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Showing posts from November, 2016

Review of That'll Be The Day Christmas Show at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I am not entirely sure why I was a little reticent initially to the offer by a friend to accompany a group to see That'll Be The Day. It wasn't that I would have a problem with the music, as be it 50s, 60s, 70s or whatever decade, good music for me goes beyond the generations (although obviously the 80s are best). Perhaps it was that this show had a reputation for being popular with the grey brigade (although I have plenty of my own grey now)? This made no sense either, as some of our number were quite a bit younger than my 39 years. I think actually the problem in my head was going to a Christmas show on the 26th November. I have absolutely nothing against Christmas, but a whole evening of its music was not my ideal evening. Or so I thought.

It was actually a superb evening of music and comedy, which although very possibly is a little long at three hours with the interval, rarely disappoints. While this is a Christmas show, there is enough non seasonal music to keep it being …

Review of The Shakespeare Revue (White Cobra) at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I had heard great things of The Shakespeare Revue, presented here by White Cobra Productions. So much so, that even the fact that "Shakespeare" was in the title, had not activated that involuntary twitch that that name sometimes generates. I am generally one of those Shakespeare viewers that prefers my Bard spruced (brushed?) up a tad, giving the contents a stir after 400 plus years of simmering.

Thankfully The Shakespeare Revue, originally compiled by Christopher Luscombe and Malcolm McKee in 1993 (but added to since) for the Bard's birthday celebrations, is very much on the lighthearted side of Mr Shakespeare. Over an incredibly varied 37 sketches and musical routines, he is revered, poked fun at, honoured and slightly modified, to create a quite brilliant evening of entertainment, for the Bard or not to Bard fan alike.

Standout sketches include a quite brilliant take on The Importance of Being Earnest titled Othello in Earnest. Written by Perry Pontac it sees Othello …

Review of Love Letters (White Cobra) at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

A. R. Gurney's Love Letters is a very unorthodox play. First, as the title alludes to, it is an epistolary play. Secondly it involves virtually no movement from the actors, seated simply as a table and desk. Finally, it is performed as read from the script, so needs less rehearsal and history tells that it has therefore been performed by many famous actors since its debut in 1988. The likes of Kathleen Turner, William Hurt, Christopher Reeve, George Segal, Christopher Walken, Stockard Channing, Robert Vaughn, Elizabeth McGovern, Elizabeth Montgomery, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Charlton Heston to name a few of the dozens of names over the years to have taken the roles.
White Cobra Productions have also taken an approach of multiple actors in the roles, with four in total for each role across its run. The performance I saw, had Paul Fowler take on the role of Alan Ladd, while Lynne O'Sullivan was Melissa Gardner. Both are great in their roles, sparking off, but never directly…

Review of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

If you are even vaguely aware of the story of Buddy Holly, there is no shying away from the fact that be it almost sixty years ago, this musical of his life seems sure to end generally on a very sad note. However of course, it doesn't, it leaves us for two reasons wanting more; we want the show to continue with its final scenes collapsing into a high spirited concert feel, and we just wanted more from Buddy, full stop.
Over a period of just eighteen months between 1957 and 1959, Buddy along with The Crickets, went from jobbing local performers on a country themed radio show, to world recognition, and a collection of perhaps the very best of songs of that breakthrough period for music. At a time when Elvis was creating brilliance accompanied to his gyrating hips, Buddy was perhaps even more of an innovator, casting off the shackles of country, and even heaven forbid, performing with his glasses on. He wanted to be constantly different and inventive. It truly make you wonder where h…

Review of The Boy With Tape On His Face at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Sometimes the very simplest of things can be the very best and perhaps in these complicated days, there is nothing better than to experience something, minus a very small addition of modern culture and tech, what could have been done a hundred plus years ago. The Boy With Tape On His Face is the most variety act a variety act could be and coupled with the most ridiculous amount of audience interaction you could imagine, makes it perhaps one of the very best theatre experiences.


Over a two hour show The Boy of the title, hence known as Tape Face, utters not a single word, strip of black tape across his mouth and with dark eyeliner, he is quite a sight. It is truly a clever and well defined character in itself, kited out with satchel and stripy top, before he gets into his elaborate and hilarious set-pieces. Pacing the stage from long before the show begins and finally settling on staring out the audience via his wall mirror. Our location is his dressing room, the audience perhaps his d…

Review of Ten at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

It would frankly be strange to mention the curtain call for a show at the very beginning of a review, however for Ten, a celebration of ten years of work from the Youth Theatre, Young Company and The Actors, is epitomises perhaps everything to say of the show. A near work of art in itself to shepherd 188 performers onto the stage as quickly, but as respectfully as possible to each individual, is a mind boggling proposition. A curtain call should never be underappreciated, as it is how you leave your audience, and Ten got it perfect.

Those 188 performers created during this 90 minute show a collection of original pieces and selected extracts from plays performed in the past. From the original pieces, Gathering Dust by Georgia Tillery was my favourite, offering a fabulous response from the audience as well as the really young youth theatre group portrayed a collection of old folk attempting to make a break for freedom. It was a really funny piece, which the youngsters clearly had great …

Review of The Annual General Meeting of a Medium-Sized Firm of Accountants by The Arts Lab at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

You see strange things at the theatre.
You see weird things at the theatre.
You see peculiar things at the theatre.
Then you see The Annual General Meeting of a Medium-Sized Firm of Accountants by The Arts Lab and absolutely nothing has prepared you for this day.
The day that you leave to the interval, having watched Samuel Jones as accountant Seth Lopod sing about wanting more from life. Wanting to be an octopus, a gay octopus, who wants another octopus to ejaculate his ink on your face. While the audience joins in with the chorus.
Yep, it's clear that nothing could ever prepare you for that.

The Arts Lab are a relatively recently formed group within Northampton who generally throw ideas about and create what appear to be incredibly random pieces such as this. I remarked in a conversation at the interval that the show appeared to be like throwing ideas at the wall and seeing which ones bounced back. I later learned that this whole show had occured from a Twitter exchange of ideas…

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

Last year I saw Orientation, one of two devised shows that form the first part of public performances from the now grown-up third years of the University of Northampton BA Actors course. It was a simply incredible beast of a show, which remains very possibly in my top five shows that I have seen, anywhere. Shrapnel, this years first devised show directed by Stewart Melton doesn't come close to that, however that far from means it is a failure. It does though have a more punchy moral at its core.

Formed purely from the work of the actors and directors and their knowledge and research of life on the streets, Shrapnel tells the story of the homeless, the charity chuggers and the passersby. The chuggers are perhaps the key characters in this piece, driving the greater part of the witty repartee and emotion. Played by Kundai Kanyama, Jamal Franklin, Jessica Bridge, April Lissimore and Connor McCreedy, each brings their own particular quirk to their role, making them all very much indiv…