StageScan Pick: She Loves Me

She Loves Me at Menier Chocolate Factory received an average 4.5 stars from critics, including seven fives. Fiona Mountford (Evening Standard) welcomed “this playful and delightful 1963 musical”. Mark Shenton (The Stage) described a “masterpiece” and Sarah Crompton (What’s On Stage) enjoyed “a gentle heart, an acerbically witty script and a view of romance that is always warm but never sentimental” plus “brilliant songs” and thought it “fantastically modern in the way it uses song to reveal character”. Libby Purves (TheatreCat) hailed “soaring melodies and fabulously witty lyrics” and Crompton enjoyed “the finesse and bite” of Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics and the “playfulness” of Jerry Bock’s score.

Crompton thought this “jewel… perfectly served” by Matthew White’s “delicate revival” praising its “fine-tuning”. Shenton felt “ingeniously” using British accents made it “more relatable” and hailed “the sweetest-looking and sounding production in town”. Mountford, who found it “charming,” saw an “elegant, intimate, ordered world… impeccably conjured”. Shenton enjoyed the set’s “effortless resourcefulness” and Purves thought it “ravishingly pretty” describing “gilt, roses, grapes, lovebirds, shining bottles and barocco curlicues”. Crompton praised choreography which “fills the tiny space with great flair” and Purves praised Rebecca Howell’s “sharp wit” highlighting a “chokingly funny” café bust-up. She felt lyricist Harnick, in the audience, “justifiably” called it “the best production of it he’s ever seen”.

Crompton enjoyed “simply delicious” performances, and Shenton reported “exactly the right blend of sincerity and feeling”.  Mountford thought Scarlett Strallen and Mark Umbers “beautifully cast as the sweet-voiced pair”. Purves found Umbers’ Georg, “just dislikeable enough at first” and Crompton described “a man unsure of his position in the world yet trying to hide his doubts” and said: “Watching him thaw is a joy.” Purves judged Strallen “perfection, all comic sincerity and vulnerable spirit”. Crompton enjoyed her “wide-eyed, ditzy dreamer, with a fierce line in crushing put downs” and found her “constant hopefulness… genuinely touching” and her rendition of the “showstopping” Vanilla Ice Cream “an absolute joy”.

Mountford hailed “terrific” Katherine Kingsley’s “winning way with the mordant one-liner” and Crompton found her “hysterical”.  Purves called Les Dennis “poignantly likeable, gently funny” and Shenton found him “heartbreaking”. Purves said “all the roles are taken perfectly”, and “all in turn stop the show” and Crompton judged even Cory English’s brief appearance “a masterpiece of comic timing”.

Shenton thought “no show has been more exquisitely and perfectly realised” at the Menier, finding it “scintillating and delightful”. Purves found it “camp but sincere, mischievous and intelligent, light as air with a fluttering heart and a Christmassy conclusion” and “really, really funny… the tonic for the moment”. Mountford was among those thinking it “surely bound for a West End transfer” and Crompton described “the kind of show you can watch at any time of year and emerge feeling goodwill to all men… Utterly heavenly”.

Currently booking to 05 Mar 2017, with some tickets still available from the Menier box office, although it’s probably best not to hang about. And if it’s put you in the mood for more seasonal treats, we have tickets for the Palladium’s star-studded Cinderella, the return of Potted Panto, brand new Nativity! The Musical and our latest festive tradition, Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

Have a great Christmas!

 

StageScan Pick: This House

 

This House at the Garrick Theatre attracted an average 4.5 stars from pro reviewers, with seven awarding fives.

Sarah Crompton (What’s On Stage) fairly typically felt James Graham’s 2012 play had lost neither its “exuberant impact –or its sobering pertinence”, and said his “talent is to conjure high drama, raucous comedy and deep emotion from the most unlikely of places”. Fiona Mountford (Evening Standard) declared this “magnificently sharp and witty look at the struggles of the 1974-9 Labour government… masterful all over again”. Patrick Marmion (Daily Mail) hailed “a play of astonishing, virtuoso complexity which is also a crash course in the workings of Parliament” and found “the hilarious horse trading tempers what was a brutal time in British politics”. Despite what Theo Bosanquet (Time Out) called “a starkly changed political climate” he felt “it serves as a reminder of the perennial challenges of democracy itself” adding: “For all the apparent dryness of its subject, the play is rich in humour and sentiment”.

Crompton thought it “beautifully served” by Jeremy Herrin’s “realistic” and “bold” production which, she said, “still walks, with real brilliance, a perilous tightrope… constantly balancing the nitty gritty facts of the time with the relevance for our own”. Mountford had seen “no better direction” of the play, reporting: “Herrin conducts, choreographs and makes fly material that could potentially, in lesser hands, be tough-going” so that, “the action whirls around the stage”.  Others found it “tumultuous”, “ebullient” or “thrilling” and Marmion saw “never a dull moment”.

Crompton praised Nathanial Parker’s “grace” and Bosanquet judged him “excellent”. Both had equal praise for Steffan Rhodri, whom Marmion thought “terrific”.  He also called Phil Daniels “outstanding”, praising a “Shakespearean range of industrial expletives”, and Mountford enjoyed this “rollicking” performance. She found Christopher Godwin “quietly moving” and Lauren O’Neil “great fun”. Crompton judged O’Neil, along with Kevin Doyle and Malcolm Sinclair “all pitch perfect”. Bosanquet described “truly an ensemble effort without a weak link in sight”.

Marmion found it “even at second viewing… terrific sport” and Crompton found “three hours and almost five years fly by in a moment”.  She summed up “a remarkable achievement for all concerned” which, Bosanquet felt, “has captured an enduring dilemma of politics; the tension between principle and practice”. Mountford, declaring “a landslide success” found it “unstoppably riveting” musing “Whoever would have thought that the intricacies of a minority government struggling to pass a series of bills would have been so engrossing?” She summed up: “Both a treat and a triumph… a superlative night out.”

Currently booking to 25 Feb 2017, with tickets available from StageScan.

For more proof that Christmas has come early this year even for panto-sceptics, don’t miss Buried Child or Dead Funny, If you fancy some ‘bleak midwinter’ spookiness, check our ticket offers for The Woman in Black. Or to lift the family’s spirits, we recommend School of Rock or Half a Sixpence.

Have a great holiday, and see you in 2017.