Caroline’s Kitchen Review

Cambridge Arts Theatre – until 3rd February.

Reviewed by Boo Wakefield

4****

Set in an immaculate kitchen in North London, Caroline’s Kitchen, written by Torben Betts, tells the story of Caroline Mortimer (Caroline Langrishe) who is a well-established TV cook. She has a beautiful house, a successful husband, Mike (Aden Gillett) who loves golf and a son, Leo (Tom England) who has just graduated with a 1st class degree. The play follows the evening where Caroline is rehearsing another episode of her cooking programme and Leo arrives home from university. This should be an evening of celebration but Caroline’s perfect private and public lives are set to clash with hilarious and disastrous consequences.

Whilst most of the first half was spent setting the scene and introducing the characters, the second half was fast moving and full of laughter with unexpected twists and turns to Caroline’s life through her family and her flirtatious PA, Amanda (Jasmyn Banks), her carpenter Graeme (James Sutton) and his wife Sally (Elizabeth Boag). Although a devoted couple, Caroline and Mike have a difficult and complicated relationship both with each other and with Leo, who drops several bombshells shattering the image of a perfect son.

There is a thunderstorm brewing outside adding to a dramatic undertone throughout the evening and as the storm ends, the play draws to an unexpected and amusing conclusion.

Congratulations must be given to Caroline Langrishe who was hardly off the stage all evening. The repartee between the characters was incredibly fast keeping you on your toes as it wove the many story lines together. Aden Gillett played the over powering husband and father with relish whilst Tom England’s Leo grew stronger as his revelations were exposed. A thoroughly enjoyable play which had all the audience still chuckling as we left the theatre – a good sign of a great piece of entertainment.

Caroline’s Kitchen has been reworked by Betts from his play Monogamy which toured last year. The play continues to tour nationally until 13th April 2019 and will transfer to New York later in 2019.

Leeds Central Library to Host First ‘Collections in Verse’

LEEDS CENTRAL LIBRARY TO HOST FIRST COLLECTIONS IN VERSE SHOWCASE INSPIRED BY LANDMARK BRITISH LIBRARY EXHIBITION

The first ever Collections in Verse showcase, a unique nationwide collaboration between the British Library and Poet in the City funded byArts Council England, will launch at Leeds Central Library this March.

Following on from the British Library’s successful exhibition Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land last year, the inaugural Collections in Verse showcase will celebrate the Caribbean community’s impact on the cultural landscape of Leeds. Looking at music, fashion and language, this lively takeover event at Leeds Central Library will feature live music, poetry, performance, talks and real-life stories.

Collections in Verse is an ambitious live poetry programme between the British Librarythe Living Knowledge Network of 22 major libraries across the UK, and Poet in the City. Over the next two years the project will spark new creative ways for audiences across England to engage with the British Library’s collections and exhibitions through the lens of local stories, histories and cultures.  

Leeds Central Library will host the first ever Collections in Verse showcase in a free takeover event calledColonizin in Reverse”: Celebrating Caribbean Culture on Wednesday 27 March (18:00-21:30).

The event will feature a set by Leeds DJ Fluid Irie, an open mic session with rapper and singer Testament, Dub Poetry with Roger Robinsona celebration of Sound System Culture with Khadijah Ibrahiim, live performance from singer-songwriter, composer and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson and author and poet Anthony Joseph,with much more yet to be announced.

Poet in the City has commissioned three eminent Leeds poets of Caribbean descent to explore the legacy of Windrush on the city and their work:

  • Malika Booker is a LHRI Fellow and Creative Writing Teaching Fellow at Leeds University. She is working at the Harehills Compton Road Library researching the impact of Windrush women on fashion and the textiles industry in Yorkshire.
  • Vahni Capildeo is a Forward Prize-winning poet and the current Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow in Poetry at the University of Leeds. Their work with community groups at Beeston’s Dewsbury Road library looks at the concept of migration, the multiple senses of ‘home’, and how everyone’s life is a tapestry of small and large journeys.
  • Khadijah Ibrahiim is a Leeds born and bred poet and playwright and founder of Leeds Young Authors. She is working with the Reginald Centre in Chapeltown exploring African Caribbean folklore and music traditions and their place in the UK pre and post-Windrush.

Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library says, “Collections in Verse is a truly exciting, and wholly original, collaboration. Public libraries are natural homes for live poetry and performance, and so we are excited to work with Poet in the City and our five public library partners to reimagine British Library exhibitions for new audiences across the country.”

Alison Millar, Reader and Culture Development Manager for Leeds Libraries says: “We have been so pleased to be the first library service to work on this project with Poet in the City and the British Library. ‘Colonizin in Reverse’ promises to be such an exciting event and will be a fantastic way of celebrating the work that has happened in our libraries with the communities they serve and the commissioned poets.”

“Colonizin in Reverse”: Celebrating Caribbean Culture

Leeds Central Library, Calverley Street, LS1 3AB

Wednesday March 27th from 6.00 to 9.30pm

Tickets are free but must be booked in advance

Book here https://colonizininreverse.eventbrite.co.uk

Visit http://poetinthecity.co.uk/collectionsinverse/leeds/for more information

February Half-Term at the National Theatre: The Winter’s Tale for young audiences

FEBRUARY HALF-TERM AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE: THE WINTER’S TALE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES

A new version for young audiences by Justin Audibert

Directed by Ruth Mary Johnson

From 6 – 21 February 2019

Age guidance: 8 – 12 years, £12 (£8 under-18yrs)

Following a sold-out run at the Dorfman Theatre in 2018, The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare returns to the National Theatre from 6th – 21st February 2019.  Adapted by Justin Audibert for primary-age children and directed by Ruth Mary Johnson, this new version is the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for younger audiences.  

Perdita is a brave, intelligent and much-loved girl, but something is not quite right in her world. Join her on a journey through magic and mayhem as she uncovers her story – the girl who was once lost and then found.

The cast includes Joseph AdelakunEbony FeareTom GilesTerique JarrettChristina ModestouAisha ToussaintWreh-asha Walton and Stanton Wright.

The production is designed by Lucy Sierra with lighting designed by Paul Knott. Music is composed and directed by Jonathan Girling and sound by Mike Winship. Puppetry is designed by Sam Wyer. Movement is by Lucy Cullingford and Maria Clarke.

The Winter’s Tale opens at the National Theatre following a two-week run at Stratford Circus Arts Centre for primary school pupils as part of London Borough of Newham’s Every Child a Theatre Goer programme which provides opportunities for children and young people in Newham to see live theatre productions at local and West End theatres. The Winter’s Tale will also tour to primary schools in Greater London in February and March as part of the National Theatre’s commitment to introducing children and young people to theatre, with the production reaching approximately 9,000 primary aged children.

Family Workshops

Our range of interactive family workshops invite you to explore behind the scenes of the stage production:

Bohemia and beyond: staging Shakespeare family workshop

18 and 19 Feb 11am

Inspired by the National Theatre’s production of The Winter’s Tale, this fun, family workshop will have you on your feet, creating Kings, Queens, lords and ladies and staging epic scenes of love, loss and mistaken identity.

The Winter’s Tale Family Design Workshop

18 and 19 Feb 11am and 2pm

Create a banquet fit for royalty in this family design workshop. From fantastical food to golden goblets, create eye-catching party props inspired by The Winter’s Tale.

A Winter’s Tale (a relaxed workshop for families with additional needs)

Wed 20 February, 11am and 1pm

Explore a world of kings and queens and discover a story of magic, madness and miracles. Take part in games, drama and storytelling activities in this relaxed workshop for the whole family.

NT Learning

NT Learning has a range of programmes to support primary teachers with theatre-making in their schools and inspire young audiences through creative learning opportunities. Let’s Play provides everything that teachers need to create a brilliant school play and On Demand in Schools is a free streaming video service for teachers at Primary and Secondary schools across the UK. To find out more about these opportunities visit NT Learning.

The National Theatre’s Partner for Learning is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Schools Touring is supported by: The Mohn Westlake Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Ingram Trust, Archie Sherman Charitable Trust, Behrens Foundation, Cleopatra Trust, Jill and David Leuw, Mulberry Trust and The Royal Victoria Hall Foundation. 

Tickets available from www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/the-winters-tale

For more information and press tickets, please contact Rhian Bennett on RBennett@nationaltheatre.org.uk / 020 7452 3235

ARDENT THEATRE COMPANY ANNOUNCES REVIVAL OF PHILIP OSMENT’S THIS ISLAND’S MINE

ARDENT THEATRE COMPANY ANNOUNCES

REVIVAL OF PHILIP OSMENT’S

THIS ISLAND’S MINE

Ardent Theatre Company in association with the King’s Head Theatre presents

THIS ISLAND’S MINE

by Philip Osment

at King’s Head Theatre

15 May – 8 June 2019

Director/Designer: Philip Wilson

Ardent Theatre Company today announces the first revival of Philip Osment’s This Island’s Mine, three decades after it was originally performed by Gay Sweatshop. The production opens at the King’s Head Theatreon 17 May, with previews from 15 May, until 8 June.

“Eyes smarting,

Heart aching,

From the pangs of first love.”

1988. Thatcher’s Britain.

Seventeen-year-old Luke runs away to London – away from homophobic playground slurs, headlines that scream ‘Don’t Teach Our Children To Be Gay’ and a family who wouldn’t understand him – to Uncle Martin, who he once saw with his arms around another man at a march.

In the capital, Mark is sacked because of fears about colleagues working with ‘someone like him’. His boyfriend, Selwyn, faces being beaten up both by the police and at home by his own stepbrother. Meanwhile, Debbie battles with her son, who doesn’t want to live with her and her girlfriend. And retired piano teacher Miss Rosenblum – who once found refuge in this country from a terror that swept away half her family in 1930s Vienna – has seen this sort of hatred and fear before.

Soon, these individual stories – of first loves and old flames, alliances and abandonment, missed opportunities and new chances – intertwine to paint a vivid picture of Eighties Britain.

This Island’s Mine was originally performed by Gay Sweatshop in 1988. Now, three decades after the introduction of Section 28 banning positive representations of homosexuality, Philip Osment’s passionate and lyrical play, of outsiders, exiles and refugees, is all too resonant.

Writer Philip Osment said today, “I am delighted that the play is being staged for a whole new generation of audiences. One of the company’s producers Mark Sands saw the play while he was still at college when the Gay Sweatshop production toured to his home town in 1988. It is heartening to know that he was inspired by that experience to work tirelessly to make this revival happen some thirty years later.”

Philip Osment is a writer and actor. His writing credits include the trilogy The Dearly BelovedWhat I Did In The Holidays and Flesh and Blood (all of which were nominated for Writers Guilds awards), Buried AliveLittle Violet And The Angel (co-winner of the Peggy Ramsey award), Wise Guys (nominated for TMA and Manchester Evening News Best Play awards), LeavingCollateral DamageFathers Inside and Whole. Philip also translatedPedro The Great Pretender (Cervantes), George Dandin (Moliere), and Kebab (Carbunariu) As an actor, he has performed with leading alternative theatre companies including The Half Moon, Shared Experience and Gay Sweatshop.

Philip Wilson directs. Philip spent four years as the Artistic Director of Salisbury Playhouse (2007-2011), during his tenure his directing credits include The Game of Love and Chance, The Constant WifeThe PicturePrivate LivesArsenic and Old Lace and The Winslow Boy. He is the recipient of the 1995 Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme bursary and the inaugural 2015 David Fraser/Andrea Wonfor Directing for Television bursary. His other directing credits include Perfect NonsenseAfter The Dance (Theatre By The Lake), A Fox on the Fairway (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch), Grimm Tales (Shoreditch Town Hall, Oxo Bargehouse, Unicorn Theatre),The Star The Norman ConquestsNoises OffDr FaustusThe Astonished Heart/ Still Life (Liverpool Playhouse), As You Like It (Storyhouse Chester), Beacons (Park Theatre).

Listings                                                                                                                                  This Island’s Mine

King’s Head Theatre

115 Upper St, London, N1 1QN

Box Office: 0207 226 8561

www.kingsheadtheatre.com

Tickets:

Previews: £10/£14

Standard: £19.40

Premium: £25

Concessions: £18

Unemployed: £5 matinee

Captioned Performance: 31 May

Q&A with Philip Osment (writer), Richard Sandells (actor in the 1988 original), Kate Owen (designer of 1988 original): 2 June after matinee

Q&A with Philip Wilson (director) and the performers: 8 June

Anthropocene Review

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh – 31st January, 2nd February.

Reviewed by James Knight

2**

Scottish Opera’s presents their new opera ‘Anthropocene’ – a psychological thriller set in the Arctic. A sudden freeze captures the crew of a research vessel in the ice, coinciding with the discovery of a woman buried deep within the frozen wasteland…

‘Anthropocene’ is in three acts composed by Stuart MacRae and libretto by Louise Welsh, the writing team behind 2016’s ‘The Devil Inside’. The music borders on experimental – the orchestra is pushed to the furthest ranges possible to create a shifting soundscape that reflects the ever-changing polar ice caps. The percussion is of particular note, in particular the use of what sounded (to this reviewer at least) like a superball mallet, which when dragged across a drum produces a haunting and expressive drone. The use of elements such as these, as well as inviting the strings and woodwind to play in quartertones adds to the otherworldly quality.

The performers prove themselves well against a challenging score. Of particular note is Mark Le Brocq (Tenor) as the expeditions’ benefactor Harry King, whose extravagant vocal flourishes immediately reveal to the audience his self-confidence and swollen ego, and Jennifer France (Soprano) as Ice, the mysterious frozen woman, whose vocal range is pushed to impressive extremes.

But for all its technical prowess, the story and human interactions felt, well, cold. Crafted as a thriller, with a group of mismatched people thrown together in dire circumstances, there’s very little time given to build the relationships between the characters. Coloured jackets may pair up the crew, husband to wife, father to daughter, captain to ship’s engineer, leaving the journalist Miles Black (Benedict Nelson – Baritone) conspicuously adrift, foreshadowing future developments, but more time could have been given to make the audience feel for these characters. Instead, even in quieter moments, such as a contemplation of the Aurora, the music is very much focussed in cranking up the tension. This may of course be a conscious decision on the part of the writers, but it doesn’t give the characters any room for relatability.

The pacing struggles too, and the first act feels like it could naturally be trimmed, while the conflict and climax in the third act, as well as the revelation of Ice’s past feels rushed, and the internal logic of sacrifice and climate change are questionable.

‘Anthropocene’ is musically and vocally impressive, and symbolic touches like a hanging, skinned polar bear hint at darker events to come, however more time perhaps needs to be spent on the development and nurturing of the characters.

Clive Owen returns to the West End in THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA – Press release

CLIVE OWEN

LIA WILLIAMS

ANNA GUNN

to headline

Also to star the renowned Julian Glover

James Macdonald to direct Tennessee Williams’ last great play

Strictly limited season begins Saturday 6 July | Noël Coward Theatre

Clive Owen returns to the West End for the first time in 18 years to play the Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon in THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, in a new production directed by James Macdonald.

Golden Globe-winner Owen (Closer, Children of Men) will be joined by Lia Williams (The Crown, Mary Stuart) as Hannah JelkesAnna Gunn (Breaking Bad) as Maxine Faulk and Julian Glover (Game of Thrones) as Nonno.

The Night Of The Iguana will be directed by James Macdonald, (whose West End credits include the acclaimed recent production of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia WoolfThe Father and The Changing Room) and will be designed by Tony, Olivier and OBIE-award winning Rae Smith.

It will begin performances at the Noël Coward Theatre on Saturday 6 July and play a strictly limited 12-week season.

Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, 5 February at www.iguanawestend.com

In the strange limbo of 1940, on a dilapidated hotel verandah perched high in a rainforest above the west coast of Mexico, a group of lost souls collide – a defrocked priest turned tourist guide, the grieving widow who runs the hotel, a family of jubilant Nazis… and an itinerant portrait artist with her 97 year old poet grandfather. The result is an epic battle between flesh and spirit, captivity and freedom, art and faith – heightened by the arrival of a tropical rain-storm.

Further casting to be announced.

The Night Of The Iguana is produced by David Richenthal, Fiery Angel, Gavin Kalin and David M. Milch.

Birmingham Royal Ballet Beauty and the Beast Review

Mayflower Theatre Southampton – until 2 February 2019

Reviewed by Jo Gordon

5*****

These days when people hear Beauty and the Beast they think of singing Teapots and dancing Candlesticks, this is not that…..it is much much more! I cannot claim to know a lot about Ballet, other than watching this performance doubled my attended productions and I am aware of Darcy Bussel, here my knowledge endeths.

It begins with a book loving Belle (Delia Matthews) perched aloft a library ladder enjoying getting lost in a story while around her a blood thirsty Prince (Tyrone Singleton) hunts down a scared Vixen (Beatrice Parma) in a bid to show off to his friends. A Woodsman saves the Vixen turning her into a wild girl (Yaoqian Shang) and placing a curse upon the Prince transforming him into a beast.  We then follow how Belles father (Rory Mackay) retrieves his fortune ending up at the Beasts castle and on “stealing“ a rose to take home for Belle ends up having to promise her to the Beast. The Beast desperately tries to win her over and repeatedly asks for  her hand in marriage to no avail, having to let her return home and facing his own potential death unless Belle admits her true feelings. Running alongside this thread is the story of her two spoilt sisters and an indecisive rich pig nosed Suitor with more riches than sense which has a lovely comedic side to it.

With a  stunningly beautiful baroque set and Gothic castle lit with candlelight and mirrors the fairytale comes alive. The dancing takes your breath away, along with sublime costumes and the orchestral music (Royal Ballet Sinfonia) it all makes for a magical viewing. I came away having learnt two things which were: I really need to go and see more ballet and Love is the key to all things.

The Mousetrap Review

Yvonne Arnaud – until 2nd February 2019

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley

4****

The director, Gareth Armstrong, has created a wonderful balance of farce, tension and drama in this true Christie style whodunnit murder mystery. Each character has a distinct and clear part to play. They work together, timing to perfection the quirky moments to make the audience laugh, revealing moments that raise their suspicions and lead them down blind alleys!

Gwyneth Strong as Mrs Boyle drew out the agitation in the other characters, with her sharp tongue and constant disgruntlement, building an atmosphere of friction for the main story. David Alcock’s Mr Paravicini was darkly mischievous from the outset, leading the audience to believe he was capable of wicked deeds. Lewis Chandler (Christopher Wren) was our favourite character displaying shades of dark and light throughout. Geoff Arnold (Sgt Trotter) made the audience laugh out loud when he arrived at the completely snowed in manor house on skis, poking his head through the window to introduce himself! Yet he was the most serious character. Nick Biadon (Giles Ralston) and Harriett Hare (Mollie Ralston) played a very convincing young married couple and novice guest house owners. Particularly when suspicions were running high, they laid out the doubt and fear that can be revealed when two people do not know each other quite as well as they thought! Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen (Miss Casewell) developed her character, taking the audience with her in the most poignant moments at the end of the play.

There are leaked clues that can easily be missed unless you are paying attention! Well done to Gareth Armstrong for the very believable red herrings that kept the audience entertained to the end. Congratulations to the creative team that have somehow given a small set a real sense of manor house grandeur. Agatha Christie herself said “It is the sort of play you can take anyone to…”