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Giggity Giggity goo
Tue 3rd Jul '07 11:26PM
2708 Posts
Amanshu's Avatar
Member Since
25th Aug '04
Avenue Q 10/10
Think muppets. Now think about them on stage. Now imagine them getting drunk and having sex.

This is the essence of Avenue Q, and I've got to say it's great. It's kind of like a weird version of Sesame St for adults including such great songs as "you can be as loud as the hell you want (when you're making love)" and "everyone's a little bit racist".

It charts the adventures of Princeton, who's just graduated from uni with a BA in English (another great song - "What do you do with a BA in English?") and finds himself renting a room on Avenue Q. There he meets an assortment of colourful characters whilst he hunts for his purpose.

The weird thing about this show is that the puppeteers are on stage right behind the muppets. You can generally see them the entire time - and it doesn't matter, you end up just ignoring them. There's even one point where one person is voicing two muppets who are in the middle of having an argument!

It's completely different to normal theatre, hilarious, and contains two of my favourite characters ever - the bad idea bears! Seriously if you get the chance then go see this show.
Second opinion by Clara on 26th Nov '08 10/10
Just saw this. Soooooo funny! Puppets really do get up to the rudest of things.
   Average Rating 10

Giggity Giggity goo
Wed 31st Oct '07 11:24PM
2708 Posts
Amanshu's Avatar
Member Since
25th Aug '04
Lord of the Rings 9/10
It created an entirely new genre, been successfully turned into three major blockbusting films, had a cartoon created, topped that Big Read thing not too long ago and sold millions of copies in many, many editions.

Yes, I'm talking about the Lord of the Rings.

I should also add that having read it three times and watched all three films at least twice (but not the special extended ultra amazing editions) I can't stand LotR.

I'll happily explain and expand on this if you want in a proper thread, but that's not the point of this review, because I've finally found a version I enjoyed. Namely the stage version of Lord of the Rings. I mean the stories still rubbish, but that hardly matters with a spectacle as impressive as this. It's got to be the best use of the height of a stage I've ever seen. People are regularly seen flying around the stage, which has about ten different parts to it that can all rise to different heights. The Orcs are agile back flipping creatures of menace that on occasion bounce over the heads of the cast. The Rangers of the North are shadowy figures who wield staffs twice as tall as they are. The Ents are stilted giants of fury and warmth.

The fight with the Balrog truly gives you the impression of being blown away by a huge furnace. Gollum is still annoying, but the RingWraiths are truly terrifying. A lot more could have been made of the fight between Gandalf and Saruman, but that's less of a worry because there's only so much you can take in, and there's a lot to take in.

And it's funny! Finally a version that's funny!

Seriously, if you get the chance, even if you hate LotR like me, you should take the time to see this. But I'm still going to knock a point off, because it's still the LotR
Second opinion by General on 16th Nov '07 7/10
When I heard that someone had made a musical of LOTR it did occur to me that it could very well be the worst thing ever. However Peter Jackson has managed to make some of the most awe inspiring action films of all time out of the epic trilogy so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt especially after Amashu's largely positive review.

As you might imagine with such a vast amount of story to cover the book is considerably cut down with vast tracts removed and the ends cleverly sewn together so it still makes some kind of sense. Even so the story goes at a frankly ludicrous pace in order to fit the story into 3 hours including the interval.

Make sure you arrive early as the show starts as soon as the doors open with the hobbit actors setting the scene of hobbiton via some seemingly improvised material before the main show starts. This is a smart move as there is practically no time given to the these scenes in the main performance.

Without a doubt the stage is the star of the show. It's a fairly epic contraption which rotates and is split into multiple sections which can raise and lower independently to form whatever landscape is required for that scene.
The effects are also superb with much wire work in evidence and the way that the Balrog and Shelob are done is some of the most impressive bits of stage engineering I've seen.

I did have a few problems with the show. Firstly and perhaps unavoidably the early sections with the Hobbits are somewhat twee especially as the musical themes put you in the mind of morris dancers.

Though it features some song lyrics in the text LOTR does not lend its self to being a musical and it felt to me that it was switching between the plot and a nice song by a flying elf which finished without the plot having moved forward at all.

The most grievous impact to my enjoyment of the show was the really rather poor performance turned in by the actor playing Gandalf. He had absolutely no gravitas, was very hard to understand and his nod to being a wizard was to add random accents and pauses into his speech that were frankly bizarre. I know we were spoiled by the fantastic Ian McKellen in the cinematic version, but surely someone should have realized that next to Frodo this was the most important bit of casting in the whole shooting match.

Overall the adaptation has worked very well considering the constraints of fitting a quart of book into a pint pot of show, but the performances were middling and songs were unmemorable. The production values however are quite staggering which left me with the feeling that the show was impressive rather than great.
   Average Rating 8

Even red onions have a silver lining
Tue 26th Aug '08 3:31PM
838 Posts
Clara's Avatar
Member Since
27th Sep '04
Fat Pig 9/10
Wow, oh wow.

Went to see this on a whim with my mum whilst on a little break to London. I admit at that point that the main attractions were Robert Webb (for me) and Kris Marshall (for mum). I am so glad that we went.

The play centres on Robert Webb's character, Tom. His main relationships are with those he works with in a hot-shot corporate environment. His best mate, Carter (Kris Marshall), is brash and opinionated, but definitely not in a good way. His ex, Jeannie, (Joanna Page from Gavin and Stacey) works there too. She is beautiful, skinny, but ultimately unappealing.

One day Tom meets Helen. She's funny, she's beautiful, she's a librarian (top girl). She's also overweight. He falls in love with her, she with him. It's completely believable as the writing and direction ensure that even their speech patterns match. You honestly think they are made for each other.

However, Tom has two major things to deal with - his workmates' attitudes and his own fear of the reactions the couple get when they are out together. The rest of the play concentrates on how he tries to resolve these things. Mostly, this is hilarious. Towards the end, it is heart breaking. Really. I cried.

All of the cast are brilliant in their roles, but special mention has to be made of Robert Webb and Ella Smith as the central couple. When they are the only ones on stage, it is a magical pairing, whether they are creating hilarious comedic scenes or touching emotional ones.

My only quibble is that the director has obviously instructed them to use American accents (as the play originated there), but is really isn't necessary. The play never refers to any specific locations, so the actors could have kept their own. It's not that they weren't good at speaking in them, more that it was a bit distracting to begin with when you know that's not how they normally speak.

This cast aren't in it much longer, but I'm sure the next lot will be equally brilliant. Go see!


Giggity Giggity goo
Tue 25th Nov '08 4:23PM
2708 Posts
Amanshu's Avatar
Member Since
25th Aug '04
Ed Byrne - A different class 10/10
Ed Byrne is that guy off Mock the week, and to quote him, he's not quite famous. He's famous enough to release a DVD, but not famous enough for it to sell well.

Which is a shame because he's hilarious.

A different class is his current comedy tour and it focuses on class. Because Ed Byrne doesn't know quite what class he is. He's sort of in a weird zone between the working class and the middle class. With monologues rambling across how he proposed to his wife, how 'hilarious' his father is and eating pheasant with his in-laws, this is a hugely enjoyable look at... well everything.

From what little I know of the technical side of comedy he creates sheer genius. He often sets up punchlines five minutes in advance, skipping around subjects with hilarity until you suddenly realise what he's been leading up to. Then of course you discover the real punchline five minutes later. His entire attitude to comedy seems to be one of inclusion, throwing the occasional question at the audience to draw them forth into his little corner of the world.

Plus it helps that he's utterly hilarious.

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