Musical – ‘Big Fish’, The Other Palace, 14th November 2017

Apparently this was a popular film starring Ewan McGregor, which I had no idea about until my friends K and C with whom I saw this musical told me about it. I’m not a film buff at all, but I love musicals, I love The Other Palace (a beautiful comfortable little modern oasis of a theatre in the chaos of Victoria) and I love Kelsey Grammer – so there were plenty of reasons for me to see this musical.
It was absolutely lovely. While in some ways I wished it was in a proper West End theatre with a big stage and huge jazzy sets, there’s no denying that the intimacy of the theatre made a big difference to the production, particularly in the emotional bits (of which they were many). The relationship between Edward Bloom (played by Grammer) and his son Will was beautifully portrayed – who hasn’t had a major love-hate relationship with their parents?! And wow, can Grammer (and indeed all of them) really sing…
Overall: a perfect example of a whimsical, emotional musical

Play – ‘Apologia’, Trafalgar Studios, 13th November 2017

Trafalgar Studios often put on interesting plays but yet again the draw for me here was the (fairly) big name of Stockard Channing. As a huge musicals fan she will always be ‘Rizzo’ to me. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see her live on stage.
Unusually though, I must say that in the end she impressed me less than the play itself. A ‘family drama’ focusing on a mother, her 2 sons, their partners and the erstwhile relationships between them all, it handled some difficult emotions with sensitivity, humour and grace. I felt the ending was a little unresolved – but that seems to be the trend in modern theatre these days sadly.
Overall: in the nicest possible way, Stockard Channing is the very least of reasons to see this interesting play.

Play – ‘Labour of Love’, Noel Coward Theatre, 4th October 2017

My friend J suggested this play based on an interesting storyline (the author is James Graham who wrote ‘Ink’, which I loved) and good leads in the shapes of Sarah Lancashire and Martin Freeman. But between the time we booked and when we actually saw the play, Sarah Lancashire had been replaced by none other than Tamsin Greig- about my immense love for whom, I’ve written before.

So the stage was already set for a good night even before the curtain rose on the Nottinghamshire constituency office where Martin Freeman’s affable MP David Lyons is waiting for the results of the 2016 election with his agent Jean (the ever-wonderful Greig). From then on, the action moves backwards and forwards in time, looking at both the change in the political climate (screens show news clips from various time periods between scenes) and the change in the relationship between Freeman and Greig.

Overall: a great watch if you like people, politics, smart comedy, good theatre… Basically must-see.

Play – ‘Lions and Tigers’, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 6th September 2017

The Globe is generally on my radar (though I’m choosy about what Shakespeare I’ll see) but I had never been to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. My friend S recommended this play so I decided it was time to try it out. And what a place it is. Entirely lit by candlelight and a really evocative atmosphere of times gone by.
‘Lions and Tigers’ is a simply stunning play that is entirely worthy of these lovely surroundings. It’s based upon Indian partition and specifically upon what happens when three young Indian men decide to use violence in an attempt to make a point about India’s independence. Naturally – it all goes horribly wrong.
Shubhum Saraf is fantastic in the lead role- his war cry ‘my liberty is death’ nearly moved me to tears.
Overall: an emotional and sensitive handling of a fascinating time in history

Play – ‘The Ferryman’, Gielgud Theatre, 5th August 2017

Lots of buzz around this one, either because playwright Jez Butterworth can do no wrong at the moment or because with a running time of 3 hours, it’s on the lengthier end of the spectrum. It took me a little while to work out exactly whose children were whose (there are a lot of them, or perhaps I’m just stupid) but once I’d figured out who people were, the play was fairly engrossing. There were occasional wonderful little comedy touches (the real animals have been much discussed) and some impressive drama in the final scenes. Laura Donnelly did a stunning job of handling the tricky part of Caitlin.
Personally I’m always a fan of sharp punchy theatre rather than long drawn out pieces and I’m not entirely convinced that this play justified the length- but still a great evening’s theatre.
Overall: it’s long. Be prepared. Get comfy. But it’s impressive..

Immersive Theatre – ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’, The Vaults, 27th July 2017

While I go to the theatre often, it is rarely with my other half; we are more likely to go to comedy or music gigs together. But every now and then he surprises me in the best way, as he did with booking this immersive production for ‘date night’. It had been on my radar for a while; I love immersive theatre and I love ‘Alice in Wonderland’, so it was always going to be a good one for me. It impressed me hugely, particularly the level of detail; even the bar area before you go in is beautifully decorated in a ‘Wonderland’ theme. The Vaults is a venue I’ve never been to before but the space made it possible to create astounding sets and 4 separate pathways- everyone is sorted into a ‘suit’ (hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades) and you end up with a totally different experience as a result. I remain jealous that my other half got to eat the jam tarts while I didn’t! It all comes together at the end in the courtroom scene where all the storylines are neatly tied up in the conclusion.
Overall: OK, the story won’t shock you (who DOESN’T know ‘Alice in Wonderland’?!) but the imagination, detail, and pace definitely will. GO.