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Legally Blonde ★★★★ Regent's Park Open Air Theatre | May 13 - Jul 2, 2022

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From value-skewed Valley Girl to law school valedictorian is a long and hilarious journey, and it’s not just the traveler who changes. Elle Woods learns and grows on her quest, but she also affects those around her and shakes the foundations of that bastion of the establishment, Harvard Law School. As evidenced by the amount of pink (Elle’s signature colour) worn by the audience on any given night, this is a show that clearly resonates. Beyond all the fun, is a message that society can be transformed into a more accepting place and that diversity can triumph in the grey halls of conformity. In this current production Legally Blonde certainly triumphs in the hearts of the audience. Director, Lucy Moss has given us an over-the-top production that matches Elle's exuberance and there are some super production numbers like "Bend and Snap" and "There! Right There! (Gay or European?)" To the part of Elle, Courtney Bowman brings a great big voice and a wonderfully enga

Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show ★★★★★ Richmond Theatre | May 23 - 28, 2022

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If you've ever wondered about the appeal of this cult classic, the current production will definitely answer any questions!  Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show is a manically delightful evening in the theatre. Ore Oduba and Haley Flaherty are simply perfect as the naïve young Brad and Janet whose car breaks down and who then stumble into a world of questionable pastimes and forbidden pleasures. Oduba's rendition of "Dammit Janet," supplemented by the obligatory audience commentary, sets the tone for a hilarious rollercoaster of a night. From that point on, we are off and running, and the pace never flags as the horror/science fiction narrative bewilders and bemuses. Some of the funniest ripostes come from the audience itself, but the Narrator, Philip Franks, contributes a superb commentary, laced with some pithy comments about the contemporary political situation, that adds to the mayhem. Lauren Ingram as Columbia does a quite brilliant comic mime, and Suzie

Bliss ★★★★ Finborough Theatre | May 17 - Jun 11, 2022

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Bliss is Fraser Grace's theatrical adaptation of the short story, The River Potudan , by Russian writer, Andrey Platonov. It is the tale of Nikita, a young soldier, who returns to his village home after the Russian Civil War. It is 1921, and he seeks to resume his pre-war life, courting a young medical student, Lyuba, and trying to re-establish himself in the world he once knew. However, his dream is dashed by both his own demons and the external forces unleashed in the conflict he has participated in. Ostensibly a story about post-traumatic stress syndrome, Nikita's struggle also serves as a grim parable of Russian history. Written in 1937, Platonov's story exposes the loss of idealism that followed Lenin's triumph and underlines all the horrors of Stalin's takeover of the revolution. Jesse Rutherford is positively haunting in his portrayal of Nikita, the once idealistic young man who is reduced to unfeeling impassivity, while Bess Roche does a terrific job of cap

Feminine power: the divine to the demonic ★★★★ The British Museum | May 19 - Sep 25, 2022

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This relatively small exhibition is trying to cover a huge subject, and it does quite an amazing job. Every faith tradition in the world has female figures who are venerated and to try to winnow out their importance and connections is no small task. In this instance, the challenge has been approached by organising the galleries around five pervasive themes: Forces of Nature , Passion and Desire , Magic and Malice , Justice and Defence and Compassion and Salvation . Each section has a special guest contributor who provides commentary on that area. (It's important to note that access to these presentations is provided by reading a QR code. So, come equipped with a smart device such as a phone or tablet with internet access or Wi-Fi, and some earbuds.) The exhibition features over 80 objects, both selected from the Museum's own collection and complemented by various loans. It is a fascinating mixture of exquisite historical pieces with some judicious contemporary selections. Thes

Chicago ★★★★ New Wimbledon Theatre | May 17 - 21, 2022

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It is difficult to believe that the story of Chicago is based on real events, but this satire of the American justice system and the cult of celebrity comes straight from the headlines of the Roaring Twenties. The moral is that with beauty and "Razzle Dazzle" you can get away with murder. Kander and Ebb's classic musical is full of great songs and Bob Fosse and Ann Reinking's sublime choreography remains the gold standard for any show. This latest production does them all justice! Director, Stacey Haynes, and choreographer, Gary Chryst, have done superb jobs of honouring the original production, and the cast's excellent performances are worthy tributes to this most theatrical of shows. Djalenga Scott is a wonderfully cynical Velma Kelly, and her singing and dancing are prodigious. Faye Brookes' shines as the faux innocent Roxie Hart, and Russell Watson brings a great voice to the part of sleazy lawyer, Billy Flynn. Jamie Baughan does a fine rendition of "

Cornelia Parker ★★★ Tate Britain | May 19 - Oct 16, 2022

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"If you start off with the found object, that object already has a history to draw on." This exhibition is the first major survey of Cornelia Parker's work and includes two new creations: the film, FLAG (2022) and the installation, Island (2022). The nine galleries span 35 years of Parker's output and display the notable variety of media she has chosen to work in, from sculpture and photography to films and installations. The range of her commentary is equally wide, with references to Henry VIII and Donald Trump among others. Indeed, the descriptions of the work that are provided are replete with historical and literary references. Parker delights in finding significance in the commonplace, often through random historical association, such as the splitting of an Oliver Twist doll with the guillotine used for the execution of Marie Antoinette. However, in other works, like Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-1989) and Perpetual Canon (2004), she literally squeezes the me

GREASE ★★★★ Dominion Theatre | May 3 - Oct 29, 2022

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Welcome back to Rydell High School! It's "Summer Nights" and everyone's favourite feel-good musical is here! This is an evening of non-stop great music and super high-energy production numbers. Some of the references are obscure and straight out of 1950's America, but it really doesn't matter if you don't know who Sandra Dee is, or never heard of Doris Day or Debbie Reynolds. No idea what the hand jive is? No problem. You'll be doing it with the cast in no time. This is a show that just carries the audience along on its buoyant, rock 'n' roll journey, and it's bound to get you dancing in your seat as if you were "Shakin' At The High School Hop." Songs like "Greased Lightnin'" and "You're The One That I Want" are just totally infectious, and this amazing cast absolutely bring them to life. Peter Andre is hilarious in his rendition of "Beauty School Drop Out" and Dan Partridge is totally coo

Middle ★★★★ National Theatre | Apr 27 - Jun 18, 2022

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Middle is the second in David Eldridge's proposed trilogy and deals with the re-examination of one's life and goals that can come when the pattern appears to be set and the major life choices made. Gary (Daniel Ryan) and Maggie (Claire Rushbrook) seem to have their lives sorted: careers determined, family established and relationship ticking along. But what if one partner starts considering other options? While Gary can find meaning and satisfaction in their day-to-day life, Maggie is unhappy and begins to wonder if her happiness can be found elsewhere. Both Ryan and Rushbrook do absolutely superb jobs of capturing their characters. Ryan's Gary is, by turns, suitably bewildered, angry, and accommodating as he strives to grasp his wife's dissatisfaction. Similarly, Rushbrook is terrific as the questioning Maggie who believes that happiness is the goal of life and that she is entitled to it in whatever form it currently takes for her. Eldridge has created complex and sym

Space Station Earth ★★★★ Royal Albert Hall | May 15, 2022

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Space Station Earth combines original music by Ilan Eshkeri with images from the International Space Station to create an experience that seeks to offer the audience a new perspective on our planet and our place in the universe. The concert is preceded by a discussion between the composer and British, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, Tim Peake. Peake talks about approaching Eshkeri with the idea for the project and about his own experiences travelling to the Space Station and living there. He does a terrific job of communicating his enthusiasm for space travel and for this collaborative effort which seeks to share that adventure. The concert itself strives to immerse the listener/spectator in the myriad of feelings provoked by a voyage into space. As Eshkeri notes "There are so many facts and figures about travelling to the International Space Station, but no one has ever told the emotional journey that astronauts go on." Eshkeri's lush and uplifting composition wh

Disney's The Lion King ★★★★ Lyceum Theatre | Extended Run

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It is hard to believe that Disney's The Lion King has been running in the West End for over twenty years. It is certainly one of the company's best loved musical productions, and the audiences continue to fill the theatre. The tale of the lion cub, Simba, dealing with his own youthful shortcomings and overcoming the malevolence of his uncle, Scar, continues to resonate with audiences around the world. The narrative of the cub's growth to maturity and his assumption of his rightful place in the order of nature is brought to life by the extraordinary music and lyrics of Elton John and Tim Rice, and the ground-breaking costume and puppet design of Julie Taymor and Michael Curry. The scenic design of Richard Hudson is unforgettable and the opening sequence of the "Circle of Life" is positively awe-inspiring. The current cast with Thenjiwe Thendiva Nofemele as Rafiki, Shaun Escoffery as Mufasa, and George Asprey as Scar continue the strong tradition established by the

Alright Bitches! ★★★★ Above The Stag Theatre | May 11 - Jun 4, 2022

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Vacations are a chance to get away from it all and also an opportunity to let it all hang out. This is a very funny holiday story of gay men heading off to Gran Canaria for the time of their lives. There are enough bitchy remarks to put any self-respecting dog kennel to shame and more hilarious put downs than any staged wrestling match. However, the supposed escape from everyday life can also provide time for things that have been under the surface to be revealed and might force one to confront some previously ignored realities. Beneath all the double entendres, Alright Bitches! touches on some of the complex issues that affect gay people and particularly the questions of gay community. Acceptance can be a double-edged sword and the escape from the ghetto might also be a loss of a support system. Friends Max (Josiah Eloi) and Garth (Daniel Breakwell) have a friendship underpinned by complementary insecurities, while Ollie (Marcus J Foreman) and Jason (Wilson Armour) have an intergener

German Cornejo’s Wild Tango ★★★ Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre | May 12 - 21, 2022

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This is a tango show plus! German Cornejo's Wild Tango has elements of break dancing and aerial work plus some terrific examples of the Argentinian national dance itself. The production also goes back to the origins of tango by presenting a lot of same sex dancing which has an authenticity and athleticism that is often quite breathtaking. German Cornejo himself with partner, Gisela Galeassi, were absolutely sublime in their sequences together and the rest of the company constantly amazed us with their nimbleness and gravity defying feats. Unfortunately, the show's costumes do not always work to display the talents and skillfulness of the dancers, with the dress decisions sometimes distracting from, rather than complementing, the performances. The use of gaucho-like trousers in one sequence simply obscures the dazzling footwork that is taking place. There is also a problem with the lighting throughout. Frequently it seems unnecessarily dark, concealing the stunning terpsichorea

Animal Farm ★★★★ Richmond Theatre | May 10 - 14, 2022

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George Orwell originally wrote Animal Farm as an attack on Stalin's betrayal of the ideals of the Russian Revolution, but its relevance to today's political situation in various countries is unmissable. The animals revolt against the cruelty of the farmer and seek to create a society of equals but their idealism is undermined by Napoleon, a pig who becomes a dictator and purges his opponents. This production brings the dark fable to the stage with a cast of puppets that become amazingly real while maintaining all of the movement we associate with farm animals. The puppeteers disappear and we become completely immersed in the story. Robert Icke's direction has choreographed this inventive production so that it is almost balletic in its rhythm and movement. The work flows beautifully from scene to scene, and Bunny Christie's brilliantly imaginative set is used to stunning effect. Jon Clark's lighting and Tom Gibbons' sound and music create an atmosphere that is m

Dreamgirls ★★★★★ New Wimbledon Theatre | May 9 - 14, 2022

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Dreamgirls is a piercing look at the heart of the American music industry. Behind all the glamour and amazing songs, people are exploited, the public is manipulated and dreams are destroyed. Yet, it is also a story of black and female empowerment, the development of unforgettable music, an expression of sheer energy and total joy. The American Dream of success and celebrity is simultaneously exposed and exalted. In this latest production, all the despair and exuberance are wonderfully captured by a cast led by Nicole Raquel Dennis who manages to rise to the ranks of the great artists who have previously performed the role of Effie White, while also making the part her own. Her renditions of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and "I Am Changing" deservedly brought down the house. Paige Peddie is both hilarious and moving as Lorrell Robinson whose dream is to find love, but who, in the end, when finally exhausted by the inconstancy of Brandon Lee Sears' Jim

La Bohème ★★★★★ King's Head Theatre | Apr 26 - May 28, 2022

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Lovers of Puccini's classic opera and those unfamiliar with the work will both find lots to like in this very clever recontextualising of the story. This pared down version cuts some of the characters from the original and introduces a contemporary twist with Robin (Daniel Koek) falling in love with Mimi, also known as Lucas (Philip Lee). Both do quite splendid jobs as the doomed lovers, and we were surprised at how well the duets worked with two male voices. Koek's version of "Che gelida manina" and Lee's "Mi chiamano Mimì" were absolutely delightful. These familiar arias also worked very well in their new English translation, and we thoroughly enjoyed all of the updated libretto. As originally conceived by David Eaton and Adam Spreadbury-Maher and reworked by Philip Lee and David Eaton, there is a puckish humour in this telling of the story that perfectly offsets the tale of ill-fated passion. Matt Kellett as Marcus and Grace Nyandoro as Marissa both c

Busman's Honeymoon ★★★ The Mill at Sonning | Apr 28 - Jun 25, 2022

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The Mill at Sonning remains the perfect dinner theatre experience. The meal is always first rate and the setting is a positive delight. For a summer afternoon or evening out, this is a venue that always delivers a delightful break from the city while offering amazing value. The current production is Dorothy L. Sayers' final Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, Busman's Honeymoon . The perspicacious detective has finally married Harriet Vane, the love of his life, and they've purchased Talboys, a quiet country house in Hertfordshire. But, as it turns out the honeymoon hideaway is very far from providing a pastoral idyll. Murder is afoot and Wimsey is drawn into the proceedings. For lovers of the classic whodunit, the puzzle will definitely confound them as Wimsey declares the solution is to be found not in the "why" but in the "how" of the crime. Sayers' world and characters are studied, stylised creations and, by its very nature, the genre has a certain brittl

Love Is Only Love ★★★★★ The Other Palace | Apr 29 - May 15, 2022

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Are the answers to love and life to be found in the film Hello Dolly ? This and other vital questions are all answered in this charming, feel-good musical about a young man growing up gay and searching for love. This is a story as simple and sweet as that of an old-style Broadway musical, and the usual conflict and trauma of the gay bildungsroman are absent. The power of Love Is Only Love comes from its humour, its resonance with many gay peoples' experience, and some superb performances. Sam, played by Sam Harrison grows up in a home that accepts his sexual orientation, but that doesn't mean that life is without anxiety or that the search for romance is free of complication. Harrison is incredibly likeable and does a terrific job of making us believe in his character. It is not easy for an adult to play a child credibly, and Harrison's dance performance as the young Sam is simply perfect. He radiates pride in his childlike attempts, and when we laugh it is never at him. S

Orlando ★★★★★ Jermyn Street Theatre | Apr 28 - May 28, 2022

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Admirers of Virginia Woolf will adore this adaptation of her whimsical Orlando . Woolf's romp through 500 years of history with her writer protagonist changing from male to female along the way looks at the historical construction of gender while cunningly considering its very definition. The work is also a rather playful love note to Vita Sackville-West and has a lightness of tone which is not easy to capture. However, Sarah Ruhl's reworking manages to hit just the right note. The mischievous humour and subtle sting of Woolf's original are beautifully reimagined. Similarly, director, Stella Powell-Jones, succeeds in walking the difficult line of creating empathy for characters who are by definition fanciful inventions while sustaining interest in a story that is gossamer thin. The whole cast are strong and get into the spirit of the piece with performances that have elements of mime and märchen. Taylor McClaine is an effervescent Orlando who brings a delightfully Peter Pan

Future Shock ★★★★ 180 The Strand | Apr 28 - Aug 28, 2022

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Presented by Fact and 180 Studios this exhibition takes one into a series of immersive audio-visual experiences that question both reality and how we view it. The installations seek to blur the distinctions between the actual and the virtual, using AI, 3D digital mapping, lasers, holographic projections and some good old smoke and mirrors. The artists and collectives represented are creating situations which cause the viewer/participants to reconsider their relation to time and space and to re-evaluate the nature of their perception. With United Visual Artists' Vanishing Point 3:1 and Topologies , one is invited to participate in a surreal journey that both disorients and resituates. It is a profound and moving event. We also particularly liked Lawrence Lek's Theta . However, it's unfortunate that there is not a timed entry so that one experiences the narrative from the beginning. The works of Weirdcore and Nonotak, Subconscious and Daydream V.6 , also stood out for us a

Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep ★★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Apr 27 - May 21, 2022

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The title says it all. These are five monologues delivered by characters who are apparently suffering from insomnia. They are five very different people, but they all endure the same malady and in doing so they have time to recount their memories, regrets, fears and aspirations. Helen (Sally Knyvette) is a middle class woman who is self-contained and house proud; Bill (Vincenzo Nicoli) is a gentle chef with a romantic nature; Hugo (Gary Lilburn) is an Irish sculptor who as a child was abandoned by his father; Terry (Geraldine Alexander) is a woman who has lost a child and is now a caregiver for her own mother; Harvey (Andrew Hawkins) is a left-wing teacher who has been sacked from his job. All of the characters have interesting stories and all of the actors do absolutely first rate jobs at bringing them to life. Indeed, the quality of the acting is what makes this an exceptional production. However for us, the writing and construction of the work did not always rise to the high standar

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