ARCHIVED REVIEWS 2019


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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