Monday, 31 May 2021

Review: The Long Now

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Long Now. 
"Tudor is the finest clockmaker of all time. She knows her cogs from her clogs but will she be able to finish fixing her town's ancient clock before time runs out? She is distracted by the beast that twists her dreams into nightmares and the wonder of the outside world. In search for the right tools in her trusty pile of things, will she finally finish the job she started...or will she just have another cup of tea?"

The Long Now is a mystical fairy-tale, taking place in a magical kingdom like no other. The story is inspired by the work of the Long Now Foundation, who are a non-profit organisation that seek to promote a long-term cultural institution. Instead of today's 'faster and cheaper' mentality, they seek to encourage a 'slower and better' way of thinking. The play builds off of this concept, and focuses on the importance of long-term planning. It seeks to explore why this is so essential for our survival, and how this can help us to escape from future turmoil. Whilst this is an important message, I do think that the overarching themes could have been slightly more explicit. The meaning of the play was occasionally unclear, and it was at times difficult to tell which parts were metaphorical. As a consequence of this, more transparency in relation to the subject matter may have helped at certain points. Having said that, the story is still very entertaining, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the character of Tudor; an intriguing protagonist with a fascinating backstory.

The show is primarily a monologue, with Isobel Warner in the leading role of Tudor. Warner is clearly very talented, and absolutely excels in this role. She has an infectious energy, and is able to maintain this from beginning to end. This is all the more impressive when one considers that Warner is onstage for the entirety of the play; a stunning feat that requires immense levels of vibrancy. She also had great comedic timing, and had us viewers laughing in stitches. She quite clearly had the audience in the palm of her hand, which speaks volume to her talent and charisma. Beyond that, Warner did well to balance out the comedy with accomplished dramatic skills too, demonstrating her versatility as an actress. For the penultimate scene of the play, Warner is joined by fellow actor Leo Flanagan in the role of Harry. He too is excellent, and really made the most out of his limited stage-time. It is notable that Flanagan also wrote and directed the piece, showing that he is talented in many different areas. 

Now for my final verdict on The Long Now. I give The Long Now...

The acting featured in The Long Now is well and truly faultless. Isobel Warner is a true star, and I am sure that she has a bright future ahead of her. Leo Flanagan too is very talented, and I look forward to his future work.

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 Basic Theatre Reviewer

Review: The Political Party

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Political Party. 
"Matt Forde (Spitting Image, Have I Got News For You, The Royal Variety Performance, Mock the Week and Question Time) brings his hugely successful ‘Political Party’ night to London’s West End. The Political Party has sold out every show at The Other Palace theatre since 2013 and comes to The Garrick (24 & 25 May) and Vaudeville Theatres (2 June) for a special run of shows. Matt will be joined by a series of political heavyweights, including the Leader of the Opposition, for this strictly limited West End run."

The Political Party is hosted by Matt Forde, an English impressionist and television writer that many will know for his recent performances in the revival of Spitting Image. Whilst I was already aware that Forde was a skilled impressionist, I was most impressed with his hosting skills. He was extremely charismatic, and his comedic abilities were second to none. Throughout the evening, Forde hilariously poked fun at both sides of the political spectrum, telling jokes that found fault with both major parties. Beyond this, he is a talented interviewer, and was noticeably gifted at making his guests feel at ease. The conversational nature of the night helped to ensure that the answers given were truthful, which in turn helps the audience to gain a glimpse into the real personalities behind these big political figures. Forde seemed to enjoy good banter with both guests, and there was never any sign of bias. It really seemed that both he and the politicians were enjoying themselves, which helped make the show all the more entertaining. In addition to this, it should go without saying that Forde's impressionist skills were in fact excellent. In particular, his impression of Boris Johnson is hysterical; it may very well be the most accurate Johnson impression that I have heard to date. He is also rather skilled at impersonating Keir Starmer, and it was a treat to see him do the impression in front of the man himself. 

At the performance I attended, the first guest to be interviewed was Conservative politician Andrea Leadsom. Leadsom served as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy from 2019 to 2020, and has served as Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire since 2010. Beyond that, she has twice run to become Leader of the Conservative Party, in 2016 and 2019. Rather interestingly, she wasn't necessarily what I had expected, and was a lot more entertaining than I had initially imagined. Regardless of how one views her ideological leanings, her love for politics was truly admirable. It was easy to tell that she thoroughly enjoys her occupation, and is extremely devoted to a career in politcs. She also had some very interesting stories to tell, particularly in relation to the two leadership contests. I particularly enjoyed Leadsom's summary of the 2019 leadership election, and it was fascinating to hear that sexism may have played a role in the downfall of her campaign. Leadsom notes that one Conservative colleague claimed that they were weary of choosing another female leader in the aftermath of Theresa May's premiership; an assertion which highlights that we still have a long way to go when it comes to gender equality in the world of politics. 

The second guest was Labour politician and former lawyer Keir Starmer. Starmer has served as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition since 2020, and has been a Member of Parliament for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015. Similarly to Leadsom, Starmer's personality was quite different to what I had first envisaged. He was a lot less serious than he comes across in the media, and seemed to really enjoy his time at The Political Party. It is entirely possible that Starmer could one day be our next Prime Minister, so it was riveting to hear his thoughts and feelings on the current political scene. In particular, I enjoyed hearing his strategy for leading the Labour Party to success at the next general election. He claimed that he was keen to break away from traditional left and right categorisations, and instead wanted the party's message to focus on taking the country forward. This mindset felt very similar to that of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, which should come as no surprise considering that Starmer asserts that the two of them have often been in touch. He also had some very funny anecdotes to share about Prime Minister's Questions, and gave the audience a behind the scenes explanation of what it was like to take on Boris Johnson on a weekly basis. It was an excellent interview, and I only hope that we can see more of Starmer's comical side in the coming months.

Now for my final verdict on The Political Party. I give The Political Party...

The Political Party is one of the best nights out at the theatre I have had in quite some time. Every minute of it was utterly fascinating, and it is an event that I will likely remember for years to come. 

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Review: Cruise

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Cruise. 
"1988. Soho. His last night on earth. The intoxicating, vibrant Cruise is the true story of what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on earth, performing live for a strictly limited season at the Duchess Theatre from 18 May to 13 June. Following the phenomenal success of Channel 4’s It’s a Sin, CRUISE is a celebration of life, queer culture and survival - this is the uplifting and inspirational theatrical event of summer 2021."

Cruise revolves around the AIDS epidemic, bringing to life a true story of what it was genuinely like to live with the virus. It tackles the topic in a truthful and meaningful way, exploring a significant part of LGBT+ history. The subject matter is of the upmost importance, and it's crucial that the tale gets told. It's a fascinating narrative, and one which really provides food for thought. The piece is written by Jack Holden, an up and coming playwright making his professional debut. The notion that this is Holden's first play is astounding; the writing is largely faultless, and he has the audience engaged throughout. It was easy to immerse yourself in the world of these characters, and the connection between the protagonist and the audience was formed instantaneously. Beyond this, the theatre had a great atmosphere to it, and at times it really felt as if we too were in a nightclub alongside the main character. The experience feels very immersive, allowing the time to fly right by. 

The show is a one-man play, performed by its playwright, Jack Holden. Holden is filled with charisma from head to toe, demonstrating that he is just as skilled a performer as he is a playwright. He does an excellent job at connecting with the audience, and maintains maximum energy levels throughout the course of the play. It's an extremely demanding role, so it is impressive that he remains so animated throughout. This is all the more admirable when one considers that Holden is required to do two performances on the weekends; by no means an easy feat. Beyond this, he is extremely versatile, having to portray over a dozen roles over the course of 90 minutes. He transitions from one character to the next seamlessly, and provides some excellent characterisations. 

Cruise features live music, with an original electronic score composed by John Elliott. The music is excellent, and really adds to the overall atmosphere of the piece. It made the production feel lively at all times, further adding to the feeling that we too were in a nightclub. In relation to other production elements, the lighting design by Jai Morjaria was truly incredible. It consisted of cutting neon strobes beaming across the stage, and successfully created a colourful atmosphere. The scenic design, by Nik Corrall, was equally as striking. The set is fairly minimalistic, and yet it does wonders. The design transports the audience to a variety of locations, and does so effectively. 

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

Cruise is an intriguing tale, and it was a pleasure to witness it. The talents of Jack Holden have no limits, and he is both a gifted playwright and an extraordinary performer. With this being his professional debut, I look forward to his future endeavours.

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 Basic Theatre Reviewer

Monday, 24 May 2021

Review: Love Letters

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Love Letters. 
"When the young Andrew Makepeace Ladd III accepts an invitation to Melissa Gardner’s birthday party, Melissa writes him a thank you note… and a unique romantic friendship and delicately warm correspondence destined to last for almost half a century is born."

Love Letters is rather unique, in the sense that the script is written in an epistolary style. The show's format sees the two actors sit opposite one another, reading out a series of letters that last a grand total of 50 years. The letters are still acted out, though simply through verbal communication and without any surrounding props or so forth. Even though the play is simply a reading, A. R. Gurney's writing abilities do an excellent job at bringing the story to life. It's easy to imagine each and every scenario that gets described, meaning that the format is largely effective. As the play goes on, you really start to connect with the characters on a deeply personal level; the intimate nature of the letters really helps this process. I felt rather attached to the two individuals by the play's conclusion, which made the ending all the more effective. The final moments of Love Letters brought several tears to my eyes, which showed just how immersed I had become in the story. The last letter is extraordinarily well written, and it made for a particularly touching ending.

This production stars Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove, in the roles of Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner respectively. The two actors were utterly sublime, and they excelled in their portrayals. In spite of the play's unusual format, both Shaw and Seagrove did well to engage with the audience throughout. In spite of the fact that they were physically separated, they had an excellent chemistry with one another. They made the relationship feel very believable, making it easy to invest in their story. The final moments of the play were particularly well acted, and Shaw's delivery of the concluding letter was very moving indeed. 

Love Letters is one of the first shows to re-open in London's West End, and it marks a welcome return. It was an utter delight to be back in the theatre, and I enjoyed every minute of it; it's a positive sign of things to come. This is a fantastic production to commemorate theatre's being open again, and I remain hopeful that things will get even better from here on out. 

Now for my final verdict on Love Letters. I give Love Letters...

Love Letters is a wonderful piece of writing, performed by two phenomenal actors. For those wanting to celebrate a return to normality, this is the perfect way to do so. 

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 Basic Theatre Reviewer

Monday, 17 May 2021

Online Theatre: Pheromone

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Pheromone. 
In Eva’s world, time has eclipsed. Her kingdom is ruled by imagination and her ever-changing mood. Waltzing through her mind on a daily basis, control is her vice, and to be forgotten is her greatest fear. Meet David. Her forever child. He’s thirty-six and never left home. Eva treats him like a king one minute, and a worm the next. Trying desperately to win his mother’s approval, he works night and day without complaint. All he wants is to meet a nice lady and start a life of his own. But every bachelorette is scrutinised and sent packing. How can David ever find love under the watchful eye of his mother?

The strongest attribute of Pheromone is undoubtedly its stellar cast, all of whom are excellent. All four actors are extremely skilled, delivering performances that were beyond impressive. In the role of the over-bearing and disturbed Eva is Martina McCormack, who excelled in her portrayal. The character is severely troubled, which is by no means easy to illustrate, but McCormack conveys this very well. It's an extremely demanding role, with Eva only ever leaving the stage momentarily, and this only makes the performance all the more impressive. Eoin O'Sullivan was equally as talented, performing in the role of feeble son David. O'Sullivan really immerses himself in the role, successfully capturing the child-like innocence of the character. This character is rather out of the ordinary, and O'Sullivan's characterisation was intriguing. Beyond the two leads, Tzarini Meyler's portrayal of Ruth is also worthy of commendation. It should be noted that Meyler also wrote the piece, and thus it is clear that she has talent in many areas.

The premise of Pheromone is certainly unique; it seeks to combine the genres of family drama with horror, telling an unsettling story of psychological abuse. Whilst the writing succeeds in making its audience feel uneasy, it did feel that certain scenes were stronger than others. The play is at its strongest at the beginning and end, meaning that it does lose some of its momentum half-way through. There were certain parts where the narrative felt somewhat drawn out, which slowed down the pace. As a result, Pheromone would likely benefit from reducing its length, as this would ensure that the story did not lose steam at any point. Overall though, it's certainly an interesting concept, and one which gives plenty of food for thought. 

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Online Theatre: #Europe21

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of #Europe21. 
#Europe21 is a trilogy of short films filmed entirely in a theatre. With theatres closed and the sector having been heavily impacted by the current situation, Teatro Multilingue have decided to combine their two main fields of work and create three original products for cinema. Not only do these three short films explore the use and mixing of several languages in the same context, but they also deal with significant events of our current European reality, from enlarged families, to political and social events, to meaningful facts of history whose long echo keeps resounding in today’s Europe.

#Europe21 is an interesting theatrical experiment, and one which has pursued the unique idea of combining film and theatre. It's an extremely ambitious project, primarily due to its three-part nature. The ambition certainly pays off however, and the end result is an extraordinary piece of theatre and film. Beyond the fact that #Europe21 is a trilogy, the production is also noteworthy for having a multi-lingual script. Yet again, this too is somewhat rare, and unlike anything I have previously encountered. It was an intriguing idea however, and it proved very effective. 

The first play in the trilogy is entitled 'Goodbye Papá', which explores what it is like to lose an estranged Father at a young age and the subsequent feelings of grief. The study of grief in this short film is fascinating, particularly when one considers the global aspect of it. The play shows that, no matter what country we're from, we all go through those same feelings of sorrow. The film was extremely well edited, which was something that was particularly prominent during the opening montage. Everything from the camera angles to the added use of music were flawlessly put together, thus strengthening the overall effectiveness of the production. Overall, I personally felt that Goodbye Papá was the strongest entry to the #Europe21 trilogy, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it was easy to immerse yourself in the story, and this was further aided by strong performances from the two lead actors. 

The second entry is 'Mrs. Green', which revolved around Britain's departure from the European Union and the effect that this had on migrants. The political themes featured in this piece were well portrayed, and the narrative felt very life like. It was easy to picture this as being a true tale, which speaks volumes to how effective the writing truly was. Even with Brexit behind us, it was a relevant story that needed to be told. My one slight criticism of this piece would have been the way in which it was edited. The camerawork of Mrs. Green is styled in a certain way to make it seem that horizontal lines were appearing across the screen. It is not entirely clear what purpose this serves, and it can at times be a distraction. As a result, whilst this is by no doubt an excellent play, it could benefit from different camerawork.

The third and final short film to be featured is 'He perdido a Marseille', which is of a historical nature. It explores the life of a Spanish refugee who has moved to France as a result of the Spanish Civil War, thus taking place in the 1930's. The piece was extremely well-written, providing an interesting commentary on what life would have been like during those tenuous times, especially when in part of the resistance. The acting was particularly strong in this play, with Mayil Georgi's portrayal of María Luisa being an overall highlight. Georgi was intriguing to watch, providing a clear sense of character in the limited run time. 

These were three excellent pieces of theatre and film, and it was riveting to see something so fundamentally different to other pieces of online theatre. With the end of the pandemic now in sight, hopefully these shows will soon be able to take place in front of a live audience.

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer

Monday, 12 April 2021

Online Theatre: The Young Professional

Hey readers! 
It's time for my review of The Young Professional.
The Young Professional presents a woman named Malorie who has been waiting throughout the various lockdowns for her internship to start. 

The Young Professional is in the format of a monologue, with one actress taking to the stage in order to portray the role of Malorie. In this case, the monologue was performed by Rachel De Fontes; a recent graduate from Drama Centre London. De Fontes proved excellent in the role, and successfully conveyed all aspects of the character. Malorie is an individual that puts on a facade of being happy and content, though as the monologue continues, it soon becomes clear that she has endured some emotional wounds in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown. De Fontes communicated this effectively, crafting out a perfect balance between the two sides of this character. It is by no means an easy task to portray a character that is pretending to be something they're not, but this was extremely well depicted. In addition to this, this portrayal should also be commended for the way in which it showed a full sense of character in such a limited amount of time. The monologue was just under 10 minutes, and yet De Fontes still shone. 

The monologue was a well-written piece of drama by Molly-Rose Curran, and it kept the attention of the audience throughout. The writing pulls you in from the get-go, and the character of Malorie is one that you're instantly drawn to. The piece is however very short, and it would be interesting to see it expanded to a longer monologue. If new elements were added to The Young Professional, this could perhaps allow the audience to further understand the character of Malorie; the writing could explore why lockdown affected Malorie more than other individuals, and why she's choosing to repress the hurt that she has endured as a result of these events. All in all though, it was an excellent piece of online theatre, and hopefully it won't be too long before it can be performed live. 

Thanks for reading!

-The Basic Theatre Reviewer