Stuart Michael at Wonderville.

Psychic Medium Stuart Michael begins his national tour later this year in September 2023. For two nights, only Michael takes to the stage at the home of Wonderville in Piccadilly Circus. Once home to the famous restaurant “Planet Hollywood,” the spacious venue offers room to drink, socialise with friends and family, and enjoy a show.

Set in a cabaret style auditorium. The audience sits around tables and a few in balcony seating around the edge. The relaxed setting opens up the walkways for Michael to move freely around the audience guided by the spiritual energy.

Michael commands the auditorium throughout the performance. Showing empathy to those whom he delivers some rather challenging messages to. His calm and reflective personality allows you to feel safe in his company. There’s no gimmicks or special effects that could spoil the performance.

From believers to non-believers and all those in-between. There are details from certain channelled messages that I find hard to believe could have been staged. The attention to personal details, along with audience reactions, suggested it was completely genuine. As a first-timer watching a psychic performance, I came away impressed with his strong understanding and empathy of his “gift” and how carefully he used it throughout the evening.

Regardless of your viewpoint on these performances, I would strongly recommend catching Michael when he goes on tour. He offers a truly intriguing insight into the psychic world and is a first-class class act.

For further information on the upcoming tour and future productions at Wonderville, please visit the links below.

Four Stars.

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The Circle by Somerset Maugham.

The Circle Production photos taken on 29th April 2023 at the Orange Tree Theatre in London Director: Tom Littler Designer: Louie Whitemore Lightening: Chris McDonnell Cast: Jane Asher, Pete Ashmore, Clive Francis, Nicholas Le Prevost, Chirag Benedict Lobo, Olivia Vinall, Robert Maskell

Artistic Director Tom Littler’s first production The Circle is now performing at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond. The round Theatre layout offers challenges for a director and producer with setting the stage to allow an almost 360-degree visibility to the entire audience. However, after last night’s press night, I felt this has been achieved perfectly.

Jane Asher stars in The Circle playing the disgraced Lady Catherine Champion-Cheney who’s invited to stay in the Country estate owned by her estranged son of thirty years Armold Champion-Cheney (Pete Ashmore) and his wife Elizabeth Champion-Cheney (Olivia Vinall). Reunions after this many years are undoubtedly going to have conflict.

Lord Hughie Porteous (Nicholas le Prevost) dry quick witted humour is an absolute “hoot” and although he appeared grumpy at times I could see the spark of life which would have enticed Lady Catherine away from her former husband Clive Champion-Cheney (Clive Francis).

Somerset Maugham’s story The Circle first arrived on the stage in 1921. Some of the outdated ideals and attitudes from that era no longer exist in modern-day England. However, reading the experiences and career path Muughm had taken the rich tapestry of characters would have undoubtedly crossed his path during his lifetime.

Quintessential Englishness and a reminder of colonial days are reawakened within this adaptation of The Circle. Littler has created a respectful and absorbing production which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Watching the Bridge card game fascinated me. I discovered that after talking to Littler the entire game is timed to perfection, and each card is accurately played during the narration by the cast involved. The scene is perfectly delivered, and it was hard to believe that you weren’t watching a real game of cards.

There’s nothing to dislike or criticize about The Circle, and it certainly has an established, acclaimed cast who has a powerful onstage chemistry. For a taste of days gone by Englishness, I highly recommend putting this on your “to watch” list.

For further information on The Circle and future productions at the Orange Tree Theatre, please use the link below.

Photo credit Ellie Kurttz

Five Stars.

Waldo’s Circus of Magic and Terror by Hattie Naylor and Jamie Beddard.

Many years ago, circus entertainers were renowned for being part of a “freak show.”  Hugh Jackman led The Greatest Showman into the cinema in 2017 as the American circus entertainer P.T Barnum put those who were “different” into the public eye and created a platform for their talents.  Waldo’s Circus of Magic and Terror follows this theme and is the third show in the company’s diverse-led circus program.

Waldo (Garry Robson) leads his troupe throughout Europe during the rise of Hitler in Germany. The constant threat of danger and Hitler’s determined views on removing anyone he deemed to be “not perfect” in his strive to create the perfect Arian race, laid heavy on Waldo’s shoulders. As a wheelchair user, he knew his days were numbered as he battled to keep the show going.

The multi-layered production brings together actors and circus acts with a range of challenges and disabilities. Ranging from deaf, wheelchair use, rs and neurodiverse, and a range of “extraordinary bodies” create an evening of incredible entertainment.

Relationships are featured throughout the show. From the turbulent father and son disagreement between Waldo and Peter (Tilly Lee-Kronick), which almost gas catastrophic consequences to the romance between trapeze act Krista  (Abbie Purvis) and circus Newcomer Gerhard (Lawrence Swaddle). Krista’s dwarfism holds her back initially from becoming involved as she fears Gerhard will lose interest once the novelty wears off. He eventually proves that he isn’t going to treat her in that way.

On many occasions during the musical parts the band accompanying the singers tended to be pitched too loud and sadly drowned the voices out. Which I have given as feedback and hopefully this will be rectified. There are some incredible soloists in this performance which deserve to be heard.

My plus one for the evening was extremely impressed with the production. They claimed it was something so different but brilliantly performed.

Actors of all abilities should be celebrated more often and Waldo’s Circus highlights the excellent possibilities available when actors are given a chance to shine. Each performance includes BSL interpretations, Captioned and Audio description.

For more information on this circus performance and future productions at The Mast, please visit the links below.

Four Stars.

Waldo’s Circus of Magic & Terror

Glory Ride by Victoria Buchholz.

Gino Bartali rode to glory for the second time in the Tour de France in 1948. However, Glory Ride focuses on the riders bravery during World War II, where he risked his life and used his privilege of being allowed out of the city to be able to ride in the mountains at night, to deliver documents that saved hundreds of Jewish children from persecution and death.

Based on the book by Victoria Buchholz and her father Todd Buchholz. Glory Ride is a new musical telling the story of Gino Bartali. The book was inspired after Victoria was inspired nine years ago while travelling to Tuscany and reading about him. She decided it was part of history that deserved to be brought to life.

Josh St Clair, in the role of Gino Bartali, looks every part of the athlete as he takes to the saddle on numerous occasions during the musical. His skill at manoeuvring the bike with a trailer attached to the smaller stage was impressive, and I dare say he needed some practice.

Bartali agrees to work with the resistance against the “black shirts” who have taken over the city to deliver false papers and doctored documents to Jewish people fleeing for their lives to the Swiss border. Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa (Niall Sheehy), together with Giorgio “Nico” Nissim (Daniel Robinson), protects the children, and Nissim sets to work on the documents.

The star of the night belongs to Amy Di Bartolomeo playing Adriana Bani. From the moment she began singing the hairs on the back of my neck raised, and I knew she was about to deliver an amazing performance, and she did throughout the musical. One of those voices I could listen to on repeat.

The new musical is not without its faults. I felt there were at times too many musical numbers, and sadly, some of these merged into each other. This could easily be rectified with some tweaks and editing, though.

Glory Ride is a fascinating story that even in today’s world, where the world is watching the war in Ukraine we can see the dangers faced by those fleeing for safety. I admire the risks and principles held by Bartali openly and knew the dangers he faced to give so many a chance to live.

For further information on this new musical and future productions at Charing Cross Theatre, please use the link below.

Photo credit Marc Brenner.

4 stars.

F**king Men by Joe DiPietro.

F**cking Men by Joe Dipietro based on Schnitzler’s La Ronde explores attitudes and sexual relationships, encounters, and liaisons through a gay man-themed perspective. Disclosing secrets and attitudes are often not openly shared.

Alex Britt, Charlie Condou, Derek Mitchell, and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge certainly have a fantastic rapport on stage and trust in one another due to some of the extremely intimate settings and scenes the four engage in.

The theme of using sex as a form of connection rather than love repeats throughout the play. Which Offers an intriguing insight into how monogamy is perceived by some of the community. Desperate to express their emotions in an intimate act can be almost as acceptable as a “handshake”.

Phot credit Darren Bell.

The older guys in committed relationships saw sex outside of the relationship as a right of being a gay man. I am not sure if this is a universal idea in the gay community, and I very much doubt it is. Although heterosexual men often view sex in a different way to women and “cheating” can be described as a connection usually because the female partner “doesn’t understand them!”

Director Steven Kunis used the cast of four in an extraordinary performance, entwining characters and constantly moving through the liaisons without little time to reflect on the emotional impact it might have on the couples. Bringing “F**cking Men” to a new generation of theatergoers looking for something different.

I was fascinated with the screen of perspex windows, which divided the stage in two used throughout the performance. All or individually Illuminated, depending on which section of the stage was in use at the time. From total whiteout where you couldn’t see through to clear vision.

Lighting Designer Alex Lewer used these windows to create moods and dramatic effects by incorporating colour changes on all or some of these sections as to which mood was required. The impact brought the stage to life.

There’s plenty of nudity, themes of a strong sexual nature, and touching moments of intimacy. Attitudes surrounding A-lister men who require anonymity around their sexuality are still even now in fear of not being cast I am told is still relevant today as it was in fifteen year’s ago when the play first debuted. This is not a play for anyone easily embarrassed. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

For further information on this play and future productions at Waterloo East Theatre please use the link below. However, my understanding is that the run of this production has currently sold out.

Four Stars

The Sun, The Mountain, and Me by Jack Fairey.

The mindful state between genius and madness is often closely linked. Arthur ( Jack Fairey) is an artist surrounded by many unfinished paintings and boxes that require attention before he and his girlfriend Tara move into their new flat. Are her concerns justified?

Arthur discovers a book on ancient Greece while organising his belongings. Icarus desperately wants to reach the sun and taste freedom after being imprisoned in the tower. Becoming the focus of Arthur’s attention, he explores in depth how he perceived Icarus felt at that time.

As the artistic mental block that has shrouded Arthur, lifts he becomes absorbed into his work once again and loses track of time, location, and mental stability.   Forgetting the commitment he has made to Tara to attend their party.

Tightly written by Fairey bringing modern-day life in Egham together with ancient Greek mythology and World War Two Kenya in the painting, he is desperately trying to finish for his brother, Ethan for his birthday.

Mental health can creep up upon us without a clear realisation of what is happening until faced with catastrophic consequences. Unfortunately for many, there isn’t an Ethan there to save the day and help put things into order without judgement.

Joe Malyan created a chaotic artistic setting for Fairey’s performance. Screens at the back of the stage allowed the colour changing walls to come to life during his moment of madness! Adding to the dramatic impact of the story.

In seventy minutes, you experience a rollercoaster ride of emotions and an insight into the way the grip that mental health can have upon you without warning to the sufferers. Although from the outside, it’s uncomfortably apparent.

For further information on this play and future productions at Brockley Jack Theatre, please use the links below.

Four Stars.

Generation Games.

Generation Games offers two one act plays in one evening at the White Bear in Kennington. Starting the evening with A Certain Term by Michael McManus followed by I F_____n’ Love You by Charlie Ross Mackenzie.

The two plays follow similar themes of love, loss, and life in all its glory. Older gay men who have seen life through a different generation of hostility and violence hiding themselves away for fear of repercussions. Accepting that a time in history has passed and who are refreshed by the younger guys who come into their lives and embrace their sexuality and want the men in their lives to be proud of who they are. Seeing that the world has changed and maybe it is time to remove the labels.

Graham (Luke McGibney) is busy preparing his flat for a party. When the doorbell rings and Joe ( Simon Stallard) arrives forty-five minutes early. Graham is extremely manic and dashes in and out of the kitchen with nibbles and wine. Living on his nerves desperately trying to suppress who he is and how he really feels about his ex-partner Robert. Living an unfulfilled life in fear of being hurt and alienated.

The storyline is complex, and past ghosts and trauma become unpacked and laid bare. Once you allow yourself to open your heart to feel and heal from deep-rooted trauma, anything can happen!

In the second play Adrian (Charlie Ross Mackenzie) and Simon (Joe Ashman) live together and work in television and media. Adrian’s fifty-something with a frequent bladder in need of emptying.

Bucks Fizz have reformed, and he’s compiling questions for the next day’s interview. It’s getting late and the couple really should be getting some sleep. However, Simon’s past liaison with Sophie is explored and a buried part of his past is unveiled leaving the couple questioning each other over whether they want to have children or not.

The experiences faced by the generations’ differences run throughout both plays. The younger generation in both relationships unaware of the reality of the struggles and angry homophobic aggression faced by many gay men in the 1980s, especially when AIDS hit the headlines.

Both plays offer an insight into the changing attitudes of gay man from different generations and society. From the world of dark “dirty” secrets surrounded in shame to the acceptance by their families and the general population at large. Something I strongly believe in and feel that everyone should be free to love who they choose.

For further information on these plays and future productions at the White Bear in Kennington please use the links below.

Four Stars.

Pantomime Awards 2023 at Trafalgar Theatre.

Trafalgar Theatre’s currently home to the West End hit musical Jersey Boys. Tonight, 11th April 2023, the theatre was taken over by the prestigious Pantomime Awards 2023 event.

The glamorous evening of awards, entertainment and hosted by one of the UK’s “national treasures ” Christopher Biggins, the UK Pantomime Association president.

Butlin’s red coats entertained on the red carpet as the guests arrived, adding a touch of circus atmosphere to the evening events. They were on hand all evening in the auditorium to help award winners and hosts to and from their seats throughout the evening.

The evening would not have been complete without a fitting and heartfelt tribute to the remarkable and entertaining Paul O’Grady who had recently passed away. It is clear from the standing ovation at the end that he will be terribly missed in the world of entertainment.

A special lifettime award was awarded to Su Pollard for her many decades of passion and commitment to treading the boards in pantos around the country and her ongoing support to those in the industry.

Sir Ian McKellen won a special recognition award, which celebrates productions and individuals representing UKPA values for his passionate support and services in the pantomime industry.

Here is the full list of winners from the evening ceremony: 

  • Best Choreography: Stillie Dee – Jack and the Beanstalk, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (Crossroads Pantomimes) 
  • Best Comic sponsored by Santa Himself: Adam C Booth – Cinderella, Grand Opera House, Belfast (Crossroads Pantomimes) 
  • Best Costume Design: Jasmine Swan – Beauty and the Beast, Mercury Theatre, Colchester (In-House) 
  • Best Dame sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment: Brian James O’Sullivan – Maw Goose, Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling (In-House) 
  • Best Director (sponsored by John Good Ltd): Estelle van Warmelo – Beauty and the Beast, The Courtyard, Hereford (In-House) 
  • Best Ensemble sponsored by Stagecoach: Mairi Barclay, Adam Brown, Gabriel Fleary, Becca Francis, Shailan Gohil, Richard Leeming, Genevieve Nicole and Laura Tyrer – Mother Goose, Duke of York’s Theatre, London (Ambassador Theatre Group) 
  • Best Lighting Design sponsored by Production, Light & Sound: Sally Ferguson – Dick Whittington, Nottingham Playhouse (In-House) 
  • Carmen Silvera Award for Best Magical Being: Jo Osmond – Beauty and the Beast, Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury (Evolution Productions) 
  • Best Contribution to Music sponsored by Howden Insurance Brokers: Emma Fraser – Dick Whittington, Octagon Theatre, Yeovil (Evolution Productions) 
  • Best Early Career Newcomer sponsored by Staffordshire University: Neha Eapen – Cinderella, Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds (Paul Holman Associates) 
  • Best Newcomer to Pantomime sponsored by Staffordshire University: Vernon Kay – Cinderella, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe (Imagine Theatre) 
  • Barbara Windsor Award for Best Principal Lead: Jasmine Triadi – Cinderella, Salisbury Playhouse (In-House) 
  • Best Script: Joyce Branagh – Jack and the Beanstalk, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell (In-House) 
  • Best Secondary Lead: Ohaana Greaves – The Further Adventures of Peter Pan, Fairfield Halls, Croydon (UK Productions) 
  • Best Set Design: Mark Walters, Nina Dunn and Matt Brown – Beauty and the Beast, Swansea Grand Theatre (Imagine Theatre) 
  • Best Sisters: Andrew Pollard and Alim Jadavji – Cinderella, Lighthouse, Poole (In-House) 
  • Best Sound Design: James Cook – Aladdin, Derby Arena (Little Wolf Entertainment) 
  • Best Supporting Artist: Anna-Jane Casey – Mother Goose, Duke of York’s Theatre, London (Ambassador Theatre Group) 
  • Best Villain sponsored by Breckman & Company: Ben Locke – Robin Hood, Theatr Clwyd, Mold (In-House) 
  • Best Pantomime (Under 500 seats) sponsored by Butlin’s: Robin HoodTheatr Clwyd, Mold (In-House) 
  • Best Pantomime (500 – 900 seats) sponsored by Butlin’s: Mother GooseDuke of York’s Theatre, London (Ambassador Theatre Group) 
  • Best Pantomime (Over 900 seats) sponsored by Butlin’s: Beauty and the BeastSwansea Grand Theatre (Imagine Theatre) 
  • Special Achievement Awards: Ian McKellenCast, Doncaster, and Theatre Royal Stratford East 
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: Su Pollard  

Until next year, the 2023 Pantomime Awards have come to a close. Congratulations to all the nominee’s across the country and to all the winners.

For more information, please visit the link below.

RAH by Laila Latifa.

The semi-biographical story told by Manal through rants, movement, and raw honesty towards her secret and forbidden white boyfriend isn’t for the faint-hearted. Descriptions of forced imprisonment, eating disorders, and controlling behavior endured at the hands of her Muslim father.

RAH explores the internal battle taking place between who Manal wants to be against the paternal hold her Father has over her. A Casablancan Muslim Manal describes everything that pretty much everything that she does staunchly goes against his religion, from drinking and smoking to showing her ankles.

Honour killings within certain religious communities are rarely discussed until one takes place that will hit the mainstream media, which will then report the event in detail, shocking the wider community who can’t believe this has happened. However, there are around twelve each year, which on average, is one per month, and I don’t recall hearing about that many.

However, a strong sense of hypocrisy came through the performance upon learning that Manal’s mother is from Ireland and is white and from the United Kingdom. Which left me Questioning just how strictly religious her father is. As he broke his own rules to father Manal.

Laila Latifa’s performance is powerful, and as expected with a Semi-biographical production, the audience can feel her passion through every movement and word. Yet, as with many Fringe venues, the audience numbers were low, and this is a production that deserves to be seen.

For more information on this play and future productions, please use the link below.

Four Stars.


Visitors written and directed by Barney Norris.

Visitors by Barney Norris tell the touching story of Edie (Tessa Bell-Briggs) whose onset of dementia has created life-changing decisions that are being discussed by the family around her. Fear, confusion, and flashbacks map out the new reality that dementia patients endure.

Arthur (Christopher Ravenscroft) lives and breathes the family farm. He is the third and final generation to work the land. The love shared between the couple is the heart and soul of the farm. Arthur explains that without Edie, he has no reason to stay.

When Kate (Nathalie Barclay) arrives on the farm to help care for Edie it allows the couple to remain on the farm together longer. I felt her character was underdeveloped in places and I kept waiting for her to reveal something, which never arrived.

Family dynamics rarely work out the way people expect them to. Edie and Arthur envisaged a large family with one of the children inheriting the farm and continuing the family tradition. Sadly only one son arrived and Insurance worker Stephen (Patrick Toomey) has no interest in working on the farm and rarely visits his parents.

His feelings of failure as a son, father, and husband add to the tension created between himself and his parents. The amount of unsaid heartfelt conversations means that their honest opinions are never fully divulged or discussed. Like many other families who say nothing to prevent any arguments.

Philosophy runs throughout the play. Edie often remembers flashbacks to their earlier years and memories long forgotten. One particular memory appears several times of the beautiful lady dressed in a white wedding gown on the beach, the details are fresh in Edie’s mind, and it could have happened yesterday.

The times in which She ponders on whether she has lived the life she deserved and to its fullest. I feel everyone could relate to those thoughts and questions. Have we lived our best lives? Only one person can ever honestly answer that question. Edie never fully concludes one way or the other.

For more information on this play and future productions at the Watermill Theatre please use the link below.

Four Stars.