Friends At The Poolyard bring two new shows to The Pleasance this year, performing Teacher’s Pet and Hot As Hell on alternating nights. Teacher’s Pet is a satirical musical that tells the story of Jane, a high school senior, and her unrequited crush on her teacher.
The audience enters as the cast is warming up vocally and stretching on stage, which instantly creates a feeling that the fourth wall does not entirely exist in this show. This continues as the show begins and Jane, played by Aidan Futterman, delivers her dialogue directly to the audience, with a sardonic, deadpan delivery that has a self-awareness of the character’s foolishness and immaturity.
The show feels unbalanced, in the sense that Jane carries every song almost entirely solo, with minimal support from the ensemble. The remaining cast members are underused, performing sharp choreography with lots of energy, but only occasionally singing in harmony or delivering dialogue. Futterman is clearly vocally talented, but her voice sounded worn out at this performance (understandable given the intensity of the Fringe). If the songs had been more evenly split between the other characters, there may have been more strength in her singing.
The subject of Jane’s adoration, her teacher John McCormack, appears briefly in the show when Jane reads a love letter to him. The cast member portraying John doesn’t appear before this scene and isn’t used afterwards either. Although the scene provides a poignant shift in tone to give Jane the chance to be honest and vulnerable, without hiding behind her dry wit, and also includes a hilarious bit of dialogue, it feels an odd choice for him to only be present once. It would make more sense for him to be in multiple scenes, or not appear at all.
The book is the strongest element of this show, with Jane embodying Cher from Clueless and delivering some brilliantly funny one-liners. The understated wit continues through the lyrics in the songs, but some songs are highly repetitive and slow the pace down. The songs are generally musically underwhelming; they all sound pleasant and are performed well, but are used more to “speak” the lyrics rather than providing the opportunity for impressive vocals.
Tonally, the show is confusing – it’s humorous, but it’s about a predator grooming vulnerable teens. Towards the end of the show, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be laughing as the characters rant about rampant paedophilia. The ending is also incredibly abrupt, without a clear way of wrapping up the story, and some plot points are introduced right at the end but are not explored further.
The writers and cast of Teacher’s Pet are clearly talented, but this show needs some polishing before it’s ready for a bigger stage.
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
Amy catches up with Linus Karp ahead of his performance of Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, at London’s Clapham Grand. Linus and Joseph of Awkward Productions are also the masterminds behind the new show Gwyneth Goes Skiing. Hello Your Majesty/ Candle Entrepreneur, how are you feeling coming back from a hugely successful fringe and triumphant tour across your kingdom, ahead of performing in front of 700 of your loyal subjects, and before (the list never ends!) opening a brand new show, which has recently gone viral? Exhausted, exhilarated and alive. We’ve had the most ridiculous year – I feel … More INTERVIEW – LINUS KARP – DIANA: THE UNTOLD AND UNTRUE STORY