Review: Dog Show by Kandinsky

DogShowFrom the publicity, it’s difficult to anticipate what this show is going to be before you see it. Its billing, as “part-silent film, part-thriller”, based on the case of the Hong Kong Serial Dog Killer, promises a dark and dour production which belies its engaging, comic and whimsical nature. Performed by four actors, who each take two parts – one of a dog owner and the other of a dog – it weaves the stories of four disparate souls whose commonality (if you excuse the pun) lies in the fact that they all walk their dogs on Hampstead Heath.

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Review: Pig by Silent Uproar

PigSilent Uproar are a Hull-based, New Diorama Emerging Company and, as such, presented their latest production Pig at the London venue in September 2015.

Pig is a clever title for a clever production. It’s a show about cops and robbers: Ted and Coral are jobbing cops, beat-bobbies who want to rise through the ranks and know all too well the downside of policing in the UK in the twenty-first century. Gaz is a likeable career criminal, who names his pet pigeon in hommage to the way in which the young hero of the Ken Loach film names his pet kestrel, hence the title of the piece.

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Review: Down and Out in Paris and London by New Diorama Theatre / PIT

Down and Out in Paris and London, written and directed by NDT / PIT Artistic Director, David Byrne, fuses two books, written half a century apart. The first by George Orwell, which lends its title to the production, and the second, Hard Work by Polly Toynbee, a journalist and reporter for The Guardian, in which she researches minimum-wage, zero-hours contracts by living for several months as one of those reliant on them to survive.

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Review: Joan of Arc by The Faction

I’m a big fan of The Faction, and their production of The Talented Mr. Ripley, with which Joan of Arc is playing in repertoire, is my must-see show this Spring. Sadly, though, Joan of Arc doesn’t meet the same standard.

The Faction are dedicated to producing the works of Schiller, and their previous productions of Mary Stuart, Fiesco and The Robbers have done much to revive the playwright’s reputation as relevant to modern theatre. Unfortunately, Joan of Arc, based on Schiller’s The Maid of Orleans adds nothing to this.

Partly, it’s down to the play. One cannot help but compare it to the George Bernard Shaw masterpiece, and it doesn’t stand up well. Gone is the trial scene, the pivotal dramatic crescendo of the story in which the audience is drawn into a natural empathy for the underdog, borne of outrage at the unfairness of her treatment, and admiration for the way in which she faces it.

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Review: One Man, Two Guvnors by The National Theatre

I have wanted to see this show ever since it first began to create a buzz, and the perfect opportunity presented itself when it came to my local theatre, the Wycombe Swan, this week. I was, however, a little worried that my expectations were so high that the show would never live up to them.

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Review: A Dashing Fellow by Belka Productions

Belka Productions is dedicated to presenting rare Russian and European texts, and it was therefore fitting that my first encounter with their work was a fusion of both – an adaptation of three stories by Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian emigré who lived for a while in West Germany. The play is a strange Russo-German amalgamation: evoking Isherwood‘s Berlin, as interpreted by Ebb and Fosse, and combining the detachment of Brecht with the lack of moral finality of Chekov, which would leave you unsatisfied were it not for the perfidious, yet magnetic central character.

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Review: Blue Remembered Hills by New Rep Theatre

This is the first production I’ve seen by New Rep Theatre, which was founded four years ago by Mari Cameron and Cecilia Colby, and the play itself is a particular favourite of mine, although I have never seen it on the stage, despite being the proud owner of a copy of the original television version. So it was with great interest that I sat expectantly in the audience at the New Diorama, waiting for the show to begin.

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Review: The Universal Machine by PIT

The Universal MachinePIT are an extraordinary company who can always be relied on to do something different and The Universal Machine is certainly that. Dramatising the life of one of Britain’s most belatedly-recognised icons, Alan Turing, would be a daunting task on its own, but writer / director David Byrne has upped the ante by collaborating with composer Dominic Brennan to make a musical of the subject.

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Review: Fiesco by The Faction

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The Faction produce a heady mix of classic, text-based, physical theatre which is a joy to witness.  They are dedicated to producing the complete works of Schiller, but also include other classics in their repertoire, such as Chekov, Lorca, Shakespeare and Strindberg, to name but a few.  But it was Schiller who drew me to the New Diorama Theatre on a cold January evening.  Last year I was privileged to see The Faction’s Mary Stuart, and I had high expectations of this latest production.  I was not disappointed.

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Review: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog by Third Party Productions

Noggin Nogbad and crowsI have to confess at the outset that I did book the tour of The Sagas of Noggin the Nog for Third Party Productions but, hand on heart, that has in no way biased this review. The show really is the most charming and delightful piece of theatre I have seen for a long time.

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