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Impossible (Noel Coward Theatre)

10th August 2015 | Theatre

Impossible (Noel Coward Theatre)
Forget pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Forget ill-fitting tuxedos and you can forget ‘Is this your card?’. In Impossible, seven magicians make the top-drawer artform cool again.The show features a wide variety of magic - all using ‘the eight principles of magic’ mentioned at the start.

‘Digital Marvel’ Jamie Allan seems to be offering the most modern kind of magic in the show - so modern, that he’s brought four iPads with him. As well as offering some beautifully visual ‘digital’ magic, his laser act is jaw-droppingly astonishing and was my favourite part of the show.

Ali Cook conjures up some big illusions and a Harry Houdini-style water tank escape. Although I was still entertained by them, Cook seems to be more at home when he is working close-up with a volunteer one-on-one, relayed onto the many screens dotted around the theatre.

The ‘mind-reader who can’t read minds’ (I don’t understand why he’s called that either) Chris Cox, shines as a playful mentalist who even lets one audience member create their own clothing line! It’s hard not to smile whenever Cox is on-stage.

Ben Hart and Luis De Matos both work closely with audience members, often generating the biggest reactions in the show. Hart’s rope routine in act two is a spectacle and his ‘black and white film’ act is a nice idea but doesn’t appear to be fully realised. De Matos’ interactive card trick with the rest of the audience is sure to fool you, it had me scratching my head for long after. Jonathan Goodwin, is most likely to shock you with his stunts (I can’t think of a time when ‘do not try this at home’ has been more important!). Catch ‘Street Magician’ Damien O’Brien in the bar before…

Review: Constellations (Trafalgar Studios One)

22nd July 2015 | Theatre

Review: Constellations (Trafalgar Studios One)
What could a theoretical physicist and a beekeeper possibly have in common? In Nick Payne’s two hander Constellations, your average ‘boy meets girl’ story is blown out of the water.

Payne’s story is set across a multitude of universes with the ‘multi-verse’ theory forming the backbone of the play. The play starts in one universe, where Marianne, a lecturer at Sussex University and Roland, a beekeeper, meet.

Although some of the scientific ideas are described by Marianne, Payne’s research is well incorporated into the overall plot, unlike in Tom Stoppard’s recent play ‘The Hard Problem’. Here, Payne wittily and skilfully uses the science to suggest how life is all about being in the moment and the choices we make throughout.

Some scenes are repeated with alterations, transporting the audience from one universe to another. As we watch Marianne and Roland’s behaviour change across various universes, the play makes us question how another version of ‘ourselves’ may be acting in another universe.

It would be difficult to label the play as ‘a dark comedy’ but it can feel like that at times, with rich humour battling against the physical and mental suffering endured by Marianne. Michael Longhurst’s stripped-back staging ensures that there is nowhere for the actors to hide - allowing the emotions created by the meaningful language to take centre-stage.

Louise Brealey (Sherlock) plays a brainy yet overwrought Marianne, with a need to always listen to a second voice: finding that in online forums, science or Roland. Her heart-warming performance is sprung from an authentic and truthful connection with Payne’s dialogue. Joe Armstrong (Happy Valley) is a down-to-earth Roland, with his passion for bees carving his path in life. Armstrong’s carefully chosen characteristics means that on his first appearance he seems to be the…

Review: Bend It Like Beckham - The Musical

27th June 2015 | Theatre

Review: Bend It Like Beckham - The Musical
After a box-office success when it hit the cinemas in 2002, Bend It Like Beckham appears on the London stage thirteen years later – adding to a rapidly increasing list of film to stage adaptations in the West End.

Many of the film’s creative team are also behind the musical: most notably director Gurinder Chadha who has also co-written the show’s drawn out book with Paul Mayeda Berges. Whilst the story seems to be dragged out at times (such as the repetition of football coach Joe being dismissed by Jess’s father), it manages to carry an enormous heart all the way through and in addition, pulling off plenty of laughs throughout.

Preeya Kalidas also reprises her role from the film, as the eccentric Pinky who is joined by her entourage of similarly amusing friends. In fact, the performances from the cast rise above Chadha’s sometimes flawed direction.

‘UB2’, the show’s opening number, does nothing to introduce characters clearly, ending up messy and over-crowded without packing a punch. Whole scenes are often played out on a small platform raised high above the stage - tucked away in a corner, and the need for characters to enter and exit via a small staircase leading off into the audience becomes tiresome speedily.

A rather humourless ‘Posh and Becks’ felt out of place in the overall style of the show.

The show is a game of two halves, the second of which scores many more goals than the first.

Howard Goodall (music) and Charles Hart’s (lyrics) fusion of both the British and Punjabi culture is clear in all ensemble numbers. The solos are touching, especially ‘People Like Us’ sung by Jess’ dad (wonderfully portrayed by Tony Jayawardena) which illustrates his irritation of the way that Sikhs are…