Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

In a nutshell: Bizarre but brilliant.

Popcorn rating: 4.5/5

Bill Bailey doesn’t do much in the way of social comedy – but maybe he should.  The Prime Minister and the Pope were among those in his firing line during brief interludes between his random observations and musical wizardry.  He had the huge crowd at Liverpool Echo Arena in stitches when he mocked David Cameron for saying ‘we’re all in this together’ when he and his Cabinet chums live in luxury.

Bill also didn’t shy away from controversy when he lampooned the Pope for criticising British society when the same man has been accused of failing to act against a paedophile priest.

The rest of the show saw Bill in more familiar territory by twisting our perceptions on modern music.  Hip hop artist Akon’s misogynistic lyrics in ‘Smack That’ were analysed line-by-line before being given a West Country style makeover to eye-watering effect.  Then James Blunt’s wet and whimsical brand of guitar music had the same misfortune when Bill attempted to write a song for him.

For long fans of Bill Bailey, there have been moments of frustration in previous tours as he has been known to recycle old gags.  But the new tour, Dandelion Mind, was refreshing, featuring completely new material.

One of the best moments was actually when Bill broke down into a fit of giggles when he realised how absurd his ‘job’ is.  At the time he was playing Enter Sandman by Metallica on horns. It was bizarre but quite brilliant.

Reviewer: DavidMorgan

Avenue Q (at The Lowry, Salford)

Posted: July 12, 2011 by davidmrgn in Theatre
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In a nutshell: Sesame Street, for grown ups

Popcorn rating: 4/5

Imagine  an adult version of Sesame Street and you’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect from Avenue Q the musical.  Sex, internet pornography, casual racism, questionable sexuality…nothing is off limits to this motley crew living in an American suburb.

It is almost a guilty pleasure to watch these muppet-inspired characters so familiar from your childhood act and sing with a wicked twist. Political correctness is certainly off the table but the story, which is really about friendship, is executed with such warmth and charm it is almost impossible to be offended.

Some of the funniest moments are the uncomfortable truths that form the basis of countless songs.  It was hard not to grin with a guilty smile when the puppets were singing about the satisfaction found at the misfortune of others and that ‘the more you love someone, the more you want to kill them’.

As funny as it is heart warming, Avenue Q tells Princeton’s tale.

He is the newest resident on the block trying to find his purpose and struggling to make his relationship work with Kate Monster.  Along the way, he has to resist the temptations offered by the ‘bad idea bears’ and learn a lesson from ‘Lucy the Slut’.

The show has already had massive success in London’s West End and nothing has been lost in the transition to the Lowry in Salford. Credit goes to the pupeteers who carry the characters around but add such life to the puppets that it is easy to suspend your disbelief.  Avenue Q is nothing short of excellent.

Reviewer: David Morgan