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OSLO at the National Theatre

OSLO by J.T Rogers at the National Theatre transferred directly from winning the Tony in New York for Best Play in 2017. Expectations High. Even before the play began in the Lyttleton theatre I was impressed with Michael Yeargan’s set which subtely communicates the gravitas of the situation.

This story is really interesting history as it is about how the Oslo peace accord brokered by a Norwegian came about in 1992-1993. So if you like politics and theatre you will be in Heaven. There is a deeper wide reaching story about process and people. I felt the play shows how because of human nature, everything of meaning in a negotiation comes down to trust and respect between two individuals. However we also learn that we seem incapable to replicate this trust as soon as the matter is no longer in the hands of these two individuals. How fragile trust can be.

Philip Arditti as Yossi Beilin,the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister and Peter Polycarpou as Ahmed Qurie, the Palestinian Finance Minister are the individuals that make all of this matter so much. Wonderful performances.

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PRISM at the Hampstead Theatre

Terry Johnson’s PRISM at the Hampstead Theatre was charming. Robert Lindsay plays the cinematographer Jack Cardiff during the final months of his life with gentle perfection. He has dementia and this is a story about memory and movies. I don’t want to give anything away but Terry Johnson has a habit of creating theatrical delights within his plays and I was not disappointed with the surprise in the second Act. Claire Skinner, Rebecca Night and Barnaby Kay all give wonderful performances in their roles.

Particularly delightful story as I love movies.

AGAINST at the Almeida Theatre.

I am going to struggle to be positive about AGAINST by Christopher Shinn at the Almeida Theatre. I should start by saying that the plot is a very interesting idea and maybe the script would would work well within the realism of TV drama.

It certainly did not work for me in the theatre. This play shifts from scene to scene so it is presented mostly in abstract on an empty stage. There just isn’t enough there to watch. The characters are not interesting enough and their interactions eventually become uninteresting. If I am honest I really did not care what happened in the end just as long as it ended.

LABOUR OF LOVE at the Noel Coward Theatre

LABOUR OF LOVE at the Noel Coward Theatre is the second play I have seen this year by James Graham that I have really enjoyed. You might not have the same feelings if you are a Tory. This play tells the Labour Story from today back to 1990 through the relationship of the two central characters. The local MP played by Martin Freeman and his agent Tasmin Greig. There are layers upon layers within this clever script as well as plenty of laughs.

I really hope there is a UK tour as I would love this play to get to a big regional audience.

HAIRSPRAY at the Birmingham Hippodrome UK tour 2017

HAIRSPRAY at the Birmingham Hippodrome is Broadway bubble gum at its very best. This crowd pleaser hits all the right notes and it no surprise that it is back for another UK tour. What makes this production special is the incredible cast. They have injected such professionalism and energy into the performances that I felt I was watching the show for the first time again in the West End.

The whole cast including everyone in the ensemble and swing supported by a top class band have really brought the West End to the West Midlands. Particularly worth mentioning are Brenda Edwards playing the diva Motormouth Maybelle for her singing and Layton Williams playing Seaweed for his dancing

CILLA THE MUSICAL at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham

CILLA THE MUSICAL at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham was a great night out. This stage show is entertainment at its very best. This musical is based on the excellent TV miniseries broadcast in 2014 written by Jeff Pope. The show is structured well with the first Act mostly based in the Cavern Club where the Beatles played and Cilla was discovered. The second act tells the story of her career with big productions of the ballads she is known for.

Kara Lily Hayworth makes this show particularly special. She has that quirky sense that made Cilla so appealing to her audience and she has a remarkable voice. She gives showstopping performances with “Anyone who had a Heart”, “Your’re my World” and “Step Inside Love”. I also really liked Carl Au playing Bobby and I thought the lads playing the Beatles Bill Caple, Joshua Gannon, Michael Hawkins and Alex Harford gave us great energising performances.

This is definitely a show you could enjoy time and time again.

THE ADAMS FAMILY at Birmingham Hippodrome

The UK tour of THE ADAMS FAMILY at the Birmingham Hippodrome was extremely entertaining. This show is all about the characters and every performance was spot on. I love Samantha Womack and she did not disappoint. She was sexy as Morticia. Cameron Blakey was charming as Gomez. Carrie Hope Fletcher was moody as Wednesday. Les Dennis was hilarious as Uncle Fester. Who knew he was so versatile. The more I see of Les Dennis the more and more impressed I am.

This production felt expensive with a great set, excellent band and a well choreographed ensemble who delivered with style. this show is a great night out at the West End in the West Midlands.