As someone who has recently been thinking quite a lot about different scenarios for the future; with one’s thoughts often leading to starting a family, I couldn’t wait to see No Love Songs. Believing as it’s a musical, it was sure to bring in some warmth and reassurance to this extremely difficult decision many women are faced with. I went in with an open mind and the curiosity of a child about to be introduced to a completely unfamiliar world.
Well, not completely unfamiliar. While I couldn’t directly relate to the story based on the real-life experience of Laura Wilde and Kyle Falconer, a story turned into a book written by Laura and Johnny McKnight, there was one person on my mind through the entire performance.
It’s always the mother.
No Love Songs spends a short moment showing us Jessie and Lanna meeting for the very first time and falling in love before moving into the future. This happens in a flash, which is often the same in real life, when we’re young and in love one second and having a baby the very next. The scene of Lanna giving birth is by far the best depiction of childbirth I have seen in theatre or film. The humour is top-notch throughout the show and helps take the tension off the heavy topic of postnatal depression.
As does the music. Heartfelt songs break the spell of reality when we’re faced with Lanna’s experience of trying to handle being a young mother while her partner is away making much-needed money. Flashes of my own childhood made me relate to and feel for Lanna. And yet, for me, my own blurred memories felt much more real and strong during the moments when the show broke for, yet another, beautiful and warm song, almost as if it was too afraid to stare into the uncomfortable truth of this situation, and it made my own memories feel redundant.
While this is an extremely hard topic to portray and something everyone should see, it was almost too easy to watch, not delivering on its promise of showing an uncomfortable truth, avoiding the ugliness that should be there, but was instead masked by music and a cheesy ending. Though, of course, I did call my mum straight after the show.
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
Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, High Tide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE
Drum roll please…(Cue a literal drum rolling across the stage.) The Lyric pantomime is one of traditions with the return of many well-loved jokes and skits. Costumes and sets are all made at the Lyric itself by Good Teeth, with set pieces being reused year on year. This year Cinderella gets the Hammersmith makeover, with some success. The costuming is fun and vibrant, with the ugly stepsisters’ equine pyjamas and hoop-skirted ball gowns giving all the wrong kinds of extra you need for those characters. Cinderella’s on stage dress transformation is magical and really well-timed. The Dame, Lady Jelly-Bottom’s, outfits … More CINDERELLA – REVIEW – LYRIC HAMMERSMITH