It Won’t Be Gone When the Morning Comes

What: Bat Out of Hell – The Musical

Who: Jim Steinman et al

Where: Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road

When: May 2018

The Bat out of Hell phenomenon dates back to the release of the Meat Loaf album of the same name in 1977. Bat out of Hell – The musical opened in Manchester, England in February of 2017 before transferring to London in June of the same year where it was housed at the Coliseum in the West End. In October 2017 it transferred to Toronto, Canada before returning to London, England and its new venue at the Dominion in April of this year.

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Sensible to Feeling as to Sight

What: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

When: 20th March 2018

When a familiar play opens and you see characters normally associated with adults being played by pre-teen girls, it is difficult to stifle an inward groan. But, in actuality, this production of Macbeth is very strong indeed and is one which you should hunt for tickets for. It really does have an awful lot to commend it. This is a taut, energetic production with some exceptional acting.

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Christmas in my heart?

What: A Christmas Carol, adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

When: December 2017

How can you go wrong with “A Christmas Carol” at Christmastime? The most famous of Charles Dickens’ five major Christmas novellas, well-loved by the nation and the Western world at large. Well, somehow the RSC have managed to make a mess of it all.

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Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds

What: Coriolanus by William Shakespeare

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

Where: The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

When: October 2017

Coriolanus is, in its full form, the second longest play in Shakespeare’s canon. Performed in its entirety it would take up four hours or more of your life. Here at the RSC, it takes 2 hours and forty minutes – three hours if you include the break in the middle for ice cream.

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And a Wasted Youth is Better By Far Than a Wise and Productive Old Age…

Rock and Roll meets the Kids From Fame in the West End

What: Bat Out of Hell – The Musical

Who: Jim Steinman et al

Where: The Coliseum, London

When: July 2017

I remember everything! I remember everything as if it happened only yesterday…

About a life time ago I was playing football on the front lawn of my friend, Richard Chipchase. During a break in the game, he mentioned that his brother had seen a new band on “The Old Grey Whistle Test” the night before. He said that their name was “Meatloaf” and his brother said we ought to look out for them. Neither of us realised that Meat Loaf wasn’t a band but the singer.

Not long after, I picked up “Bat Out of Hell”. Then “Bad For Good” (composer Jim Steinman’s own album). Then “Dead Ringer” (remember buying that one in Casa Disco on the day it came out, assistant grumbling that she was fed up with taking the empty album sleeve back to the rack).

After that you realised that Meat relied on Steinman to come up with the songs to be at his peak. There was a long wait until “Bat Out of Hell II” and then another falling out between Steinman and Mr Loaf which surrounded “Bat Out of Hell III”.

There was a general deterioration in Meat Loaf’s health and voice and then another Meat Loaf / Steinman disc, “Braver Than We Are”.

And then there was “Bat Out of Hell – The musical” in Manchester and then it moved to London, the city where I live.

Musicals are not my thing – although I was in a touring musical once (that was years ago when I was young and foolish) so I decided to give this one a wide berth.

But then I was asked to go along and see the show and offer some comments prior to a possible transfer. So with some trepidation I decided to do just that.

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Going Forth With The Shakespearience…

What: Go Forth With The Shakespearience

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith

Who: The Shakespearience

When: May 2017

One day whilst I was in Stratford-Upon-Avon with the Royal Shakespeare Company, I woke up in my hotel room with a fairly fully formed idea for bringing Shakespeare to schools, using professional actors and musicians, and giving young people a first exposure to live theatre.

It’s now 8 years since we started working with local schools as part of their literature programme. We’ve always worked with the schools in the areas of faith and religious education but we thought as well as enhancing the teaching in those areas, we ought to give back to the community in the areas that God has gifted us in. This has meant that over those years we’ve worked on poetry workshops (with Paul Cookson), performances of Shakespeare and more recently, since Chris Jarvis has joined us in a range of other hands-on activities.

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A Dish Fit For… Everyone

What: Julius Caesar

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

When: 4th May 2017.

This reviewer is confused

The RSC decided in their wisdom to have “press day” for both Antony & Cleopatra and Julius Caesar on the same day. Figuring that seeing two plays on one day would rather ruin the palate for the second, I decided to opt out of one. On the flip of a coin and because I prefer the “Cleopatra” play normally, I decided to come back and see Julius Caesar another day even though my review would appear later than everyone else’s and although it would mean seeing the plays out of sequence. Also, sequentially, it makes much more sense for Julius Caesar to be seen first.

Now I have to say that “Antony and Cleopatra” was horrible and the worst production i have seen from the RSC for a number of years.

Now since there is a director overseeing the four productions in the RSC’s Rome series, I estimated that this production would go in roughly the same direction as Iqbal Khan’s “Anthony and Cleopatra” and would need some fine performances to save it.

I needn’t have worried because Angus Jackson’s “Julius Caesar” is confusingly, truly excellent. Not flawless but truly, truly excellent and you would do well to see it.

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