ARCHIVED REVIEWS 2019


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Some Like It Hip Hop by Zoonation

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 16th Oct 2019

Some Like It Hip Hop is adapted from the book by Kate Prince MBE and Felix Harrison and performed by the extremely talented ensemble group of twenty-two dancers from Zoonation.

The narrator deserves a lot of credit for his performance he is very clear and concise. He is extremely charismatic and engages with the audience throughout the entire production it was clear why he had been chosen to play this role. A really likeable character and talented actor.

The story is about grief hurt and how we process these feelings after we have lost someone dear to us. The central character the Governor in this production after being introduced to the audience starts of the play by pulling a black blanket across the Sun which is centred at the rear of the stage and plunging his world into darkness.

There are four singers in this production made up of two ladies and two men. Although they are all very good the two females are the stronger voices. When they initially first started to sing the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

The dancer who plays the governor is an extremely intimidating presence on the stage his strong demeanour and impressive dancing skills make him an excellent lead character. He has strong body language and carries himself perfectly although as the storyline unfolds you start to see a softer side to him and understand why he has become the way he is.

After the death of his wife he sinks into a long deep dark depression as well as turning the sun off at the beginning he then proceeds to ban all books by burning them and actively advocates the suppression of women within his environment. It’s repeated throughout the musical that “women should be seen and not heard!”

The plot is based around male dominance and we watch as two of the ladies are thrown out of the factory for rebelling against the men as seen in the picture below. They decide to disguise themselves as men in order to return to work in the safety of the factory walls. Their disguises are fairly obvious that they are masquerading as men but this doesn’t spoil the storyline.

Set designer Ben Stones has dressed the stage in a 1920s style. The scaffolding based structures are interchangeable and the scene changes are very smooth. It complements the production and the factory gates could easily pass as being real gates.

With such a high standard of dancing and movement in this production, it is hardly surprising that they were three choreographers Kate prince MBE, Tommy Franzen and Carrie-Anne Ingrouille along with two assistant choreographers for the large cast.

Overall this is an extremely good production although there should have been a warning advisory note put on the production sheet or a sign in the auditorium to warn against the scenes of violence against women, which I found uncomfortable to watch.

Four Stars.

https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/some-like-it-hip-hop-2019/

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 17/10/2019

 

The Signalman by Charles Dickens

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 12th Oct 2019

The Signalman adapted by Martin Malcolm to a fifty-minute Fringe Theatre production is a well scripted and moving credit to the original story written by Charles Dickens.

Tim Larkfield in the role of The Signalman delivers an impressive performance as he slowly mentally battles with the spirit that keeps appearing on the track. He attempts to work out what the mystery figure is trying to tell him as each time he appears a major incident occurs.

The harrowing effect this plays in the mind of the Signalman becomes all-consuming and he is left questioning what is real and what is all in his mind! Especially when the warning bell often rings without any reason and he is the only one who hears it.

I was completely taken aback by the phenomenal acting ability of Helen Baranova in the role of the crossing sweeper called Jo. To be able to perform a role in a two-man production with no written script assigned to her character this relied solely on her physical performance in order to bring the part to life. Everything she said was spoken through her eyes, from fear, warmth and a complete understanding of the whole situation as it was explained to her by the Signalman certainly captivated me.

The stage is dressed predominantly by the signal box a simple open structure which dominates the right-hand side of the stage. The perfectly timed train sound effects and lighting changes allows you to suspend your disbelief and imagine you can visualise the steam trains going through the tunnel as interpreted in detail by the Signalman.

Director Sam Raffal has utilised all the space available in the Bread and Roses theatre to breathe new life into this haunting and spine-chillingly classic tale. This is one of those fringe productions where you leave feeling really pleased to have been in the audience. Another brilliant example as to why Fringe Theatre should have bigger audiences.

Four Stars.

Cast
Tim Larkfield- The Signalman
Helen Baranova- Crossing Sweeper aka Jo
Adapted by Martin Malcolm
Directed by Sam Raffal.

www.claphamfringe.com/the-signalman.html

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 14/10/2019

 

Gutted by Sharon Byrne

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 12th Oct 2019

Gutted by Sharon Byrne first appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018 the script has undergone a lot of alterations, editing and some very effective new stage directions. It was a pleasure to see the original cast though who originally first bought this play to life.

Niamh Finlay in the role of Deirdre a girl on the cusp of womanhood is living with her Mum and younger brother and looks forward to her Saturday night’s when the babysitter arrives. Her life is far from perfect but she is determined to get out of her town and make a better future for herself.

Nothing quite prepares the audience for the life-changing events that happen to her. However, Byrne’s has written the scene with such care that although you are not left wondering what happens the details are left to your own imagination!

The theme of the changing lamp lights used on the stage and strong use of strobe lights are a clever addition to the production as they double up as additional characters which are then voiced by the cast.

Dolores (Sarah Horsford), Breda (Eleanor Byrne) and Deirdre under the direction of Chris White (director) combine their dialogue smoothly and with strong conviction. These ladies are not going to be seen and not heard. Each of the three main characters appears to be bought to life with ease and much of the performance I was drawn into their lives feeling a lot of empathy towards them.

Entrenched in Catholicism the three women discuss abortion from another perspective, in Dublin only those who can afford to travel to England have the option of not continuing with an unwanted pregnancy.

Set to a predominant 1980s soundtrack of Tainted Love by Soft Cell the incredibly talented cast of three have brilliant voices and art certainly reflects life as all three are exposed to this type of love at various points through the play.

With much heartfelt anguish and tear-jerking scenes, humour quickly brings the audience back into the story, there isn’t time to get drawn into pity for any of them although their backstories would give plenty of reasons to do so.

Byrne alongside Sophie Sodd (production manager) and stage manager Michaela Corcoran have taken the original play and produced a much stronger and hard-hitting performance which delivers an uncomfortable but heart-warming insight into how an Irish community my live.

Four Stars

Cast
Eleanor Byrne-Brenda
Niamh Finlay-Deirdre
Sarah Horsford-Dolores
Writer and Producer- Sharon Byrne
Co-Producer-Vivienne Foster
Director-Chris White
Casting Director-Natalie Gallacher
Movement Choreographer-Jess Tucker Boyd
Costume Designer-Sorcha Corcoran
Lighting Designer-Marty Langhorn
Production Manager-Sophie Sood
Stage Manager-Michaela Corcoran
Graphic Designer -Marianne McConnell.
Twitter@GuttedFringe
Facebook @Guttedtour
Instagram @Guttedfringe

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 14/10/2019

 

Classified by Jayne Woodhouse

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 6th Oct 2019

Loosely based Theatre Company’s three interlinked short plays are a macabre fictional look at the reality of a world that could be closer than we think! When freedom is removed and only allowed to a privileged few who can we trust? Nobody is the simple answer in this production and absolutely nothing is what it appears to be!

First time Mum, 18-year-old Leanne (Kayley Rainton) has given birth three days earlier to Jax. She is subjected to an appalling interview by the Man played by David House at first it appears to be a routine interview. As the meeting progresses the sinister and insidious reason for calling her in is sickening. Does she have a price and will she sell her only commodity? The questions left me cold and I felt very angry by his smug demeanour as can be seen in the picture above.

There are interlinking subtle themes running throughout the three short plays. The Sixty minute straight through production keeps you gripped wanting to find out the fate of each character. Breaking the fourth wall frequently engaging directly with the audience and encouraging them to become more than passive observers adds another dimension to this play.

Actress Rosannah Lenaghan pictured above plays the other half of a young couple. She misses curfew trying to find out what has happened to a lower level man she sees on a daily basis called Jax. Neil Gardner in the role of her boyfriend is more concerned about how her actions will affect his own status level. Just how far does he go to save his own privileges?

Playwright Jayne Woodhouse delivers a very dark and deeply uncomfortable insight into a future that isn’t completely inconceivable. The tightly weaved script leaves you cold in places and delivers plenty of shocks along the way. Just how far will people go to protect themselves in the name of what they have been brainwashed into believing to be “right”!

Director Calum Robshaw has bought each of the characters together in an extremely well-directed trio of hard-hitting situations. The smooth transition between each play doesn’t allow much time to gather your thoughts!

The stage is minimally dressed nonetheless the strong script doesn’t depend on props. The strength of conviction by the cast of four is all you need to focus on. Their interlinked stories and how their paths often cross is the central focus and the delivery is close to perfect. As with all particularly good Fringe plays the key is in the quality of writing and the right choice of actors, not the budget spent on special effects!

Four Stars

Running Time 60 minutes.

Cast
Neil Gardner-Man/Joe
David House-Interviewer/Principal
Rosannah Lenaghan-Woman/Mother
Kayley Rainton-Leanne/Sarah.
Writer-Jayne Woodhouse
Director-Calum Robshaw.
Photography-John Bruce

Performed at:
The Chapel Nightclub, 34 Milford St, Salisbury.

From 12th-13th October 2019
Lion and Unicorn, 42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED.

https://looselybased.co.uk/

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 14/10/2019

 

When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 29th Sep 2019

Set in Alice Springs in 2039 the audience watch as four generations through the ages as two families share tender moments of love and happiness in which life changes in an instant becoming toxic and beyond any chance of repair!

The physical theatre production with the cast of six flows backwards and forwards between the generations as the story unfolds. You are not prepared for how and when the story takes the turns into uncomfortable territory.

Vivienne Smith delivers an outstanding performance in the role of Elizabeth Law an alcoholic grief-struck mother and wife who never comes to terms with the shocking and abhorrent truth that she abruptly discovers! The challenges facing Aidan Crawford in his role as Henry Law highlighted his excellent acting ability.

Set between two hemispheres the hustle and bustle chaotic life in the London flat juxtaposes against the peaceful and quieter life on the South Australian coast. Where watching the blanket of stars in the shadow of Ayres Rock sounds tranquil and appealing. However, the tragedy closely connecting these two countries left me cold!

Director Gemma Maddock really captured the heart of this story the relatively larger cast in the smaller Fringe Theatre shows the vision and creativity in her attention to details as space is more compact and utilizing every inch of the stage is vital especially with the amount of movement that takes place.

I especially liked the changing usage of the family dining table where much of the story took place either around it, on it or underneath it a seen in the accompanying photographs. The hub of a family is often referred to as being the dining table where families often meet to eat and socialise.

The persistent rain soundtrack throughout the performance by its composer Nick Di Gregorio is an interesting choice and while tragedy rains down upon the cast it’s continuously in the background. I would recommend visiting the toilet before you go to watch the play though!

This very clever and intertwined storyline echoes many families lives where one heartbreaking action taken by one member of the family leaves a trail of scars which is carried on into the next generation without those involved fully understanding it’s origins.

The line of miscommunication destroyed the relationships of the four generations within this play. Leaving the question of how well do we actually know those closest to us!

Four Stars.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 30/09/2019

 

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 22nd Sep 2019

The moment you step inside Wiltons Music Hall you are entering a building steeped in history and character. Many of its features are original dating back to when it first opened in 1859. Plain brickwork and restored walls and features from the period all add to the beguiling charm of the experience of watching a first-class musical production in this venue.

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story tells the love story between the Jewish couple Chaya (Mary Fay Coady) and Chaim (Eric Da Costa). Meeting by chance after they had fled from Romania to Canada in the early 1900s. The couple takes you through their journey through music and dance. You are given an insight into the horrific events that they experienced before leaving Romania. It’s quite harrowing in places but then history often is!

The Narrator for the 80-minute performance is Ben Caplan. Well what a fantastic performance he gave, I was entranced by his character’s presence on the stage at all times. With an ever-changing tone and fast-flowing dialogue, he throws in some open untruths which he admits to the audience every time which keeps you engaged in the story. A very unusual style which he carries off with perfect precision. A first-class fascinating actor to watch in character.

The Music Hall has been perfectly chosen for this production. Providing excellent acoustics and atmosphere to this extremely well-produced musical. As part of the audience, you are adding yourself to its ongoing history.

Carly Beamish costume designer has kept the costumes plain and from what I would have expected to see from the period of the early 1900s the simple black dress worn by Chaya is a simple design but looks very effective alongside Chaim’s trousers, shirt and waistcoat.

Director and set designer Christian Barry creates an unusual stage set inside what looks to be a converted storage container with doors on one side. Once the doors are opened you are invited in to watch the lives of the couple unfold.

Playwright Hannah Moscovitch has taken the heart-wrenching story based on her paternal family and placed it into this thoughtful, entertaining and powerful Theatre production. A real credit to her families history and a brilliant performance all round.

Five Stars

Cast
Ben Caplan-The Wanderer
Mary Fay Coady-Chaya, Violin
Eric Da Costa-Chaim, Woodwinds
Kelsey McNulty-Keyboard and accordion
Jeff Kingsbury-Drumset.

Created by Hannah Moscovitch, Ben Caplan and Christian Barry.
Playwright-Hannah Moscovitch
Director-Christian Barry

Running from 18th-28th September 2019

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 23/09/2019

 

Foxfinder by Dawn King

Reviewed by: Kev Castle @CastleKev

Review date: Friday, 13 September 2019

The play was written in 2011 by Dawn King, a writer that I have not heard of before, and a play that I have not heard or seen before.

Set in the upstairs performing space of the Lace Market Theatre, the story takes on an even more intimate feel. With the majority of the scenes also set in the farmhouse kitchen, the wooden beams of the theatre made this even more realistic.

Set on a remote farm, the action takes place within the farm house kitchen belonging to Sam and Judith Covey, who are reeling from a personal loss, failing to meet the production targets on the farm, they receive a visitor by the name of William Bloor.

Bloor is a “foxfinder” whose job is to hunt out infestations of foxes, who are blamed for just about everything, including the poor performance of the farm and its’ produce. Rumour is spread that these “foxes” may have supernatural powers.

Bloor starts to investigate the Coveys, their farm and neighbours, prying into every crevice of their personal and professional lives. We soon discover though that Bloor also isn’t quite as perfect as first thought, and he has weaknesses of his own.

Malcolm Todd (Samuel) plays a really interesting character as, depending on how you look at the way Samuel is played, he could be playing along with the foxfinder to hunt out the foxes, or he could be more intelligent that what he is first given credit for. has he spotted a crack in Bloor's armour with him being so young, and is trying to lead him up the garden path by siding with the foxfinder. A clever character with whom the audience could be divided by his actions.A brilliant character role for Malcolm to get his teeth into.

Kareena Sims (Judith) pulled out her emotional side of her acting ability in Judith. Kareena portrays so much emotion in her face; you feel her frustration, her tiredness, her anger, her fear, but also her Grace. She has been pushed to the edge and is on the brink of doing something that Judith would seriously regret, when something stops her. I can only imagine that this is one role that would drain an actor due to the passion needed to play this character with the respect that is deserved.

Emily Kelsey (Sarah) is another actor who brings the emotions of the characters to life. The look of complete fear when she is being interrogated by Bloor was enough to chill your bones.

AJ Stevenson (William Bloor) gets to play one very interesting character in Bloor. His delivery of the script is perfectly detached and, at first I thought emotionless, but after a while the emotion oozed out and you realise that here is a man who has been brain washed into believing what has been drilled into him. And this makes the character dangerous. Bloor is 19 years old and we discover through his conversations with Judith that his life has been flawed since childhood. AJ's delivery is exact and deliberate and when Bloor visits Sarah, his whole approach is quite evil and calculated.

It's a very tense play and you could feel that tension. It's also a very emotive play as we discover the history of the characters, but it also has some lovely comic moments to relieve the intensity.

Director Chris Sims has amassed the best cast for this style of play and to be able to make an audience absorb that tense, and uneasy feeling, takes something special. It made me wish for the interval to come to break that unease, but then I couldn't wait for Act two to see what happened next. The ending was one that I didn't quite expect either.

The set is designed by Mark James, and the set changes were done smoothly, veiled by some very interesting and appropriate folk music, adding to the location feel.

Lighting Design by David Billen and Sound Design by Gareth Morris. This in particular painted mind pictures of the rural landscape beyond the theatre walls.

If you like intelligent, tension filled theatre, then this is the one to book your ticket for, if there are any left for Saturday. A powerful start to this new season's programme.

"Foxfinder” is at the Nottingham Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 14 September



See the full review here kevcastletheatrereviews.blogspot.com

 

Posted on 14/09/2019

 

Slice of Eel Pie by Lesley Ann Albiston

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 25th Aug 2019

Slice of Eel Pie introduces us straight away to the main two protagonists of the story. As the two boys who are now all grown up are left putting together the missing pieces of their lives in a quest to find out who their real fathers were as their deceased Mother claimed not to have known. Their chosen method of detecting is somewhat unconventional though.

Pony( Malcolm Jeffries) wears his Mother’s dresses throughout the play and although it should appear to be out of the “norm” once you become familiar with the characters it becomes part of him and he wears them very well. Meatball (Neil Cole) is characterized as the stereotypical “skinhead thug” and fits his role perfectly or so it seems! However, as the story develops looks can be very deceptive.

Their Mum, Samantha played by Rafaela Elliston is a fantastic stereotypical hippy. Drugs, free love and music from that generation play a major role in her life. The aspiring Fine Arts Student loses her way as she becomes beguiled by Noel (Anil Desai) and enters Eel Pie Island the notorious jazz and rock hotspot in the 1960s.

The artwork, clothes and props are all in keeping as the script switches between early 2000 and the 1960s smoothly. A difficult achievement to have created convincingly in such a small space.

Free love is not a reality when Mint Julip finds herself left on two separate occasions holding the baby from two separate men from the Island. Somebody needs to pay for them as they are brought up! Neither of the Fathers wants to take responsibility they just want to be free!

Elliston’s performance was outstanding from the moment she quoted her art knowledge in detail to the scene when she enters the stage high and smoking a fake joint she actually appears to be under the influence of drugs, it looked one hundred per cent genuine.

The storyline is intertwined and very detailed. The way in which Albiston has directed the play the audience doesn’t struggle to follow any of the themes that are taking place during the different eras. Certainly, a piece that has been written to be seen in the intimate setting of a Pub Theatre and well worth catching if it returns to the stage after it finishes at Camden Fringe.

Four and a Half Stars.

Cast
Mint Julip-Rafaela Elliston
Noel-Anil Desai
Meatball-Neil Cole
Pony-Malcolm Jeffries
Detective Gold-Danni King
Detective Harris-Hraban Luyat
Sir Jasper-Marc McCardie
Firefighter/Bunny-Harrison Cole.
Written/Directed and Produced by Lesley Ann Albiston.
Lighting and Sound technician Peter Donaghy
Stage Manager Lesley Clay.

Playing from 22nd-25th August

Hen and Chickens, 109 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2NA

www.skiddle.com/whats-on/London/Hen-And-Chickens-Theatre/A-Slice-Of-Eel-Pie/13560784

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 26/08/2019

 

Space Age Love Songs written by T L Wiswell

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 25th Aug 2019

Space Age Love Songs is an interesting musical play where space has no limits or boundaries. The writer has created a “science fiction fantasia” where we see a relationship blossom between a gay male and a straight female.

Cami played by Reanne Black moves to her new high school due to her Mum’s financial situation. Alienated at her new school for being herself and the deteriorating relationship with her alcoholic mother befriending Daniel is everything to her.

From the Queer genre, it encompasses Queer theory very well where the basic rule to follow is that nothing in the world is “normal “it is about our individual perception of what normal is. Queer theory is one of the very interesting modules I studied at University.

With some great classic numbers from Gary Newman to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The out there futuristic soundtrack has been carefully selected to enhance the play.

The storyline struggles in places and sometimes following when Daniel played by Robert Twaddle is a robot in the club to the high school Daniel can cross over leaving you wondering where you are in the performance.

Twaddle is a professional drag queen and this added another depth to his performance especially when he was performing the hatching chicken number in one of the club scenes. Costume designer TL Wiswell created the perfect black lace outfit he was wearing. It was absolutely stunning.

I was completely in awe with Daniel and Matt’s ability to dance in heels that would have made many females wince at the idea of even walking in them let alone dance. Both of the guys made it look effortless.

Although I enjoyed sections of this production it still needs to sort out some of the clarity as to where the characters are in certain scenes. This lays at the hands of the director though as the very talented cast of five all worked extremely hard. In what looks like a very exhausting and energetic performance.

Three Stars.

21st-25th August at 9 pm.

Hen and Chickens, 109 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2NA

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 25/08/2019

 

No Limits-A Song Cycle by Sam Thomas

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 25th Aug 2019

No Limits-A Song Cycle is a new musical written by Sam Thomas performing at the 2019 Camden Fringe.

The cast of six performers delivers an energetic and very enthusiastic musical production. Once you see a cast enjoying the production the quality of the show is often raised and this was certainly the case.

Each of the musical numbers offers a short completed story exploring various feelings and situations relatable to everyone. From the feelings of inadequacy as everyone around you appears to be achieving something better than you are, infidelity and death to name but a few.

The cast used the game of twister in a funny musical number discussing openly how everyone has a slight “kinky” side in the bedroom. They sing about the varying degrees with a glint in their eyes and a lot of smiles exchanged between them.

I especially like the line used several times through the musical where the cast sing “taking the scenic route”. As evolving human beings, I believe everyone in some way is taking that route through life. Some are more extravagant in their choices than others. A thought-provoking simple line which has stayed me to think it over!

No Limits-A Song Cycle delivers everything you expect to find in a musical catchy song, some cheesy performances and plenty of dancing. Accompanied by the two talented band members who were on time perfectly. An extremely well-structured production which is thoroughly enjoyable.

Four Stars

Cast
Woman 1 – Emily Carter
Woman 2 – Megan Jobling
Woman 3 – Keisha Mowchenko
Man 1 – Timothy Roberts
Man 2 – David Gibbons
Man 3 – Aaron Jenson

MD and Piano – Sam Wells
Percussion – Ben Jones
Writer – Sam Thomas
Director – Jordan Scott Turner
Assistant Director – Jennifer Ruth Adams

Playing Friday 23rd August 430pm, Saturday 24th August 6 pm, Sunday 25th August 3 & 6 pm.

Hen and Chickens, 109 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2NA.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 25/08/2019

 

Puttana by Oskar Hartman

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 25th Aug 2019

Writer Oskar Hartman performs his one-man production of Puttana. A harsh, graphic and partial autobiographical play exploring the darker side of gay sexual hook-ups, eating disorders, sexual abuse and fearing commitment within a monogamous relationship.

Grindr and Tinder were an addiction for him. Travelling from country to country with the phone at the ready to capture the next young flesh of meaningless sex he could consume. The desire to feel wanted drove him to want more and more men.

At times during the performance, it can descend into being quite self-indulgent. Mentioning many times about his good looks, body and modelling career. Worrying whether or not he would still be desired by men as his looks faded with age.

After an HIV scare, Oskar decides to make some changes in his sexual lifestyle. Promising himself to not indulge in unprotected sex anymore, well not as much he adds at the end of the scene.

Many times when I watch new productions I learn something new. This play is no exception “Puttana” translates to “bitch” which had this been used as the English title the exotic undercurrents would not have rung the same.

An interesting yet slightly obscure play at times. The themes of insecurity and uncertainty about forming relationships are common emotions that a vast majority of society can relate to regardless of their sexuality.

Three and a half stars.

Written and Performed by Oskar Hartman.

Directed by Jonna Wilkström.
The show contains some or full nudity and strong language. Over 18’s only.

24th August 3 pm
25th August 4.30pm.

Hen and Chickens, 109 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2NA.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 25/08/2019

 

Mallets by Rex Fisher

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 21st Aug 2019

Mallets by Rex Fisher is the first play bought to the stage by A Dogfish Production.

The quintessential English croquet playing Sam portrays the stereotypical middle to upper-class fellow. Frustrated with his grass, mallets and life generally. He moans to his long-suffering wife Philippa, who tolerates his ranting as their guests are running extremely late.

The concept played around within the play that “thank you” is the new “sorry” was well acted out and by the end of it Sam’s character had made a convincing argument that this could be the case.

When Katie finally arrives minus, Howard. Sam decides it’s time to continue moaning and berating his long-standing friend to the point of spilling secrets out into the conversation.

There are some very funny scenes within the play. Alongside some dark and manipulative themes which erupt violently and very quickly.

Delivering plot twists in a play is never an easy thing to pull off convincingly. Director Felix Firth has managed to superbly execute this in the production, I genuinely did not see that scene about to happen!

Three Stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/mallets

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 23/08/2019

 

The Rebirth of Meadow Rain written and performed by Hannah Moss

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 21st Aug 2019

The Rebirth of Meadow Rain explores Coercive control through the story of Meadow and her relationship with Terry. From the loving kind and caring perfect man, in the beginning, turning rapidly into the manipulative, violent and dangerous toxic situation she needs to escape from for her own safety.

Meadows life long friendship with Miranda becomes fractured as she can see what is happening to Meadow and when asked what she thinks of Terry and dares to be honest, told that she is just jealous!

The darker of the side of this horrendous story is presented in a gentle almost subtle manner that you are questioning if it’s ok or not. Although you know it isn’t. The sexual assault that takes place towards the end of the play has been written sensitively and although it’s not graphic it leaves an uncomfortable feeling with you.

The audience participation in this production takes place at various stages. Partly making the situation awkward especially when Meadow asks you to shout out names at her. I refused point-blank as I couldn’t do it. A very clever device used to unsettle the audience out of their comfort zone. A theme that often runs through abusive situations where you are awkward and uncomfortable in public.

The subtle way in which domestic abuse takes over your life with a perpetrator looks different from the inside. Meadow knows something is wrong but to the outside world she wants to portray that what she has is real.

There are many elements in this play that can be found triggering and the warning before the play was very considerate. This was followed up at the end with a card offering help and support.

Four Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/rebirth-of-meadow-rain

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 23/08/2019

 

The Trial by Franko Figuierdo

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 21st Aug 2019

The Trial was written and directed by Franko Figueiredo the play has been influenced by his own experiences and set in a small village in Brasil similar to the one he returned to. Where being different or LGBT is shocking and something to fear out of ignorance and prejudice!

A Shocking tale of hatred and fear bought to life by the extremely talented actress and musician Ines Sampaio in the role of Tieta a trans woman returning to her small Brazilian community, Ines is pictured above.

Tieta’s costume and bold makeup were stunning. She was in control of this shocking moving and extremely thought to provoke play throughout the whole performance. Attitudes certainly need to change although it requires a certain level of educating to achieve this.

After Tieta has been brutally attacked The Trial that takes place against the perpetrators. The decision of the outcome is made by audience participation. Split into four groups they discuss their decision and then the chosen spokesman for each group passes on their verdict. An unusual addition to a play. Although it’s a very good idea as the play will vary each time depending on the audience.

Personally, I struggle with productions like these. Not because I don’t understand but I am totally bewildered at people’s attitudes and the inability to accept people for who they are. Tieta didn’t do anything wrong and only became persecuted by those who feared her. Society still has a long way to go before everyone can live in peace.

Four Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/trial

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 23/08/2019

 

Little Wings by Pace Rep Company

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 21st Aug 2019

Pace rep company are making their debut appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe during the 2019 season. Founded in 1988 they run the largest youth theatre in the country with over 1000 young people attending each week.

Isabella has always felt like she has “little wings” fluttering around inside her stomach!

The storytelling production of Little Wings is aimed at 5-8-year-olds the younger members of the Fringe audience. It is a beautifully told tale of overcoming fears and learning to fly your own journey in life.

Sisters Isabella (Iona Ramsey) and Iris (Andrea Cano Molina) rarely get on for very long. Isabella is peaceful and loves reading her books and lives her life by lists and order. Iris is a chaotic ball of energy waiting to run towards the next volcano. Embracing everything life has to offer.

Arlo (Allan Othieno) befriends Isabella during the story helping her to understand what the butterflies are and to move forward in her relationships.

Looking at the themes of emotions and feelings. There is a particular scene where each emotion is highlighted and the feelings surrounding it which you might experience are described. This was delivered in simple terms which are perfect for children and adults alike as it’s not always easy to make sense of how you feel at times.

The sheet monster created from a tambourine and dark coloured sheet was a simple design built in front of the audience. The idea is really good and effective to bring the creation to life adding a temporary fourth character into the story.

Although aimed at a younger audience it’s a beautifully constructed play that as an adult you can take away with you a different perspective on the way you feel and accept that it ok to feel even if it’s negative at times.

They pose the question “Is anyone meant to be anyone?” That is for you the audience to decide!
Four Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/little-wings

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 23/08/2019

 

2ELFth Night by Keane and Doyle

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 21st Aug 2019

Adrian Keane and Alan Doyle present Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as you will never have seen it before. Their surnames almost appear to be created as a working double act “Doyle and Keane” has a nice ring to it. With parts of their show performed in the style of improv you never will see it again either.

The part scripted, part improv performance is such a great twist on the original production. The storyline follows The Twelfth Night structure and base for all the characters that feature during the show.

The duo works together in sync and follows each other’s cues with what appears to be complete ease. However, with so many themes and quick costume changes taking place, I admire the way they never falter or pop on the wrong wig.

Every show is going to be slightly different due to the audiences participation as well as their style of improv. This evenings audience was partly made up of actors from other shows too which also included their props. Any act capable of being able to improv to that level deserves to be admired.

Sound effects are performed by the audience too while either Doyle or Keane conduct them while performing their next part. Adding plenty of laughs and atmosphere to the play.

Their unique style and ability to entertain what appears to be a slightly disjointed and chaotic script while at the same time keep the audience engaged deserves a well-participated show at the Edinburgh Fringe. I really hope they come back next year with another great adaptation.

Four Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/2elfth-night

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 23/08/2019

 

Avalanche by Pace Rep Company

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 21st Aug 2019

Pace rep company are making their debut appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe during the 2019 season. Founded in 1988 they run the largest youth theatre in the country with over 1000 young people attending each week.

Avalanche is a well written, directed and performed moving play of two halves that somehow meet in the middle. Two desperately unhappy late teens see each other every day on the bench while waiting for the bus.

He attempts to make conversation with her on several occasions. However, her friends and Instagram likes on her selfie posts dominate her time and he goes unnoticed. When did we stop properly communicating without a phone or other electronic gadget?

Grief is the underlying theme for both characters in this play. A loss of a parent which leaves a vast empty space for Louis and the loss of moving away and growing apart from friends is the source of Sophie’s grief.

Sophie played by Carla Macpherson has become consumed by taking daily selfies. The obsessive behaviour is a cover for a much deeper underlying problem. One of loss and the fear of being forgotten as her old friends become worlds apart from her now.

Whereas Fraser Scott’s character Louis is completely bewildered by this obsession and mistakes her constantly taking selfies as a sign for a fulfilled, popular and happy life. One in which he desires to take him away from the painful truth he carries around with him every day.

The journey through the performance takes them to the moon and back as they work through their emotions in stages. Finding something within themselves and each other to restore their happiness.

The solo singer Poppy Lironi as Ella, Louis’s Mother. Is moving and beautiful completely unaccompanied she sings the theme track to a couple of the scenes. I could have continued listening to her long after the production had finished. Such a rare treat to find such an unusual voice.

Avalanche explores the importance of looking beneath the surface for the truth and happiness. As their worlds crash down around them they dig through the emotional avalanche and they find the freedom to see the stars once more.

Four Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/avalanche

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 23/08/2019

 

The Cat’s the Thing by Marissa Landy

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 20th Aug 2019

Marissa Landy presents through her performance of Tanya and her co-star Dale the cat of how the world is seen through the eyes of an OCD sufferer.

Her stage has been well thought out and dressed methodically. During one scene where Tanya is changing the conflict in her head intensifies telling her not to wear certain items, although what you soon realise is all the socks, tops and bottoms are exactly the same!

The relaxation methods Tanya tries to use to seek calm and solace from the chaos raging in her head are tried and tested forms for sufferers of anxiety and OCD. Using them in her show might be a helpful suggestion to someone who might be suffering.

Through recorded clips played during the production the voices in her in head talk to her degrading and belittling her as they undermine everything she thinks, says and does. Frequently warning her that Dale will die if she performs certain actions as simple as wearing a pair of socks!.

Symptoms presented in the play are stressful and there is the potential that certain scenes or themes could be triggering. However, from the perspective of someone who doesn’t suffer it is a thoughtful and respectful insight into the daily struggle sufferers of this condition have waged war within themselves.

Landy has written a very insightful and thoughtful play that would certainly be worth considering performing in colleges or universities to raise awareness of this debilitating condition.

four stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/cat-s-the-thing

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 23/08/2019

 

Dark Play or stories for boys by Carlos Murillo

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 20th Aug 2019

Dark Play or stories for boys is grounded in our social media generation although the original text was published in 2007. Chat rooms, cybersex and absolutely nothing you see areas it seems. Carlos Murillo has encapsulated it all in this extremely “dark” play.

Nick likes “to make shit up” if ever there was such an understatement! As he moves away from the bed where he wakes up with his girlfriend the sense of danger and dark reality of the scars on his abdomen start to unravel!

As a lost and confused teenager, Nick turns to the web to find solace and become someone else to escape the painful truth of living with his alcoholic lone parent Mother whom he regularly fights with and has a dysfunctional relationship with.

Luring Adam into his fictional macabre world with his profile avatar Rachael. He explains in detail how on a scale of 1-10 we all fall into a gullibility category. 1 being low 10 the highest. Singling Adam out online as a 10 the games begin.

The strobe lighting used on the stage blinds you as the computer alter egos come to life mirroring Adams vulnerability as he is blinded from the truth with what he believes to be true.

The only character you feel any empathy for is Adam as he is played as a dark pawn in a game he has no idea how to play or could ever hope to win. He simply wants to fall in love and walk on the beach!

Prepare to be moved in an uncomfortable yet intriguing curiosity as the plot twists and turns. To aid in his creation of Rachael that Adam desperately wants to meet he adds the Stepfather into the mix as an abusive figure to fuel Adam’s jealousy and anger to finish the game off that he has started.

Director Marc David Wright and the incredibly talented cast of five deserve to be proud of bringing life to these troubled characters. With such a strong sense of believability. It is such a shame it is having such a short run at the Edinburgh Fringe as it definitely one to be seen.

Five Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dark-play-or-stories-for-boys

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 21/08/2019

 

The Long Road

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 20th Aug 2019


The Long Road tells the story of a family torn apart by their son/brother stabbed to death outside a shop. In order to get closure and answers meeting his killer appears to be the only way forward! But at what emotional cost can the family agree on this!

The themes covered are extremely heartfelt and emotionally provoking. Watching his brother stabbed leaves a lasting memory for Joe his older brother. While trying to make sense of why it happened he has the added disadvantage of trying to understand his parents form of coping as well as they argue and become emotionally worlds apart.

Fleur de Henrie Pearce performance as Emma (murderer) is spellbinding and outstanding. Her portrayal of a young girl high on anxiety and anything else she can find to take or drink completely owns the stage during each of her scenes. Shaking, nervous laughter and angry outbursts. I was entranced by her character all the way through.

All the action during the production takes place around a white table and three chairs. Befitting of the family drama for the ‘normal’ daily family place for meals. I like the use of white as it keeps it clean and calming from all the chaos and trauma spilling out over the rest of the stage.

There is a danger of performing a play written fifteen years ago though. laws change along with the free use of sharing of information. During the play, Elizabeth (prison worker) discloses private conversations held with Emma in prison and it hasn’t sat comfortably with me as the laws in place now have changed. I felt an announcement should be made at the beginning of the performance acknowledging events were correct at the time the play was written.

It is rather a lengthy play for a Fringe production at 80 minutes long. The recommended length of 60 minutes for a play would have made the plot tighter and raised tension higher by not drawing things out quite as long. Overall a very good play and worth taking the time to see.

Four Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/long-road

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 21/08/2019

 

Naughty Boy by Eddy Brimson

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 19th Aug 2019

Best-selling writer and comedian Eddy Brimson brings to life Joe in his one-man play Naughty Boy at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. From my understanding, it has been set in a psychiatric hospital. Where nurses are serving the wards rather than prison officers in the environment in which he is now living in.

Much of the dialogue is lyrical and you become entranced by the beauty of the words explaining some of the most horrendous events that take place during Joe’s lifetime. The imagery and descriptions of the cat which is run over are very intense but beautifully bought to life at the same time.

One such event that happens in a Tube station changes Joe’s life for good. The stabbing of Keith, Joe’s long-standing mate fuels anger and hatred. The scene erupts as the group Joe is with become part of an angry and violent fight. Resulting in Joe attacking and possibly pushing the bloke referred to as “Ratty” under the train! Whether he did or not is for the audience to decide. The matter of fact tone and excitement in the voice of Joe is in danger of sounding like this happens every day.

Through the eyes and words of Joe violence is freedom. Pure abandonment as the fighting and chaos fuels adrenaline and awakens his spirit. The danger is through his eyes and outlook on life violence is acceptable and as much a part of his life as doing the weekly shop! Making him a truly dangerous man.

The wonderfully interwoven words and imagery Brimson use moves the play along at a fast pace. Taking you on a moving journey. Joe’s behaviour is both disturbing and concerning as he normalises the darker side where parts of society exist and one in which we hope never to meet.

Joe describes the world in a brutal but accurate analysis. We are all naughty at some time during our lives and guilty of something! Just how far do you go through? We brush shoulders with every character described within the play at some point during our lives we just don’t realise it or know who these characters are.

With some alarming scenes, Naughty Boy is not for the faint-hearted. It is certainly worth the gritty and emotional rollercoaster ride though. After all “the world does not owe us a living” and it’s definitely a tough ride at times!

Five Stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/naughty-boy

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 20/08/2019

 

Buzzing by Debbie Bird

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 17th Aug 2019

Debbie Birds new Edinburgh show Buzzing tells the story of Julie. Recently separated from her husband of over twenty years. Life back in the single market isn’t what she had planned as she approached 50.

How do you rebuild your life after such a long time with the same sexual partner? Routines and familiarity often take away your ability to let yourself go and know who you are.

The variety of sex aids used during the play are all explained and demonstrated how they work and the pleasure you can derive from them. Although not physically, unless the end of your nose counts!

Although ending up alone as she approached 50 the new discovery of the enjoyment of sex combined with her journey into self-discovery gives a strong positive message to anyone who finds themselves in the same situation and it’s surprisingly common.

Women of a certain age who have experienced similar events will no doubt relate to this play and Bird speaks for a generation who are usually deemed past it and invisible. The reality could not be any further from the truth.

This isn’t just a play for women though. I dare say the men in the audience had an eye-opening experience too along with an insight into how many women of a certain age really think.

Nothing is off-limits in this frank, open and honest heartfelt story. It’s certainly about time someone gave a voice to these ladies. Bird has done exactly that showing a certain generation also knows how to see the funny side of life too!

Four stars.

Written and performed by Debbie Bird
Directed by Mark Farrelly.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/buzzing

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 17/08/2019

 

Teach by Matthew Robert

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 16th Aug 2019

The powerful semi-autobiographical production by Matthew Robert’s at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Teach is a “warts and all” fast-moving play about his experiences inside and outside the classroom.

Smattered with shocking statistics and an insight into how unsupported teachers are by parents, the wider community and the least of all the government. We send our children to be educated and as parents, it’s easy to forget to see the person sat on the other side of the desk as we expect the impossible from them in too many instances.
Roberts asks the audience to vote on whether he should leave teaching or not three times during well-placed intervals through the show. Robert’s is a real-life teacher questioning strangers at how they see his role and job to decide if he should stay or not. The results have been astonishing to him as each day the audiences have differed in opinion.

Helen Tennison has directed an insightful, vibrant, passionate and hard-hitting play that deserves to be seen by anyone who has children. The view into the other side of teaching isn’t for the faint-hearted.

If we want to and we should want to keep passionate and dedicated teachers like Roberts in these important jobs then attitudes and funding need to change to support them!

Five Stars.

Written and performed by Matthew Robert’s.

Directed by Helen Tennison.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/teach

Matthew Roberts will present the epilogue of TEACH at the rally on Friday 27th September 2019

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 16/08/2019

 

The Heresy Machine by Dmitri Barcomi and Seth Majnoon

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 16th Aug 2019

The movement-based play The Heresy Machine is a queer cyborg fictional love story set between Alan Turing and his computer that he names Baby.

The original musical score by Eamon Goodman integrates with the worlds first computer-generated music with his composition. It’s extremely clever and the voice of the computer is exactly how I would imagine it to sound.

An unusual performance of an actor taking on the role of the computer through speech and jolted movement in time with the diction was absolutely precise. They had certainly timed each line perfectly and it would probably not have been an easy role to fulfil.

The production brings into question human relationships with computers and everyday machines in our lives today. We rely on them to perform for us every day and subconsciously build up a rapport as we understand their quirks and how to get the best results out of them.

I did find in places during the performance I was at a loss as to what was going on. However, I am arts-based not science and I dare say someone in that field would have a far greater understanding.

Cast
Maria Moriarty
Marc Sinoway
Michelle Kariuki.
Created by Dmitri Barcomi and Seth Majnoon.
Sound design Eamon Goodman
Computer programming Robert Salzer

Three Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/heresy-machine

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 16/08/2019

 

How to Mend the World (with a student play) by Drunken Brainstorm

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 16th Aug 2019

Drunken Brainstorm would have been the perfect title for this production of How to Mend the World (with a student play).

The fast-paced comedy performance is set as a group of budding actors brainstorm ideas to take their ideas in front of a funding board for twenty thousand pounds to enable them to bring to stage Arthur Millers play The Crucible.

Egos at the ready as the group of four begin discussions. Three of the four characters trying to control how the funding meeting should go.

Drunken Brainstorm has combined a great mix of comedy, slapstick scenes, mayhem and overall madness to this production. A very talented quartet who have bought a show here that the Edinburgh Fringe needs.

It’s never going to end well and with the spaghetti tower smashing it is unlikely to end tidily either! There are a lot of laughs along the way and as each cast member was enjoying themselves it helps raise the atmosphere of the performance.

Four Stars

Cast

Christian Bennett – Liam Hurley
Jonty Bailey – Higggins – Francis Nunnery
Felicity St.Clair – Tilly Price
Ben Hackett – Ollie Tritton – Wheeler
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/how-to-mend-the-world-with-a-student-play-1

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 16/08/2019

 

Mason King- Sleight of Mind

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 16th Aug 2019

Entering Mason Kings 45 minute Sleight of Mind show. I was feeling cynical and unsure about what to expect. Magic is exactly that magic, I mean surely it’s all up to the magician’s sleeve! However, none of his tricks went anywhere near his sleeve during the entire show. The sheer level of accuracy was mind-blowing.

King’s happy exterior and complete control over the entire performance is brilliant. He sets the audience at ease and there’s a lot of careful interaction.

The audience was astounded at times by his accuracy and the reactions they gave during the show were all genuine as far as I could see.

There were a couple of moments when he was not accurate with his mind-reading predictions. Although I do wonder if that was part of his act too, building up the atmosphere. Regardless of how or why it’s a very entertaining and thought-provoking show.

I was left questioning how did he do that? Whatever methods King uses I am very impressed with the performance I have seen. The ending to his show leaves you wondering how!

Four Stars.

Performed by Mason King.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/mason-king-sleight-of-mind

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 16/08/2019

 

Letter to Boddah by Watershed Productions

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 16th Aug 2019


As two friends Neil and Bill hold themselves hostage in the disabled toilets at their local Tescos in Oldham. They are contemplating their next move. With two guns on the toilet cistern and a suspicious-looking rucksack and the friends dressed in army uniform, only time will tell as to what happens next!

Bill played by Sam Glen has orchestrated this two-man war. With his hands violently shaking with nerves and the heightened anxiety, this all sets the scene immediately as the pair enter the disabled toilet. Combined with raised voices and nervous rapid conversation the fear sets in that this is unlikely to end well.

We all make wrong decisions in life and as life’s catastrophic events eat away to the very core of Bill existence, his best mate Neil has found himself caught up in his friend’s frenzied world.

Watching Glen in character as he opens the rucksack to set the fuses on the bomb the intense scene has you drawn in completely. I had to play myself out to remember this is a play I am watching as at that very moment it felt one hundred per cent real and there was a bomb.

As the two men open up to each other about the heartbreaking events they lived through during childhood and adolescence. The picture becomes clearer as to how these two funny, damaged and very likeable friends have found themselves in this position.

The rapport that these two extremely talented actors share on the stage is very rare. There are absolutely in tune with each other and it’s incredibly moving. Every emotion felt by the actors is passed out through their outstanding performances to be felt by the audience in turn.

With such a tightly written script from Sarah Nelson, this play is absolutely flawless. Writing this strong drives passion and emotion throughout the play never allowing the actors or audience a chance to catch a breath!

Unbeknown to me the play is named after the suicide letter Kurt Cobain wrote to his imaginary friend at the time of his death.

The Letter to Boddah is a rare gem at this years fringe and deserves to be seen. Leaving a theatre thinking “wow” because it leaves you speechless speaks volumes.

Five Stars.

Cast
Sam Glen-Bill
Jordan Reece-Tink/Neil
Writer Sarah Nelson.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/letter-to-boddah

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 16/08/2019

 

The House of Influenza: A Spooky Tale of Freighteningness by Andrew Shires

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 15th Aug 2019

Lily Edwards performance in the one-woman show The House of Influenza by Andrew Shires is outstanding. A mixture of horror, humour and an array of different characters bring the stage to life.

The atmosphere for this “kooky, spooky and a little bit kooky” production switches between a blacked-out theatre and a fully lit one. Which heightens your own senses and adding another dimension to the performance of this “horror parody”.

Set during the beginning of a zombie apocalypse the women in the story decides that this is one her time to write the horror book that she has always wanted to do. Facing survival from the zombies outside as she is locked in her own house she uses humour to overcome fear.

With references to many popular horror films from The Woman in Black to Final Destination scattered throughout the performance it never feels like it’s just a list of titles for the sake of it.

Edwards certainly brings the book to life playing each of the characters within the book with a different stance and voice. Look out for the straight-laced Mrs Shinfeather the harder she tries to be serious the funnier she becomes.

Edward’s is brilliantly entertaining and has incredible talent. The stage is certainly ready for the next Victoria Wood.

Five Stars.

Cast
Lily Edwards
Writer Andrew Shires.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/house-of-influenza-a-spooky-tale-of-frighteningness

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 15/08/2019

 

HERSTORY by The Polly Clamorous Collective

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 15th Aug 2019

Herstory explores a chronological historical timeline about some of the forgotten famous enigmatic ladies who have played a role in shaping our history as we know it today.

These are the ladies who have been sidelined and ignored through the history books and lost somewhere in time. From Adam’s first wife Lilith, Journalist Black Nelly to the indigenous ladies in Australia who lose their lives at the hands of their families at a rate of one a week.

Be prepared to take an interesting history lesson about how the “weaker sex!” actually made their mark in the world. From what some of them achieved to the sacrifices they made in order to succeed.

The costumes chosen by each member of the quartet are very striking and each one has chosen a different style to represent their individuality. Befitting of their roles in the production.

Set to music, dance and some puppetry the quartet breath a new life into each of the ladies featured. The lyrics to the songs performed are very catchy. With a keen eye for detail and excellent research into the history of each one, they are all bought to life in this packed 50-minute performance.

Four Stars.

Cast
Jamie Fischer
Aurora Richardson
Isabelle Woolley
Stefanie Bruckner
The technician is Chloe Mantripp.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 15/08/2019

 

The People’s Boat by Moaning Toad Productions Ltd

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 14th Aug 2019

Moaning Toad Productions Ltd has bought an interesting play to this years Edinburgh Fringe looking at how the post-Brexit U.K landscape might look as we lose our ropes and cast off from Europe.

The stage is dressed as a ramshackle boat. As the crew discuss food, life and try to work out where they are heading. The one thing they omit from the conversations is “Brexit”.

What you discover is that you are watching a play within a play as the crew are all budding actors discussing the script about who is going to be playing which the crew members on the boat as it sets to the stage.

The writing has been produced in a clever well thought out structure. As you know exactly which events they are referring to throughout the play without outwardly discussing them.

Elliot Williams is extremely funny and is perfect for the comedy role he performs. As with all good comedy actors, the delivery comes through in his body language and facial expressions alongside some very funny lines.

Their Fringe debut is a perfect creation in this time of political uncertainty and the frustrations many people feel as the UK detached itself and sails off into unknown territory. A great way to round off an evening in Edinburgh at the festival.

Four Stars.

The cast of four

Written and Directed by the cast below.

Cast
Arthur-Chris Whyte
Garth-Elliott Williams
Hector-Luke Bateman
Shane-Jack Hilton.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/people-s-boat

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 15/08/2019

 

Gobby by Jodie Irvine

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 12th Aug 2019

Jodie Irvine has taken a partly autobiographical approach to the cause and effects of domestic abuse predominantly the damage caused by the term of abuse referred to as gaslighting. Setting the party themed stage with various party items from party poppers to hats you could easily believe this was to be a light hearted play.

However, you soon begin to realise the story is far from light hearted. Dealing with the sensitive and often misunderstood subject of domestic abuse is a tough topic to approach sensitively. For many people who have not suffered, it’s hard to comprehend and the victim is often asked: “why did you let it happen?”

I especially liked her approach to splitting the show into five parties. I saw them as her journey of recovery and through pulling the relevant amount of party poppers each party is clearly defined. A clear indication that she was healing and moving forward throughout her two years of recovery.

Gobby focuses on the aftermath of abuse and the way in which relationships with friends change. However, as you watch the story unfold she also has to come to terms with dealing with the painful rejection from them too.

Becoming more aware and accepting of her so-called friends rejecting her. The epiphany takes place in which realises she has unwittingly changed who she was too through the trauma. This holds the major key in her recovery.

The celebration in party five of the solo party is the best party of the night. When the victim turned survivor can actually become at peace with themselves and enjoy their own company the healing process has come to an end.

Such a brave topic to speak out about and Irvine has found her new voice through Gobby. I hope anyone watching the show who is experiencing anything similar will seek help.

Four Stars.

Written and performed by Jodie Irvine
Director Serafina Cusack
Assistant Producer Amy Toledano
Costume and Stage Manager Alex Milledge
Technician Hannah-Louise Batt.

Playing from the 1st-15th of August.

Underbelly Cowgate-Big Belly Venue 61 at 6.25pm daily.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 15/08/2019

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Girls by Queen Mary Theatre Company

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 14th Aug 2019

What on earth can be the connection between Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones, Lola by The Kinks, Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, Roxanne by The Police and… Monica? The five characters in Rock ‘n’ Roll Girls explain all.

Set in what is described in the press release as a “dingy social club” the five ladies get together to discuss their hope’s and aspirations beyond certain binding constraints!

The five characters have all been bought to life through the cleverly written play. The idea that each of these ladies is real and longs for far more than simply being part of a constructed “mans” song lyrics.

When I first saw the cast on stage together I instantly connected their outfits to resemble the Spice Girls which is poignant in this year with their comeback tour. Along with some attitudes portrayed as well through each character too. A very clever touch whether it was consciously done or not.

It’s a brilliant concept and with such a tightly written script with no loose ends by the end of the play. Each of the five cast members played their parts with an air of believability. This play is definitely worth taking an hour out of your Fringe to watch.

Four Stars.

ompany@qmtc.co.uk
Writer/Co-Director Rachel Jermy
Co-Director Ellie Calnan
Cast
Efe Uwadiae
Alice Wilson
Stephanie Overington
theSpace @ Venue 45, 63 Jeffrey St, Edinburgh EH1 1DH
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/rock-n-roll-girls

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 15/08/2019

 

Drowning by Jessica Ross

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 12th Aug 2019

The harrowing true story of the four Austrian nurses Maria Gruber, Irene Leidolf, Stephanija Meyer, and Waltraud Wagner who worked at the Geriatriezentrum am Wienerwald in Lainz, Vienna who between 1983 and 1989 killed 49 patients is told through the play Drowning.

Each of the four women explains their own backstories during the play leading up and during these events taking place. Although we know murder is a crime the way in which Jessica Ross has written the play and the brilliant performances by the cast it’s hard not to feel empathy towards each nurse rather than disgust.

If you believe that the “abused can become the abuser” then this play encapsulates this theory entirely. Each of the four actresses plays their part brilliantly with passion and conviction and you cannot help but the question did each murder victim actually want to die and not suffer anymore?

Was their crime murder or were they simply doing an act of mercy? That is ultimately up to the audience to decide for themselves. There isn’t any bloodshed or horrific murder scenes. They murdered each patient as humanely as they saw fit!

One of the absolute must see productions at the 2019 Fringe.

Five Stars.

Pleasance Courtyard (Above) from 31st July

Box Office Tickets are available from www.pleasance.co.uk or 0131 556 6550.
Previews: £7
Early Week: £9 (£8)
Midweek: £10 (£9)
Weekend: £11 (£10)

Writer Jessica Ross
Director Steven Roy
Executive Producer Carrie-Anne Moss

Waltraud Evelyn Edwards
Stephanie Andrea Helene
Maria Aurora Henning
Irene Jessica Ross

Twitter @drowningplay, #isitmurderormercy, @SFTWshows, @ThePleasance
Instagram @drowningtheplay
Website www.drowningtheplay.com

Notes Ages 14+ contains adult themes and content including some scenes of violence and some strong language.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/08/2019

 

STYX by Max Barton

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 11th Aug 2019

STYX by Max Barton explores a families gradual loss through the disease Alzheimer’s. With his Grandmother Flora being diagnosed with it and losing his Grampa Mike from the illness too the family have the first-hand experience in the painful way in which these takes loved ones before they die.

The extraordinary journey Barton has captured from his Grandmother’s memory through the personal conversation recordings he had with her are then intertwined with a well-timed combination of taped interviews, musical score, dramatic lighting and taped dialogue from the band members.

I especially liked the use of the individual lightbulb stage setting. Each bulb can be independently controlled and during times of memory loss or lack of clarity the bulbs would flicker and turn off as the memory was lost. Such an effective yet simple idea which adds another depth to this emotive production.

Barton explores what it is like to lose our memories. What exactly makes us who we are and the interlinking family stories that connect each of us and our family links. Are we all connected by our past and present? Do coincidences within families exist, or are we predestined? That’s for the audience to decide.

Flora and Mike had set up the Orpheus music club before Barton was born. Part of the production sets out the quest in which Barton attempts to track down and see this venue for himself.

This autobiographical family history musical is a beautifully constructed Memoriam for Barton’s Grandpa who himself was a musician. The tribute paid to Mike at the end is tear-jerking.

Five Stars.

ZOO Southside (Main House)
Fri 02 - Sat 17th August 3:05pm
Tickets: £14.00 (£12.00)

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/08/2019

 

Fisherman’s Tail by 4front Theatre

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 10th Aug 2019

The ensemble of five have bought together a great family show explaining the Fisherman disciples story adapted from the Bible. Carubbers Christian Centre is the perfect venue for this production as it offers ample comfortable seating and a lot of space for families which the show is aimed towards.

As the two rival sets of Brothers compete over their fishing catches and the state of their nets. It’s only when they all have a chance encounter with a stranger (Jesus) who comes to visit the town on one occasion that the four Fisherman’s future change paths.

As they embark on the “Jesus’s speaking tour” a term I have not heard before. However, it raised some laughs from the audience. Differences between the rivals calm down and they leave to be “fishers of men” and spread the good word set out by Jesus.

Their use of the orange lifebuoy to depict the part to be played of the saviour of mankind Jesus is a clever idea. The purpose of this object is also to save lives as well and the Bible states he too was sent to Earth to save mankind.

There are a lot of sea shanty style songs and uplifting music throughout the entire show. Each member of the cast playing a different instrument and swapping at times midway through a song. The key ingredient to this production is how much you can see the cast themselves enjoying it.

The quality of props the group have used are very effective and extremely impressive considering the work involved in putting on an Edinburgh Fringe show along with the cost of transportation up to Scotland.

It’s a great family fringe production and the acoustics in Carubbers is perfect to raise and enhance the voices of the cast. It even comes with a net full of fish, I am just not sure which variety they were though!

Four Stars.
Venue: Carrubbers Christian Centre, 65 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR (Venue 520)
Time: 13:00
Tickets: £5 (concessions £4, family ticket £16)
Dates: 2nd- 17th August. (No show Sun 4th or Sun 11th Aug)
Running Time: 65 mins

Bookings: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/fisherman-s-tail

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/08/2019

 

Kemp’s Jig by Chris Harris

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: July 28th, 2019

Steve Taylor enthusiastically brings this legendary Shakespearean actor, comedian and star of the stage Will Kemp to life in Chris Harris’s one-man show entitled “Kemp’s Jig”.

The “Jig” as the title suggests was, in fact, the Morris Dance Kemp undertook to start in 1599 from London to Norwich. He regales to the audience the various stories about how he was received by each town as he stopped along the way and the large crowds that gathered to welcome him.

The story of Kemp’s love-hate relationship with the Bard is told through his narrative. The witty and bawdy humour indicated that perhaps at times Kemp outwitted “Shake-rags” which is his often preferred nickname for Shakespeare.

His unique trunk of props also doubles up as a home to his dog, who when asked nicely can jump over a stick with only minor assistance! Although I am not too sure what breed of dog it is.

There are some interesting historical facts along the journey. For example the moving of The Globe and the graphic description of the macabre past time of watching someone being hung, drawn and quartered which Kemp appears to have enjoyed.

There is nothing to dislike about this show. Taylor breathes life into this colourful historical actor/comedian. It is very good light-hearted Fringe entertainment which is likely to raise a laugh or two along the way.

Four Stars.

Kemp’s Jig will be performed on August 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 15th, and 17th.

At the Space on the Mile (Venue 39)


See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 30/07/2019

 

Space Junk A Soviet Musical presented by Slipshod Productions

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: July 27th, 2019

Space Junk the Musical tells the story of rise and fall of Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin through the narrator Alexey played by Oscar Ginn pictured below along some extremely well-chosen musical numbers.

It’s well written, the storyline is fluid and flows well throughout the performance. Mike Dorey as the ill-fated overnight “starman” celebrity Yuri Gagarin has been well cast and commands the stage with his presence.

With a great selection of music, especially the apt David Bowie songs this musical play never slows down. The important part is the entire cast work well together and look like they are enjoying themselves.

The band play additional characters as well as their instruments. My advice watch the body language of the drummer Tom Tollyfield he captures the sarcasm in his role brilliantly and I found him very funny.

There is so much packed into this hours production from his marriage to Valentina played by Liv Richardson-Frisby. To various affairs from heavy drinking nights out, the did they/didn’t they relationship scenario between him and his colleague Winkle as seen below was a surprise to me. Slipshod have certainly researched Gugarins life in much detail.

There is a bizarre drunken stupor Yuri finds himself in one night. Where he ends up arguing with a life-size bottle of Vodka. Quite a trip to be having. Only at the Fringe!

If you looking for entertainment and education with some good music added in then this is worth taking an hour out of your Fringe schedule to watch.

Three and a half stars.

Space Junk can be found:

At 21:10 from August 2nd-10th and August 12th-17th.

In the Space@Suregons Hall (Theatre 2 / Venue 53).

Tickets available now from the Fringe Box Office

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 27/07/2019

 

Brighton Year-Round 2019 - Wuthering Heights by Identity Theatre

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Published July 25, 2019 by Simon Jenner

Venue: BOAT (Brighton Open Air Theatre)

Low Down
Identity Theatre’s new production of Wuthering Heights is co-directed and produced by Nettie Sheridan and Gary Cook – who also provides sound design and graphics. Dena Lague is movement director, Beverley Grover the technical director and lighting operator. Martin Oakley and Andrew Wesby design and build the set with Debbie Creissen assistant director and stage manager. Musical settings of The Unquiet Grave and Low Down in the Broom are arranged from folksongs by the three singers: Helen Toplis, Jo Simpson and Nancy Wesby. Gladrags, Identity and Southwick Players provide the fine costumes.

Review
Identity Theatre’s been scoring palpable hits at Brighton Open air Theatre. Recent productions of The Crucible and Blue Remembered Hills were remarkable for the consistency, vocal quality, vision and almost choreographed way each moves in the open air. Their presenting April de Angelis’ adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is no exception.

When not writing original drama, de Angelis famously provides a fresh feminist perspective in her adaptations. Her Sense and Sensibility for instance was mounted last year by Brighton Little Theatre. This sharp, slick re-telling of Emily Bronte’s transcendent masterpiece is hailed as one that concentrates on the whole story and context, rather than just lovers, or the two Cathys. Indeed it does to begin with, though there’s little to delay the essentially retelling over two-and-a-half-hours with interval.

There’s a beautiful addition. Musical settings of The Unquiet Grave and Low Down in the Broom are arranged from folksongs by the three singers: Helen Toplis, Jo Simpson and Nancy Wesby. The Unquiet Grave is one of the great poems of the 15th century, haunting and wholly appropriate. This part-singing brings an earthy immediacy, a gentle grounding in song.

Bee Mitchell-Turner anchors this production in her earthy common-sense, loyal and partly perceptive Nelly Dean, the housekeeper who doesn’t quite appreciate the elemental demons that haunt Heathcliff and the two Cathys. She’s joined by the nicely pompous Andy Bell as Wuthering Heights’ new tenant from London, Mr Lockwood self-preening in his London fashion c. 1801, and his frequent self-congratulatory noises on not being a northern barbarian. Bell’s clarity and prissy bombast is another anchor, both in role and in Bell’s performance.

There’s much scowling as Lockwood’s not admitted by Andrew Wesby’s old Joseph, the surly old religious hypocrite – Wesby’s even managed a swaying walk and captures Joseph’s gleeful spite. Lockwood though is not to be put off. He even fancies the young widow Mrs Catherine Heathcliff née Linton (Carly Tennant) with her keen eyes might fancy him. Still ‘Women are fascinating creatures, but I’ve broken too many ladies’ hearts.’ This blank ignorance extends to a woman beating on his windowpane after he’s managed – with difficulty – to be allowed to stay the night in a snowstorm.

The framing device of Dean and Lockwood counterpoints the narrative neatly in the way de Angelis spaces and invents a few pauses. And in making Lockwood more absurd even than Bronte renders him, allows him a primped-up self-importance so he’s not quite a cipher.

The wraith at the windowpane is Phoebe Cook’s ardent Cathy Earnshaw, later Linton. It’s very difficult for a non-native to speak with both Yorkshire accent and vehemence, and the pressure on the cast to do this – particularly three of the leads – is considerable. The result is strongly to their credit. Cook clearly pitches her Cathy a fraction below Heathcliff in sheer possession, above him in careering wilfulness, and more wild in her death throes which are here strikingly begun with tearing out a pillow and naming birds.

Cathy and the gypsy foundling from Liverpool her father returns with, Kane Magee’s Heathcliff, is named after a son who died. The actual surviving son Hindley – Harry Armstrong – bitterly resents the intrusion and Armstrong’s burly performance well conveys the boorish terror of being superseded. There’s a treasurable turn as he presents a vapid wife Frances – Kate Stoner, twitteringly delicious in this, a highlight. Stoner elsewhere plays servant Mary in a raucous obverse of that.

The electricity between Cook and Magee is vivifying, as they dance about in red shawl and blue turquoise tunic. Magee seems young for a part he’s appeared in at the start as a man in his forties; but throughout the evening’s flashbacks he grows in stature from awkward defiant boy to an elemental monarch of the moors.

Identity Theatre’s new production of Wuthering Heights is co-directed and produced by Nettie Sheridan and Gary Cook – who also provides sound design and graphics. Dena Lague’s movement direction is key to this production with the two leads performing gestural balleticism. Beverley Grover the technical director and lighting operator really adds to the atmosphere in the increasing gloaming of a summer’s evening slanting from 19.30 to 22.00. Martin Oakley and Andrew Wesby design and build the set. There’s a raised pallet or dais with a coup as Cathy emerges from trap doors – it’s a pity it’s used just once. Various kitchen accoutrements lie nearby but otherwise it’s an uncluttered set using the grass as moorland and general outdoors. Gladrags, Identity and Southwick Players provide the fine costumes. Debbie Creissen’s assistant director and stage manager, as well as ensemble servant.

Armstrong’s Hindley is a fine lumbering realisation and Armstrong’s increasingly appealing as his son 23 years later, Hareton whom Heathcliff had kept in lettered ignorance after his parents’ death and whom the younger Catherine or Cathy begins to harbour feelings for and teach him letters. His transformation from boorish brat to someone worthy of the more refined Catherine is etched in a few convincing scenes.

As his first cousin – they’re all related and the Heathcliff strains dies out – Tennant’s Catherine is as memorable as the excellent Cook, though she has less to do (opening and last third) and less extremes. The fight sequences between her and Magee’s Heathcliff for one thing are strong and she matches her fictive mother for fire, diction and sheer dash.

The Linton family too get a couple of very strong performances from Daniel Walford, first as the effete grey-frock-coated Edgar who marries Catherine Earnshaw, then as the son of Heathcliff and Isabella Linton: a peevish brat, sickly but removing all sympathy in his spiteful self-fixation whom his father contemptuously uses to marry the younger Catherine to snatch her fortune. Heloise Bliss is his unlucky mother, Isabella, sister of Edgar and again moving from society pride to fright-driven bride prepares to strike her new husband when in flight from him. Bliss conveys her desperation for Heathcliff, and her escape; a neat contrast to her heedless snobby self-importance.

Debbie Creissen apart from offstage works appears as servant and ensemble to swell the decidedly rich element of servant relations etched by de Angelis, and culled from the novel. De Angelis has transposed one contemptuous speech of the younger Cathy’s directed at Linton Heathcliff to the elder Cathy castigating Edgar. What she has achieved though is still classic dark romance. The misogyny rippling from Lockwood through Heathcliff to such figures as Linton Heathcliff is foregrounded a little more, as is resistance to it. Class and servant relations are sharpened, usually at Nelly Dean’s expense. Mitchell-Turner’s sovereign calm is as ever a foil to the whirling passions around her (and Bell): Cook, Magee and Tennant shine the brighter for it.

This production never feels too long and on its opening night barely drops in pace throughout. Wuthering Heights is one of those gothic stories that are better than they can ever be played, whoever adapts: such transcendent emotions in the key characters defy nearly all attempts and it’s a huge credit that you don’t cease to believe these actors. Vocally too it’s extremely taxing. De Angelis has chosen fluid storytelling, social and feminist point, and some humour. It’s more vividly mobile than any TV version.

There’s not a weak link though and this production sails effortlessly into a top recommendation for this version. There mightn’t be a finer adaptation at BOAT this year. See it if you can.

See the full review here http://fringereview.co.uk/review/brighton-year-round/2019/wuthering-heights-3/

 

Posted on 26/07/2019

 

The Falcon’s Malteser presented by New Old Friends and James Seabright

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 20th July 2019

The 80-minute funny and thoroughly entertaining family show played to an almost full venue at the Vaults Theatre as we watched the world’s worst detective, Tim Diamond played by Matt Jopling bumble his way through his latest case.

This new production has been adapted from the book “The Diamond Brother’s in The Falcon’s Malteser” by Antony Horowitz who personally endorsed this stage version entitled A Falcon’s Malteser.

Diamond claims on several occasions to be a top detective. However, 13-year-old Nick Diamond played by Sian Eleanor Green is the actual brains behind this detective double-act. Suspension of belief as Green becomes the young Diamond isn’t unbelievable as she takes the role in her stride convincingly.

Although Samantha Sutherland and Fergus Leatham are cast in the programme to play four and three characters each. They also take on the roles of all the minor characters or guest spots taking place throughout the play. You watch as they effortlessly dash from one end of the stage to the other. In addition to these roles, they are expert stagehands too, moving all the scenery around when required.

With Green’s character breaking through the fourth wall at regular intervals to keep the audience up to date with the storyline. Those watching the play have far more idea of what is going on than her older brother Tim Diamond. He reminded me at times of the children’s detective by DIC Enterainmaint’s Inspector Gadget who bumbled through cases and then looking shocked and bewildered at Brain the dog who had actually solved the case.

I especially enjoyed the car chase. The ability to bring a sense of realism to a scene like that shows a great quality of acting skills held by the cast. As the wheeled office chairs scoot around the stage, Green chases after them in slow motion. An idea of how the scene looked can be seen in the picture above.

Director Lee Lyford has bought together a fine mixture of comedy, family fun, and mystery to this latest adaptation by Feargus Woods Dunlop and the theatre company New Old Friends and James Seabright.

Running now until the 25th August it’s a must-see for anyone in London over the summer and great family entertainment at a fraction of West End prices.

Four Stars.

Cast: Sian Eleanor Green-Nick Diamond
Matt Jopling-Tim Diamond
Fergus Leatham-Inspector Snape, Himmel, Johnny Naples and others.
Samantha Sutherland-Beatrice Von Falkenberg, The Fat Man, Betty Cleaner, Lauren Bacardi and various others.
Adapted by Feargus Woods Dunlop
Directed by Lee Lyford with Heather Westwell
Designed by Carl Davies
Photography by Geraint Lewis.
Originally produced by New Old Friends in association with Theatre Royal Bath’s egg & Newbury Corn Exchange
The Vaults Theatre, Launcelot Street, London SE1 7AD
17 July – 25 Aug 2019, Tuesday to Sunday 7 pm plus Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 3 pm
Tickets £15 – £35 | www.kxtickets.com | 0844 815 7141

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 25/07/2019

 

Warnock - Hope Street Theatre

Reviewed by: Donna M Day - North West End

Reviewed 11th July 2019

Warnock, written by Barry Levy, is an exploration of the shortcomings of the care and justice systems and what happens to people when things go wrong. Directed by Peter Sebastian, it tells the story of 16 year old Sasha Kilpatrick (Rebecca Bryan), a young homeless girl who has been in and out of the Warnock Youth Detention Centre.

The play begins with Sasha and her close friend and companion, Dodge (Johnny Sedgwick) waking up on a beach in Blackpool. That evening they go to do their latest job, the robbery of a local warehouse. Unfortunately their accomplice does not show up and the warehouse is crawling with security staff. Dodge manages to escape but Sasha is caught and returns to Warnock.

When she arrives she meets Michelle Glover (Eleanor Bate) a seemingly apprehensive girl whose sister, Kerry (Chloe Dwerryhouse) is already serving time at Warnock and Laura Riley (Kayla Lundstram) who has been found guilty of murder, despite protesting her innocence. The girls in the detention centre develop a close relationship as they navigate life in Warnock.

While some of the prison staff are trying to create an environment of education and development for the girls in their care, others are taking advantage of the situation to further their own interests. Warnock is a toxic environment, especially for Sasha who is abandoned and alone in her cycle of reoffending and reimprisonment.

It quickly becomes clear that some of the prison staff are aware of the bad behaviour of some of their colleagues, but the word of the inmates will not be taken as serious evidence, meaning that they are turning a blind eye to what is going on while they build their case. Can they fix things before it’s too late?

The characterisation of the prison staff is interesting combining those who are passionate about helping such as Mr Hughes (Joe Gordan) to those who feel they are beyond help such as Mr Abbott (Colin Jones). These characters serve as representations for the extremes of either side of the spectrum. Jones’ portrayal is particularly cold and menacing and his ability to change the entire tone of a scene through subtle facial expression and tone of voice deserves praise.

The play is presented in the half round, an interesting technique which creates a goldfish bowl effect for the audience. However, the seating is quite far back from the stage and a smaller half round or thrust layout could have added more intensity to the show. Consideration needs to be given to blocking as the actors frequently tended to direct their performance towards the back of the stage, meaning that facial expression and lines were lost for the entire audience. Thought also needs to be given to vocal projection as a whole, as on occasion dialogue was barely audible.

Scenery is created through a combination of naturalistic and symbolic projections on the back wall. These create a sense of place and add to the emotion of some of the scenes. There were some long gaps between some scene changes which may have been intentional in an attempt to add tension, but caused the play to lose pace.

Bryan’s performance as Sasha is powerful, combining the sense of a streetwise and confident young girl, with a lost soul who just wants to be loved. The emotional complexity and realism of the portrayal is admirable.

Sedgwick’s performance as Dodge and Keefy Steve playing Mr Norris Anderson, provide some light comedy relief to the show. Gemma Rowlands (Samantha Westwell), a Del Boy like character selling various items within the detention centre is a lovely addition to the story. These characters add lighter elements to the show which add a feeling of roundness of the play.

Warnock is a dark story, brilliantly performed by an evidently close and hardworking cast. While the tension and drama could be improved on in some parts of the play, when emotions are high the performances skyrocketed right up until the breathtaking ending.

See the full review here northwestend.co.uk

 

Posted on 16/07/2019

 

Blue Apple Performance

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 6th July 2019

The small group performing in this piece at Winchester Hat Fair took place in the Outer Cathedral Close on Saturday afternoon, after walking down the high street dressed in their costumes, as pictured below. Complete with two roughly eight-foot tall monsters complete with enormous heads no mean feat in the midday sun.

The short play based on a creature called “Dom, Gloom and Despair” caused the neighbouring happy villagers to fall out. Both villages had very long amusing names which shortened to the “La’s” and the “Lo’s”. Which is far easier to remember.The two villages are bought to disarray as the creature causes trouble, setting them against one another. The arguments and standoffs take place and become more hostile over time. When suddenly both realise what is taking place and decide individually to try to get ” Doom, Gloom and Despair” to stop and leave them alone, through various methods.

As each village tries in its own way to stop it from continuing they realise that their only real chance of success is to work as one. As the two groups reunite and take on the task ahead the creature retreats realising he is outnumbered and outsmarted.Blue Apple’s ethos of working together and overcoming obstacles when the odds are not in your favour is at the heart of this piece. It never fails to amaze me how the dedicated team who work with the theatre company bring out the potential of each and every member valuing what each of them can bring bro every performance.Despite the heat, they never faltered once and James, disguised as the creature must have been extremely hot inside the heavy creation. As seen in the picture below at the back. The smiles alone show how much they enjoyed the performance.

The moral of the story, work together and bring peace rather than chaos and fighting. Another successful production in my opinion from this fantastic group of actors.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 07/07/2019

 

Hedgehog by Alexander Knott

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 15th June 2019

Venue: Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED

The production is running from 12th-22nd June 2019

Coming of age plays very often travel through similar storylines and themes. Hedgehog takes a raw approach to this epiphany and journey through the narrative of Manda’s home life set in Barwell, Leicester takes a different path. Throw in some Spice girls, dodgy dress sense and rogue curling irons for a bittersweet trip down memory lane.

Manda’s monologue style play begins and ends in 1999 at the turn of the Millennium where myths on the digital age were rife and the future uncertain. Thrown into the mix is her encounter with a live/dead Hedgehog.

In a desperate attempt to fit in with her so called friends the desire to enjoy herself is paramount. Surrounding herself with fake friends and encountering a lot of disappointing life events, she takes on the journey to discover her inner self and find her own path in an uncertain world of hurt and inaccessibility.

Mum and Dad are just her parents or are they? Waking up to see your parents for who they are can be quite a shock and in Manda’s case, they are far from the happy couple she believed them to be.

Zöe Grains performance of Manda is energetic and passionate. Leading you to believe she is reliving the monolgue from memory.

The Them characters played by Lucy Annable and Emily Costello bring to life the outside world Manda encounters, from her fake friends to the conversations with her unfashionably dressed Mother.

Alexander Knott has caught the very essence of the trials and tribulations of being a coming of age teen. With the bitchiness of fake friends and the deep desire of Manda to enjoy being part of a scene she is obviously worlds apart from.

Four stars

Cast
Manda-Zöe Grain
Them-Emily Costello
Them-Lucy Annable
Creative
Director-Georgia Richardson
Writer-Alexander Knott.
Music-Sam Heron and James Demaine

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 26/06/2019

 

Personhood at The Columbia University School of the Arts

Reviewed by: Deepak Sinha

Reviewed 14th June 2019

After responding to an online ad, Kyle sublets Sarah’s spare bedroom. The more time they spend together, the more they fall in love.

The only problem: they never actually meet.

What neither realizes is that there is an anonymous third person who lives with them and pretends to be both Sarah and Kyle, alternately absorbing and reflecting each one’s traits.

Personhood asks, what does it mean to really know someone? Is it their story? Their sense of humor? Their body?

Can these things be separated? Duplicated?

What does it really mean to be a person?

Historically, many different groups of people have been considered less than human, not deserving of full rights and dignities under the laws or social structures of the time. Personhood looks at this concept anew, peering around our modern day and wondering, are there others among us whom we will one day consider to be people just like us, and look back ashamed that we once treated them as less?

As the characters in the play grapple with what it means to connect with another person, the audience is left wondering which of them are even truly human — and whether that matters when it comes to love.

Where:HERE ARTS CENTER, 145 , 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10013-1548

When: Jul 2-7

Time: 80 minutes

Book Tickets here: https://ci.ovationtix.com/219/production/1012191

 

Posted on 15/06/2019

 

A live theatre piece from the students of American School of Bombay and Akanksha! [INDIA]

Reviewed by: RASA AUR DRAMA TIMES www.rasaaurdrama.com/

Reviewed 13th June 2019

A beautiful drive down from Pune to Mumbai at the ASB blackbox theatre, to witness a student production. And, let me happily tell you the black box is quite a scenographic setting for playmaking.

In Mumbai, Rangaai Theatre Company performs at a Black Box, sometimes. It was quite charming to see the kids prepare mirrors and scenographic works for their verbatim theatre piece. By the end of the play, I came to understand that the production was a collaboration between teachers and kids.

I was reminded of some scenographic works that I have seen in Pune; Girish Karnad's NAGMANDALA at Vinod Doshi Festival came to my mind. The kids before and after the play were using the theatre space so naturally without actually maybe thinking about the difference between a proscenium space and black box! It's a solid introduction to kids to the art of play-making, expression, voice and more and more.

MOVEMENT

What surprised me further was the dis-arrayed movement of all the kids on stage. The fractured entry and exit, with the mirror as sets , and a voice over. The piece was a movement between theatre, storytelling, narration, scenography and an open mic. The teachers at the school did a good enough job to slide this array of storytelling and different art forms in one gamut of experience THEATRE. The piece also kind of revolved around dialogues, responses in the mics. Many, many professional theatre groups in Pune and Mumbai are yet to use the medium of voice explicitly. The kids at the school made a healthy and ample use of sound or voice as an exploration of acting! I somehow felt the learning process and the story revolved around the voice; for which I would say the production draws into strong theatre traditions.

SPEECH

The speech of the kids was natural and I didn't find any attempt to make their accents unnecessarily foreign. Indian kids sounded like home and so did the kids with the American language.

A very strong sense of consciousness and responsibility emerged from each student's piece; which they carried in a very casual way!

The piece revolved around questioning, identifying sharing relationships in a family from a gamut of angles; in weird and funny postures and fractured entries!

FAMILY MATTERS was a live theatre piece with a strong sense of individuality and unity in a voice! Along with the kids' director ROBERT THORBURN has created an engaging live theatre piece!

See the full review here https://www.rasaaurdrama.com/

Rasaaurdrama preview section is your best, most complete guide for all the theatre/films , big and small, coming your way soon.
E-mail at: rasaaurdrama@gmail.com

 

Posted on 15/06/2019

 

THE LIFE I LEAD and Miles Jupp! [WYNDHAM’S THEATRE London ]

Reviewed by: RASA AUR DRAMA TIMES www.rasaaurdrama.com/

Reviewed 13th June 2019

Best remembered for playing Mr Banks in Disney’s classic film Mary Poppins, David Tomlinson was renowned for playing the classic English gent, forthright, proper, and a loveable fool.

THE LIFE I LEAD sees Miles Jupp, one of Britain’s leading comics and actors (Mock the Week, The News Quiz, Rev, The Durrells) bring his remarkable story to life, in a richly comic and moving tale which fills in the blanks behind a very well-known face.

Following a hugely successful UK tour, THE LIFE I LEAD transfers to the West End for 8 performances only.


See the full review here https://www.rasaaurdrama.com/

Rasaaurdrama preview section is your best, most complete guide for all the theatre/films , big and small, coming your way soon.
E-mail at: rasaaurdrama@gmail.com

 

Posted on 15/06/2019

 

Rabindranath Tagore's Jibito-Mrito adapted by Ingenium Theatre

Reviewed by: RASA AUR DRAMA TIMES www.rasaaurdrama.com/

Reviewed 13th June 2019

Ingenium Theatre Studio adapted a Rabindranath Tagore story into Hindi and gave the audience something to experience. The show somehow stood with the script of justifying it first irrespective of what the audience is expecting, when coming to watch a play. A lot of work went into the design and the scenework was changed by the director Shrikant Gadge from the previous show;Powerful music, apt lights! The lead protagonist was able to Bring out that Tagorean-artistic-rasa-of-immense-pain-and-longing. The actor has come to be more realistic and responsive to space, stage and fellow actors.

The story of JIBITO-MRITO takes you to a widow who has been abandoned by society. The play translated as Living and Dead, presents a young, childless widow, Kadambini, who is believed by others, and at first believes herself, to be dead, existing in the world only as a ghost.It is a sensitive story about love, betrayal ,and superstitions. In this story, the widow’s existence is compared to that of a departed spirit or ghost (pret in hindi). The whole story revolves around Kadambini, who has to live a miserable life to prove herself a normal living being.

See the full review here https://www.rasaaurdrama.com/

Rasaaurdrama preview section is your best, most complete guide for all the theatre/films , big and small, coming your way soon.
E-mail at: rasaaurdrama@gmail.com

 

Posted on 15/06/2019

 

Pictures of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Adapted by Lucy Shaw

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 13th June 2019

Venue: Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, St James’s, London SW1Y 6ST

The production is running from 6th June to 5th July 2019

Upon arriving at the impressive 70 seater Jermyn Street Theatre you are met by a fantastic array of production photographs and the extremely enigmatic designed poster of Pictures of Dorian Gray.

The gothic horror is bought to life in this new production of Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. The cast of four in turn during different performance nights advertised as a,b,c and d take on each of the roles of all the main characters.

Tonight’s performance was led by the two female cast members Helen Rueben and Augustina Seymour as the roles of Dorian Gray and Henry Wotton. As pictured below in the D production cast photograph of this play, the whole cast schedule can be seen at the bottom of the review. Both ladies gave an extremely strong and fascinating performance.

Their role cast changes didn’t detract from the storyline in any way. The suspension of disbelief was ever present with few gender change references made throughout the performance. Which allows you to concentrate on the depth and intrigue of the storyline.

The dramatic black costumes were extremely well designed for each character. The rich black velvet dress and bolero style jacket adorning Dorian Gray were befitting of the status and wealth of the character. Emily Stuart’s eye for detail with the costume designs is very impressive and adds another depth to this production visually. I am not surprised she has twice won the Offwestend award for best costume.

The stage is dressed by two large weathered mirrors. One reflecting water where the famous portrait is housed of Dorian Gray. However, this takes the form of the reflection of the character as they sit and look at themselves. An interesting twist on art imitating life, in this case, the real actor in performance D.

The stage itself is lit by a selection of hanging lights with are controlled individually and light up each character one at a time as they are the main focus on the stage. Adding another well placed dramatic effect visually.

The highly accomplished ensemble of four all showed a great ability in working together around the stage with ease. Each one I can imagine being able to take each of the four roles and make it their own without any hesitation and be word perfect.

Tom Littler has taken one of literature’s most flamboyant and controversial writers of his generation and added his own twist. The production runs smoothly and I would be as bold to say Oscar Wilde would have enjoyed this version of his novel too.

Four Stars.

Cast
Richard Keightley
Helen Reuben
Augustina Seymour
Stanton Wright
Production Team
Director- Tom Littler
Set and lighting Designer-William Reynolds
Sound Designer-Matt Eaton
Costume Designer-Emily Stuart
Movement/Assistant Director-Julia Cave
Production Manager-Philip Geller
Stage Manager-Emily Lawes
Assistant Costume Designer-Eleanor Tipler
Production Photography-Samuel Taylor
Set Construction-Top Show
Rehearsal Photographer & Trailer-Anna Urik
Film Trailer-Ricky J Payne.
Lucy Shaw would like to dedicate this play to the memory of Stephen Jeffreys.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 15/06/2019

 

River in the Sky by Peter Taylor

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 30th May 2019

Venue: Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town

Approaching a topic such as grief after the loss of a baby and multiple miscarriages is a difficult and triggering subject to write about and put on stage. As director Peter Taylor likes to tackle difficult and ambitious subjects this is a piece I would expect from him. For as a young writer/director he certainly pushes himself and this play is no exception.

As the couple played by Howard Horner and Lindsay Cross grieve the loss of their long-awaited baby. Neither can find comfort in one another and bounce off one another verbally each time they meet after she moves out of their home and retreats to her families owned place by the sea to try and come to terms with her loss.

The “bittersweet escapism from their mourning” manifests into storytelling, some of the stories are surreal in places and can be unnecessary. I understand their importance from the character’s perspective. However, they lose the dramatic effect with the quantity that has been packed into the play.

In one scene when the couple is writhing on the floor fighting an imaginary monster. It felt as if the play descended into a student practice production piece as appose to a professional off west end theatre production.

The role played by Cross as a grieving Mother did not altogether come over that convincingly. There felt to be something missing through her performance. Grief is an extremely personal experience and there are no rules on how someone should behave while going through the process. However, with the right actor, you can feel every emotion with them and for me, that part was missing.

Upon reading the press release and knowing how talented the director, Taylor is. I was expecting something very good but sadly this isn’t one of his best pieces on the stage. With some redrafting and some careful editing, this has great potential to be a very powerful play.

Three Stars.

Cast
Lindsay Cross
Howard Horner.
Technician- Rose Hockaday
Assistant Director-Tess Angus
Company Manager- Caroline Arundel
Written and Directed by Peter Taylor.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 01/06/2019

 

Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow by Robert Pearce

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 25th May 2019

Venue: Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town

Welcome to the stage Mama G the fantastic Pantomime Dame one person show, all the glitz and glamour that encompasses the character are here in the fabulous storytelling show. One of the most entertaining and extremely funny performances I have seen in a while.

Mama G takes centre stage in a solo storytelling show to entertain audiences of all ages. That certainly lives up to the claim made on her flyer and adverts.

The main theme running through the entire 90-minute show is to be who you want to be and to encourage those around you to be themselves too. Anything that promotes self-belief and positivity has my full support.

The funny to date flossing and “twerking” dance competition with an endearing puppet show about Eunice the Horse/Unicorn are extremely funny.

Each of the five stories told during the show is based on the main characters learning to become who they want to be in life and each ends with a moral.

The tribute song by the eccentric fabulous singer and actor Paloma Faith sung by Mama G encouraged the audience to join in with the song. Bringing the auditorium together.

An exceptionally well written and directed feel-good show that leaves you feeling uplifted.

When a 14-year-old who isn’t a theatre fan tells you they are really enjoying themselves, that’s incredibly high praise indeed.

Five Stars.

Written by Robert Pearce
Directed by Amèe Smith
www.petitepantos.com

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 26/05/2019

 

Return to Hackney by Panayiota Panteli

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 24th May 2019

22nd May-1st June 2019

Venue: Theatro Technis, 26 Crowndale Road, Camden N11 1TT

“Warehousing” people with care needs is the name coined by the Guardian for cutting the care costs bill by the government. Inspired by a real-life experience, Back to Hackney by Panayiota Panteli has been written to reflect the real-life crisis taking place when councils refuse to adapt people’s homes for them to live as independently as they can.

As the cutbacks hit disabled members of the community. This is reflected in this stories heart wrenching tale of Georgia’s life-changing accident, where she is paralysed and left wheelchair-bound changes the families life as they know it.

23-year-old Sophia and 19 years old Alexandra face the reality of becoming their Mums full-time carer. But only if Hackney Council will adapt her flat to assist her living needs to allow her to use her wheelchair. The same home the family have lived in for the past twenty years.

Sophia’s reaction is one of anger and resentment. In many ways, an understandable response as she realises her own life will now change beyond recognition, and all because in Sophia”s eyes her Mother was irresponsible when drunk.

Alexandra, on the other hand, cannot understand her sister’s response and just wants her Mum at home. She sets about campaigning to the council and eventually wins to get the adaptations done for them to live together again.

As the situation becomes more intense at times during the play the daughters often descend into bitter arguments and conflicts.

Teresa Taylor’s performance as Mum Georgia is outstanding. Her battle to use the newly acquired motorised wheelchair through the traffic cones, learning to use a spoon and applying her own make-up.

The cast of five staged a heartfelt, eye-opening and thought to provoke performance. Panteli’s writing captures you with her uncomfortable truth surrounding cutbacks, the warmth and dedication from the overstretched staff in the NHS and the true meaning of being a family.

Any play that tackles poignant and injust social issues with this level of conviction and sensitive understanding deserves a lot of credit.

Four Stars

Writer/Director-Panayiota Panteli

Cast
Carla-Lucy Christy
Alexandra-Anna Antoniades
Sophia-Kathryn Perkins
Georgia-Teresa Zaylor
Vasilis-Panos Savvides

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 26/05/2019

 

Dream of a King by Christopher Tajah

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 22nd May 2019

The revised shortened Fringe edition of this fantastic production hasn’t lost any of the power and conviction in its delivery as the incredible story of the life about Martin Luther King unfolds. Christopher Tajah’s passion and delivery in the performance that he has written, directed and stars in is a truly moving show to see.

Touching on American black history with the incredible defiance of Rosa Parkes when she refused to give up her seat on a public bus. Such a huge turning point in the movement towards equality.

The wonderful voice of reggae recording star Paulette Tajah singing the title song welcomes you into the performance.

Set on the fateful evening of his assassination. Tajah begins at the end of the story and takes the audience back through a whistle-stop journey of some of the remarkable events Martin Luther King had achieved and been a major part of throughout his remarkable life.

The love and respect he held for his own Father who had been a well-respected Pastor and the devotion he felt towards his wife Coretta and their four children were delivered in heartfelt sermon style bursts of monologue. The respect is mirrored by Tajah’s outstanding performance of this great black iconic figure in history.

With so many layers packed neatly into this performance of under sixty minutes, there doesn’t appear to be any feeling of Tajah rushing the story on at any point. Which could easily have been the case!

Sadly as with all activists they often attract unwanted attention and can become feared by government agencies. He was no exception and was labelled “most notorious liar in the Country” by the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. With the permission of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy – the FBI tapped King’s home and office phones obsessively.

This is definitely a must see Fringe production.

Four and a half stars.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 22/05/2019

 

Testament by Sam Edmunds

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 17th May 2019

14th May-1st June

Venue: The Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1RL

The Hope Theatre with the Artistic Director and “Offies” winner Matthew Parker at the helm, hosts an excellent quality of hard-hitting and challenging Theatre productions. Sam Edmunds was in extremely hands as he brings his award-winning debut play Testament to this intimate theatre space found in the heart of Highbury and Islington.

Testament pushes your senses and emotions to an extremely heightened level of intensity. Finding the dark corners of mental illness which in this play has been bought on by grief and the inability to let Tess go. As we watch Max’s mind descend into despair which he still searches for her among the shadows. Not allowing himself to grieve as he wants to believe she is still out there alive and waiting for him.

Max played by Nicholas Shalebridge delivers a fast-paced heart rendering performance as he battles with severe depression and a now failed suicide attempt months after the death of his girlfriend Tess played by Jessica Frances. The play begins in the hospital where his condition is deteriorating rapidly and receiving the correct treatment is a race against time.

His brother Chris watches as his brother struggles through the immense pain. While he too battles with his own conscience and guilt. When asked to sign the hospital consent form in order to release the pressure on his brain from the fluid building up from the fall, he is keen for Max to be coherent enough to complete the task himself.

The fantastic lighting effects raise the senses as you see an outstanding performance by Shalebridge as his character battles with convulsions possibly an epileptic fit, as he relives moments from the fatal accident in his mind. Often talking to Tess and believing he is still living the memories that are consuming him.

The simple but extremely effective props used for the car accident memories are an absolute touch of genius. We see two damaged front panels of the car with working headlights used to simulate the car crash being manoeuvred by other cast members. As Max relives the fateful crash during the play piecing bits together as the play progresses. It’s only towards the end that we discover the truth about how and why the crash happened!

I really enjoyed the added element to the play where Jesus and Lucifer battle with words to influence which path Max will take next. Both of whom only happen to appear when his depression has taken hold and Max then seems to be existing in another dimension.

Upon speaking to Edmunds after press night he disclosed that “Shalebridge never wanted to be an actor…” if his performance in Testament is anything to go by it was definitely his calling in life as he has an incredible talent.

With many deeply sad moments and an extremely talented cast, this is certainly worth going to watch. Just be prepared to be emotionally challenged by some of the themes covered within the play.

Four Stars.

Cast
Max-Nicholas Shalebridge
Tess-Jessica Frances
Chris-William Shackleton
Doctor-Shireenah Ingram
Jesus-David Angland
Lucifer-Daniel Leadbitter
Written by Sam Edmunds.
Producer-Vikesh Godhwani
Director-Sam Edmunds and William Harrison
Designer-Becca White
Lighting Designer-Alan Walden
Sound Designer-William Harrison
Assistant Director-Hannah Benson

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 17/05/2019

 

A Life Sentence by Eleanor Byrne

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 5th May 2019

5th and 6th May 2019

Venue: Cat Back Theatre, London SW18 1NN

Eleanor Byrne delivers an open and honest monologue style play in honour of her Grandmother. Under the brilliant direction by Jessica Arden. The life Sentence refers to the permanent damage that the childbirth procedure symphysiotomy had done to her pelvis and the unimaginable pain and life-changing event that she endured.

The harsh reality of being a Catholic wife hits home when the medical notes are revealed. Performing a symphysiotomy was a favourable barbaric procedure carried out in hospitals regularly to prevent women from undergoing caesarian sections which would have meant that after two or three births this would lead to sterilisation. Which as a Catholic lady she cannot undergo due to not being allowed to use any form of contraception.

Byrnes explanation is told through unedited graphic details. From the moment she had entered the operating theatre. The horror of the blood splattered nurses uniforms leaves a haunting image. Questioning as to how this was ever considered the preferable option for Catholic wives? Childbirth can be traumatic enough without inflicting unnecessary life long physical damage onto the Mother.

The scene in which her Grandmother attends a support group and explains the condition other women had been left in highlighted how widespread the use of this procedure had been and how bad the damage was. One lady, in particular, spent the rest of her life paralysed in a wheelchair.

There was no doubting her passion and conviction as she delivered this powerful piece as much of the performance her eyes told the audience how much love she felt for this lady as they filled with tears. Holding her composure at all times and she refused to break down at any point.

Superbly delivered and a fitting tribute to her Grandmother along with the thousands of other ladies who these would have had this forced upon them. It is a performance raising awareness of what took place and as an audience member, I suggest leaving your beliefs and opinions at the door and watch it with an open mind.

Four Stars.

Cast
Eleanor Byrne

Directed by Jessica Arden

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 06/05/2019

 

The Stranger on the Bridge by Katie Hims

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 5th May 2019

Venue: Thursday 2 – Saturday 4 May at 7.45pm
Saturday at 2.45pm
The Salberg Theatre
Salisbury Playhouse, Millhouse Lane, Salisbury SP2 7RA.

14th-18th May 2019
Tobacco Factory Theatre, Raleigh Road, Bristol BS3 1TF.

Advisory contains themes of depression and suicide.

Dealing with subjects that are based on depression and suicide is always a possible trigger for some audience members. Dealing with darker sides of personal and often closed private lives of the sufferers of depression and how their families feel are not easy topics to sit through. Director Lizzie Minnion has created a sensitive and very moving adaptation of the true story of A Stranger on a Bridge.

The story begins part way through Johnny’s journey. It is Sunday 13th January 2014 the night before he launches an appeal to find “Mike”. The man who stopped him jumping off Waterloo Bridge when he wanted to die.

He first appears on ITV breakfast show Sunrise talking to Lorraine Kelly about his appeal to find the man he believes to be called Mike and how he intends campaigning to achieve this. Starting with handing out flyers on Waterloo Bridge on the anniversary of the day he was saved.

Johnny is suffering from schizoaffective disorder and the voice in his head takes the form of Panda. This part was played brilliantly and captured the loud and demanding tone these voices can take on. Leading the sufferer to act out of character and do strange and sometimes dangerous things. On one occasion Johnny is walking through traffic with no awareness of the danger around him on a busy dual carriageway with frustrated drivers around him.

Emails, phone calls, and letters flood in after Johnny has opened up about his depression and suicide attempts. As in all situations, there are messages of support and anger at what he has spoken out about. Although the anger is directed at him the people whose loved ones have died from suicide are using this to release their hurt and anger as many are frustrated by not knowing why their loved have done it.

However, no matter which side of the situation you stand the important message from plays like this is that people are discussing depression, suicide and things surrounding mental health. If audience members are uncomfortable then it is hardly surprising as these are difficult topics which need to be understood and become more aware of.

The play explores Johnny’s different experiences when he seeks help from the medical profession. One Dr tells him to eat more fruit and veg and get more early nights. That just saved the NHS a lot of money with such a straight forward solution! Although this can be a helpful factor deep-rooted depression requires far more understanding and a treatment package that suits each patient.

The play is somewhat disjointed and the actors interact in and out of character. However, this doesn’t detract from the play or following the storyline. It just enhances how fractured depression is and that it can change the line of thought in a heartbeat. One minute euphoria and happy to the next where they believe they are worthless and no good.

As to whether Johnny finds Mike or not I would urge you to go and find out for yourself. It’s a strong and emotionally draining play but well worth seeing.

Bringing the play to its conclusion the cast of five on stage almost trebled as the actors all descended adding their voices about their experiences and treatment from the outside world about their mental health problems too. Certainly a challenging performance for all the actors and creative team involved.

Three and a half Stars

Cast
Writer-Katie Hims
Director-Lizzie Minnion

A Postcard Productions Production

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 05/05/2019

 

Starved by Michael Black

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 1st May 2019

Venue: Bread and Roses Theatre, Clapham, London SW4 6DZ

On from 30th April to 11th May 2019

The metaphoric webs human beings weave for themselves are often harsh and cruel. Lad and Lass are no stranger to these webs. While at the same time they have become closed off for self-preservation and focusing on primitive survival in order to make it through another day.

Stage imitates life and in the case of Starved the evidence is dressed as soon as you enter the theatre as seen in the title photo the stage with an untidy rope web which allowed the audience to see their life through the physical web as well as the couple battling on stage to free themselves from their mind webs.

Lad and Lass battle each other through the fear of losing one another while at the same time they battle their own hurt and fears from the damage created by their dysfunctional pasts. Their language is as raw and open as their bleak living arrangements.

The reality of People watching no matter where you are is a direct connection to the audience and a brilliant addition to this powerfully uncomfortable play. Many would probably feel disconnected from the alcoholism, starving and homelessness.

However, whether you admit it or not we all have our own “Ginger pubes”, “Baby eater” and “Teleport Boy” living down our street who exist in our minds with elaborate backstories. As we observe life going on around us every day.

Although their tough life in this squat is the main focus of this hard-hitting play. Lads speech about life outside makes you stop and think about the larger society. He claims “nobody is getting anything ” and “being outside is pointless “. Just how pointless does life for someone have to become to begin to believe living in that “shit hole” is the best alternative.

Any actor who can share a cold can of Heinz Tomato Soup straight from the can certainly deserve credit for their dedication to their job. How either didn’t physically retch that point is beyond me.

The reality of their situation hits home towards the conclusion of the play when they discuss going to the police. The epiphany strikes them when they reach the conclusion that the people they are away running from are the same two people who are living in the squat. This is possibly more on a self-conscious awakening rather than an open admission once they both agree and decide to leave.

Personally, I would have liked a bit more information on why Lasses Nan was left at the bottom of the stairs and the circumstances as to how she got there. The bitter argument that ensues between the couple brings up abuse and controlling behaviour to the surface through the play. As in many cases of severe abuse, the victim will defend themselves to hide the pain as Lass goes onto do and lashes out at Lad.

Michael Black has succeeded in giving the audience an uncomfortable but realistic taste of life experienced by some people living in the North of England. Although not exclusively a demographic problem the play is set in Hull and regional areas are referred to. Yet another good example of the great work being performed within Pub Theatres at the present time.

Four Stars

Cast
Michael Black- Lad
Alana Connaughton-Lass
Directed by Matt Strachan

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 01/05/2019

 

Like you Hate me by T E Lodge

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 27 April 2019

Venue: Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED

On from 23rd April to 4th May 2019

A 75-minute straight through performance is often an intense journey for both the actors and the audience. Like you Hate me is no exception to this. These two extremely talented and perfectly cast actresses Acushia-Tara Kupe and Aimee Kember have one of the most incredible rapports on stage that I have seen in a while.

The stage is dressed with two chairs and two full-length mirrors which sitting in the front row can be daunting as they do not allow you to hide from your own reflection. Adding another level of self-awareness to being part of the front row audience.

The nonspecific gender relationship is irrelevant. Neither ever refer to each other by name. Which allows anyone watching the play the ability to relate to all the themes discussed and approached within the play. Seeing element’s of their own past and present relationships from within the performance. Highlighting that using labels for everything is not necessarily important in order to make an impact through a performance.

Prepare to experience a host of emotions as you travel through their toxic and boomerang type relationship. Moments of awkwardness are to be expected as you feel like the voyeur invading deeply personal elements of intimacy and arguments at times during their relationship. As it breaks up to reconnect then break up once again.

The two actresses ended their performance tonight to a huge roar of applause from the audience. Both of whom thoroughly deserved it for their outstanding performances.

The directing skills of Jess Barton capturing the intense performances of the two actresses shows her professional capability of focusing on their skills as actors and bringing out the best of each of them on the stage.

Running alongside with producer Ross Kernahan these two show that they share a passion and vision to bring hard-hitting real-life emotional subjects to the stage. This team deserves to be very proud of this incredibly delicate and emotionally fuelled play.

It is no surprise that Tom Lodge was nominated back in 2017 on a long list for the Bruntwood Prize for this exceptional play. His eye for such detail and hugely mature approach to writing about relationships for a 20 something writer shows huge potential for his future writings.

Performances of this quality which do not rely on expensive props or elaborate costumes are perfect examples of what live theatre has to offer and why the acclaimed Off West End Awards exist. The entire creative teams behind such powerful plays as this one deserve far more credit and higher audience numbers than they currently achieve. I would always actively urge more people to support them.

Four and a half stars.

Cast
Acushia-Tara Kupe
Aimee Kember
Writer-Tom Lodge
Director-Jess Barton
Producer-Ross Kernahan

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 28/04/2019

 

Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb story by Stephen Dolginoff

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 12th April 2019

Venue: Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, Islington N1 1DL.

It is an absolute pleasure when you find such a powerful performance staged in one of the many fantastic “Off West End” Theatres spread across the Capital. The passion and professionalism can easily be overlooked by those who are not familiar with these venues.

Director Matthew Parker’s latest production at The Hope Theatre of Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb story by Stephen Dolginoff based on a true story about Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold the “thrill me” killers who murdered a young boy in 1924, in what they believed to be the way of proving they were “superior to all” is one these such finds.

It is an unusual harrowing theme to have been set as a musical as the audience become plunged deep into the minds and disturbing actions of the two young sociopaths Leopold and Loeb who are driven by the writing of Nietzsche. Loeb has been devouring his writings and quoting to Leopold. Where we discover “relationships can be murder”.

The narrator Leopold as pictured above played by Bart Lambert begins the story 34 years later after the events took place while he is in prison waiting for the fifth time for the parole board to grant him his release. Before the decision can be made they ask him to tell the truth about what really happened.

The storyline moves smoothly between Leopold’s narrative and the flashbacks exploring how the two men met and how and why their relationship develops. Whereas we discover only crime ignites Loeb’s passions. From the first sex-fuelled arson attack on an abandoned barn to burglary and their final act of murder.

The two actors have an incredible rapport on the stage. As they bring to life these two infamous criminals. While the rich and dense scripted musical leaves you with an unnerving edge combined with the macabre interest wanting to know how it ends.

Throughout the story, Loeb pictured above takes control and superbly manipulates leopold dictating the sinister route these two take. Just how far we one person to go in the persuit of love?

A brilliant unforgettable moving performance. Where I would defy anyone not to leave the Theatre without feeling moved by this disturbingly dark, sinister and fantastic production.

Five Stars

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/04/2019

 

Handbagged a Comedy by Moira Buffini

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 10th April 2019

Venue: Salisbury Playhouse part of Wiltshire Creative, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury SP2 7RA
On from 4th-20th April

Two generations of Her Majesty the Queen and the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher each accompanied by a black handbag adorn the stage in this latest version of the sharp and quick-witted adaptation of Handbagged by Moira Buffini.

Were there a clash of personalities or not? Did any of the conversations or ones similar ever take place between these two exceptional ladies? Nobody but those two incredible ladies will ever truly know. Although it has been documented by those who were close to them that ones similar to these had taken place.

However, the timeline of events that run alongside their meetings during the play is historically accurate. There is a lot of information packed into the two house performance which can be slightly overwhelming at times.

Many events mentioned have long slipped into the pages of History and many of these landmark events have changed the path society walks. From the destruction and death caused in Brighton by the IRA bomb at the hotel many conservative government members were staying in during the October 1984 conference, the bitter battle of the miners strikes between 1984-85, poll tax march that descended into a riot, Two Royal Weddings, death of late Northern Ireland MP Aerie Neave in March 1979 and many many more.

The Queens costumes of plain bright colours are set in contrast against the iconic blue skirt suit which Margaret Thatcher was predominantly photographed wearing. Along with the traditional sets of pearls.

The stage is dressed by stepped staging which has been aptly outlined in the Conservative party blue which was often the colour worn by Margaret Thatcher’s trademark suits. With red leather regal looking chairs befitting of the Queen. Simple touches that add another depth to the visual side of this theatre production.

We are also in the presence of many prominent men associated with the Iron Lady during that period from her devoted husband Dennis Thatcher, Ronald Regan, Michael Haseltine, Jerry Adams, Prince Philip to name but a few all played by the tolerant and very talented Andy Secombe.

Jahvel Hall added a lot of comedy moments to the play. His well-delivered one-liners broke up tension building between The Queen and Thatcher on a few occasions. His timings were excellent and gathered many laughs from an engaged audience.

Director Jo Newman brilliantly matched the older and younger characters of both the iconic figures for their acting prowess as their obvious height differences do not correlate. However, the suspension of disbelief in the theatre is the best asset an audience member can bring with them.

With a lot of “…that never happened” counteracted by “…yes it did” from the Queen we will never really know but that doesn’t detract from both ….great performances in this play. The beginning of act two added a touch of class as both Queens walk in through the side aisles and down the stairs approaching the audience as we see the Queen do many times at Royal engagements with pleasant chit chat as she walks. Brilliant touch to the atmosphere of the auditorium.

The perfect play to introduce younger audiences to a very passionate and volatile period of recent history. Where two very powerful and strong ladies led the helm of the United Kingdom.

Four stars.

Tel:01722 320 333

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/04/2019

 

Herstoric by Test Of Time Entertainment

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 7th April 2019

Venue: The Drayton Arms Theatre, 153 Old Brompton Road, West Brompton, London SW5 0LJ.
On from 2nd-6th April

An outstanding performance by this exceptionally talented cast comprising of two acts. Where strong dominant women from our history books are bought to the forefront in these two musical plays.

The first play is based during the timeline of 1816 during the C19th Romanticism period and the year without a summer. Where free love and romantic poetry walked hand in hand. From my University days studying the Romantic poets and writers, the timeline of events and characters appears to have been accurate.

Many of the famous ladies connected with the two poets, Percy Shelley Bysche and Lord Byron explain their side of how these two men loved and abandoned them. Their hurt and anguish are performed with so much empathy and conviction.

Mary Godwin introduces herself and the audience watch as she agonises centre stage while writing one of the most famous novels of all time Frankenstein. Their portrayal of how this famous book was birthed is as accurate as the History books. Where the group famously are telling each other ghost stories to entertain one another during their long evenings on the Grand Tour across Europe.

The wonderful costumes in the first act were very much in keeping of the period. Amy Lynch as Mary Godwin/Shelley was dressed in a striking all-black outfit boasting a part laced top which drew your attention to her. As she portrayed one of the most famous female authors in Literature whether by name or her novel.

Act two is based during 1455-1485 during the civil war period. The house of Lancaster and York encompassing the famous War of the Roses. I must confess my historical knowledge of this period is limited. This does not detract from the brilliant writing of Will Drake whose passion for this period has been poured into every aspect of this play.

Mothers of past Kings take the centre stage, explaining in depth how each played a role in their Husband’s and Son’s rise to power. The strength of a woman was strongly underestimated throughout History by many.

The entire cast worked exceptionally hard in both performances. The new musical scores brought a fresh feel to the musical genre. Both of these musicals easily have the potential to be taken further in order to be expanded and performed in their own right. With so many older musicals performed year after year these would be a breath of fresh air.

The stamina and acting abilities of each cast member is a credit to the amazing work you see performed in Pub Theatres. Each one-hour single act would have been an entire show for most production companies. However, in act two none of the passion and vigour from act one diminished from their performances.

Rhiannon Drake and Will Drake’s writing and directing skills have excelled in these two plays. With so many actors, lines and historical background blended into the two hours they haven’t put a step wrong. They deserve to be extremely proud of themselves with this successful production.

I would urge anyone who hasn’t seen it during it’s run to do so should this play return to the stage. Two fantastic musicals and a history lesson all in the price of one ticket.

Written and Directed by Rhiannon Drake and Will Drake

Four stars

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 09/04/2019

 

2nd Coming Again by Colin Hubbard

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 6th April 2019

Venue: Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED.
On from 4th-5th April

The 2nd coming is a well-written comedy farce where the audience is entertained by Carl and Jason as they attempt to convince each other that they are the chosen one who will be joining God. Carl is an atheist and Jason is a thief the two perfect candidates on a planet full of people to be chosen from!

We are first introduced to Mary through Carls childhood memory when he first encounters the young and innocent Mary at the age of five where they sat next to each other in school. He fondly remembers her cheese and pickle breath as he reminisces about the day he fell in love with her.

We soon discover that Jason fell in love with Mary too. However, this is years later and their encounter took place while they were at University together.

However, While Carl and Jason spa for pole position as to which one of them is God’s chosen one or indeed Mary’s chosen one too. They both overlook God’s obvious choice as their self obsessed battle of words, raps and guitar playoffs commence and blind their ability to see beyond each other.

The songs are catchy although a bit cheesy, the raps are nothing for Eminem to be afraid of. However, Carl, Jason, and Mary use the stage to showcase all the talents each one holds as the men try to outdo each other in an attempt to prove why they are the best person for both of the vacant positions.

The loaves and fish biblical reference and description of the events that follow are especially funny as their updated version takes the form of five loaves and two tins of tuna. The mind boggles at the idea of how two tins were stretched between the five loaves!

The voice of God played by Babajide Fado has been well cast as it is clear and commands a presence in the theatre without stepping a foot onto the stage.

With an undressed stage beyond three chairs, it is down to the very talented cast of three to bring this show to life and they certainly manage it with comedy, banter and what appears to be great ease.

The hour-long show is great fun and a lot of laughs. It is easy to see how it was well received when it last ran at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Four stars

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 06/04/2019

 

Tony’s Last Tape by Andy Barrett

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 5th April 2019

Venue: Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common North Side, London, SW4 0QW.
On from 2nd-20th April

Bookcases, a desk and files with various recording devices scattered across all the furniture set the scene as you first enter the Omnibus Theatre to see the incredible performance by Philip Bretherton as the former socialist MP Tony Benn in Tony’s last tape.

Bretherton’s acting is exceptional as he portrays the frail 87 years old Benn. Who now I believe shows physical signs of the stroke he had suffered during the period in which this play was based. Watching his movements, especially when he climbs up on the desk to change a lightbulb almost falling several times, watching this part my heart was in my mouth waiting for the inevitable to happen which thankfully doesn’t. There is also his shaking hands as he is holding his giant tea mug.

However, his mind is still as sharp as ever. As he talks fondly to Caroline his deceased wife while recording tapes for his family to hopefully listen to after he has died. The passion and conviction in his socialist beliefs are exceptionally strong, regardless of whether you share his political values or not, there has to be a level of admiration for his strong principals and enormous strength of character.

The 75-minute performance balances a historical political timeline which encompasses many famous politicians, for example, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Winston Churchill, and the fourth family generation politician Hilary Benn. Not forgetting “her” as he refers to Margaret Thatcher. With much reflection on their married life and how little he was there and when he was there, he wasn’t as he shut himself away to make his tapes and diaries. He appears to ponder on these memories throughout the play with a touch of regret.

His strong affection towards his Brother Michael Benn is ever present and even though he had died almost 70 years earlier in World War Two, he fondly remembers him as if was only yesterday.

Bananas. The very thing that caused him to be hospitalised as he has overdosed unknowingly on the potassium. He guffaws at this as he eats an overripe one he finds in a drawer. Too much caffeine and smoking the things deemed bad for you and it’s the banana that does it!

The delivery and passion in this performance by Bretherton brings this amazing politician to life in a fitting tribute to someone who unlike many politicians deserves to be immortalized in British political history for having strong principals and a passion for fairness.

There are many things in this well-researched play by Andy Barrett that I learned about his long life and the political battles he had endured. He may not have been popular within the Houses of Parliament but he realises he was to a large section in society as he reflects on the times he attends rallies, Glastonbury and Tolpuddle Marches, with a large volume of people wanting photos with him and their children and shaking his hand. A very heartfelt an interesting piece of social history which has been brilliantly brought to life within this fascinating play.

Four stars.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 05/04/2019

 

Cheriton Players

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A Very International Variety Show (It’s a Little Bit Bonkers) by Cheriton Players

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

3rd-6th April 2019

Songs-Sketches-Music-Laughter is their introduction to this eccentric mixture of performances. Tonight was their opening night, and unlike many first nights where a few missed lines or hiccups happen along the way. This performance felt very well rehearsed and the actors all appeared to be very comfortable in their roles nothing suggested even a glimpse of first-night nerves.

With such a wide range of sketches and different musical spots, from the Can Can to Chitty Chitty bang bang it is impossible to list them all. However, the few selected for the purpose of this review were particular ones that stood out to me. This is by no means suggesting that each act wasn’t good, as they all were.

Alison Carter’s rendition of Habanera from the Opera Carmen by Georges Bizet was outstanding. Her pitch, timing and voice were breathtaking. A very moving performance. This company has an extremely talented and strong lead vocalist in this lady as part of their repertoire.

Each table was treated to a tasty cheese, pate and grapes platter accompanied by a French stick to enjoy through the interval. Added to by the very efficient table service for drinks. The hospitality given by this theatre company is excellent and all credit to the front of the house.

Placed through both acts were very well written and funny four-man sketches titled Language Lessons. David Cradduck as our stereotype English businessman asks nine different foreign men all played brilliantly by John Weston where the train station is in each country. They are exaggerated characters of each nationality and are easily identified. Rebecca Leadley and Marilyn Weston explain the questions and answers as a double act. A touch of genius to break up the acts at regular intervals.

You cannot fail to notice a large number of costume changes held by this company. Claire Smith and Ellie Pulleine have certainly done an amazing job in this department with all of their outfits in keeping with their parts and with some on occasions looking to have been custom made professionally to match.

Helen Gard and Stephanie Durrant in Staycation pokes fun at the British idea of holidays as two antiquated stereotyped housewives sit before you on stage and discuss their holiday plans over a nice pot of tea. One is off to Spain or so she thinks. The other is camping at Mygate, not Margate. The quirky details of the backyard camping are explained in detail from showering with the garden hose to the karaoke evening entertainment. Such a simple idea but hilariously brilliant.

It would be unfair to single any one member out from the production team as I dare say they all worked tirelessly to put on this extremely entertaining and well-cast showcase. Another success to add to their long list of past shows.

The one thing to be taken away from tonight’s performance is the energy and enjoyment the whole cast exhibit while on stage. Big smiles and lots of energy all aides to settling the audience by showing that they command the stage and want us to enjoy ourselves. An absolutely fun night out. If there are still tickets available I urge you to go and sample the best of which Cheriton Players have to offer.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 05/04/2019

 

Newbury Dramatic Society

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Acting by Nick Card

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

20th and 21st March 2019

Venue: The Croft Hall, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 OHY

Nick Card led act one through the programme section titled “Words and Wit”. The three separate pieces Card had written. First an introduction about himself and getting to know the audience appeared more of a formality to those who had come to support him. Then the tale of Tom in ” Toms last call” set during his last day working at the call centre, a very interesting dialogue. Ending the act with a selection of poems he had written.

The third set was comedy performed by seasoned compere comedian Mike Brook, who is an active member of the dramatic society. Some of the jokes were well used and older. However, where the delivery tended to be anecdotal it worked well and raised a few laughs.

Act two was the main production, Card’s play Acting. The scene is set after the Mother of the grieving family of four sisters has died and they are discussing the funeral arrangements with their Father. Along with the more important topic, how the inheritance was going to be divided. Cast pictured below in discussion over inheritance.

It soon descended into a snuff theatre play. Where the actors are being led by the voice coming through the loudspeaker. As each act within the play is performed another actor dies.

There was the addition of actors dotted throughout the audience who are placed to participate in an attempt to raise fear within the general audience. At times they were in slight danger of overacting. This technique will work well although it needs to be subtle and toned down. However, the Mum of one of the actresses bursting onto the stage to save her Daughter added a realistic edge to the play.

The Doctor who wasn’t a real Doctor played by Steven Culpeper pictured below, had some extremely funny entrances onto the stage as you saw the stagehand push him on quite often as he was reluctant to enter. His new technique for assessing a dead body was to kick it, brilliant comedy.

NERD was an intriguing title used by the hoax snuff link that translates into “nobody ever really dies”. As with many new themes in modern writing, it socially comments about the desire to get as many social media hits as possible regardless of consequences.

It’s an enjoyable new twist on Theatre and anything that moves an audience out of their comfort zone is worth watching in my opinion. This would only work in smaller venues as the effect could easily be lost on larger audiences.
Nick Card’s talents for writing span across several genres. This will hopefully boost his confidence after Newbury dramatic Society has performed this entertaining play. He shows a flair for writing well-crafted work and I look forward to seeing future productions.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 22/03/2019

 

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

20th March 2019

Venue: Salisbury Playhouse, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 7RA

Billed as Shakespeare’s greatest romantic comedy as advertised on the front of the programme pictured above. Much Ado About Nothing has been reworked and relocated in this new staged production firmly into 1945.

The devastation caused by the six years of World War II is now finally over. The soldiers are finally returning home from the battlefields, and there is much excitement on the farm from the ladies who are working there. Setting an unusual but authentic scene for this latest adaption by Northern Broadsides and New Vic theatres of this famous Shakespeare play.

This version didn’t work for me in the beginning as adapting the language and characters away from the original settings to a beautiful farm scene wasn’t very easy and it took about 10-15 minutes to adjust and settle into the play. However, once the suspension of disbelief began to take hold there was nothing about this play to dislike.

The stage backdrop took the form of rolling countryside with an idyllic farmhouse featuring in it. The stage flooring was tile squares joined together and made to look like an ordinance survey map. An original and interestingly dressed stage highly commendable setting created by the New Vic Workshop.

The basic storyline in this well known Shakespeare classic remains unchanged, with the masquerade dance, couplings, deceit, romance and brilliant comedy all present.

Robin Simpson has all the right ingredients for the part of Benedick. He is charming, funny, charismatic and despite his arrogant manner, he is a likeable character. In a couple of solo scenes, Simpson commands his stage presence with ease and fully engages the audience as he delivers his solo speeches.

Beatrice, Benedicks pre-war love interest has been cast well to the very talented Isobel Middleton. Her comedy timings were especially brilliant and the couple’s relationship worked extremely well together on stage as their verbal sparring matches took place quite often throughout the performance. The anger and passion she evokes in the scene after Hero was jilted at the altar are very moving and her passionate delivery was word perfect.

In keeping with the era just after the War, all costumes had been well chosen and created to match the characters status, rank and with some obvious garments made to appear homemade with holes in them.

Musical director Rebekah Hughes had used some original musical ideas in this play. The live band and well-chosen music from that era added a great dimension as several of the cast played their instruments and sang. The barbershop quartet is one to watch out for as they harmony together perfectly.

The comedy, passion and word perfect performance is definitely a must see play. Overall it’s a thoroughly well cast, produced and directed performance. A very good version for younger newcomers to Shakespeare who are studying this play at school as it’s easy to follow, understand and learn more about the characters from the play.

Four stars

From 19th-23rd March 2019

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 22/03/2019

 

Never Trust a Man Bun by Katherine Thomas

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

19 March 2019

Venue: Stockwell Playhouse

The brilliant writing, pathos, humour and heartache poured into this extremely well cast and performed 70-minute play is worth taking a trip to see. The stage is dressed with a sofa and a few pieces of functional furniture and a washing airer complete with washing all in keeping with a flat share.

Good friends from school Lucy and Gus now flatshare, who are pictured above. His ex who is now his current girlfriend Rachael upsets Lucy’s plans of a quiet night in to drink wine and watch Gogglebox. As Unbeknown to Lucy, Caps turns up at the flat on the request of Rachael to be part of a double date. Leading to some very unpleasant revelations and awkward moments as they all attempt to socialise.

Lucy played by the scriptwriter Katherine Thomas is sarcastic, blunt and very direct. During some of her one-liners its hard not to wince as she rips into the other three with cutting quips. Especially the “thick as shit Girlfriend ” Rachael. Who in many ways brings it upon herself with her unthought-out comments and unintelligent remarks. The raw honesty in Lucy’s part is for me refreshing.

Now enter the jealous double dater Caps and in keeping with the title of the play you really “…can’t trust a man bun”. He manipulates and divides the group to win back Rachael and in the process destroying the long-standing friendship between Gus and Lucy. While still managing to play the role of the hard done by the victim who mentions endlessly that he looks after his autistic sister for one hour a day.

Gus the kind and caring but quite naive and unsuspecting boyfriend realises that Rachael is not who he thought she was, as Caps flurts with her and lets the secrets slip on purpose. The innocent blonde who is so extremely nice certainly has a few uncomfortable skeletons lurking in the past. One of which is her past relationship with Caps.

Like Lucy, the play is very honest and blunt. The gasps in the audience behind me when the old flames share a late night kiss highlight the emotions that were provoked by this brilliant writing.

As with many modern plays, we are not witnessing a happy ever after or cheerful resolution. In life, some things are best left and this play finishes leaving me to believe that nothing else needed to be said or done at that point.

Thomas has clearly studied a lot of people around her and many I dare say were possibly her peers. As each character could easily be identified as someone you could have met, known and then more than likely disliked.

Four stars

Written by Katherine Thomas
Directed by Scott Le Crass

Cast:
Gus-Calum Robshaw
Caps-Jack Forsyth-Noble
Lucy-Katherine Thomas
Rachael-Natasha Grace Hutt

Assistant Director-Henry Gilbert
Technical-Alexander Grieve.
Chidell Productions.

From 19th-24th March 2019

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 19/03/2019

 

Funny Girl

Reviewed by: Amy on Am-Dram

Amy on Am-Dram
amyamdram.co.uk

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March 14, 2019

Sounds Musical Theatre Company, Devonport Playhouse, 13th – 16th March

Funny Girl is an intriguing musical based on the real life story of Fanny Brice. From humble beginnings, she rises to fame and shows the audience that funny girls belong on-stage just as much as graceful girls.

Sounds Musical Theatre Company were supported by an eight piece orchestra led by Marcus Alleyne. The overture gave us a tantalising glimpse of the musical acrobatics that were to come. The band created a rich and exciting sound, perfect for setting the scene of Fanny’s story.

Since the story revolves around the life of Fanny Brice, it is a huge part to take on for any professional or amateur actress. Kate Stables boldly stepped up to the job and performed the huge vocal numbers ‘People’ and ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’, but the most impressive aspect of her performance were her acting skills. The audience felt her heartache, her joy and all the emotions in between on her journey to become a theatre star. Her comedic timing was excellent, as was her delivery of the more serious scenes and moments.The scene between Fanny and Florenz Ziegfeld (Tom Harwood) incited laughter from the audience as Fanny peered into the audience to talk to Ziegfeld who was standing in the circle of the theatre. This was a great use of space and added to the humour of the scene.

During some of the ensemble numbers the company could have benefitted from the support of the young dancers with whom Sounds Musical often perform. In particular, for the scenes in which we were watching the Ziegfeld Follies on-stage.

Funny Girl leaves no room to relax with quick scene changes, big ensemble numbers and multiple fabulous costumes. Overall, the cast produced smooth transitions and kept the show moving along at a fast and exciting pace.

See full review here amyamdram.co.uk/latest-news/funny-girl/

 

Posted on 15/03/2019

 

Where is Ban Ki-Moon? written by Sam Rees

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

11th March 2019

Venue: in the basement of Katzenjammers, Nearest Tube – London Bridge (Jubilee & Northern Line) Borough Market Exit

In his new play, Where is Ban Ki-Moon? Writer Sam Rees has tackled depression is an unusual style that I have not seen performed before. Nothing quite prepares you for the energy and passion he pours into this emotionally fueled 60-minute play.

The interactive performance art slips from well-rehearsed outbursts of rage to describing how the couple met, the volatile love story between them and the strange relationship he builds up with the online scammer called Ban Ki-Moon aka Michael.

Rees has added some clever metaphors in describing the symptoms of depression, for example, the woman describes herself as “wired differently ” to the gruesome “wall of spikes” that one day we all might hit.

Every part of the stage is utilized during their performance and the recorded soundtrack of their conversations allow the audience to understand how the couple’s relationship functioned. Despite the sadness of depression, they were very much in love with each other. The chemistry between Hannah and Sam on stage adds to the dramatic effect that this play has to offer.

There are hints that the woman played by Hannah John commits suicide during the performance. However, this plays seems to be set in a postmodernist genre and the audience is left to decide for themselves. Clarity as to whether she did or not isn’t important. Raising awareness of this destructive illness is.

Three Stars.

Cast
Man-Sam Rees
Woman-Hannah John
Director-Pip Williams
Tech Operator-Louis Caro.

Twitter @WTOHTheatre

Facebook We Talk Of Horse Theatre Company

On from 11th-13th March 2019 7.30pm @katzpace

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/03/2019

 

Feel More directed by Jess Barton

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

11th March 2019

Venue: The Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED

This weekend the 9th and 10th March 2019 saw David Brady take over the theatre in his new role as Artistic Producer, at the Lion and Unicorn pub theatre in Kentish Town, London. It was launched with pay as you feel performances of the popular “Feel More” monologues performance play. There was a buzz on Sunday evening in the theatre and the play finished to enthusiastic applause. Which is hardly surprising as the seven actors were outstanding.

Feel more highlights the social issues surrounding the predominantly 90s generation. The screen time in public places is destroying human contact and the ability to form lasting relationships. Has the art of conversation and a simple human connection become lost to the history books?

Firstly we meet Brenda the UKIP supporter and campaigner who is blanked, swore at, ignored, mocked and treated like a social leper. While she is trying to hand out leaflets. This isn’t predominantly politically related, as her monologue explains that she has always struggled to fit in. By campaigning, she felt she would be doing something to make a difference. Instead, she isolates herself further from the world she desperately wants to be a part of.

Next is our serial dating app addict, Elise. Desperate to get away from meaningless one night stands, that leaves her feeling used and unfulfilled. She just wants to make that ultimate connection and get married. Her train crush that she has observed daily and has never spoken to, is the one she has her heart set on and their entire train themed wedding is planned in her head and described in great detail.

Ben Fensome playing Luke had a fan base in the audience that evening. As when he pushed back the duvet at the opening of his monologue a small cheer was heard from the left side of the audience. The delivery and compassion of his role as Luke is heart-wrenching. As he is struggling to find the one man he can connect with. His feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and hangover symptoms can be recognised by everyone. However, could the drunken one night stand he has encountered the night before being his one?

The second half is opened by a dual monologue. Jacob and Michael take the same tube journey on a daily basis. They spend so much time watching and observing each other that past bad experiences stop either of them from making the first move. Jacob explains how he mistook a life model he liked for being gay and the awkwardness has left him questioning his ability to know who he can approach.

Matt performed by Ross Kernahan is harder to watch as the deeply traumatised insomniac, who takes to working nights in a bar for the company. We quickly understand he has a keen eye for people watching and summing up every situation around him in order to head off problems before they arise. In an attempt to save people from danger. Although never mentioned the likelihood of him suffering from PTSD would explain the symptoms. Unsurprising though as we learn that he witnessed the man next to him on the platform jumping in front of the tube. The despair and feelings of being helpless are delivered in a powerful performance.

Finally, we meet the outsider and London imposter Mark. After growing up by the sea as a fisherman’s son he never truly believes he belongs in the city job he has worked hard for. Believing the smell of salt has never left him and at any time he will be exposed as a fraud.

There are several themes running throughout these monologues. Our desire for human contact, many describing the touch of hands entwined, their first kisses and the desire to be part of a loving couple. The main scene is recognisable many people nowadays as a crowd stands fixed to screens waiting for the next delayed train.

One thing to be taken away from the feel performances is the bleak commentary on our social habits. I very much doubt anyone will leave the theatre and fail to start observing their outside surroundings in more detail. Or on the other hand, is the communication through our screens masking a deeply lonely society who are desperate to connect by any means they can?

The simply dressed stage used by the Feel More performances allows the audience to focus on the actor. The delivery and connection each one makes are your sole focus. To hold the stage as their own highlights the high standard of actors to be found in fringe theatres. A fantastic start to this launch weekend.

Four Stars.

Cast
Brenda-Demelza O’Sullivan
Elise-Kelly Gray
Matt-Ross Kernahan
Luke-Ben Fensome
Jacob-Jacob Jackson
Michael-Callum Needham
Mark-John Slade

Written by Hannah Bates, Marcus Bernard, Paul Bradshaw, Fergus Church, Jack Albert Cook, Alex Knott and James Lewis.
Lighting by Mitchell Reeve.
Executive producer-David Brady.
@proforcatheatre

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 11/03/2019

 

Little Echoes by Tom Powell

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

7th March 2019

Venue: The Hope Theatre is above the Hope & Anchor pub, 207 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 1RL.
It is found on the corner of Upper Street and Islington Park Street

It was my first visit to the 50 seater venue The Hope Theatre and hopefully not my last. Like many Fringe Theatres, it has a friendly atmosphere, bar and food available. I can see why this one, in particular, has won awards.

All credit must go to Tom Powell for his new fast-paced, thought-provoking and hard-hitting play Little Echoes. The 90-minute performance takes place over a year in the life of Danielle played by Maisie Preston, a young girl groomed into the sex industry by what appears to be a new bright singing career. Running parallel to her story is Shejenthran who witnesses his brothers acid attack and his struggle to get the answers as to who did it.

As the plot develops we are left questioning how the authorities who are meant to protect us can fail. Alongside this we also see June taking the unusual role as the driver and PA for Henson, the lead in the sex industry section featured in the play. Leaving us to question as to who is really capable of doing what when it comes to obtaining a better life.

As Shajenthran played Mikhail DeVille becomes driven by an obsession to find the young lad responsible for attacking his brother with acid. He stumbles into a sinister world where things are definitely not what they seem. The two stories collide ending in tragedy.

June played by Caira Pouncett appears at first to be running around in the role of personal assistant to Henson, who we only ever know through phone calls. The details of the jobs she attends lack detailed information at the beginning. As the plot develops we become exposed to the seedier details as she explains more about the jobs she is doing and her role in the industry.

Drugs are prevalent throughout the play in the form of cocaine, used frequently by June onto her gums in order to numb the pain when she is asked to tackle more difficult tasks. Somehow blocking out the reality of the job she is doing in this seedy society she is involved with.

The trend at the moment in new plays and films is to challenge our concepts about sex trafficking and human traffickers all being run by male-only gangs. By casting the role as female it adds another dimension to these hideous crimes and teaches us that we are all human and gender does not make you immune from committing these offences.

Amazing performances by all three cast members as the nature of their roles must be demanding and exhausting.

Raising awareness of how exploitation begins through the guise of a conventional romance and switching the roles is extremely important. As we need to be aware that these crimes are still being committed and young girls like Danielle are still at risk. The donations collected at the end of this play for the charity beyond the streets who help and make a difference in the people’s lives who are being rescued from exploitation.

Four Stars.

Cast
Danielle – Maisie Preston.
June – Ciara Pouncett.
Shejenthran – Mikhael DeVille.

Written by Tom Powell.
Directed by Stephen Bailey.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 08/03/2019

 

Staying Faithful written and directed by Rosanna Foster

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

6th March 2019

Venue: Drayton Arms Theatre

As the title suggests Staying Faithful is the prominent theme that runs through the core of this play. Although as you soon discover it is dealt with through several themes. Relationships within all of the characters and the amalgamation of different religions.

Religion is delivered by April played by Maria Anthony who has a desire to want to understand the world I live in and embraces each religious celebration by dressing in costume and making inedible food for the others to sample. Much to the frustration of her friends. Hope tells her she is being unfaithful and disrespectful to those who believe in their faiths.

The student’s conversation at the beginning of the play referencing Descartes and his famous quote I think; therefore I am led into a lengthy discussion. Where one outcome they reach is that the external world is untrustworthy and being misled. This was delivered well and set the scene for how the play would unfold.

The fast transition between the past and the present at times detracts from the storyline. Leaving a slight confusion as to where you are and which era you were currently in.

Some stricter editing would have helped this plays delivery. By tightening up the dialogue, the stronger important parts of the storyline would have then been delivered more effectively. The dramatic scenes were understated in places especially when the car accident takes place.

Sadly being over ambitious with the number of themes that this play contains let’s it down, and some loose ends that were never properly explained left it feeling unfinished.

Three Stars.

By Chocolate Chilli Theatre

Twitter @ChocChilTheatre

Facebook chocolatechillitheatre

Playing at the Drayton Arms Theatre from 5th-9th March 2019.

@draytonarmsSW5

thedraytonarmstheatre.co.uk

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 06/03/2019

 

The Box A New Musical by Jen Bird and Simon Driscoll

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Sunday 3rd March 2019

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre

Her Majesty’s Theatre in the heart of the West End gave over the stage on Sunday 3rd March evening for an hour-long one-off performance of The Box a new musical written by Jen Bird and Simon Driscoll.

The young cast in the musical were all children who have benefited from the SpotlightUK services. They performed the heartfelt story of a young girl played by Amy Miles as seen below, as she is trying to come to terms and make sense of the death of her father. The metaphor of the box is the place where all her feelings and emotions have been buried to keep her safe from feeling.

The musical was delivered to the audience through a combination of dialogue, singing and dancing. Which flowed smoothly through the girl’s difficult timeline of counselling and acceptance of her grief.

There was only one older member of the cast playing the role of the child counsellor. It was extremely well done as it showed the correct way in which a counsellor works. Where they allow you to find your own way through your pain and problems rather than the misconception that they tell you what to do in order to get better or in this case to come out of the box.

For these young performers, it must have been an amazing opportunity to perform in the same venue which is home at the moment to the long-running award-winning musical The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Llyod Webber.

The musical score was extremely well composed and performed, the excellent acoustics in the theatre enhanced the sound. It has been constructed thoughtfully as it dealt with such a difficult, heartbreaking and often awkward subject to approach, especially for and with children.

My Daughter, who is 14 was moved by some of the performances and understood the message clearly addressed through the musical. It would be a very good performance for larger audiences of teenagers. As grief is experienced by people of all ages.

All monies from this event helped raise money for SpotlightUK. They offer a wide range of services to help children. Check out the website below to find out more.

Further details on Simon and Jen’s upcoming projects can be found on www.TomorrowBird.com

@TheBox_Musical

For more information about Spotlight services please visit www.SpotlightUK.org

@SpotlightUK

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 06/03/2019

 

Dream of a King written and performed by Christopher Tajah

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

2nd March 2019

Venue: Drayton Arms Theatre

Four stars

The depth of passion and attention to detail by Christopher Tajah in the dynamic role of Martin Luther king was an incredible performance to watch. The Drayton Arms fringe theatre was an ideal location to set the play in.

The songs performed by the wonderfully talented queen of rock Paulette Tajah enhanced the introductions to both acts of the play. Her voice is absolutely amazing and added another dimension to the play.

The knowledge held by Tajah about this iconic historical figure was fascinating. His delivery changed style between gospel preacher, narrator and passionate driven campaigner for black rights during that period in history.

With so much information delivered in the 90-minute performance, it was at times overwhelming. However, his performance kept you engaged at all times. To have learned so many lines and to have held his conviction at all times is to be admired.

There were parts to Martin Luther King’s life and career that I had no knowledge of and went away very enlightened. With greater respect for all this man had achieved before his assassination.

A Resistance Theatre Company ltd Production.
The Creators:Christopher Tajah @CTajahOfficial: Writer and actorBernie C. Byrnes @BernieCByrnes: DirectorPaulette Tajah @PauletteTajah: SingerPhotograph credit Elaine Chapman.

Tour Dates:
Drayton Arms Theatre – February 26th – 2nd March
Waterloo East Theatre 12th, 13th, 19th & 20th March
The Bridge House Theatre 21st, 22nd, 23rd & 24th March
The Brighton Fringe Festival – The Warren-Theatre-Box 20th, 21st, 22nd May
Edinburgh Fringe – The Space Triplex Studio, The Space Uk 2nd – 24th Aug

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 03/03/2019

 

Legally Blonde The Musical

Reviewed by: Amy on Am-Dram

Amy on Am-Dram
amyamdram.co.uk

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March 2, 2019

Plymkids Theatre Company, The Athenaeum, 27th February – 2nd March

The seniors of Plymkids Theatre Company present Legally Blonde The Musical, a fun filled evening that follows the story of Elle – a girl who is driven by love to apply for law school despite the world only seeing her as a typical blonde.

Talia Robens as Elle Woods has clearly been closely watching Reese Witherspoon in the film version of Legally Blonde. She has perfected the delivery of lines, and the audience especially loved all the times she proved herself to be an intelligent woman. This is Talia’s debut performance with Plymkids and she made the stage her own.

One of the biggest laughs of the evening went to Sam Fogg as Kyle, the delivery guy. He exuded confidence and added his own style of comedy into the role.

Elle is on the case to help prove the innocence of Brooke Wyndham (Rachel Corrigan). Brooke is the owner of a fitness empire and Rachel convinced me, she could have been too! She sang ‘Whipped Into Shape’ while performing a high-energy dance routine complete with skipping rope. Her voice did not falter as she proved she had the stamina to maintain this energetic performance.

This show includes two dogs, Bruiser and Rufus. Rufus the dog (Murphy) definitely took his moment in the spotlight, stealing the scene with a wag of his fluffy white tail.

This modern American musical has the dream combination of a heart-warming story and plenty of humour. For many members of the cast this will be their last show with Plymkids and I am sure they have made some amazing memories to take with them into the next stages of their careers.

See full review here amyamdram.co.uk/reviews/legally-blonde-the-musical

 

Posted on 02/03/2019

 

The Greatest Show

Reviewed by: Amy on Am-Dram

Amy on Am-Dram
amyamdram.co.uk

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March 1, 2019

DJR School Of Performing Arts, Devonport Playhouse, 28th February – 2nd March

DJR School Of Performing Arts present The Greatest Show, a selection of songs and scenes from their favourite musicals. The show opened with an ensemble number and gave the audience a glimpse of all the characters we would meet throughout the evening. The costumes for this production are fantastic, so a big round of applause to the wardrobe department.

The costumes for the Beauty and the Beast characters were particularly imaginative. Mrs Potts (Emily Savage) had a fabulous outfit that totally transformed her into the famous talking teapot. She had a sweet singing voice and played the perfect motherly character.

As well as Beauty and the Beast we were treated to other Disney classics. The scenes from Pinocchio convinced me that DJR should schedule in a future performance of the full version of this show. Cameron Lawson as Pinocchio had a lovely clear singing voice which was perfect for ‘I’ve Got No Strings’.

I must admit I am one of the few remaining people who haven’t seen The Greatest Showman film but it was clear there were plenty of fans of the film among the DJR cast. The enthusiastic performances were well-received by the audience. DJR School Of Performing Arts certainly have a loving fan club!

During their performances of the ensemble numbers from The Greatest Showman the performers worked as a team to deliver the fun dances. We even got to see some fabulous gymnastics from one of the youngest members of the cast. She is going to be one to watch in the years to come!

There were a few technical problems with microphones but the actors did not allow this to distract from their performances. They carried on in true professional style.

The audience reaction at the end of the show proved that all the hard work was worth it. With an adoring crowd of family and friends, the cast of The Greatest Show are sure to be pleased with their performance.

Please note the earlier starting time of 7pm, with a 2pm matinee on Saturday.

See full review here amyamdram.co.uk/reviews/the-greatest-show

 

Posted on 02/03/2019

 

Bear by Jamie Murphy

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

27th February 2019

Venue: Katzspace, London Bridge

3.5 stars

Mental illness of any form is very hard to deal with in the constraints of an 80-minute play without losing the essence of the subject. However, Jamie Murphy’s new play Bear uses his writing skills to have bought to stage the important issue of raising awareness of men suffering from mental illness and their difficulty in asking for help.

Chris Born who plays the main protagonist Chris morphs into his character with hard-hitting believability. From his slept in hair, stained jumper, unshaven image and non-commital unemotional mannerisms and as he struggles with day to day life. The grip that “Bear ” has on him is intense right .down to feeding it shreddies in the morning and full-blown one-sided conversations spiralling at times into an argument.

Meanwhile his extremely patient and understanding girlfriend Laura is dealing with the pressures of a new job and her concerns for her brother Ed’s mental health problems too. That and the fact her shreddies have all been eaten.

There are some very well scripted subtle comedy moments which are delivered tastefully in keeping with the storyline of the play.

The plays require the audience to watch every part in detail and concentrate throughout as much of the story is told through the actor’s exceptional body language and facial expressions.

The uncomfortable silences that have been well placed within the performance add another level to how mental illness can leave many people quiet and not knowing what to say. Simply “just cheer up” is not the answer to help someone suffering as Chris highlights during his dialogue in the play.

As we learn more about Chris and Alice’s childhood and the broken relationship with their manic depressive Mother it is difficult to ascertain whether Chris has taken on his depression from learned behaviour is at the root cause of his adulthood depression. As we also observe his sister Alice suffering from OCD in her rapid attempt to tidy the flat once she is left alone.

This multi-layered play must have been a challenge for all those involved as there is nothing light-hearted in here at all. An absolute credit to how sensitively they have addressed the very real social conditions of mental health and bought them to the stage to raise awareness.

CONTENT GUIDANCE: THEMES OF DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE.
By Spare Room Productions.
@BearThePlay1

February 24th-27th @ 3pm and 7.30pm tickets £13.50

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 27/02/2019

 

Twisted Tales show from Owdyado Theatre

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

24th February 2019

Venue: Salisbury Playhouse, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 7RA

One of the first challenges is to work out how to pronounce the theatre companies name “ow do you do”.

The three Twisted tales in these performances are very dark, extremely well acted and intricately detailed plays. Exploring the side of human nature that rarely gets uncovered and in many cases would not want to be.

The first play is the Vindicta Games and the level of vindication is high. The three seemingly unknown strangers have no idea who each other is, how they are connected or why they are there. The clues in the room that they are to find in order to escape are delivered through a voice from the speaker. We learn the connections bit by bit and how each of the characters has wronged “Emily”, who is behind this rooms creation and why she seeks revenge. Each had played a part in her depression and drastic fall into the gutter.

The warning in this play is to be careful who you wrong in this life as every action has a reaction. Just hopefully not ending in such a sinister manner though.

Play two starts off very surreal. With Kenneth constantly mithering Lisa upon her arrival home from work. The dialogue is rapid and holds all the clues to the nature of their relationship.

Without dropping any spoilers you can never be too sure just how much your loving domesticated pets really understand what you are saying to them and how things could end up.

The final play is led by Blue bear. The demonic hand puppet who takes on the bureaucratic world of children’s television after learning his show will be cancelled in order to be taken over by virtual presenters. Is nobody safe from this bears spell and glowing red eyes?

The funniest part I found took place with Artimus explaining in the style of “Mr Maker” how to design and create your own ransom notes, just remember to add the glitter!

Again every detail as to why each character is there and why they take the drastic actions they do all unfold clearly. The play ending leaves no loose ends just a very uncomfortable feeling. Not an easy one to perform with scenes like Daniel hitting his own head with a hammer and making it look authentic, as depicted above.

Twisted tales certainly lives up to its title. Each play getting darker and more disturbing as they go along. Excellently written and performed by the three very talented actors. Perfect Fringe theatre work. However, it will require tough editing for the performance time to be greatly reduced in order to fit into the normal fifty-minute show slots at the Edinburgh Fringe.

This production is part of the new bold performances during Fest West which is running from Friday 15th February to Saturday 2nd March for further details contact;

Wiltshire Creative,

Ticket sales 01722 320 333

Email info@wiltshirecreative.co.uk
www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 25/02/2019

 

THE MIRROR CRACK’D by Agatha Christie

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

21st February 2019

Venue: Salisbury Playhouse

When it comes to a good whodunnit very few are as well known and popular than the brilliant C20th crime novel writer Agatha Christie.

Salisbury Playhouse is the well-chosen 517 seater venue for the latest adaptation of the play The Mirror Crack’d. The well-designed auditorium allows a good view of the stage from all the seating areas without any obstructions.

Actress Suzie Blake as seen below has been excellently cast in her role as the crime-solving sleuth Miss Marple and has everything we have come to expect from this character. Her calm exterior, a keen “pedantic” eye for the smallest of details and brilliant conclusion delivery when she draws the play to its conclusion is a pleasure to watch.

Miss Marple’s recovering from a fall as the play begins and the new chair bought for her by her nephew Cheif Inspector Craddock played by Simon Shepherd, is the focal point on this simply dressed set. This production has not relied on elaborate staging. As you can see in the photo below. The exceptional acting from the entire cast is the main focus at all times and they command their positions with what appears to be ease. Especially when they all manoeuvre around each other at the same time on stage during certain scenes with perfect timing.

Director Melly Still’s keen eye for detail in her cast often saw several scenes unfolding at once during key points. These were mainly during Miss Marple’s dialogues as she gathers her clues in the build-up to the murderer being uncovered.

Christie’s quintessentially Englishness has not been forgotten in this production. From the frequently requested cups of tea to subtle irony and humour. The attitudes towards lesbian relationships, unmarried mothers and divorcees very much place this play in the era in which it was written. Causing some uncomfortable mumours in the auditorium during certain scenes. However, as much as attitudes today have changed it is good to see the essence of this play wasn’t.

I was extremely impressed with Katherine Manners skilled timings as she reenacted the death of Heather Leigh towards the end of the play and fell almost exactly into the marked out body shape spot on the stage.

Details of where you can catch the latest brilliantly adapted production are detailed below. From a brief look at the performances here in Salisbury, it looks to be an almost full house for every show. Proving that the popularity of Agatha Christie is still very much alive.

Four stars.

First performance: 15 February 2019
Final performance: 6 April 2019
Local Press Performance: 20 February

15 February – 9 March 2019 - Salisbury Playhouse - Tickets on sale now 01722 320 333 - www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk

12 March – 16 March 2019 - Gaiety Theatre, Dublin - 0818 719388 - www.gaietytheatre.ie

19 – 23 March 2019 - Cambridge Arts Theatre - 01223 503333 - www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

26 March – 6 April 2019, New Theatre, Cardiff - 029 2087 8889 www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 22/02/2019

 

Beast On The Moon by Richard Kalinoski

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Friday 15th February 2019

Venue: The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED

Richard Kalinoski’s play Beast on the Moon transports the audience to America during 1921. After the Armenian Genocide where so many innocent people lost their lives in one of the most horrific events. It is based on real events which add depth to this brilliant play. It all begins when Seta arrives in her new home at the tender age of 15 to be with her new husband Aram. They had been married without meeting through the picture bride practice used in the early C20th.

Fundamentally the audience is watching a child catapulted into an alien country where the expectation is that she is to be Aram’s wife. His expectations are that she automatically knows what the role means and how to behave, coupled with her just arriving in the new country of America. Quite rightly she is confused and scared. Zarima McDermott’s powerful performance leaves you under no doubt about how Seta could have reacted. This is reflected too in George Jovanovic’s role as Aram where he struggles to know how a husband behaves and frequently takes refuge in quoting from the Bible during moments of uncertainty.

Their relationship combines frustration, kindness, understanding, arguments and tolerance. However, the underlying trauma caused by the atrocities the couples have had forced upon them is always beneath the surface. Only once the grief has been confronted can a happier future be obtainable. The couple is pictured below during one of the tender moments shared by them.

Gentleman Vincent narrates the audience through the biographically based history of this couple’s relationship. The older actor morphs into his 12-year-old self effortlessly, his body language and voice change and you no longer see a man in his 60s instead the scared, questioning, spirited young lad Seta has bought in from the street with whom she befriends. Whether this is to replace the child she cannot have or because she relates to being orphaned it is for you to decide.

Vincent in the guise of his 12-year-old self can be seen below during a heated argument with Aram.

The horrendous back story for each character is so descriptive and delivered with concise accuracy that the audience cannot fail to be moved. However, it has been written to empower each of them to become survivors instead of victims. Tremendous credit to the writing skills of Kalinoski, as with such powerful backstories the role of the victim could easily become the storyline. Towards the end, a couple of people in the audience were in tears.

The respect and empathy for the people who were killed and hurt during the Genocide have been treated with consideration by the playwright. This combined with the excellent direction by Jelena Budimar this play informs, invokes emotions and leaves a lasting impact on the audience of this harrowing period in history.

The intimate 50 seater theatre offered by the unique venue of the Finborough is the perfect setting for this play.

5 stars for this incredibly moving play.

You can catch this play between the 29th January – 23rd February 2019

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 18/02/2019

 

Th’ Importance of Bein’ Earnest by Oscar Wilde.
Directed by Luke Adamson and Toby HamptonDirected by David Brady

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Tuesday 5th February 2019

Venue: The Drayton Arms, 153 Old Brompton Road, London, Greater London, SW5 OLJ

Suspending your disbelief as an audience member is never more relevant than when you go to watch classic plays reworked. This is definitely my advice when you go to watch this play and do go, you will not be disappointed.

This latest adaptation of Wildes popular play has been reproduced in a hilariously upbeat farcical style. Everything in this play is rough around the edges and unstylish. From the wallpaper to the costumes and hairstyles. A well-constructed combination which makes for a great evenings entertainment.

The “Manor House” is less than glamorous set on a council estate in Yorkshire. From the peeling wallpaper to the bulldog framed photograph this all portrays a stereotyped family living in those areas. Combined with the regional accents the original text is used in the main dialogue with a common twang slipping into the conversations.

The costumes add to the colour and humour. The outdated shell suit and string vest all make an appearance. With, Luke Adamson as Algernon can be seen strolling around in his unflattering white pants for a large section of the performance which just accentuates the eccentric lazy Batchelor bone idle attitude he has to life which Wilde first wrote about.

The audience were laughing through most of the production and conversations during the interval were all positive, commenting how much they were enjoying it. Which reflected from the cast who appeared to be having a lot of fun on stage.

Lane, his flatmate is one to watch, as seen in the photo below. His dialogue part if very brief. However, he is on stage all the time observing the haphazard unfolding romances taking place in front of us. Take note of his mannerisms as there are some exceptional comedy moments from him.

Will the lovestruck Gwendolen and Cecily as seen pictured above get their knights on white horses or have to make do with Algernon and Ernest. Who knows but it’s going to be very funny finding out. A real high note to end a Saturday night on.

Four stars.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 11/02/2019

 

Proforca Theatre Company

Proforca Theatre Company
www.proforca.co.uk

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Feel by James Lewis. Directed by David Brady

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

15th February 2019

Venue: The Space from 5th-16th February 2019.
1st and 2nd March-Upstairs at the Western.
3rd March-The Albany Theatre.
8th and 9th March-The Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Feel, a small word with so many emotions packed within it. The one sentence that sums up this fantastically written play by James Lewis.

Set in two separate locations that many in the audience could relate to. The frustrations of delayed trains and the stranger you see every day taking a similar journey to your own. That strikes up a relationship. To a one night stand back on Jamies flat that potentially could be something more permanent.

The exploration of how each of the four characters feels and what has led them to feel this way searches the very soul of how human beings behave when they begin to feel what they fear the most.

The play almost embraces fear through the hard-faced very honest Naomi. She doesn’t want to feel anymore as it only leads to heartbreak. As we discover she ran away from her dying Father to save herself the pain. Ironically she has never grieved to feel the pain she needs to feel in order to feel love.

The important issue of men’s mental health is raised through Naomi’s one night stand Jamie. A very likeable man who opens up to the fact he is vulnerable and lonely. Sick of pointless one night stands he just wants to “feel something once” and “someone to give a shit”. The basic concept of to love and be loved. This should be such an easy thing to achieve. It is just a feeling after all!

The imagery through the only solo dialogue in the play is delivered by Nick. We discover his deep dark secret that his life is short due to heart problems. His writer skills are expressed with raw emotions tied up in an extremely moving scene. Although I felt it was not confirmed that he has died towards the end of the play this didn’t spoil anything. Sometimes in life, we don’t have closure.

Karen has become stuck in a routine of waiting for time to pass on a train platform and a job she is unfulfilled in. Her dream to be an actress is reignited by Nick. Their brief relationship and his heart condition teach her that life is too short to simply wait for something to just happen and take you on to your next destination.

As with many fringe theatre productions you are not treated to the idealistic view that they all lived happily ever after. How could they it would not be in keeping with the concept of the diversity and reflection of trying something new?

I guarantee that every audience member will “feel” a host of emotions through watching this brilliantly directed and acted play. As in many cases, art imitates life and this play is staunchly placed within the real world of complicated relationships and feelings.

The play runs for over two hours and despite the seats being slightly uncomfortable, the time passes without feeling the need to clock watch at any point.

A definite must see for any avid fringe theatre fan or a brilliant introduction for any first-timers.

Four stars.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 09/02/2019

 

Chesil Theatre

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A Bunch of Amateurs by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman. Directed by Peter Liddiard

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

25th January 2019

Venue: Chesil Theatre, Chesil Street, Winchester SO23 OHU

The latest production taking place at The Chesil Theatre is a far cry from a bumbling bunch of amateurs trying to save their ageing theatre. Somewhere in the Stratford which is in the hidden somewhere within the depths of Suffolk. Instead, the audience is treated to a night of funny and very entertaining theatre right here in Winchester.

Washed up Hollywood actor Jefferson Steel believes he has struck gold by being asked to perform in Stratford in the prestigious role of King Lear. Once he arrives the reality of where his agent has placed him is far from the luxury he is used to commanding. Noel Thorpe-Tracey’s posture and presence on stage as an ageing diva gives a very believable performance. Despite his overbearing demands, there is a certain empathy towards this man who has completely lost touch with reality. Portraying him as a caricature rather than a character.

The stronger characters in this play are the female roles. They are the Once again giving women positive role models on the stage. Katie Thornton’s debut at the Chesil Theatre as Dorothy Nettle is fantastic. She panders to all the men’s requirements throughout in such a way that she never loses her position as the Director of their play. I hope she returns for future performances as she is one to watch out for.

The stage dressing came in two sections. Between the ageing theatre stage with a working sprinkler and pots of paints. Moving around to the dining room of the antiquated bed and breakfast with some very dated pictures on interesting wallpaper. There were a few prop issues when switching between the two scenes with some scenery getting stuck. However, due to the comedic content of this play, I would not be surprised if this was all part of the act to engage the audience. It certainly raised some laughs within the auditorium.

Peter Liddiard directs this fantastic cast through quite a challenging play. The humour of Hislop and Newman has been captured in the cast’s delivery of some very funny one-liners the “pimp it motel” and “Nigelease” were two particular favourites. Listening to others around me laughing I was not alone in this opinion.

All the best with this run as it certainly deserves to play to sold-out performances.

Four stars.

This play is on from 25th January -2nd February 2019. I believe many performances are sold out check with the box office for details.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 27/01/2019

 

blueApple

blueApple
blueappletheatre.com

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A Christmas Carol

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

11th January 2019

Venue: Winchester University

The Blue Apple theatre companies latest stage production adds another twist to the popular Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol. With Katy Francis taking the lead role in what is to be believed the first female actress with downs to play the lead as Scrooge. She looks the part in her all-black period style dress with an accompanying bonnet. Her delivery is clear and performed with conviction.

An extremely well-dressed stage with lots of great features and details sets the scene perfectly. Some of which can be seen in the photographs accompanying the review. The four-poster bed and the kitchen hearth look especially authentic.

The haunting scene that has been filmed and projected in the scene of Marley’s ghost, played by Tommy Jessop is exceptional. The close up on his eyes bring to life his ghostly character to life through another dimension. The changes in his appearance could only have been captured by the recording. This style of pre cording projected scenes is becoming more widely used in Theatres and adds another depth to plays.

There are really interesting additions with the skeletal puppets appearing from within a coat. Along with a projected slide show using an old fashioned style projector, which introduces some of the next scenes visually. There is a mixture of comedy and sadness throughout plus a great twist on the traditional Pantomime Dame character.

The director Richard and his team have done a brilliant job in organising this production. However, it is the cast that deserves the majority of the credit. Overcoming difficulties to learn their lines and have the confidence to perform on the stage in the Theatre Royal is incredibly moving. They truly deserve to perform to sell out auditoriums.

One thing you can never fail to take away from watching one of their performances is the level of support and kindness they show to one another. It is an absolute privilege to be a small part of this very talented group.

The play will be performed on Friday 11th-Sunday 13th January 2019 7:30 pm at

The Theatre Royal, Jewry Street, Winchester, Hampshire S023 2SB.

www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk
Tel 01962 840440
The Blue Apple Theatre Company

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 14/01/2019