London theatre

My Night With Reg

My Night With Reg – originally written by Kevin Eylot and revived/directed now by Robert Hastie – features a six-man cast over three acts of hard-hitting, yet bittersweet, drama. Set in the 1980s, during a time where AIDS and HIV were a particularly prominent and life-threatening issue for the gay community, the play follows the friendship of Guy (Jonathon Broadbent), John (Julian Ovenden) and Daniel (Geoffrey Streatfeild): three gay men all entwined and emotionally connected to one another differently, yet all experiencing unique and heartbreaking love triangles with the illusive (and never seen on stage) Reg. It recently transferred to the Apollo Theatre following the success of its sold-out run at the Donmar Warehouse.

Although the story is centred predominantly around the complicated friendships of Guy, John and Daniel, the lighthearted element of this uncompromising, yet hilarious, play comes from unlikely lovers Benny and Bernie (Matt Bardock & Richard Cant) and young bartender-come-painter/decorator Eric (Lewis Reeves). Where the five older men share their life experiences of heartbreak, infidelity and holding secrets, Eric in particular brings an innocence and distraction to the group in both his youth and naivety.

In just under two hours, My Night With Reg breaks modern-day taboo and addresses the devastating impacts and life-changing ways that AIDS and HIV have effected – and still do affect – both the sufferers and those closest to them. The play is an entertaining and compelling watch, but for those with a low attention span and poor blood circulation the absence of an interval could be a little problematic.

Hilariously enough, whilst TfL have been frantically censoring the play’s ‘cheeky’ underground poster campaign, the audiences of the Apollo have been treated to a little more than a bum cheek or two each night, as Julian Ovenden and Lewis Reeves bravely don their birthday suits for a small segment of Act 3.


Bare bottoms aside, seeing My Night With Reg is a worthy way to spend a night at the theatre – even as you’re nursing two dead legs shuffling out onto Shafetsbury Ave afterwards!


Another great night with the #LDNTheatreBloggers . Thanks Official Theatre and SeatPlan.


The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

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Mark Hadden’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ hit bookshelves back in 2003 to a tremendous response. In its first year, it won Whitbred’s Book of the Year and sold more than two million copies. A year later, it won an Alex Award and became the joint-winner of the Boeke Prize. In 2012 it was adapted by Simon Stephens and opened at the National Theatre to sell-out audiences. Showing no sign of stopping, the play transferred to the Apollo Theatre in March 2013, where its success continued until an untimely and unavoidable temporary closure in December 2013. Last week, the play re-opened to a celebrity-packed audience at its new home of the Gielgud Theatre – reclaiming the five star reviews that the production is renowned for.

The story follows 15 year-old Christopher Boone (Graham Butler). Both incredibly smart and unintentionally quick-witted, he suffers from Aspergers Syndrome and Autism which makes it hard for him to socialise and bond with others. After discovering his neighbour’s dog, Wellington, dead with a pitchfork in his side at precisely 12:07am one evening, Christopher takes it upon himself to be ‘very, very brave’; investigating the local area and attempting to find the dog’s killer.


But the story of this production is only the cherry on top of an incredibly well-constructed cake. Though Christopher’s tale catalyses from the death of Wellington, the themes and subject-matter highlighted throughout are the real reason this play continues to bowl over its audience night after night. Not only does it unravel hard-hitting truths about the way in which people so often treat one another, it exposes how the lies that we can become so easily entangled in can often spiral to levels unanticipated; to depths out of our control.

Leading a phenomenal cast, Graham Butler is simply sublime as Christopher. He depicts a character who is both captivating, endearing and, at times, uncomfortable to watch; much like the disability of his counterpart. Not only does he faultlessly deliver his script, he has the task of constructing and interacting with the complex set around him and, specifically in Act 1, leaves the audience nothing short of awestruck before the interval. Other honourable mentions must go to Emily Joyce and and Nicholas Tennant playing Christopher’s parents, Judy and Ed. Their heartbreak and emotional torment truly oozes into the audience, leaving viewers with a real sense of the struggles and difficulties that parents, not just those with a handicapped child, experience.


But, above all, the lighting and set design of this production sets ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ a world apart from the rest. Academy-award nominated Bunny Christie’s set design is a true spectacle and a perfect representation of the complex and fascinating mind of Christopher Boone. Paule Constable’s lighting design only adds to the visual mastery created by this creative team and, together with ingeniously choreographed stage movements (Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett) this play sets a whole new standard in West End theatre.

With honest emotion, tasteful comedy and unexpected surprises, this play is a complete must-see. I left the Gielgud Theatre emotionally fulfilled and with a new-found understanding of the Pythagoras Theorem – and I’m almost sure no other production in town can achieve that.

Jess x

Many thanks to Official Theatre for granting me the opportunity to review this wonderful production. Go follow them on Twitter for regular stagey updates and brilliant interviews with West End stars.

Photos owned by National Theatre.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels


Based on the classic 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ has been revived by director Jerry Mitchell to all it’s former glory and much, much more. Staying true to the original storyline, the audience join Lawrence (Robert Lindsay) and Freddy (Rufus Hound) on their journey to con-artist domination, competing against one another for Miss Christine Colgate’s (Katherine Kingsley) fortune; both in her purse and her pants. Set in the French Riviera for the most part, the musical emits the perfect combination of charm, cheek and side-splitting humour, all undoubtedly owed to the humorous script and genius songbook created by Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbeck respectively; a truly entertaining theatre experience and one that reflects the brilliance of what London’s West End is capable of amidst untimely show closures and disarray elsewhere in the industry.


Starring Robert Lindsay (Lawrence), Rufus Hound (Freddy), Samantha Bond (Muriel) and Katherine Kingsley (Christine), there is certainly nothing dirty nor rotten about ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ casting. Where Lindsay delivers the charm and charisma notable of a ‘scoundrel’, Hound simply excels in providing the ‘slapstick’ comedy and consistent humour that the show bases itself on; together, the pair are unstoppable. Whilst the duo are comedically exceptional, the star of Act 1 is unarguably Lizzy Connolly in the role of Jolene Oakes (a blonde and boisterous Oklahoman with an inherited fortune). Her performance of ‘Oklahoma?’ catalyses audience hysteria and together with Lindsay and Hound the trio continue to leave viewers roaring with laughter throughout musical number ‘All About Ruprecht’. Connolly’s vocals were only to be matched by Katherine Kingsley (Christine), who steals the show completely with her stunning voice and outstanding performance. The development of Christine’s character in Act 2 is, perhaps, the best moment of the entire production and Kingsley shines in all aspects of her diverse role. Of all the brilliant musical numbers this show has to offer, none project themselves quite as uniquely as ‘Love is my Legs’ (performed by Hound and Kingsley) and even the toughest of audiences would find it a challenge in keeping a straight face from this number on. 


Refreshingly, the musical is not centered around romance although it does contain some endearing moments. Samantha Bond and John Marquez as Muriel (Lawrence’s latest scam victim) and Andre (his loveable French sidekick) provide the perfect touch of romance and passion amidst the comedy and laughter. Their performance of ‘Like Zis, Like Zat’ is both sweet and funny and only adds to, rather than hinders, the comical backdrop built up by the other characters. Marquez, in particular, is perfect in his depiction of his French counterpart and maintains the accent wonderfully throughout his musical numbers.


Lavish in both costumery and set design (Peter McKintosh), the show leaves little to the imagination and spares the audience of any subtlety. Choreographically (Mitchell), especially during ensemble numbers such as ‘Great Big Stuff’ and ‘The More We Dance’ routines only match the slick and polished look and feel of this dapper production. Whilst the audience are thoroughly entertained throughout, none are enjoying themselves more than the cast onstage. Lindsay and Hound engage with the audience and play on personal ‘slip-ups’ throughout; only adding to the humour and brilliance of the production. 

With West End ticket prices on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly more important to feel as though you’ve had your ‘money’s worth’ out of a show. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is worth every hard-earned penny paid towards a ticket and, furthermore, will leave you planning a return visit. Get down to the Savoy Theatre and see for yourself! 

Jess x

Photos are copyright of Via Jess.