Oh, the small-town family reunions. You can detest them, you can fear them, but you just must go. And this wedding is a rough one. The bride’s sister, Mairead, can’t stop drinking and saying what’s on her mind while Mairead’s husband, Mal, is searching for Jesus, or so he thinks. You’re invited and you may feel like you need a pint after.
Like every good story, it starts in a local pub. Mairead tells us about her hometown in the Irish midlands while she’s clocking eyes with an old lover. It’s interesting already and even those without an inch of imagination won’t need to see the characters Janet Moran is brilliantly describing in a witty, sharp-tongued way, without rolling any punches.
While the hilarious and raw story of a struggling marriage written by Eugene O’Brien may seem like something that’s been done many times before, the brilliance of it lies in a non-deceptive, getting-straight-to-it attitude. It feels refreshingly sober and naked, just like the stage in which Zia Bergin-Holly fit perfectly into this unpretentious monologue between two people who seem to be drifting away from each other.
They seem to be drifting from each other, but both are matter-of-factly aware of why they are in this position while looking for their own versions of heaven. For one, it may seem like rekindling an old love and for the other breaking a pattern of a responsible husband and following urges which usually stay in a safe world of dreams, hidden by the dark of the night. Andrew Bennett is hysterical and warm in his performance of Mal who decides to become the main character in his own life for this one night. Where can that lead a man who usually doesn’t drink but finds himself in a car snorting coke? You really want to find out this one.
Jim Culleton directs Heaven in a perfect symphony between two protagonists who, from the very beginning, are separated – never on stage together, never a dialogue between them. The monologues are strongly written, performed, and directed, making this the perfect choice and metaphor for the married couple who seem to be living separate lives.
As Mal says at one point, “Surely it has to be leading to somewhere” which is a great summary of those two characters pretty much running around like headless chickens for one night before the dawn wakes them up and they have to choose where it all leads. The only spoiler I can afford is to say that it definitely doesn’t lead to heaven.
Since its Broadway premiere in 1976, Pacific Overtures has become a surprising addition to the musical theatre canon. Telling the story of Japan’s isolationist foreign policy transformed in 1853 by the arrival of American forces was and is not traditional musical theatre fare. Nor is the manner of telling; writers Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, coupled with original director Hal Prince, sought to tell this as a Japanese story with techniques borrowed from kabuki and with music structured around fourths, rather than Western triads. Although relatively little known within Sondheim’s body of work, it is one of his most ambitious … More PACIFIC OVERTURES – REVIEW – MENIER CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Following on from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, this boy band Christmas music has made its way to the Seven Dials Playhouse. With an obvious influence from Dickens’ classic Christmas story, Chris Kirkpatrick is visited by an Angel – Marky Mark and is allowed to make a wish. What follows is an hour of boy band fun. Yes, this plot might sound crazy… but it ain’t no lie. The plot is rather thin on the ground, and whilst at times the production really leans into the weird and hilarious, so much about it could be made bigger. The … More CHRISKIRKPATRICKMAS – REVIEW – SEVEN DIALS PLAYHOUSE
The infamous Sh!t Faced Showtime are back in London with a festive edition, they have taken Dickens’ classic and put a drunken spin on it. The formula is the same as other iterations of the Shi!t Faced shows, one member of the cast has been boozing, and this time it is John Milton who plays Scrooge. Before the show, half a bottle of Jim Beam, some wine, and beer have been consumed in the previous 4 hours. The rest of the cast, try to keep the show on track, also aided by James Murfitt as the compere, Charles Dickens. The … More A PISSEDMAS CAROL – REVIEW – LEICESTER SQUARE
Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503