Friday, 27 October 2017

Review: Ink

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Ink.
On the Wednesday I went into London to see Labour of Love, I had not planned to see Ink. However, I happened to walk past the Duke of York's Theatre, where Ink was playing, where I then found out that Ink was doing £15 day seats, so I decided to see Ink as well. Labour of Love and Ink happen to both be written by James Graham, so I ended up seeing a James Graham double bill!

Ink is set in 1969 when Rupert Murdoch was far from the billionaire media mogul he is today. He bought The Sun¸ which at the time was a failing broadsheet newspaper, and had a vision to transform it into the publication as we know it today. He enlists Larry Lamb as the paper’s editor, and together they work on making a paper for the masses. The play tracks the history of the paper’s first year as they aim to overtake the Daily Mirror as the best-selling newspaper in the world. It was absolutely fascinating, and leaving the theatre I truly felt I had learnt so much. Ink gives an incredible insight into journalism and what it takes to work in that industry. Playwright James Graham does a brilliant job of building tension throughout the play and keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, and as a result of this, there is never a dull moment in Ink.

Rupert Goold's direction is excellent and absolutely flawless. The staging that features in Ink seems to be very special and adds to make the show even more amazing than it already is. I would even go as far to say Ink is one of the best directed shows I have ever seen. There are many wonderful things about this production, but I believe it's the direction that truly makes this production as marvellous as it is.

Ink has an extraordinary cast, filled with some of the most talented actors in the West End at this moment in time. In the role of Larry Lamb, Richard Coyle gives an outstanding performance. Richard gives an intriguing performance that will have the audience endlessly thinking about Larry Lamb's motivations and thoughts. Richard Coyle has a large command of the stage at all times, which is due to his big presence on stage. Alongside Richard Coyle was Bertie Carvel as Ruper Murdoch. Bertie Carvel really inhabited the role of Murdoch, always showing the needed physicality and characterisation to play the part. Carvel's portrayal of Murdoch was very life like and was a brilliant all-round performance. The whole cast of Ink are absolutely phenomenal and there are some truly fascinating performances in this production.

The set design, created by Bunny Christie, captures the 1960's newspaper offices on Fleet Street perfectly. It was extremely life-like, which greatly helped to transport the audience to the world of the characters. All of the costumes were very impressive, and like the set, their realistic nature helps to transport the audience. The lighting design of Ink was the best I have seen in quite a while; it was perfection. Lighting design can sometimes have a difficulty of being a stand out feature of a show, but it was more than noticeable in Ink.

Ink was phenomenal in every single way. Phenomenal writing, phenomenal direction, phenomenal cast and phenomenal designs. Ink is a truly spectacular show and is the best play I have seen in almost a year!

The featured star of Ink is, drum roll please... RICHARD COYLE!

All of the actors in Ink are remarkable, but in my opinion, it was Richard Coyle that gave the stand-out performance. I cannot find a single fault with Richard's performance; it was truly mesmerising. He was sensational from beginning to end!

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

Ink is the first play I have given 5 stars to since January! In my eyes, what made Ink better than other plays was that there was not a single dull moment. A lot of plays begin to drag in certain places, but Ink was exciting throughout the whole performance. I could have watched it for hours!

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Review: Labour of Love

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Labour of Love.
With my love and interest of politics, Labour of Love seemed to be the ideal choice when deciding which show to see. With it being the school half term, I was able to get £10 day seats for the Wednesday matinee.

Labour of Love follows the story of a Labour MP and his constituency agent throughout a 27 year period. Labour MP David Lyons cares about modernisation and “electability”… his constituency agent, Jean Whittaker cares about principles and her community. Set away from the Westminster bubble in the party’s traditional northern heartlands, this is a clash of philosophy, culture and class against the backdrop of the Labour Party over 27 years as it moves from Kinnock through Blair into Corbyn… and beyond? The storyline was very interesting to follow and it did a fantastic job of educating its audience as to what the past 27 years have looked like in the eyes of those working in politics. Labour of Love is written by James Graham, who has written other politics themed plays such as 'This House', which played in the West End earlier this year. I really liked 'This House' and I am pleased to see that Graham's writing is consistent.

Labour of Love had an exceptional cast of very talented actors, led by Martin Freeman and Tamsin Greig. Martin Freeman gave a nuanced and subtle performance as David Lyons, which resulted in the character being both relatable and likeable. In the role of Jean Whittaker, Tamsin Greig could do no wrong with her performance. With the show constantly transitioning to show different periods of time, Tamsin showed a wide range of versatility, subtly changing her character every time to show how Jean Whittaker has progressed as a character throughout the 27 years. In addition to this, she excelled in all aspects of the play, being great at doing both the serious and the comedic parts of the play. The remainder of the cast consists of Rachael Stirling as Elizabeth Lyons, Kwong Loke as Mr. Shen, Dickon Terrell as Len Prior and Susan Wokoma as Margot Midler. They all left large impressions and they all had good and clear characterisations.

The director of Labour of Love, Jeremy Herrin, has the difficult task of finding a way to help the audience to understand that the characters are, at first, going back to the past, and then, back to the present. However, I thought it was handled very well and I personally found it to be very clear as to what has happening. The set design, created by Lee Newby, was extremely clever, showing different campaign posters and merchandise for every different time period.

In conclusion, Labour of Love exceeded all my expectations. It was a brilliant play and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The featured star of Labour of Love is, drum roll please... TAMSIN GREIG!

Tamsin Greig's performance of Jean Whittaker was absolutely outstanding. Despite not even being originally cast for the role, she seemed so well suited for it, as if it had been written just for her. Tamsin perfected everything possible in this performance.

Now for my final verdict on Labour of Love. I give Labour of Love...

Labour of Love was an easy 4 star decision for me. It was a thoroughly enjoyable 2 hours and 45 minutes and the time flew by!

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

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Review: How the Other Half Loves

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of How the Other Half Loves. 
A family friend had been to see How the Other Half Loved earlier this week and highly recommended it, telling me that the acting in the show was phenomenal, so I decided to see it for myself.

How the Other Half Loves features a legendary cast of immensely talented actors and actresses consisting of Robert Daws, Caroline Langrishe, Charlie Brooks, Leon Ockenden, Matthew Cottle and Sara Crowe. Every single one of them gave outstanding and highly memorable performances. There was no weak link amongst them. All 6 cast members were perfectly cast and they all made such a great team. There are many positive things about this production, but its phenomenal cast was the highlight of the show. 

Alan Ayckbourn, the playwright of How the Other Half Loves, is a name I have often heard, however I had not been familiar with any of his work. Despite only seeing one show of Ayckbourn's, I am already prepared to say what a brilliant playwright he is. The storyline of How the Other Half Loves follows three couples tangled in a web of lies, deceit and confusion. As Bob and Fiona clumsily try to cover up their affair, their spouses’ intervention only adds to the confusion. William and Mary Featherstone become hopelessly stuck in the middle, falsely accused of adultery and with no idea as to how they’ve become involved. Following this hilarious and well written story was so much fun and the 2 and a half hours flew by. I throughly enjoyed every minute of the play.

The staging is extraordinarily clever. The play shows two places at once throughout the whole play, merging two households together without using split staging. The creativity reaches its maximum when two dinner tables are merged with each other to show two different dinner parties at different times, but still at the same time for the audience. This requires careful direction and fast responses from the actors at all times. The staging was ingenious and like nothing I had ever seen before. It was great to experience something so out of the ordinary.

The set designer has the difficult task of creating a set that merges two households together. However, it was clear that this task was achieved to a great extent. The set design was extremely clever and very well thought-out. The play is set in the 60's, which I thought that the costume design captured very nicely. All costumes were very true to the time period, which shows that this production paid very close attention to detail.

In conclusion, this is an all-round excellent production and I urge all that are able to see it to do so.

The featured star of How the Other Half Loves is, drum roll please... ROBERT DAWS!

As previously mentioned, every single cast member in this production is outstanding, however my favourite was Robert Daws. Robert had a wonderful stage presence and impeccable comic timing, he was excellent in every single aspect and was the perfect choice for this role.

Now for my final verdict on How the Other Half Loves. I give How the Other Half Loves...

How the Other Half Loves is very deserving of its 4 star title; it's a magnificent production and I had a great time!

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

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
There was an enormous amount of buzz surrounding this production of Joseph and its lead performer, Joe McElderry. I had seen Joseph twice before; once locally when I was really young and then once again seven years ago in Brighton. Seeing the show once again was of interest to me, so I snatched up some of the last tickets available. When I entered the theatre, large signs were up announcing Joe McElderry would be absent. This was somewhat disappointing, but it was not a huge worry, as understudies are usually exceptional. Whilst I thought this production was a lot of fun and Rob Wilshaw's performance of Joseph was phenomenal, there seemed to be a number of faults in both the direction and design of the show.

The highlight of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is, without a doubt, the wonderful score composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The melodies that feature in the show are wonderful and highly memorable. These songs are absolutely timeless. My chosen highlights of the score would be "One More Angel in Heaven", "Close Every Door" and "Any Dream Will Do".

From what the front of house staff told me, Rob Wilshaw was informed less than an hour before the show began that he would be performing in the role of Joseph. Rob Wilshaw really perfects the role of Joseph; his performance was to a really high standard. Had I not known what Joe McElderry looked like, I would not have guessed Rob was an understudy. Rob has a marvellous voice that really suits the score. Trina Hall, as the Narrator, was also sublime. Even when not speaking, she was constantly reacting to her surroundings in a very natural way. In addition to that, her  singing voice was outstanding. Other cast members who stood out were Ben James-Ellis as Pharaoh and Joseph Peacock as Benjamin.

The design aspects of this production were somewhat 'hit and miss'. Some of the design aspects were great, however there were others that would greatly benefit from improvement. Whilst the set design was serviceable, I believe that they could have been far more ambitious with it. It was very plain, and the show may have been more effective with a larger set. The majority of the costumes were well designed, with Joseph and his brother's costumes standing out, however a few of the other costumes looked a little bit second-rate compared to the others. Whilst the lighting design did not particularly stand out, it still worked effectively. The only major problem with the different designs of the show was the sound design, which was poor. The sound was too amplified, which made certain parts of the show extremely difficult to hear. If the sound design was improved, I imagine that I would find the show a lot more enjoyable, as struggling to hear the actors is not particularly great. The only actor that I could hear without fault was Rob Wilshaw (Joseph).

The major problems that I had with this production arose from the direction, and therefore the staging. The biggest problem with the staging was the placing of the child choir sitting onstage in clear view of the audience throughout the entire show. The children's choir constantly looked bored, and a lot of them had to force smiles. If I had been the director of this production, I would have placed them offstage when they were not needed as it made the show look somewhat awkward. Having the children's choir offstage for parts of the show would also have given the actors more room on the stage.

On a more positive note, I thought that the orchestra were extraordinary. I was happy to be sat in the dress circle, as I was able to see into the orchestra pit in clear view at several points throughout the show.

In conclusion, whilst I didn't think this production was not perfect, there is nothing that can take away the fact that it is a fun show for all ages.

The featured star of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is, drum roll please... ROB WILSHAW!

Not seeing the title star may be a problem for some, but I can assure anyone seeing the show with Rob Wilshaw that you are not missing out on anything. Rob was a wonderful Joseph and excelled in every single part of the show. 

Now for my final verdict on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I give Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat...

This production was a decision between a two and a three star, however the wonderful score and brilliant performances in this show push it to a three star.

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

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Review: The Best Man

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Best Man.
I am a huge politics nerd, so any show with the theme of politics is of a huge interest to me. Whilst scrolling through the Richmond Theatre website, The Best Man caught my eye and I knew it would be a must-see. Despite it being extremely busy, I was still able to get some last-minute tickets. The Best Man follows the fictitious Democratic National Convention, when five men vie for the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

The Best Man is masterfully directed by Simon Evans, who I would largely credit for this production being the success it is. It is somewhat rare to notice direction when watching a show, however it was extremely noticeable here and I have nothing but praise for Evan's direction. It was one of the best directed shows I have seen as of late.

The moment where the writing really comes into its element is towards the end of act two, when tension is at its highest possible level. At this point in the show, anything could have happened and it was so exciting to witness the final events. There are points in act one where the dialogue can drag on at times, however I would say that the vast majority of the writing was to a very high standard. Despite this play being written in 1960, its as relevant today as it was before. There are multiple modern politicians that had striking similarities with the characters in the play. The character of Senator Joseph Cantwell not only acted similarly to Mitt Romney, but he even looked like Mitt Romney!

Martin Shaw gave a very subtle performance as Secretary William Russell, which made the character both relatable and likeable. The character was very understandable, and had these been real characters, he would have certainly had my vote. Jeff Fahey, as Senator Joseph Cantwell was phenomenal and his best moment was, without a doubt, the final scene, during which he was absolutely captivating. Jack Shepherd, portraying President Hockstader, gave an outstanding performance of what I perceived to be the most interesting character in the play. Jack Shepherd was an absolutely brilliant actor. Other cast members who stood out were Glynis Barber as Alice Russell, Anthony Howell as Dick Jenson and David Tarkenter as Sheldon Marcus.

In terms of the design of the show, the one aspect which truly stood out was the lighting design, which had been designed by Chris Davey. The lighting design severed the show well and worked immensely well.

The featured star of The Best Man is, drum roll please... JACK SHEPHERD!

Featured star was a tough decision between Martin Shaw, Jeff Fahey and Jack Shepherd. Each gave outstanding performances and it was difficult to choose a favourite. I chose Jack Shepherd, as due to his portrayal, I found his character to be the most interesting. Jack Shepherd has to show so much emotion in what must be a difficult role to play and he excels. I also found the character fascinating, which was helped by Jack's phenomenal portrayal.

Now for my final verdict on The Best Man. I give The Best Man...

During act one, this decision would have been between a three and a four star. However act two really pushes the show over the edge and makes it an unquestionable four star. 

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