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Showing posts from January, 2016

That Oh F*ck Moment at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

"It was when I" were four words that during the fun, uncomfortable and at times sad performance laid bare many an "oh deary me, that is slightly awkward" moment from the members of the audience. The title of the play chose a little more obvious term for it and indeed many of the stories told were very valid of an expletive or two.

During the hour long show written by Chris Thorpe and Hannah Jane Walker, we were treated to a number of these moments through history as well as randomly exposing several audience members own endevours (including mine). My own apparently was the least likely of the first four selected to have any forgiveness from. Nice. It is always bold to involve the audience in a show and I do enjoy it when it happens, especially like this one when all selected were willing to take part.

Our two performers Helen Gibb and Greg Dallas struck up immensely likable performances as they relayed the tales of woe. Some of these were hugely tragic tales includ…

Review of The Sunshine Boys at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

As has often been the case I arrived totally cold as to what I was going to see and experience from The Playhouse's production of The Sunshine Boys. The writer Neil Simon was unknown to me (research today has told me that he wrote classics The Odd Couple and Barefoot In The Park, and it is true, shockingly, that I have seen neither), therefore what I was going to get either way was a surprise. All I really knew was that is was a comedy. How sharp, witty and caustically funny is was to be was a remarkable surprise.

It was also great news to discover that one of my favourites of the Playhouse regulars, Graham Follett, was the main star. In all the shows I have seen, I have admired his generally soft and gentle approach to the roles. It was however a huge pleasure to see him playing against that type I have previously seen in the role of Willie Clark, a opinionated, miserable and often downright rude ex-vaudeville star, one half of a long dissolved double act. He is immediately perfe…

Review of Jersey Boys at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

It's still early but with Jersey Boys, I have already seen a strong contender for one of my picks of the year. It helps perhaps that I have long been a fan of its subject matter, the incredible Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. However being a fan is far from a requirement to enjoy this quite incredible show. There is surely not anyone out there that could not garner some amount of joy from songs like Sherry and Walk Like Man. If however there is someone of that persuasion, Jersey Boys also brings a wonderful recreation of the gritty story of the creation of the musical legends that you might love, or if not a theatre production of vast production values. This all comes together to create quite a spectacle.

The early part of the play is told through the eyes of Tommy DeVito, one of a trio with his two brothers. Playing DeVito with a toughness and more than an edge of self imposed superiority is Stephen Webb, and he successfully carries the story along with his pieces to the audie…

Review of The Burlesque Show 2016 at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

It was all about deja vu at The Burlesque Show at Royal & Derngate this year, and that wasn't the name of one of the exotic burlesque dancers. The feeling set in very early as Miss Peggy Sued our host once again, launched into Copacabana in her own inimitable style. It set the scene for perhaps a good sixty per cent of the evening having uncanny similarities to the 2015 show.

To be fair it was great to see much of it again, Miss Peggy Sued (aka Abi Collins) is a wonderfully enthusiastic and very funny host and looking beyond the fact that many of the jokes had been heard before, she constantly entertained. There were some lovely little extras, I am sure indeed that the "giveashitometer" has indeed been used since people heard it on the show, and I loved the local touches, including the departure of our Greyfriars bus station since her last visit. However I would have liked to have seen the "other host" this year as I thought on the night I was going to get …

Smile: Musical Variety Night Charity Concert at the Cripps Hall Theatre, Northampton

I wrote a tweet Saturday night following seeing this show: "For all the professional shows I have seen, there is nothing better than a night out watching amateurs do it for love and not loot."

This pretty much sums up my thoughts in general over amateur shows and why after over 180 shows reviewed on this blog, most of them professional. I still often find the most enjoyment from the amateur side. Amateur performers, like volunteers are a special bunch of people and their dedication can often trump the superstar that you might see treading the boards at the big theatres or the new breed of stars that sometimes prove that Britain's not always got talent, just ridiculous opportunity garnered from a television appearance. I quite often prefer amateurs and the University stars that are working hard on their courses and fighting for the chance. In my experience, that understudy is often better than the real thing.

So big thoughts, but it works well in leading to my review of t…

Review of Shaxpeare's Box performed by The Masque Theatre at St Peter and St Paul Church, Northampton

Seemingly ever since I have found theatre, Mr William Shakespeare has had some sort of anniversary and 2016 is no different, this time the anniversary is his death. Now while I admire the significant impact that the bard has had on theatre, I concur with a line that the character of Sue Delve says in Shaxpeare's Box, in that I pretty much forgot about him after GSCE.

Well that was until I found myself in the last couple of years at many of his plays, through supporting the performing groups rather than my need to see the plays in question. This is therefore probably why Shaxpeare's Box will possibly be my favourite Shakespeare influenced play this year (and may remain for some time), as its not one of his plays. There is also a love through Brian Wright's magnificent script that went some way to give to me a greater understanding of his work than some pompous academic might relay.

Set in modern day Northampton it tells the tale of a discovery of a mysterious box in the roo…

Review of Feast Of Fools Storytelling #9 - Open Mic at the NN Cafe, Northampton

I am always a big fan of the open mic nights and for the ninth gathering of the Feast Of Fools, I had to make the most of it as this would be the last until April, as for the next two months special guests would be on the menu.
As ever our evening was opened with a tune from resident music man Richard York before our host of the evening, Sue Martin welcomed us. She opened the evening with her own little tale and a couple of tales in song. Despite being early year bedeviled by a new tune, we all made it through safely and it provided a different introduction to the first night of the new year.
Our first guest of the evening was the wonderful Lisa Shepherd, who at first appeared alarmingly subdued (for Lisa) in her aboriginal dreamtime tale of how animals discover about death. However once the cuckoo was an ex-cuckoo, a deceased, a ceased to be cuckoo the more familiar Lisa returned with animal impersonations aplenty, these included a rather Chinese sounding snake. It was all rather wonde…