The Play That Goes Wrong Review

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford – until 23rd June 2018

Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood


The multi-award winning comedy returns on another UK Tour including a stop in Bradford. Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong won an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2015 and its successful current run continues at London’s Duchess Theatre. The company in addition has also produced other similar vein comedies including Peter Pan Goes Wrong (2014) and The Comedy About A Bank Robber (2016).

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields The Play That Goes Wrong is about The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempting to put on Murder at Haversham Manor, a whodunnit. Only for what possibly could go wrong on the night goes wrong unpredictably with unimaginable consequences. Even before the play starts the crew members are in a flustered state while visiting the auditorium and they ask the audience if they have seen Winston, the missing dog, who is to star in the play. In addition they are doing frantic repairs on the stage with help from an audience member and Trevor (Gabriel Paul) worries about a missing Duran Duran CD Box Set and pleas to the audience to hand it in if found.

The characters’ attempt to solve the mystery was farcical and very infectious to non-stop laughter throughout from beginning, during and to the end. These are down to whether it’s the malfunctioning/falling down of the props and structures on stage, forgetting the lines, the creative crew stepping in last minute for indisposed actors and frustrations being vented behind the scenes in their unreadiness for the second act.

The six person cast for Murder at Haversham Manor entertains the audience well particularly with Jake Curran acting as eccentric host, director of The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, and the play’s Inspector Carter. Curran engages with the audience really well and even incorporate some pantomime lines. Butler Perkins (Benjamin McMahon) will always be remembered as the loyal servant to Charles Haversham (Steven Rostance) and serving the “spirit” to the inspector and household. There is a mention to the society’s crew staff, Annie (Catherine Dryden) and Trevor (Gabriel Paul) who rightfully keep the play going whether it is last minute botched repairs to the props or heroically standing in for the indisposed Sandra (Elena Valentine).

The cast put on an excellent show and they thoroughly engage with the audience while they persevered and pursue their attempts to save the play from further salvage. The farcical nature intensifies in the second act and credit must go to Nigel Hook’s staging and how it cleverly works when the whodunit is going more and more wrong at the latter stages. His staging is supported by Ric Mountjoy’s lighting and how the music and soundscapes, courtesy of Rob Falcolner and Andy Johnson, co-ordinates the action intended and unintended.

Under the direction of Mark Bell what goes wrong goes wrong. It certainly would not be right if the play doesn’t go wrong and it is evident with reaction of continuous ripples of laughters among the audience. The Play That Goes Wrong lives up to its title and it is a guaranteed evening of infectious laughter.


Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain Review

Yvonne Arnaud – until 23rd June

Review by Heather Chalkley


The concept of Holmes and Watson returning from retirement is intriguing in itself. In classic Doyle style, Simon Reade starts with a murder. The uncomfortableness of the relationship between Holmes and Mr and Mrs Watson is well portrayed. Without spoiling it for any new audience, Reade’s twist in the tail is genius and well within the realms of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Robert Powell (Sherlock) and Liza Goddard (Mary Watson) did not disappoint with their fluid delivery of a deliciously rich and full dialogue. Powell captured the eccentricity of a bored and paranoid Sherlock. Goddard delivered a strong and believable Mary, taking her character to another, slightly unhinged level that Doyle did not quite reach in his original writings.

Powell and Goddard are supported by a strong cast. Timothy Kightley’s Dr Watson is an affable old man, suffering from the death of his son. He is caught up in the new age of the paranormal and psychoanalysis, vulnerable and easily duped by their adversary.

Anna O’Grady (Miss Hudson/Rose) instilled some much needed light and youthful humour into the mix, reminding us of the 1920’s era into which the play is set. The strong accents of her two characters are delivered eloquently.

Directory David Grindley and his creative team did a fantastic job of providing an authentic set, with mostly smooth transitions using curtains to slide effortlessly from one scene to the next. The use of curtains builds on an atmosphere of dark secrets.

Grindley has made full use of the stellar cast he has to work with, delivering a piece that Doyle himself would be proud of.

Legally Blonde Review

New Wimbledon Theatre, Wimbledon – until 23rd June 2018.

Reviewed by Nicky Wyatt


When one of my favorite movies becomes a stage show or a book, I always have a nervous anticipation of what to expect. Will it be the same or better, will it be different? The answer has to be of course that it will be a bit different it’s live to start with. Well I can honestly say I needn’t have worried!

On a blustery Monday night in Wimbledon to get transported into the totally PINK (and it is very PINK) world of Elle Wood was just absolutely fantastic. A fast, funny, frivolous show with an amazing cast.

The story of how Elle ( Lucie Jones) gets dumped by her dreamboat of a boyfriend Warner Huntington lll ( Liam Doyle), because she is a ditsy, pampered, blonde sorority girl who just isn’t serious enough for his family to accept as he is going to Harvard, with a pre-planned life of being a lawyer and maybe even senator. He dumps Elle to pursue his career leaving her distraught, seeking comfort in chocolate and locking herself away to lick her wounds. Like most women though she comes out fighting and decided she will become more serious and go after her man, even if she does have to stop partying and start studying to get into Harvard.

She may be going to Harvard but she still takes all that glitters and is pink with her, well she’s not Elle without it is she?!

This high energy show has, as I said, an amazing cast.

Elle (Lucie Jones) a former X Factor finalist has the biggest smile on her face throughout this show, she exudes warmth and has great energy mixed with a powerful voice.

She has a great connection with Paulette (Rita Simons). My word that lady can sing her voice is incredible! Delivering some quick humour which had the audience in stitches at the same time as joining the ensemble dance routines she really was great to watch and to hear her sing was fab.

Professor Callahan (Bill Ward) the man they all want to work for, old school suit bit of a lech always wins and gets what he wants, well most of the time. Bill Ward delivers some great one liners and manages to pull them off as the smarmy rogue. He’s a chauvinist a bit of a bully to all. His protege Emmett Forrest (David Barrett) turns away from him as he becomes Elle’s right hand man, he’s funny, kind and endearing with a great voice.

Everyone on the stage quite rightly deserved their applause and standing ovations, there were two members of the ensemble that really caught my eye (Sally Firth) Galen/Laker Girl/Da Joyce Riley her dancing was incredible and (Helen Petronva)Whitney/Brooke Wyndham the most incredible skipping routine. How she didn’t trip or stumble was amazing.

The four legged performers were both cute and incredibly well behaved on stage, well done Rufus and Bruiser

All great shows need great music and choreography Legally Blonde has both. Routines devised by Anthony Williams were so slick and great to watch.

Some might say it’s a little outdated now but if you liked the movie, enjoy all things sparkly, camp and pink you will absolutely love this.

Ruth Jones to star in new comedy The Nightingales, on UK tour prior to the West End

Jenny Topper and Theatre Royal Bath Productions present
by William Gaminara


One of the UK’s best-loved television stars, Ruth Jones, well known as the co-writer of the award-winning BBC comedy Gavin & Stacey in which she also appeared, will star in the new comedy The Nightingales, presented by Jenny Topper and Theatre Royal Bath Productions. The production, written by William Gaminara and directed by Christopher Luscombe, will run at Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday 31 October to Saturday 10 November, with opening night for press on Wednesday 7 November before embarking on a tour to Cambridge, Cardiff, Chichester and Malvern prior to a West End transfer, with venue and dates to be announced.

Ruth Jones (Maggie) is well known for playing Nessa Jenkins in the BBC series Gavin and Stacey. Other acting credits include Jimmy McGovern’s The Street, comedy series Little Britain and Fat Friends, Steve Coogan’s Saxondale, BBC adaptations of Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Little Dorrit and as Hattie Jacques in the BBC 4 film, Hattie. Her most recent comedy series, Stella, in which she also starred, ran for six series on Sky 1She is a winner of the Ultimate Funny Woman award at the annual Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards and her debut novel, Never Greener, recently topped the Sunday Times Bestseller List for several weeks.

When the local acapella group gather in the village hall they have every reason to look forward to their weekly rehearsal.  There’s Steven, 60, the Cambridge-educated choirmaster; Diane, his younger wife; Ben, who was once a professional tennis player married to Connie, who was once a model; and Bruno, a young history teacher, who cares for his mother. The two hours of laughter and harmonies fly by. Until one day newcomer Maggie knocks on the door and everything changes.

William Gaminara (Playwright) is an actor and writer, best known for playing Leo Dalton in Silent Witness from 2002 to 2013 and Dr Richard Locke in The Archers. His plays include According to Hoyle and The Three Lions. For TV he has written This Life and The Lakes.

Christopher Luscombe’s (Director) productions include Love’s Labour’s LostMuch Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night for The RSC, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Nell Gwynn for Shakespeare’s Globe and in the West End, EnjoyWhen We Are Married and The Madness of George III. He is an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Nightingales
by William Gaminara
Directed by Christopher Luscombe

Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath, BA1 1ET
Dates: Wednesday 31 October – Saturday 10 November
Press night: Wednesday 7 November 7pm
Performance schedule: Evenings 7:30pm, matinee Thursdays and Saturdays 2:30pm
Prices: £23 – £37.50
Box Office: 01225 448844

Cambridge Arts Theatre  
Dates: Monday 12 – Saturday 17 November
Box Office: 01223 503333

New Theatre Cardiff
Dates: Monday 19 – Saturday 24 November
Box Office: 029 2087 8889

Chichester Festival Theatre
Dates: Tuesday 27 November – Saturday 1 December
Box Office: 01243 781312

Malvern Festival Theatre  
Dates: Monday 3 – Saturday 8 December
Box Office: 01684 569256

West End LIVE 2018 in pictures, videos and record-breaking numbers


        With queues stretching back to Leicester Square, there was a capacity audience within Trafalgar Square of around 80,000 across the weekend – a record for West End LIVE – and many more watching on screens outside the square. The event is estimated to have drawn hundreds of thousands of people into the West End.

       27 shows performed at West End LIVE this year, alongside a host of other acts including solo stars, ensembles, comedy duos and stage schools – 11 hours of performance in total. Around 700 performers took to the stage in Trafalgar Square.

        #WestEndLive was the number 1 Twitter trend in London on both days of the event.

         There were around 20,000 Instagram posts tagging #WestEndLive.

         The TKTS pop-up booth in Trafalgar Square reported record ticket sales.

         Videos of performances have reached over 1.5 million views on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

         Initial indications suggest that West End LIVE had a very positive impact on surrounding Westminster businesses over the weekend.

Cockamamy Review

The Hope Theatre – until 30 June

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Louise Coulthard’s sensitive and heart-breaking play about dementia and its impact on families will put you through the emotional wringer as you watch a sufferer gradually deteriorate.

When Rosie’s mother died, her grandparents took her in and brought her up. Ten years after the death of her grandfather, Rosie and Alice are still living happily together, although Alice thinks that, being in her mid-twenties, Rosie should be married by now.

When we first see Alice (Mary Rutherford) she is full of life and mischief, dressing glamorously and verbally sparring with Rosie (Louise Coulthard). In fact, she seems to be the most energetic of the pair. The little memory slips and bouts of confusion become more and more obvious to both women; Alice forces Rosie’s new doctor boyfriend Cavan (Rowan Polonski) to discuss symptoms of dementia with her.

The jumps in time between scenes is never specified, creating a gentle and slow atmosphere that throws Alice’s deterioration into sharp focus. Mary Rutherford is astonishing as Alice, portraying the frustration and fear as she realises what is happening to her, and shifting between a confused, petulant little girl and her old self with consummate ease. She never overdoes it, maintaining Alice’s dignity even as she sits dishevelled in her underwear. In Rosie, Louise Coulthard has written a refreshingly normal young woman, and delivers a wonderfully honest performance. She is not a saintly carer, instead her frustration, anger and guilt are never far from the surface, making her tender moments more emotional.

As Rosie and Alice try to find a way to cope and keep Alice in her own home, the evolution of Rosie’s attitude towards Alice’s slips is written with charm as Rosie stops correcting Alice and joins in with her delusions to avoid upsetting her. The final scene is a hammer blow that reminds the audience of what a horrible and devastating illness dementia is, leaving most of the audience a sobbing wreck. Fantastic. A thoughtful and humane play about a disease that will touch us all in one way or another.

No One Is Coming To Save You Review

The Bunker Theatre – until 7 July, Tuesdays and Fridays

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Part of The Bunker’s BREAKING OUT programme, This Noise’s production of No One Is Coming To Save You is a deliciously satisfying and dreamlike duologue.

Agatha Elwes and Rudophe Mdlongwa describe the lives and inner thoughts of an unnamed young woman and man unable to sleep. Writer Nathan Ellis’s script swoops between poetic flourishes, ridiculously mundane similes and arch explanations of obvious points with great style, helped by the playful and funny, but mesmerising performances of Elwes and Mdlongwa.

The man is watching TV, but understands neither the language or the action, instead imposing his own fears and experiences on what he sees, always coming back to the metallic object in his hand. The woman is staring at a glass, then through her window, wanting to feel something. The man’s feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness are brought to a head as he watches his crying daughter – with some wonderful dialogue about responsibility and society’s perception of young black men. The woman’s life takes on a farcical but horrifying aspect as her attempts at social interaction with her co-worker are described. Her imagination runs rampant as the most bizarre, violent and destructive outcomes of everyday occurrences – as the two characters lives intersect watching two planes cross the night sky, the woman is slightly disappointed that there was no mid-air disaster.

On a stage of Astroturfed pallets surrounded by glasses of water – all half empty – the two performers reveal the characters stories with a confident and engrossing stillness punctuated by symbolic movements triggered by certain words. The effect is mesmerising and weaves a story of longing, political and social despair that ends with an uplifting reminder that a simple moment of human contact can bring hope and the confidence to be yourself; that amidst the atrocities of the modern world, every life is precious.

Section 2 Review

The Bunker Theatre – until 7 July, Tuesdays and Fridays

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Paper creatures’ Section 2 is a well-meaning attempt at portraying the impact of mental health issues on family and friends, but it is more worthy then entertaining.

Peter Imms focuses on the events of the 28th day of Cam’s time under Section2 in hospital. This is the day that his girlfriend finds out if he is coming home to her or faces up to 6 months more of treatment. After an action-packed life in the army and playing rugby, there is no obvious reason for Cam’s illness, and Kay needs someone or something to blame. After 5 years of no contact, Cam has called old schoolfriend Pete to visit him at the hospital. This allows a lot of exposition about Cam’s condition, and Jon Tozzi does an impressive job portraying the incredulity and initial ignorance of the worried friend and serves as a trigger for Kay’s emotional outbursts. Nathan Coenen and Esmé Patey-Ford have some lovely scenes as Cam and his nurse Rachel, tenderly showing the humour and humanity co-existing with the mental illness. Unfortunately, Kay is overwritten, cramming so much melodrama into the role that Alexandra Da Silva has a struggle on her hands keeping the character sympathetic. I am not making light of the awful experience trying to help and cope with a partner suffering from a mental illness, it’s just that Imms has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the role. In a longer, 2-act play with more room for all characters and plot to grow, this would probably work, but in a 60-minute production a more measured approach would have much more impact and truth. Da Silva has a magnificent meltdown when she is fighting against Cam staying in hospital, but her almost immediate turnaround seems rushed and this, followed by a montage leading to Cam’s eventual release just makes the whole production feel as if a longer play has been savagely cut to fit into this timeslot.

Although a little clunky at the moment, there is a lot of promise in Section 2, which would come to fruition in an extended cu

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives Review

Arcola Theatre – until 21 July

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Baba Segi’s three wives are happy and settled in his Nigerian household, but this all changes when he sets his mind on young university graduate Bolanie becoming his fourth wife. Rotimi Babatunde’s stage adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s novel is an energetic and uplifting production that is full of belly laughs.

Presented on an empty stage, with the floor covered in rattan, the production has the feel of a family storytelling session, with the cast, dressed in gloriously colourful outfits, sitting around watching the action. This atmosphere is enhanced by the uplifting musical accompaniment from the cast, and the communal singing and dancing bookending scenes. The leather armchairs that senior members of the family use are in the front row of the audience, blurring the divide.

The wives all have monologues to showcase their characters and their reasons for marrying Baba Segi, and Jumoké Fashola, Christina Oshunniyi and Layo-Christina Akinlude all create individual and memorable women. Marcy Dolapo Oni ensures Bolanie’s more modern world outlook is always apparent in her reactions and is devastating when Bolanie reveals her true reasons for marrying Baba Segi to her mother. Baba Segi is a ludicrous character, cartoonish in his patriarchal attitudes, but the wonderful Patrice Nalambana manages to keep Baba Segi sympathetic, revealing glimpses of his insecurities and fears amongst the peacock strutting, clowning and expert playing to the audience.

After two years of marriage and no child, Baba Segi is convinced that there is something wrong with Bolanie, but instead of going to see “Teacher”, she insists on an appointment at the hospital, unwittingly setting into motion events that will change Baba Segi’s household forever. The culture clash of modern and traditional ideas and customs is omnipresent and the source of many jokes, with Baba Segi’s solo hospital appointment bringing howls of laughter. There are a few dramatic moments of tragedy which darken the tale, reminding the audience (as if they could ever forget) of the misogyny of this patriarchal society – Baba Segi isn’t slow to use his fists if he thinks his honour is being sullied by his wives, although Bolanie’s final monologue does a little to redress the balance with her declaration of freedom.

An evening of laughs and scandal, this is a vibrant visual and musical treat of a show that should not be missed.

Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill Review

City Varieties, Leeds – until 21st June 2018

Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood


Opera North and West Yorkshire Playhouse have brought Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill to the City Varieties in Leeds. This is another one of their collaboration following the success of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods back in 2016. Berlin to Broadway pays homage to Weill, a German composer (1900 – 1950), and his musical journey takes one from its Berlin’s Kabarett style cafes to the big stage of New York’s Broadway.

Under the direction of the legendary Giles Havergal, the audience are taken on a journey and are treated to a variety of songs which are written by numerous lyrists and Weill’s musical compositions. The compositions include the popular The Threepenny Opera which is a play known for its ballads. The ensemble narrates chronologically Weill’s key milestones of his life in between songs.

The first part of the voyage begins at Berlin where a number of songs are sung from The Threepenny Opera including the popular The Ballad of Mack the Knife and other songs from other works such as The Little Mahagonny, Happy End and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The stage is set cabaret style with then its avant-garde ambience in its Berlin’s cafes during the Weimar era and its eventual social and political decline from end of the 1920s to the early 1930s.

Weill works are associated for its political and social satirical content and with his populist views influences. With this in mind including his Jewish heritage and his denouncement by the Nazi party, he and his wife fled Germany in 1933 and eventually emigrated to the United States.

The voyage’s part two features works that he composed in his later years in New York City and set for the Broadway stage. Songs are sung from Street Scene, Johnny Johnson, Lady in the Dark, One Touch of Venus and his final composition Lost in the Stars, a tragic musical.

Berlin to Broadway, set in the beautiful City Varieties music hall, is put well together with Catherine Morgan’s staging and Tim Skelly’s lighting. The digital screen in the background on stage enhances the voyage including still images and introductions to the songs that are sung.

It stars an ensemble of singers from the Chorus of Opera North who perform to the highest standard. With a piano accompaniment on stage and Martin Pickard’s musical direction the ensemble puts on an excellent show and celebrates Weill’s versatile musical accomplishments. Amy J Payne’s emotive Surabaya Johnny from Happy End at end of Part One is one of the outstanding highlights. The soprano sings the musical number with such conviction and emotion which makes one think more about Weill’s musical journey.

With the reprisal of songs from The Threepenny Opera at the end of Part 2, Weill leaves a mark which many musicians and singers from popular and classical backgrounds aspire to and make such songs famous. Opera North and West Yorkshire Playhouse have shown a thorough commitment to celebrate his musical ingenuity and also him being “a composer for the theatre” with an intimate cabaret style production with show stopping songs.