Review: Waitress, Adelphi Theatre

As American as, well, apple pie, this Broadway musical is adapted from the 2007 film about a small-town waitress stuck in an abusive marriage who pours her dreams into the pies she makes.

Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s musical arrives in the West End with its cherry still on top, in the form of Katharine McPhee as the lead Jenna, with a fantastic, full-bodied voice. 

Bareilles’ music is a treat, with peppy, confident melodies, lovely harmonising between the waitresses and lyrics that are funny and tart.

Jenna gets pregnant, reluctantly keeps the baby, and then falls for her obstetrician. When she hears of a pie-making contest with $20,000 prize money, it looks like her way out.

There are goofy subplots with fellow waitresses Becky and Dawn, the former getting it on with their grumpy chef while the latter finds love with a civil war re-enactment enthusiast.

Director Diane Paulus does well to give all three women a sense of joyful sexual empowerment, but they are rarely more than caricatures. Marisha Wallace’s Becky is written as a sassy black-woman stereotype, while Dawn (Laura Baldwin) becomes pretty when she takes off her glasses.

There is something jarring, too, about mixing the abuse plotline with such zany comedy.

Waitress has bags of charm and polish – but also a little too much sugar.

Review: Ear for Eye, Royal Court

A cast of 15 black actors fills the stage. That this itself is worth remarking on is just the tip of why Debbie Tucker Green’s incendiary play about racial injustice feels so important.

The art of the ménage à trois

Modern Couples, a new exhibition at the Barbican, features more than 40 couples, taking a wide-ranging look at how the artistic and literary experiments of the avant-garde were often also accompanied by experiments in living, and in loving. Actually, we’re often not talking about couples – but ‘throuples’. Two’s company, three’s an experiment…

Review: Honour, Park Theatre

A middle-aged, middle-class couple – he a towering figure in journalism, she a writer who’s not published for decades – appear to have a comfortable, rock-solid marriage. Then along comes a bright, beautiful, ambitious writer half his age, to interview him for a book. What happens next will surprise no one.

How LSD influenced Western culture

After its psychedelic properties of LSD were accidentally discovered in the lab by Albert Hofmann in 1943, the drug was banned in the UK in 1966. The drug is still most strongly associated with hippies who embraced its mind-expanding properties, but its after-effects have seeped through much of Western culture, from art to literature to, most obviously, music