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Showing posts from March, 2014

Elements Of War at Royal & Derngate (Royal) / Lies, Love And Lust at The Holy Sepulchre, Northampton

It was the young and the really young that provided my theatre experiences this weekend. First up in the form of the Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre and their fascinating performance of Elements Of War. As much a physical artistic performance as a play, this was a very different kind of show.

Broken up into four lightly connecting parts, the cast gradually got older with the first act portrayed by what I would guess seven to nine year olds and their trusty suitcases. It told the tale of their evacuation from the coming war between Wind and Fire. Although there would have been undoubted nerves from these youngsters and a few of them were a little low on voice for the large (for them) stage. They were mostly very impressive little performers, with a few more obvious future stars than others.

A neat piece of work throughout the show was the telling of developments through letters home, via broken and interconnecting stories. One ending as another started, telling the concerns of those…

Love And Information at The Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The second performance I saw from the Northampton University Actors was a version of Love And Information by Caryl Churchill. Although I do not know whether this was an adapted version or not, this was a very fast paced and snappy show.

Short snippets, much like watching a sketch show, but with an much serious as comedic. Because of the shear pace, nothing ever really outstayed its welcome if there were dud parts (of which there were a couple). However the performers presented it with such style that even the poorer parts were easily ignored.

I particularly loved the running joke presented from the back of the stage of the poor lady failing to get any interest whatsoever from her partner. Likewise the glorious "red flower" speech was superb and delivered perfectly, sadly who by, my mind is a blur (Edit: It was Zoe Harbour. *applause*). This was due to the countless characters and scenes, and never due to the performers. By the time one scene was finished, I had already forgo…

Animal Farm at The Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

There was an impressive number of boxes on display in the Northampton University Actors performance of Animal Farm at the Royal & Derngate. Poor old Boxer (Jamie O'Grady) seemed to be the only one dealing with them for a while.

These boxes turned out to be more or less the only bit of the set (bar an occasional ribbon "can I still wear my ribbons?" and an old style microphone), and they sure worked well in this heavily stripped back eighty minute version of Orwell's classic tale of power and destruction.

However as well as the boxes, there was some mighty fine talent on display from the student (who would know?) actors. Playing serious, playing for laughs, or clucking and mooing, the cast was exemplary. I don't doubt that we shall see a lot more of many of these performers.

Its difficult to single out any individuals from such a quality bunch of performers, but Harry Bradbury was commanding as Comrade Napolean, Brigette Wellbelove clipped and precise as Squea…

The Body Of An American at The Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

There was a moment for me right at the start of The Body Of An American that left me wondering if I had overstepped my intellect to come and see this play. After having traipsed through pretend snow and seated myself on my unreserved seat in what appeared to be an Underground tube tunnel (very well named). I was challenged to understand the opening, fast, frantic exchange of conversation between William Gaminara and Damien Molony.
Following an overwhelming collection of images on the screens at either end, the two performers set to one another in fast and frantic conversation, myself understanding a little of it, and concerned that I was being stoopid in not keeping up.
Thankfully quickly, either the play began to work for me, or more importantly maybe, my brain kicked into gear, because all of a sudden I was living the story.
The play is probably one of the most stripped back you could imagine. Two people, two chairs and two screens depicting photos and video, occasionally harrowing…

A Tale Of Two Cities at The Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The last few years, in particular 2013, it is simple to say, I have "found" theatre. What started from an accidental drop in for a play on the spur of a moment in London a few years back, kindled an interest that I frankly didn't know I had. Since then, money allowing, I have made my way to London on a Saturday to do a matinee and an evening performance in the theatre land of the West End. The place of the best plays, the best performers, the best experience.

Turns out, this isn't true. Having been a bit snobby about the situation, I failed to realise that a mere ten minutes or so walk from home, there was a place of equal, no, better quality. Having witnessed overly positive comments on Twitter this week of the new "Made In Northampton" play at the Royal, an adaptation of Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities, I suddenly thought why not! Having been a fan of Dickens' stories for as long as I can remember (adaptions rather than reading, having always found …