#221 - The Mousetrap

St Martin's Theatre, WC2H

I expected a dinosaur and got a proud warhorse. Agatha Christie’s thriller, now in its 69th record-breaking year, is defiantly old-fashioned but also extremely effective. The murder mystery is tightly plotted, and beneath the clipped tones and huffy gentility there’s a shocking core tale of abuse and neglect. Ian Talbot’s deliberately mannered production now features two casts of actors aimed at a broad range of audience soft spots (including the wonderful Derek Griffiths, a voice of my childhood). To finally see it – and the exquisite interior of the St Martin’s - after decades writing about London theatre is like having a cherished family heirloom suddenly come into your modern home.

#220 - Heathers the Musical

Theatre Royal, Haymarket, SW1Y

We’ve seen so many wry high school comedies since 1989’s Heathers that this musical stage adaptation seems almost generic. But it has a powerful vocal star in Christina Bennington as Veronica, the girl who craves acceptance, from, then rebels against, a cruel school clique. Writers Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe ramp up the arch stylisation of the original, though the story’s portrayal of rejection and sexual harassment looks more stark today. The best songs – Seventeen  and My Dead Gay Son – are in the second half. It’s put over with verve and sass if no great subtlety by a young cast, director Andy Fickman, and choreographer Gary Lloyd.

#219 - Charlotte Perriand

Design Museum W8

This show brilliantly restores the standing of one of the 20th century’s most important female designers and architects. Often working with (and overshadowed by) Le Corbusier, Perriand turned from utilitarian, machine-age furniture to more organic materials and forms, and united both in her ski shelters, the magnificent interior (recreated here) of the French Railways building on Piccadilly, and the vast ski resort, Les Arcs. Photos show a free spirit who loved hiking and skiing, videos an authoritative and unique voice. Shamefully, I knew little about her before this: my mother has one of her tubular-steel recliners, but always credited its design to Corbusier.

#218 - Shedding a Skin

Soho Theatre, W1D

A wittily fragile f***-up overshares: comparisons between Fleabag and Amanda Wilkin’s polished solo show are both inevitable and well-earned. Rather than copycatting, though, Wilkin’s monologue channels Fleabag energy towards questions of race, class and identity. Her Myah is a token, temporary mixed-heritage face in posh offices: too black for some, too white for others. Schooled by her Caribbean landlady, she strips off layers of herself and of the set, revealing a rawness beneath the klutzy sass. It’s a great, honest performance of a good piece of writing. A judging panel, including Fleabag author Phoebe Waller-Bridge, gave it the Verity Bargate Award.

#217 - and breathe...

Almeida Theatre, N1

David Jonsson – who hit prominence as one of the sexy profit-slaves in BBC1’s Industry in November – here gives a gentle, understated, physically precise interpretation of Yomi Sode’s poems about grief, family and culture. Jonsson is Junior, navigating the slow death of a great aunt alongside other members of a sprawling south London Nigerian clan. It’s as much about what goes unsaid or is communicated in code as what’s baldly stated, and Jonsson’s wry delivery is underpinned by Femi Temowo’s live score. When nativisim and the NHS are in the headlines it feels timely, and it’s richer than most monologues, but at 60 minutes also slight.

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