The Choir of Man has steadily progressed from a fringe show to a West End favourite. Having premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017, the show is now in its second run at the Arts Theatre – and this is undoubtedly the most feel-good show on in the West End right now!
Oli Townsend’s set transports you into a local pub as soon as you enter the auditorium. The production does not include a plot in the traditional sense; instead, the show combines Ben Norris’ heartfelt monologues with popular music to create something truly unique. And there is plenty of uniqueness to this production. For one, you can go onstage before the show begins, buy a pint of beer, and enjoy this whilst interacting with the cast, giving the show an almost immersive feel. You can sing along throughout, and videos and pictures are allowed to be taken during the show (as long as the videos are short).
The show uses the real names of the performers within the script, and in a section of the show about home, we get to know each of them as the monologue is tailored to each individual, explaining to the audience where or who home is for all of them. It’s a great touch that reminds us that this show symbolises real people and reality. Sticking with its fringe roots, the show does incorporate some audience participation – you may be serenaded, and you may be invited on stage. It’s all great fun and further immerses the audience in the production.
There are some new members of the cast and some more familiar faces, seen in The Jungle before. Michael Hamway dons The Poet’s white t-shirt this time around and proves a charismatic performer with great delivery of tender, heartfelt monologues. Luke Conner Hall as The Romantic displays impeccable vocals and a beautiful falsetto, and remains high energy throughout – my eyes were often drawn to his way throughout the performance. Ben Goffe’s footwork is also excellent. But this show is a true ensemble piece, and the cast is strongest together, particularly when it comes to their pitch-perfect harmonies. The show now includes the musicians more, with them coming onto the stage a few times during the show and sharing a beer or two. The only aspect the production could improve upon is the diversity within its cast.
The Choir of Man is the happiest of Happy Hours – a show you can rewatch again and again, it’s that good. It’s a show with universal appeal; I can’t think of one person I know that wouldn’t love this.
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