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Review of the University Of Northampton BA (Hons) Acting Graduate Showcase 2017 at Tristan Bates Theatre, London

For the third year running, I had the pleasure of being allowed to see another batch of talented actors strut their stuff on a London stage in front of the agents and directors of the acting world. This is always a key and very final moment of the course, and at no point will these people perform together again (although wouldn't that be neat to have performance reunions in years to come!).

There is little point in my going into too much detail again over the performers really as I have done this elsewhere in my final review (click me!). However, the show under the direction of Simon Cole was a neat "showcase" of their talents once again, whipping between scenes featuring duos or trios glued together by swift scene changes. It really was a seize the moment as the actors never got very long to prove themselves.

The format (and some of the content) was the same as last year, and a couple of my picks were Diary of a Madman featuring two superb comic moments from Karr Kenned…
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Review of Go Down Swinging - A Rehearsed Reading at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

I found myself picked out and targeted on Twitter as to whether I would be available and like to see this very first reading of new play Go Down Swinging. Happily, as it turns out it was my free night as this was a truly excellent night, with both an impressive new play and an equally great post-show discussion (almost an hour!). I remained silent as is my tradition at the discussion, I am a writer, not a talker and like to sleep on thoughts as well about shows before putting fingers to keyboard.

Go Down Swinging is a loose telling of the true story of Venezuelan world champion boxer Edwin Valero, a man of both successes but one troubled in life outside the ring resulting in it being very short. This play transfers the setting to the UK and Valero has become boxer Karl Johnson (played in this reading by writer Dan McGarry).

This at its heart is a play about domestic violence, although it's neat trick is that throughout it remains very ambiguous in this, leaving the audience (or ind…

The Flash Festival Review 2017 (including course honours) held at the Looking Glass Theatre (Hazelrigg House), St Peter's Church and Salvation Army Hall, Northampton

For my fourth year running I was back for the University of Northampton's BA Actors Flash Festival, a place to see the graduate actors do their stuff in their end of course dissertation performances. This year sadly for the first time fellow Flash buddy Mudbeast76 was unable to join the journey, however, our 2016 new recruit The Real Chrisparkle was back with a vengeance and this year covering all fifteen shows. These fifteen shows would also allow me to hit sixty separate Flash shows, pretty much all of them very much loved.


The venues this year were mostly similar to 2016 with St Peter's Chuch being used one again (with enhanced staging area) and one in the altar space. Hazelrigg House once again offered three different standard rooms for performance and two spaces in the glorious cellar used again for a couple of performances. Finally there was one new venue, for one performance, the brilliant and also excellently well used Salvation Army Hall.

However with no further ado, …

Flash Festival 2017: Dispensible by March Theatre Company at Hazelrigg House, Northampton

Dispensible from March Theatre Company concluded my packed five-day charge through this year's Flash Festival and if I was at all jaded by the sheer amount, this fifteenth one-man show would have revitalised me back to life with its intensity.

Ruark Gould presents us with three soldiers through time, like Dickens' ghosts, the past, the present and yet to come. Via this sharp neatly performed show we see that no matter when the traumas of warfare are the same. Sure the future is imaginary, but it is believable in every way, and to quote a game franchise, it's true that "war never changes".

This was the only Flash this year in the vault space of Hazelrigg House with its compact 10-15 seating space, and perhaps it truly is perfect for this play. Allowing us to experience the claustrophobic nature of encampments and dugouts like those the character lives through. We are absolutely in the environment of this play and with its clever use of lighting and indeed absolute…

Flash Festival 2017: Click Here by Stern Mystics Theatre Company at St Peter's Church, Northampton

The dark web has perhaps never been as relevant as it currently is with the recent shocking events where it is no doubt often being used for this kind of activity. Stern Mystics takes the dark web and offers a fascinating collection of stories and characters to teach me more during this show about the dark web than I possibly wanted to know. You leave this show both wanting to go and see this vast place, over 90% of the internet in existence and also absolutely never wanting to go anywhere near it.

A Parkinsons' sufferer, a layabout with plans against his sister's partner and a neo-Nazi blogger are the three characters we follow during this play. The viewer and myself often unsure at first how each character is going to find themselves on the path to the dark web. The blogger is perhaps the most obvious, while I admit I did take some time to work out the Parkinsons timeline, as for the layabout. I genuinely didn't see that coming until much near the end. I blame that on my…

Flash Festival 2017: Exposure by Imagine That Theatre Company at St Peter's Church, Northampton

The Play That Goes Wrong is undoubtedly one of my favourite plays (I have seen it three times so far as well), and Imagine That's Exposure is a clear homage to that very show (and indeed all its own influences through time). A group of five actors are about to perform a live television performance of The Picture of Dorian Grau, and they are absolutely planning on it going tremendously smoothly.

It doesn't of course and for the best part, this little production does much of its buffoonery very well. There's more than a few issues and fluff, and at times it feels a little too wacky for its own good, however, this is slapstick and it is not meant to be clever.

The best part of this show, and one which The Play That Goes Wrong does perfectly as well, is the opening gambit of audience interaction. During the buildup to both shows, things are amiss, in one the set is falling apart and needs help (cue audience member), in this one two of the actors can't find one another and …

Confessions Of A Rookie Director - Episode One

Leading up to my directorial debut later this year with the play Theatrical Knights by Keith Lipscombe at The Playhouse Theatre Northampton, I shall be guest blogging on local theatre website On Stage Northants.

Episode one, where I lay the ground and wonder what I have done is now online at http://www.onstagenorthants.co.uk/confessions-rookie-director-episode-1/