ORE ODUBA IS TO RETURN AS BRAD MAJORS TO CELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW FOR A LIMITED SIX WEEK RUN AT LONDON’S PEACOCK THEATRE

TO CELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE

ROCKY HORROR SHOW

ORE ODUBA IS TO RETURN AS BRAD MAJORS FOR A LIMITED SIX WEEK RUN AT LONDON’S PEACOCK THEATRE

AS THE LEGENDARY MUSICAL CONTINUES

TO THRILL AUDIENCES ACROSS THE UK

3rd MAY UNTIL 10TH JUNE 2023

“Oduba is masterful as the out-of-depth Brad” Birmingham Mail

“Ore Oduba is engaging, sharp, witty and can sing and dance

with the ease of the greats” ManchesterTheatres.com

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

FROM ROCKYHORROR.CO.UK

Actor, presenter and winner of Strictly Come Dancing Ore Oduba is to don his fishnets once again as he returns to the role of Brad Majors in this special 50th Anniversary production of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show for a limited six week run at the Peacock Theatre, London. Ore who received rave reviews and delighted audiences up and down the country during the 2021 UK tour, will thrill London audiences once again from 3rd May until 10th June 2023. Tickets are on sale now from RockyHorror.co.uk.

Ore Oduba said: “I can’t wait to reunite with my Rocky family, reprising my role as Brad Majors. There is just nothing quite like the Rocky Horror Show. I had the most incredible time touring the country last year, so to slip on the heels and zip up my corset again on the 50th anniversary of this iconic show will be so special. I can’t’ wait to Time Warp again with London audiences at the Peacock Theatre next year, it’s going to be epic!”

Producer Howard Panter said: “Rocky Horror has always been a show I loved, since its earliest days in the Kings Road. Richard O’Brien and I are delighted this non-stop party continues to thrill audiences across the world, and we look forward to the next 50 years!”

Since it first opened in London in June 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show is the longest continuous run of a musical anywhere in the world and has become the world’s favourite Rock ‘N’ Roll musical, having been performed worldwide over 50 years in more than 30 countries and translated into 20 languages.

This musical extravaganza continues to play to packed houses as it tours the length and breadth of the UK until 2023 with a stellar cast that is showing no signs of slowing down! Theatre is in full throttle and this extraordinary cast is ready to deliver a guaranteed party not to be missed.

Already wowing Rocky Horror audiences up and down the country, West End star Stephen Webb (Jersey Boys/Legally Blonde) continues in the iconic role of Frank, slipping into a corset and heels with ease and is joined by fan favourite Haley Flaherty (Mamma Mia/Chicago) as Janet.

Kristian Lavercombe (Jersey Boys/Jesus Christ Superstar) once again reprises his role as Riff Raff, follow-ing more than 2000 performances around the world, with Darcy Finden who made her professional debut last year as one of the Phantoms now steps up to play the role of as Columbia. Ben Westhead (Oliver/The Sound of Music) plays Rocky, Suzie McAdams (School of Rock/Kinky Boots) takes on the role of Magenta and Joe Allen (Little Shop of Horrors/Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) plays Eddie & Dr Scott. Playing the Phantoms are Stefania Du Toit (Starlight Express/Singing in the Rain), Jessica Sole (Into The Woods/Camelot), Reece Budin (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical/Man of La Mancha) and Fionán O’Carroll (Theatre whilst training: Urinetown/Children of Eden) who is making his professional debut. Nathan Shaw (Walk Like A Man) is Male Swing and Tyla Nurden (Funny Girl/Carrie, The Musical) is Female Swing.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the smash hit show features all of the famous musical numbers which have made The Rocky Horror Show such a huge hit for over four decades, including “Sweet Trans-vestite”, “Science Fiction/Double Feature”, “Dammit Janet” and, of course, the timeless floor-filler, “The Time-Warp” – this is perfect show to help people forget the doom and gloom of recent months.

The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank’n’Furter by chance when their car breaks down outside his house whilst on their way to visit their favourite college professor. It’s an adventure they’ll never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks and frivolity, bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits. The Rocky Horror Show is a guaranteed party, which famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music while encouraging audience participation – meaning, of course, getting dressed-up in the most outrageous fancy dress.

The Rocky Horror Show first began life in 1973 before an audience of just 63 people in the Royal Court’s Theatre Upstairs. It was an immediate success and transferred to the Chelsea Classic Cinema, before going on to run at the Kings Road Theatre, 1973-79 and the Comedy Theatre in the West End, 1979-80. In 1975 it was transformed into a film called ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. This film adaptation took over $135 million at the Box Office and is still shown in cinemas around the world more than 40 years after its premiere, making it the longest running theatrical release in cinema history. Many stars including Russell Crowe, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Jerry Springer, Jason Donovan and Meatloaf have appeared in The Rocky Horror Show over the past 45 years.

In 2015, as part of a sold-out season at London’s Playhouse Theatre, a special star-studded Gala charity performance in aid of Amnesty International was broadcast to over 600 cinemas across the UK and Europe. The live screening – featuring a host of celebrities playing The Narrator including Stephen Fry, Mel Giedroyc, Emma Bunton, Ade Edmondson, Anthony Head and Richard O’Brien – smashed box office records and was the biggest grossing film in cinemas across the UK. The performance was subsequently screened on the Sky Arts channel.

Ready to thrill you with fun and naughty moments, The Rocky Horror Show is the boldest bash of them all. But be warned, this show has rude parts!

What the press have said about The Rocky Horror Show:

“Panto for grown-ups – colourful, in your face, relentlessly energetic and high on audience participa-tion” – The Times

“Hard to think of another musical quite as unique as this. Christopher Luscombe’s affectionate production feels like a genuine blast from the past” – Mail on Sunday

“As delightfully naughty as ever!” – Daily Telegraph

“So fast, so funny, so sexy” – Daily Mail

“Still the sexiest and funniest show in town” – Evening Standard

LISTINGS INFORMATION

Ticket prices: From £10 Website: www.rockyhorror.co.uk

Twitter: @rockyhorroruk

Instagram: @rockyhorrorofficial

Facebook: /rockyhorrorshow

NEW MUSICAL ‘BERLUSCONI’ TO PREMIERE AT SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE ELEPHANT

  • FRANCESCA MOODY PRODUCTIONS AND WISHFUL THINKING MUSICALS PRESENT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF NEW MUSICAL BERLUSCONI DIRECTED BY JAMES GRIEVE, CHOREOGRAPHED BY REBECCA HOWELL AND DESIGNED BY LUCY OSBORNE.
  • RUNNING AT SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE ELEPHANT FROM 25 MARCH – 29 APRIL 2023 WITH A BOOK, MUSIC AND LYRICS BY RICKY SIMMONDS AND SIMON VAUGHAN, THIS IS A MODERN-DAY CAUTIONARY TALE ABOUT AN ALL TOO FAMILIAR BRAND OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP.
  • TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW AT WWW.SOUTHWARKPLAYHOUSE.CO.UK

“I am the Jesus Christ of politics”

Francesca Moody Productions (Fleabag, Baby Reindeer) and Wishful Thinking Musicals are delighted to announce the world premiere of BERLUSCONI – a naughty, noisy exposé of the original perma-tanned media mogul turned populist politician, told through the eyes of three formidable women ready to share their side of the story and break the veneer of that million Lira smile.

BERLUSCONI is an urgent and prescient story about a brand of political leadership that has become all too familiar. With soaring melodies and driving beats, this hilarious and outrageous new musical assembles an award-winning team to tell the astonishing, outlandish, almost true story of one of the world’s most charismatic, charming and morally dubious political leaders.  

As Silvio tries to enshrine his legacy by grandiosely writing the opera of his life, his detractors are closing in…

Producer Francesca Moody said: “I am thrilled to be presenting this extraordinary and incredibly funny new musical with an award-winning team of the most exciting roll-call of creatives. Berlusconi is an all too familiar story of outrageous corruption and grotesque male privilege allowed to run riot, indeed seemingly run a country. It’s a musical which places a fierce feminist lens on a political leader who was known for his charming misogyny and spotlights the human cost of his time in office. Berlusconi upended Italian politics and it could not feel timelier, or more appropriate to be exploring this outrageous and almost true story with riotous comedy and sensational songs.

Director James Grieve said: “The chance to make and premiere a brand new British musical is a rare and brilliant thing. Ricky and Simon have written an incandescent, uproarious, strikingly apposite show that melds sabre sharp lyrics with a technicolour head rush of a score. It is a witty, incisive, affecting, hugely entertaining work of dazzling originality and élan. I feel immensely privileged and excited to bring it to the stage alongside a visionary producer and outstanding creative team.”

Written by Ricky Simmonds and Simon Vaughan, this modern-day cautionary tale is produced by Francesca Moody (Fleabag) and directed by James Grieve (Fisherman’s Friends). The musical will be choreographed by Rebecca Howell (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾) with Set and Costume by Lucy Osborne (The Famous Five), David White (Les Misérables) as Executive Musical Supervisor, Jordan Li Smith (City of Angels) as Musical Supervisor & Musical Director, Dan Samson (Heathers) as Sound Designer and Casting by Will Burton CDG. Associate produced by Alex Cook and Alan Hayling, based on an original idea by Alan Hayling.

Jersey Boys Review

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre – until 26 November 2022

Reviewed by Julia Spargo

3.5***

It must be very difficult to create a musical from a true story, not least the story of four people who all have very different takes on their collective history, but that is exactly what Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have done here, to great effect.

Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from their creation to their eventual disintegration, told Rashomon-style by each of the four band members in turn.

Tommy DeVito started a band in the early 1950s with his brother Nick DeVito and friend Nick Massi, known as The Variety Trio. Tommy then discovered a very young Francesco “Frankie” Castelluccio before Joe Pesci, a friend of Tommy’s, introduces the band to singer-songwriter Bob Gaudio, who changes the fortunes of the group by coming up with a series of hits which are featured in this jukebox musical.

The production opens with a performance of “Ces soirées-là” a 2000 French song which sampled “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)”, the 1976 Four Seasons hit. Tommy DeVito (played by Dalton Wood) arrives on stage and introduces himself. There follows a frenetic ten minutes of narration and movement on stage as the group’s creation and subsequent various guises are rushed through. Tommy DeVito goes in and out of prison, Frankie (Ryan Heenan) changes his name to Valli and meets and marries Mary Delgado (played with spark by Emma Crossley) and the band changes both name and sound without success until Joe Pesci (excellently played by newcomer George Salmon) introduces Bob Gaudio (Blair Gibson) to the group.

This section feels rushed and I struggled to keep up with the story. It could have been condensed and the narration slowed, since a lot was lost with the chaotic movement on stage. I’m also not sure what the first song added to the story, except to show that their songs were still relevant decades later, but the subsequent ninety minutes of hit-after-recognisable-hit does exactly that.

The introduction of the brilliant Blair Gibson as Bob Gaudio, both to the band and as narrator, changes the pace of the musical and allows for more coherent storytelling. Bob guides us through the early years of the group’s struggle for success as they get a contract with producer Bob Crewe (Michael Levi), change their name to The Four Seasons and Bob starts churning out hits such as “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. An entertaining scene where Bob loses his virginity (offstage) to the backing of “December, 1963 (Oh what a night)” takes us towards the conclusion of the first act, when the band is accosted by a loan shark claiming Tommy owes him $150,000.

The second act, narrated first by Nick Massi (Christopher Short) and subsequently Frankie, takes the audience through the band’s inevitable disintegration as they navigate divorce, a weekend in jail, debt, jealousy, betrayal, mob involvement, Nick leaving the group and the death of Frankie’s daughter from a drug overdose. These dramatic twists and turns make for a very entertaining musical featuring a slew of recognisable hits that visibly lifted the audience right through to the end. I didn’t stop smiling throughout.

White Christmas Review

Nottingham Theatre Royal – until 26 November 2022

Reviewed by Louise Ford

4****

I’m glad you asked me that, Senator….

Well Nottingham was looking its festive best as we walked through the market square (lights, trees, rides and ice ring) to the Theatre Royal, for an evening of razzmatazz, sequins, big voices and dance routines.

The show is based on the Irving Berlin musical adapted for the stage by David Ives and Paul Blake. It is a cornucopia of show tunes, dance routines, tap routines and feel good magic! The show is directed by Ian Talbot and the choreography is by Stephen Mear.

The show opens on Christmas Eve 1944 with the platoon putting together a show for the festive period. Their General (Michael Starke) holds his final field inspection before being sent for  treatment. The platoon are in a melancholic mood.

Fast forward ten years and it’s 1954, the war is over and our army boys  are now lead performers Bob (Jay McGuiness) and Phil (Dan Burton), Phil and Bob, Bob and Phil in the Ed Sullivan Show. They have found fame and fortune but not love! They are due to take the train to Florida to headline a new show, when they receive a letter from an old army buddy. He asks them to watch his sisters’ act, the Haynes’ Sisters …. fortunately Bob and Phil are in the market for a new headline act for their show …. and for romance. The sisters Betty (Jessica Daley) and Judy (Monique Young), Judy and Betty, Betty and Judy  perform the excellent Sisters, complete with feathers. The boys are smitten! Although one of them is playing hard to get.

The action hots up with switched tickets, a change of plans, an excellent train ride and plenty of work for the ensemble!

They all arrive at the the inn in Vermont run by the General. He has sunk all of his money into the place and is looking for a way to resolve his financial problems. A plan is hatched to help out the General and his inn, by bringing the platoon back together and putting on a show to remember.

The show is peppered with memorable and favourite tunes. Some tender Count your blessings (instead of sheep), the wonderful Blue Skies, Happy Holidays and of course White Christmas. The costumes by Diego Pitarch are sharp and snazzy.

The stand out performance for me was Lorna Luft as Martha (all sassy attitude and wise cracks). She presides over the lobby and switchboard,hiding the bills and diverting the creditors. She manages to get in on the show after blowing everyone away with her rendition of Let Me Sing and I’m Happy. She has a powerful set of lungs.

 So grab your Christmas jumper and hop on board the  train to Vermont!

IVO VAN HOVE’S ENGLISH LANGUAGE WORLD STAGE PREMIÈRE OF HANYA YANAGIHARA’S CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED SMASH-HIT NOVEL A LITTLE LIFE TO OPEN IN THE WEST END – JAMES NORTON, LUKE THOMPSON, OMARI DOUGLAS AND ZACH WYATT LEAD THE COMPANY

IVO VAN HOVE’S ENGLISH LANGUAGE WORLD STAGE PREMIÈRE OF

HANYA YANAGIHARA’S CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED SMASH-HIT NOVEL

A LITTLE LIFE

TO OPEN IN THE WEST END

JAMES NORTON, LUKE THOMPSON, OMARI DOUGLAS AND ZACH WYATT LEAD THE COMPANY

Wessex Grove, Gavin Kalin Productions and Playful Productions today announce that Ivo van Hove will stage the English language première of Hanya Yanagihara’s critically acclaimed prize-winning novel, A Little Life in the West End. Van Hove directs James Norton (Jude), Luke Thompson (Willem), Omari Douglas (JB), Zach Wyatt (Malcolm), Elliot Cowan (Brother Luke/Doctor Traylor/Caleb), Zubin Varla (Harold), Nathalie Armin (Ana), and Emilio Doorgasingh (Andy). The production previews at Richmond Theatre from 14 to 18 March, ahead of opening in the West End at the Harold Pinter Theatre on 30 March, with previews from 25 March, and runs until 18 June.

Hanya Yanagihara said today, “One of the greatest, most unexpected joys and honours in my life has been watching as more readers than I could ever have imagined have taken A Little Life and its characters into their hearts over the past seven years. One of those readers was the visionary Ivo van Hove, and I’m thrilled he’s bringing his interpretation of the book to London next spring, with the most extraordinary cast I could have hoped for. This is a singular production, unlike anything I’ve seen before on stage; I hope audiences will be as transported and astonished as I was.”

Ivo van Hove commented, “It’s a joy to be returning to the London stage, to a community that has made us feel so welcome, and especially to be bringing Hanya’s incredible novel A Little Life to the stage in the English language for the first time – quite genuinely a dream come true. I’m looking forward to beginning rehearsals with this extraordinary and committed group of actors to reveal the work afresh for audiences from across the UK.”

Wessex Grove’s Benjamin Lowy and Emily Vaughan-Barratt added, “To be able to bring this work of theatrical genius to the West End is an extreme privilege and a highlight of our careers. We have both been fans and huge admirers of Hanya’s A Little Life from our first reading of it seven years ago, and to be able to spend time with the iconic characters of Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm again has been remarkable. It will be incredible to see them come to life before our eyes on stage played by the finest actors of a generation. We can’t wait to share Ivo’s thrilling adaptation of this story about heroic acts of friendship to audiences, whether they are new to the story or longtime fans. Ivo van Hove and Hanya Yanagihara are both artistic titans and we can’t wait to share their collaboration with London audiences.”

Twitter and Instagram: @alittlelifeplay

Producers – Wessex Grove, Gavin Kalin Productions, Playful Productions,

Co-Producers – Creative Partners Productions, Patrick Gracey Productions, ROYO,

Rupert Gavin & Mallory Factor Partnership, and New Frame Productions / David Adkin Productions present

A LITTLE LIFE

Based on the novel by Hanya Yanagihara

Adapted by Koen TacheletIvo van Hove and Hanya Yanagihara

Cast: James NortonLuke ThompsonOmari DouglasZach WyattElliot CowanZubin VarlaNathalie ArminEmilio Doorgasingh         

Conceived and Directed by: Ivo van Hove; Set & Lighting Design: Jan Versweyveld;

Costume Design: An D’Huys; Music & Sound Designer: Eric Sleichim;

Casting Director: Julia Horan CDG

Richmond Theatre – 14 – 18 March

Harold Pinter Theatre – 25 March – 18 June

James Norton (Happy ValleyGrantchester) stars as Jude as the visionary director Ivo van Hove (NetworkHedda Gabler) stages the English language premiere of A LITTLE LIFE, his acclaimed production of the million-copy bestseller by Hanya Yanagihara (To Paradise, Booker Prize Shortlist for A Little Life).

The much-anticipated play also stars Luke Thompson (BridgertonHamlet), Omari Douglas (It’s A SinConstellations), Zach Wyatt (The WitcherI and You), Elliot Cowan (The Crown2:22 A Ghost Story), Zubin Varla (Tammy FayeEquus), Nathalie Armin (Force MajeureThe Doctor), and Emilio Doorgasingh (Best of EnemiesThe Kite Runner). 

A LITTLE LIFE follows four college friends in New York City: aspiring actor Willem, successful architect Malcolm, struggling artist JB, and prodigious lawyer Jude.

As ambition, addiction, and pride threaten to pull the group apart, they always find themselves bound by their love for Jude and the mysteries of his past.  

But when those secrets come to light, they finally learn that to know Jude St Francis is to understand the limitless potential of love in the face of life.

James Norton plays Jude.His theatre work includesBelleville (Donmar Warehouse), Bug (Found111), Journey’s End (West End and UK tour), The Lion in Winter (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Posh (Royal Court Theatre), That Face (Sheffield Theatres) and Cymbeline (Cambridge Arts Theatre). For television his work includes Happy Valley (as series regular Tommy Lee Royce), Grantchester (series lead, Sidney Chambers), The Nevers, The Trial of Christine Keeler, McMafia, War and Peace, Black Mirror, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Life in Squares, Death Comes to PemberleyDoctor Who, Restless and Blandings; and for film, Freeguard, Nowhere Special, Things Heard and Seen, Little Women, Mr Jones, Hampstead, Flatliners, Bonobo, Belle, Thicker Than Water, Cheerful Weather for a Wedding and An Education.

Luke Thompson plays Willem. His theatre work includes King Lear (Duke of York’s Theatre), Hamlet (Almeida Theatre and Harold Pinter Theatre), The Oresteia (Almeida Theatre and Trafalgar Studios), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe – nomination for the Evening Standard Most Promising Newcomer). For television, his work includes Bridgerton (as series regular Benedict Bridgerton), Kiss Me First, In the Club, and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher; and for film, Misbehaviour, Making Noise Quietly and Dunkirk.

Omari Douglas plays JB. His theatre work includes Cabaret (KiKat Club at the Playhouse Theatre), Constellations (Vaudeville Theatre/Donmar Warehouse – Oliver Award nomination for Best Actor), Romantics Anonymous (Bristol Old Vic/Wise Children), Wise Children (The Old Vic/Wise Children), Rush (King’s Head Theatre), Peter Pan (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Five Guys Named Moe (Marble Arch Theatre), Tristan and Yseult (Kneehigh/Shakespeare’s Globe), The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Annie Get Your Gun (Sheffield Crucible), Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and High Society (The Old Vic). His television work includes Nolly, I Hate Suzie Too, and It’s a Sin (BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor); and for film, Rye LaneMidas Man and And Mrs.

Zach Wyatt plays Malcolm. His theatre credits include Bartholomew Fair, The Merry Wives of Windsor (Shakespeare’s Globe), Wild East (Young Vic), and I and You (Hampstead Theatre). For television, his work includes The Witcher: Blood Origin, Karen Pirie, and Urban Myths: Hendrix and Handel; and for film, Timestalker and Blithe Spirit.

Elliot Cowan plays Brother Luke/Doctor Traylor/Caleb.For theatre, his credits include 2:22 A Ghost Story (Gieldgud Theatre), A Doll’s House (Lyric Hammersmith), Shipwreck (Almeida Theatre), Julius Caesar (Sheffield Theatre), An Ideal Husband (Vaudeville Theatre), Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe), A Streetcar Named Desire (Donmar Warehouse) and The Revenger’s Tragedy (National Theatre). For television his work includes The Crown, Foundation, Death in Paradise, Peaky Blinders, The Spanish Princess, Innocent, Krypton, Beowulf, Frankenstein Chronicles, CillaLife in Squares, Luther, Sinbad, Marchlands, The Fixer, Blood and Oil, Marple – They Do It With Mirrors and Ruby in the Smoke;and for film, All the Devil’s Men, Muse, Butterfly Kisses, Angels of Decay, Narcopolis, Angel of Decay, Howl, Hammer of the Gods, Happy Go Lucky, Alexander.

Zubin Varla plays Harold. His theatre credits include Tammy Faye (Almeida Theatre), The Two Character Play (Hampstead Theatre), The Twits (Unicorn Theatre), Ghost Quartet (Boulevard Theatre), Equus (ETT/ Trafalgar Studios), Fun Home, Measure For Measure, The Changeling (Young Vic), Poison (Orange Tree Theatre), The Unknown Island (Gate Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), The El Train (Hoxton Hall), Troilus and Cressida, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Midnight’s Children, The Tempest, Roberto Zucco, Bartholomew Fair, Faust, The Painter of Dishonour, Romeo and Juliet (RSC), Don Juan Comes Back from the War (NT Studio/ Finborough Theatre), Into Thy Hands (Jericho House/ Wilton’s Music Hall), War Horse (National Theatre/ New London Theatre), Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse/ West End), Paradise Regained (Royal Court Theatre), Dara, The Enchantment, Attempts on Her Life, The Life of Galileo, Cyrano de Bergerac (National Theatre), Julius Caesar (RSC/ Lyric Hammersmith), Amadeus (Barbican), Hello & Goodbye (Southwark Playhouse), Teeth ‘n’ Smiles (Sheffield Theatres), Chess (Danish tour), In the Solitude of Cotton Fields (ATC / Aldwych Tube Station), A Day Like Today (Young Vic/ Push Festival), Antigone (The Old Vic/ Donmar Warehouse), Jesus Christ Superstar; Beautiful Thing (West End), In the Heart of America (Bush Theatre), and Romeo and Juliet and Lady Be Good (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). His television work includes Andor, Deep State, Will, Our Girl, Strike Back, Holby City, Garrow’s Law, Hustle, Little Dorrit, Silent Witness, Spooks, Crocodile Shoes, and Luv; and for film, Mad, Sad & Bad; Saddam’s Tribe, Twelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Nathalie Armin plays Ana.Her theatre credits include Force MajeureLimehouse (Donmar Warehouse), Ralegh: The Treason Trial (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Doctor, Machinal (Almeida Theatre), Anna, Another World: Losing Our Children to Islamic State, The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Dara, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Anna (National Theatre), The Complaint (Hampstead Theatre), On the Record (Arcola Theatre), The Tempest (Barbican) and Arabian Nights and Othello (RSC). Her television credits include Treason, Flatshare, Juice, Magpie Murders, Too Close, HomeMarcellaUnforgottenHumansDerailedWilliam and Mary and The Jury; and for film, The Batman, Final ScoreDenial and Grow Your Own

Emilio Doorgasingh plays Andy.His theatre work includes Persuasion (Rose Theatre Kingston, Alexandra Palace, Oxford Playhouse), Best of Enemies (Headlong/Young Vic), Shadowlands, Present Laughter (Chichester Festival Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Kite Runner (Wyndham’s Theatre, Playhouse Theatre and UK tour), The American Wife (Park Theatre), and Boy (Almeida Theatre). For television, his work includes You and Me, The Good Karma Hospital, Sister Boniface Mysteries, Ted Lasso, Suspicion, The Tuckers, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Unforgotten, and Game of Thrones; and for film, And Mrs, Rupture, Princess Switch 3, Soof 3, Dangerous Game, Red 2, Awakened, Pimp, Extraordinary Rendition, and Kingdom of Heaven.

Hanya Yanagihara is the editor in chief of the multiple National Magazine Award-winning T, The New York Times’ style and design magazine. Previously, she served in various editorial roles at Condé Nast Traveler, W, Departures, Radar, Town & Country, and Brill’s Content. She began her career in book publishing at Random House. Along with her magazine work, Yanagihara is the author of three novels: A Little Life (Doubleday, March 2015 – to be published on 5 January by Picador), The People in the Trees (Doubleday, August 2013), and To Paradise (Doubleday, January 2022). The People in the Trees was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert Bingham Award and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize (UK). A Little Life, a New York Times bestseller, has been published in more than 30 countries, and was a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award, as well as the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Dublin International Literary Award, and the American Booksellers’ Association Indie Award. It was the winner of the Kirkus Award and the British Booksellers’ Association award, and was a bestseller in the U.K., Australia, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. She is a recipient of the Benjamin Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an honorary doctorate from Smith College and serves on the board of PEN America.

Ivo van Hove has been Artist Director of Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (formerly Toneelgroup) since 2001. From 1998 to 2004, he was Artistic Director of the Holland Festival, presenting a varied selection of international theatre, music, opera and dance. His theatre credits include the theatrical adaptation of The Glass Menagerie (Théâtre de l’Odéon, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam), West Side Story (Broadway Theatre), All About Eve (Noël Coward Theatre), Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, Edinburgh International Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music), The Human Voice (Harold Pinter Theatre), Network (National Theatre and Cort Theatre, Broadway), Hedda Gabler (National Theatre), A View from the Bridge (Young Vic/Wyndham’s Theatre/Lyceum Theatre, Broadway), The Crucible (Walter Kerr Theatre), Lazarus (King’s Cross Theatre/New York Theatre Workshop); and Visconti’s The Damned (La Comédie-Française, Paris/ The Park Avenue Armory). He is the recipient of two Olivier Awards and two Tony Awards for A View From the Bridge; two Obie Awards for More Stately Mansions and Hedda Gabler. In addition, he is also Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France; and King Filip of Belgium awarded him Commander of the Order of the Crown. Additional directing credits include Angels in America, Roman Tragedies, Kings of War, Opening Night, Taming of the Shrew, Scenes from a Marriage, Othello, The Miser, Mourning Becomes Electra, Long Day’s Journey into Night and The Fountainhead (all Internationaal Theater Amsterdam).

Listings Information

A LITTLE LIFE

Harold Pinter Theatre

Panton St, London SW1Y 4DN

Box Office: 0333 009 6690

www.atgtickets.com

TICKETS

From £15.00

Richmond Theatre:

Performances at 7pm

Harold Pinter Theatre:

Previews:

Monday to Saturday at 7pm

Post press night:

Tuesday – Saturday at 7pm

Thursday matinees at 1.30pm (except 20 April, 18 May)

Saturday matinees at 1.30pm (except 6 May)

Sunday matinees at 2pm

Access performances:

British Sign Language – 23 May at 7pm

Audio Described – 31 May at 7pm

Captioned – 7 June at 7pm

Darker Shores Review

Festival Theatre, Malvern – until 26th November 2022

Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau

4.5****

Christmas is looming, so how fitting to indulge in a Gothic ghost story. And from the pen of writer Michael Punter we have one set at Christmas too!

Even before the actors appeared, the sound of lapping waves and wind were setting the scene. With a sumptuous set, from Set and Costume Designer Philip Witcomb, dripping with menace from every corner and gorgeous costumes, the full effect was to transport us straight into 1876.

All the cast had their moments to shine through some very interesting character studies. Each brings there share of mystery and much baggage. The play is a roller coaster of emotions from light to dark, mirth through terror. The trouble (for this reviewer) is that it is difficult to actually highlight any scenes the actors stood out in without providing unintentional spoilers. And they did stand out; it is a sensational cast. But in general terms it was amazing to see a couple of genuine Hollywood and television legends sharing the stage with a couple of the younger generation brimming over with talent in abundance.

Maxwell Caulfield gave us Professor Gabriel Stokes, embodying the gravitas such a character deserves and yet with a vulnerability within his loss that was perfectly pitched for the era. Juliet Mills was a pure joy as Mrs Hinchcliffe with a lovely restrained air, befitting her character, bubbling over into emotion only when fearful or offended. Both shone like the stars they have always been.

Chipo Kureya (playing Florence Kennedy) was a revelation, especially towards the climax of the play where her acting was simply thrilling. She is a talent to watch for the future in what will undoubtedly be an illustrious career. Last, but certainly not least, was Will Beynon as Dr Beauregard, who produced a stunning performance of great emotional range; made even more impressive given that he is the tour’s understudy. Another actor with a bright future. Much was done with suggestion and brief glimpses caught in the shadows. Was it my imagination or was that picture shifting? Or was it just a trick of the very inventive lighting from Lighting Designer Nick Richings, truly enhancing the action and atmosphere.

I really enjoyed the way the acting was somewhat underplayed, letting us use our imagination, creating a satisfying crescendo to the final climactic scenes which positively bristled with excitement. The sound effects provided by Dominic Bilkey and special effects (I’m guessing from Illusion Consultant – a fantastic job title if ever I heard one! – Darren Lang) gave us some heart in mouth moments too, propelling the action along nicely. If you were to ask me to sum up this work in one word I would say “jumpy” and we loved every leap from our seat.

An intriguing story, some life affirming scares to get the heart racing, a genuinely starry cast of established and new talent all wrapped up in Hollywood grade packaging. A thoroughly enjoyable night out at the theatre which I recommend heartily to everyone.

The Lavender Hill Mob Review

Theatre Royal, Brighton – until Saturday 26 November 2022

Reviewed by Sue Bradley

4****

The Lavender Hill Mob is one of the most well-loved of the Ealing Comedy movies and I was intrigued to see how this classic comedy Crime Caper, originally released by Ealing in 1951, could be adapted for the stage, as it was mainly filmed in post-war London. Could they pull it off? I’m happy to say that they do.

The story opens up at a party in a Rio de Janeiro night-club on a New Years Eve in the early fifties. Our hero, Henry Holland, played by Miles Jupp (Radio 4’s News Quiz) is handing out money to all and sundry, as if it were his last night of freedom. Enter the enigmatic Farrow (Guy Burgess), who is thought to be a film director by the rest of the guests. They all insist on telling Farrow their friend Holland’s story, believing it would make a great film…..

So far, so good; a rather stylised costume drama. But here is where the play really begins. We can forget almost completely about who the characters are in the nightclub – instead, we remember the parts they all assume to tell us the story of a mild-mannered bank clerk who hatches a plan to steal a million pounds worth of Gold Bullion from the Bank Of England and transport it out of England in a novel manner.

This is very much an ensemble piece – all the actors take on multiple roles with a glee that is akin to a childrens’ dressing-up party. There is no hint of irony here – they just look like they are having a whale of a time as they don different hats or clothing and mime driving with metal trays for steering wheels. 

Miles Jupp, with his trademark self-apologetic delivery is well cast as the mild-mannered Holland, with able support from Justin Edwards as his principle accomplice Pendlebury. Tessa Churchard and Victoria Blunt also seem to be having great fun as the two professional crooks who join in the scheme. Tim Sutton keeps us entertained with parlour magic tricks and the odd spot at the piano, whilst John Dougall and Aamira Challenger complete the set with an almost bewildering number of roles.

There is an unfussy set with simple but effective lighting, and a refreshing lack of special effects, as often objects such as doors are mimed by the cast rather than actually being there,  and the sound effects are largely produced by the cast rather than played in, which is charming and in the spirit of the story. 

It is not a challenging evening, but more like relaxing in front of an open fire enjoying your favourite tipple, and great fun.

STAR CAST ANNOUNCED FOR STEEL MAGNOLIAS UK & IRELAND TOUR 2023

THE ORIGINAL STAGE PLAY

THAT SPAWNED THE HOLLYWOOD FILM

EMBARKS ON 2023 UK & IRELAND TOUR

STARRING

LAURA MAIN, DIANA VICKERS AND LUCY SPEED

“WITTY, WARM AND UPLIFTING” – THE GUARDIAN

TICKETS ON SALE NOW STEELMAGNOLIASPLAY.CO.UK

Steel Magnolias, the hilarious and heart-warming play based on a true story, which enjoyed huge global success in the hit 1989 film adaptation starring Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts, is embarking on an extensive UK and Ireland tour in 2023.

The star-studded ensemble cast will feature Laura Main (best known as Sister Bernadette in BBC One’s Call the Midwife), Diana Vickers (The X Factor star who has gone on to lead roles in many theatre productions including Dial M For Murder and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice) and Lucy Speed (known for her television roles on EastEnders and The Bill, and as a new cast member on BBC Radio 4’s The Archers).

Brought beautifully to life on stage from Robert Harding’s original script, the show will begin its tour on 19 January at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre, travelling to over 20 venues and concluding on 22 July at the Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton.

Completing the cast are Caroline Harker (A Touch of Frost) and Elizabeth Ayodele (Playboy of the West Indies).

Steel Magnolias, which was first performed off-Broadway in 1987, is the story of six women who come together in a small-town beauty salon in the American South and prove that female friendship conquers all. Faced with the highs and lows of love and life, and amongst the chaos of work, marriage and children, they unite to gossip, unwind and set the world to rights.

This iconic comedy is the perfect ticket for every generation and proves that one hair appointment might just change your life.

‘STEEL MAGNOLIAS’ UK TOUR 2023

19 – 21 January Churchill Theatre, Bromley

24 – 28 January Richmond Theatre

31 January – 4 February Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

7 – 11 February Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford

14 – 18 February Theatre Royal, Bath

21 – 25 February The Lowry, Salford

28 February – 4 March Theatre Royal, Brighton

7 – 11 March Palace Theatre, Southend

21 – 25 March Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

28 March – 1 April Wycombe Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

4 – 8 April Curve Theatre, Leicester

11 – 15 April Theatre Royal, Nottingham

18 – 22 April New Theatre, Cardiff

25 – 29 April Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

2 – 6 May Malvern Theatre

9 – 13 May Northcott Theatre, Exeter

16 – 20 May Milton Keynes Theatre

23 – 27 May Everyman Playhouse, Liverpool

30 May – 3 June Theatre Royal Glasgow

6 – 10 June The Gaiety Theatre, Dublin

13 – 17 June New Theatre, Hull

20 – 24 June Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

4 – 8 July Orchard Theatre, Dartford

11 – 15 July Grand Theatre, Leeds

18 – 22 July Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton

Lucy Speed and Diane Vickers perform until 1 April Laura Main performs until 22 April

Twitter @MagnoliasPlay

Instagram @steelmagnoliasplay

Facebook Facebook.com/MagnoliasPlay

Strictly Ballroom the Musical

Blackpool Winter Gardens – until Saturday 26 November 2022

Reviewed by Debra Skelton

5*****

Strictly Ballroom The Musical has waltzed its way into Blackpool and what a show it is.

I have to say that the award-winning worldwide film directed by Baz Luhrmann that this show is based on is a huge favourite of mine so I was really looking forward to seeing how this production lived upto it and I can honestly say that it did.

Kevin Clifton is well known to me for Strictly Come Dancing but I never knew that he could sing and it was such a welcome surprise to see that he could not only dance beautifully but has such a lovely voice too.

The whole cast in the show were amazing, with their dancing, singing and a touch of humour here and there to make this such a warm and entertaining show.

This musical follows Scott Hastings (Kevin Clifton) who from the age of six has been fixated on one goal and that is to be become the “Pan Pacific Grand Prix Amateur Five Dance Latin American Champion”.

Even though his mother Shirley (Nikki Belsher), teacher Les Kendall (Quinn Patrick) and his partner Liz (Agnes Pure) all confident that this will be the year, somehow Scott is still not entirely satisfied with what he has prepared.

Scott feels dissatisfied with having to dance in the way ordained by the all-powerful Australian Dance Federation under President Barry Fife (Gary Davis) and his resistance starts to push through at the Southern Districts Waratah Championships where Scott breaks the rules by dancing his own steps.

The repercussion of breaking tradition has a huge impact with Liz breaking their partnership and everyone condemning Scott for his recklessness except his father Doug (Mark Sangster) who just seems to potter around in his own world.

With only three weeks until the Pan Pacific, Scott is still without a partner and left wondering what to do next until Fran (Maisie Smith) a young, overlooked beginner in the Kendall studio who just might have ideas of how Scott can achieve his true dream.

So does Scott achieve his ambition, only a trip to see this wonderful show will answer that question.

The soundtrack that has been provided includes such songs as Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time and all new music written by internationally acclaimed artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.

This production would not be a success if I did not point out the creative set, lighting, sound, dazzling costumes, and superb choreography from the much-loved judge from Strictly Come Dancing, Craig Revel Horwood

Julius Caesar Review

Maltings Theatre, St Albans – until 26 November 2022

3***

OVO Theatre continue their 2022 season with an updated and fast-flowing modern revisioning of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed by Matt Strachan

Tickets available at www.ovo.org.uk

Having either watched or read most of Shakespeare’s plays over the last twenty years, I’m beginning to think that the Bard had something against the postal service, judging from the multitude of deaths that seem to be caused by a plethora of delayed letters, lying tricksy letters, mis-delivered letters for the wrong person and letters that aren’t read in time.

It’s the latter that affects the sabotaging of the State in Julius Caesar, one of Shakespeare’s Roman plays, and arguably the strongest of the set, but you still can’t escape the feeling that a lot of murder, miscommunication and misunderstanding might have been avoided if the Elizabethans had invented tracking numbers and next day delivery.

Plot-wise – the tale is a well-known one, Julius Caesar, ruler of Rome, returns to power triumphant and seemingly popular, however under the surface a collection of his trusted senators are plotting his downfall, envious of his position and status, and it’s not long before his assassination and civil war breaks out across the city, with the conspirators fighting for their lives and cause, as time slowly runs down and they’re forced to face the inevitably brutal consequences of their regicidal machinations.

Julius Caesar is one of those Shakespeare plays, like Cymbeline, where the title character of the play isn’t really the main role – in this case the honour falls in fact to Brutus – one of the leaders of the insurrection and possibly the most reasonable and slowest to betray his king. It is through Brutus’s perspective that most of the tragedy operates as what we’re witnessing is really a tale of two halves – first the fall of one great man due to the hubris of his belief no-one will betray him, and then the secondary fall of the man that did the betraying itself. In the end, Rome is in tatters and smoking ruins, and it is presumably left to Antony to rebuild and heal the empire – even though the shadow of Cleopatra looms ominously in his future, but that is a tale told in another play, for another time.

Director Matt Strachan and his co-adaptor Micha Mirto have gone for a modernisation of the original setting, swapping the togas and laurels for the suited and scarved suaveness of a 1970s Italy. According to the director’s notes in the programme, he got suitably enthused upon discovering that the tale of Julius Caesar bore a striking resemblance to the tales of Luciano Lama and Aldo Moro – communist party leaders and trade unionists for the P.C.I., but in reality the words spoken are Shakespeare’s, and the setting doesn’t really add too much to the telling as it doesn’t really get incorporated into the piece other than a slightly ponderous added introduction to set the scene in a similar way to a cinematic title card or voice-over in a film trailer. (Read in a suitably low raspy voice, ahem, “In a world where directors are still trying to make Shakespeare relevant by adding guns, there stands one hero….” etc.

More obvious revisions to the original take the form of cutting the characters down in scale and number, amalgamating several characters into one – presumably with the purpose of beefing up the one-note original parts of the two main wives, Portia and Calphurnia, and a judicious amount of cutting to the second half of the play so that Julius Caesar now dies in the second half – again, presumably to give the actor more to do. There is also some gender swapping going on as Brutus and Cassius are now female roles, making Brutus and Portia presumably a lesbian married couple. Whilst not really an issue for me personally, you do run into some issues with the decision to gender swap whilst setting it in a defined moment of history – as you seem to have a lesbian couple of high political renown and status calling each other wife and being publicly known as a couple, whilst Italy didn’t recognise same-sex marriage until 2016. Also modernising the piece brings problems with the choices then in terms of combat. In the war, everyone’s running around with guns and pieces of wood (I know which I’d prefer) but the most famous assassination in it is done with daggers, as per the original. This has always confused me in modern productions when they use daggers in a time of guns, made worse when the actors continually bang these pistols about on the floor, revealing they are plastic toys. Similar to the “actors pretending their coffee cup isn’t empty” bugbear in television shows, this falls down into a “let’s pretend what we’re holding is really heavy and made of metal” rehearsal workshop. But perhaps I’m not meant to look too deeply, which is fine, but it’s that level of adherence and pride about finding a similar period in Italian history where a similar event occurred, but failing to fully commit to the transposition, therefore leaving the production in a state of limbo between the two. I could go on and on, they’re Italian but Brutus is welsh and Casca is from Newcastle, they continually talk about blood on their hands but the staging of the combat is hollowly bloodless, but ultimately my takeaway was that the director wanted to make an interesting play about a 1970 civil war involving 25 actors, and got given Julius Caesar with a cast of 7.

Acting wise, the show is pretty strong as a whole, Malcolm Jeffries does bring a nice sense of noble ego and humour to Julius Caesar, and the scenes that have him in really come alive in terms of scale and size – he’s very watchable and his death is a tense and tragic series of events where you hurt for him. It’s a little unfortunate that the costume designer did a quite messy job with the bottom of his suit trousers, but hey ho, perhaps Caesar didn’t have time to get a suit that fit him when he was rushing to the Senate to get stabbed. Eloise Westwood, as Portia, has a fantastic grasp on Shakespearean text, and every line she has comes across clearly and confidently – no mean feat in a Shakespeare show where the language is so archaic and complicated. She fills her expanded role with a cornucopia of pathos and passion, and it’s a joy to watch. Charlotte Whitaker is all hands-in-pockets and shrugs and smirks as Cassius – it’s an understated performance that swaggers and seethes with stylish charm, but I personally felt I never quite saw her get properly going – there is an argument later on between Brutus and Cassius that’s meant to completely destroy their friendship, and I felt Whitaker’s performance here lacked fire and a clear sense of the stakes. Jane Withers glides with grace across the stage as Calphurnia, and her resolution and anxiety to save her husband from her ominous bad dreams has beauty, humour and passion threaded through it. Alis Wyn Davies is Brutus, the main focus of the show, and she navigates the peaks and troughs of the character’s tentative beginnings, idealistic drives, and eventual hubristic downfall well – I just personally prefer my tragic heroes and heroines to really go for it when they realise all is lost and it’s all their fault – there’s a magical moment where she roars in pain like a wounded animal once she sees the turn of the battle against her, I just wanted more of that sharpness and rawness to be threaded into her text and spoken moments particular with Cassius. Matthew Rowan particularly shines in the production, bringing comedy and clarity to his role as Casca, one of the co-conspirators. Rowan has a real gift with the Shakespearean text, he humanises it and brings it alive, I hope to see future OVO shows where he can fully realise his potential as this was clearly a talented emerging performer working what he was given to the fullest capacity. Tom Milligan gives a turn as Antony, and he brings a youthful, eager and almost puppy-like vibe to the role – it’s a really difficult role as Antony comes in late to proceedings and has possibly the most famous speech in the whole thing, but Milligan doesn’t let this faze him, and leaps into the piece with both feet, winning us over by the end.

Stephanie Allison and Amy Connery handle movement and intimacy direction, and whilst there is less for them to do than in their previous work with OVO in Mosquitoes over the summer, the pair handle the ensemble action and coupled sensual moments well, giving a believability to the action and a much needed oomph to a text-heavy scene when required. I would have liked the director to incorporate the intimacy and movement more into the text however – there were a few moments where you could hear the Shakespearean part of the scene had clearly ended (I see you, cheeky rhyming couplet) and then there was a quite awkward intimacy scene tacked onto the end. Surely these things, if the director truly believes them necessary, are better worked into the text rather than serving as uncomfortable silent bookends, that only seem to shine a light on the strings and sellotape of the adaptation work. James Bailey handles the combat as the Fight Director, and the work he’s done on the show is lovely – smooth, slick and filled with appropriate groans, gasps and grunts, but again I missed the use of blood and gore. If you’re going to stab someone multiple times and leave his corpse face up in the middle of the stage then do reconsider whether stage blood might be necessary – particularly in a scene where all the murderers then go on and on about how bloody their hands are. Peter Harrison’s lighting is beautiful in its use of colour and shadow, he moves us through numerous exterior and interior locations, and his deft use of a simple rig helped clarify the scenes so we always knew where we were. It was also a pleasure to watch his slow descent into darkness and gloom as the play neared its tragic denouement. Rachael Light’s costumes are decadent and colourful, and hem-line trouser pinning aside, they all add to the show and give the characters a nice sense of individuality and style that presumably helped the actors incorporate stance and walk into their characterisation. Simon Nicholas continues his strong and delightful work with OVO, producing another captivating set – this time in traverse – some gorgeous projection lifted the show and helped conjure a sense of crowd and epic scale the diminished casting needed, and any show that has a running water fountain gets an instant ten points from me, bladder-seducing though it may be for some. I’ll even forgive him the use of black gaffer tape for making cracks in the floor and walls, having a working fridge during a previous show in the season has granted him some benefit of the doubt. Michael Bird makes some excellent choices as Sound Designer, filing the show with topical music selections, an insistent low drone that ratchets through the action leading to Caesar’s murder, and some jump-scare style gun shots where needed – but one does perhaps need to look at the placing of these, as there was far more musical support in the second half than the first, which left the intimacy moments a little untethered and hollow, and the show as a whole slightly unbalanced. Perhaps there were sound issues the night I saw, as it does seem an odd choice to have so much in the second half and hardly any in the first.

This may seem like a difficult review, but in truth there is a lot to recommend the show – its commitment to trying something new with an old text, and its bold ambition with the staging and characterisations. The performances are strong and you can clearly tell the actors care about pushing the show as far as they can – at least I presume they do as there are many moments where they drip hot wax on their own arms, and I can’t imagine they let the director persuade them to do that without caring about the piece first. Having seen four productions from this season, it is very clear that Artistic Director Adam Nichols and his OVO team are dedicated to producing modern and unabashedly powerful pieces of theatre for our world today, and they are a huge asset to the theatrical establishment in Hertfordshire, indeed St Albans should consider herself lucky to have them on her own doorstep – however when making these kind of decisions when adapting such a iconic and oft-performed classic, it may have been more important to focus a little longer in the planning phase, and make sure that every change, cut and re-invention was fully integrated into the text, so that every single alteration had purpose and clarity, and added something, rather than competed for attention. Ultimately, in Shakespeare, everything must serve the text, as the text is all we have, and in a moment where the language used in these pieces is becoming ever more indecipherable as time moves on into an age where comprehension and attention spans are ever dwindling – no matter how tidy the idea is, or how clever the parallels are – as another prince in another play once said: “the play’s the thing.”