Thursday, 31 January 2013

Centre Stage on What's Peen Seen?: Zuri Warren

Encompass Productions are staging a brand new production of Who is Moloch? written by Pamela Carralero and directed by Zuri Warren, playing at the Press Play House for a limited run. Below, director Zuri Warren tells us all about his anxieties, inspirations and challenges. 

Oliver! - review

Written by: Alex Hiscocks (@alexislawl)

Richmond Theatre, London

If you look really, really closely at the programme (and I mean really close, eyes within inches of the page close) you will see that this particular production of Oliver! is in fact not a professionally arranged show. The whole cast and crew are amateurs and have spent their free time putting together this take on the ever popular tale of the young workhouse boy without ever seeing a penny of the proceeds. When you bear this in mind, the show is admirable. However when this key piece of information is hidden so blatantly it’s clear that the company did not want you to consider this performance as merely ‘amateur’. So in writing this review I bear their assumed intention in mind.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Centre Stage on What's Peen Seen?: Isley Lynn

Isley Lynn is a playwright and poet whose work has been produced and supported by National Theatre Studio, Nabokov, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Arcola, BAC and IdeasTap. This year, she received Special Commendation from the inaugural Soho Young Writers Award. She recently graduated from the Royal Court Young Writers Programme.

Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke it – review

Etcetera Theatre, London

The ‘Pay Nothing, Play Anything’ festival at the Etcetera Theatre offers a fantastic opportunity for small and/or upcoming companies to experiment, to show something new and original, to showcase some incredible talent. Latissimus Productions don’t quite manage to take advantage of this with their double bill of short Chekhov plays, but they do manage to provide a neat little production, which should provide a few chuckles. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Mare Rider - review

Written by: Jess Nesling (@JessNes1)

Arcola Theatre, London

Kathryn Hunter may only be playing a mythical character but she is magical to watch on stage. The Olivier award-winning actress returns to the Arcola Theatre in East London to perform in Leyla Nazli’s surreal new social piece, Mare Rider.

Gruesome Playground Injuries - review

Written by: Miranda Blazeby (@MirandaBlazeby)

The Gate Theatre, London

The Gate has become well known for being a small venue that consistently stages big productions. Gruesome Playground Injuries is no exception and eventually leaves us feeling as raw, battered and bruised as the characters themselves.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Blues in the Night - review

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods watch it?
The Last Refuge (Peckham), London
Was Woods won over?

Being someone who by and large has never been a particular fan of either Blues or Jazz music, Blues in the Night was always going to have its work cut out in order to impress. But impress it did. If you are into either Blues or the 1930’s time period, stop reading for a moment and buy a ticket.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Straight from the Heart - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent

Leicester Square Theatre, London

Returning to the Leicester Square Theatre, Straight from the Heart is a warming tale of love told in the midst of upheaval and confusion in the shadow of life-threatening illness. In association with the British Heart Foundation, the show tells the true story of a relationship that is pushed to its limits in the face of catastrophe when the lives of loving couple Bob and Cath are jeopardised.

Metamorphosis - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
Lyric Hammersmith, London
Was Peen keen? 

We can argue that this isn’t one of the best plays ever written and it’s probably not an uncommon thought. But Vesturport Production have put together this stunning show to tour the world with, and have done so with courage, sheer talent and passion – all to much deserved rapturous applause as well. It’s a fantastic tale of a heart-breaking way to deal with the family breadwinner turning into a bug.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Deadly 7 - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Etcetera Theatre, London


A beguiling infusion of film, music and dance makes up Open Hand Productions current project Deadly 7, currently playing at Etcetera Theatre for a handful of nights.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Red Shoes - review

Written by: Naomi Lawson (@NaomiMLawson)

Etcetera Theatre, London


Battling through a snowy Camden to the Etcetera Theatre, surrounded by the young and trendy making their way to equally trendy bars, one experiences a London that is a far cry from the one Guy Jones deals with in his adaptation of the classic fairy tale The Red Shoes. Under MaryClare O’Neill’s direction, this Straight on Till Morning Theatre production promises a combined tale of two girls with an illicit attraction to a pair of red shoes, one residing in the world of Hans Christian Andersen, and the other in the aftermath of the 2011 London riots. Promises and reality, however,  do not always coincide. 

The Jess Docker Show - review

Pentameters Theatre, London

First of all, it must be noted that the Pentameters Theatre is a wonderful little gem nestled at the top of a winding staircase above the Three Horseshoes Pub in Hampstead. It showcases both new writing and revamped classics alike. The Jess Docker Show by Harry Saks is a satirical look at how the 'trash culture' of programs such as The X Factor and Big Brother are creating a dumbed-down society in which it is difficult to maintain artistic integrity and survive within the arts industry.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Trojan Women - review

Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

Brockley Jack Theatre, London

Nameless Theatre present Howard Coyler’s new adaptation of Seneca’s Trojan Women, a brave concept to perform the epic Greek tragedy in a black-box theatre and unfortunately it’s a risk that doesn’t pay off. A few moments of well-conceived tableaus are lost in the monotonous tone; this is a play that feels much longer than it’s hour and fifteen minutes running time.

FEATURE: Ultimate Characters in Theatre

From the works of Shakespeare to that of Arthur Miller, theatre has been blessed with many a great character. The figures of Hamlet, John Proctor and Eliza Doolittle are driving forces in their plays’ storylines, and are essential to the success of the piece. Indeed, without fascinating and finely drawn characters, a play and musical might amount to nothing more than a flop. Here is a list of ten of our favourite characters from plays and musicals, both from Europe and across the pond (in no particular order).

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Silence of the Sea - review

Written by: Jessica Lorimer (@JessLorimer3)

Trafalgar Studios, London

‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’ (Martin Luther King Jr.) Normally, I hate to disagree with Martin Luther King Jr, but unfortunately silence was the only form of resistance left to an old peasant man and his niece in The Silence of the Sea. Based in occupied France in WW2 an old man and his niece have a Nazi officer billeted to their house and with no form of physical resistance available, the pair use silence as their weapon against the invasion of the Germans into their country and their home.

WIN: Tickets to see shows this January!

With the weather being so frightful, What's Peen Seen? is delighted to offer two sets of tickets for two fabulous productions as a January treat. We have a pair of tickets tickets to Sour Lips, at the Ovalhouse on 29th or 30th January, and a pair of tickets to the opening night of Woody Sez at Fairfield Halls in Croydon on 30th January. 

To be in with a chance of winning: email with the show you'd like to see, your name, age, and contact details, and include 'January ticket treat' in the subject line. 

The deadline for this competition is: 12noon on 28th January 2013.

Good Luck!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

One Monkey Don't Stop No Show - review

Written by: Dombo (@DomOJFryer)

Where's Dom gone?
Tricycle Theatre, London
Was Dom fond?

Yes, this is actually the name of a play. Eclipse Theatre Company bring us this fable of African-American identity in 1970's Philadelphia after the production's successful run in the crucible theatre of Sheffield, and a timely arrival it is too.

COMPETITION: Win two tickets to see 'Who is Moloch?'

To celebrate the upcoming premiere of Pamela Carralero's Who is Moloch?, we've teamed up with Encompass Productions to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to win two tickets to the show.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Encompass Productions presents: Bare Essentials III: The Emerging Artists Showcase

Written by: Kirstie Ralph (@kjralph)

Press Play House, London

An enigmatic variety show is the latest instalment of Encompass Productions’ Bare Essentials trilogy. The Press Play House provided an ideal location for the “emerging artist showcase”, with its blank open space design and informal atmosphere.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

There's No Place Like Home - review

Written by: Adam Jay (@AdamJBJay)

Etcetera Theatre, London

Part of the Etcetera Theatre's 'Pay Nothing Play Anything' (PNPA) festival, There's No Place Like Home by Imp Face Theatre Company offers a disturbing yet hilarious look into the life of Neil and Elizabeth, who are no ordinary married couple: Neil is dead. Having somehow returned to his wife, he is unable to leave the house, and can be heard by all but only seen by his wife. What unravels is the stress and problems that happen when the marriage can't leave the house, and a slightly twisted look into whether there really is a life after death.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Dido and Aeneas - review

Written by: Imogen Morgan

The Bussey Building, London

Opera in Space has taken a bold step into the promenade for this adaptation of Dido & Aeneas. Originally performed in 1688, this adaptation of Purcell’s opera has a modern twist that may not appeal to all audiences. Where some may find a more traditional approach stagnant, and irrelevant to the modern day, others may feel the application of modern life to such a work may jar, and hamper its potential for real beauty.

Ain't Afraid of No Ghost - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent

Etcetera Theatre, London

From the creator of Geekatorium comes a brand new solo comedy show from spook-seeker Paul Gannon. An avid Ghostbusters fan from a young age, Gannon recites a series of endearing stories documenting his journey from child fanatic to full blown adult geek in Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost. In a purely autobiographical performance, Gannon is successful in holding the attention of his audience (ghost believing or not) through charming tales of mishap and fright in his one-man act. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

BASH - review

Written by: Stephen St Clement

Etcetera Theatre, London

Thoroughly engaging and deeply disturbing, Neil LaBute’s collection of three short plays packs a massive punch. Three tales are told in direct address to the audience, each beginning fairly innocently before gradually revealing the darker elements of the human condition bubbling below the surface.

Olga's Room - review

Written by: Elodie Vidal (@ElodieVidal)

Arcola Theatre, London

Many stories can be made of a person’s life. In portraying communist militant Olga Benário-Prestes, who was gassed during WWII, writers often privilege her political heroism, or her romance with revolutionary leader Luís Carlos Prestes. Olga’s Room, on the other hand, takes a wider angle: that of a human being whose choices have led to imprisonment and torture. Split between memories of the past and the present struggle for survival, Dea Loher’s play paints a picture of courage in a dark, oppressive atmosphere.

Monday, 14 January 2013

House of Atreus - review

Written by: Rachel Hopping (@roadtorach)

Where did Hop pop?
Waterloo East Theatre, London
Was it top for Hop? 

Step away from the commuter bustle of Waterloo and you’ll find something stirring deep within London’s busy streets. Waterloo East Theatre is a beautiful, welcoming and friendly venue, nestled under the arches of Brad Street. Complete with spiralling stairs, wooden benches, accommodating staff and an eclectic array of pop blasting through the speakers, it’s the kind of place any new company can find a cosy temporary home. Coupled with the scent of London damp, and the chilly January night air, the whitewashed stone walls do well to set the scene for a production which is, in places, haunting and dynamic.

I'd Kill For You Medea

Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

Etcetera Theatre, London

It would be fair to say that theatre company Action To The Word set the bar a bit too high for themselves with their recent critically acclaimed production of A Clockwork Orange at Soho Theatre. I’d Kill For You Medea doesn’t quite reach this bar, but is nonetheless a very neat piece of theatre, just quite underwhelming. 

Impotent! - review

Written by: Jessica Lorimer (@JessLorimer3)

Lion and Unicorn Theatre, London

Black and white staging leaves no room for grey areas in Matt Reed’s Impotent! According to Reed ‘Impotence is big business right now.’ As a female, perhaps I’m not best placed to assume the feelings that impotence can cause; judging by my Junk E-mail folder, Reed is correct about it being a big business. If you’re watching the production in the hope that it can give you any insight into the psychology behind impotence, you might be sorely disappointed.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Fair Em - review

Written by: Jess Nesling (@JessNes1)

Union Theatre, London

Any play linked to Shakespeare is bound to spark one’s intrigue. As award-winning director Phil Willmott is no stranger to the Bard, and in particular finds charm in his lesser produced plays, one can understand the attraction to Fair Em - part of the Shakespeare Apocrypha. Yet even with Willmott’s Midas touch, the reasons why this play has been left untouched for over 400 years quickly become apparent.

Pilgrims - review

Written by: Ed Theakston (@EdTheakston)

Etcetera Theatre, London

Pilgrims is a new play written by Sarah Page, a graduate of the Royal Court’s Young Writers Programme and a current member of their Studio Writers Group. Sadly, this play suffers from feeling somewhat overwrought and underdeveloped.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

BLOG: Char's Stars

Written by: Charlotte Lewis (@charlypie)

The first of a continuous blog outlining the shows I've seen recently that I thought deserved special recommendation. More than that, I rave about actors that you should know about and be keeping a watch out for, including those on stage and those due to tread the boards in the coming weeks.

Cross Purpose - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent 

Kings Head Theatre, London

Gathered in the amicable room of the King’s Head Theatre, a chill is present as the audience arrive for the anticipated return of Albert Camus’ Absurdist novelty Cross Purpose. Before the play has even begun, the eerie underscore provides a jarring echo that alerts the audience to the troubles that lie ahead. These audio qualities underplay throughout the performance, chiming at moments to frame the barren mysteries that unfold. The unsettling nature of this production immediately engulfs you ensuring that you are constantly looking over your shoulder.

Monkey Bars - review

Written by: Rachel Hopping (@roadtorach)

Where did Hop pop?
Unicorn Theatre, London
Was it top for Hop?

Open, airy, and bright; the office–like structure of Tooley Street’s Unicorn Theatre provides an appropriate background to this thoroughly modern piece of verbatim theatre. Monkey Bars creates an innovative and enthralling take on the cut-throat adult world of business and adult life as suited employees tackle taxes, the Royal Family, religion, politics and social acceptability alongside nightmares, Ben 10’s ‘rubbish’ superpowers and their favourite sweets, all enthusiastically told through the often hilarious words of children.

Friday, 11 January 2013

So Great a Crime - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
Finborough Theatre, London
Was Peen keen?

David Gooderson has written and directed a play that’s really very blasé. Where we enter expecting a strong, healthy performance, the should-be-super cast lets us down. But they’re not alone, because the play itself has its flaws too; at its worst, this is like Grandad telling a story that you force yourself to listen to.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

COMPETITION: Win a copy of the Audio CD to 'Curious Creatures' and 'Two Strange Tales'

To welcome in the New Year, we're offering one lucky winner the chance to win a copy of Curious Creatures by M R James and Two Strange Tales by Lucy M Boston read by Rupert Lloyd Parry. We've teamed up with Nunkie Productions to offer this exciting prize in the run up to the first performances of these exciting ghost stories for 2013 at the Rosemary Branch Theatre.

Top Story - review

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods Watch it?
The Old Vic Tunnels
Was Woods won over?

Top Story could perhaps learn something from its namesake. Whilst it deals with some very interesting themes and a lot of ideas it lacks some of the punch and pace of the BBC News at Ten’s headlines.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Battersea Arts Centre, London

Based on the 1955 short story by Literature Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, this bitter sweet fable is beautifully reimagined with a cast of over 100 puppets by the Little Angel Theatre and Kneehigh, working in collaboration for the first time. Created in 2011 by Little Angel to celebrate their 50th Anniversary; this production contains all the heart, hilarity, and skill that we have come to expect from both companies.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Overruled - review

Old Red Lion Theatre, London

In the modest auditorium of The Old Red Lion Theatre, Wilmington Theatre Company have created something quite special in their debut production. A trio of short comedies by George Bernard Shaw have been brought together to prove that with spectacularly good acting, Shaw’s writing can still stand up to anything written today. Incredibly slick and eye-wateringly funny, if the rest of 2013 can bring theatre this good, we’re in for a very exciting year.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Somersaults - review

Written by: Kirstie Ralph

Finborough Theatre, London

Director Russell Bolam has excelled in bringing Somersaults, a play with a Scottish heart, to London. The dynamism of the play, in which the ultimate goal is to assert a case for Gaelic heritage and language, is perfect for the intimate setting of the Finborough Theatre. First commissioned and performed by the National Theatre of Scotland in 2010, the play juxtaposes the Isle of Lewis with the plush London life of the central character James. We begin to see these two worlds come together through loss, love and language. This is a production invested in integrity, which makes for a refreshing theatrical experience.

Feature: What Not to Miss in 2013

After a tremendous 2012, we can only have high hopes for what’s to come in the year ahead. Below, you will find the West End shows that we urge you not to miss, and which we’re very excited about.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Feature: Best Shows of 2012

2012 has seen a phenomenal boom in a range of fantastic theatre productions being produced not only in the West End but around the country. To welcome in the New Year we take a look back at our selection of the best shows of 2012.