Boi Boi is Dead @ West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Rich Jevons talks to writer Zodwa Nyoni about her career as well as the content and form of her latest work Boi Boi is Dead.
The Full Monty @ Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Rich Jevons raises an eyebrow at the antics of a group of unemployed steel workers in Simon Beaufoy’s stage version of the hit film, The Full Monty.
Phoenix Dance Theatre: Mixed Programme 2015 @ West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
It is always a cause for great expectations and high hopes when Phoenix Dance Theatre announce a new Mixed Programme, and their 2015 offering lives up to the high bar they have set for cutting edge dance theatre. Rich Jevons reviews.
The Weather Machine @ Stage@Leeds
Rich Jevons enters the immersive world of David Shearing’s installation The Weather Machine and finds the experience incredibly cathartic if scary at times.
Strawberry Blonde Curls: Inside @ Holbeck Underground Ballroom, Leeds
Rosie MacPherson writes and performs Strawberry Blonde Curls’ Inside, an intense and claustrophobic one-woman show at Leeds’ Holbeck Underground Ballroom. Rich Jevons reviews.
Calamity Jane @ Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Rich Jevons catches the stagecoach for the Calamity Jane tour at Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre, a powerful production of meaningful musical drama replete with gunslinging and whip-cracking of an evening.
Pre-theatre eats: West Yorkshire Playhouse
In the second of our series focusing on places to eat before the theatre, Rich Jevons goes to Leeds and visits three venues in walking distance of the West Yorkshire Playhouse: The Wardrobe, Kendells Bistro and Arts Café.
That was February so far. Watch this space for more interviews, reviews and profiles on the Yorkshire scene and follow me on @richjevons.
Transforming the hit film The Full Monty into a stage version was pretty much a risk for writer Simon Beaufoy, partly due to the setting of the show in the 80s (would it still work?) but also in case it fell foul of the film’s success. But with much travail Beaufoy has produced a greatly successful play that doesn’t shy away from the darkness of the era whilst still being a highly entertaining night out.
In fact the strong emotional depth makes you realise that, in the face of adversity, if we believe in unity and dignity we can come out the other side as a winner. So Beaufoy perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the 80s – mass unemployment, impoverishment and class division – without looking back with rose-tinted spectacles. This is a gritty and authentic representation and the humour comes out all the better for that.
When the Chippendales perform a sell-out show at the local Conservative club it sets the seed in a group of unemployed steel workers’ minds to take a leaf out of their book and do a one-night-only strip cabaret act to get them out of the doldrums. For Gaz (played superbly by Gary Lucy) it is his last-ditch attempt to have access to his son Nathan (a revelation in Fraser Kelly) having defaulted on his maintenance payments.
You can practically feel the temperature rise in the auditorium at the more raunchy scenes, and yes, you do get the ‘full monty’ but it would be a spoiler to say exactly when and how (but suffice to say some of the mainly female audience still need smelling salts afterwards!) So there is a feelgood factor, ironic given the bleak background.
Desperation leads to the forging of new friendships, now on a mission of hope, and there are some unlikely bed partners. For example, Gerald (Andrew Dunn) who has kept his wife in the dark about losing his foreman’s job, initially shuns the men’s request for him to teach them dance. But eventually he joins the club and we are treated to some great choreography from Ian West – it must be as hard to get a group to dance ‘badly’ as it is to produce sheer grace.
The piece even has a go at body fascism with Martin Miller as Dave, who can pinch more than an inch, on a Jacob’s cream cracker diet before he realises that he can strut his stuff just as well as the rest of them. Then there is a counterblast to homophobia in Guy (Rupert Hill) an out gay who, despite outward appearances, has his own problems following a relationship breakup. He takes Lomper (Barry Schofield) under his wing – and the quiet shy suicidal Smiths fan loses his melancholy with his clothes like all the others.
Roger Haines’ direction is masterful, the ensemble performance is dynamic and perfectly timed (they have to allow for frequent audience interruptions) and Robert Jones’ design is to die for, conjuring up the industrial setting of Sheffield. It is essentially a celebration of the steel city, a two-fingered salute to those who perpetrate social snobbery, and a ray of hope and happiness in the most unlikely of places.
A trip over to Halifax for Dean Clough Galleries’ Spring Exhibition..
A racy night at Bradford Playhouse for Buglight Theatre’s The House Behind the Lines..
Krautrock of an evening at Howard Assembly Room for Icebreaker’s Kraftwerk Uncovered..
Braved the ice and snow for Motionhouse’s Broken at Lawrence Batley Theatre and it was well worth it..
Much more than a mere science lesson from Tangram Theatre with The Origin of Species at The Carriageworks..
So a week in hospital and the wintry conditions led to a slow month, roll on Feb!