Mirrors

All this wit and playwrighting skill allows Miss McMillan, herself a beautiful and wondrously expressive actor, a myriad of emotions to share, without ever inviting pity or sympathy. One actually smiles through her painful and intimate moments, for there is magic in the air and a uniqueness in this fabulous performance.

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The Elephant Girls

The material from which this first one-woman show on the subject is drawn is vast, and actor/playwright, Margo MacDonald has done a skillful job of conflating various of the protagonists into a role for herself, embodying Alice Diamond, ‘top bitch’, to the gang’s ‘enforcer’, packing enough weaponry to supply a minor gang war. In addition, she most convincingly portrays other characters along the way in her story.

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Play Ground

The production this reviewer saw was her try-out show at Wilton’s Music Hall, an extraordinary venue in London’s East End (and well worth a visit in itself). In the transfer to Brighton’s burgeoning Festival fringe in May, it is to be hoped that the next incarnation of the show will see its huge potential fully realised.

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Fire and Phoenix

In this captivating drama, playwright Kate Glover has brought back the time and place, capturing not only the immensity of the event, but also the sometimes shocking human dramas it produced. Director Kenneth Michaels makes full use of the generous Bridewell Theatre stage, itself a victim of the fire back then. Unusually, the play consists of 22 short scenes, and while this does provide a framework for coverage of a wide number of issues, it does make the structure of the evening somewhat fragmented and stop start. However, (apart from a tendency in some to ‘ face front and play to the gallery’) the highly committed company overcome this with a dedication and relish for the meatiness of their roles and the unfolding story.

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Wild At Hear

The programme is a quartet of one-act plays seldom seen, dating from early in the playwright’s career, and is redolent of his preoccupation with the disintegration of hopes and dreams. The guillotine decends as the poor creatures finally face the shattering truth of their lives. Williams’ masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire, comes to mind particularly. In the ironically named At Liberty, and in Hello From Bertha, facets of the early life of Blanche du Bois from Streetcar can be witnessed.

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Chastity Belt

The show is packed with sensational scenes and naughty but very nice suggestion, but principally, it is the last word in brilliant, devastatingly daring acting, singing and mime, in the highest tradition of burlesque. If burlesque is defined as ‘a humorous and provocative stage show featuring slapstick humor, comic skits, bawdy songs, striptease acts, and a scantily clad female chorus’, Chastity Belt is the most sublime burlesque show in this or any other town.

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Danger: Memory

Apparently an examination of a fading memory, plus alcohol (she) and a dropping off of professional skills (he), it was, in the end, none of this, merely a superficial recounting of the playwright’s words, with not a thought for any great depth. Arthur Miller did not become one of the giants of 20th century American drama by turning out shallow material. As a result, the supposed climax and highlight, the dance scene at the end, exemplified this. What could have been exquisite nostalgia was simply embarrassing.

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The 2 Sides Of Eddie Ramone

This is the second incarnation of The 2 Sides Of Eddie Ramone that I have seen. Previously, at its Edinburgh festival outing, it was Eddie on his own with his demons, and I was moved to write: ‘With flashes of brilliance, mixing comedy and pathos, and with his original and bitingly powerful writing, the redoubtable Chris Sullivan’s performance is his most memorable to date’. He has lost none of this winning emotional cocktail. This version of the play now features Shian Denovan, who plays his daughter, in a beautifully delivered and felt performance.

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