Reviews

Mistletoe Junction

You have to hand it to the Maskers: they are up for anything, from Kafka’s Metamorphosis to home-grown Mistletoe Junction. The latest production at their tiny studio theatre in Shirley is witness to both their variety of material and their unfailing consistency of commitment. This production is unashamed Christmas fare. Even the tickets come with the lure of mince pies and mulled wine. Ushers dressed in ’fifties costume show the audience to small tables seating four or so, covered with Christmas paper and gently glowing candles. The auditorium has in fact been transformed in two ways. First, the audience are
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Sunny Afternoon

Sunny Afternoon never really made the list of must-see musicals when it was on in London and I wasn’t sure about context or music – and there is always the curse of the trend for thrown-together jukebox musicals. I need not have worried, as this is classy stuff: a slick, tuneful, emotional and exhilarating experience on a par with Jersey Boys and Beautiful as far as production values, story, chosen music, plot and setting are concerned. I had little knowledge of the Kinks’ origins, knowing only vaguely of explosive sibling rivalry to match the Gallagher brothers in Ray and Dave Davis. The songs I
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Archipelago

This week saw the opening of the rebranded, refurbished, spun through ninety degrees and replacement of buttockly-aching bench seating (with, well, more buttockly-aching bench seating) Sherling Studio at Lighthouse, Poole, with the world premiere of Caridad Svich’s new play, Archipelago.  New undertakings all round as it also marked the directorial debut of the recently appointed Lighthouse Artistic Producer, Stephen Wrentmore.  Although touted as a world premiere, Archipelago has received readings across venues in America from as early as 2013, sometimes under the direction of Mr Wrentmore, and has been the subject of a Russian translation. ‘Like the great writers who went
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The Wind in the Willows

When I go to the theatre, I want to believe that what I’m watching on the stage is real, that those characters really do exist. This is, I think, even more important for a small child who may be making his or her first visit to the theatre and who may, if the experience is a positive one, immediately be hooked for life on this wonderful world of make-believe. At the first night of this production, a young and very excited little boy was sitting just behind me, clearly loving what he was seeing and even, towards the end, joining
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Countdown to Christmas

The start of December marks open season for Christmas music and performances, and P&P have been quick off the mark with this very enjoyable show. It is staged primarily by the musical theatre wing of the society, but they are joined by the P&P Singers and it is good to see the two groups working together in harmony – in every sense. As one has come to expect from this group, there is lots of movement, Sophie Wright’s choreography being interpreted slickly and with bags of energy, notably in the tap accompaniment to ‘Happy holiday’. Under Dani Warner’s skilful direction,
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Fantastic Mr Fox

If you want a change from the magic carpet and transforming pumpkin of traditional Pantoland this Christmas, you could do a lot worse than this brand new adaptation of one of Roald Dahl’s best stories by Sam Holcroft, with music by Arthur Darvill. It opens traditionally enough, with four birds singing sweetly in close harmony. What happens next tells you that this is something a bit different, and then we are into the story of Mr Fox and his friends and their attempts to outwit the three farmers: irascible Bean, greedy Boggis and thick Bunce. The birds, by the way,
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