Wednesday, 29 March 2017

“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller.
People’s Theatre Company
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
Written in 1953 and based on the Salem Witch trials of Massachusettes between 192 and 1693. In a small tight-knit community, personal grievances clash with lust and superstition, fuelling widespread hysteria. Miller’s classic story attacks the evils of mindless persecution and the power of false accusations.
The play isn’t wholly about supernatural happenings that may, or may not have happened in this period of history, but also about human manipulation of the mind of their fellow man.
Making someone believe in something non fact based can be a very dangerous thing, which is also why there are so many comparisons with the political world since and currently. The power of the mind is a dangerous thing!
It’s also about power, lust, respect and love as well as unfounded belief; an intoxicating blend. Fact is swirled with fiction and it’s well documented that Miller did his research well before writing this literary classic, which still stands up with the best of today’s theatrical works.
A stark, but effective set design by Bob Wood. The production was well directed by Jessica McLean; it built the tension up nicely.
The costumes (Sally Nix) brought the characters to life and while there wasn't an abundance of props, the ones used were well utilised.
The 20 strong cast gave a powerful and emotional performance which kept the audience on the edge of their seats. So silent they were you could hear them breathing which shows that they were wrapped up in the story and engaged in the actors.
It's not often that you get to praise the whole cast but this is one of those times. Every actor gave everything they had, which made this play a real touch of class. It would be wrong of me to say that one actor was any better than the other because this cast were a big old well oiled theatre machine.
Robert GollEmma CarltonMarina KyriacouChristopher Collins, Heather Reynolds, Malcolm Todd, Rob Suttle, Adam Chapman,Robert RobbBarbara BennerGill CookGlenn Murphy, John Gill, Lindsey ParrNick ParvinRoy SmithSarah Astill, Vicki Reckless, Abby Henderson and Hatty Hollowell, I thank you for a most powerful evening of classic theatre. I can only imagine that you leave that stage completely drained, but so so proud.
“The Crucible” is at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 1 April 2017.

Photos by Kelvin P Coleman.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

“The Grapes Of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
Nottingham Playhouse
Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they are trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California along Route 66. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they seek jobs, land, dignity, and a future.
The book itself caused great controversy when released and was banned in the Soviet Union and many libraries. Steinbeck received death threats and he was put under surveillance by the FBI and his books were ceremoniously burned in towns across America.
The title of the book, by the way, came from a line from “The Battle Hymn Of the Republic”. “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord/He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored”.
Adapted by Frank Galati and directed by Abby Wright.
Andre Squire (Tom Joad) plays Ma and Pa’s favourite son, living for the moment and is a faithful and wise protector of the family, despite having killed a man, he gains the admiration of his family and his fellow workers. A good performance.
Ma Joad (Julia Swift), the mother. She happily fulfils her role as the mother of the family, healer, peacemaker and arbiter whose tasks grow as the story develops. Julia was one of the better actors here.
Pa Joad (Charlie Folorunsho) has been evicted from his farm and is forced to take his family to California. He depends more on Ma Joad as his shame of not being able to be the provider for his family grows.
Jim Casey (Brandon Charleson), is often the moral voice of the story. He’s a former preacher who goes to prison for Tom over a fight between the labourers and the Californian police.
Rose of Sharon (Molly Logan) is the eldest daughter of the Joad family whose husband Connie (Ben Bland)abandons her and she loses their child.
Grandpa Joad (Heronimo Sehmi) has an evil tongue and delights in letting it loose on his wife, Granma Joad (Pamela Merrick)
Al Joad (Shiv Jalota) is the family’s younger brother. 16 years old, he is cocky but is a useful mechanic who idolises Tom. He falls in love and decides to stay with her instead of travelling with his family.
Noah Joad (Daniel Booroff) is slow and feels that his parents don’t love him as much as his siblings.
Uncle John (Jim Kitson) still carries the regret of his lost wife which he feels was his fault.
Harry Napier plays an actor and musician in the play and Alexander Newland takes multi roles as Muley, Ma going back, the Narrator and one of the vocalists.He has a good singing voice.
So what did I think of this classic story that caused such controversy and upset?
I left the Playhouse feeling absolutely nothing at all. No emotions towards the play or any of the characters. I didn't know what the actors were supposed to make me feel but whatever it was, I felt nothing. If I had the book, and felt the same way, I'd burn it as well.
I'm sorry but nothing connected with me. I was bereft of emotion. I love Steinbeck's "Of Mice & Men" so it's not the writer. Maybe it was just too depressing for me, who knows.
The sound at times was muffled, even when mic'd up, but there were a few redeeming features that I must commend.
The accents were brilliant, a lot of work obviously put in by the actors and the dialect coach Tim Charrington.
The band, and the live music was fresh and exciting. The original music is composed by Musical Director Matt Regan.
The scene stealer for me, where I did perk up, was one of the saddest because it was where Rose of Sharon gave birth to her stillborn baby. There was no emotion shown by the family as the dead baby was unceremoniously dumped. A sad thing when this was a highlight.
The other highlight for me was spotting several local actors in the ensemble.I spotted at least half a dozen.
I know I'm not the only person there tonight who feels the same. Take the man in front of me who kept
nodding off to sleep during Act 2, or was that the pizza he had eaten during the show just making him feel sleepy? Made me hungry for a pizza, so at least I did feel something during the play.
As far as I could see there were no standing ovations, just polite applause, and people very quickly made their way to the exits.
One person made an exit half way through Act 1 and seemingly never returned to his original seat on the front row. he may have sat in one of the other vacant seats further back though.
Look, this is just my opinion, I didn't like the play, it left me emotionless. You may feel different, but for me these grapes were slightly sour.
“Grapes Of Wrath” is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 8 April 2017.

Monday, 27 March 2017

“Monarch” by Tom Heath
Nottingham New Theatre
The four characters in this play all have some kind of trauma in the past which lingers. Rachel has had a breakdown, Lewis is politically radical, Zoe is a budding poet and Arthur really wants to be a good dad to Zoe.
They’re all not directly connected to start with but by the end they all become involved in each other’s lives in one way or another without knowing it.
The play is a collection of monologues and poems and it’s through these that we learn about the four’s pasts, their struggles and what they want from their futures.
The writing in this play is particularly strong as well as being incredibly descriptive. It paints pictures, and while the four actors don;t have to act out everything that they describe , they help create those images from the pen to your mind with incredible emotion
Written and directed by Tom Heath, he's created a powerful and emotive piece of theatre. Assisted by four incredibly strong actors this play springs to life. The four separate stories all collect at the end, linking the four to just the one place.
Rachel (Maddy Strauss) for me headed this cast of equals for emotions. Her whole look and face made you want to give her a hug. By the end you felt so emotionally drained from her plight, but then there was little upturn which made you feel that there was hope around the corner for Rachel. Now whether a tear stick (something used by actors to instigate tears) was used, I didn't see, but tears I'm sure I spotted. I am sure that Maddy was as drained as we were by the end.
Lewis (David Mason) was another emotionally charged character, but this time the emotion was anger and violence, steeped in regret and being unsure of his actions. His monologue of violence painted a vivid picture in your head. Again by the end though you felt for him for the reason why he was in the location of the others. (No spoilers from me!)
Zoe (Laura Wolcyzk) is the young girl who held her anger inside, so it seems, not knowing how to talk to her father, Arthur about the loss of her mother and his wife. Communication is never easy between a parent and the child but when there is loss involved, it is even harder to show those feelings, which Zoe kept inside. Her going away to University wasn't all that she had expected either which added another trauma to her young life.
Arthur (Jack Ellis) is Zoe's dad and he tries to do what he thinks is right for Zoe, but what a father sometimes thinks is right for his child, may not be what the child sees as being what she wants from her father. As a father, this character got me thinking of past decisions I've thought were right for my kids and I can see Arthur's well meaning. This role especially shows Tom's mature writing skills as he is writing from a place that he, I'm sure, has not had first hand experience of, being a father and making parental decisions. How apt though are Tom's observations.
I came away from this piece of theatre with many thoughts in my head about all four characters and can empathise with all four. The blend of brilliant, emotional acting and an amazingly well written script really gives you plenty to mull over long after the play has ended.
An interesting set design by Joe Strickland, who is also the Technical Director, and some clever lighting, designed by Darcey Graham, makes for an interesting visual experience.
Producer for this was Zoe Smith, assisted by Tenielle Chua.
"Monarch" is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Tuesday 28 March

Thursday, 23 March 2017

“Di and Viv and Rose” by Amelia Bullmore
Nottingham New Theatre
The New Theatre students this season are currently producing some very strong female led plays and this is no different. It’s a warm, emotional and funny play about female friendship and the impact that has on life and the impact life has on their friendship.
The play is an ideal choice as Di, Viv and Rose are all 18 year old students when the play starts. They get to know each other when they decide to share a house off campus.
Their characters are very different. Rose is a free spirited art history student who sleeps with any boy she likes the look of. She is generous, funny and quite innocent of her promiscuity, reminiscent of Sally Bowles in the musical “Cabaret”
Di is a sports mad lesbian who is taking business studies.
Viv is a sociology student with a strong work ethic. She writes serious essays about the way women are confined by the corset.
Set in the 1980’s and travelling through the years, mapping the events and happenings within their little circle and the way their friendship endures the obstacles that arise throughout this period of time. It’s a play about women but don’t think that this play is just for women, because it’s not.
This play will take you through many emotions and, not knowing the play before tonight, I was not prepared for one particular event, which really knocked me back because I really did not expect it, and it came as quite a shock because you feel for all three characters.
Rachel Connolly (Di), Laura Jane Bateman (Viv) and Sophie Walton (Rose) all put in incredible performances. I wouldn't be able to choose one over the other two as being the better character or actor.
The story is incredibly heart-warming and honest but also quite tragic. There is a lot of laughter in this play as well.
All of these emotions unfurl over the decades to a wonderful soundtrack which includes songs from Cyndi Lauper, Prince and Robbie Williams.
Directed by Ed Eggleton. this man will go far in the theatre because he knows what it takes to get a brilliant performance from an actor, if this play is anything to go by. Ed was ably assisted by Producer Emma McDonald.
The technical crew behind this play were also excellent with a wonderful lighting design by Joanne Blunt. A clever use of lights to show the years past by in numerical form.
The Sound Designer, Emily Dimino, did a great job with the various sound effects as well as the music.
I've now come to expect a high quality of theatre from the Nottingham New Theatre, but every time I see something new here, the bar is raised another notch. Such is the quality of everyone who gets involved in this group.
This is definitely one play I would advise anyone who loves brilliant theatre to see, but be prepared for some unexpected turns near the end.
“Di and Viv and Rose” is at the Nottingham New Theatre on the University campus until Saturday 25 March 2017.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

“Carpe Jugulum” by Terry Pratchett.
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.
Vampires or Vampyres, are not what they used to be. No longer are they afraid of traditional weapons like garlic and holy water, these are modern blood suckers, well even that may be a bit out dated now.
Foreknowledge of the series, or indeed “Carpe Jugulum” itself, is definitely not necessary for this play to be enjoyed. I am living proof of this fact as I’d no prior knowledge of Pratchett’s intricate Discworld series. Having never really ventured into Pratchett World, after tonight, I think I've been converted.
The Nottingham Lace Market theatre production is performed by their Youth Group and directed by Roger Watson, who is a massive Pratchett fan.Rosina Reading, Sophie Owen and Jemma-Dawn Froggitt were Assistant Directors.
The King and Queen of Lancre are having their baby girl christened, and the King, who only sees the best in people, invites all the local heads of state and powerful families. Included in this is the De Magpyre family, who are Vampyres. These Vampyres are progressive and modern, and decide to take over the country. They come up against the Lancre Witches, who have to use all their guile and cunning to defeat them, causing much on stage hilarity in the process.
The set is magnificent. Designed by Cris Brawn. There are about 33 scene changes which are handled by the ensemble with incredible ease. The set is almost comic-book/ cartoon-like in its' appearance and adds to the fun element of the play.
The costumes likewise bring the whole atmosphere together. Max Bromley in the wardrobe department has really gone to town with them.
Some excellent lighting effects designed by Allan Green.
A cast of 22 were smoothly stage managed, along with the props and everything else by one man, Jon Watson.
This is a young group and delivering comedy isn’t easy for a lot of actors, of any age, especially after lengthy rehearsals, the laughs can seem a bit flat to the actors. If this was the case it didn't come across, although a loot of Pratchett's lines are delivered dead pan, which made it even funnier.
I wasn't going to pick out any particular actors, mainly because the cast worked so very well together but there were a few who I must mention for their wonderful acting and stage craft.
Sophie Boettge (Count), Sam Howitt (Vlad) Adelaide Marshall (Granny Weatherwax), Sophie Owen (Rev Mightily Oats) and Emelia Pettit (Agnes Nitt) were all incredibly good. This is not to take anything away from the rest of this marvellous cast because for a group so young, they delivered an amazing performance who understood the comedy and delivered it with belief.
There’s plenty to amuse the young audience member as well as the seasoned theatre goer with nods to Hammer Horror as well as Grimm’s tales. You won’t get a pain in the neck watching this theatre piece. I personally give fangs for a brilliantly entertaining night, proving I’m not too long in the tooth to enjoy a play like this.
I didn't realise how long this piece of theatre was because the time flew by. Pure spellbindingly magical, something to sink your theatrical teeth into. I loved it, and so will you!
“Carpe Jugulum” is on until Saturday 25 March 2017.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

"Betrayal” by Harold Pinter
Derby Theatre
Harold Pinter's love triangle play, "Betrayal," examines the decline of a marriage when Emma admits to an affair with her husband's friend, Jerry. It uses an unusual plot device of telling the story in reverse order. It’s inspired in part by Pinter’s affair with Joan Bakewell and was written in 1978.
Robert (Ben Addis) and Emma (Kemi-Bo Jacobs), middle-age and successful, appear happily married and are good friends with Jerry (Philip Correia) and Judith, his wife. However, at a party in 1968, Jerry confesses his love for Emma, who returns his feelings. They rent an apartment where they meet to make love. Five years into the affair, Robert finally forces Emma to admit it; he had been suspicious about her for a while. When Emma and Jerry meet again in 1977 at the beginning, she tells him her marriage to Robert is over, and she lies to him when she says Robert just found out.
The first scenes takes place in 1977, when Emma and Jerry meet two years after their affair ended. From 1977 to 1968, each scene reveals a little more of the affair, and Emma's growing betrayal of her husband and Jerry.
Emma, an art gallery manager, wants out of her loveless marriage to Robert. Convinced he once had an affair, she takes revenge by starting an affair with Jerry. She continues her betrayal without remorse until Robert confronts her.
Jerry, a London literary agent and writer, is a hopeless romantic who falls in love with love. His impulsive nature leads him to instigate the affair, betraying Robert and Judith. Though kindhearted and loving, Jerry is too naïve to realize that he is manipulated by Emma and later Robert. Jerry is the last to know that Robert learned of the affair years ago, which makes Jerry feel foolish.
The most clever character, Robert, a publisher, plays detective as he unravels Emma's infidelity. Practical and logical, he plays a game of cat-and-mouse after he finds a letter from Jerry to Emma. Trapped by her own lies and betrayal, she finally confesses the affair. Still, he toys with Jerry, giving him hints to see whether he will also confess.
Matthew Curnier is the waiter in the restaurant scenes.His Italian accent is very impressive.
Directed by Lekan Lawal is currently the Resident Assistant Director at Derby Theatre, and was assistant director on the excellent “Look Back In Anger” and “Alice In Wonderland” at Derby Theatre last year. Lekan is part of an 18 month placement with the Regional theatre Young Director’s Scheme.
The set and costume design for “Betrayal” is by Neil Irish, who also worked on “Look Back In Anger” and “Alice In Wonderland” at Derby Theatre.
The set is not like any I've seen before. It looks like a giant glass conservatory/greenhouse, which brings to mind the adage "people in glass houses....." It revolves so you can see all angles of the action, reflecting the fact that you also see all angles of the betrayal. All the characters betray each other. Using the revolving stage also makes the reversal process of the play easy because it gives the impression of spinning back in time.
Lighting design is by Arnim Freiss. The lighting creates the impression of moving back in time by spinning and helps soften the scene changes inside the glass house. Paired with the cinematic effects makes the time reversal very easy to follow.
Sound design by Paul Arditti. the incidental music adds more than you first think to the play with the subliminal messages. the incidental soundscape also creates an uneasy feeling of being privy to all the characters betrayal with and to each other.
This is a very classy production of Pinter's classic, and not like any production of this play I've seen in the past. It's exciting to watch and at just under two hours long, including a 20 minute interval, you won't be looking at your watch (or mobile phone).
“Betrayal” is at Derby Theatre until Saturday 1 April 2017.

Monday, 20 March 2017

“The Black Dog On My Sofa” by Callum Walker
A strange title for a play but after seeing this play, written and directed by Callum Walker and produced by Amy Crighton, you soon realise that “the black dog” is depression itself. It asks why we have trouble talking about our mental health issues with others and how we can go about making it better, not just for us, but for others as well.
Meg lives with her slovenly roommate Steve, a layabout. As time goes on, more and more roommates move in - the bubbly and upbeat Lucy and the charismatic and commanding John - each more unusual than the last. This pushes the limits of Meg’s friendships, and her patience. It is in the interactions between this strange group of characters and Meg where we see what depression really does to people, often without anyone realising.
And it's only until you get to the final scene that you realise exactly who, or what Steve, Lucy and John really are.
The play may only be half an hour long but it packs a punch and will leave you with a long lasting impression. If I were in charge of a media like Notts TV, this would be the sort of short story I'd be snapping these students' hands off for because you don't fully realise what's happening until the end. This is the mark of a good script and a good writer.
Grace Williams (Meg) gives nothing away from the start as we first see her talking with her flatmate Steve, names are unimportant as we find out later in the play. Steve is lounging on the sofa eating her way through another packet of Monster Munch (Pickled onion flavour - it's not important). Meg had the idea of getting a bit fitter. Steve constantly berates Meg and puts her down. The flat is a mess. This is important because it also reflects Meg's mind. Cleverly envisioned I imagine by the Technical Director, Rohanna Brown.
Beth Wilson (Steve) constantly makes Meg feel bad about trying to better herself and the hobbies and aims Meg has. A real downer of a flat mate. And then Steve drops the bombshell that another flatmate will be joining them and that she will take over Meg's room and that Meg will need to sleep in the sofa.
Rose Edgeworth (Lucy) is the sort of room mate you'd hate to have when you're feeling a bit low. Always wanting to find a cure for your ills and wanting to help. Like keeping you awake at night to get more done and then waking you up early so that you're not wasting your time worrying that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
Will Berrington (John) is the third flatmate. If you think Steve and Lucy are horrors, you ain't met this one! He is annoying with a capital "A". He is in yer face, demanding, the sort of flatmate that you'd do anything to get rid of because he is constantly there, chipping away at everything you do and making you feel bad about yourself. You'd feel like shooting him.....if you had a gun!
It's the mark of a good actor when they can make you feel any emotion for their character and before I found out the ending, I started to feel that I'd absolutely hate to have these three in my life and felt real empathy as well as sympathy for Meg. When you feel these emotions towards characters, you know that the actors have done their job. You also know that the story is a very strong one.
The lighting (Joanne Blunt and Joe Strickland) in this play is particularly effective but simple. the lights were either on or off and the blackouts at the end of the scenes created a stark cut off from scene to scene, making a big impact.
Design Assistant for this one was Daniel McVey.
You may have already worked out what is going on in this play, but if not it may come as a bit of an eye opener. It will definitely get you talking about this play and the subject matter for a while after it's over.
Another excellent, thought-provoking piece of theatre from the students at the Nottingham New Theatre in what is turning out to be one of the best and most powerful seasons at NNT to date.
“The Black Dog On My Sofa” is at the Nottingham New Theatre on the University campus until Tuesday 21 March 2017.

Friday, 17 March 2017

“Bad Girls The Musical” by Kristian Thomas Company
Bonington Theatre, Arnold.
“Bad Girls – The Musical” is based on characters and stories from the popular television drama and based in the fictional HMP Larkhill Prison. It was developed by the creators of Bad Girls, Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus, in collaboration with composer and lyricist Kath Gotts.
The main focus of the musical is on the rather detestable chief warder, Mr Fenner, who uses his position for sexual gratification. He's also at loggerheads with the liberal governor, and when a newly arrived inmate commits suicide as a result of Fenner's sexual advances, he tries to usurp the governor's position to obtain career advancement.
“Bad Girls – The Musical” isn’t a comedy as such as it deals with gritty issues such as sexual exploitation of female prisoners and bullying. Ut also highlights the effect that being in prison has on those family members on the outside.
Saying that some of the song lyrics are very humorous, and it’s not often you get a full on tap routine as well as a glitzy, high kicking leggy dance routine inside a women’s prison, not that I have any prior knowledge of a women’s prison. No wonder it’s sometimes called a prison camp, with the emphasis on the “camp”, but we all love a bit of camp don’t we? Don’t we?
Duncan Leech is Fenner. I knew this would be a test of his acting skills as he is nothing like Fenner. This is the first time that I’ve seen Duncan on stage, as opposed to being this side of the auditorium and the last time I saw Duncan, he told me that he couldn't dance. Well the phrase "pants on fire" comes to mind. His tap dancing is fluid, he has rhythm and he looks natural and relaxed while performing the choreography. His voice is also very easy on the ear. An enjoyable watch all round.
Carrie-Anne Corner is Sylvia Hollomby aka "Bodybag". I love Carrie as she is such a lovely fun lady to be around and she injects that fun into this role as Fenner's right hand woman. Carrie and Duncan are a classy duet and match each other in the dance routines and with the vocals.
Vocally this cast are extremely strong and when the leads and the ensemble sing as one they produce such a gorgeous sound, almost like a heavenly choir. there's not one cast member who fall short of being more than capable vocally.
Hannah Eve Brent plays Helen Stewart, the prison boss with a conscience and I must commend her on a her lovely Scottish brogue. Hannah is not Scottish and she doesn't have a Scottish accent in real life but she has perfected that soft wee sound.
The male "screws" played by Mark JarvisBenito Preite and Thomas James Martin, who when they're not trying to keep the peace and the inmates of this women's prison's hands off them, they are dancing around doing high kicks. It's all great fun! Mark also has a bit of a crush on the boss so has more of a major role, but there's no good news on that front either.
Phil Stanley is "Number One" who is trying to keep his nose clean while also trying to cover up Fenner's activities.
So to the girls. they look so young that it could almost be like an under age institution. this also makes Fenner's actions all the more seedy.
Helen Perry (Nikki Wade), Scarlett Symons (Yvonne Atkins), Beth Denham (Shell "The Baddest & The Best" Dockley), Kirsty Rice (Denny Blood), Lauren-Rose Stirland (Julie Johnston), Anna Cousins (Julie Saunders), Candice Shevaun Curnow), Tayla Evans (Rachel Hicks), Charlotte Bond (Kat), Laura Powell (Natalie), Sinead Patkin (Noreen), Georgie Bond (Sarah-Lou) and Louise Grantham (Spike) make a wonderfully strong band of criminals who sound and look good.
One of the many highlights is when Julie S (Anna Cousins) speaks to her son from prison. She is ashamed of being in there and has told her son that she is abroad working. Her song "Sorry" is just gorgeous and Anna pours so much emotion into that song.
There are many excellent ballads in this musical like "Every Night" and "Freedom Road", and some great big old fun songs here as well. Songs like "Jailcraft", which is the tap number performed by Fenner and Bodybag and the song "All Banged Up Without A Bang" which doesn't need any explanations and is sung by Yvonne and poor Mark, Benito and Thomas have to put up with being treated like pieces of meat at the hands of the women. It's a tough job!
The live band is on stage all the time and I couldn't believe there were only three musicians. The sound filled the theatre creating a virtual wall of sound. Bob Upton, Dave Hanson and musical director Tom Bond were excellent with a lovely full and clear sound.
Talking of sound, you could hear everything thanks to designer Harry Greatorex. Brilliant lighting designed by Stephen Greatorex, a basic but very effective set design by Alysha Gomes who also directed this fast moving show.
I loved the choreography, very reminiscent to the old Busby Berkeley old Hollywood movie style in many parts. Kristian Cunningham was the man responsible for this, as well as producing the eye catching and informative programme.
This is the first time that I have seen this musical. It's also the first production that I've seen from the Kristian Thomas Company. I was very impressed with both.
You can see the hard work that has gone into this production, and it has paid off as this is a very professional company who present very high quality theatre.
“Bad Girls The Musical” is at The Bonington Theatre in Arnold until Saturday 18 March 2017 and on Saturday mat all tickets are just £10.00. It’d be a crime to miss out on this steal!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

"An Intervention" by Mike Bartlett
Nottingham New Theatre
This week seems to be women in theatre week as every play this week shows how strong the writing in these plays are for women. This play is no different.
This is a playful two-hander that was written as a no specific gender role for "A" and "B", as the characters are named. In the Nottingham New Theatre production, they take the opportunity to make both characters female.
"A" and "B" are very different,. they have an explosive connection but they also bounce off each other, just like any pair of friends do.
"A" is bright and funny with a vulnerable edge, particularly when she drinks too much. Which she does, quite a lot. "B" is a bit dull, more of the stooge, but "A" makes her more sparky.Both are very intelligent and clued up. They work well together and are mutually supportive. Or are they?.....
The relationship moves on and is no longer quite as special as it once was. Why? Because "B" has a new girlfriend, Hannah, who "A" doesn't like. Things get worse when "A" goes on a march to protest against the government's military intervention in another country, while "B" supports the war and doesn't turn up to support "A"..
You could class the play as an intelligent comedy of sorts. a funny play, but it's also a sad play about being faithful and true to your friends when they need that crutch the most, but also being slightly neglectful of that friendship, but the final scenes say it all.
There's also the secondary notion that reflects the political and military state as being "A" and "B", if you want to look even deeper into the play.
Ella Hiscocks plays "A" while Libby Boyd plays "B". These two young women dig deep within their souls to produce an emotion packed play which is also very believable. With only two actors, There are a lot of words to be shared out, but in the short space of time these students have between their studies, they made the script spring to life and sound natural.
Director, Beth Angella only came across this play four months ago, so it shows what a lot of hard work she, and producer Izzy Miles have put into this complex and thought provoking play.
The lighting, designed by Hannah Burne, created time gaps in the play but also succeeded in creating the stark tension by focusing on just the two women. Technical Director is Joseph Heil.
"An Intervention" is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Friday 18 March 2017.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

“9 To 5 The Musical” by The Cast
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
Based on the 1980 movie of the same name, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and the book by Patricia Resnick. It’s set in the late 1970’s and is a story of friendship and revenge and even a little romance thrown into the mix.
Three female office co-workers, Violet, Judy and Doralee concoct a plan to get even with their sexist, egotistical, hypocritical, lying bigot of a boss, Franklin Hart. While the boss is “busy”, the trio give their workplace a makeover and take control of the company that had always held them back.
Following on from last year’s show “Acorn Antiques”, which was also written by a phenomenal female writer in the late Victoria Wood, this musical puts women to the fore, showing that they can produce brilliant comedy. You often find that many plays and musicals aren’t all about the female roles being as strong as the male roles. This musical turns that accusation on its head.
Doralee, the sexy Southern belle becomes the subject of many of the office rumours based purely on what Hart has said, is played by Rachelle Bragg. I was well impressed with her Southern accent and is a great fun part. I loved her song "Backwoods Barbie", showing that the fun, blonde character also has a human side.
Violet, the office manager who, while Hart is in charge will never be CEO. Played by Carolyn Smith, and a really powerful performance Carolyn gives with vocals to match the performance. Classy all the way to the finale.
Judy is the newly divorced lady who is an office worker for the first time is played by Beth Yearsley. I'd almost forgotten just what a wonderful voice she has, and when she sung "Get Out And Stay Out", she showed off that emotional and power packed set of vocal chords she has. A lovely comedy performance as well which also showed the character getting stronger and more self empowered all the way to the final.
Cheryl Camm also turns in a brilliant comedy performance as Hart's love smitten secretary, Roz Keith. And what a transformation in her big song "Heart To Hart".
Playing the sexist, egotistical, hypocritical, lying bigot of a boss, Hart is a brave man indeed, Christopher Collington. The things those women do to him doesn't come cheap in specialist magazines (so I'm led to believe). His "Here For You" is delivered with such an overly sexist tone, I'm surprised that he isn't on some register, Hart not Chris that is. A wonderful performance which I imagine is such a great part for any male actor to get his teeth into, as long as you have a strong pain threshold.
The other main male role is Joe, who has a bit of a crush on the older Violet. Played by Rob Holsman who also gets to show off, not only hid fine singing voice in the duet with Carolyn of "Let Love Grow", but also gets to showcase his tap dancing skills.
Talking of which, that tap dancing scene was one of the highlights and featured the four main male dancers, as well as Carolyn. The male dancers, I must say, really threw themselves into the choreography and looked like they were having the time of their lives. Also a tribute to the wonderful choreography of Siobhan Parker. With so many strong female roles in this play, they held their own.
Directed by Rob Corner, who also designed the set, this is another success under his belt. When you think that the live band, directed by Dave Dallard, which by the way gave their usual top class performance, had to work to the projected back drop with Dolly Parton singing and speaking over the live music, timing is going to be of the essence. The actors and the band had to perform around Dolly's image, which could have gone wrong, but didn't, smoothly segueing together.
The stage management and crew worked slickly to get the props and sets on and off the stage. Not easy when you see some of the props.
Some of the sound was a bit awry meaning that some of the dialogue was missed but was soon amended and the rest of the show was clear. Well managed by Ben Tennett.
The dynamic duo of light (Dave Martin) and sound (Ben) made the show an easy watch. A director once told me that you only really notice the lights when something goes wrong. That may be true but when it all goes to plan, it's also worth recognition. A bit like the sound man, you only notice when the sound isn't right but when it's good, it also makes all the difference to a show, especially a musical.
Okay so it's not the strongest of story lines, but who cares? Sometimes you need a bit of fluff with your cheese and this does the job admirably. It's great fun and the songs are catchy, especially the title track, "9 To 5". And when the Cast are having fun on stage, the audience can't help not to.
“9 To 5 The Musical” performed by The Cast is at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 18 March 2017

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

“Anita & Me”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
“Anita & Me” is the debut, semi-autobiographical novel by comedian/actor Meera Syal. The play has been adapted by Tanika Gupta and directed by Roxana Silbert.
Set in the 1970’s in a fictional Black Country mining village, Tollington, and the times they are a changing. The village mine closed, a new motorway is due to be built, a school is to be pulled down and a Punjabi family has moved in to the village.
Relationships are forged and one of the more unlikely ones is between 13 year old Meena and the slightly older, in many ways, Laura. Meena is Punjabi and Anita is a blond, mini-skirted young white girl.
The play doesn’t pull any punches surrounding issues like racism, violence and immigration, but does it in such a way that there’s laughter surrounding the seriousness of the topics. Although this was written in the mid 1990’s and set in the 1970’s, the issues highlighted are still around today and by shrouding the seriousness of the topics in humour doesn’t sweeten the pill, making it easier to swallow, but it also makes this play an easy watch. there are several times where you feel a little bit uncomfortable laughing because you know that really you shouldn't laugh under normal circumstances.
For anyone of my age, and grew up in the 1970’s, it’s a lovely melancholy trip down memory lane with Top Of The Pops, chip shops, fish fingers and the youth culture of the time. Many a young girl used the Jackie magazine as a virtual crutch. The agony aunt section, the picture love stories, the dreams they encourage within those pages, the pin up pop stars of the time and the crushes the girls had on their paper heroes. All brought back to life in this play.
It also blurs the cultures and by the end of the play shows the emergence of going forward with both cultures, and maybe acceptance of both.
Starring Shobna Gulati (Coronation Street and Dinnerladies among her credits) she plays Meena's mother, adopting the archetypal speech and attitudes of the Punjabi woman. A sensitive portrayal balancing the traditional with the modern 1970's. While Shobna is the most well known of the cast, she doesn't hog the stage and the limelight.
Meena, played by 19 year old Aasiya Shah is wonderful as the 13 year old girl bridging the cultures, trying to fit in to the community, breaking family ranks and making friends with the wayward Anita.A joy to watch and completely believable.
Laura Aramayo (Anita) is another totally believable character. Her hormones are racing through her veins and feels that Meena is, at times cramping her style, slightly jealous of Sam's attention being focused on Meena. The ending sees a different less confident side of Anita, showing a different side of laura's acting.
Sam Cole (Sam) plays the bully boy with his eye on Meena. More a case of forbidden fruit though for this character. he delivers many of the often shocking lines of the racist side of his character. He looks the part and you wouldn't want to meet Sam, as the character Sam alone at night.
Tom Oakley plays Sam's partner in crime buddy, as well as Ned, formerly known as Hairy Ned, who provides the live keyboards on stage.
Meena's Dad, Shyam is played by Robert Mountford and a solid performance from Robert. Solid, committed and protective of his family.
Therese Collins (Mrs Worrall), Rebekah Hinds (Mrs Ormerod), Claire Worboys (Sam's mother) and Megan McCormick (Tracey/Sandy) complete the women of the village.
Aaron Virdee (Uncle Amman/ Mr Bhatra), Humera Syed (Pinky), Sejal Keshwala (Aunty Sheila) compliment Meena's side of the family.
Almost stealing the show though is the wonderfully comical Rina Fatania as Nanima, Meena's Grandma. What a great character role and almost similar to the role played by Meera Syal in The Kumars, Like Meera as Granny Kumar, out of the stage role, Rina looks completely different.
The set is a work of art. It's almost like sitting in someone's back yard in a row of terrace houses. This also converts into several other scenes including the side of a canal.Bob Bailey is the man responsible for this amazing set as well as the wonderful costumes.
The choreography is also worthy of a mention mixing Bollywood glamour with some manic retro moves, thanks to Ann Yee.
The accents are also well executed yow know, adding another veneer of realism to the play.
This show is pure joy. Well written and well observed and still manages to cause ripples of shock with some of the language and the actions of some of the characters, even this far sown the line. Some things though seem not to change and it's always worthy to remind us of the racism and bigotry that still exists today.
“Anita & Me” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 18 March 2017.