Victor/Victoria is the wonderful gender bending musical currently in production at London Bridge’s Southwark Playhouse.
The Little Dog Laughed is an excellent, well written play flitting between New York and LA, and tells the story of Mitchell (Rupert Friend), Diane (Tamsin Greig), Alex (Harry Lloyd) and Ellen (Gemma Aterton), satirising Hollywood and its attitudes towards its stars, their lovers and those that fall between
Megan Mullally & Supreme Music Program has descended onto the Vaudeville Theatre, the first time the lady from Will & Grace and her posse have performed outside of the United States. With a mixture of alternative jazz, rhythm n blues and swing, this songstress proves that she has more talents than meets the eye.
Take five talented Drag Queens, mix in a plethora of past and present Divas and you have ‘Drag Divas’, on at The Arts Theatre in the West End.
A Bowl of Cherries, at the Charing Cross Theatre, is exactly that – a bowl of cherries. Mixed up, messed up and full of pits. Starring Gary Wilmot and Clare Buckfield, it veers from one vignette to another, bringing themes of love, loss, death and desire throughout people’s lives, all watched by a woman in the wings.
The show opens in a London theatre in the middle of the Blitz, and Penny Riddle (Clare Buckfield) is a rising musical star of the stage.
However when a bomb destroys the theatre, it kills her and stagehand Albert Farthing (Graham MacDuff), and they become ghosts trapped between worlds. Albert knows they have passed on but Penny is unaware.
From then on Penny is the link, a kind of ghost of Christmas present-figure, between a dozen sketches, ranging from children talking about how babies are made, to marriage break-ups and families coming together for Christmas, all with a soundtrack by David Martin, who wrote the timeless “Can’t Smile Without You”, which also appears.
On the whole, it is an enjoyable show. There are some lovely moments captured by writer Carolyn Pertwee – kids believing babies are born through the belly button, and an incredibly touching Christmas day with an elderly couple who have found Viagra in their Santa sack, to name just two. Top marks go to sketch ‘Rosie and Dud’, which had the audience in hysterics due to outstanding performances from Gary Wilmot and, in particular, Julie Jupp, who are discussing “having a break” over their 25th wedding anniversary dinner.
All the performers are strong and able, have great comic timing and none fade into the background, thanks to the nature of the pieces as there are only a few occasions when everyone is on stage at the same time. Gary Wilmot is strong vocally and maintains a great comedy presence, whilst Graham MacDuff, Kate Graham, Paul Manuel, Eaton James and Sohm Kapila are wonderful, and suitably cast in characters of various ages. I especially liked Kapila’s rapping teenager, and her role of Aishaaaaa in ‘I Want Your Love For Christmas’.
However, it falls on a few points. The programme states it is a new musical, but the poster calls it a “Musical Review”, rather than revue. Whilst there are songs in the show, there are more sketches than songs, so it feels like it’s battling with itself to decide what it wants to be. This really is the tone of the play – strong writing but, as my theatre buddy stated, it all feels a little too “Rowntree’s Randoms”. Clare Buckfield is perfectly good in her role, although there are several times when you want to give her a slap and tell her she’s dead, even though that would shorten the show considerably.
Furthermore, some of the lyrics are so cheesy; especially in the first number ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. This is a foot-tapping song that sticks in your head, but with clichéd lines and dance-by-numbers choreography. It almost feels as if tongues are firmly in cheeks.
All in all, this is a recommended evening. It won’t set the West End alight, but I can see this being snapped up in the amateur dramatics world, where it will no doubt become a popular hit. It’s only on till 31st March so grab a ticket and don’t take it too seriously. After all, life is a bowl of cherries and this show demonstrates just what a mixed bag it can be.
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