Ramin Karimloo live at the Union Chapel and Islington Assembly Hall

21 Jan

The last time Ramin Karimloo appeared on a London stage was in October 2012 – more than 3 years ago. Since then he has gone on to become a Broadway star and has performed in venues all over the USA, not to forget appearances in Canada and Japan.

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But despite being away for so long Ramin has never truly left London, the city he still considers to be his home. And on January 19th and 20th 2016 he finally found his way back on stage in his hometown. Two sold out gigs at the Union Chapel and Islington Assembly Hall clearly showed that London had not forgotten about “the Iranian with the banjo”. On both nights the audience was enthusiastic from start to finish.

Ramin has always been a unique talent with a voice of gold. From well-known musical theatre songs like “Till I hear you sing” (Love never dies”) to “Oh what a beautiful morning” (Oklahoma) and “Bring him home” (Les Miserables) – the latter a stunning duet with Hadley Fraser on this occasion – to cover versions of his personal and his own material, Ramin Karimloo doesn’t just sing lyrics and melodies, he embraces them and competely makes them his own. It’s what I call putting your soul into every song.

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Ramin’s unique and personal style which he has named Broadgrass is an amalgamation of Broadway and Bluegrass music and doesn’t just suit his voice perfectly but is clearly something he truly enjoys working on.

Having followed Ramin’s career since 2010 I have always loved hearing him sing his own songs as well as cover versions of his personal favourites. Getting to listen to “Constant Angel” again was just as wonderful as being treated to his take on “Ol’ Man River” and “If it’s the beaches”. But the most wonderful thing was seeing how much he has developed over the years. He is not “just” that guy with the brilliant voice. He is a talented musician and songwriter who loves what he is doing. And on top of that Ramin is still one of the most humble and gracious performers you can imagine. He doesn’t take his supporters for granted and always does everything he can to ensure everyone leaves the venue with a smile on their face.

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A special treat on both evenings was the appearance of Hadley Fraser – Ramin and his “brother from another mother” reunited on the London stage. It doesn’t get much better than this. Everyone who remembered the first Sheytoons gigs back in the days (Dublin Castle, anyone?) couldn’t help but smile all the way through “Driftwood” and “Wings”. Hadley and Ramin together are simply special – the bromance is still strong after all these years.

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Ramin Karimloo is going from strength to strength. His star is shining brightly these days but no matter where his career takes him next I hope he will always return home. London needs the Iranian and his banjo.

For all the latest info on Ramin visit http://www.raminkarimloo.com, check out his official Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @raminkarimloo.

Liebe Stirbt Nie – Hamburg, 29th December 2015

31 Dec

I watched the London production of Love Never Dies various times despite not being sold on the story. Reason was the great score and the wonderful cast.

When I first heard about a German production of the show I was absolutely sure I would give it a miss – just like I do with most shows over here. However, circumstances arose that meant I would find myself in the Operettenhaus in Hamburg on a cold evening in December.

First of all Liebe Stirbt Nie is adapted from the Australian production of Love Never Dies which differs from the London production in terms of set and costumes. The score remains mostly untouched but has been translated into German.

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Mathias Edenborn (alternate) played the Phantom on this occasion. He has a rich voice and manages to do the score justice. I admit I wasn’t blown away by his performance though. His portrayal seemed over-dramatic but that might be the way he has been directed to play the part so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I simply prefer the Phantom to be a bit more subtle with just the occasional outburst which then comes across as even more meaningful and gripping.

But then subtleness is not what Liebe Stirbt Nie is about. This show wants to wow the audience by putting on a true extravaganza. Sadly it fails. The set is meant to be impressive and colourful but the stage is too small for all the various bits and pieces. Everything looks cramped and a lot of the set’s beauty is lost due to lack of space. Some of the costumes appear too bright, too colourful and therefor lose their elegance – whoever thought Christine’s peacock dress was a good idea: I’m saying no.

Szenenbild aus dem Musical LIEBE STIRBT NIE, von Andrew Lloyd We

Jazmin Gorsline (alternate) is a cute Christine but lacks the vocal strength to do the big title song justice. I remember being speechless the first time I saw and heard Sierra Boggess perform this song in London – it was such a beautiful scene that built up to the most astonishing finale with Chistine standing at the front of the stage belting out these incredible notes. Jazmin Gorsline sings the song well enough but she doesn’t manage to make it that one moment you will remember, that one song that breaks your heart a little.

Yngve Gasoy-Romdal’s Raoul is the drunk, sad excuse of a husband you expect to see. I still think that character is one of the hardest to play in the show. It’s tough to get the fine line between making Raoul someone the audience feels for depsite his faults and portraying a man the audience simply hates. Too much on either side and Raoul becomes a Panto-like character. Yngve did ok but I got the feeling he wasn’t really taking the character seriously. I can’t blame him – Raoul has gone from knight in shining armour straight to drunk, abusive idiot. It never made sense to me and it never will.

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The rest of the cast did a good job with the material they’d been given – special mention for Björn Klein who was a wonderfully creepy Squelch. But said material is the problem that makes Liebe Stirbt Nie a very mixed bag. The story is ridiculous, simple as that. Looking at Phantom of the Opera the characters have undergone a completey unbelievable development. Some moments in the show are nothing but cringeworthy.

However, the score remains one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best works in my opinion. And while the German translation is far from perfect the beautiful melodies make the songs a joy to listen to.

So, is Liebe Stirbt Nie a failure? Not entirely. Is it a show you need to watch? No.

But as always I’m asking you to make up your own mind. Liebe Stirbt Nie is running at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg. For more info and tickets visit http://www.stage-entertainment.de/musicals-shows/liebe-stirbt-nie-hamburg.html.

 

2015 – A look back

15 Dec

First of all apologies for the lack of updates lately. I won’t bore you with details so lets just say I simply didn’t have the time to do any proper writing and unless I can really sit down and do something properly I would rather not do it at all – that goes for writing reviews as well. Plus most shows I visited in the past 2-3 months have been repeat visits or previews so not much to review anyway unless I wanted to bore you with ramblings about the same shows over and over again.

Anyway, what’s the point of this post? Easy, it’s the end of the year (almost) so time for my annual look back. I do have one more show coming up this year – Love never dies (Liebe stirbt nie) in Hamburg – but I doubt I will manage to post my views before January so in terms of reviews I am done for 2015.

It’s been a New York City kind of year for me with three trips in total. The award for most watched and most loved show of the year goes to Punchdrunk’s Sleep no more. You can find my review from my first visits in 2014 here. The show never fails to amaze me and even after almost 30 visits I am still discovering new things. If you like immersive theatre this is a must see. Actually, it is a must see, full stop. If you happen to be in New York at some point do go and check it out. It’s different, it’s clever, it’s thrilling and it’s visually stunning.

Another immersive theatre highlight in New York City was Third Rail Projects’ Then She Fell which I was lucky enough to see twice this year. I am still in awe of the pure beauty of this show and cannot wait to see the company’s new production Grand Paradise on my next trip to the Big Apple.

When it comes to musicals I am so glad one of my favourites of 2014 has made a return in 2015: In the Heights opened at the King’s Cross Theatre after a succesfull run at Southwark Playhouse last year. Find my review here and please don’t miss this gem of a show.

Then there was Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre and Imelda Staunton’s incredible performance as Mama Rose. In case you missed it or if you just want to rewatch it in the comfort of your home: It’s on BBC4 on 27th December (for those outside the UK: Have a google, there’s ways to stream tv online from abroad).

Other favourites of the year are An American in Paris (Broadway), Fun Home (Broadway) and Jersey Boys (London). I rediscovered my love for the latter after staying away for more than a year.

Personal fangirl highlight of the year: Meeting Hugh Jackman in New York City in January. The man is not just talented but also lovely.

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Hugh Jackman

 

Same goes for Ben Whishaw who I saw in Bakkhai at the Almeida Theatre this year and who remains my favourite British stage actor.

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Ben Whishaw

 

With this said there is nothing left for me than to thank everyone who has contributed to this little blog by reading, commenting and sharing (also a big thanks to the performers who kindly took part in my “10 Questions with” interview series). I really appreciate all the support and I am looking forward to sharing an exciting theatrical 2016 with you. Please keep in touch – comment on here, tweet or email me. I love hearing from fellow theatre supporters.

Wishing all of you a merry christmas and a wonderful new year.

xx

In the Heights at King’s Cross Theatre – 18th October 2015

20 Oct

The moment you enter King’s Cross Theatre to watch the eagerly awaited return of last year’s production of In the Heights you know you are in for something special. The foyer has been transformed to fit the theme of the show. New York Metro maps are hanging on the wall, there’s graffiti decoration, chain of lights hanging from the ceiling and salsa/latin music is filling the air.
All of this sets the mood for a show that had its European premiere at Southwark Playhouse last year (find my review here).

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The first thing I noticed is how vibrant and alive this production feels. From the first appearance of Graffiti Pete right until Usnavi leaves the stage at the end of the show In the Heights oozes energy. One of the things I loved most about the Southwark Playhouse production was the intimate setting. And I am happy to report that this intimacy has not been lost in the new venue. You still feel like you are right in the middle of the story – transported from cold London right into the heat of Washington Heights.

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And there you meet Usnavi, Sonny, Nina, Benny, Vanessa, Abuela, Daniela, Kevin and Camila, all of them fighting their own battle, trying to live their life in the neighbourhood. In the Heights tells a universal story – we all have our struggles and each of us can probably relate to at least one character in the show and their problems: The fear of not being good enough, the struggle to fit in, lack of money and so on.

Sam Mackay once again steps into the role of Usnavi and gives what I would call a career-defining performance. He doesn’t just “rap” the lyrics – he tells a story, a story that he seems to truly live and breathe for the duration of the show. It’s one of those performances that you will remember for a lifetime.

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Another stand out in the show is without a doubt Victoria Hamilton-Barritt who appears to have endless supplies of energy. Her Daniela is witty and a little saucy but always likable.

Lily Frazer is a new addition to the cast. She shines as Nina with clear vocals and great acting. Together with Joe Aaron Reid (Benny) she provides some of the most emotional moments in the show.

There really is no weak link in the cast and I could go on and on about how wonderful each and everyone on stage is but in the end this is something you should go and experience for yourself. One thing that I want to say is how truly amazing it is to see this talented cast put their heart and soul into the show. It is clear that this is not just a job for them but an experience they cherish and want to share with the audience.

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In the Heights makes me laugh and cry, it makes me want to get up and dance. This is an inspiring show about love, fear, hope, loss and friendship. It’s a vibrant story about everyday life in Washington Heights – musical theatre has never felt more real and alive.

In the Heights is running at King’s Cross Theatre until January 3rd 2016. For more info and to book tickets visit http://www.intheheightslondon.com/.

Update: The show is now booking until April 10th 2016. Don’t miss it! 

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical – Aldwych Theatre – 19th September 2015

25 Sep

Beautiful – the Carole King musical sounded like a show right up my street the first time I heard about it. It made me go “Female Jersey Boys!” which – as those who know me will be aware of – is praise coming from me.

The Show has been running in London for a while but I only just managed to check it out. And what can I say? I left slightly disappointed. This has nothing to do with the cast – something I want to point out straight away.

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Joanna Woodward who was on for Carole King the day I watched the show is quite simply wonderful. She has a marvelous voice and really manages to capture both the innocence of young Carole as well as the development from teenage girl to wife, mother and successful artist.

Alan Morrissey is a believable Gerry Goffin (Carole’s partner both personally and professionally). However, the male star of the show is Ian McIntosh (Barry Mann) who steals the show in most of his scenes. I just wish he had more to sing – his voice is one of the best in the West End and it seems a waste to only give him such small bits of solo singing.

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Then there is Lorna Want as Cynthia Weil who is feisty, funny, likeable and just all around fantastic. She and Ian McIntosh work particularly well together – a pure joy to watch.

The rest of the supporting cast and ensemble do well with the material they’ve been given.

The songs are well-known and definitely crowd pleasers. I enjoyed hearing them sung live by such a talented cast. Personally I would have preferred less songs in general but those songs in a full version instead of hearing what felt like a million song snippets though.

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So, we have a great cast and great songs. Then why did I not enjoy the show as much as I hoped I would? The answer is: The story. While I find Jersey Boys gripping and well done in terms of narrative and plot development I ended up slightly bored watching Beautiful. The story is predictable and the same things seem to happen over and over again. Plus I simply could not connect with any of the characters.

Spoiler warning!

Basically the show seems to be about Carole King writing a song whenever something happens in her life. She falls in love – she writes a song. She gets married – she writes a song. She has a baby – she writes a song. Her husband cheats on her – she writes a song. It just goes on and on without any proper dramatic tension in my opinion. Plus everything happens so fast there is no time to really get to know the characters. On top of that the two main characters just seem to make choices in their life that makes it hard for me to feel for them. Gerry Goffin might have his problems but we don’t learn much about them apart from him freaking out with no warning. And he is openly cheating on his wife and still expects sympathy. Then there is Carole King who lets her husband cheat on her not once but twice. If I knew more about his psychological problems and their general situation I might be able to understand Carole’s motives but since I don’t she just seems unreasonable to me. Or maybe I just have no sympathy for women who let their husband cheat on them (knowingly, I might add – he asked permission the first time!) and then make a big fuss when it happens again later on.

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I don’t mind light entertainment and I certainly don’t mind jukebox musicals. But Beautiful is telling a life story and I wish it would do the characters more justice by giving them a well put together narrative and good character development.

However, I do understand why Beautiful appeals to people. If you take it as a night out listening to Carole King’s greatest hits it certainly is a nice show. And it is perfectly fine to be happy with that. For me what Beautiful has to offer just isn’t enough.

As always I do urge you to go and make up your own mind – if only to see so much talent on one stage. Beautiful is playing at the Aldwych Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to: http://beautifulmusical.co.uk/

Tim Prottey-Jones: To Do. To Be.

12 Sep

Tim Prottey-Jones is one of those people who can do it all. He is a musician, vocalist, composer, producer and musical theatre performer. He gained nationwide attention when he was chosen for the Top II in the televised live shows of ITV’s Superstar. Tim has appeared in shows like Once, Rent in Concert and Jesus Christ Superstar and can currently be seen in Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre in London. At 23 he achieved a publishing deal and since then has released the albums With Every Line and Surrounded By The Sounds.

His latest work goes by the name To Do. To Be. and features brand new musical theatre writing not only by Tim himself but also by co-writers Tori Allen-Martin, Nick Smithers, Angela Prottey-Jones, Martin Meehan, Darah Carville and best-selling author Ali Harris.

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With guest vocalist like Emma Hatton (Wicked, We will rock you), Declan Bennett (Once), Alistair Brammer (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables), Zrinka Cvitesic (Once), Paul Ayres (Kinky Boots, Ghost, Jersey Boys), Arthur Darvill (Once), Laura Pitt-Pulford (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Sound of Music) and Amy Lennox (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde) amongst others this album features some of the finest voices in musical theatre. Combined with Tim Prottey-Jones‘ ability to combine wonderful melodies with interesting and meaningful lyrics To Do. To Be. is a real triple threat.

Taken from six new musical projects the songs tell stories of love, heartbreak, loss, joy, hope and more – it’s one of those albums that has a song for every mood you might be in on the day you give it a listen. From uptempo numbers like The Song Of Sin (featuring Paul Ayres) to the delicate Regret Me (featuring Ambra Caserotti) there is a bit of everything on this album. It’s a diverse mix of songwriting that proves how very much alive and thriving new British musical theatre is. It’s an album to listen to on a cold winter evening when all you want to do is sit down and have someone tell you a beautiful story. All songs on To Do. To Be. are very much stand alone tracks but the album as a whole has a very distinctive instrumental style. It’s easy to listen to but at the same time it’s one of those albums that will make you listen properly.

It’s hard for me to choose a favourite track on the album but if I had to name my top three songs I’d go for (in no particular order)

Kiss Till You Can’t Kiss Anymore (featuring Declan Bennett) I love how Declan Bennett’s voice compliments the song. He is true storyteller through songs.

The Song Of Sin (featuring Paul Ayres) This is such a great uptempo song. It’s one of those that will make you tap your feet along tot he beat. Plus Paul Ayres voice is absolutely perfect for it.

You (featuring Evelyn Hoskins and Brian Gilligan) Another uptempo song but with more of a rock vibe to it. Add two brilliant voices and you have a winning combination.

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But the great thing about To Do. To Be. is it has something for everyone. If you are a fan of musical theatre this is the album for. If you enjoy rock and pop music this is the album for you. If you love listening to amazing voices this is the album for you. And if you are a fan of Tim Prottey-Jones this is not only the album for you but also the album to prove that your musical taste is absolutely impeccable.

You can purchase To Do. To Be. and Tim’s previous albums on iTunes and Amazon.

For info on the upcoming album launch gigs in London on 18th and 25th September visit http://timprotteyjones.co.uk/launch.

Follow Tim on Twitter @TimProtteyJones or find him on Facebook.

The Bodyguard – Uk Tour

8 Sep

After a two-year run in the West End the well-known screen to stage adaption The Bodyguard is currently on UK Tour.

I caught the show in Birmingham after watching it several times during its first year in the West End. The Bodyguard has always been about the songs, there’s no denying that. The show sells because the audience wants to hear all those popular Whitney tunes. So with that in mind I can’t fault the creative for reducing the tour production to a concert with some random scenes thrown in. The Bodyguard has never had a deep story but to me it feels like the last bits of proper narrative have been taken out of the tour production only to add even more songs turning the whole show into a two hours tribute concert.

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Zoe Birkett stepped into “Whitney’s shoes” at my performance and she sure knew how to get the audience on her side. Her voice is powerful and her energy on stage is infectious. Acting wise her Rachel Marron lacks depth in my opinion but then there is not much left in the script to allow proper character development. Rachel Marron goes from “bitchy pop singer” to “scared woman” to “sweet lover” to “heartbroken sister” in the blink of an eye.

Stuart Reid plays Frank Farmer – the bodyguard – with an almost stoic calmness. And while he sure has the stage presence he too is given little chance to show the audience more than a glimpse of Frank’s personality. His take on “I will always love you” wins hands down for the most hilariously awkward rendition of that song in history though and is one of the few moments in the show where he actually gets to stand out. Most of the time he is nothing more than a side figure – only there to exchange a line or two with Rachel Marron before the next song.

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Melissa James is likeable as Nicki Marron and “Run to you” with Zoe Birkett is one of the truly glorious moments of the show. But just like anyone else apart from Rachel Marron the character is left standing in a corner with no chance to develop. Sadly this meant I felt little sympathy for Nicki and her tragic end.

The rest of the cast does a fine job with the material they have been given. Mike Denman is suitably evil as The Stalker and one has to give him credit for spending half the show lurking around on stage with no shirt and actually making this look scary. I do not agree with cutting The Stalker’s song in this production as it takes away from yet another supporting role and makes the show even more into a Rachel Marron solo concert. However, Mike provides some of the few truly gripping moments in the show and gets the chance to let out his inner “psycho” which – judging by the audience’s reaction – he is doing with much success.

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All in all the show is doing well giving the general public what they want. After all the audience expects Whitney songs when they book tickets for The Bodyguard and Whitney songs is what they get. And the fact that the story has been lost on the way means little when everyone leaves the theatre with a smile on their face.

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The Bodyguard is continuing to tour the UK. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.thebodyguardmusical.com/.

Ryan Molloy live at the Electric Carousel – 29th August 2015

30 Aug

Ryan Molloy’s long-awaited first public appearance after starring as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys on Broadway took him to the Electric Carousel, an intimate concert venue in Central London. Advertised as “The New Jersey Songbook” the evening turned out to be a diverse journey through the music history of Jersey – from Frank Sinatra to Ben E. King to The Isley Brothers right to the hits of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons Ryan treated his audience to a collection of some of the finest songs that were ever written.

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The special thing about Ryan is his ability to give every song a completely unique touch. You may have heard all of them a thousand times by various artists but you will always discover something new when you listen to Ryan’s take on them. And while there is no question that Ryan Molloy has one of the best voices in the business he also knows how to entertain and engage his fans making all of them feel part of the evening.

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As expected Frankie Valli / Four Seasons’ hits like “Can’t take my eyes of you” and “Beggin'” proved to be favorites amongst the audience along with a mini reunion for which Ryan was joined on stage by former Jersey Boys Matthew Wycliffe, Eugene McCoy and Chris Gardner singing “Who loves you”, “Oh what a night” and a Jersey Boys Medley.

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But it was the tender “Stand by me” (Ben E. King) and the powerful “This old heart of mine” (The Isley Brothers) that stood out for me. Here Ryan really showed that he is not just “the guy who sings Frankie Valli”.

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Those songs might be what he is best known for but over the years Ryan has proven that he can sing anything from Frankie Valli to modern-day Rock, Pop and Funk. And this concert at the Electric Carousel proved that he is just as comfortable singing a whole collection of classic hits that have their origin in Jersey.

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I could keep on praising the undeniable talent of Ryan Molloy for hours but instead I am going to let music speak. Below are some videos from last nights’ concert. Watch, listen and enjoy.

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Check out ryanmolloy.com for all the latest info about upcoming appearances and get in touch with Ryan on Facebook and Twitter @molloyofficial .





Bakkhai at the Almeida Theatre – 22nd August 2015

25 Aug

Written by Athenian playwright Euripides Bakkhai is a Greek tragedy and deals with the two sides of man’s nature. In the play the rational side is represented by Pentheus, the king of Thebes while Dionysus represents the instinctive side.

Ben Whishaw shines in this production that goes by the traditional Greek practice of having three main actors play multiple roles. His Dionysus enters the stage and addresses the audience: “How do I look? Convincingly human?” From that moment on Ben Whishaw puts the audience under a spell with his brooding aura. He has an almost androgynous appearance – a delicate grace that is mesmerising to watch. At times he seems to be possessed, storming across the stage in rage. The next moment his expression resembles that of a cheeky little boy. It’s that contrast between innocence and pure fury that makes his performance so gripping to watch.

Bakkhai Whishaw

Bertie Carvel is just as convincing playing Pentheus. Dressed in a business suit he imposes political arrogance. His interaction with Ben Whishaw’s Dionysus is passionate and drives the play forward. Audience members who have seen Bertie Carvel in Matilda might experience a slight déjà vu towards the end of the play. Some might say he looks too comfortable dressed up in women’s clothing but personally I think this just adds to Pentheus self-assurance. He is absolutely sure about himself, his values, decisions and ideas and not even women’s clothing can change that.

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Kevin Harvey joins Ben Whishaw and Bertie Carvel but does not get the opportunity to stand out. The pure stage presence of Whishaw and Carvel alone is enough to command the audience’s attention and Harvey’s roles are simply too small to make a proper impact.

Bakkhai is one of the greatest Greek tragedies and being performed in a traditional way this production also features an all-female, all-singing chorus. And while their harmonies are impressive the action grinds to a halt whenever the chorus appears. As beautiful as the singing is it becomes tiresome after a while. One single sentence from Ben Whishaw’s Dionysus spoken with terrifying assurance and command leaves more impact than a five-minute chorus interlude.

Bakkhai Chorus

This production without a doubt centres around its two “stars” who unleash a tour de force on stage. Ben Whishaw and Bertie Carvel are what makes this production truly interesting to watch. These are two of the best stage actors of our generation at work and it is a joy to see them in such an intimate venue bringing Bakkhai to life.

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Bakkhai runs at the Almeida Theatre until 19th September. For more info and to book tickets click here.

Three Days in the Country – understudy run at the National Theatre

15 Aug

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the understudy run of Turgenev’s Three Days in the Country at the National Theatre. Originally called A Month in the Country the play used to have a running time of about four hours and risked losing the audience’s attention half way through. After being renamed and cut to about half its original length Turgenev’s play is now a diverting journey into the 19th century Russian countryside.

The story revolves around Natalya and her ward Vera who both fall in love with the handsome new tutor. Add Natalya’s husband Arkady, her watchful unrequited lover Rakitin, Vera’s old and always terrified suitor Bolshintsov and Katya who is head over heels in love the the tutor too even though she is engaged to be married and you have more than just a simple love triangle. It’s a slightly chaotic but always gripping and entertaining comedy.

Lynn Farleigh as Anna, John Light as Arkady, Amanda Drew as Natalya, Mark Gatiss as Shpigelsky, Cherrelle Skeete as Katya.

At this performance the role of Belyaev, the slightly self-possessed tutor, was played by Mateo Oxley. Even though it is not the most prominent and wordy part in the play Mateo managed to stand out whenever he was on stage. He brought witt and a boyish charm to the role that made it easy to understand why women of all ages would fall for the young tutor.

Mateo Oxley

Mateo Oxley

Paige Carter was a wonderfully feisty Vera who made the transition from teenager to wife to be in just three days look believable.

A special mention has to go to Mark Extance who took on the part of the bitter and completely unromantic country doctor Shpigelsky usually played by Mark Gatiss. His marriage proposal to the governess alone was pure comedy gold.

One more special menton for John Light who joined in as Arkady in act two and made me consider watching the play again with the complete first cast just so I could see his full take on Natalya’s stocky husband.

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The set of this production is minimalistic yet effective. There is a huge Russian painting as backdrop, a few walls and doors and some furniture. The sides of the stage are left bare leaving a clear view of the ropes of the fly tower. It’s a refreshingly bare setting for a play full of characters who love to self-dramatise.

Watching this understudy run once again made me realise what a huge amount of talent can be found on London’s stages. You would never have guessed some of the people on stage were playing their parts for the very first time. I was especially impressed by Mateo Oxley. I have followed his career ever since I saw him in The Drowned Man and it’s wondeful to see how he has developed. Keep an eye out for this talented young man. I predict we will see more of him in the years to come.

Three Days in the Country continues at the National Theatre until 21st October. For more info go to http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/three-days-in-the-country

Follow Mateo Oxley on Twitter @Mateo_Oxley or find him on Facebook.

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