girls

The Girls – If you’re going to see one musical this year, it has to be Barlow’s!

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Hotly anticipated musical The Girls is now being performed at Phoenix Theatre until July 2017.  Based on the hit 2003 film Calendar Girls, Tim Firth (who wrote the film) and national treasure Gary Barlow have joined forces to return this heart-warming story to the stage.  In doing so, as Shannon Rawlins writes below, they have produced the best British musical since Billy Elliot.

Film, play, musical – Phoenix Theatre’s brand new production The Girls has been on quite the journey.  Now, in the heart of the West End, you can hear sung the true tale of a Yorkshire Women’s Institute group’s fundraising efforts of producing a nude calendar to raise money for a memorial sofa.

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Category: Theatre

Doctor Faustus – Jon Snow sells his soul for fame!

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Game of Thrones star Kit Harington plays the title role in a new version of Doctor Faustus at The Duke of York’s Theatre until June 2016.  The classic play (written by Christopher Marlowe 400 years ago), in which the lead famously sells his soul to the devil, has been given a contemporary twist by the excellent Jamie Lloyd, fresh off the back of his recent success with The Maids and The Homecoming.  

What’s On London’s Shannon Rawlins attended the show’s preview to find out if Harington – who plays Jon Snow in the epic HBO series – could deliver a performance worthy of an opening night’s watch.

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Category: Theatre

‘The Maids’ at Trafalgar Studios

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By Shannon Rawlins

The Maids is an energetic, tense, self-loathing tale of revenge and desperation.  Loosely based on Christine and Lea Papin’s real-life murderous revenge on their employer, Jean Genet’s play returns to London after a twenty-year absence, revived by The Jamie Lloyd Theatre Company, paired with translation from Benedict Andrews and Andrew Upton.

The gifted cast command Genet’s play in a new direction.  Claire (Zawe Ashton, Fresh Meat, Misfits) and Solange (Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black) are the titular characters, portrayed for the first time as maids of colour, adding an interesting aspect to an already intriguing story.

The servants switch from role-play to their true selves throughout, crawling into the mistresses’ dresses, using foul language to convey their downtrodden lives to the audience.  It’s sometimes difficult to differentiate who is mimicking whom.  Having said that, this is the only fault I can pick out of the superb stage show.

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Category: Art
Sally Mortemore and Claire Louise Amias
Sally Mortemore and Claire Louise Amias

Women of Twilight @ Pleasance Theatre

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A fun night out ‘Women of Twilight’ is not. It is a truly great evening of theatre at a commendable (and welcoming) venue. If Sylvia Rayman’s play seems long-overlooked, in some ways it’s easy to understand why. The taboo of illegitimacy in post-war England seems not only reprehensible but through contemporary eyes is like visiting an alien land. Director Jonathan Rigby refers to “the continued relevance of the play…” as I imagine both at home and abroad, and considers that “maybe it’s appropriate to revive a play written during the early years of the Welfare State at a time when strenuous efforts are being made to dismantle it…” Rigby’s current production, at the roomy and comfortable Pleasance Theatre, is more than worth a revisit.

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Category: Culture