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Autoreverse at Battersea Arts Centre

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 6th Feb 2020

The combination of Argentinian history told through a collection of recorded tape cassettes from her family archives Florencia Cordeu explores how her family identified what and where home was after they fled Argentina for a new life in Chile.

The large collection of various tape recorders spanned the generation of Cordeu’s lifetime. Wearing a white chemist’s suit she entered the stage and switched each one on in what appeared to be a random order. You soon discover that the suit and gloves she later wears are to preserve the old cassette tapes.

Autoreverse takes its name from a function used by cassettes. Cordeu explained in detail how this worked. I am still not completely sure how it works though. One thing I have learned from this production is that tape cassettes only last for about thirty years and the ones she plays are around forty years old. Therefore the next time she plays one it could be the last.

For memories as precious as hearing her families voices on the tapes I am sure they are now all on digital and what we were hearing was that version. Cordeu is extremely fortunate to have these tapes to take with her through life and this production brings her family back to life again.

The collaboration between director Omar Elerian and Cordeu have created a usual but heartwarming production. The combination of family recordings with Cordeu’s translations and a selection of old family photos she brings a part of Argentinian history to the stage. Immortalising her family in this performance with so much love and respect for who they were. It was an honour to have shared the experience.

Four Stars.

See the full review here


Posted on 07/02/2020


The Legend of the Holy Drinker by Hunch Theatre

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 3rd Feb 2020

The Legend of the Holy Drinker has been adapted from the book of the same name by Joseph Roth written in 1939. Where it tells the story of Andreas a homeless drunk who discovers he is now an illegal immigrant who has served time in prison. His luck changes when he meets a businessman on a bridge in London who gives him £1000

His good fortune continues for the final three weeks of his life where he finds further fortunes, reunites with old friends, girlfriend and enjoys some of the happiness he has been missing for a long time.

For each of the Hunch Theatre productions that I have now been to see the stage is dressed with minimal props. Although the ones they use are very effective. The large piece of frosted plastic that covers the vast section of the stage can be viewed in the photograph below. It serves various purposes throughout the play. From the cover used over Andreas at the start of the play to being used for bed covers in a later scene where Andreas is in bed with his ex-girlfriend.

Andreas isn’t a horrible character. The way in which he has been portrayed takes a sympathetic look at his circumstances and even though he has broken the law he isn’t a threat to the outside world. He was driven to crime by jealousy and rage for the love of a woman which brought him into the life he now leads.

Four out of the five cast members dressed in black-tailed coats with black trousers as they first walk down onto the stage at the beginning of the production it gave the impression of undertakers coming to collect a body and taking him off to the mortuary. Setting the scene as you watch you watch the sad tale unfold. Sadly this story is a harsh reality for many people living on the streets.

The microphone is used an awful lot through this production. It’s used to emphasise emotions as the cast move further away or closer to the microphone depending on what effect they require. It appears to be a very simple technique but to be able to master using a microphone so effectively takes an awful lot of skill and talent.

Hunch Theatres talent for taking a lesser-known foreign book and translating it into English for a new generation of theatregoers is highly commendable. The storyline is clear and despite the story being over 80 years old, the subject matter is still very much present in our society today.

For more information on this production and Hunch Theatre company follow the links below.

Four Stars

The Legend of the Holy Drinker

See the full review here


Posted on 03/02/2020


First Time

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Review date: 2nd Feb 2020

The one thing a vast amount of human beings share is that we all have a “first time”. For many of us, it’s a life-changing experience as we finally come of age and explore another side to ourselves. However, how many of us relive this event every day? Well, 15 years on and Nathaniel Hall just can’t seem to let his go.

Hall has put his writing and theatre-making skills to good use and has produced this very powerful and heartfelt production. Reliving the moment he discovered that his life would dramatically change forever.

The story in First Time is told through the first-person narrative and comes directly from the heart in this moving, passionate and extremely emotional rollercoaster tale. The autobiographical and frank story tells his audience in warts and all story about when he contracted HIV, his diagnosis and the long hard journey he has taken to be in the place he is today.

Although his life-changing catastrophic diagnosis throws him into the unknown world of HIV and NHS waiting rooms. What I really admire is Hall’s attitude towards his diagnosis although he obviously hit the depths of depression with his description of the drugs and alcohol abuse, you never hear any self-pity or “why me” utter from his lips. Although nobody could blame him if he had.

The production is billed about how he is “staying positive in a negative world” and although it’s a tear-jerker in some places and I heard sniffles around me as audience members hold back the tears. There are so many positive messages to take away from his performance too.

Nathaniel is a genuinely talented actor, writer and likeable guy. Life can deal with some of the nicest people the cruellest of hands. Yet with a lot of coloured pills, a touch of powder and a large dose of comedy the ignorance surrounding the one-time death sentence disease he invites us to learn about the advances in HIV treatments and the care given by NHS staff to help patients through their life changing event and treatment. It’s definitely time that everyone becomes properly educated in the facts. The world needs more incredible ambassadors like Hall.

Five Stars.

See the full review here


Posted on 02/02/2020


Chicago – High School Edition by Act One

Reviewed by: Kev Castle @CastleKev

Review date: Friday, 31 January 2020
Iveshead Theatre, Shepshed

The musical is the story of Roxie Hart who is married to wimpy Amos Hart, but has a lover, Fred Casey, who one night pops round and ends up being fatally shot by Roxie. She is arrested and jailed where she runs into Velma Kelly, who becomes a rival on just about every front.

Mama Morton, who runs the women’s prison, negotiates a deal with high flying, hot-shot lawyer Billy Flynn to get Roxie off the charge, which puts Velma’s nose out of joint as she is no longer the centre of attention. How fickle is Flynn and the media world? Well this musical answers that!

But surely I am preaching to the converted here as there can’t be many people who have not seen the film “Chicago” which starred Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger, so you all know the outcome of this glitzy musical packed with razzle dazzle.

Yasmin (Roxie Hart) grew as the musical went on, becoming ever more powerful as she demanded more from her audience, A brilliant singer and dancer and very entertaining to watch.

Georgia (Velma Kelly) really looked the part, and I loved the wig and her costumes. A powerful singer and talented dancer, and as Velma, she demanded that all eyes be on her.

Will (Billy Flynn) oozed just the right amount of smarm and self importance for this role. I can see a prospective character actor in Will.

One section I was looking forward to was "They Both Reached For The Gun". this is not the easiest of songs to perform, and if you know the song, or have seen the song performed, you'll know why. Will and Yasmin absolutely smashed this piece, and I could not hide the smile on my face at the end of this song.

Alex (Amos Hart) got the audience on his side as the doormat that is Amos Hart. Again another excellent character actor who also showed brilliant vocal talents in his featured song, "Mr Cellophane".

Ruby (Mama Morton) showed she was the boss. What vocals she gave in the awesome "When You're Good To Mama"

Charlie (Fred Casey) managed to inject a bit of comedy into this role with just a raise of his eyebrows and a wink, extracting laughs from the audience.

The ensemble had obviously worked hard, and looking at them you can see the enjoyment they gleaned from what they were doing, and that made us enjoy their enjoyment. Now with there being so many in the ensemble, and great to see some lads in there with as much enthusiasm as the girls.

Every year, when I attend Act One's productions, I always seem to be drawn to one particular actor or dancer or singer in the ensemble. One that you seem to notice just a little more than the others,and on Friday night there was a young man whose precise armography and his choreographic skills really caught my eye. Mixed with such enthusiasm for what he was doing, Kyle, I feel has a great future on the stage.

This is by no means any sign of disrespect to any other ensemble member because I could see the immense amount of work every single performer had invested in their parts, and they were amazing to watch.

Produced and Directed by Adrian Dobson, he has delivered something very special with this show. I have had the pleasure to see several of Act One's productions and every show manages to raise that bar a little higher every time.

I've also had the pleasure of spotting the talents within these Iveshead theatre shows and have seen them blossom into local actors who have frequently taken their talents to a higher level. All this thanks to the dedication of people like Adrian.

Choreographed by Wendy Spencer, she has yet again brought out these young people's inner talents. The tap section was delightful and Velma and Roxie's finale ("Nowadays") was pure Hollywood.But Wendy did not do it alone as she was assisted by Helen and Danni Starkey and Shelley White.

The twelve piece orchestra sounded great headed by Carolyn Necklen, and loved hearing a banjo in there (Richard James). Bright, brassy and bouncy with plenty of razzle as well as dazzle.

With this being the High School Edition, I was not expecting to hear "Cell Block Tango", due to some of the more adult details within the lyrics, but fair play to everyone for delivering an amazing version of this and delivering it with a mature presentation. There are however some songs that do not appear in the movie soundtrack, which I had forgotten about, so there was a lot of music to get through which made the flow non stop.

Loved the costumes (Lorna North), especially Velma's and Roxie's.
Loved the Lighting Design (James White) and the Set Design.
The sound could have been a tad louder in parts for the mics but i still caught every word, so I ain't gonna moan about that.
Kevin Spencer must also get a mention for his stage management and keeping everything flowing and the pace up.
Many people will also know that i love accents, and I am so pleased to announce that every single actor kept that American accent constant throughout. i was well impressed.
This cast had me razzled dazzled by their talents, and it's as clear as cellophane that these stars will continue to shine bright in the coming years.

“Chicago” is at Iveshead Theatre in Iveshead School, Shepshed until Saturday 1 February.

See the full review here


Posted on 02/02/2020


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