Quick Catch-up

Posted: December 31, 2016 in Theatre

She Loves Me**** (Menier Chocolate Factory)

she-loves-meThe show is set over the Christmas period and the Menier is staging it over the Christmas period, a guaranteed hit for sure. London does not really need another revival of this musical by Joe Masteroff (book), Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), but director Matthew Whie gives us one anyway and it is simply a case of leaving reservations out on Southwark Street and sitting back to swallow the sugar. A re-working of the 1940 Hollywood film, The Shop Around the Corner, the improbable plot is sold to us with panache by a tip-top company. Scarlett Strallen, she of the glass-shattering voice, hits all the right notes, the divine Katherine Kingsley steals scene after scene, good old Les Dennis is splendid and a beaming newcomer, Callum Howells lights up the stage. Stalwarts such as Mark Umbers, Dominic Tighe and Alastair Brookshaw do not disappoint either. This is far from being the greatest of Broadway musicals, but it will probably never get a better production than this.

Performance date: 21 December 2016


wild-honeyWild Honey*** (Hampstead Theatre)

We are often told that Anton Chekhov’s plays are comedies, although it is sometimes difficult to believe. However, adaptor Michael Frayn takes this early work, also known as Platanov, one stage further into the realms of farce. Jonathan Kent has picked up the director’s reins, following the recent sad death of Howard Davies and gives us a first act in which very familiar Chekovian characters line up before us, followed by a second of almost pure Feydeau, The plot centres on four women all besotted with Geoffrey Streatfield’s shambolic, drunken Platanov, his allure being that he dares to be different, breaking the tedium of rural Russian life. The comedy often feels forced, but the ensemble playing is generally good and, with lavish sets and costumes, the production is always gorgeous to look at.

Performance date: 15 December 2016


oilOil*** (Almeida Theatre)

Ella Hickson’s ambitious new play, directed by Carrie Cracknell, attempts to chart both the changing roles of women and the consumption of oil over a period of approximately 150 years from the end of the 19th Century to the near future. The story it tells is continuous, with episodes dropped into different eras during the play’s time span. Anne-Marie Duff and Yolanda Kettle (both superb) play May and Amy, either mother and daughter or two faces of the same woman however the play is interpreted. The drama is absorbing, but Hickson’s multi-faceted approach is often baffling and the end result is a play that does not quite gel.

Performance date: 22 November 2016

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