5 STARS 12TH DECEMBER 2020
Gareth Joyner – aka Myra Dubois – is a true talent not only as a performer but also as a writer. Gareth’s script for this year’s Garden Theatre at The Eagle pantomime, FROSTBITE – Who Pinched My Muff?, is a pure hoot. A laugh out loud rip-roaring riot from a very accomplished cast who were quick to get from a very responsive audience, immediate cheers and hand claps.
The narrator and Fairy Snowflake played by Kingsley Morton was sensational, with her delivery of Joyner’s script full of tongue-twisting rhymes proving that she has a great comic skill.
Other cast members were Bessy Ewa as Greta, Tom Keeling as Bergermeister Kai, James Lowrie as a very funny Lumiukko and Shelley Rivers as Garbo. All showed they can hold their own with each of them so in tune with each other, their performances truly added to the magic of the show.
But special mention has to be made of Nathan Taylor as Demon Frostbite and Dereck Walker as Dame Herda Gerda whose performances were off the Richter scale with their time together on stage a joy to watch. Truly hilarious scenes which showcased what seasoned professionals they both are. They gave exalted performances as all the rules and regulations of panto were observed: sight gags, ad libs, asides to the audience and making it work where the eagerly anticipated audience’s involvement was handled with a magnificence that once again showed how talented these two are.
With direction by Robert McWhir the whole show was a masterful execution of how an adult panto should be presented. Bravo indeed to all concerned!
Frostbite is a breezy delight. Zany, zesty, zealous and with an ardent polished ensemble cast that made this show one of my most favourite shows of this year.
5 STARS 20th MAY 2021
Written and performed by Jack Holden who brings an energy to the role that is controlled but also has an urgency that brings this story to life. Holden has a passion and flair for storytelling and making a very vivid statement about a period in life – circa 1980 to 1988 – that affected him and his circle of friends, lover, casual pick ups and Soho misfits and acquaintances.
Holden plays Michael Spencer who is told because of his HIV status that he has only 4 years to live. So he decides to go out in style and have a night to remember in his favourite part of London where he lived and worked, Soho. The play interweaves political and social messages and how people dealt with a virus crisis that was getting out of control. This is a story about hope and coming to terms with your lot.
It is a poignant study of a situation that a human being can find themselves in. A magnificent monologue, perfect in execution and the timing tight; almost turning into a soliloquy as the crescendo builds to the climax end speeches that are now in rhyming verse.
Clever use of original music composed and performed by John Elliot and the revolving set design by Stufish Entertainment to show the passing of the years and very impressive direction by Bronagh Lagan all added to the atmosphere and the magic of the play.
The comedy elements of the story came thick and fast and very sincere. Loaded with observational quips that powered this trip down memory lane for Holden’s character as he explored how he valued friendship, overcame pain, both mentally and physically; heartfelt anguish and anxiety are all explored beautifully.
Holden gives an enthusiastic and energetic performance as he brings the Spencer character to fruition. He concludes with a comparison, and rightly so, to the new virus Covid and asks us to do what we all do best and that is to still go on our respective quests and journeys, and carry on, and indeed we do and must be seen to be doing so. A riveting performance.
5 STARS 8TH DECEMBER 2020
Now – post lockdown – if there was ever a play worth the wait, it’s Paul Harvard’s mesmerising GHBoy.
This is about the expanding party scene in London’s East End and the snowball effect that is happening to the scene. Young men are unexpectedly dying but who is the killer? Here Harvard is very clever; the main character in the play, Robert, knows who that is, but the audience don’t know for sure who the perpetrator is. The play was inspired in part by the serial killer Stephen Port.
Robert is played by a very enigmatic Jimmy Essex who is never off stage and is perfectly cast. His brooding stage presence is phenomenal as he displays a whole gamut of powerful emotions dealing with the death of his father and his own inner demons associated with substance abuse and infidelity.
Marc Bosch who play Sergio, Robert’s boyfriend and then fiancée is equally strong bringing to his role a strength of purpose, fervour and determination as he fights to protect their relationship and help Robert get on with his life, and to realise he may be losing the battle.
GHBoy is thought-provoking stuff where Harvard explores many relevant issues – such as that temptation can be an exciting aphrodisiac. Staged with the audience on three sides, this totally adds to the majesty of the production. Director Jon Pashley’s approach is audacious, and it’s the slightly erratic nature of his direction linked by Tony Simpson’s lighting and Rona Castrioti’s sound, which is designed to bring a brutality to the way the scenes are played out as the story unfolds.
Special mention to Sylvester Akinrolabu who plays various roles and gives a gripping and menacing performance as he exploits Robert’s vulnerability for his own sexual gratification. Also all credit to Aryana Ramkhalawon as Jasminder who is not the token ‘fag hag’ but a true friend to Robert. She just wants him to be safe and secure and her scenes with Jimmy Essex have a darkly comic overtone to them that works extremely well.
Buffy Davis as Debbie, Robert’s mother, just wants the best for her son and values the fact that he wants to help her paint her front room and bring some kind of normality, if only briefly, back into her blue-eyed boy’s life. Another key character is Simon played by a very watchable Devesh Kishore who plays the psychiatrist given the task to solve some of Robert’s problems.
Harvard challenges convention as he explores the fact that the human mind can contain abstract thoughts.
This is a very masterful look at the need for self-fulfilment and expression. There are some classic scenes within the writing such as whether you declare your HIV status when forming a new and hopefully long term relationship, but that dialogue is always apt and relevant.
GHBoy is vital modern theatre and I urge you to get your ticket now.
5 STARS 9TH DECEMBER 2020
It’s abundantly clear that the creative partnership of writers Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, with director Andrew Beckett, have the knowledge and skills to stage an adult pantomime – and with this year’s offering Above The Stag have scored a massive hit.
With a stellar cast that all possess fabulous comic timing led by Anthony Rickman as Dick, Tom Mann as Alex Fitzwarren, Briony Rawle as Queen Rat, Matthew Baldwin as Sarah – who happens to be a master of the ad lib – and Chris Lane as Fitzwarren, the audience knew they were in for a raucous time. Despite having to adhere to social distancing (with a gap of two seats between each audience member) this did not prevent the inevitable cheering and booing of the villain.
With original songs by Jon Bradfield, the flavour of the panto was truly set – crude, rude and pure smut! And it’s high praise indeed as with the dialogue it all rhymed; truly impressive composition.
Innuendos galore and the very clever use of suggestive props gave the whole show a punch – and this all added up to a serious attack on the funny bone! This pantomime is very well written and the running gags of all things associated with Covid, and the way this government has handled the pandemic, makes this production very current.
I can honesty say the ‘wit’ of this show can most certainly be found in ‘Whittington’.
A wonderful seasonal treat; you must see it.
5 STARS 19TH MAY 2021
“Wow” and “sensational” are words often used to describe theatrical shows – and they are both apt and most certainly true to describe the re-opening of Above The Stag’s cabaret nights in Vauxhall. All the stops have been pulled out to create a Cabaret Lounge to rival any West End venue. A gorgeous and sexy glitter space complete with neon lights, screen projections and table and chairs positioned in such a way that everyone in the audience had a perfect view of the stage.
Opening the night was Mr Paul L Martin aka Paulus The Cabaret Geek, who is a born trouper and his well researched and honourable homage to the late and great Victoria Wood set the tone for a memorable evening of wit, satire and good all round cabaret excellence. His act sparkled with appreciation for Wood as an actress, comedienne, writer and for her musicality, phrasing and those so so wonderful rhyming ditties and songs.
Star turns quickly followed by Adele Anderson performing a rather risqué song by Rogers and Hart in her own chic and amazing style, in a way that she has made her own. Adele is the perfect mistress of re-interpretation. She sings I have nothing, in fact she has everything.
Jimmy Lavender is a true original performing a self penned song about meeting a guy, doing the deed and the inevitable what happened; this scenario made a very intimate song performed with a pathos that had the whole audience’s attention and got the well deserved applause at the finish. Then it was David Breed’s go on the mic – soon to star in the revival of Dear Evan Hansen – he chose to belt out “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin which totally demonstrated the lad’s vocals range and his ability to carry a very demanding song, especially the magnificent key change at the song end. Wrapping up the show fell on to the shoulders of Lucy Penrose and Lizzie Beal whose ability to put their own marks on songs was undeniably good, with Miss Penrose’s comedy skills clearly on show.
Hosted by drag star Kitty Scott-Claus and cabaret legend Tim McArthur, this was a night that showcased finely tuned cabaret gold with Season 1 going through to 20th June and the main stage at the venue soon to be mounting productions like the notable “Contact: Stories of Division and Unity” season of new writing. Check out the venue’s website for all the information.
This was a fabulous compendium. A cornucopia of superb talent that as lockdown eases and theatres start to breathe again, Above the Stag’s Cabaret Lounge will shine as a place for people’s needs to be entertained and fulfilled – and with a very welcoming outside garden terrace also to be enjoyed as a social place to have a pre and post theatre tipple – and you’ll find Above The Stag has very attentive staff for both outside and inside the venue.
Photo by PBG Studios
Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it.
If customers can’t find it, it doesn’t exist. Clearly list and describe the services you offer. Also, be sure to showcase a premium service.
See both reviews above. and also via FACEBOOK on both GAT & BOYZ
Friendship is a wonderful thing
My harshest critics , my dogs Bella & Archie .