Thursday 12th December

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Marriage
Photograph by Tim Stubbs Hughes

Marriage @ Jack Studio Theatre

Rating:

Another capacity crowd at the Jack Studio Theatre welcomed a new run of Gogol’s ‘Marriage’. Loaded with wisecracks from the start, the story, such as it is (translator Howard Colyer compares it to ‘Waiting for Godot’) is a grower. Sunny Jeon’s graphic-y design, de-constructed, Surreal, opens-up the space. You almost feel inside the setting whilst simultaneously looking-on. Is the same dichotomy shared by the players?

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Category: Comedy
The writing was on the wall
The writing was on the wall // Photograph by Martin Slidel

The Review that Never Was

Rating:

Arrived at the Oxford Arms to a review a fringe production. Usual enough. Long day at the office followed by an inspirational exhibition of children’s art that I’d been invited to by a local secondary school. Spent my time and money staying out, traipsing around my old (very old) stomping ground of Camden before time to venture forth.

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Category: Comedy
Gyuri Sarossy and Kirsty Besterman
Gyuri Sarossy and Kirsty Besterman

Tonight at 8.30 @ Richmond Theatre

Rating:

Ways and Means

Initially warring factions in a not-so-typical marriage make for some scintillating scenes. Hilarious for its own sake, you laugh along and forget why you’re laughing. The stridency of the entire cast is undoubtedly indebted to the genius of Noël Coward – easily on par with Wilde – like watching a Victoria Wood sketch cranked-up to the nth degree. Thank you English Touring Theatre for the rediscovery. Gyuri Sarossy as the husband is fierce and manic; Kirsty Besterman as the wife, sharp and sassy. Shereen Martin as Elena is just great. Coward’s catty and sometimes nasty dialogue is ever ripe for the picking. Or the pickling – juicy and sour as a cocktail cucumber. Brilliantly modern, an effective commentary on capitalism, then as now. For money drives quite literally.

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Category: Comedy
Jason Durr as Poirot
Jason Durr as Poirot

Hercule Poirot in Black Coffee at Fairfield Halls

A stimulating exhibition of detective cunning saw the marvelous Hercule Poirot return to the London Stage. Following David Suchet’s retirement from the televised version in 2013, after nearly 25 years on the job, the mammoth task of filling the detective’s smart brogues falls to Jason Durr; best known for his portrayal of Mike Bradley in the police drama Heartbeat.

A performance that upheld this rich theatrical tradition and charmed Tuesday’s audience came from Jason Durr’s fantastically expressive eyebrows. When employed along with pensively joined fingertips and a neater than neat three piece suit that looked as if it were drawn with a ruler, the charismatic little Belgian was brought to life with more than a little joie de vivre.

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Category: Uncategorized
Darren Beaumont
Darren Beaumont // Photo credit: Tim Stubbs Hughes

Pool @ Jack Studio Theatre

Rating:

Showing until June 7, 2014 // The Write Now Festival

As always, setting the scene is a vital aspect of a visit to The Jack. This time, literally stepping into a Hockney-esque painted ‘pool’ can feel quite disconcerting. The attractive and effective set by David Shields makes full use of Amy Mae Smith’s transcendent lighting; birthing those lovely rippling reflections of sunlight-on-water. Kate Bannister comments that “the designers have done a cracking job…” and likewise the director. The sound-scaping by Mark Webber is exemplary.

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

Women of Twilight @ Pleasance Theatre

Rating:

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
Daniel Betts and Kelly Hotten
Daniel Betts and Kelly Hotten

Dial M for Murder @ Richmond Theatre

Rating:

You may think that taking on a legendary film maker and a major if not quite a landmark moment in cinema would make any theatre director wary. Not Lisa Bailey. Though what we’re left with is a shadow of the movie. Remarkable, when the play is billed with the Hitchcock suffix and this is not the film version as adapted by its playwright Frederick Knott. Nothing to do with Hitchcock, though we can see why he was so drawn.

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Category: Culture
Black Coffee 001

Black Coffee @ Richmond Theatre

Rating:

Showing until February 15, 2014 // Bill Kenwright by special arrangement with Agatha Christie Theatre Company

Joe Harmston’s production of Agatha Christie’s ‘Black Coffee’ at Richmond Theatre is better than a caffeine shot. The exquisite Art Deco set by Simon Scullion seems to the manor born and likewise the magnificent Liza Goddard as Aunt Caroline establishes herself early on as a star of the show. Robert Powell slips into the lead of the renowned Belgian detective effortlessly and gracefully. For the duration one quite forgets about Ustinov or Suchet. The dim Englishness of Poirot’s compatriot Hastings, ennobled by Robin McCallum’s delicately mannered performance, provides an ideal foil. And as usual with Christie there’s more going on than first appears. Even a dusty shelf proves not just a matter of housekeeping; Hercule referencing himself to a housemaid exploring “all the dark corners with her broom…”

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Category: Comedy