Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2015

Review of National Theatre Connections - Day One at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

I really enjoyed the Connections shows at Royal & Derngate during 2014 therefore it had been one of my most anticipated weeks for 2015. Even better than 2014 also was the fact that I was going to have the opportunity to see nine of the ten plays included (poor old Follow, Follow, the unwanted child). On my first day I was to see the first three of them and they were a glorious mix of the good, the bad and the hilarious (performed in that order).

*
The good was "Hospital Food" written by Eugene O'Hare and performed by Northampton High School. This was a powerful tale of a group of youngsters in a cancer unit and their Fight Club inspired "Retreat". This place allowed them to speak freely and was in the tradition a place where whats said in the Retreat stays in the Retreat. It was their place away from parents, doctors, nurses and, well all adults really. The main story revolved around the planned escape of Gus (Fiona Percival) from the hospital to go seek al…

Review of Can The Mountains Love The Sea? - A Viking Wedding Saga by Tim Ralphs at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

I like reviewing the storytelling events (and this is the fourth that I have seen), as I go for the ramble inanely approach (what do you mean that's what I normally do?) rather than the full on critic. So for this one perhaps I might say something silly about sitting for over an hour in the Underground without ending up a pool of water on the floor. I might even say something also about that moment when I took my chair and thought I was about to be interrogated under that most scary spotlight that greeted us.

However I won't on this occasion (but I have) as its time to get serious! Tim Ralphs was our storyteller on the evening and while he wasn't my favourite of the professional tellers I have seen so far (if he was reading this, he will have stopped now), he was darn close. He was also very interesting in the informative Q&A after as well, which was a lovely added bonus for the night.

His story of Can The Mountains Love The Sea? was a Norse influenced tale based on Th…

Review of Cyrano de Bergerac at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

If I was to liken Cyrano de Bergerac to a film, it would be a film that is never really going to achieve a best picture nomination, but has an uncontested winner of the best actor Oscar. I might also say that it has a couple of fine chances of supporting role nominations and that it is finished before the Titanic finally hits the bottom of the ocean.

However, it is not a film, but my flight of fancy very much sums up the whole situation. No matter how slightly dodgy the foundations are of this partnership between Royal & Derngate and Northern Stage, you cannot help leaving three and a quarter hours latter with the shear dazzle of the lead performance shining in your eyes.

My sole encounter with Edmond Rostand's 1897 story of the physically challenged, poetical hero comes from the 1987 Steve Martin film Roxanne. When I first saw it in the early nineties I was an the perfect age to fall in love with Daryl Hannah's Roxanne. However I had neither Christian's (Chris in the …

Review of Our Town by Thorton Wilder performed by The Masque Theatre at The Holy Sepulchre, Northampton

Our Town by Thornton Wilder is a very different play from any other I have seen to date. It is also
for me a very good play and its nice to know those Pulitzer Prize folk did as well, as they gave it the award for drama in 1938. The play centres around the inhabitants of an average New Hampshire town at the start of the 20th century. Their simple lives and indeed many of their untimely deaths.

We are introduced to the play by the stage manager (Ian Spiby), who remains very much a character throughout the whole performance. He gives us a comprehensive tour of the town, pointing out various landmarks, shops and houses, as well as some scenery (I was thankful there were no questions after), and yes I am happy for some scenery. He introduces us to the residents one by one, starting with Mrs Gibbs (April Pardoe) and Mrs Webb (Beverley Webster). It is an inventive approach and makes for an absorbingly interesting play.

The set is a very simple affair; a few chairs and a couple of tables (som…

My review of Jesus Christ Superstar (2000 Stage Version), My Living Room

Regular readers (I keep apologising, but you will keep reading) may remember that a short time ago I got into minor shenanigans on Twitter over my review of the currently touring version of Jesus Christ Superstar. In my review I explained that it was my first time seeing the show and that I was far from impressed by the whole thing. I even described it as "noise".

Well my certain friends on Twitter thought I was unqualified to write a critique of the show as I had little (well no experience, but don't tell them) and condemned me for writing such a review that might bring down the establishment (or maybe slightly less severe, but I like to build my role).

So, on the most suitable of days, Easter Day, I sat down and gave Jesus Christ Superstar another chance with the 2000 filmed version on super deluxe BLU-RAY. It was an epiphany indeed.

Like the touring version, Jesus was played by (a much younger) Glenn Carter, very much the age perhaps that we recognise Jesus to be. He …

My review of Feast Of Fools Storytelling #1 at the NN Cafe, Northampton

Let me tell you the story of the day that this
won me nothing. I am more likely to get trampled by a herd of wilderbeest down Northampton's Abington Street while I am dressed as Elvis Presley and having a chat with Lord Lucan than to win a raffle. There was even a booby prize last night and I didn't even get a chance to (more than likely) pick that.

However I digress, this evening was not about my troubles about winning a raffle. This was the very first, inaugural, premiere, debut, opening and actually something that hadn't happened before, it was the Feast Of Fools Storytelling evening. It was also at a venue I had never been before, the NN Cafe.

The idea of Feast Of Fools is to establish a regular (monthly) evening of storytelling from both established and open mic newbies. On this first night, we had four established tellers (although I understand one was only their second performance, so I lie) to start off the event. We had our host Richard York with occasional musica…

Encouraging The Crowd: Putting Them Bottoms On Seats (UPDATED)

Update: While the below is still all correct fact, I have just had a telephone conversation with the Flash marketing team and learnt that there are a few reasons for the increased prices this year which are out of their control. It is sad that the increased levels are quite so much, but as I originally said costs are there to be covered, so it looks like the prices are there to stay.

What I will make clear however is that none of the below should appear negative towards the event. Flash 2014 was wonderful, and I am certain having previously seen those that are to perform, 2015 will be more the same. My only gripe is with the price hike. If your wallet can stand it, there is nothing more that I would recommend higher. These may be student shows, but don't be snooty about it, these are up there with many a professional performance you will see, and you might just be at a performance of a superstar of the future. Open your wallet wide and go.


Two of the highlights last year for me in …