Wednesday, 5 August 2020

"The Black Veil" by
John Goodrum
Colin McIntyre's Classic Thriller Season.
The story, based on the classic Charles Dickens' classic thriller, is introduced and narrated by Andrew Ryan from the safety of one of the Nottingham Theatre Royal's boxes.
Now there is something quite un-nerving about an empty theatre. Anyone who has stood in a theatre on their own will feel that maybe they aren't quite as alone as they feel, and the decision to film this story on the stage of the empty Nottingham Theatre Royal, only adds to that spooky atmosphere, especially the lights from the balconies which strangely look like evil onlookers.
Newly-qualified doctor Stephen Ruggles (Chris Brookes) has just arrived home on a stormy winter’s evening and is nodding off by the fire when his slumber is interrupted by a female visitor.
A mysteriously-veiled elderly woman, Ada Crawlings, (Sarah Wynne Kordas) arrives begs him to visit a nameless patient at 9am, the following morning. Against his better judgement, Ruggles agrees, and settles back to his repose.
Ruggles gets into conversation with Ada and tells her that he is planning to bring his fiancee, Rose, down to London, but he has to impress his future Brother in Law, Simon by his surroundings first.
In the morning Ruggles attends a corpse at Ada's creepy abode in Limehouse, who we discover to be Ada's Grandson, Billy. Ada is out for revenge for the death of Billy and wants Luke, a shady small time crook, dead.
Enter Luke Gunford (
John Goodrum
), a menacing low life crook, seemingly unafraid to murder both the young doctor as well as old Ada. But Luke knows more than first appears and some of these characters are not quite who, or what they seem!
There are twists and turns from this moment on with the past coming back to haunt someone and deceit and murder just around the corner, with even more surprises for at least one of these characters.
The sound effects create the kind of images in your mind that will make your mind wander into your own unknown, painting pictures in your mind.
The editing, by Sarah and John, is cleverly carried out to move the story on in a way that live theatre would have had the usual problems with, making the play look and feel more like a film, just without the scenery.
Directed by
Karen Henson
and wonderful performances from Chris Brookes,
Sarah Wynne Kordas
John Goodrum
, as well as the vampire-esque appearance of narrator, Andrew Ryan, to send shivers down your spine.
The Sound Design is by David Gilbrook.
This is definitely one to watch for fans of all thrillers, and especially the many many fans of Tabs Productions excellent Colin McIntyre's Thriller Season. It's also one that I hope they reprise in front of a live audience because it has all the trademarks of their much loved productions from the past.
You can catch this online production on Youtube and via the Nottingham Theatre Royal and Concert Hall Youtube channel.
Sweet dreams.........

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

"Monkey" by Jake Levy &
Libby Horobin
Nottingham New Theatre Youtube.
While theatre as we know it is still a distant dream, Nottingham New Theatre have been producing socially distanced online theatre. Befitting of the current situation and using the situation as a basis for the story line, this latest, written by
Jake Levy
Libby Horobin
uses a Zoom "pub quiz" as a way to keep that human interaction. What starts off as an online quiz, spirals into something completely unexpected.
Ava (
Eloise Dooley
), Danny (Charlie Bellwood), Sean (
Joe Butler
), Nicky (
Oliver Binns
) and Des (
Reilly Enzo Salmon
) get together for the quiz wher Nicky, the quizmaster starts to pose a set of tailored questions especially for the group. One question really gets under the skin of one of the zoomers and they leave the zoom session. The domino effect takes hold when truths come out, leaving just Des and Danny on screen.
This is where we discover that one of the pair has an addiction that looks to be spiralling, with the other showing concern for the other, but is the result tough love or does he cave in?
Filmed by Josh Spear, there are the zoom shots as well as an outdoor sequence, where we get to see some lovely scenery the University grounds offer.
The sound, at times, I was at times wrestling with, and I'll tell you why. The first time I watched this piece, I thought that it needed some further sound equalising with the Zoom sessions. And then I thought, well, no it doesn't because that is what the sound is like with this form of media and it is naturalistic with some of the distorted sound.
Watching "Monkey" is like eavesdropping on a group of friends getting together and then finding out something you were not expecting to hear, and I liked that element of the piece.
Obviously with this being a new piece of writing, I didn't know what to expect, and that is what makes seeing new pieces of theatre and writing like this a particular treat, feeding my hunger for new writing.
All five actors do not feel like they are performing for the camera and are completely natural, especially with the banter, crude jokes and references.
What I also noticed were, and I don't know how well they were intended by Director
Jake Levy
and Shadow Director
Rachel Coussins
, the silences. These can be used to wonderful effect, and were in this production, to create that slightly uneasy and embarrassed space, and I really liked that with "Monkey".
"Monkey" was well edited and, again gave a very natural feel to the 28 minute piece of online theatre, by Caetano Capurro and Charlotte Smith.
As well as co-writing "Monkey",
Libby Horobin
also produced the piece.
The ending, with its' outdoor sequence used a piece of music I didn't recognise, but sounded like it would not be out of place in some Italian spaghetti western, adding a slightly dangerous edge to the action.
One other thing I noticed was just how tidy the five "gaffs" were in the Zoom sequences. The joy of Zoom and Skype eh?
"Monkey" can be viewed on Youtube on Wednesday 5 August at 7.30 and you can reserve tickets via

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

“TL;DR” by
Bill Hayes
Nottingham New Theatre YouTube channel
Wednesday 29 July 2020
This one-man production is part of the New Theatre’s Quarantine Season and is the third production made in this way. The first two were “Spring” and “Awakening” which you can also view online on Saturday 8 August, and are new takes on the wonderful play “Spring Awakening”, looking at both sides of the story. Anyway, that aside we are looking at “TL;DR”.
Alistair Das, played by Rohan Rakhit, enjoys his internet and he has his own YouTube channel where he loves to express his opinions, let’s face it who doesn’t? He delves into fringe communities and is on the look out for people who will engage in his views and opinions, but admits that he probably won't agree with what they have to say.
Well, we all know that the more and more you get involved in You Tube and the internet itself, the deeper you will be drawn in; we’ve all been there at 2am still looking at those cute cat/puppy videos haven’t we? And the more we search, the more we become enveloped in the magic and wonder of the internet, and the more we stand to be isolated from those around us, and make the internet our life.
In this play first comes across as an angry young man with plenty of opinions, almost a saviour of the internet commentary, but slowly we discover that he may not be quite the confident, dominant character we first see. He admits that his best friends are all online, so we slowly get a contrasting picture of who Alistair really is.
He trusts nothing that he is told and questions everything; he is almost like a modern day Citizen Smith. If you don't know who he is, Google it! He isn't afraid to say what he feels but fights for what he believes, but is what Alistair believes the beliefs and opinions of his Youtube followers?
What I really enjoyed, and did not expect was the last few minutes of the play, which is left open ended, and could go several ways in the mind of the viewer. Menacing, worrying, threatening, you just don't know what Alistair has in mind, especially when you take into consideration the content of the speeches just before the end "blog"
This is the first play written by this young University student, Bill Hayes and, while being very different to what I was expecting - well to tell the truth, I didn't know what to expect from a play called "TL;DR", which for those who didn't know the online slang, is explained in the play.
There are some lovely physical descriptions of the characters who Alistair describes so colourfully, you can picture them in your mind. the script is well put together and has a proper beginning, middle and end, albeit open ended. It gives the viewer something to discuss after the play has ended.
You can always tell if an author has written from what he/she knows, and I get areal feel that Bill has written from this viewpoint as it does not feel at all forced and has a natural rhythm.
This is helped though when you have a talented actor to breathe life into the words of a play and bring those words to life, and that is what you get with
. His comedy is natural, and I know Rohan to be a natural wit in any case. Being so close to the screen though really accentuates this comedy, but also you get to see close up the change in mood in Alistair as he slowly becomes more down beat and menacing.
The play is perfect for the current climate and I love the production and editing of the play. It gave a feel of a trendy sit com or something similar to "Phone Jacker" - a TV show that I loved. It has change of pace and the sound effects and editing made the production edgy and with spark.
Written and co-directed by
Bill Hayes
, co-directed by
Jack Titley
who also produced the piece. Edited by Max Nichol and
Skylar Turnbull Hurd
, this is a clever piece of work, which probably wouldn't work as well in a typical theatre setting as it does as an online piece of theatre.
At about 40 minutes, it's not too long, so there is no excuse to miss out on this novel debut piece of writing.
“TL;DR” is being shown on the Nottingham New Theatre You Tube Channel on Wednesday 29 July at 7.30pm, with a Q&A session afterwards, Please visit the Nottingham New Theatre You Tube site

Saturday, 27 June 2020

"Spring" and "Awakening" by Nottingham New Theatre.
Theatre is, as we all know, about connection. Connection with, not only the audience but with other actors and the characters. That is what brings a story and chemistry together.
Nottingham New Theatre present two separate self isolated, social distanced plays titled "Spring" and "Awakening", an adaptation by Tara Anegada of the Franz Wedekind play "Spring Awakening".
The play criticises the sexually oppressive culture of nineteenth century Germany and offers a vivid dramatisation of the erotic fantasies that it breeds. Due to its controversial subject matter, the play has often been banned or censored.
It also questions the power of dreams and the way that the children are treated by their peers, the pressures of a Christian lifestyle and the fear of the future.
It also brings into play how not talking to your children, trying to preserve their innocence, is not always the best way to parent them. They will find out what they need to know from somewhere, or someone, and maybe too late to realise that their innocence is lost!
I've seen a few productions of the play and enjoyed them all greatly. It's one of those stories that everyone can,m in some way relate to as we've all been there and experienced the joy and pain of transgression during the change from being a child to an adult.
The productions also deal with the actions and reactions of some of the characters who have their lives changed throughout this period of growing up.
The cast for "Spring" are Natascha Austin (Wendla Bergman), Toby Russell (Hans Wedekind), Katie Booth ( Martha Zundenschlag), George Baxter (Ernest Kollman), Lily Bailes (Mrs Bergmann), Barney Hartwill ( Mr Zunderschlag/Dr Lemonade),
The cast for "AWakening" are Reilly Salmon (Melchior Gabor), Olly O'regan (Moritz Steifel), Daniel Cresswell (George Schulmann), Sofia Bassani (Ilse Franz), Jessica Staplehurst (Mrs Steifel/ Mrs Gabor) and Alex Levy (Reverand Gabor).
Directed by Tara Anegada, Assistant Director is Lillian Race for "Spring", Produced by Alice WalkerSkylar Turnbull Hurd and Zoe Smith and for "Awakening" Emily Rule and Lucy Chandler and Jack Titley Directed "Awakening".
Presented in a very up to date way, in places almost as a diluted "50 Shades Of Grey" descriptive mode, especially during the "Spring" section. You can feel the sinfulness of just reading the passages that some of the characters relate, and you get to see two sides of the original storyline and characters.
Filmed in a modern way, there is only scene that has more than one character in, which in a way allows you to get under the skin and start to understand every character in a way that maybe you wouldn't do if you were watching this in a theatre.
The filming and editing is excellent on both.
It also, in places, allows you to let your imagination to fill in the story and pictures that hints at the more disturbing. Especially with Martha and her father.
The various styles of delivery of the characters and pieces vary from a very natural pace and feel to a more rigid, almost classic Shakespearian delivery (Moritz), which is great because it bridges the time periods from when it was originally written, back between 1890 and 1891, and today's metering styles.
Although filmed solo, you'd think that it wouldn't be easy to emote some of the pieces and script, without another character to bounce off, but I found Malchior's final delivery really moving.
This production is presented online at 7.40pm Saturday and Sunday 28 June 2020. Please visit the Nottingham New Theatre website for more details of how to view this very special theatrical production.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

"The Story Of Guitar Heroes" with Phil Walker.
Nottingham Playhouse.
As kids we all dream of being rock stars. Some come close and some just pretend. Here is a man who made that dream come true as he is every rock guitarist you can think of. Phil Walker along with his band of Toby James, Lee Williams and Allan Varnfield on drums recreate the sound of every guitar legend from over the decades.
Along with a video back drop showing the heroes, along with interviews and film footage, this show is an absolute must for, not only guitar fans but for lovers of great music.
Weaving his way from the 1950's and stars like Les Paul, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry, through the 1960's with Bert Weedon,Peter Green, Hank Marvin and Jimi Hendrix, into the 1970's with The Allman Brothers, The Eagles and Eric Clapton, into the 1980's with Prince, Thin Lizzy and Gary Moore.
Covering every genre from Country with Brad Paisley and Albert Lee, Rock n Roll with The Shadows, Eddie and Chuck, through Blues with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Vai and BB King, to classic rock with AC/DC, Guns n Roses, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, ZZ Top and of course the mighty Queen.
The set was well thought out with Act One ending with the mighty "Comfortably Numb".I have listened to this song many times but hearing this epic track played live on stage by these guitar masters, complete with an incredible light show, this tune took on a life of it's own.
The show ended with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" guitar break with the video footage of the great Freddie Mercury singing the song to Phil and co's musical accompaniment.
They then came back on for a party encore which included Status Quo's "Rocking All Over The World"
Seeing and hearing tracks like "Parisienne Walkways", "Whole Lotta Rosie", "Little Wing", "Hotel California", "Purple Rain" and "Smoke On The Water" onstage was just jaw-droppingly good. The amount of times shivers went up and down my spine, I could not tell you.
Not only is Phil an amazing guitarist, he has surrounded himself with an incredible band, all of whom provide vocals backing and featured, and Allan on those drums was spectacular to watch.
Not only do we get to see many styles and makes of guitar played, all of which matched the guitars played by the original heroes, but you get an education in the history of guitars and the heroes themselves. Educational and entertaining. Shut your eyes and it could be Hank Marvin, it could be Fleetwood Mac. It could be Thin Lizzy.
This show was for one night only at the Playhouse, but make sure that you catch this show if you can as it travels around the UK, because you will not regret this experience. It's something that I certainly will not forget and neither will the audience whose age ranges were as varied as the music played tonight.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

“The Regina Monolgues” by Rebecca Russell and Jenny Wafer
Performed by Derby Shakespeare Theatre Company
The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton
Here's another play that I've managed to allow to pass me by, until now!
Six women with one thing in common – marriage to a man called Henry - have passed into historical legend. Their lives are both separate and intertwined as they tell their stories from a room in which they have all once lived. This story would make a great musical!
The women describe their co-existence with the lusty monarch and also their fears and insecurities about his other consorts and their different child-bearing abilities. They graphically discuss Henry at the different stages of his life, creating a simultaneous multi-angled picture of Henry.
What makes this production very different to other productions, is that the play starts with a monologue from Henry. Henry the business man who tells us all about his six wives, how they met and what went wrong, from his point of view.
This part of the play takes place in Henry's office, where we can see that his desk is his castle, a pl;ace that he feels truly at home and open to discuss his love life quite candidly and in a very modern way.
The speech is the work of Caroline Reader, who also directed this section of the play, and is very funny; littered with several jokes that link Henry back to the days of Henry's reign. You need to see this to get the full impact, and I'm not going to give away any of them. There's even a nod to the movie "Notting Hill" right at the end.
As I said, the production is very modern and several of the monologues from the ladies reference some of Nottingham's night spots like Revolution de Cuba, as an example.
The intertwining of the six monologues is done very cleverly and at the end the wedding ring is passed down to all six of the wives to culminate the connection between the six.
Jessica Jackson (Cathy), Emily Emily Horobin (Annie), Steph Carpenter (Jane), Alex Wrampling (Anna), Brogan Piggott (Katie) and Christine Smith (Katherine) are joined by Mathew Shepherd (Henry) in this very funny play, which I'm very pleased to have ticked off the list of plays not previously seen.
Director Niamh Mourton has done a great job with this production, and as I've said, I've never seen this show before so this is the only experience of the show, but what a great experience Niamh has given me with this show. It's pacy, it's lit well (Steve Greatorex/Neil Jones) and the set design (Niamh Mourton and Charlotte Matthews) was again cleverly thought out, providing all six with their own space from where to relate their tales.
Loved the various costumes (Charlotte and William Matthews), reflecting the ages and personality of the women.
I also appreciated the music choices that went along with the play whenever there was a change on positioning of Henry's Queens. From Sinatra to Simone, the snatches of these tunes sublimely filled that period of scene change. Very classy!
It's a brilliant and short piece of theatre, only 100 minutes long with no interval. It makes history great fun, and while this play is not for the younger audience due to some of the language and adult themes that are discussed, I think it's a play that will appeal to anyone with a sense of humour. This audience was of a broad age range and they all seemed to appreciate the humour.
“The Regina Monologues” is at The Duchess Theatre until Saturday 14 March so pop down for a right royal laugh

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

“La Casa de Bernada Alba” by Fedrico Gardia Lorca
Nottingham New Theatre
The play starts just after the funeral of Bernarda Alba's second husband.
Domineering matriarch Bernarda Alba imposes an eight-year mourning period on her household. Bernarda has five daughters, aged between 20 and 39, whom she has rigidly controlled and prohibited from any form of relationship. The mourning period isolates them and tension mounts within the household.
Youngest sister Adela, defies her mother's orders and wears a green dress instead of remaining in black. Her joy is shattered when she discovers that Angustias will be marrying Pepe.
Bernarda sees Angustias wearing makeup. Appalled that Angustias would defy her orders to remain in a state of mourning, Bernarda violently scrubs the makeup off her face.
The other daughters enter, followed by Bernarda's elderly mother, Maria Josefa, who is usually locked away in her room. Maria Josefa announces that she wants to get married. Bernarda forces her back into her room and locks her in again.
We discover that Adela and Pepe are having a secret affair. Adela becomes increasingly volatile, defying her mother and quarrelling with her sisters, particularly Martirio, who also has feelings for Pepe.
Needless to say with all this going on, the play ends on a tragic note.
The all female cast of actors are Nicole Klutse, who makes her debut at NNT as Bernarda, Sophie Mackenzie, also making her debut as La Poncia, Katie McCabe, again making her NNT debut as Adela, Daisy Forster, another debut performer as Martirio, Philippa Horn,and another NNT debut first timer as Angustias, Helena Hunt as Amelia, Katie Booth as Magdelena, Sherifah Dawodu, also an NNT debut as the crazed Maria Josefa, Sofia Loreti as a servant and Edie Gillett as Prudencia.
The show has a lot of shouting and some parts did make parts a bit difficult to hear the words plainly. At the other end of the scale there was just a few parts where the projection could have been more prominent, but this was after all, first night and I'm sure that this will be worked out for the rest of the run.
Director Caetano Capurro makes his directorial debut here, assisted by Pete Rouse, and produced by Ella Seber-Rajan.
I'm not sure how much of the original play has been edited for this 80 minute production, but it just seemed like there was something missing. Maybe it is the writing, i don't know as this is the first time that I have seen this play, so I have no prior knowledge, so have no benchmark to measure or compare with.
It's not a play that I would rush to see again, and it didn't hit any lasting emotional notes for me by the end of the play. That said Nicole's highly emotional performance as Bernarda, and the forceful slapping of her daughter in one scene did provoke a bit of a shock factor for me.
This play's themes though do fall in nicely with the charity that NNT are supporting this season, Mind for better mental health.
“La Casa de Bernada Alba” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 14 March.