Review – The Last of the Haussmans, National Theatre

Tuesday 19 June 2012

You wait an age for a play about free-spirited people who behaved selfishly in the sixties and how their behaviour made lost souls of their offspring desperate to get their hands on property…

Well, you know the rest.

The Quink from the Whingers’ quills had barely dried from their uncharacteristically and almost unbridled rave about Mike Bartlett’s Love, Love, Love at the Royal Court and here they were again ploughing territory with spookily similar themes.

Expectations had already been running unreasonably high with Julie Walters, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory and Matthew Marsh in the cast. Imagine being the playwright Stephen Beresford and finding that lot in your first play The Last of the Haussmans - and on a proper National Theatre stage and not even tucked away in the Cottesloe. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Torch Song Trilogy, Menier Chocolate Factory

Wednesday 13 June 2012

You need only look at the posters on the walls of Soutra Gilmour’s set in the third play/act of Torch Song Trilogy to pick up little nods to the stage histories of the play’s author, its director (Douglas Hodge) and even one of its award-winning performers. There’s visual cross-referencing alongside cross-dressing in Harvey Fierstein’s comedy-drama.

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rychlyprachy 61 download torrentrychlyprachy marketa TST started out as 3 individual plays: The International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery and Widows and Children First which were then condensed into this Best Play Tony-winning trilogy 30 odd years ago.

It hardly needs saying the Whingers are mature ancient enough to have seen it first time round. Andrew didn’t care for it much even then. Phil was impressed when he saw it on The Broadway; but then that was a different era altogether. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Antigone, National Theatre

Tuesday 12 June 2012

“Did you enjoy the coup de théâtre?” Andrew asked at the Whingers’ post-show post mortem.

“The sandwiches wrapped in foil?” Phil wondered, brain slightly addled by emerging from an evening performance of Antigone to discover it was still daylight outside.

“No the haunted Newton’s Cradle.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Love, Love, Love, Royal Court

Monday 11 June 2012

How to put this delicately?

The Whingers occasionally wonder who will wear the mantles of our great acting dames when the more senior ones exchange waiting in the wings for wearing them.

So there was almost spontaneous combustion during Love, Love, Love when the Whingers simultaneously realised they had identified one. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – What the Butler Saw, Vaudeville Theatre

Monday 21 May 2012

Was it a cigar or a phallus?

Edna Welthorpe (Mrs) would not have enjoyed the post-show discussion following the Whingers’ visit to the Vaudeville Theatre to see a preview of What the Butler Saw for the Whingers found themselves mired in struggles to recall the ins and outs of Winston Churchill’s private member vis a vis the Lord Chamberlain.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Detroit, National Theatre

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Suburbia. Two neighbouring gardens: one smart (so we’re told), one tatty and unkempt. Patio doors that won’t slide properly and garden furniture and half-laid decking that are going to cause someone an injury. Two barbecues that reflect the different financial and social status of two neigbouring couples. That’s when neighbours become good friends.

Sounds like Alan Ayckbourn territory, doesn’t it? Except we’re in Detroit. Except we’re not: we’re in “a ‘first-ring’ suburb of a mid-sized American city’. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Black T-shirt Collection, National Theatre

Monday 14 May 2012

Not wishing to be pilloried yet again for being culturally insensitive, the Whingers chickened out of using their tickets for Black T-Shirt Collection in case they didn’t like it and said so. So they gave them to their friend Nina instead:  Read the rest of this entry »

Review – I Dreamed a Dream

Sunday 13 May 2012

The “fairy tale” (a phrase uttered about 20 times) story of the very public transformation of a slightly odd, socially awkward, middle aged Scottish virgin to global singing sensation is understandably irresistible.

So it’s a shame that in I Dreamed a Dream the odd, socially awkward Susan Boyle has been replaced with an “inner” Susan Boyle and that Elaine C Smith – while in possession of an excellent singing voice – is not a singing sensation.

The result is the rather pedestrian story of an ordinary woman with an ordinary life who (eventually) wins a talent competition and becomes famous.

There is a lovely sequence set in a local club in which – in terrifying echoes of Andrew’s youth – people dance the Slosh to “Una Paloma Blanca” and Andy Gray does a quite accomplished turn as an overly entertaining karaoke host. But this has only very occasional moments of joy and/or inventiveness – notably a toe-tapping rendition of “Stuck in the Middle with You” by a line of Britain’s Got Talent contestants waiting to go on.

You know you’re in trouble when the cast have to dance on with coloured balloons indicating happiness. They were singing “Perfect Day” anyway, even Phil had got the gist of that one.

But the really tantalising (to us) stuff is only alluded to: the surreality of Demi Moore’s involvement in sending Ms Boyle “viral” and the idea that far from rubbing their hands with glee the BGT mandarins were panicking over the loss of control over an otherwise well-engineered story.

And anyway, this is all so 2009. It is time for the story of a slightly socially awkward canine who becomes a global sensation. Come on Elaine C Smith. Pull your finger out and get the wardrobe working on that giant dog out outfit.

That will get the Whingers back to Southend which is where we saw I Dreamed a Dream at the Cliffs Pavillion and ate chips in a hut on the prom which was awesome.

Oh, and no the real Susan Boyle didn’t pop up at the end which according to the poster she “is expected to appear at all performances subject to unforeseen circumstances.” Unforeseen by whom is not clear. Appearing on the BGT final as it happened. So not unforeseen after all.


Review – Long Day’s Journey into Night, Apollo Theatre

Wednesday 9 May 2012

“I don’t feel so bad about my drinking now,” chirped Andrew as he breezed out of the Apollo Theatre after Long Day’s Journey into Night and headed into a local hostelry feeling utterly reborn as a paragon of self-restraint.

History shall record that Eugene O’Neil’s life and works were not in vain then. His famously long autobiographical drama about a dysfunctional family (which he didn’t want published until 25 years after his death and never, ever performed) has served at least one useful purpose. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Sunshine Boys, Savoy Theatre

Tuesday 8 May 2012
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Two grumpy old gits with failing memories harbour massive grudges and snipe at each other. One of them prefers to spend as much time as possible lolling around in his jim-jams.  Both attempt to flog tired old gags in a double act that’s way past it’s sell by date.

The Sunshine Boys has a most pungent, room-clearing whiff of someone having a laugh at the Whingers’ expense. Would it prove a bit too close to home (a retirement one of course) for them?

Prolific Neil Simon‘s 1972 play arrives at the Savoy Theatre with an eagerly-anticipated USP: Danny DeVito making his West End stage debut as an old vaudevillian Willie Clark.

Cast opposite him the altogether less diminutive Richard Griffiths as his former stage partner Al Lewis (didn’t he play Grandpa in The Munsters?) and you might believe you’re almost Twins-set for a perfect match. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review – Top Hat, Aldwych Theatre

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Andrew recently passed a big and significant landmark which, to put it delicately, did not involve sitting aboard the 52 bus and whizzing past the Royal Albert Hall.

No, it was one of those occasions where everyone was coming up with ideas for unusual things he could do on the actual day. Phil suggested he stayed in and blew the dust off that anthology of Harold Pinter he gave him several birthdays ago. Some hope. (In case you’re interested, he ended up spending it with Nancy Lam)

But if Andrew ever feels despondent about his advancing years he can always instantly feel 20 years younger for the price of a theatre ticket – at least for as long as Top Hat runs.

The Whingers were feeling almost nubile amongst the Aldwych crowd. When Phil stood up before the show started to see how many were in the orchestra pit (15 for the record) a shrinking mittel-European lady behind him tapped him on the shoulder and anxiously enquired, “I hope you’re not going to keep standing up during ze show”. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Educating Rita, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 30 April 2012

Saturday evening.

Philly-no-mates had nothing booked in the diary. What to do? Take up an impromptu offer (presumably no one else being available) to revisit the Menier Chocolate Factory‘s Educating Rita now starring Claire Sweeney as the titular heroine or stay in on his tod and flick restlessly between TV ‘talent’ shows.

Sweeney or tod?

Phil dithered. He doesn’t normally like visiting the theatre on a Saturday evening* and whilst the decision was not exactly on a par with Sophie’s Choice he weighed up the options fastidiously. The Whingers had enjoyed it enormously two years ago; surely only disappointment would ensue. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – South Downs / The Browning Version, Harold Pinter Theatre

Monday 30 April 2012

One Man’s Two Guvnors may be another man’s poison but we urge you to take the risk and nip down to The Harold Comedy Theatre and take in the really rather pleasing and old-fashioned (in a good way) double-bill you will find there.

With all its transfers into town the Chichester Festival Theatre must find it more difficult than a Boris Bike to find somewhere to park in the West End but we should all be grateful that this already acclaimed production has metaphorically managed to chain its crossbar to the railings in Panton Street. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Misterman, National Theatre

Monday 23 April 2012

Mr Andrew has booked this and although Mr Phil is never really sure what he’s going to see he felt like Mr Grumpy, Mr Silly and Mr Dyslexic rolled into one amorphous Day-glo shape when he realised that Mr Enda Walsh‘s play was a gritty monologue and nothing at all to do with Roger Hargreaves’ popular doodles.

Now the Whingers have given Aunt Enda a fairly wide berth since The Walworth Fiasco Farce almost four years ago but the lure of the very talented Mr Cillian Murphy was sufficiently strong to persuade the Whingers to rather graciously give the Irish playwright another go and really we do wonder if we weren’t paying attention last time because his 1999 play Misterman  is practially a compendium of WEW theatrical must-haves: Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The King’s Speech, Wyndham’s Theatre

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Last year’s musical Betty Blue Eyes was based around celebrations for the 1947 Royal Wedding and was fortuitously provided with another one. But sadly even with this marketing fillip it failed to fly (or convince us that pigs can).

And now in this Jubilee year comes another royal-themed offering The King’s Speech which in its film incarnation went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards though Phil maintains that the even more enjoyable and superior The Social Network was robbed.

And later in the year the Olympics-themed Chariots of Fire (another Best Film Oscar-winner) will grace the Hampstead Theatre. This is unlikely to be the last Olympic themes adaptation and the Whingers are holding their breaths in the hope that a musical adaptation of Marathon Man might be on the cards. Well, Little Shop of Horrors managed a number about dentistry, so why not?

Anyway, this The King’s Speech is the David Seidler ”play that started it all”. Seidler went on to win the Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards just as Colin Firth famously nabbed the Best Actor door-stop. No pressure for Charles Edwards then, who takes on the role of the stammering prince Bertie forced into the position of becoming a King (George VI) when his brother opts for the lap of Mrs Simpson rather than a seat on the throne.

Read the rest of this entry »

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