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King Hedley II: Theatre Royal, Stratford East

June 26, 2019

(seen at the afternoon performance on 1st June 2019).

One of August Wilson’s “The American Century” cycle, this uses descendents of characters first seen in “Seven Guitars.” A son, King Hedley II (Aaron Pierre) is trying to re-build his life after prison.

Living with mother Ruby, he schemes with friend Mister (Dexter Flanders) to corner the stolen refrigerator market, and move on to higher things.

When wide-boy Elmore (Lenny Henry) turns up to woo his mother, and Tonya (Cherrelle Skeete) arrives, things take even more sinister turns, portents commentated on by Stool Pigeon (Leo Wringer) who lives next door.

The entire cast have poor black Philadelphia nailed, with Claudette Williams a fine dialect coach and a remarkable Peter McKintosh designed backyard set.

It’s a strikingly long play – 3 hours 30, with just 20 minutes interval. There’s no disguising that there are longueurs either. Life for these people meander, and sometimes it does for the audience, as relationships are not always clear and connect – with obvious significance, but not always clearly for audiences – to off-stage back-stories.

Strong acting overcomes the most part, and the audience that afternoon was enlivened with a mis-firing gun causing much hilarity. Even better, an exchange early in the second act required reference to the mal-functioning weapon, to the joyous laughter of all present. That this all lifted the action does rather underline the lack of raw humour to lighten the pain.

For this is about unrelenting pain, and the various ways of dealing with it. Education, “you need to know” about your environment, even if from donated old newspapers. Scamming, crime, repression, religion: all are explored as options and each shown clearly for what it is in the scheme of things, the beauty of Wilson’s writing intertwining them.

Whether there is a sharper play here, if it were to lose some of what gives the unique texture, this monkey isn’t sure. It does know that this is a play to be seen if only for the acting and sense of something deeper that lingers long after the curtain falls. It’s significant, and deserves to be treated as such.

The fact it deals with the 1980s USA, when the issues it raises are relevant to London, particularly London’s Black community in 2019 is vitally important and truly upsetting. One for every politician to view, for certain.


4 stars.

The Spice Girls: Wembley Stadium

June 19, 2019

(seen at the performance on 13th June 2019).

For various reasons during the 1990s when the quintet were at the height of their fame, I was a little side-lined by it all. Personal stuff and not really liking the zeitgeist, I went so far as every other heterosexual male between 8 and the grave in picking a favourite Spice (and she still is) and knowing what to do if you wanted to be her lover (still isn’t, the instruction is too hard to follow as I don’t know any of her friends). That, and knowing what they really, really wanted and when to stop thank you very much was about as far as it went.

Still, I was curious when the reunion tour was announced, enough to invest – and it was a pretty hefty investment – in a ticket. Turns out, it re-paid every single penny, with interest.

By contrast with the horrible O2 visitor experience, where concert attendees were an inconvenience to be fleeced and abused at every opportunity, Wembley Stadium made everybody feel like a special guest, and I lost count of the staff wishing me “enjoy the concert.” Few lines, sensible and effective security, friendly stewards, clean loos, what more could you want? So, already in a good mood before the show even started.

The mood was even better as Jess Glynne took to the stage for a 40 minute set. Such is her ability, Ms Glynne could have been the headline act herself (and I’ll happily be there when she one day is, as she will be).

Kicking off with “Hold My Hand” (yes, please), and “No One,” a cover of Rudimental’s “These Days” followed. My personal favourite “Thursday” hit every corner of the stadium and changed the tone to lead into “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself,” a faster version of the previous introspection. “One Touch” of course had the crowd excited before the early and wonderful “Take Me Home.” A triple of “So Real (Warriors) / Real Love / My Love and Rather Be” ran into “All I Am.” She is. Finally, the biggie “I’ll Be There” sent us into the break with something special to remember her by.

Main event, and a clever “pre-show” saw mini-versions of the quartet wander around the stage and passerelle (is that even relevant at a pop concert – a stage runway encircling the lucky few standing in the “golden circle” in front of the stage?) either way… other members of the backing dance team joined them until, about ten minutes later, the famous 4 were there in person.

Each had their own “backing team,” Emma’s in pink, Mel B’s leopards, Sporty’s track-suited posse and Gerri’s Royal Household. They posted and postured and showed off a real highlight of the evening – the first of many, many exquisite costumes, details visible even from a seat near the half-way line where I was.

Even better, few signs of the sound issues seized on with vicious glee by the press. Sure, once or twice a little reverberation, and the odd microphone coming on late, but that was all. The vocals themselves were strongest from Mel C, with Emma managing the odd decent solo. For those who live without sound, it was hugely impressive that there was a sign language interpreter for people at the front of my block. Massive applause to all for thinking of them.

The Spice Girls themselves must have spent hours in the Spice Gym because they were all spectacularly “match fit” with energy and bags of stamina. Opening the only way they could, “Spice Up Your Life” lead into “If U Can’t Dance” before their first chat with the audience. The banter and bitching between them was hilarious, and if (again) the press were stirring it perceiving a rift – it wasn’t one I noticed. The ladies did well alone, in pairs and as a group to keep moving around the stage, reaching out to all in Spice World.

“Do It” and “Something Kinda Funny” went down – first fireworks and confetti cannon of the night – well before the first major costume change was covered by dancers (wish they had been real acrobats) to “Move Over.”

One of the few moments showing their age came with the next sequence “Holler / Sound Off.” The phrase, “Just girl power is all we need. We know how we got this far. Strength and courage in a wonderbra,” in huge letters running across the screens and encouraged to be chanted by the crowd just seemed anachronistic in the #metoo era. Woman, thanks partly to this group, are slowly working on and finally getting beyond that now, and it seemed a detrimental throwback.

Another dance break “Queer Tango” united us, before “Viva Forever” kicked in. “Let Love Lead The Way” lit up the crowd with phone-torches, and as the evening light dimmed, wrist bands handed out free came into play. Each equipped with multi-coloured LED lights and linked to the lighting designer’s computer, the effect was special as the crowd’s lights changed colours – sometimes just a single section at a time.

No digs at anyone, “Goodbye” was up next, this time a simple and honest expression of loss. One more gap “Car Wash” before the team were back to tell us “Never Give Up on the Good Times.” More banter, before they reminded us that “We Are Family” in a short and pretty amusing Sister Sledge cover. “Love Thing” was an appropriate response.

Bitching at its best between them as we met the band and sang along with “We Will Rock You.” The slightly obscure “The Lady Is a Vamp” (with great backing projection of ‘old time movie theater canopy’) before “The Last Waltz” dance break covered the penultimate costume change of the night.

The big hits, “Too Much,” “Say You’ll Be There” and “2 Become 1” were fired at us, and landed squarely.

Several minutes of close-up video, with the women expressing thoughts and ideas gave them a chance to rev up one more time and smash the closing 15 minutes. An entire audience enacting “Stop,” before we were reminded that they are all now parents (but were not when they wrote) “Mama.”

Brilliant direction thus ensured the crowd’s mood and pace were right to close the evening with “Wannabe,” fireworks breaking as we swore that friendship would never end.

Goodbye my friends indeed. Two quality hours of entertainment, enough “Girl Power” to run a city for years – hopefully until they consider another reunion (jack dress or four) in fact.


5 stars.

Hugh Jackman In Concert: London O2 Arena (and touring)

June 12, 2019

(seen at the performance on 4th June 2019)

First visit to the O2 Arena, first time seeing Hugh Jackman live in concert. Want to guess which was the more impressive? You got it.

18,000 seats take some filling for a one-off. For a week, that’s quite a feat even without a recent mega-hit movie and stellar career. And he pretty much lives up to the billing of “The Greatest Showman.”

That title opens the show, with great use of a centre floor runway bringing those in the corners of this vast auditorium an inch or three closer. Inventive video doesn’t just follow the show on side screens, but takes the entire back wall of the stage, “Come Alive” it does as a talented team of 20 dancers augmented by a local Gospel Choir take to the floor as required.

A neat “Beauty and the Beast” tribute (great animation on screen, fun live choreography echoing the movie); and back to a fabulous Jerome Kern cover of “The Way You Look Tonight” for his wife. A little “Little Richard” up next, before “You Will Be Found” is an accurate career thought.

Wonderful story about his father leads into “Soliloquy” from “Carousel.” Truthfully, not the sincerest rendition ever, but interestingly the very young ladies in the seats next to me were as mesmerised by the older songs as the new, wonderful to see.

Keala Settle herself brings the house down with “This Is Me,” and it really is. Huge personality, even bigger voice, even more enormous spirit.

A “Les Misérables” interlude has West End favourite Jenna Lee James delivering “I Dreamed a Dream” as well as anybody singing an intimate internal monologue in the centre of an aircraft hanger can. That her meaning hit the back wall is confirmation enough of her abilities, and the white dress is a triumph. The man himself takes on “Valjean’s Soliloquy” and “One Day More” to take the show into a well-timed (literally) interval.

Second half kicks off with a tribute to writer Paul Allen, with “Not The Boy Next Door” and the wonderful “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do).” With “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” “I Honestly Love You,” “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage” and “I Go to Rio” – complete with the best costumes of the night – it’s a nice interlude and insight into Jackman, the man.

Best song of the night, “Tenterfield Saddler,” Peter Allen’s biographical work is a moving moment of truthful peace, before “A Million Dreams” takes us back to the present in sparkling fashion, with beautiful signing throughout.

The golden movie musicals are celebrated with “Luck Be a Lady,” “Singin’ in the Rain,,” a particularly well done “I Got Rhythm,” “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” and “Sing Sing Sing” perfectly choreographed and lit with a lovely nod to the times.

A tribute to Australia has Native Australian visitors deliver “Art Song” and “Inhibition,” before Jackman gives us “Over The Rainbow.”

A slightly under-powered “Mack The Knife” goes to the ‘two song warning’ (you had to be there) and “From Now On” gets the audience up. Closing on “Once Before I Go” the lights from phones provide a twinkling universe as the night sky falls.

There’s no doubting the charisma, energy and skill of the man. With the sound reverberation too noticeable, and the greed of both the promoter (£25 for a programme, you are “‘avin’ a giraffe,” as locals would put it) and venue owner noticeable at every turn, the honesty of the leading man and cast shone through.

A fine event, and hopefully we will see Mr Jackman again in London some time, maybe in a more intimate setting. Either way, I think I’ll be there.


4 stars.

The Flying Theatremonkey

June 5, 2019

No, nothing to do with “Wicked” (though it keeps Uncle Wilberforce – RAF, retired – in work), we are talking “bucket list” here. To explain:

I’m not much of a flyer. Partly, as Noel Coward said, “the noise, the people.” Mostly, with a background in charter flight operation, I know too much about what goes on – and the list of commercial airlines I trust is shorter than a “42nd Street” showgirl’s costume.

Still, for many years I’ve hankered to find out what it feels like to ride in a helicopter. With a milestone in view, I finally got around to researching the perfect flight over my beloved home city, London, and the West End Theatre district I adore.

It became apparent quickly that the choice is both broad… and limited. Broad in as much as there are quite a few companies offering the experience. Limited in that many don’t exactly provide much “bang for your buck,” and a few websites show photographs of aircraft that would have made Buddy Holly re-consider his travel options.

The choice seemed to be £300 for 15 minutes leaving from an undisclosed location near London, with about 5 minutes over the city, or trailing out to Biggin Hill and coming back in for less cash but even fewer minutes of air-time.

Eventually, though, I got lucky when an expired online offer site provided the name of a company quite local to me, An excited phone-call later, and a £149 ticket for a 30 minute experience was mine.


On the day, a lift to Elstree Aerodrome (only drawback – that isn’t on a bus route and they won’t swoop down to pick you up from your back garden, so don’t bother asking) and a smart reception hall with grinning staff awaited.

Quick fill in of the “disclaimer form” – basically “I promise not to be an idiot and won’t blame the company if I ignore their advice and act like one” stuff, and a short wait with 4 others before being shown through a door into a small aircraft hanger, and along the wall to another door and “pre-flight briefing.”

Unlike those shown on a plane, this 5 minute video covers even how to approach the helicopter. Forget the “Miss Saigon” bending double while charging towards the side of the craft (not through fear of the Viet-Cong, more knowing that Kim will sing again shortly after). That’s all “Hollywood.” Reality is that you don’t need to bend – the rotor is way above you – just don’t put your arms in the air if you still require them after the flight. Likewise, in order to (literally) keep your head, stay away from the helicopter’s tail rotor. Don’t worry, they won’t let you near it anyway.

Golden rule: approach from the front of the helicopter at all times, so that the pilot knows where you are. Obviously, if he sees you below him during the journey that’s your fault for not paying attention to how the door closes and locks.

Oh, and step on using the step indicated. Don’t step on the floats on the ground runners (the grey squishy things attached to the rails the helicopter lands on). If you do, that’s several hundred quid up someone’s jumper – yours.

The good news is that you can take both photos and video. It’s in the comprehensive PDF they send you beforehand, but I did check again that my elderly video camcorder was acceptable. Call me cautious if you like, but I wanted the film premiere to be on YouTube, not Coroner’s Court TV.

Sensibly, you can’t take pictures as you are lead out onto the actual airfield apron itself (friends and relatives can film you from the café overlooking the field, though). That ensures you are concentrating in a dangerous environment… and the sooner it applies to all public streets and the London Underground, the better. Again, the ground team guide you in a tight pack so nobody is at risk as you wend your way past light aircraft and onto a short narrow path to the actual helipad.

A tiny dot between the trees became a “turbine engine Bell 206 LongRanger” as VVB’s website has it. Not as noisy as you’d think, it landed smoothly and the delighted previous passengers disembarked. Our time had arrived.

As the team re-fuelled (helicopters run on “Jet 1” – a sort of kerosene mix, I wanted to check it wasn’t the bar’s keg beer going in accidentally), we were called forward according to group size for a solo or double photo in front of the helicopter. Ready framed and available to buy for just £10 on landing, great souvenir.

Back to the path, and finally the big moment. Called forward again – first, the person who paid extra to sit in the front seat (fair enough, bit more space maybe, but you still get views everywhere), then a young German couple… then myself.

The interior is a bit like a luxury limo, with seats facing forward and back. The seats are really low, as in the old Leyland Mini, but leather and thick, very comfy. Belts are as on a plane, with the option of a shoulder belt too. Best of all, a headset each, with microphone so that you can hear your pilot, air-traffic control and other passengers.


Cleared, and welcomed by Captain Steve, almost time for take-off.

These helicopters fly at around 120 knots (138mph, according to Google), at 1150ft, about a hundred feet higher than “The Shard” building. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like it. The video can’t show (in the same way photographs in a theatre can’t show) distances very well. What looks far away on camera is in fact close enough to make out car makes and models, even read some signs.

The day was slightly grey, the very best, according to the team, as you fly below the clouds. Rainy and windy, they can’t fly; too sunny, London haze gets in the way. Remembering that there’s no need to try and dodge side-to-side to see both views, as you get the other side on the way back, first see Elstree (see the famous film studios), my own suburb and those I grew up knowing.

Follow the M1 motorway and North Circular Road over Wembley (spot the Stadium arch) towards Wood Green and Alexandra Palace “Ally Pally,” then Hackney and the Olympic Park – West Ham Stadium – and looming skyscrapers of Canary Wharf.

This isn’t just a total “joy-ride.” Being up there, there’s a whole new perspective on both history and geography of London. You can see how individual packets of land were developed, the styles, layouts and density changing with each era. It’s also true just how green London is, and how varied the landscape in hills and valleys with many more lakes and rivers than I’d expected.

Pilot Steve alternately spoke with various control towers and pointed out the sights. There’s thankfully no professional commentary, just friendly comments when he can, and cheerful replies to questions he’s heard a million times before.

Only thing he forgot to mention was, well… helicopters stop. As in (actual thought process recorded here):
“Whee, we’re flying. It’s not too fast or too high, and really smooth, it’s brilliant.”
“We’ve stopped.”
“Hang on. WE’VE STOPPED. Flying. Flying means forward. WE HAVE STOPPED.”

“Oh, hang on, this is a helicopter.”
“Helicopters can ‘hover.’”
“I think this must be that.”
“Oooh, we are just ‘hanging around’ (some kind of lonely cloud)”
“Oh. Now I get why helicopter pilots want to be helicopter pilots. Hanging around just staring about at 1150ft is breathtaking.”

As Steve explained, we pass through 3 Air Traffic Control (ATC) airspaces. Elstree, Heathrow (who know we are there, but we don’t bother them, so they don’t bother us as they are busy) and “London Controlled Airspace.” That’s the bit in charge of who and what can fly over the capital area itself.
We had stopped as there was a plane taking off from London City Airport, and two other helicopters in our immediate vicinity. Enough to constitute a sky-high traffic-jam. Typical Whitsun bank holiday Sunday – everybody hits the, er, sky.

Fortunately, some good luck. Apparently, ATC have two choices. They can either make you wait or – if they know and trust your particular operator – they will allow your pilot to make his own decisions. It was a very good time indeed to find out that ATC have utmost confidence in VVB. TG.

So, on to the “11 O’Clock number” of the trip. Helicopters must follow the Thames, and we did so, from the O2 Arena, over Tower Bridge and the rest, passing the Strand – Novello, Aldywch, Duchess, Drury Lane, Vaudeville and Adelphi (Mr Lloyd Webber, do fix the gutters) and to the edge of Green Park, looking to and indeed over Buckingham Palace itself. Wow.

Second new flight sensation, as the helicopter banked hard to Port (you feel it, a little like a fairground funhouse floor) and around for the return along the Thames.

This time, the Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre, Globe and Bridge Theatres in view. Down along the Thames back to the Isle of Dogs, and home over Hackney, this time buzzing the plutocrats of Totteridge Lane (the rising hill and trees may cause turbulence, I didn’t notice) and shufty at their swimming pools – no privacy for the wealthy with a helicopter around – and the beautiful (must be protected) green belt. Through the trees ourselves and a home landing, soft and gentle as a butterfly on a leaf.

Worth the money? Too right. Magical experience? I’d do it again in a heart-beat. One ticked off the bucket list… now… wonder if Madonna is ready for our duet at the Palladium next year?

P.S. Forgot to mention: we picked up a hitch-hiker who made its presence known about the time we stopped for traffic. Either we found the brightest bee on the planet – or the laziest. Can’t decide.

Tempted? or 0208 953 0584 (10am to 4pm Monday to Friday) is the place. It could be you…

Man of La Mancha: London Coliseum

May 22, 2019

(seen at the afternoon performance on 15th May 2019)

I’ve always been allergic to the song, “The Impossible Dream.” It’s either a dirge wrung out by some idiot on “Britain’s Got No Talent Whatsoever,” or beaten to death by an enthusiastic choir of one type or another (gospel and youth seem particularly keen on it). When the chance came to put the number in context, as you can imagine, I unwillingly grabbed it.

As it turns out, the song is the first act closer, and Kelsey Grammer (Don Quixote) gives it a lovely reflective meaning, the high-point of an otherwise disappointing show.

These days we consider mental illness something we are moving towards being able to discuss – and attempt as a wider public to understand. This could be the reason this tale of a philosophical old man becoming a knight and having chaotic encounters with everything from a windmill to a dodgy innkeeper and local hooker / barmaid, just feels uncomfortable now.

Director Lonny Price decides to set it in a museum (programme notes – James Noone’s set could be anything) turned prison basement, with Quixote talking his way through a trial by other prisoners as he awaits the real thing. The time is any, so is the place. It works to an extent, as the chorus are dragged into the action and don relevant clothing.

Sadly, the material has aged. Already alluded to is the mental health angle, but there’s a particularly unsavoury rape in the second half, with victim Aldonza / Dulcinea (Cassidy Janson) unbearably treated. Her solo “Aldonza” is one of the better parts of the piece, but hard to concentrate on, given the context.

As Quixote’s squire Sancho Panza, Peter Polycarpou is his usual musical theatre self, a proper actor who can command the huge stage and fill it with his voice. By contrast, Governor / Innkeeper Nicholas Lyndhurst has to overcome a lack of singing ability – but almost makes credible the prison bully as much as the dodgy landlord (ironically once a role Polycarpou played in ‘Les Misérables,’ come to think of it).

The rest of the show is a bit blurry. The company numbers sound better than most of the solo work. The dance routines are pretty thin and lost against the strange set with a staircase possibly welded together from a re-discovered “Starlight Express” bridge.

Coming off worst is the book. A series of short inter-connected incidents, none are of any particular interest and fail to sustain the attention.

The score has a couple of decent numbers beyond the best known, and the full orchestra make it sound as good as possible even if the sound department don’t always find the balance between them and the singing performers.

For those who enjoy whimsy and can overlook the possible dementia angle, it may be an enjoyable enough encounter. For the monkey, it was afraid it was wondering if Frasier had lost a bet with Niles on this one.

The show moved often at glacial pace, felt both dated and even twee at times when it wasn’t being as un-politically correct as it could be. A chance to see and understand just why it hasn’t been done in London commercially since 1968 – and probably won’t be again if producers have any sense.

The last of the variable Grade / Linnit musical theatre experiments with the ENO, and probably a good time to call it quits.

2 stars.


Taking a week off, back blogging on the 5th June. Enjoy the bank holiday week!


Three Sisters: Almeida Theatre

May 15, 2019

(seen at the afternoon performance on 27th April 2019).

Three women in a Russian military town, longing for the Moscow they left a decade ago. Rebecca Frecknall’s incredibly spare production strips Chekhov back to the absolute bone.

In this, Frecknall is aided by a clear version by Cordelia Lynn, working from the translation by Helen Rappaport (good programme article on the subject, incidentally). No heavy language, in fact, the first half in particular plays like a superior soap-opera – even though all the memorable portentous speeches are present as expected.

As Olga, Patsy Ferran is the marquee name, and her performance is the usual Ferran energy but tempered to suit the worn duty of her bereaved character.

Sisters Masha (Pearl Chanda) and Irina (Ria Zmitrowicz) complete the title trio. Well-chosen to illustrate the contrasting paths chosen, each has engaging character quirks. Chandra adopts a sophisticated London drawl. Even if it becomes a little “Snagglepuss” as her character grows older and jaded, it’s interesting. Zmitrowicz uses bursts of alternating energy and depression to good effect, her final despair moving and believable.

Brother Andrey (Freddie Meredith) is impressive – his scene with future wife Natasha (Lois Chimimba) a metre from the Monkey’s nose a lovely study in two actors trusting each other. As the play continues, both prove sound as he becomes selfish and she struggles with reality.

In the wider cast, Alexander (Peter McDonald) is a charming officer, his first scene a model of how to make an impact without needing to steal from those around him. Ivan (Alan Williams) makes a drunken doctor’s giving up on life a lesson to the rest of us, Anfisa (Annie Firbank) a sad figure ill-treated but with immaculate timing and a study in movement. Notes too for Ferapont (Eric MacLennan) and Nicolay (Shubham Saraf) for optimism.

The funeral opening is outstanding, and much of the staging – placing characters on a shelf above and to the right of the action is original and compelling. The final scene is perhaps a slight indulgence, as is an odd use of photography but neither are fatal to the work.

Sadly, the major flaw is the playing speed. Had the entire cast matched Ferran’s pace, there would have been fewer opportunities for the action to feel too slow. As it is, there is a meandering that doesn’t justify attention for the entire almost three hours. Still, the concept and acting are almost enough to cover the issue, and this is a production worth seeing.

3 stars.

Google Crushes Childrens’ Dreams

May 8, 2019

For those who don’t know, as well as Theatremonkey, I’m one of the founding admin team members for theatre discussion board Born after the closure of a beloved discussion board over at Whatsonstage, for the past three years six volunteers have built the board to the point where it gets over 2 million page views each month.

Initially, those same six people dipped into our own pockets to meet the simple start-up costs. As popularity grew, we saw an opportunity to do a little good – giving back to the theatre community we love, as well as putting the site onto a more stable financial footing.

We achieved this by first paying our discussion board hosting service a (traffic-dependent) fee to let us choose our own advertising for the spaces they usually filled on our board.

Kind help from theatre industry experts and friends of mine lead us then to partnering with an advertising media company, who placed paying advertisements on the board’s pages for us.

For almost two years this went so well that we were able to not only cover the costs of keeping the site going, but far more wonderfully, use the surplus to make (board member voted on) donations at Christmas of over £1000 to tiny organisations helping the community through theatrical techniques.

On 12th February 2019 this year, it all came crashing down, when an email arrived from our marketing company informing us that,

“your site has been removed from any of their advertising demand due to invalid account activity. This can be anything from bot traffic, incentivised traffic, manipulation of ads, encouraging users to support the site through ad interaction or deceptive ad placement. It really can be any of these and unfortunately they do not tell us any specific information why they have blocked the site (nor will they) and there is no right of appeal.

Google has the sole discretion to determine instances of invalid activity. We treat invalid activity very seriously, analyzing all clicks and impressions to determine whether they fit a pattern of use that might artificially drive up an advertiser’s costs or a publisher’s earnings. If we determine that a network partner account might pose a risk to our advertisers, we may disable that account to protect our advertisers’ interests”

Our hosting service is long established and very well known, it does everything to comply with known rules and so of course did the marketers and us administrators. The email passed down to us by Google was a bolt-from-the-blue, a total shock… and fatal.

The marketing company’s “account manager” at Google proved a stone wall, and nothing our marketing friends (who fought valiantly for over a month) nor ourselves tried, in order to make up for that blockage, could make up for the loss.

Google is “judge, jury and executioner” when it comes to online advertising it seems. An algorithm decides; and conviction followed by death is without warning or appeal. Along with other cases I later found online, we were terminated without reason, warning or opportunity for discussion.

Fall foul of Google, nobody else will touch you. It is the end.

The upshot of it all is that, thanks to Google, and solely to Google, there will be no more donations to charity. Strong financial management (basically, making Scrooge look like Bob Geldof) means theatreboard itself has enough basic funds for the board to continue for many years to come, provided the essentials don’t increase exponentially in price.

Theatreboard’s admin team can still “rent out” advertising spaces ourselves if we wish to. However, it means that organisations who want to target our theatrical types specifically will have to pay far more to do so as those advertising spaces will be far more expensive for us to rent on the “as required” basis, rather than the previous happy system.

Outside of those times, theatreboard readers will be bombarded with advertising way outside of our control, for products and services we wouldn’t wish them to be exposed to. We won’t earn anything from that – the chance for good things to come of it all… lost.

For those who think “do no evil” is a pretty cool company slogan… it is… trouble is, they don’t believe it, and absolutely everybody else suffers as a result.

Last Christmas, at theatreboard reader’s vote, received £500 from Theatreboard’s advertising surplus. 10 underprivileged children – some even from hospices – got a year’s place each, thanks to our scheme.

Google will now directly deprive other disadvantaged children of such life-changing places. Certainly, they have stomped with Herculean might on the tiniest flames of hope our chosen charity kindled within those kids. It’s even quite possible they deprived the world of great actors of the future.

How evil is that? I think we all know the answer.