Thursday, 29 March 2018

“The Importance Of Being Earnest” by People’s Theatre Company.
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
This is one of the wittiest plays ever to be writ and performed. A Trivial Comedy For Serious People isn’t quite as catchy a title even though this was what this play was also known as. Oscar Wilde’s classic story of deceit, triviality, society etiquette and marriage…. oh and bunburying! And one of my favourite pieces of classic theatre.
Jack wishes to marry Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolen, but first he must convince her mother, the fearsome Lady Bracknell, of the respectability of his parents and his past. For Jack, however, this is not as easy as it sounds, having started life abandoned in a handbag at Victoria station. “A handbag?”… yes, you heard right, a handbag!
There are so many classic and witty lines and one liners in this play, that you need to listen carefully to get them all.
The cast includes several well-known faces to the Nottingham local theatre stages as well as some new faces to the People’s Theatre Company.
John Worthing, played by Robert Goll. What can I say? I have never seen anything that Rob has done that I've not enjoyed and has suited his acting style. This is another well cast role. What more can I say, he makes every role so natural and he has a natural rhythm and comic talent.
Algernon played by Steve Mitchell. Quite wonderful as the foppish cad with a hunger for cucumber sandwiches and muffins. Another actor who makes his role seem the most natural character ever. To start with I had to really listen to his lines but I think that part of this was the sofa was set back on the stage. later in the play, there was no issue for me hearing those wonderful Wilde witticisms.
Lady Bracknell played by Gill Cook. When Gill first told me that she had got this role, I knew that she would be brilliant as the formidable Lady Bracknell, and I was right, she was brilliant. Her delivery of the line "a handbag" was better than David Suchet's. It was delivered with true disbelief and scorn. Marvellous.
Cecily Cardew played by Courtney Kelham-Giddy. She injected just the right amount of "posh" into the role, and with brilliant confidence. too many comic scenes within this play for me to pick a favourite of Cecily's.
Gwendolen Fairfax played by Lauren Hegarty. I've a feeling that Lauren may be a new face to me - I'm sorry if that's not the case- but I know that I'll be looking out for future theatrical pieces from Lauren. Once more a wonderful character role.
The Rev Canon Chasuble played by Rob Suttle This is an ideal role for Rob because he had the sort of face who looks serious but the twinkle in his eye belies his dry sense of humour, and playing a man of the cloth is spot on for Rob.
Miss Prism played by Barbara Benner. Although not the biggest role in Wilde's play, it is a pivitol role. Her whole physicality changed when she saw Lady Bracknell, and I won't say why, just in case you've not seen the play or know the script
Lane, Algernon's servant, who is normally played by a man and was initially cast in this production as a man, is played by Jayde Anne Crouch, another new name to me. The whole air of the servant role is wonderfully nonchalant and Jayde masters the character role perfectly. Wilde has written comedy for every one of his characters and Lane has some corkers.
Merriman, who is Ciceley's servant steals the scenes that he is in and John Gill's camp version of this role is an absolute scene-stealer. His part where Gwendolen and Ciceley are having tea and he is setting the table is classic. he even received a small ripple of applause as he left the stage. I saw John as Herod in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and again his performance in that is embedded in my memory, as this performance will be.
Directed by Beth Hinchliffe, this is one of the most humorous versions of the play I've seen. Maybe that is because every time I see it, I love it more and I spot the witty lines I may have missed before. Tonight I was chuckling more than ever , and even more in love with this wonderful play.
A brilliant cast, and I know that there have been a couple of cast changes along the way, but I feel that the cast choice was perfect.
Loved the costumes, thanks to John Gill and I loved the accents, cut glass. I know this play really well and even though I knew the lines were coming up, I still found the lines incredibly funny. A true test of a great wit, but it also takes a good actor to deliver the lines with timing to get the full wit across to an audience.
“The Importance Of Being Earnest” is at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 31 March 2018.

Monday, 26 March 2018

“Fat Friends – The Musical”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Kay Mellor’s very successful TV show is now a full blown musical with an all-star cast. The setting is a slimming club in Leeds but goes from Zumba classes to fish and the chip shop to the wedding dress shop. The sets, and costumes are brilliantly designed by Bretta Gerecke.
Musical theatre star Jodie Prenger, X Factor winner Sam Bailey,, Natasha Hamilton from pop band Atomic Kitten, Emmerdale actress Natalie Anderson, Kevin Kennedy, best known as Curly Watts from Coronation Street and making his stage debut is ex Cricketer, Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff.
There’s so much humour within slimming clubs, as the TV version of the show has proven, so it was a natural progression to take this concept on the road and add some songs to the story.But it also gives a very positive message about body shaming and being comfortable in your own skin.
Flintoff bowls us all over as Kevin Murgatroyd, who received a very warm welcome as soon as he walked on stage. Kevin is due to marry Kelly, played by Jodie Prenger, whose aim is to fit into that wedding dress with just six weeks to go, the main aim of the musical.
I know that there were some doubts about Flintoff being In a musical but he can sing and has a flair for comedy. His role is not overworked and Kay Mellor had given him just enough to show that he could be handy in future theatre roles. And he is an obvious hit with the women in the audience. he has a bit of a folky feel about his singing, and I can see the Andrew Flintoff Album on the cards, as his singing voice is not an unpleasant one. he'll never be an Alfie Boe but he can carry a tune. In a cast of singers, he held his own.
Natalie Anderson is the “unlucky in love” Lauren who eventually finds her Mr Right, or “Mr Someone”, as the song goes. I am a massive Emmerdale fan, and while I knew that Natalie had a good singing voice, I was pleasantly surprised to hear she has a very strong musical theatre voice, as well as a lovely recording voice.
Sam Bailey plays Kelly’s mum, Betty and proves to be a credible actress. Very natural, but that's no secret as she is building a nice CV of musical theatre work.
Kevin Kennedy is the chip shop owner, Kelly's father and husband to Betty, Fergus, and provides a good portion of the laughs. Kevin has also had a singing career and it wasn't that long ago that he last appeared at the Nottingham Theatre Royal in musical theatre.
Natasha Hamilton is the villain of the piece as the boss of the slimming club, "Super Slimmers". Looking like a red-headed Cruella de Ville Natasha also reveals a very credible acting skill, and a very pleasant surprise, She'd be a great panto villain.
Jonathan Halliwell plays the vicar, Paul. Paul has quite a CV of musical theatre and classic theatre under his belt as well as having a very pleasing vocal tone. I could see him in "Blood Brothers".
Neil Hurst plays Alan, who's wife has gone off on a girly holiday but we discover through the play that she is not coming back. He could be seen as a bit of a loser but after he starts to lose the pounds , due to his wife's shock news, he starts to become the winner. Some nice comic lines for Alan throughout.
Racheal Wooding, as Kelly's sister, Joanne, is a fiesty one. I loved her wicked wit and no nonsense, often crude approach to her sister's position she finds herself in, but fiercely protective of her. But it's all done in the best possible taste - as long as you have a sense of humour. A lovely character piece.
Chloe Hart plays the "Look North" TV host and was drafted in to report on the slimming challenge who becomes one of the girls
All the songs have been written for the musical with the music being by Nick Lloyd-Webber – where have I heard that surname before? – and the lyrics by Kay Mellor, so you can expect great tunes with witty lyrics. A brilliant soundtrack with plenty of catchy songs,and a wonderfully saucy comic scene all around chocolate.
The message in this play is brilliant. We should all love ourselves, whatever size we are, we can all be beautiful, which is the big song in this feel good musical. After all “bones aren’t sexy – flesh is fabulous”.
The casting is genius due to the mix of West End experience, TV experience and singers. Every actor is highlighted and their talents used. There are no fillers in this musical, just in case anyone disputes Andrew Flintoff’s casting. If you want to get in to see Mr Flintoff’s talent, make sure you get your tickets early as he’s only in this musical until Thursday 29 March 2018, when Joel Montague takes over.
A great feel good comedy musical with plenty of belly laughs, a brilliant soundtrack, packed with a talented cast who have some very funny lines to deliver, but this is Kay Mellor, which for me says it all and delivers every thing I had expected from a brilliantly observant writer.
If you're in any doubt, I loved it, and loved the message it sent out. I loved the fun, I loved the songs, and I loved giving this show a standing ovation at the end, along with most of the audience tonight.
“Fat Friends – The Musical” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 31 March 2018

Saturday, 24 March 2018

"The Addams Family" Spotlight Theatre School
Nottingham Arts Theatre
"The Addams Family"Nottingham Arts Theatre.
Spotlight Theatre's younger members yet again managed to surprise me by the talent that they have within their ranks. This musical isn't the easiest to do as well because the cast have to have a grasp of the comedy and darkness of the musical.
In a nutshell, for anyone who doesn't know the musical, sixteen year old Wednesday has fallen in love with a mere human called Lucas. She has told her Dad Gomez that she wants to marry Lucas but to keep it a secret from her mother, Morticia, until after the meal where both sets of parents will meet.
Throw into the mix a brother, Pugsley, who likes to be tortured by his sister who is scared of losing his sister, and the torture and things turn out quite unexpected, and not just for the Addams's.
This cast has so much confidence for such young actors. If this is the level that they are at now, when they grow up, they're going to be unstoppable, and I've seen this happen before at Spotlight.
The opening number is one of the best openers in a musical with "When You're An Addams", setting the humour for the rest of the show.But it doesn't stop there because there are so many musical highlights in this show. I adore "Pulled In A New Direction" and "What If", then there's the iconic "Addams Family Theme" complete with finger clicks and "Crazier Than You", plus a love song to the moon in "The Moon And Me".
Jack Symington (Gomez) has great projection in his voice and I love his characterisation which he kept throughout as well as that wonderful accent which created a lot of the comedy with this role.
Emily Holder (Wednesday) has a very strong voice for musical theatre, even at this young age. her rendition of "Pulled" was as good as I've ever heard, and what confidence.
Esther Mole (Morticia) looked stunning and her cool air gave a real laid back persona to Morticia.
Jason Thompson (Lurch) really got into character with his unhurried gait, causing a ripple of laughter throughout the packed theatre.
Tom Blakey (Fester) looked brilliant with the make up and stooped appearance, and I loved his main song to the love of his life, The Moon.
Tilly Wilshart (Grandma) has a brilliant eye for physicality in her role. Not the biggest role but she made a lasting impression.
Bradley Law (Pugsley) provided me with the first shiver down the spine moment for this show. Bradley has one of those voices that is naturally very easy to listen to. His whole physical performance when he is being tortured was marvellous and his version of "What If" was really heartfelt, and I completely believed in his character. Bradley is one to look out for in the future.
Jude Forsey (Lucas) also has a really strong voice and he created a lovely believable chemistry with his character and Wednesday.A really natural performance.
Maddie Keown (Alice - Lucas's mother) really showed both sides of her acting skills when she was transformed from a quite mousey character into a woman taking charge after taking one swig of Grandma's truth drink, administered in error by Pugesley.
George Young (Mal - Lucas's dad) also showed a real confidence in his character acting.
The ensemble had the usual "aaahhh" factor, ramping up the cuteness stakes. Not only did they look cute but they also ended up where they were supposed to be on stage without any confusion.
Directed by Jake Brindley and Jess Hardy-Turner, they did a brilliant job with such a young group, and they kept the action and fun flowing, along with the stage management of Amy Rogers-GeeNigel Newton and Joseph Smithmaking it a very smooth run ship.
The show was produced by Nottingham's Lady of theatre herself, Amanda Hall.
Brilliant costumes thanks to Jules Sheppard and Laura Ellis.
Lighting was by the man who can do no wrong where lighting is concerned, Tom Mowat and the crystal clear sound, thanks to Rob Kettridge.
I couldn't think of doing anything better on a dreary Saturday afternoon than watching this entertaining lot and spotting the future Nottingham stars of the stage.

Friday, 23 March 2018

“Rotterdam” by Jon Brittain
Nottingham New Theatre.
"Rotterdam" is the bittersweet comedy about gender and sexuality, following Alice (Georgie Brand), who wants to come out as a lesbian. Just as she plucks up the courage to send an email to her parents, her girlfriend Fiona (Lara Cowler) reveals that she has always identified as a man. Now, she wants to start living as Adrian. As Adrian begins his transition, Alice is forced to consider if she’s straight.
The comedy element in this piece of theatre is to the fore, but if you scratch the surface you’ll discover a serious and heartfelt message about being comfortable in your own skin and dealing with the changes, as well as the affect it has on the loved ones and others on the interim of your life.
Directed by Andrew Houghton and produced by Tara Phillips, they have recognised the importance of the play and have presented it in a sensitive and informative way. Getting the vital messages across while keeping the humour to the fore. Andrew and Tara have really gone into this subject matter to make sure that they have all the facts and that it is realistic by inviting a representative of the LGBTQ+ community to view the play before hand, which shows a great dedication to getting everything right.
Lara Cowler plays Fiona/Adrian and there’s quite a bit of emotional portrayal here, as well as some lovely comic lines delivered.
There’s two scenes in this play that really strike home, and for two different reasons. The first is where Adrian is talking to his brother, Josh (Miguel Barrulas) in the pub, and Josh’s ignorance or naivety of the situation is completely credible. He’s trying hard to help and understand but at times it just comes out all wrong.
The second is when Adrian has been deserted by Alice to go with her work friend, Lelani (Megan Peace) and Adrian has reverted back into Alice's clothing. Josh enters and Adrian/Fiona breaks down in his arms. That really did it for me and I could feel myself welling up, seeing the hurt and misunderstanding just because one person should want to be who they want to be and for everyone else not to see that.
A lot of research has gone, not only into the background of the story but into making the whole play atmospheric with the music being from Dutch sounding records. The sound design for this show by Hannah McCullough.
The Lighting design, by Hannah Burne separated the stage into areas for performing and the subdued lighting hid the set movers while the incidental music played.
The set design (Beth Wilson) for this was also clever with three separate areas, the back area being for external scenes.
A fascinating piece of theatre which is also an education for someone like me who, although has friends from the LGBTQ+ community, doesn't really appreciate what someone goes through just to be the person that they want to be.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

“Pippin” by The Cast
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
SPOILER ALERT!!!!! I intend to use the word "AMAZING" several times.
I didn’t realise that this musical was as old as it was. Written in 1972 it uses the premise of a mysterious performance troupe, led by a Leading Player, to tell the story of Pippin, a young prince on his search for meaning and significance. It tells of the people he meets and his adventures as well as a finale that you will not expect..
it’s one musical that I’ve only been aware of in the last few years and after hearing “Corner Of the Sky” being sung as part of a showcase performance, I decided that I needed to take a listen to the whole soundtrack, and I am so pleased that I did. The soundtrack has some wonderful songs in it such as the aforementioned, "Morning Glow", "The Right Track", "War Is A Science" and “Magic To Do”. A stylised 70's style sound, almost like "Godspell" but with a style of it's own.
The action simmers as you enter the theatre with the strange white clothed and masked characters milling around the stage and checking your tickets, as if you were in an asylum. The atmosphere was quite unnerving, almost "American Horror" style.
Then just as you're lulled into the dark opening, there's an explosion of colour and action. At times there are hints of Monty Python but behind the comedy, the dark side is never too far away.Oh and there's some naughty seaside postcard style humour as well.
The whole ensemble are amazing, The leads are amazing.
Siân Scattergood plays the Leading Player in the play within this play. Sian is amazing. She has the most amazing voice, in fact there's not one of these actors who does not have anything less than an amazing voice. Such a strong cast!
Pippin is played by George M Mercer. i was trying to think of when I last heard George sing on stage and I couldn't think of when it was. I could listen to George sing all night as he makes it all sound so easy. He hits every single note and is one of the best male singers in local theatre at the moment in my humble opinion. I can't wait to hear him as Jekyll in "Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical" in May 2018 because that soundtrack is amazing also.
Rob Chilton plays Pippin's macho half brother, Lewis, who loves the ladies, almost as much as he loves himself. Oh and there's a relationship there that is also very taboo, just to add another layer of darkness to the story line.
Pippin's father, who just happens to be the King as well, is played by Martin Holtom and adds the Pythonesque element to the musical.
Mother is played by Beth Yearsley and ooh what a naughty lady she is. Is nothing too low for her to stoop to? An amazingly fun character part and Beth also has another wonderful voice.
There's character who befriends Pippin who is a widow called Catherine, and played by Claire Rybicki. Although a late character in the story line of the musical but a very vital character as you'll find out. Again a lovely voice with great emotion, especially in the song "I Guess I'll Miss The Man".
Catherine has a son, called Theo, again late in the story line but a vital addition to pippin's life. Theo is played by Tom Baddily. There was something about Tom's acting and confidence that makes me think we could be seeing more of this young man in the future.
The one character that I absolutely adored here and made me laugh so much was the Grandmother, Berthe. Aged,practically blind and deaf with a potty mouth to match any sailor. Her opening lines were like being smacked in the face with a wet fish - the complete shock is followed by the realisation of the complete absurd which makes you laugh out loud. Carrie-Anne Cornerplayed this joyous part and her big song and dance number "No Time At All" practically brought the house down.
I intend to mention all of the amazing ensemble because they also provided many of the laughs. Rachelle Bragg, Michelle BruceChris Bryan and Rob Charles were a comedy pairing made in heaven as they often paraded around sans trousers, all with very serious faces - how did they manage to keep straight faces I'll never know. Lucy CastleEmily CornerJodie Cresdee, Katie MacDonald and Mina Machin.
Directed by Christopher Collington, he has gone from directing an amazing version of "Tommy" to this incredible production. I would go as far as to say that this is absolutely perfect. It's flawless, and I know that Chris will be so very proud of the amazing cast.
The sound was the best that I have heard at the Duchess. I initially thought that the music was backing track, it was so good, but no, the nine piece band created an incredible sound which complimented the vocalists on stage perfectly. Mixed by Harry "the mix wizard" Greatorex.
The costumes were amazing - thanks to Mina Machin.
The lighting was as magical as the storyline - Dave Martin and Matthew Cook.
The set was designed by Rob Corner and Christopher Collington, and I loved the video projection section.
As I said, everything about this musical was just amazing.
I only have one question. Why has this production not sold out? - because it should be sold out every night it is that good. Do not be afraid of getting a ticket for a musical that you may not know much about because you could miss out on an amazing piece of theatre such as this - and that would be an absolute travesty.
To sum up....
Amazing show... Amazing cast.....Amazing soundtrack ..... Amazing finale.....Amazing opening..... Amazing everything in between the previous two amazings.

THIS MUSICAL AND PRODUCTION IS AMAZING - NOW GO BUY SOME TICKETS or I'll hunt you down and slap your legs!!!
“Pippin” is at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 24 March 2018

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

“Beasts & Beauties” by Lace Market Youth Theatre
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
Seven stories from Europe adapted by Carol Ann Duffy. The stories are the basis of some of the best known fairy tales but are steeped in much darker roots.
From a down trodden girl despised by her step sisters who goes on to marry a Prince by way of a sneaky hedgehog who cheats a hare to win a race through a young girl who's on her way to visit her Grandma in the woods but falls foul of a wolf to a goat that dispenses gold through its' backside,
This collection is great fun and the young people who perform these tales ooze confidence and take on the voices, accents and physicality of their roles wonderfully.
Directed by Sarah Ogando, she keeps the action flowing through the song "Lavender Blue", changing some of the words to match the playlets' stories, which makes each one flow seamlessly from one to the next.
Max Bromley is the lighting designer for this show and Jack Harris id responsible for the sound
As you’d expect the costumes are fabulous. Marie Morehen, Doreen Hunt and Jean Newton provide these. i especially love the costume for The Beast (Megan Murphy) and Mr and Mrs Hedgehog (Freddie Stevenson and brother Archie Stevenson). The former spectacular and flashy, the latter very simple but so effective.
21 young actors from the Youth section of The Lace Market Theatre provide an enchanting show which blends thrills, comedy, romance and loyalty. What makes it more challenging for these actors is that they are nearly all on stage at the same time all the way through, keeping character throughout, swelling the ensemble and playing various characters all the way through.
Great enthusiasm, plenty of energy and I can see several leading actors for the future in this group, and they're in the right place to grow their talents at the Lace Market Theatre.
"Beasts & Beauties“ is at the Nottingham Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 24 March 2018. And while you're at the theatre, take time to have a look at the picture exhibition upstairs by Grace Eden.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

“Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 gothic classic is adapted for the stage by David Edgar, directed by Kate Saxon with Phil Daniels in the title roles.
In a secret experiment, the upright and respectable Dr Henry Jekyll splits his personality into two, releasing the fiendish and murderous Edward Hyde.
As Hyde brings about mayhem, terror and death in foggy London, can Jekyll find a way to suppress his monstrous alter ego, before it takes him over for good?
This adaptation is fairly true to the original with the addition of several more female characters including Katherine, Jekyll’s sister who gives an incite into the relationship that Jekyll had with his Father.
Phil Daniels, I feel doesn’t really make the most of this role – or it may be Director Kate Saxon’s decision to dilute the goth horror feel- but the only sign of the transformation from Jekyll to Hyde is a change of accent to a broad generic Scottish accent. It's like when Batman puts on his mask, no one recognises him, but Hyde hasn't even got a mask, but still no one can see that they are the same person!!
I can remember some of the old horror films of “Jekyll & Hyde” and Hyde was portrayed as an evil, monstrous, snarling animal. I don’t know if I’ve been de sensitized but nothing about this metamorphosis even made me flinch, in fact much of the Hyde parts made me snigger. The character was almost comic, slightly panto-esque.
There was a scene where Jekyll - or was it Hyde - and another character were sitting on cases at the railway station and they just seemed to be shouting at each other even though - as far as I could see - started as a normal conversation. I just didn't get it!
That aside I feel that Daniels has proved his acting worth in the past and this may be forgotten - probably best to - and his previous acting accolades allowed to shine. I loved his Jimmy in "Quadrophenia" and Richards in "Scum" but this role didn't convince me.
I did though like the comic line from Jekyll when asked where he had been he replied "I've been Hyding" oh how I chortled!!
Sam Cox, as butler Poole, adds a little levity with several well aimed asides.
Grace Hogg-Robinson is a convincing maid, Annie, who shows a good deal of emotional intelligence and I loved the accent and physicality of her character.
Polly Frame played Katherine, the sister, another character I enjoyed.
There's a singer, Rosie Abraham, drifts in and out with some oft rambling words in song like "Light", "Da Da Da".and the song that everyone is going to go out into the street singing "Don't Tickle Teddy In the Forest". My question is ....why?
Simon Higlett's set and costume design is evocative of Victorian London and the period. Dark, foggy streets lit spookily by gas and candlelight form a dangerous and creepy landscape. Darkness everywhere and even the walls inside the house are
painted black, except for the blood red door to Hyde's laboratory.
Sound designer, Richard Hammerton's soundscape is nicely eerie, of that's possible. There sound effects are grisly, with a gruesome cracking of bones as Hyde gets rid of politician Carew.
This also, unless I fell asleep part way through, was the only murder we saw. It needs more gore! Maybe they could have added more killings in the first hour of the play which may have made it not seem longer than it actually was.
Look, I may be taking the mick a bit but I was just expecting more. I've seen this play before and remember it was done better. There just wasn't enough of the scare factor in this production with nothing to differentiate the good and the bad sides of the main man. The sight and sounds of theatre seats being vacated before the end of the play is something I've not seen for a long time but tonight............
Murder by Hyde may not have been the only crime committed in this production
“Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 24 March 2018

Monday, 19 March 2018

“Do I Wanna Know” by Felicity Chilver
Nottingham New Theatre
This play is part of the Nottingham New Theatre’s Fringe season, which runs alongside the other plays they are presenting this season.
Written and Directed by Felicity Chilver, the play focuses on James, a writer, and Evelyn, a performer. They meet, fall in love and start a relationship. It then explores the highs and lows of the relationship and when James gets his break and Evelyn loses her mum, the relationship crumbles. We see what happens with the pair after the break up which makes for an incredibly emotive close.
Let's talk about Felicity's writing. This is a really strong piece of theatre, and quite different as well. I'm not sure how much of the play is ad lib because there's quite a bit of audience involvement which is managed really well by both actors.
Pulling on her own experiences, Felicity has created a piece of work that makes you laugh out loud as well as choke you up, and that is not easy. At times the writing and scenes were Woody Allen-esque.
The exploration of friendship before, during and after a relationship, as well as the family relationships are beautifully highlighted, and the final scenes are quite emotional.
“Do I Wanna ” by Felicity Chilverve seen Ted in several plays over the last couple of years, but this is possibly the best I've seen him. From the very start he shows his skill at using the audience, acting and reacting and from there on, he shines. He uses every range of emotion and you can see the reaction he evokes in the faces of the audience, especially as the lights go down at the end of the play. Ted has a very expressive face and he uses this to his advantage to let us know what his character is feeling.
Sophie Walton plays Evelyn, and just like Ted, this is us the best I've seen from Sophie, and I've seen her do some emotional scenes. Her role in this also shows a more comedic side to her acting and seeing this makes her phone message to James at the end ever poignant. Now I don't know if I saw right from where I was sitting but I could have sworn that Sophie even produced tears while leaving that phone message, showing what a talented actor she is. It also shows what an emotional piece of writing this is.
I don't know who the set design was by, but as soon as you stepped into the studio space, it got your imagination going, It was set with tables around the chairs making it look like a cabaret bar, and this worked well with the storyline
The lighting design (Nathan Penney) and sound design (James Curling) were well synced in, creating just the right atmospherics for the play.
Produced by Sam Osborne - and I was surprised to see that this was his first NNT show, Laura Wolczyk was the Technical Director and Georgina Pittman also made her debut of this show as an Assistant Director.
Altogether the technical team, writer, director and actors combine to create an incredible start to the NNT Fringe Season. If this is the bar that has been set to start with, the rest have got to be good to keep up this standard.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

"Mystery Magic and Mayhem" by Musicality.
Studio Live Nottingham University.
What I love about showcases like this is that i always come away from them with something I've not heard before or something that I've not heard in a very long time. This was true on both accounts with this particular showcase put on by Musicality at Nottingham University.
The programme was well put together and included pieces from older musicals like "Chess" ( I Know Him So Well), "Les Miserables" (Who Am I), "West Side Story" (Gee Officer Krupke) and "Footloose" (Holding Out For A Hero) as well as a very modern selection of pieces from some of my favourite newer soundtracks like "Dear Evan Hansen", "The Greatest Showman", "Kinky Boots" and "Hamilton".
The theme of the night was Mystery, Magic and Mayhem and this ran through the musicals theme or the songs that were performed, so it was no mystery to me why this evening was so magical, with no sign of mayhem at all.
Linking the performances together was master of ceremonies Jake Gelernterwho sprinkled his own comic touches to the evening as well as performing as part of the ensemble and solo with "Who Am I" from "Les Mis".
The evening opened and closed with full ensembles and in between we were treated to solos, duos, trios as well as group numbers, showing the variety within Musicality.
I'd not heard "Times Are Hard For Dreamers" from "Amelie" so this was my educational addition, Charlotte Mann performed this song with such feeling, she made me want to find out more about the musical and get a copy of the song and the soundtrack. She sold it to me good and proper.
I love the "Hamilton" soundtrack and Claire Wimbush and Matt Talbotperformed "That Would Be Enough". This duo made me think that they would be perfect to perform Jason Robert Brown's "The Last Five Years" because they sounded good together and had the right chemistry for this musical. Just a thought!!
I've heard several versions of "I Know Him So well" but Eleni Kite and Bethany Ward performed this song so well, it felt like the first time that I'd heard it.
Another wonderful duet was "In His Eyes" from "Jekyll & Hyde" by Becky Fryza and Megan Smith.
Loved the fun in the dance section to "My Strongest Suit" from the Tim Rice/Elton John musical "Aida" chotrographed by Rowena Fry and Sophie Mitchell. "Requiem" from "Dear Evan Hansen" performed by Charlotte HowarthRhodri Denton and Emily Dervey gave us something to think about. Comedy was also highlighted in "The Negative" from "Waitress" played out by Bryony Kirby, Rowena Fry and Adaeze Olugbemi.
Looking down the programme I saw "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked" and my first thoughts were that this song is such a big one that it's going to need someone who can really pull this off or else it could be a disaster. I really need not have been worried because Siska Yustina absolutely nailed it. Kerry Ellis watch out!
Mix in songs from "Shrek", "Spring Awakening", "Tangled", "Anastacia","Avenue Q", "Beauty & The Beast" and "The Little Mermaid" and you have a greatest hits of classic and modern musical theatre.
"Mystery, Magic and Mayhem" is on again Sunday 18 March 2018 and monies raised will help to fund the Fringe show that Musicality are taking to Edinburgh this year "Ordinary Days"
I'd have loved to have been able to say thanks to everyone personally for a wonderful evening of entertainment but with such a large group of people involved, I may have been there a while.

Friday, 16 March 2018

“Black Comedy” by Peter Shaffer
Nottingham New Theatre
First performed in 1965, this one act farce which opens on a darkened stage, when there is then an outage of the lights, and then the play becomes lit, reversing the “blackout” and creating the pun in the title.
Brindsley Miller (Harry Pavlou), a young sculptor, and his debutante fiancée Carol Melkett (Lois Baglin) have borrowed some expensive, antique furniture from his neighbour Harold Gorringe (Sasha Gibson)'s flat without his permission in order to impress an elderly millionaire art collector, George Bamberger (Reilly Salmon) coming to view Brindsley's work, and Carol's father Colonel Melkett (Hugo Minta). When the power fails, Harold returns early, and Brindsley's ex-mistress Clea (Selin Aci) shows up unexpectedly, things slide into comedy disaster for him.
Throw into this mix an elderly neighbour, Miss Furnival (Emilie Brittain) and a foreign electricity board worker, Schuppanzigh (Jack Ellis) who they mistake for the millionaire art collector and the recipe for comedy madness is complete.
I's seen this play a few years ago and knew how funny it is, so I eagerly anticipated this production, and I was not disappointed.
It takes talented actors, directors, producers etc to bring the comedy from the page alive and they certainly did that.
Louis Djalili I am so glad that your Dad pointed you in the direction of this play because you did a cracking job of it. Farce is not the easiest of forms to get right but the whole pace of this play was perfect and you obviously got the very best out of the cast and crew. If this is the last play you work on for NNT, I think you can say that you went out on a massive high.
Harry Pavlou, I've seen you in many plays and have nothing but compliments for your talents. This play for me is the cherry on top of the cake - even though I still love "Dead The Musical" to bits. Your comic timing and physical comedy is an absolute joy to watch. Comedy obviously comes as second nature to you.
Talking of physical comedy, Lois Baglin matched Harry every step of the way and I love the "posh" debutante accent which added so much to the character and comedy.
Hugo Minta was wonderfully over the top as the Colonel, a proper archetypal shouty army old timer.
Emilie Brittain is a wonderful character actor, Playing Miss Furnival really put the "fun" into Furnival as the character spirals slowly from God-fearing goody goody tea total neighbour into the most wonderful lush ever. Method acting at its' best.
Sasha Gibson just makes me smile whenever I see her perform and playing a man made me smile even more, Like Emilie, Sasha is a talented character actor and I loved the camp overtones of the character.
Selin Aci really looked to enjoy this role. Not only did she get to grips with Harry but to play a sexy,
mischievous and naughty character seemed to be something that she relished, and she did it well!
The two cameo roles causing some confusion within the play's storyline are played by Jack Ellis as the electrician who turns up to resolve the fuse outage and Reilly Salmon who's come to view the sculptures, and share the same accent. No wonder there was confusion!
Farce is all about comedy timing and this cast have obviously worked hard on this. The laughs come thick and fast, and not just giggles or chuckles, proper belly laughs. It is great to see comedy written in the 1960's getting such a brilliant reaction from the students.
The split level set could just be the best that I've seen. Designed by Beth Mullen.
One thing that could make or break a production like this is the Light design and Ian Webster smashed this, Again it's all in the timing and the timing was split second spot on.
Can i just say that I also loved the programme design. Very reminiscent of the old 90's hip hop style drawn characters
This will be the last NNT production for some of the students, and I for one hope that they will continue with their theatrical talents, as it would be such a waste if they didn't. I've enjoyed watching everything that you've done at NNT, and I hope that I get to see you in more stuff away from NNT, I'll watch out for your names.
“Black Comedy” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 17 March 2018. it's one not to be missed if you want to exercise your chuckle muscles.