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Showing posts with label bitter harvest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bitter harvest. Show all posts

Samantha Barks, Mayflower Theatre | Review

Samantha Barks, Mayflower Theatre | Review

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Samantha Barks with Kerry Ellis
Mayflower Theatre
Reviewed on Saturday May 20th 2017 by Mary Schofield

The Mayflower is a fantastic venue located in the heart of Southampton, I have visited it frequently over the past two years that I have been at University and it's brilliant that such a wonderful theatre is on my doorstep. The venue is often visited by West End shows on their UK tours and seats a capacity of 2,300 people.

Despite the large capacity of the theatre the performance itself felt intimate as Samantha Barks (first discovered on I'd Do Anything and known for her recent appearances in: Les Miserables, The Last Five Years, Oliver and most recently her films Bitter Harvest and Interlude in Prague) took us on a nostalgic journey down memory lane. She sung a collection of songs from her new album including: “When He Loved Me” and “If I Die Young” as well as a gorgeous cover of "Blackbird" by The Beatles. Sam also shared with us a spectacular performance from The Last Five Years, “I Can Do Better Than That” which she wrapped in the St James Theatre (now The Other Palace) last December. Unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to see this in the theatre but the film version will have to help ease my new musical obsession!
Samantha's special guest for this one off concert event was the wonderful Kerry Ellis (known for her appearances in Wicked and currently on tour with the production Wonderland). Her set consisted of performances from both Wonderland and We Will Rock You. Ellis really showed off her unique, rocky voice and was a perfect complement to Barks.
The highlight of the evening was definitely when both ladies joined together for a wonderful duet of "For Good" from Wicked. Samantha went on to explain that this performance was one that she previously had on her bucket list, making the occasion even more special. You truly missed a magical moment if you weren't there! The evening was rounded up with a throwback to Les Mis with “On My Own”, bringing tears to every member of the audience and showing the power of Samantha's stage presence.

The only thing that upset me about the event was the timings; I would have been more than happy to listen to Barks sing for another 3 hours! This was a fantastic concert with two powerhouses of musical theatre joining together for a fabulous evening of entertainment. Hopefully this isn't the last of the pairing we see and I can't wait to see Samantha perform again- fingers crossed for another stint on a West End stage! 

Bitter Harvest (Film) | Review

Bitter Harvest (Film) | Review

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Bitter Harvest tells the harrowing tale of  the Holodomor, a man-made famine which occurred in Ukraine in 1932-33, killing an estimated 2.5-7 million people. I, like many people had never even heard of this catastrophe and feel ashamed of that fact, so it was truly shocking to see the atrocities play out on screen.

Bitter Harvest sheds light on this widely overlooked tragedy in such a way that it is both provoking and shocking but at the same time brings warmth through the love story of Yuri (Max Irons) and Natalka (Samantha Barks). The whole story is told through the eyes of these young lovers as they struggle through imprisonment, famine and torture; battling to reunite with one another and to fight for a free country.

The film is visually stunning and quite literally sheds light on this devastating chapter of modern history. Douglas Milsome has added a whole layer to the story just through the lighting and has created a truly cinematic experience. We first see the warm lights and sky which quickly become dark and bleak. Particularly effective was the contrast of the bright Kiev when Yuri first got there to the muted grey of Yuri and Natalka's village. Truly striking.

The authenticity is so clear in this film, through not only the fact that it was filmed in true to life locations, but through the way the stellar cast play their roles so truthfully. Both Barks and Irons show the deep and dark complexities of their characters incredibly well, with their chemistry shining through to emphasise the reality of pain and loss throughout. Each moment is heart-wrenching and the whole film is beautifully shocking. The cast also includes Tamer Hassan, Barry Pepper and Terence Stamp, all of whom play their roles honestly and perfectly.

George Mendeluk has directed a visually striking film which is sure to educate people and get discussions going. There are parallels happening right now in Ukraine so this film has come at the perfect time to get people talking and to educate people so that nothing like this ever happens again. Although the love story is somewhat cliched, it works well in this film to provide a root for the story rather than being overpowering at every moment. The script is well written to make the actual event of the Holodomor the main focal point with the romance more of a reference point. The love story is beautiful and played out so well but it doesn't detract at all from the pain and suffering that was really happening. 

The story of this devastating famine is hard to watch but knowing and seeing the truth is necessary and Bitter Harvest is rightfully bringing this overlooked Ukrainian tragedy to the forefront of media in a way it never was at the time. I already am and will continue to recommend this film to everyone I see because it's honestly incredible. Truthful, painful, beautiful and powerful. The cinematography, story, acting and honesty make Bitter Harvest a must see. ★★★★

Watch my vlog of the premiere:

Bitter Harvest is released in the UK on February 24th.

Part of this review was used on the cover of the UK DVD so keep an eye out for it!

Review by Olivia Mitchell
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