Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Review: Downstate

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Downstate.
In downstate Illinois, four men convicted of sex crimes against minors share a group home where they live out their lives in the shadow of the offences they committed. A man shows up to confront his childhood abuser — but does he want closure or retribution?

The quality of writing in Downstate, by Bruce Norris, is utterly superlative. The play deals with an exceedingly difficult subject matter, and one which would likely make a lot of people feel rather uncomfortable. Despite this, Norris tackles the issue head-on and deals with it masterfully. The play goes into great depths, analysing the thoughts and feelings of those that have committed sex crimes against minors. What I found particularly interesting was the presentation of the leading characters. Instead of playing into the stereotype of a convict, Norris portrays the four sex offenders as being somewhat ordinary men. This is an exceedingly interesting concept, as it plays into the idea that even those who appear innocent can still be responsible for atrocities. The play explores the minds of the sex offenders, with all four characters presenting differing viewpoints on the crimes that they have committed. Each character within the play is well-developed, and they all have fascinating personalities. Some of the themes explored by Norris include human empathy, guilt, punishment and revenge. The exploration of these topics is intriguing, and certainly causes the audience to pause for thought. Another aspect of writing that Norris excels at is the way in which he toys with the emotions of his audience. At times, we will feel disgusted by the actions of the characters, and yet at other times we will feel sympathy. Downstate wreaks havoc on our emotions, and the way it does so is ingenious.


The cast of Downstate are truly outstanding; I was in awe of their talent. It is one of the strongest casts I have seen for quite some time, and there was not a single weak link. They each bring something different to the play, and by working together they all created an excellent dynamic. Every actor provided a well-layered characterisation, resulting in performances that can only be described as flawless. The quality of acting within Downstate cannot be overstressed; it is not possible to praise this cast enough. As an audience member, I felt hooked on their every word.

Now for my final verdict on Downstate. I give Downstate...


Downstate expertly deals with an extremely difficult subject matter, with Norris exploring a range of very interesting themes. Additionally, the cast are first-rate, with outstanding performances from all. Sadly, Downstate has now closed, but hopefully we will see it return to London's West End at some point within the future.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Review: All About Eve

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of All About Eve.
Backstage story revolving around aspiring actress Eve Harrington. Tattered and forlorn, Eve shows up in the dressing room of Broadway mega-star Margo Channing, telling a melancholy life story to Margo and her friends. Margo takes Eve under her wing, and it appears that Eve is a conniver that uses Margo.

I personally found All About Eve's storyline to be utterly fascinating. Unlike many others viewers of the play, I had not watched the original film, and as a result I was experiencing the story and all of these characters for the very first time, which was a truly wonderful experience. All About Eve is two hours with no interval, but despite this the play managed to hold my attention from beginning to end. Throughout these two hours, we gain a glimpse of life behind the theatre curtain, and I found it to be thrilling. I remained engrossed and on the edge of my seat throughout, eager to find out which characters would triumph and which would fall. In Van Hove's adapted script, tension was well built and it was enjoyable to see how the characters developed as the piece went on.

In the leading role of Margo Channing, Gillian Anderson gives a spellbinding performance. She nails every aspect of the character, clearly portraying both the character's more confident side, as well as her insecurities. Margo's drunken tirade is a particular highlight of her performance, which was truly hilarious to watch. Anderson's co-star Lily James, as Eve Harrington, excels in the role. Eve's rising ambition is acted superbly by James, and she was particularly outstanding during the character's more volatile moments. It was interesting to see how the character developed and changed as the play went on, something which Lily James conveys well. Monica Dolan, as Karen Richards, is also excellent. Dolan is very engaging to watch, and is highly believable. Additionally, her comic timing is truly impeccable. It is very clear as to why she recently received an Olivier Award for her portrayal of Karen. Special mentions must also be given to Julian Ovenden, as Bill Sampson, and Stanley Townsend, as Addison DeWitt, who were both remarkable.


The direction and staging of all All About Eve, by Ivo van Hove, is extremely ambitious. Similar to some of his previous works, Hove seeks to combine film and theatre in one, using live recordings throughout the play. This approach has not appealed to everyone, and has been somewhat divisive. I, however, rather admired it. It was creative, innovative and unlike anything I had seen before. I would not want for every play to use similar methods, but it was great for a one-off.

All About Eve features instrumental music, composed by P.J. Harvey, which is used both in-between and during several scenes. I found the music to be a good addition, due to the fact that it helped to add to the atmosphere. In addition to the instrumental songs, there are also two musical numbers: 'The Sandman', which is sung by Gillian Anderson, and 'The Moth', which is sung by Lily James. I enjoyed both songs and they were performed flawlessly by the two leading actresses.

Now for my final verdict on All About Eve. I give All About Eve...


I found All About Eve to be well and truly phenomenal. It had a gripping story, outstanding performances, interesting direction and, to top it all off, great music. 

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below. 

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Review: Glengarry Glen Ross

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Glengarry Glen Ross.
Glengarry Glen Ross is a play set across two days in the lives of a group of American real estate agents who are battling it out to sell undesirable land by any means necessary. The play gets its title from said property, the Glengarry Highlands, and Glen Ross Farms, which was sold as part of a lucrative deal in the past. The play is set between a Chinese restaurant and a sales office in Chicago.

I have struggled with Mamet's work in the past, having previously seen the West End revivals of Speed-the-Plow and American Buffalo. I was not particularly fond of either play, but despite this I entered Richmond Theatre to view Glengarry Glen Ross with an open mind. I am pleased to say that I did prefer Glengarry Glen Ross to my previous experiences with Mamet, which is largely due to the play's second act. The first act, on the other hand, was a little slow for my liking. Whilst act one has a short running time of only half an hour, it still failed to fully hold my attention and did feel somewhat drawn out. Having said that, luckily act two really picks up the pace and becomes far more interesting. In act two, the story at last begins to unfold and take some really interesting turns. The dialogue that takes place in act two is utterly gripping, and parts of it are truly fascinating. Whilst act one drags on at moments, act two does arguably redeem it, with a more interesting story and much faster pacing.



Mark Benton, in the role of Shelley Levene, gave a riveting performance through a layered characterisation. Benton perfectly balances both the comedic and tragic elements of his character, leading to a flawless performance. He was very engaging, and throughout his monologues I was engrossed in what he was saying. Nigel Harman, as Ricky Roma, is also excellent and channels both the confidence and smug nature of the character perfectly. In his characterisation, he clearly demonstrates the character's ruthlessness, as well as his softer side that only Shelley sees. Denis Conway, in the role of Dave Moss, and Wil Johnson, as George Aaronow, are also outstanding and give remarkable performances.

The set design, by Chiara Stephenson, is a real highlight of this production. The precision and detail put into it was really something quite special. It added a lot to the production, and was incredible to look at.

Now for my final verdict on Glengarry Glen Ross. I give Glengarry Glen Ross...


Whilst act one was a little slow, act two makes for very interesting viewing and picks up the pace. In addition to that, there are some outstanding performances and an exceptional set design.

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Friday, 26 April 2019

Review: Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Tina - The Tina Turner Musical.
Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on 26 November 1939 in Nutbush, Tennessee. She obtained Swiss citizenship in 2013 and currently lives in K├╝snacht, Switzerland. She shot to fame in the mid-1950s singing with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm, originally under the name "Little Ann." She became Tina Turner in 1960 and began the Ike & Tina Turner Revue with hits such as "River Deep – Mountain High", "Proud Mary" and "Nutbush City Limits", selling-out tickets to shows in stadiums and arenas across the world. She has since spoken openly about being a victim of domestic abuse and split from Ike in 1976.

Tina Turner has obviously has a very compelling life-story; she has overcome multiple hardships, and only become stronger because of it. There is no doubt that Tina Turner has led a very eventful and interesting life. Having said that, I did feel the book of 'Tina - The Tina Turner Musical' did not portray this story as well as it could have. Some elements of the story left me a little confused, and I felt that there were some questions that the book did not fully answer. An example of this is the events surrounding Tina's marriage to Ike Turner presented in Act One. It is never truly made clear as to why Tina chose to leave her boyfriend, who came across as kind and charming, for Ike Turner, a man who came across as neither kind or charming. It is clear that this relationship is toxic from the get-go, and yet it remains unclear as to why they are together. I would have liked to have seen this particular storyline explored in a slightly greater depth. Despite this, I definitely feel that Act Two is a lot stronger, with a far superior story. In Act Two, we see Tina overcoming her past and fighting tirelessly to launch a solo career. It was great to see this unfold, and I am delighted that Mrs. Turner was successful in her quest.


Adrienne Warren, in the role of Tina Turner, carries the show from beginning to end. She perfectly embodies the role, and gives a beyond outstanding performance. Warren is a true triple threat; she is a phenomenal actress, an amazing singer and an astonishing dancer. It would be an understatement to call her perfect in this role. Since I viewed Tina, Adrienne Warren has left the production, however she will be reprising her role in the upcoming Broadway transfer this autumn! In regards to the cast, a special mention must also be given to Oscar Batterham, who portrays Roger Davies. Batterham gives a real stand-out performance, and I was left rather impressed by his portrayal.

The costumes, by Mark Thompson, are a highlight of the production. They are excellently designed and suit the time period well. Additionally, Tina's costumes were very true to life and filled with much detail.

Now for my final verdict on Tina - The Tina Turner Musical. I give Tina - The Tina Turner Musical...


Despite certain reservations about Tina's book, there are many redeeming factors. Tina's life-story is mostly very interesting, Adrienne Warren is phenomenal and the costume designs are excellent. 

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Review: Six

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Six. 
From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII finally take the mic to tell their tale, remixing five hundred years of her-storical heartbreak into a 75-minute celebration of sisterly sass-itude. Following last year’s sell out pop-concert musical, Six returns triumphantly to the Arts Theatre powered by an all-female band. 

The strongest aspect of Six is its cast, all of whom are exceedingly talented. All six actresses possess superlative acting, singing and dancing abilities. I don't believe that words can truly express quite how impressed I was; they are each incredibly skilled. I would even go as far to say that this may very well be one of the strongest casts in all of London's West End. There are no weak links whatsoever, and each 'Queen' absolutely shines from start to finish. The amount of energy and passion that the actresses put into their performances is really quite something. The roles are all both physically and vocally demanding, and yet the cast are excellent. The six actresses have collectively been nominated for the Olivier Award for 'Best Supporting Actress in a Musical'. This is a highly competitive category, but having seen all of the nominees, my personal choice would be the Queen's. They really deserve this award, and I will be rooting for them when the ceremony comes around later this month. 


Six deserves an unlimited amount of praise for its inventiveness and originality, something which can be hard to come by nowadays. Its content is 100% original, and that is something to be applauded. As a result of this, I would personally argue that Six is the best new British musical in quite some time. The score of Six, composed by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, is outstanding. It features a wide array of different genres, including rap, hip-hop, ballads and pop; there is something for everyone! All the songs are really catchy melodies, and the lyrics are highly inventive. My personal favourites from the score are 'No Way', 'Get Down' and 'All You Wanna Do'. 

The choreography, which was done by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, was incredible. Each dance routine was very well crafted and performed flawlessly by the stellar cast. The costumes, designed by Gabriella Slade, were also wonderful. They were very clever, particularly the way in which certain aspects of the costumes reflected the characters themselves. An example of this is the costumes used for Ann Boleyn and Katherine Howard, both of whom wore necklaces to symbolise their beheadings. Additionally, the costumes flawlessly merged the costumes of the Tudor era to the modern day, creating a fascinating combination. Last, but by no means least, a special mention must also be given to the all-female orchestra, who were terrific.

Now for my final verdict on Six. I give Six...


Six excels in multiple aspects, hence why I have awarded it five stars. It is a highly inventive show with an excellent musical score and outstanding creativity, performed by a first-rate cast. I simply cannot recommend it enough!

Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer