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HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS ONE AND TWO at The Palace Theatre

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD PARTS ONE AND TWO at the Palace Theatre are a must for any Potter fan and it will run and run and run. It is an incredible achievement after the success of the books and the movies to create the world of Harry Potter in the theatre. We are asked to “keep the secrets” and I will of course respect that as important so that every theatre goer enjoys these plays to the full. In the most general terms I will say that the medium of theatre has allowed the designers to create some incredibly thrilling scenes.

I have to be honest that Part One left me feeling completely thrilled and chomping at the bit to return the next night for Part Two. There were aspects of Part One which I just could not imagine how the second instalment could match and I was right. Part Two was still incredibly entertaining but it did not match part One. My feeling was that there was too much attention given to the relationships between the main characters and the necessary moving on of the main plot and not enough stage time to the more colourful and interesting characters. I don’t want to mention any specific names so as to spoil the surprises.

 

THE LIFE at Southwark Playhouse

Cy Coleman’s THE LIFE with lyrics by Ira Gasman at Southwark playhouse was simply awesome. I love the Southwark Playhouse because of the intimacy of the performances. From the moment John Addison opens the show I was hooked by this tale of hookers in New York. It is an updating of the tale told in “Sweet Charity” into the dark world of Times Square in the 1970’s. This show has got a great story, great musical numbers and great characters. All of the cast were excellent however the performances by Sharon D. Clarke and Cornell. S. John were simply astounding and I mean astounding. The emotion in their delivery of the musical numbers and the detail of how each of them inhabited their characters was a masterclass.I felt the menace that was at the core of their lives. Powerful and a reminder that Broadway is the home of the musical.

 

MY COUNTRY; A WORK IN PROGRESS at the Birmingham Rep

MY COUNTRY; A WORK IN PROGRESS a National Theatre production on tour at the Birmingham Rep is a clever and interesting devised project using the words of people across the country and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. I had high hopes as the set up developed of a coming together of parts of the Nation. However after about twenty minutes I yawned and then I yawned again and I spent the rest of the play literally trying to stay awake. The problem was I had heard it all before. The debate about Brexit was already ringing in my ears after months of posting on social media last year. I loved the design, the construction, the performances but I just could not listen to those words again and again and again. Sorry!

 

JULIUS CAESAR at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Friends, Romans and Countrymen, Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is a wonderful production. Finally I get to see the play not set in a modern war setting but in ancient Rome. It makes such a difference to see such an iconic historical story to be set within a perceived reality at least once rather than a contrived modern war setting. Julius Caesar was Olivier in the black and white movie version of the play that I saw at Warwick Arts for my ‘O’ level GCSE. This version now becomes my reference.

Mike was with me and he thought the play was brilliant because you could understand what was actually going on. The powerful RSC ensemble certainly delivered memorable performances. I was particularly impressed with Martin Hutson who played Cassius. I always thought this play was about Brutus and Mark Anthony but actually I now believe it is a lot more about Cassius. I learned a lot about Cassius from this production and I now see him as the pivotal character around which the story is wound.

Excellent

THE TEMPEST at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre was an experiment with digital technology which dominates this production. What is particularly interesting about this projection technique is how it burns imagery into the mind leaving quite an impression. I think this should be viewed in the context of a first attempt and there is plenty of room for improvement particularly in the resolution of the imagery.

Simon Russell Beale is a wonderful Prospero and he brings his loveable self to inhabit the role and then on top acts every line to perfection. He reveals hidden depths to the character with his subtle interpretation of the text. Excellent RSC cast supporting.

LABYRINTH at the Hampstead Theatre

Beth Steel’s LABYRINTH at the Hampstead Theatre tells the tale of the Latin American debt crisis caused by the massive surge of international private bank lending in the 1970’s. The politically aware will realise this is exactly the reason for the world financial meltdown in 2008 and that makes this play particularly interesting and relevant to us. Lessons were not and still have not been learned and this play explores how those character flaws are embedded into the financial labyrinth that parasitically serves itself.

Great cast, well staged with tight direction makes this play a delight probably not just for the politically and financially enlightened

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at the Dominion Theatre

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS at the Dominion Theatre is the musical to see in London’s West End this season. Inspired by the movie Christopher Wheeldon has choreographed and directed a theatrical masterpiece. The set and costume design by Bob Crowley is legendary. George Gershwin’s score sweeps into the auditorium through the majesty of what must be the best orchestra playing nightly in Theatre land this year.

Then we have the cast from Broadway led by Robert Fairchild who moves like no-one I have ever seen in musical theatre and boy can he sing. Leanne Cope also has the credentials of a top Broadway dancer and singer. Together they are a dream couple at the centre of a dream cast.

I have never seen anything that flows like this production. The cast sing and dance seamlessly as the scenes form and reform around them. It is beautifully cinematic in look and powerfully theatrical in performance