In The Shadow of the Mountain ~ Old Red Lion

In The Shadow of the Mountain stays at the Old Red Lion until Saturday 2 June 2018, book tickets here: www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/in-the-shadow-of-the-mountain.html

Star rating: ****

Guest Review by Francesca Mepham 

From the outset of Felicity Huxley-Miners new play In The Shadow Of The Mountain, Rob (David Shears) may be on the edge of oblivion, ready to throw himself under a train, but he certainly gets swept up on an unexpected journey, when he meets Ellie (Felicity Huxley-Miners).

The chemistry between the two characters, is very authentic, it makes you care for these two polar opposites. Ellie is magnetic and witty, but her erratic behaviour starts to unravel in front of the audiences eyes and Rob is dryly funny and caring, but lost, after a recent betrayal. Ellie’s BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), that is never labelled in this play, is what makes her want to move this relationship along at an alarming fast pace. Her pleading to Rob that she “..wants to be saved” was so incredibly poignant and seem to summarise Ellie’s whole being.

Both performances are spot on, with excellent direction by Richard Elson, who gets the balance between both characters expressing their fears and bewilderment (especially with Shear’s Rob), in a thought-provoking way. The actors commanded the stage throughout, keeping the energy consistent and the story flowing. The taunts and emotional manipulation of Rob, by Ellie, are conveyed very convincingly by Huxley-Miners.

Meticulous research in to BPD is evident, as the balance between humour and poignancy, is very intricate. Nearer to the play’s conclusion, the full extent of Ellie’s condition is handled by cast and director, with a heart-wrenching honesty. In The Shadow Of The Mountain, shows the reality of mental health, on a person’s life and relationships.

Fundamentally this new play is about a couple, conceived in two people’s mental health struggles with BPD and depression, but it is also about what it means to be human and all its fragilities. I look forward to seeing more work produced by Instinct Theatre and Quantum Frolic Theatre, as this outstanding debut collaboration, is a beautifully written and acted piece of theatre.

Advertisements

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em stays at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 19 May – to book tickets follow the link: Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Star rating: ****

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em was a television favourite of mine and I admire the work of both Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice, therefore the idea of a new cast in a stage version was one I struggled with. However, I was certainly willing to watch the show with an open mind and with Joe Pasquale at the helm as Frank, I felt it might just work.

I’m happy to report that I enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining evening at the theatre, it’s a laugh-a-minute comedy bonanza with innovative staging which almost steals the show by itself.

Guy Unsworth has written the ‘new’ script and based it on the original scripts by Raymond Allen, so there are elements of the famous television episodes peppered with new material. Joe Pasquale looks the part with the trench coat and beret, his mannerisms are similar to those associated with the original Frank, however he puts his own stamp on the role. The fact that Pasquale is an established comedian enhanced his characterisation and he even attempted a stunt or two, without the signature black gloves which Crawford was renowned for!

The story follows Betty’s (Sarah Earnshaw) discovery that she’s expecting a baby, Frank’s unemployed again and the local Vicar (David Shaw-Parker), Betty’s mum (Susie Blake) and her new chap, David Worthington (Moray Treadwell) are all on the scene too. The Vicar is permanently baffled, as most are in the company of Frank. Betty’s mum Barbara is getting stuck into Frank’s late mum’s homemade wine, while her new man is of particular interest to Frank because he’s a Bank Manager! With the added excitement of an impending visit from the BBC who intend to film the Spencers for a forthcoming talent show, the chaos, mayhem and sheer madness is overt and thoroughly slapstick from the outset.

The entire cast are a tight knit unit who each support one another superbly as the set is literally falling down around them. In particular, there is a stand-out performance from Susie Blake as Barbara, her facial expressions alone had me weeping tears of laughter. Blake’s physical comedy ability was a match for Pasquale’s too which was an inspired combination in the scenes they had together.

Does this work as a stage show? A resounding yes, the story lends itself to the stage and has been cleverly and intricately written. It’s also notable that Joe Pasquale is not trying to impersonate Michael Crawford, therefore it was engaging to watch a fresh take on a much-loved character. At times it seemed like some of the easy chemistry I’d expect to see between Frank and Betty was lacking, perhaps this is where my knowledge of the television version was a hindrance for me personally as a viewer. However on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed a good belly-laugh courtesy of a classic piece of comedy.

Photo Credits: Scott Rylander

The ENO New Season 2018/2019

Welcome to the New Season from the ENO! If you’re as fanatical about Opera as I am, you’ll be excited to see the exceptional line-up of productions and casting, not to mention Conductors! I’ll let the listings speak for themselves: 

Listings Information: ENO performances at the London Coliseum

Richard Strauss – Salome Libretto: Hedwig Lachman, after Oscar Wilde New production Sep 28 & Oct 3, 6, 12, 18, 23 at 19.30, Oct 20 at 18.30
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins, Director: Adena Jacobs, Designer: Marg Horwell, Lighting Designer: Lucy Carter, Choreographer: Melanie Lane, Translator: Tom Hammond CAST INCLUDES: Allison Cook (Salome) David Soar(Jokanaan) Michael Colvin (Herod) Susan Bickley (Herodias) #ENOSalome

The Gershwins – Porgy and Bess By George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin New Production Oct 11, 17, 19, 24, 26, 29, 31 & Nov 8, 14 at 19.30, Oct 13, 27 & Nov 10 at 18.30, Nov 3, 17 at 15.00
Conductor: John Wilson, Director: James Robinson, Set Designer: Michael Yeargan, Costume Designer: Catherine Zuber, Lighting Designer: Donald Holder, Video Designer: Luke Halls, Choreographer: Dianne McIntyre
CAST INCLUDES: Eric Greene (Porgy) Nicole Cabell (Bess) Nmon Ford (Crown) Latonia Moore (Serena) Gweneth-Ann Rand (Serena Oct 27, Oct 31, Nov 10) Nadine Benjamin (Clara) Tichina Vaughn (Maria) Donovan Singletary (Jake) Frederick Ballentine (Sporting Life) Rheinaldt Tshepo Moagi (Mingo) Chaz’men Williams-Ali (Robbins/Crab Man) Byron Jackson (Frazier) Sarah-Jane Lewis (Annie) Nozuko Teto (Strawberry Woman) Njabulo Madlala (Jim) Whitaker Mills (Undertaker) Thando Mjandana (Nelson)
A co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and Dutch National Opera Supported by a syndicate of donors The worldwide copyrights in the works of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin in this presentation are licensed by the Gershwin Family. GERSHWIN is a registered trademark of Gershwin enterprises. Porgy and Bess is a registered trademark of Porgy and Bess Enterprises.
#ENOPorgy

Gaetano Donizetti – Lucia di Lammermoor Libretto: Salvatore Cammarano, after Walter Scott Revival Oct 25, 30 & Nov 2, 7, 9, 15, 24, 30 & Dec 5 at 19.30
Conductor: Stuart Stratford /James Hendry (Dec 5), Director: David Alden, Set Designer: Charles Edwards, Costume Designer: Brigitte Reiffenstuel, Lighting Designer: Adam Silverman, Movement Director: Maxine Braham, Translator: Amanda Holden CAST INCLUDES: Sarah Tynan (Lucia) Lester Lynch (Enrico Ashton) Eleazar Rodríguez (Edgardo) Michael Colvin (Lord Arturo Bucklaw) Clive Bayley (Raimondo Bidebent) Sarah Pring (Alisa) Elgan Llŷr Thomas (Normanno) #ENOLucia

Benjamin Britten – War Requiem Missa pro Defunctis and Wilfred Owen New Production Nov 16, 22, 27, 29 & Dec 4, 7 at 19.30 Conductor: Martyn Brabbins, Director: Daniel Kramer, Designer: Wolfgang Tillmans, Associate Designer: Justin Nardella, Costume Designer: Nasir Mazhar, Lighting Designer: Charles Balfour, Choreographer: Ann Yee CAST INCLUDES: Emma Bell (Soprano) David Butt Philip (Tenor) Roderick Williams (Baritone) Co-production with National Performing Arts Center, Taiwan
Supported by Linda Christmas and a syndicate of donors #ENORequiem

Giacomo Puccini – La bohème Libretto: Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, after Henri Murger Revival
Nov 26, 28 & Dec 3, 6 & Jan 29 & Feb 2, 7, 12, 14, 20, 22 at 19.30, Dec 1 & Feb 16 at 15.00, Dec 8 & Feb 9 at 18.30
Conductor: Alexander Joel/ Valentina Peleggi (Feb 7, 9, 14), Director: Jonathan Miller, Revival Director: Natascha Metherell, Designer: Isabella Bywater, Lighting Designer: Jean Kalman, Translator: Amanda Holden
CAST INCLUDES: Natalya Romaniw (Mimì) Jonathan Tetelman (Rodolfo) Nicholas Lester (Marcello) Nadine Benjamin (Musetta) David Soar / David Ireland Jan 29, Feb 2, 7, 9 (Colline) Božidar Smiljanić / Matthew Durkan Jan 29, Feb 2, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 20, 22 (Schaunard) Simon Butteriss (Benoît/Alcindoro) Co-production with Cincinnati Opera #ENOBoheme

Philip Glass – Akhnaten Libretto: Philip Glass in association with Shalom Goldman, Robert Israel, Richard Ridell and Jerome Robbins Revival Feb 11, 15, 21, 23, 28 & Mar 7 at 19.30, Mar 2 at 18.30
Conductor: Karen Kamensek, Director: Phelim McDermott Designer: Tom Pye, Costume Designer: Kevin Pollard, Lighting Designer: Bruno Poet, Skills Ensemble Choreographer: Sean Gandini
CAST INCLUDES: Anthony Roth Costanzo (Akhnaten) Katie Stevenson (Nefertiti) Rebecca Bottone (Queen Tye) James Cleverton (Horemhab) Keel Watson (Aye) Colin Judson (High Priest of Amon) Zachary James (Scribe) A collaboration with Improbable
Co-production with LA Opera #ENOAkhnaten

Franz Lehár – The Merry Widow Libretto: Victor Léon and Leo Stein, after Henri Meilhac New Production Mar 1, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15, 22, 27, 29 & Apr 1, 4 at 19.30, Apr 13 at 15.00
Conductor: Kristiina Poska /Martin Fitzpatrick (April 1, 4, 13), Director: Max Webster, Set Designer: Ben Stones, Costume Designer: Esther Bialas, Lighting Designer: Bruno Poet, Choreographer: Stephen Mears
CAST INCLUDES: Sarah Tynan (Hanna Glawari) Nathan Gunn (Count Danilo Danilowitsch) Andrew Shore (Baron Mirko Zeta) Robert Murray (Camille de Rosillon) Rhian Lois (Valencienne) Nicholas Lester (Vicomte Cascada) Jamie MacDougall (Raoul de St Brioche) Supported by a syndicate of donors #ENOWidow

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – The Magic Flute Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder Revival Mar 14, 21, 23, 28 & Apr 2, 9, 11 at 19.30, Mar 16 at 18.30, Apr 6 at 15.00
Conductor: Ben Gernon/Chris Hopkins (Mar 28) Director: Simon McBurney, Associate Director and Movement: Josie Daxter, Set Designer: Michael Levine, Costume Designer: Nicky Gilliband, Lighting Designer: Jean Kalman, Revival Lighting Designer: Mike Gunning, Video Designer: Finn Ross, Sound Designer Gareth Fry, Translator: Stephen Jeffreys
CAST INCLUDES: Rupert Charlesworth (Tamino) Lucy Crowe (Pamina) Thomas Oliemans (Papageno)Brindley Sherratt/Jonathan Lemalu Apr 9 & 11 (Sarastro) Julia Bauer (Queen of Night)Jonathan Lemalu/David Ireland Apr 9 & 11 (Speaker) Daniel Norman (Monostatos) Eleanor Dennis (First Lady) Samantha Price (Second Lady) Katie Stevenson (Third Lady) Rowan Pierce (Papagena) David Webb (First Priest/First Armed Man) David Ireland (Second Priest/Second Armed Man) A collaboration with Complicite Co-production with Dutch National Opera and the International Festival of Lyric Art, Aix-en-Provence #ENOFlute

Iain Bell – Jack The Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel Libretto: Emma Jenkins World Premiere Mar 30 & Apr 3, 5, 8, 10, 12 at 19.30
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins Director: Daniel Kramer, Designer: Soutra Gilmour, Lighting Designer: Paul Anderson

CAST INCLUDES: Claudia Boyle (Mary Kelly) Josephine Barstow (Maud) Janis Kelly (Polly Nichols) Marie McLaughlin (Annie Chapman) Susan Bullock (Liz Stride) Lesley Garrett (Catherine Eddowes) William Morgan (Writer) Alex Otterburn (Squibby) Alan Opie (The Pathologist) Robert Hayward (Commissioner of Police) Nicky Spence (Sergeant Johnny Strong) James Cleverton (The Photographer) Commissioned by ENO and Opera North, Co-production with Opera North Supported by a syndicate of donors #ENORipper

 

Entertainment Views Interviews: FFIT Cymru’s Catherine Lewis

S4C’s innovative health, fitness and well-being series FFIT Cymru began airing on 10 April (with English sub-titles available). The show’s mission is to create a fitter Wales one step at a time.

Five inspiring and committed contributors (known as Leaders) will be guided by three experts during their journey to change old habits for good by following a fit and healthy lifestyle. Personal trainer Rae Carpenter, dietician Sioned Quirke and psychologist Dr Ioan Rees will support the Leaders every step of the way as they aim to transform their health and subsequently their lives.  Each Leader has a compelling story to tell and we invite you along for the journey.  Viewers are encouraged to take part by following a customised weekly online diet and fitness plan as the series progresses and track their own development.  FFIT Cymru is a 360-degree project that spans television, social media and online.

The 8 x 60’ series is currently airing weekly and presented by Welsh broadcaster Lisa Gwilym who is best known for presenting shows on BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Wales and S4C.

There is increasing concern for the nation’s health with 60% of adults in Wales overweight and 1 in 4 considered obese**.

According to the National Survey of Wales 3 in 5 adults in Wales are overweight or obese; 1 in 5 adults in Wales smoke; 1 in 5 adults in Wales drink more than the weekly guidelines and only 1 in 4 adults in Wales eat the recommended 5 fruit or vegetables per day. The NHS in Wales spends £73 million each year treating and trying to prevent obesity – according to research from Welsh Government. 

The show has been created with help and support from the Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, Sports Wales, the Football Association of Wales, mental healthy charity MIND, Bangor University, Sustrans and Parkrun UK.

For more information, and to follow the diet and fitness plans, go online to: www.s4c.cymru/ffitcymru

S4C is available on all TV platforms in Wales and across the UK on Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media. The Welsh language channel is also, available across the UK on s4c.cymru, BBC iPlayer, YouView, Amazon Fire and Samsung Smart TV and on mobile devices via the S4C App. English subtitles are available on most programmes, including FFIT Cymru, either as an optional service or burnt-in.

********************************************************************************************

One of the 5 leaders, Catherine Lewis chatted to Entertainment Views about the series:

Tell me about the TV programme and what inspired you to apply?

FFIT Cymru is a TV programme to help the lucky 5 Leaders chosen to be apart of it to lose weight, get fit, have a healthier lifestyle and body and ultimately transform their lives! But the programme isn’t only there for us 5, they also want everyone in Wales to take part in some way or other.  By watching the programme everyone across Wales will be able to watch and get an idea of how the food and exercise plan works.  The series also has a website with many recipes for healthy foods to cook – they are super easy and anyone should be able to give them a go.  Check it out here: https://www.ffit.cymru – it is in English and Welsh.  I was inspired to apply because the advert looked absolutely incredible.  I have tried so many different diets that I no longer knew what to do.  I started to think at one point “this is how I am now and I need to start accepting it”. But once I saw the advert I just knew straight away “this is what I NEED”!  We receive the help from 3 amazing experts in fitness, diet and psychology every step of the way for 8 weeks – there really isn’t a better way than this.  I have a daughter who is only 2 and I really want her to grow up knowing everything she should know about keeping her body healthy, so I am now doing this for me and her.

What does fitness mean to you?

Fitness to me means having your body in the best shape: having your body’s fitness age at the age you are living at the moment – even younger.  Now I’ve started with my fitness I’m beginning to realise how important fitness is to our bodies and how much my body enjoys it.  And this is exactly what FFIT Cymru wants everyone to do. Your body LOVES it when you work out, do some cardio or even just going for a walk!  It’s surprising how good my body feels just after a month of trying to get fitter. Your body will never say no to exercise, it is always your mind. It’s important to try to change the way you think of these things and they will start to happen.

How do you feel that our well-being can be improved physically and mentally?  

Our well-being can be improved physically and mentally just by eating healthier and exercising. It sounds obvious but it’s true. You eat healthier- you feel it too! You feel amazing just by changing the things you eat. Changing the way you think of food is important too. Yes, it’s important that you enjoy what you eat but food isn’t there just to enjoy, food is the energy our body needs to move around, to do day to day life things.

How do you personally keep motivated to maintain your own fitness?

I keep motivated by thinking of how many days of exercising I have completed and how I don’t want to un-do everything I have done up till now. The harder the cardio gets, the more I start to realise how far I have come and how I’m getting used to running longer.  The longer I run – the prouder I feel.  It just makes me eager to carry it on and achieve more after seeing that I can do it.

What can we expect from the television programme?

You can expect to see how we deal with day to day temptations and the things that bring us down the most.  But you will also learn how to deal with those situations if it happens to you.  The expert advice we receive is invaluable too – anyone can take that on board.  You can learn how to eat healthier and how to keep your body healthy by watching the programme.  I’ve learnt so much from it all and it’s all on TV so, if I was a viewer knowing what I know, I would definitely tune in to see what I could learn!

Why should everybody tune in?

Everyone should tune in if they want to be healthier but also even if they don’t think they want to make the change – it might motivate you to make a change for your own well being!  You will honestly learn so much from the series.  Not only have we grown in our fitness and addressed our eating habits but we have also grown in our confidence and how we push ourselves out of our comfort zone to achieve higher things that we would never do!  It might be just the push you need to start your journey.  Everything you need to start off is on the FFIT Cymru website: https://www.ffit.cymru – go on give it a go.

FFIT Cymru continues on S4C on Tuesday at 8pm.  
For more information and to follow the diet and fitness plans, go online to www.s4c.cymru/ffitcymru  S4C is available on all TV platforms in Wales and across the UK on Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media. The Welsh language channel is also, available across the UK on s4c.cymru, BBC iPlayer, YouView, Amazon Fire and Samsung Smart TV and on mobile devices via the S4C App. English subtitles are available on most programmes, including FFIT Cymru, either as an optional service or burnt-in.

Entertainment Views Interviews: Thomas Meadmore Chats about ‘The Outsider’

A STRANGER THAN FICTION FEATURE DOCUMENTARY THAT GIVE OCEANS 11 A RUN FOR ITS MONEY PREMIERES AT EAST END FILM FESTIVAL AND LIMITED THEATRICAL RELEASE

A legendary figure in the industry, could shipping magnate Nobu Su be the one to bring down the banking world? In a stranger than fiction tale that gives Oceans 11 a run for its money, brand new feature documentary The Outsider is a story of a man who didn’t fit in, taking on one of the biggest corporations in the world.

Filled with financial rackets, conspiracy theories and a story of a multi-millionaire businessman and his mighty fall from grace, The Outsider, from Thomas Meadmore, award-winning editor (The Guv’nor) and director (How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends), has its world premiere at the East End Film Festival, on 20 April 2018. This will be followed by a limited theatrical release as well as an iTunes and DVD release, full details to follow.

Taiwanese shipping magnate Nobu Su rose through the ranks of his family business and built it into one of the largest shipping companies in the world. Powerful, revered and described as a ‘visionary and revolutionary’,  he was one of the most respected people in the shipping world, the world’s biggest transportation business. It’s an industry that accounts for the movement of some 90 per cent of everything we consume in Western Society, but a business that has very little scrutiny.

When the 2008 financial crash happened, Nobu Su lost everything. And everything for him meant several billion dollars.. He felt cheated, believing that rivals were out to get revenge on perceived business slights, leaving him to sink like the rusting hulk of an old ship. And much more disturbing, he genuinely believes that The Royal Bank of Scotland hijacked his account and swindled him out of billions of pounds.

Since 2008 he has been on a one man crusade to understand what went wrong and who was to blame; himself, the banks, his rival ship owners or the system?

Featuring interviews with the man himself, renowned shipping experts, some of the world’s most respected shipping analysts and those close to Nobu Su, The Outsider gives a tantalising look at how the  little known world of  global shipping operates, told from the point of view of the greatest maverick the shipping world has ever known.

Running time: 100 mins approx.                                            Language: English  

Entertainment Views grabbed an exclusive interview with Thomas Meadmore

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, tell me about the Outsider and your inspiration for the film

My pleasure – thanks for your interest in the movie!

The Outsider is a character study of a man on a mission against the biggest institutions during the global financial crisis. Without judging his actions, it illustrates the life and fall out from an obsession to prove oneself. This is all wrapped up in an entertaining ‘oceans eleven on the high seas’ heist story and banking scandal. It’s great fun.

And of course the inspiration came from the man himself, Nobu Su – an incredibly charismatic man who’s passion bowls you over. How could I not want to tell his story!

What elements do you look for when choosing a subject to centre a film around?

There are a few things. Who is the person, what are they like? Will they be good speakers and open up about their lives and go deep into their emotions? Importantly, is their story compelling? It always comes down to story and the ability to tell the story in a dramatic way. With Nobu Su, I was certain that we could do that.

What were the challenges with this film?

Ironically – the biggest challenge was understanding this story!! It’s a complex financial story – so I had to understand it before I could explain it in a film to an audience. This difficulty was compounded by a fundamental secrecy which our main character, Nobu Su, likes to shroud all of his activity within. No one really knows the full story with him – and this was the case from go to woe with me! We got there in the end. The other biggest challenge was just trying to control him. Impossible. One minute we would be ready to film, microphone on and suddenly… he was gone. Run off somewhere for twenty minutes. Hilarious. We just had to roll with it.

What were the highlights of making the film?

Beyond the stress of the above, it created a tremendous excitement – and making the chaos part of the story allowed for a very smooth filming process. It became quite exciting – we didn’t know where we would end up next, who we would be with or what we would be doing. One day we were in Taiwan, the next we were on an enormous ship in Dubai! Also working with the man himself, Nobu, is fun. He has an enthusiastic energy which syncs with mine and as a result we had a terrific rapport.

What can the audience expect from it?

You’re going to enter the world of a billionaire (or a once upon a time billionaire), you’re going to see how he made his money, and you’re going to witness the phenomenal so-called heist/scandal that brought him to his knees. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s eye opening and it’s a world (the world of shipping & shipping finance) I am sure you have never seen before. With one of the most enigmatic characters right at the centre of the whole she-bang.

Strap in.

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

I hope the audience will take home insight into the sacrifices people make when they are trying to fire-fight their own problems, to their own detriment… the cost on family life and personal sanity. Is it worth it? And I hope people will get a fresh perspective on the impact of the de-regulation of banks – how one individual can be taken advantage of for the benefit of a bank. Because it’s wrapped in a fun, entertaining character study you, hopefully, won’t glaze over when we start showing you the money (so to speak).

Any advice for budding film makers?

Today the advice would be make sure you get good sound!

The Outsider arrives on iTunes on 4 June and screens at Bertha DocHouse from 25 Mayhttp://dochouse.org/cinema/screenings/outsider

The Little Mermaid ~ Malvern Theatres

Little Mermaid is on UK tour – check our all the dates/venues here: Little Mermaid

Star rating: ****

It was a first for me to see a Circus performance and definitely a first to be able to appreciate Little Mermaid performed this way. However, I hope this will be the first of many opportunities I will have, as I have witness something extraordinary in Metta Theatre’s production.

With book, lyrics and additional song melodies from Poppy Burton-Morgan, we were treated the tale of the mermaid’s quest to live on land which is mirrored by the Prince’s desire to be by the sea. A fateful storm throws them into one another’s path and so begins the classic love story, it’s a rollercoaster of dark magic from the Sea Witch, life-changing choices and the overall feeling that love will conquer all eventually.

The music was played on stage by the cast and they all possessed stunning singing voices, their musicality matched their physical abilities and made for quite the spectacle. The strength, trust and confidence that each one emulated was thrilling too.

With a set which was minimalistic yet represented the sea beautifully, with the sparse addition of relevant apparatus, the scene was set for a story of wonder. The talented ensemble demonstrated their abilities as acrobats, singers, musicians and story-tellers. I can honestly say this was the first time I’d ever seen an individual swinging upside down and simultaneously playing the violin! It looked as natural as the other stunning choreography and movement, though, the entire show was seamless.

It was unfortunate that my eyes were drawn to the wings as I was eager to watch the technicalities, this may have distracted me from the splendour unfolding on stage. However, there’s no denying that the production is flawless both on and off stage.

I’m delighted to have dipped into a different genre of live performance and Malvern Theatres provided a superb space to watch it in.

Photo Credits: Robert Day

 

Seatplan Website Review

www,seatplan,com is a theatre-based website I was previously unfamiliar with, so having been invited to ‘review’ the website, I was interested to see the layout, ticket deals and encouragement given to members of the public to share their theatrical experiences. As the site looks to improve their user experience, I’ve noted my likes and suggestions for improvement.

I like….

  1. Providing a platform for ‘Joe Public’ to write about their experience at the theatre, whether good, bad or indifferent. It’s important to see a myriad of opinions and this site certainly provides that opportunity.
  2. Views from seats in a variety of theatres are provided with reviews and could be useful if you’re considering your seat options. I, for one often seek out a ‘cheap’ seat and if I’m keen on selecting ‘restricted view’ because it will enable me to stick to my budget it’s good to know whether I might be compromising the view I’ll be getting as a result of my earning the nickname of ‘cheap-skate’ (although pennies saved on a ticket always go towards the interval drink fund!).
  3. Competitions – always a reason to visit a website (in my humble opinion!) and they currently have a great one to win tickets to see The King And I. In the past they’ve offered theatre tokens which are also a much coveted prize.
  4. You can earn rewards through uploading your review and photo which enable you to cash out a £10 theatre token – that’s a decent reward for the active theatre-goer! It’s also an incentive to get involved.

My Suggestions…

  1. Two search boxes aren’t necessary (there’s one at the top of the website and another larger scale search box below that).
  2. When first logging on to the website it’s not obvious that there are rewards for uploading content and competitions to win prizes. Initially it could be mistaken for being a ticket sales website which encourages theatre enthusiasts to share their reviews.
  3. I note that the Midlands is missing from the list of places to go and see a show – speaking as a midlands-based reviewer, we have many beautiful venues with some fantastic in-house and visiting shows on offer.

Summary

It’s a unique concept and links together the various elements that are important to a theatre-goer. The seat views in particular are quite useful and a good idea. With a few tweaks I think this will be a top UK theatre website.

 

Move Over Mrs Markham ~ The Mill Theatre, Sonning

Move Over Mrs Markham stays at The Mill Theatre until Saturday 2 June 2018 – book your tickets here: www.millatsonning.com/shows/move-over-mrs-markham

Star rating: *****

You won’t find a finer farce playwright than Ray Cooney, in my humble opinion, and this production of Move Over Mrs Markham (which he co-wrote with John Chapman and has directed himself) is a perfect of example of why this genre of playwriting has stood the test of time. It’s no mean feat to pull off the perfect farce, however here we have a cast de force who have embraced the direction from their ‘maestro’ and they’ve really done him proud too.

The story has been set in the 1970’s and revolves around the Markhams and the Lodges – Lodge and Markham is a publishing firm run by Henry Lodge (Andrew Hall) and Phillip Markham (Mark Curry). The action is set in the static environment of the Markham’s London flat which is in the process of being refurbished by the wildly flamboyant Alistair Spenlow (Delme Thomas). It’s easy to see why Spenlow’s sexuality is questionable, however his mutual goosing with au pair, Sylvie (Una Byrne) seems to suggest he’s heterosexual through and through. While Spenlow and Sylvie are plotting an evening of slap, tickle and goosing – Henry’s wife, Linda (Judy Buxton) who is aware of her husband’s constant philandering, has been planning some philandering herself. She’s met a man at a Tapestry class called Walter Pangbourne (Jeffrey Holland), so Linda is keen to get between the sheets with her new love-letter-writing beau. After she’s had a cup of tea that is, she can’t do anything until she’s had a cup of tea. The sheets that she has in mind belong to the Markhams, so Phillip’s wife Jo (Finty Williams) is in the unlucky position of helping her friend out. Throw into the mix that Henry has yet another girl on the go, whom he plans to bed at the Markhams place. It’s a hot-bed of will they/won’t they, partner swapping confusion and hilarity. Doors are opening, closing and characters are racing frantically about the place in an attempt to maintain the subterfuge. We’re frequently reminded of the publishing business at the heart of the tale, never more so than when Olive Harriet Smythe (Elizabeth Elvin) makes an appearance, in search of a new publisher for her children’s books – a publisher who isn’t all about sex!

Mark Curry is a revelation and ideally cast as the over-worked, hapless Phillip Markham, he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going – quite literally, in fact at times he’s not even sure who he is! Finty WIlliams is a superb match as his wife, Jo, she conveys so much with one look or gesture and keeps the flow of the farce fantastically. Delme Thomas captivated me in his role of Alistair Spenlow, a flick of the eyebrow and a delighted expression on his face was enough to have me rolling in the aisle and his energy was boundless. Andrew Hall was debonair and cool as Henry Lodge, he commanded authority and the twinkle in his eye enhanced his characterisation of the role. Judy Buxton’s comic timing as Linda Lodge was spot on throughout, every move was measured and precise – she’s the perfect fit for a farce of this calibre. Matched, of course by her real life husband, Jeffrey Holland who played business-card wielding Walter, predictably brilliantly. Holland played Walter as the epitome of confusion, especially when he thought he was going to have some fun with Linda and she was in search of a teapot before he could get any further! Elizabeth Elvin was a sheer delight as the bumbling author, Olive Harriet Smythe, she’s the cherry on the cake amongst a cast who are all at the top of their game.

The set design was pure seventies with nods towards the luxurious elegance which Jo Markham was trying to achieve and Phillip Markham was not ‘feeling’. Numerous exits and entrances are a must for this fast-paced piece and there were plenty available.

If you want a fun, light-hearted, albeit slightly complex belly laugh-inducing farce to get your teeth into – this is the one to go and see. I’d watch it again if I could! Hilariously witty, tongue-twisting humour, slightly un-PC, yet it doesn’t seem to matter. Catch the limited run while you can.

 

 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: