Thought Tom Conti was good, and the waitress was super, but thought that otherwise the first half was so boring and wooden (sorry) that we - for the first time ever, having paid good money for the ticket - actually left at the interval feeling that we couldn't stand any more. Terribly disappointed as we go to all the Chocolate Factory shows and normally love them all, but not this one. - Love the MCF normally.
09 May 11
DREADFUL! That's just about all I can bring myself to say about this play. What on earth were the Menier thinking when they put this utter and badly acted tripe on?
Nothing lasts forever!
Sad. - CJM
06 May 11
Not one of Jack Rosenthal's best works, particularly in the first half, in which noone seems very likeable, and everybody barks at each other incessantly. At the end of the act, the book writer (Natalie Walter) and producer (Tom Conti) sit alone in a hotel room and have a normal conversation, and you get to relate to them as human beings, with shades of moods and motivations. This already good scene became better still when Carrie Quinlan's waitress entered, and hilariously critiqued their play, and both principals reveal immense vulnerability by taking her words very much to heart. The second half of the play continues to be entertaining and amusing, and Richard Schiff stands out as an egomaniacal yet downbeat composer. However, Cameron Blakely's one-note shouty performance as the director detracts from just about every scene he's in. A mixed bag. Incidentally, I sat next to Maureen Lipman, who must have returned her plus one just before I bought it. She joked that the seats were so close we'd be very intimate, though I never acknowleged I recognised her as I thought that might be rude. I only remembered that Jack Rosenthal was her husband when the lady on my other side asked me if I was Jack Rosenthal's son in the interval! - Steve
17 Apr 11
Was this the first show title to be followed by an exclamation mark? Did it start it all? If only it was worthy of an exclamation mark.
Jack Rosenthal wrote some terrific TV plays, including The Knowledge and The Evacuees. One of them, Spend Spend Spend, was turned into a successful musical. Another, Bar Mitzvah Boy, a less successful musical, the experience of which provides the inspiration and source material for this play, which seems to be about as successful as the musical.
Iím not quite sure why itís so flat. Itís occasionally very funny, the design by Paul Farnsworth is good and the performances are OK. Maybe 30 years on, it just isnít particularly original. Somehow the story of endless re-writes and backstage disagreements now seems ever so conventional and the characters now stereotypes. Thereís the naive first time book writer, novice lyricist, the veteran Broadway composer, the know-all American director and the Jewish (?) producer who tries to please everyone to keep it all together. Itís two hours of endless re-writes as the show progresses from office to rehearsal room to Manchester try-out and finally to the West End. With Rosenthalís wife Maureen Lipman originating the idea of reviving it and his daughter Amy in charge of Ďadditional materialí maybe itís just too respectful to the original?
Iíve never been fond of Tom Conti Ė the John Wayne of theatre, who has raised glibness to an art form Ė and despite the heavy accent, he again plays Tom Conti Ė this time in big suit and moustacheÖÖ with an accent. The West Wingís Richard Schiff is well cast as the veteran composer, though he seemed to be going through the motions last night. Josh Cohenís lyricist is the most likeable character and he plays him, well, likeable. Carrie Quinlan made such an impression in a tiny cameo as a waitress that she got a round of applause as she left the stage Ė in my experience, an honour normally reserved for Ďstarsí.
A bit of a Ďso what?í show, Iím afraid. Itís now over a year since I had a great night at the Menier Chocolate Factory Ė something to be concerned about given itís at the heart of Off-West End. - Gareth James
15 Apr 11
This is a poor play, there were hardly any laughts last night in the first 40 mins and I was not sure the cast were even on top of their lines.
They do not perform Mondays maybe that was why.
Sorry but the lead actress was totally miss cast.
It comes to something when one short scene with a Northern hotel maid (Carrie Quinlan) steals the whole night. - choc fac fan
06 Apr 11
Really disappointing. Admittedly I saw a preview and it has obviously improved but this is not one of Jack Rosenthal's best efforts. Natalie Walter was dreadful in the lead. It might be better with a stronger actress. Tom Conti had a very fragile grip on his lines the night I attended and newcomer Carrie Quinlan gave the only good performance of the night. Save your money! - diane
04 Apr 11
Seen in the intimate Menier Choc Factory, one felt part of the whole thing. A very enjoyable play and showed us the audience, the headache that a show/play must be to set up. It was very witty with Tom Conti in fine form as the Producer who wants to say what he needs to say but not upset some of the prima donas he is dealing with. The rest of the cast are all good in their roles and I loved the short but vital part by Carrie Quinlan--very funny.This play should do well and feel it should transfer into the West End in one of the small theatres like Trafalgar Studios as more people need to see it. - Joe Spiteri
Whatsonstage.com - Discount London theatre tickets, theatre news and reviews, Theatre videos, Theatre discussion, National Theatre Listings. Covering London's West End, all of Theatreland and all UK theatre. The best
for London Theatre Ticket Discounts.