Tuesday 23rd May

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Croft & Pearce: Croft & Pearce Are Not Alone review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Croft & Pearce produce a set of entertaining sketches, interwoven storylines and clever dissection of British society which nearly match their first-class delivery.

While sketch comedy inexplicably continues to toil in the minds of television commissioners, it repeatedly excels in live venues across London and beyond.  As a case in point, this week saw Croft & Pearce take over the Museum of Comedy for five nights and impress with their entertaining sketches, interwoven storylines and clever dissection of British society, cutting across gender, class and geography with assured ease.

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Category: Comedy
The Braille Legacy © Charing Cross Theatre

The Braille Legacy review

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French musical The Braille Legacy recently held its world premiere at Charing Cross Theatre, telling the true story of Louis Braille’s invention of his eponymous tactile alphabet which helped transform the lives of blind people ever since.  

Directed by the highly-acclaimed Thom Southerland (Titanic, Parade), The Braille Legacy has many of the ingredients required to be a classic: a strong story with bleakness and hope, a young cast with impressive voices and a thoughtful approach to presentation.  

However, as Sandip Kana writes below, a few glaring issues prevent the production from fully allowing its thought-provoking message to shine through.

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Category: Theatre
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Preview: The Underbelly Festival Southbank 2017

The Underbelly Festival Southbank 2017 is up and running, with a roll call of stellar entertainers taking to the stage before the distinctive purple dome gets dismantled at the end of September.  

And this year’s festival, presented by Hilton, promises to be better than ever, bringing together two slightly smaller offerings – Udderbelly and London Wonderland – into a summer-long, one-stop shop for comedy, circus and variety shows.  

Whatever your tastes, there seems to be something for everyone.  Plus, with free entry into the complex, there are few better spots to enjoy a beer and decent street food in a festival atmosphere, nestled beneath the London Eye and overlooking the splendour of Westminster.

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Category: Comedy
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The KAOS Brief review: Blair Witch meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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Last week saw the European premiere of new sci-fi thriller The KAOS Brief at Stratford Picture House as part of this year’s ‘London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film’, a.k.a. Sci-Fi-London 17.  

Cora Robertson attended the screening and Q&A session for What’s On London, and was full of praise for JP Mandarino’s first feature film – “a really enjoyable romp through a host of sci-fi and horror tropes” – which manages to fuse the best aspects of The Blair Witch Project with Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

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Category: Cinema
An American in Paris © Dominion Theatre

An American in Paris: sheer musical magic

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By Sandip Kana

In 1951, An American in Paris wowed film fans with its elegant blend of music and ballet.  It is no surprise that over 60 years later, the stage production at the Dominion Theatre is equally as mesmerising.  With Christopher Wheeldon in charge of direction and choreography, and Bob Crowley employing masterful set designs, the musical is an explosion of colour and irresistible movement.  For all the show lacks in dialogue, it certainly delivers in dance and visuals.

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Category: Theatre
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Nick Moran: “I look back with fondness at the fact I was sort of ‘prince of my era’. I rang the nuts out of it and couldn’t have had more fun.”

Nick Moran was once one of the leading lights of the British film industry.  After nailing the lead role in Guy Ritchie’s cult classic Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1997, he had the world – and its myriad pleasures – at his feet.  In the following years, his work was a mixed bag, with solid turns in the likes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being offset by sloppier movements in Soccer Dog: European Cup.

But Moran’s now making impressive strides as a film director and returns to the big screen today in Caradog James’ new horror-thriller Don’t Knock Twice.  Ahead of the film’s release, Moran spoke to Ian Cater about filmmaking, the ‘un-bankable’ Casey Affleck and partying with Hugh Hefner.

Don’t Knock Twice, released today, is a promising supernatural thriller from the team behind acclaimed sci-fi drama The Machine.  It tells the story of a mother (Katee Sackhoff) trying to rebuild a relationship with her estranged daughter (Lucy Boynton), who awoke the spirit of a demonic witch.  Amidst familial tension and terrifying goings on, Nick Moran makes a welcome appearance as Detective Boardman, investigating the daughter’s disappearance.  But if Moran is forced to play second fiddle in the film, his ardour for its final form comes through loud and clear.

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Category: Cinema
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Jonathan Pie: Live review

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Tom Walker‘s ranty yet astute live show as comedy creation Jonathan Pie will be available to buy on his website from Monday next week.  Ian Cater attended the recorded performance at The O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 3rd March 2017, and reports below on Walker’s brilliant delivery and ‘rare ability to spew out persuasive points amongst the bile’.

Tom Walker’s weekly videos as alter ego Jonathan Pie are as close as we currently get in this country to The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  Or perhaps The Late Show with Steven Colbert is a better comparison, given Walker uses his fictional creation – a television news reporter who rants acerbic views at his producer during out-takes – to make important arguments about politics, the media and society in general.

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Category: Comedy
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Russell Howard: Round The World review

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Last week, Russell Howard beat the record held by Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow by performing for ten consecutive nights at a packed Royal Albert Hall.  Before Howard’s Round The World Tour moved on to the rest of the UK and Ireland, Ian Cater reviewed what turned out to be ‘a very entertaining and uplifting evening’.

Russell Howard is quite rightly one of Britain’s most successful comedians, using his ‘everyman’ likability and unashamed positivity to pack arenas like this one night after night.  But that success has come at a cost.  In recent years, some have become snide about his act – not least Stewart Lee, whose on-stage comedy policeman lays charge after charge at Howard’s door in his current Content Provider show.

Some of that may be justified: by taking the big bucks on offer from first the BBC and now Sky, and having the nerve to promulgate upbeat messages, Howard’s opened himself up to a slice of the cynicism his own brand of comedy usually avoids.  However, a lot of it is unfair, especially when he delivers such a well-balanced set as this, shining a light on British society’s problems but refusing to wallow in them.

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Category: Comedy