Post a Review
Facebook Message DramaGroups, Tweet @DramaGroups or email Outlook users
Click Here or email to email@example.com subject 'Drama Groups - Reviews' include: Reviewer; Website; Region/County; Contact; Production; Review don't forget to attach photos & logo
All opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. www.dramagroups.com takes no responsibility for content or accuracy of any review.
Please remember when posting a review that it will be visible to the public.
With a cast of around 800, it's no surprise that this year's Christmas production of The Toymaker at the Chickenshed has been split into four casts performing on separate nights. Today's preview cast was the "yellow" group who have set the bar high for the other three casts.
Based on the novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Italian writer Carlo Collodi. The Toymaker is bringing up his daughter Katie alone after his wife passed away. Working as a cleaner in a technical factory he steals a chip found on the floor to create a lifelike "toy" to become Katie's friend/sibling. PIN:0cch10 emerges and chaos begins!
The child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang appears to have been incorporated into the storyline although it is now a couple with a Fagin-style entourage working alongside them to sell the bogus dream of "leisure Island" to their latest captives.
The cast of two hundred only appears together towards the end. The full stage allows the audience to appreciate the work that takes place by the production team led by Andrew Caddies and fantastic choreographer Bethany Hamlin. Watching almost 200 cast members move together in sync was a moving experience.
Each of the main characters has their own assigned sign language interpreter working onstage with them, clearly visible to the entire auditorium. Every effort is made to ensure the audience is considered to make sure they are all-inclusive too.
As an inclusive Theatre Company whose ethos is to give every person who auditions a role in their plays, it's no wonder this year's production sees the extensive cast split into four groups. Such an incredible Theatre.
For more information on this play and their future productions please use the links below.
A festive Christmas pantomime with a twist by Charles Court Opera has brought their 2023 production of Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime! to Jermyn Street Theatre from 23rd November to 31st December.
The colourful stage backdrop fills the back of the staged area and the cast uses various built-in windows throughout the performance to enter the stage and add comedic sections. Neon lights advertise that the cast are at Mount Olympus.
The highly accomplished cast of five brings a vast range of ancient Greek characters to life from Hermes (the well-known delivery company), Trojan (the horse), Medusa and Cyclops to name but a few. All with a comedic edge as they venture on their quest.
Script and direction by John Savournin incorporate Greek mythology characters with some modern-day famous faces, Cilla Black certainly adds "Lorra lorra laughs". The characters created by Savournin are well-scripted and very funny.
Musical direction by David Eaton incorporated well-known songs from across the generations and added well-placed lyrics to fit the Mythical storyline. From Boney M's Rasputin to Natalie Imbruglia's Torn.
There's plenty of the traditional "oh no you didn't" audience participation during the evening which was well received. Watch out for the frogs, they raised plenty of laughter and slight bewilderment within the auditorium.
This may not appear to be a traditional pantomime on the surface. However, it has all the ingredients to be one with a few unique added extras. It offers a fantastic night of escapism for adults (due to the humour) during the festive season. I think watching their annual pantomime could become one of my Christmas traditions.
Heartbroken and full of despair Marissa (Tracy Ann Wood) lies on the sofa crying and drunk. Forgotten that she had called the Doctor earlier after taking “something”, the door knocks at 3am. To her surprise and anger she initially refusing to answer it.
Enters, Dr Victor Reed (Charlie Buckland) who remembers his patient from their two years “back in the day” at sixth form and explains how he has followed Marissa’s acting career over the years.
Victor’s situation is complicated and the details of what has taken place become apparent as the play develops and through his side of telephone conversations with his “girlfriend”. In all honesty in his current mindset, he shouldn’t be patient-facing in any medical role at this time.
Flattered by the “apparent” interest Marissa’s fixation on Victor shows alarming traits of stalker behaviour and at times uncomfortable to watch. If it was happening to someone you knew you’d advise them to report it to the police.
The seventy-five-minute production would benefit from editing down to around sixty minutes. The cast of two is strong and works very well together. However, the script is drawn out and at times. There are a couple of long “dramatic pauses” which doesn’t add anything to the play.
For further information on this play and future productions at The White Bear Theatre please use the link below.
Nobody can prepare anyone for the life and body changes that a new baby brings. Everything should be all fluffy blankets and cuddles! However, this is rarely the reality. Along with these changes comes enormous responsibility. The Good Enough Mums Club explores these changes through music and dialogue in an honest and open approach.
Five Mums bond through their weekly playgroup sessions. Friendships build and they start to trust each other which allows them to open up in a safe non-judgemental environment. A place which is a rare to find.
Bea (Joanna Kirkland), the snobbish leader of the group, appears on the surface to have the perfect affluent life, three children, and a hard-working husband. Michelle (Rebecca Bernice Amissah) Mum to twins. Sophie (Amy Ross) single Mum to one whose life changes throughout the play. Chantelle (Jade Samuels), whose character develops in the second act, and lastly, Esme (Belinda Wollaston), the groups newest member who is struggling to cope after the birth of her baby. Symptoms at first appear to be postnatal depression!
Each Mum has their own story and sadly often shares the same opinion of themselves, that they are simply not doing a “good enough” job raising their children a common theme shared by millions of Mums worldwide. Many of us are simply “winging it” and hoping that we can pull things together long enough to appear that we are coping.
The Musical touches on several difficult topics throughout the performance. Art imitates life as you aren’t always sure what will happen next and where the storyline will take you. It’s all done with a large dose of comedy and friendship.
For more information on this musical and future productions at The MAST Mayflower Southampton please click on the links below.
Medusa is “just an angry middle-aged woman” Emma Burnell explains in the questions and answers after the performance of her latest play VENOM. Perhaps there’s an element of truth behind that description of the Mythical character. Nobody will ever know the truth!
Burnell brings the aged Medusa to the stage. She describes how her life became the way it was and why she chose to live reclusive on an Island away from others and to find peace and solace.
Touching on the Mythical storyline between Medusa and Athena. Burnell in the role of the angry mythical character entertains the audience through storytelling and music. This version of Medusa is an ageing Theatre performer who uses storytelling and music to reminisce and debunk some of the myths that shroud her public image.
Percy (Will Meadows) appears at the end of Medusa’s performance. Angry, full of vengeance and desperate to make a stand against the strong image Medusa holds. His girlfriend finished with him as she had enough of his behaviour, who could blame her after seeing how he behaves!
The storyline has plenty of potential to be extended with other settings for the characters would work equally as well. The strength behind the story is in the script rather than the setting. The characters are rounded and you aren’t left with any loose ends or wondering what happens next.
For more information on this play and future productions at the Golden Goose please visit the link below.
In Jab Seher Humara Sota Hai directed by Shrikant Gadge and written by Piyush Mishra, two groups quarrel over a piece of land and the dispute is elongated over frequent tensions and incidents. Jab Seher Humara Sota Hai is also about love, passion, and longing over the city and the music in the second half creates such an impact that, you can transform your evening into a time of remembrance and lore and theatre.
Small incidents and conversations lead to teasing between the two groups in which common people, or people caught between quarrels erupts in violence. The first half is marred with scenes of mindless-brutal-violence, in which the writer and director are trying to portray how triviality and lack of patience lead to mindless, heartless, heart-wrenching agony. We will never be able to reason who started it or Who was responsible. Or who lost what member of the family?
Whose bravado was more? Who was more loathful? All these questions will wrench and eat the mind for years to come.
But as we say the flowers find a way to grow amidst, the dirt and blossom! A love story brews on stage. The soulful music by Dev Chakraborty puts a charm on your senses or soothes you to any rawness you experience. The humanness, the human ability to find meaning in useless situations comes pouring in love and drenches like a Tagorean verse.
The script writer again paints reality again and again and again, perhaps we have become less tolerant! Perhaps we have become less sensitive!
Madamast Babu dances carelessly dances on stage in a neat costume of lights. I found this costume innovative and was wondering where could one get hold of it. Also, Madmast Babu keeps you glued to the stage with his antics!
'when our city sleeps' is an experience in powerful writing and powerful direction by Shrikant Gadge. A huge team, director Shrikant Gadge executes a strong production effortlessly, kudos and light design by Amitava Sarkar makes you wanting for more! Dev Chakraborty scores the music precisely and soulfully.
Lines from the play that haunt you!
Do you know what happens when our city sleeps?
Here the dead bodies wake up, the dead become alive, there the dead lose their lives...
Here a screaming Eve is giving alms to that hospital...
the city will be bright
in which you and I will build a house
both will be from pigeon
In which there will be no fear of hawks...
There will be delicate velvet walls too
Spring sitting in the corners.
There will be springs sitting in the corners
The window frame will also be made of silk
Yes, Sehan will also be wrapped in sandalwood...
If we weave nights with silver stars
the city will shine
the city will be bright
silence, wilderness, silence, unknown
Life takes stormy turns
the shadows surround us
to comb dry hair
Darkness rises from vampires
I am trembling with their dance.
There's the sound of shoes somewhere
there is a bonfire somewhere
there are sounds of crickets somewhere
There's a tap dripping somewhere
There is that black window somewhere
There is that dark chimney somewhere
somewhere there is a group of shaking trees
kept on some parapet somewhere
Any dog on a deserted street corner
screams and cries
When the dirty yellow light of the lamp post
something happens in
When a shadow saves itself a little
lost in the shadows
When the pole of the pool is illuminated by the hot light of the car
then our city sleeps
then our city sleeps
then our city sleeps
Cast - Team Namaste Theatre Design and direction : Shrikant Gadge Light Design : Amitava sarkar Music : Dev Chakraborty
Seated at the beautiful Symbiosis auditorium, a voice emanates from around the auditorium, and an eccentric-dressed writer zooms past you from the back to onstage. A powerful entry and the play San 2025 has started! Brahmaste ( protagonist of SAN 2025 ) has just launched himself on stage! The duration of the play takes place in the living room !!
The life, and struggles of the writer Brahmaste speed by, Brahmaste rants about his life in the most expressive ways, and earnestly. He talks about other writers that inspire him and the limelight they have got! Celebrating the writerly life, Brahmaste takes you across his tapestry of mind, party, and politics. The baldy look of the writer, at times, gives you a strange appearance, but it charms you!
Another character that I loved was a man in an overcoat: Jameel ( Madhavan Rao .) The long hair and neat look, give him a detective look. His stage time was maybe one minute, the neatly shaped character leaves a lasting impression.
The stage had little props without being minimalist!
There is an attempt by the director Dev Chakraborty to make the conversations contemporary of the scriptwriter Piyush Mishra. Which make the story connect more with contemporary time. The director Dev Chakraborty avoided unnecessary verboseness in his actors. Keeping the conversations fast-paced, witty, chatty, and contemporary.
Young directors in Pune are slowly seeing and executing a balance of strong language vocabulary and simple, powerful vocabulary. The director has also directed plays like Mahroom Ki Yaad Mein and Waiting For Godot.
Both light design and set design of the play is expected to grow with more shows.
The casted dancer-actor Erika was apt in her scene. Actor Sufi (Wahid ) is powerful. Pragya Sharma and Pratik Gawande kept the story fast-paced.
More shows would give the actors more emotional breathing space. You can always go deeper into the emotion, both for the audience and actors.
The production team did a stellar job of play promotions, students of Symbiosis, from cafes, to F.C. Road ; )
Script: Piyush Mishra
Designed and Directed : Dev Chakraborty
Lights Design:Amitava Sarkar
Wahid Akbar, Tarun Tiwari, Madhavan Rao, Erika Shaw, Pratik Gawande
Special Mention for their unconditional support Srikant Gadge and Kumar Lalu
Production team: Shravani Bhate & Akshat Jain
Production Manager , Arpita Luthra and Yuvraj Barve
Stage Management: Rushika Noolkar
Climate change entered the political arena in the 1990s. The Knowing written by Imogen Wilde follows a storyline based on real events and is presented by Bones in Motion Theatre. Just how far will the government go to prevent activist's freedom of speech?
Tucked away in a remote part of Scotland an eco-activist community lives by sustainable means. The ideology is sold to each of them as a piece of heaven that will allow them to follow their "calling" and make a difference. On arrival, they surrender their phones and all electrical items leaving the outside world behind them. Just how feasible is it to cut off family and friends without looking back?
Millie (Imogen Wilde) an activist with a high profile has made a very public mistake and needs to retreat from the glare of the spotlight. The remote eco-community sounds too good to be true. Her entrance isn't received particularly favourable by long-term resident Ruth (Rebecca Crankshaw). Ruth is responsible for the Bees and returns angry with Millie after working together once.
Within all communities, there are relationship clashes, job sharing and heated debates. Even though they share a common concern the information they have on climate change varies due to which year they first arrived in the community.
As the group begin to talk and discover each other's background they soon work out why they have been drawn to the community or dropped off there and the reason appears to have nothing to do with saving the planet.
There's a strong underlying passion for their beliefs and the strong cast of five portrays believable characters who genuinely want to make a significant difference to a more sustainable way of life.
With so many potential spoilers available to "spill" it's a challenge to review The Knowing. However, I would not be surprised if communities similar to this one exist to prevent the government from facing up to the concerns over the catastrophic climate changes taking place. Climate change Problem, what Problem!
The play is thought-provoking and opens up questions about how much are "we" doing to help save the planet and live a more sustainable life for future generations.
For more information on this play and future productions at Brockley Jack Theatre use the link below.
Advertised as a story exploring Queerness and Religion. The story is predominantly narrated about the life before Ciara O'Brian was born and up to the present day when she meets her "lover" Olivia Devlin. Ciara talks openly about her deceased Mother and discovers a whole other side to her life as she reads her Mother's diaries.
However, can Ciara move beyond the fact that they are divided by religion as an Irish Catholic and Protestant? Although neither appears to be staunchly practising either religion.
There's plenty of scope to develop this storyline further. At times the pair felt "staged" and I didn't find it easy to believe that they were a couple, the chemistry needed to be stronger. To allow a storyline filled with tension and hurt as they try to navigate and overcome the religious trauma and troubles in Northern Ireland there needs to be passion in the pair's delivery.
Delivering a play where worlds collide and attitudes judge the lifestyle choices of other people I would expect to leave the theatre feeling emotional and moved. With the correct adjustments, I feel this could be achieved. It's potentially a powerful play bringing the religious divide still found at times in Northern Ireland to the stage and raising awareness about "homophobia" still experienced at times.
I would have liked to have heard more first-hand from the characters rather than the extensive narrative, especially towards the end.
For more information on this play and future productions at The Bread and Roses Pub Theatre please use the link below .
Diana Princess of Wales will always hold a special place in many people's hearts. When any play or production create something where she features it is bound to have an audience. The famous interview from 1995 divided opinion on the Royal marriage and separation then and continues today.
Jonathan Maitland's new play The Interview takes a closer look at the events leading up to the filming of the television exclusive. Martin Bashir (Tibu Fortes) used lies and manipulation to obtain access to Diana played by (Yolanda Kettle).
Kettle's performance as the late Princess of Wales captures her mannerisms and demeanour throughout the play. The famous tilting of her head and wide staring eyes. Her attempts to work out who she can trust and who is reporting back to the Palace must have exhausted her. She knew everyone around her had an agenda to exploit her in some way, apart from a very few select friends.
Paul Burrell (Matthew Flynn), the Butler Diana, is called a friend and confidant. He acts as a go-between initially and repeats how he is looking after her best interests! As the public later found out, he wasn't particularly interested in anyone but himself. Any scrap of dignity or respect was lost a long time ago.
The play offers more about exposing the detracted BBC journalist Bashir than anything new about the late Princess of Wales and the unscreened revelations that she spoke about during the 1995 interview. Forte's performance brought to life how underhanded and ruthless he was at the time to get exactly what he set out to do.
All I saw, then and today was a beautiful lady who desperately wanted to be loved and to be in love, she didn't deserve to be exploited.
For more information about this play and future productions at Park Theatre please visit the link below.
American-born Lozzie Borden was one of the first people to go on trial according to American History. The first case to have created a mass-media interest. Could the church-going "good obedient" daughter be responsible for killing her Father and Stepmother?
The cast of four brings to the stage four prominent characters from the Lizzie Borden story. Lauren Drew in the role of Lizzie begins the performance as the quiet timid daughter.
Lizzie often hides from her father as often as she can get away with it in the family barn amongst the pigeons. Enjoying the calm and being out of reach from his cruel and lecherous behaviour. It provides a safe space to spend some "stolen" time with her only friend Alice (Maiya Quansah-Breed).
Emma ( Shekinah McFarlane) Lizzie's older sister is subjected to similar behaviour and leaves to try and find a solution to their problematic home life situation created by their stepmother. She has orchestrated a change in their Father's "last will and testament" and removed the girls from it altogether. Leaving them destitute and alone.
The star of the show for me is Mairi Barclay in the role of Bridget, the family housekeeper. Her relationship with the daughters is an unbreakable bond throughout. Barclay delivers an outstanding and powerful performance.
LIZZIE is loud, bold, and boasts all the correct ingredients for a loud and proud Rock Musical. With twenty-seven songs retelling the gruesome tale from 1864. Not recommended for anyone who suffers from hemophilia!
Running until December 2nd 2023 in Southwark Elephants, It's one I would wholeheartedly recommend to catch for all the SIX musical fans out there. The style and high-energy tempo of the show has quite a few similarities. Especially the empowerment of strong female characters.
For more information on this rock musical and future productions at Southwark Elephant, please visit the link below.
Thirteen Argentinian powerful and competent musicians/dancers take to The Peacock Theatre stage to entertain and delight audiences until November 4th 2023. The traditional Argentine Malambo, MALEVO visits the UK for the first time and hopefully this will not be the last. To amaze, wow and entertain London theatregoers.
The skilled use of different coloured boleadoras (a traditional throwing weapon weighted on either end with rocks) features halfway through the performance and continues until the end. These weapons create an array of mystiques around the performers as they used them in time with the music from the extremely talented four-piece band at the back of the stage.
The performance by the accordion musician stood out for me. An instrument rarely seen on British stages. It created an absolute beguiling setting during a couple of his solo pieces.
Choreographer, director and creator Matias Jaime has an incredible eye for detail. Each of the thirteen performers was a credit to the work Jaime has created and each section of the performance appeared to flow following natural rhythms. There's no storyline to follow just a celebration of Argentinian dance and music.
Without an interval, the stamina and performances of all thirteen members are an incredible sight to witness. Never faltering or showing signs of fatigue they are performers at the top of their peak physique and it's an impressive display of just how powerful a body can perform with the correct training and determination.
The eighty-minute performance was described by my friend as "Riverdance meets Stomp but on speed" and upon reflection I fully agree with her.
For more information about this performance and future productions at The Peacock Theatre please use the link below.
Adapted from the bestselling novel by Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train is the latest play on the stage in the main house at Salisbury Playhouse in Wiltshire. Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel are co-writers for this staged adaptation after previously working together on other plays. They certainly have a good working relationship after watching the quality of this production.
Joanne Van Kampen plays the flawed alcoholic Rachel Watson. Her Estranged ex-husband Tom Watson appears to be the victim of his guilt, while he trying “to do” right by his ex-wife. At first, there’s an amount of sympathy for his character due to Rachel’s drunken obsession with him and his wife who has recently given birth. However, as the plot begins to add clarity to Rachel’s addiction and predicament any thoughts towards Tom are diminished.
D.I Gaskill (Jason Merrells) calls in to question Rachel after a drunken night out to question her about harassing her ex and the voicemails left on his phone. Rachel is oblivious to any of this due to her drunkenness. This is where the pair first encounter one another.
After the disappearance of one of Tom’s neighbours and adhoc babysitter, Megan Hipwell (Emer McDaid). Rachel appears to be the only person to hold the answers to what has happened to her. However, with a history of harassing her ex and her alcoholism just how credible is her evidence of what she has witnessed?
Loveday Ingram, director has created a fast-moving production of the best-selling novel. Each of the casting choices by Gabrielle Dawes brings believable characters to life. The dramatic event which takes place in the second act is a breathtaking theatrical experience, one I will not forget for quite a while.
For more information on this production and future plays at the Salisbury Playhouse please use the links below.
Performances run from 19th October to 11th November 2023.
Steven Brinberg brings a touch of class to the stage in Theatre Royal Winchester performing as the world-class singer, actor, director and many other talents in the role of Barbra Streisand in Simply Barbra.
The performance offers a range of famous songs synonymous with Streisand from The Way We Were, Don’t Rain on My Parade and People. Brinberg takes the audience through part of her life story and film timeline.
Nathan Martin played the piano throughout the performance and accompanied “Streisand” during a couple of songs. He was taking on the role of an entire orchestra which usually accompanies Streisand’s concerts.
Brinberg brings a host of guests to the stage by impersonating the voices of Ertha Kit, Cher, Clio Lane and Judy Garland plus many more. The accuracy of these are superb and I would have liked to hear more of them.
Streisand’s iconic long nails are on display along with the delicate way in which she holds the slender microphone she uses during her performances. These subtle attention to detail shows the deep respect Brinberg holds for the icon.
Streisand has been overlooked on many occasions, especially for the Best Director role. Billy Crystal publicly remarked at the Oscars in 1992 when the film Prince of Tides was nominated for a host of Oscars except for Streisand as Director. Crystal shrugged and asked, “Did this film direct itself”. This a question I fully support and felt she was snubbed by the establishment.
The stage lighting I found to be distracting halfway through some of the musical numbers the lights suddenly either became lighter or darker. At times it gave the appearance of an fibre optic lamp changing colours which didn’t suit the tone of the performance.
Simply Barbra is currently on tour. For further information please check out the links below.
First devised as a radio production in 1961 by Charles Chilton called The Long Long Trail. The adapted play version of Oh What A Lovely War first arrived on the stage in 1963. Brought to the stage today by Blackeyed Theatre.
The cast of six from Blackeyed Theatre Company play a plethora of characters throughout the performance. From German infantry, British Soldiers, French citizens and War time Nurses to name but a few.
Each cast member are skilled competent musicians and singers bringing the War memoirs to life. Along with a range of bilingual skills from French to German to other nations involved during World War I.
Harvey Curley stood out throughout the performance. His uncomprehensive dialogue used in his role as the Drill Sargeant is brilliant. Only the odd word coherent which is usually a command or insult to the soldiers lined up. I wonder how long it took to practice?
Projected images at the back of the stage depicted war time photos of soldiers in action, rest time and war time posters encouraging people to do “their bit” for the war effort. The black and white images adding reality to those who fought in the war.
The stark reality of the millions killed during World War I makes for shocking reading. So many innocent people caught up in battles and left to become another statistic on the frontline and part of the history books. It is hard to comprehend the millions of people lost.
Director Nicky Allpress created a circus entertainment stage backdrop to tell the story of some of the battles and events that took place during World War 1. From the Christmas Day ceasefire between Germany and Britain to the mass graves in the frontline trenches.
For more information about this performance by Blackeyed Theatre and future productions at Theatre Royal Winchester please use the links below.
Improvised Head is presented at Clapham Fringe by the comedy duo Al Ronald and Cy Henty, The Electric Head. The show begins with an audience participation “primal scream” which the afternoon audience appeared to wholeheartedly appreciate. Certainly the first time I have experienced a show begin in this way.
Meet Mr Aubergine Head who according to Al and Cy likes to join the audience and watch the improv proceedings take shape. Maybe suspend your disbelief for this part!
Each performance takes a different approach and storyline. A member of the audience (if they agree) are asked to choose an event and offer some backstory for the duo to work with.
This particular comedy performance centred around an ex-raver driving instructor and one of her pupils. Her somewhat unorthodox lesson style due to a hangover saw enough law-breaking road failures to see the instructor struck off from teaching for life.
Cy and Al work together with ease pulling together a highly entertaining and funny comedy set. Once your participation is finished sit back and let them work their magic.
With all good improvisation comedy, no two shows will be the same as it is extremely rare that any two audiences will be the same. The comedy duo currently has a residency at The Museum of Comedy.
For more information on this performance and the Clapham Fringe please visit the links below.
Set to the soundtrack of the famous Northern Soul beat. Friends Sally (Martha Godber), Nat(Clare McDonald) and Kyle (Emilio Encinoso-Gil) live for the weekend. Living in Hull, working dead-end jobs in a fried chicken drive-through. The trio want more from life but don’t know where to start.
Travelling from club to club their eyes are opened to the large following surrounding Northern Soul music. Until stumbling upon a venue holding an “all-nighter”. Shocked to discover that they were the youngest people there. Nat and Kyle join in. However, Sally watches from the sidelines taking everything in, realising that she doesn’t live up to the dancer’s standards.
Life is tougher in the North. Identities were lost with mines closing, steel factories gone and mass unemployment predominantly among the men. Communities were worn-out and for many, they lost their “soul”. Music and dancing gave hope and something for them to look forward to.
Northern Soul music is described in the play as music for the working class, listen to the words, let them speak to you and feel the beat. Let the music consume you and give you a readon to dance.
The cast of three were exceptional dancers. Improving as the play progresses and the characters become more confident in themselves. Each of them prepares themselves for the largest Northern Soul gathering in the Country, which takes place in the Ballroom of Blackpool Tower.
The play offers a deep insight into relationships, life achievements and family secrets. Very often things are not as they appear. Life is rarely an all-singing and dancing happily ever after. Making the best of it all counts towards a life well lived.
For further information on Northern Soul’s country tour and future productions at Theatre Royal Winchester, please visit the links below.
Australians most sought-after drag artist Trevor Ashley brought a touch of talent to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue on Monday 9th October with his show Queen of the Moment and he certainly is a Queen of drag artists. This marks Ashley's third show in the West End previously bringing Liza (on and E) and Liza's Back! (is Broken).
However, upon reading up further about his accomplished career I discovered a wealth of other talents from writer, director and actor.
The show is a brilliant combination of musical tributes to some of his pop diva idols and legends Ertha Kit, Dame Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner and Liza Minella. The performance of Minella saw Ashley change into the iconic short black haircut wig and the impersonation was fairly accurate. The respect and admiration for these icons shone through during each of the songs.
Along with a few insights into behind the scenes of Queen of the Universe a recent global drag artist singing contest hosted by Graham Norton where Ashley competed and finished runner-up.
Ashley's performance of the Kylie Minogue hit Better the Devil You Know was fantastic. The pop icon herself saw this version and gave her "thumbs up" approval on the published YouTube version. What an endorsement!
It is no surprise after watching the fantastic performance to learn that Ashley has appeared over his career in Les Miserables, Hairspray, and Jesus Christ Superstar and originated the role of Miss Understanding from Priscilla Queen of the Dessert. One of my firm favourite films and productions of all time.
In all honesty, I had never heard of Ashley until now. Boy have I missed out on a treat. The pre-show meet and greet allowed those "meet and greet" ticket holders to briefly say hello to Trevor Ashley and have a photo taken together. All smiles and full of enthusiastic energy Ashley was a delight and looked gorgeous. It truly was a pleasure to meet the Queen of the Moment.
If you're now intrigued by this fabulous Drag Artist or already a fan please take a look at the website and find out more about past and upcoming performances. If you get the opportunity go and watch Trevor Ashley, you won't be disappointed.
Humanity and humility are powerful attributes that money cannot buy. Mrs.Harris performed by Olivier Award-winning legend Jenna Russell touches the lives of everyone she meets in the musical Flowers For Mrs. Harris written by Rachel Wagstaff. Living on a meagre wage and with rationing still in circulation just after the War every penny has to be accounted for.
Ada Harris and her best friend/neighbour Violet (Annie Wensak) are widows left with nobody else to support them apart from each other. Both ladies work as cleaners and are treated fairly unfavourably by many of their clients.
Covering one of Violet's jobs for Lady Dant (Kelly Price) she discovers a clothes collection that she has never seen before. Ada falls in love with the new Christian Dior dress that she finds hanging in her room. Totally beguiled by its beauty and precision cut. Ada decides to save up the money and buy a dress for herself, to admire it as and when she wishes to.
Nik Corrall created an intricate stage all the houses interlinked from the grand Belgravia residence to Mrs Harris Battersea's flat. The impressive house frontage creates intrigue upon entering the Theatre. As its never really clear which character is going to appear from behind the doors. Look beyond them to see the lines of roofs giving the impression of built-up terraced houses.
Richard Taylor's music, lyrics and orchestrations complement the storyline. Especially numbers like Lady Dant where Violet explains how Ada is likely to find the Lady's house along with the behaviour of the client as she stands in for her. To the disappointing number The Pools Win which turns out not to be the life-changing experience she first expected. To name two from the twenty-one musical numbers featured in the Musical.
"Ada Harris is going to Paris" Ada declares once she has saved up every last penny she needs for the dress and embarks on a life-changing journey for herself and everybody around her. Flies off to Paris in search of her very own Christian Dior dress.
The story is absorbing and I found myself willing to reach her target and fulfil her ambition. As well as being angry on her behalf at Pamela (Charlotte Kennedy) one of her self-absorbed customers whose only thoughts and concerns are about herself no matter what happens.
Overall this a charming and uplifting Musical. Ada Harris takes all the negative situations thrown at her and makes the best of them. She deserves all the beautiful flowers she receives along with the outpouring of gratitude.
For more information about this Musical and future productions at Riverside Studios please click on the link below.
Magician and illusionist Ben Hart stunned and captivated the audience in Theatre Royal Winchester on Sunday 8th October with his non-stop magical performance, split into two acts.
After recently visiting India, Hart spent time studying and watching the street magicians who perform magic on street corners. Locally known as "Jadoo-Wallahs." Jadoo is the Hindu name for magic, often linked to 'travelling conjurers" or "wonder-working." Sundays performance certainly offered up plenty of wonders.
One of the tricks Hart performed that will stay with me was the disintegrating handkerchief. The plain white hankie started blemish-free. However, after passing through his closed fist once it turned grey. Upon repeating the movement several times the handkerchief disintegrated into many small grey pieces and Hart then blew them into the air.
Throughout the show, it appears nowhere obvious on stage or on his person that Hart can be hiding anything to aid his magic. Everything appears to be transparent which makes the performance even more incredible.
Audience applause I found to be very slow at the show. I personally believe that this was a result of people absorbed in Harts performance and were utterly stunned by what he just did that applauding was forgotten. I speak from the heart on this matter as I just couldn't believe what I witnessed.
If you only ever go to one magic show, make it one of the shows performed by Ben Hart. There are so many moments during his performance that you simply can not believe your eyes. You leave questioning, "How did he do that?" In all honesty, I have no idea, and I am happy to never know as it's nice to have a bit of magic in your life.
For more information and to buy tickets please visit the link below.
Where better to spend a glorious afternoon in October than in the beautiful setting of The Mill in Sonning to review their latest production It's Her Turn Now by Ray Cooney and adapted by Michael J Barfoot.
All the action takes place in suite 648 at the Westminster Hotel a stone's throw from the Houses of Parliament where Conservative Minister Mrs Willey (Elizabeth Elvin) is going to attend an all-night sitting to tackle the opposition and support the Prime Minister.
However, the political comedy farce isn't clear-cut. Mrs Rebecca Willey is having an affair with John Worthington (Raphael Bar) a Labour special adviser. Who plans to have a secret liaison under the guise of being at work for the night. However, it turns out to be a busy night minus the passion.
Upon opening the curtains the couple discovered a body hanging half into the room (Charlie Parker Swift). Neither of them recognised him they decided to hang him in the Closet. Well, where else would a Member of Parliament put something they find uncomfortable to deal with?
James Holmes in the role of the Hotel Waiter is openly honest in his exploitation of the entire situation. His tips increase the deeper the problem gets and the pressure rises. In a normal life, he probably earned his month's salary in the tips dished out by everyone as he fetches and carries all night.
Rebecca and John's husband and wife enter the scenario. Tracey Worthington (Michelle Morris) is a woman possessed and from the glint in her eyes at times looks ready to kill. Yet Mr Willey (Eric Carte) is completely oblivious that anything is going on around him.
All the while Georgia Pigden (Felicity Duncan) the MP's parliamentary secretary is called to help sort out the mess while in turn ends up being caught in the middle and taking the blame. I felt incredibly sorry for her as the character didn't appear to know how to cheat and lie let alone have an affair with a married affair.
Taking a lot of comedy side-swipes at the current Government throughout the performance. On one occasion Mrs.Willey said that "the government will pay" when she ordered champagne and oysters from room service. Although comedy value it brings into question how much money is wasted on MP unnecessary expenses. For example, a rented suite when you're supposed to be working somewhere else all night!
My advice is to try and keep up from the beginning and watch out for that deadly sash window as it appears to have a life of its own.
For further information please check out the link below.
Seventeen-year-old Jake (Tom Claxton) through circumstances beyond his control has made his home in the wild terrain of the Cumbrian Fells in Fell by Chris Salt. He lives off the land, using the stream to clean his laundry and stay hydrated. Catching and foraging what he can to eat and survive.
Lyle (Ned Cooper) wanders into the domain of Jake who we discover he has been following for a while. Lyle left without much thought this morning and walked into the unknown. What happens to someone for them to leave it all behind, especially at almost fifteen?
The pair strike up an unconventional friendship. Becoming dependent on one another for company and conversation in the twenty-four hours. Lyle's constant "silence-filling conversations" will resonate with many parents of teenagers. Feeling that quiet moments should be utilised at all times, silence is something to be feared. On many occasions, I have said to two of my four children as teenagers that "nothing bad will happen if you are quiet" not that they listened!
Battling the elements on a rainy day isn't a walk in the park let alone the rough terrain of the fells. Lyle and Jake both enter the stage wet and the audience is not left suspending their belief that the pair have endured quite a walk to this particular destination.
Barons Court Theatre offers quite a small stage area. The fell backdrop offers a picturesque country scene, along with camouflage netting and moving crates to depict different scenes that open up every available spot and give the allusion to being a bigger space. Director Janys Chambers has shown that he has an eye for detail and creating a powerful play.
For more information on this play and future productions at Barons Court Theatre please use the links below.
Life of Pi staged production by Lolita Chakrabarti based on the 2001 novel by Yann Martel is currently touring the UK and until October 7th can be seen at New Victoria Theatre in Woking.
Making his first professional debut Divesh Subaskaran takes the lead role, of Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, an Indian boy from Pondicherry, India. A young man growing up living and working at the family zoo. Learning how to understand and perfecting his zoo keeper skills.
His family leave the zoo and take the animals with them to start a new life in Canada. However, the crossing is marred with hostile crew, cruel seas and a life changing event.
Surviving 227 days seemingly alone after a shipwreck. Pi is in a hospital where two ladies come to question him about what took place on the boat and if he could shed light on how it sank.
We find Pi stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger or is he? The veil between reality and imagination merges and cleverly balances with Pi’s wonderful storytelling ability. Although whatever the reality is nobody will ever find out as Pi is the only survivor.
Finn Caldwell creates an incredible array of puppets for Life of Pi. The puppetry skills used by the team working with the animals throughout the performance are outstanding. From the Zebra and meerkats to the majestic and dominant Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker whom Pi battles with for dominance on the small boat.
From the noises and bustling from within the Zoo to the calmness of the night sky where Pi is alone at sea and the stars blanket the sky. Each scene is bold and thoughtfully detailed to bring this incredible story and journey to life by Set Designer Tim Hatley.
Life of Pi is uncomfortable to watch in a few places as survival of the fittest isn’t necessarily as straightforward as a trip to the supermarket. Good Theatre should always be challenging and moving.
For more information on this production and future shows at New Victoria Theatre please use the link below.
Lost and tormented by ghosts of the past and present. Daniel Sierra or is it Nigel (Tom Chambers) crashes his car on New Year’s Eve in the middle of nowhere during a horrendous snowstorm in Murder in the Dark.
Mrs. Bateman (Susie Blake) appears to be a local farmer helping out the distraught travellers who have crashed into a wall. However, as with all good horror genre productions, nothing is ever that clear-cut. Blake’s sinister undercurrents leave you wondering what will happen next.
Laura White’s performance doubles as Sierra’s girlfriend and the troubled ballerina spirit living around the house. Her clockwork-style movements add a ghostly fear to the stage as she begins to make her intentions clear. The audience never knows where she will appear next, you are warned.
Links all become connected in the second act and the story entwines deeper which in turn brings more haunting secrets to the surface and questions the travellers’ reality of their situation.
The strong performances all around have the audience sitting on the edge of their seats at times. With serious misdemeanours brought to the surface, it brings into question “What price should we pay for our mistakes?”.
Lighting designer Paul Pyant sets the ghostly scene right from the beginning. Lighted and shadowed areas are all perfectly placed. Each time the fuses blow it catches the audience off guard and you could easily believe these were taking place.
For more information about this play and future productions at Salisbury Playhouse please use the links below.
Trompe l’Oeil is a multi layered queer musical experience by Henry Parkman Biggs. Originated as Trump L’Oeil in 2016 and after various setbacks including Covid it has continued development. Premiering in 2021 on Off-Broadway and now takes to the stage at The Other Palace.
The Musical takes a satirical take on the grandiose opinion that former US President Donald Trump appears to have about himself throughout the production. Emer Dineen takes the lead role as Trump. The dodgy nicotine-coloured wig that doesn’t move complete with a quiff, a suit covering an aging stomach complete with red flushed cheeks.
Dineen’s performance exaggerates every mannerism and peculiar behaviour observed from Trump by the outside world.
Henry Parkman Biggs plays up the “supposed” relationship between Trump and Vladimir Putin. Who allegedly helped to ensure Trump won the election by rigging the vote. However, in this production, it comes at the price of “having him by the short and curlies” as there’s an electric shock device attached to Trump’s genitals which is frequently set off.
Demi (Dominic Booth) a beautiful transgender and RIP (Alex Wadham) who is a staunch democrat fall hopelessly in love. However, love is blind as Rip appears to be clueless about Demi and discusses having children together after they are married. Demi responds sarcastically “Not with me” which is funnier as he doesn’t understand what she means!
The performances are strong throughout. Acrobatics used in the small confines of the venue were impressive and choreographed with precision if they weren’t the cast would have ended up in the front row of audience members. Blair Anderson director and choreographer uses every inch of the stage with careful consideration. Visually this production offers an abundance of variety.
The storyline combines many memorable events that took place during Trump’s Presidency. From the dismissive attitude towards Covid, his Tweeting scandal and the Inauguration.
Elements of the performance are funny and entertaining. However, it isn’t likely to be the next big thing to hit the West End stage. If you just want to be entertained then it could be the musical for you.
For more information about the musical please check out the link below.