Tag Archives: Recommended Show

THE GLASS MENAGERIE

★★★★

Alexandra Palace Theatre

THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Alexandra Palace Theatre

★★★★

“haunting and dynamic”

Against the backdrop of arrested decay in the Alexandra Palace theatre blares a rotating neon sign reading “PARADISE”. The shiny circular stage is decorated around the edges with the eponymous glass menagerie and later with added candles and flowers (Rosanna Vize). As the scenes progress the sign turns like a clock hand; the threat of lost time looming over the characters. Tennessee William’s memory play is set in the 1930s, in this production, the cast adopt modern costumes and props to illuminating effect as the family drama is grounded in a more recent era. The scenes are underscored with eery instrumentals (Giles Thomas) and characters make use of two microphones on stands to emphasis the overwhelming nature of their conversations as the family suffocate each other with words. Echoing the turn of the sign, the company move around cyclically (movement Anthony Missen) winding on and off the stage as they orbit each other. With every entrance and exit comes the risk of breaking a glass animal, implying the precarious circumstances of the family.

The Wingfield family consist of a resentful writer and narrator Tom (Kasper Hilton-Hille), his histrionic mother Amanda (Geraldine Somerville) and anxiety-ridden sister Laura (Natalie Kimmerling). The play follows the family navigating financial strain, familial roles and desperation to secure stability in their lives. Amanda places her hope in the prospect of getting Laura married after she drops out of a business course due to her anxiety. Tom loses himself by writing poems and going to the movies and argues with his mother over money and craving independence. Jim O’Conner (Zacchaeus Kayode) joins the play more in Act Two as a colleague of Tom and former high school crush of Laura.

Somerville depicts Amanda with a multi-layered performance with humour and dignity, never adopting a shrill tone or overly manic demeanour. She is berating and materialistic, but cares deeply for Laura and Tom and attempts to pre-empt and solve problems. She is overbearing but also earnestly helps Laura pursue independence and happiness. She worries reasonably about Tom’s nightly escapes but ultimately has outbursts that alienate her children. Kimmerling presents Laura as a kind ostracised young woman, dogged by onsets of panic and insecurity. Her journey shows her sociable abilities and emotional intelligence, as well as her fragility and internal torment. Her performance is beautifully moving and the relationship between the siblings is touching. Watching her get so close to happiness but not quite achieve it is sad, but what makes the story tragic is her inability to emotionally recover from the setbacks in her life. Hilton-Hille captures Tom’s adolescent frustration and solemn reflection as he recounts his life. The growing conflict with his mother are balanced with his concern for Laura. In Act Two Kayode portrays the perfect man in Jim; empathic and charismatic, but also nostalgic and pathologising. He finds Laura intriguing and intelligent, but flawed. He offers her advice and ruminates on resilience; “everybody’s got problems”. Director Atri Banerjee bring outs the fun and joy of their would-be romance with dancing and music, leaving the audience wanting Laura to believe in love and more.

The family dynamic is captured through movement as they weave around the glowing “PARADISE” focal point above accompanied by dramatic backlights and dimly lit candles (Lee Curran). The drama’s intensity is heightened by the large performance space, creating a sense of loneliness and magnitude, with characters entering and exiting into the upstage void. The direction is slick, focusing on the intention of the conversations rather than fixating on the setting. This production of Glass Menagerie is haunting and dynamic, with each turn of the fluorescent sign pushing the family to the brink.


THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Alexandra Palace Theatre

Reviewed on 23rd May 2024

by Jessica Potts

Photography by Marc Brenner

 

 

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY | ★★★★ | November 2023
BUGSY MALONE | ★★★★★ | December 2022
TREASON THE MUSICAL | ★★★ | November 2023

THE GLASS MENAGERIE

THE GLASS MENAGERIE

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THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE

★★★★

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

★★★★

“a fun and happy atmosphere in the perfect surroundings of the Open Air Theatre”

Even with continual rain – and a short stop mid show, as eight top notch stage crew mopped up the flooded stage for safety; The Enormous Crocodile is a snappy tuneful wonder.

This new musical based on the classic Roald Dahl picture book, on the whole stays close to the original story; taking the audience from the muddy shores of the Nile and through the treacherous jungle, as the dastardly enormous crocodile goes in search of a nice juicy little child for lunch!

As the audience arrives, there are bubble machines and recorded jungle noises, and animal roars and trumpeting, creating a fun and happy atmosphere in the perfect surroundings of the Open Air Theatre.

The cast appear in stunning headdresses whilst wearing smile inducing chest high fishing waders and wellington boots, as they jump into the river Nile with their firefly puppets. The colourful tropical jungle comes to vibrant life.

All the much-loved characters are played by the five excellent cast members, creating delightful puppetry with the fantastic puppets designed by Toby Olié, which often integrate into Fly Davis’ super clever set and costume designs.

Malinda Parris, in the titular role, stays as the crocodile throughout – with quick changes to the extended long tail. Starting with the full cast creating the tail, it then morphs into a fast moving long tailed go-cart with the actor upfront as she gyrates the croc’s humungous head and toothy mouth, belting out crocodile songs!

The enormous crocodile meets the farty, soon to be mud loving, Humpy-Rumpy Hippopotamus, played by the always brilliant Nuwan Hugh Perera. Onwards through the jungle the enormous crocodile meets Trunky the Elephant (Joanna Adaran); the cheeky monkey Muggle-Wump (Elise Zavou) and finally the comedic and delightful Audrey Brisson as the Roly-Poly Bird. The four jungle friends are disgusted that the enormous crocodile is wanting to eat a child – and decide they need to put a stop to him!

The arrival of the Jungle Juniors is a show highlight, as the silly teacher takes them on a jungle adventure. And in true Dahlian style the children “do what we are told not to do”, and once lost in the jungle sing a sweet brave song. The enormous crocodile tries to eat the children by pretending to be a coconut tree (genius set design), a seesaw, and after eating the teacher, the croc dons the teacher’s clothes in the awful reptile’s quest to eat the children!

A magical, if quirky, ending in space as the enormous crocodile explodes into the sun and sizzles up like a sausage – dead!

Maybe not quite as dark as Roald Dahl intended. Time for a celebration!

The tasty, if unmemorable, tunes come fast and furious, composed by Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab, book and lyrics by Suhayla El-Bushra, with additional music by Tom Brady, it’s a jam packed 55-minute show.

The Enormous Crocodile is directed by Emily Lim and co-directed by Toby Olié, with uncomplicated choreography by Vicki Igbokwe-Ozoagu. Musical director Máth Roberts on keyboard, is the only live musician on-stage, hidden in plain sight in a bird hide! The pre-recorded music band sounds great. Tom Gibbons sound design works seamlessly in the open air, and even though The Enormous Crocodile plays during the day Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting sparkles.

A croc of gold for younger audiences!


THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Reviewed on 22nd May 2024

by Debbie Rich

Photography by Johan Persson

 


 

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

TWELFTH NIGHT | ★★★★★ | May 2024
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES | ★★★★★ | August 2023
ROBIN HOOD: THE LEGEND. RE-WRITTEN | ★★ | June 2023
ONCE ON THIS ISLAND | ★★★★ | May 2023
LEGALLY BLONDE | ★★★ | May 2022

THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE

THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE

Click here to see our Recommended Shows page