Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2014

Review of Story Hunt (Northampton) by Daniel Bye at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Within a couple of minutes of the beginning of the history tour of Northampton, I was a bus driver about to leave the Derngate Bus Station and also about to propose to another member of our small (and all female, well except me off course) band of tourists. Having only just met the lady and not holding a driving license, this was going to be an interesting afternoon all round.

However off course this was just part of what was going to be a fun and interesting seventy five minutes of history. I was neither going to crash that bus or propose marriage. These were people of the past, representing just a few of those that met at the station of the past and this story had been related to the Story Hunt team by a child of the couple I and my companion represented.

A happy story this was to begin, however on our travels around the centre of Northampton much of the story telling was to be generally grim, such is life. This was not to make it uninteresting. As we learnt of a woman being hanged,…

Review of The Body Of One Theatre Research Groups first performance at University Of Northampton, Avenue Campus

Bewildering. Confusing. Bizarre. Bamboozling. Oblivious.
All words to describe my opinion of The Body Of One's first performance. However when asked my favourite word to explain my opinion of a production that I didn't quite "get" is "interesting".
I used interesting last night when asked after the show. I like using it.

However, it turned out that this production, influenced partly on Butō (I thought Popeye at first when I heard that if I am honest), was very deliberately ambiguous, verging on what the hell was that? Primarily because of the second part of the evening where we all sat around in a room and tried to discuss what we had understood from the play.

I honestly said last night as I was leaving that the discussion at the end was the best part of the evening as it gave a little more understanding but also allowed me to know that I wasn't the only one confused. It was a bit like the old English Lit days where you watch a Shakespeare play (first i…

Review of Allo Allo by the St. Albans Charity Players Of Northampton at St. Albans The Martyr Church, Northampton

It is safe to say that the sitcom Allo Allo was very much a product of its time and if you didn't live through it and sat through the play being performed by St Albans Charity Players this week, you may well wonder what the hell was going on.

I lived through Allo Allo and I have to say I enjoyed the slapstick pointless antics of a style of sitcom that probably no longer exists (some would say "Thank God"). Its silly, often risque comedy was very much of its time, but during the eighties there was a lot of it about. Thanks to writers like Jeremy Lloyd, David Croft and Jimmy Perry. It was all good clean (but with hidden meanings) fun.

The stage play is a bit like a greatest hits with a loose plot, concerning a visit by Hitler and that famous painting. Written by the original writers the play takes place across seven different locations (mostly within Rene's cafe) which were cleverly realised in such a small area at the front of the hall. Individually lit to direct our …

Review of Behind The Curtain Tour at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

This weekend I went on the "Behind The Curtain" tour at Royal & Derngate and although I was greatly looking forward to it, just to see the ins and outs of behind the scenes of my (disappointingly late in the day) adopted second home, I never thought I would find it quite as interesting as I did.

I went on a tour of the Royal part of the theatre at lower school, however this being some twenty years before I was not likely to remember much, and very possibly, at that time I may have not really been that interested. However those intervening double decades and here I was paying for the privilege and not being crocodiled by my teacher.

On arrival we all milled around the foyer awaiting our tour guide, Erica. We were offered a warm welcome and once numbers had been counted, we were promptly escorted from the building. Standing in Guildhall Road we were given an aperitif of what was to come, an informal but highly informative tour. Lovely little snippets such as the original p…

Review of Honk Jr. by the Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

Honk Jr could not be described as high art, a collection of silly songs and corny jokes (Not marmalade dad, WHAT"S MAMA LAID!!!), it was just simply pure fun performed by a mighty band of youngsters, who they themselves appeared to be having high fun while also for so young, staying professional throughout.

Honk Jr. is a junior version of Honk, which in turn is a musical version of the Ugly Duckling. Honk! was written by George Stiles (music) and Anthony Drewe (lyrics) and originally performed in 1993 in Newbury. The junior version is a slightly adapted version with some alterations to characters and songs, but it maintains some of its more grown-up jokes (I haven't been out there since your father and I were courting...and I didn't mean to go that far then!), that are the little bits for the adults and did offer some interesting responses I noted from the audience.

Before I get to the performers, I have to make special mention of the set which was a delight (and latterly…

Review of Skylight by David Hare at Wyndham's Theatre, London

I may have been sitting up in the gods due to the uncomfortably high prices for this London play, but there was little I had looked forward to more than seeing (if I squinted hard enough) than Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in Skylight.

Bill Nighy was an actor for me of the highest quality and coupled with the superb rising star of Carey Mulligan, this was the dream ticket. Even if that ticket was in the grand circle.

I had watched Bill Nighy (Tom) and David Hare at work in the recent Worricker trilogy on BBC and these were plays for television more than television plays and Skylight was much of the same. The lyrical, sparky and often very funny dialogue with sharp undertones of political comment were all there. Once again coupled with Nighy's gangly movement, knowing pauses, high charm and quick delivery, David Hare's dialogue tripped off the page.

Nighy's co-star Carey Mulligan (Kyra) had been a favourite of mine since I saw her in, for me, a star making performance in an…

Reviews of Macbeth & Richard III by Northampton University Actors (2nd Year) at Royal & Derngate & Holy Sepulchre Church, Northampton

Its safe to say and needs saying from the outset that I am not one of Mr Shakespeare's greatest fans and watching two three hour odd productions in two days would not always fill me with a warm glow. However over the last couple of months, the Northampton University (of all current three years) have shown talent in abundance and I was never going to let my petty opinion deprive me of seeing them again.

This year I had seen both Troilus and Cressida (by the Masque Theatre) and King Lear (via NTLive) and its safe to say that I enjoyed Macbeth and Richard III more than both of these (yes even with Mr Shakespeare, Simon Russell Beale in action). The acting was of course not better than Lear (it was Russell Beale, that would be impossible), but the productions for me were both much more enjoyable to watch.

The Shakespeare purist would no doubt cry that there was too much gimmickry with these productions, but for me this made them more modern and more acceptable. I listen to Shakespeare a…

Blitz! by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at the Cripps Hall Theatre, Northampton

I came to Blitz! with zero knowledge of both the musical itself and the amateur group Northampton Musical Theatre Company performing it. It is safe to say that I left after almost three hours pleasantly surprised by both.

My live musical theatre viewing had amounted to just two previous, both in the last couple of months and I had been surprised how much I had enjoyed them, despite trepidation at the outset. Likewise my only previous example of an amateur theatre group had been of the Masque Theatre and they had been very good and set a high bar for NMTC to jump over.

I have to say, they cleared the bar with sufficient ease, with a quite stunning, polished and enjoyable show. The production was quite simply excellent with hardly a duff note to be heard. I think I would be fair to say that their also wasn't a duff performance amongst them. A few stuck out as being simply excellent, like Susie Pack (nee Lamb) as the loud and brazen Elsie, complete with eye popping swift dress off pe…