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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 The outdated shell suit and string vest all make an appearance.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

 

West Moors Drama Society

West Moors Drama Society
www.dramawestmoors.co.uk


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GRANDMA’S SECRET by Jane Hilliard and Paul Rudelhoff

Reviewed by: Anne Ball & Scene One Plus

30th November 2018

Reviewed by: Anne Ball

I went to see this play performed by West Moors Drama on 30th November 2018 and enjoyed every minute of it. On entering there was a warm welcome by front of house members with bistro style clothes on the tables and a well-equipped bar with warm and friendly people serving.

The play was brilliantly written by Jane Hilliard and Paul Rudelhoff, certainly on a par with an Alan Ayckbourn play. The plot was clever; the humour injected in it was outstanding and had the audience rocking with laughter.
It was the story of the rebellious and naïve looing Grandma, Mavis, (played by the talented Anne Maynard) who refused to be put into a nursing home for Christmas because she had other plans, to spend the time with her friends Hilda (played by the fun loving Jeanie Ellis) and Harry (performed by the popular and witty Tom Martin) To escape the nursing home Mavis changed places with her friend Esme at the motorway services and caught a taxi back to her own home.

With the help of Harry and Hilda, Mavis is the famous author of a successful series of ‘saucy books’, hiding behind her pseudo name of MS DIAS VIVA in order not to reveal her true identity to her family who would be well and truly shocked but first they had to deal with Mavis’s grandson Chris (played by young blood in the cast, Tom Clifford) who thought the house would be empty and was planning a party. He was given a large dose of ‘pretend’ Chicken pox in order to distract his nosey next door neighbour (played by the much loved Jane Hilliard)

Then it was down to the business of sorting and testing the contents of Hilda’s suitcase, which contained items mentioned in the books, furry handcuffs, red lace basque, dog colour etc., plus the concern as to whether the ‘Tickly Feathery Thingies’ would arrive on time, which, of course, had the audience rocking in their seats! A knock on the door brought Sarah (played by Denise Hennessy) Mavis’s elegant sister who arrived with Mr Wagstaff, an estate agent (played by Alan Dester) as she was planning to sell the house in Mavis’s absence!

Amidst all this a burglar, Tarquin Stubbs turned up, (skilfully played by Derek Kearey) who was given a number of guises which he pulled off with skill adding a lot of humour to the scene. The dreaded journalist Carina Valentine appeared on the scene (played by talented new comer Julia Garman) Lots of horse play ensued culminating in the arrival of Esme (played by Rosemary Worsley) having escaped from the nursing home she found her way back to Mavis’s house and a happy reunion culminated in a happy ending.

The cast and production team are very dedicated and hardworking and for the ticket price this was exceptional value for money for an evening full of fun

Anne Ball


Reviewed by: Scene One Plus

The splendid West Moors Drama Society is a local institution. It has been presenting grassroots theatre productions since 1957, mostly performing light comedies and occasionally serious plays. Each year the Society normally puts on two productions and continues this tradition with the new play Grandma’s Secret, written and directed by talented local playwrights Jane Hilliard and Paul A J Rudelhoff.

This enjoyable play has all the hall marks of the time honoured “Farce” – stereotyped characters, making use of exaggerated and improbable situations with a generous helping of silliness – all designed to be entertaining and make the audience laugh!

A certain Mavis Davis is the Grandma with a secret who, with the help of her friends Hilda and Harry, has been writing bestselling books in the style of 50 Shades of Grey under the assumed name of M S Dias Viva (an anagram of Mavis Davis). So far she has managed to hide her identity from her family and the public. Mavis is now writing her very last book and with the deadline approaching she needs to be in her own home putting the finishing touches to the final chapter. Her family, however, have other ideas and have arranged for her to go into a nursing home for the Christmas period whilst they are on holiday. Mavis hatches a plan to send her somewhat batty and forgetful friend Esme to the nursing home in her place. Hilda and Harry arrive to assist with the writing and testing of the adult toys that feature in the books, but their plans are thwarted as Mavis’ grandson has turned up at the house thinking it will be empty and planning a party for his mates. To add to her problems, someone has leaked her address to the press and a journalist is on the way to expose Mavis and her double life. As if this wasn’t enough to be going on with, her sister turns up with estate agent Roland Wagstaff and a burglar also puts in an appearance – known locally as the ‘wrinkly burglar’ owing to his advancing years, and a modus operandi involving cooking himself a good meal rather than removing items of value!

The results, which are predicable in the way that farce is meant to be, were satisfyingly funny and amusing from beginning to end. The performance romped along at a fair pace and for the most part the timing and dialogue flowed well, with few hesitations when a line was momentarily forgotten. Not that this really mattered to an audience that was fully engaged in the performance with laughter aplenty at every innuendo, double entendre and the malapropisms of Hilda, (well played by Jeanie Ellis). A good laugh was also had at the expense of Roland Wagstaff (and a fine acting performance from Alan Dester) who suffered from the unfortunate effects of rhotacism and his pronunciation of the “r” sound as a “w”. Anne Maynard, playing the main character Mavis, produced a convincing performance of a likeable character that would not be dictated to by her insensitive family. Tom Clifford came into his own as the “fruity” Peaches Delmonte, though initially perhaps not quite as much at ease playing the grandson Chris. Tom Martin, playing Harry, and Jane Hilliard as nosey neighbour Mrs Clapstick turned in pretty solid support performances, as did the rest of the cast.

The production and backroom team as a whole are to be congratulated for building an authentic set on a relatively small stage with sufficient room for the actors to move around in, and for the proficient management of the sound and lighting.

Grandma's Secret Grandma's Secret Grandma's Secret Grandma's Secret Grandma's Secret Grandma's Secret

Script available from janehilliard163@gmail.com

 

Posted on 31/12/2018

 

blueApple

blueApple
blueappletheatre.com

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A Christmas Carol Rehearsal

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

16th December 2018

Venue: Winchester University

The large cast pictured above who are performing in the 2019 production of Scrooge, all assembled for rehearsals at 10 am on 16th December a bright winter Sunday morning in the dance studio based at Winchester University. The excitement of Christmas was evident in the array of festive jumpers and the exchanging of Christmas cards.

It began with their normal warm-up routine of various physical activities and voice warm-ups. There was some laughter and grumbles as they settled into the morning’s activities. However, one thing is certain with this group and that is their pride and dedication they have in this great company. Watching them interact with one another and the way they support each other is heartwarming and they make sure that nobody gets left out.

The Blue Apple theatre company boast what they believe to be the first time that Scrooge has been played by a female actor with Downs Syndrome, Katie looked the part in her all-black dress which will be finished off with a bonnet for the live performance. The photo below gives you a sneak preview of what you can expect to see in the performance. She was so proud to be in costume and kept twirling in the wall long mirrors to see herself.

Richard seen leading the cast in the photo below and his team kept the cast focussed and enthusiastic throughout the three-hour-long rehearsal session. Some of the scenes were quite challenging for members of the cast, they worked so hard to remember their lines and various stage directions. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to share the experience with them.

The morning was the first time that some of the cast had worn their costumes. Members disappeared to be fitted out and returned looking very proud in them. It is going to be very effective once they are all dressed in costume and perform at the Theatre Royal in January. Watch out for the special guest puppets as modelled by the cast below who will make an appearance on the stage too.

I am looking forward to reviewing the finished production when they perform in January. Good luck with the rest of the rehearsals all of you and see you in 2019. Please come and show your support and enjoy what I am sure will be a really good night out.

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 31/12/2018

 

Salisbury Playhouse

The Night Before Christmas A musical by Glyn Kerslake and Gareth Machin

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

10th to 30th December 2018

Venue: The Lamb and Unicorn, 42-44 Gaisford St, London, NW5 2ED

Salisbury Play House’s latest performance in the Salberg Theatre is the festive tale of The Night Before Christmas. The estimated one-hour long play is aimed at preschool-aged children. There was a very keen group present on the day who were getting into the spirit and whole heatedly joining in. Smiles all round too which is a very good sign.

The show has captured the true essence of Christmas and it’s true meaning. That spending time with loved ones and the simpler things are the important aspects. Not the over-commercialisation it has become.

No Christmas show would be complete without letters written to Santa as seen in the photo below. These are magically flown up up the chimney by a little bit of magic, helped on their way by the participation of the audience. We see a family of three preparing their home as they are excitedly anticipating the annual visit from Father Christmas.

The entertaining singing and dancing performance is captured in the two photos below. This kept their younger audience engaged throughout. During one scene there is an opportunity for two of the younger ones to join in the wrapping up with the man in the red suit.

Although it is aimed for the younger members it appealed to the older audience members too who were joining in with the singing and dancing. The stage is simply dressed as can be seen below and the unseen staircase is a clever addition which takes you by surprise.

This is a lovely way to start off your Christmas celebrations. This shorter length of the performance is a great way to introduce smaller children to what is possibly going to be their first theatre visit.

A well earned Four stars

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 13/12/2018

 

Salisbury Playhouse

Borderline by Lydia Vie

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

6th-8th December 2018 at 7.30pm

Venue: The Lamb and Unicorn, 42-44 Gaisford St, London, NW5 2ED

Calima Productions presented Borderline for three nights in the fringe theatre venue Lion and Unicorn, Kentish Town. The smaller theatre provided an intimate setting for this production dealing with the mental health damage caused to women through various seemingly everyday situations.

The cast of five actresses told the nine featured stories in this production through dance, poetry, movement and dialogue. Lilian Tsang’s powerful portrayal of an alcoholic wife berating her long-suffering husband Victor moved the audience. On a couple of occasions, she locked eye contact with me while in character and the conviction in her body language was moving and I felt slightly uncomfortable. Achieving the desired effect of her role.

The stage was unusually dressed with the costumes worn throughout the play hung on various wall sections. The actresses putting the coloured clothes over the top of their black outfits once taking on their main roles. The outfits displayed can be seen in the above photo. These transitions flowed very well and did not interrupt the performance. As seen below the collage of torn out pages depict the jumbled thoughts inside the minds of their roles, adding another dimension to their performances.

Esther Fernandez directing ability has created an interesting look into the minds of women whose mental health has been damaged and the extreme measures they will turn to. The aim of the company is to give a voice to women and unrepresented performers in the theatre industry.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 11/12/2018

 

Salisbury Playhouse

Beauty and the Beast by Andrew Pollard

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

1st December 2018 to 13th January 2019

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

Salisbury Playhouse has delivered the perfect 2018 seasons Christmas pantomime of Beauty and the Beast in their 517 seater main theatre. All the finest ingredients you expect to see in a pantomime can be found in this brilliant production. From the devilish Villain Spite pictured above to the flamboyant charismatic Dame Betty Bon Bon, with an added twist in the form of Cupid who is pictured below. Plus all the familiar characters from Beauty and the Beast making an appearance along the way.

Dame Betty Bon Bon played by the talented Richard Ede pictured below, has a fantastic set of colourful sweet themed costumes. Look out for her great liquorice outfit. The costume department in this production has made an excellent collection of memorable and exuberant designs, the attention to details in all of these costumes is terrific. Add into the mix of her tongue twister sweet song, and this is one of those characters that are likely to remain in your memory.

The typical one-liners and tongue in cheek innuendos are all present and were delivered to a laughing audience. Added to that the brilliantly dressed stage with all the glitter, colour and exaggerated props you would expect to find. Some of these are pictured below during one of Betty Bon Bons singing scene. This entertaining production is exactly what is needed to cheer you up on a long cold and wet winters evening.

Two very tough critics accompanied me to this performance. In the form of my two teenage daughters both of whom thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Joining in during the “oh no he isn’t ” parts and laughing at the adult jokes. Both of them said it was “very entertaining ” and are really pleased they saw it. Very high praise indeed, as anyone with teenagers will know they are a hard audience.

The wonderful picture below captures the soul of the love story told taking place within this Pantomime. Due to the larger than life characters on stage, the Beasts character tends to take a back seat but this does not detract from the overall storyline and the perfect happy ever after that draws it all to an end, with the happy couple featured in the picture above. This fantastic production has been bought to the stage by the talented creative team of the writer Andrew Pollard, director Ryan McBryde and designer James Button.

4 stars.

Check out the website or call to book tickets.
www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 09/12/2018

 

Newbury Dramatic Society

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A Christmas Carole, A Twist on the Classic Tale

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

1st December 2018

Venue: Morpheus Theatre, The Phoenix Centre, 212 Newtown Road, Newbury RG14 7EB

Newbury Dramatic Society is a long established group who have performed a new twist on this popular Christmas classic of a Christmas Carol featuring Mr Scrooge. The main male characters have all been rescripted to female roles. For example, you saw Mrs Scrooge with Mrs Crachit as her employee.

The three visiting ghosts take on the form of Miss Haversham, Mr Fagin and Marquise de Evrémonde all villains featuring in other Dickens novels. Adding a very well scripted new angle to this story.

The costumes were really impressive for a small production team. I especially liked the one wore by the ghost of Mrs Marley, the actress was really entertaining and used the chains to add a gruesome effect to her lead role.

The children in the play were very good and needed very little prompting with their lines. Well done all of you.

The main scene changing man really worked hard running from side to side with the chair scenes and tried very hard not to be seen.

The whole society looked like they were really enjoying themselves, which adds to the audience’s enjoyment.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 03/12/2018

 

Jeannie by Aimée Stuart

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Tuesday 27th November to Saturday 22nd December 2018

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

The Finborough Theatre is one of London’s small multi-award-winning 50 seater Theatre. It is situated on the second floor up the stairs through the bar area. It would be very easy to miss this little gem tucked away on Finborough Road in Kensington.

Jeannie is a superb play by Aimée Stuart. First performed in 1940, now returning to the stage for the first time after 80 years. Set in 1936 in a little town in Scotland, we are introduced to downtrodden Jeannie who is expected to take care of her Father and their home since the death of her mother. He has staunch ideas about a woman’s role within the house, nowadays this is viewed as sexist and controlling. However, very typical of attitudes from that day gone by era. The couple is featured in the photo above.

After his death, Jeannie decides to take her inheritance of £200 and enjoy a no expense spared holiday. After years of confinement and never being allowed to go anywhere, she wants to finally live and see what the world has to offer.

Her first encounter is the widowed businessman Stanley Smith, as seen above. He is an inventor and travelling on business to a Vienna fair to promote and sell his new washing machine. Despite a wandering eye, his intentions towards her are honourable.

Secondly, she is wooed by the unscrupulous penniless Count who is living off his title and smooth talks Jeannie into believing he loves her and wishes to make her his wife. While all the while spending her money on trips to the Opera and fine dining.

The scene changes are performed smoothly on the confined stage area. The array of props used in dressing the stage transform it from Scotland, Vienna and back again. The costumes have been chosen perfectly to define the status of each character. The red dress worn by Madeleine Hutchins as The Blonde is exceptional and can be seen in the picture below.

With a fantastic acting cast, the play takes Jeannie from rags to riches to rags and riches. A real credit to the director who has fitted a lot of details into this two-hour long production. However, it never feels rushed or unfinished. Concluding in a Cinderella-style ending as he proposes to her in the final scene, as pictured above.

Four stars

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 03/12/2018

 

The Singer by Nick Joseph

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

28th November to 1st December 2018

Venue: Chesil Theatre, Chesil Street, Winchester SO23 OHU

Nick Joseph the award-winning writer-director introduced the play to the audience. He explained what we are about to watch and suggested to the audience that there is a bit of ‘inner surrealist’ in all of us.

The interestingly titled play The Singer journeys through the mind of a man obsessed by a Jazz singer. He has lucid moments and then plunges back into the depths of his mental illness. Seeking help through electric shock treatment with his therapist.

While watching this play I envisioned a Dali painting come to life. With each of the quirky details adding its backstory to the play and explaining in detail why it had been painted there.

This highly demanding script was performed exceptionally by the two cast members. Who can be seen in the two opening photos? The number of lines and changing roles was performed professionally, never faltering at any stage during the performance.
The conversation I heard as I was leaving from two audience members conclude my review of this play ‘how would you explain to anyone what you have just seen!’

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 03/12/2018

 

Billionaire Boy by David Walliams

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

28th November 2018 to 6th January 2019

Venue: NST City, 142-144, Above Bar Street, Southampton, SO14 7DU

Jon Brittain’s adaptation of the popular children’s book by author David Walliams of Billionaire Boy premiered on November 28th 2018 in the Nuffield Southampton Theatres City. The cast and production team pictured above had the pleasure of David Walliams company on November 28th when he came to watch them perform as they brought his book characters to the stage.
The story tells of a young boy, Joe Spud who is fed up with his lonely rich life. He just wants to fit in, go to a comprehensive school and to have a real friend. For once he would like to be accepted for who he is, not what he has. Money is not always the key to happiness as we discover as the musical unfolds. The actors Ryan Keenan as Joe on the left and Lem Knights as Bob on the right can be seen in the above photo bonding their friendship in a singing duet.
The cast is made up of extremely versatile and talented actors and actresses. Most of them have been cast in several roles throughout the musical. So don’t be surprised to see where they appear in the next scene. The actress Sophia Nomvete, pictured above has her main role as Bob’s Mum. She has an incredible singing voice and presence when she is on the stage.

The glitter and glamour of the costumes are everything you would expect to emphasize wealth on a colossal scale. There is a sofa made out of five-pound notes, a diamond ring you cannot lift and gold bars on the shelves used as decorations. The wig held by Len in the photo below shows one of his ridiculous purchases. The set has been brilliantly designed to exhibit Len Spuds inability to know how to spend sensibly and what to do with his vast wealth.
Raj in his shop with his typical humour make an appearance too. A regular character who appears in a lot of David Walliams books. It would not have been the same without him.

If your children are David Walliams fans then they will not be disappointed with this musical adaptation. Even if you do not have any children still go and enjoy a really good feel good performance. It has captured the morals of his book and brings them to a completely new forum. This production is planned to go on tour in 2019, please check online for further information.

Five stars.

Box Office: nstheatres.co.uk
Tel: 023 8067 1771

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 03/12/2018

 

Fallen Angels by Noel Coward

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

21st-24th November 2018

Venue: Cheriton Village Hall, Nr Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 0PZ

Cheriton Players present Fallen Angels by Noel Coward. The scene is set in the style of the playwright from the beginning as we are taken through a spoken historical timeline of 1925 which is when this play had first been performed. Setting the scene of how the social attitudes would have been during the time of its performance.

Fallen Angels is a play based around two married ladies Jane and Julia discussing the imminent arrival of Maurice with whom both had been romantically involved with before they were married. In 1925 this would have been a scandalous admission for married ladies to have revealed. Later this is echoed by the horrified responses of their husbands Fred and Willy.

I especially like the scene on the golf course. They performed it in a black and white silent movie style, projected onto a screen complete with music. The two husbands leave through the hall door and we are treated to watching them play a round of golf in a slight slapstick manner. The theatre company had even located a 1925 style car for these two to travel there and back in. This added a great dimension to the play.

Noel Cowards humour was delivered very well during the course of the play by all members of the cast. However, the timing cues in some scenes needed to be tightened up.

The attention to detail as can be seen in the photographs above show how impeccably dressed the stage was and the fantastic period costumes are that they used. All the crockery and props were in 1925 period setting. Even as far as down to the bearnaise sauce in the gravy jug. Used during the dinner scene. It takes a lot of skill to eat and act, this was performed professionally.

For a small theatre company, the level of effort which has gone into the set alone is definitely worth going to see this production or one of theirs in the future.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 26/11/2018

 

A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

19th November-15th December 2018

Venue: Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin St, Dalton, London, E8 3DL

Hunch Theatre companies new play A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov has been adapted by Oliver Bennett and Vladimir Shcherban. Last night saw the opening performance at the Arcola Theatre in Studio 2, on the 21st November 2018.

Two resting soldiers Pechorin and Grushnitsky begin a competition to win over the affections of Princess Mary, in the small dull spa town they are both residing in. It descends through the play into a cruel tragedy, where there are no winners.

Oliver Bennetts portrayal of Pechorin was a role of great stamina. His energy, passion and ability to engage with his fellow actors and break through the fourth wall in smooth transitions showed how accomplished he is an actor.

Scarlett Saunders and James Marlowe have been well cast and play additional characters from their main roles. Each morphing from one to the other without stopping the flow of the play.

I thought the use of the novels front cover picture as seen in the second photograph above was a brilliant use of props and allowed the novel to form part of the play. This created an additional character of the Doctor who talks to Pechorin during the play, both parts are voiced by Bennett.

This 70-minute play combines love, humour, heartbreak, death, cheating and mind games in an emotionally fuelled performance. Studio 2 is a smaller venue where the audience is intimately involved throughout, one lady was covered in water when the Princess throws a glass over Pechorin.

This was my first introduction to Russian Romanticism writer, poet and painter Mikhail Lermontov. Upon watching tonights performance I am planning to read the novel and investigate the work of this writer further.

5-stars

Tickets are available at, Tel 020 7503 1646

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 26/11/2018

 

Honour by Joanna Murray-Smith

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

17-24 November 2018

Venue: Chesil Theatre, Chesil Street, Winchester SO23 OHU

Honour, the play by Joanna Murray-Smith brings into question what does honour really mean after 32 years of marriage when one party decides to abruptly leave. The lead female character shares the same name as the play. An honourable title perhaps to her strength of character.

We first meet George who is deciding on how to begin his opening sentence for the research article being published about his career and fame. He is about to meet Claudia the young attractive researcher to discuss himself. His self-inflated ego sets the scene for how his character later develops in the play.

Honour we discover sacrificed her own budding career in writing once she married George. This is discussed while she is being interviewed about how married life is with George and always being in the background when she could have had an equally successful career.

The struggle of how women place themselves in society is a strong theme throughout this play. Mother, daughter and mistress all trying to find where they want to belong. All of them at some point during the play envying the other, whereas in reality none of them is actually in a place worth envying.

The dignified grace in which Honour conducts herself through this play makes this painful process easier to watch. These parts often plunge into the woman scorned revenge role. It takes exceptional writing to avoid this and transform Honour into an empowered woman. This takes place as the play progresses by her change in colourful clothes, earrings and makeup.

The audience’s response to some of the scenes was a testament to how well written and directed this play has been. Gasps and dislike of the use of the ‘f’ word, which at times is prolific in the angrier scenes enhanced the atmosphere. Once you engage an audience to this level you have captured a real emotional connection.

Many couples go through similar mid-life crisis events. Marriage goes stale and one or another seeks passion in another’s arms. Murray-Smiths play is a no holds barred account of how destructive this can be to a comfortable and seemingly normal couple.

As always it is a pleasure to review in the Chesil Theatre. This smaller venue gave a more intimate experience to this emotionally fuelled journey through this couples marriage break up and personal life and at times I felt like an intruder.

Many performances have now sold out.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 21/11/2018

 

Silence by Nicola Werenowska

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

13th -17th November 2018

Venue: Salisbury Playhouse, Salberg Theatre

Behind every family, there lies a history and secrets that they carry with them from generation to generation. The three generations of women in Silence are no exception. Nicola Werenowska has crafted this families hauntingly dark history through nonlinear timelines narrated by each of the three characters.

Silence is not only the title of this movingly thoughtful play but the theme that runs throughout. These difficult heartbreaking decisions that have shaped the family are still playing a major role in their lives. Anna confirms this when trying to discuss a past event with her Mother, Ewa who refuses to answer and Anna replies frustratedly to her with ‘things you never ask’ which is simply met with silence by Ewa.

Each of the two Mother and Daughter relationships is haunted by feelings of not being good enough and unloved. However, not knowing how to be able to love appears to be the reality.

Russia’s part in World War II and the horrific events that took place in the Siberian prison camps after the war ended is the main backdrop in this play. Maria, the Grandmother has never forgotten the cold, the tiredness, hunger and devastating decision that was forced upon her during that time. She recalls these memories throughout the play as we step back and forth into her history until she reaches the devastating event that had moulded her relationship with Ewa.

Truly remarkable performances from all three actresses. Their passion, conviction and intensity are incredibly moving. This play is a credit to the director, Jo Newman. I defy anyone not to be affected by this heavily layered journey into the present day.

The Salberg Theatre is a smaller venue with 149 seats. It provides a more intimate setting for this play. Being closer to the performance enhances the dramatic tensions you feel as an audience by being in close proximity.

I rate this play 5 stars

Contact;
Wiltshire Creative, Salisbury Playhouse, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 7RA.
Ticket sales 01722 320 333

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 14/11/2018

 

The UnDisposables

The UnDisposables
www.undisposables.co.uk

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The Snow Angel of Antartica by Victoria Connerty Directed by Madeleine Corner

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

4th - 6th November 2018

Venue: KATZENJAMMERS, Katzpace, 24 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TY

The Snow Angel of Antartica by Victoria Connerty.

The UnDisposables is a London based Arts and Theatre collective. This is the first of the two new plays performed as part of New Voices season from them on the 5th November 2018.

The play tells of the heartfelt journey taken by Ellie and Jimmy, twins separated only by ten minutes at birth entering the world via the ‘vaginal waterslide’ as they travel to visit the penguins in Antartica and camp overnight on the ice cap. The love and closeness of these two are played out predominantly through humour and well-meant banter.

However, all is not straightforward and as Ellie played by Esther Joy Mackay travels with her brother to Antartica to see the penguins. The plot unfolds to reveal her real reason for visiting there and why she has bought a penguin flask with her.

The play changes quickly between the present and the previous year smoothly. Allowing the audience to keep in time as the real story unfolds.

This two-man play deals with, love, loyalty, commitment, grief and the bond shared by many twins.

Jimmy played by Jaymin Michaels has a challenging role as he moves between the alive and deceased character throughout the play. The expectation is that the audience is unaware of this until close to the end of the play.

Cancer only gets a small part in this play though and is never allowed to upstage the twins relationship. In some ways drawing them closer together.

My favourite part of the play takes place at the end when both twins take turns reading out sections of the letter left to Ellie by Jimmy.

Two outstanding performances in this well written and directed play.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 13/11/2018

 

The UnDisposables

The UnDisposables
www.undisposables.co.uk

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Sugar Buddy by Jonathan Skinner

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

4th - 6th November 2018

Venue: KATZENJAMMERS, Katzpace, 24 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TY

The UnDisposables is a London based Arts and Theatre collective. This is the second of the two new plays performed as part of New Voices season from them on the 5th November 2018.

After a chance meeting at a bus stop, Graham without an E and Felicity strike up an unusual agreement. Felicity is a barista on minimum wage and Graham is very rich after losing his parents and inheriting the house and a lot of money. Neither have many or any friends. However, Graham is the only one honest enough to admit this.

Graham dresses in comfortable scruffy clothes. Whereas Felicity wears a fake fur coat and red beret with a designer named top underneath. Too often society assumes who we are by what we wear and in reality, we actually should never judge by appearances, as they are often wrong.

The arrangement follows that Graham employs Felicity to be his friend and for the self-professed Cambridge University Graduate to teach him about culture, foreign films and the arts. Most importantly for Graham how to be normal, by being his friend.

The actor’s dialogue moves quickly throughout the play. The two characters are in conversation and then they break the fourth wall to address the audience. This added an interesting dimension to the play.

There are some very funny lines throughout which both actors delivered very well. Felicity’s main device to cover up her own inadequate feelings is to be very sarcastic. However, Graham humours her and pretends not to hear or understand her deflecting it away.

As their paid friendship grows Felicity eventually agrees to let Graham chose an outing and she ends up on the tube. Graham explains to a bored Felicity all about The Tube Challenge, as explained in this picture below. This is his one ambitions in life to break the record.

The play ends at Graham’s funeral, and the truth about Felicity never going to Cambridge among many other admissions all unravels during their final conversation from beyond the grave.

I was left asking who was really the lonely one out of Graham and Felicity. In my opinion, it was Felicity, she made up a life to sound happier and more popular than she was. However, Graham never pretends to be anyone but himself.

A very well acted, written and directed play.

Written by Jonathan Skinner

Directed by Katerina Tinnirello-Savvas

Connor Hughes – Graham

Sophie Winter-King – Felicity

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 13/11/2018

 

Chameleon Theatre Company of Chandlers Ford

Blackadder Goes Forth by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Wednesday 24th October to Saturday 27th October 2018

Venue: Ritchie Memorial Hall, Hursley Road, Chandlers Ford, SO53 2FT

Gillian Wilkins directed this first-class theatre performance. She had chosen each actor effectively for each of the seven characters. All of which bought to life characteristics from the original BBC’s cast.

The attention to details on the set was fantastic with bunk beds made out of pallets, maps on the walls, old style telephone in the box used through the performance and the piles of sandbags which were made from old sacks, filled with sawdust and painted to stop the sawdust escaping. All the set was designed and made by members of the cast. These details can be seen in my photographs.

“Baldrick” played by “Terry James” bought him to life on a parr with “Tony Robinson” from the BBC production and the line a “cunning plan” was executed in the same dry style on numerous occasions. Just don’t ask him to make you a coffee as you will find that it tastes earthy.

“David Wilkins” performed the part of “Blackadder” excellently. His mannerisms, banter tones with Baldrick and sarcastic quips were superb. A very close match to “Rowan Atkinson”. I found him captivating and extremely funny.

The theatre company use the Ritchie Hall to rehearse and perform in. A really nice venue with a good view of the stage from anywhere in the audience. In my estimation, it would seat around 50 people comfortably.

All members of the theatre company that I met were friendly and very welcoming. Only too happy to answer any questions and explain how things had been put together.

I really look forward to seeing and reviewing future performances, should I be invited back.

Well done to all of you.

A great 4-star show.

The show is running from Wednesday 24th October to Saturday 27th October 2018.

Tickets are available online at www.chameleontheatre.co.uk

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 13/11/2018

 




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