Monday, 22 October 2018

“Rebus: Long Shadows”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
“Rebus: Long Shadows” is written by Ian Rankin and Rona Munro and is an instalment of Rankin's Inspector Rebus series, written for the stage for the first time in 2018.
The play received its world premiere at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 20 September 2018 and this week it’s at the Nottingham Theatre Royal and stars Charles Lawson (Jim McDonald from Coronation Street), John Stahl and Cathy Tyson.
The retired Detective John Rebus has many secrets, one of which is about to come home to roost as he again clashes with local gangster Big Ger Cafferty, played by John Stahl. The ghosts of previous cases come back to haunt him, but will he be able to exorcise his ghosts and get the answers he needs?
Rebus comes into contact with the daughter of a woman murdered in 2001-- a case which has never been solved. She challenges him to resolve the case, and so he turns to his old colleague Siobhan Clarke. This leads to contact with Big Ger Cafferty, a notorious Glaswegian criminal who seems to know some of the answers. This in turn throws up more problems for Clarke as well as Rebus..
I,like most of the audience I expect, know Lawson from Coronation Street and not much else of late, so would he be seen as Jim McDonald on stage or Detective Rebus played by Jim McDonald, played by Charles Lawson?
I, unlike, probably most of the audience have never read Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels, so this, as far as I can remember, is my introduction to the character, or have I seen Rebus before in the Classic thriller Season, mmm maybe!
Lawson plays Rebus, from what I've been told, very typical and loyal to Rankin's Rebus. Having no preconception of the detective, this was a learning curve for me, and you know what, I'm so pleased that I didn't have the prior knowledge, because it was a fascinating education learning about the man. A man flawed but a people's hero.
Adopting a Scottish accent, I really didn't see Jim McDonald, I saw the Rebus that Lawson painted. A tribute to Lawson's acting skills, especially when associated with such a well known TV character as Jim.
Cathy Tyson plays D.I. Siobhan Clarke, headstrong in her job and up for promotion, but will she jeopardise what she wants for what Cafferty wants from her? Will she need to?
John Stahl plays Cafferty, a big but notorious fish in Edinburgh's fish pond. Dangerous to cross and with the constant reminders of the fruits of his ill gotten gains. plush flat, best wines, state of the art equipment, you really want him to get his comeuppance at the hands of Rebus.
Neil McKineven, Dani Heron and Eleanor House complete the cast.
Directed by Robin Lefevre, this play rattles on at a cracking pace, and had me eager to find out what happened in Act Two at the close of Act One. Let's say I was not disappointed with the ending!
The set design is by Ti Green. Simple, layered set with minimal props, but effective enough to portray the grittiness and seediness of the Edinburgh underworld, almost bordering at times of 1950's film noir.
Brilliant lighting designed by Chahine Yavroyan and Simon Bond also helped to create the atmosphere and long shadows, where no one can hide for John Rebus.
The composer and Sound Design is by Garth McConaghie, adding more layers to the dark atmosphere.
The story writing is second to none and really keeps you hanging on - just wait for the twist - and the cast are excellent.
If you're a fan on Rankin's detective books, go see this play.
If you've never read one of Rankin's Rebus books, go see this play.
If you're a fan of great theatre, go see this play.
Go see this play.
“Rebus: Long Shadows” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 27 October 2018

Saturday, 20 October 2018

"70th Anniversary Concert"
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
I was very privileged this afternoon to spend almost four hours watching rehearsals for this show. I hadn't realised what a lot of spadework goes into the set up, preparation, lighting and sound as well as stage management goes into a show of this magnitude. So many different societies on one stage, but oh so much talent.
You know when, as a parent, you have a child taking part in their first school nativity, well that was my sense of pride in the performers that I knew in this spectacular showcase. By the way, I didn't have any of my kids in the show, but I felt that sense of pride.
In rehearsals you see the acts and groups not in costume but running through their bits, but as I wasn't free for the evening show, it gave me a feel of what was to go down in the evening. There were a few pieces that at rehearsals didn't go down maybe as well as expected, but that's what rehearsals are for, to iron out the rough spots to be perfect on the night. And on the night everything was made good.
Luckily I managed to catch most of the second act on the night after dashing off to see another production. I had to get back at least to catch the incredible finale I'd witnessed in rehearsals.
There were no songs from "Grease" the musical featured in this showcase, but yesterday afternoon and evening I had chills that were multiplying, for several reasons.
It's like someone had looked into my collection of favourite musical numbers and created the show around them because one by one the songs that gave me shivers were delivered on stage.
"Do You Hear the People Sing" from Les Miserables, "This Is the Moment" and "Confrontation" from Jekyll & Hyde, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from The Sound Of Music, "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar, "Tell Me It's Not True" from Blood Brothers, "These Are My Children" from Fame, "Anthem" from Chess, "Petrified" from Taboo and an incredible full ensemble piece finale of "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman, every one gave me goosebumps.
The contributing companies showcasing their huge talents were People's Theatre Company, Vibez Danceworks, Arabesque Academy, Medicine Performing Arts, Pantomime 2017, Nottingham Arts Theatre Summer School, Nottingham theatre Dance School, Class Act, Spotlight Theatre and Blind Eye Productions.
Performers I've seen many times joined forces with groups and other singers and actors that were new to me, especially the dance groups who were out of this world.
Voices I'd heard many times in the past sounded stronger, richer and more powerful than ever.
I knew that because of the size of this cast I wouldn't be spotlighting any individuals, because I felt that not fair as everything I saw this afternoon and this evening proved to me what an incredible amount of talent Nottingham has on their local stages. No wonder I feel so proud to be able to witness these performers, young and , not as young.
In the afternoon, I got the time to say hello to several of the people I know from the show, and I think you all know the esteem I hold you all in, that's why I don't need to highlight you.
Not just the performers though need thanking but the lighting, sound, director, producer, compiler, front of house staff, stage management and the compere for the evening BBC Radio Nottingham presenter, John Holmes. All added to the smooth running and pizazz of an incredible celebration of Nottingham's Arts Theatre and the talent that Nottingham local stages produce every week of the year.
If this show isn't proof that you should support local theatre, and not just in Nottingham, then I don'y know what more proof you need.
I was proud to be the solo person to give these stars a richly deserved standing ovation at the end of the explosive finale of "This Is Me".
Thank you for giving me a night I won't forget in a very long time.
“A Thing Mislaid” by Maison Foo
Djanogly theatre, Lakeside, Nottingham
This short piece of theatre (1 hour 20 minutes) may be short on time but packs in a magical little story. In some ways, it’s good that the show is short, because it’s a very physical show where the actors put a great deal into. I’ve not heard of Maison Foo before but they have a very special way of telling a story on stage. They blend miniature puppetry with clowning as well as live camera work.
“A Thing Mislaid” explores the themes of migration and travelling with hope for a better place as seen by two lonely travellers and a mysterious bird in a box. The subject of the play itself is a serious one but there’s a great deal of humour sewn into this message.
The two characters are running away from someone or something, vague I know but the cause of the fleeing is left for the audience member to work out
Teele Uustani (Flea) and Raquel Pereira (Wanda) play the two travelers and at times these two are reminiscent of comedy silent screen actors like Chaplin or Keaton. The comic timing has been honed well.
The mysterious bird throughout is one that is trying to get back to it’s family, which in one way is what these two are also trying to do. They’re running away from their old home and looking for a new one.
The puppetry and mini camera work, performed by the two actors, remind me slightly of the the old "B Movie" style films and is very atmospheric and adds a great deal to the feel and fear of the play.
The storytelling in this piece of theatre is wonderful.
Written and Directed by Bethany Sheldon and Kathryn Lowe, but the show has also been devised along with the actors.
The set design is by Sam Wilde and the music is composed by Matt Marks.
It's possibly not a show for everyone but for people who like something a bit more experimental and different, then this is one to catch.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

“Lord Arthur Savile’s Crimes” by The Bonington Players
Bonington Theatre, Arnold
This play started off as a short story, written by Oscar Wilde back in 1891. In 1952 Constance Cox adapted the story and has been a regular theatre piece ever since. Anyone, like myself who likes a bit of Wildean wit, will wilfully wallow in this wickedly wonderful comedy.
The plot involves the hapless Lord Arthur, who is due to marry the lovely Sybil Merton. However Sybil’s mother, Lady Julia, doesn't trust Arthur and insists that he has his palm read by society palm reader Mr Podgers.
Unknown to Lady Julia, Mr Podgers tells Arthur that his palm reading reveals he must commit a murder. Arthur, aided and abetted by his faithful butler, Baines, decides to kill off one of his lovely elderly relatives, but all does not go quite to plan……
Jonathan Greaves plays Baines, the butler with a wonderfully restrained reserve, always there to assist his master in all that he does.
Kevin Chatten has brilliant comedy timing and characterisation as Savile and as soon as I knew that Kev was playing Lord Arthur, I knew straight away what a cracking job he would make of it. And I was right.
Helen Holbrook, played Sybil, and presented the perfect Wildean young woman, sure of herself and her place in the society she lives in.
Jeff Casterton, The Dean of Paddington, almost clocked it, but managed to escape Savile's plot.
Julia Walters, stepped into the breach at the last minute as Lady Windermere and did a great job. She had some wonderfully acerbic retorts.
Val Petty, Lady Clementina Beauchamp, was wonderfully winsome and her delivery of lines was smooth and easy making her a joy to watch.
Lindsey Parr always delivers and as the acid tongued Lady Julia Merton, she brought to life Wilde's wonderful bitter woman script with enough icy looks to turn the on stage drinks into ice lollies.
Christian King plays the posh palm reader, Podger, but all may not be as perfect as first appears with this well known society palm predictor. Cool Christan keeps a perfect poker face.
The house maid, Nellie, is played by Abbigail Byrne, and I am sure that I have seen this lovely young lady before somewhere. Her down to earth acting, I can only imagine, is not unlike herself, down to earth and entertaining. A comfortable actor to watch.
And finally, one of the big comedy characters in the play, Herr Winkelkopf, played by Chris Gardner. Loved the accent and the zaniness. One of Wilde's nutty professors. Brilliantly entertaining.
Having not seen this play before, even though I am a fan of Wilde's work, this is like watching a new episode of one of your favourite sit coms. You recognise the characters and traits and this immediately breaks down any getting to know the characters which leaves you more time to start to enjoy the actors and the script
The Bonington Players are a great bunch of actors and always put on incredibly entertaining plays, and this is just another to add to their long list of successes.
“Lord Arthur Savile’s Crimes” is at The Bonington Theatre until Saturday 20 October 2018. Do not miss it if you love great classic comedy.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

“Shakespeare In Love”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
The play, based on the Oscar-winning film of the same name, follows Will Shakespeare as he struggles with writer’s block, trying to pen an ill-conceived comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate Daughter”. Will meets the lovely Viola de Lesseps and falls in love. She, unfortunately, is due to marry Lord Wessex, a nobleman who needs to marry into money. The ensuing romance between Will and Viola inspires him to write the tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”.
The play, like the film , is a comedy and has many stand out comic characters, and while sometimes a film script does not work that well as a stage play, the comedy writing, in this case, works really well for a theatre piece.It is no mystery as to why this play is such a success.
Pierro Niel-Mee stars as a slightly dim but very charming "bit of rough" Will Shakespeare with Imogen Daines as Viola and Edmund Kingsley as Christopher “Kit” Marlowe, the man this play hints at was behind a lot of The Bard's biggest hits! The show also throws shadows over Shakespeare's sexuality, but always done in the best possible taste
The cast also features Emmerdale and Coronation Street actor Bill Ward as Wessex, Rob Edwards as Fennyman, Geraldine Alexander as a wonderfully humorous Queen Elizabeth, Ian Hughes as Henslowe, Giles Taylor as Tilney and De Lesseps, Edward Harrison as Burbage and Philip Labey as Sam.
Rowan Polonski is a marvellously hammy Ned Alleyn, Kevin N Golding, Joshua Richards, Jonathan Blaydon, Ashley Gayle, Rosalind Steele, Toby Webster and Jazmine Wilkinson as a brilliant cockney sparrer, Webster, complete the main cast.
The production is directed by Phillip Breen with design by Max Jones. The revolving stage works well to progress the play within the play and draws comparisons with another brilliant comedy, "Noises Off" because we can see all that happens "backstage".
Shekespeare fans should find enough of the undiluted Shakespeare in this play, whilst fans of the film, and comedy theatre, should also be sated by the adaptation and the additional comic script.
Composer Paddy Cunneen creates a lovely Renaissance style score with many of the instruments played live on stage.
The costumes, make up and wigs were just gorgeous as well, and I'll admit that is I were an actor, I'd want to be in a play like this just to wear some of those amazing threads... Ok yes, and maybe the wigs as well.
I adored the camp comedy and farce but on the other end of the scales, I melted at the beauty of Shakespeare's gorgeous words for "Romeo & Juliet".
Just one question that I couldn't get my head around. Why were there so many empty seats for this wonderfully tongue in cheek romp?
“Shakespeare In Love” is playing at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 20 October 2018.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

"Kindertransport" by Diane Samuels
Nottingham Playhouse.
Faith is leaving home to move into a new flat and her mother, Evelyn. is going through items in their attic, glasses, teapots, cutlery etc, to give to Faith for her new flat,when Faith decides that she doesn't really want to move out, so the mother leaves her up stairs while she goes down to sort tea out.
Whilst she has the attic to herself she starts to look in some of the other boxes, which reveals a secret that had been hidden for a long while.
Kindertransport (children's transport), gave Jewish children—and only children—safe passage to the UK. Spared the horrors of the death camps, the Jewish "Kinder" were uprooted, separated from their parents and transported to a different culture safe from the fear of the German death camps.
Eva Schlesinger, daughter of Helga and Werner, is sent away to live with a foster carer, Lil, in Manchester, England, temporarily until her parents find work and move to England too.
How are these two incidents connected and what is the secret that Evelyn had kept from Faith? And who is the Ratcatcher, and why is the evil Ratcatcher connected to both Eva and Evelyn?
Cleverly written which will have you thinking throughout the play's first act, the pieces then all come together in the second act, and the demons hidden away in the attic resurface.
The cast, Denise Black (Lil), Elena Breschi (Faith), Rebecca D'Souza (Helga), Cate Hamer (Evelyn), Jenny Walser (Eve) and Patric Osborne, who plays the Ratcatcher, very much in the style of Freddy Kreuger, are all superb.
Directed by Fiona Buffini, she excels in the visual side of this play.The lighting, by Alexandra Stafford, really does paint the nightmarish Ratcatcher in a horror movie style image, in contrast to the loving and protective imagery of Lil and Evelyn.
Almost all of the stage is the attic, and there is so much to look at, as you can imagine, Lil and Evelyn have amassed many memories up there, and is instantly eye catching. the right side of the stage is given away to a bed where Helga and Eve hold their discussions before Helga sends Eve away. This design is by Madeline Girling.
You'd think that a story about a girl sent away to escape the horrors of the war may be a bit dreary or bum achingly dull. Not so my dear reader as the story is so cleverly interwoven betwixt the two families that you find yourself almost playing detective as to the connections. It is at times harrowing but it needs to be to portray what Eve and her mother went through as well as the cultural differences between the two countries and families.

"Kindertransport" is on at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 20th October 2018.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

“Dracula” by A Touring Consortium Theatre Company Production
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Here is a piece of theatre to really get your teeth into. I've always loved the gore of Peter Cushing, Bela Lugosi and especially Christopher Lee, the best Dracula in my opinion, so this was one play that I've been looking forward to.
"Dracula" remains the father of all gothic thrillers but I wondered how this adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel would translate to the stage.
Well I can reveal that it worked really well, and it worked well for several different reasons
“Dracula” is brought to life with Illusions courtesy of Ben Hart, magician and illusion designer. Ben was the Magic Circle’s Young Magician of the Year (2007) and designs extensively special effects for theatre, film and television.
Now I'm not going to reveal what tricks are used but they work really well within the story and used in conjunction with the brilliant lighting affects by Ben Cracknell, it will leave you wondering "how did that happen?"
The lighting, along with the Music and Sound design by Paul Ewin, really creates the jumpiness and the shocks in this dark but quite sexy piece of gothic theatre.
Eduard Lewis directs this new adaptation which is designed by Sean Cavanagh. The set is dark and foreboding with plenty of dry ice creating that Hammer Horror feel.
Cleo Pettitt is the Costume Designer and Sara Green did a sterling job as Movement Director..
Cheryl Campbell plays Lady Renfield, locked away in the mental asylum with an unhealthy diet of flies, spiders and mice
Philip Bretherton, who you may recognise from Coronation Street a few years ago, plays Van Helsing.
Count Dracula was played by Glen Fox, who seems to pop up and then disappear at will.
Olivia Swann makes her professional stage debut as Mina, who manages to be saved just at the last moment despite falling victim of Dracula's late night habits of popping out for a bite.
Andrew Horton was Jonathan Harker, the man sent out to meet the Count and deliver some documents for his move to Whitby. Jonathan is Mina's fiance.
Jessica Webber was wonderful as Lucy as her life blood slowly drained from her body, looking paler and thinner as the play went on.
Evan Milton played Doctor Seward
This production brings the sexy back to gothic darkness and is a thrilling, edge of the seat piece of theatre for anyone who jumps easily.
Being a fan of the Dracula myth, I enjoyed the play, especially the technical side of it. There were no surprises in it for me, but is a bloody good watch, so fangs for an entertaining night of goth horror..
“Dracula” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 13 October 2018

Monday, 8 October 2018

“Equus” by Peter Schaffer
Lace Market Theatre
This is a production and a half and everyone involved should be very proud of themselves. Every time I go to the theatre and think that I have seen one of the best productions of the year, up comes another to top the previous. This has just topped the previous with icing, cherry and sprinkles galore.
The second play in the new season from the Lace Market Theatre is one of those plays that isn’t performed that often but guarantees to be a sell out due to its' dark and powerful story, not to mention the superb acting of this formidable cast.
“Equus” was written in 1973 by Peter Schaffer and is based on the true story that Schaffer heard about regarding a crime involving a 17-year-old who blinded six horses in a small town near Suffolk. He set out to construct a fictional account of what
might have caused the incident, without knowing any of the details of the crime. The play's action is something of a detective story, involving the attempts of the child psychiatrist Dr. Martin Dysart to understand the cause of the boy's actions.
A court magistrate, Hesther Saloman, visits Dysart, believing that he has the skills to help the 17 year old Alan Strang come to terms with what he did. At the hospital, Dysart has a great deal of difficulty making any kind of headway with Alan, who at first responds to questioning by singing TV advertising jingles. Slowly, Dysart makes contact with Alan by playing a game where each of them asks a question, which must be answered honestly.
The discussions develop and Dysart discovers all about Strang’s parents, Dora and Frank, Strang's confused childhood and his seduction by his friend .Jill which leads to the shocking, dark and explosive ending.
Fraser Wanless (Dysart) is undeniably one of the areas best actors. His projection and diction is perfect and in this role, part narrator, part psychiatrist, you find yourself hanging on to every word.
Jak Truswell (Strang) has obviously studied this role and morphed into this troubled teen. I've seen Jak in several productions over the years but I can safely say that this is the best piece of theatre he has performed, and I said that about his role in "Beautiful Thing". No pressure but this role is going to take a lot of beating for Jak.
Nik Hedges (Frank Strang) delivers another strong performance in his second show for the Lace Market Theatre. Frank is supposed to be this moralistic father figure but his secrets are soon uncovered by Alan.
Sarah Taylor (Dora Strang) puts in a beautifully impassioned performance as Alan's religion-obsessed mother. Almost as if she is about to bubble over with nervous anger most of the time, a couple of times that pressure cooker gives way with some powerful emotional outbursts
Carol Parkinson (Hesther Salomon), at the start I thought may have forgotten her lines, but then I thought twice and said to myself, hang on this Carol, she does not forget lines and I realised at that point that the every so slight stumbling delivery was for dramatic effect of the character. The uncertainty as to whether Dysart would take on the case and save Strang from jail gave Carol's performance that extra edge. Brilliant.
Joanna Hoyes (Jill Mason) is the seductress in this play and a lovely confident performance. Who could resist?
Alistair Hudson (Harry Dalton), the stables owner where all the darkness takes place, and we get to hear that lovely Yorkshire accent again. this play makes it his second for the Lace Market theatre this year.
Mark James (Horseman/Nugget), a dual role for Mark. I loved the toffee-nosed horseman part, the introduction to Strang's love affair with horses. Also loved the physicality of playing Nugget.
Dani Wain (Nurse), not the biggest of roles but loved the gentle but masterly role, creating character for the nurse, which could have gone unnoticed, but didn't.
The other horses are played by Jonathan Cleaver, Matthew Matthew James Finkel, Neil Ledward, Nathan Sharpe and Arnd Korn
Directed by Chris Sims, Sir you have created a masterpiece in modern theatre this week. The tension in this play is enough to make a person burst, and I've seen the play before, so i know what an amazing piece of theatre this is.You can feel the immense amount of hard work that Chris and the cast have put into this play, a play that sucks you in and gets you so engrossed with the story and the characters that you feel that you are the only person in the theatre at the moment.
The set is designed by Mark James. Simple but very effective. having a revolving stage, which I've not seen done in this play before, gives the on stage seating another view of the actors. The darkness of the play is reflected by the colour scheme.The simpleness also detracts nothing from the actors while creating a multi-functional stage for the actors
Abby Wells is the Movement Director and this comes into play at the end with the chaos caused and the blind panic, but just notice the way the "horses" move when required.
Lighting Design by David Billen and Sound design by Jack Harris, and these two together helped create the overall feel of the creeping darkness and the expected chaos and carnage.
Much as i love a comedy, or a musical, you can't beat a good dark piece of theatre, and this ticks every single box that i had in my head.
Taking out of the equation that for a short space of time you have two actors naked on stage, and I know that this may be what attracts some folk to see this show - let's face it, it didn't do Daniel Radcliffe any harm in the world of theatre when he played Strang - this show is a powerful and wonderfully written piece of modern theatre. This production is one you must see, even if it is just for the shock value of Strang's actions.
Possibly my favourite piece of theatre this year.
“Equus” is being performed at the Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham until Saturday 13 September 2018.
Pictures courtesy of Kareena Sims.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

“And Then There Were None” by Ravenshead Theatre Group
Ravenshead Village Hall
Written by the Queen of Murder Mysteries, Agatha Christie, this is her most often performed piece of theatre. For those who have not seen this play, read the book or seen the TV adaptations of this piece of work, here’s just a quick resume.
Ten complete strangers arrive on a small, isolated island off the Devon coast. Each has an invitation tailored to his or her personal circumstances, such as an offer of employment or an unexpected late summer holiday. They are met by Thomas and Ethel Rogers, the butler and cook-housekeeper, who state that their hosts, Mr Ulick Norman Owen and his wife Mrs Una Nancy Owen, whom they have not yet met in person, have not arrived, but left instructions.
This randomly assembled group may not be as random as first thought because they all have one thing in common… a secret in their past that seems to have come back to haunt them
One by one the guests meet an untimely exit which coincides with a rhyme about ten little Indians. The guest’s demise also coincide with the models of the ten little Indian figures disappearing, but who is responsible for these deaths? As the suspect list diminishes, truths are revealed, but will the killer be revealed, and who are Mr and Mrs U N Owen?
From the off, this production was different to the others that I had seen as the ghostly, ashen figure of a child, played by James Terry, relates the poem and throughout the play, his ghostly figure appears and removes the indian figures.
James looks the part and took his time entering and exiting the stage, giving an eerie presence, and his make up was brilliant.
Fred Narracott, the boatman who delivered the guests to the island is played by Naomi Joyce. Again another unexpected change, but with some effective make up, completely passable as the boatman.Naomi also doubles as Stage manager.
Sir Lawrence John Wargrave, a retired judge, known as a "hanging judge" for liberally awarding the death penalty in murder cases is played by John Birch.
Vera Elizabeth Claythorne, a cool, efficient, resourceful young woman who is on leave from her position as a sports mistress at a third-rate girls' school. Mandy Buckley puts in a controlled performance and builds up to Vera's climactic exit.
Philip Lombard, a soldier of fortune. Literally down to his last square meal, he comes to the island with a loaded revolver, as suggested by his invitation letter.Rob Hurst is very well cast as Lombard with his jokey outer character, but is that jocular external sheen really hiding a killer?
William Henry Blore,aka Mr Davis, is a former police inspector and now a private investigator. Blore is a really dominant character and Andrew Cook delivers a very confident performance and an exciting watch.
Dr Edward George Armstrong, a Harley Street doctor,is played by Daniel Andrews. With Daniel I particularly noticed the attention to character details. Armstrong is a very nervous character and his constant fiddling with his hands mirrors this nervous trait. It's the little things that make a character believable and the hands ticked the box for me
Emily Caroline Brent, an elderly, religiously rigid, socially respectable spinster who accepted the vacation on Soldier Island largely due to financial constraints. Julie Cox was wonderfully bitter in this role, befitting the devout puritan woman that Brent is.
Thomas Rogers, the butler and Ethel Rogers' husband is played by Adam Hague. I've seen Adam in previous productions and in this one nervous energy really works in his favour because Rogers is that sort of character, that once his confident surface sheen is scratched.........well who knows? Adam's confidence as an actor grows every time I see him.
Mrs Ethel Rogers, the cook/housekeeper is played by Sarah Tryner, A very confident performer with a wonderful theatrical scream in her lungs.
General John Gordon Mackenzie, a retired World War I war hero is played with a lovely melancholic feel by Dennis Baggarley. His reminiscing of his late wife Lesley brings a bit of true feeling to the character..
And finally Anthony James Marston, an amoral and irresponsible young man who drives a fast sports car and manages to rub several of the play's characters up the wrong way as soon as he arrives. Another twist here as Marston is played by Catherine Buckley, and that too works really well.
The stage at The Village Hall isn't the biggest area but the set design, by Terry Cox, is well suited to the space and did not look cluttered and seemed quite spacial. Terry was also in charge of the sound which slotted in nicely behind everything that was going on, on stage.
The lighting design by Ian Walton also created just the right atmosphere.
Even though I knew who had dunnit, well once you've seen it a few times...... I still found this production fresh, due to the direction by Terry Cox. It's the little changes to the usual production that catches you off guard, like the ghost child addition and the ending itself. I'm giving nothing away by saying that there are two different endings to the play, but you'll have to go and see which ending is played out in this production.
Time flew by watching this play, which is the sign of an exciting and engaging production, which this one is.
“And Then there Were None” is at Ravenshead Village Hall until Saturday 6 October 2018

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

“Made In Dagenham” by Erewash Musical Society
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
The musical is based on the 2010 film Made in Dagenham, which in turn centred around the true-life events of the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968.
Rita O'Grady acts as the spokesperson for a group of female workers at Ford's Dagenham plant, who go on strike to fight the inequality that becomes apparent when women workers were to be paid less as they were classed as unskilled. In contrast, their male colleagues were classed as skilled and ultimately received more pay. These actions led to the creation of the Equal Pay Act 1970.
But these actions, while causing problems at work, also put the O'Grady family unit under great stress.
You can see why this production has been a sell-out, and while this musical not being a great one, it is a very good one and I will tell you why. Because this is based on true events, the passion and grit shines through and you get behind the women and their cause. A cause though that thunders on still.
Rebecca Charmley (Rita) is the star, well ok, one of the big stars of this show, Becky is fabulous as Rita and she completely embodies the role. Her passion for this role shines through.
Simon Parker (Eddie) also shows great passion as the husband who is trying to keep the status quo with everyone. He also gets to sing my favourite song in this musical, "The Letter" which will not fail to get to you.
Maria Lawrence (Connie), Lydia Page (Sandra),Emily Oakden (Wosaname), Clare Kay (Cass) and Laurie Trott who plays the wonderfully foul-mouthed, no nonsense Beryl are the main factory girls.
Richard Comfort (Monty), Richard Dawson (Sid), Ross Lowe (Bill) and Martin Lewis (Barry) are the main factory lads.
The factory management are James Bowden (Mr Hopkins), Gary Lever (Mr Tooley), Andy Honman (Ron Macer) and Alex Grosse (Gregory Hubble).
Louise O' Louise O'Boyle (Lisa Hopkins) was wonderful as the wife of the management who also helps Rita in her cause.
Keith Butcher (Harold Wilson) was a big hit and brought a lot of comedy to the play as he sung and danced his way through, and depicted the PM as a comedy figure, typical of Richard Bean's writing.
Fiona Wright (Barbara Castle) was also a great success with her fiery - just like her hair - performance. Fiona has a really good voice as showcased in the powerful "Ideal World".
The two civil servants were played by Andy Honman and Martin Lewis. martin also played the Cortina Man.
The O' Grady children were played in this performance by Oli Hickling and Katie Fitzpatrick.
This show has a large ensemble but they never make the stage look over crowded. When they all sing together the sound is wonderful, when the solo pieces are sung, they sound just as wonderful.
There was a small issue with the sound at the start but this was quickly sorted out and ended up well mixed.
The band were hidden away, which gave space for the cast to use the front of the stage, under the Musical Direction of Dave Dallard and Sam Griffiths. At times you may have mistaken the balanced mix for being recorded, but oh no, it was definitely all performed live.
There are some memorable songs in here, as I mentioned before "The Letter" is my favourite, but you btry to keep your feet still to such numbers as the title track, "Everybody Out", "Busy Women". The wonderful tongue in cheek lyrics of "This Is America" and the comedy in "Always A Problem", plus the beautiful "Nearly Had It All".
"Dagenham" has many big choreographed numbers and under the expert eye and choreographic talents of Alex Tavener, you're guaranteed a classy dance set.
Chrissie Oakden directed this big musical, and did a wonderful job. The musical is a long one but having seen it before I knew this and knew where the interval was due. Being a director is by no means an easy job and there is a continuous need to shave seconds off. Wednesday night a full dive minutes was shaved off the previous night which just goes to show how much Chrissie has tightened this show up.
"Dagenham" is not a show that is done often at local theatre level, maybe because it is a big one with a big cast, and I really do appreciate Erewash Musical Society doing something just a little different. It's risky but it paid off, you just had to see and hear the audience's reaction at the end.
“Made In Dagenham” is at the Duchess Theatre Long Eaton until Saturday 6 October 2018, but spare tickets may be hard to buy now!