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Review of Crimes Under The Sun at The Core, Corby

It is safe to say that there have been a lot of Agatha Christie spoofs kicking around over the years, they are ripe material to plunder, and often feeling as if the original author was even sending them up at times as well. So, to discover another one on stage at The Core Theatre in Corby is no surprise.

New Old Fiends' Crimes Under the Sun is a patch above many of them, a speedy, witty and genuinely ingenious take on a Poirot influenced case (no prizes for guessing Evil Under the Sun). As our lead, we have a curiously Belgian detective Artemis Arinae, Poirot in all but name, and more specifically gender (it's the first thing I noticed about her, to steal a joke). The show opens relatively badly, with a rather long introduction from our detective played by Jill Myers. It is the only downside of the evening, as once the stage is full of the quite brilliant collection of characters, this show whips along with an amazing intensity.

The characters created in Crimes Under the Sun …
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Flash Festival 2018: Out Of Shot by Periscope Theatre at Castle Hill, Northampton

In April this year, the first woman was convicted following a new domestic violence law introduction, and it couldn't, therefore, have been more timely to have seen this devastating performance from Periscope Theatre. As although at first, preconceptions suggest we are watching a man's abuse of a woman, it quickly transpires that Out Of Shot has tipped the scales in the opposite direction.

What flagged it up for me, and probably for many in the audience, was a burn from an iron. Innocent enough, but enough to bring to my mind that we were to see the less acknowledged side of domestic abuse. From this moment, Out Of Shot began to turn into an extremely intimidating piece of drama, tense and disturbing. At the helm was a tremendous and extremely scary performance from Grace Stewart Hogg as Siena. Hogg was simply incredible spinning the innocence and sweet nature with a heavy suggestion of being the victim in the police interview scenes, and turning that on the head with the priv…

Review of Art at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

As the audience arrives for Art, they are presented high on the stage with the back of a painting. On closer inspection, it has none of the labels or stamps that art buffs like them to have, to form a quality provenance for the future. The back of this artwork is indeed a blank canvas (five feet by four). Turns out, when we finally see the front of it, it is also a blank canvas, but don't let Serge (Nigel Havers) hear you say that.

Yasmina Reza's script (translated from the original French by Christopher Hampton) is razor sharp, a joyous rollercoaster of pace, wit and verbal hostility, showing no signs of ageing after 20 years. This is a sparring match, where words are the punches, with just one moment of physical blows in the swift 80 minutes runtime. It's a tale about friendship, which uses a "white" painting as it's backdrop, and the way friendships can collapse over the most ridiculous reasons.

Not to say, someone spending £200,000 on a white painting is…

Flash Festival 2018: Static by EVE Ensemble at St Peter's Church, Northampton

I was just short of the right age to witness raving first hand in 1990, and my sheltered life would probably have resulted in my missing it anyway. However, perhaps based on Static from the quintuple of lady performers in EVE Ensemble, it was perhaps a lucky escape.

While they are clearly having immense fun in their raving, brilliantly recreated in two scenes in this production, things turn quickly into a mess, as Dani (Kate Morgan-Jones) decides that a bit of dealing will help the bank balance. So recruiting her mates, including the new girl, the posh and very innocent Emma (Ellen Tritton), they set about distributing the merchandise. This sequence includes trying to sell the gear to us the audience in a nicely worked scene, and also with the performers dealing with different replies, one of which included Tritton smoothly dealing with, brilliantly in character, with a specific request from one audience member. Neat work!

Static is a bit like an all-girl Trainspotting, fun and enter…

Review of Les Misérables: School Edition (NMTC Youth Society) at the Cripps Hall Theatre, Northampton

From my four years or so of watching theatre in Northampton, there is one thing beyond the huge professional shows that I see touring, that I always enjoy so much more (despite the occasional dodginess of the quality), and that is youth theatre. For me in my heart, it adds something special, here we have the often maligned young of today, getting out there and doing something truly fulfilling. Here though, with the debut of the newly formed Youth Society, spinning off from the adult Northampton Musical Theatre Company, we have something also which goes beyond enthusiasm of the young to create a really special piece of theatre.

Les Misérables is in the top three of musicals for me, I love its huge numbers, I connect to its story, and it has some extremely strong characters, for me, it just works. Therefore, you could say that I would have an immediate bias towards this show, however, I do feel protective of it as well, so, it needs to be done right. However, I have nothing to worry abo…

Review of The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde at Hackleton Village Hall, Hackleton

In pursuit of even more theatre, I ventured out to Hackleton to experience theatre company Group Eight for the first time, and their version of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (adapted here by Noah Smith).

The first observation, and not from a production point, is how neat this adaptation of the story is by Noah Smith. It keeps the mysterious world of Dr Jekyll and his experimental attempts of unlocking his dark side but also fleshes out the world around him. We have two incorporated narrators, Shelly and Stoker (no prizes for guessing where those names came from, and simply Maid and Butler in the original Smith version), who give us locations and inner thoughts as well as scene changing. They are very much the unnamed narrator of the original embodied. Also while we have the standard "Three Musketeers" of Lanyon, Utterson, and Jekyll himself, the character of Enfield is fleshed out far beyond the original, and with his new lady, Helen …

Flash Festival 2018: Something Human by Incubus Theatre at St Peter's Church, Northampton

While Something Human from Incubus Theatre wasn't the best of the shows during the Flash Festival 2018 (but it wasn't anywhere near the worst), it had perhaps the award of the most discussion between myself and companion of the week, fellow blogger The Real Chrisparkle.

Something Human weaves a confusing web of a story, that often offers questions in the head rather than answers. Centred around a mundane office, a cleaner (Lori Heather) cleans, a manager (Jason Pile) manages, and a newly appointed PA (Anya Gallagher) PA's. Wandering into the mix is a mother (Emilia Owen), not mothering at present, as she is seeking her lost daughter.

What slowly then becomes exposed is the possibility that all of these people are criminals, the cleaner cleans up bodies of those she has slaughtered, the manager has interesting bedroom activities, the PA we discover is a paedophile, and could that mother have truly killed her daughter?
I won't pretend that I fully understood the story So…