#90 - "Good-hearted, but there's not enough at stake", theatre review, Everybody's Talking About Jamie 22/11/17

Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue

Everyone’s talking up this new musical about a teenage wannabe drag queen from Sheffield, and it’s easy to see why – it’s charming, good-hearted, and performed with gusto, especially by John McCrea as the titular glamazon. Dan Gillespie Sells’ music is upbeat, Tom Macrae’s lyrics witty, but only one tune – He’s My Boy, belted out by Josie Walker as Jamie’s mum – stayed with me. And the story is too slender: there’s simply not enough at stake compared to the show’s most obvious models, Billy Elliot and Kinky Boots. God knows, a message of tolerance – for hijabis and cross-dressers alike – is welcome, and I hope it succeeds, but I have my doubts.

#89 - "Wonderful and necessary" - theatre review, The Suppliant Women 20/11/17

Young Vic

How wonderful and necessary this show is. Adapter David Greig and director Ramin Grey make explicit comparisons between the Egyptian women fleeing rape and forced marriage in Aeschylus’s play and the displaced female refugees of today. It could be clunky, but the use of non-professional local women as the chorus somehow makes it deeply stirring, a ritualistic playing out of a timeless story. The accompaniment of drum and buzzing aulos double-pipe, even the jokey libation poured by the Bishop of Southwark beforehand – giving thanks for everyone who paid towards the production – add to the sense of something very special.

#88 - "Thrilling, dazzling, pleased with itself" - theatre review, Network 13/11/17

National Theatre

Bryan Cranston rightly steals Ive van Hove’s adaptation of the 70s satire on media and power, which is thrilling, dazzling and slightly too pleased with itself. The Breaking Bad star has just the right soiled humanity for the washed-up news anchor who threatens suicide on air and sees ratings soar. Michelle Dockery is good too as his rapacious producer, but Douglas Henshall is cold as ever as her rival and older lover. With a Kraftwerky onstage band and audience of diners, video projection and visual tricks, this is a rich and overwhelming work, but it pushes glib contemporary parallels too urgently. Those booing footage of Trump at the end did so in an echo chamber.

#87 - "A pleasure to see, and hear" - theatre review, Glengarry Glen Ross, 12/11/17

Playhouse Theatre

David Mamet’s tale of manic real estate salesmen is so precise and mannered it requires complete naturalism – and it takes a while for Sam Yates’s handsome production to achieve that. Christian Slater, his vulpine grin apparently refined in a wind tunnel, is well cast as flashy Ricky Roma, but the core of this noisy drama about quiet desperation is Stanley Townsend’s measured Shelley Levene. He has strong support from Don Warrington and Robert Glenister (since apparently stricken by stage fright) and Kris Marshall has never been better as office manager John whose riposte to abuse – “I don’t like you” – is devastating. A pleasure to see, and hear.

#86 - "Go now" - restaurant review, Rochelle Canteen

ICA

What a lovely match. Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson’s Shoreditch schoolyard endeavour moves up West and into the ICA, an organisation that in need of impetus and fresh ideas, but which will always be my original after-hours drinking spot. The agreeably scruffy dining room has been given a light and pleasing St John-ish makeover and the menu is short and comforting: cod’s roe, quail, ox cheek, skate, a short list of sides and puddings and eminently drinkable house wines for £5 a glass and £20 a bottle. The new bar downstairs isn’t quite finished and the foyer is a building site, plus you still have to take out a £1 day membership to get in. This all adds to the charm. Go now.

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