Monday 27 September 2021

Luminosa - Review

Jacksons Lane, London


Lawrence Swaddle and Tasha Rushbrooke

Luminosa from the UK’s Lost In Translation circus company is a novel interpretation of the classic circus show with a wonderfully executed combination of acrobatics, gymnastics and comedy, all set off with a cabaret-style band in accompaniment throughout.

For the most part this is a family-focused show that starts with a high octane aerial performance that sets the tone for the remainder of the evening. As is to be expected, the skills of the Luminosa troupe combine jaw-dropping human talent with, at times, death-defying bravado! 

Accompanied by three assistant reviewers aged 6, 8 and 10 the entire review squad were held enthralled throughout. Praise from the three children included:

“The foot juggler impressed with the number of balls she juggled without dropping any of them!” 

“The astonishing human trapeze filled Jacksons Lane with awe, as the acrobat somersaulted in the air”

“After an exhilarating performance, I was amazed as to what this group of acrobats can do. They showed plenty of teamwork and resilience in making this exciting performance” 

Shortly to tour the UK, Luminosa makes for a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

Plays at Jackson Lane until 29th September, then tours - details here
Photo credit: Alex Brenner

Thursday 23 September 2021

The Last Five Years - Review

Garrick Theatre, London


Music, lyrics and book by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Jonathan O'Boyle

Molly Lynch

For The Last Five Years, the last eighteen months have seen this show albeit skewered by the pandemic, transfer from a glorious run on London’s fringe at the Southwark Playhouse to the commercial bear-pit of the West End, taking up a month’s residence at the Garrick.

The artistic genius of its performers remains. Slightly matured from their south London opening, Molly Lynch and Oli Higginson remain excellent as time-crossed lovers Cathy and Jamie, famously charting their five year relationship in opposing time dimensions. As Jamie moves forward from impetuous passion to duplicitous deceit, so does Cathy follow a reverse arc, opening with the grief of a shattered marriage and closing with her deliriously sincere and hopeful Goodbye Until Tomorrow. 

Molly and Oli are indeed magnificent - but not for no reason has this curiosity of a show struggled to even open on Broadway. The intense magic of Jonathan O’Boyle’s work at Southwark dissipates under the scrutiny of a multi-tiered West End house, its cast now removed to behind their proscenium arch. What this production defines is that The Last 5 Years is essentially a chamber work and that Brown’s ingenious dissection of a love’s birth and subsequent demise is best savoured up-close. While some of his show’s numbers are barnstorming roofraisers (Lynch delivers a knockout I Can Do Better Than That) overall, the piece struggles to captivate.

This Garrick production is one for the fans, undoubtedly a gathering of genius in both its cast and creative crew. But much like Jamie and Cathy’s love, something has died here.

Runs until 17th October
Phot credit: Helen Maybanks

Saturday 11 September 2021

Aretha And Me - Review

The Pheasantry, London


Patti Boulaye

Patti Boulaye’s cabaret Aretha And Me, is as much a glimpse into Boulaye’s own life story as it is a tribute to one of soul music’s most astounding singers. Offering us glimpses into a childhood that saw her bear witness to the horrors of the Biafran War , through to her teenage arrival into London and a whirlwind entry into musical theatre and then a recording career, Boulaye’s journey is a testament to both faith and talent. Her faith is important to her, but so too is the bedrock of her conservative family values and the respect and love that she shows, not just for her familial roots but in her manifest pride in her husband, children and grandchildren, runs through her cabaret patter like a stick of rock.

Notwithstanding Boulaye’s personal strengths, the evening is of course about classic songs, sung to perfection and if Aretha Franklin was the Queen Of Soul then Patti Boulaye is her heir apparent. She takes some of Franklin’s most memorable musical highlights – and one or two lesser know gems including a spine-tingling Nessun Dorma – and delivers them with a consistent level of flair and genius, that it is impossible to fault her singing. Boulaye gets the evening going with some crackers including Think, I Say A Little Prayer and Son Of A Preacher Man and with a mixture of pre-recorded backing tracks and live piano accompaniment, Alan Rogers her musical director, provides impressive support.

But it is in her soul interpretations that Boulaye holds us all in the palm of her hand. Her take on Amazing Grace and Etta James’ signature recording At Last (of course covered by Aretha) leave one moved way beyond expectation – while her second act opener of the Habanera from Carmen Jones is quite simply a delight.

Boulaye is taking her show on the road throughout the autumn – Go see her, you will not find a finer voice touring the land!