Other plays I’ve seen lately

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Don Juan in Soho @ Wyndham’s Theatre – April 14th

It baffles me that this play has been getting 5 star reviews. Though David Tennant is a great actor, and many, if not most, people will go to see Don Juan for him, this is not the vehicle I would have wished for him. And that is because I found the story so implausible and boring. No doubt most of the audience will be familiar with the general gist of the tale of Don Juan, or Don Giovanni. However, the transition to modern-day Soho did not work. Sure, it was funny, but it seemed a bit pointless. Even the tale’s vulgarity is no longer shocking. David Tennant and Adrian Scarborough as his butler did not disappoint in their performances, but this slightly gimmicky production with its meagre plot did.

Don Juan in Soho is playing Wyndham’s Theatre until 10 June 2017. For more information and tickets, click here

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Whisper House @ The Other Palace – April 14th

Sadly, this show left me cold. A fan of Duncan Sheik’s Tony Award-winning hit Spring Awakening, with its energy and many great numbers, I was expecting to enjoy Whisper House. Instead, I found the plot dated and unable to support a musical, while the music was repetitive and without imagination. I feel like Spring Awakening has a much better foundation – it’s based on Frank Wedekind’s classic turn-of-the-century play Frühlingserwachen. Whisper House, on the other hand, lacks a good story. I didn’t understand why the two ghosts who sing almost all the songs (Niamh Perry and Simon Bailey in two admittedly good performances) were there. Andrew Riley’s initially intriguing whirlpool-like, lighthouse-inspired set ended up looking cramped and impractical. Though it held my attention enough to watch it all the way through after having seen a disappointing Don Juan in Soho earlier that day, Whisper House failed to achieve what I believe new musicals must aspire to do – be memorable.

Whisper House is playing the Other Palace until 27 May 2017. For more information and tickets, click here

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All The Things I Lied About @ Soho Theatre – April 25th

Katie Bonna’s one-woman show is ostensibly a TED talk – which TED hasn’t actually asked her to give yet. What initially appears to be a comedy show – Bonna’s charmingly, sometimes painfully, awkward vulnerability elicits many laughs – soon turns into a much more meaningful and serious, but no less vulnerable, conversation with the audience. Bonna explores the concept of ‘gaslighting’ – emotionally manipulating someone into doubting their own sanity – and relates it to both her family history and (who knew) Donald Trump. A few heartbreaking moments and many laughs and water pistols later, the audience leaves with much food for thought – about relationships, about the lies we tell ourselves and others, about the future of out ‘post-truth’ world. A well-executed evening.

All The Things I Lied About is playing the Soho Theatre until 6 May 2017. For more information and tickets, click here

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Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who Is Sylvia @ Theatre Royal Haymarket – April 27th

This play didn’t grab my attention as much as I expected it too – other people have obviously enjoyed it or been shocked by it. Neither particularly applies to me. Though I was initially fascinated by the story of Martin, a successful architect who breaks his marriage apart by falling in love with a goat named Sylvia, I wasn’t as gripped as I might have been. Most have praised Sophie Okonedo’s performance as the incredulous and broken wife Stevie, but my favourite was relative newcomer Archie Madewke as Billy, Martin’s auspiciously named gay son. In fact, I think I liked the play a lot more than the performances or production, which just didn’t do it for me – I couldn’t really say why, other than that I found the music intrusive and unnecessary and the middle chunk of dialogue between Martin and Stevie repetitive and exhausting to listen to. A fan of cleverness in writing (I’ll take a Tom Stoppard any day), I enjoyed the many little grammar jokes and the clever use of the concept of the goat – the word ‘tragedy’ comes from tragōidia, or goat-song, and the line ‘Who is Sylvia?’ is taken from a Shakespeare poem.

The Goat or Who Is Sylvia is playing the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 24 June 2017. For more information and tickets, click here

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