Black Country news and blogs Friday 22 February 2019
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Views from a Bum

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Nasty and Niece 

26 Sep 18

AWFUL AUNTIE Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Wednesday 26 th September, 2018   Birmingham Stage Company is back, following up the success of Gangsta Granny with a second alliterative title from comic actor-turned-children’s-author, David Walliams.

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Uptown Top Rankin 

25 Sep 18

REBUS: LONG SHADOWS The REP, Birmingham, Tuesday 25 th September, 2018   The character of John Rebus is familiar to many from the novels of Ian Rankin and their television adaptations.

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Book of Reevelation 

24 Sep 18

AN AUDIENCE WITH SIMON REEVE Town Hall, Birmingham, Sunday 23 rd September, 2018   Simon Reeve has been making documentary series for the telly for 15 years, during which time his travels have taken him to some pretty (and ugly) extreme and …

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Boss Play 

24 Sep 18

ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Sunday 23 rd September, 2018   Richard Bean’s hit comedy is served up with gusto by director Mark Payne and his energetic ensemble.

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Steps in the right direction 

9 Sep 18

THE 39 STEPS Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Saturday 8 th September, 2018   Of all the incarnations of John Buchan’s novel of 1915, Patrick Barlow’s stage adaptation is my favourite – perhaps it’s because the world has moved on and the stiff-…

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Quartet with strings 

6 Sep 18

FOUR PLAY The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham, Wednesday 5 th September, 2018   Jake Brunger’s play from 2016 is a fresh and funny four-hander about relationships and commitment, particularly among gay men.

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Flash back 

5 Sep 18

FLASHDANCE Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tuesday 4 th September, 2018   I have vague memories of the film from 1983, with its story of a lady welder who dances in a nightclub and dreams of attending a posh dance academy.

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Crime Pays Off 

30 Aug 18

THE COMEDY ABOUT A BANK ROBBERY The REP, Birmingham, Wednesday 29 th August, 2018   Mischief Theatre, the group behind the phenomenally successful The Play That Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong , is back with this piece in which everything goes …

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Party On! 

24 Aug 18

Stage Experience: BOOGIE NIGHTS New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Thursday 23 rd August, 2018   Every summer about a hundred young people flock to Birmingham and just a fortnight later, they’re performing to packed houses.

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Party Animals 

3 Aug 18

MADAGASCAR New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Thursday 2 nd August, 2018   Following a slew of sequels and spin-offs, Dreamworks’s animated movie from 2005 gets a new lease of life in this stage musical, with a brand-new score by George Noriega …

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Leaps of Faith 

30 Jul 18

BOX OF FROGS Glee Club, Birmingham, Sunday 29 th July, 2018   Those who remember ground-breaking TV series, Whose Line Is It Anyway? will know what to expect at an evening like this: a succession of games and set-ups that allow the actors to flex …

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27 Jul 18

CIRQUE BERSERK Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thursday 26 th July, 2018   Circus has changed – evolved – since its inception by Philip Astley 250 years ago.

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About last night… 

24 Jul 18

THE MORNING AFTER Blue Orange Theatre, Monday 23 rd July, 2018   This witty three-hander first produced three years ago gets a welcome revival as part of this year’s Birmingham Fest at the Blue Orange.

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A Grand Day Out 

18 Jul 18

LADIES’ DAY Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 17 th July, 2018   Following an excellent Brassed Off last summer, the Grand has produced its second in-house show, Amanda Whittington’s comedy about four women from a fish-packing factory who …

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Girl Powers 

6 Jul 18

MATILDA Birmingham Hippodrome, Thursday 5 th July, 2018   The Royal Shakespeare Company’s most successful production ever comes to Birmingham for the summer, making itself at home in the Hippodrome, just 20-odd miles from its point of origin in …

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Stable Relationship 

1 Jul 18

EQUUS Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Saturday 30 th June, 2018   The Crescent’s Ron Barber Studio is home again to yet another outstanding production.

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Rough Magic 

19 Jun 18

THE TEMPEST Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tuesday 19 th June, 2018   It’s not the first time The Tempest has been set in outer space.

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Joy Ride 

14 Jun 18

SUMMER HOLIDAY New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Wednesday 13 th June, 2018   The 1963 Cliff Richard film about a bunch of lads who travel across Europe in a London double-decker bus is now a vehicle, haha, for Ray Quinn and a ball of energy shaped…

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Music à la King 

13 Jun 18

BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 12 th June, 2018   This biographical musical, telling of the rise to prominence of songwriter Carole King, feels different from other shows of its type.

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A Nudge To Arms 

9 Jun 18

TRYING IT ON Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Friday 8 th June, 2018   At the grand age of 70, playwright David Edgar turns performer for the first time in this self-penned piece that blends autobiographical material and interviews with fellow …

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Fun with Heartbreak 

8 Jun 18

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Jephson Gardens, Leamington, Thursday 7 th June, 2018   This version from the aptly named (for this play) Heartbreak Productions sets Shakespeare’s supreme rom-com at a village garden fete as the Great War draws to a close…

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Breaking the Ice 

5 Jun 18

TITANIC – The Musical Birmingham Hippodrome, Monday 4 th June, 2018   This story about belief in the infallibility of technology is delayed by a technical hitch, sort of foreshadowing what is to befall the ill-fated ‘unsinkable’ ship – …

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Sweet and Sour 

1 Jun 18

MOUNTAINS: The Dreams of Lily Kwok Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thursday 31 st May, 2018   When Helen leaves her native Manchester to work as a lawyer in Hong Kong, she feels out of place, a fraud, an English girl in a Chinese body.

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Heart to Heart 

31 May 18

84 CHARING CROSS ROAD Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Wednesday 30 th May, 2018   In the 1950s, Helene Hanff, a writer living in New York, contacts a bookshop at the eponymous address, in search of an out of print book.

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Pees and Queues 

27 May 18

URINETOWN Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Sunday 27 th May, 2018   It’s no secret that Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’s Urinetown is my favourite musical of all time.

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Pros and Cons 

25 May 18

OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD The REP, Birmingham, Thursday 24 th May, 2018   This production comes to Birmingham from Nottingham Playhouse, working with Ramps On The Moon – casting deaf and disabled actors and tailoring the performance for hearing …

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Canvas Opinions 

22 May 18

ART Birmingham Hippodrome, Monday 21 st May, 2018   When Serge splashes out 200 grand on a white painting, it becomes a bone of contention and causes a rift between him and his two best friends, Marc and Yvan.

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Whisky Business 

17 May 18

WHISKY GALORE New Vic Theatre, Wednesday 16 th May, 2018   Based on true events, which were subsequently novelised by Compton Mackenzie, this adaptation by Philip Goulding arrives at the New Vic via Oldham Coliseum and Hull Truck Theatre.

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Sex and Violins 

16 May 18

THE STRING QUARTET’S GUIDE TO SEX AND ANXIETY The REP, Birmingham, Tuesday 15 th May, 2018   This new piece from director-creator Calixto Bieito is an exploration of mental illness and sexuality, taking its text from a range of writers, most …

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Last of the Summer Vin 

13 May 18

HEROES Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Sunday 13 th May, 2018   Tom Stoppard’s translation of Gerald Sibleyras’s Le Vent des Peupliers fits into a niche of comedy we’re familiar with in the UK.

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Repeat Offender 

9 May 18

FLEABAG Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Wednesday 9 th May, 2018   It’s a real treat to be able to see Maddie Rice reprise the hit one-woman show, three years since I first enjoyed it in Birmingham.

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Some You Gershwin… 

9 May 18

CRAZY FOR YOU Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 8 th May, 2018   The songs of George and Ira Gershwin provide the music in this musical comedy – and there are some timeless classics here: Someone To Watch Over Me , They Can’t Take That Away …

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Hired and Fired-Up 

5 May 18

THE HIRED MAN The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Friday 4 th May, 2018   If Thomas Hardy upped sticks and moved north to Cumbria (or Cumberland, as it was known then) the chances are he would have come up with something very like Melvyn Bragg’s family …

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Take This 

2 May 18

THE BAND Birmingham Hippodrome, Tuesday 1 st May, 2018   Regular readers will know of my aversion to jukebox musicals and so it is with some trepidation that I approach this production.

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Girls Just Wanna Kill Pigs 

27 Apr 18

LORD OF THE FLIES The Old Rep, Birmingham, Thursday 26 th April, 2018   It can be difficult, when your class of students is entirely female, to find suitable material for performance.

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Just My Cup of Chai 

25 Apr 18

THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHAI Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tuesday 24 th April, 2018   Marivaux’s 18 th Century French farce, The Game of Love and Chance , gets an update from Tara Arts and Nigel Planer of The Young Ones , no less.

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Labour in Vain 

18 Apr 18

THIS HOUSE The REP, Birmingham, Tuesday 17 th April, 2018   This hit production from the National Theatre/Chichester Festival Theatre/Headlong comes to this town and reminds this reviewer of its brilliance.

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Closing Down Sail 

17 Apr 18

THE LAST SHIP New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Monday 16 th April, 2018   I am conscious throughout the performance that just three feet away from me, seated across the aisle, is the show’s lyricist and composer, namely Sting himself.

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Pinkie Blinder 

12 Apr 18

BRIGHTON ROCK The REP, Birmingham, Wednesday 11 th April, 2018   This new production from Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal rocks into town with an irresistible swagger.

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Nailed It 

11 Apr 18

TURN OF THE SCREW Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 10 th April , 2018   Henry  James’s classic ghost story is often cited as an inspiration for Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black – and  in this masterful new stage adaptation by Tim …

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Copping It Sweet 

7 Apr 18

POLICE COPS IN SPACE Old Joint Stock, Birmingham, Friday 6 th April, 2018   Wondering whether the show will live up to the promise of its title, I settle into my seat.

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Twisted but not Bitter 

5 Apr 18

THE TWISTED TALE OF HANSEL AND GRETEL Birmingham Hippodrome, Wednesday 4 th April, 2018   In the first of a planned series of collaborations, Birmingham Hippodrome, Open Theatre Company and Metro-Boulot-Dodo stage this new production to bring …

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Extra Special 

1 Apr 18

STONES IN HIS POCKETS Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Sunday 1 st April, 2018   Marie Jones’s comedy has, rightly, become a modern-day classic.

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Crooning Glory 

30 Mar 18

CROONERS The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Thursday 29 th March, 2018   As the curtain opens, a David Attenborough-type voiceover introduces us to that rare and endangered species, the crooner, inviting us to observe them in their natural habitat, …

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The Bees’ Knees 

24 Mar 18

HONEY The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Friday 23 rd March, 2018   When you behold a patchwork quilt, you see it at first as a whole.

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14 Mar 18

SWEENEY TODD Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 13 th March, 2018   Stephen Sondheim’s grisly melodrama is not an easy sing, with its discords and broken rhythms as well as its searing, melodic phrases.

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Nice Try 

12 Mar 18

UP ‘N’ UNDER The REP, Birmingham, Monday 12 th March, 2018   John Godber’s 1984 comedy is doing the rounds in this new revival by Fingersmiths, a company that incorporates deaf actors and British Sign Language into plays.

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Hugo Faster 

9 Mar 18

LES MISERABLES – School Edition Artshouse, Stratford upon Avon, Thursday 8 th March, 2018   Stratford Musical Theatre Company’s young division tackle the ‘schools version’ of the renowned Boubil Schonberg musical adaptation of the Victor …

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Juan to Watch 

8 Mar 18

DON GIOVANNI Hippodrome, Birmingham, Wednesday 7 th March, 2018   Welsh National Opera is back in town and this time they’ve brought my favourite opera, Mozart’s masterly take on the Don Juan legend.

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7 Mar 18

THRILLER Live Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tuesday 6 th March, 2018   This electrifying tribute show is doing the rounds and this week it’s Coventry’s turn to become reacquainted with the back catalogue of the ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson.

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