Tweetingit: 3* Two generations collide and ultimately bond through a shared love of football. A neat two hander draws out a moving story of the beautiful game and its effect on our lives.
Two people on opposite sides of life can learn much from each other if they only take the time to listen. Billy the Kid is a neatly executed two-hander that shows how football can sustain people through the highs and lows of life. Billy (Dudley Dutton) is an 80 year old with attitude and a fund of stories to tell. Sam (Sam Donovan) is a bright young thing about to join the Chelsea Football Academy. He confidently looks forward to cash on the hip, flash cars and WAG girlfriends.
Meanwhile, Sam discovers that Billy has done it for real. He played for Chelsea before the war and quickly became a darling of the Shed. But then the Second World War broke out. His brother Joe happily enlists but Billy is not so sure. Their father fought in the Great War, and he endured a premature and painful death; it turned Billy into a pacifist. Nevertheless he joins the army as an ambulance driver to care for the wounded. But what happened to Joe; did Billy resume his playing career and did Sam make it into the Chelsea Academy?
Tweetingit: 5***** A peerless performance from a superlative cast delving into the mind and machinations of a most charismatic King.
Accessing Digital Theatre for the first time, I felt like a kid cut loose in a sweet shop. The theatrical equivalent to Netflix is easy to navigate and provides a mouth-watering selection of shows recorded live.
A crystal clear high definition picture greets the viewer via a simple click. I plumped for this brilliant RSC production of the final part in a tetralogy of history plays. Henry V is a seminal work in the Bard’s canon with its thrusting dialogue and moments of dry humour. Although the final part of a ‘boxed set’ the play works superbly as a stand-alone piece. We now see a monarch that is mature and ambitious; a natural leader poised to reclaim his birth right.
The Chorus (Oliver Ford Davies) acts as narrator appearing at pivotal moments in the story. Henry (Alex Hassell) is convinced of his right to the throne of France by ancestry. He resolves to invade but is initially dismissed by the Dauphin (Robert Gilbert) who scornfully presents him with tennis balls. Henry is undaunted as he foils a plot against him and prepares to cross the Channel. Henry rallies the troops as the tension builds between two warring nations. The battle ebbs and flows as the conquest reaches its climax at Agincourt.
We are in a weird times. You will hear people say it again and again. But during this time, we get to experience new things, in new ways. And I feel honoured and lucky to have experienced TheShowMustGoOnline performing their first show.
Every week, Rob Myles and a group of talented actors will perform a read through of Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which they were written. Tonight is The Two Gentleman of Verona.
After being introduced to the cast, we had the most beautiful introduction to the play by Ben Crystal, actor, producer and writer and the author of Shakespeare on Toast. His voice is easy to listen to and his message, while tinged with sorrow that we face the times we do, is hopeful and brings some positivity.
I will paraphrase, but here is what Ben said.
For everyone out there who has lost a project, who has lost a job, it may not be a great deal of comfort to know, The Globe went down due to the plague…and look what can be done [in relation to what Shakespeare managed to create]. Hopefully this coming together throughout art, is positive for me, and I hope for everyone else.
I mentioned in my post yesterday that I would be talking to people in the entertainment industry about how they are managing now, why creativity is important and what they are doing to keep arts and culture available to us during this time.
Ben Adams, British singer, songwriter, producer, creator of Eugenius and member of band a1 , is the first to speak to us.
We are extremely grateful to Ben for taking the time when he is in the middle of organising the live streaming of Eugenius, which will be on Facebook tomorrow (Friday 20th March) at 7pm.
PP: What do you think the importance of creativity right now is and how do you think people use it to manage in times of crisis?
BA: It’s probably the best thing we can do to stay sane. The arts are created for people’s enjoyment, their own and others. As the world is a very scary place right now it’s the one medicine that is widely available and obtainable by anyone.
PP: What do you think it means to people to be able to watch contemporary theatre and arts and do you think art is a counter to the anxiety of this time?
BA: Eugenius being streamed is a great example of this. We have already seen hundreds of messages from people who have expressed how thankful they are that they have something to take their minds off the panic and scare of everyday life at the moment. That was the point of the show in the first place and there is never a time I can remember that that kind of escapism has been more needed.
With the theatre industry in an unprecedented position and venues closed across the UK due to the COVID – 19 outbreak, industry leaders are creatively seeking ways to support theatre and bring it directly to you – at home. Following their hugely popular run at the Other Palace in 2018, the out-of-this-world British musical Eugenius! will release the full archive footage of the show online on Friday 20th March at 7pm in order to raisemoney for Acting for Others and provide some much-needed relief to those self-isolating.
The writers Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins say “THEY CAN’T STOP US, WE’RE A TEAM!…. as shows close across the globe and people are forced to stay at home, there’s never been a more important time to bring the joy of live theatre right to your doorstep! Unlike some other shows that have recordings intended for release this was never intended to be seen BUT as the cast are incredible, the music rocks and it still delivers the same heart felt story and feel good factor that audiences took away with them when they saw the show live, we thought you should see it anyway! Team Eugenius thanks you in advance for all your support – Go Hygienius! Go Hygiene!”
When you can’t go to see your favourite sport, what do we do? Watch an old event on the TV.
When you can’t go to a gig, what do you do? Listen to it on Spotify or watch last year’s Glastonbury on BBCiplayer.
When you can’t go to the pub for a pub quiz, what do you do? I mean, I would create my own with friends which we would do virtually, but there is also the option of a boardgame at home or an online quiz over a drink.
But what do you do when your love is theatre? When faced with heightened anxiety about when we can next get out and do the things we enjoy and a feeling of being trapped in our homes, it is important to make the most of what is available to us.
Here at Playhouse Pickings, we are going to do our best to share things with you which might make these bizarre times feel a bit more bearable. We will be speaking to actors, directors and people in the industry about how this is affecting them personally and how it is affecting their work. We will also be reviewing online shows. Finally, we might just tell some of our own stories about what we are up to, why we enjoy the theatre, things we have seen in the past and musings on art and culture in general.
Tweetingit: 4* Classic comedy given fresh impetus with two brilliant actors voicing an entire cast of characters. A real treat!
Shadowed by the gothic splendour of St. Pancras station sits the British Library. And buried deep inside its Knowledge Centre is a well-appointed theatre which played host to a wonderful production of the Dad’s Army Radio Show. Performed by David Benson and Jack Lane, the show initially aired at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017.
The idea is simple: to adapt episodes of Dad’s Army via a radio programme on stage. The show takes its inspiration from corresponding radio episodes made after the TV versions were shot. The result is a glorious recreation of the sitcom’s finest moments.
Stage props were restricted to a radio and two microphones; the lights dimmed as the former crackled into life. Haunting speeches by Churchill and Chamberlain quickly put the show into context. Clad in standard issue uniform, they took the stage and launched into an episode entitled When you’ve got to go; Frank Pike has received his call-up papers much to his mother’s distress.
Tweetingit: 3* Two girls play schoolboys with a different perception of what it’s like to feel different. An intelligent, well observed play raised by some outstanding acting.
In a world where sexual identity is nothing more than a routine conversation piece, Lipstick is hardly breaking new territory. It does however provide a showcase for two outstanding young actors in April Hughes and Helen Aluko. They give substance to a feather light plot and routine script that would have been much poorer without their respective performances.
Tommy (April Hughes) is a boy that likes to wear lipstick, foundation and eye shadow if he can get hold of them. Next door neighbour and class mate Jordan (Helen Aluko) lives with warring parents on the verge of separation. Jordan is a boy’s boy, he plays football and all the girls fancy him (or so he thinks). Yet he is gradually drawn to the sickly and vulnerable Tommy; they momentarily cut loose at a nightclub as they sing I wanna dance with somebody. But what does this mean to them personally. Are they just experimenting or truly finding themselves. How do they feel about each other; is this a friendship, bromance or something much deeper and passionate? There is a curious juxtaposition between what they want and what they need from each other; a geography field trip to Cornwall may well provide the answer.
Tweetingit: 3* An enjoyable if lightweight tale of the King of England and Queen of Hollywood. Some things never change!
With exquisite timing the premiere of Falling in Love Again lands at the King’s Head Theatre. Slap bang in the middle of this week’s crisis in the Royal Family one wonders if mystical powers are at play. It tells the story of a meeting between two 20th Century icons; the ill-fated King Edward VIII and movie siren Marlene Dietrich.
A brilliant premise for a play and based on true events. Dietrich visited Fort Belvedere on the eve of King Eddie’s abdication; and this is Ron Elisha’s take on what might have happened that night.
It’s December 1936 and the House of Windsor is about to rock with the King (Ashton Spear) preparing for abdication. But wouldn’t you know it Marlene Dietrich (Ramona von Pusch) pops in for a cup of tea. Preparing to forsake his country for the woman he loves; and then confronted by one of Hollywood’s sexiest women; what is a King to do? The pair spend the evening verbally jousting with Dietrich at her seductive best. But will Edward fall for her fatal charm and slip off the wagon one last time?
A gritty northern drama from the very top draw. A taste of honey just got that much sweeter.
Once upon a time, theatre director Joan Littlewood took a pinch of inspiration and mixed it with a cupful of talent to create the Theatre Workshop. Based at Theatre Royal Stratford East the workshop gave many young artists their first break. Lionel Bart’s breakthrough musical Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be was directed by Joan Littlewood.
However, her other great discovery was Shelagh Delaney; a precious nineteen year old playwright who presented her with a terrifyingly good play called A taste of honey. It premiered in May 1958 and later transferred to the West End and Broadway receiving critical and popular acclaim.