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Category: Stage Reviews

80% #OutOf100: Shelia Atim and Arinzé Kene Showcase Impressive Musical Talent In “Girl From The North Country,” Old Vic Theatre

Conor McPherson’s Latest Melo(dic)drama Is Built Around 20 Songs By Bob Dylan Take the back catalogue of a 20th century counter-culture musical icon, add an award-winning playwright and you don’t necessarily get your run-of-the-mill juke box musical. Old Vic artistic director Matthew Warchus explains in the programme foreword, that Girl from The North Country isn’t really a musical, but a singing-and-speaking collaboration across time. He wants to call it a melodrama, with ‘melo’ meaning melody or music, which is a recognised secondary meaning of the word. However, he concedes that its modern primary use, describing sensational drama with exaggerated...

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90% #OutOf100 – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at The National Theatre

Is it necessary to explain that the Blues is a music born out of the suffering of black folks from the deep south of north America by way of Africa?  Pain, regret, loss, anger, frustration, religion, racism, sex, survival… that’s the Blues and it’s also what’s packed into August Wilson’s classic play. Through mostly the perspective of Ma Rainey’s supporting band we are made to understand why black folk sang… had to sang the blues. Although the title, you don’t get to see Ma Rainey’s actual black bottom. This is not a birth to death account of her life either…  ‘Black Bottom’ is a...

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100% #OutOf100: Nairobi Thompson Sets African-Caribbean War Record Straight In “Bayonets, Mangoes And Beads” Summer Poetry Salon

Nairobi Thompson’s presentation of 14 of 60 wonderful poems taken from her book Bayonets, Mangoes And Beads which should grace the bookshelf of every African, Caribbean and Diasporic home, is an important gift.

Whilst the brutality and futility of war cannot be denied, what the Great Wars taught the British about themselves was that ordinary people could rise above and act with compassion, camaraderie and resilience, and that is always seductive.

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82% #OUTOF100 – Yardbird (An Homage to Charlie Parker)

Daniel Schnyder’s Jazz fused abstract opera Yardbird, pays homage to Jazz bebop pioneer Charlie Parker played by American tenor Lawrence Brownlee who puts in stellar vocal performance as the flawed genius. His friends, lovers and family experience a rollercoaster of emotions as they struggle to deal with his passing, with Parker himself stuck in limbo compromised by his own creative brilliance. Set after the death of Parker whose spirit still haunts Birdland, he struggles to compose one last masterpiece before inevitably letting go to leave his friends and family for good. The production begins with Parker’s dead remains lying covered...

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