Why do people flock to the metropolis? After all, everyone has known since the days of Dick Whittington, that the streets aren’t paved with gold and lots of people I meet, that have moved to London, simply complain and say how wonderful their home town was. But still they come, and one such newcomer to the bright lights is the heroine of Vicky Jones’ play Touchat Soho Theatre.
First things first, when you enter the theatre you get to see one of the best sets I’ve seen for a long while. A bedsit, complete with toilet, shower, bed, Freeview television, wardrobe, fridge, etc, etc, etc sits there in front of you. And it is perfect in every way. As the play progresses, the set rotates, so gets to be seen from every angle. The shower works, the microwave comes on, the fridge has a light in it. Seriously, if the Soho Theatre wanted to rent the place out overnight, they probably could – excellent work by ULTZ. This brings me to a minor problem with the costumes, and this is me at my most pedantic. Whilst I have no problem with a good looking chap stripping down to his boxers, I was surprised that a character like Paddy was wearing Topman. Given the way the character was written, he struck me as much more of a CK or AC man and the ‘downmarket’ boxers felt out of place on him. However, a minor point and the rest of the costumes were really great – especially those worn by Vera, which really seemed to add to her character beautifully.
So, loved the set and costumes, how about the writing? Well, Vicky Jones has written a really interesting script which I suppose could be described as Bridget Jones without the innocence. Dee is a fascinating character who is almost a stereotype of a left-leaning young lady but, she is saved from this by her willingness to question not only those around her but herself. I honestly didn’t expect to like Dee at the start but by the end of the 90 minutes I spent in her company, I really did care about the character and was crossing my fingers hoping she would make the right decision. Of course, my reaction to her was not only due to the writing but also Amy Morgan’s acting which really brought Dee alive. Amy was a pleasure to watch as she took Dee through everything from really bad flirting to totally inebriated to becoming an empowered individual. On the whole, the people in Dee’s life worked well, although I wasn’t convinced that Eddie would have lasted as long as he did. I’m not sure why but I didn’t really feel much chemistry between the two characters during their scenes. Unlike the fantastic relationships between Dee and Paddy and Dee with Vera. These two couplings really did seem to work well. Dee and Miles were an odd one for me in terms of writing. I’m not really sure what their story added, although I thought their banter together was excellent and James Clyde’s measured performance as Miles was excellent.
Overall then, Touch surprised me in many ways and all of them pleasurable. Whilst I didn’t think every relationship worked, I could imagine Dee – or some other wide-eyed person coming to the big city – falling into them easily enough. I loved the set and the writing had me laughing, and drawing breath in shock in equal measure. This is a very down to earth production with language more suited to the East End than South Kensington but it really works well and any show that can turn “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” into a mantra for life is doing a really good job. As a final note, buy the play text. I loved the fact that the stage directions are written in the same very down to earth way as the lines.
Since July 2014, I've seen and reviewed 588 shows altogether. 2017 was a fairly quiet year with a total of 132 shows visited by yours truly.
So, in the best traditions of end of the year ideas, here is my list of the top 10 shows that I've seen this year. Please remember, this is my list not anybody else's and if you don't agree with the pick, well, what can I say?
1.Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Bridewell Theatre This story of friendship and hope took two drag queens and a trans woman from Sydney to Alice Springs, in a big pink bus. Along the way, the met new friends and face rampant homophobia. SEDOS brought every element of the show together beautifully, and to a standard that you would expect to see in the West End. Sold out virtually as soon as it was announced, this was the ‘must see production of the year. 2.La Cage aux Folles, New Wimbledon Theatre This is was a touring production of a show that demonstrates the importance of family and how much a parent will s…
Southern Baptist Sissies
Above the Stag is a theatre that specialises in putting on LGBT+ shows. I’ve been there a couple of times previously and seen some very well produced and very funny plays about gay life. So, I was really looking forward to another visit last night to see their latest show, the European premiere of Southern Baptist Sissies by Del Shores.
This is the story of four people emerging from childhood and becoming adults. These boys are all from the great state of Texas – the ‘buckle’ in the bible belt – and all are regular attendees at their small town Baptist church presided over by a real old fashioned ‘wrath of God’ style preacher (Stephen Parker). The four boys are all really good friends who each bring something different to the group. So, there is preacher’s son Mark (Jason Kirk) the thinker, TJ (Daniel Klemens) the brawn, Andrew (Hugh O’Donnell) the introverted and…
A theatre show is often like a swan. Out on stage, all is serene and beautiful whilst backstage there is a hive of activity going on. There have been various shows written about life backstage at a theatre – Noises Off springs to mind, though I’ve still not got around to seeing it. However, if you would like to see life backstage during a Christmas show, then you can do no better than toodle off to the Waterloo East Theatre to see Shaun Kitchener’s play Christmas Farce.
Thirty minutes – or in theatrical parlance, The Half – before curtain up and Alice (Natalie Lester) is the only person in the Green Room of a regional theatre. The fact it is Christmas is demonstrated not only by Alice’s OTT festive jumper but also with the gaudy decorations festooning the place. These are the handiwork of back-stage worker Makenzie (Marc-Gee Finch) and, while they are a tad tacky, they do add a sort of desperate fe…