Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Suit

It’s the 1950s and in Sofiatown, a poor township of Johannesburg in South Africa, Philemon and his wife Matilda live under the cloud of an oppressive Apartheid regime.
All around them are other families living in equally cramped conditions, yet despite this there is plenty of music, friendship and laughter.
A seemingly happy and contented couple, Matilda looks after the house and Philemon, her devoted husband, goes to work.
However, things go wrong when Philemon is told by a friend that his wife is having an affair.
He leaves work and bursts in on the couple. The man leaves in panic in only his underpants, leaving his suit behind.
Utterly devastated and wondering how on earth his wife could do such a thing, Philemon seeks revenge. And the suit left behind gives him a cruel idea. He tells Matilda she must look after the suit as though it were an honoured guest – even feeding it, looking after it, talking to it and making sure sleeps in their room. He even forces her to take it on walks about the town.
Beautifully acted the story takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions and includes music some of it traditional African, with Nonhlanhla Kheswa (Matilda) able to show off her beautiful voice.
The three musicians add to the story telling and are used very effectively as extras in some of the scenes.
Utterly spellbinding, the performances of William Nadylam as Philemon and Nonhlanhla Kheswa (Matilda) are superb.

Four stars
The Suit is on at the Young Vic, The Cut, Waterloo, until June 16.
Tickets cost from £10.
Call the box office on 020 7922 2922

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Thing About Men

If you want great musical theatre without the West End price tag I suggest heading down to the Landor Theatre in Clapham.
This small, intimate space has a well-deserved reputation for putting on terrific shows and its latest offering, The Thing About Men, is no exception.
Tom is the epitomy of the all American dream. He’s good looking, suave, sophisticated, is at the top of his game as director of a successful ad agency, has a beautiful wife and two great kids and has had a smattering of affairs along the way. He’s seemingly got it all.
However, Tom’s life shatters when he finds out his wife is giving him a taste of his own medicine by having an affair with a younger man. A would-be bohemian artist called Sebastian who lives in a less than salubrious New York Loft apartment.
He does the only thing a man can do in that situation – ingratiate himself into Sebastian’s life and move in as his room mate.
And so the fun begins with the audience taken on a roller coaster of emotions as the characters try and find their way through the situation.
Peter Gerald as Tom, John Addison as Sebastian and Kate Graham as Lucy all put in strong performances.
But it’s the brilliant casting of Steven Webb and Lucyelle Cliffe who between them take on dozens of roles, showing off their versatility to the max and who steal the show with stand out performances. Webb’s officious maĆ®tre d’ is worth the ticket price alone.
Heartwarming, poignant, sad and funny this show has it all.
Top marks all round.

The Thing About Men is on at the Landor Theatre, Landor Road, Clapham until June 9.
Tickets cost £18.
Call the box office 020 7737 7276

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A NEW drama exploring the British police’s contentious stop and search policy and its effect upon black communities is now on at the Broadway Theatre in Catford.
Written by actor turned prison officer turned writer and former Goldsmiths student Dominic Taylor, the play shows how two seemingly happy families are thrown together over the course of one evening.
Callie is 13 years old and black and goes missing one night. In their search to find him, his parents Dianne and Ivan come to discover how little they understand their son’s life when they find 36 stop and search orders in a box in his room.
Meanwhile, soon to be ex-copper Mick and his wife Ann learn more about their own son and his new life as a rookie copper.
Both families lives’ collide thanks to a series of incidents shown as vignettes on the small stage.
There are some twists and turns along the way and the cast of eight do a great job in telling the story and showing how the tensions between young black men and the police still exist.
Renee Castle and Valentine Hanson are excellent as Callie’s loving and ultimately distraught parents, but the evening really belongs to the younger cast members.
Jelissa Campbell as Allana is particularly moving as Callie’s sister and Jerome Holder puts in a remarkable and spine tingling performance as the young Callie.
Powerful, engaging, troubling and brilliantly performed, this is a play for our time and definitely one to go and see.

Broadway Theatre, 
Catford, London SE6 4RU   
27 April to 26 May
Mon – Sat at 8pm. Sat mats 4pm,
 Weds and Thurs mats 2pm
Box Office: 020 8690 0002 / 
 Prices: £14.50 concs £11.00

The Man With the Disturbingly Smelly Foot

Theatre review 
Four stars
Last Sunday, I took my seven year old daughter Lucy to see The Man With the Disturbingly Smelly Foot at the Unicorn Theatre in Tooley Street.
Decisions, how to make them, and making the right ones are the issues raised in the play by Sophocles which has been re-imagined for young audiences.
The Man with the Disturbingly Smelly Foot is based on the legend of Philoctetes and has been brilliantly re-worked for children by Nancy Harris as part of a special Greek season put on by the Tooley Street theatre.
Set during the Trojan war, the play deals with dilemmas surrounding friendship, loyalty, integrity and deception.
Odysseus and Neoptolemus land on a remote island hoping to meet up with Philoctetes, who has lived on the island for nine years. He has remained there abandoned by the Greeks and an outcast because of his injured, and hideously-smelling foot.
Odysseus wants to steal Philoctetes' magic bow and arrow to help the Greek army fight the war. Using his cunning and skills at manipulation, he leaves it to Neoptolemus to get the goods while he watches from a safe distance.
Complete with a stage full of sand, plenty of gross-out moments, delightful and amusing seashells not to mention a strong moral theme, this adaptation is a delight and full of humour.
Alex Austin puts in a superb performance as Neoptolemus who realises what it is to be loyal to your friends and have integrity. Mark Monero is excellent as Philoctetes and Alexis Rodney too as the devious Odysseus.
The production is a gem and Lucy and I would highly recommend it!

The Man with the Disturbingly Smelly Foot runs until Sunday, May 20 and is suitable for ages seven and up.
Box office - 020 7645 0560.