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Showing posts from November, 2015

Killed - July 17th 1916 by Looking Glass Theatre at St Peters Church, Northampton

I first saw Killed by the Looking Glass Theatre in its first incarnation by the company in July 2014. Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing it in its third version at their new home of St Peters Church. Also new were the cast and unlike that first version, I was familiar with each one of them as all five were the University Of Northampton BA Acting graduates of 2015. Both a masterstroke of casting and a huge extension of kindness of the theatre to give them all these roles.

It was also visionary of them as unlike that first version (with all due respect), these actors were at the very point of their lives to play these roles like no other. All maybe within a year perhaps of the actual characters featured and with the world ahead of them. However sadly these characters portrayed lived in a more terrifying world (although many troubles still remain) and some had no lives ahead of them.

Leading the cast as Billy Dean is Dale Endacott, a recruit who finds himself through a terrible co…

Review of Xanadu at Southwark Playhouse, London

So with alert level set to pink and at camp factor ten, I ventured to the Southwark Playhouse for Xanadu. Originally produced on Broadway in 2007 it is perhaps surprising that a musical featuring the music of British born Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra) alongside John Farrar has taken so long to get to the stage in the UK. However those eight years have been worth the wait as this production for such a small London venue is of devastating quality, with a cast and crew at the top of their game and surely destined for the West End.

The film itself starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly is a rather average musical fantasy blessed  with a quality soundtrack. Therefore for the stage version it was perhaps wise to make this an outrageous comedy and send up (the many) flaws of the original film. Constantly poking fun at the film and indeed itself, this is one of the funniest stage productions I have had the pleasure to see. The reoccurring theme of Kira (Carly Anderson) having an A…

Review of Rebecca by Kneehigh Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

While watching Kneehigh Theatre's interpretation (I use the word advisedly), I imagined a ninety-four year old lady in the audience. When she was seventeen in 1938 she settled down on an evening and read this new novel by Daphne du Maurier. She was gripped by the twists and turns, by the creepy and devilish Mrs Danvers, by the atmospheric detail of the estate of Manderley and its surrounding area. My fictional seventeen year old was gripped. Seventy-seven years later her seventy-one year old son took her to the local theatre to see that novel, Rebecca on stage. During the performance that lady thought she had taken too many of the drugs her doctor had prescribed.

It's safe to say that for the purist of du Maurier, Rebecca doesn't quite give you what you either might want or expect. What it does though is create a very fun and inventive interpretation. We have the eleven strong and multi-skilled cast performing dance routines, singing sea shanties, playing musical instrumen…

Review of Ghost Walk 2015 from Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

Last year in my review of the Ghost Walk I made it clear that I wasn't the biggest believer of ghostly apparitions. So I returned for more this year, not to be swayed into a believer, but to experience the best part of last years walk, the historical information. Rather thrillingly (and I take no credit. Or do I?) the ghost walk had not only dispersed of the slightly incongruous theatre performance filler, but also upped the ante on the history lesson.

While ghosts were still of course on the menu (poltergeist stew anyone?), this year we also had the chance to learn a great deal more of solid historical information about the main four venues we visited. Our tour began at St Peter's Church, were we learned a little about the history of the place and who was buried there. We also got a chance to explore in the dark for a few moments.





















The church itself is an amazing building and it is a shame that is has been so rarely used for the last twelve years. However Looking Glass themsel…

Review of Orientation performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at Isham Dark (Avenue Campus), Northampton

I first got the opportunity to see these now third year actors at the Holy Sepulchre in March 2014 and even at that time, as first years, their heavily choreographed movement work and delivery of the words of John Donne showed huge potential. Fast forward to June this year and the levels of skill were developing at an exponential rate as before my eyes they made my nemesis Shakespeare very, very watchable with their Winter's Tale and Merry Wives performances.

Now a full twenty months after I first saw them they have presented perhaps the very best of the Northampton University shows I have seen to date and there have been many exceptional ones believe me. What Orientation did for me that was a delight that I have not always seen from the University productions is that as a concept it kept it simple. We are in a highly competitive office with a group of workers, basically amounting to a dysfunctional family, who find themselves not only snowbound in the office but also in some sort…

Review of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

This year at the Royal & Derngate I have listened to the distant cry of the muffin man in the creepy Gaslight. Dvořák has resonated through my ears in the hands of Natalie Clein. I have seen landmark adaptions of Pinter and Huxley. I had made Kontakt with the talented Youth Company. The lyrical words of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac's have lingered in my thoughts.

Now I have seen David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff wheeled around on a sofa surrounded by a devil, a bishop, monstrous beasts and bikini clad women. Theatre is indeed a place of variety and dreams, even if sometimes they can be nightmares.

When you almost expect something to be bad you can put up your defences and prepare for the worst, and for Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, defences were set at 101%. Reviews had already been a little negative from it's opening run at Blackpool, however the evening was set to be a whole lot better than feared.

Set on Ibiza in the early nineties, Last Night is that re…

Review of Feast Of Fools Storytelling #7 - Liz Weir at the NN Cafe, Northampton

Unexpectedly and totally unplanned (thank you The Hoff for doing the decent thing), I found myself at the seventh Feast Of Fools and once again it was an absolute delight. I have been fortunate to have made six of the seven to date and have never left disappointed from the evening.

Telling number seven's guest was Liz Weir from Northern Ireland (although almost Scotland) and as often happens I knew nothing of this teller, except a little hint before hand that this was going to be a much more traditional storytelling night than some of the more theatrical ones that I have seen before.

Yes it was much more clean and standard telling, however it lost absolutely none of the thrill because of this. I also absolutely loved the desire and effort put in by Liz Weir's on creating an evening of variety from her numerous stories to encourage the young fledgling beast that is Feast Of Fools. This suited me fine as I was concerned that we may have had an evening based around a lot of folkl…