Tuesday, 30 April 2019

“Rent” by Christchurch Theatre Club
Loughborough Town Hall
Set in the East Village of New York City, Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Rent” has become a pop cultural phenomenon. with songs that rock and a story that audiences of all ages can connect with.
Based loosely on Puccini's “La Boheme”, Jonathan Larson's Rent follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.
The physical and emotional complications of the disease pervade the lives of Roger, Mimi, Tom and Angel. Maureen deals with her chronic infidelity through performance art; her partner, Joanne, wonders if their relationship is worth the trouble.
Benny has sold out his Bohemian ideals in exchange for financial gains,forgetting the bond with his former friends. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, feels like an outsider to life in general. The way these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this musical.
Ashley Bright (Roger) never fails to impress in the emotion that he invests in his roles and his adaptable voice is spot on, no more so than in some of the powerful ballads in "Rent"
Tom Pinny (Mark) isn't an actor I've seen before but this is an impressive introduction for, anyone like me, who has not seen this man before. The vocals are strong and the accent is consistent and accurate.
Michael Gamble (Tom) stood in last night for Craig Butterworth who unfortunately was ill, and was sadly missed, as I know that this was a role Craig had been looking forward to playing. Michael knows this role back to front as he is also the Director and Choreographer for "Rent" so naturally looked comfortable as Tom.
Kristian Cunningham (Angel), I knew would be a success in this iconic role. This is the first time that I have seen Kristian perform on stage, and he lived up to what I had expected of him. An exciting dancer and a natural singer, this role was made for Kristian to play. I was actually a bit worried the way that he leapt around and jumped off that table in those incredible boots, but this shows what a great dancer he is.
Angel's death scene was done really well, making it look as if he was rising from the table and being transported to Heaven.
Lucy Brown (Mimi) brought the sauciness to the play, and her first appearance brought the very saucy double entendre seeped song "Light My Candle" alight. Her acting in Act Two brought silence from the audience.
Holly Easter (Maureen) blew me away in this very provocative role and her voice just soared. She has a certain ease with her vocals and when she gives those big notes, WOW!
Eve Taylor (Joanne), is a lovely pairing with Holly in this coupling, and I loved their fiery duet "Take Me Or Leave Me", plus I loved the "Tango Maureen" section with Mark.
Aaron Murray (Benny) is another actor that I have seen perform before on the Loughborough Town hall stage and this is another successful part he can add to his acting CV. It may be one of those roles in the borderline "baddie" category but I love the way this character evolves.
A big ensemble section who invade the stage at times from all entrances, keeping the audience on their toes and providing more meat to this already tasty stew.
Loved the set and the way that the set was used in its' various ways.
The soundtrack is one of my favourites, including the gorgeous and harmonious “Seasons Of Love” as well as “I Should Tell You”, “One Song Glory”, “Cover You”, “Without You”, “Maureen’s Tango” and “Take Me Or Leave Me” being highlights, along with the rousing title song, “Rent”.
Musical Director Vicki Hing, assisted by Abi Parker, and their five piece band created a big sound, at times slightly swamping some of the vocals in the more louder and rockier numbers, but when it came to the ballads, you could have been fooled into thinking you were listening to a CD of these gorgeous songs.
Lighting Design by Robert Bridges and a trio of sound experts, Rob Temperton, Harry Bridge and Rob Ketteridge make this show a treat.
Strangely not a full house last night and even more strangely I could not see anyone providing a standing ovation, but then I could not see behind my row. Do not let this put you off because this now period piece of powerful theatre is really worth seeing, so get yourself down there as there is no day like today to get your tickets.
For Rent newbies and Rent-Heads alike, this is one show to see, not least for the incredibly talented cast.
“Rent” is at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 4 April.

Friday, 26 April 2019

“Spring Awakening” by NTSU Drama Society
Nottingham Arts Theatre
Based on Frank Wedekind’s groundbreaking and controversial play (once banned in Germany), Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s soundtrack and emotional book tell the story of sexual awakening, youth revolt, and self-discovery into a new century.
It’s 1891, and the grown-ups hold all the cards. Headstrong Melchior and naive Wendla stumble into each others’ arms, passionate and curious, while anxious Moritz struggles to live up to the expectations of society. With only each other for guidance, this group of young men and women course the rocky path of adolescence, discovering their bodies, their minds, and themselves along the way. A celebration of youth and rebellion, this musical fuses issues of morality, sexuality, and rock and roll into a story that packs a powerful emotional punch.
A very talented cast of Robbie Nichols (Melcchior), Benedict Wills (Moritz), Josh Bingham (Hanschen), Broderick Coursey (Ernst), Chris Simons (Otto), Louis Simpson (Georg), India Wellman (Wendla), Rosie Durant (Martha), Katie Oliphant (Ilse), Rachel Weinstein (Anna), Molly Williams (Thea), Aidan Lever, Katie Tongue and Aimee Ayton made the two hours on stage seem like ten minutes.
This has such a gorgeous soundtrack and songs like "The Song Of Purple Summer" set the hairs on my neck going again. "Mama Who Bore Me", which opens the musical is a beautiful folky song and sets the whole tone. The song "Totally F****d" is anthemic and a reprise of this at the end sent everyone home in a great mood.
The musical though is mainly a dark discovery and I must complement Robbie Nichols on his emotional version of "Those You've Known", along with India and Benedict.
There are several lighter moments though including the one in Act One with Josh Bingham.
David Hails is responsible for the beautiful sound which wraps itself around these talented vocalists.
Choreographed by Rebecca Ingram, she injected even more excitement into this intense piece of theatre.
I also need to mention Jessica Keyte, the stage manager for keeping the flow going, helping the pace of the musical.
Directed by Louis Simpson and assisted by Megan Stephenson Poore, this show is not the simplest to direct, then again which show is simple to direct, so I imagine the challenge, for both, has reaped their rewards in the knowledge that this show is a big success for everyone involved.
Many of these actors are bowing out of the NTSU Drama Society with this one, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they do afterwards, but I think they can safely say that they went out on a high.
“Spring Awakening” is at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 27 April with a matinee and evening performance. Go and witness this talented group while you can!

Thursday, 25 April 2019

“Jesus Christ Superstar” by Heanor Musical Theatre Company
Mansfield Palace Theatre
This musical has a special, place in my musical theatre history as I first bought a Music For Pleasure LP of the Highlights of the show when I was very young and played it until the grooves wore out. I then later got hold of a copy of the double album film soundtrack, again playing it to death.
The soundtrack has everything you could want from a rock opera, and the story is one that everyone knows but from the perspective of Judas over the last week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.
Tom Lucking plays Jesus, and he fits the archetypal image we have of Jesus Christ with the long hair and beard, so straight away, visually, he has you. I knew what a great voice he has but hearing him hit those falsetto notes just sent shivers down my spine. His version of "Gethsemane" is now one of my favourites. There is such a lot of passion injected into this role, especially with Jesus' relationship with Judas.
Judas is played by Andy Quinn, and this is the first time that I have seen Andy act. I’ve known Andy for a couple of years but only this year have I witnessed his live music show, and now his musical theatre prowess. He, like all the main vocalists in this production, perform the songs rather than just sing them; believe me there is a big difference. His scene when Judas hangs himself brought gasps from the audience followed by complete silence, such was the effect this particular scene had over us all.
Alana Fay is Mary Magdalene, and I have not heard a sweeter Mary than in Alana. She sounded almost innocent in her love and admiration for Jesus, despite her profession. Her version of "I Don't Know How To Love Him", starting with just her voice and guitar was spine tingling, as was her duet with with Ben Sherwin, who played Peter, in "Could we Start Again Please?"
Andrew Buxton plays Simon Zealots, and again such passion in his acting, the chemistry between Zealots, Jesus and Judas made the sparks fly.
Kheenan Jones plays Caiaphas, the High Priest who sees Jesus as a threat so sends him to Pilate, and Kheenan for me was the big surprise of the night. You know when your jaw just hits the floor? Well that was me when Kheenan started to sing. I have heard Kheenan sing in ensemble pieces before but where did this big deep menacing voice come from? Making him seem even more of the bad guy, he was lit in a blood red light, creating more of a demonic image.
Pilate, plated by Paul Mills gets to showcase another powerful voice for HMTC. You can feel the passion as he spits out the lyrics to Jesus before and after Jesus' flogging, a scene that is meant to be awkward to watch, and it certainly was just that.
Bringing the lighter side of the musical is Matt Powell as King Herod. this part is made for Matt as we experience the King Herod Show. Wonderfully camp and even includes a costume change half way through. I loved Chris Moyles' version of Herod on the arena tour a few years ago but Moyles lacked a bit of camp. Matt made sure this was well and truly reinstated in Herod, drawing a massive recognition from the packed Mansfield Palace Theatre last night.
Directed by Paul Young, what can I say? it was everything that I wanted from this musical. i need say no more but thank you Mr Young.
Cat Howourth choreographs this brilliant show, and while there are not all typical dance routines, this show is so well choreographed movement wise, the natural feel of the apostles and ensemble may not be fully appreciated. But this natural movement as well as the dance pieces make this show a varied and interesting choreographic smash, which I hope people will appreciate in its' entirety.
The Musical Director is Charlotte Daniel, as with the Director, everything is more than alright, everything for me was spot on. It was loud, but it should be, it's a rock opera. I loved the arrangements in the songs, many changed slightly to match the very modern visual production techniques.
The setting is very modern with a roaming camera (Amy Taylor) picking up the action on stage from various angles as well as offstage. If you've ever seen Jeremy Kyle when his camera crew chase round the guests through the catacombs of the studio, this was the effect we saw as the characters used the backstage and wings to expand the performance areas. This makes for an exciting visual experience for the audience. It's nothing new in this show but to see a local theatre company emulate what the big touring productions do, just goes to show the talent and knowledge groups like this have, and they are not afraid to use it.
This is Jesus 2019 style as the scenery projections showed us modern political images as well as what people would be texting about the Big Man had he had been a social media Superstar today. Scenery projection is a common tool in today's theatre and when it is produced and presented as well as in this show, it makes for an exciting visual addition.
A wonderful, at times dark, Lighting Design by Paul Young, who also designed the set for this show.
From that iconic first guitar chord to the glorious “Superstar” theme, this musical is packed with memorable musical theatre classics. “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”, “What’s The Buzz”, “Everything’s Alright”, “Heaven On Their Minds”, “Hosanna”, “King Herod’s Song” and my favourite “Gethsemane”, which is not the easiest of songs for any actor to pull off successfully.
This show, the cast, the music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, the production (Lucy Young) all sent constant shivers all over me, and they enhanced even more my love for this musical, and the wonderful story.
If you've seen "Superstar" before, then come and see this production. If you've never seen this musical before, come and see what the buzz is all about. You will not regret it I promise you!
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is at the Mansfield Palace Theatre until Saturday 27 April.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

"Motown The Musical"
Nottingham Theatre Royal
This is the West End Musical that is on tour, celebrating the music and the story of the best record label ever, in my humble opinion. I have loved the sound of Motown for as long as I can remember, and the songs are just as relevant and played as often today as they ever were.
Some may say that this is a jukebox musical. I disagree because this is the story of the label and the sound, it's not a story-line with a band's music, or a style of music introduced to enhance a flimsy script - most of the time.
When Berry Gordy wrote this musical, he must have known that he would be taking on the impossible to try and recreate that magical sound from the sixties and seventies.
Gordy must also have known that the legends that this musical celebrates would never be able to have their voices recreated, so for me it's the music and the songs that are celebrated. let's face it, there will never be another voice like Marvin Gaye's or another voice to rival the still incredible Diana Ross.
That said the young actor who portrayed the young Michael Jackson, not only had the moves but did sound very much like the legend of pop.
I was also very impressed with Nathan Lewis who played William "Smokey" Robinson,and really sounded like him as well.
Edward Baruwa (Berry Gordy) was brilliant as the Motown creator and boss, as was Karis Anderson (Diana Ross).Shak Gabbidon-Williams puts in a fine performance as Marvin Gaye.
A massive ensemble play every other part including all of the groups including The Supremes, Temptations, Contours, Mary Wells, Jackson Five, Jackie Wilson, Velvelettes etc etc
The young Berry Gordy, young Michael Jackson and young Stevie Wonder rotate between Joshua Vaughan, Mickell Stewart-Grimes, Yami Edwards and Keiran Edwards.
The set is one of the best I've seen for a musical such as this with the Scenic design being an incredible and informative lesson in history as well as providing every setting from Gordy's office and recording studio to all of the major venues the Motown tours visited, smoothly slipping in and out of place, just like a movie.
An excellent and exciting lighting design by Natasha Katz.
The costumes are wonderfully accurate and bring back many happy memories of seeing these amazing bands on the TV.
The musical starts and ends with the Motown 25th Anniversary Celebrations which was broadcast back in 1983, and for me I remember witnessing the amazing and innovative moonwalk that Michael Jackson performed to "Billie Jean", ironically not a track recorded for Motown.
I said earlier that the magical sound of 1960's/1970's Motown can not be recreated but the Motown Orchestra under the supervision of Ethan Popp, who also did all the wonderful arrangements of the songs provided a driving beat which got everyone's feet tapping and hands clapping
Recreating those instantly recognisable dance routines were choreographers Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams.
If you go along expecting to hear imitations of these Motown legends, you will be disappointed. If you go along expecting a brilliant evening listening to some of the best Motown records ever made and the stories behind them, you will be 100% satisfied.
What was my highlight? That bit that started at 7.30 and ended at 10.00. Come on, let's face it, how, as a Motown fan could I possibly choose one song over another?
Whoever decided to close the show on "Dancing In The Street" and "I Wish" needs a big pat on the back, as a more apt closing would be hard to find. Why? Just listen to the lyrics!
"Motown The Musical" is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 4 May.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

“Evita” by Kristian Thomas Company
Duchess Theatre Long Eaton
Everyone should know the story of “Evita”, the musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics and book by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. The story follows Evita's early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death.
We start with Eva's body lying in state and you can really get a feel of the grief, not least through the music.
Time rolls back and we are introduced to the raven haired actress whose bedroom door is more like a turnstile who then sets her eyes on Juan Peron and what Eva wants, Eva gets, at any cost.
The cast sang "you let down your people Evita" in one of the songs. This show let down no one as we all fell under Eva Peron's magical spell as we all became her loyal followers for two and a half hours.
Helen Perry as Eva is a perfect piece of casting. Picture a young Celine Dion playing this part and you get an image of Helen as Eva. Helen's pop/operatic voice is again perfect for this role. She is a triple threat being able to act, sing and dance, and she carries all of the costumes for Eva with class and oozes just the right amount of sex for the part. I could not see anyone else playing Eva to the quality that Helen does.
Tom Simpson, who I last saw as Ren in "Footloose", looked totally different with facial hair, required for the part of Che Guevera, but that voice is still the same. he has a great voice for rock opera and quite a range. He not only acts physically but also through his facial expressions and captures the comfortably smug "told you so" look with ease. As the narrator of the musical as well, you draw comparisons with Judas in "Jesus Christ Superstar", and as that was seen through the eyes of Judas, this story is also seen through the eyes of Che.
Chris Grantham plays Juan Peron, and I think that this may be the first time that I have seen Chris. His portrayal of Juan illuminates the weaknesses of Peron and the way that Eva wraps him around her little finger, highlighting even more the power that Eva had, not only over him but the people of Argentina.
Beth Denham has a small but important role as Juan's Mistress who is evicted from Juan's home by Eva. Beth's version of one of several under rated songs in this musical, "Another Suitcase" is just sublime.
Richard Comfort plays Magaldi, the night club singer, who also falls under the "chorus girl" Eva's spell. Here is another man who has a really powerful, but controlled voice. I've heard Tom Jones sing "Night Of A Hundred Stars" and that end note sounds just like the way Mr Jones delivers it.
As I said this rock opera, for me has several under rated songs and the flirty "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You" simply sizzles when Eva sings this to Juan. You can feel that chemistry exploding from the stage. Another is the rhythmically exciting "Buenos Aires".
The powerhouse "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" is not the easiest of songs for any actor to sing, but Helen got the pace and the emotion spot on.
Directed by Alysha Gomes, who also directed "Footloose", which I also loved for KTCo. I loved the way that parts of the action was performed in slow motion, bringing a cinematic feel to the stage show. She has kept all the class of the musical as well as the pace.
Knowing that Kristian Cunningham choreographed this show, from the get go, left me with a comfortable feeling that the dance sections in this musical would be of the finest, I was not disappointed. Just looking at the way these dancers move show that an incredible amount of hard work has gone into these sections, and I know that Kristian is a perfectionist in all that he does, and my high expectations for this area were well and truly met, not least in the tango and the "Buenos Aires" section.
With this being a rock opera, the story is told through the lyrics and just one thing slightly blotted the ointment here, and that was that the music from the four piece band was just a tad too loud, meaning that some of the story in the lyrics were swamped. I have no real worries about this though as this was opening night and when there is a full house in, the sound at the control desk can sound different to previous sound checks. This did in no way detract from my enjoyment of this piece of theatre.
Tom Bond worked his usual magic as Musical Director.
An amazing lighting design by Stephen Greatorex, which from the very first opening scenes to the last left us all spellbound.
A large ensemble of very talented Youth and Adult actors filled the stage and created that wonderfully powerful and angelic choir sound.
One interesting thing about Lloyd-Webber musicals is that he occasionally borrows chords from his other musicals and you can plainly hear that he has recycled sections from "Joseph" as well as "Superstar" for sections of songs in this one.
As I expected the crowd were on their feet in a Mexican wave of a standing ovation at the end, and truly well deserved as well because this is one of the best local productions of this show I have seen. This too is only to be expected though knowing what a store of talent Kristian Thomas Company attract.
In the words of one of Che's songs "Oh What A Show!" Simply stunning.
“Evita” is at the Duchess Theatre until Saturday 27 April, but you may just find that tickets are sold out, so check for any cancellations before you pop down to the theatre to save any disappointment.

Monday, 22 April 2019

"Compleat Female Stage Beauty" by Jeffrey Hatcher
Lace Market Theatre.
It is 1666, Edward Kynaston is the most celebrated actor on the English stage. His speciality: Shakespeare’s tragic heroine, Desdemona. After King Charles II decides to allow women to play female roles in public, all hell breaks loose for Ned: he cannot compete with an actual woman, no matter how good his acting!
The final straw is when his loyal dresser, Maria, is suddenly starring in his beloved role and he, Edward, finds himself working in a bawdy tavern-house, struggling to survive. After losing his lover, his fame, and finally his pride, Ed must pull himself up by the bootstraps to adapt to this strange new world--and perhaps to find a himself little revenge on the side.
Let's first talk about the set, as this is the first thing that you see as you walk into the auditorium. Designed by Max Bromley, it has an air of sophistication and we open straight into "Othello", the play within the play. We have another set of curtains which acts as the stage within the stage curtains, so we have boundaries within the stage boundary.
Directed by Colin Treliving, he gives is these boundaries but then exceeds said boundaries by having the "audience" within the play within the area where we are. Loved the pace of this play and the bawdiness.
I also loved the way that the actors in the play within the play created a difference between the two roles. The Othello roles were on the hammy side but outside that play, and into "Beauty", the difference was apparent, again creating boundaries within the play. It must not be the easiest of roles for some of these actors to pretend to be hammy when they are not, a bit like when Les Dawson played the piano out of tune in purpose. It takes a good actor to play a ham.
Chris Conway plays Kynaston, and he makes you feel for him and his vanishing career, after all this is his Kynaston's ascended star which is now declining. Chris has a way of making you believe in Kynaston and making you see Kynaston the actor and not Chris Conway, the actor, and that is the sign of a talented character actor.
Thomas Betterton, Kynaston's manager and actor is played by Hugh Jenkins, another actor I can't remember seeing before but makes a big impression in this play.
Steve Mitchell plays Samuel Pepys, who also acts in part as the narrator for parts of the play, and this helps to move the play on nicely.
Christopher Collins plays Kynaston's secret lover, the Duke Of Buckingham, now you know why the romantic rendezvous is a secret one. This is the 1660s don't you know! The chemistry is such that the barbed comments between the two in public give everything away about their relationship to the audience but shrouded enough to the other characters to not reveal their secret. A fine line in the script that is perfectly played out between the pair.
Now with all of this gender swapping within the play, the main camp character is Sir Charles Sedley, who is as hetero as they come as he tries to engage the three "ladies" for some afternoon delight, and he is willing to pay, but gets a shock. Deliciously camp and played by Jonathan Cleaver with a wonderful accent and lisp.
Kynaston's dresser, Maria, is played with great loyalty by Dani Wain. You feel Maria's disappointment, as she really does love Kynaston, but their love looks never to be.
Charles II is played with great fun by Matthew Huntbach, and I love the line he has to deliver to Kynaston about male actors no longer able to play female roles, while dressed as a woman himself, oh the irony! Who'd have thought the Royal Family could be so much fun behind closed doors?
Charlie Osborne plays Kynaston's rival for the female version of Desdemona in Margaret Hughes. I love the development of this character and by the end you can see the journey that this actor has travelled from when we first see her. Charlie in contract with Hughes, is consistent throughout.
While there are all brilliant purveyors in the acting field, I must say that Jennifer White really stood out with her portrayal of Nell Gwynn. She reminded me of a young Barbara Windsor with all of that cheeky cockney charm. A little bit naughty but oh so nice! She even managed to steal the very end scene, as she did when she first walked on stage, but with a different scene stealing talent!!
Other named cast members were Tamzin Grayson-Gaunt (Lady Mersevale), Arwen Makin (Miss Frayne), Stephen Herring (Hyde), Freda Burke (Mistress Revels) and Jane Pyke and Sam Howitt.
The costumes for this play were wonderful, as you'd expect, as are the make up and wigs.
While there were no physical scene changes, the changes were done through props and lighting,with this design by Simon Carter and the sound by Matthew Allcock.
It's always a nice job visiting the Lace Market Theatre because I just know that the actors and everyone involved in the production have
everything nailed, and I know that I can just sit back and enjoy the production. This is no exception. It is funny, there's some choice language but so what, it reflects the characters and the era, and is one of those productions where there are no hams where there should not be a ham.
It was a shame that there were a few empty seats, but I am hoping that as the week goes on, this will not be the case because this is a play full of emotion, on many levels, presented really well by a brilliant cast.
I must also urge you to listen carefully to the script as, for anyone who loves the theatre as I do, you will find yourself agreeing with many of the theatrical observations that Hatcher has written within the words of this play.
"Compleat Female Stage Beauty" is at the Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 27 April.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

"Come To Daddy" by Living House Theatre.
Djanogly Theatre, Lakeside.
This is theatre with a difference. It is powerful. It is emotive. It is theatre with a message. It may not be for everyone, but which theatre production is?
It looks back over the 20th Century at some the high, and low points of the last 100 years or so, as of you were flicking through the pages of a massive history book. Tied in with these major historical events, they include pinnacle points in everyone's life. Their first kiss and the journey from this stage through family and ultimately, death.
It also looks at all the "daddies" of the world that have shaped history through the decades.
It'a a lot to cram in, in just less than two hours but it makes for a fascinating, and at times quite alarming piece of theatre.
I loved how from the first scene to the last, we come full circle, just like life, but it's what happens in that time that you have between the first and last scenes of our lives, and how they have been reflected time and time again over the history of time, that makes this history lesson so intoxicating.
The cast is large and each play major parts in the story we see. There are several costume changes and in some scenes nudity, but this is not for titillation as the clever lighting reveals nothing more than what the story tells. the choreography of this and the lighting is excellent.
The costumes and props were clever and well used and the research for the information thread must have taken many hours of investigation.
I loved the vision of The Last Supper and also the scene with the tablets and phones which made a beautifully lit piece where there were messages from the unborn baby to it's parents.This has really been thought out incredibly well, and to say that this theatre company are of tender years, their intelligent writing and presentation belies their youth.
I mentioned that part of the play was quite alarming, and this was supposed to evoke that reaction. There is nothing more alarming and upsetting than death and the scene depicting this was, for me at least, quite a shock in how it was done. It could be because I was not expecting the way it was done. then again death is quite often unexpected, which is why it causes so much grief.
I have only one negative and that is to do with the signs that the cast were carrying and holding up. Sitting where I was sat, I had to really peer to read the signs, so possibly making the writing bolder would help. Maybe I just need stronger glasses, I am getting on a bit now!
It is a piece of theatre that will slap you in the face and then kiss you better, and then send you off with a pat on your head to discuss what you have seen.
Whether you enjoy this piece of new theatre or not, I don't think that matters as much as leaving the theatre with talking points, and believe me, this is one thing that can be guaranteed.
"Come To Daddy" is at Lakeside, Nottingham until Wednesday 17 April.

Friday, 12 April 2019

'We're Here For Laura' by Luwa Adebanjo
Nottingham New Theatre
Laura Penbrooke died 3 months ago and her closest friends are still reeling. There’s Mitton, the D list reality TV star desperate to stay relevant and famous, Alex, the spoilt rich boy who is on perpetual gap year to discover himself. Paul, the delusional musical theatre student. And Carol from Finance, the work obsessed secretary whose last name is a mystery. As they come together for a dinner to remember Laura they realise that not only did they hate Laura, but they actually hate each other too. As the dinner progresses the friends realise it’s the perfect opportunity to air out all their grievances.
Written by NNT students Luwa Adebanjo and Kellyn Morrissey, I can honestly say that this is one of the funniest, original pieces of theatre I've seen, not only at the New Theatre but in Nottingham for a while.
It is cleverly written and while not entirely based on fact, there are well placed topical nods, and I am sure that she has used some of the characteristics of her friends, and exaggerated them to almost comic book standards, making this a deliciously wicked, fun and biting piece of theatre.
Loved the idea of the scene, played in real time, being recorded live for Mitton's Mixed Up World, her reality TV show, capturing everything about the evening. Now that would be a reality show I would watch!
Produced by Flo Avis and Directed by Luwa Adebanjo, it had such a natural feel about it, it was almost like being a fly on the wall.
The set was Mitton's apartment and the table is set for a meal because they were all there for Laura. The kind of apartment that you would expect a "D List Celebrity" to have, well you can imagine. Designed by Zoe Smith and Teodora Elena.
Beth White (Mitton) makes her NNT debut in this role, and looked to be enjoying every second as the fame hungry nano-celebrity.
Charlie Basley (Paul) also looked to be in his element, playing to his comedic strengths. Great flouncing and wonderful shoes, and I for one would buy a ticket for Paul's One Man Show.
Helen Brown (Carol from Finance) is at the opposite end of the spectrum in this quartet with her deliberately slow delivery, calming down the over excitable other three just by being in the same room, like a sedatory osmosis.
Eric Crouch (Alex) plays an excitable American Ninja Buddhist - or is that a Buddhist Ninja? Just the latest of his fads, which in the past had included arson, which had lead to his exile from Luxembourg! His entrance was one I won't forget in a while.
The play is absolutely packed with some brilliant comedy scenes and throwaway one liners. One, so simple, but appealed to my puerile sense of humour, was delivered by Alex when he said "Denial is not just a river in Europe". the silliness and geographical faux pas delivered poker-faced to Carol from Finance had me chuckling all the way on the bus home.
It reminded a little bit of Mrs Brown, staging wise, as there were cut ins which allowed Paul to give us an incite into his new One Man Show, complete with spotlight and jazz music intro and dance. All adding to the silliness of the play.
I've said in the past that NNT do comedy so well and this is just another example of this fact, and I am so pleased that I managed to catch this, with it being the last outing for the play, but would be great if sometime in the future it was dusted off again for more chuckles.
What would Laura have made of it?