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Review of The Rocky Horror Show at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Richard O’Brien’s anarchic, crazy, surreal, weird, bizarre and often incomprehensible musical The Rocky Horror Show is knocking on the door of turning fifty years old, and its success seems to continue as if it was fresh out of the crazy box yesterday. So, a review might seem pointless as the dressed-up audiences constantly fill every theatre it comes to, however, dammit, let us write one anyway. The Rocky Horror Show tells of the adventures of Brad and Janet, two young, newly engaged love birds. On a dark and grim November evening, they run into car problems and find themselves at a Frankenstein-esque castle and meet handyman Riff-Raff, crazy scientist Dr. Frank N Furter and an assortment of crazy characters. What follows is a science fiction B-movie story which sometimes you can follow, and sometimes you can’t and oddly, it doesn’t really matter. I first saw The Rocky Horror Show in 2019, and it must be said it was a baptism of fire witnessing its crude, crazy humour and bizarre s
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Review of Bat Out of Hell - The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre

This tour of Bat Out of Hell - The Musical has become sadly a double-tribute as it tours throughout the UK into 2023 and the love of its creator Jim Steinman, and the man who made his work world-famous, Meat Loaf, both lost in the last year, runs through the cast in this impressive version of the show. The storyline of Bat Out of Hell takes the Peter Pan idea and warps it into a dystopian world of a group of youth known as The Lost trapped forever at 18 years of age. The centre of this group is Strat, who, after a chance encounter, becomes under the spell of Raven. Of course, into this mix must come a megalomaniac, as all dystopian worlds really need. This is the father of Raven, Falco, who, with his wife Sloane, battle The Lost, Raven’s relationship with Strat, and indeed their own very bizarre relationship, to the backdrop of Steinman’s music. Bat Out of Hell doesn’t start particularly well, be it the performance or a show issue, for the first twenty minutes there is a lack of clarit

Preview of Bat Out of Hell - The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre

Milton Keynes is proudly telling everyone to Go to Hell as the hit musical Bat Out of Hell thunders and roars into its theatre next week as part of a hugely successful UK tour. It continues now, tinged with some sadness that it has become a tribute to both of the music legends whose work the show celebrates. Jim Steinman, died in August last year and was the genius behind the music that forms Bat Out of Hell , a show that was actually written first as a musical in 1974 before the album that we now know. Depicting a so-called futuristic Peter Pan world, the show failed to gain interest at the time from producers and as a result, became what was in 1977 a global phenomenon of an album instead. That album, of course, was in the hands and incredible voice talent of the other music legend that this show now is a tribute to, Meat Loaf. Sadly dying earlier this year, this tour now allows the work of both him and Steinman to live on for a new audience. Next week and running for two weeks, B

Review of Mog - The Forgetful Cat at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have seen The Wardrobe Ensemble twice in the past, and on both occasions, they performed adult shows you wouldn’t take the kids to. However, with their new show they take on an adaptation of Judith Kerr’s Mog - The Forgetful Cat , and as a result, they present a brilliant, uplifting, hugely entertaining hour of theatre. Kerr’s Mog first appeared in 1970 and it started a remarkable run of books published over 50 years to feature the puzzled feline, culminating in the final book released in 2020 following Kerr’s death, at 95, in 2019. Kerr is perhaps most famous for one of her other many tales The Tiger Who Came to Tea . However, here, seeing Mog on stage brings a great deal of entertaining little stories to the stage. Mog - The Forgetful Cat from The Wardrobe Ensemble here takes influence from several Mog books, including Mog and the Vee Ee Tee and Mog’s Bad Thing , featuring an unforgivable act following an encounter with a flippy-flappy thing (you will need to see it to discover

Review of School of Rock - The Musical at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The film School of Rock , twenty years old next year, is quite a product of an earlier time and I suspect that a few writers might think twice of putting some of the story threads and stereotyping of characters and personalities that feature here to paper now. However, looking beyond this context, and changing world, does this show stand up as genuine theatre entertainment now? The short answer is probably, but there are quite a few caveats before this quick conclusion. School of Rock sees waster and slob Deway Finn desperate for money after being booted out of his band No Vacancy, and when he chances upon a letter to his musical friend Ned Schneebly regarding a vacancy at an ultra-expensive and posh school, he does anything an unqualified teacher would do, pretends to be his mate for financial gain. The rest, we shall leave unsaid if you haven’t seen the film. So, to the caveats, and the first of these, dear reader, is first a confession that I have never seen the 2003 film starring

Review of Cluedo at Milton Keynes Theatre

Cluedo has become a staple of British life since its original release back in 1949. Even if you may never have played the game itself, you have likely heard of it for its characters and collection of sinister murder weapons. The name Cluedo perhaps doesn’t trip off the tongue of any American people however because over there, they call it Clue , and this spawned a US film of the same name in 1985, which is the inspiration for this new stage play. Clue became a cult hit with many, despite failing even to initially get its budget back at the box office, and watching this play written by Sandy Rustin, from Jonathan Lynn’s original screenplay, you can probably see why. This play has a unique, crazy kind of humour, which would not suit all. The audience is a mixture of laughing their socks off or a stony-faced look, which makes it extremely difficult to know whether to recommend. The comedy on offer is clearly signposted, unsubtle, and often just ridiculously crazy, and if this is your th

Preview of Cluedo at Milton Keynes Theatre

Was it Miss Scarlet, with the revolver in the dining room, or was it Professor Plum, with the lead pipe in the library…? As Cluedo heads into Milton Keynes Theatre next week, we should find out the answer! Nearly everyone is familiar with the classic Hasbro detective board game, and a battered box of it has no doubt been dragged out of many a cupboard just in time for a Christmas or birthday party in households across the world. This game of course is the influence for this new touring play opens which opened on 28 January at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre and continues its tour until July. It is also heavily influenced by the highly regarded, but little known, 1985 film Clue (the name that Cluedo goes by in the US) which starred Tim Curry and Christopher Lloyd. This new stage version stars Daniel Casey, familiar with a crime or two as a star of Midsummer Murders, and Michelle Collins, the culprit to many a sin of her own as long-running Eastenders character Cindy. Casey plays Professor