Monday, 31 December 2018

Review: Antony and Cleopatra

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Antony and Cleopatra.
JuliusCaesar and his assassins are dead. General Mark Antony now rules alongside his fellow defenders of Rome. But at the fringes of a war-torn empire the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and Mark Antony have fallen fiercely in love. In a tragic fight between devotion and duty, obsession becomes a catalyst for war. Politics and passion are violently intertwined in Shakespeare’s tragic tale of power.

In the leading role of Antony, Ralph Fiennes is utterly phenomenal. Fiennes is clearly a natural when it comes to Shakespeare, with the language easily rolling off of his tongue. Through his diverse range of acting abilities, I was utterly captivated by his performance. Fiennes makes for a flawless Antony. Playing opposite is Sophie Okonedo, who makes for the perfect Cleopatra. Okonedo shines in all elements of the character, successfully portraying both the comedic elements of the character, as well as the the more tragic parts to Cleopatra, which we see more towards the end of Act Two. As well as the show's two leading actors, the supporting cast are all excellent. There are no weak links among them; all cast members were filled with energy and enthusiasm for the entirety of the three and a half hours. Stand-outs include Tunji Kasim and Tim McMullan as Caesar and Enobarbus respectively, who each provide compelling characterisations.

In regards to creativity, this production of Antony and Cleopatra excels. A revolving set has cleverly been used by designer Hildegard Bechtler in order to transport the audience to a variety of different locations, and the end result is undoubtedly exceptionally  effective. All of the sets featured had an extensive level of detail to them. In particular, Cleopatra's luxurious palace and the Pompey's grand submarine were outstandingly detailed and realistic. The costumes, designed by Evie Gurney, are also to the highest quality; the entirety of Cleopatra's wardrobe were stunning. I also rather admired the music which has been added to this production, performed by a live orchestra in the Olivier Theatre boxes. The addition of live music really helped in achieving the show's desired effects, due to the fact that it made for a very exciting and lively atmosphere alongside the production's battle scenes.

My only slight reservation concerning this production was its length. Antony and Cleopatra stands at 3 and a half hours, with certain elements of the play feeling a little lengthy . I therefore believe that the production could have done a little bit of trimming from its original format.

Now for my final verdict on Antony and Cleopatra. I give Antony and Cleopatra...

Despite its long run-time, I still found this production of Antony and Cleopatra to be truly excellent. With a stellar cast and outstanding creativity, it really is outstanding.

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: Caroline, or Change

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Caroline, or Change. 
Based loosely on writer Tony Kushner’s life, Caroline, or Change is set in Louisiana in the 1960s where Noah is struggling with the death of his mother, and his father’s remarriage to her best friend. He spends his time with their maid, Caroline, who works in the family’s basement. Caroline, who has a family dependant on her, faces a moral dilemma when a novel opportunity to fund her family presents itself.

The best aspect of this production of Caroline, or Change is its stellar cast. Sharon D. Clarke, in the leading role of Caroline Thibodeaux, is truly and utterly astonishing. In a role she appears to be perfect for, Clarke has created an excellent characterisation. When we first meet Caroline, she is rather cold and describes herself as "mean" and "tough". However, as the show goes on we begin to see Caroline show more and more of her inner emotions, and this culminated in the song 'Lot's Wife'. Clarke brings the house down with this number; it would be an understatement to call it a showstopper. There are several other cast members within the ensemble who stand out, including Abiona Omonua and Teddy Kempner. Omonua, in the role of Caroline's free-spirited daughter, gives a very convincing portrayal and gives an all-round outstanding performance. Kempner, as Mr. Stopnick, gives an equally admirable performance and I found him utterly captivating to watch; from the moment he steps on stage he commands the stage with his presence. Additionally, child actor Aaron Gelkoff, as Noah Gellman, also gives a superb performance. I found Gelkoff to be extremely believable in this role and the dynamic created between him and Sharon D. Clarke was particularly interesting to watch.

Caroline, or Change is largely sung through, with a small portion of scattered lines. The lyrics were written by Tony Kushner, who also wrote the book, whilst the music has been composed by Jeanine Tesori. The musical is comprised of over 50 songs, and whilst there were a few of the songs which weren't particularly to my liking, the majority of the score is remarkable. For example, Clarke's show topping number 'Lot's Wife' is truly something quite special. The song features an exceedingly catchy rhythm, however it is in fact the lyrics which I hold the most admiration for. The lyrics help us gain a further understanding of the character of Caroline, which allows her to express all of her hidden-away emotions.

Other significant aspects of this production include the clever choreography by Ann Yee, as well as the well-designed lighting by Jack Knowles. The orchestrations, under the direction of musical supervisor Nigel Lilley, were also sublime!

Now for my final verdict on Caroline, or Change. I give Caroline, or Change...

Whilst certain elements of the book were not to my liking, I found the cast and the majority of the score and creative aspects to be excellent, hence why I have decided to award Caroline, or Change three stars!

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

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Review: Peter Pan

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Peter Pan.
I had been to annual Richmond Theatre pantomimes every year from 2008 (Peter Pan, starring Simon Callow and Bonnie Langford), and that had become a tradition up until 2015 (Cinderella, starring Hayley Mills). I was not the greatest fan of the 'Cinderella' 2015 panto, and therefore in the past few years I have instead gone to the London Palladium pantomimes (2016 and 2017), as well two of the Wimbledon Theatre pantomimes (2015 and 2017). However, this year Richmond Theatre has recruited Tony and Olivier Award Winner Robert Lindsay to lead this year's panto; an actor that I greatly admire. I had previously seen Lindsay in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels a total number of four times, so was excited to see him perform in this.

Making his pantomime debut, Robert Lindsay excels in the role of Captain Hook. Considering Lindsay has never really done anything like this throughout his career, it is interesting to see him put out of his comfort zone. He lights up the stage whenever he enters and his comedic timing is impeccable. The highlights of this production are undoubtedly Lindsay's several big musical numbers. Among these songs were "You've Got to Pick a Pirate to Two', 'The Pirate Walk' and a hilarious rendition of 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You', where Captain Hook attempts to seduce a Mermaid with his hook. The best number, however, is a brilliantly re-imagined version of 'Reviewing the Situation', where Hook contemplates becoming a politician.

At Robert Lindsay's side is Jon Clegg, in the role of Smee. As always, Clegg provided lots of laughter, performing a wide variety of excellent impersonations. Additionally, he had great chemistry with Lindsay, with the pair of them making a good team. Harry Francis also gives a stand-out performance as the titular character of Peter Pan. Francis has a great stage presence, and was a particularly skilled dancer.

Having been disappointed with the Richmond Pantomime in 2015, I am glad to say that Peter Pan exceeded my expectations. Whilst the pantomimes of Richmond Theatre are lacking in some of the magic and special effects of those at the London Palladium, it still provides Christmas-fueled fun for all of the family.

The featured star of Peter Pan is, drum roll please... ROBERT LINDSAY!

Despite being out of his comfort zone, Lindsay is exceptional. He provides laughter throughout, particularly throughout his asides to the audience. All of his musical numbers were outstanding and an overall joy to watch!

Now for my final verdict on Peter Pan. I give Peter Pan...

Whilst this pantomime does lack in the story department, its cast are utterly delightful, and therefore I have awarded  Peter Pan with three stars!

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, 22 December 2018

Review: Hadestown

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Hadestown.
Hadestown has been receiving a lot of buzz since it first opened at the Royal National Theatre over a month ago. I've read a variety of different responses to this production, and it's been really interesting to see the way in which people have reacted. American responses to this production have been exceedingly positive, with many people claiming that it will sweep at next year's Tony Awards after it transfers in March 2019. On the other hand, British responses have been less unanimous in praise. From what I have read on several online forums, Hadestown appears to be rather divisive.

Hadestown tells the following story: 'In the warmth of summertime, songwriter Orpheus and his muse Eurydice are living it up and falling in love. But as winter approaches, reality sets in: these young dreamers can’t survive on songs alone. Tempted by the promise of plenty, Eurydice is lured to the depths of industrial Hadestown. On a quest to save her, Orpheus journeys to the underworld where their trust is put to a final test.' Sadly, I personally found the book of Hadestown to be its weakest element, and hence why I can understand some have given the show a lukewarm response. Whilst I appreciate the creativity of the concept behind the story, the reason I take issue with the book is because I felt that the vast majority of the main characters were largely underwritten. This caused a domino effect, meaning the lack of character development caused me to feel little sympathy for the show's protagonists. As a result of this, I found myself being unable to fully engross myself in the production. Hadestown certainly has a lot of potential, however the book could do with being tightened before transferring to Broadway, as I feel that this would definitely make the production more compelling. 

Hadestown is entirely sung-through, with a musical score written by Anaïs Mitchell. Whilst not all of the music was to my personal taste, there were a number of songs which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of my personal favourites was 'Wait For Me', which was a true show-stopper. I have listened to this number several times since watching this production and I still greatly admire it.

From the cast, both Eva Noblezada and Amber Gray, in the roles of Eurydice and Persephone respectively, are providing outstanding performances. I had previously seen Noblezada in her stunning West End debut in Miss Saigon several years ago, and once again she is giving a marvellous performance. Noblezada has an absolutely stunning voice which is always a delight to listen to. Meanwhile, Amber Gray's performance may very well be the highlight of the entirety of Hadestown. Gray is giving an enchanting performance; I was fully captivated by her characterisation of Persephone from beginning to end. Gray is a gifted actress, singer and dancer, presenting a stunning portrayal of the Underworld Queen.

Creatively, Hadestown is utterly remarkable. The set design, created by Rachel Hauck, ingeniously uses a number of revolving stage turntables, as well as elevators which allow the characters to disappear into the darkest depths of Hadestown. It helped to add a lot of the effect of the piece and allowed for unique staging. The lighting design, by Bradley King, was also excellent and complimented the set nicely. As well as these qualities, Hadestown also excels at both choreography and orchestrations, with both elements being utterly sublime.

The featured star of Hadestown is, drum roll please... AMBER GRAY!

I had previously seen Gray's stunning performance in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 as Hélène, and I was thrilled to see her perform once again. Her excellent portrayal of Persephone gives a range of layers to the character, undoubtedly making Persephone the most interesting character in the piece. There are both elements of comedy and tragedy to Persephone, all of which Gray excellently conveys.

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

Whilst I felt the show could do with tightening its book, the performances of Gray and Noblezada as well as the creative aspects were excellent. Therefore, I decided to award Hadestown with three stars.

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

Monday, 17 December 2018

Review: Company

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Company.
I had been following the progress of this revival of Company since it was first announced in late November 2016, over two years ago. I was rather interested in seeing it, due to the fact that it was one of the few Stephen Sondheim musicals that I had not yet experienced. In addition to this, Company's spectacular cast, featuring the likes of Rosalie Craig, Mel Geidroyc, Gavin Spokes, Alex Gaumond and the one and only Patti Lupone, made this show even more enticing.

Company tells the story of Bobbie, who spends her 35th birthday struggling to think of a wish to make as she blows out her birthday candles. Surrounded by her married friends, Bobbie is confronted with the question as to whether she should simply be happy alone, or whether she should wish for her own romantic partner. Over the course of the musical, Bobby explores the concept of relationships, vulnerability and "being alive". In its original form, Company told the story of Robert, a lone bachelor. However, in this modern take, the show now revolves around Roberta, a singleton. Along with this gender reversal, this production now features a same-sex couple, meaning that the characters of Amy and Paul are now Jamie and Paul. Such changes have occurred in order to represent today's society more accurately. On the whole, I would say that this change has been highly successful. Having read several articles by Marianne Elliot justifying these revisions to the original script, I can completely understand as to why she has made these adjustments. In today's society, it would appear that the story is both more compelling and realistic for the leading character to be female. My only minor criticism in regards to the show's book is that I did feel certain areas of the story could have potentially been shortened. In its current form, Company's running length is 2 hours and 45 minutes, and in order to stop certain segments from dragging, it could be cut down by 15 minutes.

My favourite aspect of Company is its musical score, written by the one and only Stephen Sondheim; both the music and lyrics are truly quite special. Several days after seeing this production, the music continues to repeat in my head. There are several exceedingly memorable tunes in the score; to call them catchy would be an understatement. The lyrics complement the music nicely, and in particular the lyrics to penultimate musical number 'Being Alive' are rather poignant. My favourite songs from this score include "You Could Drive a Person Crazy', 'Getting Married Today', 'The Ladies Who Lunch' and 'Being Alive'.

In the lead role of Bobbie is Rosalie Craig, who has embodied this role flawlessly. She creates a brilliant characterisation, skilfully balancing both the anxious and confident sides to Bobbie and therefore providing an utterly captivating performance. Additionally, Craig also boasts a stunning voice. Patti LuPone, as expected, also gives an amazing performance as the affluent friend Joanne. LuPone provides a real show-stopper moment with her number 'The Ladies Who Lunch' towards the end of act two, which ended up being a real highlight. Special mentions must also be given to Mel Geidroyc and Gavin Spokes, who portray Sarah and Harry. They had terrific chemistry with one another and were utterly hilarious. They had the audience in stitches, and I would have enjoyed seeing them feature more often.

I greatly admire Marianne Elliot's direction of this production; the way in which she has re-invented Company is truly ingenious. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the decisions surrounding this production, and it is safe to say that this hard work has definitely paid off. Creatively, this production shines. The set design, which has been crafted by Bunny Christie, is immensely striking. The illuminated box-like structures of each room really suited the production well. The lighting, which has been designed by Neil Austin, is also excellent. Parts of the stage are cleverly blacked out, subtly allowing certain characters to fade into the darkness, therefore helping to emphasis certain effects.

The featured star of Company is, drum roll please... ROSALIE CRAIG!

Rosalie Craig is astonishing in the role of Bobbie. She provides a great characterisation, and has the audience in the palm of her hand from start to finish. It is also rather impressive to think that Craig is onstage for almost the entirety of the play, meaning that she barely leaves the stage once.

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

This stunning production of company possesses a stunning cast, along with some rather impressive creative aspects. It certainly lives up the hype!

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, 11 November 2018

Review: Rain Man

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Rain Man.
This play is adapted from the exceedingly popular 1980's movie Rain Man, which featured Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. I, personally, had never actually watched the movie, however my Mum absolutely adores it. Whilst most people will have seen the movie before watching the play, I did the complete opposite and went to Richmond Theatre without any idea of what to be expecting.

Rain Man tells the story of car dealer Charlie Babbitt who, after learning that his estranged father has died, returns home to Cincinnati where he discovers that he has an autistic older brother named Raymond. In addition to this, he also learns that his father's $3 million fortune is being left to the mental institution in which Raymond lives. Motivated by his Father's memory, Charlie checks Raymond out of the facility in order to return with him to Los Angeles. The brothers' cross-country trip ends up changing both of their lives. I found the story of Rain Man to be rather moving, and it is undoubtedly very interesting to follow. The relationship between these two brothers, and how it changes them, is heartwarming and makes for a satisfying pay-off at the end of the play. My only issue with the script, which has been adapted by Dan Gordon, is that I feel there could be a few amendments to the play in order to make certain moments more powerful.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the cast of Rain Man is the best aspect of the production; each and every cast member gave remarkable performances. Mathew Horne, in the role of Raymond, is immensely convincing as the autistic savant. Horne creates an intriguing characterisation for the role, and impressively does not slip from this characterisation once throughout the entirety of the play. As Raymond's younger brother Charlie, co-stars Ed Speleers. The character of Charlie begins as ruthless and uncaring, and yet as the play goes on he becomes more considerate and compassionate. Speleers does an excellent job at conveying this progression of character, giving an all-round excellent performance.

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed this production of Rain Man, I did feel throughout the course of the play that direction could have been somewhat more imaginative. There were certain elements of this production that lack creativity, and I felt that had the direction been more inventive then certain scenes would have been more memorable.

The featured star of Rain Man is, drum roll please... MATHEW HORNE!

Horne's performance as Raymond was truly and utterly outstanding. I was beyond impressed at his characterisation for the role, and even more so with the fact that he was able to keep this persona throughout the entirety of the play without breaking character once. He was utterly captivating to watch.

Now for my final verdict on Rain Man. I give Rain Man...

Whilst this production lacks imaginative direction, the play's story and cast more than make up for it and therefore I have decided to award Rain Man three stars.

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

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Review: Soldier On

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Soldier On.
The Other Palace, formerly known as the St. James Theatre, is soon becoming one of my favourite Off West End venues. I have seen three excellent shows at this venue over the past few years: The Three Lions in 2015, The Wild Party in early 2017 and Big Fish in late 2017. Therefore, I was rather keen to see what The Other Palace's latest offering would be like.

Soldier On tells the story of a worn-out director and former actor persuading a group of ex-combatants and their families to tell the stories of their lives both at war and at home. These stories give us a glimpse into the difficulty of post-traumatic stress disorder; there are wives that have to cope with violent or estranged husbands and mothers that feel alienated from their sons. I personally found the storyline of Soldier One to be extremely powerful, and the play truly does tell an inspiring tale. It is quite apparent that this play gives an exceedingly accurate portal of life after war, and how it affects both soldiers and their loved ones. Throughout the entire play, I was astounded by how life-like the dialogue appeared to be. There were several moments where it genuinely felt as if I could have been watching a live documentary. It is clear that Jonathan Lewis, the author of Soldier On, has made a large effort in ensuring that the play feels as life-like and real as possible. My only slight criticism for the writing would be that the audition scenes that took place at the beginning of act one did not feel as if they were necessarily needed. Whilst these initial scenes do provide introductions for the characters, act one could still easily function without them, and this would therefore also reduce the running time (which stands at two and a half hours).

The cast of Soldier On are utterly phenomenal; the ensemble is full of extremely talented actors and there are no weak links whatsoever. They all have great chemistry with one another, creating a unique and interesting dynamic onstage. All actors display a clear range of abilities in their performances, excellently portraying both the comedic and more darker elements of the play.

At the performance that I attended (28th of October), after the curtain call had taken place David Solomon, who portrays Harry, stepped forward to announce that at that performance they were to be joined by the Military Wives Choir to perform an original song together. I would just like to say how impressed I was with this performance; it was a lovely song and I was exceedingly moved.

The featured star of Soldier On is, drum roll please... ELLIE NUNN!

This was a really difficult decision, as all of the actors in Soldier On were remarkable, however after a lot of thought I decided to award it to Ellie Nunn. Nunn's performance as Sophie is outstanding. The character begins the play as lively and excitable, however we later see that this is only a front and deep down Sophie is going through an extremely difficult time at home with her husband, who is suffering from PTSD. Nunn portrayed all of the different sides to the character really well, hence why I reached this decision for featured star.

Now for my final verdict on Soldier On. I give Soldier On...

Soldier On was truly unlike anything I had ever seen before. It is a very powerful piece of theatre, and the cast all deliver sublime performances.

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, 27 October 2018

Review: Precious Little Talent

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Precious Little Talent.
I was absolutely delighted to have been invited to the revival of Ella Hickson's 'Precious Little Talent' at the Courtyard Theatre. I knew very little about the play prior to viewing it, and therefore I did not truly know what to expect, but I am thrilled to report that I left the theatre pleasantly surprised.

Precious Little Talent takes place on Christmas Eve in the winter of 2008. The USA is buzzing with the election of a new President. Joey, a disillusioned English graduate, arrives in New York to visit her estranged father. But after a whirlwind midnight run through the city, she finds herself falling for an idealistic young American. As she fights to be remembered by her father’s failing mind, Joey must decide if she can let go of her fears and believe again in the American Dream. I found the storyline of Precious Little Talent to be really interesting, particularly in the way in which it explored themes of dementia. Having had several family members who have suffered from dementia, I truly did appreciate the accurate and appropriate portrayal of dementia. It is especially striking how Hickson subtly gives multiple hints throughout the first act that the character of George is suffering from Early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Similar to real life, it may not be exceedingly apparent at first, but multiple indications are shown throughout all of George's early scenes. In addition to dementia, Precious Little Talent also explores the interesting contrast of personalities between those from the United Kingdom and those from the United States of America. Having been to America on multiple occasions, it has been clear to me throughout the years that there is a significant difference between the optimism shown by Americans and the cynicism shown by British people. Hickson explores these differences at great length and all of them feel quite true to life.

Henry George Lewis gives a tremendously convincing performance in the role of Sam. The character of Sam is American, and Lewis's accent was impeccable. Throughout the entirety of the play, there was not even a hint of an English accent in his portrayal; I was left seriously impressed. In his performance, Lewis remained lively and full of energy throughout the show. If all of this was not enough, he was also extremely charismatic. Playing opposite him in the role of Joey was Marta Kane, who gives a performance full of passion; it was immensely powerful. The different dynamics that she created with the characters of Sam and George made for fascinating viewing. Finally, last but by no means least, in the role of George, a victim of dementia, is Mark Keegan giving a compelling performance. Keegan portrays dementia in a nuanced fashion throughout the play, meaning that once the dementia takes full control over the character it is beyond heartbreaking. There are two different sides to the character of George, and Keegan displays this well.

Brock Elwick has masterfully directed this production and that is apparent throughout. It is clearly very well-staged, and I particularly liked the idea to have the actors enter into the audience and speak directly to us. I found that this really helped me, as an audience member, to be able to further connect with these characters. The lighting design, by Francesca Jones, is also yet another highlight of this production. The lighting is highly effective and helped to enhance the atmosphere.

The featured star of Precious Little Talent is, drum roll please... HENRY GEORGE LEWIS!

Henry George Lewis's performance was an utter joy to watch. Until I learnt otherwise, I had genuinely believed that Lewis was American; his American accent was flawless. His mannerisms and characterisation were perfection, giving an overall mesmerising performance.

Now for my final verdict on Precious Little Talent. I give Precious Little Talent...

Precious Little Talent surpassed all of my expectations. It is undoubtedly worthy of a four star rating. 

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

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Review: Heathers

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Heathers.
I first discovered Heathers through my love for Mean Girls the musical. After watching Mean Girls earlier this Summer, I encountered several people online who stated that Mean Girls bared a strong resemblance to Heathers the Musical. In actual fact, Heathers, based on the movie released in 1988, served as a major source of inspiration for the concept behind Mean Girls. Due to the fact that I consider Mean Girls to be one of my favourite musicals of all time, I was intrigued on the idea of seeing Heathers.

Heathers is set in Westerberg High, where high-school student Veronica Sawyer is simply just another of the nobodies dreaming of a better day. But when she’s unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity finally start to come true. Until JD turns up, the mysterious teen rebel who teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it’s murder being a somebody. I personally found the storyline to be utterly gripping. Whilst the show is of a light-hearted nature with humorous characters, it covers topics surrounding dark issues, including bullying, teen suicide, sexual assault, and violence in schools. Despite Heathers being set in 1989, it is still as relevant today as it was when the film was first released. With 18 school shootings having taken place in the past year, it could perhaps even be argued that this storyline is even more important than it was in 1989. The book, co-written by Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy, excellently captures the essence of what life can be like for those attending high-school. Additionally, I was also left rather impressed with the way in which the leading characters of Veronica and J.D. were written. Both characters are far more than two-dimensional characters; each had multiple layers and an exceedingly large amount of depth. The relationship between these two characters and how it progressed throughout the show made for fascinating viewing.

The score to Heathers, also co-written by Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy, is exceptional. I had listened to a portion of the Off-Broadway cast album before entering the theatre, so I was somewhat familiar with the music before watching the show. Throughout the score, there are several really catchy tunes, and to call them memorable would be an understatement. My personal favourites from the score are the musical numbers of 'Dead Girl Walking' and 'Seventeen', both of which I have been playing on repeat for the past 24 hours.

Carrie Hope Fletcher in the role of Veronica Sawyer is incredible; there can be no other way to describe it. Throughout the show, she has an exceedingly engaging stage presence, maintaining a clear control of the stage. She showed a great range to the character, clearly showing the progression from this nerdy and awkward teenage girl, to this strong, menacing and powerful persona. She is also a remarkable singer, giving a powerful rendition of 'Dead Girl Walking'. Fletcher had an electric chemistry with her co-star Jamie Muscato, who was equally phenomenal. In the role of Jason 'J.D.' Dean, Jamie Muscato truly had every aspect of the character down to a tee. In Muscato's portrayal we are able to see the more juvenile and child-like side of J.D., his caring and kind nature with Veronica, as well as his psychotic and sociopathic tendencies when dealing with enemies and his troubled past. Elements of his performance also reminded me of the late Heath Ledger's stunning Academy Award winning performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight. It was very much a compelling performance.

The lighting design, created by Ben Cracknell, is also rather admirable. Throughout the show, the lighting is often used to either symbolise the emotions of the character or to complement the costumes that the characters were wearing. It was clear a lot of thought had been put into this and it was highly impressive.

The featured star of Heather is, drum roll please... CARRIE HOPE FLETCHER!

This was an extremely difficult choice between Carrie Hope Fletcher and Jamie Muscato, however I eventually chose to award it to Fletcher. Fletcher gives an astonishing performance and it is one that is highly memorable. She has an astounding voice and a clear wide range of acting abilities.

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

Heathers delivers several important messages, has a great score and two incredible leading performances. Therefore, I have decided to award it four stars!

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, 21 October 2018

Review: King Lear

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of King Lear.
Unsurprisingly, there has been an exceedingly large amount of hype surrounding Ian McKellen's return to the stage in the titular role of King Lear, which has has stated will be his 'last big Shakespeare part'. I had previously seen him perform in No Man's Land at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2016, and I consider myself to be a great fan of his acting. This production had been sold out for the vast majority of its run, however I was extremely fortunate to have gained a cancellation ticket.

As expected, Ian McKellen gives a masterclass of a performance in the role of King Lear. The most admirable aspect of McKellen's acting abilities is the way in which he is so natural when performing on the stage; every word that he utters flows perfectly. His presence upon the stage is truly quite something. He is highly captivating from start to finish, holding the audience in the palm of his hands until Lear's final breath. McKellen plays Lear's descent into madness particularly well, making the progression of the character from beginning to end clear to all audience members. As well as McKellen, there are multiple performances in this production that are also highly impressive. Kate Bushell and Claire Price in the roles of deceitful daughters  Regan and Goneril are both outstanding. They portrayed the two characters exceedingly well, convincingly showing the sly nature of the two sisters. It was particularly interesting to see how both characters changed once they came into power and were no longer overshadowed by their father, the former King. Luke Thompson, as Edgar, is also phenomenal. Half-way through the play, Edgar takes on the alter-ego of 'Poor Tom', which allowed Thompson to demonstrate his wide range of acting abilities. Edgar is a kind, sane and loving being, whereas Poor Tom is a cruel, mad and vulgar character, and I feel that Thompson clearly contrasted Edgar with his alter-ego. In this production, the role of Kent has had his gender reversed, and this new interpretation of the character is performed by Sinéad Cusack. When I initially heard about this gender reversal I was not sure what to think, however having now seen the production I really appreciate this change. It helped to add an extra layer to the text, and at the end of the play when Kent announces that she intends on killing herself in response to Lear's death, it was perhaps hinted that the female-Kent had in fact been infatuated with her fallen King. Cusack excels in this role, and is particularly good at demonstrating the change in character once Kent is forced to disguise herself as a man. Finally, last but certainly not least, Danny Webb as Gloucester was remarkable. Gloucester goes through, arguably, the largest progression of character throughout the course of the play. The character begins as an arrogant and somewhat rude Earl, only to go through a major downfall which leads him depressed and suicidal. The character of Gloucester in act one is the polar opposite to what the audience then see in act two. Webb captured this perfectly, giving an astonishing performance in the process.

A wide range of costumes, designed by Paul Willis, can be seen throughout King Lear, with everything from royal cloaks to military combat uniforms. All costumes featured were of a very good quality. The lighting, which has been designed by Oliver Fenwick, was equally as impressive. The lighting, along with the music which accompanies this production, were essential in creating an intense and thrilling atmosphere, particularly during the battle scenes. The accompanying music to the infamous 'eye-gouging' scene was also rather interesting. Whilst Cornwall and Regan take part in horrifically torturing their opposition, the Four Seasons hit song 'Beggin'' is played, making for a fascinating juxtaposition. The special effects of rain used towards the end of act one was also excellent and very creative. This little extra touch gave the play a strong essence of reality and helped to make the scene in which this takes place far more dramatic.

The featured star of King Lear is, drum roll please... IAN MCKELLEN!

As I previously stated, there is a lot of hype regarding McKellen's performance as King Lear and deservedly so. He is so utterly gripping to watch, and as an audience member it is difficult to take my eyes off of him for even a second. If this is to be McKellen's last ever Shakespeare performance, he has certainly gone out on a high.

Now for my final verdict on King Lear. I give King Lear...

This production of King Lear sports a handful of exceptional performances as well as some rather interesting creative aspects, and therefore I have decided to give it four stars.

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