Hairspray is a show full of big musical numbers, big costumes and even bigger hair. Set in the 1960's, the storyline follows the upbeat Tracy Turnblad (played by the excellent Freya Sutton) – an unlikely heroine, who gets the guy and changes Baltimore's attitude towards racial integration. The combination works well: it's an inspired move to tackle serious issues of segregation behind a superficial facade. And it's all done with the help of a back-combed hairdo, and Tracy's trusty can of hairspray.
Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 1 December |
The Last Tango is the latest show from former Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace – and, if you believe their website, the very last chance to see them on tour. My attention was caught at once by the tantalising chaos of a life-size house, beautifully arranged around an assortment of belongings which had been clearly hoarded by the main character. And so we find George (Teddy Kempner) emerging into the attic, fighting his way through boxes full of memories.
Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 17 November |
Chances are, you know Dial M For Murder as a Hitchcock film – but long before it got the big-screen treatment, it was already a successful stage play. This comfortingly old-fashioned production returns to Frederick Knott’s original script, telling the ill-starred tale of a cuckolded husband and his plans for revenge on his wayward wife. Set, as the programme tells us, on “a Friday evening in September 1952”, the plot oscillates between meticulously well-laid plans and desperate off-the-cuff improvisation… and as the husband’s murderous scheme begins to unravel, the shadow of the hangman’s noose is never far away.
Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Thursday 5 November |
The West End came to the Theatre Royal last night, as the cast of Priscilla burst onto the stage, took the audience by storm in the opening moments… and simply never let up. This musical is an update of the well-known 1990’s film, and the basic premise of the story remains intact: two drag queens and one transgender woman take off on a road trip in an old bus, fondly nicknamed Priscilla. On the journey, their relationships, peculiarities and demons each come to the fore, as they encounter a number of obstacles along their way.
Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 3 November |
As this perplexing adaptation Homer’s ancient text at last draws to a close, the protagonist notes that he’s been on a journey which he “can’t begin to describe, or explain, or understand”. I’m not sure I can either, but I'll try. Bringing the story into the present day, playwright Simon Armitage re-imagines Odysseus as a government minister called Smith – who finds himself accused of murder during a diplomatic jolly to Turkey. Accompanied by his bodyguard, he evades the authorities by diving off the harbour-side into the raging sea; it’s a frankly ludicrous opening gambit, and just the first of several preposterous moments in a story which the programme tells us “places the action of Homer’s classic into modern-day Westminster”.
Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Wednesday 28 October |
From the opening few minutes – where a body, followed closely by a life-size rowing boat, descends slowly from the roof top – you sense this production may be something special. The luxurious yet untamed set, complete with steps and wild rocks cascading down the stage, has plenty more tricks to perform. I'd say it's the star of the show.
Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 29 September |
This production is a mix of 'St. Trinians' and 'Mallory Towers', with a dash of 'Daisy Does it Again'. All the necessary ingredients are there: the girls, aided by the loyal Miss Austin (Sara Crowe), strive to save the Dame Dorothea Dosserdale School from the tyranny of Miss Bleacher, portrayed brilliantly by Rosemary Ashe. Running alongside this – and the main focus of the piece, in some respects – is the blossoming romance between two of the Sixth Form girls, the dependable Susan (Stephanie Clift) and the over-dramatic Camilla (Charlotte Miranda-Smith). And interestingly, in the main, it seems their classmates accept this relationship as the norm. Or do they...?
Reviewed by Tig Land on Wednesday 23 September |
This lively, fun-packed, family musical has something in it for everybody. It's notoriously difficult to portray animals realistically on stage, but the cast here do a convincing job of capturing the Jungle Book's so-familiar characters – known to everyone, of course, from the iconic Walt Disney version. And while it's hard to put Disney entirely one side (I kept wanting Baloo to burst into a verse of Bear Necessities so we could all sing along), the original music and lyrics were so catchy in places that I found the new tunes playing in my head long after I'd left the theatre.
Reviewed by Tig Land on Saturday 1 August |
I don't know a single youngster who isn't a fan of the Hetty Feather novels by Jacqueline Wilson. And the author – famous for tackling real and gritty issues where fairytale endings don't always come true – should be very happy with this production. We watch as Hetty (played brilliantly by Phoebe Thomas) is left orphaned at the Victorian Foundling Hospital, and the audience are soon transported into a world of circus, colour and acrobatics.
Reviewed by Tig Land on Wednesday 29 July |
The essence of Agatha Christie was well-captured in this timeless production, based around the author’s own adaptation of her much-admired novel. Transported back to 1930's England – an era when discussing murder was not the gentlemanly thing to do – we find ten people stranded together on an island, awaiting a chilling fate which catches up with them one by one.
Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 14 July |