Black Country news and blogs Tuesday 19 June 2018
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Views from a Bum

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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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Bloodless 

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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Thrilling 

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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LOL-alot 

28 Feb 18

SPAMALOT Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tuesday 27 th February, 2018   We all know them, the bores who can spout reams and reams of Monty Python scripts and manage to suck all the humour of it, as if just saying the lines is enough, when what matters, …


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Drama Therapy 

24 Feb 18

HAMLET Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, Friday 23 rd February, 2018   Director Oliver Hume’s production strips Shakespeare’s four-hours-plus great work right down to two fifty-minute chunks.


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Play to Win 

23 Feb 18

THE WINSLOW BOY The REP, Birmingham, Thursday 22 nd January, 2018   Terence Rattigan’s masterpiece loses none of its powers in this new production directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.


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Nice Hooters 

21 Feb 18

HOOT OWL – Master of Disguise Artshouse, Stratford upon Avon, Wednesday 21 st February, 2018   It is not uncommon for successful children’s picture books to make the transition to the stage.


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See The Elephant 

20 Feb 18

ELEPHANT The Door, the REP, Birmingham, Tuesday 20 th February, 2018   Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s brand-new play is a gripping domestic drama, concerning a British-Asian family and a dark secret.


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Louder Than Words 

16 Feb 18

#JESUIS Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome, Thursday 15 th February, 2018   Everything has a hashtag these days, doesn’t it?  We all remember the #JeSuisCharlie one used as a show of solidarity after the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine…


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Something out of Nothing 

11 Feb 18

NOTHING Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Sunday 11 th February, 2018   Lulu Raczka’s play from 2014 is all talk and no action.


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Who’s The Daddy? 

8 Feb 18

MAMMA MIA! Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Wednesday 7 th February, 2018   The mother (the Mamma) of all jukebox musicals arrives in Wolverhampton as part of its bid for world domination.


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Close Encounters of the Brief Kind 

7 Feb 18

BRIEF ENCOUNTER The REP, Birmingham, Tuesday 6 th February, 2018   Emma Rice’s adaptation of the Noel Coward script makes a triumphant return to the REPa decade since its first incarnation.


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Moving Moves 

1 Feb 18

TRANSLUNAR PARADISE Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome, Wednesday 31 st January, 2018   Theatre Ad Infinitum are reviving their hit show from seven years ago and it’s a good fit for the Hippodrome’s studio space.


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Something’s Got To Give 

31 Jan 18

THE LATE MARILYN MONROE Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, Tuesday 31 st January, 2018   We’ll never know what happened during the last moments of the life of Marilyn Monroe.


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Going off the Rails 

30 Jan 18

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Monday 29 th January, 2018   Based on the 1950 novel by Patricia Highsmith, this adaptation by Craig Warner plunges us into an amoral world, where man’s actions are not punished by the rule …


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Love Bites 

28 Jan 18

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, Sunday 28 th January, 2018   John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel is the most Stephen King-like book I’ve read that isn’t by Stephen King.


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Taking a Hedda 

24 Jan 18

HEDDA GABLER Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 23 rd January, 2018   The National Theatre’s celebrated production is doing the rounds, and it’s a real treat to have such prestigious work on one’s doorstep.


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Looking Back in Anger 

16 Jan 18

BONES Old Joint Stock, Birmingham, Tuesday 16 th January, 2018   Mark is a 19-year-old with a temper – to put it mildly – in this production by Gritty Theatre of Jane Upton’s one-hander.


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Strictly the Best 

4 Jan 18

CINDERELLA Birmingham Hippodrome, Wednesday 3 rd January, 2018   It’s my final panto of the season and I’ve saved the biggest until last.


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Marley and E 

19 Dec 17

A CHRISTMAS CAROL Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon, Monday 18 th December, 2017   Do we need yet another version of Charles Dickens’s perennial classic?  The RSC and playwright David Edgar think we do, but what can they bring to …







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