Crime & Punishment: A Rock Musical
Nineties kids might remember Willcox as ‘Barmy Aunt Boomerang’ on CBBC, but she had a big career in the late ’70s and ’80s with hits like ‘It’s A Mystery’ and ‘I Want To Be Free’. All her old tunes make an appearance, with some new songs too. They’re fun, but tend to interrupt the rather arch, overwrought Russian melodrama and its philosophical inserts about moral superiority, rather than complementing or enlightening it.
The adaptation by Phil Willmott (who also directs and acts in the show) has its merits and although it’s a brisk 90 minutes it feels pacy rather than rushed. All the necessary beats, from heinous act through falling in love and eventual contrition, find their moment and there are some semi-decent bits of acting in there too.
• Continue reading at Time Out. Read other reviews of Crime and Punishment here. (Photo © Time Out/Sheila Burnett)
Review | ‘Crime & Punishment’ at The Scoop amphitheatre in London
Dostoyevsky meets steam punk in this bold retelling of the literary classic.
Setting a theatrical performance of Dostoyevsky’s brooding novel Crime and Punishment in a world of steam punk is a brave choice; accompanying it with a soundtrack made up of Toyah Willcox’s classic rock anthems is even braver. The production team at Gods and Monsters Theatre Company have not only attempted this, they’ve pulled it off with all the brazen authority of an axe-wielding Raskolnikov.
The classic Russian tale opens the new season at The Scoop in London, a 1,000-person sunken amphitheatre, and follows Raskolnikov as he justifies the brutal murder of a pawn broker with his belief that it was for the greater good of mankind, that by using the money he steals for good causes he has the right to go above and beyond the law. Directed by Phil Willmott, songs like ‘Love Crazy’ and ‘Who Let the Beast Out’ are intermingled with the tale, fitting surprisingly well with the heavy story and lifting it into a lighter tone that can be enjoyed more readily by all.
• Continue reading at Attitude. Read other reviews of Crime and Punishment here. (Photo © Attitude/Sheila Burnett)
Crime and Punishment: A Rock Musical is a semi-jukebox musical, in that Willcox’s back catalogue is raided for some of the numbers, and some brand new songs have been provided specifically for the show. Somehow it all works surprisingly well! The jukebox musical approach can sometimes make a show feel forced, as songs are shoe-horned into a storyline, but everything (bar an inadvertently funny It’s A Mystery) gels really well together. It may help if you are unfamiliar with Willcox’s work, as I am, however the themes in the chosen songs fit the feeling of the scenes in which they are included. Given Raskolnikov’s frustration & revolutionary fervour, rock music is definitely the best way to express these feelings. It’s also impressive that quite a sizeable novel can be condensed into a 100-minute show, that still has a tangible storyline running through it.
Crime and Punishment: A Rock Musical runs at the Scoop (London Bridge City) until 25 September 2016. Entry is free – donations can be made & programmes bought on the day.
• Continue reading at Mind The Blog. Read other reviews of Crime and Punishment here.
Crime and Punishment review at the Scoop, London – ‘Dostoyevsky gets the steam-punk treatment’
Gods and Monsters Theatre has been creating exciting open-air theatre at the Scoop for the last 14 years. Unlike the cosy, enclave of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the venue is subject to the surrounding bustle of life on the Thames embankment and director Phil Willmott’s production employs the broad strokes necessary to attract and engage with an outdoor audience.
This year Dostoyevsky gets the steam-punk treatment. Willmott has tuned Crime and Punishment into a musical with the help of songwriter and composers Toyah Willcox and Simon Darlow.
The revolutionary undercurrent of nineteenth century St Petersburg seems an appropriate match for Willcox and Darlow’s soft punk score and a couple of crowd-pleasing hits including I Want to be Free and It’s a Mystery sit comfortably in Willmott’s accessible adaptation.
• Continue reading at The Stage. (Photo © The Stage//Sheila Burnett)
A review, by Howard Loxton of the British Theatre Guide, of Crime and Punishment.
Phil Willmott has managed to cut Dostoyevsky’s novel down to a ninety-minute musical. Concentrating on protagonist Rodiom Raskalnikov, he has carved out storyline that presents the main plot clearly and uses Toyah Willcox’s songs (mainly old ones, some specially written) not as decoration but integrated so that they contribute to the storytelling.
Philip Eddoll’s steampunk set, all cogwheels and smoking chimneys, has already been used for The Wawel Dragon (the evening’s earlier offering for a younger audience). Now onion domes are added to make it more Russian but, though the location remains St Petersburg, with the black-goggled cast slowly crawling all over it as the audience assembles, this surreal place could be any- and everywhere.
Toyah’s “We Are” opens the show with an eruption of confidence from the gathering of students: “we are the young ones, we are the chosen ones, we are the only ones!” before Raskolnikov (Alec Porter) declares that he is penniless and must give up his studies.
• Continue reading at the British Theatre Guide. (Photos © British Theatre Guide/Sheila Burnett)
• Love London Love Culture: Review: Crime & Punishment – The Rock Musical, The Scoop: This being said there can be no complaints at the music and the songs. From the rousing “We Are” to the more poignant and touching “Legacy”, each song captures the emotions of the story and help the audience to understand the character’s state of mind perfectly. There is an edginess to them that fits in with the aggression and sinisterness of the plot as in “Angels & Demons” – suggesting the conflicting sides to Raskolnikov and which part of him that he is going to follow – Continue reading…
• The Reviews Hub: Crime and Punishment – The Scoop, London: The plundering of Toyah Willcox’s back catalogue of songs also provides some juxtapositions that can’t help but raise a smile, most notably Willmott’s delivery of It’s a Mystery as he begins his investigation into the murder. Throughout, the use of Willcox’s music – most of which is by Willcox and Darlow, with additional contributions from Joel Bogen and Keith Hale – provides a pleasingly uniform and rich rock sound – Continue reading…
Rewind South 2016 was 10 days ago, but here’s a newly published review, from the Henley Standard, of the festival anyway…
The weather gods were not kind to Rewind this year, with a very windy weekend punctuated by some heavy rain showers.
However, this did not in any way deter the thousands of Eighties pop fans who visited the riverside site — and certainly not the 23 acts who performed for them.
The festival proper opened with regular Rewind star Tony Hadley — but this time he performed a 45-minute set with the Southbank Sinfonia behind him, as well as the Tony Hadley Band. Fittingly for an artist who cites David Bowie as one of the major influences on Spandau Ballet, he opened with Life on Mars.
More than 30 years on from the band’s Eighties peak, Hadley’s voice has held its strength and power — and ably covered Bowie’s anthem, as well as an Elvis Presley number and Spandau Ballet’s biggest hits. The synthpop era of the early Eighties was well represented by artists such as Hazell Dean, Toyah and Jimmy Somerville, while the big voices came in the form of Rick Astley and Leo Sayer.
• Continue reading at the Henley Standard. (Photo © Henley Standard)
Torrential rain is about as welcome at a 80s summer festival as a wasp in your leg-warmers. But when rain soaked the Rewind Festival South crowd every day, forcing them to cover up their colourful costumes, a true disco fever helped to revive their dampened spirits.
Other upbeat acts included the ever-exuberant Leo Sayer who at 68 danced around the stage to songs like You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, with the energy of someone half his age.
And it was certainly a mystery to the audience how Toyah, who sang hits like I Want To Be Free, retains her youthful good looks.
Ringing in the changes at Rewind South for the first time ever was Erasure’s flamboyant Andy Bell who headlined on Saturday night. The Henley crowd were treated to classics like Sometimes and Respect as Andy dazzled the audience in his sequinned shorts.
• Continue reading at Music-News.
If you are a huge fan of 1980’s music then I would highly recommend the Rewind Scotland Festival. I, along with thousands of other Eighties music fans, headed along to Scone Palace in Perth at the weekend with my camping chair under my arm and wellies on.
This was my first time at the annual event and I have to say I was not disappointed. The rain stayed off on the Saturday but unfortunately we were not so lucky with the weather on the Sunday. It poured from the beginning until the end with only a short dry spell in the early evening. Although it didn’t seem to dampen spirits with revellers enjoying all the acts.
Sets by China Crisis, Toyah, ABC, Big Country and the British Electric Foundation were all real crowd-pleasers…
• Read the full review, by Debbie Clarke, at Fife Today.
Steve Oram’s deeply British feature debut is the kind of mesmerizing cult oddity whose fan base will be limited but passionate.
It may be filmed in the Academy ratio, but Steve Oram’s low-budget feature debut “Aaaaaaaah!” could hardly be considered a nod to classic Hollywood. Rather, the 4:3 frame indicates something more primal, evoking the so-called “video nasties” (a wave of mostly cheap horror films banned on VHS in the U.K. in the 1980s, following a wave of moral panic over the perceived degeneration in values these films would cause when made available for home viewing). “Aaaaaaaah!” is set in exactly the kind of world Mary Whitehouse feared, and functions as a kind of loving Swiftian satire on the more brutish aspects of modern life. Though it’s at once too subtle and too extreme to attract a broad audience, those who get something out of gross-out humor, silent film and British comedy will treasure “Aaaaaaaah!” as a rare cult gem.
• Continue reading at Variety.
A great review, by nerve, of Toyah’s Acoustic, Up Close & Personal date at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool last month.
It’s No Mystery
Toyah Willcox strode onto the stage looking resplendent in a kaleidoscopic Oriental smock above a gold long sleeved top and in thigh length boots over black pants. Her frizzed blood red hair of her prime, now a less outlandish strawberry blonde, complementing her attire. She joined both her duo guitar and vocals backing, Colin Hinds and Chris Wong, before thanking the 80 – 90 strong audience for coming out on such a miserable rainy night. Visibly thrilled and gobsmacked to be at such a venue, she enthused ‘we usually play grotty clubs’.
Also on stage was a laptop and video screen, which she used to project key images of her varied acting and singing careers when appropriate. But it was the songs that the crowd had primarily come to see and hear Toyah perform, and when she launched into Good Morning Universe the memories started flooding back. Now 56, her voice was not as visceral as it once was, but came over loud and clear.
• Continue reading at nerve. Browse Toyah’s Official Gigs page for info on forthcoming Acoustic, Up Close & Personal dates.
There’s a great new Toyah feature/review, of last month’s Proud, Loud & Electric gig at The Garage, just published at the Retro Man Blog.
Toyah + The Tuesday Club at The Garage Islington London
So, be honest now, what was your first gig? Mine wasn’t The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club Punk Festival, or The Who at Leeds University Refectory. I didn’t see Iggy smear peanut butter all over himself while crowd surfing at the Cincinnati Pop Festival and I never saw The Clash at the Victoria Park Rock Against Racism Rally. Nope, my first ever gig was Toyah on June 06th 1981 at the Hammersmith Odeon, the “Anthem Tour” in fact and I was 15 years old. Now, why I should feel a little bit guilty admitting this I’m not sure, but you know how snobby us music fans can be sometimes. But as Toyah herself might say, I should be “proud, loud and heard” and not try to cover up the facts just because it might not be thought of as very “cool”. However, your first gig is rather like your first kiss, buying your first 7” single or going to your first football match, it’s something that stays with you forever. Due to many and varied reasons it was impossible for me to get to many gigs in my teenage years so the whole experience of that first live show was magical.
• Continue reading at Retro Man Blog.
• Beyond The Joke: Film Review – Aaaaaaaah!: One thing is certain. You won’t see another film like Aaaaaaaah! this year. Or, probably, any year. And not just because Steve Oram’s directorial debut has no dialogue except for ape-like grunts, but also because it features Toyah Willcox having a shit in a kitchen and Noel Fielding getting his knob gobbled in a seedy cameo - Continue reading…
• Bloodguts: Aaaaaaaah!: Ever wondered what would happen if our evolution stopped part way through? What if we became the appearance of what we become with the mentality and attitude of the apes that came before us? Wonder no more as the premise behind ‘Aaaaaaaah!’ is just that… The performances of the cast are next to brilliant and watching Toyah Willcox slam a steak across a wall in imitation to something she has seen is a true reflection of how influential Oram is as a creative. If you can get the stars of The Mighty Boosh, Toyah Willcox and Tony Way to play a complete film with no sound except that of a monkey and mimic their actions in a way that becomes believable, then Steve Oram, you have our attention - Continue reading…
• Pissed Off Geek: ‘Aaaaaaaah!’ Review: There are some movies that are brave and they present something to the audience that is truly different. Aaaaaaaah! is a film that may be hard to acclimatise yourself to and will be outside of your comfort zone, but once it grabs you it won’t let go – Continue reading…
• Close-Up Film: Aaaaaaaah! Close-Up Film Review: Can you imagine what a Mike Leigh film would look like if the actors based all their lines/noises, behaviour and interactions on several hours of Richard Attenborough narrated Ape documentaries? If you can then you will have pictured something close to Steve Oram’s disquieting directorial debut Aaaaaaaah! – Continue reading…
• Electric Sheep: Aaaaaaaah!: Also caught in the adventure is Julian Rhind-Tutt playing an alpha male scoffing in front of a brand new plasma screen and playing video games; Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding from the surrealistic The Mighty Boosh; and Toyah Willcox, who played Miranda in Derek Jarman’s Tempest (1979) but also, prophetically, Monkey in Quadrophenia (1979), and who plays the leading female part. With Willcox came Robert Fripp, who happens to be her husband and who improvised a bewitching music that advantageously compensates the total absence of articulate dialogue. (And make sure you stay for the final credits if you are a King Crimson fan.) – Continue reading…
In his directorial debut, Sightseers star Steve Oram delivers a remarkable film that satirises human behaviour with apeshit craziness.
Set in a superficially recognisable South London of semi-detached houses, football pitches and fashionable clothing boutiques, Aaaaaaaah! nevertheless offers an alternate reality that entirely eschews dialogue for primal grunts and gesticulations, with civilisation repeatedly shown to be a thin veneer over simian wildness.
Aaaaaaaah! features some dark and comically extreme sequences, but it’s not too aloof in its arthouse outlook. Plotwise, it’s essentially Romeo and Juliet.
• Continue reading at Chortle. Catch up on all of our Aaaaaaaah! news here.
Steve Oram’s entertaining drama imagines a world populated by vile beasts who look like humans but behave like apes
The directorial debut of Sightseers star Steve Oram is a singular item of monkey business that imagines a world populated by vile beasts who look like humans, but think, act and converse like apes. Shot for peanuts (or bananas) around decidedly trusting souls’ flats, the result often resembles an actors’ body-language workshop run amok, but between the territory-marking and leg-humping – funny on some primal level – a narrative and wounded psychology does evolve.
• Continue reading at The Guardian.