Thursday, 28 February 2013

Your Place Or Mine - review

Ovalhouse Theatre, London

Your Place Or Mine is the latest project undertaken by Tim Redfern and David Sheppeard that takes place in the Café Gallery of the Ovalhouse Theatre. The short piece explores the difficulties that two colleagues face when attempting to downsize an archive, discussing what makes a history worth saving.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Girls! Girls! Girls! - review

Written by: Jess Nesling (@JessNes1)

The Pheasantry, London

Babette’s Feast, the quartet composed of vocalists Emma Ruth, Verona Chard, Tamsyn Salter and Sophie Burnham, took to the small stage of The Pheasantry for a performance advertised as a “delicious musical double bill”. The repertoire took the audience on a tour through the ages, from Glenn Miller to Paloma Faith; but something was lacking.

Bottleneck - review

Written By: Lily Grouse (@LilyKG)

Soho Theatre, London

This is one of those occasions in which I was genuinely blown away. Bottleneck is a powerful script, and its realisation on stage is just as strong. Playwright Luke Barnes captures the 1989 Hillsborough disaster with a sensitive and personal approach, his piece bursting in equal measure with moments of trauma and comedy. I urge you not to pass up the opportunity to see it. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Bitch Boxer - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Soho Theatre, London

Charlotte Josephine has crafted, and is now delivering, a genuinely excellent piece of theatre, which incorporates all the rhythms and pace of a boxing match into an hour and a half monologue. Her words jab and fall back, daze you, knock you down only to lift you back up again with a funny observation. It is the touching story of Chloe, an amateur boxer looking for Olympic glory whilst coming to terms with a family tragedy.

The Deep Space - review

Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

Old Red Lion Theatre, London

Sprocket Theatre don’t waste any time in setting the mood for their presentation of Lila Wheelan’s bleak new play The Deep Space. On entering the dimly lit auditorium, the audience is greeted by a girl in a tracksuit huddled on a camp bed, a traumatised look across her face. This proves a fitting warm-up for the oncoming slew of gritty drama and disturbing realism, and although the emotional punches it throws certainly sting, they lack the heavyweight to knock out.

The Mikado - review

Written by: Chris O'Shaughnessy (@ChrisSE20)

Tabard Theatre, London

For the first ten minutes this version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Mikado, here set in the trendy The Royal Japan Golf Club and Spa (a green, pink and black Japonaiserie conservatory by Christopher Hone) - an axe among the golf clubs displayed on the wall - comes across as a fairly pedestrian, small-scale, bargain-basement, youthful rendering of this perennial classic. But with Ed Norwood’s entry into the mix as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, the production shifts, gloriously, into an entirely different register - effervescent, fun-filled - and stays that way until the finale.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Coalition - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

The Pleasance, London

Coalition is a very satisfying play (if you voted Lib Dem and were subsequently sorely disappointed), and an impressive debut from Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky (also directing), which doesn't necessarily make an earth shattering point but neatly sums up a wealth of opinion on our current government. Matt Cooper (Thom Tuck), the central character, is a thinly veiled equivalent of Nick Clegg, desperately trying to out manoeuvre the Tories by playing dirty and betraying his Lib Dem ideals. 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Linck - review

Written by: Caroline Mathias (@caroveraclare)

The Last Refuge, Peckham 

Catherina Linck had an extraordinary life: she grew up an orphan, lived in a religious community, lived as a man, fought as a soldier, and married a woman at a time when homosexuality was illegal and stigmatised. Linck was executed in 1721 (this isn’t a spoiler – the flyer describes ‘the only woman ever executed for sodomy’), but to see this story played out today as the UK moves towards legalising gay marriage is apt and thought provoking.

The Magic Flute - review

Written by: Wendy Haines (@Wendyfer1)

Riverside Studios, London

The Merry Opera Company were founded in 2010 with the intention of touring new interpretations of classic opera translated into English. Their new adaptation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was translated and directed by Kit Hesketh-Harvey, who is no stranger to adapting operas. All the music in the show is from the original opera, but a touch of pantomime, the English language and the story of Mozart’s death have been added to make the performance more accessible. The question to ask is whether the production is dealing with the things that they claim make classic opera inaccessible, and whether the company’s additions actually help this one in particular.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Stop Kiss - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent (@daisytgpoetry)

Leicester Square Theatre, London

Marking a fantastic directorial debut from Libertine Productions’ Noah James, Stop Kiss is the touching story of two friends-turned-lovers whose time is unexpectedly cut short after a violent attack sparked by their first kiss.

Horrible Histories, Terrible Tudors - review

Written by: Andrew Crane (AndrewRCrane)

Fairfield Halls, Croydon

Imagine a history lesson on the Tudors, aimed at pre-teens, delivered by a quartet who can best be described as a mash up of Monty Python and Blackadder. You’ve probably just imagined the best history lesson imaginable, and that’s exactly what this is; an energetic, panto-esque, headfirst dive into the more unsavoury parts of the Tudor reign. However be warned, this is not for the squeamish…

Freakoid - review

Written by: Chris O'Shaughnessy (@ChrisSE20)

Ovalhouse, London

Imagine a quivering, barefoot, genteel Joyce Grenfell narrating her way apologetically through a bizarre Kafkaesque nightmare somewhere in a futurist world dominated by electronics, and you will get the flavour of Emma Adams’s one-woman show Freakoid.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Secret Variety Club - review

Written by: Lauren Buckley (@LaurenBuckers)

Queens Head Pub (Piccadilly), London

If your idea of a good night out is a laugh with your friends in the pub then you’re in luck because The Secret Variety Club at the Queens Head Pub in Piccadilly is just that. Even if that’s not your ideal night out, it is a great opportunity to witness some new comedy from a whole range of acts as the evening stays true to its name in variety, from all-female sketch troupes to stand-up comedians to character acts.

Love on Trial - review

Written by: Naomi Lawson (@NaomiMLawson)

Ovalhouse, London

Any play that begins with a rendition of George Michael’s Faith certainly captures the attention of an audience. And indeed, Bilimankhwe Arts’ Love on Trial is a one-man play about illegal homosexuality in Malawi, another of the Ovalhouse’s Counter Culture commissions, where our attention is gripped throughout.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Tailor's Last Stand - review

Written by: Elodie Vidal (@ElodieVidal)

Barons Court Theatre, London

Granddads are amazing. They might have been war heroes and freedom fighters, but stealing the guests’ biscuits off the table is still on their list of priorities. It’s that particular fondness reserved for elderly men, laced with respect and innocent fun, that The Tailors’ Last Stand captures, telling the tale of four eighty-something communists having their last trade union meeting in an endearing and light fringe production.

Double Bill: A Ballad of Missed Opportunities & To London, Love Me - review

Written by: Kirstie Ralph (@kjralph)

Rich Mix Theatre, London

The first of a double bill was A Ballad of Missed Opportunities, devised and performed by Nohar Lazarovich and Jonathan Rogerson.  This was the duo’s debut performance of their first public piece. Perhaps this is why the show was clunky and, unfortunately, very awkward to watch at times. The central theme, concerning missed opportunities as the title suggests, never developed into anything more substantial.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs - review

Written by: Alex Hiscocks (@alexislawl)

Waterloo East Theatre, London 

Guiltily, as I left the theatre, I turned on my iPhone. Mike Daisey’s monologue had struck home and suddenly the finely designed lump of materials in my hand had a history that I’d never even considered. The story of your device, whatever brand it may be, doesn’t start when it magically appears in a box on your front door or in a store. It starts instead on the other end of the world, your device will pass through hundreds of hands (not machines) before it lands in your own. As I left the theatre my phone had suddenly developed it’s own eerie, dark past. Suffice to say, I will never look at my phone the same way again, and I don’t think anyone else who enjoyed this monologue with me will either.

Odyssey - review

Written by: Caroline Mathias (@caroveraclare)

Battersea Arts Centre, London

The Paper Cinema's Odyssey is described as a combination of live music, illustration, puppetry and ‘manual animation’, all things I like. I am hopeful of great things as I approach the beautiful Battersea Arts Centre. This is The Paper Cinema’s return to BAC after touring nationally with this ancient tale of a father’s journey home from the Trojan War. The action – a story whose outlines I remember from school but whose details I had largely forgotten – is illustrated, filmed live and projected onto the sail of Odysseus’ ship.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Chess - review

Written by: Stephen St. Clement

Union Theatre, London

Given that the Union Theatre’s production of the rarely performed musical Chess comes with the official endorsement of its co-creator Sir Tim Rice, expectations are high for this first major London production of the show since 2008. So high, in fact, that by press night the entire one-month run had already sold out, rendering this review somewhat redundant. Nevertheless, it is well worth marking this latest, “definitive” chapter in the on-going saga surrounding a show which has undergone more rewrites than a BBC Newsnight Special.

Monday, 18 February 2013

A Saint Valentine's Day Murder - review

Written by: Andrew Crane (@AndrewRCrane)

The LOST Theatre, London

Just to clarify, in case anyone else shared my initial expectations, this show has nothing to do with The St Valentines Day Massacre or prohibition-era American gangsters. Those looking for the dark and violent antitheses to Valentines Day may be confused, although judging by the auditorium rammed full of amorous couples, I might have been the only one. Ham-acted, predictable and wholly unoriginal; but with tongue firmly welded to the inside of cheek, you might find that there are a few laughs to be had. 

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari - review

Arcola Theatre, London

Perhaps the best introduction to The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and indeed to this company came at about an hour into the piece when the audience is presented with the line: “We don’t have much, but we’ll dazzle them with what we have: a few sheets, some wood, and plenty of imagination” and dazzle us they did. You will never see a company who can captivate so completely with so little as Simple8. Self-described as ‘poor’ theatre, they adapt this cinematic classic on a shoestring budget with such incredible skill and effect; it will simply blow you away.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Blackshaw New Writing Night

Written by: Adam Jay (@AdamJBJay)

Upstairs at The Horse, London

What is more brilliantly warming on a cold February evening than a collection of brand new writing? The evening of plays, poetry and comedy sketches was at The Horse pub in Lambeth, by the Blackshaw Social Club.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Great Expectations - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

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

It’s not quite white-knuckle, but a surprisingly short and scary ride. This production of the great classic has done away with every ounce of flesh that Dickens lovingly first scribed it with, and we’re left admiring the beauty but wanting so much more: it’s best not to approach with any great expectations. It’s a quietly confident touring production that has pulled up in town for a little while, doing a worthy job of feeding the fans of Charles.

The Secret Garden - review

Written by: Natasha O'Neill (@natashaoh)

King's Head Theatre, London 

An orphaned little girl moved from India to England; a man so damaged with grief he can't bear to stay within his own home and care for his son and niece; a garden once forgotten, left to die, brought to life again. The Secret Garden in Concert tells the tale of Mary Lennox, who is to live with her uncle after the tragic loss of her parents. The back of an Islington pub is perhaps the last place you'd expect to find such a tale, but whilst the space is not entirely transformed into a flourishing garden, the fake flowers, hanging ivy and fairy lights speak of a kind of kitsch innocence that often seems to have been lost. They tell a story of childhood, loss, and the rekindling of hope.

Journey's End - review

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods watch it?
Greenwich Theatre, London
Was Woods won over? 

Sell A Door Theatre Company’s most recent production of Journey’s End is a testament to the relevance of classic plays. Over 80 years after it was first performed; it still manages to find a comfortable place with a modern audience, and amongst the abundance of new writing that is currently prevalent in British Theatre.

Friday, 15 February 2013

9 to 5 The Musical - review

Written by: Elodie Vidal (@ElodieVidal)

Richmond Theatre, London

9 to 5 has tremendous potential. As a Broadway musical, it promises high-energy musical numbers and a charismatic cast; as a piece with the score written by Dolly Parton, it promises feisty music; finally, as an adaptation from a 1980’s comedy film, it promises humorous nostalgia. In the end however, the version of the show offered in the UK tour is so stripped down that all this potential finds itself diluted beyond recognition.

The Lady's Not For Walking Like an Egyptian - review

Ovalhouse, London

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Ovalhouse, and to celebrate the occasion the theatre has commissioned five counter culture pieces, each covering one of its five decades of history. This does not mean that The Lady’s Not For Walking Like an Egyptian is a session of 1980’s nostalgia, declares the producing duo Rachel Mars and nat tarrab, known as Mars.tarrab – except, perhaps, for the gleeful tribute to the rah-rah skirt paid in the first few minutes of the play. Instead, the pair’s devised work employs the decade to highlight today’s prevalent themes of the female voice and power. The result fittingly honours the counter culture ethos of the Ovalhouse.

Swan Lake - review

Written by: Lily Grouse (@LilyKG)

Richmond Theatre, London

Swan Lake, set to Tchaikovsky's wonderful score, is one of the world's best-known ballets, and the audience’s enthusiastic response in Richmond Theatre is a testament to this production’s perfect execution. I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing the Moscow City Ballet, a company with such a fantastic reputation, reviving their signature piece, and I certainly was not disappointed.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

COMPETITION: Win a singing masterclass with 'Wicked' star Sam Lupton!

Sam Lupton is currently appearing in the West End hit Wicked, and following our interview with him, we're very excited to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a singing masterclass with Sam. To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is answer the question below:

FEATURE: What should you do this Valentine's Day?

... or rather, Valentine's Week?! Well, fear not, because if you're stuck for plans then we've got the resource right here to help you decide where you should be heading, and which theatre show to see to settle that love-based undecidedness. There are some cracking shows for you to check out, so all you have to do is answer the questions in the flow chart below - and answer them honestly - to find out which one we here at What's Peen Seen? and our friends at ATG Tickets think you should head for! On top of that, we've put together a sizzling hot offer for you.

Centre Stage on What's Peen Seen?: Sam Lupton

Sam Lupton, currently starring in the award-winning West End hit musical Wicked, took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and have a chat with us here at What's Peen Seen? about his life in theatre, aspirations, and upcoming projects; and offers some advice for those pursuing a similar career.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

1001 Nights - review

Written by: Natasha Shah (@Tash_Shah)

Unicorn Theatre, London

From Syria to London with whirlwind stops through Basra and Baghdad, 1001 Nights journeys across the world in 80 minutes. Well, 70 actually (almost). Transport Theatre Company’s latest offering is a devised piece borne out of the stories of Arabian Nights. Our story begins in Damascus, where we find the exceptionally well-read Shahrazad and her doting parents. In the retelling of one of her favorite stories, Shahrazad’s father breathes life into the tale of Abu Hassan and his enormous fart, wonderfully weaving words and laughter into their world. However, their joy is short lived as Shahrazad and her Father are forced to take flight from their home country and travel to London to seek safety from the ensuing war, leaving their passport-less Mother behind. Finding themselves in contemporary London, the piece simultaneously follows the family’s story whilst also telling the many tales within Shahrazad’s storybooks.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Hamlet - review

The Rose Theatre (Bankside), London

For the first time in 419 years, Hamlet returns to The Rose, Bankside. It makes its come back in the form of a nerve-jangling kitchen sink drama which focuses upon the relationships between characters and the harrowing effects humans have upon one another. We enter the cold, dimly lit performance space to the jarring sounds of a radio tuning itself and of intermittent white noise, which immediately sets one's teeth on edge as it sets the premise of the play. We, as an audience, are excruciatingly close to the action and occasionally play the roles of Hamlet's confidants; employing direct address and minor audience interaction, director Martin Parr involves us in the narrative as much as the actors themselves.

A Woman of No Importance... or Somewhat Little Importance Anyhow - review

Written by: Jess Nesling (@JessNes1)

The Hen and Chickens Theatre, London

What really goes on behind closed doors? Katherine Rodden’s new play reveals that even the most outwardly perfect family is far from flawless. This charming new comedy of manners from Paradigm Theatre Company, directed by Cat Robey, takes inspiration from Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward and mixes it with a splash of Sainsbury’s own Merlot to comic effect.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

MONEY: The Game Show - review

Written by: Sophie Talbot (@sophietalbot_91)

Bush Theatre, London

For a show about the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, written and directed by Clare Duffy, it is oddly bursting - quite literally - with verve, dazzling charisma and boisterous fun. Though it’s not all fun and games, as Duffy’s concurrently stern theatricality of the 2008 global financial crisis brings to head the question of what money is really worth.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Midnight Tango - review

Written by: Alisdair Hinton (@AliHinton88)

Phoenix Theatre, London

No puns or clever lines, no smart word games playing on the shows themes, Midnight Tango is a joy, a triumph from start to finish. Go and see it. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

LIFT - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Soho Theatre, London

New British musical theatre which strives for originality and innovation is what the art form needs to ensure that it continues to gain credibility. Craig Adams (Composer & Lyricist) and Ian Watson (Book) with direction from Steven Paling have provided a dose of this with their production of LIFT. The story is constructed and narrated through the imagination of a Busker (George Maguire) who visualises the lives of people he sees every day on his way up to Covent Garden in the famous lifts.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Siro-A - review

Written by: Wendy Haines (@Wendyfer1)

Leicester Square Theatre, London

Technologically experimental group Siro-A call themselves the next generation of entertainment. Originating from Japan, many declared their self-titled spectacle as “visually stunning” at the Edinburgh Fringe, and this is true, but in terms of artistic content it is not much beyond “Ooh look at the pretty lights!” A blend of clever visual manipulation and repetitive electro beats, it’s difficult to determine what it leaves you with.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo - review

Written by: Lilian Tsang (@Lilian_Tsang)

Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham

The Company of Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, also known as ‘The Trocks’, is a rare breed. As those who know a little about ballet can tell you, traditional male ballet dancers never go en pointe (which means dancing on the tips of the toes) because it’s meant to be the female dancers’ domain. However, the all-male ensemble of the Trocks rebels against this tradition. The dancers played both male and female characters in five extracts from well-known ballets, including Les Sylphides, Swan Lake and Walpurghis Night. In a show that lasted approximately seventy-five minutes, these sixteen remarkably strong men danced en pointe most of the time, which is a great feat in itself.

Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai - review

Written by: Alisdair Hinton (@AliHinton88)

Sadler's Wells Theatre, London

You might think a play that lasts in excess of three hours, covers the events of fifteen years and is performed in English and Japanese with subtitles sounds like it could be hard work, in the case of Anjin – The Shogun and the English Samurai you'd be right. Director Gregory Doran takes control of a difficult show in which the characters emotional journey's range from seemingly non-existent to incomprehensibly drastic, whilst the narrative manages to be both overly simplistic and simultaneously impossible to follow. So where does it all go wrong?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sour Lips - review

Written by: Daisy Thurston-Gent (@daisytgpoetry)

Ovalhouse, London

Gathered in the bar area of the Ovalhouse Theatre, guests are aware of an underlying sense of excitement as they await the highly anticipated return of Omar El-Khairy’s cultural explosion Sour Lips. Originally developed through the Ovalhouse FiRST BiTE programme in 2012 (and now in association with Paper Tiger) as the theatre itself celebrates its 50th birthday, Sour Lips marks the open to Ovalhouse’s Counterculture season which aims to promote new political voices through challenging original plays that are as bold as they are stylish. This show is force that tears through its audience, working relentlessly in order to achieve its soaring ambitions.

Woody Sez - review

Written by: Sophie Talbot (@sophietalbot_91)

Ashcroft Theatre (Fairfield Halls), Croydon

There’s a surprising lack of spectacle for a show which comprises over thirty songs. Instead, David M Lutken and Nick Corley dazzle with heart and spirit in their understated tribute to the life and music of folk-singer, Woody Guthrie.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Lean - review

Written by: Ed Theakston (@EdTheakston)

Tristan Bates Theatre, London

Written by Isley Lynn, a graduate of both the Royal Court and the National Theatre Aftershocks young writers’ programmes, Lean is an incredibly powerful piece of new writing. Lynn puts front and centre the subject of male anorexia, and treats it sensitively while managing to be informative.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Turn of the Screw - review

Written by: R. J. Brown

Almeida Theatre, London

In 1898, Henry James published an intense psychological tale of terror that would become a staple in the gothic establishment, made up of a distinct blend of supernatural ambiguity and sexual repression. Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s adaptation however, currently running at the Almedia Theatre and co-produced by Hammer Theatre of Horror, lacks any of this distinction. It staggers in an indulgent verbosity that can border on the tedious as much as it can be strikingly enthralling.

COMPETITION: Win two tickets to a production of Romeo & Juliet!

This week we’ve got another exciting competition for you to enter. We’re giving our readers a chance to win two tickets to The Hiraeth Artistic Production of the classic love story Romeo and Juliet at the theatre Upstairs at the Gatehouse.