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Phil Willmott travels through theatreland…

Casting pearls of wisdom before - you lovely blog readers


The very next thing you should do after reading this is book yourself a ticket to see the National Theatres’ production of War Horse which has transferred to the New London Theatre on Drury Lane. This epic saga of horse, boy and the First World War is not just good it’s life changingly good. The horses are represented by puppets so brilliant that, although the operators are clearly in sight at all times, they will make you believe in them as real animals within seconds. There are so many moments of breathtaking beauty in this story of a boy bonding with, then loosing and searching for his horse amongst the carnage of the Great War, that you’ll well up with tears in the first twenty minutes then be blubbing like a fool by the end - but in a good way! Do not miss this shining example of the power, majesty, wit and glory of a fantastic story well told.



Jet Set Go[pictured] is a slight but fun musical about cabin crew and their one night in New York. It’s wittily and ingeniously staged by Luke Sheppard on a very clever set by Mike Lees and if it’s a little baggy sometimes all the Mile High clichés are in place so you can just sit back and enjoy the flight. To be tacky (well, they are) Mark Evans, from one of those interchangeable Saturday night talent shows, reveals a stunning body and a sweet singing voice, and Amy Commbes stops the show with a classic "tart with a heart" vamp number. There’s also a few songs that demonstrate writers Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary could be more ambitious with there next piece.



Poor Dame Judy Dench seems to have made a duff choice in electing to star in Madame De Sade the third play in the Donmar Warehouses’ otherwise triumphant residency at the Wyndhams Theatre. Sam Miller Reports: “The problem is the play. Everyone - director, designer and stellar cast - do their best to breath life into it but it remains a very static, lifeless piece that even manages to make Sadomasochism boring!”



I was lucky enough to catch the lat performance of Bennet Catty’s masterful production of Howard the Rookie at The Old Red Lion pub theatre in Islington. I went under duress – two hours of monologues isn’t my idea of a fun Saturday night out - but how wrong can you be? The mesmerising performances of Johnnie Vivash and Kieran Gough as small town Irish hoodlums were captivating. I’d never have believed I could care so much about such low-life scum bags.



Finally I sent Paul Marais along to Future Me a controversial piece about internet paedo porn. He reports “This is so cleverly written I even found myself sympathising with the ‘so called’ criminals. I am not sure if this is a good thing but it certainly rocked my system. It made me see these cases from a totally different perspective and showed that no matter who we are or what choices or desires we have, we all suffer and struggle at some point with our actions.” It sounds like a challenging evening that should be well worth catching on its national tour. check the web for venues and dates.

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