Pinter Shorts, Trafalgar Studios

Harold Pinter is a legend of the theatre and his plays live on just as vibrantly even now he is gone. It is never a struggle to find brilliant, talented actors to tackle this playwright’s nuanced and thought-provoking pieces, exemplified in the cast of Traf Takeover: Pinter Shorts, which I was lucky enough to see in its limited run at the end of June.

This sparkling 45-minute production showcased two of Pinter’s shorter plays: Family Voices and Victoria Station. Both illustrate a mix of poignantly sad and hysterically funny anecdotes.

All involved in the production should be congratulated… making such concise scripts so scintillating is impressive work and I was astounded by the punchy performance, despite the one week rehearsal time. There is an amazingly young artistic team: Edward Stambollouian is one to watch in the directing realm and Emily Vaughan-Barratt shows great promise as a leading London theatre producer. The cast is stellar: Andrew Scott, Alun Armstrong and Joanna Lumley, a team of true professionals so comfortable on stage I felt I could watch them all night.

The 10pm late-night showing was a hoot, it felt like a very exciting club, but left you at the end of the night with so much more – it is a concept that is sure to catch on.

More information here.

Bianco, Roundhouse

I would recommend not taking a bag to the Roundhouse when you go to see Bianco. The NoFit State immersive promenade circus show requires just as much energy and alertness from the audience as from the performers. Guests are required to be very mobile, moving around the circular venue after each act… a unique concept but one that was rather frustrating with a heavy handbag and coat.

Internationally renowned for its dramatic live contemporary circus performance, blending jaw-dropping skills with untamed elegance and subversive edge, NoFit State returns to the stage with Bianco. There is little narrative, or at least no story that I could grasp. Instead the show is a series of visual vignettes displaying artistic and acrobatic finesse… the only theme? The colour white. With a constantly evolving tale set to a pounding soundtrack performed by a live band, this is an all consuming theatrical experience. Under the direction of Firenza Guidi the talented cast present a vividly imaginative performance.

Though I felt this show lacked wow factor Bianco does offer fantasy and awe, and there are a few moments of magic. The Cirque du Soleil life-defying risks are instead replaced with visually breathtaking acts exhibiting immense physical strength and incredible flexibility. For me it was the band that made the whole night worth the hassle… the gut-wrenchingly passionate musicians provided a mesmerising soundtrack for the evening.

NoFit State continues to reinvent circus with this stunning performance. After London the show will tour Brighton, Cardiff, Bristol, Narberth, Bangor and Edinburgh.

In London until 27 April, more information and book here.

Moulin Rouge, Feerie, Paris

The Moulin Rouge is an iconic landmark, and a must see Parisian extravaganza of feathers and fluttering lashes, foolery, flirtation and fun. Immortalised by painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and more recently remembered in Baz Luhrman’s famous film makeover, the glittering windmill is an image that we all associate with the glitz and glamour of vintage Paris.

As a wannabe Parisian girl who travels to the ‘city of light’ regularly, it seems bizarre that I have never seen the show at the windmill. The epic cabaret performance has become world famous, a legendary exhibition of beautiful bodies, colourful costumes and awe-inspiring acts.

Shows run twice nightly, at 9pm and 11pm, there is the option to dine beforehand; champagne is an almost compulsory addition to the evening. We stepped off the Eurostar train at 10.19pm exactly, dashing through Gare du Nord in search of a taxi. With no supper in our stomachs and the adrenaline of arriving in a new country keeping us awake, we drove straight to the 11 o’clock Thursday show buzzing. Skipping the queue (always book prior as it is usually sold out), we marched straight through the velvety windmill interior to take our seats in the plush auditorium.

The theatre itself is divinely sensual, circular tables glow with flickering lights and waiters skim the floor offering drinks. There is a hushed romantic feel in the crowded sea of audience and a great sense of friendship amongst visitors as groups share tables, chat and squeal throughout the show. We were sat next to a group of lovely ladies who insisted on topping up our champagne flutes and giggling with us at the daring acts.

The Moulin Rouge’s show, “Feerie” is a whimsical and magical production created by Doris Haug and Ruggero Angeletti. With complex choreography from Bill Goodson and stunning designs by Corrado Collabucci, it is a truly unique spectacle. Feerie aims to fulfil all the audience’s dreams with its four scenes: ‘The Moulin Rouge today and yesterday’, ‘The Pirates’, ‘The Circus’ and‘The Moulin Rouge from 1900 to…’

The show is captivating and utterly divine, polished and beautiful from start to finish. Highlights include an athletic girl swimming underwater with five squirming pythons in an impressive tank, the famous French Cancan, the staggering ‘singing in the rain’ balancing act and the incredible final dance – an explosion of bright pink people all over the stage.

I loved every minute of The Moulin Rouge and understand now why this famous show receives such rapturous applause and appreciation every night of the week, 365 nights a year. At the Moulin Rouge the music, dance and magic never stops.

More information here: http://www.moulinrouge.fr/