Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Playhouse Theatre

Women on the verge of a nervous breakdownIt’s true that there is something wildly, garishly, theatrical about Pedro Almodóvar’s films – none more so than this rampant farce – but it’s equally true that their sensibility is far removed from what the English might deem farce and that their speed of delivery leaves not a millisecond to draw breath leave alone sing … [Read More]

The Grand Tour, Finborough Theatre

the-grand-tour-mainEverything about this little-known and largely forgotten show – including the title – suggests epic. Multiple locations, ambitious concept, big ideas. But like so much of Jerry Herman’s work – and the received wisdom on it is invariably so wide of the mark – The Grand Tour is a chamber piece at heart. Adapted from … [Read More]

Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory

AssassinsSanta Claus does make it to the Menier Chocolate Factory this Christmas but his name is Sam Byck and he plans to fly a 747 into the White House and “incinerate Dick Nixon”. So not the Christmas show, not in any traditional sense, actually not in any sense, but a hymn to the disenchanted and … [Read More]

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin, Royal Festival Hall

Music lovers invariably divide into two faction over the Brahms piano concertos: those who thrill to the elemental D minor and those who prefer to bask in the more reflective charms of the sumptuous B-flat Second Concerto. I’m a D minor man myself, secretly convinced that the four-movement Second would prove a far more startling … [Read More]

Memphis, Shaftesbury Theatre

Memphis, 2014, Credit: Johan Persson/It’s throwback week with two very different shows recalling the darkest days of America’s racial disharmony – but where The Scottsboro Boys shocks and satirises and has us choke on our own laughter Memphis is content to be the feel-good flipside. Throw a few home truths and a little grit into the mix – disturbing … [Read More]

Gypsy, Chichester Festival Theatre

There’s a moment of stunned silence in Imelda Staunton’s storming Mama Rose at the Chichester Festival Theatre, a long, long, moment where neither speaking nor singing she conclusively demonstrates what a difference a great actress makes in this most iconic of musical theatre roles. Just like her mother and husband before, her daughter June has … [Read More]

The Scottsboro Boys, Garrick Theatre

You come away from The Scottsboro Boys sure of two things: that the next Cakewalk you ever hear will induce queasiness; and that the show’s director/choreographer Susan Stroman is some kind of genius. This kick-ass UK premiere, now happily transferred from the Young Vic, has a simplicity, a precision, a visceral energy, a choreographic razzle-dazzle … [Read More]

The Girl of the Golden West, English National Opera, London Coliseum

Girl of the Golden West Susan BullockWell, there won’t be any complaints about performing this one in English – or should that be American. Thank heavens Richard Jones has made Puccini’s spaghetti western an operatic-home-counties-free-zone and got his cast delivering Kelley Rourke’s translation with enough of a trans-Atlantic drawl to affect a colloquial tang. Let’s face it, great swathes of this … [Read More]

BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, Litton, Barbican Hall

The problem with programming Charles Ives’ Fourth Symphony – and only the very bold and resourceful and/or the BBC are ever likely to do so – is that it eclipses everything, and I mean everything, in its proximity. And if it was my 90th birthday – as indeed it was on this day for … [Read More]

Otello, English National Opera, London Coliseum

It is 30 years ago – but feels like another life – that David Alden first exploded on to English National Opera’s Coliseum stage with his forever notorious cut-price staging of Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa. None of us there will ever forget the high-drama of that evening on stage and off. The booing began with the … [Read More]