Reviews from Paul's pen

Reviews from Paul's pen

17/02/2017

The Shape of Things


Review by: Paul Towers, 17 February 2017
The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute
A Good Vibe Theatre Company production
Upstairs @ The Western, 17th February 2017

“savage indictment of art for art’s sake.”

Upstairs at The Western kicked off its offerings of drama this season under the new management with Neil LaBute’s savage indictment of art for art’s sake, here ably staged by this new Derby based A Good Vibe Theatre Company. This production has been entered in the National Student Drama Festival in April as part of Hull’s City of Culture events.
On a bare stage set only with five examples of art from the last 150 years nerdy, socially awkward Adam plucks up the courage to ask gregarious Evelyn on a date fully expecting her to turn him down. He can’t believe his luck when this vibrant, sophisticated, beautiful woman says yes. This sets in motion a series of events that will reveal temptress Evelyn to be the arch manipulative she-devil every man fears.
Adam is played by Jordan May as a plumpish, boring outsider who struggles to get a girlfriend while Chelsea Forde as the controlling Evelyn is a bright, sparky and soul-less devil-incarnate.
Alongside these eminently capable actors are Sarah Hartshorn as Jenny and Dalu Moyo as Philip, her boyfriend. This couple, Adams long time friends, are drawn inexorably into Evelyn’s web of deceit and treachery as she divides the friendship group to rule Adam
It is no coincidence that Adam and Evelyn are so named as LaBute draws on the temptation of Adam by Eve to illustrate his downfall as he is metaphorically lead around by his manhood and moulded into what Evelyn thinks society deems to be near perfect.
LaBute has created an intense and disturbing study in the misuse of power within a relationship
The cast dealt very well with a couple of scenery malfunctions and were not put off their stride. Cleverly choreographed scene changes made the most of Upstairs’ intimate stage and good lighting was use to good effect.
Should you get a chance to see this production grab a ticket. You will be entertained and disturbed in equal measure


First published on Western Gazette
and on Pub Theatre blog

14/02/2017

The Wedding Singer


Review by: Paul Towers, 14 February 2017
The Wedding Singer by Chad Beguelin & Tim Herlihy
A Dan Looney production
Curve 10 – 18 February

If you liked Legally Blonde then you will love The Wedding Singer

Every now and again I find myself  sat in an audience that is laughing hysterically every few minutes while I sit there stony faced. Have I become so jaded as to have lost my sense of humour, am I missing some obvious hilarity on the stage? Or am I just sitting through a touring production of The Wedding Singer?
It has to be admitted before I start that I hated the film, loathed Adam Sandler and turned off after 20 minutes.
This version of the show is billed as a rom-com. Sadly it is mainly rom with little com.
Fortunately the producers have ditched the original soundtrack and have gone for a whole new playlist. Sadly there are no memorable or hum-able tunes to send you out of the theatre in a good mood.
On the other hand there is a very competent live band in the orchestra pit, the choreography is very much of a West End standard so appealing to tourists and there is good use of Curve’s scenic technology as props slide in and out unaided.
If you liked Legally Blonde then you will love The Wedding Singer. The show is at Curve until Saturday and then on tour

First published on Western Gazette

06/02/2017

Sleuth


Review by: Paul Towers, 06 February 2017
Sleuth by Anthony Shaffer
Leicester Drama Society production, directed by Edward Spence
The Little Theatre 6 – 11 February 2017

“duplicity and psychological manipulation”

Sleuth is Anthony Shaffer’s satire on Agatha Christie country house murder mysteries, a psychological thriller laced with black humour.
In the very capable hands of  the cast of Kenton Hall and Jaz Cox, director Edward Spence plays numerous mind games with the audience right up to the interval curtain. Then, suitably lubricated, the audience has the duplicity and psychological manipulation ramped up even higher by Shaffer’s masterpiece of  misdirection.
On a typically versatile set of a country house lounge and mezzanine our cast bounce around as first Hall and then Cox wind each other, and the audience, up with alacrity until none of us knew what was real and what wasn’t.
The first half is crammed full of theatrics and special effects while the second half really twists the knife of suspense.
Both of the cast members are very obviously professionally trained and bring an energy to this amateur production that is palpable from the back of the stalls.
Tickets are still available at www.thelittletheatre.net

First published on Western Gazette

01/02/2017

Ceri Dupree


Review by: Paul Towers, 01 February 2017
The Faaabulous Ceri Dupree Show
Written and performed by Ceri Dupree
Curve Studio  1 – 4th February

“the costumes are more lavish, the patter is even filthier”

Ceri Dupree has been a regular visitor to Leicester for many years, first at the now defunct Stardust Club, then The Haymarket Theatre in Hot Stuff and his solo show and now he is an annual fixture on the Curve programme.
I last saw him in 2008 and I am happy to say that nearly 10 years on, the costumes are more lavish, the patter is even filthier and his singing voice is even better. This is not a show for the easily offended and can be best described as Danny La Rue in Blackpool but much more adult. In fact, a couple of times I did wonder if he had misjudged the material. But the audience seemed well up for it.
The set was a beautifully sparkly concoction of  twinkling pillars and a large screen which, in the first half was a projection screen, while in the second half it was his trademark lightbox so we could watch the character transformations in silhouette. And it is the multiple costume changes which make Ceri’s show so eye catching.
The first half opened with him doing a nice segment of standup before he disappeared behind the screen to change into Shirley Bassey, Gladys Pugh, Dorothy Squires and finally Mary Hopkins. His Bassey, singing an original parody of some of her memorable songs, was one of the strongest impersonations. No surprise really as they both hail from Cardiff. While some of the younger audience members will have had no idea who Dorothy Squires was, those of us that remembered her appreciated the affection mickey-take. The Gladys Pugh was where I thought some of the ‘gags’ veered towards the tasteless.
The second half opened with, once again, a standup segment before launching into an array of  costume changes, some for just a single song, others for larger routines. Zsa Zsa Gabor was swiftly followed by Dame Edna, Joan Rivers (again verging on the tasteless, but then that is Ms Rivers’ USP), Dolly Parton, Lady GaGa (an hilarious OTT costume as befits the chameleon of song), an astonishing looking Cher, Tina Turner (spot on vocals and dancing) and an unbelievable Bjork (the routine and costume are out of this world).
The Ceri Dupree show is on until Saturday but is almost sold out so ring the box office for returns



First published on Western Gazette