Frankenstein

Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein opened last night at the Royal Opera House.  A must see for all.  5 stars.

Tickets available now via Royal Opera House.

Sarah Southern

Cleansed

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When Cleansed came to stage in February there were reports of people fainting, walking out and generally being appalled by the gruesomeness of what was on stage.  I’d half forgotten this when I booked to see this on a Wednesday afternoon.  I’d perhaps not got into the right zone to watch so much violence and nudity.

The play, written by Sarah Kane, was originally performed at the Royal Court in the late 1990s.  The revival at the National Theatre has received some mixed reviews (Telegraph, Guardian, Spectator) yet I quite enjoyed it.  The nudity just made me wonder how naked the actors had to get in rehearsals and when two actors swapped underwear whether this was really hygienic.  Nudity has perhaps had its day as shocking.  The sad-masocistic torture left me in shocked and the shooting of rats with a gun genuinely made my heart skip a beat.

The audience was incredibly young, perhaps as it was a Wednesday matinee.  But a real positive to see the majority of the seats filled with people under 30.

Cleansed closes on 5 May.  Tickets can be bought via National Theatre.

Sarah Southern

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, written by August Wilson in the early 1980s, has been revived by the National Theatre.  It follows the story of Ma Rainey and her band at a recording studio in Chicago, set in the 1920s.

Tickets are available at the National Theatre until 18 May.

Reviews: Telegraph, Guardian, The Stage, Time Out

Sarah Southern

 

People, Places and Things

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People, Places and Things has transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre after a critically acclaimed run in the Dorfman Theatre at the National.  The lead actress Denise Gough won the Oliver the night after I watched this play.  If she hadn’t won there would have needed to have been a recount.  Her performance was pure brilliance.  This was already a hot ticket so pause reading this and book a ticket now!

People, Place and Things follows the addiction of Emma, an actress, who is checking herself into rehab. She is funny, likleable and at times a little too relatable.  Denise Gough perhaps gives the most realistic performance of a drunk I’ve ever seen.  Just the right amount of stumbling and mumbling.

This was a joint production between the National Theatre and Headlong.  Headlong were behind the brilliant Chimerica which I adored when it transferred to the West End in 2013.  People, Places and Things had the same pace, sharp change of set and drew you in to the story in the same dynamic way.  Please, Headlong, keep producing these new, fresh, fast placed plays.

People, Places and Things is on the Wyndham’s Theatre until 18 June.  Tickets available online and day tickets are available at 10am for £25.

Read reviews of People, Places and Things: Guardian, Time Out, Independent, Telegraph

Sarah Southern

Woman in Gold

Whilst researching some films for a project at work I came across Woman in Gold with Dame Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.  Turns out it was downloaded on our Apple TV so I had a little gander of it last night.

Woman in Gold is about the story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish Austrian woman who fled to the US during World War Two.  Her family had been successful business owners in Vienna during the early part of the 20th century.  Her aunt Adele had been painted by Gustav Klimt and the painting, along with other artworks, were looted by the Nazis in the 1930s.  The painting is know as Adele Bloch-Bauer I, painted in 1907.  You’ll recognise the painting.  It’s pretty famous.

The film follows the relationship of Mirren as Maria Altmann and Reynolds as her lawyer Randy Schoenberg.  It has a similar feel to the relationship between Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench in Philomena,  That slightly oddball but warm relationship between an older woman and a young man who is reaching a difficult pass in his life.  I like it.  It helps a difficult and often emotional subject matter to be tackled with humour and warmth.

The younger Altmann is played by the brilliant Tatiana Maslany who you probably won’t have seen in Orphan Black.  Shame, as you have missed out.  Woman in Gold reminds us of the lives that people had torn away from them.  It is a tear jerker with softer and funnier sides to it.  Definitely worth a watch.  And it has really made me want to visit this amazingly beautiful painting.

You can rent Woman in Gold from iTunes now and see the painting for real at the Neue Galerie in New York.

Read reviews of the film: Telegraph, Guardian, Variety

Sarah Southern

 

 

The Winter’s Tale

Have you booked tickets yet for The Winter’s Tale at the Royal Opera House?  Well, you should.  Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and music by Jody Talbot with Lauren Cuthbertson in the principal role and first came to stage in 2014.  It is a real delight and should not be missed – I will be seeing it at least twice in the coming month.

2016 marks the 400th celebration of Shakespeare with multiple cultural organisations marking the occasion and the Royal Opera House’s production of The Winter’s Tale is part of this celebration.

Reviews from 2014: GuardianTelegraphIndependent

Tickets can be bought from here. Remember that Royal Opera House also has about 50 days seats available on the day.

Sarah Southern 

 

The Maids

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The Jamie Lloyd Company production of The Maids at the Trafalgar Studios is a star studded line up that should not be missed.  The brilliant Uzo Aduba from the Netflix hit Orange is the new Black, the talented Zawe Ashton from the rather amusing Fresh Meat and Laura Carmichael from Downton Abbey.  Three talent and zeitgeist actresses, for sure.  Sadly the night I attended Uzo Aduba was not performing yet her shoes were filled by the incredible understudy (sadly, I did not note her name) who should certainly not be an understudy and owned the role.

The Maids was first performed in France in the late 1940s and focuses on two sisters, Solonge and Claire, who are maids for their rich mistress.  The two sisters act out fantasies of murdering their boss wearing her clothes, make up, perfume and jewels.  The play, I learn afterwards, is loosely based on two French sisters who murdered their employer in the 1930s.  Although this production still uses the format of maids and a rich mistress the dialogue felt so fresh it could have been any workplace or any group of female friends with issues.

The play is one act with barely time for the two main actresses to catch their breathe.  The intensity of no scene change and remaining in the same set throughout kept you involved throughout.  Shame the seats at the Trafalgar Theatre are so uncomfortable as that did make me wish their was an interval just so I could regain feeling in my lower back.  That aside, you must go see this play.  I think I’ll be going for a second viewing to enjoy Uzo Aduba in the role.

The Maids is showing at the Trafalgar Studios until 21 May.  Buy tickets here with £15 tickets available for sale on the first Monday of the month.

Read reviews elsewhere: Guardian, Time Out, Telegraph

Sarah Southern

 

Edinburgh Festival: Stewart Lee

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Stewart Lee: A Room With a Stew

Early in Stewart Lee’s hour long show he mentions that many critics are not ‘equipped to review’ his show.  How the middle class, Daily Telegraph reading fathers he meets in his son’s playground look at him with sadness at his 1 star ratings in their paper of choice.  I feel I too am not in any way equipped to review Stewart Lee.  So I shall not attempt to do so.

What I guess I am willing to say is that this was the first time I had seen him live having watched his shows on BBC.  His show in Edinburgh is a work in progress for his next series on the BBC.  Fair to say we’re in for a treat.

Stewart Lee is on at 14.15 at the Assembly Rooms until 30 August. Tickets are £12.50.

Sarah Southern

Edinburgh Festival: Jo Brand

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Jo Brand: Talking Comedy

When the argument is made that we need more diversity in the arts Jo Brand (and other female comics from my time of coming of age) prove the point.  For the first time in Edinburgh the majority of the audience I was sat in were women.  People go see what is familiar to them.  As I sat there thinking this I then was hit by how few women comics I had chosen to see whilst in Edinburgh.  Only the brilliant Holly Burn and Sarah Keyworth.  Little can be done about this 3 hours before your EasyJet flight but I had wanted to see Nina Conti and Katherine Ryan.  Both sold out shows.

The show I saw was not Jo’s stand up show but an in conversation with academic Olly Double from the University of Kent.  It is part of a series of conversations about comedy which has included Mark Thomas, Susan Calman and Stephen K Amos.  This is part of the University of Kent’s Stand-Up Comedy Archive.  Double was perhaps a little academic in his questioning which was frustrating at times.  Yet, Jo Brand’s thoughts on gender in comedy and the aggression of men generally in society was fascinating.  With such a female heavy audience there was much agreement and praise towards Brand.

Jo Brand has been in Edinburgh doing a limited number of shows for the Gilded Ballon’s 30th anniversary.  Sad that I missed seeing this show.

Jo Brand is on at the Gilded Ballon at 19:30 until 21 August.

Sarah Southern

 

Edinburgh Festival: Anil Desai

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Anil Desai: Impressions of a Hindude

Anil Desai had a bit of a gammy throat last night.  I felt for him as being an impressionist it cannot be easy to do your job when your equipment is playing up.  Yet, if he has not admitted this to the audience early on none of us would have know.  He put on a very amusing show.

There seemed to be a theme to some of the shows I saw yesterday.  All the men had been dumped by their girlfriends.  Anil said he thought it might be because he wasn’t a good listener or showed he cared enough about her problems.  I think it might be because you tried to help her through her pain in he character of Robert de Nero.  Just a thought.

Anil talked us through some tales of his life through impressions.  With Peter in the audience shouting out which impression needed to come next.  Not only did his voice match the person but his mannerisms were spot on too.  Although I wasn’t sold on his Angelina Jolie.

What was a highlight was the tale of how he dealt with a heckler from a previous show saying all his black characters sounded the same.  Anil went from Denzel Washington to Morgan Freeman to Eddie Murphy to Samuel L Jackson with a quick segway to Bill Cosby (who then got quite the roasting).  The wit of talent of this certainly deserved the praise it got from the audience.

Give Anil’s show a go.  It is definitely worth seeing.

Anil Desai: Impressions of a Hindude is on at 22:15 at Sin until 30 August.  It is a free show to attend.

Sarah Southern