5 STARS 13TH MAY 2019
Miss Act has nothing to prove now and it is very clear that her star is in ascendent mode, catapulting her into a different realm where she shines and sparkles. Courtney may have finished in second place in most of the shows she has appeared in – a fact she jokes about in her 60 minute show – but she pulls no punches with a strong opening number, a powerhouse vocal rendition of “It’s Oh So Quiet”. The content of the show is what we do under the covers: talk, eat, have sex… and the musical content covers her favourite songs which mean a lot to her and reinforces her message.
Courtney’s command of the stage is instant and she is prepared to bear her naked soul. Talking about growing up, she was confused about sexuality and identity and discovering and understanding the term of gender fluidity set her on her path to make her life journey easier and her quest to find mainstream stardom.
She adores drag and we love her for it. Of course she mentions RuPaul’s Drag Race, Celebrity Big Brother and appearing on the Australian version of Dancing with the Stars and pushing boundaries, dancing as a man with his partner. Courtney makes this show a very personal experience for her fans, informing us that she is now a vegan and that despite her best efforts she now finds herself passing wind a lot more. So, OK, there is 5 minutes of fart jokes complete with sound effects but she is allowed this and she brings a certain charm and sophistication to this part of her life – and makes if funny by reworking Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” to “Vegan It”, hysterical. Courtney explores the issues of sex – and using changes in tempo and emotional delivery offers her opinion.
Shane Jenek is a consummate performer and as Courtney Act he clearly presents closure on personal issues. He admits confession is good for the soul and by a stunning video playback sings “If I Were A Boy” with himself as a man; it’s simply captivating. Jenek’s belief in himself is commendable and the fact that we get readily caught up in his act makes him someone to watch and admire.
5 STARS 1ST MAY 2019
Adam Zane’s proficiency as a writer is clearly on show with his one act play Jock Night – and the testosterone could almost be tasted as the play got underway at the King’s Head in Islington. With a throbbing and pulsating hard disco soundtrack bouncing off the walls of the theatre, the energy created by this atmosphere was totally absorbed by the cast of five exceptional actors: Adam Waddington as Ben, Sam Goodchild as Kam, Sam Blackhurst as Russell, Daniel Waterhouse as Simon and finally Levi Payne playing AJ.
Zane is making important comments about the drug culture that permeates the gay scene be it in the privacy of a home or in the toilet of a club. He is not being judgemental but offering a well informed and competent opinion about PrEP and associated matters.
The acting between the five actors is precise and formidable; as between the tender comedy moments and the harder scenes of drug-taking, all adding to the magic of this play. Zane also focuses on the skills that are often required to maintain a relationship, that repentance comes at a price and age is a number; that HIV status is important, and ignorance and lack of communication can be harmful.
This is a compelling piece of theatre, totally topical and the ‘life can be a soap opera’ aspect to the play added a fabulous stability to the drama. I enjoyed Jock Night and by the applause heard at the end of the 80 minutes it was clear the mainly male audience had done so also. Thought-provoking and explosive modern theatre.
4 STARS 30TH APRIL 2019
A point of view well presented and then proven makes for good theatre. Alex Bowers’ play Swimming does this with pathos through lead character Dan, played by a very dynamic Andrew Hawley, who is in a relationship with Marianne, played by Harriet Green who gives a standout performance as the girlfriend who can’t understand why her love affair with Dan has fallen apart. Marianne then finds solace with Ant, played compellingly by Jack Helsby, a close friend of Dan who moves in with him. Then enter Sam, played by Patrick Cavendish, who is totally engrossing to watch as he forms a gay relationship with Dan who he meets at a swimming pool – and the play is about Dan handling that relationship.
Bowers’ command of the spoken word is beautiful, via Rebecca Loudon’s direction, and the deliberate slow delivery of the dialogue adds a mood to the piece that makes for truly intelligent theatre. At the heart of the play Bower examines sexual tension, betrayal and that some people have something to prove to others – but perhaps more importantly to themselves.
There is a furtive but at the same time forthright connection between the four characters and the onstage chemistry as each short sharp scene plays out is kept at full throttle. If a comparison can be made to life, it is that some people prefer the safety of the shallow end, whilst some people are more adventurous and wade out so the water comes up to their waists; some people tread water and others dive straight into the deep end regardless of the perils and risks of drowning.
This is a well constructed play offering a modern outlook on life and the trials and tribulations of living in a city performed by a cast with an air of confidence and credibility.
4 STARS 20TH MAY 2019
La Voix is a star and there is no mistaking the power she exudes taking the roof off the Spiegeltent Tent at this year’s Underbelly Festival running at the Southbank. Opening with a sensational, rousing rendition of “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”, the scene was set for a 60 minute whirlwind of gags, self deprecating humour and THAT voice – and with a live band behind her the atmosphere was incredible.
La Voix knows how to work a room and her line of patter is right on the money, topical, satirical and enormously witty – for instance suggesting that Teresa May’s new theme song should be the torch song ballad from Dreamgirls “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”. It’s funny tinged with poignancy. The bawdy side of the act partnered with such an elegant delivery just made the audience warm to her even more.
Paying tribute to Garland, Minnelli, Bassey, Turner and Cher, La Voix’s skill as a mimic was abundant. Although comic this was not derogatory, this was an affectionate homage. Closing with a powerhouse performance of “I Am What I Am”, the song could be re-titled “She Is What She Is”. A born entertainer, simply stunning. Live, loud and fabulous.
5 STARS 24TH MAY 2019
I first saw this mesmerising and stunning piece of verbatim theatre back in June 2018 and this is a timely production two years on since the tragedy of the Manchester bombing where 22 people were killed, including Martyn Hett, at the Ariana Grande concert.
Adam Zane and Mike Lee’s play has now been revised and further developed. The two of them have been on an emotional journey with this exceptional cast headed by Joseph Carter as Mikey and Matthew Forey as Russell. The story of Martyn Hett – who so adored the character of Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street that he had a tattoo of the actress Anne Kirkbride on his calf muscle – is told with great skill and affection.
This play remains fresh, charming, very funny and delightful and highlights that at times Martyn could be a nightmare, a ‘control freak’ but that he was adored for his various foibles. This is a vivid homage to a boy whose life was cut so dramatically short, but it is not morose. There is a wonderful sense of storytelling. The poignant use of recall with actual video footage remembering times and events, especially at Martyn’s home in Stockport, where he had created his own bar/club called The Frigg, and this emotional reminiscing showcased the value of friendship, self worth and bonding.
Zane’s stylised direction was masterful and achieved from this superb ensemble cast notably Carl Blakeley as Stuart and Bridget Gallagher as Hannah, Calum Scott as Alastair, Daniel Maley as Andrew, Chloe Proctor as Christina and lastly Sonia Ibrahim as Rachel. A story told with dignity, passion about what can be achieved when people unite for a common cause. This is a must see – and with the play heading for Brighton, Newcastle, Sheffield and Salford do check it out (www.hopetheatrecompany/be-more-martyn for venue details). Highly recommended.
5 STARS 16TH MAY 2019
The works of Oscar Wilde have been examined, dissected, reimagined and scrutinised almost to the same level as Shakespeare. It’s often clear that when he is making an observation or comment on social issues his plays also can offer an insight to him as a man and with Salome this is indeed the case.
In this marvellous, riveting ‘no holds barred’ production of Salome at The Greenwich Theatre, the action is now set in 2019. The cast, notably Jamie O’Neill as Herod, Bailey Pilbeam as Salome and a magnificent Jamal Renaldo, playing Jokanaan (John the Baptist) are totally immersed in their respective roles. Their passionate and articulate delivery using body gestures as well as words made for a two hour sensual experience that is powerful and provocative. The production directed by Ricky Dukes, who also designed this superb version is packed with sexual tension giving it a peep show quality. Dukes examines issues of retribution, betrayal and the dangerous power of attraction whilst weaving in references to contemporary culture including our reactions to ‘fake news’. The splendid ensemble cast bounce of each other and where references are made to the biblical story, they inform and delight. There is a glorious camp and enigmatic feel to this lesson in lust from Wilde. This is another groundbreaking production from the Lazarus Theatre company who continue to make their impressive mark.
To the right with the cast of Be more Maryn and above with La Voix after her appearance at this years Underbelly , see both reviews above. and also via FACEBOOK both GAT & BOYZ
Friendship is a wonderful thing