Tag Archives: Susie McKenna

Theatre Review: Beau Jest

29 May

Plot: When Sarah Goldman (Lara Pulver), a lovely young school teacher wants to please her parents, she invents a boyfriend that she believes will be the man of her mother’s dreams. When her parents insist on meeting the man, Sarah hires Bob (Adam Rayner), an actor, to pretend to be her “beau”. Although the plan works flawlessly for a time, a combination of some hilarious situations lead to their lives being irrevocably changed.

I was quite keen on watching this production mainly because Susie McKenna is directing it, as I was impressed with her work in Dick Whittington and His Cat, one of the Empire’s pantomime hits. To being with, I got there just when it was about to start and I was quite disappointed when I was ushered in to find out that the theatre wasnt even half full, there were just about 15 of us in the Dress Circle and i didnt think the stall section was full either. This was quite the opposite with what the guy who took my order told me, as he said there were only a few seats left in the Dress Circle, I suppose if I had known otherwise, that the Upper Circle and Balcony were not being filled, it would put me off seeing the play altogether.

The play didn’t really do anything for me full stop. I know it’s not meant to be deep, or that it had to provoke a discussion or anything but entertainment value wise, when you just want to come out of the theatre feeling satisfied or even slightly entertained, but this one didnt cut it even for just that reason. I heard this off-Broadway production written by James Sherman packed the crowds for 2 years during its run, but perhaps the Times was right when it said it wouldnt quite be the same phenomenon over here. I quite enjoyed the performances of the actors but it wasnt a good enough reason to actually care for the play. It had been a forgettable evening and all I really longed for was to go home straightaway- this was one of the times living close to the Empire proved to be a real blessing.

Beau Jest: 2/5

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Theatre Review: Dick Whittington & His Cat

11 Jan

Plot: Dick Whittington & His Cat is a tale of a poor boy from Gloucester who goes to London, with his cat, to seek his fortune as he believes the streets are paved with gold. He is not initially successful but in time becomes the Lord Mayor of London and marries his master’s daughter.

I have never seen a pantomime ever. For the unenlightened, just what is a pantomime? From about.com: Pantomimes are fun, family theater with stories loosely based on children’s fairy tales. Pantos are suitable for adults too as there is always plenty of slapstick comedy. Expect plenty of audience participation by calling out, “It’s behind you!” and “Oh, no it isn’t” and “Oh, yes it is” as well as plenty more phrases for each character. Enter into the spirit of things and you’ll have a great time.

Since I am trying to see a lot more theatre performances, I was advised to at least catch one panto, revel in the fun that it offers and that should do it. So this week, bored to wits waiting for the weekend, I was deciding whether to catch the Old Vic’s Cinderella written by Stephen Fry or perhaps just go local at the Hackney Empire where their playing a successful run of Susie McKenna’s Dick Whittington & His Cat. I obviously went for the latter, and boy, did I have a fabulous time!

First off, Dick Whittington & His Cat is a HOOT of a show! If all pantos were even half as fun as this -apparently the Empire has been dishing out great pantos each year, I’ve just been completely ignorant of it- then boy oh boy, I’ll be there for Mother Goose come December 08!

Now where do I start? The cast is absolutely brilliant, from the moment you see Fairy Bowbells (Tameka Empson) flying onstage with her umbrella I knew I would have a fun evening ahead. And the athletic but sexy Puss (Mike Denman) is purringly charming. Dick Whittington was played by Hannah Jane-Fox fresh from her West End stint of We Will Rock You had such great stamina and a powerful voice. King Rat was wickedly portrayed by David Ashley, and Idle Jack (Kat) was such a good comic relief. Oh, and The Cool Cat Chat in the end was a blast!

The star of the show though is definitely Clive Rowe who played Sarah the Cook and hailed as London’s premiere dame, her musical exploits included a parody of Barbra Streisand’s Don’t Rain on My Parade and Jennifer Hudson’s And I Am Telling You. There were potshots about Primark, M&S, the coming 2012 Olympics, and Simon Cowell. I’ve never had so much fun in the theatre before, will definitely come back next year.

If the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Sylvester McCoy and Barbara Windsor were at the Hackney Empire stalls jiggying it and doing The Cool Cat Chat, so where were you?

Dick Whittington & His Cat: 5/5