Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE Daily that is e-mailed to subscribers every morning (to subscribe, send message to ShentonStageMailingList@gmail.com), and is also available online here.
Though it is my intention to usually publish this before 10am, sometimes — like today — I run late! (And some other days, like yesterday, I don’t publish at all. This often happens when I’m in London overnight, as I was on Wednesday, and end up in a hotel room trying to complete other tasks before checking out….!)
MY NEW WEEKLY REVIEWS COLUMN
My new weekly review column for ShentonSTAGE today is here, with reviews for GET UP! STAND UP! (pictured) that opened at the Lyric on Wednesday; THE SHARK IS BROKEN at the Ambasadors; HOME at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre, and WHAT IF IF ONLY and AS GOD IS at the Royal Court.
TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE:
- GET UP STAND UP! (Lyric Theatre, opened Wednesday October 20)
The Guardian (3*, by Arifa Akbar): “Clint Dyer’s pulsating production has the spirit of a staged concert with spoken scenes tucked in between the songs, and with the emotional freight of the story carried in its celebrated music. Sometimes this means that character and dialogue are sacrificed but the music is infectious – and there is a central performance from Arinze Kene that soars and tingles the spine.”
Daily Mail (3*, by Patrick Marmion): “As much as I love Marley and his music, this version, written by Lee Hall (best known for the Billy Elliot and Rocketman screenplays) left me slightly cold and faintly baffled…. Marley’s life was too complex and too troubled to suit the Mamma Mia! approach of simply ticking off the hits. Instead, let’s be honest, the real reason we’re here is to do exactly as we’re told by the title. But it’s not until we hit Jamming, just before the interval, that actually happens.”
The Times (3*, by Clive Davis): “The flaws in this celebration of Jamaica’s greatest musical export may not prove fatal. As someone who grew up on Bob Marley’s music, I want this show to succeed. And in the Nigerian-born Arinzé Kene, it gives us a shaman-cum-entertainer who is blessed with a soulful voice (no matter that he’s much more bulked-up than the bird-like leader of the Wailers)…. If the script is hectic, Clint Dyer’s direction lacks momentum. There are too many lulls and moments when the actors look marooned on Chloe Lamford’s set, which uses blocks of sound system speakers to evoke the sprawl of Kingston and London. Shelley Maxwell’s choreography only occasionally catches fire, as on the brooding version of Exodus that opens the second act.”
Evening Standard (4*,by Jessie Thompson): “In the closing moments, it feels like this isn’t just a joyful night out – it’s a major and important cultural event.”
iNews (4*, by Sam Marlowe): “Don’t expect a simple jukebox show at the Lyric Theatre in London: Lee Hall’s book grapples with turbulent politics, Marley’s complex personal life and his Rastafarian faith. There’s a seriousness here, a real attempt to honour Marley’s legacy… The passion and commitment of the cast, the elan of Dyer’s staging and the irresistible pulse of the songs sweep you along and hold you fast”.
Daily Telegraph (5*, by Dzifa Benson): “It’s startling how much like Marley Arinzé Kene sounds when he sings. He’s burlier but has Marley’s physicality – the fist held aloft, the skanking – down pat. He is matched in charisma by Gabrielle Brooks’s Rita, Marley’s wife and pre-eminent member of female backing group the I-Three. She almost steals the show during their terrific duet on No Woman, No Cry. Having sat politely until the denouement on Redemption Song, the audience spontaneously jumped to its feet to dance in the aisles. A rousing, absorbing two hours-plus of joyful theatre that reanimates Marley’s genius.”
- THE SHARK IS BROKEN (Ambassadors Theatre, opened October 21):
iNews (4*, by Sam Marlowe): “That doomy, pulsing music, that fin slicing through rippling blue water… here comes the terrifying Great White that made movie history and launched a tyro Stephen Spielberg as king of the blockbusters. Except that, as this theatrical treat for film buffs reveals, the classic Jaws was almost sunk by the erratic behaviour of its toothy star – and some of the human cast weren’t much easier to handle.. all three of these men in a boat are uncannily well-observed, and this salty yarn is great fun.”
The Times (4*, by Clive Davis): “Do you need to have seen Jaws to fall in love with this beautiful miniature of a play? My companion was the perfect guinea pig because, unlikely as it may seem, she couldn’t recall ever watching Steven Spielberg’s classic 1970s thriller. And yet for the next 90 minutes she was every bit as intrigued as I was…”
Evening Standard (5*, by Jessie Thompson): “Never mind the shark – in this show about the troubled shoot for classic blockbuster Jaws, it’s Ian Shaw that you need to see. Playing his father, Robert Shaw – aka Quint, the world-weary shark hunter – he gives what is undoubtedly one of the best theatrical performances of the year. Flitting between machismo and vulnerability, he delivers a hilarious and moving performance that’s exhilarating to watch, in a show that begins as a rollicking comedy before turning into something deeper.”
COVID RATES ON THE RISE; BUT COVID DENIERS EVERYWHERE….
It wasn’t just because I saw THE SHARK IS BROKEN (see reviews above) yesterday that I had a jaw(s) dropping day. I was at a Critics’ Circle lunch to honour Dame Janet Baker yesterday (at which I proposed the toast to the arts with the Dickens goblet, as the circle’s last President because the current one was unavailable!). A middle-aged “critic” sharing my table (though I had no idea who she was or who she wrote for) turned out to be unvaccinated, and said she would not be.
Then after my evening trip to the Royal Court — where masks were, refreshingly, mostly being worn, though there was no checking of COVID vaccines or negative tests at all — I endured a cab ride with a Covid denying cabbie. He claimed there were no excess deaths on previous years — from his close study of the stats, he said — and claimed that the whole crisis has been engineered to control society & introduce compulsory tracking of everyone….. He refused to say whether he’s been vaxxed or not — “I don’t disclose personal medical information” — but then also said he puts his faith in the immune system his Lord had given him! I wished him luck.
I, meanwhile, used my trip to London to also on Wednesday have my booster vaccination shot.
TODAY’S THEATRE BIRTHDAYS