Friday, 29 March 2019

"Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" by Nottingham Girls' High School Youth Group.
The Space.
This production was one of a few firsts for me tonight. It was the first time that I had sat in the upstairs balcony, proving that you get a good view from almost every seat in The Space.
It was the first time that I had see a Nottingham Girls' High School production.
It was also the first time that I had seen an all female version of a production that is predominantly an all male stage show.
It's also the first time that I have seen the stage like it was for this production. I have seen several productions at The Space over the last few years but never have I seen a set like this. It looked like someone had dug out the stage and built concrete blocks in the centre, leaving the sides visible as a drop. The band were raised up on scaffolding platforms (JSW Scaffolding Ltd). A really interesting and innovative stage set by Richard Warriner.
The video design (George Lamb) also added something interesting to look at, at the back of the stage, as well as adding to the position and timeline of the story.
Directed by Chris Nicklin, the story line was well paced and the flow was good.
Loved the sound and lighting (Michael Donoghue) and I appreciated the sound to light co ordination which is sometimes not as sharp as it was in this production, and that made such a difference to me for impact reasons.
The choreography (Anushka Basu) was a big job but done really well, especially in "Pharoah's Dream", which was one of the highlights of the production for me, along with the wonderful "Those Canaan Days".
There were also a few highlighted solo and dance pairs behind the songs with ballet and tap sequences, which was something I can't remember seeing in other productions.
The costumes looked like an advert for The United Colours Of Benetton and really made a splash of colour on stage, and I loved the way they did the final coat for Joseph, which was practical but also gave the desired, and colourful effect.
The cast is too big to mention all of them individually, but what an impact they made, an absolute explosion of colour and energy.
Elise McCracken (Joseph) did a cracking job. She got the two big popular numbers from the show "Any Dream Will Do" and "Close Every Door", and quite rightly was the last to leave the stage to soak up the applause.
Anushka Basu was a brilliant Pharoah, and I must also mention Rachel MacDonad-Hulme as Potiphar and a lovely comic, almost "Carry On" performance as Mrs Potiphar.
There were four narrators, Lilli Tichardson, Izzy Slade, Pepper Uleberg-Smith and Harriet Watkinson. All had really good voices but one, and I don't know which one, as I don't know these girls, who for me stood out. She seemed to have a slight Irish, folky lilt to her voice and if I was directing "Legally Blonde", I would have her cast as Paulette.
By the end of the evening, I'd forgotten that this was all female cast, and I saw a cast of talented young actors who had worked hard to present a credible, and slightly different version of one of Rice/Lloyd-Webber's most performed pieces.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

“The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov, adapted by Florence Bell
Nottingham New Theatre
I am not a massive Chekhov fan ever since I saw "Three Sisters" performed in Russian with subtitles in the theatre; that put me off. I then saw "The Cherry Orchard" and I warmed to the writer, just a bit.
This production, which is a, as far as I could see, heavily adapted version of the play, and I think I may have been won over
The play is a slice-of-life drama set in the countryside at the end of the 19th century. The characters are dissatisfied with their lives. Some desire love. Some desire success. Some desire artistic genius. No one, however, ever seems to attain happiness.
Written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. “The Seagull” is generally considered to be the first of his four major plays. It dramatises the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the famous middlebrow story writer Boris Trigorin, the naïve aspiring actress Nina, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, and her son the playwright Konstantin Tréplev, with a few other interim characters brought to the fore.
Director Florence Bell started adapting this version of the play about three years ago and along with Producer Jess Donn, they have created a very intelligent and entertaining piece of modern theatre.
The production is also a big success tech wise with video design (Sam Osborne) creating a very modern look, even at the end running credits as if we had been watching a film. very clever and a treat visually
The lighting design (Nathan Penney) was sharply timed to provide the maximum effect, as was the sound design (Jonathan Taylor Davies), again making such a difference to the production, aurally. The blending of these two tech features being clever and intelligent.
A simple set, which was also practical and meant that your concentration was on the characters and what they were saying, and that is very important with Chekhov's work, the words that are delivered.
The script, with it being an adaptation, was bang up to date delivery and language style wise, which made you feel that you were watching something so much more modern than Chekhov's original.
The cast brought the adaptation and the rich script to life before your eyes.
Clara Ames (Irine) made a wonderful NNT debut, Olly O'regan (Stanley), Callum Walker (Boris), Rosiella Sutherland (Nina), Ellen Dennis (Martha), Hugo Minta (The Doctor), Flo Starr (Petra), also making a wonderful NNT debut, and Danial Ahmer (Simon) were all perfectly cast.
At times the script was not an easy ask with lengthy monologues, all delivered with ease and great feeling, and I think I may have learned more about Chekhov from these monologues than by reading up about him externally, so thank you for yet another education.
No interval, which again I was thankful for because, even though the action was at times a bit disjointed, and it was right to be, I relished the flow of the play, and to break that flow would not have been the right thing to do.
Chekhov may be a classic writer but can be misconstrued as a bit of a "bum-acher", but with this adaptation, NNT have injected new life, and fun, into an old play. Like Jess, I have never read the original, nor seen it performed, and I don't think I want to as it may not live up to this production.
“The Seagull” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 30 March

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

“Daisy Pullls It Off” by Denise Deegan
Nottingham Lace Market Youth Theatre
If you’ve ever read any of Enid Blyton’s “Mallory Towers” books or even “Harry Potter” to a certain extent, you will know that private boarding schools are a rich picking ground for some wonderful characters, and Denise Deegan has created a spiffing set of characters in her novel which transcends so well to the stage, especially when the young actors have the enthusiasm for this play as they have. Not to mention the energy they need for this pacy show.
Daisy Meredith is an outsider to the elite girls normally admitted to Grangewood School for Girls because she is the first ever scholarship pupil, and this means that to some of the girls already there, she is a target for bullying. Fortunately she befriends Trixie and between the pair they embark on an adventure to recover the Beaumont family’s lost treasure and also other discoveries along the way. It’s all absolutely spiffing, topping and jolly hockysticks – oh yes there’s also a hockey match on stage as well! How do they do it? Do they find the missing treasure? Who is the mystery groundsman? Only one way to find out the answers to these questions!
Director Sarah Ogandohas two lots of girls on alternate days, just to give all of the Youth Group a chance to perform in this lovely play.
Mary Kirwin (Daisy) and Adelaide Marshall (Trixie) have a great chemistry between them, on and off stage and between the pair the energy they exude would light up the whole theatre
Roisin Kelly (Sybil) and Maddy Stevens (Monica) are the bully ring-leaders, who by the end of the play have a lot to thank Daisy for.
Nina Drury (Clare) plays one of those good friends you need in school, especially when you're a new starter
Katherine Watts (Alice), Georgia Feghali (Belinda), Megan Murphy (Miss Gibson), Sasha Hylton (Miss Granville),Henry Vervoorts (Mr Scoblowski) - loved that accent, Henry, Lucia Lockley (Mademoiselle), Fred Stevenson ( Mr Thompson),Keira Fletcher (Winnie Irving),Daisy Donoghue (Dora Johnstone) and
Lauren Shelton (Mother) complete the cast that i saw.
There were only a couple of times that i missed hearing what was said on stage but this was opening night and having an audience can make a difference to the projection of an actor.
Loved the set, designed by Phil Makin.
Also enjoyed the classic boarding school choice of music (Luis Ogando), which helped set the whole feel of the era, and the whole sound was crystal clear (Jack Harris) and a lovely lighting design (Allan Green).
Denise Deegan's script provides the perfect vehicle for a predominantly female cast, and is just tremendously great fun - I may even say "topping". It's brilliant fun and I loved the way these young actors totally embraced the characterisation of their roles so spiffingly.
“Daisy Pulls It Off” is at the Nottingham Lace Market Theatre until Saturday March 30th.
“Skellig” by David Almond
Nottingham Playhouse
The story’s told by a boy called Michael. He’s moved across town with his parents to an old house that needs to be renovated. Just as they move in, Michael’s baby sister is born. She is premature, and she’s seriously ill. Michael is fed up and frightened. At the bottom of the garden, there’s a tumbledown garage. Michael is told not to go into it. It’s far too dangerous.
Of course, like any kid who is told not to do something, he does and goes in there. And, behind heaps of junk and ancient tea chests, he discovers a wizened man or creature who seems to be on the point of death. This meeting has a dramatic effect on everyone’s lives.
This children’s story, which was the Winner of the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year and Carnegie Medal, is dark but very enjoyable for all ages as it has that special appeal to both children and adults alike; just look at how many adults read Harry Potter, again aimed at the children’s market, and this is the attraction and appeal that this piece of theatre has.
What hits you as soon as you look through the auditorium doors is the incredible set. I practically covers the whole of the stage from side to side and from stage to, whatever the technical term for the top of the stage is. Let's just say it is huge and took my breath away.
Edward Harrison plays Skellig and he has a knack of appearing by magic on stage. Skellig reminded me a bit of a more refined Catweazle - for those of us old enough to remember that TV character. His transformation at the end of Act One is reminiscent of watching a chick being born from the egg, which is quite apt when you look at the similarities of the story concerning Michael's family
Sam Swann plays Michael,and it does not take you long to put aside that this is the actor from "Mr Selfridge" and "Bob The Builder" voice actor and he is now a 12 year old boy. It's amazing how young you can look without facial hair. He moves like a 12 year old and is completely believable as one.
Kate Okello plays Michael’s new friend Mina who Michael introduces to Skellig, again a very convincing pre-teen.
There is also a lovely father/son moment in Act Two which really got me, as I'm sure would hit home with any father. The dad played by Simon Darwen and Mum played by Tina Harris.
Directed by Lisa Blair, this is pacy to say the least an captures and retains the imagination and attention of all age groups with this absolutely lovely play. There is just the right amount of darkness and the message that the author was trying to give out came through loud and clear.
The set design, (Frankie Bradshaw) as said previously was wonderfully inventive. The lighting (Alexandra Stafford) was atmospheric when needed to be, the puppetry (Matthew Forbes) was a lovely touch, again reminiscent of Harry Potter is parts.
What I was also very impressed with was that this cast had an accent coach. Now if I had not have read this in the programme, I would genuinely have thought that the whole cast were proper Geordies. This accent, and ask any actor, is the most difficult to get right, but I was never in any doubt that the cast were from Newcastle until I read this. A brilliant job done there pet!
If you have not read the book by David Almond, I'm not going to give anything further away, except to say it's like listening to an audio book version of the book with live action in front of your eyes.
It's just a lovely story with a wonderful message, and wouldn't it be nice to think that we all have someone looking over us, especially when we need them.
This play has wings and really takes off so make sure you get a ticket for this lovely lovely piece of theatre.
“Skellig” is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Sunday 7 April 2019.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

“Betty Blue Eyes” by Central Musical Theatre Company
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
A musical that I have heard a lot about but never seen on stage, until now.
Central Musical theatre Company make their debut at the Duchess Theatre with the stage adaptation based on Alan Bennett’s film/book “A Private Function”.
It tells the story of Betty, a pig with the bluest eyes you’ll ever see on a pig, illegally reared to be killed to provide a lavish feast for the wedding feast of the Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
In revenge for not getting his shop he had been promised in the parade, chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers decides that he is going to steal Betty. His wife Joyce sees this as a chance to feast, but there is just one snag, who will kill Betty Blue Eyes?
The musical is quintessentially British with some marvellous eccentric characters, an assortment of bullies, spivs and snobs and the soundtrack is gorgeous.
This is the first time I had seen the Central Musical Theatre Company and I was really impressed. Their harmonies are superb and they really create the feel of the 1940's with these harmonies. And there are many excellent solo vocalists as well.
Julie Harper (Joyce Chilvers) is one of the many excellent vocalists, and you get the feeling that she could turn that voice to any style of singing. Julie also has a lovely sense of comic timing as well which really works well in this musical.
Greg Tabberer (Gilbert Chilvers) is well suited to this role as the zero to hero chiropodist, and again, a great voice.
Maria Banks (Mother) is an absolute gem as the ever-hungry mother in law to Gilbert. maria's character acting is just a joy to behold and I loved every second that she was on stage.
Adrian Redfern (Henry Allardyce) is another character I loved as well. Lovely comic timing and some brilliant facial expressions, oh and that voice! Just wonderful.
The baddie of this musical is Wormold, the food inspector, who is a real panto style villain who paints illegal meat green so it can't be eaten by anyone. John Wedgewood is the perfect casting for this role. All he needed was a twirly black moustache and a bomb beneath that long black trenchcoat..
There are so many people involved in the cast and they all played their parts perfectly, and it was so easy to just sit back and let them take me on a journey and let the story unfold.
Kath Fitchett (Mrs Allardyce), Jade Holmes (Veronica Allardyce), Steve Dunning (Francis Lockwood), Ann Hurst (Mrs Lockwood), Paul Kirkland (Dr Swaby), Philip Wright (Sgt Noble) were the main characters and actors.
There's some great choreography from Fiona Carratu, especially in the "nightclub scene" which also featured Sarah Towle, Laura Jones and Bridget Wyatt as the Nightcliub Trio.
Lorna Kirkland as Director really kept the pace going.
The orchestra, under the Musical Direction of Alison Sharp, and bot that band can swing when they want to.
Chris Margaret designed the set and with the projected backdrop, the different scenes were swiftly changed.
There is also a very clever start to Act Two which reminded me of a section in the play "The 39 Steps", which I just know you will love if you see this little beauty of a musical.
Oh, and there is just one more cast member that i have not mentioned, Betty of course. I do not want to give too much away here but, she is the most gorgeous, blue eyed creature with long eye lashes who when she looks at you, you just can't help but fall in love with her. The way that curly tail wags and those long ears and snout twitch is enough to turn you vegetarian.
This is a clever, funny and really enjoyable piece of theatre, performed by a theatre company who has put a great deal of hard work into this musical, and it shows. It may be one of those pieces that isn't performed often, so take the opportunity to see it while it's here.
“Pretty Blue Eyes” is at The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 30 March.

Monday, 25 March 2019

"Benidorm – Live”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Starring Jake Canuso (Mateo), Janine Duvitski (Jacqueline), Adam Gillen (Liam), Sherrie Hewson (Joyce Temple-Savage), Shelley Longworth (Sam), Tony Maudsley (Kenneth) and featuring Neptune’s very own Asa Elliott, this is one show that I have been looking forward to since I first heard that the show was going on tour, especially as I am a massive fan of the award winning television show.
Also featured were Serena Giacomini (Sophie), Bradley Clarkson (Ben), Will Jennings (Ricky) and Damian Williams (Derek).
All the actors looked like they were having a party on stage and I loved that the things that "went wrong" were embraced by the cast which added even more fun and frivolity.
Derren Litten created 74 TV episodes over 11 years which attracted many cameos from well-known stars like Cilla Black, Robin Askwith, Bananarama, Sheridan Smith, Su Pollard, Joan Collins, Una Stubbs and Tony Hadley. It was sad to find out that after all of these years, Derren revealed that the TV show was to be no more. And then came the live on stage theatre show!
Litten has worked to his strengths, and the strengths of the show and its’ characters. He has remained faithful to the TV style script which shows that he knows what his audience like and what they want to see and he delivers.
First off let me mention the staging as I was most fascinated how this would work as the TV series has so many settings. Well, this is done via a revolving platform which provides the back drops for Neptune Bar, the entrance and reception to the Solana, the pool area, Blow ‘n’ Go Hair Salon and Joyce Temple-Savage’s office, and there is so much details has gone into the creation of these sets. A brilliant job by Mark Walters.
A mention must also go to Ben Cracknell who designed the lighting, making you feel the warmth and feel of a sunny Benidorm holiday resort.
The story for the show is there are rumours about a threatened take over of the Solana, which leaves the staff fearing for their jobs, and when they find out that the guests have been infiltrated with undercover hotel inspectors, Joyce Temple-Savage and her workforce take action.
The whole show is very slick, and that is because the cast have worked as a family over the last eleven years and they are comfortable in their characters and their fellow actors, and it’s this familiarity that makes the comedy flow. Well I say flow, at times it’s almost Tsunami level and every character gets their chance to shine.
Previous characters from the TV series receive nods from the cast, keeping us in the loop as to what they are doing.
It helped, being a die hard fan of the TV show, because I knew the characters, the actors and the characters' back stories, so it was like slipping on an old comfy pair of slippers. I, and the majority of the audience, were in Neptune heaven by Act two and the finale of "Spanish Eyes" and "Y Viva Espana" had the audience singing and clapping along resulting in a massive standing ovation.
It is saucy, with much of that sauce being added by Jake Canuso and Janine Duvitski with lashings of double entendres inserted by Tony Maudesley and Damian Williams. Sherrie I feel has found her iconic role in Joyce and shows a lot of class, and gets to wear some classy costumes here. Shelley Longworth's Sam is just a lovely, girl next door character and, what a lovely voice in her solo of Faith Hill's "There You'll Be", and Adam Gillen's Liam is just a brilliant comic character who can make you laugh and feel sorry for him with his voice, as well as creating some wonderful physical comedy.
There are some great party songs in this show - watch out for Asa's brilliant vocals and Janine's backing on "Rubber Ball".
You will not leave the Theatre Royal without your cheeks aching. This is exactly how a successful TV comedy can be adapted into an equally successful stage show. I absolutely love this show, and so will you!
“Benidorm Live” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 30 March

Thursday, 21 March 2019

'Human Animals' by Stef Smith
Nottingham New Theatre,
Stef Smith's play Human Animals is a dystopian drama about life in a world that has become infested with animals. The city is so plagued by foxes, mice and pigeons that roads are closed, parks burned and curfews imposed.
The play's focus is on the effect this has on the city's residents: the relationship between middle-class widow Nancy and her daughter, Alex, who wants to protect animal rights; a young couple, Lisa and Jamie, who find themselves in opposition when it comes to the mass-destruction of animals; the closeted John (Nancy's neighbour) and his relationship with Si, who works in chemical distribution and has been cut off from visiting his daughter by the closure of roads crossing the river.
O love the whole dark feel about this play and the whole atmosphere is unnerving, especially if you don't know the play, like myself and don't know what is coming. You know that you are "safe" because you're in a theatre with other people but become immersed in this story and you forget where you are and you can allow yourself to feel just a little uncomfortable.
There's a scene which involves Nancy which has no dialogue for about three minutes which is so powerful. The gradual disintegration between Jamie and Lisa's relationship, the pulling apart between Nancy and Alex, the sexual tension between Si and John and then there are the ways that the separate characters intertwine with the others is a fascinating and explosive mix.
All underpinned by what may, or may not be media exploitation and exaggeration. Who and what do you believe?
Directed by Joe Strickland who encapsulates the oppressive growth throughout the play, really making one feel uneasy with what you're hearing and seeing. This play will make you think hard about your own environment and what it would be like without animals in it. Even walking to the bus stop afterwards, I imagined what that area of the University would be like without the sound of the geese and the other birds on the lake. How silent this world would be.
Now of course the Director's role and the Producer's role are vital in how we are steered into what they want us to perceive from the play and so praise must also go to this play's Producer, Morven Cameron, a brilliant way to break her duck in this role.
One thing I do enjoy about many of the NNT productions is that they don't feel the need to introduce an interval where there doesn't need to be one and again this play ran all the way through and. like several before at the New Theatre, I was quite surprised when the end came and I'd been in there for almost two hours. A credit to Director, Producer and cast alike.
The cast were just magnetic,as well as magnificent in holding us in the palms of their hands. I was hooked on every word.
Will Tillett (Jamie), Eleanor Rickenbach (Lisa), Alice Martin (Nancy), Alex Levy (John), Georgia Barnwell (Alex) and Francis Simmons (Si) were perfectly cast.
I loved the simpleness of the three settings (Joe Strickland) and the lighting design (Nadia Elalfi) made sure we were focused on the area and characters we were supposed to, again controlling us, almost Big Brother style, and in line with the storyline of the play.
The at times subtle sound design by Tara Prasad also provided an interest to me with the music sound bites, but at no time detracting my attention from the flow of the play.
This is a play that will make you go away and think about how you would act if you were in this situation these six found themselves forced into, and may even question your relationships, not only with humans, but also with animals.
“Human Animals” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 23 March.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

“The Hound Of The Baskervilles” by Riverside Drama Company
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton
I love a good spoof and having seen this version not too long ago, was eager to see this production, which is slightly different to the all male cast I saw previously. This is an all female cast and that in itself adds a completely different level of humour due to the physicality of the cast.
With just three cast members playing all the roles, and a script that is so fast paced that it’s likely that the trio probably collapses in the wings every night at the end of the show.
The play has its’ roots in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1901 story, beginning with the shock death of Sir Charles Baskerviulle who is found dead on the grounds of his dark, spooky country house, Baskerville Hall.
According to legend the Baskerville family is hounded by a curse which sees a hellish beast of a dog baying for the Baskerville’s blood.
There is now only one heir to the Baskerville’s inheritance, Charles’ nephew, Sherlock Holmes has a race against the clock to get to the bottom of the curse before another Baskerville falls victim to the hound.
Mina Machin plays Holmes, Stapleton, Cecile Stapleton, Mr Barrymore and a Yokel.
Lizzie Norris plays Dr Watson slightly different. Naive and eager to please Holmes, almost in a sense of hero worship.and a Yokel.
Samantha Badman plays Sir Charles Baskerville, Sir Henry Baskerville, Mortimer, a Cabbie and various Yokels.
As you can see these three actors work very hard in this play.
It's one of the most faced paced, funny, well timed comedies around at the moment. The humour comes thick and fast with many one liners combined with the awesome physical comedy that this play demands.
It also has echoes of the old Ealing comedies, not unlike Chaplin and the Keystone Cops with just the animated feel of Scooby Doo creeping in there as well.
The set is well thought out and is atmospheric as well, with just a few pieces of physical set being wheeled on and off at speed. Bob Baron and the company are responsible for this little gem.
Part of the comedy comes from the sound effects and the timing of the effects and we have Dan Bates to thank for the design and Joe Downing for the show sound.
Sound and Light go hand in hand and this created even more of an atmosphere, and the lighting could be in no better hands than with Dave Martin
Dan Bates is also the Director and he and the cast have kept this pace going at 100 mile an hour and that means that you really have top pay attention for the laughs because they really are quickfire, especially in Act Two.
Brilliant costumes provided by Mina Machin.
This is definitely one piece of theatre that I had the pleasure of just sitting back and letting the comedy wash all over me. It was faultless, and the guffaws of laughter from the audience told everyone, I deduced, that this is one not to miss.
Go on, give your chuckle muscles a workout!
“The Hound Of The Baskervilles” is at the Duchess Theatre Company until Saturday 26 March 2019.

Monday, 18 March 2019

“Vehement” by Callum Walker
Nottingham New Theatre
Again showcasing the writing talents of the Nottingham New Theatre students, this play is all about a nuclear submarine, The Vehement and their crew.
After a four month patrol, the crew are making their way back home, but above them, all is not well with the natural world with storms and a meteor shower raging. All this and then there’s a sudden lack of response from shore.
The crew are in an isolated and claustrophobic environment and that gets their minds working overtime. The irony of it is that these men have the power to destroy, but now seem powerless.
They rescue a sailor, taking him on board, but when things take a different turn, they, along with the rescued sailor have to turn back to sea for what they feel is for their own safety.
The crew are under the impression that nuclear war may have broken out, but how do they combat the fact that outside their cramped environment, the world as they know it, may no longer exist. Add to this an unexpected guest on board and the lives of all on the Vehement could be in serious danger!
This is a different style of writing for Callum, and you can see that he has had to do lots of submarinal research, and the factual information really gives a lot of realism to this play.
Jack Ellis (McKennan - the rescued sailor), Gabriella Teriaca (Runa), Barnaby Hartwill (Captain Adams), Sofia Bassani (Fowler) who makes her NNT debut, Nicholas Landon (Poole) and Ian Sheard (Holden) really lay on the tension and the claustrophobia and there is one part in this play that teased an intake of breath from the audience tonight and you really start to think differently about one particular character.
Directed and Written by Callum and Produced by Sophie Curtis, they have created an atmospheric and at times uncomfortable piece. The set is very cleverly designed by Essie Butterworth, giving that claustrophobic feel in the simplest of designs, which i won't give away.
Also creating that special submarine atmosphere are the Sound Design and the Light Design by Rupert Galea and Izzy de Bono respectively.
A clever piece of writing and some passionate acting with a wonderful build up and an unexpected twist. Not only that but the 90 minutes the play took flew by as you were completely drawn into the story and the characters.
“Vehement” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Tuesday 19 March.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

"Andy Quinn - Broadway Swings"
Derby Theatre
When you have the confidence to open a show with "The Greatest Show", you know that the star of that show oozes the confidence to deliver The Greatest Show or they will fail miserably. I knew from that start that it would be the former result.
Kicking off with the Chesterfield Studios Academy of Performing Arts with Andy gave a big impact and set the tone for the rest of the show. Straight away I'm sure that I recognised some familiar faces in the Academy.
Part one of the show provided us with some brilliant Big Band classics with that Buble feel as well as introducing us to his guests Hilary Leam and Helen Perry, who stood in at the last minute for a poorly Sara Evans-Bolger, as well as four young dancers, Grace Quinn, Gabriella Bonsor, Mila Quinn and Evie Than. These four looked like mini Strictly professionals and were an absolute delight to watch and their technical dance skills were incredibly polished.
Hilary has a wonderful blues and jazzy feel as showcased in "Summertime" from Porgy & Bess as well as a brilliant fun duet with Andy in "I Wanna Be Like You" from The Jungle Book.
Helen treated us to a sublime version of Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" and in Act Two, a really emotional rendition of "On My Own" from Les Miserables plus a gorgeous duet with Andy on Cyndi Lauper's "True Colours".
The orchestra was one of the best that i have heard. Musical Director, Jonathan Francis not only arranged, conducted and played piano for Andy but also provided some lovely lighter comedy moments.
Chesterfield Studios Academy of Performing Arts returned throughout the evening and gave wonderfully showcased performances of "Electricity" from Billy Elliott and "Matilda". I absolutely love the passion that they all showed. they all looked excited to be performing and that is what I love to see.
Act One closed with Andy singing Billy Joel's "Piano Man" with Jonathan playing piano and harmonica. This left us wanting more but we had to wait 20 minutes for Act Two.
Act Two was the musicals section and I was in my element as Andy's choices were spot on. A collection of new and old musical numbers including lesser known songs from the soundtracks of "Godspell", "Company", "Dear Evan Hanson", "Ragtime" and storming ballads from "Les Miserables", "Jekyll & Hyde", "Miss Saigon", "Evita", "Chess" and Hilary returned to belt out the sexy "When You're Good To Mama" from Chicago.
The evening concluded with a rousing version of "You Raise Me Up" with everyone on stage.
I've known Andy for only a couple of years but know that his easy going nature and natural comedy worked in his favour with the chat on stage. His love for these songs and musical theatre is evident, and so is his passion that he delivers through these songs. He sells the songs and lives the story and emotions of the characters he takes on when singing, knowing how to perform, and not just sing these songs.
I've always been a fan of Andy's voice and recordings, but hearing and seeing him live has added an extra sheen to him and makes his performances more of an experience than just a show.
His CD is entitled "Unexpected Star". For me "unexpected" is not a phrase I would now use but "star" is one label I would truly plant on this man.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

“Inhabitation” by Nat Henderson
Nottingham New Theatre
Another new piece of writing from my favourite student run theatre group (the only totally student run theatre group) and Nat Henderson has based a lot of the story on her own experiences with friendships, the creation and waning of them.
This is one of the craziest plays that I have seen in a long time. It's a play within a play and as soon as you walk into the performing space, this is apparent with "producers", "directors", "back stage crew" and extras all over the place and then it settles down to the main story about two women. Morgan and Evelyn, their friendship, at times strained, but one that grew to be quite close.
The play flips to the present day and back with the present Morgan visiting the property and recalling her memories in flashback.
Just as you really become enveloped in this quite touching story, we are brought back down to earth and back to the "play" within the play that we are watching, and while there are comic moments within the inner play, it was, for me the cast performing the play of the play that really made me smile.
Ellen Schaffert (Younger Morgan) and Nadia Elalfi (Older Morgan) have really studied either each other or the characters they are playing because, when you look at these two closely, there are a lot of traits and mannerisms they both share, which as they are the elder and younger same character, you'd expect that.
Yasmine Dankwah (Evelyn) was brilliant as the neighbour who becomes Morgan's friend. loved the light and shade of the character.
Abie Whitehead (Alex) is Evelyn's partner, Cameron Brett (Tony), a wonderfully down played, matter of fact, and brutally open character which at times slightly shocks with what he says, especially with elder Morgan being a stranger to him in the play. Tobi Bambi ( great name for an actor by the way) found his feet as the Stage Manager in the play, but it was Jack Lahiffwho stole the scenes for me as the just slightly effeminate Director of the inner play. Where do they get their character images from?
Along with these there were several other actors as the extras .
Written and Co-Directed by someone who is either a complete looney or a comedy genius in the making, Nat Henderson has created a bit of a modern gem, and while there were times when I was wishing that the pace could speed up a tad, when it did, it was well worth the wait. There are some lovely characters Nat has written and I love that she has lovingly lambasted the archetypal theatrical character roles, who at times forget to laugh at themselves. Co Directed by Essie Butterworth and Produced by Sophy Baxter.
Loved the set - designed by Joe Strickland - and I'm not sure if the grass was the real thing but it looked and smelled like it, which gave a real feeling of being outside sitting outside someone's back garden.. Washing lines and fencing complete the picture.
Also loved the lighting which was cleverly designed to make the time lapse look like one of those speeded up nature films - you know the ones where the clouds speed by or a flower bud opens - well that's what it felt like to me. Designed by Tara Prasad.
The sound also needs mentioning as it really made you feel that there was a party going on behind that door. Sound Designer was Zoe Smith.
There are many things to make you think about with this story but after giving you that thinking space, delivers some fine comic moments. And I sat there at the end wanting to see the next day's filming schedule, which also meant that there was a novel way to close the play, and until I checked the time, realised that it really was the end of the play.
Clever, very novel and really entertaining piece of new theatre, delivered by a talented cast. Everything I've grown to expect from the NNT.
“Inhabitation” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 16 March.