Tag Archives: Stream.Theatre

Disenchanted

Disenchanted

★★★

Online via stream.theatre

Disenchanted

Disenchanted

Online via stream.theatre

Reviewed – 9th April 2021

★★★

 

“The ingredients, the writing, the musicality and the star-studded cast promise something to be respected and admired. But there is a definite sense of disappointment.”

 

‘Disenchanted’ (dɪsɪnˈtʃɑːntɪd/): disappointed by someone or something previously respected or admired; disillusioned. Synonyms include; let down, fed up, cynical, disabused. There is no question as to who the ‘someone or something’ singled out in Dennis T. Giacino’s “Disenchanted! A New Musical Comedy” is, and its subversive twist on the Disney fairy tale marketing machine, if not new, is a delight to watch. The swipes at the established misogynism, racism and many other ‘isms’ inbuilt into the portrayal of our favourite princesses are much needed, and Giacino has dressed them in pastiche melodies and some ingeniously clever and witty lyrics. It could do with perhaps more subtlety and less preachiness and bitterness, but the energy and gung-ho feistiness of all involved will appeal to all genders and persuasions.

That’s the good news. Unfortunately, some artistic decisions for this current digital revival make for awkward viewing, for the wrong reasons. ‘Digital’ is the key word. This is inherently a musical that needs to be witnessed live, in the flesh, a few sheets to the wind, in like-minded company. We, the audience, are being heckled and cajoled by these comic geniuses and we should be simultaneously shamed and charmed. It is cabaret at its finest. We should be ‘loving it!’. But, rather than challenging preconceptions, this version challenges our patience.

In the original Off-Broadway run in 2014 there is a wonderful moment midway through – a gorgeous swipe at the Disney franchise. The ‘Princess who Kissed the Frog’ sings “Why’d it take ‘em so long to give a sister a song… ‘cause I am that storybook princess that’s fin’lly gone black”. Giacino’s point is that it wasn’t until 2009 when, for the first time in animation history, the fairest of them all was black. Director Tom Jackson Greaves’ decision to introduce such diversity into the casting of ‘Disenchanted’ way before this moment lets the joke fall somewhat flat.

Overall, the irreverence of the material is dampened by the exaggerated gaiety of the cast. And the hue-changing green screen backdrop distracts instead of being a neutral backdrop to the colourful characters. It takes an effort not to be snagged by these grating hurdles, but for those who make the effort to overcome them there is some reward. There is a very fine line up of performers indeed. Led by Jodie Steele’s ‘Snow White’ and aided by side kicks Allie Daniel (Sleeping Beauty) and Sophie Isaacs (Cinderella) we are guided through a series of vignettes in which various princesses are summoned to sing their way through their dissatisfactions and parody the princess culture. Highlights include Grace Mouat’s ‘Pocahontas’ (a character hitherto homogenised by the entertainment industry willing to distort her true Native-American story purely to sell cinema tickets) who sardonically sings that she “looks like a porn star”. Jenny O’Leary, as ‘Rapunzel’, brilliantly bemoans the total absence of royalties she receives from the global merchandising of her name in a Kurt Weill inspired number. And Courtney Bowman’s scathing but catchy diatribe against Middle Eastern misogyny is inspired.

There is a tenuous thread running through the musical numbers, reinforced by the repeated #princesscomplex hashtag. The messages are clear, but even now becoming a bit dated; and the balance between spite and humour aren’t always weighed up fully. Its intended audience is clear too, but the delivery is confused and awkward, like the shady, disenchanted state of limbo an adolescent might feel: too old for the youth club but too young for the pub.

‘Disenchanted’ (dɪsɪnˈtʃɑːntɪd/): it lives up to its definition. The ingredients, the writing, the musicality and the star-studded cast promise something to be respected and admired. But there is a definite sense of disappointment.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

 


Disenchanted

Online via stream.theatre until 11th April

 

Reviewed by Jonathan this year:
Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament | ★★★★ | Online | February 2021
The Picture of Dorian Gray | ★★★★ | Online | March 2021
Bklyn The Musical | ★★★★★ | Online | March 2021
Remembering the Oscars | ★★★ | Online | March 2021

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Adventurous

Adventurous

★★½

Online via stream.theatre

Adventurous

Adventurous

Online via stream.theatre

Reviewed – 15th March 2021

★★½

 

“a missed opportunity to show what can be done with theatre online”

 

Ian Hallard’s new play Adventurous tackles a subject dear to many hearts—that of online dating. It takes place during 2020, so it’s not surprising that much of the humour in every scene arises from the enormous changes that a pandemic has brought to our social interactions.

Directed by Khadifa Wong; produced by the Jermyn Street Theatre, and starring Ian Hallard as Richard, and Sara Crowe as Rosalind, Adventurous follows a diffident pair of lonely hearts over several months from their first meeting during lockdown. Richard and Ros do manage to have one socially distanced dinner in a restaurant during more relaxed times in summer. But the relationship is resumed via Zoom again as the weather grows colder, and restrictions on activities increase.

A Zoom drama tends to focus attention on the actors, and rightly so. In Adventurous, Ian Hallard and Sara Crowe show a deft touch playing two characters who are, respectively, a secondary school teacher with a sexual problem, and a stay at home carer to a disabled sister (recently deceased). As the backstory to each character emerges, though, it seems like a miracle that they ever connected in the first place. In a life without lockdown, they wouldn’t have. This is apparent early on in the amusing misunderstandings between two people with very different experiences of life. And just as people’s descriptions of themselves on dating sites rarely measure up in “real life”, we discover that relationship hopeful Ros has also indulged in a smidgen of exaggeration in her profile. In fairness, it is a hope, rather than a lie, that leads Ros to describe herself as “adventurous” on the site that introduces her to Richard. But in truth, neither she nor Richard are particularly adventurous, and this is the rock on which both their budding relationship, and the play, eventually founder.

RIchard and Ros are pleasant company, but Adventurous doesn’t really catch fire until Ros’ curiosity about Richard’s soon to be ex wife Lois leads her to contact Lois on Facebook. And kudos to Katherine Jakeways for a lovely cameo as the abrasive Lois. For a brief moment, Ros does become “adventurous” as she confronts Richard’s abusive ex, and the experience changes her life. Sadly, it does not change Richard’s, although Ros plays an important part in helping him to find closure with the “exhausting” Lois.

Adventurous is a light hearted entertainment that will appeal to viewers looking for a situational comedy with accomplished actors. But it’s also a missed opportunity to show what can be done with theatre online. And viewing a comedy without a live audience is a sad reminder of how much we need the pandemic to end. Let’s hope it’s not too long before audiences can safely re-enter theatres.

 

Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

 


Adventurous

Online via stream.theatre until 28th March

 

Recently reviewed by Dominica:
Bread And Circuses | ★★½ | Online | September 2020
Minutes To Midnight | ★★★★ | Online | September 2020
Persephone’s Dream | ★★★ | Online | September 2020
The Trilobite | ★★★★ | Online | September 2020
Paradise Lost | ★★★★ | Cockpit Theatre | September 2020
The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Potted Panto | ★★★ | Garrick Theatre | December 2020
Magnetic North | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020
Public Domain | ★★★★ | Online | January 2021
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice | ★★★ | Online | February 2021

 

 

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