Neighbours: Hit and Run ~ Review

Welcome back Chloe Buckles, guest reviewing her beloved soap operaNeighbours for me and in this case she’s selected the late night special! Here are her thoughts…

If you were a solid watcher of Neighbours in the 90’s then Monday evening’s 10pm one-hour special of the UK’s favourite Australian soap was the place to be without a doubt! Nostalgic, with some familiar faces of ex-cast, the show put on its best impression of a movie and encouraged us to get reminiscent of the 1990’s.

We kicked off with a Spice Girls intro instead of the usual opening titles, starting up the full themed 90’s party atmosphere as we headed off into Toadie’s (Ryan Moloney) 21st birthday party, seeing the return of familiar faces Stu Parker (Blair McDonough), Lance Wilkinson (Andrew Bibby) and Stonie Rebecchi (Anthony Engelman) – dressed as Teletubbies, naturally. Toadie won the party of his dreams from Lassiters, and of course the whole neighbourhood was invited! Plus there was an appearance from fan favourites Angie and Big Kev (Lesley Baker and Don Bridges)! There were some excellent costumes, but I enjoyed Paul Robinson’s (Stefan Dennis) “I came as myself in the 90’s” and Gary’s “a man in his 90’s”. The party atmosphere was somewhat disrupted though, by Stu who had a message to give to Toadie from Sindi (Marisa Warington) – the co-conspirator on the whole Andrea/Dee plot a few months back. When Toadie did catch up with Sindi, it was to be told that Andrea is back in town, watching him and wants to speak to him. I can’t imagine Sonya (Eve Morey) is going to be happy about that.

Unless you’ve been under a rock over the last week you won’t have missed the big news that Izzy Hoyland (Natalie Bassingthwaighte) is back in town, and she made her usual dramatic entrance – being knocked over by a car, that Susan (Jackie Woodburne) was driving! Karl (Alan Fletcher) and Susan have been picking at each over and bickering of late, ever since Karl returned from Thailand with a smuggled durian fruit and tried to pass the smell of it off on Susan at customs. Bad move Karl. Since then we’ve watched the couple bicker over the smallest of things and Karl become obsessed with wanting to be involved with a new wing being built at the hospital. In fact, in this episode, he’s cleared out the couple’s retirement fund. Susan is understandably cheesed off! Now, with Izzy’s return, are the couple set to hit to rocks over her, yet again? Izzy definitely manages to cast a spell over Karl in this episode, making him question whether Susan was in a fit state to drive after their disagreement. And it quickly becomes apparent when Izzy’s discussing with daughter Holly (Lucinda Armstrong Hall), that she has a plan up her sleeve involving the Kennedy’s. Izzy is definitely one of those characters you love to hate (or just love!) and having her back on the show is such a treat! As Susan said, “Isabelle has never done anything in her life without an agenda.”

Elsewhere, Tyler (Travis Burns) and Piper (Mavournee Hazel) aren’t in the partying mood with Tyler’s up and coming murder trial and have chosen to spend their last night in the city. Piper quickly confesses to Tyler that she has a plan – to go on the run! This move, to me, seems very out of character for Piper, who until recently was always very independent and unlikely, I think, to be altering her whole future for her boyfriend. But then, perhaps love makes people do silly things! Tyler is reluctant to agree but eventually concedes and the pair put on their (unconvincing) disguises to start their new life together. Elsewhere though, best friend Xanthe (Lilly Van der Meer) has had to admit that the pair are planning to run away and suddenly police helicopters are dispatched and Tyler and Piper are on a dramatic chase, desperate to get away. Tyler jumps a rooftop, telling Piper that she needs to go back to her family. However, Piper isn’t listening and follows him – leaving us all on a literal cliff hanger (or roof hanger). Will Piper manage to hold on? Or is it all over for her?

Overall, this episode left me wanting more – and it’s been a while since I felt that way about Neighbours. A fleeting appearance from newbie Rafael (Coronation Street’s Ryan Thomas) who it looks as though has unfinished business with Paul Robinson (who hasn’t…?) is just another small hook we were given into the up and coming weeks storylines. Personally I can’t wait to see what havoc Izzy is going to play on the Kennedy’s, and if we’ll ever see an end to the Andrea/Dee storyline – I’m still holding out hope that Dee is alive!

You can catch Neighbours at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5.

 

Picture credits: Channel 5

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Moments / Empty Bed ~ Hope Theatre, Islington

Book tickets here (booking until 17th February 2018)The Hope Theatre

Reviewed by G. Wood

Star rating: ****

Pennyworth Productions present two bite size plays at The Hope Theatre this spring, both featuring the writing and acting talent of Julia Cranney, and together they make for an engaging and insightful evening. Interestingly, both titles would work for either play, as themes of isolation, mental health (and cake) echo throughout the performance and, though they differ in form and narrative structure, they make for perfect bedfellows.

The first time we meet Ava and Daniel in Moments they are both asleep, ready to start their day working in dreary jobs within the empty heart of the big city, each narrating for us the life of the other as we meander through their daily routine. Ava appears to be searching for her place in the world (there are hints of aspergers as well as a deep hunger for connection) whereas Daniel, despite his own painful history, seems to know where and who he is, their shared loneliness quite palpable. There are moments when their separate voices become one, evoking a powerful reminder of the pain of being alone in the city, before we carry on our journey through their separate eyes. Strangely, this structural device of each recording the movement of the other is both the play’s strength and weakness; there are a few points where it edges dangerously close to becoming wearisome but the pay off, whenever these two lost souls finally start to make some connection, is actually made more welcome and stronger for what has come before. As Ava, Julia Cranney delivers her written words with aplomb, drawing us gradually into the world of a fragile young woman and Simon Mattacks brings warmth, humour and an endearing awkwardness to his Security Guard Daniel, helping us forgive him his bluntness and a sometimes archaic take on the world.

Post interval is Empty Beds, Anna Reid’s simple but effective design shifting from arena to traverse as we are now staring at a train carriage; here the writer plays the eldest of three sisters, heading off to visit their brother Michael on his birthday. Immediately accessible, the play weaves neatly in real time through the strains of the sibling dynamic, bouncing from joy to anger to pain with the deftness of a truly gifted writer. Although she is sometimes hampered by the need to get characters off stage for dramatic purpose, what Cranney really nails is how no family moment ever happens without being imbued by a sense of history, how an argument is never wholly about the matter in hand, but always stained by what has come before. And director Kate Treadell guides us carefully through it all, drawing strong performances from all three actors to create a convincing picture of siblings and all the baggage that this brings. Completely unrecognisable from the first play, Cranney plays the hard edged but loving Catherine, alongside Carys Wright (beautifully ethereal as Emily) and Debbie Brannan (sensational as Michael’s twin sister Jo). There is a moment where we hear (almost imperceptibly) the train that they are on grind to a halt: perhaps a metaphor for how impossible it is for any family to move forward, especially when there is still pain and reprisal to be dealt with.

Cranney is exceptionally adept at bringing her simple observations of the world to life, be it the mass production of eggs in London or finding those hidden plug sockets on a train, and throughout the evening the truth of these smaller moments help the larger ones resonate more powerfully, helped along by an excellent cast of five (wait, four), effective design all round and Treadell’s assured direction. The Hope continues to programme top rate fringe theatre and these two bijou theatrical nuggets from Pennyworth are no exception.

 

10 Interesting Facts About London’s West End

*** Guest Blog by http://www.boxoffice.co.uk ***

Quite apart from being one of the top tourist attractions in London, the West End is part of the fabric that holds the ‘Big Smoke’ together. For centuries the West End has held a pivotal cultural importance in the capital city and is soaked in the kind of history and symbolism that entrances millions of visitors every year. Such a heritage brings with it countless fascinating stories, and here are some of the most incredible facts about London’s West End.

  1. The Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road was opened in 1889, but its construction was delayed and became extremely complex after an underground river was discovered during excavation for the foundations of the building.
  2. Mousetrap is the longest running play in the West End. With over 26,000 performances the Agatha Christie murder mystery play has run continuously since 1952 when it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre. It is currently showing at the St Martin’s Theatre where it was first transferred in 1974.
  3. The longest running musical in the West End is Les Misérables, which opened in September 1985. It has run continuously ever since, overtaking Cats as the longest running production in 2006. It is currently staged at the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, where it celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015.
  4. Another name for the West End is ‘Theatreland’ and the boundary of this is generally accepted as being from The Strand in the south, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west and Kingsway to the east. However, some landmark theatres are included within the ‘West End’ which lay outside of this boundary, such as the Apollo Victoria Theatre.
  5. Many famous West End theatres are thought to be haunted, but most stories surround the Royal Drury Lane Theatre, which is thought to be haunted by several ghosts. Most sightings surround the ghost of actor Charles Macklin, who is said to be a ‘tall, thin and ugly’ ghost with a bad temper.
  6. West End theatres come in all shapes and sizes, and many have been refurbished, rebuilt and extended many times. However, you could fit the entire 432-seater Fortune Theatre, opened in 1924, onto just the stage area of the Dominion Theatre.
  7. It is believed that the very first theatre in London was opened in 1576 and was simply named The Theatre. However, the first theatre in the area now known as the West End was the Theatre Royal, which was opened in 1663.
  8. Floods were not unusual in the 18th and 19th centuries, but did you know that the Dominion Theatre on Tottenham Court Road stands on the site of the Great Beer Flood of 1814? Eight people died when 570 tonnes of beer crashed through the walls of the Horse Shoe Brewery, and while injuries were sustained by the 15 foot waves created in the streets, it is believed some people were also crushed by the rush of people drinking free beer off the streets.
  9. The story of Peter Pan; or the boy who never grew up, has been adapted on to the West End stage several times at many different theatres, most recently the Adelphi theatre, but did you know that Great Ormond Street Hospital owns the copyright to the story, after author J.M. Barrie gifted the rights to the hospital in 1929, eight years before his death? Sales of the story in various formats have since earned the hospital millions in vital revenue.
  10. During the Second World War a total of 167 bombs were dropped on the area known as the West End.

This article was written by Box Office Theatre Tickets – buy your London theatre tickets from www.boxoffice.co.uk today!

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