Tag Archives: Dan Light



Harold Pinter Theatre

YOUR LIE IN APRIL at the Harold Pinter Theatre


“a fun-filled show, packed with bubbly pop numbers and heartfelt performances.”

The net is wide for source material for musicals so an adaptation of a hit manga turned anime feels like a ripe opportunity both for visual delights, and for ticket sales to an existing fan base.

The story is simple and sweet. It follows high schooler Kōsei’s (Zheng Xi Yong) struggle to recapture his musical ability after the loss of his mother. He is helped by his best friend, tomboy Tsubaki (Rachel Clare Chan) and by a mysterious new girl, Kaori (Mia Kobayashi) who is passionate about showing him the power of his talent.

Some aspects of the story’s translation to stage work beautifully – it is a story with music at its core. The show works well to weave in classical pieces, balancing them with Frank Wildhorn’s catchy and fun numbers. Zheng impressively plays a piano which remains ever present on stage. It is a love story of musicians, and a love letter to music.

Adaptation is a battle between what to leave in and what to cut. Rinne B Groff, who wrote the English language book, has made some surprising choices. A number about bike riding comes a bit out it nowhere – though the choreography by director and choreographer Nick Winston shines particularly in this scene. In a relatively short musical, there is less chance to develop story so each scene really counts. The plot unravels slowly, then all at once.

The tangled teenage triangles, united by the power of music are brought to life by Zheng’s believable anguish, Kobayashi’s mesmerising breathy vocals, Chan’s cartoonish enthusiasm and Dean John Wilson’s excellent comic timing. Lucy Park does a surprisingly moving turn as Kōsei’s mother, it’s almost a walk on part but she brings true emotion to it. Theo Oh is adorable, one of three alternating young Kōseis who make the audience audibly coo. Ernest Stroud and Erika Posadas are quiet scene stealers as resentful lesser piano competitors. And Chris Fung smashes the funniest moment in the show.

Playful nods to the manga shimmer (thanks to Rory Beaton’s lighting design) across Japanese screens which surround the set (Justin Williams). A cherry tree and a piano mark opposite ends of the stage. Between that and carved wooden steps, the set anchors the play with a much-needed sense of place. Without it, the show might feel eerily devoid of setting. There is a clean-cut all Americanness to Groff’s dialogue and Miller & Green’s lyrics which make the already contrived situations feel at times laughably silly. This silliness is not helped by everyone being in school uniform (designed beautifully by Kimie Nakano).

For 2024 a show where female characters prop up the main male story, at times risking their own health and wellbeing, does feel a little dated. There’s also a predictability to it, which alienates the drama a little.

However, for a younger audience or  fans of this particular genre, this could be a smash hit. The teenager beside me, a fan of the anime, was enraptured to see his favourite characters on stage. Despite a little cheesiness, this is a fun-filled show, packed with bubbly pop numbers and heartfelt performances.

YOUR LIE IN APRIL at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Reviewed on 5th July 2024

by Auriol Reddaway

Photography by Craig Sugden





See also:

YOUR LIE IN APRIL | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Drury Lane | April 2024



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It’s A Motherf**king Pleasure

It’s A Motherf**king Pleasure


VAULT Festival



It’s A Motherf**king Pleasure

“The cast are all entirely charming, pushing the audience to a gentle discomfort whilst keeping the tone silly and fun”


VAULT Festival has an offering of nearly 600 shows across three months. I’m reviewing a fair few, and whilst some were picked because the blurb piqued my interest, 600 shows is a lot to sift through. So I must admit, quite a few were picked because someone recommended them, as is the case with It’s a Motherf***ing Pleasure. But as the cast rather gleefully points out, this is the first performance of the show, so how on earth could the ES or Lyn Gardner know if it were any good, or indeed “important”?

Aarian Mehrabani, one of three cast members claims this is a perfect of example of non-disabled guilt, recommending a completely unknown show likely just because it’s created by FlawBored, a disability-led theatre company. In this instance it’s worked in their favour- the auditorium is packed. But It’s a Mother F***ing Pleasure seeks to work through some of the darker consequences of this impulse, and those who are happy to take advantage of it.

They also readily admit it’s a difficult conversation to navigate, spending the first ten minutes desperately ensuring that the audience’s access requirements are taken care of, and the last ten minutes apologising profusely to everyone they’ve no doubt offended.

And somewhere in the middle they tell a story that, whilst not technically true, has no doubt taken place in some form or other in multiple corporate offices: a PR agency has been accused of being ableist after one of their influencers has said something questionable on their channel. And, of course, rather than think about how this has happened and seek to educate themselves, they decide to monetise this opportunity and hire a brown, gay, blind influencer to become the face of Revision, a series of blind ‘experiences’ to sell to the guilt-ridden seeing public.

The cast are all entirely charming, pushing the audience to a gentle discomfort whilst keeping the tone silly and fun. The idea of ICAD- Integrated Creative Audio Description, which describes, not just what’s happening, but the vibe, is genuinely brilliant and I look forward to other shows employing it in earnest.

The plot itself starts strong, funny and relatable, and necessarily takes a sharp turn off a cliff. But it heroically saves itself with lashings of self-awareness. The reviewers in the audience are warned that should they give any less than four stars, everyone will think they’re a c*nt for criticising a disability-led theatre company. And on the way out, the audience is offered ‘I’m an ally’ badges, and printed suggestions of enthusiastic tweets, to show that they’re not ableist.

I, of course, would never be swayed by such things. Sure, I took a badge to show everyone, as Chloe Palmer tells me, that I’m not ableist anymore, and that I’m better than everyone else. But I would never give a skewed rating no matter how blind the cast is. I just happened to really like it. Funny, chaotic and wincingly relevant.


Reviewed on 21st February 2023

by Miriam Sallon

Vault Festival 2023

More VAULT Festival reviews


Caceroleo | ★★★★ | January 2023
Cybil Service | ★★★★ | January 2023
Butchered | ★★★★ | January 2023
Intruder | ★★★★ | January 2023
Thirsty | ★★★★★ | February 2023
Kings of the Clubs | ★★★ | February 2023
Gay Witch Sex Cult | ★★★★★ | February 2023
Love In | ★★★★ | February 2023
Patient 4620 | ★★★★★ | February 2023

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