It has been a very pleasant couple of weeks at the theatre for me. Managed to get myself out to see some new shows, so let’s get into them.
Tammy Faye at the Almeida Theatre
Booking until: 3rd December 2022
Ticket link: https://almeida.co.uk/how-to-get-tickets-for-tammy-faye
One of the hottest tickets in town right now and who is surprised with a cast and creative team that strong? Elton John, Jake Shears and James Graham have banded together to create this wonderfully glitzy musical about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, hosts of a Christian TV Network in the States in the 80s and their downfall. It’s ultimately a musical about how success is so easily lost as it is won.
The score is infectiously catchy, but who would expect anything less from pop kings. A wonderfully vibrant and colourful score to match the larger than life personalities of Jim & Tammy Faye. Andrew Rannells and Katie Brayben bring the two of them to live with such heart and character, both of them give incredible performances. There’s also an incredible array of supporting actors as well who play many different characters throughout the show, which was interesting to see. Although I do hope when the inevitable west end transfer happens, the creative team invest in a bigger ensemble. Because backstage must be an array of insanely fast quick changes. I do also think the bows at the end are a bit of a mess because it’s part finale, part dance party, part bows and the audience doesn’t always know what’s going on.
That said, I had a riot of a time with this. It’s charming, entertaining and has a great score. I also hope someone is in the middle of making Katie Brayben’s Olivier award.
Daddy Issues @ Seven Dials Playhouse*
Booking until: 19th November 2022
Ticket link: https://www.sevendialsplayhouse.co.uk/shows/daddy-issues
Daddy Issues follows 23 year old Imi as she grieve her dog Roger. As the play goes on, Imi progressively breaks down on Instagram live and as she deals with the death of her father. It’s a really interesting play about grief itself and it’s impact on people’s mental health, portrayed incredibly by Bebe Cave.
However, this play really doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Most of the time it’s very raw and it’s a bit like watching an open wound spill out. Because of this, I have to stress that this play highlights the issue of suicide and particularly parental suicide quite vividly. And it’s often quite uncomfortable at times. Which I guess is the point of the play, but I don’t think this was necessarily the right medium for this. Because the Seven Dials Playhouse is a very small space, it really made me feel very claustrophobic at times. So if this is something that is triggering, don’t see this. It is worth watching for Bebe Cave’s performance. But I think Lewis Cornay’s play could’ve been better performed as an audio drama or as a screen project, at least giving viewers a chance to pause for breath.
From Here To Eternity @ Charing Cross Theatre*
Booking until: 17th December 2022
Ticket link: https://charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/theatre/from-here-to-eternity
From Here To Eternity follows a group of soldiers in the US Army, based in Hawaii before the Pearl Harbour attack and the events leading up to this. I haven’t seen the movie, read the book or seen the musical before so I was going into this totally fresh. Now while this is an excellent production, the material itself felt very cramped and had many strands that there was perhaps too much going on.
I did really enjoy the scenes with the soldiers altogether and you can often feel the camaraderie just absolutely radiate. The entire cast is fantastic but do have to highlight Jonny Amies, Desmonda Cathabel, Eve Polycarpou and Carly Stenson as standouts. Tim Rice and Stuart Brayson’s score is excellent, with some truly fantastic numbers sprinkled without. The set works well in the traverse staging and the great direction from Brett Smock allows the piece to really encompass every available spot. I also really enjoyed the projectiions by Louise Rhoades-Brown that added extra context to the production.
My main issue was that there was just a bit too much going on. While trying to show how tough this time was for the positions of both men and women, there’s commentary on what it’s like being gay, a sex worker, having an affair and men’s mental health all throughout this. As such, some of the elements are quite lost within the piece itself. And by the time we come full circle, (at least speaking for myself) I forgot what had even happened at the start, because so much was going on.
It’s worth checking out because the cast are immaculate and the staging is really well done. But may be a bit too long for some people’s liking.
Until next time
Categories: On Stage