Edward Scissorhands Review

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham – until 2 March 2024

Reviewed by Amy Coulson

5*****

Credit: Johan Persson – www.perssonphotography.com /

Nineties anti-hero, movie poster boy, Tim Burton icon. Edward Scissorhands returns to us, sparking nostalgia, magic, and the questioning of our own identity. The incomplete boy left alone in a strange new world…

I’ve seen this ballet before. Too long ago. But my goodness, it stands out as one of the most enjoyable performances I’ve ever seen. Let’s hope I’ve not raised the bar too high…

Matthew Bourne has devised, directed, and choreographed this much-loved fable. Whether he means to or not, I for one have found his choice of production to be a gateway into the otherwise unknown world of dance. As a movie-lover, taking a well-respected film and adapting it for the stage makes ballet accessible. I know I’ll be able to follow the plot and can therefore sit back and enjoy the experience.

Bournes company, New Adventures, supports dancers of all ages and backgrounds. This shines through in the character development over the years, which now includes a same sex couple, who are fabulous!

Matthew Bourne has said of the production; “Never has the story of Edward Scissorhands been timelier. In an era when uniqueness and identity is both celebrated and reviled, it’s a story of how we treat anyone who appears to be different in our communities is a poignant and relevant as when my dear friend Caroline Thompson wrote the screenplay for Tim Burton’s legendary movie fable some 33 years ago.” How cool is that! Yes, that means that Tim Burton, and the glorious Danny Elfman have signed this production off, entrusting Bourne to transform this story into a theatrical spectacle.

There are new music and arrangements by Terry Davies based on themes from the motion picture score composed by Elfman, who himself has scored over 100 films with Oscar nominations for Good Will Hunting amongst others, but I think it’s his work with Burton that he’s best known and loved for. The opening scene with its hauntingly familiar score, will instantly transport you back to the first time you experienced the film, with warm chills.

Liam Mower as Edward Scissorhands is exceptional. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Johnny Depp was on stage! Although I would question Depp’s dancing skills. From the pout of the lips, and the startled eyes, to the tips of his impressive scissors, Mower is Edward.

Katrina Lyndon / Ashley Shaw as Kim Boggs was the perfect good girl, turn not so good girl, turn sweetheart. She had some lovely choreography with Mower. Their scenes together, just them, showcased their skill and I sat in absolute awe, completely transfixed, admiring them.

The entire company deserves a mention really, every single character was crafted perfectly. Each one telling us so much about their personality, yes through costume but powerfully through dance and movement, you were able to understand so much about their personality by the way they moved. It was a lot of fun watching them all.

Further shout out to the set and costumes, designed by Lez Brotherston, the lighting design by Howard Harrison and sound, designed by Paul Groothuis. They are every bit as precious as the dancers themselves.

The scenes and sets are magical. There were gasps from the audience as a dozen topiary come to life and provide a chorus line for Edward and Kim to fall in love around. There were mostly scenes with all the cast that provided almost too much to look at, a buzz of excitement and talent.

Expect a show with an overwhelmingly beautiful ending- no spoilers here!

I mentioned I’d seen the show before, well, it’s even better than I recall, which I didn’t think possible. I cannot recommend seeing this enough. Be sure to pick up a brochure, there’s great insight into the production, from story inception to film to stage.

See this production if you value joy, creativity, and acceptance. Thank you, Matthew Bourne!

The Book Of Mormon heads to Hull New Theatre

The Mormons are coming to Hull!

Hit show The Book of Mormon visits Hull New Theatre for the first time next year.

The Book of Mormon, the global smash-hit musical written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, opens at Hull New Theatre for the first time with performances from 4 – 22 March 2025.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone created the Emmy and Peabody award-winning television show, South Park, and the feature films South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Team America: World Police.

Robert Lopez co-created the Broadway musical Avenue Q. He is the first and only double ‘EGOT’ winner having won all four major entertainment awards at least twice – Emmy®, Grammy®, Oscar® and Tony® Awards.

The Book of Mormon follows a pair of Mormon boys sent on a mission to a place that’s a long way from their home in Salt Lake City.

Since making its world premiere in March 2011 at New York’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where it won nine Tony® Awards, including Best Musical, The Book of Mormon has performed on three continents and won more than thirty international awards. The musical has smashed long-standing box office records in New York, London, Melbourne, Sydney, and cities across the U.S.

The London production opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2013 setting the record for the highest single day of sales in West End history and won four Olivier Awards®.

Tickets on sale 10am 7 March. Book at the Hull City Hall Box Office, call 01482 300 306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk to book online.

SHELLEY CONN, PHILIP GLENISTER AND ISABELLA PAPPAS TO FEATURE IN INSTRUCTIONS FOR A TEENAGE ARMAGEDDON

Shelley Conn (Bridgerton), Philip Glenister (Life on Mars) and Isabella Pappas (Stranger Things: The First Shadow) will feature in the video design for Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon.

The limited run at the Garrick Theatre also stars previously announced Charithra Chandran who will be directed by Georgie Staight. Written by actor/director Rosie DayInstructions for a Teenage Armageddon received multiple 5-star reviews when she presented it at Southwark Playhouse in 2023; in which Philip Glenister and Isabella Pappas also featured in the video design for the show.

With two performances on Sundays, the production will open on 17 March and will run for six weeks until 28 April 2024. Public bookings are now open with 200 tickets available for £25 at every performance.

Katy Galloway Productions presents

INSTRUCTIONS FOR A TEENAGE ARMAGEDDON

Written by Rosie Day

Cast: Charithra Chandran

Director Georgie Staight; Set and Costume Designer Jasmine Swan; Lighting Designer Rory Beaton; Sound Designer: Sam Glossop; Video Designer Dan Light; Associate Director Hanna Khogali

17 March – 28 April 2024

She was a 17 year-old girl, the only God she believed in was Taylor Swift.

After her sister’s untimely death by a Yorkshire Pudding, a funny teenage misfit begrudgingly joins a flailing scout group to help her navigate the kicks and punches of adolescence with varying degrees of success.

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is a rollercoaster ride through youth. Whether you are a young person, know a young person, or simply were a young person once – it’s time to rip up the rule book and reconnect with your younger self.

Charithra Chandran is an actor, producer and activist. Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon will be her West End stage debut. Charithra came to international prominence as Edwina Sharma in season 2 of Netflix’s Regency-era drama Bridgerton. Other television credits include Alex Rider, and she will next be seen in Alex Sanjiv Pillai’s romantic comedy How to Date Billy Walsh. Charithra is also a global ambassador for Room to Read, a charity committed to providing books and literacy and practical skills programmes to children across the world. 

Shelley Conn is an actor known for her role as Lady Mary Sharma in Bridgerton. Her theatre work includes The Doctor (ATG), All’s Well That Ends Well, Eastward Ho!, The Island Princess, The Roman Actor (Royal Shakespeare Company), An Unsuitable Girl (Contact Theatre Manchester),  and Muslim Voices (Royal Court). For television, her work includes Gen V, Four Lives, Good Omens, Liar, Death in Paradise, Silent Witness, Blue Murder and Mersey Beat; and for film, Love Sarah, Malevolent, Nina’s Heavenly Delights, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Possession.

Philip Glenister is an actor, who played DCI Gene Hunt in BBC’s Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. His theatre work includes This House (National Theatre), The Slicing Edge (Wolsey Studio), Beautiful Thing, Crossing the Equator (Bush Theatre) and Translations (Abbey Theatre). For television, his work includes After the Flood, Steeltown Murders, Foundation, Carthago, Belgravia, Living the Dream, Outcast, Mad Dogs, Big School, Vanity Fair, Silent Witness; and for film, Bel Ami, The Kingdom of Heaven, Calendar Girls, The Other Boleyn Girl and London Kills Me.

Isabella Pappas is an actor currently starring as Joyce Maldonado in Stranger Things: The First Shadow. Her other theatre work includes Appropriate (Donmar Warehouse), Bring It On: The Musical (Southwark Playhouse), Annie (UK tour), and The Nether (Duke of York’s Theatre and Royal Court Theatre) for which she received an Olivier nomination for Best Supporting Actress. For television, her work includes The Villains of Valley ViewFinding Alice, Paranoid, Home; and for film, Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon.

Rosie Day is a writer, author, film maker and actor. As a screenwriter, Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon is currently in development for television. Her debut book of the same title was published by Hachette in 2021, and her non-fiction I think I Like Girls is to be published by Piatkus/Little Brown later this year. As a director, Rosie is currently directing feature film The Shallow End for Playhouse Studios and Simon Curtis, and is set to direct the feature adaptation of 152 Days by Giles Paley Phillips.  As an actor, theatre credits include The Fellowship (Hampstead Theatre), The Girl Who Fell (Trafalgar Studios), Again (Trafalgar Studios), and Spur of the Moment (Royal Court). Television and film credits include Outlander, Living the Dream, Down a Dark Hall, All Roads Lead to Rome, and Good Omens.

Georgie Staight is a freelance theatre director and has worked on large scale productions in the West End and at venues across the UK. Georgie is an Associate Director at The Watermill and Theatre Directing Associate at Mountview.  Previously, Georgie was joint Artistic Director of new writing company Flux Theatre for six years. Staight’s credits as Director include The Wizard of Oz, Camp Albion, and A Christmas Carol (Watermill Theatre), Instructions for A Teenage Armageddon, (Southwark Playhouse, nominated for four OffWestEnd Awards),  Queen Mab (Iris Theatre, nominated for an OffCom Award),  Eigengrau (Waterloo East Theatre), D-Day 75 (Watermill Theatre, 101 Outdoor Arts & Greenham Trust), CHUTNEY (Bunker Theatre, nominated for four Off-West End Awards), Into The Numbers (Finborough Theatre), Section 2 (Bunker Theatre), Dubailand (Finborough Theatre, nominated for an Off-West End award), Dreamless Sleep (Arts Theatre & Pint Sized Finalist at Bunker Theatre), and Flood (Tristan Bates Theatre). As Associate Director, credits include Operation Mincemeat (Fortune Theatre, West End), Dawn French Is A Huge T**t (U.K. tour), Sweet Charity (Watermill Theatre), Our Town (Watermill Theatre), Legally Blonde: The Musical (Bernie Grant Arts Centre). Staight has led youth and outreach programmes at The Watermill, Chichester Festival Theatre and Newbury Corn Exchange, and worked as a guest director at drama schools including Mountview Theatre School, The Royal Academy of Music and the Oxford School of Drama.

Instructions For A Teenage Armageddon

Listings

Garrick Theatre

2 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HH

Box Office: 0330 333 4810

Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon – Nimax Theatres

Ticket Prices

£25-60

Sunday 17 and 24 March, 7, 14, 21, 28 April 2024

2:30pm and 6pm 

Captioned performance:               Sunday 28 April at 2:30pm

Running time: 75 minutes

Age: 12+, themes of eating disorders, death and sexual assault

@teen_armageddon

FAYE BROOKES & TOM LORCAN TO STAR IN CONSTELLATIONS

FAYE BROOKES & TOM LORCAN TO STAR IN

THE BARN THEATRE’S NEW REVIVAL PRODUCTION OF NICK PAYNE’S

CONSTELLATIONS

DIRECTED BY JESSICA DANIELS

(THE BUTTERFLY LION, THE MOZART QUESTION)

29 MARCH – 18 MAY

The Barn Theatre in Cirencester has today announced that Faye Brookes (Coronation StreetStrictly Ballroom) and Tom Lorcan (Coronation StreetA Monster Calls) will star in the theatre’s upcoming revival production of Nick Payne’s multi-award-winning play Constellations, running at the Cotswold venue from 29 March – 18 May.

Constellations will also see the return of Jessica Daniels to direct the production, having previously directed the theatre’s acclaimed Built by Barn productions of The Butterfly Lion and The Mozart Question, for which Daniels received a UK Theatre Awards nomination for Best Direction.

Payne’s play is a high concept romance, a Sliding Doors to the power of 100 – and many other things at once: a drama about time and memory, about death and grief, playful and profound, comic and mournful.

The award-winning smash hit brings together the unlikeliest of couples in Roland, a beekeeper and Marianne, a physicist. What follows is a relationship and friendship that embraces the richness of the characters, allowing the audience to share in the comedy and the heartbreak, drawing them into the unflinching reality that the characters eventually face.

Nick Payne’s dazzling play is a beautiful rich exploration into human connections with a plot that ingeniously keeps us guessing until the very end.

Constellations first premiered in the UK in 2012, winning the Best Play category at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, making the 29-year-old Payne the youngest winner of the award. The play also received several nominations at the 2013 Olivier Awards, including a Best Play nomination, before debuting on Broadway in 2015 to great acclaim, including three Drama League Award nominations. In 2022, the play received the Olivier Award for Best Play Revival.

Faye Brookes was most recently seen touring the UK starring as Fran in Strictly Ballroom the Musical. Brookes is best known for playing the role of Kate Connor in Coronation Street from 2015-2019, winning a National Television Award for her performance, and finishing second place in the 2021 series of Dancing On Ice. Her performance credits also include playing Roxie Hart in Chicago (UK Tour), Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (UK Tour) and Princess Fiona in Shrek (UK Tour).

Tom Lorcan is best known for playing the role of Mike Hargrave in Coronation Street. His screen credits also include playing Captain Stark in House of the Dragon, Edward Vickers in Gentleman Jack and Neil Hughs in Granchester. His stage credits include playing Dad in the Olivier Award-winning A Monster Calls (Bristol Old Vic & Kennedy Center, USA), Tony in Billy Elliot (West End) and Donnie/Knuckles in the original West End cast of Jersey Boys (West End).

Jessica Daniels said, “I’m thrilled to be returning to the Barn to direct Nick Payne’s Constellations. It’s play I’ve always loved, at a theatre that has produced some of my proudest work.”

Daniels will be joined on the creative team by Ethan Cheek as Designer, Amanda Priestley as Composer and Sound Designer, and Off West End Award-nominee Hector Murray as Lighting Designer.

Since launching in 2018, the Barn Theatre has gained national recognition having produced over 35 Built by Barn shows and being awarded The Stage Awards’ Best Fringe Theatre of the Year Award 2019. The theatre recently celebrated its fifth anniversary with a season that included world premieres of Simon Reade’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Waiting For Anya, Jonathan Lynn’s final instalment of his classic series I’m Sorry Prime Minister, I Can’t Quite Remember, as well as a reimagined revival production of the musical Once and the world premiere of a musical adaptation of Treasure Island.

More information can be found at www.barntheatre.org.uk

Doctor Who stars to perform alongside Colin Baker and Terry Molloy in The Hound of the Baskervilles live on stage

Doctor Who stars to perform alongside Colin
Baker and Terry Molloy in The Hound of the
Baskervilles
live on stage
UK Tour: March – May 2024

Bringing mystery to the moors in spring 2024, Crime and Comedy Theatre Company’s The Hound of the Baskervilles have announced three additional cast members across select performances. Doctor Who stars Nicola Bryant (Doctor Who, BBC; Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, BBC), Rosie Baker (Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions; Torchwood, Big Finish Productions) and Katy Manning (Doctor Who, BBC; Man At The Top, ITV; Torchwood, Big Finish Productions) join this radio-play-on-stage telling the classic Holmes mystery. They join the previously announced Colin Baker (Doctor Who, BBC; The Brothers, BBC), Terry Molloy (The Archers, BBC Radio 4; Doctor Who, BBC) and Dee Sadler (No Place Like Home, BBC; All Creatures Great and Small, BBC).

Nicola Bryant is best known for playing Doctor Who companion Peri, alongside Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor and facing Terry Molloy’s villainous Davros, and will be performing alongside Baker, Molloy and Sadler for performances at the Theatre Royal Winchester on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th March. Rosie Baker, known for her audio work with Big Finish Productions, will be playing opposite her father Colin for performances at multiple venues from Wednesday 20th March to Sunday 24th March, then Monday 22nd April to Tuesday 30th April. Katy Manning, with a well acclaimed and diverse career over stage, TV, radio, and film, will be reuniting with Colin Baker after their performance together in Odd Man In, playing Laura Lyons for the performance at The Radlett Centre on Wednesday 1st May.

Rosie Baker comments, Watching my dad on stage as a child introduced me to the magic of theatre and now to join him up there is beyond special – little Rosie wouldn’t believe her luck!

Katy Manning comments, What an absolute delight to be asked to join my dear friends Colin Baker, Dee Sadler and Terry Molloy in the radio stage production of The Hound Of The Baskervilles…It will be a first with Terry Molloy and Dee Sadler so that will be a real treat too. I stopped doing theatre a few years ago in favour of film audio and TV, so it will be very exciting to dip my toes into the theatre waters once again, for The Crime And Comedy Theatre Company.

The cast is completed by Kate Ashmead (The Importance of Being Earnest, Palchetto Stage; Educating Rita, Regent Theatre) as Mrs Barrymore and Martin Parsons (Doctor Who, Big Finish; Eric Chappell’s Ground Rules, UK Tour) as Jack Stapleton.

The setting is a radio studio, the actors ready as if for a radio broadcast, and the sound effects created live on stage, all combining to transport the audience from Baker Street to Dartmoor, as this tale of murder, mystery and horror is brought to life. A rare chance to see these popular actors live at your local theatre, this is a play not to be missed.

Nicola Bryant comments, I am so looking forward to being on stage with my dear old friends Colin Baker and Terry Molloy. Colin and I played Buttons and Cinderella respectively, in pantomime together, some forty years ago. But I think this is going to be very special.

I adore working in the theatre. Being on stage has such immediacy, the audience is right there, you hear their reaction, you can feel their tension and that gives the actor such a buzz. To have all of that and to be performing in The Hound of the Baskervilles, with great friends who are also such wonderful and experienced actors, I know we are all going to have so much fun.

Previous praise for The Hound of the Baskervilles:

Colin Baker was born to be Sherlock Holmes, Terry Molloy is my favourite Dr Watson to date. A phenomenal evening at the theatre, I can’t recommend this play enough! – ★★★★★ Entertainment Views

Colin Baker & Terry Molloy have terrific stage presence & their interactions sparkle – one not to miss! – ★★★★★ Cult Box

An immensely entertaining evening – ★★★★ West End Best Friend

Holmes & Watson at their best! – ★★★★ Sadie Takes The Stage

A well-judged production in every sense… a howling success! – ★★★★ Be My Guest

A master class in razor-sharp interplay – Henley Standard

KING LEAR REVIEW

ALMEIDA THEATRE LONDON – UNTIL 30th MARCH, 2024

REVIEWED BY JACKIE THORNTON

4****

Award-winning director Yaël Farber’s bold and modern vision of King Lear pulls the audience in from the get go. It is as violent and gruesome as you’d expect but also sexed up, pacy and playful. Intimate staging is curtained by a chain mail backdrop, later used to tremendous effect in conjuring up wild storms. A piano with a gazelle skull aloft, is wheeled on and off not only to have its ivories tinkled but also to be climbed and mounted. Merle Hensel’s set design is well-engineered to create shady scenes of political double dealing and secret trysts behind palace walls contrasting with the harsh, apocalyptic exteriors in which Lear and Edgar both find themselves exiled.

Beginning with a press conference, a pompous King Lear (played rawly and unabashedly by Danny Sapani) directs his three daughters to express how much they love him so that he can issue land accordingly. Goneril (Akiya Henry) strides up to the mic to give an eloquent speech, followed by impatient Regan (Faith Omole) and finally, in the move which gives the play its inciting incident, a surly Cordelia (Gloria Obianyo) utters only the word ‘nothing’because words cannot do feelings justice. Cordelia is banished and it’s no spoiler to say events spiral from there. The cast have been chosen as much for their acting prowess as their musical abilities, particularly Gloria Obianyo, who despite being absent for most of the first half, returns at brief interludes to stun us with her haunting, soulful voice. The words scarcely matter – sorry William! – it’s her pain we register. In fact, the whole play is rendered with an unexpected musicality, giving it texture and variety. Violinists pluck, clash and elide their strings multiplying tension and underpinning the grave atmosphere. Star villain Edward (Fra Fee), the bastard son of the Earl of Gloucester, commands the stage, manipulating kin,friend, lover or foe with a wily charm which is further heightened by piano skills and silky smooth vocals on mournful ballads.

Alec Newman captivates as Lear’s brusque, loyal servant the Earl of Kent, Edward Davis perfectly captures the public school smarm and privilege of Regan’s husband, the Duke of Cornwall, and Geoffrey Lumb, as Goneril’s unloved husband the Duke of Albany, is one huff away from petulant. As Earl of Gloucester, Michael Gould plays the foolish and dithering old statesman with pathos and heart. Meanwhile, his ousted son Edgar (Matthew Tennyson), stripped to his pants, covered in chalk and streaked in oily black, slides and contorts his body conveying his own spurned turmoil while also echoing that of King Lear’s. There’s a wonderful scene where Edgar and Lear, now only a shadow of his former self – filthy, shoes made of plastic bags but still sporting a feathery crown – shelter from the storm. It’s both comic and touching. The biggest laughs, and rightly so, are saved for the Fool (Clarke Peters) whose deep American tones donate a wise, richness to his words. Even when he tells Lear the obvious, it rings with a playful yet otherworldly truth, reminding us just how witty and precise Shakespeare’s pen is. Practically every line cautions us to the folly of giving in to our conceit and allowing flattery in. Words are after all just words; it’s actions which count and tragic Cordelia knows this all along.

CBSO play Elgar and Beethoven Review

Forum Theatre, Malvern – 23rd February 2024

Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau

5*****

I have had the good fortune to enjoy many a City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra concert, both at Birmingham Symphony Hall and on the road. They have never failed to delight and the chance to catch them again at Malvern with a very strong programme was a mouth watering prospect.

The first piece tonight was Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (1806). The timpani gave us what amounts to a count in before the winds played the first of the works gorgeous melodies, the strings agitating themselves in soon enough… As with many a Beethoven work, there are great shifts in mood and he does like an abrupt change of pace too – at once being both beguiling and slightly unsettling (in the best possible way, it’s a bit like falling in love).

In this concerto it seems like an eternity for the soloist to come in, but when she did it was well worth the wait! María Dueñas is a prodigious talent whose playing totally blew me away. I was transported to a far off place (probably Spain, where she hails from). Her cadenzas had the requisite fretboard gymnastics and I loved her use of harmonics and double stopping. But far beyond the exemplary histrionics, her playing was romantic, soulful and full of Iberian passion all with a tone to die for. For a young performer she has a commanding stage presence, way beyond her years. My favourite bit was the yearning violin playing over the pizzicato strings in the Larghetto movement. Gorgeous!

The orchestra were on sparkling form under the agile baton of their Chief Conductor Kazuki Yamada. He imbued the music with an impressive momentum, sense of purpose and sensitivity. His obvious love of the music and this orchestra was palpable and highly infectious with his personality positively leaping from the podium. This looks and sounds like a match made in Heaven.

I absolutely loved the Beethoven (my favourite composer) but the Enigma Variations (1899) were a revelation tonight – it seemed as if the CBSO hit a whole new level. Or perhaps it was hearing Elgar’s work in Malvern..? Either way, it was rather magical.

The highlight (predictably enough) was the Nimrod variation with that soaring melody that is recognisable to all. I loved the way the violins held over from the previous variation, at a volume that was just barely perceptible. A spine tingling moment made even moreso as it lead to the power and majesty that unfolded. This music really is the epitome of the Malvern hills; the town is very well served by having (arguably) England’s greatest composer as one of their local sons. These variations have just about everything in them: humour, an almost filmic quality (I could definitely hear romcoms a plenty and martial forces a la echoes of Williams’s Stormtroopers) and an explosive ending that left one breathless.

Two masterpieces from two giants of Classical music, one astonishingly accomplished young violinist whose star is in the ascendant giving her all and the incomparable and ever wonderful CBSO, on paper it looked like a winning formula. It actually proved to be far better than I had even hoped. ¡Enhorabuena a todos! And thank you for another wonderful night’s thrilling entertainment.

A FAMILY BUSINESS REVIEW

Omnibus Theatre – until 25 February 2024

Review by Mandi Riggi

2**

A Family Business” attempts to blend a TED Talk-style lecture with audience interaction, interspersed with uninspiring and expositional reenacted drama. Unfortunately, it falls short in effectively conveying the true story behind the creation of The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Written and energetically performed by Chris Thorpe, the play aims to jolt us into recognising the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation. However, this wake-up call lacks the necessary dramatic impact and only mildly stimulates thought.

Thorpe’s commendable attempt to make the subject interesting and accessible is evident in his passionate delivery and dry humour. The demonstrations of the size, scale, and destructive consequences of nuclear weapons are impactful. The incorporation of real-life tragedies, such as the Beirut explosion, is thoughtfully presented. However, the dramatisation of conversations lacks genuine conflict, the characters feel flat, and the scenes border on tedium. As a result, it fails to create a sense of urgency or emotional investment in the audience.

The use of surtitles, intended to enhance accessibility and translation, comes across as a gimmick rather than a meaningful addition to the performance. The projections that tally the number of countries ratifying and signing the treaty lack suspense, especially when the outcome is already known.

On a positive note, Eleanor Field’s set design effectively conveys a sense of connection through its twisted wires and plug sockets. It is one of the few elements of the show that leaves a lasting impression.

In conclusion, “A Family Business” disappoints in fulfilling its promises and falls short of being a truly impactful piece of theatre. It struggles to effectively engage the audience.

Varna International Ballet present Sleeping Beauty Review

Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton – until 23rd February 2024 then touring the UK

Review by Amanda Allen

4****

People go to see a classic ballet for several reasons, many because they know the story, are familiar with the music and therefore have some expectation of what they will be seeing. Raymond Gubbay’s presentation of Sleeping Beauty did not disappoint. Varna International Ballet Company, formed in 1947 and based in Bulgaria, are currently touring the UK with 3 classic Ballet productions, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. With dancers from all over the world plus a full orchestra, I highly recommend that you try and see one of the performances. I was privileged to see Sleeping Beauty at Northampton Derngate Theatre and found myself transported to a fairytale world of childhood stories, beautiful costumes, and wonderful dancing. Presented with minimal staging, you were fully immersed in the performance of the dancers throughout the show, so every character was fully seen and part of the story telling whilst on stage.

This version of Sleeping Beauty, with its wonderful Tchaikovsky score conducted by Peter Tuleshkov, is packed with terrific choreography and technical expertise which fans of pure, classic ballet will love. Princess Aurora played by Andres Conforti was effortlessly graceful, executing the choreography with style, poise, grace and a great deal of stamina! Supported well by the fabulous Mirko Andreutti as Prince Desire who seemed to defy gravity flying across the stage.

For me the standout performance of the night was one of the more minor roles, that of the White Cat, played so well by Agnese Di Dio Masa, she fully embraced the character of the cat alongside Matthias Andreu Gluck playing Puss in Boots and stole the show with perfect comic timing in every move, keeping fully in character right to the curtain call at the end of the performance. Another standout performer was that of the Lilac Fairy played by Mara Salvaggio, one of the main and most important roles in the ballet, she executed her part with perfection, consistently well throughout the entire show.

I was a little disappointed in the performance of the Queen played by Giulia Visalli. Although not a large dancing part, she, along with the King, played by Sam Darwell, is integral to the telling of the story, sadly she seemed a little disconnected from the cast when sat side of stage watching, or rather not watching, the fairies and courtiers dancing. Even when just sat on the side of the stage you are still part of the overall performance, and someone will be watching you.

The costumes were a delight, each one fitting the character of the dancers, full of colour and movement. I overheard another audience member claim that the cloak worn by Carabosse, played with wonderful evil intent by Konsta Roos, deserved 5* rating on its own! The only thing I didn’t like with the costumes was the dresses of the courtiers, I wish they had been 200mm shorter so we could see their feet when they danced.

With all round good ballet, a great orchestral performance, good staging and costume I would highly recommend you try and get a ticket if Varna International are at a theatre near you.

Bouncers Review

Grand Theatre, Blackpool – until 24 February 2024

Reviewed by Debra Skelton

5*****

If you’re looking for a night of laughter, then Bouncers presented by The John Godber Company will definitely provide that for you with corny jokes and tasteful vulgarity and can be seen at The Grand Theatre Blackpool tonight so get those tickets booked now.

Bouncers is not a new play, having been written and originally premiered in 1977 at the Edinburgh festival and due to its success, is still one of the most performed plays in the UK today which I can truly believe. It perfectly references the songs and the foolish, outrageous behaviours of any Friday or Saturday night out around the country in most towns and cities during the 80’s with particular reference in this production to the disco’s up north in Yorkshire. To be honest, some of the behaviours are still playing out of a weekend in night clubs even now.

The performance itself, tells the story of one night in a Yorkshire nightclub (Mr Cinders) through the eyes of the ever-watching bouncers Lucky Eric, Judd, Les, and Ralph. However, this is not the only perspective that we see, they also portray different interesting characters in particular the girls and the boys getting ready and hitting the clubs.

As expected from comments provided by friends who have been lucky enough to see previous performances, it did live upto expectations with a slick, smooth and hilarious production which left not only myself but most of the audience nodding in agreement with a wry smile on our faces, remembering a time when the descriptions playing out in front of us belonged to our own selves and the weekend activities of a carefree time.

The four fabulous actors that you will have the pleasure of seeing are Frazer Hammill (Lucky Eric), Tom Whittaker (Ralph), Nick Figgis (Judd) and George Reid (Les). Their ability in flipping characters was incredible and they did truly deserve the rapturous applause at the end of the performance.