Skip to main content

Review of Gargantua - National Theatre Connections performed by Looking Glass Theatre at St Peters Church, Northampton

Over the last couple of years the National Theatre Connections plays have become quite a favourite of mine. They are short snappy forty to fifty minute plays by often well known writers and are designed purely to be performed by youth theatres. This year locally there are to be 21 youth theatre performances of the twelve plays for 2016. The location venue for this batch will Royal & Derngate at the end of April and just into May and I myself shall do my very best to see as many as possible.

However on Saturday I had the pleasure of seeing the very first preview of Gargantua by Carl Grose by the Looking Glass Theatre in their wonderful performance venue of St Peters Church. Last year I happened to see another piece by Grose entitled Stay Brave, Brian Gravy, which was a tremendously challenging piece for the even younger performers. This was to be quite a bit different.

The performance itself was very much in its early days with an acknowledged number of issues (not least some missing dialogue and a few technical issues sadly suffered on the performance day), however it was never missing wonderful lively performances from the young cast. Each and everyone getting into their larger than life and generally mad characters. This is very probably the strangest Connections play that I have yet seen, revolving around a giant baby born after a two-and-a-half year pregnancy. Not many words could explain how strange this is and it is one of those plays that needs to be experienced to get the absolute madness involved.

Director James Smith has worked the venue of the church well into the performance and will have quite a challenge making it so well involving in the space of the Royal. However what the new place will offer is space, as the small stage at St Peters couldn't possibly accommodate the cast at times (there is a massive twenty of them). The cramped situation did allow the giant baby to appear much bigger than it was, and the baby itself was suitably grotesque and well designed by Mrs Moreton. Standout scene for me and cleverly performed was the birth scene. Utterly bizarre at all times, but also tremendously funny (there may have been tears of laughter).

No one will be singled out performance wise to be fair to all, as this as much as many I have seen felt like a group show and everyone was suitably over the top as the play descended into more bizarre situations by the second.

So yes a preview, and a first one at that, but already its a show with bags of potential which with just over two months more preparation before the Royal performance on May 1st should be made to be a quite mad dummy spitting out delight.

Performance reviewed: Saturday 20th February (matinee), 2016 at St Peters Church, Northampton.

Gargantua by Carl Grose is one of the 2016 Connections plays, details of which can be found here: 
http://connections.nationaltheatre.org.uk/. It was performed by the Looking Glass Theatre at the St Peters Church on Saturday 20th February, 2016 only.

The play will next be performed by this group on the Royal stage on Sunday 1st May, 2016 as part of the National Theatre Connections tour. Tickets via Royal & Derngate will be available soon.

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Woman In Mind by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I like Alan Ayckbourn, I may only have seen a few of his vast array of plays previously, but all have been a delight, often crazy yes, but constantly funny, and especially in the second act spiralling often into just on the very edge of believable nonsense. With Woman In Mind, acknowledged by many as one of his finest works, my own personal jury is very much out on whether I liked it or not.
What was very good, mostly, however, were the performances, most especially the two that we are introduced to at the very beginning. The prostrate Susan (Nicola Osborne), with sinisterly lurking rake alongside her, and the bag struggling doctor, Bill (John Myhill).
Nicola Osborne has the unenviable task in this play of never leaving the stage, a feat in itself. Add to this the constant weaving of the character's world (more on this later), and you have a role featuring some significant challenge, one that Osborne ably surmounts. I once described Osborne as a "safe pair of hands" in …

Press launch of Sting's The Last Ship at Errol Flynn Filmhouse, Northampton

On Friday 16th February 2018, I attended the official press launch of The Last Ship. In attendance were the writer of the show, Sting, and cast members for the 2018 UK tour Richard Fleeshman, Charlie Hardwick and Joe McGann, with musical support from Rob Mathes.

During the event, opened entertainingly by producer Karl Sydow, Sting and the cast members performed seven of the songs from the show: The Last Ship (Sting), Dead Man's Boots (Sting and Fleeshman), Sail Away (Hardwick), The Night the Pugilist Learned to Dance (Fleeshman), What Say You Meg? (Fleeshman) and What Have You Got? (Sting and cast).

Each of these songs showed us a great background to the evocative tale that The Last Ship tells, of a community under attack as its crucial shipbuilding industry begins to fail. The performers and Sting himself delivered the songs with huge passion, despite, as Sting himself commented, the earnestness of the hour, with the event beginning at 10 am.

The Last Ship was initially inspired …

Review of Cilla - The Musical at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I have to start with a confession dear reader, what I know about Cilla Black can pretty much be written on the back of the Derngate ticket that I clutched on entering the theatre (and that allows for the advert on the back). I have heard a couple of her tunes of course (more than once) and confess, once again, that I generally didn't like what I heard. I think it's clear that with her natural raw form and voice, "a diamond in the rough" as Brian Epstein, her eventual manager describes her, she a performer that you either love or generally, not hate as such, but perhaps just dislike. I fall in the latter. Curiously as I a forty-year-old, I also don't even fall into the Cilla of hit television either, being a BBC viewing family, I never saw her on TV much when I was growing up.

So, coming almost totally fresh to the world of Cilla, it was a little comforting that for the first act, much of the world of Cilla - The Musical revolves not just around star building Cil…