Wednesday 13th December

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Rye Laughs review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer and Reviewer

Last week saw the final Rye Laughs comedy night of the year and the last ever at Peckham’s The Nines, before it moves to new home Peckham Springs next month.  

In three short years, hosts Rose Johnson and Sarah Nade have built the event – which takes place on the third Wednesday of each month – into one of the most consistently enjoyable around.  And the latest show was a perfect example of what Rye Laughs has to offer: a relaxed environment packed with excellent young comedians bestowing South Londoners with a great blend of material.

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Category: Comedy
30 CHRISTMASES - Promo Image (1), image by Anna Soderblom

Jonny Donahoe: “If Christmas resonates of loss, grief or even guilt, you can’t escape that.”

Next week, rebellious musical comedy Thirty Christmases makes its London debut.  The brainchild of playwright, actor and musical comedian Jonny Donahoe – who stars in the show alongside Rachel Parris and Paddy Gervers – offers an intriguing alternative to more traditional glitzy festive fare.  

Ahead of the three-week run at New Diorama Theatre, Ian Cater caught up with the engaging Donahoe to discuss the show’s origins, and a host of topics ranging from Victoria Wood to reindeer sex.

For Andy Williams, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  “But for a lot of people, it’s traumatic,” Jonny Donahoe explains, with the patient, persuasive voice of his Every Brilliant Thing character, rather than the booming baritone heard at a Jonny and the Baptists gig.  “If it resonates of loss, grief or even guilt, you can’t escape that.  And it’s compounded by the fact that everywhere you go people are signposting that they’re having a joyous time.”

That harsh reality forms the backdrop to Thirty Christmases, written and performed this month by Donahoe at Euston’s New Diorama Theatre.  If it sounds a heavy premise for a festive show, that was the 34-year-old’s intention.

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Category: Comedy
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Glengarry Glen Ross: Christian Slater rises high in conman drama

Rating:

David Mamet’s new Playhouse Theatre revival is a solid production that provides a tense insight into the corrupt networks of American capitalism.  The revival of Glengarry Glen Ross – 34 years after its premiere – maintains good chemistry between a strong cast and packs plenty of laughs throughout.

It has to be noted that on the night I attended the production, Robert Glenister – who plays Dave Moss – became unwell during the performance and was replaced by understudy Mark Carlisle.  This understandably created a strange atmosphere, with Carlisle performing manfully even though relying on a script, while the other cast members rallied round.  Thankfully, Robert has made a full recovery and rejoined the cast for future performances.

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Category: Theatre
Good-Girl-PRESS-IMAGE-1

Good Girl review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer and Reviewer

Naomi Sheldon has announced herself onto the dramatic comedy scene with this impressive debut exploring teenage rage and untreated anxiety.

As a powerful monologue delivered by an assertive, confessional and sexually liberated female lead, Good Girl has inevitably attracted comparisons to Fleabag.  But whereas Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterpiece provides a platform for a fully-formed, heavily-flawed, mid-thirties voice, Sheldon’s semi-autobiographical play charts the development of a young woman coming to terms with what society expects of her, namely being a “good girl with neat, little emotions”.

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Category: Comedy
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Jon Pointing: Act Natural review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Jon Pointing’s debut solo show is an excruciating masterpiece of character comedy.

If you ever see better character comedy than Jon Pointing‘s Act Natural, you’ve struck gold.  Because Pointing’s debut, in which he plays hilariously flawed acting coach Cayden Hunter, is a delicately crafted and wonderfully acted masterpiece.

The conceit is that audience members are attending Hunter’s acting workshop, a set-up nimbly explained as he enters and pretends not to want attention while he readies himself for the session.  Of course, Hunter wants the opposite, made clear when he slowly changes his top onstage, breathing in and tensing his muscles.  From that moment, the stage is set for a perfect demonstration of vulnerable self-importance, a traditional and deep well for character comedy.

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Category: Comedy
La Soiree @ TCS
La Soiree @ TCS

Preview – La Soiree and La Petite Soiree

The multi-award-winning and much-loved La Soirée, returns to its favourite city this Christmas from 24th November to 3rd February 2018.  But who on earth has given them the keys to a proper West End Theatre?

Over the next few months, the phenomenal global hit will reside at the recently refurbished Aldwych Theatre.  Prepare to be captivated by the irresistible La Soirée as its motley crew of talented cabaret performers and circus sideshow misfits revel in their new surroundings.  And expect La Soirée’s heady cocktail of intimate cabaret, new burlesque and contemporary variety in a grander, plusher home.

This Christmas will also be the first time that La Soirée is offering La Petite Soirée – a family-friendly, fun and daring hour-long show for cabaret fans of all ages.  La Petite Soirée will play from 3pm on Saturdays and throughout the Christmas holidays.

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Category: Theatre
Mark Thomas 1 - PLEASE CREDIT Jane Hobson

Mark Thomas: “I’m obsessed with how you break out of that individualistic stand-up model and involve people.”

Mark Thomas has returned to London with A Show That Gambles on the Future, exploring people’s hopes and fears for the coming years.  The show, which varies dramatically from night to night, is an interesting departure from his recent scripted performances but has injected Thomas with enthusiasm for unpredictability.  Ahead of the run at Leicester Square Theatre until 28th October, he spoke to Ian Cater about stand-up comedy’s limitations, getting laughed at Up North and the price of Freddo Frog chocolate bars. 

If we learnt anything from last year, it’s that making predictions is a mug’s game.  Unless you get them right of course, which – despite the off-target examples of Michael Fish, Kaiser Chiefs and Dick Advocaat – people do manage from time to time.  And that’s what Mark Thomas is asking his audiences to attempt in A Show That Gambles on the Future.

Each night, Thomas asks attendees to write down some forecasts, the best of which he riffs on at length and opens up to general discussion.  At the end of the show, the audience gets to choose which prediction Thomas should bet on at the bookies, with all winnings going to charity.

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Category: Comedy
Colin Hoult Anna Mann 2017 v2

Anna Mann: “I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say I brought down Thatcher. But I don’t know what hyperbolic means.”

This week, character comedian Colin Hoult brings his superb creation Anna Mann to Soho Theatre with critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe show, How We Defeat The Fascists.  Ahead of six hotly anticipated performances, Ian Cater spoke to Anna about the show and what she views to be her dazzling career as ‘supreme siren of the stage and screen’.

Anna Mann is a professional, immediately turning on the charm when I call at what turns out to be an inopportune moment.  “You just caught me coming out the toilet, darling.  Don’t worry – I’ve completely wiped and tossed.  I’ve got it down to a fine art.  You’ve got to be ready to go at any time in showbiz, and if necessary suck it in and get out.”

Once the apologies and toilet tissue have been dispensed with, Mann’s delighted to reflect on the acting career and colourful personal life that brought her to this point: as an unfairly underrated treasure, ready to help the world with her latest show.

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Category: Comedy