Theatre Binge

I appear to have *accidentally* been to the theatre twice in the same week last month. That happens, right? 

Hammersmith Lyric is beautiful. Who knew? 

It was an organic thing; one show got booked by a friend, another by me on a discounted seat offer. Then when I checked my diary I realised was seeing both shows within 6 days. That, my friends, is a theatre binge. The repressed actress in me is clawing her way out this year. 

First up: Tipping the Velvet at Hammersmith Lyric 

The only version of this I'm familiar with was a TV adaptation that was on in 2002, so I was keen to see how it played out on the stage. Hammersmith is close to home, so it's a nice night out and an easy journey home. I saw this production on it's final night in London.

My, this was a treat! A very musical and aerial adaptation with some amazing actors in it. Even though a small cast played many roles, it was so well done that it was hard to notice. It's not at all what I had in mind from the TV adaptation but it was fantastic! This was the premier run at Hammersmith, it's next in Edinburgh and I hope as many people get the chance to see it as possible. It's genuinely funny and heartwarming. 

Next: Showstopper! at Apollo Theatre (Shaftsbury Avenue)

I love improv (because I suck at it) and the idea of a fully improvised musical really appealed to me because it sounds so bloody clever! Two weeks after I learned this show existed I got sent an offer for a £15 stalls seat. Shut up and take my money! This was a West End show, so I'm pleased some of my cash went to a local theatre as well as the big guys in Central London.

Well, this was a great Friday night of entertainment. It's full improv (so there's few set up games) and the audience are made to feel like they're in control of the whole evening, The host asked to us to provide 4 or 5 musicals that we'd like the style of the evening to flow in, we gave it a location setting, someone picked a brilliant name for the show (and got a mug as a prize for doing so) and the rest was done by the (6) players right in front of us.

The players are left to run riot with the material, gently guided by the host when he can see they're starting to struggle a little (or if he's just feeling particularly wicked and wants to cause some trouble).

For the second act, we were asked to Tweet what happens next; how do we want the second act to open? What happens to the characters in the story? The host read a lot of these out before the second half got going and, as the act unfolded, all the suggestions read out got integrated into the show (including mine, which pleased me greatly as it was political and they made it totally ridiculous, I loved it).

It's a loud, entertaining night, you'll be out of the doors by 10pm, so you get home at a good hour. They also run a loyalty scheme, so if you want to come back and see it again (as you'll get a new show) you can bring a friend for free. You just need to ask an usher in the lobby for a card.

Showstopper! is still running throughout November, so you can still get in to see that if you wish and Tipping the Velvet is currently on in Edinburgh I hope my reviews encourage you to get out and see some theatre. Don't leave all your arty trips for visits to London, despite how amazing a trip to the West End really is; get looking at what's on around you, go see something amazing and support your local theatres; their funding is getting cut and that means prices might get hiked - so get out there and support them! 

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