Copious displays of actor-musicianship mean much of the cast have their work cut out for them in this pantomime – panto, done properly (as it is here), is hard work with off-stage musicians, let alone the cast doubling up as the orchestra. But they take it in their stride, and with a reduced cast of eight this year, the Hornchurch panto punches above its weight. Not that very many people attend panto for the narrative in any event, but there are no big surprises or major diversions from … [Read more...]
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Lizzie Boone (played by Selina Helliwell) is in therapy and we are about to find out why. From bullying at primary school to sexual assault in sixth form, it is clear that her experiences as a child have shaped who she is today. Through a mixture of conversations with her therapist, Marie (voiced by Carla Kayani-Lawman), and a series of flashbacks to key moments in her life, we get to know Lizzie, a quirky, and if I’m honest, somewhat irritating, character. Selina Helliwell makes Lizzie seem … [Read more...]
An exhilarating evening at the uniquely atmospheric Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Watching Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure here is the closest one can get to actually being at the playback in the London of 1604. For this experience in time travel, we should be grateful to the American Sam Wanamaker who battled against all the odds to get this replica built. This intimate galleried auditorium, magically lit by real candles, with the musicians in the top gallery playing period instruments, is the … [Read more...]
Clive Rowe and Tony Whittle have appeared on and off in Hackney Empire’s glorious pantomimes for the last 25 years. This year, for the first time, they’ve worked together both off stage and on, co-directing Will Brenton’s take on Jack and the Beanstalk, whilst performing respectively as Dame Trot and Councillor Higginbottom. And boy oh boy, is this year’s offering an absolute delight! Cleo Pettitt’s marvellous set quickly welcomes us to ‘Hackney on the Verge’, a poverty-stricken town, … [Read more...]
Despite being based on the 2002 Booker-Prize-Winning novel by Yann Martel and taking over the Wyndham’s Theatre after Stoppard’s epic play of ideas Leopoldstadt, Max Webster’s production of Lolita Chakrabarti’s stage adaptation Life of Pi should not be judged wearing the eyeglasses of high literary scrutiny. This is a blockbuster, spectacle-rich show of pre-eminent stagecraft and visual wonder rather than a think piece. As a seasonal treat to reinstate visceral delight to many of us suffering … [Read more...]