Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Harold Pinter Theatre, 2017

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Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf perfectly illustrates the difference between the questions “Was it good?” and “Did you enjoy it?”
This is a fantastic play, and a wonderful production of it. The acting was immense from all four characters. Imelda Staunton was as brilliant as you would expect, there is nobody better at making you understand the frailty of a dark, flawed individual, and she can change from a vicious harridan to a seductive, provocative vamp in the blink of an eye.  Conleth Hill was a revelation, he lives that part – how he can keep up that intensity for three hours per performance is incredible.
The direction is sparse, keeping you focussed on the people and the set is simple but effective. Three hours is long for such heightened emotions but the time flew by because of the compelling nature of the character interaction. However, it is comparable to watching a car crash in slow motion because, the farther you move into the play, the stronger the realisation becomes – that there can be no happy conclusion here. The only option is to sit and watch in morbid fascination, to see just how bad the casualties will be.
So, I did not enjoy it very much, it wasn’t written for enjoyment, but this does not prevent it being one of the best plays on in London at the moment.
The audience really appreciated their effort, it is a rare thing these days to see the whole audience stand in ovation from curtain down, but they did here, and this was truly deserved.
If you get the opportunity to see this production, I recommend that you gird your loins, prepare yourself mentally, but definitely go.

Anyone Can Whistle, Union Theatre, 2017

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Anyone Can Whistle at the Union Theatre is an ebullient production of a lesser known Sondheim musical. Originally performed over 50 years ago on Broadway, it is certainly one of his shows that deserves a second hearing.
The storyline is quirky, this production brings out the humour and mayhem very nicely.
It has some great characters; Felicity Duncan is excellent as the power hungry, desperate to be loved politician, Rachel Delooze and Oliver Stanley are both very good as the lovelorn fake investigator and the fake doctor, and their final duet “With so little to be sure of” is a thing of beauty.
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It is packed with fantastic classic Sondheim songs: “Me and my town”, “There won’t be trumpets”, “Parade in town”, “Everyone says don’t”, “Anyone can whistle” and “With so little to be sure of” are all from this show!
The ensemble here are great, the stage can seem a little packed at times, but this works very well for the chase scene and the dance numbers are filled with energy and inventiveness.
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With all the talk of political madness and fake news, the time is right for the revival of this wonderful, undervalued musical and I thoroughly enjoyed this production.
This is a show that is not revived often enough, you should go to see it while you have the opportunity!

Georgia O'Keeffe, Tate Modern, London, 2016

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Georgia O’Keeffe at the Tate Modern is a very big exhibition. There are thirteen room filled with paintings from every period of her career and there are also some works by her friends and collaborators. It was a nice, unexpected bonus to see some Americana by Ansell Adams included in the show.
It is arranged mostly chronologically and with so many pieces on show, you can watch her style developing through the decades. The earliest pieces are from the 1910s and you can see a hint of the time in them. The 1920s pictures and the New York ones have the slightest art deco feel and her ability with colour is profound even from the earliest days.
The 1920s,1930s flower pictures are probably her most famous and they look so modern, vibrant and current even now that it is difficult to imagine how new they must have seemed 80 odd years ago.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s move to New Mexico brought another complete change of style. the only common factor being the inspired use of colour throughout. There are also series from the 1940s and 1950s where some are more minimalist in nature and others are figurative.
The latest pictures date from the 1960s and you can also see the times reflected here.
Initially, I thought that the entrance fee, around £16, was pretty steep for a single show. However, it is probably one of the largest shows that I have ever seen, you won’t really feel like seeing much else in the Tate Modern on the same day, and the quality of the paintings is such that, on balance, it is good value for money. There is also enough depth to the exhibition that you can really see the arc of her development as you walk round the show and it is very interesting to watch those changes over the course of such a long, talented career.