Sunday, 1 November 2015

"A Clockwork Orange" at The Broadway Theatre, Catford


Overview

 Action To The Word's all-male, ultra-homoerotic adaptation of the classic novel themed around violence, rebellion & "nature versus nurture" returned to London briefly before going international, still as stunning & visceral experience as it was five years ago, even with quite a few cast changes. Jonno Davies as Alex DeLarge gives an engaging, sexually charged performance & injects more humour into the role than in previous incarnations. The hugely talented & versatile ensemble all add memorable performances in support.

Featuring

Jonno Davies, Eddie Usher, Matt Martin, James Meryk, Will Stokes & others.

Key Themes

Violence, rebellion, youth, politics, sexuality, masculinity.

The Shallow Bit

Lots of sweaty, sexy shirtless scenes, with Davies in just his undies for extended periods.

Running Time

90 minutes.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

"Crushed Shells & Mud" at the Southwark Playhouse


Overview

Set in the not-too-distant future, the play centres on the friendship between shy, awkward Derek (Alex Lawther), confident, cocky Vince (Alexander Arnold) & the enigmatic Lydia, set against the backdrop of a mysterious plague that is sweeping the country & giving rise to extremist vigilante groups. Lots of metaphors & parallels with real topical issues are at work, not always successfully - the whole thing seems slightly under-developed. The performances are spot-on though, Lawther & Arnold fast developing their reputations for being amongst the best of the current crop of "new" British actors.

Featuring

 Alex Lawther, Alexander Arnold, Hannah Britland & others.


Key Themes

Survival, friendship, extremism, compassion, violence, community.

The Shallow Bit

Lawther has a couple of shirtless & barefoot scenes in the first act, then swaps shirts with Arnold (to display their "clean, English trunks") in the second.


Running Time

2hrs 10mins (inc. interval).

Monday, 21 September 2015

"Creditors" at the Young Vic Theatre, London


Overview

Strindberg's classic take on love, relationships & power is given a homosexual spin in this semi-updated adaptation. The menage-a-trois features, a young, brilliant but emotionally unstable artist, his older novelist husband & the husband's vengefull ex. The cast do a great job at keeping the emotion out of the overwrought gutters of Soap Opera, ensuring these deeply flawed characters never become tiresome. Tom Rhys Harries fluffed his lines a few times but deserves credit for clearly not being in the best of health & was otherwise impressive.

Featuring

Tom Rhys Harries, Jolyon Coy & Gyuri Sarossy.


Key Themes

Sexuality, relationships, Art, power, revenge, mental health.

The Shallow Bit

Harries & Coy get some passionate love scenes & all 3 actors are barefoot throughout (if that's your "thing").

Running Time

1 hour 45 mins.

Monday, 31 August 2015

"F*cking Men" at the Kings Head Theatre, Islington


Overview

Drama inter-weaving the stories of several gay couples from various walks of life, based on "La Ronde". Some elements work extremely well, making plenty of witty & topical observations about modern gay life, whereas others seem cliched & dated. Similarly, the performances are uneven, making for an overall disjointed experience that never really settles on the right tone.

Featuring

 Chris Wills, Harper James, Haydn Whiteside, Euan Brockie, others.

Key Themes

Sexuality, sex, wealth, power, Hollywood, relationships, youth, ageing, love.

The Shallow Bit

The entire cast spend most of the play with their kit off to some degree and Wills & James have good clear full frontal nude scenes, whilst Whiteside & Brockie are slightly more coy.

Running Time

1 hour 40 mins

Monday, 24 August 2015

"Bears in Space" at the Soho Theatre, London


Overview

Surreal comedy-musical-puppetshow. Delightfully witty, exceptionally well written & performed piece of unashamedly silly entertainment centred around the space-travelling adventures of 2 bears, framed as a kind of Jackanory-style fairytale. All 4 cast members are outstanding but Jack Gleeson definitely has the most commanding stage presence (those eyes!). Easily the most (successfully) inventive piece of theatre I've ever seen.

Featuring

Jack Gleeson, Aaron Heffernan, Cameron McCauley and Eoghan Quinn.


Key Themes

Surrealism, comedy, puppets, musical, science fiction, storytelling, adventure.

Running Time

80 minutes

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

"The Red Lion" at The National Theatre


Overview

Comedy-drama about the trials & tribulations of a semi-professional non-league football team. The comedy element comes in the form of Daniel Mays' dodgy, wheeler-dealer manager, which nicely offsets the drama surrounding Calvin Demba's seemingly innocent "wonderkid" destined for bigger things. Topical, genuinely funny & at times moving, with perfectly pitched performances.

Featuring

Calvin Demba, Daniel Mays, etc

Key Themes

Drama, comedy, football, sport, history, youth, talent, suicide.

The Shallow Bit

Demba spends the vast majority of the First Act in just his undies as he receives massage & physiotherapy.

Running Time

2 hours 20 mins

Saturday, 4 July 2015

"Violence & Son" at The Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square

Overview

Dark comedy/drama about an eccentric, Dr Who-loving teenager, forced to live with his estranged, alcoholic father after his mother's death. The comedy is jet black but definitely genuinely funny, the drama powerful & never melodramatic. The interplay between David Moorst as the son & Jason Hughes as the father is outstanding. Some clever staging devices help to keep the audience fully engaged with the piece.

Featuring

David Moorst, Jason Hughes, Siwan Morris & Morfydd Clark.

Key Themes

Comedy, drama, family, sex, relationships, alcoholism, Popular Culture, violence.

Running Time

2 hours 20 mins (inc. interval).

Saturday, 20 June 2015

"I Went To A Fabulous Party" at The King's Head Theatre, London


Overview

Camp comedy about a raucous houseparty featuring a range of gay stereotypes - The Twink, The Bear, The Camp Queen, The Muscle Mary, The Exhibitionist & The Married Couple. Quite unpretentious in its intentions (camp comedy & naked guys), the writing & performances are both extremely uneven. Occasional sharp, genuinely funny lines are outweighed by many more that fall flat & the frequent breaking of the Fourth Wall is cringeworthy.

Featuring

Carlton Venn, Luke Kelly & others.


Key Themes

Comedy, camp, sexuality, friendship, relationships, nudity, Queer Culture, C21st Britain.

The Shallow Bit

The cast frequently strip off during the course of the play & eventually 6 of the 7 cast bare all. The nudity is presented realistically & largely un-selfconsciously. Venn & Kelly are gorgeous.

Running Time

65 mins.

"One Arm" at Southwark Playhouse, London


Overview

Powerful adaptation of an unpublished screenplay by Tennessee Williams. A promising young boxer's career is cut short by a devastating injury and from there his life spirals down through prostitution to Death Row. Excellent performances, effective subtle staging and tone that never veers away from totally engaging.

Featuring

Tom Varey, Joe Jameson & others.

Key Themes

Drama, historical, sexuality, masculinity, sport, youth, USA.

Running Time

1 hour 20 mins.

Monday, 1 June 2015

"The Twits" at The Royal Court Theatre, London

Overview

Enda Walsh's "mischievous" adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl tale, revolving around the exploits of an eccentric (and at times outright nasty) husband & wife, as well those, both human & simian, who must suffer their "tricks". Outstanding performances & staging can't cover up the mess of tone that leaves you wondering exactly who the target audience is supposed to be.

Featuring

Jason Watkins, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, others.

Key Themes

Comedy, surrealism, slapstick, Literature, family.

Running Time

1 hour 40 mins (+ interval).