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Showing posts with label plays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plays. Show all posts
Thursday, 19 October 2017

War Horse (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

War Horse (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review
Thursday, 19 October 2017
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War Horse (UK Tour)
Bristol Hippodrome
Reviewed on Wednesday 18th September 2017 by Isobelle Desbrow

On the 10th anniversary since their first show, I was lucky enough to go and watch War Horse. The play is emotion filled and the stunning story telling through the music and ensemble work make the show a must see.

The first act tells the story of Albert training his horse, Joey who we see grow from a foal, to a riding horse, to a farm horse and finally to a war horse. Joey is controlled by 3 puppeteers: the head, heart and hind. This allows the puppet to mimic and move as if it were a real horse, something that is not easy by any means. Bob Fox’s spectacular folk voice helps tell the story through music,adding the perfect amount music to accompany the drama onstage. The cast are amazing as they all play multiple characters but if I hadn’t have looked throughly at the program I would never had known, as each character on stage had a different accent and characteristics. This show truly highlights the amazing work that can be produced by an ensemble cast. 

Thomas Dennis as Albert brought the perfect mix of innocence and will to fight for what he believes in: saving and bringing Joey home from the war. His portrayal of Albert was emotional and moving he deserves credit for his acting talents. 

At the end of the first act we see the beginning of the war and Albert going off to find Joey. These scenes were powerful, compelling, honest and emotional, showing the audience another aspect of World War 1, which I had never seen before.

Something that I haven’t mentioned yet but is off massive importance for the story telling aspect of War Horse is the large projection on to a cloud above the stage; throughout the story, drawings and animations are shown. This adds another dimension to the story, and without spoiling the show for those who haven’t seen it without these images the story wouldn’t be as complete.

Act 2 is spectacularly beautiful and sad. We are shown both the loss on the home front and the front line. However instead of just being shown the fighting aspects we are also shown how the Germans used the horses to move machinery around and pull carts, we follow Albert and Topthorn on their journey through France and whether or not they get the happy ending they deserve. We also see the cruel side when the horses go lame they are no longer required, something that although normal is still shocking to see.

“The puppets in the show are only wood, however it is our imaginations that make them real.” This is how the play was described by Tom Morris at the end of yesterday’s special 10th anniversary show, and I believe this is the perfect way of describing the complexity and beauty of War Horse.

I don’t want to give too much more away but if you have the opportunity, go and watch War Horse- it is not to be missed. 
Wednesday, 4 October 2017

In Conversation With... Natasha Langridge | Interview

In Conversation With... Natasha Langridge | Interview
Wednesday, 4 October 2017
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Following on from Memoirs of a Tree, Natasha Langridge returns withIn Memory of Leaves. This monologue describes Natasha’s experience living in a block of flats on the Portobello Road council estate, which is being torn down by developers, and how all of her surroundings and green spaces are rapidly changing. The monologue also explores her work in Calais with the Occupy movement and the sadness people feel when they have to say goodbye to "home".

Did you grow up writing or was there something or someone which inspired you to write?

I’ve always written but I never showed anyone until after I’d started acting. I loved interpreting other writers work but I found that I had something to say too so I took my courage and showed my own work to other writer friends who, luckily, encouraged me to get it out there.

As well as writing, you perform and direct. How do you juggle each string to your bow and how do you smoothly transition from one to another?

I’ve got a very nice hat for each job and I look forward to wearing each one. I’m not sure I do anything smoothly except drinking wine.

Have you got any other quirky, hidden passions you’d like to pursue?

I went on a sailing trip recently. On an old Thames Sailing Barge .The main mast was 70ft high. I watched the mate climb the rigging. I helped unfurl the sail. I learnt how to tie a bowline knot. I helped steer the ship. I watched the moon rise up over the sea. I quite fancy being a pirate.

What’s your writing setup like? Do you have a certain playlist or drink you always have with you?

My vape. I move around to different places in my flat with my laptop. Or I sit on the floor with huge amounts of scrunched up paper strewn around me. Writing is terrifying. Like walking a tightrope.

In Memory of Leaves is extremely personal, did you feel a sense of pressure putting such an important story out into the world?

I felt a sense of compulsion. I’d just seen a beautiful park beneath my window massacred and felt I had to write about it and then shout about it. I am bearing witness to the ‘regeneration’ of my estate and of London and I have to tell its story-or my part in that story.

What’s the number one message you want people to take away from the show?

Live. From your heart. Speak out against injustice. We are living in a world run by psychopaths. We are living in a society based on a psychopathic model. Do whatever you can to protect love, all life and community. 

Finally, what’s your number one piece of advice for anyone hoping to get into the performing industry, be it writing, performing, directing or anything else?

Do it. Don’t wait for anyone else. Or for the phone to ring. Get some good training and make your own work. 

Thank you Natasha for taking the time to do this interview. In Memory of Leaves is being performed on a wide beam barge across three London locations. More information can be found at:
Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre | Review

The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre | Review
Sunday, 1 October 2017
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The Woman in Black
Fortune Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 29th September 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

To celebrate National Ghost Hunting day -which is today if you're reading on upload day- Raw PR invited a selection of bloggers to attend a ghostly evening of spooky fun at The Woman in Black. The Fortune Theatre is tiny but steeped in history and provides the perfect intimate feel for an evening of ghost stories.

We were treated to a pre-show supernatural tour of the theatre where paranormal expert Dr. B. Vilder told us about various presences seen or felt in different areas of the theatre. Being in the actual location was certainly spooky and I'd recommend being extra careful when booking your tickets, to avoid seat F17 of the Royal Circle on November 7th unless you want to be joined by a guest.....! Needless to say, we were all pretty nervous by the time the show started and as someone who literally jumps at EVERYTHING, I was extremely scared when I sat in my seat.

For those who haven't been brave enough to read of see this haunting tale, the story follows Arthur Kipps who wishes to lay his haunted story to rest by retelling his experience of visiting Eel Marsh House and his numerous run-ins with The Woman in Black.

The show begins innocently enough with jokes being told and a little time being spent on setting up the 'performance'. It does gets off to a bit of a slow start but once we get to Eel Marsh House that all changes as we are thrown into an intense and gripping world of mystery.

Adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt and with set designs by Michael Holt, a lot of the story is left up to the audiences imagination, especially when picturing the location and surroundings of the house. The script is so descriptive that this is easy to do and depending on how much you've built the show up in your mind, allows it to be even more scary. I found myself thinking I'd seen things out of the corner of my eye so was on the edge of my seat even more throughout. 

Terence Wilton and James Byng as Arthur Kipps and "the actor" are a wonderful duo, managing to keep the audience engaged from start to finish and making their actions natural as opposed to over the top and unbelievably dramatic. 

If you are the kind of person that enjoys being scared witless (or even if you're terrified like me), it's worth making the trip to see this show. For edge of your seat, suspense filled, jump scare drama this is definitely the show for you and it's clear why it's lasted so long on the West End.

Book tickets for The Woman in Black and get £10 off using my code: 

Watch my vlog of the event here
Thursday, 28 September 2017

Jane Eyre, National Theatre | Review

Jane Eyre, National Theatre | Review
Thursday, 28 September 2017
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Jane Eyre
Lyttleton Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 27th September 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

The National Theatre are outstanding at championing new, innovative work and thinking outside the box to bring audiences spectacular shows, something which they have once again succeeded at with this Sally Cookson's production of Jane Eyre. In Bristol, the tale was split into two parts but artistic director Rufus Norris has wisely squeezed the action into one performance.

I'm sure I'm not alone in having gruelling flashbacks to A-level English literature when I hear Brontë's novel mentioned, and what's lovely about this adaptation, thanks to the minimal sets, is that it allows the audience to create the world of Jane Eyre with their imagination as they would do when reading the book. The set is extremely modernistic in it's simplistic design with no grand structures to show the various momentous locations in Jane's life but instead using wooden platforms, metal structures and ladders as a framework for the action. The use of lighting is particularly impressive with white cloth backdrop that surrounds the stage being changed to different colours to show the various moods. The shocking red room is especially effective.

What struck me about this production is not only how modern it is in terms of aesthetics but how contemporary the character of Jane herself is. She's feisty with strong morals and a real feminist side. Although having seen her as ahead of her time when I read the novel, I'd never realised how truly relatable she is until watching this production. Her quest for freedom whilst not compromising her passions is joyous to watch.

The strong use of physical theatre added an intensity to the piece, as well as flow, especially in the running transitions during Jane's travels. The varying motion from smooth lyrical to frenzied, perfectly mirrored the changes in Jane's physical and metal health throughout. Another particularly interesting aspect was members of the ensemble speaking Jane's thought's aloud. This was humourous at times but also a very clever way of developing the character more without her having to tell the audience anything directly.

The trio of onstage musicians added a whole other layer with a number of musical styles accompanying crucial moments and transitions. Melanie Marshall was absolutely fantastic both physically and vocally; singing atmospheric pieces to fit with other characters or her own, Bertha. Her voice is strong and angelic whilst having a menacing and painful side. Her rendition of Crazy was notably unexpected but brilliant and perfectly woven into the story.

As Jane, Nadia Clifford exceptionally plays the fiery 10 year old girl who transitions into a headstrong but more rational woman. Clifford perfectly shows Jane's unyielding side but also her pain and love for Rochester. Tim Delap is suitably brooding as Rochester but adds a depth and awkwardness which makes him charming and attractive.

The entire ensemble are faultless but I must give a special mention firstly, to Paul Mundell who is hilarious as Pilot, adding some welcome humour. And secondly to Hannah Bristow who perfectly and distinctly plays Adele, Helen, Grace Poole and others.

This is a somewhat lengthy (3 hours and 15 minutes) play, but a striking production of a classic. The start is slightly slow but as we get into the action the momentum speeds up and we really get to see is the power of one of the first literary modern women.
Saturday, 16 September 2017

Gate, Cockpit Theatre | Review

Gate, Cockpit Theatre | Review
Saturday, 16 September 2017
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Cockpit Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 15th September 2017 by Alex Saddiqi

Written and produced by Artemis Fitzalan Howard and presented by Deadpan Theatre, Gate is based around an average Thursday morning at ‘The Gate’ in Wapping and, like every first-born child in the generations before her, Eve (portrayed by Emma Dennis-Edwards) is guarding it carefully. It’s going to be a busy day- there are four new appointments booked in. The trouble is none of the clients knew they were coming… because to reach the gates you have to be dead.

The piece is set in the round which immediately I was really intrigued by. It made the piece more immersive and I was interested on how they were going to use the space and questioned “will it be as open to each side of the audience than I initially thought it would be?”. To answer this question, I would say that the actors used the space very well and opened up to the audience as much as physically possible in the space. Dependant on where you sit in the round, some moments and visuals can be lost during certain scenes but it does open up again eventually once more. 

There was stunning detail to set which really added to the production; from the waiting room tables to the cluttered computer desk, down to the Facebook pages that were made up purposely for the show.  The use of levels was very clever and gave us a break from looking straight ahead of us and also added to the immersive feel. 

The vocals of the ensemble who were mainly situated above really resonated throughout the entire theatre and added to the vibe of the piece- the sound was stronger and more precise. Vocals and harmonies were distinctive, precise and beautiful but sometimes got lost when some overpowered others, this, however, can be easily resolved. Overall the entire company had amazing musical timing and it was a pleasure to hear them.

The piece is very humorous and Eve, a character who stood out to me is very comical throughout. She held great power and status throughout the scenes especially in the opening; showed one of the strongest character developments throughout and was my personal favourite. However, as previously mentioned, the round space meant I was blocked from seeing her face and expressions at times but she tried her best to include the people in the back in a natural way that is still true to the scene. 

Each actor crafted strong characters and kept the pace and commitment up throughout. There is a great contrast of characters and each actor bounced off each other very well which made the situation feel more real. Each is relatable in the fact that everyone in the audience would know someone like one of five of the characters and they all had their own defiant traits, quirks and personalities that were made clear to the audience exceptionally. The whole cast had excellent comedy timing and it really showed through the audiences reaction. The audience reaction/response seemed very positive and they all seemed to love the piece as well.

I found that the overall storyline was easy to follow and the piece is such a brilliant concept. It's a nice fresh take on an afterlife/religious styled piece. The backstory of the characters was well presented. We learnt more about them as the story developed and it didn’t feel like an overload of information. The build up in some scenes felt a little rushed in but the tension and objective of the scenes were held well. There were a few prop and costume mishaps but the actors all carried on and played used them to add to the comedic effect.

I would definitely recommend to see this play and I would even go as far as saying that it’s one of the top ones I’ve see this year. The company are outstanding and give a spectacular performance of a brilliant play.

Gate runs at the Cockpit Theatre until September 24th

photo credit: Lidia Crisafulli 
Friday, 15 September 2017

Deathtrap (UK Tour), Theatre Royal Brighton | Review

Deathtrap (UK Tour), Theatre Royal Brighton | Review
Friday, 15 September 2017
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Deathtrap (UK Tour)
Theatre Royal, Brighton
Reviewed on Wednesday September 14th 2017 by Melodie Hornett

Deathtrap felt a little unsteady from the offset. It opened with an unnecessary and horrifically loud sound effect. There were moments when I felt unsure of the intention - comedic or serious. The play itself is interesting and able to hold an audience throughout thanks to it’s plot twists and unexpected turns but there is a certain degree of repetition when the characters recount the events just passed. Sometimes, however, there seem to be too many twists, making it a little predictable. The very final scene feels unnecessary and unlikely, however the majority of the play works well and is highly enjoyable.

I would like to have seen stronger US dialects from the two leads as this was rather distracting. Particularly from Paul Bradley, who’s performance as playwright Sidney Bruhl was stellar, yet made unconvincing at times through slipping in and out of accent. His energy combined with his dedication to the character kept his performance afloat and he remained very enjoyable. The audience could clearly connect with his character and he is well cast in the role. 

This is somewhat of a mismatch with Jessie Wallace however. She made a good effort in the role of Myra and showed she is capable of moving away from the familiar typecasting, however there was little connection on-stage between her and Bradley. She also felt detached from the audience, not really allowing us an opportunity to empathise with her. I feel she could have been a little braver with her performance and created a stronger character. She wasn’t greatly missed during Act 2 when the character is absent. 

Sam Phillips’ portrayal of Clifford was well acted and demonstrated appropriate naivety in places. He shows great commitment to the role and is able to flick back and forth between alter-ego’s effectively. He shone out as particularly capable in this role and was well cast. 

Julien Ball as Porter is unfortunately, unmemorable. He could have made this character much more commanding even verging on sinister, yet came across as weak. 

The star performance without doubt came from Beverly Klein, who’s obvious stage background showed real command of the audience and the space she worked in. Great characterisation of Helga ten Dorp, perfect comedic timing throughout, a real joy to watch. She provided light-relief from some of the heavier scenes that was much needed. 

Technically, the sound effects were far too loud in several places and music/sound used for dramatic effect seemed cheap, uninventive and predictable. The set looked great, was functional with the appropriate weapons clearly on display and some clever trickery used during fight scenes. Interesting use of thriller film clips between scenes, with a slightly kitsch opening picture frame, concealing the projector. A little more care needed to be taken with masking on-stage trickery, such as hiding of the dagger thrown across the stage. 

Overall I did enjoy the piece, however felt that the casting of television celebrities in the majority of roles in Deathtrap was a mistake. I would recommend watching, turn a blind eye to some of the details mentioned above and you won’t fail to enjoy. 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Wait Until Dark (UK Tour), Richmond Theatre | Review

Wait Until Dark (UK Tour), Richmond Theatre | Review
Thursday, 7 September 2017
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Wait Until Dark (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday September 6th 2017 by Lucy Jardine

Wait Until Dark, a 1966 thriller by Knott is a play about, well, a rather implausible and confusing plot where criminals try to recover, by kindness then by force, a object that the photographer husband has been persuaded to bring back from Amsterdam. We are never quite sure why he agreed to do this - was he a deliberate drugs runner (although drugs are never mentioned), or simply a gullible stranger?  He never quite convinces as to what he does, in his love for Suzy, or indeed why he is away at key moments in the play. So that's the plot. 

The set however, convinces more, and makes a nod to the 1960s original, the furniture and decor all instantly place us firmly in that era. The characters vary in their portrayals: there's nothing subtle about the bumbling crooks, the husband's fondness for his wife never seems quite genuine. The real tour de force is Karina Jones who herself was registered blind at the age of 13.  Not having known this before the play, I had been utterly convinced by the way she felt her way around the stage, negotiating obstacles (a great many obstacles!) as she did so. 

Overall however, by the end of the play you are left feeling that you have just watched a rather dated, over-theatrical production by a rather ho-hum am dram company. See it if you want a chuckle, but otherwise don't bother.
Thursday, 31 August 2017

Late Company, Trafalgar Studios | Review

Late Company, Trafalgar Studios | Review
Thursday, 31 August 2017
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Late Company
Trafalgar Studios
Reviewed on Thursday August 24th 2017 by Lucy Jardine

Late Company has transferred recently from Finborough Theatre to the tiny Trafalgar studios, where you sit, as if sharing the dining room, with the members of the cast.  Debra and Michael, a couple whose gay son Joel committed suicide after having been taunted online, have gathered, a year after his death, with Tamara, Michael and their son Curtis, to try and find some kind of 'closure', some kind of reparation. Curtis was responsible for some of the bullying. A place at the dining table has been laid for Joel.

The play benefits from this close actor-audience involvement - you are drawn into the play as it unfolds, and leave feeling utterly involved, transformed in some way by what you have witnessed.  We learn how Debra was unaware of videos that Joel had posted online, and how Curtis, moody Curtis, didn't think about what he was doing. We learn about Joel's depression - the sympathy that Debra displays, and the somewhat bullish opinions expressed by Michael that people should toughen up - that children are too protected. 

Tannahill's script sparkles with authenticity. How many times have these conversations played out up and down the country? As Tannahill himself questions, and has us do, how much are we as parents responsible for what our children do and see online? How much space should we give our children? The actors succeed in bringing these questions to  life in a very real, believable way - even if, occasionally, the Canadian accents lapse a little. If you want an uplifting night out at the theatre, don't go and see this play. But if you want to be challenged, go and see it tonight.

Late Company runs at Trafalgar Studios until September 16th

Read Olivia Mitchell's review of Late Company at the Finborough Theatre

Get a ticket to see the show for just £8 by using my code on Today Tix:

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

In Conversation With... Louis Dempsey | Interview

In Conversation With... Louis Dempsey | Interview
Tuesday, 29 August 2017
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Louis Dempsey has an extensive list of credits to his name including film, television and theatre. He will soon be starring in the English Touring Theatre's production of Conor McPherson's, The Weir which opens on September 8th at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester

For anyone that doesn’t know, can you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

I trained with Cygnet Training Theatre in Exeter. I've appeared in numerous stage productions including the original West End production of Stones in his Pockets, Romans in Britain at The Crucible, Sheffield, Taming of the Shrew at The Globe, Juno and the Paycock at Bristol Old Vic, Some Voices at The Young Vic, Brothers of the Brush at Liverpool Everyman. I've also appeared in another Conor McPherson play, The Seafarer, at The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

On screen I've appeared in films such as Troy, Cloud Atlas, Shooters, Revolver, Grabbers, Six Bullets, Omagh, The Last Drop. I've also popped up on tv screens in Holby City, Waterloo Road, Sea of Souls and, of course, The Bill.

Highlight of my career so far? Hmm. Probably Troy because it was an amazing experience to be part of a huge Hollywood blockbuster movie with all that entails.

Have you always aspired to be a performer or did you have a different career path in mind when you were younger?

I never had any ambitions to become an actor. Where I grew up in Dublin your ambitions rarely went further than getting a job and a drink! I loved films as a child but I always assumed that actors came from Planet Actor. The idea that I might one day be up there on screen myself seemed utterly ridiculous.

What drew you to the role of Finbar in The Weir?

I don't know if one could say I was drawn to the role. My agent called, asked if I was interested in taking a meeting for a touring production of The Weir. I knew something of the play and having done The Seafarer (also by Conor McPherson) I was curious. When I read Finbar I kind of got where he was coming from but only in a very rough way.

When people come to see this production of The Weir they can expect to hear the best story they will hear all year! No doubt at all.

Can you sum up the show in five words?

Hmm. Funny. Poignant. Scary. Moving. Uplifting.

How is the 20th anniversary production of The Weir bringing something new to the modern classic?

Well I have never seen a production of The Weir so I cannot compare but I will say that The Weir is such a complete story, with so many layers and revelations about life, love, sadness, joy, heartbreak and happiness that I don't think it is even accurate to describe it as a modern classic. The Weir is simply a classic, regardless of when it was written or set.

What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?

Prince Charles once asked me to have a drink with him. I did. It was fun.

If you could go back to any era, when would you go to and why?

Well, I'm not a big fan of the past. I suspect that if I did travel back in time to a bygone era, people there would say "What the hell are you doing here??!! There's no email and toilets haven't been invented. Are you crazy???”

What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

You have two eyes, two ears and a mouth. Use them in that order. 

Thank you so much Louis for taking the time to do this interview. The Weir starts touring on September 8th and continues through to November 25th. More information and tickets can her found here.
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