“Tina, The Musical”
at the Aldwych Theatre
8th May 2018
“Oh yes, I’m touched by this show of emotion
Should I be fractured by your lack of devotion?”
I recall Tina Turner’s career comeback as the once derided ‘fortysomething singing has-been’ in the early 1980s. Our children learned to recognise the foot acceleration in my car when “Simply the Best” rang out of the radio! My only regret was not being able to go to one of her concerts.
So here was the next best opportunity to being at a Tina Turner rock concert: “Tina, The Musical”.
Born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee, and loving singing in Baptist choirs, Tina (Adrienne Warren) learns to cope with her parents’ separation. Many will know what came next, whether from Turner’s autobiography or the 1993 film “What’s Love Got to do with it”: a churchgoing youth that gives way over time to fervently held Buddhism, alongside episodes of abuse most often at the hands of an ex-husband, Ike Turner, who gives the soulful Anna Mae her newly alliterative stage name. In the first hour, light is shed also on other struggles: racism, ageism, Tina’s conflicted relationship with her mother, and her own struggles trying to raise a family while simultaneously building a career. Continue reading Tina
‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ at the Aldwych Theatre
9th July, 2014
‘You cannot make my thoughts a crime’
‘But I can, you see’
Thanks to the mnemonic we learned in history lessons: ‘divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived’, we are familiar with this summary of Henry VIII’s serial marriages. The monarchy is historically all about male succession, and Henry produced no viable male heir. (Elizabeth, who succeeded him, was the daughter of Anne Boleyn.) This, then, was the springboard of all internal political action as well as of international affairs. Marriage was business. And marriage was the prerogative of the church, whose blessing was required to validate it.
Mike Poulton’s compression of the royal power politics over 1,000 pages of Hilary Mantel’s fictionalised biography of Thomas Cromwell in ‘Wolf Hall and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ into two plays is a masterful achievement. Even pared down, the effect sharpens wit and focuses our perspective on the two main characters: Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII.
There is little sense of the historical textural loss of Mantel’s well researched narrative of Tudor England in the 16th century. Christopher Oram’s stark fixed set is a vast concrete-and-steel prison-like box with a huge cross of light dominating the back wall. The contrasting richness of the costumes are a reminder of how Mantel presents detail;how she loves embroidery, decorative baubles, textiles. The result on stage is like watching a Rembrandt canvas come alive. Cleverly, Paule Constable uses light to seemingly brighten Henry’s world every time he appears.
More importantly, the focus becomes the dense rich dialogue which informs the audience and drives the narrative on. Continue reading Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies