People, Places and Things


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


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


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


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


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


Edinburgh Festival: Adam Hess


Adam Hess: Salamon

Adam Hess talks very fast. So fast that I am still, more than 12 hours later, trying to unravel some of the things he said.  With Adam Hess you basically get two shows in one.  That is how fast the man talks.  It’s amazing.

For a while I have followed Adam Hess on Twitter.  Initially not even realising he was a comedian.  I just thought he was a funny chap.  When I saw he was going to be at Edinburgh I hoped to get to see his show.

Adam is a lot younger than I thought he would be.  And as his show goes on he seems to get more youthful.  Or perhaps there is just a correlation between how young someone looks and the amount of enthusiasm they ooze.

His show is titled Salmon.  I have no idea why.  Salmon was never mentioned once.  He spoke of being newly single.  The fact he has a single mattress on a double bed frame.  That he grew up in a flat so he thought Santa came out the tap.  His love of Polly Pocket toys.  Being electrocuted at an arcade in Spain.  Rescuing a falling scotch egg.  The tales go on and on.  Not sure if any of these stories were true.  He did say at the beginning they were but then that he admitted he does normally bend the truth in his show.

He dragged a chap from the front row onto the stage and put him in a Adam Hess mask to read out some observations.  I can’t remember why but it made a lot sense at the time.  Adam put a cardboard square mask on with the word SOCIETY on it.  Whilst playing the bongos.  Can’t decide whether this was more funny or the true excitement he had when he asked the chap who had come on stage what he did for a living.  The words of ‘film director’ came the reply.  Adam Hess looked like Santa had finally come out the tap.

Go see this show.  You’ll be sorry if you don’t.

Adam Hess: Salamon is on at 17:20 at the Hive until 31 August.  Tickets are £5

Sarah Southern


Edinburgh Festival: Kieran Butler


Kieran Butler: Australia is F**ked

Kieran Butler should probably emigrate to the UK.  And soon. It seems that his love for Australia has well and truly expired.  I wanted to see this show as I’ve spent a lot of time in Australia and know the political situation out there reasonably well.  This was billed as a political satire.  However, it was more a rant on his loathing of Australian politicians and Australia in general.

I did find the show funny at times.  There are amusing takes on how he views Australian society today.  But I feel that if you didn’t understand the Aussie way of life parts of this show might be lost on you.  And if you don’t like swearing, please don’t go.  This show would definitely not be for you.

Give this show a go if you’re an Aussie in town or you know Australia well.

Kieran Butler: Australia is F**ked is free to attend at 15:00 at George Next Door until 22 August.

Sarah Southern

Edinburgh Festival: Alex Hylton and Sarah Keyworth


Alex Hylton and Sarah Keyworth: Chasing Tales

Chasing Tales was billed as a show of love, sexuality and social awkwardness.  It is both Sarah Keyworth and Alex Hylton’s first show at Edinburgh.  As a fan of love story – or people’s attempts at a happy ever after – I headed along.  This was another free show as part of the free festival.

Alex opened the show with his sorry tale of how he is starting to date for the first time in his life as he has just broken up with his childhood sweetheart.  Bless him.  His honesty of taking on the challenge of dating through his broken heart was very relatable.  We’ve all been there.  His frank admissions about what he is *lacking* was also very amusing.

He, like most single Brits, has signed up to Tinder.  I doubt though that many Tinder users are taking their first dates on the first train that arrives to look impulsive and for the moment.  Perhaps not so for the moment when you spend the day in Nuneaton.

Sarah’s show was about her sexuality and her growing into her ‘own body’.  She has a girlfriend so unlike Alex isn’t prowling Tinder profiles.  She shared her experience of working out what being gay was and how to deal with people who ask odd questions about the male gender role in her relationship.  In response to ‘but who is the man in your relationship, you know, who is the big spoon’ her quip of ‘there are no male humans or indeed cutlery’ in her relationship did tickle the audience.

Both Sarah and Alex’s shows were very smart and I look forward to seeing them at the Fringe again.  Definitely worth a shot at their show.

Alex Hylton and Sarah Keyworth’s Chasing Tales is on at 13.45 at the Laughing Horse at Espionage on Victoria Street until 30 August.

Sarah Southern