Count Arthur Strong: The Sound of Mucus

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King of the malaprop Count Arthur Strong
Tops bill with Redcar and Hammersmith song

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To say that it went downhill as soon as the curtain rose would suggest that Count Arthur Strong’s latest malapropistic misremembrances (try saying that after a healthy slug of his “Scottish Lucozade”) is a dud. However, nothing could be further from Babe Ruth. I mean, the truth. For the opening sequence during which Steve Delaney as The Count (voiced “o”), Terry Kilkelly as the put-upon Malcolm and later the star of rage and scream Renee, and Dave Plimmer as Uncle Alan who is not an Uncle, is terrific. Continue reading

Death of a Salesman

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Riding high on a smile and a shoeshine
Salesman falls victim to the bottom line

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Brooks Atkinson, the legendary American critic who it was said for 31 years on the drama desk of The New York Times had the power to make or break a Broadway opening, described the original 1949 production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman as an “elegy in a Brooklyn sidestreet” which “looked with compassion into the hearts of some ordinary Americans and quietly transferred their hope and anguish to the theatre”. Continue reading

Tristan & Yseult

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Love between French knight & girl with red hair
Turns from sheer delight to utter despair

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In the balcony of the neon-lit The Club of the Unloved, a four-piece band by the name of Martin and the Misfits play a conveyor belt of wrist-slashers from Patsy Cline’s Crazy to Roy Orbison’s Only The Lonely. Downstairs, a flock of binoculars-sporting loners who describe themselves as “love spotters”, “passion watchers” and “kiss clockers” emerge from the shadows of the dancefloor in search of love. But in their crumpled blue raincoats, dark woollen snoods and thick black specs, they are more moulding than smouldering. Continue reading

Judy!

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From fat ugly duckling to girl next door
A star is born, but dies to cries of more

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Watching writer and director Ray Packham’s excellent production of Judy! which transferred from Southwark Playhouse after debuting at London Theatre Workshop under the title Through The Mill, a lyric from Jimmy Webb’s hit song Witchita Lineman springs to mind: “I need you more than want you”. Some people want to perform; others need to. And for artists such as Judy Garland who belong in the latter camp, when the lights dim and the applause fades and they are left alone with their thoughts, then to quote from one of her more memorable torch songs: “the night is bitter”. Continue reading