Home » Author Archives: Brian Penn

Author Archives: Brian Penn

Little Potatoes, Old Red Lion Theatre – Review

A rapid return to the Old Red Lion in Islington is always a welcome diversion. A delicious moo pie and pint set me up nicely for Little Potatoes, a tale of matchmaking mums at the Shanghai marraige market, as they aim to get their children hitched. Liuyang (Sarah Curwen) is a teacher and striving to get her daughter Meihua married off. Family Planning Officer Hong (Michelle Wen Lee) has a game-obsessed son who dreams of being an artist. The two ...

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The Noises – Review

The Noises, Old Red Lion Theatre In the pet stakes no animal comes remotely close to dogs; man’s best friend has become a fully-fledged member of the family. No longer bred for a purely functional purpose, dogs have assimilated human characteristics and a unique personality. This heavily socialised world of a canine is explored in The Noises, a story that concentrates on a dog called Luna, played by Lucy McAllister. Luna’s been a very naughty dog and is now locked ...

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Liza Pulman Sings Streisand, Lyric Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue – Review

Any show suffixed with the words ‘Sings Streisand’ is always likely to fall between two stools. Is it going to be a singer performing her songs, or a tribute act trying to sound like her? Either way I sensed the performer in question might be on a loser. Liza Pulman (pronounced ‘Lyza’) manages to pull it off, but still lands somewhere between the two. A trained opera singer and member of Fascinating Aida, Liza has an impressive vocal range more ...

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Crown Dual, King’s Head Theatre – Review

So what do you do when Claire Foy steals your dream role? Well it’s obvious; you write and perform your own version of The Crown and get your agent to play the male parts. Well at least that’s the plan in the incredibly likeable Crown Dual, now playing at the King’s Head in Islington. Agent Stanley Diamond (Brendon Murphy) had promised client Beth Buckingham (Rosie Holt) an audition for Netflix series The Crown. But he kinda sorta forgot to send ...

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The Pirates of Penzance, Wilton’s Music Hall – Review

After several years of clashing diaries and missed opportunities, I finally made it to the legendary Wilton’s Music Hall in Whitechapel. John Wilton’s magnificent music hall was opened in 1859, and has survived the obligatory fire and demolition notice on several occasions since then. It eventually acquired Grade II status and reopened as a theatrical venue in 1997. We are deep in Jack the Ripper territory and a huge Victorian brass lamp announces the venue in Graces Alley. The interior ...

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Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, The Young Vic Theatre – Review

Certain theatres have a mystique, a marque of quality that sets them apart; an assumption that a play must be good if it’s running there. The National Theatre, Royal Court and Shakespeare’s Globe are three such examples. Add to that list the Young Vic, just down the road from its older sibling in Waterloo. Like many modern theatres, the bar is set to the front entrance, creating a great atmosphere as you go in. The performance area is arranged amphitheatre ...

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Rattled, Old Red Lion Theatre – Review

The wonderfully warm surroundings of the Old Red Lion in Islington has its usual glow: flock wallpaper, chesterfield sofas, a dog sleeping on the floor and football on the telly (think I’ve just described my house in the 1970s?). A framed England rugby union shirt now adorns the wall, and a Norwich City St Georges flag hangs over the bar. Not only does it stock a range of lagers, craft beers and cider, it also houses one of the finest ...

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Flight Paths, Stratford Circus – Review

Stratford Circus is the younger, sleeker looking neighbour to the Theatre Royal Stratford East.  Living in the shadow of a theatrical giant is no easy task, but I’m pleased to report the Circus occupies its own niche, with a wide range of community-based productions. Flight Paths draws inspiration from the Goze; blind female storytellers and musicians who travelled the length and breadth of medieval Japan, making a living from performing epic tales. Two blind performers, Amelia Cavallo and Sarah Houbolt, ...

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Dracula, The London Library – Review

As a Londoner born and bred, a book lover and aspiring writer to boot, I am ashamed to admit I’d never heard of the London Library. Tucked away in St James’s Square, just behind Piccadilly, it houses over one million books. First editions, antiquities and periodicals stretching back five centuries; a treasure trove of history, knowledge and wisdom. How could I not have known about this place? Another startling fact: Bram Stoker joined the library in 1890 and did his ...

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The Ruffian On The Stair, Hope Theatre – Review

A lesser known Joe Orton play was the incentive for a long overdue visit to the Hope Theatre in Islington. I’m guessing most people wouldn’t be able to name more than three of his plays; Joe Orton actually wrote nine that have at some point been performed on stage. So I’m fairly certain The Ruffian on the Stair is one of the six you don’t know. It was originally written as a radio play and first broadcast by the BBC ...

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