Buddy is Back!











Due to phenomenal demand for tickets Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story has announced it will extend its tour into 2017. The incredibly successful tour visits Grand Opera House York from Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 March.

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story tells the enduring tale of the musical icon’s meteoric rise to fame and his final legendary performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, before his tragic and untimely death at the age of 22. In 18 short months the Texas-born boy revolutionized the face of contemporary music influencing everyone from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen.

The production boasts a phenomenally multi-talented cast comprising of Glen Joseph and AlexFobbester (who alternate the role of Buddy Holly), Miguel Angel, Joe Butcher, Celia Cruwys-Finnigan, Jordan Cunningham, Josh Haberfield, Kerry Low, Thomas Mitchells, Matthew Quinn, Tom Sowinski and Alex Tosh. Together they present two terrific hours of music with over 20 of his greatest hits, including the timeless classics That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, Oh Boy and Rave On.

With the Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace and Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba completing a stellar musical line-up, Buddy is a not to be missed evening of family entertainment.

Although there have been many imitations Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story has stood the test of time. The show has inspired a generation of multi-million selling juke-box musicals, including Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You, still remains a true original and a musical phenomenon.

Seen by over 22 million music fans since it opened in London’s West End in 1989, Buddy speaks an international language and continues to have audiences from aged 8 to 80 years old rockin’ in the aisles across the globe!

Buddy’s widow, Maria Elena Holly, says of the show: “When we opened the show we never imagined Buddy’s music and story would still be rocking stages and entertaining audiences around the world week-in week-out over 25 years later. I believe this is testament to a great show – the first of its kind – and to the enduring appeal of Buddy Holly and what he represents; a youthful energy, huge talent and creativity, combined with a determination to make a lasting impression in this world.”

Writer/Producer Alan Janes says “Audiences aged 8 to 80 dance in the aisles every night to our enactment of the story of a young man whose musical career spanned an all-too-brief period but whose music will be remembered forever”.

To book tickets for Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Grand Opera House York from 21 – 25 March visit www.atgtickets.com/york or call the Box Office on 0844 871 3024.



Casting confirmed for Sandi Toksvig’s new comedy Silver Lining

English Touring Theatre have confirmed casting for the world première of Sandi Toksvig’s new comedy Silver Lining, a co-production withRose Theatre Kingston.

Sheila Reid plays Gloria, with Rachel Davies as Maureen, Keziah Joseph as Hope, Maggie McCarthy as May, Joanna Munro as June andAmanda Walker as St Michael in the production directed by Rebecca Gatward. The production will be at The Lowry from Tue 4 – Sat 8 April.

Silver Lining tells the tale of five extraordinary yet forgotten women, who come together one treacherous night to recreate The Great Escape – senior citizen style.

On one dark and stormy night in the upper day room of the Silver Retirement Home, five elderly ladies are trading stories of their remarkable lives. With the storm floods rising and no rescue team in sight, the ladies are faced with the sudden realisation that in order to survive they are going to have to do what they have done for their entire lives – do it themselves!

Sandi Toksvig is a writer, actor, presenter and political activist.  Her previous writing for the stage includes the musical Big Night Out at the Little Sands Picture Palace and The Pocket Dream.  Until last year she was the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz and in October 2016 she takes over from Stephen Fry as the host of BBC television quiz show QI.  She is the joint founder of the Women’s Equality Party which was established in March 2015.

Sheila Reid plays Gloria.  Her theatre credits include Pericles (Shakespeare’s Globe), Othello and The Three Sisters (The Old Vic), Romeo and Juliet, Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Richard III (RSC), When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream And Shout and My Mother Said I Never Should (Royal Court Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Pornography (Tricycle Theatre), Into The Woods (Donmar Warehouse), Filomena (Almeida Theatre), Hedda Gabler (National Theatre) and at Edinburgh Festival, Love Among the Butterflies, Terrible with Raisons In It (both of which she wrote) and Maurice’s Jubilee (also UK tour).  For television, she is perhaps best known for her role as Madge in ITV comedy Benidorm; her other television credits include Call the Midwife, Doctor Who, Father Brown and Psychobitches.

Rachel Davies plays Maureen. Her theatre credits include Ecstasy (Hampstead Theatre), The Party and The Bacchae (National Theatre), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (New Theatre and Old Vic). For television her credits include Emmerdale, A Passionate Woman, New Tricks, Best Friends, Bodies, Cutting it, The Chase, Dalziel & Pascoe and Linda Green.

Keziah Joseph as Hope. Keziah trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama this marks her professional debut.

Maggie McCarthy plays May. Her theatre credits include We Wait in Joyful Hope (Theatre 503), The Absence of War (Headlong/Sheffield Theatres/Rose Theatre Kingston), Juno and the Paycock (Bristol Old Vic/Liverpool Theatres), Gaslight (Salisbury Playhouse), Children of the Sun, Cocktail Sticks, Doctor’s Dilemma, Major Barbara, Much Ado About Nothing, Philistines, The Rose Tattoo, Mother Clap’s Molly House (National Theatre), Private Lives and Uncle Vanya (Chichester Festival Theatre). Her work for television includes Dancing On the Edge, Feather Boy and She’s Out. Her work for film includes Attack the Block, Leap Year and Hilary And Jackie.

Joanna Munro plays June.  Her theatre credits include Jack and the Beanstalk (Hall for Cornwall), Mamma Mia (West End and international tour), Breeze Block Park (Liverpool Playhouse), Habeus Corpus (Exeter Northcott), Women On The Verge Of HRT, Golden Leaf Strut and The Master Builder (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry), Blood Brothers (West End), Prisoner Cell Block H, Baby Love, Rough Crossing, All’s Well That Ends Well, Dead White Males, The Price Of Meat and The Taming Of The Shrew (Nuffield Theatre) and Dreams Of San Francisco (Bush Theatre).  For television her work includes Confessions of a Diary Secretary, Angels, People Like Us, The Cazelet Chronicles, Doctor Who, Fast Forward, The Life and Death of Philip Knight and Dream Team.  She is currently a recurring character in the BBC Radio 4 series Homefront.

Amanda Walker plays St Michael.  Her theatre credits include Orpheus Descending (Haymarket Theatre), Waiting in September: The War On Terror (Southbank Centre) and Superior Donuts (Southwark Playhouse).  Her television work includes The Missing, Murphy’s Law, My Family, Daylight Robbery, Fish and The New Adventures of Robin Hood;  and for film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Captain America: The First Avenger and Cloud Atlas.

Rebecca Gatward directs. Her theatre credits include The Night Watch (Manchester Royal Exchange), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester), for West Yorkshire Playhouse; The Accrington Pals and Beryl (also Rose Theatre Kingston), The Trial Of Dennis The Menace (Southbank Centre), The Comedy Of Errors, The Merchant Of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe), Pandas (Traverse Theatre), The Indian Boy (RSC Complete Works Festival), The Canterbury Tales directed in partnership with Greg Doran and Jonathan Munby and Thyestes for The Other Place (RSC), Touched (Salisbury Playhouse), Cancer Tales (New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich). She was Company Director on This Is Our Youth with Matt Damon and Casey Affleck at the Garrick Theatre.  Her work for television includes EastEnders (winner Broadcast award and soap award nominations for best episode and scene), Casualty, Doctors and Sadie J.

Listings Info
Silver Lining
The Lowry
Tue 4 – Sat 8 April 2017
7:30pm, Wed & Sat 2pm
Tickets: £24.50 – £30.50 (Including booking fees)
Box office: 0843 208 6000













The Hospital Club is pleased to announce the first ever exhibition of acclaimed still life photographer Richard Foster’s personal work: a collection of abstract and figurative photographs taken over the last ten years since the car accident which paralysed him from the chest down. Proceeds from the exhibition will go to Back Up a charity supporting those affected by spinal cord injury, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The exhibition is FREE to the public from 3 – 5 March, with a private view on 2 March.

Richard Foster has been working as a still life photographer and director for over 20 years. Working mainly in the luxury goods industry, he specialises in making products look aspirational through beautifully lit, textural images. Richard’s clients include Burberry, Prada, Mulberry, Rolls-Royce, Vogue, DeBeers, Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker and many more.


In 2006 Richard was travelling in Australia with his wife and three sons when they had a car crash. His family avoided lasting injury, but Richard broke his neck and was left paralysed from the chest down. After 6 months of rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville, he moved home and with the love and support of his family he began to rebuild his life. It was around this time that Richard discovered Back Up, who were instrumental in helping him regain his independence.


Back Up is a UK charity that exists to help those affected by spinal cord injury. Their services include mentoring, wheelchair skills training and activity courses as well as support in getting back to work or school after an injury.


Richard Foster said, “Back Up opened my mind to the possibilities of being up a mountain, returning to work, or the even greater challenge of how to get up the curb on a London street. They focused me on what I could, rather than what I couldn’t do. To mark a decade since my accident, and 30 years of Back Up, I thought this would be the perfect time to step out from behind the lens and exhibit my personal work for the very first time, and I hope we raise a lot of money for a cause that is very close to my heart.”


10 years on Richard continues to do what he loves most: photography. Reinforcing his reputation as one of the preeminent photographers in the field of still life, his skills are called upon from all over the world. He recently published a critically acclaimed book of abstract imagery, Between Sense and Uncertainty.


York Literature Festival



Saturday 18 March 2017

The festival promotes the arts in York, with an emphasis on literature, spoken word and poetry. It also features music, comedy, cinema and theatre in the programme.

Mark Gatiss in Conversation

3.00pm – 5.30pm

£15 + transaction fee from Grand Opera House York

Mark Gatiss first came to prominence as one of the writer/performers of the award-winning comedy troupe The League of Gentlemen. As well as appearing in Doctor Who, Mark has written television scripts for four Doctors, and co-created the international hit Sherlock, in which he also plays Mycroft Holmes.

Other television credits include Wolf Hall, Nighty Night, Game of Thrones and writing and directing the revived A Ghost Story for Christmas.  His fictional adventurer Lucifier Box has featured in three best-selling novels.

Michael Palin in Conversation

7.00pm – 9.30pm

£22.50 + transaction fee from Grand Opera House York

Michael Palin CBE is a founding member of the internationally renowned Monty Python team, revelling in the fish-slapping dance, the lumberjack song, and performing the Dead Parrot sketch more times than is good for anyone. He went on to co-write and star in Ripping Yarnswith Terry Jones, before becoming the nation’s favourite travelling companion with Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole and Full Circle. His big screen credits have included many collaborations with Terry Gilliam, including Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, Brazil and, most recently, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

He starred opposite John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda and its equal Fierce Creatures. His many publications include the West End play The Weekend, a collection of limericks, the novelHemingway’s Chair, Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book for Boys and Girls, and three best-selling volumes of diaries. Michael was made a BAFTA Fellow in 2013. He will be in conversation with Robert Ross.

Mark Gatiss and Michael Palin will be in conversation with Robert Ross.

Robert Ross has written a library of books on the history and stars of British comedy, includingThe Carry On Story, The Monty Python Encyclopaedia, Steptoe and Son – Any Old Iron, TheComplete Frankie Howerd, Sid James – Cockney Rebel and Marty Feldman – The Biography of a Comedy Legend; which inspired his play Jeepers Creepers, that premiered at the Leicester Square Theatre last January. He has also written several Big Finish Doctor Whoadventures for the sixth Doctor Colin Baker. A regular show business pundit, his credits includeBall-Breakers on the Box and The One Show.

Tickets: £15.00 & £22.50

Box Office: 0844 871 3024

Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/york


Pay What You Decide at The Lowry this season

There’s no need to pay in advance for some theatre tickets as The Lowry launches a new season of Pay What You Decide (PWYD) performances.

This season The Lowry in Salford will present four shows where audiences won’t have to purchase a ticket in advance. Instead, audiences will be asked to pay what they think the show was worth at the end of the performance. The Lowry’s PWYD season is divided between Hush Hush Nights and WTF Wednesdays.

Matt Eames, programmer and producer at The Lowry said: “Pay What You Decide is a great opportunity for theatregoers to see something a bit different without committing a set amount upfront. We hope that it removes barriers for people who want to take a risk on something new but are worried they would be paying for something they may not enjoy. WTF Wednesdays are for those who want to test their theatrical boundaries while Hush Hush… well we wanted to surprise audiences with something fun – a treat for those who like a bit of mystery!”

On Hush Hush Nights audiences will know nothing about the show they’re about to watch with the first events taking place on Fri 17 February & Fri 21 April.

WTF Wednesday is about celebrating cutting edge contemporary theatre for the most creatively curious of cats. Massive Owl’s Castle Rock (Wed 25 Jan) and Prototype Theatre’s A Machine They’re Secretly Building (Wed 1 March) are presented in association with Word of Warning.

Massive Owl tell stories and challenge how a story can look, sound and feel.Castle Rock is a new story inspired by three of the voiceless characters in Stephen King’s novella The Body and its 1986 cult film adaptation, Stand By Me.

Prototype Theatre’s A Machine They’re Secretly Building charts a course to the erosion of privacy from the Top Secret secrets of WWI intelligence to 9/11.

To see a PWYD show at The Lowry all you need to do is reserve a seat by going to the website or calling box office on 0843 208 6000.







Action To The Word’s award-winning all-male production of Anthony Burgess’ A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, directed by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, will return to London following its acclaimed premiere in Edinburgh in 2011 and an international tour. A Clockwork Orange opens at Park Theatre on 14 February and plays until 18 March, with a press night on Thursday 16 February.

An electrifying and testosterone filled physical theatre horror show that exquisitely captures and transcends the spirit of Anthony Burgess’ original literary masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange lures its audience into the glorious glass-edged nastiness of Manchester’s underworld. A playtime of orgiastic ultraviolence and sexuality, it’s the story of little Alex and the Droogs in their battle against the tedium of adolescence. An unapologetic celebration of the human condition, it remains as terrifyingly relevant today as when the book was published in 1962 and when Stanley Kubrick’s film caused a stir in 1971.


Imaginative and striking… it sizzles with energy” ****Evening Standard

“Spencer-Jones’ production combines striking visual imagery with beautifully choreographed balletic sequences” ****Telegraph

Jonno Davies will return to the production to star as ‘Alex’, having played the role previously on two international tours. Other stage credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (National Theatre/Latitude), Dracula (Arts Theatre/International tour) and Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward). His screen credits include Milk and Honey, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Spotless and Hollyoaks.

He is joined on stage by Luke Baverstock as ‘Georgie/Zophar’, Sebastian Charles as ‘Dim/Pedofil/Joe’, Simon Cotton as ‘Frank Alexander/Mum/Brodsky’, Damien Hasson as ‘Deltoid/Chaplain/Rick’, Philip Honeywell as ‘Mark Alexander/Branom/Marty/Woman’, James Smoker as ‘Old Woman/Minister/Dad/Rubenstein’, Will Stokes as ‘Billy Boy/Governor/Comedian/F-Me Pumps/Dolin/Len’ and Tom Whitelock as ‘Pete/Bromine’.

“Physical, dynamic, and arresting” – The Economist

“This is a show that everyone should experience” *****Whatsonstage.com

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is directed by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, Artistic Director for Action to the Word, for which she has created DRACULA (Arts Theatre/International Tour), A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (National Theatre/Latitude Festival) and CONSTANCE & SINESTRA AND THE CABINET OF SCREAMS (New Wimbledon Theatre/Latitude Festival). Her credits as Associate Director include STEPPING OUT (Theatre Royal Bath/UK Tour), the Olivier Nominated BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (Sonia Friedman Productions), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE WIZARD OF OZ (London Palladium), Garsington Opera’s LA PERICHOLE, Grange Opera’s PETER GRIMES and OLIVER! and Scot William’s HOPE (Royal Court).

Alexandra Spencer-Jones said, “In a world where the pillars of leadership are crashing down around us, Burgess’ timeless masterpiece brought to stage is more urgent than ever. There will always be a disaffected youth who are not listened to. A Clockwork Orange is a brutal examination of the self versus the state in the age-old struggle for human freedom

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is presented by Glynis Henderson Productions, with lighting by James Baggaley and additional choreography by Hannah Lee.


Website: http://www.actiontothword.com/







A Clockwork Orange will be produced by Glynis Henderson Productions. Glynis Henderson Productions produces, general manages and represents a variety of theatre, comedy and music productions. The company specialises in introducing unique and exciting new work to international audiences and international work to the UK. Glynis is an original producer of STOMP and has tour booked and managed the show worldwide including seasons in London and Paris. STOMP has performed in over 50 countries worldwide making it one of the most successful UK touring productions. Other work GHP has produced and managed worldwide include BLAM, Ennio Marchetto, Lost and Found Orchestra, A Clockwork Orange, Dracula, James Rhodes, Tubular Bells, One Man Breaking Bad, Yamato Drummers of Japan, Spaghetti Western Orchestra and Gobsmacked.

WEBSITE: http://www.ghmp.co.uk/

Rehearsals begin in London for the Tony® Award-winning new musical AN AMERICAN IN PARIS



Dominion Theatre from 4 March 2017


Original Broadway stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope are joined by

Jane Asher, Haydn Oakley, Zoë Rainey, David Seadon-Young and Ashley Day  

Rehearsals begin in London today for the highly anticipated new West End musical An American in Paris. Christopher Wheeldon’s stunning reinvention of the Oscar® winning film (that starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron) features the sublime music and lyrics of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwinand a new book by Craig Lucas. Directly following celebrated engagements in Paris and New York, this critically acclaimed and multi award-winning new musical lights up London from Saturday 4 March 2017 with the official opening night on Tuesday 21 March 2017 at the Dominion Theatre.

Joining award-winning Broadway stars Robert Fairchild (as Jerry Mulligan) and Leanne Cope (as Lise Dassin) are Haydn Oakley as Henri Baurel, Zoë Rainey as Milo Davenport, David Seadon-Young asAdam Hochberg and Jane Asher as Madame Baurel. Ashley Day will be the alternate Jerry Mulligan (and will assume the role from Monday 19 June 2017).

The company also features Julian Forsyth and Ashley Andrews, Sophie Apollonia, Zoe Arshamian, Sarah Bakker, James Barton, Alicia Beck, Chrissy Brooke, James Butcher, Jonathan Caguioa, Jennifer Davison, Katie Deacon, Rebecca Fennelly, Sebastian Goffin, Alyn Hawke, Nicky Henshall, Genevieve Heron, Amy Hollins, Frankie Jenna, Justin-Lee Jones, Robin Kent, Kristen McGarrity, Julia J. Nagle, Daniela Norman, Aaron Smyth, Todd Talbot, Max Westwell, Jack Wilcox, Carrie Willis, Stuart Winter and Liam Wrate.

The new musical An American in Paris premiered in 2014 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris to ecstatic reviews before transferring to the Palace Theatre on Broadway, where it became the most awarded musical of the 2015/16 season, including four Tony® Awards. A major North American tour is currently playing.

An American in Paris features many of George and Ira Gershwin’s most iconic songs including I Got Rhythm, ‘S Wonderful, I’ll Build a Stairway To Paradise and They Can’t Take That Away from Me, together with George Gershwin’s sweeping compositions including ‘Concerto in F’ and ‘An American in Paris’.

Jerry Mulligan is an American GI striving to make it as a painter in a city suddenly bursting with hope and possibility. Following a chance encounter with a beautiful young dancer named Lise, the streets of Paris become the backdrop to a sensuous, modern romance of art, friendship and love in the aftermath of war…

“A dazzling, transporting musical that turns Paris into a kaleidoscope of romance.”
The New York Times

An American in Paris is directed and choreographed by the internationally renowned, British-bornChristopher Wheeldon. An Artistic Associate of the Royal Ballet, Wheeldon received an OBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours ‘for services to promoting the interests and reputation of British classical and theatrical dance worldwide’. He is the recipient of a Tony® Award and two Olivier Awards. The set and costumes are designed by the multi Tony® Award-winning West End and Broadway designer Bob Crowley (The Audience; Mary Poppins and Christopher Wheeldon’s productions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale) with projections by the celebrated British designers 59 Productions (War Horse; London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony).

An American In Paris instantly catapults Christopher Wheeldon into the ranks of top-tier director-choreographers, by which I mean Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse.”
The Wall Street Journal

 With music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and a new book by Craig Lucas, the new musical An American in Paris is directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon with set and costumes designs by Bob Crowley, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Jon Weston and projection designs by 59 Productions. The musical score is adapted, arranged and supervised by Rob Fisher with orchestrations by Christopher Austin and Bill Elliott, dance arrangements by Sam Davis and musical supervision by Todd Ellison. The UK Musical Director is John Rigby.

An American in Paris is produced in London by Stuart Oken, Van Kaplan, Roy Furman, Michael McCabe and Joshua Andrews.

Robert Fairchild is appearing with the support of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity.



Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Court Rd, London W1T 7AQ

First Performance: Saturday 4 March 2017 | Opening Night: Tuesday 21 March 2017

Box Office: 0845 200 7982
Website: AnAmericanInParisTheMusical.co.uk
Twitter: twitter.com/AmericanParisUK

Performance schedule:
Monday to Saturday 7:30pm
Wednesday* & Saturday matinees 2:00pm
[*First Wednesday matinee 29 March 2017]

Tickets from £19.50
Principal casting is subject to change. The producers cannot guarantee the appearance of any particular artist, which is always subject to illness, injury and statutory leave entitlement

Abigail Review

The Bunker 10 January – 4 February.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

The Bunker’s inaugural season closes with the world premiere of Fiona Doyle’s Abigail.

The play opens with a couple verbally sparring on the one year anniversary of their relationship, then flashes back to the couple on the day they first met in a snowy Berlin. The fractured timeline interweaves the beginning of their relationship – full of sweet moments, but with hints of the emotional damage of both characters – with the wreckage that remains after a year together.

The woman (Tia Bannon) is much younger than the Man (Mark Rose), and the spare script gives subtle hints about her motivation and attraction to a middle-aged man. Her relationship with her recently dead father appears to have been abusive, but nothing is clarified, leaving the audience to draw their own conclusions. The audience are also trusted to realise the woman’s reasons for travelling to Berlin from throwaway lines. Likewise, the man is always apologising for things he has done, which are never disclosed. As their anniversary night draws to an end, it becomes clear where the power lies in this relationship, but while there is some powerful acting from Bannon as she goes into full psycho mode, this doesn’t satisfy, as too many questions are left unanswered.

I’m all for the audience following a trail of breadcrumbs, and for most of the play this works, but the final violent confrontation on their anniversary answered some questions about the woman, and none about the man. This disappointment is quickly dissipated by a masterfully judged final scene reminding the audience of the hope and love that had first blossomed between the couple.

Tia Bannon gives a wonderful portrayal of a damaged woman, with nuanced looks and body language saying much more than the script at times. Mark Rose has a tougher job in his role. He is funny and exasperating trotting out facts about art and archaeology, and his moments of apology are handled deftly, but the script just doesn’t give him enough to work with.

To match the piecemeal, sparse script, Max Dorey’s set of packing cases and boxes is ideal. The cast scramble up stepped boxes, move a few boxes, and they are in a graveyard or on top of a cliff. Director Joshua McTaggart has produced an atmospheric and interesting piece of theatre, but the characters need a little more fleshing out to make this truly satisfying and memorable.

Brains Review

Theatre N16 11 – 14 January.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

There seem to be zombies everywhere you turn nowadays, so creating a new comedy with fresh ideas is an ambitious project. Thick & Thin Theatre’s Brains takes a corporate look at a zombie epidemic, with the characters all working for MediBite Inc. in the not too distant future, where the sale of drugs combatting the disease means business is booming. When a possible cure is discovered, tests are rushed through, but nobody has told the new intern that tweeting this news is a bad idea…

Brains is packed full of stereotypes, but in a 45-minute production with no time to establish character, that is perfectly understandable. There’s the coke snorting boss, Harry – a foul mouthed bully who doesn’t actually have a clue what he’s doing, who saves his finest insults for accountant Jeff, ball-busting CEO Ursula, science nerd Stuart, new salesman Rosie and Harry’s niece Tina – a reluctant and stroppy intern.

Jack Dent is wince -inducing (in a good way!) as the hapless Jeff – think David Brent without the confidence. Aidan Parsons as Aidan and Stephanie Overington as Ursula throw themselves into their vile characters with abandon, and Parsons manages to make you almost feel sorry for Aidan as events slip out of control.

New girl Rosie causes excitement and Jeff and Stuart attempt to woo her with spectacularly inept techniques before deciding that she must be a lesbian – all very Big Bang Theory UK, but still some funny lines. The corporate shenanigans about supply and demand, and the morality of drug companies is slightly less effective, beginning like a budget version of Utopia, but running out of steam and coming to a dead end – literally. Cameron Szerdy’s script has some cracking jokes, but Brains could do with a longer running time and plot development to produce a truly satisfying play.

Gandini Juggling Smashed: Special Edition Review

Peacock Theatre 9 – 10 January.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

The 40th London International Mime Festival opened with a bang and lots of laughs thanks to Gandini Juggling. Expanding their company to 22 with guest artists, this special edition of Smashed is a wonderfully oddball creation, full of apples, energy and distinctly European humour.

The soundtrack is a joy, full of familiar tunes that bring a smile to your face – calypso, country and western and opera – it’s all in here.

An opening parade around a row of wooden chairs is simple and sweet, with the company providing laughs just by opening their mouths as their apples rise and fall. I know this sounds like we must have been drunk, but the effect was wonderful, allowing each performer to introduce their “character”. The synchronicity and timing of the jugglers is astounding – one number where they are sitting in a row with apples rising and falling in perfect harmony to the rhythm of a jaunty 30s tune looked just like an early cartoon music sequence.

There is no distinct storyline in the show, the publicity describes it as a series of nostalgic scenes exploring conflict, lost love and quaint afternoon tea. The inventive sequences range from sweet courtship, with one poor unrequited lover being constantly rejected as men peacock around the stage, to downright misogyny (with a wink and glint in the eye), with the two female performers crawling along the floor as the men bounce apples and touch their bodies to the strains of “Stand By Your Man”, and further female performers being manhandled into position and perked up before a brilliantly deadpan and beautiful piece of armography with apples whilst lip-synching Charles Aznavour’s “What makes a man a man?” There is instant payback though, with men lining up for kinky juggling punishment at the hands of the women (and thanking them for it!), and a hysterically pervy seduction scene resulting in apples being “laid” in the men’s laps. The battle of the sexes with apples as weapons – it’s all quite biblical.

Inspired by Pina Bausch, the choreography is varied and innovative, with nods to ballet, street dance and Broadway. Whether moving in organised interweaving lines and circles, or forming frantic groups of shoving and grabbing arms – and keeping those apples flying – the performers skill is simply astounding. The beauty of a pair of dancers juggling slowly and smoothly as they hug and twirl must be seen to be believed.

The performers aren’t infallible, but whenever an apple is dropped, a wicked cackle emerges from the company, bringing the house down and making you wonder if it was an accident after all. The jeopardy of juggling is explored in a fantastically childlike way, with one performer using a rolled-up newspaper in a variety of ways to distract the jugglers and send apples rolling over the stage. When the time comes for everyone’s party tricks to be shown off – astounding skills on display here – the entire company ends up chanting “Drop! Drop! Drop!” at the last man standing.

Mezzo-soprano Emma Carrington and a string quartet provide a stunning accompaniment to the finale – with mesmeric choreography fracturing into jerky, chaotic movement before harmonising again. The sense of rising anarchy throughout the show comes to a head when the apples are exchanged for crockery. The juggling descends into artful smashing, with shards littering the floor, teapots emptied over people, and carefully choreographed chaos descending on the stage. Just brilliant!

Unfortunately, Gandini Juggling had only two shows in the festival, but if they ever come to a theatre near you, GET A TICKET! This is juggling and theatre at its best.