Witness for the Prosecution

I love a good Agatha Christie murder mystery. Witness for the Prosecution has been on at County Hall in London for quite a few years now and I’ve been wanting to see it for ages, so with the ‘Get into London Theatre’ January sale on I couldn’t resist.

The play is staged in what was the main council chamber of the old London County Council, later the Greater London Council, that was famously led by firebrand Ken Livingston and then eventually scrapped by Margaret Thatcher is the 1980s. It is a beautiful Edwardian baroque space and was perfect for the play. As it was built as a former council chamber and not specifically a theatre, it also meant that there was much more leg room that normal and even a little fold out table in front of me, perfect resting spot for a cheeky G&T.

Without giving too much away or any spoilers I can tell you the play revolves around a trial of a young man accused of murder. This being an Agatha Christie there is of course lots of twists and turns in the story. Being a fan I sort of guessed the ending, but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend.

Backstairs Billy

Backstairs Billy is a play all about the late Queen Mother’s favourite servant, William Tallon, who was cheekily nicknamed Backstairs Billy. He was so called because his official title as a royal servant at Clarence House was Steward and Page of the Backstairs. I actually read the book ‘ Backstairs Billy: The Life of William Tallon, the Queen Mother’s Most Devoted Servant’ that the play is partially based on during lockdown and found it utterly fascinating. As soon as I saw this advertised I knew I had to get tickets.

Written by Marcelo Dos Santos, the production is set in 1979 and explores the unusual relationship between Tallow and his royal employer. As well as being a servant he was also a very promiscuous homosexual. The gorgeous, out gay actor Luke Evans plays the main role of Billy and Penelope Wilton the role of the Queen Mother. The play is very funny and also quite naughty in places, but is an amusing romp. It’s only on until January 27th, so not long to grab tickets if you want to see it. I loved it.

Heartthrob Rob

You might know Heartthrob Rob from his hilarious TikTok or his Instagram reels. My good friend Rup and I first got into his videos over lockdown and so when we saw he was doing a world tour and it was stopping in London we booked tickets. It was in the basement of the Soho theatre a lovely intimate venue ideal for comedy. The show itself felt a bit work in progress, it involved quite a lot of audience participation which might of been more forthcoming if the audience was a bit more tipsy or drunk, but unfortunately it was a Tuesday evening, so we weren’t. Also some of the jokes didn’t translate and land because they were focused to a more American audience, something he definitely needs to work on if he wants to do a world tour again. There was some genuinely very funny bits though, but unfortunately not too many, it was very hit and miss. However there was definitely some potential there, but some more work needed.

& Juliet

Loved, loved this musical. Utterly camp. All the music is my exact era as a grew up. Britney Spears, Backstreet boys, N’Sync, P!nk, Kelly Clarkson and a bit of later stuff by Jessie J. Fantastic songs, I wondered how they got the right all the rights to the songs and it wasn’t til afterwards that I realised that all the songs were all written by Swedish pop songwriter extraordinaire, Max Martin, who has had more number one hits than any other songwriter in history.

The story is loosely based on ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but with a comedy musical twist and focuses on a “what if” scenario where Juilet doesn’t die at the end of the story. It’s cleverly done and really fun. Really enjoyed it and as a jukebox style musical it was great to know all the music and be able to mouth along to all the songs.

 

Sister Act – The Musical

I had such a fun evening yesterday at the press night for Sister Act – the Musical at the Hammersmith Apollo with my friend Craig. This production has been delayed and delayed because of Covid and originally the main role of Delores was meant to be performed by Whoopi Goldberg, who was obviously the actress in the original movie. Anyway now because of the delay they have drafted in the wonderful Beverley Knight instead. She’s literally come almost straight off the musical ‘The Drifters Girl’ with barely a chance to rest, she’s a very in demand star and you can tell why with this show. Her voice really is phenomenal, she is so great in this role. Truly one of the best vocalist and. performers in musical theatre at the moment, Jennifer Saunders who is playing Mother Superior was hilarious, her comic timing as you would expect is spot on. The supporting cast is similarly superb, particularly note must also go to Lesley Joseph as an ageing rapping nun. Keala Settle most famous for her role as the bearded lady in the film ‘The Greatest Showman’ and her beautiful performance of the song ‘This is me’ (for which she was nominated and imho should have won the Oscar for) was great but almost felt overlooked with such an all star cast. This has to to be one of the best shows on in London at the moment and I highly recommend catching it while you can.