Tag Archives: Theatre

Review: Forget three – two is the perfect number!

Event TwoOn Friday, I headed to one of my favourites of the local theatres, Westacre Theatre, for their latest production of Two. Written by award-winning playwright, Jim Cartwright, who is also the author of Road, Bed, Red and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, the play has just two actors playing the multiple characters woven into the story. As soon as I heard about this unusual type of play, I just had to make sure I went along to see what it was all about, particularly knowing from previous productions the very high standard the team work at. I had high expectations and was not disappointed. For a bit of background to the story, here’s the synopsis:

An evening in a pub somewhere in the North of England, presided over by the Landlord and Landlady trying to keep their marriage and the business afloat, visited by an assortment of characters and oddballs who pass through the doors and allow us a short glimpse of their fractured lives. But out hosts themselves are nursing a private grief that will finally bubble to the surface in an eruption of molten anguish.

Wow. The play was just amazing – despite being seriously sleep-deprived and not in the mood to sit in the theatre all evening, it had me gripped from the opening scene and waiting to find out the full story. The characters are a fantastic mix of locals and staff at the pub – all of whom we would instantly recognise from our own locals. But it was the incredibly acting from the two very talented cast members that blew me, and the audience, away. The pair took each scene in their stride, casually and easily slipping between characters with an effortless ease that amazed us each time they walked on stage in another guise.

I absolutely loved the play, which was so different to any other I have seen at the theatre and really showed the cast in yet another light and proving how genuinely talented they are. The two actors had a fantastic chemistry which made their performance as the landlord and landlady even more believable as they move from utter despair and repulsion for each other to a place of understanding and eventually love. It is a touching story and well told as the pair took us on a journey through the characters’ lives and experiences. I was particularly amazed to see how the actor who played the landlord managed to switch between playing a tortured barman, a wife-beater and a little boy, and all within a few scenes.

If you ever get an opportunity to see this play, I would really recommend it. But I would make it a priority to make sure you see at least one performance at Westacre Theatre – you will not be disappointed!


Lots to look forward to this March

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

Any of my readers will know I had a pretty terrible start to the year and that all of this drama has carried on throughout the last few weeks – but thankfully I’m starting to reach the other side of things. You know how it is, when you are in a situation you often struggle to see beyond it and to put things in perspective until suddenly, one day, you start to realise that things will sort themselves out.

With everything going on, I haven’t really been in the mood to do the usual of going out for meals, to gigs and the like, so you may have noticed the lack of reviews over the past two months. I will soon be changing that, because I have suddenly realised quite how many things I have lined up for March – it’s going to be a busy month for shows, theatre and music, which will be great to really get back to normal. Here are some of the fantastic shows I have coming up:

Ella Eyre

Ella Eyre

I will be seeing the English Youth Ballet performing Swan Lake at Norwich Theatre Royal to start with –  this I am very excited about having not been to the ballet for several years. I absolutely adore the story of the white and black swan and am really looking forward to seeing a national touring company perform live on stage – especially since the tickets are official review ones thanks to a huge entertainments feature I wrote about the show.

Comedian Miles Jupp is also on the list for a night of hilarity at the Arts Centre in my home town – the tickets were a Christmas present and I am looking forward to seeing another comedian because it has been a while since the last one. I haven’t seen any of Jupp before now, so am intrigued to see what kind of set he will be doing. From the blurb on the website, it seems he discusses everything from fatherhood to other people’s pants!

Jim Cartwright’s Two will take me back to the gorgeous Westacre Theatre with my family for a night. All of the productions at this theatre are of fantastic quality and I always look forward to reviewing any of the shows because they are just so easy to write about! I’m looking forward to this one because it is so different to any I have seen before – mixing business and marriage with a lot of oddball characters.

Back to XOYO London for another amazing gig – Ella Eyre tickets were another Christmas present and I am so excited to see her perform live, especially after the BRITS! She has such an incredible voice and I loved seeing her perform with Rudimental but it will be totally different seeing her perform on her own. And do I even have to say, I have incredible hair envy of her locks.

Finally, my Christmas present to my Grandad was tickets for the whole family to go and see West End show, Dreamboats and Petticoats, on tour in my home town. He absolutely loves the music from the shows and we buy him a CD every Christmas, so when I heard the show was coming to us, I just had to get him tickets. Looking forward to a nice family evening out.

Dreamboats and Petticoats

Dreamboats and Petticoats

I will review all of these shows for you guys and I can’t wait to share these with you all. I’m also really excited to have so much lined up for next month – it will be nice to have some fun after a tough few months. After a few gorgeous sunny days, it seems like spring is well and truly on the way so I see it as a good time to put things in the past and move on to summer fun.

Have you seen any of these shows – what did you think? What else have you guys got planned for March?

Review: She’s as cold as ice…

I seem to be spending more time in the theatre than anywhere else lately, not that I’m complaining when the quality of the shows is this high. After being lucky enough to see Once – The Musical last week, I was also treated to tickets to see The Snow Queen at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich on Friday night. I have to be honest and say that the production was seriously lacking, as was the acting.. But it was a funny little show and we found a lot of entertainment in one of the cast who was clearly taking the mickey out of the whole show. We normally go to the pantomime at the Theatre Royal but all the tickets were sold out on this occasion, nevertheless, it was a lovely evening out and nice to spend some festive time with the boyfriend’s family.

It also reminded me of how utterly creepy and terrifying the tale of The Snow Queen truly is. I remember being terrified of it as a child but couldn’t remember why until I saw it brought to life on stage – the combination of hating children, sapping all of sunlight and happiness out of the world and the ghosts of dead children coming up from under the ice brought it all flooding back to me! Not exactly a children’s story eh Hans Christian Anderson?

This production was the first I had seen at this little theatre and I have to say it definitely had the feeling of a school play where the teachers have stepped in because the children had forgotten their lines. I was in no way expecting a full-blown West End spectacular, but I have been to several other smaller theatres which have provided better staging and acting without hamming it up. I understood that it was a family production but I did feel that it became almost ridiculous as the characters ploughed onwards through the snow.

My highlight of the production was most definitely the red-headed chap who played the Prince and then later one of the robbers. I couldn’t tell in parts if he had been drafted late and didn’t really know what he was doing/couldn’t be bothered or was just taking the mickey out of the production – I came to the conclusion later that it was the latter! He was hilarious and was clearly trying to make the other actors laugh and fluff up their lines. Throw in some ridiculous facial expressions and a mock bow towards the end and I was in hysterics.

Perhaps the family aspect of the show was still there, the young kiddies sitting in front of me seemed to really enjoy it, although I think they were struggling to keep interest towards the end. Another highlight of the show was when one of these kiddies turned round and asked his mum very loudly “What’s a fraction?” – as if the show could get any scarier with complicated maths problems!

I’ll be honest and say I probably won’t be hurrying back to the Maddermarket Theatre, the theatre itself was too much like a school hall and I just felt that the whole thing could have been more polished like many of the other amateur productions I have seen, but I wouldn’t be completely pt off seeing another. Has anyone else seen productions at the theatre? What did you think?


Review: Once upon a time, I went to the theatre…

Picture sourced from the Once The Musical website – http://www.oncemusical.co.uk

Finally, after six months of changing our minds, changing dates and waiting for the date to arrive, I took my sister to see Once – The Musical in London for her birthday treat. Only six months late, we were forced to postpone the trip after work and other commitments/holidays got in the way but it worked out pretty well because it meant combining a pre-Christmas treat with a last minute Christmas shopping trip and some sister-sister time before she jets off to New York in January.

My sister and I before a night out

I knew nothing about the musical, a strange feeling after always seeing ones that I had known the storyline of such as Mamma Mia, Phantom of the Opera, Billy Elliot and Chicago, but it was refreshing to go to a show with no expectations. A new musical, the show has only been in the West End a short time but has already secured eight 2012 Tony Awards, and promised a truly original Broadway experience. And original it certainly was!

The show has taken up residence in the Phoenix Theatre, on Charing Cross Road, which is a stunning little theatre with a really intimate and cosy atmosphere. I had been stuck between buying seats in the dress circle or the stalls but had plumped for the former in the end and I was glad I had – we had a perfect view overlooking the stage and I think we saw more than if we had been sitting downstairs. The theatre was one of the smallest I have been to and this really added to the show because it was a lively production with lots of music played live by the cast to give the impression of an Irish band playing in a pub.

Having been to Ireland and seen live bands playing in small but cosy pubs to raucous audiences, I can say that the cast really did well in creating the vibe and getting the audience clapping and cheering. They were full of boundless energy, foot-stomping and amazing talent on their huge range of instruments – this production really was like none I had seen before – and trust me, I’ve been to quite a few now!

The story is described as:

Featuring an impressive ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments on stage, ONCE tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who’s about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights… but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance. Emotionally captivating and theatrically breathtaking, ONCE draws you in from the very first note and never lets go. It’s an unforgettable story about going for your dreams and the power of music to connect us all.

Picture sourced from the Once The Musical website – http://www.oncemusical.co.uk

With a boyfriend who has a huge, Irish family, each get-together is like this production, with plenty of drinks and dancing to amazing, lively, vibrant music – this was a fantastic production with a heartfelt and funny story of complicated love. The sort of story that gets us all and leaves us rooting for the couple to fall in love. It was a much simpler story than other musicals I have seen, but I felt that worked well in placing the emphasis on the musical talents of the very small cast and their comedy – which had the audience in hysterics. I thought it was an especially nice touch that the cats were already on stage and playing various songs to the audience as they waiting for the show to begin – this helped warm up the crowd and gave us a little more bang for our buck.

I to have to say though, that I personally felt the final few scenes of the production became confusing as the two main characters jumped from breaking up and separating to suddenly getting together and that this didn’t quite make sense. I was watching intently, but both myself and my sister felt slightly confused by the ending – but still happy it all worked out!

It was a brilliant production and I would heartily recommend it to anyone, particularly those who like a good love story, love Irish music and accents, or who just love a good show and fancy seeing something new and different. Theatre tickets are always a great present and they really are worth every penny because the shows are spectacular!

After the show, we headed to Oxford Circus to see the Christmas lights and to do a final bit of shopping, all washed down with the best Italian I have had for a very long time – king prawn pappardelle in a spinach, cream and chilli sauce at Vapianos- YUM!


Life of a journalist and its varied tales…

The Buddy Holly Story at Lynn's Corn Exchange starring Glen Joseph.

This week has been a particularly extreme example of how very varied a career in journalism can be. Of course, for those who choose a speciality such as sport, law or feature work, the writing can seem repetitive over time, but the bonus of being thrown in the deep end without formal training and working in a short-staffed office is that you really get a chance to experience as many different writing styles as there are out there.

I am a great example of such a case and despite working on a paper that covers a relatively small part of Norfolk, there is a remarkable amount of very exciting news that needs covering! This week alone I have interviewed the star of West End musical – Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story ahead of its showing at the local theatre as part of the 25th anniversary tour and was given a backstage tour by Glen Joseph himself. I then wrote a piece about drug and alcohol abuse figures which involved me talking to action teams, the hospital, police, support groups and Norfolk County Council. I also interviewed a woman about her father’s Jobseeker’s Allowance being cut off and spoke to the Department of Work and Pensions and spoke to a woman who was celebrating her 103rd birthday.

I interviewed a published writer about his book, the tale of his father’s travels and the secret life he led during World War II followed by his work spying on the Russians during the Cold War.I also wrote about Bus Awards, flood alerts, power cuts, schools, charity work and local bands and theatre productions.

All that and more is what I have been working on in the space of one week – just think of all the amazing stories you could be working on at a national paper! If that doesn’t interest more people in journalism then perhaps the fact that in my second job, as editor of This Festival Feeling, I had the opportunity to interview Charlie Hedges, the youngest breakfast DJ in the UK, from KISS FM will interest people in the potential for a writing career and where it might take you.