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Showing posts from August, 2017

Review of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Wicksteed Park, Kettering

I have seen three Shakespeare plays so far this year (and also Kiss Me Kate, if that counts) and rather uniquely every one of them has been outdoors, therefore upholding this pattern once more I headed off to Wicksteed Park for a little evening performance of perhaps what is regarded the Bard's most accessible play.

I hadn't seen A Midsummer Night's Dream before this Masque Theatre production, however, I had experienced a little of it at last years The Shakespeare Story Trail, so I had seen a Puck and The Mechanicals in another form.

Now, Shakespeare is a thing that I often appreciate rather than enjoy, and also admire if something a little different is attempted. Therefore this mad as a box of frogs production and indeed play was very much the most I have enjoyed Shakespeare. It is as was suggested a very accessible play, and for a first time viewing, the most I have been able to follow what is actually going on. This production, coming from the mega inventive brains (bu…

Camden Fringe Review: FEET by Emma And Lawrence Wrote A Play at Etcetera Theatre, London

While some issue plays tend to miss the point of providing fun and entertainment as well as making their point on a relevant issue, FEET is certainly not one of them. Written, produced, directed and performed by the two-person team of Emma And Lawrence Wrote A Play, this is clearly a labour of love of the two, full names Emma Brown and Lawrence Smith, it is fun and engaging throughout.

It's "issue" is loosely about selling your body for money or art and how far you might be willing to push it. Lucy Winwood (Emma Brown) is your typical young actress, struggling hard to get those money making roles, or roles in general, and in need of money she stumbles upon the world of feet fetishism (as you, of course, would) and slowly from just images of her feet sold online, it becomes feet in jelly and then finally personal meetings with clients for full on feet interaction.

The path that FEET takes is that is this denigration of your body in selling your feet actually worse than per…

Camden Fringe Review: The Invisible Condition by Last Word Theatre at Etcetera Theatre, London

It is perhaps worth going to the theatre to be educated as much as be entertained, and the Fringe like my home grew Flash Festival seem to have a lean towards plays wishing to make a point. The Invisible Condition from Last Word Theatre is very much one of those, its theme is mental health, and perhaps more specifically the NHS approach to it.

The play itself offers us to a certain extent the two sides of treatment, we have the psychologist (Anna Demetriuo) trying to deal with a problem through observation and discussion, and then we have the psychiatrist (James Pearse) who goes by the solution of throwing tablets at the patient.

While the whole piece is very worthy and putting over a tremendously important subject, The Invisible Problem gets bogged down in too many facts and ends up being more a series of case studies than a piece of theatre. This influx of data leaves it difficult for the audience to ever create much of an emotional connection with the numerous characters that the pe…

Review of Blodeu(w)edd Untold work in progress share at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

At the end of this presentation of a work in progress from local storyteller Jo Blake Cave, I commented to the poetic chap seated to my left about a conversation that I had some time ago about the desired style of delivery of a storyteller. Over the three years or so I have seen a few different ways it has to be said, and I always lean towards the more dynamic, animated style rather than, perhaps, the traditional style (if indeed there is one) of static delivery, where the words do all the work.

It was clear which side my left seated companion came down as in the interesting post-show discussion, he made his point very positively, and well made although perhaps it was clear from the assembled he was in the minority.

However, perhaps this is where you have to be careful about opening up a show in development to a rightfully opinionated public. As this show, is clearly a very personal one, and maybe, just maybe, it's teller must and only must put the show on the way she desires, as…

Camden Fringe Review: Note to Self by Theatreweb at Camden People's Theatre, London

Anyone who has read my reviews for a while will know that I always try to take the best of things from shows more than the worst, I realise that for every show I see, no one sets out to make a bad one, that would just be insane. So Note To Self leaves me therefore in a bit of a quandary as while there were many people lapping it up during the performance, guffawing at every opportunity, it was to be totally honest not very good.
I think it has the feel of being a woman's play, therefore, I suppose I might not be its target audience, however, there was a chance of making this an effective little piece describing as it attempts to the life of a webcam girl balancing work and her normal life. Unfolding rather bizarrely in the room of her sleeping boyfriend (we are encouraged by performer Hanna Winter to be silent on our entry), who is actually either dead in reality or more likely rolled-up sheets as he never plays any part. The charade of our silence it pretty pointless as well as …

Camden Fringe Review: Re: Production by White Slate Theatre at Etcetera Theatre, London

My first ever Fringe experience fell at the more than adequate hands of White Slate Theatre and their witty, carefree and yet actually quite educational Re: Production.

Housed in the lovely little studio space above The Oxford Arms in Camden Town itself, it seemed the perfect way to experience the Fringe for the first time as our two performers welcomed us cheerfully to the venue, either knowing many present or at least appearing to know them at this their first performance this year at the Fringe and willing to challenge those who choose to sit at the back. I never got to use my line, "I followed them" though.

The show is a little about reproduction and IVF, but much more about love and attraction as our two characters, Karen and Tom (first drawn in stick person form) are introduced to us. The playful fun nature of the play continues for a while as we go through the potential meeting opportunities of two possible love matches. Along the way, we are treated to a lovely litt…

Camden Fringe Review: Grab 'Em By The Pussy at Fourth Monkey, London

While the very title of this crazy little show written by Caroline Buckley might suggest a lean toward our current infamous President of the USA and his nefarious deeds, it purely forms the title and except a now even more ironic reference or two to North Korea, it has no influence at all.

What Grab 'Em By The Pussy is actually is at times a rather sweet and at others a gloriously rude relationship (or lack of) comedy musical which sees Maisy (Alice Wolff-Whitehouse) in need of contact and willing to be handled or fondled, well, pretty much anywhere.

It's all at times rather dark and alarming and perhaps this kind of material could never possibly come from the pen of a male now with the female lean on the subject anyway. However, despite its very forcefulness of content, including what is pretty much a rape scene, it disturbs a viewer in how genuinely fun it all is. It leaves you with tinges of discomfort which are quickly somehow forgotten as we glide into some upbeat and cr…

Review of The Railway Children at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise that The Railway Children from Looking Glass Theatre was an awfully old fashioned and really rather quaint show. I know that at some point in the dim distant past I saw the original film version (all Jenny Agutter and "Daddy" etc), as I think definitely every one of my age will have seen that. However, the fact that of the audience, staggeringly only three were children suggests a little to me that the audience was either family and friends of the performers, or older people reminiscing over the story they remember from their younger days.

I have to confess that I didn't remember much of the story ahead of seeing it, however, this adaptation from James Smith (who also directs) based on the Edith Nesbit original brings the story and characters to life in a compact seventy-minute version. As has been common from recent years, the cast is formed from recent graduates of University of Northampton BA Actors course, all familiar t…

Review of Antony & Cleopatra by William Shakespeare performed by The Masque Theatre at Abington Park, Northampton

Unless you are one of the gold chain rattling members and higher echelons at the top of The Globe theatre and planning on evicting your innovative artistic director, the good old Bard is currently rife for exploiting in setting, gender and dynamics of theatre, and for me perhaps he should be. It is not as if after 400 odd years there haven't been enough opportunities to see "pure" Shakespeare.

Hence why long before I made my way to see Masque Theatre's production of Antony & Cleopatra this week at Abington Park museum, I was already pretty excited to see it. The very reason is that having had the privilege of seeing female Malcolm's and Richard II's in the last few years via the University of Northampton shows, a nicely split gender balance from this show thanks to innovative casting by director John Myhill was on the cards. Throw in a bit of Mike Oldfield to open proceedings and you are going somewhere to alleviate my occasional pain of watching Shakesp…