Sunday, 12 November 2017

Review: The Tailor-Made Man

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Tailor-Made Man.
After seeing In the Dead of Night over two years ago, I had a conversation with Claudio Macor, the playwright, about several theatre shows. During this conversation he told me of his biggest hit, The Tailor-Made Man. Little did I know that two years later I would have the privilege of seeing the 25th anniversary of The Tailor-Made Man at the White Bear Theatre!

The group of actors that star in The Tailor-Made Man are amongst some of the most talented performers I have seen this year. Each and every individual that stars in this show brings something very unique to the stage. This production has been very thoughtfully cast and I commend the casting director for his outstanding choices when selecting each of them. Leading this cast was Mitchell Hunt as Billy Haines and Tom Berkeley as Jimmie Shields. Mitchell Hunt plays the role of Billy in a very realistic and natural way; he embodied all the required traits for the character. Tom Berkley's performance of Jimmie was extremely heartfelt, it was impossible not to like Jimmie's warm personality. Tom Berkley showed a clear character throughout and it was apparent that a lot of effort had gone in to the characterisation. Dean Harris, as Louis B. Mayer, is yet another actor that showed clear characterisation throughout. It was crystal clear that so much effort had gone in to Dean Harris's portrayal of L.B., the performance had absolutely everything. He had a voice full of thunder, a wonderful physicality and a larger than life stage presence. Every time that Dean Harris entered the stage, he was captivating. Yvonne Lawlor, performing as Marion Davies, showed a very wide range of skills and came across as being very natural onstage. It was evident that she was perfect for the role. Edwin Flay as Howard Strickling, Henry Felix as Victor Darro, Rachel Knowles as Carole Lombard/Pola Negri and Peter Dewhurst as Hoper/Thalberg/Roderick were all also expectational; there was no weak link in this cast whatsoever.

Claudio Macor's ingenious writing is filled with excitement throughout the play. There is never a dull moment in The Tailor-Made Man, which makes the time absolutely fly by. The story follows Hollywood film star Billy Haines, a popular silent screen MGM movie star who was fired by Louis B Mayer because he was a homosexual and refused to give up his lifelong partner, Jimmie Shields, and marry the silent screen vamp Pola Negri. As punishment, his films were removed from release and sealed in the MGM vaults never to be seen again, and his studio photographs destroyed. This story is particularly noteworthy, as it is a true story. It is highly thought provoking and deeply saddening. The direction and staging, by Bryan Hodgson, is highly noticeable and absolutely excellent. He has made a very noteworthy contribution to the play and can definitely be credited for a large portion of this production's success.

The stage at the White Bear Theatre is fairly small, leaving a small amount of space for the set design, however I thought that the set was still absolutely brilliant and served the show well. I loved all the costumes that featured in the production and they were particularly helpful to help transport its audience to the 1920's. The lighting design was also very effective and helped to add to the atmosphere of the play.

Despite this being a fringe theatre production, it was certainly a lot better than some of the plays that can be found in the West End. This play deserves to play to a much larger audience, so I will keep my fingers crossed that this will someday transfer to the West End!

The featured star of The Tailor-Made Man is, drum roll please... DEAN HARRIS!

With such a phenomenal cast, I had a lot of options on who to choose for featured star. It was extremely difficult, but I came to the conclusion that I had to choose Dean Harris. This was a sensational performance. I was absolutely spellbound by his performance; he had full control of the stage throughout. Everything about this performance was outstanding!

Now for my final verdict on The Tailor-Made Man. I give The Tailor-Made Man...

I decided to give The Tailor-Made Man 4 stars in a heartbeat; it is very deserving of this rating. The Tailor-Made Man is playing at the White Bear Theatre until the 25th of November, so if this show appeals to you, don't miss it!

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

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Review: The Woman in Black

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Woman in Black.
I will be studying The Woman in Black for education purposes in upcoming months, so I attended a school trip to see the play. The Woman in Black had never been a play that had grabbed my attention before, however I was still quite intrigued to see it, considering it has been playing in the West End for so long.

Sadly though, The Woman in Black was not my 'cup of tea' and I found myself becoming extremely disinterested with it for multiple reasons. The biggest problem that I had when viewing the play was that not a single aspect of the play frightened me in the slightest. The purpose of The Woman in Black is to scare and terrify its audience, which sadly just didn't work on me. To not be scared in the least during a 'horror show' defeats the purpose of it. It can be compared to not laughing at a comedy; if you do not find a comedy funny then you are most likely bored. If you are not someone who is easily scared, I would not recommend The Woman in Black whatsoever as a horror play.

When watching The Woman in Black, the story had little impact on me. However, I read the storyline shortly afterwards on Wikipedia and when reading it back, it actually sounded somewhat interesting. I then began to wonder how, when adapting the play, they could make an interesting story so dreary. I personally believe that this can be blamed on the dialogue. The dialogue throughout the play is very tedious and would really benefit with being updated. I found the writing to be extremely dated. With the interesting story that the play tells, I definitely think that this production has the potential to be much better than it currently is.

Despite finding the dialogue so tedious, I believe that the two actors performing on stage carried it out to the best of their ability. Terence Wilton played the role of Arthur Kipps exactly how it should be played; he was able to master everything needed for the character. Terence Wilton, whilst still playing Arthur Kipps, has to play other characters that are actually still being performed by Arthur (it's a play within a play). I thought all of his characterisations were really good, and there were clear distinctions between every character. Raymond Rose was understudying as The Actor at the performance I attended, and had I not seen the notice I would have had absolutely no idea that he was the understudy. Raymond Rose was perfect for the role and his performance was an utter delight to watch. I would even go as far to say that it was his performance which made this play as bearable as it was.

Creatively, this production is quite good. Whilst I have read several people criticising the set design, I actually thought it was quite clever and done to a good standard. The lighting design was very effective, and in addition to this, I thought that the costumes were well designed. However, I was not a huge fan of the 'special effects' within the play, as they looked fairly cheap.These could easily be updated.

Overall, whilst I really liked the acting and the majority of the creative aspects, The Woman in Black just was not the play for me. I found it very difficult to engage with the play and felt very disinterested sadly.

The featured star of The Woman is Black is, drum roll please... RAYMOND ROSE!

Both actors were very talented, but in my eyes it was Raymond Rose that stole the show. Almost every understudy I see is outstanding and this performance was no exception. It was clear that he had all the skills necessary for the role and he would be more than qualified to take on the role full time, should the current actor leave.

Now for my final verdict on The Woman in Black. I give The Woman in Black...

I did consider giving The Woman in Black three stars, however it simply isn't as good as some of the shows that I have awarded three stars to. The Woman in Black has gained its two stars due to the brilliant actors starring in the production and the clever creative aspects of the play.

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, 5 November 2017

Review: Poison

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Poison.
I was doing some research on shows that were playing locally to me and discovered that a new play named "Poison" was making its UK premiere at the Orange Tree Theatre, which intrigued me.

Poison is a two-person play, which for this production is performed by Claire Price and Zubin Varla. Both of these actors gave an emotionally charged and thoroughly realistic performance. The playwright of Poison, Lot Vekemans, seeks for the characters to gain sympathy from the audience, and in order to do this a lot is needed from the actors performing the piece. They must be convincing, realistic and also relatable. Luckily though, Claire Price and Zubin Varla pull this off successfully. Claire Price conveyed all of the character's thoughts and feelings tremendously well to the audience, helping us to truly understand what was going on in the character's mind. Claire came across as being very natural on the stage, which also assisted in making her character understandable and therefore, relatable. Throughout the play, Zubin Varla's character shows an extremely wide ranger of emotions, including anger, hope, sadness, despair and even a glimmer of happiness. Zubin Varla shows every emotion very clearly which, like his co-star, helps to make his character reliable.

The storyline of Poison is a real eye-opener. Poison follows a former married couple meeting up for the first time after their child died 9 years earlier. Shortly after their son's death, the husband walked out on his wife, leaving her alone with her grief. She has called to meet with him 9 years later and, as I'm sure you can imagine, has a lot of questions. With an issue such as having a young child die, it can sometimes be difficult to truly put your feet in a parents shoes if it is not something you have experienced. However, Poison is written in a way to help audiences begin to understand what type of feelings and emotions a parent may feel if their child has died and it is very helpful in making people become empathetic. Dealing with these issues when writing about them can be hard, but playwright Lot Vekemans does a terrific job. I felt very touched by the story of Poison and found it to be truly and utterly heartbreaking.

The Orange Tree Theatre is the perfect venue for Poison. Being in such an intimate theatre really heightens the intensity of Poison,the play and helps to make it feel more realistic. It's almost as if you are a ghost in the room with the two characters. I am not sure if the play would have had the same effect on me, had it been in a larger venue.

Poison does an excellent job in raising awareness of this important issue and I applaud it for that. It was a roller-coaster of emotions and I loved the play!

The featured star of Poison is, drum roll please... CLAIRE PRICE!

This was a really difficult decision, as Claire and Zubin were practically equal. They each showed us a wide range of talents and both gave outstanding performances. However, I have chosen to give to Claire as this performance seemed really special. There was a large amount of depth to it and her emotions were crystal clear.

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

Poison isn't quite up there with my 4 star ratings, but it was still a play that I really admired. Poison is playing until the 2nd of December, so if you live near the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond make sure to stop by and see Poison!

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

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Review: Young Frankenstein

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Young Frankenstein.
Young Frankenstein had been on my West End wish-list for quite a while now, but I had never gotten around to seeing it. This Thursday, after going into London to get day seats for the matinee of 'Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle', I stopped by the Garrick Theatre to enquire if they had any day seats left for the evening performance, and luckily they did!

Young Frankenstein sees Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, inherit a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his deranged genius grandfather, Victor Von Frankenstein. He now faces a dilemma - does he continue to run from his family’s tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather’s mad experiments reanimating the dead and, in the process, fall in love with his lab assistant Inga? The show follows such bizarre and crazy events and it is utterly hilarious! Similar to Mel Brooks' other hit musical, The Producers, Young Frankenstein has punchline after punchline. Young Frankenstein pulls out all the stops to be very funny and as a result it is extremely amusing from beginning to end.

Young Frankenstein has a terrific cast full of genuinely talented and comedic actors and actresses who give their all. The casting for this show has been brilliant; each actor and actress seem so well suited to their parts. Each and every individual in this cast is brilliant and this seems to be the perfect show for them to showcase their talents. Cast members who stood out were Hadley Fraser as Frederick Frankenstein, Ross Noble as Igor, Summer Strallen as Inga, Lesley Joseph as Frau Bl├╝cher, Shuler Hensley as The Monster and Patrick Clancy as Inspector Kemp and the Hermit.

On the whole, the score that featured in Young Frankenstein is great. I really liked the music itself, however the lyrics could possibly do with some tweaking in several songs, due to the fact they did come across as juvenile in places. My highlights from the score were "Together Again" and "He Vas My Boyfriend". Whilst a very large portion of the songs were memorable, it was these two songs that truly stayed with me. Carrying out this score were a wonderful orchestra who were faultless.

Susan Stroman has been both an excellent director and choreographer for Young Frankenstein. The Garrick Theatre stage, where Young Frankenstein is playing, is fairly small, so staging a big musical on this stage must have originally seemed like a very difficult task. However, Susan Stroman has made it work and the final results are brilliant. The choreography really stood out throughout the whole performance and was truly exceptional!

The featured star of Young Frankenstein is, drum roll please... HADLEY FRASER!

With such a phenomenal cast, choosing featured star was always going to be a tough task. However, with the type of talent that Hadley has, I had to award him with featured star. He's funny, he's convincing, he's a great singer and he has a big stage presence; he's an all-rounder! 

Now for my final verdict on Young Frankenstein. I give Young Frankenstein...

Young Frankenstein is a truly hysterical show with a cast full of insanely talented actors and actresses! I am sure it will have a lengthly West End run.

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, 3 November 2017

Review: Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle.
After watching a video of playwright Simon Stephens and director Marianne Elliott discussing their collaboration on new West End play "Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle", I decided that it would definitely be a show to see. I was intrigued by the concept of the play; it sounded very interesting. As a result of this, I woke up early on Thursday morning to seek some day seats!

The writing, by Simon Stephens, that features in Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle is to an extremely high standard. Through his cleverly written play, Stephens gives us two fascinating characters: Georgie Burns and Alex Priest. Both Alex and Georgie have a large amount of depth to them and I could analyse both of them endlessly. Georgie is a 42 year old woman who seems to suffer from some form of a mental illness. With her son having left her, she is all alone with no friends or family. She enjoys meeting strangers and pretending to be someone other than herself. Alex, on the other hand, is a 75 year old butcher. Similarly, Alex also seems to be all alone, due to the fact that his family have all died. He often speaks to his dead sister, who died when he was 8 years old, and she gives him advice on how to cope with life. These two characters find each other randomly and a friendship soon forms. It was an utterly gripping play and I would have happily watched more. When it ended, I was so eager to know what would happen to these two characters and whether they would reach their goal.

Anne-Marie Duff was incredible as Georgie Burns. The role of Georgie is an extremely challengingpart, requiring many different tasks from the actress playing her, however Anne-Marie Duff pulls out all the stops and is able to transfer  Georgie's complex mind to the audience. She was mesmerising! I had seen Kenneth Cranham in The Father over a year ago, in which he was superb, so I was looking forward to seeing another performance of his. He certainly did not disappoint. He gave a brilliant performance is the role of Alex Priest and was perfectly cast in the role.

Marianne Elliot was an excellent director for this production. There are many different ways a director could choose to stage this play, however I believe that the way Marianne Elliot chose to do it was the best possible way. I was a big fan of the staging and it worked incredibly well throughout the whole play.

The set design did not originally have too much of an impact on me, however I then read a fascinating article in the programme which spoke about the set design and what it symbolised. The characters move around the stage in a box of light which constantly grows and shrinks. It symbolises the radiance of the universe expanding and contracting due to the erratic rhythms of life. I really liked the lighting design, which was a prominent feature of the show and added to its strengths.

The featured star of Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle is, drum roll please... ANNE-MARIE DUFF!

Both Kenneth Cranham and Anne-Marie Duff were phenomenal, but having to choose I have to say that Anne-Marie Duff was my favourite; she was transfixing. The role of Georgie must be an incredibly difficult task and its amazing that she pulls it off 8 times a week. To play someone with a mental illness must be very strenuous, but Anne-Marie Duff is truly extraordinary.

Now for my final verdict on Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle. I give Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle...

Heisenberg was a big eye-opener and I am glad that I got the chance to see it! It is a play I would highly recommend.

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