24th Mar2016

Miss Atomic Bomb (Theatre)

by timbaros
A scene from Miss Atomic Bomb @ St James Theatre (Opening 14-03-16) ©Tristram Kenton 02/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

A scene from Miss Atomic Bomb @ St James Theatre
(Opening 14-03-16)
©Tristram Kenton 02/16
(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

It’s a bomb that goes off during the production of ‘Miss Atomic Bomb.’ It’s not an actual bomb but a stink and sink bomb.

Taking us back to 1950’s Las Vegas, when the city was in it’s infancy, the U.S. government had began nuclear testing in the Nevada desert, averaging one detonation every three weeks. During this time Las Vegas became a booming metropolis for gambling, sex, strippers, quickie marriages, and divorces, in part thanks to U.S. government employees earnings which found it’s way into the town’s casinos and the hotels, among other things. The city of Las Vegas became more popular than ever and proposition renamed itself ‘Atomic City, U.S.A.’ This attracted many tourists who would come to see the mushroom clouds. Pre-blast day all-night parties were held, and so-called Atomic cocktails were drank. So with this came the beauty contest named Miss Atomic Bomb.

The show ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ gives us the beauty pageant in the form of one woman’s struggle to save her dead grandmother’s trailer. Candy Johnson (Florence Andrews) lives in said trailer with Myrna Ranapapadophilou (Catherine Tate). But the bank tells Candy that her grandmother actually died with a debt, so the bank man wants to take the trailer to pay off the debt. So Myrna hears about a beauty contest in nearby Las Vegas where a Miss Atomic Bomb will be crowned. So they decide that this is where they will get the money to pay off the debt, with no doubt in their mind that Candy will win. But before all this takes place, she meets soldier Joey Lubowitz (Dean John-WIlson), who’s on the run because he left the army. Well, Joey escapes to his brother’s Lou Lubowitz (Simon Lipkin) hotel, a hotel where Lou is automatically made manager after the local mafia shoots dead the existing manager for not obeying them. Coincidentally enough, the same hotel is where the beauty pageant is going to take place. Throw in a few contestants (one who man dressed up as a woman), singing and dancing (worthy of a high school musical) in between scenes, and very poor choreography and what you have is a recipe for disaster.

The music and songs seem to be made for another musical, they just don’t gel with the story. And some of the dancers missed their mark the night I saw the show, plus some of the actors didn’t have proper American accents. Also, in one scene a manequin’s head falls off, and not on purpose, but it’s appears that the manequin couldn’t take it anymore. And star attraction Tate, who’s been criticized in the press for her American accent being a bit too Australian-ish, seems to glide in and out of scenes. She gets to show off more in the second half, but by then it’s took late and the predictable ending doesn’t come soon enough. Andrews as Candy can sing, however she’s way too talented for a show like this. This British production, written by Adam Long, Gabriel Vick and Alex Jackson-Long, has too many jokes that fail, a script that’s not very good, and choreography that’s just plain awful.

28th May2015

McQueen (Theatre)

by timbaros

Lee Alexander McQueenFashion Designer Alexander McQueen committed suicide in February, 2010 at the age of 39. But his work and memory lives on, including in a new play simply called McQueen.

Stephen Wright plays (and looks just like) McQueen, who was one of the most celebrated UK fashion designers of our time. McQueen, though very successful, had a troubled life; drugs, depression, the suicide of his friend and muse Isabella Blow, who practically helped McQueen become the success that he was, and the death of his mother are some of the factors that probably led him to take his own life in his Central London flat on Feb. 11, 2010.

McQueen is written not as a play about his life but more about the journey McQueen took to build his career. The journey is brought on by fictional character Dahlia (Dianna Agron) – the idea taken from McQueen’s 2008 collection ‘The Girl Who Lived in the Tree.’ She’s basically a stalker who breaks into McQueen’s flat. He’s startled at first, but her childlike personality and beautiful looks and curvy body appeal to McQueen in a visual sense.

So McQueen and Dahlia travel through a few important milestones in McQueen’s life; the tailor shop where McQueen got his start and where, on the spot, he makes a dress for Dahlia. They go to his mother’s home, where she is upstairs in bed, sick. And McQueen gets to be reunited with the ghost that is Blow (a smashing Tracy-Ann Oberman), the woman who bought up all of McQueen’s first collection but who still wants to know why he didn’t take her with him to the top, and why did he leave her behind when it was she who made him what he was. In between these pit stops we are visually treated to very slow moving dancers who change the set and morph with, through and in between each other. Visually it’s stunning, you don’t realize the set is changing because the movements are so mesmerizing. But this doesn’t make up for the fact that McQueen the play is a bit too thin and doesn’t provide the theatregoer with a true celebration and story of McQueen’s life.

Wright is amazing as McQueen. In fact he looks exactly like McQueen did in his later years. Wright captures all of his mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, including the scene where he instantaneously creates a dress for Dahlia. It’s an excellent performance. Agron as Dahlia is given lots of soliloquy dialogue to recite – is she talking to McQueen, the audience, or to herself? And yes, she does recite, likes she’s reading from a teleprompter. Hers is not a great performance as she’s with the amazing Wright during the whole show. But Oberman practically steals the show from Wright in her all-too brief turn as Bow. It’s a showstopping performance, with Oberman dressed in a sexy negligee. Playwright James Phillips and Director John Caird have produced a play that is weak in biography but beautiful in its presentation, but we’re still left wanting to know more about McQueen and his life and his fashions. We will have to do with the V&A Museum’s Savage Beauty exhibition as well as the highly-acclaimed book about McQueen; Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin, by Andrew Wilson, as well as Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, by Dana Thomas.

McQueen is playing at the St. James Theatre until June 27th: