Review: The Great Gatsby, Riverside Studios

Another review for Musical Theatre Review, this time for Ruby in the Dust’s The Great Gatsby at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios.

A fringe musical of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby could never compete on scale or budget with Baz Luhrmann’s $100 million-plus Hollywood adaptation. But nor should it attempt to – and Ruby in the Dust’s production wisely shuns trying. Instead, the limitations inherent within Fringe theatre become its greatest strength, focusing on the crumbling foundations on which the façades of hedonistic 1920s opulence are constructed.

Edinburgh Fringe 2011: This is Soap, C venues

Editor’s Rating
Rating

A mini-review for This is Soap, performed by the same cast as Shakespeare for Breakfast. An improvised soap opera with a story that has been progressing over the course of the Fringe, by its nature this show’s content varies every show.

Continue reading “Edinburgh Fringe 2011: This is Soap, C venues”

Edinburgh Fringe 2011: This is Soap, C venues3Scott Matthewman2011-08-28 17:05:24A mini-review for This is Soap, performed by the same cast as Shakespeare for Breakfast. An improvised soap opera with a story that has been progressi…

Edinburgh Fringe 2011: Shakespeare for Breakfast, C venues

Editor’s Rating
Rating

There are a number of breakfast-time shows in the Fringe, laying on coffee and croissants to entice people out of their beds after a late night of theatre/comedy/clubbing/whatever. One of the longest running is Shakespeare for Breakfast, which the publicity posters proudly proclaim is now in its twentieth year.

For all its longevity, though, I didn’t know too much about it, other than a friend of mine was closely involved in the production. So I was completely bowled over by an hour of comedy that was the perfect start to a full day of fringe theatre.

Continue reading “Edinburgh Fringe 2011: Shakespeare for Breakfast, C venues”

Edinburgh Fringe 2011: Shakespeare for Breakfast, C venues5Scott Matthewman2011-08-29 14:53:43There are a number of breakfast-time shows in the Fringe, laying on coffee and croissants to entice people out of their beds after a late night of the…

Back in the saddle

Things have been a bit quiet recently, blogwise. This has partly been down to being struck down with a flu-like bacterial infection which laid me low for a couple of weeks. Once I managed to get my temperature back down below 40°C, it took a while for me to get back into the swing of things.

Last Friday I made my first visit back to the theatre in quite a while, for the press night of Godspell at the Union Theatre, which I was reviewing for The Stage.

I hope to be seeing some more theatre soon – I have new musical Cleveland Street at Above the Stag lined up for next week, for example – at which point normal service will be resumed.

Busted Jesus Comix

Reviewed for [The Stage](http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/26128/busted-jesus-comix)

Above the Stag, London
November 3-28
Author: David Johnston
Director: Prav Menon-Johansson
Producer: Above the Stag
Cast: Henry Blake, Erin Hunter, Caitlin Birley, Peter Halpin, James Morrison-Corley, Michael James-Cox, Rege Page
Running time: 1hr

Based on the real life trial and conviction of an underground comic book writer, David Johnston’s pitch-black comedy acts as an indictment of censorship, while never quite focusing clearly enough to land any killer blows.

Henry Blake as Marco in Busted Jesus Comix Structured as a series of flashbacks, Marco, played by Henry Blake, relives the events which led to his conviction on obscenity charges and the authorities’ attempts to out him on the straight and narrow that have more to do with justice being seen to be done than offering him the help he really needs.

Some of the more sinister elements of Marco’s treatment, including compulsory enrolment in a Christian ‘ex-gay’ mission aiming to cure him of his homosexuality, are played with broader comedic strokes than one might expect. Caitlin Birley’s psychiatrist is similarly played out as a larger than life, grandstanding figure, more interested in her theories than actually listening to her client. It’s not an unsuccessful approach by any means, but provides a variation of mood and tempo that doesn’t always work in the production’s favour.

Levity is abandoned for the finale, in which the otherwise buttoned-down Marco finally opens up about events hinted at throughout. The impression one is left with is of a satisfying, thought-provoking play.

Black and White Sextet

Reviewed for [The Stage](http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/11465/black-and-white-sextet)

Rosemary Branch, London
January 31-February 26
Author: William Shakespeare, adapted by Robert Pennant-Jones, who also directs
Producer: Rosemary Branch
Cast: Ben Onwukwe, Richard Earthy, Fliss Walton, Matt Reeves, Jason Eddy, Cleo Sylvestre
Running time: 2hrs

There is no reason why director Robert Pennant-Jones’ audacious filleting of ‘Othello;, reducing Shakespeare’s classic to two hours and a cast of six should work – but it does.

By choosing to relegate some plotlines to exposition delivered by pre-recorded video newscasts in 21st-Century English, or hinted at through snatches of mobile phone conversation, Black and White Sextet instead encourages us to focus on the emotional core of the play.

Iago dominates the first half even more than usual in this adaptation. Richard Earthy’s exaggerated portrayal may be better suited to a larger auditorium – his chilling half-whispers as he draws Othello in would be more welcome throughout.

Fliss Watson’s wide-eyed, intelligent Desdemona, whose love blinds her to her husband’s rage until the very last second, is the captivating core to this moving and intelligent production.

Once Iago’s claws are into him, Ben Onwukwe’s Othello quickly dominates the stage and with impressive support from Matt Reeves, Jason Eddy and Cleo Sylvestre one is left wondering why one should ever return to the longer version.

The seventh star of the show is Aaron Marsden’s imaginative folding set design. Rarely has a such a small space been utilised so effectively.