Reviews

Side By Side By Sondheim, Piano Bar at Bristol Hippodrome

THERE have been a few compilation shows featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim over the years, including Putting It Together, featuring Carol Burnett, and Sondheim at the Sheraton, at Edinburgh in 1995, but the most famous of these shows is surely Side by Side by Sondheim, originally conceived as a fund-raiser for Cleo Laine and…

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Relatively Speaking, Dramatic Productions, Tivoli, Wimborne

RELATIVELY Speaking is the seventh play that Alan Ayckbourn wrote, some 52 years ago, and although it was his second West End transfer, this was the one that made him an overnight success as soon as the reviews were published. The play is very cleverly constructed, with economy of language to help introduce confusion, but it has a simple structure,…

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Looking at Lucian, Ustinov Studio, Bath Theatre Royal

ALAN Franks’s viscerally intimate Looking at Lucian, in which the small auditorium at Bath Theatre Royal is transformed into the Kensington studio of portrait painter Lucian Freud, could be described as fly-on-the-wall. But as the painter and his unidentified sitter work together over ten months, each moment of Freud’s reminiscenatory conversation is as precise as…

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Sister Act, Bristol Hippodrome and touring

FOLLOWING the huge success of the 1992 film and the 1993 sequel, Sister Act was prime material to be adapted for the stage, with the Motown classics of the film replaced with new songs by Glenn Slater and Alan Menken, a book by Cheers writers Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, and with the plot ensuring that the action…

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The Third Policeman, Miracle Theatre on tour

FLANN O’Brien’s posthumously published novel The Third Policeman takes its readers into a parallel universe of non-sequiturs, obsession and very peculiar people (reminiscent of the current encumbrance of the White House.) It’s a story that might seem impossible to adapt for the stage, but that’s without the skills of Miracle Theatre’s Bill Scott and his…

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Remembering Edward Thomas at Frome

THE great war poet Edward Thomas, who died 100 years ago this year, was remembered in The Life and Work of the Poet Edward Thomas, with Matthew Hollis, biographer of the poet, Stephanie Cole and James Laurenson and Martin Bax, at Rook Lane Chapel, Frome, as part of the town’s 2017 festival. In 1913 Edward…

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Faust, Dorset Opera Festival, Bryanston School

THE Devil, as the Salvation Army founder General William Booth observed, has all the best tunes. In Gounod’s Faust, he certainly does, making the villainous Mephistopheles the undoubted star of the piece, and requiring a larger than life performance from a great singer to carry it off convincingly. Satan-Mephistopheles, summoned to earth by the suicidal…

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North by Northwest, Theatre Royal Bath

THE Melbourne Theatre Company stage version of Hitchcock’s classic film North by Northwest, making its UK debut as part of Bath Theatre Royal’s summer season, is eye-popping fun from start to finish. The staging is a sort of combination of the award-winning stagings of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and South­ampton…

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Le Comte Ory, Dorset Opera Festival, Bryanston

DORSET Opera, which started its life at Sherborne School in 1974, has never performed a Rossini opera until now, in its new home at the Coade Theatre in Bryanston, Blandford. And many will say that the current David Phipps-Davis production has been worth the wait. Le Comte Ory is a totally barmy story that just…

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As You Like It, Brownsea Island Open Air Theatre

IT’S 50 years since the first BOAT production of Shakespeare’s sylvan romance As You Like It, which transforms a cruel court into the Forest of Arden, and dukes to duchesses in this gender-blind version directed by Brian Woolton. The island in Poole Harbour is the perfect setting for the story of love at first sight,…

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