Archive for August 4th, 2013

Review – Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens – Leicester Square Theater

August 4, 2013

One of the disadvantages of going to the theater as much as I do is occasionally getting on a run of bad shows that leave me feeling like I will never again have a really good night at the theater. That’s how I felt walking into the production of Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens at the Leicester Square Theater. I was horribly disappointed by the flat samey-samey-ness of the musical Titanic I’d seen three nights before, and truth be told, the last time I’d seen this musical performed, well, let’s say it was memorable and leave it at that. But I’d been invited by a friend and I found it impossible to say no; maybe the pleasure of hanging out with her would compensate for yet another painful night at the theater.

As it turns out, Saucy Jack was the most fun I’d had at a musical since Annie Get Your Gun at the Union Theater. In the basement bar, we had the advantage of a really intimate space (maybe 50 seats?), yet one they’d manage to trick out pretty well with lights. The show opened with a few of the lesser characters coming onto stage, wearing kind of tatty costumes and over-acting … oh, God, I thought, here we go again.

And then the Space Vixens arrived. Dressed in white and silver with the requisite shiny boots, they looked fantastic, with bubble “laser” guns and LED wrist bands adding to the effect. They launched into “Glitter Boots Saved My Life ” … and suddenly it all fell into place for me. I was no longer sitting in a muggy, tiny basement down a less frequented Leicester Square alleyway – I was on the Planet Frottage!

The three vixens had really good voices (even though the sound quality was varying immensely due to preview wobbles), and they had some whip-smart dance moves. In fact, the whole show had signs of being, not just deliberately, but competently choreographed. Furthermore, as performed by this cast, all of the horrible sexual puns/innuendo were actually making me (and my friends) laugh. As the tension and excitement built through the rest of the show, I found myself … well, singing along, bouncing in my seat, and finally joining the cast in the end of show boogie. Man, now THAT is how a musical is supposed to make you feel.

Anyway, it’s now two days later, and I’m still firmly earwormed with the soundtrack. I’m also planning on going back, maybe even twice, because that kind of up feeling is what I’m always hoping I’ll get from a musical. Only this time, I’m gonna wear my shiny boots and strap on my pocket laser, because I am ready to be a space vixen!

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, August 2nd, 2013. It is booking until September 15th.)

Mini-review – Liola – National Theater

August 4, 2013

The plot of Liolà sounded so unpromising that I nearly gave it a miss. Small town boy in love with girl who’s gone off and gotten married to the richest man around – who cares? And at the start of the National’s production, it was all singing and dancing jolly peasants with curiously misplaced Irish accents (rural poverty = Irish?) and all I could think was, my God, this is going to be another on of those trying nights at the Lyttleton. I was interested in seeing Pirandello after my many visits to Sicily, but if it was going to be corny, feel good, “heart of gold” baloney, well, maybe he was just one of those playwrights I just don’t like.

But … the story changed from what I was expecting it to be. Rather that purely focusing on the really bad behavior of Liola (who’s the father of three children he’s taken in to be raised by his mother – this in the days where a child out of wedlock meant a lifetime of poverty for a young woman), the story is more focused on Mita (Lisa Dwyer Hogg), the young woman who’s been his best friends since they were little. She’s been married to Simone for five years, and he scorns her for not producing a child – why else would he bother marrying a worthless, orphaned peasant girl? Their relationship is actually rather painful to watch, but it’s made even more spikey by the way the villagers mock Simone for his failures of fertility. It does actually create a situation where Mita is a real object of pity. So for Liola (Anthony Delaney) to want to try to help her … well, you wish someone else would take her side, at the same time you think that maybe Simone needs to rethink his priorities in life.

As the play evolves, though, it becomes more about how the nastier elements in the village can be outwitted rather than (as I was expecting) a big romance, and it winds up being uplifting and genuinely funny. It all moves very quickly – just barely 90 minutes – and left me feeling really cheerful. You know what? At 12 quid, this play was a real treat, an unusual pleasure – not particularly deep but a lovely night at the theater. Consider it recommended.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Thursday, August 1st, 2013. It continues through November 6th.)