Posts Tagged ‘great deals for great shows’

Good deal – 1927’s Animals and Children at the National for £18

December 13, 2012

One of my very favorite shows of 2011 was 1927’s The Animals and Children Took to the Street, a hallucinatory combination of animation, live action, cabaret music, and Rodchenko-style graphics, operating seamlessly in the service of a Gorey-esque story of wild children fighting to take back their city from the government. Sound all a bit of pre-Riot fun? It’s back at the National this winter and I highly urge you to see it, especially since there are affordable tickets available courtesy of the Metro – either enter promo code METRO18 into the order form online at the National’s website or call them (0207 452 3000) and quote “Metro18.”

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Review – Kanjoos (The Miser) – Tara Arts Theatre

October 1, 2012

While the “guess what’s going on at our theater” emails have been coming fast and furiously this September, most of them have been going into the rotating “I’m very sorry but I’ve failed to get excited” bin, save one: an announcement of a production of “The Miser” being done by Tara Arts theater in Earlsfield. This theater has a warm spot in my heart, partially because it’s so close to my house and I’m excited about being able to see shows in my neighborhood; but also because the last show I saw there, A Bollywood Cinderella, stole my heart away as the best panto of the year. Would turning a South Asian eye to a French classic bring the whole endeavor more brilliantly to life? I felt hopeful and kept a date open to go early in the run (and Tara kindly furnished me with much appreciated comps).

To my delight, this show was a reunion of some of the key creatives of the earlier show, with Hardeep Singh Kohli and Jatinder Verma as writer/co-writer (Verma also directing as he did for Cinderella) – something I didn’t know as I walked in but was able to tell immediately based on the snappy dialogue and the deep engagement with the South Indian community. The play stuck very closely to Moliere’s original – a tightfisted old man with two children eager to wed – but took a million liberties that made the play both very stuck in to its Indian setting (i.e. Harjinder, the miser, is a devotee of the path of Ghandi – at least from the point of how much money he wants to spend) and very fresh and engaging (I liked that the asides were often done as songs, with Sohini Alam in the wings singing the actor’s parts, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the misguided westerner, Frosine, explaining how her chakras were all in alignment as she attempted to work her matchmaking magic).

The acting was really very zippy, with Krupa Pattani back as the miser’s daughter, Dimple (so adorable!), the very sexy Sam Kordbacheh as her boyfriend Valmiki (the ideal lover, I couldn’t help but seem him as a Krisha/Adonis cross, yum!), and the remarkably harsh Antony Bunsee as Harjinder the miser, so very much in love with his money more than any of his children (and Deven Modha, Mehrish Yasin and Caroline Kilpatrick filling out the cast). Though there wasn’t much budget spent on extras, still the simple costumes captured character well (I loved the flowered dress for Mariam and the over the top fat dress for servant Lalli Farishta) and the tiny set changes very successfully made the brick walled building into (for example) a garden.

In short, this was a perfect jewelbox of a play, with engaging acting, a riotous script, and lovely touches (like the music, which could have stood on its own) that made me believe that these classics really did have a life outside of the Dead White Men world of theater. And all this for only 15 quid! I’m sure there will be lots more sold out houses; as for me, I’m getting my tickets to Dick Whittington Goes Bollywood before the word gets out how great the home-grown shows at this off the beaten path venue are.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, September 28th, 2012. It closes on October 13th.)

Reader deal for “The Claribel,” part four of RETZproduces Six Part Tempest in Shoreditch

May 13, 2012

Over the last few months, I’ve been greatly enjoying watching the Tempest unfold slowly, one hour at a time, one month apart, in an abandoned shop in Hoxton. I feel like these extracts have been provising me with interesting insights into the characters of The Tempest, and I love the intimacy created by having a maximum of about ten audience members per performance. The latest installation, “The Claribel,” is about to open, and I’m pleased to say I have a deal to offer readers of my blog: free drinks with each ticket. Leave a message here and I will email you the secret password that may well lead to you receiving a drink from the hands of Caliban her/himself.

Details for booking online are at the Bordurian website. Performances will be THUR / FRI / SAT / SUN this week and next at 7pm & 8.15pm nightly.

Ticket deal – Royal Ballet triple bill (Asphodel Meadows, Enigma Variations, Gloria) two-fer

November 7, 2011

Spotted in this morning’s Metro: a two for one deal for orchestra stalls seats to the Royal Ballet’s next Triple Bill (Asphodel Meadows, Enigma Variations, Gloria) – normally £63 each. It’s good for November 19th at 2pm, and the 23rd and 29th at 7:30. To get the deal, go to the Royal Opera House’s website and enter Metro into the “Do you ave a code” box (and click “Go”) or call the box office and quote the Metro offer. When you enter the code into the website, the prices will show up at normal price AND at the “Metro discount” price – select the radio button for the discounted tickets. (And it appears it isn’t a two-fer so much as a half off, so feel free to take advantage of this offer in odd numbers if you need to.)

Two for one tickets for American Ballet Theatre at Sadlers Wells 2011

January 26, 2011

Well, after staring down the 70 pound tickets for the last two months, Sadler’s Wells has finally done the reasonable thing and cut a deal on top-priced tickets, which are now available at two for a total of seventy quid. Reasonably enough this is only possible on the shows that haven’t sold so well, so we’re looking at Thursday February 3rd, Friday the 4th, the Saturday the 5th matinee and both performances on Sunday the 6th. This allows you to see both rep one and rep two, so … well, if you’ve been hesitating, now’s the time to dive in. Hey, you could even catch both versions of program 2 (as the Saturday matinee has the pas de deux from the Nutcracker if I’m not mistaken). Their site is broken as I write but details on which is on when can be found here.

To get this deal, call 0844 412 4300 and quote “celebrate the city” or go online and use the promo code pcdcelebrate when prompted.

Great deal – two for one tickets for La Soiree (updated La Clique)

October 26, 2010

Two years ago I went to and loved La Clique – so I’m really pleased to see that the team is mostly back with a new show called La Soiree, taking place at the South Bank in a tent instead of in the rather stale confines of the Hippodrome. Fortunately Metro has a two for one deal on Ringside seats (normally £40 each), which can be had by calling 0843 221 0999 and quoting “Metro.” It’s not good for the early shows on Friay and Saturday and only valid through November 14th, so make your reservations now – early reviews have been very positive.

Great deal – 2 for 1 tickets for Le Cirque Invisible

August 6, 2010

Thanks to a discarded copy of the Independent I picked up on Tuesday, I’ve got info for a great deal: two for one tickets to Le Cirque Invisible at the Southbank Centre. Usable dates are limited: August 5-7, 10th and 12-13th August, 7:30 PM shows only; and the 2:30 PM show on August 11th 2010. It’s only good for top price tickets, but I think two people for £30 is a really good deal! Call the Southbank Centre (0844 847 9910) and quote “Independent Offer” to take advantage of this deal. The show continues through to Wednesday 25 August 2010, but the deal is only good on the dates listed above.

Review – 11 and 12 – Peter Brook’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord at the Barbican

February 6, 2010

Last night I went with J and A to see the new Peter Brook show at the Barbican Center. To be honest, I hadn’t really cared much about what it was about: I just wanted to see something by Peter Brook! I mean, can you say legend? I personally can barely remember any names of people involved in theater at all (it’s a personal failing, or, rather, it’s how I like it to be); mostly I worship the cult of The Author. Anyway, I had bought tickets back in December for this thing, and I’d gone for a preview performance (extra savings), and, in a moment of genius by the Barbican in their pricing structure, I’d actually bought second row seats for far cheaper than anything in the middle, meaning that I was feeling quite damned smug when I realized that for a mere six quid (with further member discount) I’d scored an entirely brilliant position right in front of the stage, second row center.

Okay, well, truth be told, I wasn’t actually feeling that gleeful, because the description of the show I was about to see made me think of, I kid you not, skipping out on it altogether. Colonial Africa – oppression – stupid religious factionalism driving people apart. It just all seemed like another opportunity to be lectured at from the stage by yet another smug white person who wanted to make sure we all were feeling guilty about how we’d screwed the world up. GAH message productions GAH depressing content GAH being lectured to on stage. It just made me want to club a baby seal, or, you know, sit and drink instead of watching the show. But, crap, it did say that it was less than two hours running time (around 90 minutes), straight through no break, so … I made myself go.

As the curtain metaphorically opened on the stage (as there was no curtain but you know what I mean), I saw an utterly stripped down set, basically four tree-ish sticks on rolling platforms in front of a very large rectangle of fabric, with a musician (Toshi Tsuchitori) off to the side. Its “lessness” was like being hit in the head with a … er, club, and what it said was This Is Peter Brook. Because, you know, Peter Brook is Mr. The Empty Stage and pretty much any time you see so very little on a stage it is saying Peter Brook Was Here even if it’s not a show by him. But this was a polished perfection of lessness. Nothing looked cheap or “settled for;” it looked “I thought very long and hard and this is exactly, without question, how I wanted to express my vision.” I was impressed, not by it’s “lessness,” but by … well, shit, it was like seeing some painting by Dali or somebody of that caliber, where just nothing was left to chance. It was like an altar, every tiny bit seething with meaning and potential. In London, the received theatrical style is so much one of explicit realism, and, while I do really appreciate the perfection of that form, this was every bit as powerful as any overdesigned, 100% historically accurate reproduction of the sort I feel I’ve seen rather a lot of in recent years. Brook’s set was like leaving the planet London for, er, Antartica.

Or, in this case, Africa. 11 and 12 is set in Mali, in the Africa that was ruled by the French, in a period of time that’s not discussed too explicitly in the play but which seems to be about thirty or forty years that end after World War II (based on a description of the types of people who were kept prisoner at a certain jail in France). But we’re not loaded under a mountain of teachy historical specificity and boring recitations of begats: instead, we’re given a few people, a random occurrence, and one young man (Tunji Lucas) making his way through life.

Now, there’s a weighty atmosphere of Life Under the French (a matter of some interest to me after my visit to Morocco; I’ve felt hatred for America before but never such a loathing as I experienced there for a nation as individuals), but the skein is one of friendships and the strange ramifications of the inadvertent twelfth recitation of a prayer. The young man is the student of a kind, religious man (Tierno, Makram J Khoury) who tells parables and basically teaches peace and acceptance; but in an atmosphere of paranoia and control where the French Directorate is basically a stand-in for every police force in the world that could just as easily been created by Kafka. The ongoing questions is, why are two halves of this country arguing to the point of murder over whether or not a prayer should be recited eleven or twelve times? This is the question that weighs heavily on the play, not which number is right. The French see eleven as a point of rebellion; the people see the choice of one or another as a matter of identity; those who worship the way of peace – for so Tierno and his peer (Cherif, Khalifa Natour) are despite being on opposite sides – see it as a matter of no importance.

This attitude of theirs is what makes this play more than just a perfectly told tale of one man’s life as a bureaucrat under an oppressive regime and turns it into something rich. I loved the presentation and the imagery and the cat and mouse games the locals played with each other and the French; I was interested in the history that was being slid in; but I really enjoyed feeling my mind expanding to think about the philosophical questions Tierno and Cherif brought up. This was no glad-handed Hakuna Matata crap; it was solid questions about what divides us, what makes us human, how does religion fit into it all, why are people cruel. I wasn’t just getting a story; I was getting an insight into humanity.

As it ended and I sat there thinking (and talking) about what we’d just seen, I tried to pick it apart to find the flaws. Yeah, the women depicted didn’t have very flattering roles. And there was a certain lack of spontenaeity to the production – everything seemed to have been thought out to the very last second and to lack room for … I don’t know, breathing, for the actors to be in the now and not just performing the perfectly chosen “this is the word, this is the movement” the production seemed to dictate. The only second I saw that didn’t seem to be prechosen was when Khoury couldn’t get a tree to sit still and had to move himself to the ground, soon after to be followed by Khalifa. But otherwise, every lovely moment of ever so very little seemed to have been scripted from the ceiling right down to the floor.

Still, though, it was all really done so well. As we left, I remembered that I’d seen Peter Brook’s name a million times at my house, on the side of a little textbook my husband has from his college days. How could someone I associated with crumbling paper create something so alive? I went expecting to be preached to and instead enjoyed this lovely vision of people living and thinking about their lives that seemed so just … perfect. Like everything I always hope theater will be. And I only paid six quid to be in the middle of all this. I felt a bit like a cheater; I hadn’t paid so little to have so very much given to me. But how would Tierno have seen it? I think he would have seen it as an opportunity to give back. And so I give this to you. 11 and 12: gosh, it was good. I know it was better than almost everything I saw last year, and will likely rise like cream amidst the shows of 2010, as it is a piece of truly outstanding theater. Don’t miss the chance to see this. 11 and 12 is theatrical perfection.

(This review is for a performance seen on Friday, February 5th, 2010. It was supposedly a preview but I have no idea how they’re going to improve it. For further reviews, please see A Younger Theater and The Guardian. My husband is going to buy the book it was based on, Hampate Ba’s “The Life and Teaching of Tierno Bokar: The Sage of Bandiagara.” Also,Toshi Tsuchitori was fantastic. The show runs through February 27th. Hesitate to purchase tickets and live to regret it.)

Half price ticket deal for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s “Cyrano” and “Quantum Leaps” (short works) programs

November 3, 2009

Today the Metro has a great offer on Birmingham Royal Ballet’s November visit to Sadler’s Wells: £38/£29 seats for half price (these are considered “top price,” same discount applies for a cheaper Wednesday matinee). Available for Quantum Leaps on November 10th and 11th and for Cyrano on November 13th and 14th. Call 0844 412 4300 and quote “Celebrate the City Offer” to book (£2.20 booking fee) – or go to the Sadler’s Wells website and enter “pcdcelebrate” in the promo code field after selecting your tickets to get the discount (£1.50 booking fee). Make sure to pick from the top price ones or you will not get a discount. I consider Birmingham Royal Ballet to be one of the best ballet companies around and highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to see these two new works when they come to London.

Review – The Mountaintop – Trafalgar Studios

July 20, 2009

On Saturday, J and I went to see The Mountaintop, which had just transferred to Trafalgar Studios after a successful (and sold out) run at Theatre 503. I had wanted to see it but missed out as tickets weren’t to be had, and gave up; but then I got an email from the Ambassador’s Theatre Group announcing that it had been picked up for a run at one of their properties, followed by a hot £10 deal from LastMinute.com. Woo! As I’m spending July in brokeville, this was great news – a show I really wanted to see … and could afford! Even in row N I was still excited to be there – and though many people came in late (when King takes a phone call), based on the fact the house was full, I think there were a lot of people who were as excited as I was. (Pent up consumer demand, perhaps?)

“The Mountaintop,” in summary, is a play about Martin Luther King Junior’s last night on earth, which was spent in a hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. We know it is his last night, and that he will be assassinated at 6 PM the next day, but he does not. He has just given his glorious “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, in which he says God’s allowed him to go up to the mountain and see the Promised Land. But with the door shut behind him in his hotel room, the playwright (Katori Hall) has King (David Harewood) display more of what is going on in his head – a man who is (rightfully) fearful of spies, startled painfully at every crack of thunder, and jonesing for a hot cup of coffee and a pack of Pall Malls to get him through the night and the speech he’s writing.

Hall adds to this already emotional mix Camae, a saucy, sexy hotel maid (Lorraine Burroughs), who seems initially to be a dramatic means of lightening up the grim mood. She gives King someone to talk to about his fears – about his worries about his people’s commitment to the movement, about people’s lack of involvement and quickness to criticize, about what would happen to the movement in the seemingly inevitable case of his death. In addition to providing King with his much longed for cigarettes, Camae gives him someone to tease, flirt, and have a pillow fight with (showing us a much more human side of his nature), but also pushes back on his assertions and give him flack for being a “bourgie negro” – which really tones down what could have been some syrupy hero worship.

In retrospect, I have to say I was pretty slack-jawed to discover the leads were actually both English, since not once did I catch their accents slipping (and they both had noticeably different accents, appropriate given that they came from such different backgrounds). I was unsure about Harewoods portrayal of King insofar as he kept fairly frequently falling back on King’s “preacher voice,” which I felt sure would have been used less when having a discussion behind closed doors. (While pleading with God to see things his way, sure, he could pump it up, but not while discussing which brand of cigarettes was his favorite.) However, thanks to the seamlessness of the acting, I was quite caught up in the action for the entirety of the 80 minutes running time. Hall threw a ringer in the show by having it seriously go off into left field “la la” land at about 50 minutes in – a good thing given that it seemed the next turn it was going to take was going to be very X-rated – but somehow I was able to swallow this Deux Ex Machina and just roll with the rest of the show.

And God, you know, I really liked it. It could just be because I’m American and this stuff really resonates with me. It’s my history, it’s the one American of the last 50 years I’m most proud of, it’s stuff I really care about. And the last 5 seconds of the play – this is embarassing – made me tear up.

I can’t say whether or not everyone will enjoy this play because it hit my own personal buttons way too well. But I had a great night, and I’d like to see the theater just as full every night of its run as it was for mine. It’s very much about two characters dealing with their own issues and not some cheesy preachy show that’ll leave you feeling like someone just read a history book out loud to you, even if you do wind up learning something in the end.

God, it was good.

That said … I’d like to leave you with the words of the man himself, one of the greatest orators of the 20th century, in the guise of putting some historical context to the title of the play.

But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life – longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

(The Mountaintop continues at Trafalgar Studios through Saturday September 5th, 2009.)