Fredo's Theatre Group 
 
 
 
 
 
OnOurOwn 
  
Mike and I occasionally (OK - frequently) bunk off and see plays on our own, and sometimes I sit and think, "Oh, this is so good, I wish we'd taken the Group!". And so we're going to try to review some of the plays, etc. that we see on our own or with friends, with an explanation about why we didn't or couldn't or might book them for the Group, and what we think the Group reaction would be. Although individuals in our Group would have different opinions, our judgement of Group opinion refers to general taste and reaction, and the pleasure a production would give to most of those choosing to see it. 
Do you think you might have booked for any of these shows? Or have you seen something on your own? Do let us know by email. Your comments may help us when deciding on future bookings. Fredo 
 
These shows are the ones we have seen OnOurOwn in 2018.  
Click on each ad/logo/photo to go to our comments below. We don't review shows we have taken or will take the Group to see - you can do that on the Opinions/Comments page! 
Click on ads below for reviews on this page. Latest first. 
 
Click on ads below for reviews on another Archive page. 
Or click HERE to go to that page. The most recent is shown last. 
 
 
 
16.05.18 
Describe the Night by Rajiv Joseph at the Hampstead Theatre 
 
What’s it about?   Using a number of real-life characters and actual events, some fictional elements are added to the mix to present a dramatised examination of what is truth and how it can be supressed, distorted or exposed. The Russian KGB, and its predecessor NKVD, pursue one agenda with a writer (Isaac Babel) and a journalist on the opposite path. The drama covers the period 1920-2010, with scenes from those dates and some in between, hopping back and forth. For those scenes we are in Warsaw, Dresden, Moscow and Smolensk. A Russian NKVD/KGB officer, Vova, appears in most of the later action and is a thinly-veiled Vladimir Putin.  
What did it have going for it? First performed in Houston, USA, in 2017 the timing of the staging of the production here fits alarmingly well with recent events and shining a light on the role that Russia plays in world affairs must be worthwhile.    
Did we enjoy it? It was ambitious in its scale and at nearly 3 hours long a certain endurance and patience was required. There were good performances and a great set but it never really came together or got anywhere. The piecemeal approach gave it the feel of scenes often interjected into a docudrama where a worthy academic takes the lead. If only. The subject matter was relevant but this play didn’t engage the heart and not an awful lot of brain either. 
Our rating: 2/5 
Would the Group have booked? It might have appealed to those who enjoy a bit of old-style, or perhaps current, cold-war drama and it being staged at the usually-reliable Hampstead could have been an attraction. 
Would the Group have enjoyed it? Unlikely 
Group Appeal: 2/5 
Kathie 
19/05/18 
Mood Music by Joe Penhall, at the Old Vic 
 
    
What's it about? A young singer/songwriter battles an older producer for the rights to her song. They both confide in their therapists and are advised by their lawyers. 
What did it have going for it? Joe Penhall’s plays are always stimulating, and the Old Vic is generally reliable in choosing its plays. Ben Chaplin (replacing Rhys Ifans) makes a rare stage appearance, and the direction is in the safe hands of Roger Michell. 
Did we enjoy it? Very much. The dialogue is incisive, and it provides an absorbing insight into the music industry. I liked the style of the performance, on a thrust stage: the actors prowled around each other like predators, with one conversation cutting across another, scenes overlapping and desolving into each other. Ben Chaplin, Seana Kerslake, Jemma Redgrave and Pip Carter – all excellent - were ably supported by Kurt Egyiawan and William Findley. The beastliness of Chaplin’s character - arrogant, aggressive, rude, selfish, overbearing, cynical, and yet with a certain charisma - provoked a seething commentary from the women around me! I’m glad we went. 
Our Rating: 4/5 
Would the Group have booked? It was a bit of an unknown quantity. 
Would the group have enjoyed it? Some might have found it difficult to sympathise with either of the leading characters. 
Group Appeal:   3/5 
Fredo 
28/05/18 
Cosi Fan Tutte Music by Mozart, at the open air Opera Holland Park 
 
 
Rehearsal Photos by © Ali Wright for Opera Holland Park. 
What's it about? The love of two sisters for their lovers is tested in a cynical plot by an older man. Complications ensue… 
What did it have going for it? We were given tickets for this dress rehearsal by our friend Catherine. And it’s one of Mozart’s most highly-regarded operas (and therefore one of the most popular in the repertoire) 
Did we enjoy it? What the opera is really about is Mozart’s command of building solo arias, duets, trios, quartets, quintets and sextets into a dazzling (and somewhat lengthy) score. The perfection can become a bit relentless, but it was presented beautifully by conductor Dane Lam. The singers sang out very strongly. The lighting was erratic on this evening, but that’s what rehearsals are for. 
Our Rating:   3.5/5 
Would the Group have booked? We don’t book HollandPark, as it is expensive, and a bit far away. 
Would the group have enjoyed it? Yes, especially if you like Mozart. 
Group Appeal:   4/5 
Fredo 
Mike adds - This was a rehearsal with added interest. Mozart's music was given unexpected extra bass by the low notes of a background rumble. It was first heard at stage-right, faint but continual, and getting louder. Yes, a storm was approaching. The volume increased and then it hit us - thunder overhead and torrential rain on the canvas roofing of the marquee type theatre. The noise was deafening, nearly drowning out the brave orchestra and singers, but they battled on. And then the storm moved away to stage-left leaving Mozart commanding the performance again. We were just glad we were not at the Globe or Regents Park where there is no protection from the elements. 
 
09.06.18 
Monogamy by Torben Betts at the Park Theatre 
  
 
What’s it about? TV Chef, Caroline Mortimer, has a very trying few hours, partly of her own making. The action takes place in her beautiful kitchen, from where her TV show is broadcast, and she is joined at various times by her assistant, her husband and son plus, her carpenter and his wife. There are revelations a plenty that provoke strong reactions, often to intended comic effect but not without some more serious moments. 
What did it have going for it? This production has been touring since early May and an interesting premise, together with the very watchable Janie Dee, provided sufficient enticement for a Saturday matinee. 
Did we enjoy it? It’s a very busy play with lots of props, including the preparation and cooking of a meal, and the action and dialogue is pretty non-stop. It was also crammed with themes – fidelity, alcohol and drug use, sexual orientation, mental health, parenthood and more. If this were one of Caroline’s meals it would be 10 courses all served on one plate. As a result, it feels like there was a tick list of things to cover and ends up being rather formulaic and, to continue the theme, not easily digestible. Nevertheless, the cast, including Charlie Brooks and Patrick Ryecart, gave it their all and added to the general enjoyment of the play which builds to a crescendo of disaster. 
Our rating: 3/5 
Would the Group have booked? Possibly. The cast might have been an attraction. 
Would the Group have enjoyed it? There were elements to be enjoyed but, as we felt, the play itself would probably have been found to be lacking. 
Group Appeal: 3/5 
Kathie 
12/06/18 
My name is Lucy Barton Adapted by Rona Munro from the novel by Elizabeth Strout, 
at the Bridge Theatre 
 
What's it about? Lucy Barton, a successful American writer, recalls a time when she spent 9 weeks in hospital in New York, and was visited by her estranged mother from Amgash, Illinois. As the two women reminisce, Lucy re-evaluates her own life through the filter of their shared memories. 
What did it have going for it? Principally, it’s the London stage debut of Laura Linney, whose screen work we’ve admired for years. It’s based on the best-selling novel by Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Elizabeth Strout, whose work I enjoy (Olive Kitteridge, Amy and Isabelle). It is a one-woman monologue. 
Did we enjoy it? I’d done my homework, and read the novel and its companion-piece Anything is Possible. Elizabeth Strout makes careful use of words, and from the page, I had a worrying sense of restraint in her writing. Laura Linney, voicing both mother and daughter, is equally careful with words, and gives each one appropriate weight to convey the tensions that teem beneath the narrative. It’s a perfect match of writer and performer, and the audience were enthusiastic at the end. Mike was more enthusiastic about Ms Linney than about the play. 
Our Rating: 3.5/5 
Would the Group have booked? Probably – but it was rather expensive, and no group discount was offered. 
Would the group have enjoyed it? Oh yes, I think many women would identify with Lucy Barton 
Group Appeal: 3/5 
Fredo 
PLEASE EMAIL US WITH  YOUR COMMENTS OR SUGGESTIONS 
 
This is a list below with ratings of everything we see in 2018, with and without the Group. 
Our own theatre visits without the Group are shown in bold and the dates marked >. 
The list will be updated occasionally. 
______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
 
 
 
DATE 
2018
TITLE
THEATRE
 
Our Star Rating
The Group's Star Rating* based on comment
1
1
01/01/18
The Nutcracker
Covent Garden
 
*****
*****
2
 
03/01/18>
Follies (Last Night)
NT: Olivier
 
*****
n/a
3
2
05/01/18
Belleville
Donmar
 
***˝
n/a
4
3
09/01/18
Matthew Bourne's Cinderella
Sadler's Wells
 
***˝
****
5
 
10/01/18>
Belleville
Donmar
DF
****
n/a
6
 
13/01/18>
Pinocchio
NT: Lyttelton
 
****
n/a
7
 
15/01/18>
The Girl from the North Country
Noel Coward
comp
******
n/a
8
4
16/01/17
Matthew Bourne's Cinderella
Sadler's Wells
 
***˝
****
9
5
21/01/18
Barnum
Menier
 
***˝
****
10
6
23/01/17
Everyone's Talking About Jamie
Apollo
 
***˝
****˝
11
7
25/01/18
Julius Caesar
Bridge
 
****
***˝
12
 
27/01/18>
John
NT: Dorfman
 
****
n/a
13
8
30/01/18
Salome
Covent Garden
 
****˝
****˝
 
9
30/01/18
Lady Windermere's Fan
Vaudeville
 
n/a
****
14
10
04/02/17
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Wyndham's
 
*****
****˝
15
11
06/02/18
Girl from the North Country
Noel Coward
 
*****
****
16
12
09/02/18
Giselle
Covernt Garden
 
****˝
*****
17
 
13/02/18>
Julian Ovenden
Crazy Coqs
 
****
n/a
18
13
14/02/18
Mary Stuart
Duke of York's
 
***
****
19
14
05/03/18
The Birthday Party
Harold Pinter
 
****
****
 
15
05/03/18
Everyone's Talking About Jamie
Apollo
 
n/a
****
20
 
07/03/18>
The York Realist
Donmar
DF
****˝
n/a
21
 
10/03/18>
Summer & Smoke
Almeida
 
****˝
n/a
22
 
12/03/18>
Girls & Boys
Royal Court downstairs
 
****˝
n/a
23
 
13/03/18>
Brief Encounter
Empire
comp
***˝
n/a
24
16
14/03/18
Fanny and Alexander
Old Vic
 
***
****
25
 
20/03/18>
Pippin
Southwark Playhouse
 
**
n/a
26
 
20/03/18>
Kiss of the Spiderwoman
Menier
 
***˝
n/a
27
17
23/03/18
The York Realist
Donmar
 
*****
*****
28
18
27/03/18
Harold & Maude
Charing Cross
 
****
****
29
 
29/03/18>
The York Realist
(Sheffield)
 
*****
n/a
30
19
03/04/18
Brief Encounter
Empire
 
***˝
***˝
31
 
04/04/18>
Quiz
Noel Coward
comp
****
n/a
32
 
07/04/18>
Pressure
Park
 
****
n/a
33
20
09/04/18
Bernstein ballets
Covent Garden
 
****
****
34
 
11/04/18>
The Inheritance (Parts 1 & 2)
Young Vic
 
*****
n/a
35
21
12/04/18
The Best Man
Playhouse
 
***˝
****
36
 
16/04/18>
Chicago
Phoenix
comp
***
n/a
37
22
17/04/18
Quiz
Noel Coward
 
****
***˝
38
23
19/04/18
Manon (Ballet)
Covent Garden
 
****
*****
39
 
24/04/18>
The Phlebotomist
Hampstead Downstairs
comp
***˝
n/a
40
24
25/04/18
Ballet Triple Bill
Covent Garden
 
****
****
41
 
26/04/18>
Bat Out Of Hell
Dominion
comp
**
n/a
42
 
27/04/18>
Absolute Hell
NT: Lyttelton
 
****
n/a
43
25
01/05/18
Strictly Ballroom
Piccadilly
 
**˝
****
44
 
03/05/18>
Hamilton
Victoria Palace
 
*****
n/a
45
26
03/05/18
Macbeth
NT: Olivier
 
***˝
***˝
46
 
04/05/18>
Instructions for Correct Assembly
Royal Court: downstairs
 
***
n/a
47
27
07/05/18
The Way of the World
Donmar
 
****
***˝
48
 
09/05/18>
Red
Wyndhams
 
****
n/a
49
28
10/05/18
Lessons in Love and Violence
Covent Garden
 
***˝
****
 
29
10/05/18
The Best Man
Playhouse
 
n/a
****
50
 
11/05/18>
The Prudes
Royal Court: Upstairs
 
****
n/a
51
 
12/05/18>
The Writer
Almeida
 
****˝
n/a
52
30
15/05/18
Chess
Coliseum
 
***˝
****˝
53
 
18/05/18>
Describe the Night
Hampstead
 
**
n/a
54
 
19/05/18>
Mood Music
Old Vic
 
****
n/a
55
31
22/05/18
Nightfall
Bridge
 
**
 
56
 
24/05/18>
Consent
Harold Pinter
 
****˝
n/a
57
 
29/05/18>
Cosi fan Tutti
Holland Park
 
****
n/a
58
32
31/05/18
Consent
Harold Pinter
 
****
***˝
59
33
05/06/18
The Rink
Southwark Playhouse
 
***
***˝
60
 
09/06/18>
Monogamy
Park
 
***
n/a
61
 
11/06/18>
My Name is Lucy Barton
Bridge
 
***
n/a
62
34
13/06/18
Translations
NT:Olivier
 
 
 
 
35
13/06/18
An Ideal Husband
Vaudeville
 
n/a
 
63
36
15/06/18
Swan Lake
Covent Garden
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
*assessed from the comments on the Opinions page and feedback on the coach