Latest Instagrams
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. 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
Read post

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. 
Thursday, 12 October 2017

Hair, The Vaults | Review

Hair, The Vaults | Review
Thursday, 12 October 2017
Read post

Hair
The Vaults
Reviewed on Wednesday 11th October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

First premiering on Broadway in 1967, Hair is about hippies, the anti-war movement, LGBTQ+ rights, Black Lives Matter, women’s equality and so much more; themes which sadly still resonate with us 50 years later.

Although I’d never seen a production of Hair, many of the songs were familiar to me and I felt as if I’d almost been born knowing them! Whilst I wasn’t part of the ‘Hair Generation’ (I wasn’t born for another 30 years) I feel that this production has reinvented it and definitely made it perfect for my generation as well as those younger than me. The setting is historical but it’s been cleverly entwined with the modern world and the parallels to the youth of today to make it extremely pertinent.

The Vaults at Waterloo have been transformed into a colourful, relaxed, hippy den which provides the perfect vibe and atmosphere for the performance and certainly puts everyone in the right mind set for what they're about to experience. It feels immersive but not over the top.

Hair is musically brilliant, it's songs have been performed by some huge artists and it's become a source of inspiration for many composers. The rhythmic music pairs with the story wonderfully and manages to be funny, powerful and clever all at once. These feelings are of course exemplified by the outstanding performances from the cast, especially during the finale: 'Let The Sun Shine In' which becomes a sort of battle cry and is really very moving.

Leading the plot we have Robert Metson as Claude who's been enlisted into the army. His vocals are strong, he gives a heartfelt performance and shows his transition from the free life to the life he lives for his country extremely well. Fresh from his stint in Yank!, Andy Coxon takes on the role of the carefree, larger than life Berger with grace and ease and is especially funny during his moments of audience interaction. Laura Johnson brings an innocence to Sheila which is touching to see and really draws you into her character and her rendition of 'Easy To Be  Hard' was particularly memorable.

A special mention must go to Natalie Green (Cassie/Mom) who's solo and ensemble vocal moments are completely out of this world. Her clear, powerful voice both when belting and  singing in a more classical style is faultless, her natural performance draws the eye at various points and she's a joy to watch on stage. The entire cast are great and work seamlessly together to create the idyllic and harmonious feeling.

Hair is more than a show, its an experience. This production is fresh and striking and certain to be loved by audiences during its run. So let the sun shine into your life and go see this show for a night of youthful, uninhibited freedom, expression and love. After all, the world could do with a little more love these days!

Hair runs at The Vaults until 3rd December 2017

photo credit: Claire Bilyard

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review
Wednesday, 4 October 2017
Read post

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 by Andrew Cowan 

Sunset Boulevard is a thrilling ride through the film industry of mid-century America, filled with the song, dance and cultural ephemera of the era. It’s an intoxicating spectacle that is both entrancing and, in parts, exhausting.

The production takes place in Hollywood on the cusp of the 1940s and 1950s. The show’s intermission pointedly falls at a New Year’s party in 1949 in a manner symbolic of the story’s main theme of the passing of one era to the next.

The time period and location is a particularly rich seam for the set design which, especially in the opening moments, is a flurry of transitions. The audience is taken from the gates of Paramount studio to production lots, writer’s rooms and soundstages in the space of a matter of minutes. Furthermore, artifacts of film production are woven intelligently into the set throughout. One driving scene in particular employed footage of busy Los Angeles streets projected behind the protagonist’s vehicle while shadowed cameramen revolved around him in a way that recalls the early special effects of the time. It could easily have been confusing, the fact that it wasn’t is testament to the care with which each aspect of the set had been considered.

As one might expect given the story, the music throughout the show was constantly evocative of the period and brilliantly performed by the band. One aspect to note is that your enjoyment of the show may in part depend on how you feel about Andrew Lloyd Webber, who supplies the music in the production and isn’t always for everyone.


Danny Mac as protagonist Joe Gillis was well cast and particularly excelled at both the breezy 50s dialog exchanged with members of the supporting cast and his rendition of the title song ‘Sunset Boulevard’. Predictably a cheer went up around the hall as the actor, who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, danced a tango. His interaction with romantic interest Molly Lynch as Betty Schaefer was a touch lacking, but this relationship is not really the centrepiece of the story and as such both the songs and dialog were a little perfunctory. Special mention should be given to both the singing and acting of Adam Pearce as Max Von Meyerling, who deflty straddled the line between chilling and endearing and very nearly stole the show. However Ria Jones as the needy and demented Norma Desmond was superb throughout, delivering a deeply poignant performance.

Flashdance (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Flashdance (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Read post

Flashdance (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

Based on the 1983 film (which I've never seen), Flashdance is the story of Alex Owens, a welder who dreams of being a dancer but has had no formal training. She plucks up the courage to apply to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and also meets a new love interest on the way who just so happens to be the boss' son. 

There are a number of side plots, like the mechanics facing jobs losses, Gloria being drawn into a seedy drug filled world and her boyfriend Jimmy attempting to make it as a comedian in New York but these feel a little unnecessary. They're obviously added in to pad out the show but I felt it would have flowed better without them as they're not explored enough to add much. 

But lets be honest, people don't go to Flashdance for the plot. They're there for the big money numbers and nostalgia for the classics they remember, something which the show certainly provides. The instantly recognisable 'Maniac', 'What a Feeling' and 'Gloria' have the audience excited and invested whilst most of the other songs are not particularly memorable. That's not to say that the vocal performances aren't brilliant though. Ben Adams gives a strong performance as the misguided, rich boy, Nick Hurley. His popstar vocals are not those typically heard in musical theatre but they work well in the show and his his rendition of 'Enough' was especially good.

Joanne Clifton is outstanding as Alex. Obviously she's known for her dance skills but seeing them life and with so much energy is spectacular to see on stage. Vocally she is also strong and her acting stood up well within the cast and she is a very solid lead. I was particularly impressed by Hollie-Ann Lowe who showed a number of sides to Gloria as well as some lovely vocal moments. A special mention must go to Colin Kiyani (Jimmy) who's voice is beautiful and I got major Ben Platt vibes during 'Where We Belong'.

Matt Cole's choreography is definitely the highlight of the production; tight and sleek throughout it provides some wow moments of impact. One thing I didn't like was the use of click tracks during some of the ensemble dance numbers such as 'I Love Rock and Roll'. I completely understand how demanding it is to do the energetic choreography at the same time as singing but it just felt a little obvious to me and could have been covered up more. However, the performances were still great.

This is definitely a feel good musical, whilst it does look at some darker themes, they are definitely not what you focus on. It's more of a drama with music but the energetic and sharp performances are enough to draw you in and will certainly leave you tapping your feet!


Flashdance runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until October 7th
Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Toxic Avenger, Arts Theatre | Review

The Toxic Avenger, Arts Theatre | Review
Tuesday, 3 October 2017
Read post

The Toxic Avenger
Arts Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 2nd October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

When seeing this show, you should take it like it takes itself: not too seriously. Based on the 1984 cult movie, The Toxic Avenger received its New York premiere in 2009 before enjoying a short run at London's Southwark Playhouse in 2016. Most recently it played at the Edinburgh Fringe and has now opened a limited run at the Arts Theatre. 

Set in New Jersey, where pollution has over taken the city, we meet Melvin the dweeby teenager (in love with the town's blind librarian) who is thrown into a vat of toxic waste, becomes the Toxic Avenger and vows to take justice into his own hands.  The plot is bonkers but easy to follow and the production celebrates this wackiness with a clever and genuinely funny script. The fourth wall is broken and it becomes a game of spot the musical theatre reference; from Hamilton to Mary Poppins to Phantom- they're all in there somewhere!

The humour is unashamedly crude and whilst this is refreshing to see on stage, it sometimes becomes a bit too much. With the same jokes repeated several times and therefore loosing any impact. The "blind girl almost walking off the stage" was especially repetitive.

Whilst not all of the music is particularly memorable, the cast perform it with exuberance and stellar vocals throughout. Mark Anderson is wonderfully awkward but gentle as Melvin and 'Toxie'; his voice is beautiful and he overacted just enough to avoid the whole thing becoming too silly. Natalie Hope's vocals are outstanding, both as Toxie's mother and the woman who's to blame for the pollution: the mayor! She is humourous, sexy and an all round, brilliant entertainer. Emma Salvo as Sarah is funny and crude but still sweet; her Oprah obsession is hilarious and her vocals are fantastic. The rest of the towns people are impressively brought to life by Ché Francis and Oscar Conlon-Morrey. From the town bullies to the hairdressers with "indistinguishable accents", they do a stellar job.

Takis have done a great job of using the space of the small Arts Theatre well, with a clever set design that means the stage never feels cramped. It's simplistic but effective as are the costumes which also have many musical theatre references within them. It's a very cleverly done show in terms of intricate details.

This is a non-pc show thats fun, lighthearted and silly. If you're easily offended then it's not for you but for a blast of fun and some sublime vocal performances then pop along to the Arts Theatre. 


The Toxic Avenger runs until December 3rd at The Arts Theatre. 
Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre | Review

The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre | Review
Sunday, 1 October 2017
Read post

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: https://www.todaytix.com/refer/TFKMJ/ 

Watch my vlog of the event here
Saturday, 16 September 2017

Gate, Cockpit Theatre | Review

Gate, Cockpit Theatre | Review
Saturday, 16 September 2017
Read post

Gate
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 
Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Grease (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Grease (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review
Tuesday, 12 September 2017
Read post

Grease (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse
Reviewed on Monday 12th September 2017 by Liv Ancell

The turn of Grease at the Edinburgh Playhouse transformed the theatre into a lively hothouse of hand jiving, bomber jackets and 50s nostalgia. With hundreds of costume changes, multiple set changes and an enviable line-up of cast and crew, including Tom Parker of The Wanted fame, this production of Grease was far from an understated affair.


The first surprise in the production came when the curtain initially lifted to reveal an exposed upper mezzanine level to the stage, where the live band was on display for all to see. With charismatic showmanship, the flamboyant conductor introduced each of his band members with the flick of the wrist, while they in turn stood up and gestured to the audience to boast their musical prowess. As far as warm-up acts go, this one was pretty spectacular. 


Cut and the band are once again hidden from view (only to emerge later in a few choice scenes), with the show’s two star-crossed lovers emerging from opposite ends of the stage, raised on pedestals in a creative use of staging. Danielle Hope astounded the audience as Sandy from the very first note, captivating even the back seats with her commanding theatrical voice, with seemingly endless levels of range and depth. Tom Parker successfully portrayed the too-cool-for-school attitude of well-loved character Danny Zucko, but the powerful contrast at play between his boy-band tones and Danielle’s finely trained voice was at times, very clear to see. His “Sandy” solo was less than electrifying, whereas Danielle’s solo performances had the audience clinging onto every perfectly delivered note. 




The supporting cast in this musical raised the energy levels tenfold; hand-jiving, flipping and jesting their way into the audiences hearts. Jan (Rosanna Harris) and Roger (Oliver Jacobson) were transformed from sideline characters into firm audience favourites. Each couple’s voices were paired to perfection, making for some harmonious duets. Special mention goes out to Alessia McDermott, who was standing in for ChaCha on the evening we attended; she high-kicked and smouldered her way through the show, leaving the audience clueless as to why she was only an understudy in the first place! 


As far as performances go, this one was extremely physical, but the young cast kept pace the whole way through. It will come as no surprise to any viewer that the dance scenes were the brainchild of Strictly’s Arlene Phillips – the couple’s competition at the school dance featured more lifts and swings than you could shake a baton at. The razor-sharp choreography throughout was a real highlight of this performance, with not a single cast member slipping up during the lightning-speed handjiving sequences. 




In a nutshell, this show was both ambitious and energetic in equal measure. The flashes, bangs, fire and sparks during the Greased Lightning song resulted in a real show-stopping moment, while Danielle’s voice reached dimensions far beyond what Olivia Newton-John could deliver in the movie version. Whether it was down to delivery or acoustics, some of the snappy tongue-in-cheek comments were unfortunately difficult to hear, and many of these jokes were as a result missed by the audience. 

Overall, this was a very well-assembled production of an old school classic, delivered with such youthful energy and accompanied by great staging - viewers of any age or gender are guaranteed to get swept up by the excitement and extravagance of this show.


Grease runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until  before continuing its tour.


Liv Ancell also writes and produces a free weekly all-female email newsletter featuring tips, articles and goings on from around the world & web: https://goo.gl/Jkp88o
Latest pins

Subscribe