A Few of my Favourite Things…

As an entertainment and lifestyle blogger I’m always asked about my favourites, especially when I interview performers and creatives, I put the spotlight on them and more often than not the cheeky devils turn the tables on me! What’s my favourite musical, favourite play, who do I aspire to be? So, in the same way that every good website has a FAQs section, I thought I’d let you all in on my favourite things!

Favourite Musical

I’ve named this blogpost A Few of my Favourite Things, not because The Sound of Music is top of the list in the musical theatre stakes – although I do have a place in my heart for the show and I loved the incarnation which toured fairly recently and starred the superb Pippa Winslow and Zoe Ann Bown.

I digress, Blood Brothers is my all-time favourite musical. I can watch it over and over, I could watch it back to back and never get bored. I jump at the gunshot every time, I cry at different scenes but I do always cry. My favourite songs from the show have never changed, ‘My Child’ and ‘Show Upon The Table’. Musical theatre numbers at their best, give them a listen!

Narrowly missing the number one spot are:

  1. Phantom of the Opera (favourite Phantom is the mighty Ramin Karimloo!)
  2. The Girls (‘Silent Night’ sung by Claire Machin is quite a moment…)
  3. Mamma Mia (the ultimate feel-good musical and the current West End cast are insanely good)

Favourite Opera

Opera is a recent addition to my list of happy places and it’s all thanks to a chance viewing of The Mikado on Sky Arts. I saw opera star Yvonne Howard playing the role of Katisha and she blew me away. From there I was checking out her credits and finding myself gripped by classical opera in a way I never could have imagined.

My current favourite opera is Falstaff, I saw it at Garsington Opera very recently and it’s continued to resonate. I have a long-standing love affair with Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, they’ve been on my radar since I was a kid, however, Verdi’s Falstaff is something else. Comedy, poignancy and Italian language – it’s a treat for the eyes and the ears.

Favourite Play

Farce is my bag, when it comes to non-musical theatre I gravitate towards a laugh out loud comedy. Ray Cooney is one of my best-loved playwrights and recently I had the great pleasure of reviewing his production of Move Over Mrs Markham. It’s the king of farce and with the perfect cast, which the version I watched this year undoubtedly possessed – makes for a perfect night at the theatre for yours truly!

Favourite Film

I’m a Disney fan and a Harry Potter geek, so choosing a favourite film is nigh on impossible. All the Harry Potter films would be one answer, all the Disney films would be another answer.

If I move away from those particular passions and opportunities for geekery, I’d have to go with the hilarious American Pie movies. I can’t choose between them because the cast stays almost consistent throughout all four of the main films from the franchise. If there were major alterations to the line-up I think that would affect my judgement, however the proverbial dream team appear in them all (barring the lack of Chris Klein as Oz in the third film – which I might never get over!). I have met Thomas Ian Nicholas too, at a comic con – something else I may never get over. Truly.

An addition to my list of films which I can re-watch with alarming regularity is a surprise entry. I didn’t expect to love Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance anywhere near as much as I did. The royal family are portrayed by a cast of exceptionally talented actors and I can’t recommend it highly enough. You can read my review here: Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance Review

Favourite Television Programme

So tricky to narrow this one down so I’m going to pick one (or more!) from each genre. If we’re talking about Soap Operas then it has to be Coronation Street (closely followed by Hollyoaks). The Street is a continuing drama that never loses momentum and some of the old favourites still reside there.

ITV Home Fires

One of my all-time favourite television dramas was Home Fires on ITV. The fact that it didn’t get a third series was bewildering and it still has a place in my heart. Unforgotten recently trumped it for Sunday night TV but I also love Call The Midwife, I can’t wait for the Christmas special. These dramas all have excellent casts who gel and make the show thoroughly watchable.

No modern day sitcom comes close to the classics I grew up watching. Hi De Hi!, You Rang M’Lord, Keeping Up Appearances. There’s nothing there to beat them, the opportunity to watch them on Gold is a god-send. Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is equally up there with the best comedies in my humble opinion. They are all on my must-watch list and half an hour of any of these shows can turn my frown upside down.

Favourite Actor

The name Stephen Beckett is one that immediately springs to mind, the admiration dates back to The Bill, Coronation Street and now last year’s Prospero in The Tempest at Stafford Castle and most definitely Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre – Bill Austin is a part that was surely made for him. I didn’t know he could sing either so he’s most definitely an all-rounder de force.

I also need to add the incomparable Daniel Taylor to the mix, not only is he my favourite Sammy in my favourite musical, Blood Brothers – he’s also the best Tommy Cooper impersonator ever. He looks good in a dress, I can attest to that as I saw him as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella last year… just to clear that up! Seriously though, I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do.

As for screen actors, I hand the accolade to Seann William Scott, he is also better known as Stifler from the American Pie films and I think he’s got one of the most wonderful faces! Even when he’s voicing the role of Crash in Ice Age, I can picture him recording the voice of the character. I think his forte is comedy, although when he’s in a more dramatic role he still holds my attention – what an actor!

The actor I first admired when I was a telly addict child is Jeffrey Holland, Hi De Hi! was a must-watch in our house and I was smitten with Spike. Jeff is a chameleon when it comes to acting, there’s much more to him that meets the eye.

Favourite Actress

If we’re talking on stage then Sarah Jane Buckley without hesitation. In musical theatre she is exceptional, in pantomime she’s perfection and I first discovered her when she played the role of the unstable and, let’s face it, quite scary Kathy Barnes in Hollyoaks. I’ve always felt that the sky’s the limit for this super-talented lady. Sarah Jane is my best-loved actress on stage and on screen, without hesitation.

Through watching Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance I discovered two actresses who were previously unknown to me and whom I now intend to keep my eyes peeled for in future. Deborah Ramsay portrayed Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Parisa Fitz-Henley played Meghan. I’m a royalist and their performances in particular resonated upon first viewing of what is now one of my favourite films and I am eager to see their faces on screen again soon.

A cheeky mention must go to the wonderful Judy Buxton too, she was one of my favourite actresses when I was growing up with watching some of the best sit coms on television and she is a power-house on stage, the epitome of versatility.

Favourite Singer

Too many to mention, however with my newly discovered love of opera the first names out of my mouth are those of Yvonne Howard and Marcus Farnsworth. The latter grabbed my attention and never let it go when he starred in the ENO production of Iolanthe at the Coliseum earlier this year. The former wowed me in The Mikado, Iolanthe and Falstaff, I’ve also heard her sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ in Carousel thanks to YouTube. Glorious!

I can’t finish the favourites post without a mention going to Ramin Karimloo, he was my first Phantom and he’ll always be my Phantom. Vocal ability that pushes boundaries, he’s a force of nature.

Photo Credits: Blood Brothers (Bill Kenwright Website), Falstaff (Clive Barda), Cast of Move Over Mrs Markham (Ray Cooney),  Stephen Beckett in The Tempest (Stafford Shakespeare Festival),  Sarah Jane Buckley as Mrs Lyons in Blood Brothers (with permission from Sarah Jane Buckley), Deborah Ramsay as Camilla in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance (Lifetime TV), ENO’s Iolanthe (Clive Barda), Ramin Karimloo (Sourced from Broadway World)

 

 

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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.

 

 

Carol Royle ~ Latest News

Actress Carol Royle, one of Break A Leg’s Patrons and my lovely friend and colleague has been busy since her tour of the UK with Dead Sheep last year. Supporting charities, promoting veganism and meeting fans at a Blake’s 7 convention have all been on her agenda, so far this year. Here are a few moments from her recent activities!

Vegfest

Carol with her daughter, Tally Spear and Karin Ridgers (Director at VeggieVision.TV)

VegfestUK in Brighton took place on 11th & 12th March this year. VegfestUK orgnaise Europe’s BIGGEST vegan festivals.  A celebration of all things vegan – Music, food, bodycare, stalls, campaigns, entertainment, excitement, passion and bouncing with plant based positive energy!

Carol was a guest at the talk ‘Veganising my favourite dish’, part of the Easy Veganism programme of Q&A sessions. She thoroughly enjoyed participating in this as Carol is a tireless campaigner for animal rights, has been a vegetarian since 1973 and is now a vegan, as is her daughter Tally Spear. Tally is a musician playing her own songs and she performed at the event, you can find out all about Tally’s music and her latest single release, by visiting her spanking brand new website here: Tally Spear Website

To find out more about VegfestUK visit: http://www.vegfest.co.uk

The 3rd Annual Mane Chance Charity Gala

The fabulous Paul Ferris worked overtime gathering the stars for the 3rd Mane Chance Charity Gala to which was held at the Theatre Royal, Windsor on 19th March 2017. Carol was delighted to take part for such a worthwhile charity. Carol has written a sonnet for Virginia McKenna OBE, Virginia is a friend and inspiration to Carol. It was therefore her great pleasure to introduce her friend at the gala. We all look forward to the 4th one!

Cygnus Alpha 2017 

Carol with actress, Judy Buxton

In 1978 Carol played Mutoid in Blake’s 7 – although it was many years ago, fans of the show are still extremely familiar with the character. Carol was invited to attend Cygnus Alpha convention for Blake’s 7 fans. Together with Carol at the Panel session where she participated in a Q&A session, was fellow actress, Judy Buxton who also happens to be a Patron of Break A Leg and a regular plus one at press nights with me. Carol had so much fun at the event “I absolutely loved this day, meeting so many lovely people…such a wonderful energy!” It looks as though the attendees had a great time, too. Thanks to Markosi Gonzarelli Gascoigne for the photos of Carol.

 

 

 

Spotlight On… Star of Blast From The Past, Judy Buxton

Blast From The Past is written  and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree. It is part of Camden Fringe and will be staged at Upstairs At The Gatehouse 16th – 19th August 2016.

Book tickets here: http://camdenfringe.com/show.php?acts_id=569

Judy Buxton is reprising her role of Julie Tate in Blast From The Past, she’s also taking on some extra characters due to this being an extended version of the show. I caught up with Judy (who is a Patron of Break A Leg!) to find out all about her new characters and how she feels about returning to the leopard print.

Hi Judy, thank you for chatting to Break A Leg, first of all, you originated the role of Julie in Blast From The Past at the London Short Play Festival last year – what has inspired you to want to revisit the character?

Well, I wanted to re-visit the character because last year’s piece was a very short version of the play, so it’s going to be interesting to play her in the hour long version. I am also keen to revisit the character because it’s a part that I wouldn’t normally be cast in. I am being cast fairly regularly as older character parts, but this is something completely different, for a start she’s a tarty character from the north which I’m certainly not normally cast as. I enjoyed the experience at the London Short Play Festival and that’s the main reason why I want to repeat it. It’s a fun character to play, but as you know, the play is poignant as well. Julie’s a tart with a heart, really and had a difficult life. She’s had to look after her children by herself after her husband left, but she’s struggled through and got on with it. Overall, I think she’s quite a likeable character.

Have you considered playing any aspect of the role differently, this time?

I think because it plays as it’s written, when you read the script you can hear what the character is like, so I don’t think I’ll change anything unless Anna-Lisa changes anything. In this longer version I’ve also got three other characters to play. There won’t be time to change make up, but costume, yes. Not only will I play Julie Tate as the younger and older, I also play Mrs Grimshaw the cleaner, Mystical Maureen and Beverley Scanton, who was Danny’s teacher.

This time around as well as the additional characters you are playing, there are some other extra parts which means the cast has grown. How do you think that will change the dynamics?

It’s difficult to say until we start, but I still think it will work very well. I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out. I think that even though the piece is longer and there are more characters, none of the poignancy is lost, which is lovely.

This year, I believe you attended the memorial for the Nail bombing victims?

Yes,  Jeff (Jeffrey Holland, Judy’s husband) and I went down to the memorial that takes place every April, we went into the Admiral Duncan Pub and it was incredibly moving, there was a little procession down the street. It was so poignant and I’m very glad that I did that, because the piece will mean much more to me than the first time around when I hadn’t attended a memorial. It will mean so much more to me when I’m in the memorial scene at the end of the show.

What do you think the audience will get from the show?

Hopefully they’ll laugh and maybe have a bit of a cry as well. I think because it was a real event there will be some people that remember it. Then there will be people who have never even heard of the Nail bombing in 1999, but maybe they’ll want to know more. There’s certainly something for everyone.

Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

As I said, there’s going to be something for everyone, there will be a lot of laughs and costume-wise, Anna-Lisa has done a great job. It’s about a true event but with fictional characters who are larger than life, plus there’s the Drag element as well.

I’d like to thank Judy for her time and wish her a successful show, next week!

Blast From The Past ~ Press Release

*** Blast From The Past is BACK! Following great critical acclaim at The London Short Play Festival, last year! A link to my review of the shorter version can be found here… http://wp.me/p3mavI-FL ***

PRESS RELEASE – CAMDEN FRINGE 2016

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Life is far from grim ‘Up North’, Danny’s a Bad Lad, his Mam’s a tart and his brother dresses in women’s clothes; but life is a roller coaster and all of their lives are about to change forever.

It’s April 1999 and London is calling, so fasten your seat-belts and prepare for fashion faux pas, Brit Pop, the Vegas of The North and London’s West End.

Hold on tight and enjoy the ride, because after all none of us are going to get out of this crazy world alive!

This production sensitively tackles the real life event of the nail bomb attack at the ‘Admiral Duncan’ Pub in Soho.

“..the casting was perfect, a definite triumph, and I’m keen to see more of Anna-Lisa Maree’s work…”

Helen McWilliams – Break A Leg Review

“…the overall design is evocative and engaging with some truly spectacular costumes…”

LGBTQ Arts Review

Written & Directed By: ANNA-LISA MAREE

STARRING

Smash Hits Award Winner

ANTHONY KAVANAGH (Celebrity Big Brother, The Big Reunion)

Critically acclaimed stage & screen actresses JUDY BUXTON & FELICITY DEAN

Drag Artiste: Richard Rhodes ‘aka Sheila Simmonds

with ANDREW IRVINE & ANNA-LISA MAREE

Having premiered at the London Short Play Festival in 2015, BLAST FROM THE PAST is back as an hour long production; introducing brand new characters and a stellar cast!

Show taking place at: Upstairs At The Gatehouse, Highgate Village, LONDON, N6 4DB.

Date Time Ticket Price Concessions

Tuesday 16th August 2016 7.30pm £12 £10

Wednesday 17th August 2016 9.15pm £12 £10

Thursday 18th August 2016 7.30pm £12 £10

Friday 19th August 2016 9.15pm £12 £10

Book Tickets via: www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com

020 8340 3488

 

Blast From The Past ~ London Short Play Festival 2015

Last year I went to the London Short Play Festival where among others, I had the great pleasure of reviewing Blast From The Past by Anna-Lisa Maree. This year, Anna-Lisa has expanded on the script, added new characters and brings her master-piece to Camden Fringe. Details of how to book tickets and the press release can be found here: https://breakalegreview.com/2016/06/02/blast-from-the-past-press-release/

In the meantime, here is the brief review from last year’s shorter version.

Blast from the Past written and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree opened the event, starring ex-Coronation Street star Scott Wright, seasoned television and theatre star Judy Buxton, Anthony Poore and Matthew Jordan Wright. The story centres around the dysfunctional Tate family who are ensconced in their own Blackpool B&B business. With monologues which drew me in and enhanced the story, together with the sensitive tackling of real-life event, the 1999 nail bombing at the Admiral Duncan, this piece could easily work as a full length play. The attention to detail down to the costumes all helped to create the correct atmosphere and tone. The set was simple and effective, the casting was perfect, a definite triumph, and I’m keen to see more of Anna-Lisa Maree’s work.

 

Secondary Cause of Death ~ Malvern Theatres

Touring production which finishes on Saturday 12 March at Malvern Theatres.

Secondary Cause of Death has landed at Malvern Theatres for the final leg of its tour, written by Peter Gordon and produced by Talking Scarlet. This features the bumbling Inspector Pratt who makes an appearance in a trilogy of Gordon plays (Death by Fatal Murder and Murdered to Death are the other two).

Set in Colonel Charles Craddock’s Country Manor House, Bagshot House, the guests of the Colonel are embarking upon a murder mystery style ‘parlour game’ which is hosted and written by Cynthia Maple (sister of Joan Maple, a nod towards Joan Marple, presumably!). Included in this charade are Count Puchlik of Puszczykowo from Poland, Lady Isodora Pollock who takes great delight in taking part in the game, over-acting like crazy. There’s also Henrietta Woolmer-Cardington who is an army captain and appears to be nice but dim – or is she? Lily Tuthill the cook who looks ready to skin a rabbit at a moment’s notice, and Cardew Longfellow, an actor employed by Miss Maple, who just happens to pay a resemblance to the Colonel – or does he? Either way, the bodies start piling up and the race is on to find out whodunit.

What’s refreshing about this is that it’s a farcical murder mystery and the ‘garden paths’ it leads the audience up are not only numerous, but all result in great hilarity. Inspector Pratt (played by David Callister with comic genius) moves from accusing no-one, declaring an obvious murder to be the secondary cause of death to announcing himself as the culprit (although he plans to plead innocent). It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud with such frequency during an evening at the theatre, and at a murder mystery of all things!

Judy Buxton is perfectly cast and puts in an excellent performance as Cynthia Maple, she’s the epitome of the formidable busy-body who sets the hapless Inspector straight. Liz Garland could be likened to a chameleon in her role as Henrietta, seemingly innocent but with a wholly different persona behind closed doors, Garland is an actress to watch out for, she shines in this production. Polly Smith is equally well cast as Lily Tuthill, the south western cook with her Mrs Overall style gait who is also not what she seems. David Janson brings a Manuel from Fawlty Towers quality to the role of the Count, he has some excellent slapstick scenes with Callister. Then there’s Jeffrey Holland, who demonstrates one of the many reasons why, in my opinion,  he’s one of our finest actors and remains so after years in the business, he switches seamlessly between the Colonel and Longfellow, his diction is precise and each character is played as an individual.

Secondary Cause of Death finishes its run in Malvern on Saturday 12 March and that is where the tour ends, so get your tickets by visiting this link: http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/

 

 

Spotlight On… Helen McWilliams

Here’s your opportunity to get to know me 🙂

*** Spotlight On… Helen McWilliams ***

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Why did you start ‘Break A Leg Review’?

I was contributing as a reviewer and interviewer to another online review site, I told one of my favourite actresses (during an interview) that I was considering setting up my own site, and she was very encouraging about it. I had been building up a network of contacts around the  West Midlands and wanted to continue to do that for ourselves, with Garry (my husband) in tow. Garry takes a backseat these days as his own career is taking a few exciting turns. I owe thanks to Tracey Childs who was the actress encouraging me to ‘go it alone’!

What piqued your interest in becoming a writer?

I was always interested in writing stories when I was a child. However entertainment journalism became a career goal due to the vast amount of theatre shows that my parents took me to see from a young age, coupled with the fact I was a little telly addict  (and still am), I was hugely inspired by many actors and actresses and the idea of being able to promote them via articles and interviews was appealing.

Who inspired you in your youth when you were first thinking about this career?

Judy Buxton, Tracey Childs, Felicity Dean, Sandra Huggett, Liz Robertson, Carol Royle and Cath Shipton were my real heroes when I was in my youth and all of them remain  my heroes. They’re my magnificent seven!

I was and still am hugely inspired by Robert Daws, Sylvester McCoy, Jeffrey Holland and Derek Thompson.

What is your ambition for the site?

My ambition for this year (2015) was to include interviews with authors as well as actors and other industry-related individuals. The new ‘Spotlight On…’ page has drawn in a few more excellent interviewees from many walks of the arts. Our links with London theatres have opened up this year and I hope to expand on that, which is a huge ambition for the site. I wanted to interview as many of my personal heroes as possible, as well. That is happening and overwhelming me, constantly!

What are you writing in your fictional ‘career’ at the moment?

I’m so busy with this site and working for ‘Union Times’, ‘Theatre and Performance Magazine’, I have let the fictional work take  a lower priority, for now…

What is your advice for budding writers?

Write about what you know, network with other writers and have your work read aloud to see if it works. It should always be an enjoyable experience, not a chore – and try your hand at a number of genres, you might surprise yourself!

Favourite Things (quick-fire questions):

Favourite Actor?

Oh, I love so many actors – I’m going to have to say Jeffrey Holland AND Robert Daws. Both appeared in hit television shows which were a big part of my youth. They’ve both gone on to great things, too!

Favourite Actress?

Nooooo, don’t ask me! Ok, Carol Royle AND Judy Buxton – I’ve loved them both since I was a little girl, seen them on television and in Judy’s case, I’ve seen her on stage many times. (I have a short list of ten favourite actresses, so this was hard!!!).

Favourite Television Programme?

Home Fires

Favourite Play?

This changes so often, this year (2015) my favourite play has been ‘Harvey’.

Favourite Musical?

Rocky Horror Show and Phantom of the Opera. I am hopeless at choosing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The London Short Play Festival ~ Edric Theatre, London

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

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The annual London Short Play Festival opened its doors for the second time on Thursday 16th July for a three night residency at the Edric Theatre, part of the London South Bank University. Organised and produced by Millie Thorne and Maria Klockare (both London South Bank University alumni), the success of last year’s festival laid the foundations for the promise of another inspirational evening of new writing for theatre.

‘Blast from the Past’ written and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree opened the event, starring ex-Coronation Street star Scott Wright, seasoned television and theatre star Judy Buxton, Anthony Poore and Matthew Jordan Wright. The story centres around the dysfunctional ‘Tate’ family who are ensconced in their own Blackpool B&B business. With monologues which drew me in and enhanced the story, together with the sensitive tackling of real-life event, the 1999 nail bombing at the ‘Admiral Duncan’, this piece could easily work as a full length play. The attention to detail down to the costumes all helped to create the correct atmosphere and tone. The set was simple and effective, the casting was perfect, a definite triumph, and I’m keen to see more of Anna-Lisa Maree’s work.

‘Fallen Apple’ by Bethan Highgate-Betts which starred Joel Grizzle, takes an interesting look at how an ordinary day running in the park can lead to mystery and intrigue. Hats off to Joel Grizzle for holding the audience’s interest with skilled story telling. I could picture the park, the perverted duck(!) and the pawn shop and I really wanted to know more about the lady who’s apple was broken in half. An excellent unexpected twist from the writer, too. In my opinion, this works very well as a short play, even though I felt that I was left with many unanswered questions.

‘The Way To A Man’s Heart’ by David Weir brings the story of revenge with a deliciously subtle build-up to the moment the ‘victim’ of the fall-out ‘twists the knife’. Beginning as a mundane meeting of two people who are in the process of splitting up and dividing their belongings, including a hefty pay-out from a winning lottery ticket, this is laced with clever and intricate comedy. An engaging two-hander exceedingly well performed by Sasha Ellen and Alec Bernie. This is a good subject for a short play as it demonstrates a snapshot of an estranged couples’ lives and the tale is wrapped up neatly.

‘The Heir’ starring Suzanne Tooley, Shaun Noone and Emma True, is perhaps the most mad-cap of the four plays. Written by Jasmine Arden-Brown, it explores the huge ‘what if’ posed by the suggestion of the ‘end of the world’. It shows an almost believable set-up of how individuals might be dealing with the situation while struggling to survive. The set spoke a thousand words on its own, but it was a ‘laugh out loud’ script which belied the seriousness of the heart of the topic. The writer plans to turn this into a full length play, and I’d be interested to see more as there are many avenues to be explored. Notable chemistry between the actors in this piece, and they kept the dialogue moving at a pace which suited the genre.

What more can I say other than keep your eyes on this link http://www.londonshortplayfestival.com/ and join us in supporting this event next year.

 

 

 

 

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