Skip to main content

The Flash Festival Review 2017 (including course honours) held at the Looking Glass Theatre (Hazelrigg House), St Peter's Church and Salvation Army Hall, Northampton

For my fourth year running I was back for the University of Northampton's BA Actors Flash Festival, a place to see the graduate actors do their stuff in their end of course dissertation performances. This year sadly for the first time fellow Flash buddy Mudbeast76 was unable to join the journey, however, our 2016 new recruit The Real Chrisparkle was back with a vengeance and this year covering all fifteen shows. These fifteen shows would also allow me to hit sixty separate Flash shows, pretty much all of them very much loved.


The venues this year were mostly similar to 2016 with St Peter's Chuch being used one again (with enhanced staging area) and one in the altar space. Hazelrigg House once again offered three different standard rooms for performance and two spaces in the glorious cellar used again for a couple of performances. Finally there was one new venue, for one performance, the brilliant and also excellently well used Salvation Army Hall.

However with no further ado, onto the awards!

Best Technology Use

Like last year tech use was a little underwhelming (or almost not existent in some), however, it helped to narrow it down to a few. However having said that, there was only one really in it. Tremendous use of sound, music, lighting and some incredible video footage expertly edited, left only one to choose.
Out of Mind Theatre's Broken

Best Physical Theatre

This one was a much trickier decision as there were a collection of inspired pieces of work on display. Some brilliant routines and pieces were devised for Merge Theatre's A Sinner Kissed an Angel and Tangled Spines The Powers That Be opened with one really special rountine. I could also have been very tempted to give it to Out of Mind's Broken as well with a couple of brilliantly prepared scenes. It also very nearly went to Lotus Theatre's Being A Man for some excellent use of minimal space.
However it had to go somewhere and I think for the way it used it to tell the story more than any other show, the simultaneous movement pieces left this award going to only one show.
Zakiya Theatre's A Matter of Race

Best Set

Sets were once again generally simple affairs, rightfully allowing the cast to do their stuff instead, however, a few put a little more work into it as ever with ideas and preparation. Merge Theatre's A Sinner Kissed an Angel created a nice depiction of home and bar with simple pieces of furniture. Out of Mind once again deserves a mention with its impressively large set. Sample Theatre created an interesting set space rather than set, and Can't Stop Theatre was really simple in its empties chess board, but very clever.
However, there was one towering beast of a construction which it was clear a lot of work had gone into (interestingly a large part of the work of a previous graduate) and therefore if only for that magnificent column/arch, there is only one winner
Stalagmite Theatre's G.M.H

Best Individual Scene

A few scenes in Lotus Theatre's Being A Man could have won here, while the epic opening scene of Tangled Spines' The Powers That Be might have. Also, the amazing closing sequence of Stalagmite Theatre's G.M.H might also have. I might even have chosen the opening piece of Imagine That Theatre's Exposed, but it might have been very different when you saw it.
However there was probably only one show that this was going to come from, however which scene? I think actually for me it has to be the sequence where Ben Hampton silently mouths the words and performs the actions of the other characters unsighted in such a brilliantly prepared scene hardly if ever bettered in Flash.
Out of Mind Theatre's Broken


Best Play

This year it wasn't difficult in any way to chose the best play, for me there was one complete package above all others. However, the other places were interesting to form. So here be in reverse order my top five shows.

Fifth place for hitting the ground running from an incredible opening sequence and then never shying from the tough subject matter and theme (fondly remembered by me from the original book).
Tangled Spines Theatre's The Powers That Be

Fourth place for not only a brilliantly performed collection of stories but also an educational fascinating piece
Stern Mystics Theatre's Click Here

Third place for a brilliantly rehearsed and created piece on a tough challenging subject
Zakiya Theatre's A Matter Of Race

Second place for not only a truly brilliant piece but one which educates, entertains and stirs the emotions and leaves you truly changed by the tales it tells.
Lotus Theatre's Being A Man

First place and never in doubt. Five performers at the very top of their game in a piece that grips from the start to the finish via it superb tech, physical theatre, the best-filmed sequences I have seen at Flash and from sixty shows seen, one of the very best overal Flash creations.
Out of Mind Theatre's Broken

Best Female Performers (Flash Festival shows)

The Flash Festival again changed my picks over the best performers and for the first time I felt that in both male and female categories each of my three favourites were different from those during the whole course.

Third place for a gently captivating performance which was unshowy and perfectly controlled was Jen Wyndham in Tangled Spines Theatre's The Powers That Be

Second place for a brilliant performance of Ruth Ellis, bringing every emotion to the fore during the play was Olivia Noyce in Merge Theatre's A Sinner Kissed An Angel

First place for surprising me in every possible way with a seize the moment performance within a show of so many brilliant performances was Victoria Rowlands in Out of Mind Theatre's Broken

Best Male Performers (Flash Festival shows)

This year the male performers have been the best-balanced collection ever. Often in the past, the best have been very, very obvious.

Third place for a masterclass of comedy above and beyond perhaps the quality of the show it was in was Lewis Hodson in Imagine That Theatre's Exposure

Second place for one of the strongest solo male performances I have seen was that of  Javier Melhado in Lotus Theatre's Being A Man

First place and responsible for more than a tear or two was the incredible performance of Ben Hampton in Out of Mind Theatre's Broken

Best Female Performers (Full course)

These are the ones like the lifetime achievement awards, the main event!

Third place for incredibly brilliant performances during the whole course, including her magically funny Dromio in The Comedy of Errors and her heartfelt Alice in Vinegar Tom, is Helena Fenton

Second place for being consistent and stirring throughout, most especially in the truly powerful scene in Pornography is Beck Fowler

First place and perhaps one of the most consistent performers I have seen throughout the whole course, from the first time I saw her as the most incredible Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, onto the foul-mouthed old lady in Pornography, the comic classic creation of She Echos and an equally amazing Flash performance as well (and a dab hand on lighting as well), it has to be Jessica Bichard

Best Male Performers (Full course)

Third place could almost be given to this person for one single scene in She Echos as he takes apart a fellow performer in one of the best fight scenes I have ever seen. However, he didn't stop there as he was brilliant as Tybalt (ironically being taken apart himself in that) in Romeo & Juliet and a powderkeg in Pornography. Therefore this place clearly goes to Liam Faik

Second place through more quiet consistency across the whole course, including his quite amazing presence as Mercutio is Lee Hancock

First place and perhaps the most quietly convincing I have seen, busy creating great characters in an incredibly subtle way. The perfect character actor if ever the BA Actors had created one is Chris Drew.


And that is that another year complete (with the exception of the London Showcase). Go forth folks and conquer the world!

Popular posts from this blog

Review of The Beauty Queen Of Leenane at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

While Martin McDonagh is now making quite a name for himself as a screenwriter, director and producer of hit films like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, he started off a writer for the stage, like this play The Beauty Queen of Leenane, the first of a trilogy set in County Galway. And while McDonagh himself has said he has "respect for the whole history of films and a slight disrespect for theatre", it doesn't stop him writing pretty impressive plays like this one.

Having previously seen McDonagh's The Pillowman at The Playhouse, and an excellent version of Hangmen via NT Live, I was well aware of McDonagh's dark humour. Beauty Queen maintains that edge, with its tale of spinster Maureen, and her relationship with her oppressive and demanding mother Mag, ill, but still outwardly manipulative of events. It's dark, not quite as dark as The Pillowman perhaps, but like that play, features one truly disturbing torture scene, so, it's not for the fain…

Review of The Bodyguard at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

The 1992 film The Bodyguard starring Kevin Costner and the acting debut for singing megastar Whitney Houston, was a slightly average romantic thriller, which is really mostly remembered for its musical turns from Houston, so, it is perhaps surprising that it took a whole twenty years to make it's transition to the stage as a musical version. Premiering in London in December 2012, ten months after Houston's tragic death, the show has had great success around the world, and with this, it's second UK tour, has a recognisable face in the star role, of Alexandra Burke, former X-Factor winner (curiously not mentioned in her programme biog).
The Bodyguard follows the story of former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer (Benoît Maréchal) who is hired to protect multi-award-winning music star Rachel Marron, following her receiving threats from a stalker.
It's clear from the bold opening performance that Alexandra Burke as Marron is not looking to imitate Houston in…

Review of The Rocky Horror Show at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

Seeing the 46-year-old Rocky Horror Show at the theatre for the first time is quite an experience on many levels. First and foremost as a regular theatregoer, the audience, even on a relatively demure evening of a Monday, is something you would never really experience at a theatre beyond this show. Many are dressed up (even on that demure Monday), and so many are so in tune with the show, that these regular fans have become entwined within it. They know every word of the script, they contribute to it, they enhance it, often they make Richard O'Brien's already adult content into something much more adult. It's a revelation of experience, much before a newbie such as myself even considers the show.

Laura Harrison's beautifully clear rendition of Science Fiction/Double Feature sets the scene for some generally excellent performances of O'Brien's classic tunes, in a musical which is clearly audible, sadly not something that always happens with many productions.

Ou…