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Posts Tagged ‘Judith Paris’

Well, they may have big budgets and people off the telly in that theatre north of the river where another musical comedy thriller adapted from a film, American Psycho, has just closed but there’s as much fun to be had with this one south of the river at The Landor.

First staged in 1987, based on William Goldman’s 1964 novel (as was the 1968 film), Douglas J Cohen’s show is about serial killer Christopher (Kit) Gill whose mother, a famous broadway actress, has recently died. Kit never lived up to her expectations and having failed to make it as an actor, he sets out on a mission to find fame through murder. DI Morris Brummell pursues him, as well as pursuing his new love interest, whilst trying to live up to his own mother’s expectations. Several deaths later, Kit gets his wish – the front page of the New York Times – but he doesn’t stop there.

It’s a clever little story, which has an excellent book without a wasted moment and a fine score with witty lyrics. It’s very funny at times, but also manages enough tension to justify the description comedy thriller. Robert McWhir’s staging is slick and nimble and he has assembled a superb cast. Nicholas Chave leads a fine 5-piece band with some distinctive orchestration involving woodwind and xylophone.

Simon Loughton is a suitably creepy master of disguise and Graham Mackay-Bruce an the archetypal NYC DI, both outstanding with particularly fine vocal performances. Judith Paris is simply wonderful playing both (living and dead) nagging mothers and all of Kit’s victims with a handful of frocks and wigs and some quick changes. Kelly Burke completes the foursome as Morris’ girlfriend, vying with the killer for Morris’ attentions.

2013 was a great year for the Landor and this is a great start to 2014. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you’re there in this last week

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The life of code-breaker Alan Turing is an unlikely subject for a musical, but then again so were the Ipswich prostitute murders! Like London Road, this is more a play with music than a musical (though not sung verbatim interviews in this case). What they also share is how successful they tell their story, and in this case it also makes you reappraise a man’s life.

Starting as Turing goes to Sherborne School, we zip through school and university days and on to Bletchley Park and his huge contribution to the second world war. Moving on into his post-war research & teaching career in Manchester, you realise this is no simple code-breaker, but a scientific colossus whose theories were extraordinary prophetic. Sadly, we see him brought down by the naive confession of a private act that would today be a complete non-event. A genius cut down in his prime.

You do learn an extraordinary amount in 90 minutes, partly because the music propels and illuminates the narrative. They aren’t songs you could play out of context, but they are tuneful and very listenable with live keyboard and recorded accompaniment and some added live strings from cast members. The staging is simple but superbly effective, with projections and two on-stage racks of props enabling scenes to be created swiftly, and a giant document patchwork used to great effect.

Richard Delaney is excellent as Turing, completely plausible as schoolboy & undergraduate through twenty and thirty something. They are lucky to have someone as talented as Judith Paris to play Alan’s mother, which she does with great sensitivity. All other roles are played brilliantly by just five actors and it often seems there are many more than seven on stage.

Though I liked Hugh Whitmore’s play about Turing, with Derek Jacobi leading (27 years ago now and surely overdue for revival), I think I learnt more about his life from this show, which seemed to me to really get under the skin and capture the essence of the man, the monumental achievements, the sadness of his personal life and the waste that his premature death was.

I really do hope we haven’t seen the last of this little gem of a show. Huge congratulations to The New Diorama and it director David Byrne (responsible for the book, lyrics & direction) composer / lyricist Dominic Brennan and young theatre company PIT. There was a real bonus on the evening I went, with a man from Bletchley Park demonstrating an actual Enigma machine in the foyer!

Let’s hope it comes back so more people can see it.

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