Home » Author Archives: Clare Annamalai

Author Archives: Clare Annamalai

Bottled, Vault Festival – Review

Like the abusive marriage that it describes, Bottled starts off deceptively sweet. It is Katy’s 15th birthday, and she’s celebrating at home with family and her mum’s boyfriend, some shiny balloons and a violently pink cake. As she talks us through the scene, describing the characters and their part in her life, the commentary is wry and perceptive, a healthy mix of childish candour and teenage snark. When, shortly after that birthday party, she hooks up with Bradley, a hot, ...

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Notre Dame de Paris, London Coliseum – Review

Pros: Nicely menacing Gothic atmosphere. Cons: Shallow characterisation and a complete lack of variation in tone A word of warning to anyone planning a visit to Notre Dame de Paris at London Coliseum. Brace yourself. Brace for histrionics. The breast-beating starts early, with the first big number, Les Sans-papiers, and never really lets up for the rest of the show. The understandable anguish of the outcasts, the vulnerable and the falsely accused is rendered with the same power ballad intensity ...

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Totem, Royal Albert Hall – Review

Pros: The set. The sound design. The projection. The lighting. Cons: Far too many people in the audience filming the show on their phones. A silvery particle spins and tumbles from above, setting in train an evolutionary journey from primordial soup to space exploration. Well that’s the idea, anyway. More prosaically, Totem is a high-spec review show, in which circus acts, loosely themed around ideas of man’s evolution and environment, are interspersed with quirky comic vignettes. The circus acts are ...

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Murder for Two, The Other Palace – Review

Pros: Astonishing performances and musicianship Cons: A little too long, and could use some variations in pace Arthur Whitney lies dead on the floor, in a house full of guests who wished him ill. It’s down to Officer Marcus to work out which of the many suspects, all played by Jeremy Legat, actually pulled the trigger. Getting to know this cast of characters, their backstory and relationship with the victim, takes a bit of time. So the first half hour ...

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Kiss Me, The Other Palace – Review

Pros: Great jokes and a wonderful heroine Cons: The bits of slo-mo physical theatre don’t add much The narrative holds few surprises, but Kiss Me is a beautiful chamber piece that draws you in with the warmth and complexity of its two characters, Stephanie and Dennis. Stephanie was a young bride and now, in the aftermath of World War I, is a young widow. With most of the young men gone, she enjoys doing a man’s work, driving a truck, ...

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Much Ado About Nothing, Gray’s Inn Hall – Review

Pros: A silent but expressive, accordion-toting Verges Cons: Too many cicadas It’s common these days to watch ‘high’ culture in a ‘low’ setting: Mayerling at the local multiplex, Hamlet on catch-up, in PJs. Watching Antic Disposition’s Much Ado About Nothing is the opposite experience. It’s a sort of cheesy sitcom (with shades of honour killing), in the pannelled and stained-glassed splendour of Gray’s Inn Hall. This cheesy sitcom is set in France, 1945. There are pretty girls in tea dresses ...

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Tartuffe, Theatre Royal Haymarket – Review

Pros: Good to see a foreign language production in the West End Cons: A failure of common sense in the use of surtitles Molière’s Tartuffe on the West End stage. A story of bad faith and credulity for the age of MAGA and taking back control, in a version that’s simultaneously accessible to English and French speakers. An admirable project, and one that might have made perfect sense on paper. The same is not true on stage. Christopher Hampton’s adaptation ...

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Strictly Ballroom The Musical, Piccadilly Theatre – Review

Pros: Great comedy and a cracking list of musical numbers.  Cons: There is a lot of set and sometimes the action feels a little cramped. First off, I should say that I enjoyed every minute of Strictly Ballroom The Musical; it is tip tip, non-stop entertainment. But there’s a small caveat, because if this show were a dancer it would be Tina Sparkle, not Scott Hastings; it is as much a slave to the original film as Tina and her acolytes are slaves to the Federation rules. Like the most unhinged of the ballroom dancers it so gleefully ...

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Twang!!, Union Theatre – Review

Pros: Fun choreography, daft puppetry, huge energy. Cons: Heavy on smut, light on good songs. When Much the Miller’s son gets lost in Sherwood Forest, salvation comes at a price: the ragtag bunch of men who come to his rescue have a tiresome habit of breaking into song and dance. Because this is Nottingham, where life is a musical and everyone knows their lines, their steps and their place. Anyway, a few escapades later, and having won the hand of ...

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