Category Archives: Reviews

An American and The Cursed Child

London has millions of visitors every year, a fair amount of them see at least one West End show. Here’s what an American Harry Potter fan thought of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

By Lori Gilchrist

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Lori Gilchrist just before she stepped into the Palace Theatre | Sarah Louhichi

To be fair, I’ve read the Harry Potter books twice, seen every film multiple times, own the DVD’s and have joined Pottermore – All hail Ravenclaw and Thunderbird. That being said I was angry when Albus was put into Slytherin House in the book version of the play. So I’ve got some bias, I’ll admit that. But I was excited to see the play, though not sure if I’d really like it. It had a lot to live up to especially after paying premium prices at the theatre for premium seats (row D, seat 9). With this play, the theatre doesn’t allow scalpers (‘second-hand ticket broker’) tickets and if you’re lucky enough to find tickets from ATG or Nimax last minute, you take what you can get, pray for the Friday 40 or go home empty handed. £250 is a lot of money for one play. But was it worth it?

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Lori Gilchrist before the Part 1 | Sarah Louhichi

In a word the play is “Awesome” and definitely worth the money. Being close to the stage I was able to see facial expressions and even Harry’s scar. The staging was inventive and surprising. Today a lot of plays and musicals use a single set and the viewer is expected to use their imagination. Not here, the staging reflected the flavour of the Potterverse. Without giving anything away, there’s definitely magic and love in this production.

I’m not familiar with English stage actors, but had seen Alex Price in Father Brown previously. For Americans, sometimes we have problems with West End productions due to unfamiliarity with the different accents and dialects and therefore lose some of the meaning of the play. I had no issues here; it’s very understandable. And for those lacking in Potter knowledge, the story isn’t hard to follow.

You could tell that the cast was respectful and loved the characters they played. The acting was just right, though sometimes I felt Anthony Boyle (playing Scorpius) was a little over the top, but he won me over by Part II. The actors playing Ginny (Poppy Miller), Hermione (Noma Dumezweni), Harry (Jamie Parker) and Draco (Alex Price) reflected the adult characters perfectly, showing the imperfections of adulthood and the doubt of parenthood. Sam Clemmett (playing young Albus Potter) played the bratty little brother we sometimes wish we didn’t have. Real emotions, rationales and actions were exhibited here. If you took away the magical bits, the basic story would still work.

New York gets the play in 2018 but when it will come to Los Angeles, who knows? So if you’re coming to London and you love a good story, I strongly suggest you book tickets when you’re booking your airfare. I wasn’t disappointed. All Hail Cursed Child.

The Enchanted | Review

★★★☆☆ Pharmacy Theatre, The Bunker

An intense and brave tale of evil, the death penalty and the human inside a monster.

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The cast of The Enchanted | Dina T.

The play based on the novel by Rene Denfeld looks at the person behind a murderer and the death penalty. Waiting for your death on death row is lonely. Arden is mute and as he waits for his day, he listens and watches an investigator trying to save some of the prisoners from their deaths. While doing so, she uncovers the sad and disturbing past of some of the ‘monsters’ in the maximum security prison.

The choreography by movement director Emily Orme, conveys a sense of helplessness and sadness that carries throughout the whole play, with an eerie undertone through the music.

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The Cast of The Enchanted | Dina T.

The stage and background are completely white and chalk is used to draw on it. However sometimes it doesn’t have enough of an impact as the light blue colour of the chalk gets lost easily.

The use of puppetry shows a certain vulnerability each of the characters have, it’s done so delicate and creatively it adds to the aesthetics of the show. However, the puppets are always used during narration, therefore they have to compete for the audiences’ attention with the actor on stage and it looses its impact slightly. It would’ve worked better if they had been on stage by itself.

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Corey Montague-Sholay (Arden) | Dina T.

Corey Montague-Sholay who plays the narrator and Arden, a silent killer is captivating. He captured the essence of his character and the play so well, it’s beguiling and so compelling that it would probably work with just him telling the story of all the other characters.

The Enchanted runs at The Bunker until 17 June.

Alice’s Adventures Underground|review

★★★★★ Les Enfants Terribles, The Vaults

Alice’s Adventures Underground is an unmissable production that has created the most imaginative way of telling a story.

ALICE'S ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND. Richard Holt 'Hatter' and Philippa Hogg 'March Hare'. ©Rah Petherbridge Photography
Alice’s Adventures Underground | Alex Gilbert

Upon arrival, it feels like walking into a different, whimsical world. Before the performance has even started, you find yourself in awe by the creative design and themed (and strong!) cocktails. Once the journey begins, it’s up to you where it will lead. Alice’s Underground Adventure is unlike anything I’ve seen at The Vaults.

Instead of watching the story unfold right in front of you, you’re part of it and not only that, it’s like stepping into it and you decide where the adventure will take you. Depending on what route you choose, either shrink by taking a drink or grow by having a sweet, you steer your journey through Wonderland.

The Queen of Hearts has turned so evil, chopping off people’s heads for anything. An underground group grows and tries to ignite a revolution…Will you be part of the secret revolution? Or will you be on the Queen’s side?

Be wary that if you’ve come with someone you might not end up with them, as groups are split throughout the production. This is done by picking a playing card and depending on the suit you have chosen, you have to complete a different secret mission.

ALICE'S ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND. Philippa Hogg 'Alice'. ©Rah Petherbridge Photography
Alice in Alice’s Adventures Underground | Alex Gilbert

The design and details are the most interesting thing about this immersive production. You could go several times and still find new things and discover details about this incredible underground world that you haven’t seen before. Besides the creative set up, the actors (or interactors) are the other wonderful thing. Not only do they stay in character the whole time, they also interact incredibly well with the audience. They have an off-the-cuff humour and the talent to improvise, which you find endearing.

Another amazing thing is that the cast switches roles, so if you come twice you’re likely to see different people play different characters. Combined with the different story lines, it’s possible to go several times and still experience something completely new.

by Al Overdrive
Alice’s Adventures Underground | Alex Gilbert

The best part about this adventure is that you’ll actually feel like you’re part of it, you’re making a difference in the story. It’s almost heartbreaking leaving the characters and Wonderland behind. The intricate details of the production won’t leave your mind, even after leaving the venue.

Alice’s Adventures Underground runs at The Vaults until 23 September 2017

@AliceUnderLDN

Pluto | Review

★★★★☆ Moonchild Theatre Company| Baron’s Court Theatre

Moonchild Theatre Company stages an impressive first production of a new play that captures many important issues in today’s world, by personifying likeable planets, comets and moons.

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Liam Joseph (Pluto) and Charlotte Price ( Professor Furtham/ Charon) |Moonchild Theatre Company

The New Horizons probe lands on Pluto in 2006 and brings bad news for the planet, who is currently having a party which no one has turned up to, except for his best friend Charon. The probe that arrives bears news from NASA telling PLUTO that he’s no longer a planet. He’s now labelled a ‘Dwarf Planet’ which throws Pluto into total chaos, “I’ve been conned into hosting my own funeral”. He’s confused about his identity and has only Charon (and a stripper she hired), to cheer him up and help him to understand.

“Pluto: The subject of much confusion,” as his friend Charon puts it, is mirroring people in our society who have things decided for them, often by men in power who cannot even begin to understand their situation.

The production touches on a fair amount of social and political issues, maybe too many to completely be sure of its message. The staging is sparse but it works, due to the dark walls of the tiny Baron’s Court Theatre, giving you a feeling of deep space.

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Liam Joseph (Pluto) | Moonchild Theatre Company

Callum O’Brien takes Pluto and turns his story into a perfect metaphor for issues such as labelling others, accepting people for who they are and feeling lonely. His direction is clear, fresh and ideal for millennials who would love to see their first play but are daunted by big Shakespearian productions.

The stripper scene is hilariously awkward. The overall humour of the play manages to cover up many of the issues and problems in today’s society.  Liam Joseph’s Saturn impression is brilliant and draws the audience on his side. He brings Pluto to life and turns him into a character that you like instantly. He’s not just a planet but a man with a heart and soul.

Charon, played by Charlotte Price is extremely gripping and intriguing. You find yourself hanging to every word during her monologue about her friendship to Pluto. She simply leaves you wanting more.

Pluto might not be as smooth sailing as a West End production might be, but as a brand new play, it definitely is a strong first production for the Moonchild Theatre Company who’ve managed to capture the current issues perfectly.

Pluto runs at Baron’s Court Theatre until 23 April and will transfer to the Cockpit Theatre from 14 August until 17 August.

#iheartPLUTO @MoonchildPluto

Chinglish | Review

★★★★☆  Johanson Productions, Park Theatre

David Henry Hwang returns to the Park Theatre with his European premiere of Chinglish. It explores the contemporary issues of doing business between two different cultures, East and West.

Chinglish Production PhotosCredit: The Other Richard
Lobo Chan (Cai Guoliang), Candy Ma (Xi Yan), Windosn Liong (Bing) and Gyuri Sarossy (Daniel) | Richard Davenport for The Other Richard

Andrew Keates directs this laugh-out-loud comedy, that starts with Daniel doing a presentation on poorly translated Chinese signs. “To take notice of safe: The slippery are crafty” and “Fuck the certain price of goods” pull the audience in with laughter in the first few seconds of the play.
Daniel, an American, wants to start a business arrangement with China on the behalf of his company ‘Ohio Signage’. When he meets Peter, an English teacher, he employs him as his business consultant.

Peter has lived in China for over a decade and gives Daniel advise on how to close a deal with the Chinese. The one important thing he says, is taking the time and trouble to build a relationship and understand the customs of the Chinese people in order to be successful.

When Daniel meets Xi Yan, the Vice-Minister for Culture, secrets are uncovered and a forbidden relationship begins.

Chinglish Production PhotosCredit: The Other Richard
Duncan Harte (Peter Timms) | Richard Davenport for The Other Richard

Gyuri Sarossy and Candy Ma are an ideal leading duo who bounce off each other perfectly.

The theme of the play looks at the language barrier between different cultures, as well as how to make business deals. A plethora of funny incidents occur over the duration of the show, which makes it so relatable, we’ve probably all encountered the problem of trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak our language. It also goes deeper – as it seems that everyone has something to hide from each other, and it shows the nature of making business decisions.
The staging is incredibly clever, by using a closet-like backdrop with small doors that open in different sizes and ways -transforming the stage into something completely different for each scene.

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Gyuri Sarossy (Daniel) and Candy Ma (Xi Yan) |Richard Davenport for The Other Richard

Chinglish runs at the Park Theatre until 22 April.

@ChinglishUK, @ParkTheatre

A Clockwork Orange| Review

★★★★☆  Action to the Words,  Park Theatre

High energy paired with stunning choreography and Beethoven’s Symphonies. A Clockwork Orange is an intense theatre experience that shouldn’t be missed.

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Luke Baverstock (Georgie) Sebastion Charles (Dim) Jonno Davies (Alex) Tom Whitelock (Pete) |Matt Martin

Written by Anthony Burgess and based on his book from 1962, showing the worst side of humanity, which is scary as it’s still relevant today. The all-male cast hits the Park Theatre with force, style and raw sexuality.

The story follows Alex and his droogs, who commit horrific acts of violence in the underworld of Manchester. Their acts are fuelled by battling boredom. They are warned to stop but don’t listen and end up in prison, where Alex tries everything to be released. Later he becomes a Guinea pig, where scientists are trying to cure him. He’s stripped of his aggressive behaviour and changes from evil to good. Now, he’s merely a vague memory of his former self.

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Tom Whitelock (Pete) | Matt Martin

Jonno Davies as Alex is bold, dynamic and has the audience following his every move and word. He clearly transitions from an ultraviolet Alex to a mere shell of him. Tom Whitelock is a great addition, who plays a seemingly insane Pete, almost animal like. Sebastian Charles as Dim is scary and aggressive, adding another level of intensity to the play.

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Jonno Davies (Alex) | Matt Martin

The direction by Alexandra Spencer-Jones is incredible and turns this play into a masterpiece. She uses the stage surrounded by the audience to her advantage, using different entry points and not only focusing on aiming the action at one side of the stage.

The choreography is one of the highlights of the show, complementing the high energy that has the theatre buzzing and paired with the aesthetics. When two gangs clash, she turns it into a beautiful movement. The play is a piece of art and leaves you wanting more, feeling like the 90-minute play was not enough.

A Clockwork Orange runs at the Park Theatre until 18 March.

@Droogie_Tweets @ParkTheatre

 

Beau Brummell- An elegant madness | Review

★★★☆☆ European Arts Company, Jermyn Street Theatre

This dark comedy about the celebrity Beau Brummell is entertaining but too long.

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Seán Brosnan (Beau Brummell) and Richard Latham (Beau’s valet) | Savannah Photographic

Beau Brummell; the first person who was famous for being famous. Nowadays, there are many alike him, The Kardashian clan being one of them. In the 18th century he was the modern narcissist, watching himself in the mirror all day long and letting people stare at him while he was getting dressed.

After a public incident with his friend the Prince of Wales, he’s forced to live in exile in Calais. Now poor, due to his lifelong addiction to gambling and driven into madness by Syphilis, Beau lives in a small flat in a covent with his valet. When the Prince of Wales, now King, comes to visit, Brummell hopes to be reinstated and be able to go back to his old life.

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Richard Latham (Beau’s valet) and Seán Brosnan (Beau Brummell) | Savannah Photography

On the surface, this play is well done. The set design is beautiful and intriguing, the acting is superb and leaves no reason for criticism. It’s funny and the dialogue is written well and witty with a lot of opportunities to make the audience chuckle. The story and the length of the the show is what lets the production down. It’s not clear what we’re meant to take away from the story.

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Seán Brosnan (Beau Brummell) and Richard Latham (Beau’s valet) | Savannah Photography

The production would’ve worked better in a shorter more compact version, as a lot of the conversations didn’t lead anywhere or uncover something essential. After a while it just felt stale.

Overall, it had its highlights through jokes and funny anecdotes, or the way that putting on his clothes was almost a sacred act.

Beau Brummell- An Elegant Madness runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 11 March.

@EuropeanArtsCo. #BeauBrummell @jstheatre