UKTW - 25 years online
CORONAVIRUS: All UK venues closed on 16th March 2020 and there is currently no planned general re-opening time. Some venues are showing on-line productions or outside productions - even a few covid safe internal ones and a number of tours and shows have been rescheduled for later in 2020 and throughout 2021. A few pantomimes may be possible but we await a relaxing of the rules for theatres from the Government.

Closer to Heaven

4
Wed, 29th Apr 15
The Pet Shop Boys' musical at the Union Theatre

UKTW Editorial ImageA fabulous production! You will love it or hate it. Gene David Kirk (Director), Philip Joel (Choreographer) and the cast have presented a vibrant version of a mundane book by Jonathan Harvey. The story is a predictable, an ageing gay man’s fantasy, reminiscent of Channel 4’s Cucumber but without Russell T Davies’ quirky twists and humour. The Pet Shop Boys music is pleasant but uninspiring; some songs slow the action and made me think “Why didn’t they just do this as dialogue?” (Pet Shop fans will adore it, however.)

The cast transform this into an exciting evening. High energy, acting off line and commitment to the show keep the audience engaged. The director fills the stage from the beginning with the cast gyrating as the audience enter. The ensemble songs are packed with interest. Philip Joel’s choreography refers to various styles which the cast perform with enthusiasm and power. Sad to think these moves are now history, but inspiring to be taken back to that era.

Set and costumes are excellent although some aspects are too squeaky clean for such a grimy story. Have they really rehearsed the Caligula number 25 times and remained so clean? But this isn’t reality; its theatre. Scene changes are managed with economy and guile, never slowing or distracting from the action. The nightmare of the drug orgy is remarkable in its intensity – did the director ever experience such a situation in order to develop something so disturbing?

The two songs by Billie and Straight Dave in the second half which are backed simply by piano are the most effective, partly because the singers are not fighting the clictrack. It’s a problem throughout as actors try to project against the music. If they had had mikes, the blend would have been easier.

Katie Mellor as Billie Tricks commands the stage from the outset. She has a difficult task as host opening the show demanding “Do you know who I am?” when none of us do. She remains a tawdry constant through the show offering a cynical yet sympathetic contrast to the youngsters entering her world.

Jared Thompson makes us care deeply for Straight Dave, even though we can guess from the outset that he won’t live up to his nickname. His journey is a key element and the audience enjoy Jared’s interpretation of his struggle. His lament at the end of the show is particularly moving.

Shell (Amy Matthews) delivers most of the emotive drive for the show. Her discovery of her father and their relationship is entrancing. Her trauma over her boyfriend’s sexuality is tenderly delivered.

Connor Brabyn quietly develops Mile End Lee from straight wide boy into gay chancer. He deftly moves from menace to tenderness. He has a striking voice – it is a pity that he doesn’t get more to sing.

Ken Christiansen as Bob is another character who has issues. As the villain of the piece, he convinces us of the nasty underworld beneath the pop exploitation of the time.

Ben Kavanagh has one of the most interesting journeys. His timing and reactions offer welcome comic relief in the second half. A delightful performance.

Craig Berry as Vic makes a gentle start but rises to a powerful focus in the second half. When he went for the big notes, it was impressive. Though the writing could be more nuanced, he convinces us of the father’s mixed emotions.

The club performers put everything into their work. Elle Mitchell, Tamsin Blake and Grace Reynolds make the most of their all too short feature in Caligula, but this show was never going to focus on the girls. They work selflessly with Martin Harding, Ben Somerside, Jamie Firth and Alex Tranter to give cohesion to the club scenes and the linking numbers for the show. Brilliant work by all, making each character an individual. I was challenged to try to catch all they were doing on set as each was worth watching but I couldn’t move my eyes fast enough to keep up.

Beautiful people presenting hokum with panache. What more can you ask? A musical which has flaws, but a production which rises above them to deliver a delightful evening’s entertainment.


Search Reviews/News


Newsletter

Find us on-line

Facebook
SeatChoice/UKTW page
Twitter
SeatChoice/UKTW tweets
Linked-In
UKTW company page and Robert Iles
Blog/Website
SeatChoice and Robert's personal


Latest News & Reviews

11th Aug 20 :: Review: Wonder Walk
A walking theatrical experience in the woods
5
6th Jul 20 :: Government Rescue Package
Government to provide a £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts.
23rd Jun 20 :: Utilita Live From The Drive-In
A range of live drive-in concerts across the UK.
3rd Jun 20 :: ATG Theatres
Extending the closure date.
22nd May 20 :: The Drive In
New drive-in venue in North London
6th Apr 20 :: Closures Update
Update on some of the closures
1st Apr 20 :: Edinburgh Fringe
Cancelled
16th Mar 20 :: Coronavirus Update 16/3
Updates on show and venue closures.
15th Mar 20 :: Endgame
Early closing
14th Mar 20 :: Review: Carmen
Welsh National Opera on tour, seen in Bristol
3
13th Mar 20 :: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Opening postponed.
3rd Mar 20 :: Review: Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes
2020 touring production seen in Bristol.
5
26th Feb 20 :: Review: Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Touring production seen at the Bristol Hippodrome.
4
26th Feb 20 :: Review: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee's play seen at The Tobacco Factory Theatres.
5
17th Feb 20 :: Review: Mamma Mia
Touring production seen at the Mayflower Theatre.
4
12th Feb 20 :: Review: Musik
The Billie Trix Cabaret seen in London.
5
5th Feb 20 :: Review: Band of Gold
Touring show seen at the Mayflower Theatre.
4
31st Jan 20 :: Review: Persona
Seen at the Riverside Studios.
4
31st Jan 20 :: Review: Swan Lake
Birmingham Ballet Sinfonia seen at the Mayflower Theatre
4

Most Popular Stories

2nd Jan 20 :: 25th Anniversary
UKTW enters its 25th year ...
3rd Jun 20 :: ATG Theatres
Extending the closure date.
6th Jul 20 :: Government Rescue Package
Government to provide a £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts.
15th Mar 20 :: Endgame
Early closing
16th Mar 20 :: Coronavirus Update 16/3
Updates on show and venue closures.
6th Apr 20 :: Closures Update
Update on some of the closures
11th Aug 20 :: Review: Wonder Walk
A walking theatrical experience in the woods
14th Mar 20 :: Review: Carmen
Welsh National Opera on tour, seen in Bristol
23rd Jun 20 :: Utilita Live From The Drive-In
A range of live drive-in concerts across the UK.
22nd May 20 :: The Drive In
New drive-in venue in North London

SeatChoice Blog

Public Campaign for the Arts launches Arts Map
The Public Campaign for the Arts has launched a major new online platform, creating an unprecedented support link between UK citizens and their cultural organisations.
World’s First COVID Safe Drive-Inside Theatre Venue Opens in Manchester
Creators of immersive musical theatre productions, Beyond Theatre, have created the world’s first Covid compliant drive inside theatre venue in Manchester.
Scenesaver
A website describing itself as a “Netflix” for performances in off WestEnd, Off Broadway and fringe theatres from all over the world.
Nationwide, volunteer-led, public campaign underway to support Britain’s imperilled performing arts industries
The Public Campaign for the Arts brings together people of all ages, all backgrounds and from all parts of the UK, to express the immense value of arts and culture in their lives, and to call on the government to rescue the cultural industries.
Winner of Theatre Book Prize 2020
Biography of Vivien Leigh wins STR Theatre Book Prize.
London Theatre Direct & Apple Wallet tickets
London Theatre Direct introduce Apple Wallet tickets in a West End first.
BoV - Change the Future
Bristol Old Vic launch a "give a gift in your will" campaign
Samuel French scripts on-line
Launching today, a new website for Samuel French Scripts.
Captioning Awareness Week
West End and other arts venues to take part in Captioning Awareness Week during November.
Pantomime Coins
Ultra-Rare Pantomime 50p coins to go into circulation this festive season.

SeatChoice theatre blog»

© Dynamic Listing Ltd, UK
1995-2020
PRIVACY and GDPR
Tickets by SeatChoice
Listings powered by Dynamic Listing Ltd
Multidomain certificate installed
Developed and Maintained by RMJIold

Cookies in Use