Saturday, 30 November 2019

Nottingham Arts Theatre.
It's no secret that I have a bit of a soft spot for the pantomimes at the Nottingham Arts Theatre,and anyone watching this pantomime will be quick to see why that is. This is a traditional pantomime that appeals to all ages, thanks to the clever script and mix of music. Written by Amanda Hall, who also directed and co-produced "Aladdin" as well as co-designed the set, and may I say looks amazing also, This is going to be another box office breaking year I feel for the cast, crew and theatre. Matthew John is on hand to co-script the show and share the credits. Mike Pearson produced the show for the Arts Theatre and Cris Brawn co-designed the set.
As I said, the story is traditional, but with injections of topical humour which keeps the story fresh and packed with fun.And can I say, the jokes are suitably groan worthy, which I have made notes of and will be wheeling out sometime in the future, as long as there is no copyright issues.
Every year the cast has been brilliant; this year is no different,and with some new cast members in various roles, it could well be the best one to date. With past casts though, it's difficult to gauge levels of excellence.
The cast are so well seasoned in the art of panto, they really know their way around a panto stage and what they need to do to make a panto a wopping hit.
Matthew Wesson really is one of the best dames around, and this year he plays Widow Twankey. There are some brilliant costumes for Matt to wear, thanks to Jules Sheppard, and he knows how to work this matinee audience, who by the end of Act One, were eating out of his hand and completely in his power. Not only a very talented person to have involved in theatre, he's also one of the nicest and funniest men away from the stage.
Danielle Hall makes this show her panto hat trick, but also debuts as the choreographer for the show and stars as "Aladdin". She looks every inch the principal boy, and looks like she is enjoying every second as Aladdin.
Patrick McChrystal plays Wishee Washee, and that role brings plenty of chances to interact with the audience, which he did every time he came on stage. A lovely fun character and this trio work so well together.
Cliff Hart smashes the evil Abanazar and very quickly gets the audience booing him on every entrance. This is the second panto I've seen this year to date, and both baddies are excellent. Pitched just right so as not to make the young kids cry, but to get them booing. Not an easy job but Cliff delivered it just right. He also has a very easy to listen to set of vocals on him.
Mike Pearson played the Genie Of The Lamp, and I loved the accent and the modern attitude of Genie. Another fun character.
Mike Newbold is another actor that I have a lot of time for,and his laid back attitude to Emporer Mei was once more pitched perfectly.
Stacey Ireson played So Shi, Princess Jasmine's right hand woman and wingman - or is that wingwoman - or maybe wing person, whose character also wins in the love stakes by the end of the panto.
Talking of Princess Jasmine, Lauren Stephenson gets to show off her wonderful voice with this role; perfectly cast.
Providing a chunk of the comedy word play are Joseph Jk Smith and Laura Ellis as the comedy police Ying and Yang. Kimberley Allsopp also shares the role of Yang in some performances.
Lizzie Fenner follows up last year's Nottingham stage panto debut with the part of the Spirit Of The Ring. Packed with attitude and Lizzie has a gorgeous voice which is well showcased. I've seen Lizzie several times throughout the year in various productions, and this show tops her theatrical year perfectly.
Both adult and younger ensemble groups worked brilliantly and smoothly together, and show the hard work that has gone into this show.
There are plenty of chances for audience participation with booing the baddie, welcoming Wishee Washee on every entrance or finding out what Widow Twankey's swanky washeteria don't do! All great fun.
Musically Directed by Sam Griffiths, who has such a history of working in musical theatre, he is one of the top Musical Directors in the area, so it's guaranteed that this show is going to be a hit music wise.
I absolutely loved the choice of music in this panto, well I would, there were plenty of musical theatre songs as well as some brilliant pop tunes to get everyone clapping along.
The acoustics in the Arts Theatre are wonderful and Sound Design by Rob Kettridge makes the most of the natural sound, ensuring that you can hear every spoken word, every note of music and every sound effect perfectly..
Visually, this show is stunning and part of that stunningness is the Lighting Design and operation by Oliver Read. A colourful and bright experience.
It would be very difficult to pick any particular scene over the next here, but if I was forced to choose, I would have to choose the closing of Act One. It was absolutely stunning, and quite literally magical. I'll say no more, but the song was gorgeous, impeccably performed and visually jaw dropping.
Everyone involved in this production have pulled out all the stops for this production, whether it be on stage, behind the scenes or front of house.
"Aladdin" is at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Sunday 15 December, but make sure you get your tickets pretty sharpish, I'd hate for you to miss this Christmas treat.
Christmas has truly begun.

Photos by Cassie Hall.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

“Vincent River” by Philip Ridley
Nottingham New Theatre
After her son, Vincent, is murdered in a homophobic attack, Anita must come to terms with her loss, and the hidden fact of his sexuality, an aspect of his identity that she had refused to accept while he was alive. This grief and acceptance is complicated by the arrival of Davey, a battered and bruised seventeen-year-old boy, who confesses to Anita that he cannot escape Vincent's ghost. Anita believes that Davey has come to admit to the murder, but it is a deeper crime, a crime of omission, that is haunting her son's lover.
It has been a long time since I've seen such an emotional and draining piece of theatre, so much so that at the end of the production, I sat there for a few moments just to take in everything that I had seen.
"Vincent River" left me feeling sick to my stomach, it made me feel angry, and it made me feel emotionally sad. As a parent I am able to put myself in Anita's place and get a feeling of how she felt with the revelations in this play, and that is what evoked all of the above emotions.
The descriptiveness of Vincent's horrific feral like murder hits you like a punch to the stomach, and the actions thereafter from Davey caused anger. Anita's pain was what brought the wave of great sadness.
Philip Ridley's text paints dramatic pictures all the way through this just over two hour straight through play. The actors vividly bring Ridley's words to life.
The story is set in the 1970's but with this set design, stark white, with the costumes also being white, show that a timeline is not relevant and could be a blank canvas for any time and place. We read of homophobic attacks on young gay men and women on a regular basis, so the timeline isn't that relevant, and I think that this clinical white surrounding shows this.
The whole play is the conversation, set in real time between Davey and Anita as we discover what really happened with Vincent, and the lead up to his vicious murder.
Directed by Rohan Rakhit, with assistant Director Beth White and produced by Skylar Turnbull Hurd, assisted by Julia Henderson, I can only imagine that throughout the rehearsals, and even up to Saturday's final performance, there will have been and will be a lot of emotions released, not only due to the play's content storyline, but also due to the incredible passion that these two actors, Olly O'regan (Davey) and Deborah Kehlani - Afolabi (Anita) inject into the roles.
Where both of these actors dig down to get this passion and emotion from, who knows. I looked at some of the audience reaction during the play and could plainly see how it affected them.
There's also a wonderful lighting design for this play, which is very sensory,a s is the sound design. It takes you back to the memories that are being relived by both Anita and Davey, and makes you a part of their life.
The play is not performed very often, anywhere, and I can see why because of the gritty, hard hitting story and the immense emotional involvement that is needed. It takes a special team of production folk and actors to deliver such an amazing and special, as well as emotionally draining piece of theatre. When it is done as well as this team have done it though, it isn't one that should be missed.
Staged in the round, wherever you sit you have a great view of the action, almost like a fly on the wall.
Be prepared to be emotionally hit by the subject matter of this play and the passionate and emotional performances by Olly and Deborah. This production is unmissable for anyone who loves the theatre.
“Vincent River” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 30 November.

Monday, 25 November 2019

“We Will Rock You”
Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Written by Queen and Ben Elton, the musical tells the story of a globalized future without musical instruments. The year is 2300 and a handful of rock rebels, the Bohemians, fight against the all-powerful Globalsoft company and its boss, the Killer Queen; they fight for freedom, individuality and the rebirth of the age of rock.
Scaramouche and Galileo, two young outsiders, cannot come to terms with the bleak reality. They join the Bohemians and embark on the search to find the unlimited power of freedom, love and Rock! Oh, and the last buried musical instruments, just to make sure that rock music can be reborn.
The idea for the musical came after a meeting between the actor Robert De Niro with musicians Brian May and Roger Taylor, in Venice in 1996. De Niro's daughter was a big fan of the Queen and the actor asked if the legends of rock had never thought of creating a musical based on their songs. The rest, as they say, is history.
The musical includes 24 of Queens finest hits such as ‘Radio GaGa’, ‘Killer Queen’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, "I Want It All", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Flash", "Fat bottomed Girls" and of course, ‘We Will Rock You’.
Ian McIntosh (Galileo) has a great voice for rock and is a very energetic hero who you really warm to.
Elena Skye (Scaramouche) also has a powerful set of lungs on her, but also shows a lovely sensitivity in duets with Ian like "Who Wants To Live Forever".
Jenny O’ Leary (Killer Queen) is just a little bit scary but her voice simply soars. Not too sure about the vocal acrobatics but loved the power.
Adam Strong (Khashoggi) is similar to the archetypal panto villain as he tries to silence Galileo and Scaramouche, but falls foul of the Killer Queen when he fails. When he lets rip with his vocals, he lifts the roof. He has power and control in his voice, and for me a definite highlight.
Michael McKell (Buddy) injects the comedy into this above average jukebox musical as he channels Mick Jagger in his mannerisms.
Amy di Bartolomeo (Oz) really shone with her focused song "Only The Good Die Young". I always thought that song had a big gospel choir feel and in this musical, it got very close to that in sound and feeling. Amy sings with a lot of soul, as this performance shows.
David Michael Johnson (Brit) also adds some of the comedy, and with Oz, is responsible for bringing Galileo and Scaramouche to the Bohemians.
Directed by Cornelius Baltus, this production is full on,and elevates the story above the standard jukebox musical. It uses sections of the original Queen songs which makes the sound less of a karaoke session and more of an affectionate tribute to Freddie and Queen.
The orchestrations and arrangements of the songs is by Brian May, Roger Taylor and Stuart Morley.
Choreographed by Lajos Peter Turi, there is a lot going off on stage, including some of the iconic Queen armography, which really gets the audience going.
The set design is possibly one of the most impressive I have ever seen. The video design is simply amazing.
The Sound – design by Rory Madden – and Lighting Design – by Rob Sinclair and Douglas Green adds an incredible amount to this show. It's loud, on occasions, just a little loud, even for me and I lost some of the vocals, but it had a real concert feel about the presentation.
The lighting was, along with the video projections took this show to a completely different level.
I absolutely love the music of Queen, and I had my doubts about this show, but this cast and technical team really dispelled any doubts and I was completely entranced by the incredible vocals. Not many can even come near to Freddie's power and musical talents. With this cast, they did not try to be like Freddie - an impossibility anyway - they performed his songs with feeling and in their own way, which is what really won me over.
This show is not just a show for Queen fans, this show is for fans of amazing music, and the story is not too bad either. A stark warning to all internet freaks who may just be losing touch with the real world, as well as real music.
“We Will Rock You” is at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall until Saturday 30 November.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

"To Become A King Is To Become A Killer" by Sophy Baxter
The King Of Scotland has been brutally murdered and Scotland has been thrown into disarray, but who could have done such a thing, and why?
This is an immersive production which allows the audience to roam through several areas from the murder scene bedroom to an interview room to a park to what looked like a school room with three school girls.
You visit these scenes and listen to the conversations, and if you want to talk to the characters, you can because you are enrolled as detectives or just onlookers to the scenes.
I found myself slowly taking in all of the conversations, although with being in different rooms, you only get part of the conversations to base your results on, but slowly decided who I thought may have done the deed and the ones who maybe did not have the motive, from what I heard, or the access to the King.
I kept coming back to the same conclusion, albeit one that I thought was too obvious, and by the end of the performance was proven to be correct. Like the best of thriller/murder mysteries though it was not until the very end scene that we did find out who killed the King, and why.
Very cleverly written by Sophy Baxter with the actors being in the spotlight all at the same time, always performing but being able to improvise with the audience members as well. A test of their acting skills indeed with some of the sections I witnessed.
So, was it the school girls with a plot they had schemed up online? Was it the cleaner? Was it the mysterious Matthew that the girl on the park bench was trying to calm down on her mobile? We were told by one suspect that it was the Prince, but was that just to throw the police off the scent? Or was it someone else? Did the police get the correct murderer? Will you get the correct result?
This is a fascinating piece of theatre, something that the Nottingham New Theatre are good at, producing fascinating productions. I love theatre that makes the audience member think, and draw their own conclusions from what they have seen, and this certainly tick those boxes.
Get your sleuthing heads on and either watch the action or become involved in the action and see if you can separate the possible red herrings from the real killer, and the cleverly left clues that may, or may not, point you in the direction of what happened. Let me just say though that many of the clues are not visual ones,and being in the right scene at the right time, and using what you hear, could be a bonus.
Go as a group and you can compare notes throughout the 45 minutes that this play lasts.
"To Become A King Is To Become A Killer" is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Tuesday 26 November.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

“Sleeping Beauty”
Nottingham Playhouse
If it’s panto time at the Nottingham Playhouse, then it must be Christmas just around the corner.
Princess Rosalind a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on the evil fairy Maleficent’s spinning wheel on her 21st Birthday and the entire kingdom is sent into a deep sleep. But will Prince Alexander, Jerry the Jester and Fairy Wisheart foil the evil fairy’s plans? Well, I think we all know the answer to that one, the reviewer said in hushed tones as a theatrical aside!
If you’ve ever been to a Nottingham Playhouse pantomime before, you’ll know what to expect. Brilliant and outrageous costumes, bright glittery sets, wonderful choreography, magical slapstick and splendiferous and fun music choices to have you all singing and clapping along with this Christmas Cracker.
There’s a wonderful mix of the modern and traditional in the Playhouse pantos, so that all ages are covered for enjoyment and entertainment value. So whether your five or one hundred and five, you will be entertained.
John Elkington (Nurse Tilly Trott) leads the festive fairy tale, keeping it Northern and keeping it fun, teasing the audience with his ad libs, but always in complete control of the pace.Now in his 20th panto year, he gets the running jokes in early; jokes we have come to expect and while we hear them every year, they'd be missed if one was left out. If you've been to a Playhouse panto, you'll know exactly what those jokes are. They, like the cast have become old friends that we may only see once a year, but is like they've never been away and welcome them with open arms.
Maddie Harper (Princess Rosalind) makes her debut Playhouse panto and brings just a bit of attitude to the Princess role.
Tim Frater (Jerry The Jester) brings the energy with his part. His break dancing and athleticism in his dancing leaves you feeling out of breath just watching him. All this and his enthusiasm shown in his face is like osmosis throughout the audience. This man's energy levels are through the roof.
Rebecca Little (Queen Gertrude) is another Playhouse stalwart, this being her 21st year of panto. Like Tim, her enthusiasm for the role she plays spreads throughout the theatre. Rebecca is also the Dance Captain for the show and she also has a mighty fine voice which has great range. Always fun to watch.
Darren Southworth (King Hubert) has one of those faces that must surely be made of elastic. there are times that he reminded me of Judge Rinder with some of those gurns, and that is what makes watching Darren as the "under the thumb" king a brilliant watch. His role is like that of a naughty little boy, forever chuckling. Great to see him back in the Playhouse family.
Louise Dalton (Prince Alexander) is another new face. Plenty of thigh slapping energy from Louise and a powerful voice backed up by some energetic dance moves.
Lisa Ambalavanar (Fairy Wisheart) I've had the pleasure of seeing on stage before, but this marks her professional stage debut, and what a great way to do so. Local lady Lisa looks as delicate as the fairy she portrays, and it's lovely to hear that gorgeous voice on stage again.
Toyin Ayedun-Alase (Maleficent), or should that be Magnificent? What a performance and what a voice. One of the sexiest panto villains I have ever seen. Toyin also makes her Playhouse panto debut. her magic may be evil, but I for one have fallen under her nasty spell. Just Magnificent!
Written and Directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor; when will this man ever peak? He just gets better every year, always with the knowledge of what Nottingham people love to see in panto. this year he seems to have more music in the panto,and that speeds the panto on, getting that pace up, and before you know it, it's all over. An absolute whirlwind of a show!
Musical Director, as always is John Morton, so we know that this side of the panto is going to be of the highest quality. He and the band show their versatility by playing "Arthur's Theme" after the section with the kids, where one of the kids was called Arthur, Now that you can't plan, but shows a lovely personal touch.
Lighting Design by Jason Taylor made this show light, bright and colourful, creating a warm glow over the audience.
Sound Design by Adam P McCready maintained that we heard every word that was said or sung over the music comfortably.
Choreographed by Adele Parry ,as always wonderful and exciting choreography and the ensemble danced as one, their timing was spot on every time.
There were dancing rabbits too. Kenneth could not leave these out now could he?
The sets, designed by Tim Meacock were everything we have come to expect from the Playhouse panto. Pure magic.
Music wise there was something for everyone, but I must admit that i loved Darren's wicked version of Taylor Swift's "You've Got To Calm Down" - a classic panto performance.
So that's panto season started, so now Christmas can officially begin... oh yes it can!
“Sleeping Beauty” is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 11 January 2020.

Friday, 22 November 2019

“The Female Of the Species” by Riverside Drama Company
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
Written by Joanna Murray-Smith and (supposedly) based on an incident concerning Germaine Greer, it tells the story of Margot Mason, a feminist writer suffering from writer's block; she cannot meet the deadlines for her next book, when all of a sudden arrives Molly Rivers, a deranged former student of Margot's, complete with gun and handcuffs.
Molly blames Margot for warping her mother's mind with one of Margot’s best sellers. Following Margot's writings, Molly's mother gave Molly away as a baby so that she wouldn't be enslaved by motherhood and then killed herself. Molly has had herself sterilized to preserve her creativity, only to be told by Margot that she has no talent.
If this wasn’t bad enough, Margot’s daughter, Tess and son in law, Bryan, arrive and add their opinions to the already volatile situation. Also adding to Margot’s roasting is Margot’s publisher, Theo, and a rather angry Scottish taxi driver, Frank. This is not a great day for Margot.
This is not a play about feminism, it's a comedy about actions and the reactions to what people say, write and do. It's also a play about understanding and discovery with a massive dollop of sarcasm and cutting retorts throughout.
Liz Turner (Margot) in one of the funniest, and foul-mouthed roles that I have seen her in. She certainly extracted some gasps from the audience with her ripe language, which made her role even more fun to watch. Some brilliant lines for Liz in this role; so sharp and cutting and delivered with great conviction.
Rebekah Dean (Molly) certainly grew her character from her first entrance to her final scene. I loved the absurdity of the blossoming romance between Molly and one of the other characters from the attempted siege.
Amy Cannon (Tess), certainly looked the part of the tired mother of three youngsters under ten whose husband who seemed to spend more time away from the hectic home. The character acting was brilliant. Again a character, who is her mother's daughter in one way, as she has a choice vocabulary, but used to accentuate her drudgery of a life.Loved the last scene though where there is a hint of sauce!!
Jack Workman (Bryan) makes his debut with Riverside, and his first stage work since graduating from Derby University. He has a very natural feel and attitude to acting and that works well with this character, who has some wonderful lines to deliver. I look forward to seeing Jack back on stage in the New Year.
Julian Franklin (Frank) plays the Scottish "caveman" taxi driver who only came back to give Tess a piece of his mind after she ignored his ramblings in the cab.Another brilliantly fun role, delivered with a soft Scots brogue, which I think helped to soften the alpha male caveman within. Julian also has some great facial expressions with this character.
Rob Osmond (Theo) plays the slightly camp, not over the top camp, publisher for Margot who we are introduced to near the end of the play. It may only be a minor role compared with the others but his is a very important role to the outcome of the play. Again, nice characterisation.
Directed by Samantha Badman, she got the casting for these characters spot on. The comedy flowed smoothly making this a lovely, albeit absurd, farce. i never did understand why there was a cow blocking the front door though! Strange that.
I think that, once the shock of the language had died down, this plays was a real audience pleaser, even though it's not one that you'll see performed on the local drama group circuit, it's really worth a watch.
“The Female Of The Species” is at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton until Saturday 23 November.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

“Prescription For Murder” by Beeston Players
Round Hill School, Beeston
In the seemingly quiet Devonian town of Bere Knighton there is never a dull moment for Dr. Richard Forth. Not only does he have a hectic work schedule and an awkward friendship with his ex-girlfriend, but his wife, Barbara, is constantly ill and nobody knows what is wrong with her.
When Eric Dawson, a stranger, claims to have known Richard's second fiancee - a woman Richard claims does not exist - Barbara's health issues worsen and she isn't the only one. With bad luck spreading almost as quickly as bad news, it seems somebody is out to kill Barbara, and anyone else who gets in their way.
I've never seen this thriller before, and I love a good thriller, but this isn't a good's a BRILLIANT thriller with lots of red herrings and a twist at the end that I did not see coming.
I thought I knew who the killer was, even though I thought it to be too obvious, but you never know! At the start of Act Two, I had changed my mind, and then two thirds through Act Two, I changed my mind again,,, and then comes the twist!! Mwah Ha Ha Ha Ha.....
Kevin Fairbrother (Dr Richard Forth), Sarah Nicholson (Barbara Forth), Alison Williams (Dorothy) - who would make a brilliant Miss Marple character - plays the Forth's house keeper, Jill Griffiths (Mary) and Paul Langston (Allan) play close friends of the Doctor and his wife, Tom Jenkins (Eric), the stranger in town and Karen Livesey (Julia) the very close friend of the Doctor, who seemingly would do anything to welcome the Doctor's bedside manner. But who out of this lot is the possible murderer?
This story and cast had me on the edge of my chair as I tried to work out motives, methods and suspects, only for the red herrings to throw me off of the scent. But does the murderer get away with it? If not who surfaces as the hero of the piece? Only one way to find out......
Directed by Barbara Barton, she and her cast keep the mystery very close to their chests and provides a very stylish thriller. It is very dark with just a few throw away comic lines, very much in the style of Midsomer Murders.
The sound effects by Sam Williams and Nina Tunnicliffe are well executed, and while there are no fancy lighting designs needed, the black outs divided the scenes well and let the audience know their cues for applause, thanks to Fiona Maxwell who operated the lighting design.
The set had a working fireplace and I am so pleased that when drinks were dished out, there were real drinks decantered, all adding to the realism. Little things like this please me but also show an attention to detail that could have been overlooked, but wasn't.
It's one of those plays that you really can't wait for the interval to pass, just so that you can find out whodunnit. It's also one of those plays that is not performed that often, so is worth seeing for both of the above.
Another reason is that the cast, production team and the whole Front Of House staff are all so welcoming. There were a few new people there tonight who had not seen a Beeston Players show, and the FOH staff treated them like old friends; nothing is too much trouble for this group, and that is why their core group of supporters grow with every production.
Another success to end the year on for this group.
“Prescription For Murder” is at Round Hill School in Beeston until Saturday 23 November. It's just what the doctor ordered.......

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

“Your Ever Loving” by People’s Theatre Company
Nottingham Arts Theatre Studio.
“Your Ever Loving” by Martin McNamara is based on the true story of Paul Hill, one of the Guildford Four who were accused of planting IRA bombs in pubs and wrongly imprisoned for 15 years. It uses letters written by Hill to his family during his incarceration and now stored in a university archive.
The IRA bomb crowded pubs in Guildford and Woolwich. Press and public are outraged and angry. Convictions must be got. Parliament passes emergency legislation. Police get draconian powers to interrogate suspects.
Paul Hill, 20, is the first man held under this new legislation. After seven days in Guildford Police Station, Hill has confessed to his role in three bombings and eight murders. Hill and his three co-accused will spend the next 15 years in prison until their convictions are quashed and they are freed. The case of the Guildford Four remains one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British legal history.
What this play lacks in visuals it really makes up for in historical content with sound bites and song excerpts from the years covered by the periods highlighted by the story time line.
It also highlights the way that the prison service treat their inmates, spitting in their food and their tea, beatings and making sure that bedding was always wet, meaning that Hill had to sleep sitting on a hard chair.
The play shows how the young Hill reacted to imprisonment and the lies recorded in his files in order to get a conviction from him. The threats to his family, and the all important letters that Hill wrote over the years. It also shows the football mad Hill and his musical tastes. A typical teenager growing up in an environment far from typical.
The play is hard hitting and one that you need to listen to in order to get the full impact. I said that it lacked a visual impact, and it did in parts, but when you really got into listening to a theatrical production instead of relying totally on visuals, that is when you really start to paint the full picture that these letters wanted to depict.
Directed by Chris Teasdale and assisted by Harry Ilyk, who along with Charlotte Bellamy controlled the light and sound, this was not the easiest of plays to bring to life on a stage, but in the end, it worked. You just need to approach theatre in a new way to get the most out of some plays.
OK, there where were several sections that could have been tightened up and seconds could have been shaved of the production, but when you only have the one chance to get it spot on, on the night, this is a luxury you don't have when compared to a week long run of a play.
The cast, some only making cameo appearances, were Alice CoxBeth HinchliffeBarbara BennerRoy Smith, Robert Suttle - who I have seen in a completely different light in his role - Graham Lambert, Hayden Bradley and Chris Teasdale, brought the play together in what was not the easiest of plays to put on, but a fascinating play to experience.
This gritty play is part of a triple bill under the umbrella of "Miscarriage Of Justice" along with "My Father's Watch" on Thursday and "Example" on Friday, and then all three performed on Saturday
It was a shame that the audience was not a bigger one, because this play,and the other two, is a brave choice and it's good that a theatre company takes risks like this to bring plays that are not performed to the local stage. Something we need to support.
You can see “Your Ever Loving” once more on Saturday 23 November at 1pm.

Friday, 15 November 2019

“Murder, Margaret and Me” by Tilted Wig Productions
Derby Theatre
"Murder, Margaret and Me" is the story of an unlikely friendship between famed actress Margaret Rutherford and world-renowned Queen of Crime Agatha Christie. In the early sixties, these two national treasures were the creative force behind one of British cinema’s most successful franchises. But the Miss Marple movies were almost never made….
Both these much-loved icons were shrouded in mystery; Margaret held a dark family secret, and Agatha mysteriously went missing for ten days, which has continued to baffled conspiracy theorists. Through exploring their tumultuous relationship, the play seeks to pay homage to these two great women and their hidden histories.
Lin Blakley, who most people will know of late from Eastenders, plays Agatha Christie, and we see the various sides of Agatha, dependent on to whom she is dealing with at the time. The dry comedy she puts into her stories are reflected in her character, and her ever active mind is also shown as she picks up tips for future books.
Sarah Parks plays Margaret Rutherford and completely captures the very being of Rutherford and all of her physical attributes and mannerisms as well as the distinctive voice.
With both actors, we watch Christie and Rutherford, not the actors, such is the talent shown by both Lin and Susan. Their naturalness and grace, and respect for the characters are obvious in this play.
Gilly Tompkins plays The Spinster who narrates the piece, but I think that she is also that archetypal Miss Marple; the image that Agatha had in mind when creating the character.
I also loved the section just before Act two started when Christie and Rutherford appeared before the curtains for what seemed to be a chit chat section, all part of the play of course but came across as just one of those sections when actors just "pop out" for an informal bit of banter.
Written by Phillip Meeks, he has used an archive of original letters from Christie to authenticate the story. And it's the content within the letters that is shown in the script of this play that makes it so special. The little things that could only be found out through the closeness and covertness of Christie's and Rutherford's personal documents.
Directed by Damian Cruden, you can tell that this was a labour of love, which is what makes this play such a delight to watch and learn from.
Set design is by Dawn Allsopp, and what a work of art this set is. The set is moved around by a pair of scene shifters dressed as removal men, very similar to the ones that you may have seen in older movies as they set up and take down scenery, and that all added to the wonderful 1960's feel of the piece.Dawn was also responsible for the costumes, synonymous with the characters in their heyday.
Lighting Design by Richard G Jones and the Sound Design by Yvonne Gilbert also direct your eyes and ears to what they want you to focus on and listen to. Simple I know but both are so unobtrusive that you wouldn't really notice because of the naturalness of their design.
A delightful play for lovers of all things Christie; an absolute must see piece of theatre. Nottingham theatres have missed out on this magical piece of theatre, which is a shame.
If you do come and see this play, I really hope that you have bought one of the brilliant programmes for the play. It's more of a book, paperback size, the sort you'd buy for a play script. It is packed with everything you need to know, not only about the play, the touring production, the actors, the characters, the works of Christie and Rutherford, all wrapped up in a beautifully distressed look about it. One of my favourite programmes I've received this year.And it only costs £3.00.
“Murder, Margaret and Me” is at the Derby Theatre until Saturday 16 November