Tag Archives: Alexandra Palace Theatre

In Loyal Company
★★★★

Alexandra Palace Theatre

In Loyal Company

In Loyal Company

Alexandra Palace Theatre

Reviewed – 5th June 2019

★★★★

 

“Bryan puts an impressive amount of energy into the performance … His physicality is excellent and certainly helps the audience to engage with the story”

 

The day before the 75th anniversary of D-Day, David William Bryan presents his one man show, In Loyal Company, at Alexandra Palace Theatre. Based on his great uncle Arthur’s experiences in World War II, Bryan’s show has already received critical acclaim from a 2018 run as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is now touring the U.K.

The stage is virtually bare, aside from a trunk that it’s later revealed contains costume elements, including various army uniforms, used throughout the show. You’d be forgiven for wondering if such a basic performance space would mean a bland show, but this most definitely isn’t the case. It’s immediately clear that David William Bryan is a talented performer. The character he has created from his great uncle’s true story is likeable from the start, which makes us all the more invested in his journey and how it’ll turn out. From an awkward night at a dance to his capture by the Japanese army, a lot of detail about the experiences of one man during World War II is packed into just over an hour.

Bryan puts an impressive amount of energy into the performance. He barely stops for the entire duration of the show, which makes sense as five years’ worth of experiences have been condensed into a relatively short space of time. His physicality is excellent and certainly helps the audience to engage with the story. A particularly memorable moment comes when the young soldier jumps from a ship into the sea to escape a missile attack. The physical elements, combined with lighting and sound, make this section believable and powerful.

One of the most wonderful things about theatre is the opportunity for performers to bring people’s real experiences to life. In Loyal Company does this in a way that is emotive and respectful, as well as humorous at times. It may be the story of just one individual, but this show shines a light on the sacrifices made by so many during one of the most trying times in history. Long may similar stories be presented in our theatres.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography courtesy David William Bryan Productions

 


In Loyal Company

Alexandra Palace Theatre

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Horrible Christmas | ★★★★ | December 2018

 

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Horrible Christmas
★★★★

Alexandra Palace

Horrible Christmas

Horrible Christmas

Alexandra Palace Theatre

Reviewed – 13th December 2018

★★★★

“wonderfully witty, packed with mischievous gags that appeal right across the generations”

 

Built in 1873 as an answer to South London’s Crystal Palace, Alexandra Palace burnt to the ground just sixteen days after its opening. Two years later it was reconstructed as a kind of pleasure dome, with palm court, circus, concert hall with its own park land and railway station. Hidden at its heart was the spectacular theatre, that rivalled many in the West End with its size and ambition. Welcoming stars like Dame Ellen Terry, Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin.

A home for opera, dance, ballet, music hall, theatre and pantomime it entertained thousands in its heyday but eventually struggled to compete and, for eighty years, has been closed to the public, a hidden gem perched high above the city. Until now. Following a multi-million-pound refurbishment, the abandoned theatre is unveiled in all its former glory. The auditorium, resembling a forgotten and crumbling Roman temple, is vast but feels intimate at the same time. Reflecting its former use, the programming embraces a variety of stand-up comedy, classical recitals, jazz music; but the first big stage show is “Horrible Histories: Horrible Christmas”.

Birmingham Stage Company has been bringing Horrible Histories to life on the stage for ten horrible years now, and this latest version, in association with Derby Theatre, retains the anarchic mayhem that has become their trademark, while still managing to impart a little bit of knowledge onto its young and older, though not necessarily wiser, audience.

When Christmas comes under threat from a vengeful Santa imposter out to ruin Christmas, it is up to one young boy to save the day. A tight-knit troupe of eight actors take us on a whirlwind trip through Christmases past and present. Watson, the intrepid young hero, played with wide-eyed gusto by Tom Cawte, joins forces with ‘Shirley’ Holmes (Erika Poole) in a race to save Christmas. Speeding back through the centuries on Holmes’ time-travelling scooter, they join forces with Charles Dickens, King Charles, Henry VIII, St Nicholas (the bishop of Myra, in Turkey) and Oliver Cromwell, among others. Completely absurd yet informative, it perfectly mixes humour into its incisive, laconic low-down on the background of Christmas Day.

Terry Deary’s script (adapted from his own original publications) is wonderfully witty, packed with mischievous gags that appeal right across the generations. Never patronising, nor descending into superfluous slapstick, it satisfies the senses of the kids in all of us. Ally Pally’s auditorium is quite cavernous, but the talented multi-rolling cast create a warm glow that easily reaches the upper balconies.

Chris Gunter as Sydney Clause, the Grinch-like antagonist, and Ashley Bowden as his shambling side-kick, Rudolph, are a cracking comedy duo. Gunter’s sinister caricature of the ‘Bad Santa’ has shades of Tim Burton, with as many dimensions too; so that ultimately his performance transcends mere ‘panto’ and, like the show itself, is ultimately quite moving. In the meantime, Neal Foster, leads us through the Yuletide backstory shifting with ease between many characters with impressive versatility.

By giving us a potted history of Christmas the cast dig to the core of what Christmas should really be about. This horribly hilarious show is a real celebration of Christmas.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Ian Tilton

 

Alexandra Palace

Horrible Christmas

Alexandra Palace Theatre until 30th December

 

 

 

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