The Last Post – The Final Curtain

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Regular readers will have noticed I’ve not posted on here for a very long time. In fact I’ve not been to the theatre in months. I have a few things lined up to see but gone are the days of seeing multiple shows a week!

Life moves on and whilst I’ve loved writing this blog it is now time to shut it down and move on to other things.

I’ll keep it up for a bit and maybe someone will take it over, but thank you all for reading/commenting and being part of this journey, I wish you all the best.






The Mentalists – Wyndham’s Theatre – Review

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Stephen Merchant makes his West End debut in a revival of Richard Bean’s The Mentalists. I’m a huge fan of Stephen Merchant’s being an avid follower of his TV work ever since The Office. So I was looking forward to seeing him live finally. Previous readers of my blog will know I was hugely disappointed with Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors . Would this play change my mind on him as a writer?

It’s a two-hander set in a grubby London hotel. Stephen Merchant and Steffan Rhodri are the protagonists Ted and Morrie. They’re close friends, with Morrie doing a favour for Ted when we meet them. They make an excellent choice of casting and bring their slightly unusual characters to life. As the play becomes more serious towards the end Morrie’s care and concern for Ted is quite movingly portrayed.

Steffan Rhodri as Morrie and Stephen Merchant as Ted

Steffan Rhodri as Morrie and Stephen Merchant as Ted

However the writing felt very “clunky”. Too often lines are in the script that are there simply for a laugh rather than as part of the organic text of the play. Too many of the lines feel contrived. Reading the programme Richard Bean admits that quite a bit of the material in the play is from his stand-up days. It shows far too easily and means it lunges from one stand-up gag to the next rather inelegantly.

It has some pathos which is quite touching but again its not developed enough for me, as it is building it’s interrupted for a gag. Which diminished any emotion that was building.

The actors give good performances, it’s just that the script doesn’t do their talents any favours. As I left I was glad to have seen it, but it will go in the “enjoyable enough night out but instantly forgettable” category of theatre for me.


STARS : ★ ★ ★


How To Produce a West End Show by Julius Green – Review

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Genuinely, this is a "must" read for all theatre practitioners.

Genuinely, this is a “must” read for all theatre practitioners.

The role of the producer in the theatre world, is one of the most misunderstood and mysterious. Are we the Svengali’s loitering in the background, or cigar smoking fat cats raking in all the money? If truth be told it’s a lot more complicated than the stereotypes so often talked about.

I’ve had experience as a producer, I’m currently working on a project for 2014 (more details will be on this blog as  and when things are confirmed) and so picked up a copy of this hoping it’d give me some useful pointers. Even though I’m not producing in the West End (yet). It truly is a gold mine of advice. 

This is an ESSENTIAL book for all theatre practitioners. Especially for those at drama schools and actors. You NEED to understand what the producer’s role is and dare I say, appreciate it too? He points out in the book that there are no industry awards for producers. More’s the pity, as they are the linchpin of any theatrical endeavour.

Julius Green takes the reader on a wonderful journey of getting a show on in the West End, he’s got plenty of experience and reading his stories and anecdotes are part of the fun. He never makes out this is easy and he certainly reminds the readers repeatedly this is no get rich quick scheme.  

Despite the “West End”, being mentioned in the title, this book has universal relevance, from the professional world right through to the amateur theatre world, whichever level you work in you’ll find something in here relevant and applicable to your theatrical world.



The Audience, Boeing Boeing and The Graduate


Well it’s been a nice summer break for me and I hope it has for my readers too?

I’ve had a total break from going the theatre, which I must say has been good, as it’s given me a longing to see some new productions.

This coming week sees me off to a private screening of The Audience which I’m excited about as I missed seeing that when it was on at the West End (and I wasn’t too keen on paying £126 for a ticket either).

Then on Saturday I’m off to see Boeing Boeing at my local theatre. This is one of my favourite plays. I’m actively involved at the Miller Centre Theatre and so sat in on the Technical Rehearsal this afternoon and I can’t wait to see it with a live audience.

Finally the biggest part of this week for me is I graduate from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance with my BA in Theatre Studies this Friday!! This has taken me 8 years (as I’ve done it via distance learning)  but has been the best decision I ever made. This blog is itself an extension of those studies. I also think a graduation of entirely theatrical folk will be rather special. Full details and the obligatory picture of me in my gown and mortar board will follow as will my regular reviews and musings on all things theatrical.

2012 – Theatrical Highs (and one low point)


The end of another year beckons and it falls to me to act as “old father time”, sans beard and to cast my gaze back over the last year and share my theatrical highs with you, and I’ll throw in a low too, just to be balanced.


So play of the year for me was the wonderful In Basildon by David Eldridge. It was funny, heartfelt and so refreshing to see a different political side being displayed on the Royal Court stage. I saw it in February and it set the standard for me for the year ahead and wasn’t beaten.

The Cleverly Created Carousel

The Cleverly Created Carousel

Best musical for me was Opera North’s great production of Carousel that came to London’s Barbican theatre this summer.

One of Gabriela Tylesova's Phenomenal Sets

One of Gabriela Tylesova’s Phenomenal Sets

The DVD release of the Melbourne version Love Never Dieswas another highlight, such a shame this version is on the other side of the world.

Jonathan Slinger - Prospero

Jonathan Slinger – Prospero

My most commented on posts have  been my reviews of The Tempest and Top Hat

Buy two copies one for you and one to give to a moanny actor

Buy two copies one for you and one to give to a moanny actor

Best book of the year goes to Andy Nyman’s Golden Rules of Acting .  Another peak of 2012 was interviewing Andy Nyman for Theatre Thoughts, if you’ve not read it, click here.

Constellations - the theatrical low point of 2012 for me.

Constellations – the theatrical low point of 2012 for me.

My only real low of the year was seeing Constellations and then being even more perplexed at the awards and rave reviews this drama school exercise being passed off as a play got. Hey ho.


Best entertainment goes to Chris Cox’s show Fatal Distraction.

An astounding performance from Alex Lawther as Blakemore

An astounding performance from Alex Lawther as Blakemore

Getting to see The Browning Version and with the added bonus of the stupendous new companion play South Downs was one of my favourite productions, Alex Lawther gets my “actor of the year” award.


Ten Out of Ten Poster

Finally the show that has stayed with me the most since seeing it and so gets my “Theatre Thoughts Award for Top Theatrical Moment 2012″ goes to Ten Out of Ten.

Thanks for all my readers, commentators and supporters over the last 12 months. Here’s to 2013!


Birthday by Joe Penhall – Royal Court Theatre – Review

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Joe Penhall’s new play takes a look at the NHS but in a more humourous but equally damning way as his most well known (and best, in my opinion) play Blue/Orange.

The humour mainly comes from the role reversal that the character Ed is in. He’s pregnant. Over the 90 minutes of the play we see how he and his wife cope with his going into and then the other side of labour.

Ed is splendidly played by Stephen Mangan and his wife Lisa who gave birth to their first child is played by Lisa Dillon. Their interplay and quips range from laugh out loud to desperately sad.

Llewella Gideon plays the midwife and gets huge mileage from playing the gruff character nurse with the heart of gold buried underneath.

Louise Brealey as the doctor  is a small but important role especially when she explains her decision not to have children contrasted with why Lisa and Ed have decided to have children.

It’s an enjoyable play but I did feel Joe Penhall went for the easy laughs rather than stretch himself and his audience. A shame as the reality he exposes regarding the disgraceful way the NHS treats some pregnant women I think could have been served better with less of the vulgar humour and language.

It’s no Blue/Orange (and it’s no Haunted Child either thankfully), it’s a fun night out nothing more, nothing less.

STARS : * * *