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Showing posts from June, 2018

Review of The Crucible by University of Northampton BA Actors at Jacksons Lane Theatre, Highgate, London

There is no denying that Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a classic and well-regarded play and that in the hands of the always brilliant University of Northampton BA Actors, it should have been a thrill of innovation and epic theatre. So, why, when there was so much talent, did it become just an uninspired, by the numbers production?

I had only seen the play, formed around the 1690s Salem Witch Trials, once before in a vibrant school production that, while clearly long and drawn out (it's a heck of a long play in this, it's pure form), always remained entertaining, especially being performed by that young and enthusiastic cast. Here in this version directed by Nadia Papachronopoulou, it should have been so, so good, with the actor's talent, the potential for a dramatic stage version crackling with inspired moments was so overwhelming.

So why did with end up with just a static, curiously soulless affair? In principle it does nothing wrong, performances are strong, with …

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

As the onslaught of jukebox musicals continues to hold sway on the theatre world, it always nice and bold to run with a musical now with brand new music, and to add to this, a musical based around the death of over 1500 people seems like utter madness. However, Maury Yeston (music and lyrics) and Peter Stone's (book) Titanic the Musical has proven any doubters wrong with a vastly successful run in London in 2016, following its initial launch in 1997 on Broadway (it pre-dates that famous movie by a few months), and now the musical is on a UK national tour.

If you don't know the story of the Titanic, your education has failed you, however, it's safe to say that this doesn't end very well, and becomes one of the worst disasters in modern history. Stone creates from this disaster an often curiously entertaining piece, full of characters that are all interesting enough, but never so to overwhelm one another, as this is very much an ensemble piece. The only way you would ev…

Review of DNA by University of Northampton BA Actors at Jacksons Lane Theatre, Highgate, London

The final year performances of BA Actors this year upped sticks and headed away from their Northampton Royal territory and gathered to show their skills in London.

The first of the three shows being performed was Dennis Kelly's DNA, a play which I saw performed on the Royal stage itself four years ago. I enjoyed it for its dark mysterious nature and was looking forward to seeing a different interpretation of the show. It tells the tale of a group of youngsters who do something really bad, and proceed to attempt to cover it up, resulting in the real bad, well, getting more bad. It's dark yes, but also, very funny at times.

It opens with a looming movement piece of theatre, which I always love and this was no different for me, brooding and sinister. It's quite a long opening, which perhaps, in the end, becomes too long, but it's a fabulous piece of theatre for me. It set's the scene very well for Kelly's dark piece to unfold and in the hands of these, about to gr…

Flash Festival 2018: Persecuted by United-Force Theatre Company at Hazelrigg House, Northampton

It's perhaps a shame that the major talking point after United-Force Theatre Company's production of Persecuted is its final scene, and more so over the sheer realism of it, rather than anything directly related to the acting and writing of it. The shame is that it overshadows what is quite a brilliant piece of theatre in its own right, well constructed and superbly acted by the trio in the group, Alexander Forrester-Coles, Chris Tyler and Radostin Radev.

The date is 11th May 2005 and the Iraq War is no longer having the initial success that it had after destroying Sadam Hussain's regime. In a camp in Basra, Mohammed bin Osama bin Laden (Radostin Radev) is captured and under interrogation by commander James Farrell (Alexander Forrester-Coles), the good cop of the story, and Dan (Chris Tyler),  a Lieutenant, very much of the bad cop variety.

It's an ugly, but also a very vivid tale, claustrophobic and always intimidating. When the actors are not churning through the int…

Flash Festival 2018: An Error In The Melody by Carousel Theatre Company at Hazelrigg House, Northampton

At the centre of Carousel Theatre's An Error in the Melody is an intriguing character, performed by the groups solo performer, Amelia Renard. She plays, with some skill, Leonie Owens, a composer of immense skill herself, well, in her head in any case.

With shades of Glorious! The true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, which I have also seen this year, Owens just wants to perform and absorb the love of an audience, despite the fact that her skills mostly just lie within her head. Owens perhaps isn't anywhere near as nice a character as Foster Jenkins though, and when the tide turns against her, she really is quite nasty, and definitely very cold.

The dislike of the character though isn't the biggest problem with An Error in the Melody, it's more that it is a very insubstantial piece. Two very long scenes in this play are just so lightweight, the opening where she tidies her shelves, mostly with her back to the audience, and then later another scene similar in style. It…

Review of The Pillowman at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

The Pillowman sounds such a friendly title, and to be fair, his story is one of the lighter aspects of Martin McDonagh's script. It still involves dead children though, if you want to get a clear vision of how dark this play is.

Set in a police state of the future, Katurian (Toby Pugh) is taken in for the content of his often violent stories and a similarity to a spate of recent child killings. Here in detention cell 13, his police captors, Tupolski (Adrian Wyman) and Ariel (Steve While) play good cop, bad cop while holding over the threat of violence against Katurian's mentally disabled brother Michal (Patrick Morgan), being held in another cell.

The Pillowman is clearly a very warped story, with the blackest of black comedy, and often also very offensive with it's racial stereotyping and disability. In fact, it is no surprise that a couple left in the interval, as I would happily admit that this play is far from everyone. I like a good black comedy though, and lifting an …

Review of Education, Education, Education at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Today I have been attending my new school, Wordsworth Comprehensive, and the teachers are a really bizarre bunch.

Miss Turner (Kerry Lovell) was a little scary, but really rather sexy with it as well. She really is gorgeous to look at and stirs some odd emotions and fings in me. Can get awkward sometimes, but the desk helps. She really is brill at dancing like crazy in high heels as well, not that I was looking through the staff room window at her, or anything.

Headmaster Mr Mills (Tom England) is making all the baby-faced boys jealous with his exceptional growth on his chin and confused everyone with his real odd accent. A rumour going around school is he can put an immense amount of sand in a mug. Why, though, it is hard to fathom, and it's a weird skill to have really.

Talking of accents, the other new guy Tobias (James Newton) was sporting another odd accent as well, and randomly talking to people in the assembly, somehow he is able to freeze and control the other staff and p…