Friday, 30 March 2018

The Basic Theatre Awards 2018 - The Results!

Hey readers!

6 and a half weeks after the nominees were first announced, I am finally able to announce who will be crowned the Basic Theatre Award winners of 2018! I am thrilled to see that, for the third year running, the number of people that voted and took part in the awards once again reach triple digits. I am extremely grateful to everyone that took the time to vote and spread the word about the award; it truly meant a lot to me. Now, let's get to it...

Winning with 33% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Understudy goes to...

Sam O'Rourke in Half a Sixpence as Arthur Kipps in the West End!

The race for Best Understudy was an extremely competitive two horse race, with first place going back and forth between Sam and a fellow nominee throughout the month of voting. However, in the final few days, Sam became victorious, winning with one vote over his competitor (every single vote counts!). I had the joy of seeing Sam's performance twice throughout the show's run: the first time was February 2017, when we he was performing the role for one of his very first performances, with the second time being August 2017, the final performance that he ever gave in the role of Arthur Kipps. It was wonderful to see how he had progressed in the role and how well he had mastered it. He is an outstanding actor, an exceptional singer and a talented dancer; he is one of the uber-talented performers! 

The other nominees were:
Marisha Wallace - Dreamgirls
Judith Street - The Girls
Joseph Morales - Hamilton
Aubin Wise - Chicago

Winning with 33% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play goes to...

Anne-Marie Duff in Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle as Georgie Burns in the West End!

The competition for Best Leading Actress in a Play was always close, but Anne-Marie Duff constantly remained in the lead. Towards the end of the month, one of the actresses in the running picked up a large number of votes putting the fate of this award in uncertainty, but Duff stayed triumphant! Anne-Marie Duff was beyond incredible in the role of Georgie. Georgie is what I imagine to be a challenging role to play, but Duff pulls off the role flawlessly. The character of Georgie has such a complex mind, with so many different thoughts, feelings and emotions, and Duff does an excellent job in helping the audience to understand every aspect of Gerogie. She is mesmerising!

The other nominees were:
Nadia Clifford - Jane Eyre
Karina Jones - Wait Until Dark
Siân Phillips - Driving Miss Daisy
Tamsin Greig - Labour of Love

Winning with 28% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Play goes to...

Oslo on Broadway!

The Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Play was a fierce four horse race that, similar to the award for Best Understudy, was only decided by one vote. On the final day of voting, it seemed as if Oslo would not be the winner, however thanks to a few last minute votes, Oslo has now been crowned with the Basic Theatre Award for the Best Production of a Play! I personally found Oslo utterly fascinating, due to the historic teachings that it brought. Prior to seeing Oslo, I had a lack of knowledge regarding the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, so I am very grateful that Oslo has educated me on the matter in such an entertaining way. The play is a total of three hours, but I was kept transfixed and on the edge of my seat throughout. The time flew by! 

The other nominees were:
The Kite Runner - West End
Driving Miss Daisy - UK Tour
How the Other Half Loves - UK Tour
Ink - West End

Winning with 44% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical goes to...

Christy Altomare in Anastasia as Anya on Broadway!

With 44% of the votes that were cast, Christy Altomare won this award with ease. As Anya, Christy gives a performance like no other. There are many people who say that she was born to play this role, something that I would have to agree with. She suits the role so perfectly; I honestly could not imagine anyone else portraying this role to the effect that Christy does. It is rumoured that Anastasia may be transferring to the West End in the near future, and if it is, I am hopeful that Christy will reprise her role, as the show simply wouldn't be the same without her. 

The other nominees were:
Bette Midler - Hello, Dolly!
Annaleigh Ashford - Sunday in the Park with George
Glenn Close - Sunset Boulevard
Patti LuPone - War Paint

Winning with 38% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Play goes to...

Lara Rossi in Misalliance as Lina Szczepanowska in Fringe Theatre!

The competition for Best Supporting Actress in a Play was originally fairly close, however Misalliance co-star Rhys Isaac-Jones kindly tweeted about the awards, and Rossi's number of votes almost doubled! Rossi's portrayal of Lina was utterly captivating to watch. The character of Lina is powerful, strong and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in; all of this was perfectly captured in Lara's performance. She has a great command of the stage, displaying the power that Lina has. She is more than worthy of this award!

The other nominees were:
Kate O'Flynn - The Glass Menagerie 
Cobie Smulders - Present Laughter
Jayne Houdyshell - A Doll's House, Part 2
Olivia Wilde - 1984

Winning with 44% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play goes to...

David Tennant in Don Juan in Soho as DJ in the West End!

It was clear that David Tennant was going to win this award from quite an early point; the voters of the Basic Theatre Awards have crowned Tennant as the Best Leading Actor in a Play by quite a wide margin. To say that David Tennant was phenomenal would be an understatement; David gives a masterclass of a performance as Don Juan. He excelled at every aspect of the character. He was hilarious at the more comedic parts of the play, he was wonderful at the more serious parts of the play, there was nothing he couldn't do in the role. His performance was worth the ticket price alone!

The other nominees were:
Ben Turner - The Kite Runner
Jefferson Mays - Oslo
Robert Daws - How the Other Half Loves
Richard Coyle - Ink

Winning with 28% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical goes to...

Jason Pennycooke in Hamilton as Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson in the West End!

The race for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical was an extremely close three horse race. Jason had always retained a lead in the votes from an early point, but there were two nominees who came very close to the amount of votes that Jason has accumulated. Despite this, he still kept his lead and has now been crowned with the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. The decision to choose him for these roles in Hamilton was inspired casting! I have seen Hamilton a total of four times, and from what I have noticed, the dual role of Lafayette and Jefferson is an extremely difficult role to master. Prior to Pennycooke, the only actor that I had seen truly master both roles was Daveed Diggs, the original Broadway cast member. I am pleased to say that Pennycooke is a worthy successor to Diggs, having excelled in both roles. His portrayal of Thomas Jefferson is utterly hilarious; his performance is a joy to watch. Jason's performance was one of the overall highlights of Hamilton and I am so glad that he was cast in this production.

The other nominees were:
Gavin Creel - Hello, Dolly!
Taram Killam - Hamilton
Lucas Steele - Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Obioma Ugoala - Hamilton

Winning with 57% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical goes to...

Rachel John in Hamilton as Angelica Schuyler in the West End!

Rachel John is the only winner in any of the categories to have gained a majority of the votes, as opposed to a plurality. This in itself demonstrates how special her performance is. Winning a majority of votes in a public vote can be difficult, so clearly Rachel's performance is truly something else. I first saw Rachel John perform in The Bodyguard in August 2016, and after the show when I met her at stage door I said to her "You would be a great Angelica in Hamilton!". Perhaps I should be a casting director? I have seen four different performances of Angelica, with Rachel giving the best interpretation of Angelica that I have seen to date. She's full of confidence, sassiness and pride; everything needed for the perfect Angelica Schuyler. Her rendition of 'Satisfied' was one of the ultimate 'wow moments' in Hamilton and ended up being a highlight of the entire show. 

The other nominees were:
Kate Baldwin - Hello, Dolly!
Mary Gordon Murray - Cabaret
Lesley Joseph - Young Frankenstein
Tracie Bennett - Follies

Winning with 48% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play goes to...

Rhys Isaac-Jones in Misalliance as Bentley Summerhays in Fringe Theatre!

The contest for Best Supporting Actor in a Play began as an extremely close race with no clear winner in sight. However, Rhys then put out a tweet regarding the Basic Theatre Awards, with the hope that he would reach at least 1% of the votes cast. This tweet cased a surge in votes for Rhys, greatly surpassing his original goal. Whilst all the cast of Misalliance were phenomenal, it was Rhys that stole the show. He has fairly limited stage time, and yet he leaves an extraordinarily large impression His delivery of lines is perfect and his comic timing is impeccable. He is more than worthy of this award!

The other nominees were:
Michael Aronov - Oslo
Reed Birney - 1984
Bertie Carvel - Ink
Dean Harris - The Tailor-Made Man

Winning with 37% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical goes to...

Jamael Westman in Hamilton as Alexander Hamilton in the West End!

The competition for Best Leading Actor in a Musical was fairly close between Jamael and one other nominee, but Jamael was able to sustain this lead throughout the month of voting, leaving him victorious! Jamael gives the best interpretation of Alexander Hamilton that I have seen since Lin-Manuel Miranda. Jamael has mastered the part so well; he's truly made his mark on the role. His acting is flawless, and he portrays Hamilton just as I imagine he would have been in real life. I particularly liked the humour that he added to the role, something which I had not seen in any previous performances of Alexander Hamilton. Jamael also has an utterly beautiful voice, and just to top it all off, he's also an excellent rapper. There is nothing that he cannot do!

The other nominees were:
Andy Karl - Groundhog Day
Daniel Breaker - Hamilton
Scott Stangland - Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
John McCrea - Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Winning with 50% of the votes, the Basic Theatre Award for Best Production of a Musical goes to...

Hamilton in the West End!

The West End production of Hamilton won the Best Production of a Musical by quite a large margin, almost winning with a majority of the votes. Ever since I first saw Hamilton on Broadway in December 2015, I have been in love with the show. Hamilton is my favourite show of all time, and it is unlikely that I'll ever see anything as good for a long time. I had been waiting for Hamilton to transfer to the West End for quite a long time, so I'm sure that you can all imagine how excited I was to finally see it in London. The West End production of Hamilton is very special and I am thrilled that London audiences have now been given the chance to see the masterpiece, that is, Hamilton. What I love about this production of Hamilton more than anything else is how almost every aspect is done to perfection. The score is lovely, the book is excellent, the choreography is spectacular, the lighting is splendid, the costumes are exceptional, and if this wasn't enough, even the sound design is terrific! 

The other nominees were:
Hello, Dolly! - Broadway
Groundhog Day - Broadway
Hamilton - Chicago
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 - Broadway

And that brings us to a close! I would like to congratulate all of those that have won the Basic Theatre Awards this year; you are all very deserving. I would also like to, once again, thank all of those that shared out the awards on Twitter and helped me to publicise the blog during the past month; it means a lot. 

Until next time...

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Review: Humble Boy

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Humble Boy!
For the first time since December, I once again had the pleasure of visiting the Orange Tree Theatre, and this time I was off to see the revival of the 2001 hit play 'Humble Boy'. Loosely based off of Hamlet, Humble Boy is a comedy about broken vows, failed hopes and the joys of beekeeping. All is not well in the Humble hive. 35 year old Felix Humble is a Cambridge astro-physicist in search of a unified field theory. Following the sudden death of his father, he returns to his middle England and his difficult and demanding mother, where he soon realises that his search for unity must include his own chaotic home life.

The story of Humble Boy is an extremely interesting one, which is mainly as a result of themes that are explored. Humble Boy examines a number of topics, including dysfunctional relationships, reversed social hierarchy and humility. All of the themes that are featured within Humble Boy are very important; they are all topics that the vast majority of us will have encountered over our lifetime. The unique perspectives that Charlotte Jones provides in regards to these themes are fascinating. I personally found the subject of dysfunctional relationships within the play to be the most interesting out of all of themes that are featured, as it seemed to be the most relatable. Jones shows us that even relationships that appear to be quite normal are later proven to also be dysfunctional, as well as demonstrating that even the most dysfunctional of all relationships can be healed. My only critique of the writing was that I personally did not feel that Humble Boy needed to be as long as it was. The play currently stands at 2 hours and a half, including a 20 minute interval, and I believe that this could be cut down to, at least, 2 and a quarter hours. There were a few pieces of dialogue within act one that felt a little too long, and that is how I would have made it shorter.

All of the cast members within Humble Boy are exceptional! Leading this cast as the 'Humble Boy' himself is Jonathan Broadbent in the role of Felix Humble. Broadbent is extremely well suited to the part of Felix, making his performance both believable and outstanding. As his not-so-humble Mother,  it is Belinda Lang in the role of Flora Humble that steals the show! The character of Flora is originally introduced as being cold and cruel-hearted, however as the play goes on, we see that Flora does indeed have a good and warmer side to her. Lang does a truly excellent job of conveying all of the different sides of Flora, resulting in an absolutely phenomenal performance. The other four cast members that feature in Humble Boy are: Paul Bradley as George Pye, Rebekah Hinds as Rosie Pye, Christopher Ravenscroft as Jim and Selina Cadell as Mercy Lott, all of whom are equally mesmerising, magnificent and memorable!

The set design of Humble Boy, which has been created by Simon Daw, is strikingly creative. The set shows the beautiful garden belonging to the Humble family, consisting of grass, bushes, flowers, a greenhouse, and last but not least, a beehive! In the past, the sets for all of the productions that I have seen at the Orange Tree Theatre have been fairly minimal, so it was a really nice surprise to see how much effort had gone into the set of Humble Boy.

The featured star of Humble Boy is, drum roll please... BELINDA LANG!

The range Belinda Lang demonstrated in Humble Boy was exceptional. Flora Humble is a complicated character with a range of feelings and emotions and Lang captures this to great effect. Belinda Lang excelled at demonstrating every single side of Flora; she really was phenomenal! 

Now for my final verdict on Humble Boy. I give Humble Boy...

Whilst I felt that Humble Boy did not need to be as long as it was, there is no question that Charlotte Jones is an exceptional playwright. With an interesting story and an outstanding cast, I have chosen to award Humble Boy 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, 24 March 2018

Review: The Ferryman

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Ferryman.
Jez Butterworth's latest play The Ferryman is, arguably, the most critically acclaimed play that London's West End has had in the past year. It first began at the Royal Court Theatre in April 2017, where it became an immediate hit. After a sell-out run at the Royal Court, it then made its way to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End. There has been an endless amount of buzz surrounding it, and for months and months I have had several people recommending that I go and see it. Last Saturday, I finally had this opportunity to see what all the hype was about.

The Ferryman is set in Rural Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1981. The Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity with preparations for the annual harvest. A day of hard work on the land and a traditional night of feasting and celebrations lie ahead. But this year they will be interrupted by a certain visitor, and things are unlikely to be the same again... What I particularly loved about The Ferryman was how true to life it seemed. The Ferryman centres around a gigantic family of 11, all living under the same roof. Whilst I personally have a small family, The Ferryman perfectly captures what I imagine the dynamics of a large family would look like. Additionally, I also appreciated how realistic the events regarding the Northern Irish Troubles and the IRA were. Drawing on first hand experiences, Butterworth gives a fascinating insight into those who became caught up in the attacks conducted by the IRA. The characters in The Ferryman all have different opinions as to whether the IRA are in the right or the wrong, leaving the audience with the idea that, in life, not everything is black and white. With any situation in life, nothing can be portrayed as simply 'good' and 'bad'; things are a lot more complicated than that. Prior to watching The Ferryman, my knowledge of the 'The Troubles' was fairly limited, and I only knew the simple facts regarding the issue. The Ferryman helped me to expand my knowledge to a great extent, and I am appreciative that this play was able to educate me.

The entirety of the original cast of The Ferryman left the production in January, with a brand new cast taking the reins of the show after that. I am pleased to say that the new cast are excellent and all of them have settled into their roles nicely. In the lead role of Quinn Carney is Owen McDonnell, an exceptionally talented and outstanding actor, with a gigantic stage presence. Playing opposite him in the role of Caitlin Carney is Rosalie Craig, and she too is stunning. She's extremely charismatic and was perfectly cast in this role. The two supporting cast members that gave the most memorable performances were Justin Edwards, in the role of Tom Kettle, and Francis Mezza, in the role of Shane Corcoran. Justin Edwards portrays the lonely and dim-witted english farm assistant Tom Kettle, a role he excels in. Edwards has the necessary precise comedic timing needed for the role, and as a result, his performance is the funniest aspect of the entire show. Francis Mezza's portrayal of the young Irish lad with a desire to join the IRA may be one of the best performances in any West End play currently. He had a great command of the stage, he was extremely believable and his characterisation was fascinating. Other cast members that deserve special mentions for their magnificent performances in The Ferryman are Declan Conoln as Muldoon, Laurie Kynaston as Osin Carney, Mark Lambert as Uncle Patrick Carney, Stella Mccosker as Aunt Maggie Far Away and, last but by not means least, Siân Thomas as Aunt Patricia Carney.

For his direction of The Ferryman, Sam Mendes has received an Evening Standard Theatre Award, a WhatsOnStage Award and is currently awaiting to find out if he has won an Oliver Award. All of the praise for his direction is well deserved, as it is clear to me that The Ferryman is an excellently directed piece. I personally feel that it is Mendes that deserves a lot of the credit for giving The Ferryman its 'true-to-life' feeling. Throughout the course of the play, a real life baby is brought onto the stage, a real rabbit enters the stage, and if this wasn't enough, even a goose is carried onto the stage. Instead of opting for props, Mendes has chosen to use real animals, and one baby, to ensure that The Ferryman feels as real as possible. Mendes has gone the extra mile to keep the play authentic, which he should be commended for. Additionally, the set design is also very helpful in achieving the 'true-to-life' vibe. The set design is utterly striking, and it is hard to believe how much detail has been put into it. The set is unbelievably comprehensive!

The Ferryman excels in keeping its audience engaged with the play throughout. The play is a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes, but the time flew by, and the audience were left wanting even more. There is so much happening throughout the whole show and I was utterly gripped from beginning to end.

The featured star of The Ferryman is, drum roll please... FRANCIS MEZZA!

The Ferryman cast left me with a large amount of choices for who to choose for featured star. I changed my mind a total of three times on this decision, but in the end, I chose Francis Mezza. Mezza brought barrels of energy to the role; he was utterly captivating to watch. His characterisation is fascinating and I actually found him to be the most interesting character in all of The Ferryman.

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

The Ferryman is a perfect example how high quality West End plays can be. The Ferryman is transferring to Broadway later this year, and I wish the production the best of luck in its transfer!

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, 18 March 2018

Review: Girl from the North Country

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Girl from the North Country.
Girl from the North Country has been on my radar for a fair amount of time after seeing several posters for it planted across London. After the news that it had been nominated for 5 Olivier Awards, I watched a few clips of the show and I soon became determined to see it before its run in the West End had ended. Due to the fact that it had received a string of 5 star reviews, I knew that it was going to be good, but little did I know how incredible it would actually be. Girl from the North Country may very well be one of the best musicals that has been written for the West End stage.

Girl from the North Country is set in Duluth, Minnesota in 1934. A community living on a knife-edge huddle together in the local guesthouse. The owner, Nick, owes more money than he can ever repay, his wife Elizabeth is losing her mind and their daughter Marianne is carrying a child no-one will account for. When a preacher selling bibles and a boxer looking for a comeback show up in the middle of the night, things start to spiral beyond the point of no return. Conor McPherson's writing is remarkable and has a way of transporting each and every member of the audience directly to the lives of the characters and back to the days of the Great Depression, which is done so by creatively combining Bob Dylan's music with his intriguing characters and story. Each and every role in Girl from the North Country are absolutely fascinating in their own individual right. They all display signs of both kindness and cruelty, with McPherson clearly demonstrating that there is no such thing as 'good' and 'bad', and perhaps things are not always what they appear to be. The story has layer, upon layer, upon layer; it is one that could be endlessly analysed.

Instead of using music to further the storyline, the characters use the music of Bob Dylan to express their feelings and emotions, and by doing so, they are able to capture the hearts of the audience. I had never actually heard any of Bob Dylan's music before entering the theatre, so I was experiencing all of this beautiful music for the first time ever whilst watching Girl from the North Country. Similarly to many audience members, the songs truly touched my heart. The orchestra is compiled of both cast members who play their own instruments and three musicians who sit at the back of the stage. The orchestrations are outstanding, and it really helped to make the music come alive.

The cast of Girl from the North Country are phenomenal, with each and every one of them giving a deep and meaningful performance. At the very heart of the musical is Ciarán Hinds, who portrays Nick Laine, the owner of the guesthouse where all of the characters reside. Hinds is an incredible actor; he is extremely captivating to watch, providing a backbone for the whole show from beginning to end. Shirley Henderson portrays his wife Elizabeth Laine, a character that is severely suffering with dementia. As someone who has personally experienced those with the same symptoms of dementia that the character  has, I was struck by how life-like this performance was. Additionally, Henderson is also an outstanding singer, with her rendition of 'Like A Rolling Stone' being beautiful to listen to. In the role of their adopted daughter Marianne is Shelia Atim, who has been nominated for an Olivier Award for her performance in this role. Atim gives an extraordinarily heartfelt performance, and her rendition of 'Tight Connection To My Heart' had the audience spellbound; her voice is truly amazing. Completing this family is the son named Gene, who is played by Sam Reid. Both Sam's acting and singing are completely flawless, and his performance of 'I Want You' was an overall highlight of the entire show. Other cast members that stood out were Bronagh Gallagher, David Ganly, Adam James, Emmanuel Kojo (who was understudying for Arinzé Kene), Debbie Kurup, Finbar Lynch and last, but certainly not least, Jack Shalloo.

This production is exceedingly well-staged, which comes as a result of Conor Mcpherson's exceptional directing. It's clear that Conor McPherson's directorial skills match his writing ability. Two other aspects of Girl from the North Country which also deserve praise are the set design and the choreography. The set design of the 1930's Minnesota boarding house was well crafted, and definitely gave off the correct vibe for the time period. The choreography was sublime, making it one of the many spectacular aspects of Girl from the North Country.

This really is an outstanding musical; I cannot stress this enough. Girl from the North Country closes on the 24th of March, so if you haven't already done so, get your tickets now! Prior to 2017, I had always said that the West End was lacking in original musicals, but with shows such as Girl from the North Country, Groundhog Day and Everybody's Talking About Jamie gracing the West End stage, it seems that we're now on the right track.

The featured star of Girl from the North Country is, drum roll please... SHIRLEY HENDERSON!

With such a talented cast, this decision was never going to be easy. I changed my mind quite a few times on who should be given the title of 'featured star', but eventually I chose Shirley Henderson for the role. I can only begin to imagine what a difficult role to play this must be, but Henderson executes it flawlessly. Her portrayal is hauntingly life-like; this may just be one of the best performances in all the West End right now.

Now for my final verdict on Girl from the North Country. I give Girl from the North Country...

Girl from the North Country receives my rare 5-star rating! I cannot recommend it enough; it is simply phenomenal!

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

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Review: Pippin

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Pippin.
This weekend I ended up spending my Saturday afternoon visiting the Southwark Playhouse to see the brand new revival of the Broadway hit Pippin. I had heard quite a lot about the Southwark Playhouse, but I had never actually been there before. This all changed yesterday though, as this revival of Pippin finally gave me the opportunity to go there.

Pippin tells the story of a young man who has it all; for him, life is a constant adventure involving vaudeville, magic, comedy and romance. It is a soul-searching exploration of one man’s journey to find himself, his place and purpose in life, Pippin is a musical about an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey. At first, it appeared to be a fairly simple story, with a lack of substance, However, things are not always what they seem. Towards the end of the show, it became clear that there is a lot more to Pippin that meets the eye. There are many different interpretations that can be taken from this show, however I personally believe that Pippin is symbolic of mental health difficulties, such as depression or even schizophrenia. There are several hidden meanings within the show and the symbolism is fascinating. The realisation of this only came to me at the very end of the show, and had I known this from the very beginning, I would have taken the play in very differently.

The score of Pippin, which was composed by Steven Schwartz, is excellent. The score features quite a wide range of genres, including everything from fun songs which the audience can sing along to, to powerful ballads attempting to make the audience feel something. The music truly was a joy to listen to, and I am sure to listen to the Original Broadway Cast Album within the upcoming week.

As much as I adored the music, I was finding it quite difficult to hear, which is due to the sound design of this production. The sound design over amplifies the orchestra, making it extremely hard to actually hear the cast sing. I feel that the sound design needs to be rectified as soon as possible, as it does take away from the music from time to time. I definitely think I would have enjoyed this production much more if the sound design had been improved.

In the title role of Pippin is Jonathan Carlton, who provides everything that is needed for the performance. He is extremely believable, he puts a lot of energy into the role, and if that wasn't enough, he has an absolutely outstanding voice. By his side is Genevieve Nicole as the Leading Player, a character who plays 'Devil's advocate' to Pippin throughout the show. Nicole has an exceptional voice, as well as having a strong command over the stage for the entire duration of Pippin. Two supporting cast members who I believe deserve special mentions are Mairi Barclay and Tessa Kadler. Mairi Barclay, performing in the roles of Fastrada and Berthe, had impeccable comic timing and was a natural on the stage. Her shining moment comes when she gets the opportunity to engage with the audience during the song 'No Time at All'. Tessa Kadler, who portrays the role of Catherine, was a truly phenomenal singer and her rendition of 'I Guess I'll Miss the Man' was outstanding. The venerability she portrayed was excellent and it was impossible not to sympathise with the character.

The featured star of Pippin is, drum roll please... JONATHAN CARLTON!

Whilst there are many brilliant cast members within Pippin, this was a fairly easy decision for me. Jonathan Carlton was the perfect choice to play Pippin; he executed the role flawlessly. His voice was excellent, with each and every song demonstrating what an outstanding singer that he was.

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

Pippin deserves 3 and a half stars, however as I don't give half ratings, I have chosen to award this production 3 stars. Nevertheless, it's a great show and it's the perfect example of how brilliant fringe theatre can be!

Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a high rating?

Thanks for reading!

-The Reviewer

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Review: The Weir

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of The Weir.
Once again, I ended up at my local theatre, Richmond Theatre, to spend my Saturday afternoon watching the 20th anniversary production of Olivier Award winning play 'The Weir'. Apart from the fact that The Weir had won the Olivier Award for "Best New Play" in 1999, I entered the theatre with absolutely no knowledge of the play itself.

The Weir is set in a small country bar in rural Ireland, a place where local men are attempting to impress newcomer, Valerie, with stories about ghosts and angels. One by one, they present Valerie with spookish stories, all dealing with elements of the unknown. Little do they know though that Valerie has her own tale to tell, and her story is more real and upsetting than any of them could have imagined. The Weir is a shadowy tale which delves into the darkest corners of simple human lives. The play's structure consists of these characters sitting around the local bar discussing each story, using only their performances to try and help you imagine the story. It is very much a talk-based play, which isn't usually my cup of tea, but I found the subject matter of the show to be fairly interesting. The characters within the play are all unique, and the contrast between them made for a fascinating dynamic. Its clearly a very well written play and I'm confident in saying that Conor McPerson must be an extremely talented playwright.

The cast consists of only 5 cast members, and those actors are: Louis Dempsey, Sean Murray, John O'Dowd, Sam O'Mahony and Natalie Radial-Quirke. All 5 cast members were excellent and each complimented each other's talents nicely. They gelled well together as a group and had extraordinary chemistry. Each of the 5 actors individually brought something unique to the play and they were undeniably all phenomenal.

The set design which portrays the inside of a little village pub in Ireland was well crafted and very authentic. It had a lovely homely feel to it, which helped to create the countryside vibe to the play. Additionally, the lighting design was also very effective and the costume design was absolultey perfect for the setting and the time period.

The featured star of The Weir is, drum roll please... SEAN MURRAY

All 5 cast members were truly exceptional, and this was a fairly hard decision, but ultimately I had to give featured star to Sean Murray. Sean Murray portrays Jack, a mechanic and garage owner in his fifties. Murray was extremely believable in the role and it would be difficult not to sympathise with his character. It seemed to me that his character was the heart of the show, something which I accredit  to his acting skills.

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

As I previously mentioned, talk-based plays aren't always my preference , but I cannot deny that Conor McPerson is a brilliant writer. Therefore, I have chosen to award The Weir 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, 3 March 2018

Review: Macbeth

Hey readers!
It's time for my review of Macbeth. 
Macbeth (or, as some like to call it, "The Scottish Play") is a show that I have always wanted to see, but before now, the chance has never arisen. When I saw that a new revival of Macbeth would be playing at the National Theatre this year, with what appeared to be an extraordinary cast, I was eager to see this production. Unfortunately Macbeth sold out very quickly, meaning it looked unlikely that I would get the chance to see it. Fortunately though, a few cancellations popped up a week before the show began performances, and therefore I finally got the chance to see Macbeth for the first time!

This production is by no means perfect in its current state, but there are still many things that this production can be applauded for. Firstly, the set design is stunning. From comments that I have read online, the set design seems to have really divided opinions, however I personally thought that it was the best aspect of the entire show. It is extremely striking and I found it quite interesting to examine. I can understand why it may not be to everyone's liking, but to me it looked wonderful. The set was also nicely complimented by the lighting design, which I also thought was excellent.

In the starring role of Macbeth was Rory Kennear, an actor I had previously seen perform in Kafka's 'The Trial' at the Young Vic in 2015. Kinnear was excellent in 'The Trial', so I was eager to see what his portrayal of Macbeth would be like. Kenner certainly puts his all into the role of Macbeth, bringing bounds of energy onto the stage. Playing opposite him as Lady Macbeth was Anne-Marie Duff, an actress I recently saw in the West End play 'Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle'. Duff is outstanding throughout, but the moment she really comes into her element is during the final scene in which she appears. During this scene, she is utterly captivating. As excellent as both Kinnear and Duff are, in my eyes it was actually Patrick O'Kane in the role of Macduff that stole the show. O'Kane had a great command of the stage and his performance left a lasting impression on me.

When I mentioned earlier that this production is not quite perfect, I was referring to some of the issues that his production is having with its pace. As it currently stands, Macbeth is 2 hours and 55 minutes, or just short of 3 hours. I did not feel that it needed to be this long, as there were many scenes which could have easily been shortened slightly. If this production has the desire to be more exciting than it currently is, then the pace has to be faster and certain scenes have to but cut down.

In conclusion, whilst there are still some edits that need to made to this production before opening night, I am still extremely happy that I got to around to finally seeing Macbeth!

The featured star of Macbeth is, drum roll please... PATRICK O'KANE!

Despite not being the lead, Patrick O'Kane constantly stood out and stole the show. O'Kane had the most depth within his performance and it appeared that his character had the most layers to it. He truly was an outstanding actor and gave a very memorable performance.

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

Whilst the pace of this production needs to be tightened, I thought that the design was exceptional and the cast were brilliant, and therefore I have chosen to give Macbeth 3 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