Spotlight on Stars of Odd Man Out ~ Gregory Ashton & Luke Adamson

Odd Man Out runs at The Hope Theatre from 26 July to 12 August 2017, book tickets here: The Hope Theatre Box Office

Odd Man Out is composed of two plays, Rabbitskin written by Dominic Grace and performed by Luke Adamson, and Diary of a Welshcake written by Lesley Ross, performed by Gregory Ashton. Break A Leg caught up with both of the actors to find out what their pieces are all about.

Interview with Gregory Ashton:

Tell me about the piece and your character

Well it’s the story of a man escaping a bad relationship and re-inventing himself in Hong Kong. It’s a love story about cultural identity and finding out who you are, no matter how old you are. I play Ralph, who is a Welshman who sounds more Michael McIntyre than Michael Sheen: he is, I suppose, still trying to discover where he fits in, and he gets in to some pretty ridiculous scrapes along the way.

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

I think so, but a lot of that has to do with Steve Marmion, the director. He was so careful in his handling of both me and the piece. We had worked together on the award winning Madam Butterfly’s Child so I really wanted to have him back as he puts me in a secure framework to just tell the story truthfully, which ultimately is all you can hope for as an actor

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

Well, I’ve been performing this all over the world for quite a few years now, and the spaces are constantly changing, but there is a unique challenge to performing on three sides… In many ways it is more immersive, which I love, but I also have to be constantly aware of how much I am including all sides, so it is always an adjustment. Then there is the throwing stuff… Will have to think hard about how that will work in the space. What I love about The Hope though, is it is so intimate, which hopefully will help draw the audience into Ralph’s world.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

Well, firstly Luke Adamson is great, and I have read Rabbitskin so I can’t wait to see what he will bring to the piece.

I think people often shy away from one man shows and I understand that… but these two pieces are storytelling at it’s most engaging, so I’d say “come along, grab a drink and be transported for a couple of hours”. And of course… you may be lucky enough to be fed.

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Interview with Luke Adamson:

Tell me about the piece and your character…

Well Rabbitskin is a beautiful one man show written by Dominic Grace that came out of the new writing programme at The West Yorkshire playhouse a few years ago. It tells the story of Joe who grew up the youngest of five brothers in Leeds. Thanks to his wonderful father he develops a love for stories and literature and he can name his twenty favourite authors off the top of his head! Rabbitskin is Joe telling his story.

What was your initial impression of the script?

I loved it. Absolutely loved it. When I was first asked  to audition for it and read the script I just thought ‘this is so beautiful, I have to get this part’ luckily I did!

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

The beautiful thing about monologue is that it is storytelling at its purest, it is one actor on a stage talking to an audience. Rabbitskin requires quite a lot of mime alongside the storytelling which is a wonderful challenge for me and really brings the world of the play alive with a beautiful simplicity.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

Mainly I wanted to bring truth and honesty to the role along with an enthusiasm for the stories Joe tells. There’s also a great amount of humour in the script that I was keen to bring out.

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

The intimacy of The Hope is ideal for this piece. Being a single actor in that space talking to the audience, most of whom will be within touching distance, promises to be very special. It will draw the audience right into Joe’s world of magic, dragons, family and rabbits.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

This is a double bill of beautifully written stories examining how these two characters fit into the world, at some point I’m sure we all wonder this! These wonderfully human stories will connect to something within all of us and ultimately provide an audience with a memorable night at the theatre.

Thanks to Luke and to Gregory, and as an extra special treat, we have the writer of Diary of a Welshcake, Lesley Ross, here’s what Lesley had to say about the piece…

Tell me about the piece and your inspiration for it

Well, there is always an element of the semi-autobiographical to my work, so many of the things that happen to Ralph have happened to me. I have always had an interesting connection to identity and where I fit in, so they are the themes I often come back to and when I first wrote the piece I was living in Hong Kong so culture and cultural identity were foremost in my mind. The weaving of the love story into Ralph’s journey was the hardest part because I wanted it to be truthful, even though it is uniquely odd. Of course nowadays there is much more talk of sexual fluidity so perhaps I was ahead of my time.

Was it easy to put it all down on paper?

Actually, yes, in this case it was. I mean, I spent months thinking about it, structuring it, finding the beats of comedy and pathos, but the actual writing was relatively quick. There was one major change in the show, which happened around the time we brought Steve Marmion on board and that was to reflect an older version of Ralph to accommodate an older actor playing the part. But that made Ralph’s story more interesting because there are many stories of younger people discovering themselves: it’s nice to explore those themes with someone slightly older; someone who may already know themselves in a lot of ways, but is still discovering new depths and opportunities for enlightenment.

Is it translating well from page to stage?

Well I hope so. I think, over the years, different audiences have responded to different things in the piece and that has often been directly connected to where the audience is from. I remember in one country a certain moment was seen as so shocking that there was this huge intake of breath, but that same moment usually gets a big laugh anywhere else. I find all that fascinating. And of course there is the “audience participation” moment, which always goes down well, but we could never have predicted that until we put it in front of an audience. That is why I love live theatre.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

I hope that people go away with a sense of how with just one person and a few props, an entire world can be created! I love the Fringe… it is so important and proves that you can have an amazing night out for a lot less money! There is nothing more exciting than discovering a hidden gem, or a budding actor or director. But more importantly, if one person leaves that theatre and plans to be kinder to the next odd man out that they meet, well I will be satisfied

Finally, any advice for budding writers?

Write what you love to write about… and keep writing! The artist’s life is not a steady line but a mess of peaks and troughs… and I wouldn’t want to change that for a moment… so I just keep writing…

Huge thanks to Lesley – Break A Leg can’t wait to review Odd Man Out at The Hope on Saturday.

 

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Despicable Me 3 ~ Malvern Theatres

You can book to see Despicable Me 3 at Malvern Theatres Cinema, here: Malvern Theatres Cinema

The Despicable Me franchise has plenty of mileage left in it yet and the third follow-up film goes to prove that and more. Of course there was also the prequel, Minions, which our three year old loves – so we decided to make Despicable Me 3 his first trip to the cinema. It was a hit!

The old faithful minions are back of course, what would Despicable Me be without them? They’re getting rather tired of their boss, Gru, as he has turned to the light side since meeting and marrying Lucy. In fact he’s the devoted father and husband now and his little yellow friends are not on board with it. Their journey to find a new life of villainy leads them to one of the highlights of the film (in my humble opinion, anyway!) where they land in an X Factor-style situation and sing a rousing rendition of Modern Major General. Hilarious!

Gru and Lucy having been sacked from their ‘respectable’ jobs, the main storyline revolves around Gru’s discovery that he has a twin brother, Dru and that his father did not pass away years ago, but more recently. The boys are reunited with laugh a minute consequences, while Lucy is trying to get to grips with motherhood and Agnes is still obsessed with unicorns. The new villain for this story is Balthazar Bratt, a deluded eighties throwback who bears a grudge because he television show from way back when got cancelled. He’s a bonkers mixture of mullet and bubble gum!

I’ve always thought that the Despicable Me films worked on more than just a kids level, this sequel has proved that point and I feel that more of these films wouldn’t go amiss. At just short of 1 hour 30 minutes long, it’s the perfect length of time to hold a toddler’s attention if you want to attempt a cinema excursion with your young breed! The ending certainly left it open for more sequels too and who else wouldn’t mind seeing Gru venture back towards villainy? Hands up!

IMDb Link

Vlog with Star of Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid, Anne Musisi

Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid runs at Camden Fringe (venue: Canal Cafe Theatre) from 11th – 13th August and 18th – 20th August 2017.

Press Release:

Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid Press Release Camden Fringe

Here’s Break A Leg’s vlog with actor, Anne Musisi from the show talking about her role and telling you why you must come and see it!

Visit the show’s website here:

Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid

Wonderland ~ Milton Keynes Theatre

Wonderland stays at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 22 July 2017, book your tickets here:  Wonderland Tickets

Star rating: ****

Alice in Wonderland has been incarnated on more occasions than I care to remember, but one thing’s for sure, the story never gets old (in my humble opinion) and the magic, craziness and wonder remains as curious as it did when I first read the book by Lewis Carroll.

This musical version with music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Jack Murphy, book by Gregory Boyd & Jack Murphy and directed by Lotte Wakeham – didn’t play out how the way I had expected. In fact the first half I found to be a little slow, the lighting and set creating a murky atmosphere although I found it fascinating that the setting is in a modern period of time. Having Alice (Kerry Ellis) living in a block of flats and working in a call centre job she despises couldn’t have been more current. The arrival of the White Rabbit (Dave Willetts) signalled the shift from real life to fantasy, however I felt that the ensuing transition caused the show to take a distinctly pantomime-style turn. Musical numbers also appeared to be inserted for the sake of it rather than fluidly integrated into the flow of the piece.

In this version, Alice has a daughter called Ellie (Naomi Morris) who is willing her mother to get over her failed marriage and desperately seeks change in their lives. Alice also wants a different life and is not at all at peace with the real world. Neighbour, Jack (Stephen Webb) desperately wants to be a hero and has admired Alice from afar since she first moved in to her flat. The White Rabbit was once a judge who dreamed of being a rabbit and who was able to remain in Wonderland because the Queen of Hearts had cut off his head. It seems that once you are beheaded by the Queen you are permitted to remain in her land and you are reunited with your head! Another distinct difference is that the Mad Hatter is played by a female – which works brilliantly and she and the March Hare (Ben Kerr) have a thing for one another. I loved this spin on the classic tale, insightful in my view.

The arrival of Wendi Peters as The Queen of Hearts was also an unbridled joy, I wager that never will you have witnessed anybody munch on a jam tart so comically and my my my this actor can sing. In fact her vocals rivalled Ellis’s extraordinary and instantly recognisable singing voice. When the Mad Hatter (Natalie McQueen) landed, her bonkers characterisation was glorious and again, captured my waning interest. There was also a stellar performance from Kayi Ushe as the Caterpillar and Dominic Owen was a fabulously skittish Cheshire Cat, an intelligent and physical performance was offered by him. Dave Willetts has long been a favourite performer of mine and he didn’t disappoint, this was a different yet intriguing role to watch him play.

Although I took time to warm to the production, the second half was the defining moment and I was glad to have returned after the interval. The musical numbers in the show are engaging, toe-tapping and as an overall soundtrack, they impressed me. I Will Prevail (the Mad Hatter’s big number) is a powerful piece and I Am My Own Invention which is mostly led by the White Rabbit is stunning. Advice From A Caterpillar is a soulful tune and the choreography matched it, perfectly. Equally, The Cat Shoe Shuffle was a highlight, it appeared chaotic and precise all at once. In fact I noted that all choreography seemed to follow a contrary theme which worked brilliantly.

The set is quite a construction to behold and the looking glass is the piece de resistance. Costumes are as spectacular, as would be expected given the story and the Mad Hatter’s outfits are particularly outstanding. Overall, this new musical grew on me and by the finish I felt I’d be keen to see it again.

 

Casualty ‘Somewhere Between The Silences – Part 1’ ~ Episode Review

Wow, I’m still reeling from last Saturday’s Casualty episode! What an ending, I did not see that coming and what the after-math will be? Who knows, I need to know now, though! Here are a few highlights while I wait in nervous anticipation…

Jez (LLOYD EVERITT), Mickey Ellison (MITCH HEWER) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

Connie & Sam ~ Connie’s very quick to put Sam back in his place about their hanky panky in the cupboard the previous week. I’m sure for shippers of the pair, that has come as a disappointment – however, with Mr Chambers returning to the stage, I fear Sam won’t be around for much longer.

Speed Dating ~ This was simply hilarious, Dylan’s part in it in particular! His dismissiveness and pointed comments made my night, is it me or does his character just get better? He’s like the unintentional comedian of the show.

Ruthless Ethan ~ Ethan was less than impressed to see the Ellisson family back in the ED and his feud with Scott is far from over, rightly so as he is his brother’s killer after all! Ethan knows that Scott’s brother Mickey is having a relationship with Jez, of course… so he sows a seed.

Jez in danger ~ Ethan’s revelation to Scott causes repercussions, naturally! Meaning that Jez and Mickey find themselves on the other end of his wrath and his knife. It doesn’t look promising until…

An accident? ~ So, Scott comes a cropper when he is intending to harm Jez – the episode ended on the murderer falling from the upper floor and landing on the ground floor below. There’s blood, of course, so is this the end? Has it literally been the case of an eye for an eye? I can’t wait to find out!

Full Cast:

Casualty Cast

Ackley Bridge Series One Episode Six ~ Episode Review

DNA ~ It’s Corey’s baby after all! The DNA test that Steve thought was a good idea has proven that the ‘daddy’ is the uncle after all. A shock plot twist indeed and something to be explored further in series two.

It’s all over? ~ Nasreen seems remarkably cool and collected when she casually informs Lila that it’s all over between them and she’s OK with that. Is it just me or do neither of them seem OK with it really? I want this storyline to carry over, it’s not done with in my head!

Affair Exposed ~ Sadiq’s affair with Mandy is revealed publically by his daughter! Humiliating for both parties and it’s still not boding well for Mandy and Steve in terms of a reconciliation – but then who can blame Steve? For such a small amount of screen time, this affair has caused maximum impact.

Happy Families ~ The Booths are reunited when Simone finally gets her act together despite temptation from her drug dealer. Emma and Chloe are also reconciled and it seems to be decided that Chloe will stay with her mum, quite an emotional realisation which was beautifully performed.

Summary ~ What can I say that I haven’t already said? What a series, what incredible writing and excellent casting. This ought to be in line for awards and the second series that has been commissioned is richly deserved. Ackley Bridge is filled a gap on our television screens and I hadn’t anticipated becoming as emotionally connected to the characters and plots. Every role has been created so innovatively and the choice of storylines amazed me every week. Culturally current, unpredictable, exciting and gripping telly. In fact, this felt like the Channel Four of old and we need more of this. On a side note, I’d like to see more of Lorraine, the nosey receptionist in the next series!

Ackley Bridge Cast & Information

Ackley Bridge Series One Episode Five ~ Review

The penultimate instalment of Ackley Bridge was so innovative and ground-breaking that I feel it contained some of the most poignant scenes I’ve ever seen on television. Highlights to follow, as I reminisce about the sheer brilliance of this show:

Mothers/Daughters ~ I feel I ought to comment on the mother/daughter relationships that have been so carefully crafted in this series. Whether it be Emma and Chloe, Kaneez and Nas or Simone and Missy. We also saw the broken down relationship between Nana and Simone as well as Nana’s place as surrogate mum to Missy and Hayley. Ooh who misses Nana? I really haven’t gotten over her death yet! The point is though, that each mother/daughter pairing has been constructed to perfection.

Revelations ~ Nas seemed hell bent on following through with an arranged marriage, which was not something her mum, Kaneez felt was right for her and caused a ruckus in itself. However, cracking under the pressure and feeling that her mum might be open to the news, Nas finally revealed that she’s a Lesbian. The news was not received well… initially….

Daughter behaving badly ~ Chloe steps up to read as Juliet in her mum, Emma’s English literature lesson. However, possibly feeling pushed to one side by her mum (that’s how it’s coming across to me…) Chloe uses the opportunity to play the role as Missy and to effectively pull her fellow student to pieces in front of the class. Although her behaviour wasn’t tolerated and she was disciplined appropriately, I can see why Chloe might feel that her nose has been pushed out as her mum does appear to take more interest in the Booth sisters. Attention seeking? I should say so!

Nas & Kaneez ~ With the news that her daughter is gay resonating, Kaneez takes it upon herself to delve deeper and seeks out a café where she comes to terms with her daughter’s honesty. She follows this up with a trip to the local ice rink which culminates in Kaneez introducing Nas to a homosexual Asian man. Genius!

Missy & Simone ~ Missy discovers that there is a way to reunite her with her sister, but it involves Simone’s co-operation. A trip to their mum’s hide-out meets with a fairly predictable response as Simone is not at her best! It seems a hopeless business and Missy gives up easily. What she doesn’t bank on is her mum showing up at home ready to make peace. What a final scene, I was in tears – beautiful acting from this pair, excellent casting!

Ackley Bridge Cast & Information

Casualty ‘Man Up’ ~ Episode Review

Oh my word this episode had it all! Passion, trauma, drama, hurt – all in just a solitary instalment! I’m still catching my breath… here are a few highlights:

Ethan Hardy (GEORGE RAINSFORD), Alicia Monroe (CHELSEA HALFPENNY) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

Doctor Love ~ Dylan’s looking at internet dating due to David’s unsubtly mentioning the subject! Checking out a very expensive dating website puts Dylan right off, but David has found another route to try looking for love… this storyline could run and get even more amusing! I find it even funnier when it involves Dylan.

Chuffy ~ For all the Chuffy fans out there (Charlie and Duffy, in case you’re unfamiliar with ‘shipping’) that was a lovely little moment they shared while watching the wedding of one of their patients, wasn’t it? Bless them, a very natural pairing who should have got together years ago, in my humble opinion…

Super-Sam ~ Super-Sam steps in and over-steps the mark yet again when a patient has a suspected rare parasite. He hands another opportunity on a plate to Connie as she is forced to reprimand her ex (I think she enjoys it… see next highlight!) and Sam’s argument is that he saved a patient. Although Connie is quick to remind him that he hasn’t necessarily saved her yet. I have to agree with Connie, Sam is arrogant, I’m not sure if I like him or not but it’s never boring with him around.

Connie and Sam ~ CONNIE AND SAM! This is not a drill…. but probably a one-off if I know Connie, she’s bound to put a stop to it. Or will she? Do the mismatched pair belong together? Plus Connie has made some progress with Grace after taking her to her physio appointment – so is it happy families time? Time will tell and we’ll no doubt be left in limbo!

Ethan and Alicia ~ Another couple featured heavily, as Ethan is still hell-bent on bringing his brother’s murderer to justice and Alicia declares that she can’t stay by his side while he goes off on the rampage (I paraphrase!). So Ethan walks off alone – very poignant. Plus it’s so palpable how much Cal is missed, his ghost still haunts Holby ED that’s for sure.

Episode Cast List here: Casualty ‘Man Up’ Cast List

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