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Showing posts from October, 2015

Review of Sister Act by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

South Pacific at Royal & Derngate last year set a remarkable benchmark for an "amateur" production, with a large talented cast, superb vocals, sets and a polish up there with a professional production. Sister Act, this years production from the Northampton Musical Theatre Company was more of the same, but perhaps taken up a notch or two.

Sister Act is a musical based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg comedy and was first performed in 2009. Written by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, it is a likable and fun musical which genuinely came as a surprise to me.

The opening scene at Curtis's Bar and Nightclub is to be honest not the best though and genuinely didn't fill me with much hope. It feels as if it gives nothing to the cast, although it creates the premise of the story coupled with the incident outside the bar. Likewise, I didn't take much to the Police Station scene either, so it didn't bode well.

When we reach the Queen Of Angels Cathedral though, this show beco…

Review of The Hound Of The Baskervilles at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

And so the next generation of the Looking Glass Theatre begins, lifted gracefully from its former home and planted into the arms of Hazelrigg House and its performance space the glorious St Peters Church. The move is complete and there is perhaps nothing better than a light, fluffy and fun reinterpretation of oft told Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tale The Hound Of The Baskervilles to begin. Created as some sort of chaotic amateur dramatic performance with a feel of Sherlock Holmes does Pantomime, this is indeed a silly entertaining feast.
A cast of just three coping, mostly, with all the roles of the play adds frequently more chaos. Our cast are in no particular order Marvin Freeman, Alex Rex and Katy Corrie. I was sure when I saw the original cast that Freeman would absolutely be Holmes, however this throws a curve ball with Rex as the famous sleuth. It is appropriate though as anyone aware of the story will know that Sherlock is actually quite absent for much of the story of the Baskervil…

Review of Patrick Hamilton's Gaslight (Preview) at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

It is a rule not to review previews of performances and most recently this has hit the headlines more with naughty media antics of Benedict Cumberbatch's opening night of Hamlet. This weekend I was present to see two previews of Made In Northampton's latest offering, Gaslight. I don't get to see the finished product for a fortnight and by then it will be near the end of its run, so it leaves me in a tricky situation, to review now or wait until its almost over. It is however a simple answer, review now, because although they were were previews, they were both performances of an excellent quality in any case (with just a hint of differences at work between shows) that I have no particular need to criticize.

Gaslight is a 1938 play written by Patrick Hamilton and tells the tale of an evening in the life of Jack and Bella Manningham at home in 1880. Telling a tale of part psychological thriller, part mystery and more importantly what amounts to domestic violence, it is a clev…

Review of Lilies On The Land performed by The Masque Theatre at the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing an all-female cast at the Playhouse perform Bazaar & Rummage and to see a four strong cast of ladies in the latest Masque production was an equal delight.

Lilies On The Land is written by the wonderfully named Lions Part, a group of professional performers that collaborate to create theatrical pieces, and in this they have truly created a gem of a show. Telling the story of four former Landgirls whose memories are stirred upon hearing of the death of Winston Churchill, their reminiscences form a loving history of their challenging, occasionally sad, but often humorous time on the land.

The four strong cast of Jen Kenny, Sarah Stringer, Hannah Burt and Liz Clarke are uniformly excellent. Jen Kenny portrays a wonderfully refined and obviously quite lonely Margie and she has a confident forward way of projecting to the audience. That time where she just sits while the rest join in a jolly song are genuinely quite sad moments. Sarah S…

Review of Feast Of Fools Storytelling #6 - Open Mic Night at the NN Cafe, Northampton

The Curious Incident Of The Traffic Jam In The Nighttime
The Tale Of The Broken Chair
The Mystery Of The Shattered Glass

None of these were the stories told as your hero returned to the monthly gathering of the Feast Of Fools. Your hero was triumphant in his return following a battle with the evil and wicked spirit Chestus Infectious preventing an adventurous visit the month before. On this sixth evening of mysterious storytelling the open mic night returned, the lesser supported of the evenings but never the less entertaining.

We were welcomed to the evening with Richard "Many Instruments" York's performance on the mesmerising sounding Hurdy Gurdy. Your hero was astounded by the sound, the almost electronic sound this instrument provided.

Second to the stage was our host for the evening Sue "Teddy Bear" Martin who as well as providing the welcomes and links of the evening provided a most entertaining early Halloween trick or treat themed tale.

Dave "Puntasti…

Review of Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

For some unknown reason Jeeves & Wooster has managed to pass me by until my encounter with this rather silly but tremendous fun play. I was aware of the characters of course, the upper class fool Wooster and his highly efficient butler Jeeves, but seen or read about them, absolutely not. On the evidence on display in Perfect Nonsense, it might just be worthwhile having a look.

I say might just, because I personally felt that this play was more entertaining from the premise of a play being thrown together in front of our eyes rather than the tale that it told. Bertie Wooster you see wants to put on a play to tell the story of a rather troublesome encounter with a silver cow creamer he has suffered. He does however not have the brains or ability to create such a thing, so his ever dependable butler is constantly on hand to ensure that things mostly go smoothly. The third and final character of the play is Aunt Dahlia’s butler, Seppings, who like Jeeves but unlike Wooster himself, is…

Review of A Tired Heart & The Big C by Tony Klinger at The Castle Theatre (Studio), Wellingborough

It is a strange but honoured circumstance perhaps to find such a play by a name as Tony Klinger debuting in the compact Castle Theatre studio space in Wellingborough. However despite Mr Klinger's name being a recognisable one in the world of film making and more recently on the bookshelf, A Tired Heart & The Big C is the first play to come from the film industry stalwart.

A Tired Heart is described by the author himself as an "outpouring of emotions" formed from a series of life events that he has had. Lead character is Stuart Wagner (Steve While) who in the first scene sees the death of his father Sam (Will Adams), killed by a so-called tired heart. It is no real spoiler and totally impossible to avoid the fact in this review that Sam does not leave Stuart forever, as spruced up in white suit he remains a reoccurring presence. Following the death of Sam, the story unfolds via the funeral arrangements and financial fallout surrounding his death and as the title sugge…

Review of September In The Rain by John Godber at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

It seems odd to describe a play that features long turds in drains and a seemingly constantly bickering couple beautiful, but for John Godber's September In The Rain it really feels appropriate. It is a wonderfully relaxing and at times extremely funny play (the turd moment a particular classic) telling the reminiscences of the elderly Liz and Jack's trips to Blackpool.

It also provided some emotional memories for myself as Blackpool was the place that I spent my very best family holidays in the eighties and early nineties. I have a truly fond feeling for the place despite now not having been there for over twenty years and I felt well the trials that Liz and Jack suffered from the occasional inclement weather of Blackpool. Oddly enough I remain sure now that the best weather I ever witnessed there was when we stayed right through Christmas one year. Blackpool in summer and early autumn simply cannot be trusted.

September In The Rain is produced by White Cobra Productions and …

Review of The Man Called Monkhouse at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Last November I had the eerie experience of seeing Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise resurrected before my eyes in the excellent Eric And Little Ern (review here). The Man Called Monkhouse is an even more scary and uncanny experience, as despite the admittedly superb recreation of Morecambe and Wise, Simon Cartwright truly is as close to the legend that is Bob Monkhouse as you could hope. The mannerisms, the voice, the perfect delivery of the jokes, it is all there. Standing before you at the start of the play finishing of his routine, Monkhouse is alive and well on the stage.

The play itself sits slightly less successfully than the aforementioned Eric And Little Ern, it is a slightly lighter prospect. It does however in its brief run time of roughly an hour provide an insight into the troubled and very much, as used in the play, marmite performer. The play revolves around the time of the well publicised stolen joke books and the twentieth anniversary of the death of his writing partner D…