#228 - Tina - the Tina Turner Musical

Aldwych Theatre 28/09/21

If someone asks my opinion on a big show I’d like to give it: so I’m catching on the long-runners I missed before resuming the role of critic at the Standard. This week I finally caught Tina, on the surface a boilerplate jukebox biopic, elevated by the rawness of its subject matter and execution. I thought I knew how tough Tina Turner’s life was before, with and after the abusive Ike but Katori Hall’s script reveals layers of suffering. Phyllida Lloyd’s production has Tina repeatedly stripped and remade before our eyes, and Anthony van Laast’s choreography captures here tempestuous energy. Chanel Haynes, the “alternative” in the role, knocks it out of the park.

#227 - Swimming above the Shmeissers 24/08/21

Porchester Centre, Queensway W2

Déjà vu: the architecture and the atmosphere of Porchester (where I once had a naked schmeissing session in the spa downstairs – a story for another time) potently recalled those of Marshall St in Soho from a few months back. Long, narrow pool; magnificent skylit barrel ceiling; air of austere athletic grandeur. Porchester was built six years before Marshall St, in 1923, and both are now run by Everyone Active. The 30m pool is a joy, though I managed to backstroke myself onto another swimmer. Annoyingly, you have to bring your own padlock, or leave your gear on the side, as I did.

#226 - Swimming on Piccadilly 23/08/21

The Dilly Hotel, 21 Piccadilly, W1J

Oops. I’d finagled a visit to the Dilly hotel – formerly Le Meridien – on Piccadilly because I’d heard it had a glorious rooftop pool with a curved glass roof behind a colonnade facing the street. And it did once, but sometime in in the hotel’s 113-year history, swimming was shifted into the basement and dining moved to the roof. The current pool is almost square (12x13m), blue tiled, with a fountain to one side and an off-centre column: it’s an attractive, safely shallow, family-splasharound bath though the poolside and public areas have a municipal feel and need love. It’s mostly for residents but you can book one-to-one adult swimming lessons in a roped off lane too.

#225 - Damage Control

Riverside Studios, W6

One of the stranger experiences I’ve been to post-lockdown, Damage Control pairs Polly Wiseman’s verbatim audio play about a selection of London fires and plagues with an exhibition of statues – some whole, some fragmented – by Josie Spencer. The linking thread is human vulnerability, but it’s a strained one. Wiseman rightly suggests the poor suffered more in Grenfell Tower, the Great Fire, and from Covid. But while some of its testimony is powerful the 42-minute play is too strident. Spencer’s classically influenced bronze figures are dynamic but otherworldly, augmented with feathers and coloured patina. It’s a pleasure to look at them while listening but the two elements never fully marry up.

Until 31 Oct, Riverside Studios, W

#224 - Come From Away

Phoenix Theatre, WC2H

If anything, the last 16 months have sharpened the message of hope, generosity and compassion in this full-hearted Canadian musical. David Hein and Irene Sankoff tell the true story of how the tiny Newfoundland town of Gander took in 7,000 strangers diverted from US flights after 9/11, with verve, wit and a sensational ceilidh band. It’s a lo-fi concept with minimal set and an ensemble cast mucking in on multiple characters but that adds to the charm and humanity of the piece. I rarely bother seeing any show twice: this was my third viewing of Come From Away, and it didn’t disappoint.

Displaying 6 - 10 of 238 Articles
prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next