A Streetcar Named Desire Review

Nuffield Theatre, Southampton – until 31 March 2108 then on tour around the UK.  Reviewed by Karen Millington Burnet

5*****

Wow, what a fantastic opening night; powerful, passionate and personal! Though an adaptation of the original, which rather took my A level student niece by surprise, the production was faithful enough to be an excellent rendition of the story; and an emotional onslaught from deceptively gentle beginning to explosive conclusion.

Man of the Match goes to Kelly Gough as Blanche who maintained the character and faithful interpretation of the role throughout. The demanding leading role required a maturity of insight and expression which Gough brought to the role in spades – outstanding. She was ably supported by Patrick Knowles’ Stanley and Amber James’ Stella though Stanley would have benefited from being more “animalistic” in appearance and manner.  For sheer physicality, I would have been tempted to cast Dexter Flanders in the role of Stanley and Patrick Knowles in the role of Mitch.  This would have underlined the point of casting Amber James as a black Stella; the differences between the two sides of the family being further emphasised.

While a young cast and in front of an audience which was, on average, older than I had expected, the whole effect was electric and those who sat around me were spell-bound.  The developing threat and violence, Gough’s rape scene and the descent into madness are a powerful tribute to a strong cast led by a convincing actress.

My niece, being a purist student, loved the set but didn’t get the contemporary costumes.  However, the staging of the production worked well in general.  We agreed to disagree on the cacophonous backing music which tracked the destructive intrusion of Blanche into the troubled but ultimately sound relationship between Stella and Stanley.

There are no hero’s in this play and none of the characters are particularly likeable but I did fall for the production with a strong cast and great production team.

On the whole, thank you; a draining but thoroughly rewarding evening – and we’d love to see this whole production again.

UK tour calls at the following places before returning to Southampton again in June
Theatre By the Lake, Keswick
3 – 7 April
Box Office: 017687 74411 / www.theatrebythelake.com
 
Malvern Theatre
10 – 14 April
Box Office: 01684 892277 / www.malvern-theatres.co.uk
 
Bristol Old Vic
17 – 21 April
Box Office: 0117 987 7877 / www.bristololdvic.org.uk
 
New Wolsley Theatre, Ipswich
24 – 28 April
Box Office: 01473 295900 / www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
 
Cambridge Arts Theatre
1 – 5 May
Box Office: 01223 503333 / www.cambridgeartstheatre.com
 
Oxford Playhouse
8 – 12 May
Box Office: 01865 305305 / www.oxfordplayhouse.com
 
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
15 May – 2 June
Box Office: 01352 701521 / www.theatrclwyd.com/en/
 
NST City
5 – 16 June
Box Office: 023 8067 1771 / www.nstheatres.co.uk

 

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George’s Marvellous Medicine Review

Rose Theatre, Kingston – until 7 April 2018.  Review by Heather Chalkley

4****

Preston Nyman’s unique style portrayed a believable boy, isolated on the family farm, where his imagination was the only entertainment and getting lost in his latest book about Billy the Wizard. Nyman’s George got the audience involved and delivered well balanced, clear diction with youthful enthusiasm. The only time Nyman began to lose his young audience was at the start of the potion making, which edged on  becoming monotonous until he fully engaged the children in the process.

Catherine Morris’s caricature of George’s Mum was hilarious, using vocal tone and physicality to deliver  the part, straight off the page of the original story.

Justin Wilman as George’s Dad, played to the adults in the audience. His not unfamiliar reactions to his mother-in-law got us all chuckling. Wilman as Dad created a visual picture with words as he dreams of success, by selling George’s Marvellous Medicine and solving world poverty – very funny.

Lisa Howard as George’s Grandma gave an outstanding performance, with a penetrating high pitched voice and a feast of facial expressions that made me laugh out loud.

My favourite character was Chicken played by Chandni Mistry. A great balance of slightly scary and very funny, Mistry’s physical performance kept the children and adults laughing together.

Tasha Taylor-Johnson has composed an evocative and quirky music score, that kept the children and adults equally engaged. Weaving the musicians into the production kept the focus on Centre stage and maintained the country farm feel.

The set is a masterpiece of characterisation straight out of Ronald Dahl’s imagination and a satisfying reflection of the literary illustrations.

The only constructive observation I would add is about the giant size Grandma. The massive arms didn’t quite work for me, not adding to the scary element or humour.

David Wood’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book captures the essence of the story, staying true to the dark and funny nature of Dahl’s style.

The Director Julia Thomas used this to create magic on the small stage, with smooth transitions and the use of inspired props. The audience particularly appreciated Grandma’s entrance on a mobility scooter as well as the chickens attached to remote control cars!

The final song delivered by the whole ensemble, was a health and safety warning to not try this at home! It certainly got the message across and raised a few smiles.

All in all a great afternoons family entertainment that I believe Roald Dahl would be pleased to put his name to.

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OLIVIER AWARDS ANNOUNCES ITS BROADCAST & CEREMONY PLANS FOR 2018

OfficialLondonTheatre.com / YouTube / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Giphy / #OlivierAwards

OLIVIER AWARDS WITH MASTERCARD ANNOUNCES ITS BROADCAST & CEREMONY PLANS FOR 2018

 

  • OLIVIER AWARDS RETURN TO ITV ON SUNDAY 8 APRIL AT 22:20
  • WORLDWIDE BROADCAST (EX-UK) AT SAME TIME VIA THE OLIVIER AWARDS FACEBOOK PAGE
  • RADIO COVERAGE LIVE BY MAGIC RADIO IN UK AND SIRIUS XM IN USA
  • OLIVIER AWARDS RETURN TO CHINA VIA IQIYI
  • THE SUCCESSFUL RED CARPET LIVE SHOW RETURNS VIA THE OLIVIER AWARDS FACEBOOK PAGE
  • SPECIAL PERFORMANCES IN THE CEREMONY WILL INCLUDE:
    • CHITA RIVERA, IN REFERENCE TO THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF HER OPENINGWEST SIDE STORY IN LONDON, WILL PERFORM SOMEWHERE ACCOMPANIED BY LAST YEAR’S WINNERS, ANDY KARL AND ADAM J. BERNARD AND THE ARTS EDUCATIONAL SCHOOLS LONDON CHOIR
    • A UNIQUE MOMENT IN HONOUR OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER AND TIM RICE’S ICONIC MUSICAL JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT  WITH PAST STARS RETURNING INCLUDING JASON DONOVAN AND LINZI HATELEY, LEE MEAD AND PREEYA KALIDAS, AND JOE McELDERRY AND DANIELLE HOPE
  • PERFORMANCES FROM NOMINATED MUSICALS INCLUDING: THE CAST OFHAMILTON; JOHN McCREA AND THE CAST OF EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE; SHEILA ATIM AND THE CAST OF GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY; LESLEY JOSEPH AND THE CAST OF YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN; TRACIE BENNETT FROM FOLLIES; AND THE CAST OF 42ND STREET

The Olivier Awards with Mastercard is delighted to announce further details about its broadcast and ceremony plans on Sunday 8 April 2018.

The Awards will continue its successful partnerships with ITV and Facebook.  The Biggest Night In British Theatre: The Olivier Awards will broadcast on ITV on Sunday 8 April from 22:20.  It will also broadcast worldwide at the same time, outside the UK, on the Olivier Awards Facebook page.  The Oliviers will broadcast in China via iQiyi on Tuesday 10 April.

The Awards will also continue its partnership with Magic Radio who will broadcast the entire show live on Sunday 8 April, hosted by Alice Arnold and Olivier Award-winner Ruthie Henshall, with build-up on air from 18:00. Sirius XM will broadcast the show via radio in the US.

The Red Carpet Live show will return this year from 16:00 to 17:30, with a special interval Backstage show at 19:00, both shown exclusively on the Olivier Awards Facebook page.

There will be performances from a variety of Olivier-nominated musicals.  The cast of Hamilton, which has a record-breaking thirteen nominations and is the most nominated production in Oliviers history, will open the show with its opening track Alexander Hamilton.

American musical theatre legend Chita Rivera will perform the iconic West Side Story track Somewhere with Andy Karl (Olivier Award 2017 winner for his performance in Groundhog Day), Adam J. Bernard (Olivier Award 2017 winner for his performance in Dreamgirls), and the Arts Educational Schools London Choir, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the production debuting in London.

A unique moment in honour of the 50th anniversary of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s iconic musical Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will take place, with past stars returning including Jason Donovan and Linzi Hateley, Lee Mead and Preeya Kalidas, and Joe McElderry and Danielle Hope.

Performances from nominated musicals will include: the cast of Hamilton; John McCrea and the cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; Sheila Atim and the cast of Girl From The North Country; Lesley Joseph and the cast of Young Frankenstein; Tracie Bennett from Follies; and the cast of 42nd Street.

Widely recognised as the most prestigious stage honours, this year’s Olivier Awards return to the Royal Albert Hall and will be hosted by Catherine Tate.

Mastercard continues its partnership with Society of London Theatre and its headline sponsorship of the Olivier Awards, bringing cardholders with a passion for theatre closer to the genre they love

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Shrek Review

The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – runs until 8th April 2018.  Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth

4****

An auditorium awash with woodland green, adults and children sporting their own Shrek ears and excited anticipation in the air for the forthcoming, magical, musical experience. This is what you will find when entering the theatre, pre Shrek performance.

The majority know the story of Shrek following the hype around the film that was released in 2001. It is a family favourite, suitable for kids, with lots of comedy moments and some references that only the adults will understand. The fairytale like plot follows Shrek (Steffan Harri) the ogre on a mission to rescue Princess Fiona (Laura Main) and deliver her to Lord Farquaad (Samuel Holmes) for marriage. However, along the way Shrek falls in love with Princess Fiona and things become interesting when it is revealed that she is actually also an ogre…

Harri plays the part of Shrek well, inviting you as an audience to be able to understand and empathise with his self-loathing of being a ‘freak’. His diction at times was not perfect and certain songs were hard to interpret but this could have been a technical issue. Playing the lead female role alongside Harri is Main as Princess Fiona; a fabulous voice and very skilled, most evidently during the song with puppets ‘I Know it’s Today’. However at times it felt this part was slightly over-acted.

A blow away performance comes from Holmes playing Lord Farquaad, an extremely comical character, spending the entire show on his knees to play a man restricted in height. He gets the most laughs and has gags aplenty. Another real star that must have a mention is Marcus Ayton, playing Donkey. A real competitor for the most charm and fun on stage, with a wonderful voice.

The cast has a really strong, large ensemble with some outstanding voices in there, a real pool of talent.

Some real standout moments in the show are the musical numbers Whats up Duloc which is led by Lord Farquaad and his men. Some real laughs during this number at Lord Farquaad sitting on his castle with his legs over the walls, orchestrating them in some hilarious ways. Another is the ensemble number Freak Flag lots of unbelievably strong voices in there.

The staging of this production is one of the main highlights, magically and visually inspiring. From walking in to the theatre and being met by the book on stage that almost fills the entire space, to the visual effects that are that realistic they leave you wondering if they are actually real. The costumes and puppets are a real treat, credit to Tim Hatley; Set, Costume and Puppet Design.

Shrek is a family event and is suitable for all ages. Two and half hours of wizardry fun, delivered to you by a wonderful cast.

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THREE WISHES GRANTED FOR DARLINGTON HIPPODROME’S NEXT HIGH FLYING, GENIE-US PANTOMIME, ALADDIN

THREE WISHES GRANTED FOR DARLINGTON HIPPODROME’S NEXT HIGH FLYING, GENIE-US PANTOMIME, ALADDIN

Television and stage star Louie Spence will lead the cast of this year’s spectacular family pantomime Aladdin at Darlington Hippodrome, alongside last year’s returning stars Eric Potts and Liam Mellor from Saturday 8 December.

Television personality, presenter and choreographer Louie Spence pirouetted into the nation’s consciousness thanks to the overwhelming success of Sky One’s Pineapple Dance Studios and Louie Spence’s Showbusiness, solidifying Louie’s reputation as an expert on all things dance. In addition to his television experience Louie has enjoyed an extensive stage career appearing in Miss Saigon and Cats and danced alongside Take That and the Spice Girls. Louie will play the Genie of the Ring in Aladdin, his ninth foray into pantomime, bringing with him the high kicks and high jinks he’s best known for.

In addition to fronting television shows for Sky One Louie has appeared as a judge on ITV1’s Dancing on Ice and was a housemate in the 12th series of Celebrity Big Brother. Most recently Louie took part in The Jump for Channel 4 and Tour de Celeb, a gruelling cycling-based reality series which saw him tackle the toughest stage of the Tour de France on a 140km ordeal.

Returning for another year as Darlington’s ultimate Dame, Coronation Street star Eric Potts will star as Widow Twankey, Old Peking’s ultimate laundry lady. Having starred in and written numerous pantomimes over the last two decades, Eric wowed Darlington crowds as Nora Crumble last year with his array of stunning outfits, quick-fire wit and stage presence, and will once again direct this year’s production.

Also back for more will be Liam Mellor, who stars alongside Louie and Eric as Wishee Washee, the hapless but hilarious brother to the high-flying hero Aladdin. Alongside his feature film appearances in Yellow Ribbon, Kick It Out and Jack Falls Liam is highly sought after on the comedy circuit and in the world of pantomime where he delights audiences with his infectious, ‘cracking’ humour every year.

Aladdin will be produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, and the team behind Darlington’s annual pantomime, who guarantee another must-see production packed with a lamp-full of audience participation, sensational music and dancing, jaw-dropping special effects and fantastic festive entertainment suitable for all ages.

Jake Hine, Executive Producer for Qdos Entertainment, said: “We are delighted to be bringing pantomime back to Darlington after such a fantastic season last year at the newly refurbished Hippodrome. Louie Spence is an absolute showman and a natural at pantomime and we’re thrilled to be reuniting Eric and Liam to star alongside him. We have plenty of surprises planned, and can’t wait to get started later this year.”

Theatre Director Lynda Winstanley said: “We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Louie will be coming to Darlington Hippodrome and it’s an extra bonus to welcome back last year’s dream team of Eric and Liam. I am sure Aladdin will all be a great hit with our audiences.”

Featuring a wish-granting genie, an evil sorcerer and the timeless tale of the Twankey family panto lovers should hop aboard a flying carpet and fly to the Box Office to secure their tickets for this year’s must-see, genie-us family pantomime.

Aladdin flies into Darlington Hippodrome from Saturday 8 December 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019. For full details and to book visit www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk or call 01325 405405.

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Ockham’s Razor to tour innovative new show Belly of the Whale | May – September 2018

Ockham’s Razor, produced by Turtle Key Arts presents
Belly of the Whale
UK Tour: May – September 2018

Belly of the Whale from Ockham’s Razor, winners of the Total Theatre and Jacksons Lane Award for Circus at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016, is an incredible meeting of circus and sculpture. This new outdoor show offers an innovative combination of cross-disciplinary curiosity and intuition

The performers, like surfers on a wild sea, ride a giant semi-circular see-saw made of wood and steel which creaks and groans as it transforms from a catapult to a gently rocking cradle, to a tunnel, to a slide – creating an ever-changing land and soundscape. The concept of the belly of the whale is found in mythology around the world – what happens when we confront our fears and come face to face with the power and momentum of things we seemingly can’t change?

The Belly of the Whale structure comes alive during the show, a sculpture in its own right and very much a fourth character. This unique and powerful see-saw, weighing 600kg, is able to reflect the narrative and aid the invention of the piece. By designing new equipment, Ockham’s Razor are constantly seeking to innovate within the confines of traditional circus. They offer up the unexpected resulting in a compelling relationship of trust and reliance between the performers

Musician Gabriele Pierros will fuse acoustic and digital compositions, playing live while also using real-time recordings of his sounds to create a unique accompanying soundscape

Director Tina Koch comments, In this current climate it can often feel like you are fighting with giants, running against walls, being thrown, faced with challenges and changes seemingly beyond your control. Our work is a reflection of the world how we experience it. This show is about three people coming face to face with their biggest challenge and the different ways they deal with it. It is about daring to jump into the unknown, perseverance and ultimately discovering that you can go it alone but you can go further when you join forces

Ockham’s Razor are supported by Arts Council England. Belly of the Whale is commissioned by Without Walls, Stockton International Riverside Festival, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Out There International Festival of Circus & Street Arts, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Lift Off! The opening weekend of Wiltshire Creative – Salisbury, Circulate, Stratford Circus Arts Centre and Basingstoke Festival

There’s something magical about British aerial theatre group Ockham’s Razor. It’s hard to say how they conjure it, with little in the way of props and “performance” — they are the epitome of unshowy — but it’s a world where simple actions accumulate into something transporting (Evening Standard)

Performance Dates
5th May Stratford Circus Arts Centre (Circulate), Stratford
www.stratford-circus.com

19th – 20th May Norfolk & Norwich Festival (Without Walls), Norwich
www.nnfestival.org.uk

23rd – 24th June Greenwich & Docklands Festival (Without Walls), Greenwich
www.festival.org

30th June Watford Palace Theatre, Watford
www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk

8th July Basingstoke Festival, Basingstoke
www.basingstokefestival.co.uk

4th – 5
th August Stockton International Riverside Festival (Without Walls), Stockton-OnSea
www.sirf.co.uk

11th August The Albany (Circulate), Deptford
www.thealbany.org.uk

16th August Millfield Theatre (Circulate), Edmonton
www.millfieldtheatre.co.uk

26th – 27th August Lift Off! Wiltshire Creative (Without Walls), Salisbury

8th September Watermans Bell Square (Circulate), Hounslow
www.watermans.org.uk

15th – 16th September Out There International Festival (Without Walls), Great Yarmouth
www.seachangearts.org.uk/out-there-festival

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The Lowry become the first arts venue to launch an interactive video tour with iRoam for visitors with social anxieties

The Lowry become the first arts venue to launch an interactive video tour with iRoam for visitors with social anxieties

The Lowry and Access Social have today launched an interactive video tour of the Salford based arts venue. In doing so The Lowry has become the first arts venue to use iRoam.

Access Social has been working in partnership with The Lowry to create a video that supports people who may need to prepare for their visit to the venue. Although Access Social work primarily with and for people living with Autism, Dementia and other social anxiety disabilities the video is intended for use by all those who wish to visit and would benefit from familiarising themselves beforehand.

Rachel Miller, marketing director at The Lowry, said: “It’s wonderful to see our work with the team at Access Social come to fruition. The addition of an interactive video tour to our website will help so many of our visitors feel welcomed into the building before they step foot out of their own home. It’s great that we can add the interactive video tour to the range of facilities already in place and we look forward to continuing our work with Access Social and enhancing our visitors experience.”

Anthony Curran, director at Access Social Ltd added “It’s been a pleasure work with the team at The Lowry to develop a product that will assist their visitors and it’s great to see accessibility, especially for people with hidden requirements, high on the agenda.”

The Lowry welcomes all visitors regardless of their disability and strives to meet all individuals’ needs where possible. The venue has been awarded a Silver award from ‘Attitude is Everything’ for its dedication to enable access to the venue

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Casting Announced For Maly Drama Theatre’s Theatre Royal Haymarket Season Along With a Series of Special Supporting Events Celebrating Banned Texts

CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR MALY DRAMA THEATRE’S FORTHCOMING THEATRE ROYAL HAYMARKET SEASON

ALONG WITH SPECIAL SUPPORTING EVENTS CELEBRATING BANNED TEXTS

The internationally acclaimed Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg return to London for the first time in over a decade to play a highly anticipated ten-show engagement, opening at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket on May 8thDescribed by Peter Brook as ‘the finest ensemble theatre in Europe’, casting is today announced for their forthcoming UK premiere of Vasily Grossman’s magnum opus, Life and Fateand their critically acclaimed production of Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya.

The 28-strong cast sees Peoples’ Artist of Russia, Stanislavsky and Golden Soffit Award-winner Sergey Kuryshev, who has been a part of the company since 1989, lead both Life and Fate as Viktor Shtrum andUncle Vanya in the titular role.

LIFE AND FATE

Banned because of the parallels it drew between Nazism and Soviet Communism, Life and Fate, is a sweeping panorama of Soviet Society and an epic tale of a country told through the fate of a single Jewish family, the Shtrum’s. From Nazi concentration camps to the Gulags of Siberia and the Soviet nuclear programme, as the battle of Stalingrad looms large the characters must work out their destinies in a world torn by ideological tyranny and war.

Kuryshev is joined in Lev Dodin’s epic adaptation of Grossman’s masterpiece, by Tatiana Shestakova (as Anna Shtrum, Viktor’s mother). Shestakova has acted with the Maly Drama Theatre since 1984 and her credits with the company include the role of Anna in Stars in the Morning Sky – the production which saw the company become the first international company to win an Olivier Award in 1989. Elena Solomonova appears as Victor’s wife, Lyudmila. Nadia, the Shtrum’s daughter, is played by Daria Rumyantseva.

Elizaveta Boyarskaya plays Lyudmila’s sister, Genia. Spotted by Dodin at the age of 16, she was cast in the production shortly thereafter and has played the part ever since, growing with the role over the past 15 years. Boyarskaya is known for her extensive work in Russian and international movies.

This critically acclaimed production, winner of the Golden Mask for best play, has toured around the world since its première in 2007, shining a light on the heart of 20th century darkness.

UNCLE VANYA

Vanya (Sergey Kuryshev), together with his niece Sonya (Ekatirina Tarasova), has sacrificed his life managing the estate of Professor Serebryakov (celebrated Russian film actor, Igor Ivanov), his former brother-in-law and Sonya’s father. But when the Professor returns from the city with his glamorous young wife Yelena (multi award-winning stage and screen actress Ksenia Rappoport) tensions spiral as their world is thrown upside down.

Chekhov’s tragicomic masterpiece of dashed dreams and thwarted and eternal love returns to London in Lev Dodin’s definitive interpretation of this classic play.

Biographies for the company, with a full list of credits for MDT and individual awards can be found in the attached document.

Press nights will be held for Life and Fate on Tuesday May 8th and Wednesday 9th and on Tuesday May 15th for Uncle Vanya. Both productions will be performed in Russian with English subtitles.

Belka Productions, in collaboration with The Maly Drama Theatre and their London presentation of Life and Fate, have partnered with JW3, the London Jewish Cultural Centre, to present two events in conjunction with the show that both explore and celebrate banned writing through the ages.

In an era of endless social media feeds and encroaching government control, the written word creates a new truth and collapses an old one every second. These special events examine banned texts, giving voice to silenced words and harnessing the power of language. 

Uncensored: A Celebration of Banned Writing through the Ages – Banned and Censored Playsexploring censored work in different cultural and historical contexts.

Thursday 10 May 2018, 7pm

Theatre Royal Haymarket | 18 Suffolk St, London SW1Y 4HT

Tickets £15 | Click HERE to reserve places

From Molière’s Tartuffe in 1664 to Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s Behtzi in 2004, governments and theatres alike have prevented the performance of play texts for political, social and cultural reasons. Directors and playwrights alike also frequently adapt banned and censored books for the stage – Lev Dodin’s adaptation of Vasily Grossman’s Life & Fate being one such example.

Actors will read excerpts from a selection of canonical plays, and books adapted for the stage, that have been banned and censored in a variety of countries and time periods. The evening will be interspersed with live music and followed by a panel discussion.

Exploring Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate – Featuring an Interview with Lev Dodin

Thursday 17 May 2018, 7pm

JW3 | London Jewish Cultural Centre| 341-351 Finchley Rd, London NW3 6ET

Tickets £12.00 | Click HERE to reserve places

As part of this series, JW3 present a very special evening exploring Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, which has been described as the War and Peace of the 20th century. The event will offer a rare insight into this novel about a Russian Jewish family in the Soviet Union during World War II. This event will also feature an exclusive interview with legendary theatre director Lev Dodin about his journey of adapting Grossman’s book for the stage.

Under the artistic directorship of Lev Dodin – one of the most celebrated theatre practitioners working today – the Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg has become one of the greatest theatres in the world. During his 35-year tenure many of Dodin’s shows have won international awards including state prizes of Russian and the USSR, Golden Mask Awards and a Lawrence Olivier Award. In 2000 he received the European Theatre Award.

Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg’s Royal Theatre, Haymarket season is presented by

Oliver King and Ekaterina Kashyntseva for Belka Productions

with the support of Roman Abramovich, Sir Leonard Blavatnik, Yuri Shefler & Alexander Machkevitch.

For more information visit Maly2018.com. Follow us on Twitter #Maly2018

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All or Nothing Review

Ambassador Theatre, London – until 2 June 2018.  Reviewed by Heather Chalkley

5*****

The opening night and a star studded audience gave the theatre a great buzz and for good reason. All or Nothing is a fitting tribute to the early years of a great band, before drink, drugs and rock n’ roll got the better of them. Chris Simmons portrayal of the deceased lead singer Steve Marriott, how he might have been now, was phenomenal. Seeing the rise and fall of the Small Faces through his eyes, as he becomes more derelict during the performance, was an inspired piece of writing. Simmons was able to show the full range of emotions, from hurt,
anger to spell bound love, without over acting the stoned drunkenness of that time. He naturally and easily weaved in and out of the young band and his younger self as the story unfolded. He carried the East End boy swagger and character of Steve Marriott all the way through. On top of that he can certainly give it some welly when it comes to the Small Faces tunes!

Steve Marriott’s mum, Kay Marriott, was played by the writer and director Carol Harrison. Kay was written as a caricature of a 60’s East End mum, lending both humour and high emotion to the piece. The in your face costume and make-up reflected perfectly Kay’s character. It was the over the top nature of Kay that enabled Carol Harrison to stitch the performance together, with the roller coaster emotions of an East End parent that only wants the best for her kid, mostly to get out of the working class trap in Britain at that time. One of my favourite scenes was Kay looking out into the audience as if we are the television, watching Small Faces for the first time. She had a large hair drying hat over her curlered hair and a portable air dryer unit attached to her waist, dancing and shouting excitedly to Bill her husband to come and watch – he was on the khazi! This was with the band playing right next to her! Hilarious! In direct contrast was the
fantastic final scene, where older Steve and his mum Kay are having a conversation that never actually happened for real. Carol Harrison as Kay, gave a heartfelt outpouring of grief and despair that only a mother can feel when she loses a child that was dramatic, believable and powerful.

Samuel Pope played young Steve Marriott, giving him all the energy and angst of youth. The aggression and passion of Steve Marriott came through in the music and the dialogue. So much so I think it could work well on a bigger stage. Samuel managed to deliver the humour and vulnerability of Steve Marriott at the same time filling the stage with his huge ego! The demise into alcohol and drugs reflected the pain of betrayal and dissatisfaction, both of which were palpable in his performance.

The musicality of the four boys drew you into their world of youthful exuberance and naivety from the early days. Stanton Wright gave an outstanding performance as Ronnie Lane, capturing his less angst and more philosophical nature. Both Alexander Gold as Ian Mclagan and Stefan Edwards as Kenny Jones helped create the band camaraderie born of hunger for a better life, for fame and simply the urge to play music. All played with a good dose of East End
humour.

The very talented Karis Anderson as PP Arnold gave a stunning vocal performance that stopped everyone in their tracks.

The versatile supporting cast added to the humour, multitasking in their roles. Particularly Daniel Beales who played about 8 parts including Tony Blackburn. The costume and set helped to create an authentic image of the era, along with references in the dialogue to landmark moments in history at that time.

Carol Harrison’s inclusion of the historic references gave the show an extra depth and richness. She had clearly done her research both historically and of the characters, which came through strongly in writing. All or Nothing could be a self indulgent trip down memory, if it wasn’t for Carol’s commitment to producing the truth and to share Steve Marriott’s story. For the short time Steve, Ronnie, Ian and Kenny had together they made their stand and tried to stay true to their
musical roots.

The show finished with a swing, encouraging everyone to get up and dance to iconic tunes like Watcha Gonna Do About It and of course the shows name sake All or Nothing.

An epic performance for the first night at the Ambassadors. I would thoroughly recommend it.

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Minefield Review

York Theatre Royal – until Friday 30th March 2018. Reviewed by Michelle Richardson

4****

York Theatre Royal brings the LIFT production by Lola Arias to its stage. Minefield is the incredible production of six Falkland/Malvinas war veterans, former enemies, and their experiences of the 1982 Falklands War. Three British, including a Gurkha, and three Argentinians, now in their 50’s, all share their stories on stage through film footage, photographs, diaries and music, in English and Spanish with accompanying subtitles, under the direction of Lola Arias.

Gabriel Sagastume was a soldier who never wanted to shoot a gun, now he is a criminal lawyer. David Jackson spent the war listening and transcribing radio codes, now he listens to other veterans in his role as a counsellor. Marcelo Vallejo was a mortar direction controller, now he is a triathlon champion. Sukrim Rai was a Gurkha and expert with his knife, now he works as a security guard. Ruben Otero survived the sinking of the ARA General Belgrano, now he has a Beatles tribute band

Lou Armour was on the front page of every newspaper when the Argentinians took him prisoner on the 2nd April, now he is a teacher for children with learning difficulties.

With the great use of monologue intertwined with physical pieces, haunting music and the use of visual effects in the background it made for a captivating show. It was fascinating to hear the opposing sides and the different lives of the servicemen. The British career soldier, well trained and equipped, then the Argentine servicemen, who were conscripts, cold, hungry, undertrained and poorly equipped.

We hear stories from Otero and the sinking of the General Belgrano, which resulted in the death of 323, more than half of the Argentinian death toll, Vallejo experiencing the death of his friend right before his eyes, Armour being captured on the first day of the war and his photo being plastered on the front pages of newspapers around the world, he did return, and many more moving tales.

The war lasted only 74 days, which according to the cast was shorter than the rehearsals for this show, though the after effects are still lurking after all this time. The men discuss aspects that they found too uncomfortable to include in the show, but there is also humour with Jackson in drag, and some upbeat music, Vallejo learning bass just for this show.

As part of our show the was a Q and A section afterwards, this was a perfect epilogue to the production, amusing, inciteful and uncomfortably emotional at times. It was mentioned that this week 100 Argentine families are visiting the graves of their loved ones for the very first time, 36 years after the event.

I always like to see a show with no prejudgment, so I generally do not read anything about it or do any research, just go in with a clean sheet in order to make my own mind up, that is how I am. On hearing about the show, I wasn’t sure if the cast were just actors playing their parts, or actual war veterans. Even when they entered the stage it wasn’t clear, to me anyway, but you soon realise that they were the real deal and this made for such a more poignant and powerful show.

This is not a polished production, sometimes awkward, sometimes uncomfortable, but is about human beings and these former soldiers emerge with great dignity, getting on with their lives to the best of their ability. It was seriously engaging, a heartfelt performance and well deserved the standing ovation at the end.

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