Tag Archives: West End Whingers

Theatre trotting in March

1 Mar

First off, I want to say that I did well last month for I did not skip any of the six productions I have booked, so pat me in the back please! Our party almost missed Zorro on the 02/02 because of the heavy snow that London and most of the UK experienced but as they cancelled the show, we were entitled to rebook. Thanks to SEE tickets who were very understanding and helpful. Speaking of Zorro, the bad news came out last month that Zorro is definitely closing and this is due to recasting issues. The last I heard and this is straight from their website is that Zorro will embark on nine confirmed future international productions including France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea and Russia. The mark of Zorro lives indeed!

So what am I seeing in March then?

2- La Cage aux Folles, Playhouse Theatre

I wasn’t really planning on seeing this but after having read several enthusiastic reviews and really good word-of-mouth vibe about the performances and how it’s such a feel good production, I was left with little choice. As I am seeing it tomorrow night and have never been to the Playhouse, I am trying to navigate my way to get there.

6- Zorro, Garrick Theatre
Playing until March 14

I have a ticket to see Mrs Affleck at the Cottesloe but as most of those I know who have already seen the production loathed it, a couple of them walking out in the interval even, I thought, well what’s the point? Okay, I would lose my hard earned £10 but it’s better than a wasted Friday evening when I know I could be having more fun in seeing Zorro for the 3rd and last time! I missed Matt Rawle in my second viewing so I am hoping that he is back for this.

13- Duet for One, Almeida

Seeing this play was decided after watching the National’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour with fellow theatre trotter Lynne back in January. Now almost at the end of its run and with tickets sold out I am pleased we did book tickets as it has received very good reviews here and here. Now that’s another Friday evening to look forward to!

17- War Horse, Olivier, National Theatre

This is really more like a box ticking exercise to say that yes, its that Michael Morpurgo recreation and I have seen it. When I first started going to the National in 2008, and missed War Horse the year before, I was advised that if it should have another staging that I make a point in booking it. I have also been warned about it but if it fails to capture my imagination, and as I am catching a matinee performance, all is not lost as I have another play to see afterwards. But I want it to be good!

17- Dido, Queen of Carthage, Cottesloe, National Theatre

Would saying I am curious about Christopher Marlowe’s work suffice for my booking this?

So with back to back plays, it’s really going to be a day out at the National, missing SRB like crazy, but also looking forward to meet Abigail!

20- On the Waterfront, Haymarket Theatre Royal

Making sure that I must have seen Stephen Berkoff in at least a film of two, I checked out his CV in IMDb and found that he was in Revolution with Al Pacino but I so hated that film and I barely remember him in it. But yes, he was also in Octopussy, Rambo II, and Beverly Hills Cop among others, so okay I do know the man. Anyway, his involvement with On the Waterfront is enough to get excited but it took a few good word of mouth for this production that behooved me to finally book it. Not having seen the Elia Kazan film with a younger Marlon Brando, I still have the time to do so before sinking my teeth into it!

27- Dimetos, Donmar Warehouse

Jonathan Pryce. The Donmar. Enough said.

So what are you seeing in the theatre this month?

Theatretrotting in February

31 Jan

My theatre escapades in January was carefully planned, not too much and not too little at three. But looking at my calendar for February I dont know if I could make it to all of them! Last year I missed nearly a dozen plays because I was too exhausted to see them and also because they were total duds which really saved me the trip. So this year I promised not to book too many or too few, but then, let’s see how it goes.

Here’s my planned theatre excursions for the month of February.

5- England People Very Nice, Olivier, National Theatre

I try and book anything that the National dishes out, and as part of the Travelex season of just £10 per ticket, even if it disappoints, it wouldnt hurt the pocket so much. Although I am really hoping it will be great!

9- Three Days of Rain, Apollo Theatre

When the news came out that James McAvoy was doing a West End play I thought to myself, there was no way I would pass this one up! It also turned out that fellow theatretrotters and friends, the West End Whingers have organised an outing and I am part of their party so I will be seeing this one with them. And really, to see James McAvoy on stage, that’s just another dream come true!

12- Zorro, Garrick

Yup, this is my 2nd trip to see Zorro, the best musical I have seen in recent years. I have been hyping about it to my friends so I booked it via GetIntoLondonTheatre and only got the tickets for £25 each. Two other friends who have seen it ahead of us were pleased with the experience and couldnt thank me enough. If you still havent seen Zorro, and would like to pay less, the promo for their £25 tickets is available until 12 February.

17- Oliver!, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Right, confession time. I still havent seen Oliver the movie, but know a few of the songs from the musical so I am watching this literally with a fresh set of eyes and ears and I really think that’s exciting! My Welsh family of friends Christine, Gaynor, Annette and mummy Megan are joining me in this occassion and we can’t wait!

24 – Burnt by the Sun, Lyttelton, National Theatre

And last but not the least, Ciaran Hinds. I may not have waxed poetic about my love for the man in this blog the way I have done with Simon Russell Beale but I also admire Ciaran Hinds. Wait, werent they together in Persuasion? So, I was also wishing that Mr. Hinds would go back to his roots and now I will get that chance. Another case of too many men and so little time!

Simon, if youre reading this, it’s always been you, but since youre away, sometimes there are others too. x

26- The Magic Flute, London Coliseum

It was a choice between watching the ENO production playing at the Coliseum or seeing the ETO’s production which will be playing at my local Hackney Empire in March, and the former won, mainly because Nicholas Hytner’s genius is attached to it and is very highly recommended. If I enjoy it too much and have the spare time and dough, I might just book it again in March (as if I am not busy then too!). You just can’t have too much opera!

So looks like it’s gong to be a fun-filled February eh?

Theatre Review: Complicit

20 Jan


Plot: Ben Kritzer (Dreyfuss) is a journalist facing a Grand Jury over an article he’s written about the US administration’s use of torture post 9/11. He faces the prospect of a lengthy jail sentence if he doesn’t reveal his source. -West End Whingers

Now, it has to be said that I love Richard Dreyfuss. I thought he was briiliant in The Goodbye Girl, Always, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, just to mention a few of his noteworthy film projects. Ditto for Elizabeth McGovern whose films I grew up watching in the late 80’s like He Said She Said and She’s Having a Baby. And what about David Suchet, who doesnt love him as Poirot? So with all these seemingly good actors and with Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey, who’s an equally good actor/director at the helm of Complicit, then why didnt the play live up to its expectations?

I will not even say a lot about the first half of the play, let’s fast forward to the time the interval came, where our contingent was feeling half-hearted about it all. There was quite a lot of oohs and aahhs, loosely translated to not-quite-sure-yet-how-this-turns-out. When asked about how I felt about it so far, all I could say with all politeness was that, the moment hasnt quite arrived for I was sincerely hoping for it to improve by the second half. My companions for the evening were the West End Whingers with other theatre enthusiasts like John, Paul, Oliver, Jorge, Brian, Helen and Sue. The WEW are actually quite notorious for making or breaking any production, and boy, this play is not really going to stand any chance, and not when you take out their Fram Scale. I absolutely share the Whingers sentiments about the play. I do think it was an interesting subject to tackle but there were a few things about it that just doesnt all add up that perhaps the playwright, Joe Sutton should tweak, maybe in time for opening night?

The evening didnt finish on a sour note as our party decided to drown our disappointment at the nearby seedy Da Vinci bar. I suppose this is one of those times when you would rather bring out the Merlot for it does cushion a lot of the torturous blow. Yes, pun intended.

Complicit: 2/5
Playing at the Old Vic until 21 February

*On another note, I went up to Amanda Root who was sitting in a row in front of us and told her how I admire her work, that I enjoyed seeing her in last year’s The Norman Conquests and that she is my favorite Anne Elliot for all time. She looked very pleased and was quite sincere in her appreciation.

Theatre Review: The Chalk Garden

20 Jun

Plot: Raised in a manor house beside the sea, where the flowers struggle to grow, sixteen-year-old Laurel (Felicity Jones) runs wild. As her eccentric grandmother (Margaret Tyzack) tends to the garden, Laurel’s need for love forces her into a world of fantasy. But things begin to change with the sudden appointment of a governess (Penelope Wilton) who brings a mysterious new presence to an already dysfunctional household.

The last time I was at the Donmar was spring last year when I saw Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman which also starred Penelope Wilton who was brilliant as Ella Rentheim, Borkman’s erstwhile lover. I fell in love with Miss Wilton then and I have seen a lot of her in films and telly and totally loved her playing the role of Harriet Jones in Doctor Who. So when the Donmar announced their productions for this year, I have booked The Chalk Garden a good few months ahead and I am pleased having done so as the production have already sold out way early since critics have given it very good praises indeed. The West End Whingers, whose blog I religiously follow claims that it’s one of the best productions they have seen this year, and I only have to agree.

Who said that there is not enough good roles for older women to play, whether in film or in theatre? Here’s an example of a play that celebrates just that, and to have talented actresses playing equally interesting characters, Wilton’s Miss Madrigal and Margaret Tyzack‘s Mrs St Maugham you are promised a very entertaining evening of brilliant acting and witty dialogues. I’d say let’s have more of Enid Bagnold please!

The Chalk Garden: 4/5

Theatre Review: Pygmalion

30 May

Plot: The clever, eccentric bachelor, Henry Higgins, professor of phonetics (Tim Pigott-Smith) transforms a young flower seller, Eliza Doolittle (Michelle Dockery), into a lady that enters high society as a duchess. This transformation is achieved in six months by elocution lessons in his ‘phonetic laboratory’ with the kindly and gentlemanly assistance of Colonel Pickering (James Laurenson) another expert on dialect.

George Bernard Shaw is indeed becoming popular again, what with the National’s success in Saint Joan last year and the still playing to the rafters production of Major Barbara, we have another serving of Shaw in Pygmalion currently making waves at The Old Vic. It’s always nice to return to The Old Vic, and I have also noticed now that the good guys from the West End Whingers have also mentioned it, that the seats are well-oiled, as I hear no squeak when I try to reposition myself. Good work indeed Mr. Spacey!

I have never seen My Fair Lady, the musical inspired by this GB Shaw play and for one thing I am glad as I don’t have any claim of reference as to which is the much better production, so I will reserve that judgment until I have the chance to see the musical.

Michelle Dockery as Eliza Doolittle whom I saw before at the National’s Pillars of the Community was amazing and mesmerizing. I would love to see more of her work on stage and believe that she will be among the brightest names in the world of British theatre if not already. Tim Pigott Smith was hilarious as Professor Higgins, who was just the opposite the character I remember him play in the BBC’s North and South, but apart from this two major characters, I must say that it was Tony Haygarth, who played Eliza’s father, nearly stole the show away from the two leads. His scenes were absolutely cracking!

I suppose it will not hurt now to add My Fair Lady to my DVD rental queue?

Pygmalion: 4/5