Much Ado

David Tennant. Catherine Tate.
wyndham theatre much ado about nothing

Those names were enough to cause a second glance between us…fair play to Josie Rourke, who had the good sense and vision to make the connection to Beatrice and Bennedick. Although both actors have individually lent their talent to Shakepeare works prior, I imagine that casting them together (post Dr Who success) created some challenges; the notoriety of the pair must have been both a blessing and a great responsibility.

Brilliant casting aside, Rourke makes this well loved Shakespearean rom-com even more accessible by choosing to set the scene of young lovers (and schemers) in the height of the eighties. That fashion, that hair, that unmistakeable Casio keyboard jam—all apparently as enduring as the love story (within a love story) that continues to enchant us. Not a bit of humour was lost in the time warp. In fact, the relevancy of the sentiment echoed in neon.

Perhaps as a result of the fame of the actors, or perhaps more attributable to the delicious insanity of the director, the main characters became supporting cast members as Beatrice and Bennedick stole the show. I should consider that it was Rourke’s intention all along to give the anti-lovers centre stage-as these are the two that are more common among us today.

Is it over the top? Yes. Is it outrageously funny? Yes. It is perfect? ‘Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent!’

Worth it. Very worth it.
much ado about nothing tate tennant

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www.drewandjengotolondon.com

WICKED

Let us rejoicify; we’ve seen the best show in London! I couldn’t be happier. We couldn’t be happier, right dear?
wicked

WICKED is absolutely everything the discerning West End crowd demands. The posh Apollo Victoria Theatre lobby has taken on a certain green glow since WICKED came to London. The stage has been expertly transformed into a great gateway to the famed Emerald City.

Though I refused to be swayed by hype and mass hysteria before I had seen the show myself, I did wonder what life new voices would lend to the characters I had only met in the soundtrack. I should have known better. Our cast was flawless. The talent of the London artists is stunning, each character is a three-dimensional, familiar persona of someone I already know. I’m convinced I was really there; you, and you, and you – and you – were there too.

No doubt the success of the show is directly linked to the amazing story and music which lay the foundation for the characters to engage us, but the creatives involved in the production of the show cannot be faulted. The show really is spectactularious through and through.

I could say more, but it wouldn’t be enough. I’m limited. But I have been changed for good.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Change

Arturo Brachetti’s CHANGE is an astounding performance of the world’s fastest quick change artist.

brachetti confetti

In his new show, Brachetti pays homage to those who have laid the history of the art form. At the same time, he has adapted a classical form of ‘magic’ into something that might be better termed as ‘performance art’. Interspersed with the occasional campy joke and tributes to some of our most beloved characters, CHANGE gives the audience a bit of it all. CHANGE retains the flavor of the beloved quick change style, but offers the audience something more familiar through the incorporation of digital technology and a storyline.

I ache to use the word ‘seamless’ in describing this production. The flow seemed to be interrupted, rather than enhanced, during some of the moments linking the spectacles together. I think we may have attended a preview night so I imagine that he is going to hit a groove in the new space in no time.

Overall, CHANGE is a welcome addition to the West End; spectacular, funny, magicial, and appropriate for all ages!

arturo brachetti

I love this face. There are a thousand variations of this face. Oh, Arturo… Might I buy you a hot chocolate while you are in London?

Woman in Black

Woman in Black

Based on the novel by Susan Hill, playwright Stephen Mallatratt brings a classic ghost story to life — and perhaps condemns us all to neverending nightmares and visions of a Woman in Black.  A good horror story is interspersed with comedic relief and a good number of false alarms, where the real moments of terror can usually be seen coming a mile away.  The London cast and crew of Woman in Black employ this formula with great skill.

It is amazing how many places you visit in a play with no obvious physical set changes; the actors, lighting designer, and sound designer create new places from thin air.  That isn’t to say that the set designer has done nothing!  The set is so cleverly laid as to allow for dynamic and fluid transition between this world and the other.  It is truly a work of art that each piece falls into place.

No actor is named as playing the part of the Woman in Black, though we certainly all saw her and heard her; nor did the actor join the other two on stage for the curtain call.  I wonder then, what we really saw…

Avenue Q

Largely a satire of the popular children’s show Sesame Street, Avenue Q is a musical addressing some of the heavy issues faced by twenty-somethings: purpose, relationships, and identity.  Set in the big city, racism and sex are hot topics for the characters.  For some reason it’s just easier to swallow the shocking realisation that “we are all a little bit racist” when a puppet sings about it.  Certainly this production is not without heart.  Humor is the main throughline, but love and an uplifting message are bound in each refrain.  Characters are each lovable — being quite familiar to the audience as people we know or in whom we see part of ourselves.

The cast is incredibly adept at handling multiple responsibilities and roles.  I was thrilled to find out that the actors had beautiful voices among their talents.  It was often surprising how comfortable they were moving about the stage, sometimes with two actors playing the same character!  Of course one cannot forget the foundations…  Set and staging give the show a very accessible quality as well as reinforcing the comedy’s structure.  I appreciated the creativity of the production team and the live musicians as well!

Overall, well — just get your tickets now.  There is no time like the present to laugh yourself silly.  (As a precaution, visit the toilet before you get comfy to avoid leakage due to laughter.)