De Profundis

De Profundis

This musical represents a massive achievement in many senses. The concept is strong, and the composition is elegant. The solo performer is heroic and the staging is astonishing for such a venue... 

Dick! Comes Again: Bigger, Longer, Harder!

Dick! Comes Again: Bigger, Longer, Harder!

Are you back for more Dick, or are you inexperienced in these areas? Of course I’m referring to the madcap world of adult panto at the Leicester Square Theatre. Brought to us a second year by the High Priest of Smut, Mr Stuart Saint – Dick! Comes Again: Bigger, Longer, Harder! matches its predecessor for bawdy humour and sheer dick-witted-ness... 

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

What a charming narrative – a mountain man cons a young lady into marital servitude, at which point his six younger brothers steal six other women, holding them captive over winter... 

Another Way

Another Way

This bitter-sweet musical errs self-consciously on the side of the sweet, providing a Rom Com where everything seems to go right. The bald storylines of Another Way’s six characters don’t give us much to go on – two people fall in love, two people struggle with illness, two people have to choose between artistic integrity and commercial gain – these are certainly stories we’ve seen before... 

Solstice

Solstice

This darkly comedic two-hander plunges us straight into the aftermath of a murder in the Scottish Highlands. Gemma and Will argue and reminisce as they wait for darkness to hide the body, a darkness which never comes this far north at the solstice... 

The Walls

The Walls

PhD student Carrie leads us through several case studies of female mental illness, spanning centuries and hitting quite close to home. We explore these postcards of women’s experiences and find surprising resonances with Carrie’s own story... 

Who Wants to Kill Yulia Tymoshenko?

Who Wants to Kill Yulia Tymoshenko?

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been framed and is now forced to share a cell with a prostitute and possible murderer, Lina. This precise and informative piece not only brings to our attention a terrible political situation, but - by exploring it through the main characters’ relationship - really helps us feel the all-too-frequently distant rumble of injustice... 

Something Fishy

Something Fishy

Another outing for put-upon mother-of-three Ruth Rich, Something Fishy charts an ill-fated school trip to Marrakech. As a piece it stands on its own without its chronological predecessor Double Booked, although I feel I enjoyed it more having been acquainted with its characters the previous day... 

Double Booked

Double Booked

Ruth Rich’s madcap scheming to avoid a diary clash fills this hour of light comedy at the Pleasance Courtyard. Ginny Davis’ tightly-plotted script is witty and charming and her solo performance is masterfully vivid... 

Payback: The Musical

Payback: The Musical

Who am I? What price, fame? What is reality? These are just some of the inane issues dredged up to validate this otherwise empty narrative. Payback: The Musical is saved by its engaging cast, high quality production values, and the fun factor in its music... 

The Mikado

The Mikado

In this energetic operetta, The Tabard’s own in-house company Pulling Focus give us a bizarre romp through a blood-thirsty country club. Or feudal Japan. Or both – however you read it it’s fun, it’s smart, and there are some great vocal performances... 

The Secret Garden: In Concert

The Secret Garden: In Concert

This picture-book musical follows a young orphan girl who casts off her mourning clothes and warms the hearts of those around her. It is a tale of growth and renewal after the long winter of grief, and set to some achingly beautiful songs, inspired by English folk music... 

35MM: A Musical Exhibition

35MM: A Musical Exhibition

35MM is subtitled ‘a musical exhibition’. The show guides us through a collection of photographs and offers snapshots of lives, loves, and losses. The show succeeds on the quality of some of its songs and cast... 

American Idiot

American Idiot

Thank goodness they didn’t call it Greenday: The Musical, because if they had, they wouldn’t have got half the audience they did. American Idiot fills musical theatre spaces with people you don’t tend to find in the West End – 30-something rockers and eye-linered late teens... 

Dick!

Dick!

Let me start by suggesting that people of a nervous disposition need not read this review, since you sure as anything won’t enjoy the show. Click away, indignant ones, and read a review of Scrooge... 

13

13

Have you seen that Jason Robert Brown musical where the smart Jewish guy falls for the neurotic Irish Catholic girl? Despite being the premise of three of his shows to my mind, in this case the lovers are less than thirteen years old... 

Terror On Presley Beach

Terror On Presley Beach

This show suffers from a major conceptual problem. In trying to replicate shoddy 50s B-movies, and doing so badly, dottyb/Robot Parrot productions serve us with a double-whammy of well-intentioned naffness... 

The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince

When I was little I had a Jackanory audio tape which I would listen to as I fell asleep. On one side Kenneth Williams read William Thackaray’s The Rose and the Ring, and on the other some unknown theatrical voice intoned two of Oscar Wilde’s fairy stories, The Nightingale and the Rose, and The Happy Prince... 

Beethoven and Schubert

Beethoven and Schubert

Sadly displaced from their usual venue, the St Andrew’s and St George’s West festival-within-the-festival have set themselves up in Royal Overseas House. The warren of tight corridors, kitchen noise, and the mass of grey hair made this feel like a cheap cruise... 

The Boy Friend

The Boy Friend

The A-level drama students of St Marylebone CE School in London give this frothy oldie a new lease of life. In a surprisingly intelligent production, their tongues are firmly in their cheeks, and every bygone dance-move laced with irony... 

Measures to Measures

Measures to Measures

In this offering from the American High School Musical Theatre Festival, Shakespeare’s text is revamped into a slick news room in a specially commissioned work from Chris Wynters... 

Whistle Down the Wind

Whistle Down the Wind

Maybe it was lack of sleep. Maybe it was lack of food. Maybe it was lack of affection in early childhood. Whatever the reason, I bawled my eyes out at Norfolk YMT’s beautiful production of Whistle Down the Wind... 

Jacques Brel: In Song and Dance

Jacques Brel: In Song and Dance

The songs of Belgian-born chanteur Jacques Brel are renowned for their colourful imagery and dramatic storytelling. His music oozes effortless Francophone charm. Upstairs in the French Institute of Scotland, Christine Bovill and Heels Over Head Dance Theatre reinterpret his oeuvre through dance and movement... 

Spinach

Spinach

When is a musical not a musical? When it’s a sung play, of course. Leafing through the advertising material you’d be forgiven for expecting Spinach to be an evening of bleak pretension... 

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

What can a reviewer say about a musical that’s different every night? By extension, what can a reviewer say about any show, since surely no two performances are the same? If you’ll indulge me for 300ish words, I’ll tell you about tonight’s performance and my opinion of it... 

Frisky & Mannish: Extra-Curricular Activities

Frisky & Mannish: Extra-Curricular Activities

The self-proclaimed professors of ‘pop hermeneutics’ return in stunning form to the Udderbelly, revealing their miraculous insights into the world of music and mass-culture, like the best GCSE Music teachers you never had... 

Carmen

Carmen

In this North London retelling of Bizet’s opera, our feisty titular heroine is caught between two men in a world of crime, sleaze, and skinny black jeans. Will she stick with Escamillo the violent criminal, or will she be rescued by floppy-haired bouncer Jose? OperaUpClose are a company on a mission – to bring the opera classics kicking and screaming to a new audience... 

Tick...tick...BOOM!

Tick...tick...BOOM!

Tick…Tick…Boom! is a show created by Jonathan Larson (of RENT fame) centred around a promising musical theatre writer ‘Jon’, who is running out of time. Will he write the next Hair? Will he lose his girlfriend? Will Stephen Sondheim like his work? Will he actually do any writing at any point? Do we care? I didn’t – and the fact that even I felt alienated, ‘starving artist’ that I am, reveals the extent to which Tick…Tick…Boom! fails as a show... 

Toxic Bankers

Toxic Bankers

Sovereign debt, bad credit, riots and scandals – the Euro, and the sky, is falling. With eerie accuracy, Andrew Taylor and Desmond O’Connor foresaw the current climate in enough time to write this musical exposé... 

Alex Mendham and His Orchestra

Alex Mendham and His Orchestra

Dinner and a show: a winning combination. Pizza and proper swing music: heaven. Pizza Express’ ‘The Pheasantry’ plays host to Alex Mendham & His Orchestra, a ‘time machine band’ dedicated to historical authenticity in their performances... 

Love and War: The Songs of Howard Goodall

Love and War: The Songs of Howard Goodall

It is a great honour for any composer to have their work cherry-picked by fans and turned into a revue. Sondheim’s had five so far. Problems arise when songs lose their context and are shoe-horned into places they don’t really belong... 

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect

In a blank-canvas office, the corporate machine squeezes one last drop of inspiration from two ad-men at the end of their tether. The rising jeopardy of their looming deadline, plus the sexual politics between them and their sultry superior Alex, should have promised a lively evening’s entertainment... 

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

‘Ooh, he were good, that Mercutio! Shame he had to die, really.’ – overheard on the tube home from Action to the Word’s revamp of Romeo and Juliet at the Camden People’s Theatre... 

The Devil and Mister Punch

The Devil and Mister Punch

Deep in the bowels of the Barbican lies a show which defies categorisation. Comedy or tragedy? Musical theatre or performance art? The Devil and Mister Punch makes and breaks stage conventions with every strike of Punch’s bat... 

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Buried deep under Edinburgh, accessible only via a side street and past an inconveniently parked white van, Paradise in the Vault is the perfect venue for this chilling chamber opera... 

The Deacon

The Deacon

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, with its ancient monuments, imposing churches and symmetrical townhouses. I got to see most of it on the long walk to Stockbridge Parish Church. Though it took me far from the heart of the Fringe, the journey only added to the intense Scottish-ness of Peter D Robinson’s new musical based on the life and times of Deacon Brodie, one of Edinburgh’s best-loved historical villains... 

Candid Cabaret

Candid Cabaret

I had never been to a strip club before. Arriving early at the Sapphire Rooms, I was the first person there by some ten whole minutes. This gave me opportunity to marvel at the UV glow of my G&T, the forest of metal poles, and the mirrored walls which reflected the club’s artwork/catalogue into infinity... 

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Musical

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Musical

Call me strange, but watching this show twice (in English and in Japanese) has been my most fascinating theatre experience in a long time. This is a musical about a Frenchman, written in Japanese and on alternate days translated into English... 

Sunday in the Park with George

Sunday in the Park with George

‘Colour and light’ exclaims Georges, and this production takes that seriously. In a striking and ambitious design, One Academy Productions offer a visual feast of lighting, staging and costume... 

Bonesong / Unknown Position

Bonesong / Unknown Position

Misdirected sexual attraction is the plate of the day from the Cambridge University Opera Society. With two servings of bizarre but well-conceived new writing, the audience are satiated even without dessert... 

Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice

This was my first venture over to C eca, a venue with a reputation amongst some as being out of the way. This is not true – it’s only a short walk from C main on Chambers Street and not too far from the Royal Mile itself... 

Homemade Fusion

Homemade Fusion

If you are a fan of hilarious songs and impeccable singing then this is the show for you. Kooman and Dimond’s thoroughly modern musical somehow manages to entertain us for fifty-five minutes with a plotless song-cycle whose characters change with every new piece of music...