One of those shows that is very silly, and it knows it, She Loves Me is a bit of a let-down in its sheer repetitiveness. Two instances stick out. The first is exit music whenever a customer leaves the perfumery in which most of the show is set, accompanied by a sung invitation to “please call again, do call again”. The second is during Act One Scene Nine, where a waiter drops a tray. It’s not long after that another waiter drops another tray.
Despite protestations from the head waiter (Cory English) it just keeps happening, over and over, until it gets boring. I wondered whether the staff at this café ought to have been supplied with indestructible trolleys with which to carry food and beverages to customers. I realise this makes me sound like a spoilsport in what is really quite a fun musical but it irritated me that much. At least there’s some hilarious breaching of the fourth wall to be enjoyed.
The choreography (Rebecca Howell) doesn’t get much of a chance to properly shine until near the end, in “Twelve Days to Christmas”, where the hustle and bustle of festive shopping is portrayed well, though again a flurry of over-elaborate farewells to customers at the perfumery proved a bit of a test of endurance. I loved the set (Paul Farnsworth), managing to get a quadruple revolve onto the fairly small Menier Chocolate Factory stage, whilst not feeling too squished in.
Stand-out performances from a strong cast came from Callum Howells as Arpad Laszlo, always smiling, always eager, with a boy-next-door smile and likeability that I couldn’t fault – and from Katherine Kingsley as Ilona Ritter, such an engaging stage presence and a powerful singing vocal that probably would have sounded just as clear without amplification.
The lyrics (Sheldon Harnick) are often sharp and witty, and the two leads, Georg Nowack (Mark Umbers) and Amalia Balash (Scarlett Strallen) are clearly having fun on stage – always a good thing to see. The love story is refreshingly unsentimental – this is hardly The Phantom of the Opera – and although it’s an American show, there’s a distinct Britishness about it in its old-fashioned restraint. That, and British accents are retained in a Broadway musical, albeit one set in any event in Budapest: is it to be assumed they are really speaking Hungarian (although actually in English for the benefit of the audience)?
Had it been set in contemporary times, they’d have probably whipped their clothes off in an instant and subjected the audience to a sex scene. Instead, there are letters back and forth, back and forth (yep, that repetitiveness thing again) that eventually result in a meetup in what I call The Café With The Bumbling Waiters. For reasons detailed in the course of the narrative, this ‘date’ goes horribly wrong. Elsewhere, Mr Maraczek (Les Dennis) solicits much sympathy from the audience, partly because it transpires that his wife has been having an affair, and partly in his conduct after having found out about it. Ladislav Sipos (Alastair Brookshaw) was an interesting character, experienced but still insecure, resorting to desperate measures to remain within Maraczek’s employment.
A hearty and enjoyable production.
At the Menier Chocolate Factory until 4 March 2017. Nearest station: London Bridge.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” As it was in 1859 when Charles Dickens had his A Tale of Two Cities published, as it was in 2016. I am somewhat removed from general news and current affairs more than I ever was, mostly because my theatre reviewing schedule this year went through the roof – I missed this year’s BT Christmas Concert at the Royal Albert Hall to attend the press night of the ‘20th anniversary’ UK tour production of Rent, and in that same week, my plans to attend Handel’s Messiah¸ again at the Royal Albert Hall, were postponed once more, for something that could not have been more different: Cinderella at the London Palladium. And there’s all the background reading I often like to do, and more often than not fail to do.
At a personal level, parts of 2016 were rotten. I had a terrible experience at the hands of the NHS at St George’s Hospital, where I was referred with a view to having a cataract taken out sooner rather than later. There’s little point, after all, in seeing shows if I can’t, um, see properly in the first place. Grumpy administrative staff as well as a terse and dismissive ‘senior staff nurse’. The latter wasted no time in accusing me of ignoring my own GP’s advice, quite a presumptuous remark to make, before telling me my scheduled surgery was postponed because my blood sugars were too high. Never mind that the blood sugars she demanded would have put me in a permanent state of hypoglycaemia. Without boring you with too many details, it would make people think I was drunk, when in fact my brain is buggered, because it relies mostly on glucose for fuel. But if it doesn’t have any glucose (sugar), because there isn’t any sugar inside me, I need to consume sugary foods – and quickly, otherwise I’d end up in a diabetic coma. Now, I realise there are all sorts of reasons why morale in the National Health Service is very low, but I don’t see why patients should be used as punchbags as a result of Jeremy ‘see you next Tuesday’ Hunt.
I lost the equivalent of a week off work – a couple of days in January and then three days in February, due to a chest infection, and had the most ghastly experience at the Nelson Health Centre, in Merton Park. I was seen by a registrar, who called my name out in the quietest voice imaginable, so I missed it the first time. Anyone would in a doctors’ waiting room with screaming babies, administrators on the phone sorting appointments out, and general conversational noise. Not only was this moron very rude, she was also incompetent. She couldn’t even examine the back of my mouth without calling for assistance, and insisted, when it came to printing out a prescription for me, that the printer was being slow. It was in fact turned off. Asserting I wasn’t breathing through my mouth, although I was, it was her colleague who checked me over very quickly, made a diagnosis and instructed this know-it-all who really knew nothing what I ought to be prescribed. The antibiotics worked eventually, but I got worse before I got better, and pulled out of reviewing a show. I am sorry to the actors in Poll Function, Jon Pascoe and Greg Shewring, for sitting in the front row (albeit on the instruction of the Pleasance Theatre staff) and coughing and spluttering my way through their press night. In hindsight I really should have had two nights off.
Having never applied for a mortgage before, I had no idea how convoluted the process was, and was ill-prepared for the amount of information I had to gather before being given the time of day. The managing director at my day job had been through the process himself more than once before, and thankfully had no hesitation, despite his workload, in filling in the forms the mortgage brokers wanted. The mortgage broker herself, however, didn’t take too kindly to me wanting to know exactly what was going on, and at one point screamed down the phone at me in response to me answering a question with a question. Hours later she was all sweetness and light all over again, and eventually I cleared my student loan and miscellaneous other outstanding balances, with money still left over.
This, then, is what I did with the rest of it. Returning to that blasted cataract, I joined the growing number of people who went private. I read a wonderful story about a man who went to France to have his cataract taken out, as the cost of the train fare and accommodation combined with the lower surgery fees there added up to less than the amount he’d have to fork out to have it done in Britain. For me, the difference in cost was so negligible – and, with the mortgage money having come through, I was able to settle the bill in full even before the surgery, so (as I recall) there was a bit of a cash discount in it for me – I had mine removed by Optical Express surgeons in their Westfield branch in London’s Shepherd’s Bush.
Some say that once you go private, that’s where you’ll stay. I agree up to a point. I am not usually able to secure appointments at my local clinic, even though they want me there every so often to whinge at me about how I’m not controlling my diabetes as well as I could, as their administrators seem to have a ‘computer says no’ mentality. Twice this year I’ve been to the London Doctors Clinic in Soho Square (which they call their Oxford Street branch), which charges £55 for an appointment, but at least you can get one, and they won’t cancel on you with little or no prior notice. The first time Dr Olivia Abrahim assured me that I hadn’t developed another chest infection, and all I needed to do was get some rest and allow myself to recover naturally. As this was Easter Saturday this was easily done. The second time Dr Tom Farmer and I discussed hyperhidrosis, for which Odaban spray (call it up on a search engine of your choice if you’re really that interested) was thought to have been the best product to deal with it. Seems to be working thus far.
In May, I enjoyed a performance of Sid The Play at Camden’s Etcetera Theatre. In a five-star review I noted “there’s something very lovable and charming about a day in the life of a punk lover who seems to have been born a generation too late.” A producer, Andrea Leoncini, who I am now privileged to call my friend, saw the show in very similar circumstances to my own. I was seeing another show at Etcetera one evening when I was invited to see Sid as well, and as there was no geographical inconvenience in seeing two shows in the same night, I agreed I would stay. I was pleased to be able to put some money behind their crowd-funder for a small tour, which resulted in seeing the show once more during its run at Above the Arts Theatre, just one minute from Leicester Square. Two if tourists get in the way a bit.
I was also interested in the cast recording of Before After, produced and composed by Stuart Matthew Price, with book and lyrics by Timothy Knapman. Not so much initially at what it was about (I hadn’t bothered reading too much about it before pledging my support) but at who they had brought on board for the recording. I’m not sure how well known Hadley Fraser and Caroline Sheen are outside the world of musical theatre, but not only are they amongst the best in the business, they’re both married to people amongst the best in the business, Rosalie Craig and Michael Jibson respectively. The story, as it turns out, is rather hard-hitting, and is one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. I accepted an invitation to a recording studio near Baker Street, and sat for far longer than was originally agreed enjoying this work in progress and understanding how a studio cast recording is even put together. A drinks reception and launch party went well, too – and if anyone is interested that doesn’t have a copy yet, more details can be found here: http://www.simgproductions.com/Records/Before_After.html
I would probably have a nervous breakdown if I even attempted compiling a list of people who died in 2016. There is a theory being bandied about, which probably has a modicum of truth in it, that the high number of deaths of people with public profiles this year is the natural progression of the pop music boom of the Sixties and the introduction of television in people’s front rooms in the Fifties. The number of recognised names is therefore much higher than it ever was, especially in our day, now that what constitutes a ‘celebrity’ has been somewhat widened thanks to reality shows and programmes like ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and ‘The X-Factor’. What we have seen in 2016, is apparently the new norm. It still doesn’t really explain why Terry Wogan, David Bowie, Victoria Wood, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen, Harper Lee and Ronnie Corbett – to name a small number – all passed on in the same year.
This year saw #Shakespeare400, and with it, a larger number of Bard plays than usual. Two, Love Labours Lost and Much Ado About Nothing are, at the time of writing, in rep at Theatre Royal Haymarket, having transferred over from Chichester Festival Theatre – it seems to be more of CFT’s own productions transfer to London than don’t. Flute Theatre’s 90-minute Hamlet is the best version I’ve seen, not only this year but ever, surpassing a bizarre one-man version which I saw at the Jack Studio Theatre, and A Tale of Sound and Fury at the Hope Theatre, for which I was one of the only reviewers not to go the full five-stars.
Some snobbishness still continues with regards to online reviews, as opposed to ones that appear in print newspapers. This is, however, the year in which producers and public relations firms properly wised up to so-called ‘bloggers’ and online reviewers and critics: I saw Guys and Dolls, Disney’s Aladdin, Mrs Henderson Presents, Nell Gwynn, School of Rock, Funny Girl (which I never would have paid to see, not at those prices, and certainly not having seen it already at Menier Chocolate Factory before its transfer to the Savoy Theatre), Dead Funny, School of Rock The Musical and An Inspector Calls, all press performances – just a few examples of West End shows seen during the year.
The profile of LondonTheatre1, who I write for, increased significantly during the year. At least two reviews were quoted in The Stage, one of which was Mary Nguyen’s ogling over Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis, starring alongside Glenn Close in the English National Opera production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, at the London Coliseum. The other was one of mine, a rather rude (in hindsight) one-star dismissal of People, Places and Things, which everyone loved except, it would seem, me. I mentioned a slimmed-down Hamlet – a direct quote and star rating from when I saw it at the Park Theatre appeared on posters and on the front cover of the programme for their Trafalgar Studios run in December. I just happened to be listening to an edition of Elaine Paige on Sunday on BBC Radio 2, when the ever-popular broadcaster read out the opening paragraph of my press night review of Cameron Mackintosh’s new blockbuster Half A Sixpence. LondonTheatre1 was never credited, “simply an oversight”, according to the BBC, but it’s a sign that LT1 is moving onwards and upwards. The glorious Vanities The Musical played at Trafalgar Studios this year, which saw me quoted in an advert placed by the producers of that show in The Times.
If Half A Sixpence was the ‘best of times’ – I hope I wasn’t too pretentious in calling their leading man, Charlie Stemp, “a gloriously incomparable tour de force” – the latest touring production of Ghost The Musical was the ‘worst of times’. Sarah Harding performed disastrously at New Wimbledon Theatre. I mean, it really was terrible, and it was the only time I can ever remember people openly laughing at how bad it was. It was a surreal experience, that Friday night in early September, nobody failed to return at the interval (in my section, at least) and nobody did that thing they do at Sadler’s Wells where they storm out and slam the doors as they go, or the booing that still goes on at the opera. Harding’s acting was, as I said in a review posted on Facebook (LT1, alongside other reputable publications, has never been invited by Bill Kenwright Ltd to review the show at a press performance), “frigid and awkwardly wooden” and the stage looked like it was about to fall apart. The following night, I attended the last performance of Half A Sixpence at Chichester Festival Theatre. The difference could not have been starker – in every way.
The success of Half A Sixpence seems to have taken even its own creatives by surprise. Unsure how audiences would respond, no West End transfer was put in place even after a number of press night rave reviews, though the nightly standing ovations went on. In a London theatre Facebook group I help to run – not the biggest online parish but by no means the smallest, at more than 6,300 members – a number of posts went up as the summer went on, apologising for not being about a London show, before saying something along the lines of, ‘I’ve just come out of the Festival Theatre and seen the most amazing musical!’ At one point travel options and possible places to stay overnight were being discussed.
It was only in the last week of performances at Chichester that a London transfer was finally announced, and the ticket prices for the initial booking period were, unless you chose to sit upstairs, eye-wateringly high. Staff at the Festival Theatre themselves seemed surprised at that final Chichester performance by quite how many £125 premium seats there were (there aren’t nearly as many now, funnily enough) but nonetheless they were thrilled at the news. The London audience responses go on until now, particularly through social media, and it’s become a near-daily pleasure to scroll through and look at people’s comments about how impressed they were with the show. There are musical theatre students who say they have been inspired by the show, a few American visitors want it to come to Broadway eventually, and as I understand it, some fans of the show received an actual banjo for Christmas 2016. Whether they will learn to play them or not is another matter.
I went to the panto four times this year (two years ago, and for many years before that, I didn’t go to any), twice each to Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and the London Palladium. In the summer, Bromley Football Club hosted Les Mis FC v Phantom FC, fielding teams from the two longest-running musicals in the West End plus other guests and celebrities. In keeping with most of the people in the audience I had very little idea what was going on. Nor did I have any idea what was happening in Moby Dick The Musical, staged at the Union Theatre in October/November. ‘Bonkers!’ seemed to be the operative word.
The London Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO) put on two public concerts, State Fair, at Cadogan Hall, and A Christmas Carol, at the Lyceum Theatre, putting a full-sized orchestra on the London stage, a relatively rare sight in musical theatre these days. I even got to see the press performance of Carlos Acosta: The Classical Farewell at the Royal Albert Hall, celebrating one of the finest dancers of our generation, who will now progress to directing, choreographing and charitable works. All good things must come to an end, and I’ve no idea how long I’ll keep getting such good gigs on press comps, but for now I’m riding the wave, and taking the odd energy booster supplement as I go to keep myself going.
I don’t think there are too many five-star reviews being bandied about. I think this has just been a marvellous year for London theatre, and next year looks to continue this trend.
I wish you a very Happy New Year.
When I previously saw Gatsby during its Union Theatre run back in April 2016, I pointed out that “it could do with some tightening and trimming down”, even if this meant losing the interval and performing it as a one-act show. The interval for this Leicester Square Theatre run has been retained, and even if my fellow theatregoers were not particularly impressed, I can honestly say it’s better than it was. it was rather like watching Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies shortly after it opened in 2010, and then going back to it some months later, after a significant revision had been put in place. It’s not the best production, out there, but, as I say, it’s better than it was.
I deal with the elephant in the room first – the production’s casting scoop in Cressida Bonas playing Daisy Buchanan. Bonas has been described as an ‘It Girl’ and was at one point linked to senior member of the British Royal Family. I strongly suspect, though, she has been cast meritoriously, based on this performance: this isn’t celebrity casting.
Buchanan is portrayed as a sort of younger version of Blanche DuBois (she of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire), except she hasn’t lived nearly as long as DuBois, and therefore still has a husband, Tom (Bradley Clarkson) to cling onto – for the Buchanans, it’s hardly the end of the road. Or is it? The show’s critical incident, which happens quite late in this musical, could potentially serve as a metaphor for Daisy and Tom.
The production still, slightly frustratingly, hasn’t quite got the balance of sound between music and vocals entirely right – one performer in particular (who, on reflection, I have decided should remain nameless) consistently lacked singing vocal projection, and many of composer and lyricist Joe Evans’ words were thus missed. The lighting (Dom Warwick) was well done, though, and the set kept fairly simple but effective.
There’s probably a metaphor, too, in Jay Gatsby (Ludovic Hughes) so desperately wanting to recreate the past and ultimately coming short, and the show itself wanting to do the very same. The costumes were appropriate – no complaints there – though the final scene confused me somewhat, transporting the audience back in time again, seemingly to an earlier part of the narrative, though why this reminder was necessary I couldn’t work out purely from seeing it: it was explained to me afterwards. Fortunately or unfortunately it is too much of a spoiler to regurgitate it here.
I don’t, sadly, recall any of the songs, either in terms of lyrics or tunes – not even a glance at the list of musical numbers in hindsight brings anything in particular to mind. But there were definitely some good displays of actor-musicianship, and excellent breaches of the fourth wall that, as far as I can remember, weren’t in the Union Theatre run. I never felt totally immersed in the lavishness of the inter-war, pre-Great Depression period, but this doesn’t stop this improved show from being a reasonably enjoyable evening.
Ends 15 January 2017 at Leicester Square Theatre
I had informed the good people at ‘West End Musical Theatre’, a ‘weekly elite training’ programme for young musical theatre performers from the ages of 12 to 30, of my intention to attend their ‘West End Sings at Christmas’ event. I had not heard of their work previously but they had, as their host and musical director for the evening, Scott Harrison, pointed out, “spammed the hell” out of this seasonal concert on social media, and it caught my attention, not least because of a relatively stellar line-up.
Their initial response was to tweet back, firstly to thank me for my support, and then asking if I would be putting in a review of their concert. I was about to start a Tube journey when that tweet came through, and by the time I resurfaced from the Northern line, that tweet regarding a possible review had been deleted. They have their reasons for so keenly asking in the first instance. Just this week I had a producer contact me with some questions about a review they had received regarding a charity event, which was, apparently, not only unkind but unprofessional, and there is something slightly different about reviewing a ‘one night only’ charity gala concert as opposed to a longer running theatrical production. This then, to clarify, is most certainly not a review of ‘West End Sings at Christmas’, even if you find yourself struggling to truly believe it isn’t should you choose to read on.
I found it difficult to warm to Harrison at times as host. Although he is evidently warm-hearted and generous, as evidenced by his students keenly showing their appreciation for him and co-director Lindsey Page, he had a habit of asking for further applause from the audience for a particular performer and/or group, only to almost immediately talk over that same applause, forcing the audience to choose between abruptly ceasing applauding to listen to him or to ignore him and continue. It got rather irritating, to be blunt: if he wanted us to put our hands together once more, we should have been allowed to do so without interruption. It rather defeats the purpose otherwise. One or two digs at the purported unruliness of his students came across as unnecessarily unconstructive, though I am fully prepared to accept this may well be simple banter.
And breathe. An underwhelming start saw the full ensemble of West End MT (as they like to be known) leaving an awful lot of the legwork in ‘O Holy Night’ to two soloists: this large company, as it turns out, can sing beautifully as a de facto choir – a later rendering of the ‘Ave Maria’ demonstrated this. They nailed it, as it were, as they did the contemporary tunes that made up a long finale, including that Mariah Carey number.
I had no idea why the Girls Aloud number ‘The Promise’ was included in the programme – although it was a crowd-pleaser for virtually everyone except me (I found it too repetitive and distinctly non-Christmassy). I wondered if it had been a Christmas hit for that ‘girl group’, but as a single it was released in October 2008 and as part of their ‘Out of Control’ album on 3 November 2008. At least ‘River’ sung by Adrian Hansel (I assume the Joni Mitchell song, as it was frankly depressing), was about someone’s Christmas experience. With hindsight, it was a good choice to include it in a Christmas concert – not everyone looks forward to the festive season for various reasons, and it would be quite wrong to assume all of those people are twenty-first century versions of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Worth mentioning is 16-year-old Toby Turpin, who kicked off post-interval proceedings with gusto and confidence. He is nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a New Production of a Musical in the Broadway World UK Awards 2016, although the list of nominees is quite long. (The record, I think, is 71 nominees, for Understudy of the Year.) The NYMT (National Youth Music Theatre) put on a production of Spring Awakening at the Leicester Curve Theatre earlier this year, and it is for his role as Mortiz Stiefel that Turpin is nominated.
All in all, this proved a borderline chaotic evening. Poor Scott Harrison had no idea what was going on himself half the time. He was, to be fair, quick to correct himself each time, but with the number of corrections required, I hope his team and students appreciate the need for attention to detail, and what can happen when it comes up short. Still, the show came up trumps with Amy Lennox singing ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, originally made famous by the alternative rock band Keane (Harrison’s point of reference was the Lily Allen version used for the 2013 John Lewis Christmas advert), and Lily Frazer’s ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?’ And there’s nothing quite like seeing a historic central London Wren church, St Clement Danes, rocking out to the strains of Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’.
“The amount of sexual innuendo in that show was ridiculous,” came the exit poll verdict from a fellow theatregoer as we filed out of Cinderella at the London Palladium. The age guide for the first panto for many years at this theatre is that it is unsuitable for the under-fives. It was not so much the innuendo itself that leads me to think the age recommendation should be raised by a few years. It was the barrage of questions of the youngest members of the audience gave their parents at the interval, and I can only assume similar conversations took place on the way home. The 10.30pm finish makes this show longer than Wicked or Les Miserables, to give an indication of the stamina required to make it through the show, whatever one’s age.
Where to begin? The set is altogether glamorous, and the costumes often eliciting whooping from the audience, especially the dazzling attires of Dandini (a crowd-pleasing Julian Clary). The lighting is incredible and the special effects a wonder to behold: from what I could deduce, the same or at least similar technology to create the magic carpet ride in Disney’s Aladdin over at the Prince Edward Theatre is in use to get Cinderella (Natasha J Barnes) to the ball.
There’s a lot of ‘celebrity casting’ going on, and though the likes of Julian Clary and Paul O’Grady (the latter playing Baroness Hardup, best described as the one you’re meant to boo at) have incredible stage presence, they are granted parts in musical numbers that are theirs because of the way the narrative is structured. However, they are, to be frank, not the best of singers, a point only highlighted all the more when the likes of Barnes, Lee Mead (Prince Charming – who else?) and Paul Zerdin (Buttons) are in full flow in a modified rendering of ‘Love Changes Everything’ from Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love. They do at least make up for it in an incredible ability to ad-lib, sending both the audience and – every so often, their more theatrical co-stars – into cahoots. They literally stop the show.
Zerdin, permitted if not positively encouraged by the creatives to retain the services of Sam, his sidekick puppet through which his ventriloquism skills are displayed, indulges in some hilarious audience interaction. In true pantomime style, some fortunate or unfortunate soul in the front row is almost relentlessly picked on and name-dropped. Mead was able to relive a past experience by reprising ‘Any Dream Will Do’ from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and a running gag involving Nigel Havers (Lord Chamberlain) being in an underdeveloped role elicited both sympathy and yet more laughter.
The musical numbers are highly varied. When Baroness Hardup (boo!) turns away from being evil, she does so in an evangelical sense, and a catchy gospel number is the end result. Elsewhere, disco numbers in the style of Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical set pulses racing, Amanda Holden’s Fairy Godmother is vocally varied (and not always in a good way), and it’s Suzie Chard’s Verruca and Wendy Somerville’s Hernia, the two (somewhat) ugly sisters, that remain consistently engaging.
Though the plot has no surprises whatsoever, I would have liked a bit more of the traditional call-and-response that pantomime is famed for. Instead this production has O’Grady barking that three repetitions of ‘oh yes…’ is quite sufficient, thank you very much. At the performance I attended, sections of the audience even tried to insert an ‘oh no…’ where one could have feasibly been placed – the Lord Chamberlain and Baron Hardup (Steve Delaney as Count Arthur Strong – don’t ask) power on with their dialogue regardless. They could have indulged their paying public just a little bit. Oh yes they could.
It is Andrew Wright’s choreography (and co-direction) that raises the strongest audience reactions, both in the grand ball scene, and later in an Act Two comedy number about what various principals in this cast would do for a living if they had to have a vocation outside the entertainment industry. Greg Arrowsmith leads a talented and enthusiastic orchestra, bringing extra sparkle to proceedings. Look out, too, for Tiller girls, making a London Palladium comeback. It’s silly, it’s daft, even a tad erratic. I would have thought the pantomime purists will not be entirely happy with this production, but that doesn’t stop it from being a gloriously lavish, delightful and spectacular show. Worth seeing.
The wonderful thing from a reviewer’s perspective about events like The Collective Project is that not only is it fruitless to do any background reading prior to attending an evening of new short plays, it is quite impossible. One must simply show up and see what is presented on the night. Twelve days prior to this short run, not one of these twelve-minute plays had even been written. In that time, these plays had been drafted, re-drafted, finalised, rehearsed, dress rehearsed (you get the idea) – and put in front of paying public audiences.
Destruction by Julie Burrows sees a group of – well, I’m not sure what they were. Fairies, perhaps, or beings with fairy-tale powers, in line with the sort of pseudo-deities found in Chaucer tales or Shakespeare plays, with the ability to influence events that occur in the lives of human beings on Earth but without them (the human beings) necessarily knowing these ‘gods’ are at work. This concept of supernatural powers in force is brought firmly into the twenty-first century, with references to tests and test results. Ridiculous as it is with the benefit of hindsight, it was convincing enough to make me wonder where the head cold I suddenly developed hours before attending this box-set of mini-plays really came from. A deep question is asked by the group’s leader, considering the morality and overall effectiveness of what could be interpreted as random acts of unkindness: “Maybe chaos is necessary sometimes.” The premise that mistakes should be allowed to happen, in some circumstances, as that is the fastest way a human being can learn, is an intriguing one.
Glorifying by Isabel Dixon doesn’t pull punches in highlighting the absurdity of certain policies of a certain President-Elect. A group meets on Friday evenings for booze and conversation, but doesn’t want anyone else joining in. This group, unless I’ve completely missed the point, is a metaphor for the establishment of a leading industrialised nation (precisely which one is not of paramount importance for the purposes of the play) who sees no point even in controlled immigration, and want to build a wall to prevent others from entering. The conclusion to this piece was left unresolved, which was an excellent call: it would have been preachy had it taken any of the possible plausible paths.
Legion by Jonathan Edgington has a group ‘thrown off’ a train. I took ‘thrown off’ to mean ‘asked to leave’ – the reasons are made clear in the narrative – but oddly they are at a station with no signage, with no working payphone, and its remoteness means there is no mobile telephone signal either. This came across to me as a consideration of the charismatic authority figure. A lady, unknown to the group, who claims to be a recruitment consultant, manages to get them to answer a barrage of questions before doing a group activity. She doesn’t say who she is recruiting for, citing client confidentiality, and the group wise up to what she is probably really up to soon enough. A shining example of ‘better together’ – the possible wider implications would take some time to write about properly.
Lying by Kate Webster is set in space – or is it? All becomes clear in the end, though I wondered some kind of artificial gravity mechanism was in place. This could have otherwise been put down to the limitations of the theatre to accurately depict movement in a weightless environment, except that one of the characters does press-ups at one point. If this mission to Mars seems dramaturgically ridiculous, it is in the simultaneous and paradoxical close affinity and thorough dislike between certain characters that the play strikes a chord. This proved to be a good example of ‘groupthink’, as well as striving to make the best out of a situation made all the more stressful by a key development in the story. There’s a lot in this short piece about peer pressure and conforming to a majority view, however absurd that view may be.
Worm by Conor Carroll has Simon, apparently a sitting Member of Parliament, doing a ‘bushtucker trial’ (in all but name – there are, I suspect, certain issues about copyright which the creative team wishes to avoid). This piece was strangely compelling in its exploration of the banality of reality television shows and the spellbinding power it holds over its loyal audiences. The contrast in two flatmates in their front room, one watching and even participating in a telephone ballot, the other not seeing the point in any of the proceedings, is equally stark and hilarious. As Simon rants about wanting to be left alone, I couldn’t help thinking about the oddness of our world in which some crave celebrity adulation but don’t have it whilst others would like a quieter life but find themselves relentlessly pursued.
Aroma by Rob Greens considers a scenario in which a recently deceased man was beloved by practically everyone except his own son, though here there is enough in the father’s lifestyle and personality to justify such a negative response, beyond simply not getting on with one another. The context would not ordinarily lend itself to laugh-out-loud laughter, and it is a testament to both the writing and acting that it does. Everyone, allegedly, has a unique smell, hence the play’s title. The son’s lack of sentimentality was refreshing in a play otherwise filled with characters that are too emotionally charged to think rationally.
Scoop by Jayne Edwards was, for me, the most enjoyable of the eight plays. A ‘scoop of journalists’ are waiting for an update on the status of their job applications for positions at what I assumed to be a national newspaper – which one is not the salient point. Looking at the darker side of entertainment journalism, elements of the play are reminiscent of the 2014 National Theatre production of Great Britain, a satirical look at the working lives of tabloid hacks. There’s a lot to ponder over, as certain journalists simply think of showbusiness journalism as an example of supply and demand, whilst others think of journalism as a profession worthy of bringing more serious stories to the public’s attention. I suppose there’s a place for all sorts of news, but interestingly, this isn’t a view shared by the paper’s editorial team, who now decide to take on only one applicant, having previously agreed on four. This proved to be a fascinating consideration of the cut-throat nature of the media industry.
Huddle by Andy Curtis was highly topical, and one which many people in London can relate to. A crowded late evening Northern line London Underground train is ‘being held’. Whilst the plot is almost entirely plausible and a pleasure to watch, it would be most unpleasant to be in such a situation. I say ‘almost’ – the idea of people who don’t know each other in conversation on the Tube is difficult for me to fathom. But in all the various happenings between passengers – one forces her way into an already-full section of the train, another feels faint, still another needs the toilet – there’s a poignant metaphor in leaving behind a bag full of vomit, in a surprisingly stark reminder to not bother carrying around unnecessary baggage from the past in continuing through the journey of life.
There were a lot of ideas bandied about during the course of the evening, and some scope to further develop these pieces into fully-fledged plays. I didn’t really detect an overall theme, aside from ‘nouns’, though the opening sequence to the show told the audience that in any event. As a collection of short plays, it felt quite disjointed. It was all very well-performed, however, and demonstrated the power of collaboration, where the cast are just as much as part of the creative process as the creatives themselves.
Three and a half stars
This is, I think, the first time I’ve looked at the musical The Book of Mormon with my ‘reviewer hat’ on. Except even this time I wasn’t reviewing, so this is more of a considered response than a review. I’ve never really given this show serious thought, purely because I’ve never been asked for my opinion on it, other than the cursory ‘Did you like it?’ and ‘Is it worth seeing?’ sort of Yes/No questions. But times change, and as I’ve filed well over 100 reviews in the last year, people are now looking for a tad more than ‘It was good’ or ‘S’alright’ or ‘Eurgh! Avoid! Eating horse manure would be more palatable!’
My previous visits (plural, which will please some and disappoint others) were all highly enjoyable. This latest visit, to view a new London cast, proved no exception, with Brian Sears’ Elder Cunningham coming up with so many different mispronounced variations of the name Nabulugi (Asmeret Ghebremichael) that there’s one moment even KJ Hippensteel’s Elder Price creased up and the Prince of Wales Theatre audience enjoyed an extra thirty seconds of collective laughter. The power of live theatre came into its own at an unscripted line. It’s always good, too, to see a cast on stage enjoying themselves – something that some actors sometimes forget to do.
Hippensteel (I do love American names!) is flawless as Price, slightly subtler than even Nic Rouleau who preceded him in the role, who in turn was subtler than Billy Harrigan Tighe; there was, of course, little if anything subtle about Gavin Creel’s Price in the original London cast. Sears’ Cunningham is simultaneously weird and adorable, and Richard Lloyd-King’s Mafala Hatimbi continues to be a genial local authority figure.
‘I Believe’, the closest thing this musical has to what Broadway describes as an ‘eleven o’clock number’, contains an ode to The Sound of Music, or at least its motion picture version. Consider this from ‘I Have Confidence’, sung by Maria (Julie Andrews):
I’ve always longed for adventure
To do the things I’ve never dared
And here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?
A captain with seven children
What’s so fearsome about that?
‘I Believe’, sung by Elder Price, contains the following lines:
I’ve always longed to help the needy
To do the things I’ve never dared
This was the time for me to step up
So then why was I so scared?
A warlord that shoots people in the face
What’s so scary about that?
Under Joseph Smith (Mormonism’s founder) there were black people in positions of leadership. Under Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, racist policy was enforced, and non-whites were not even allowed to attend temple meetings. Fast forward to June 1978. The Mormon President, Spencer W. Kimball either had a revelation (the official Mormon Church view), or succumbed to long-since changed attitudes towards race in the United States and elsewhere, or deliberately set out a strategy that would increase global membership of the Mormon Church. The musical, however, rather tersely spits out the line: “I believe that in 1978 God changed His mind about black people.” By this point, Price’s doctrine has become practically as deluded as his comrade Cunningham’s.
The other ludicrous suggestion in ‘I Believe’, openly refuted by the actual Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is that faithful Mormons will be rewarded in the afterlife with their own planet. To quote the LDS directly, “…scriptural expressions of the deep peace and overwhelming joy of salvation are often reproduced in the well-known image of humans sitting on their own clouds and playing harps after death. Latter-day Saints’ doctrine of exaltation is often similarly reduced in media to a cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets... while few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet, most would agree that the awe inspired by creation hints at our creative potential in the eternities.”
There are people who think The Book of Mormon is too loud, too brash and so ridden with expletives that it comes across as though the librettists have a rather narrow vocabulary. There may, I must admit, be a kernel of truth to that. The Doctor (Tyrone Huntley) has a repeated refrain, ‘I have maggots in my scrotum’, which eventually overstays its welcome, and there is an absurd purported method of (not) curing the AIDS virus that is laughed at by audiences for its sheer stupidity, but some theatregoers do not appreciate what they assert is a trivialisation of domestic violence and criminal activity.
The most expensive seats in the house at the time of writing are priced at £202.25. Too much. Just. Too. Much.
The show is what I’d call very American, with zero understatement. Everything is very much in your face. The choreography is excellent – a very quick scene change where a bunch of Mormon missionaries are in plain shirts one second and highly colourful waistcoats just a few seconds later never fails to impress me.
It really mustn’t be taken too seriously. Some have seen the show dozens of times (there are other musicals out there!). One parent pointed out on social media that her daughter had answered a religious education exam question on Mormonism by relying entirely on her recollection of the musical. As I’ve pointed out, this wouldn’t provide the whole story. This isn’t to knock The Book of Mormon specifically – it’s not the only show out there that provides a selective viewpoint to maximise dramatic effect. But there is such a thing as regarding a show as more important than it really is, and some of its more ardent followers are rather too, um, obsessed.
At the same time, some deeper reflections can be found amidst all the swearing and brashness. ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’ is helpful to me insofar as it serves as a reminder to focus on things that are truly important, and not to let life’s circumstances act as an excuse to not enjoy to the full the one life we’ve all been granted. Life is too short, and certain things should indeed just be given the (proverbial) middle finger.
Elder McKinley (still Stephen Ashfield, and long may his reign as lead Elder continue) is an absolute hoot in two numbers, ‘Turn It Off’ and the delusional ‘I Am Africa’. I will stick my neck out and say the former is almost like something by George Gershwin. Delroy Atkinson’s General is different to Chris Jarman’s rendering of that role previously. It’s still effective, though, and as Atkinson physically looks up at the likes of Elder Price rather than down (Jarman is 6’ 3”), there’s a touch of little man syndrome in his anger and dictatorial nature. Of the plethora of white-shirted and black-badged Mormon elders, the ones played by Brendan Cull and Jonathan Dudley seemed most gregarious and engaging.
This show boasts a hard-working cast, and many of the songs are, fortunately or unfortunately, quite memorable. It must be remembered that ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’ doesn’t actually mean anything and doesn’t translate from or into any actual language. Those who practise religion really should have a faith strong enough such that a mere musical is hardly going to cause offence, however irreverent it becomes.
Nothing is off limits in this show, which includes a cameo appearance from Yoda, and a rectal blockage that quite explicitly demonstrates where copies of The Book of Mormon should frankly be shoved. (There are even Latter Day Saints who themselves doubt the authenticity of the golden plates.)
Elder Price concludes by suggesting that he had even had doubts about the existence of God; the current Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has confessed to having had tests of faith. Perhaps it happens to all believers at some point. Do I think The Book of Mormon is offensive? Well, it tries to offend. In one sense, if it does so, it has succeeded. If it fails, though, it has succeeded even more, and the fact it is seen as offensive in some quarters only paradoxically increases its appeal. What is less questionably offensive is this: it is of huge regret that you have to consider the possibility of remortgaging the house before booking tickets.
Why have I gone back to this show on a number of occasions? I think it’s because it stands in contrast to a lot of theatre I see these days, a fair amount of which can be very serious and exhausting, and every so often I use it as a form of escapism. I had a stuffy, legalistic and hypocritical religious upbringing, too, and I suppose any show that mocks a form of organised religion was therefore always going to appeal to me. There’s a good variety of tunes as well, from high-tempo huge ensemble song-and-dance numbers to ballad solos. And there’s something very appealing about the forming of a community where people are accepted for who they are, regardless of their faults and mistakes.
It’s got heart, and any show that leads to such diametrically opposed opinions from audiences, even between two halves of a married couple, is worth a look at. Those Olivier Awards were, on balance, deserved. Do I like it? Not really. I love it. I am grateful to those who strongly disagree for being very amiable and unfailingly courteous in their responses. I can only apologise if I have failed to match their civility.
Most of all, I happen to find it amusing. It’s so inappropriate that it’s up my street. It is over-indulgent and over-hyped, for sure, but it knows it is. Or does it? Either way, for all the fun I’ve had at the Prince of Wales Theatre over the last few years, the biggest laughs of all when it comes to The Book of Mormon are the ones raised by the satirical musical series Forbidden Broadway. I shall finish in the same way I started, by quoting lyrics. These are selected lyrics from ‘The Book of Morons [sic]’, sung by actors assuming the roles of two of The Book of Mormon’s writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I think both lovers and haters of the show can laugh in unison at this.
We enjoy writing childish music, with lyrics that appal
To murder good taste is our mission, insult all and stand tall
Writing ‘South Park’, we figured it out, you’ve got to blast everyone, y’see
Trey Parker taught me what life is about, the one true ‘god’ is me, me, me!
We believe! That musicals should be disgusting!
We believe! All Broadway shows should use four letter words!
We believe! In magnificent fame and fortune!
We believe! That Broadway should be vulgar, crass and lewd!
And we believe! You don’t have to scan the words to fit in correctly, or set them properly to the music!
The rather unimaginatively titled Christmas does, at least, provide an alternative scenario to the near-relentless cheery moods so many productions specifically put on in December like to create. For various reasons, there are people out there for whom the festive period will be anything but celebratory, perhaps because it is the anniversary of the loss of someone very close or otherwise because it involves spending time with disagreeable people still with us. For some it will be both, and what bad fortune that is.
In this East End pub, business is slow. As a backdrop to the play, it works. The sparse attendance in the pub allows the audience to clearly hear the conversations, and accommodates pathos and dramatic effect. Michael McGraw (Brendan Weakliam), slightly better-spoken than most pub landlords I have come across, is clearly frustrated, though it’s not immediately clear why. Billy Lee Russell (Jack Bence) waxes lyrical about virtually anything, and cannot help but swear at least twice between each intake of breath. It wasn’t offensive, really – with a post-watershed start time of 9pm I was in an unshockable mood in any event – but it proved boring after a while.
Some of the topics of conversation were implausible for pub banter, even between men who have known one another for some years, and it is only with the arrival of Charlie Anderson (Christopher Sherwood) that the play becomes properly intriguing. Before that, the audience is treated to what the programme lists as Fat Man (Tom Telford), providing some comic relief from the rather depressing dialogue. His stay in the pub is brief but bizarre, as are later visits from Eccentric Man, and Lost Dog Man (both also Tom Telford).
Giuseppe Rossi (Alec Gray) has a manner of speaking both familiar and passionate, as would be reasonably be expected from an Italian gentleman. The blokey-bloke banter was enjoyed, from what I could perceive, by both men and women in the audience. I presume there was an appreciation of the frankness of opinions expressed – crude at times, but refreshing.
A cigarette that is repeatedly lit but doesn’t appear to actually be smoked proved more distracting than was I imagine was intended, and the bright lights shining on the audience before the show never went down as they would ordinarily be expected to, to the point where it overshadowed the stage lighting. There was no breaching of the fourth wall to justify it.
The play is, in a word, Pinteresque. But the narrative meanders too much in the second half, with talk of loyalties to certain football clubs one minute and a deadly serious conversation about a character’s current station in life the next. Giuseppe’s story is told too many times, and when Charlie makes his excuses and calls it a night, the remainder of the show drags, like a mainline train queued up behind others waiting to pull into its terminus station. “It’s been a long night”, muses Giuseppe, a line which for me was true of the show as well as for its proceedings. A disappointing end to an otherwise gritty and hard-hitting production.
Photo credit: Andreas Lambis
One week ‘til Christmas. A bleak bar in the heart of London’s East End. Landlord Michael Macgraw is setting up for the Saturday punters - all two of them; young Billy Russell, a foul-mouthed football fan and Seppo the barber with an odd fondness for Drambuie and dreaming of Vienna. Christmas, a time for family, goodwill and peace to all men, but not for these three. They’ve barricaded themselves in for the night, and there’s only one thing on the agenda… drinking. But what will the arrival of a mysterious lone stranger mean for their sanctuary?
This December, Theatre N16 brings you the early and rarely performed work of critically acclaimed writer, Simon Stephens. In a play that centres on loneliness, inertia and celebrates the humility and humour of Britain’s white working class, you’ll find this Yuletide offering the perfect post-Brexit tonic.
Performance Dates December 11th – December 22nd 2016
Sunday – Thursday, 9pm
matinee Sunday 18th at 4pm
Venue Theatre N16, The Bedford Pub, 77 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9HD
Ticket Price £15 (£10 concessions)
Box Office Ticketsource (www.ticketsource.co.uk/theatren16)
Travel Balham station (2 min walk)
Streatham Hill station (20 min walk)
It’s what lies beneath the surface in The Snow Queen that gives this production much more than what is immediately visible at first sight. A set comprised largely of cardboard boxes greets the audience as it files in, leaving me wondering if the said Snow Queen is ‘moving palace’ (as opposed to ‘moving house’). There isn’t, in the end, anything about anybody moving house, palace, castle or studio flat – and it’s what’s in those boxes, gradually revealed as useful props for whatever stage of the story we happen to be at, that proves to be a near-continuous source of interest and even fascination.
This wasn’t one of those family-friendly pieces of theatre that left me having to make allowances for the fact that it’s geared towards children: it is quite animated and spirited for anyone, really. Both Kay (James Tobin) and Greta (Jessica Arden) bookend the quick-paced show by encapsulating childlike (not the same as ‘childish’) behaviours, while the Narrator (Jessica Strawson) confidently asserts a varied and engaging tone. I was impressed – Strawson had the younger members of the audience captivated without them feeling they were being talked down to.
Those very familiar with the original work by Hans Christian Andersen will have fun noting what’s been kept in and taken out – there are a reduced number of characters, for instance, but still quite a few played between the trio of actors. There are plenty of contemporary references thrown in, setting the show firmly in the present day, which mostly works. I say ‘mostly’ – there is one debatable but nonetheless significant flaw. In the search that Greta undertakes to find Kay, who has inexplicably (at least initially) disappeared without trace, it is surprising that Greta does not take to social media. This is mitigated by the characters being children of primary school age (the exact age is not specified, I don’t think, even in Andersen’s original), and she therefore may not have access to online networks.
Some inclusion of fragments of chart music went over my head somewhat, though I hasten to add this is due to my own ignorance rather than a deficiency in the production (who or what is ‘Little Mix’?). Subtle but effective use of projections – never overused – was pleasing to see, and laugh-out-loud laughter from the audience punctuates the proceedings throughout. In true festive style, some punchlines elicit groans, or at least laughter of a sardonic kind.
While the detailed descriptions help enormously in places, it is occasionally a tad too much, leaving little, if anything, to the imagination. Overall, it’s a steadily paced production, and rather like the reinterpretation in the musical Rent of the opera La Boheme, this version of The Snow Queen has an altogether more positive ending for one of its characters.
Devoid of the religious content of the original, a more inclusive and universal message of positivity is no bad thing. An underlying message about focusing more on positivity cannot be repeated enough, sending the audience out appropriately both contented and with food for thought. This is a pleasant and delightful retelling of a classic tale.
Greta’s brother, Kay, has been acting strange. He’s mean and moody and won’t play games. The Snow Queen must have snatched him, and left an imposter in his place. With her new friend, the wise-cracking, fame-hungry talking Crow to guide her, Greta must set out across the snow to search for her brother in the Snow Queen’s palace and bring him home in time for Christmas. Funny, magic and full of surprises, this new modern adaptation of The Snow Queen is a perfect family Christmas adventure.
(Photo credit: Andreas Lambis)
Adaptor Tatty Hennessey
Directors Scott Ellis and Tatty Hennessey
Performance Dates December 11th – December 22nd 2016
Sunday – Thursday, 7.30pm
Venue Theatre N16, The Bedford Pub, 77 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9HD
Ticket Price £15 (£10 concessions)
Box Office Ticketsource (www.ticketsource.co.uk/theatren16)
Travel Balham station (2 min walk)
Streatham Hill station (20 min walk)
“There are no children from this marriage,” the programme for Safeword Theatre UK’s Waking Up Dead! almost tersely states. Not that this was a show with one of those struggles to conceive, with exorbitant amounts of money spent on IVF treatment and other ‘possibly maybe’ solutions. How Sandra (Eleanor Victoria Hill) and husband Paul, an off-stage character, end up with no children is harrowing and hard-hitting, as is much of this production.
At the centre of this hour long show (just the right length for an Edinburgh Festival Fringe production, in case the producers were looking for any future ideas further to the ones already in motion) is a long monologue from Sandra, occasionally a little too measured for the story she is telling. I assume this is deliberate, not so much from a position of not wanting to reveal her true emotions, but rather from a position of denial that things are as bad as they are.
Male victims of domestic violence are often said to be reticent to discuss, confidentially let alone openly, the problems they are facing, perhaps because there’s still a stigma of sorts attached to men letting it be known that they are being abused by what the King James Bible – and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – refer to as ‘weaker vessels’. But there are women who suffer in silence too, and for various reasons refuse offers of assistance, whether from family, friends, authorities or registered charities.
Sandra’s story is broadly similar to that old ‘frog in a pan’ analogy, where it is asserted that a frog that is suddenly placed into a pan with boiling water jumps out of it immediately, but a frog placed into a pan with cold water that is slowly heated to boiling point will meet its end in the gradual process of not being able to perceive the danger properly (or at all) and will be cooked to death. The audience sits in disbelief as this young lady remains blind to her treatment by Paul. I would have liked to have heard his perspective on events, and more about his line of thinking and why he feels justified in behaving so uncivilly towards the person he claims to love.
That is not to say that the audience is exposed to a single perspective. Linda (Julia Lynch) repeatedly reaches out to Sandra, but to no avail: her frustration with ‘Sandy’, as she calls her, becomes increasingly palpable. As the old adage would have it, one can lead a horse to water, but one cannot force it to drink. There’s some considerable details in Sandra’s monologue, steadily delivered in a style that captured both her vulnerability and lack of self-awareness. Of course, while there are characteristics in the personalities of many couples that are tolerated in the name of love, the multiple layers in Sandra’s account make the plot far from straightforward in this thoroughly engaging narrative.
The very final scene bamboozled me slightly with the various devices at the disposal of police services to combat domestic violence and abuse. All the same, an overall strong script from Wendy Walker is vividly brought to life by an even stronger cast. Did I enjoy this production? Certainly not. But with such a heart-rending and haunting storyline (never melodramatic, mind you), I very much doubt I was meant to.
Waking Up Dead! A Safeword Theatre UK production
29 November and 6 December 2016, Merton Civic Centre Council Chamber
Cast: Eleanor Victoria Hill as Sandra, Julia Lynch as Linda, Melody Schroeder as Police Officer
Written and directed by Wendy Walker
Production Co-ordinator: Jane Upson
Artistic Director: Vincent Murray
Production Liaison: Kim Pike
London lad, loving life and all that it has to offer.