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Showing posts from July, 2014

Review of The Jungle Book at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

Its safe to say that I was probably missing the target audience for The Jungle Book by thirty odd years and going was more a plan of returning to the lovely little Looking Glass Theatre as much as attending a puppet come pantomine come kiddies entertainment show.

Having said that, The Jungle Book was one of my favourite stories when I was little (under five foot) and it was going to be interesting to see another spin on the classic Kipling tale. This performance was a sort of interactive Jackanory and the juniors certainly interacted. Especially once the puppets had arrived that's for certain, hanging from the poor puppets limbs on more than a few occasions. It was great to see them getting involved so much.

Our storytellers came in the form of purveyor of corny jokes and pirate fan David Heathcote and bespectacled librarian Leigh Souter-Smith. Until this production Leigh Souter-Smith for me had been provider of tea, marshmallow filled chocolate and when required coffee as front o…

Review of DNA by Dennis Kelly performed by R&D Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

There was a moment at the end of DNA when the lights came up that I feared there would be deceased individuals surrounding me in the audience. Such was the abrupt and terrifying arrival with a strike of sound at the beginning of the play, that I surely did think someone with a dicky ticker must have succumbed. However what was greeted with general hysterics at their shock, seemed to have not made a corpse of any of the patrons.

It was a striking beginning to a tough, but also very funny play from Dennis Kelly (writer of Channel 4's excellent thriller Utopia). Telling the tale of the a group of youngsters who have killed a boy named Adam and attempt to cover up the fact. Originally written for National Theatres Connections Festival in 2007, this is a short and sharp edgy play lasting an absorbing fifty minutes or so. Having seen four of this years Connections plays earlier this year, I could certainly see the feel of this being such a play from that festival, made more so of the fa…

Review of Antigone by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE PUBLIC REVIEWS.


Beginning a review of Antigone by writing, it was all Greek to me would be clichéd, so therefore perfect for myself to do. In the case of the Royal and Derngate Actors Company’s production it would be irrelevant though. As this was a clear, modern, indeed futuristic version of the ancient story. With all the distress and despair generally on offer, it could have perhaps been Eastenders.
Antigone was written by Sophocles almost 2500 years ago and tells the story of an empire in pieces following a crippling war. Ruled by King Creon (didn't Elvis used to sing about him?), whose declaration that two warrior brothers be divided in death, one honoured, one unburied, is challenged by their sister Antigone.
Director Trudy A Bell, who most recently directed the third yearUniversity of Northampton BA Actors in a dynamic version of Macbeth (review here)brings a similar style to this vivid production. Sections of synchronised movement an…

Review of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street by R&D Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I like the story of Sweeney Todd, the particularly morbid, horrific tale appeals to me (need counselling), and Stephen Sondheim's musical version is a particularly clever and fun (yes fun as we slit them throats) version of the tale.

This particular version was performed by the talented bunch of youngsters that makes up the Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre under the guidance of director Christopher Gorry, whose work I had seen previously in Honk Jnr a few weeks before. Once again he had crafted magic from these skilled young performers.

The ensemble welcomed us to the show with a stirring (and loud) rendition of The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd, after which Sweeney made his appearance in the guise of Brett Mason. From the outset Mason captured the character with aplomb and portrayed the tortured soul of both the loss of his wife and his freedom through to his demonic collapse. Also introduced with the song No Place Like London was Michael Ryan as Anthony. Ryan for me was one of the st…

Review of 1984 by George Orwell at The Playhouse Theatre, London

Its true to say that sometimes I could be won over by a production in the first minute or so, much I suppose like the opening line of a book maybe. 1984 from Headlong and Almeida Theatre did just that. The opening scene following the striking of the thirteenth hour begins with Winston Smith writing in his diary. After a time the lights of the stage go out and seemingly seconds later they are back on and six more members of the cast have appeared from seemingly nowhere and are perfectly posed to begin their roles.

I can be won over maybe too easily by sound, visual and those choreographed tricks perhaps too much, but this one I think would easily win over most people. I know that it presented a number of gasps from the audience surrounding me.

Gasps were plenty during the creators Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan's new adaptation of Orwell's classic novel. There were so many visual and sound tricks with clever stage and set work there are too many to many to mention. People app…