Review: ISLANDER

IN BRIEF Skilfully performed folkish fantasy infused with Celtic musical charm

Young Eilidh is the only girl living on a remote Scottish island whose community is in decline. With her Mother away on the mainland, Eilidh is cared for by her grandmother who has a somewhat macabre sense of humour, and enjoys rehearsing for death – much to Eilidh’s annoyance.

When a dying baby whale is washed-up on the beach, a mysterious young girl also appears from the sea. The slowly-building relationship between Eilidh and her mysterious contemporary forms the exposition of the story

The engrossing and delicate score (and lyrics) by Finn Anderson captures the elusive qualities of this environment and the two main characters. Haunting looping sounds built and layered to create an intriguing and ever-changing soundscape are created anew for each performance, using only voices to create what we hear.

Evoking the mysticism and fundamental power of the sea, this engaging folk fantasy creates enough atmosphere from the performers to get through, though the rather half-hearted dry ice produces too little visual effect in the Southwark Playhouse’s Little space, where the show is performed in the round.

There is very little visual about this show, meaning it could easily become (or have been) an album or radio broadcast. The book felt a little overlong, perhaps ten minutes too long at 75 minutes running time. Certain parts like the rowdy community meeting seem a bit padded and the secondary characters are all rather broadly sketched.

Undoubtedly this show is at its best when it’s singing; the performances (from Kirsty Findlay and Bethany Tennick) really elevate this material. Using modern technology to build vocals layer upon layer by the two skilled and perfectly-matched performers in real time, this is both impressive and fascinating in itself.

As the meandering story gently flows to its close, encompassing forgiveness and choices to make, this unusual and engaging show artfully reminds us that wherever there is life, there is hope.

ISLANDER runs at Southwark Playhouse until 26 October. Details and tickets here

VIEWS: PRELUDES as seen by a Hypnotherapist

PRELUDES is a moving and intelligent musical about the power of therapy and music. The show features a hypnotherapist who helps the composer through his problems. I thought it would be interesting to get a practising hypnotherapist’s view of the show, and so I took along my friend Carlos Gouveia who is an RTT Hypnotherapist. I am sure that you will find his thoughts interesting in this, the next instalment of the VIEWS series.

PRELUDES is a fascinating musical journey through the mind of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff as he struggles with writers’ block at the end of the nineteenth century. The way that he chooses to face his fears is through hypnotherapy (the use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes), a relatively new science at that time. Hypnotherapy in various forms had existed through many centuries, but when reintroduced by Franz Mesmer earlier in the late eighteenth century it began to be regarded with more respect as a scientific therapy.

During hypnosis, a person is said to have heightened focus and concentration, and a dramatically enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. The application of hypnosis as a psychotherapy tool to deal with deep rooted issues in the subconscious mind can bring about enormously positive changes. What is surprising is that even today, certain misunderstandings and misconceptions about this therapy have lingered.

It is incredibly rare to see hypnotherapy given centre stage in a theatrical work of any kind, let alone a musical, and that is why I was prompted to write about it.

Writer/composer Dave Malloy has created a significant show which is not at all showy or blasé; no, this is a very thoughtful and almost meditative show. The audience I saw it with were as focussed as the clients in a therapy session, and their reactions quiet and thoughtful. The show gives no “built-in” pauses for applause except at the conclusion of each act, another highly unusual move which allows an acute maintenance of focus upon the subject throughout.

What is fascinating is that, although this is a show about a musical genius, it is principally about a human issue that we have all encountered: failure. This helps to make the show enormously relatable. We can identify elements of ourselves in Rachmnainoff’s struggle; the negativity, the doubt, the hopes, and loved ones rooting for us. Malloy has given us a very human Rachmaninoff, played expertly by Keith Ramsay.

It is dangerous when someone finds themselves dominated by a chain of thought that tells them that they are not good enough, that they don’t deserve much, and that other people look down on them or tolerate them out of politeness. When they find themselves snagging, hindering or impeding their wellbeing on memories of things they did wrong, or relationships that they didn’t get right, that is the time to seek help.

To ask you directly, reader; do you feel that you have to be a success in life just like you think someone else is -and are you consequently critical of yourself? This place in psychology is called ‘the inner Tyrant’. This was Rachmaninoff’s reality for a long period.

The show portrays the numbing state of depression and anxiety Rachmaninoff was experiencing very convincingly, climaxed at the start of the second act and skilfully performed by Norton James playing the demon in Rachmaninoff’s head. This feeling of being uncomfortable was palpable within the audience as I took time to observe my fellow theatregoers’ facial expressions of unease and discomfort. All of the actors gave highly-committed performances, with Rebecca Caine playing Dahl the hypnotist giving a solid and compassionate portrayal, conducting the sessions calmly whilst effectively supporting and reframing Rachmaninoff‘s state of mind and beliefs about the earlier traumatic event in his career.

Talking to several audience members after the show, as well as being delighted to have seen such a mould-breaking show, several said that they almost felt that they had undergone a sort of therapy too. And as mentioned before, the intriguing thing about the show is that it deals with failure- allowing the audience to share in some degree of their own catharsis as a valuable by-product of seeing the show.

PRELUDES is a brilliant piece of theatre which helps people understand the immense value of hypnotherapy – both historically, and today in helping millions of people live happier and more fulfilled lives, less burdened by the past and more energised by the future.

Of course, hypnotherapy – along with all types of therapy – has evolved dramatically over the last century. In my own branch of hypnotherapy, RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy), I use a pioneering combination of four therapies – hypnosis, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and psychotherapy – to deliver extraordinary, permanent change from physical, emotional and psychological pain by reframing my clients’ beliefs, habits and emotions that lie deep in their subconscious mind. This gives each client immense value – and it gives me enormous satisfaction to help them.

If this show has prompted you to think about the potential value of hypnotherapy in your own life, please feel free to drop me a line at hello@changeideserve.com or call 07870148504 for a free, initial chat.


Theatre FootNotes for September 2019 – a summary of other theatre events in my diary

SHAPING DUST – A work in progress from company Fancy Another? at the Tristan Bates Theatre (John Thaw Studio) at the start of September. Part of the theatre’s John Thaw Initiative Graduate Season 2019.

Are we still ourselves without our memories? Emma explores her past on her final day in her childhood home.

We open in the present day on Emma’s final day in her childhood home. Searching for a very important tea cup Emma is led through her house, discovering more and more of her memories until she enters an upstairs bedroom and encounters a memory that shakes her sense of self. Described as ‘magical realism on stage’, Fancy Another? uses puppetry, movement and hard-hitting naturalism to explore how identity is formed by memory and how our sense of self changes if we lose our memories. 

Currently only 30 minutes long, this is an early incarnation of a work which focuses on Alzheimer’s and makes some interesting points about the specifics of memory loss, including a brilliant analogy about memories being books in a bookcase and dementia being an earthquake which causes the bookcase to shake.

There was a lot of good work in the show that we saw, with some interesting use of visuals. I think that once they have doubled the length of the show and further developed some of their ideas, then they will have a show I would be pleased to see again.


EITHER – a new play by Ruby Thomas and directed by Guy Jones, at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

As we all know (or remember), our twentysomething years are a time of discovering who we are, what we are and what we want. And often we discover that those we thought we knew are more complex than we might have originally thought.

EITHER introduces itself as “a play about one couple …. who can be of any gender”.

EITHER is a story about two twentysomethings looking for love. Or sex. Or something. The two characters who seem to be in some developing, loose kind of relationship, are tested by the proliferation of opportunities for experimentation. As one character says, “Having an opportunity doesn’t mean that you should take it”

The two characters are played by a total of six actors, who weave in and out of the two main characters, in a sort of acting relay race. It’s intriguing for a while, and it certainly keeps you on your toes, but it reaps diminishing returns. Further, it does also have the downside of fragmenting character and making us rely more heavily on what is said rather than a deeper understanding of the two characters involved. In that sense it is rather unsatisfying.

The play weaves its way around lots of ideas asking more questions than providing answers. And it seems that an abundance of easy opportunities via technological distractions (dating apps, etc) makes it harder for these characters to define what they actually want from their relationships. The feeling from the play is that they are looking for answers from outside themselves, rather than looking inwards.

It’s undoubtedly an interesting take on sex and sexuality, commitment, liberation and labels. Gender-fluid and narrative-fluid as well as actor-fluid, this is a show which keeps moving the goalposts to enable us to see things from different perspectives and to encourage us to ask questions and challenge our assumptions. A late focus on a discovery by one of the character’s fathers who has dementia reminds us that every generation has their fallibilities.

Ruby Thomas’ well-observed dialogue (in her first full-length play) is very twenty-something, self-conscious and a little wince-inducing at times, but it fits the characters and their ongoing development. Guy Jones directs smartly on Bethany Wells’ clever minimal set design.

The two characters age several years though the play, finally returning to a similar conversation that opened the show, which perhaps signifies that they haven’t really got very far. Which sort of sums up how I felt about the play; although the journey was interesting and I am glad to have made time to see it.


Review: FOR SERVICES RENDERED

IN BRIEF Searing anti-war play’s outrage retains its power in a solid production

What could be more idyllic? An English country garden on a warm Autumn afternoon with apples dropping from the trees around, tea on the terrace with friends and family. So what’s wrong with this picture? In Somerset Maugham’s searing and furious 1932 anti-war play, it is the people.  

One family and their acquaintances try to cope with the devastation of their lives and dislocated social mores – the complex, bitter legacies that World War One has created.

Himself a Red Cross medical officer from 1916, this is Maugham’s heartfelt tribute to those millions who enlisted with patriotism in their hearts, little thinking that their country’s “undying gratitude” would have such a terrifyingly short expiry date. As the title suggests, their heroism was shamefully reduced to the level of a simple transaction by inept governments.

These forgotten men of World War One, discharged without proper support or rehabilitation – “shattered” men, who were sacrificed to maintain England’s cosy self-image, now shattered itself. The hypocrisy and denial in the treatment of those who risked everything for their country, later being criminalised for a simple lack of support is shocking even today.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED concerns three sisters’ attempts to make a future in a time when a whole generation of young men were crippled or, simply, missing. Maugham’s play shows that war’s scars are often invisible but no less life-changing. Eva, who lost her loved one in the War, leading an emaciated life, slides slowly into despair and madness. Ethel, who married a hard-drinking tenant-farmer, is resigned to her lot, acknowledging that breaking class barriers as she did has had its consequences for them both. Bored young Lois, much younger than the other two, has learnt from their sorry outcomes and is determined to grab life despite the costs to those around her, savouring the power of flirting with an infatuated married man at the expense of his wife. A suicide sets off a chain of events causing what remains of the genteel facades to disintegrate before us.

The three ex-servicemen – one blinded in the war, one a farmer, the other a garage owner, are ill-suited to a civilian life and this takes its toll upon them all as they fight their own internal wars.

The older generation do not get off lightly, either, from the stoic Mother whose imminent death appeals as a release (“I’m pre-War”), to the blithely unaware Father, ironically broadcasting his own utterly blind reading of the family situation in a smug coda; and to the infatuated visitor who can afford hundreds for a pretty girl’s necklace but not to help a struggling ex-serviceman survive.

The final moments, as the National Anthem is sung as a sombre, empty gesture, are deeply chilling and unsettling. No wonder, I suppose, that contemporary audiences shunned it and it closed after just 78 performances.

Tom Littler’s intelligent production works well to illustrate the inequalities of the time. Rachel Pickup conveys Eva’s fragility and decline in a quiet, sincere manner. Diane Fletcher acutely shows us the dignified but tested Mother, “out of time” with herself and the world. The detailed sound design by Yvonne Gilbert works very well too. In all, a very worthwhile revival.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED plays at Jermyn Street Theatre until 5 October. Details and tickets here


October’s top shows

Welcome to October’s show highlights. Here are my picks of the most interesting shows that you can find around London and the UK.

Off-West End

Opening

From October 24th, the new Boulevard Theatre’s opening production is GHOST QUARTET, an intoxicating musical of love, loss and spirits – of both the spectral and alcoholic kind. Three-time Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy’s hauntingly beautiful song cycle is a story about stories themselves; how we tell them, how we hear them, and how they evolve, intertwine and draw us in. With an intriguing cast including Carly Bawden and Zubin Varla this looks set to be a highlight, especially after Malloy’s other successful show, the excellent PRELUDES which is playing at Southwark Playhouse until October 12th (see below).

But back to GHOST QUARTET. Rose has a problem. She’s been betrayed by her lover, a local tree-dwelling astronomer, with her very own sister. Rose seeks vengeance and a passing bear might just offer the answer. But his services come at a price: a pot of honey, one piece of stardust, a secret baptism – and a photo of a ghost.

A kaleidoscopic journey spanning continents, centuries and the cosmos ensues. But even through the fogs of time and a haze of whiskey, Rose can’t shake the feeling that she’s done this all before…

Dave Malloy is the writer of the Broadway smash-hit Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.


BERYL Discover the inspiring story of Beryl Burton, the greatest woman on two wheels, in this revival of the 2014 trailblazing tale from writer Maxine Peake.

Beryl Burton MBE, OBE – twice World Road-race Champion, five times World Pursuit Champion – was never meant to cycle. In childhood, a serious illness left her with a weakened heart; doctors warned against strenuous exercise for the rest of her life. Yet, at 30, branded ‘the Yorkshire housewife’ and with no financial sponsorship, she became the first sportswoman in history to break a men’s competitive record.

Featuring a host of unforgettable characters and a great big dollop of Northern wit, Peake’s freewheeling play is the extraordinary true story of a woman who pushed at the limits, took on the status quo – and won. Playing at Arcola from 16 October to 16 November.


BABY REINDEER was one of the hits of this year’s Edinburgh Festival. When Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner Richard Gadd (Monkey See Monkey Do) offers a free cup of tea to a stranger, what appears to be a trivial interaction has ramifications far wider than he could ever have imagined.

This is a gripping debut play and chilling personal narrative exploring obsession, delusion, and the aftermath of a chance encounter. Directed by Olivier Award Winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam), the show plays the Bush Theatre from 9 October to 9 November.



Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas are the internationally-acclaimed theatre makers behind EUROHOUSE and the award-winning PALMYRA. Their stripped-back shows play with humour, brutality and the impressive ability to flip between the two

Bert and Nasi return with a show entitled ONE. Locked in a deadpan double-act and a polarised world, they are both looking for a way to be together. But they get distracted by squabbles, insults, tap-dancing and one-upmanship. How will it end? You decide. 

ONE plays at the Battersea Arts Centre until October 19th


The Finborough Theatre continues its interesting finds from America with the European debut of hit Off-Broadway play THE NICETIES by Eleanor Burgess which runs from 1 to 26 October.

“There is one appropriate way of responding to a woman of color who says, I have an idea to assert, and that is to shut up and listen”

America. 2016. Within the stately office of an elite university two women united by their vision for the future, but divided on how to get there, meet to review a history paper that asks one big question: has America reached the moment for its real, radical, revolution?

When a clash of ideas becomes a complicated discussion about race, the niceties begin to wear thin and one woman is forced to put everything on the line in order to make her case.

As their private dispute explodes into a public war, the devastating consequences of their good intentions are laid bare, as both student and professor ask: Have we left it too late to repair our divided society?


Highly-praised at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, here’s a quick London season for haunting musical ISLANDER, playing at Southwark Playhouse from 2 to 26 October.

Eilidh stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island. Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever. Epic storytelling, intimately staged with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score.

The two-hander cast of Kirsty Findlay (Olivier Award Nominated, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour) and Bethany Tennick perform a whole host of characters, while weaving, building and layering their voices using looping technology to create an expansive, ethereal soundscape for the ears and imagination.


Okay listen up, you have seventy-five years to be all you can be!

LITTLE BABY JESUS, a 2011 work by writer/performer Arinzé Kene, introduces three characters. Joanne is dipped in rudeness, rolled in attitude and is fighting to keep her life afloat. Sensitive and mature he may be, yet Kehinde struggles with an obsession for mixed race girls as he eyes his place on the social ladder. Rugrat, class clown and playground loudmouth, just wants to make it past GCSEs and keep their name on the tip of your tongue.

As their lives collide and intertwine, three extraordinary young people relay the moments they ‘grew up’. Three remarkable stories. Three incredible journeys.

Directed by Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, winner of the JMK Award 2019, LITTLE BABY JESUS runs at the Orange Tree Theatre from 18 October to 16 November.


Playing to 19 October at the Greenwich Theatre, BROOKLYN THE MUSICAL was seen in New York in 2004 and now receives its European Premiere, starring Hiba Elchikhe (who was so good in FIVER at the Southwark Playhouse a few months ago) and John Addison (from the West End production of SCHOOL OF ROCK). The show also features Andrew Patrick-Walker (Bat Out of Hell), Sabrina Aloueche (We Will Rock You) and Emily-Mae (The Producers).  The cast alone make it worth a look, but as yet I haven’t heard the score.

BROOKLYN THE MUSICAL is a story within a story. A band of soulful street singers who meet up to share stories from their lives, and their story tonight: a young Parisian coming to America to search for fame and the father she never knew and the journey she embarks upon to find the soul of the city that bears her name.

Featuring a wide range of rock, pop and soul, these stories interweave to create an inspiring and touching musical that celebrates the energy and spirit of New York City.


Praised as “one of the freshest voices in American theatre” by the New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker returns to the National Theatre (following acclaimed runs of her mesmerising shows The Flick and John) with her latest extraordinary play THE ANTIPODES. Their phones switched off, a group of people sit around a table telling, categorising and theorising stories. This is a world that is both familiar and fantastical. Their real purpose is never quite clear, but they continue on, searching for the monstrous. THE ANTIPODES asks what value stories have for a world in crisis. Playing at the National Theatre from 21 October to 23 November.


We just haven’t had enough shows about sperm recently. So here, from the folk who brought you the sell-out comedy hit Planet Earth III, PRIVATES: A Sperm Odyssey sees Luke Rollason (“amazingly entertaining” Ed Fest Mag), Christian Brighty (“hilarious” List) and Tom Curzon (“charming” Chortle) perform as three sperm on an adventure as big as life itself.

In this new, award-winning show, these plucky Privates must survive basic training, hostile white blood cells and the most dramatic ejaculation sequence ever seen onstage to be the first to fertilise the egg and become a beautiful baby. A very funny, fantastical and very frank look at how we talk about sex, and why. Playing at the Soho Theatre on October 31 to November 2nd.


Sometimes I wake up in the morning and all the missed opportunities of my life stare at me, grind me down until I’m nothing. Nothing but dust.

A new darkly comic, absurdist play by James Mannion, MITES is a sinister exploration of the manipulation that lies beneath relationships, in particular of those who are mentally vulnerable in society.

A lonely woman, abandoned by her husband, lives in an isolated house with her outspoken, anthropomorphic cat, Bartholomew. One day she is visited by Ken, a Pest Controller, who claims to be her ex-husband returned to her. Deceived by his lies and obsessed with memories of the past, the woman accepts Ken into her life, despite the sceptical protestations of Bartholomew. As her self-deception grows and Ken’s true intentions become clear, how will she survive the competitive machinations of her two male companions? And is there more to Bartholomew than meets the eye? MITES plays at the Tristan Bates Theatre from 7 to 26 October.


Off West End – Last Chance

Until October 12th FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY is an unmissable, quietly devastating look at the dereliction of the UK’s social service through a hugely compassionate lens. In a run-down community hall on the edge of town, a woman has been cooking lunch for those in need. A choir is starting up, run by a volunteer who’s looking for a new beginning. A mother is seeking help in her fight to keep her young daughter from being taken into care. An older man sits silently in the corner, the first to arrive, the last to leave. Outside the rain is falling.

FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY is the culmination of a trilogy that began with BEYOND CARING – ‘Unforgettable’ (The Times) – and followed by LOVE – ‘the National’s play of the year, and then some’ (Evening Standard). Alexander Zeldin’s new play goes to the heart of our uncertain times. Playing at the National’s Dorfman Theatre from until October 12th.

Read my **** review of the show here


Until October 12th PRELUDES is mesmerising – a true original. Based on a true story of the composer genius Rachmaninoff’s sessions of hypnotherapy, PRELUDES is an intriguing new musical by three-time Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Ghost Quartet). It examines the crippling debilitation and harm the world can do to people, and how the dramatic and musical process can be used as therapy to restore them back into the fullest of creative lives. PRELUDES runs until October 12th at Southwark Playhouse.

Read my **** review of the show here


Until October 12th ANNA BELLA EEMA  “Something is coming. It’s either the interstate or the end of the world”. Precocious child Annabella lives in a deserted trailer park. Schooled by her eccentric mother Irene, she learns to co-exist with the vampires, werewolves and monsters that lurk in the world outside. Desperate to ward off the new highway that threatens the demolition of their home, Annabella steps outside to build a girl out of mud. The girl comes to life. The girl is Anna Bella Eema.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa D’Amour’s (Detroit, National Theatre) part ghost story, part fairytale, part coming-of-age fantasy, ANNA BELLA EEMA plays at the Arcola until October 12th.

Read my *** review of the show here


Until October 13th TORCH SONG, Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-winning play about the life and loves of a drag artist in 1970s New York runs until October 13th at the Turbine Theatre in Battersea, next to the Power Station. This inaugural production at the venue is directed by Olivier-winner Drew McOnie


Until October 5th FOR SERVICES RENDERED A warm September afternoon in an idyllic English village. Tea is served on the terrace. Sounds of a tennis party float across the lawn. But this England has no place for the heroes of the First World War. No jobs to sustain them, no mantelpieces for their medals, and no money for their debts. Against the odds, three sisters must carve new paths in an uncertain world.

Somerset Maugham’s sharply observed and passionate play is a Chekhovian examination of desire, frustration and hope.

FOR SERVICES RENDERED runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre until October 5th, and is directed by JST’s Artistic Director, Tom Littler.


Continuing

FALSETTOS , the double Tony Award winning musical from James Lapine and William Finn finally gets its London premiere (courtesy of Selladoor Productions) at the Other Palace until November 23rd. Featuring a brilliant cast including Laura Pitt-Pulford (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), Natasha J Barnes (WASTED) and Daniel Boys (AVENUE Q) amongst others.

An hilarious and poignant look at a modern family, FALSETTOS revolves around the life of a gay man Marvin, his wife, his lover, his soon to be bar mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist, and the lesbian neighbours, Originally created under the spectre of the AIDS crisis, this ground-breaking musical about family dynamics manages to remain buoyant and satirically perceptive even as it moves towards its heartbreaking conclusion, which reminds us that love is all that really matters.


West End Opening

Opening October 8th Stephen Mangan leads this restyling (by comedy specialist Sean Foley) of the classic 1951 Ealing comedy THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT which originally starred Alec Guinness. All about a scientist who creates a miracle fibre which doesn’t wear out, the discovery is seized upon by both the mill owners and the trades unions who all want to suppress it. It will be intriguing to see how Foley works with the fifties nature of the story and manages to bring his own quirky eye to the story details. Reuniting Foley with Stephen Mangan, (they worked together on JEEVES AND WOOSTER to great success in 2016), this will be an interesting experiment in itself.


Opening Outside London

Manchester

Until November 9th Manchester is excited for this – and me too. After 50 years Jerry Herman’s classic musical MAME is back! When young Patrick goes to stay with his Auntie Mame, he walks into a fast-living world of fun and and joy. It will be a real treat to see two-time Olivier-winner Tracie Bennett (Follies) (pictured above, top right) as Mame, with the great Tim Flavin (above, left) and Harriet Thorpe (Absolutely Fabulous) (pictured above, centre) as Mame’s “old, old, old friend” Vera Charles. Get set for some high-octane musical fun! The celebrated score includes the rousing title number, plus “Open a New Window,” “If He Walked into My Life,” “We Need a Little Christmas,” “Bosom Buddies” and “That’s How Young I Feel.” Good to see that rising star producer Katy Lipson -who has now made so many excellent smaller-scale musicals – is starting to move into the bigger shows. Great good wishes from me to everyone involved! Previews from September 28th and playing till November 9th. The show visits Northampton and Salisbury in January 2020, and must tour the whole country soon!


Salisbury

5th – 29th October Here is a most welcome revival of BREAKING THE CODE, a play first seen in 1986 when it starred Derek Jacobi. At the height of the Second World War eccentric genius Alan Turing was breaking the complex German code, Enigma, at Bletchley Park. Since his work was classified top secret for years after the war, no one knew how much was owed to him when he was later put on trial and publicly humiliated by the revelation of his sexuality. Hugh Whitemore’s compelling play intertwines an account of Turing’s most heroic hour with that of his betrayal by the nation he had helped in its darkest hour. Turing’s story went on to be told in the 2014 Oscar-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Breaking the Code stars Edward Bennett and Julian Firth and is directed by Christian Durham.


Touring the UK

C’est Magnifique! Achieving the near-impossible task of translating a unique French movie to the stage, and doing so in some style, this UK tour of AMELIE will bring a smile to your lips and warmth to your heart, as we follow our heroine helping others but finding it hardest to help herself. With a tuneful score and dynamic Audrey Brisson as Amelie, this is your passport to joie de vivre. See it in October at Southampton until October 5th when the tour ends. The show then prepares for a transfer to London in November for a Christmas season at The Other Palace.

Read my **** review of the show here


If you love the Latin crossover music of Gloria Estefan you will enjoy ON YOUR FEET! It has had mixed but mostly positive reviews, unanimous in the musical content of the show. It looks good and sounds just great, with a brilliant band (worth the price of admission alone) who never let the energy flag.

Featuring 26 hits, this Tony Award nominated show ran on Broadway for two years, for over 750 performances. ON YOUR FEET! is the inspiring true love story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan and charts their journey from Cuba to the streets of Miami and finally to international superstardom. Featuring some of the most iconic pop songs of the era, including “Rhythm is Gonna Get You”, “Conga”, “Get On Your Feet”, “Don’t Want To Lose You Now” and “1-2-3” and many more.

ON YOUR FEET! is directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde), with choreography by Olivier Award-winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and book by Academy Award® winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman). See it in October at Sunderland, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Cardiff and Manchester.

Read my ***.5 review of the show here


NT Live Broadcasts

October brings another NTLive broadcast to screens around the UK and further afield. On October 17th The Bridge Theatre’s highly-acclaimed production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM will be coming to a venue near you.

To find screenings in your area check out the schedule of NT Live website, details here.