National Theatre experience at Theatre Royal Winchester.

Live screenings in local cinemas and Theatres across the country from the National Theatre take away the stress and expense of traveling into London, especially in the uncertain climate of the train strike that we are currently experiencing.

Winchester Theatre Royal proved to be a comfortable and welcoming venue to spend a Sunday evening in front of the live streamed NTL performance.

Watching Othello on the big screen knowing that I am only twenty minutes from home made a difference after an almost three-hour performance divided into two eighty-minute acts with roughly a twenty-minute interval. The advantage of watching the production on the big screen is the close-up camera work. Watching the facial expressions and body language closer is an experience often missed in large Theatre venues.

With a well stocked bar and a nice range of freshly made hot beverages there’s a great choice to help quench your thirst or some snacks depending on whether you prefer sweet or savoury. Treat yourself to an ice cream of luxury crisps if that’s your preference.

I can highly recommend visiting Theatre Royal Winchester for all of its other events and performances that take place too. My only suggestion for future NTL screenings would be to slightly turn up the volume next time. The usual auditorium fidgeting and coughing made it slightly harder to hear at times. Apart from that it was a really lovely evening out watching Othello.

For more information on future productions and NTL live performances coming to Winchester Theatre Royal, please use the link below.

Photo credits Myah Jeffers.


The Tell-Tale Heart by John Goodrum.

Adapted from the original book by Edgar Allan Poe The Tale Heart gothic horror novel is a sinister story with a deadly twist. Clarry Straven ( David Martin) stumbles upon the lodgings of Roderick Bounty (John Goodrum), a strange gentleman with a rather odd collection of belongings.

Haunted by the “Raven eye” of his host Bounty, Straven is unsettled and struggles to sleep at night, waking between 3-4 am each morning to check that his host and the eye are asleep. He fears his host and is unnerved by his presence. Yet there’s no obvious reason at first, just a slightly eccentric host who rents out his spare room.

Staged in front of a dark background with curtains drawn to keep out the light, which Bounty claims is to prevent robbers from looking in to see his treasure chests placed under the window. However, as the story unfolds, this turns out not to be the only reason.

The performance is strong through the first fifty minutes. The second half would benefit from editing during the conversation, which takes place between Straven and Inspector Morgan ( Gordon Johum), who calls around after a neighbour heard screams coming from the house. The tension built up after the events between Straven and Bounty became diluted with the quantity of dialogue from the Inspector, and at times, I lost track of where they were in the conversation.

I especially liked the rain and thunderstorm raging throughout the play. Adding an air of danger to the situation, claps of thunder were placed at points to make the audience jump and heightened the tension building up between the characters, waiting to explode.

Poe’s writing certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted Theatre goer. I enjoy being challenged and gripped by the tales such as The Tell-Tale Heart. Many twists in his work make for compelling viewing.

For more information on about this play and future productions at Theatre Royal Winchester, please use the link below.

Three and a half Stars

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty.

SLEEPING BEAUTY by Bourne, , Director and Choreographer – Matthew Bourne, Designer – Lez Brotherston, Lighting – Paule Constable, New Adventures, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, 2022, Credit: Johan Persson/

Gothic Romance Sleeping Beauty seen through the creative vision of Sir Matthew Bourne is celebrating its 10th-anniversary revival ballet production. From the fairies entertaining baby Aurora to the floating Sleeping Beauty behind the locked gates each twist and turn brings a new charm to the audience.

Baby Aurora is an absolute delight to watch. The puppetry skills are superb. The black silhouettes cast by the puppeteers are slightly visible from behind the baby. However, they add to the atmosphere of the gothic staging. The Baby’s mannerisms and characteristics are incredibly life and watching her outwit the butlers and nannies was hilarious.

SLEEPING BEAUTY by Bourne, , Director and Choreographer – Matthew Bourne, Designer – Lez Brotherston, Lighting – Paule Constable, New Adventures, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, 2022, Credit: Johan Persson/

Sleeping Beauty’s storyline follows the familiar fairy-tale story. Aurora falls in love with Leo, the Royal Gamekeeper (Stephen Murray). On the day in which she comes of age Carabosse (Paris Fitzpatrick) attends her party and finds a way to trick Aurora into touching the thorn of a beautiful blue rose. Sending her into a dreamland trance for one hundred years.

Cordelia Braithwaite performs with ease and perfection the role of coming-of-age Aurora. Her incredible stage presence sweeps along her suitors and family with grace, captivating the audience at the same time. As we watch her demise in horror and await her return one hundred years later.

Lez Brotherston set and costume designer brings gothic horror fantasy to stage with bold and dramatic effects. From the enormous beautiful moonlit sky to the eerie forest locked behind the large iron gates. I was especially impressed with the flowing dresses worn by the female fairies.

SLEEPING BEAUTY by Bourne, , Director and Choreographer – Matthew Bourne, Designer – Lez Brotherston, Lighting – Paule Constable, New Adventures, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, 2022, Credit: Johan Persson/

Director Matthew Bourne yet again succeeds in adding a twist to a well known fairytale and creates a lasting impression on audiences accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s timeless musical score brining the romance, humour and dark gothic villainy to life.

For further information on this touring production and future performances at the Mayflower Theatre Southampton please use the links below.

Five Stars

The War Inside by Camille Dawson.

Entering a small shipping container is certainly a new experience for me at the Vaults Festival. The War Inside billed as a sonic theatre experience certainly lives up to the title. Based on the true experiences of its author Camille Dawson.

Dealing with bowel disease at a young age isn’t something anyone expects to deal with. The experience isn’t based upon the patient’s emotional roller coaster, we travel inside the body and listen to the white and red blood cells prepare for war. Intrigued? Good, it’s a journey of how the organs could be perceived to tackle a disease threatening to maim the host.

The audio production is delivered through headphones. Each participant has their listening pod, where there are cushions or a chair to sit on with a nice fleece blanket to wrap up into. Take a seat, pop on the face mask, and let yourself immerse into the body and listen to the “war” play out before you.

The thirty minute production would be an ideal pod cast or short radio play similar to those on Radio 4. Informative and entertaining, there is definitely an audience for this style of production.

The War Inside is the first production in a series being released in the autumn at the Albany Theatre. I am intrigued to see what the talented creative team will be bringing to the Theatre. If it is anything like this one, they’ll be excellent listening.

Four Stars

Please use the link below to find out more information.

The War Inside

Their Finest Hour by Steve Darlow.

Fighting High and for George productions pay honour to many of the heroes and unsung heroes of World War II through Their Finest Hour. Bringing to the stage the story of the war that took place in the skies through the timeline history of the RAF. Dangerous missions, deadly sunrises, and unchartered territories map out on stage. With many fatalities along the way.

Jamie Dunlop (Patrick Lock) predominantly narrates the performance. Friends of the recently deceased family discover their Granddad’s wartime memories and read private letters which had remained locked away since the end of the war. Standing to the side dressed in uniform he confidently retells the stories.

Older cast member Peter Pearson adds authority to the production. Bringing the famous historical figures of the time to live from Winston Churchill to Neville Chamberlain. As a voiceover artist with a range of voices,  Pearson added authenticity to each role.

However, the second narrator in my opinion belonged to Tabitha Baines. Singing many songs from World War II times. Many audience members might not be familiar with some of the famous pilots featured in the play. Yet the songs chosen will be far more universally identified and delivered by an incredible singer.

The fighter scenes came to life in several scenes. Moving the dining chairs onstage into numerous positions, allowing the suspension of disbelief to see them become a Lancaster Bomber or Mosquito flying into Berlin or Dunkirk attacking the Germans.

Costume designer Anne ‘Bam’ Thomson creates a fantastic display of uniforms, European hats, and period outfits worn by the cast. the weather-beaten jumpers, in particular, worn by the prisoners of war, added a dramatic impact to the situation they found themselves in.

Steeped in historical research, first-hand experiences, and some harrowing insights into the dreadful atrocities that took place during the Second World War. However, these fascinating insights are times too drawn out and would benefit from editing in order to help the production flow smoother. Although the staging and scenery certainly added a layer of authenticity to the overall production.

Running from the 8th to 26th March at Waterloo East Theatre. Please use the links below for more information and ticket bookings.

Four Stars

Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh.

LCT Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh Rebecca Birch Tom Richardson Dir: Michael Cabot Photo © SBurnett

Mike Leigh’s play Abigail’s Party was written in 1977, at a time when marriage was every “woman’s aspiration,” divorce was a taboo subject, men were head of the household, and turning a blind eye to violence against women was commonplace.

Neighbours Bev (Rebecca Birch) and Laurence (Tom Richardson) are hosting a drinks party for a few choice neighbours. Set in 1977 the decor, drinks cabinet and canapés are indicative of the era. Especially the pineapple and cheese on sticks and the exotic acquired taste of olives.

Alice De-Warrenne in the role of ditzy Angela, who has recently moved into Richmond Road with her husband Tony (George Readshaw). Appears completely oblivious to Bev’s advances on her husband as the gin flows freely. Her performance is outstanding and as she plays with the hula hoops during the slow “dirty” dance between Bev and Tony you hold your breath the moment you expect her to catch them.

LCT 01.03.23 Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh Jo Castelton Alice De-Warrene Rebecca Birch Dir: Michael Cabot Photo © SBurnett

The decor and furniture brought back childhood memories. Bold-designed wallpaper looms at you and the living room matching wooden furniture all in keeping with the 70’s style home decor. Bek Palmer recreated the era to match the attitudes at that time.

Director Michael Cabot brings together comedy, tempers, and strong sexual tension to the stage through the excellent cast of five.

LCT Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh Alice De-Warrene Rebecca Birch Tom Richardson Dir: Michael Cabot Photo © SBurnett

It is safe to say that Susan’s (Jo Castleton) 15 year-old daughter Abigail is having more fun at her party than the adults have been. You could cut the tension at times with a knife as the alcohol loosens their inhibitions and simmering tempers explode.

For more information, please visit the link below.

Four Stars

Can’t Wait to Leave by Stephen Leach.

Ryan (Zach Hawkins) a 19 year old guy confused about his future decided to follow his older brother Ben a successful up and coming accountant to London. The promise of a brighter future and more opportunities first lured him there. However, Ryan’s life couldn’t be further away from the success and popularity experienced by his older brother.

Stephen Leach’s new debut one man play Can’t Wait to Leave is bought to stage with an incredible performance by Hawkins. The depth of self-awareness is written with a refreshing honesty and compassion. Never allowing Ryan to become a victim of his circumstances, facing them head on, and knowing he needs to make the necessary changes to improve his future. Just needs to figure out how!

Disillusioned with his deliveroo job and the should be “condemned” flat he is sharing. Life in London isn’t anything like he imagined it to be, and he “can’t wait to leave” it all behind him. Without any money or job prospects, where can he go.

After meeting affluent 53-year-old Richard at his brothers drinks event leads him into a situation he cannot have foreseen or sadly prevented.

Stephen Leach tackles male rape with sensitivity yet at the same time hitting the audience hard within his writing. The story isn’t verbatim, although Leach explains that “his story is no-one’s and everyone’s ” where sexual assaults are often committed by people familiar with the victim.

The play would benefit from editing and tightening up a few scenes to add further dramatic impact this powerful play truly deserves. As writer, director and producer Leach has worked incredibly hard to bring the story stage and should be immensely proud.

Four Stars

For more information on this play and future productions at Waterloo East Theatre please use the links below.

Charlie and Stan by Told by an Idiot Productions.

Charlie and Stan tell the lesser-known story of when Fred Karno’s (Nick Haverson) music hall troupe set sail from Southampton to New York in 1910. Where two of the most famous and influential men in the world of comedy first met. Charlie Chaplin (Danielle Bird) and Stan Jefferson aka Stan Laurel (Jerome Marsh-Reid).

Chaplin often casts a lonely figure in the history books of “slapstick comedy”. However, aboard the ship Cairnrona. Chaplin forms a friendship with Laurel while the pair share a cabin aboard the ship. The pair become friends and practice performances together onboard.

The eighty-minute production offers fast-moving, silent movie-style comedy with the infamous red curtain notice board used for introducing announcements or information. Accompanied throughout with live music performed by award winning jazz musician Zoe Rahman.

The finely timed theatrical falls, slapstick drunken escapades, and an insight into the traumatic life led by the younger Chaplin are captivating and cleverly directed by Paul Hunter. Reconstructing slapstick comedy doesn’t appear to be an easy feat yet the performances of the cast came across effortlessly.

Even after over a hundred years, these comedy legends still live on and deserve to be enjoyed by future generations. Told by an Idiot Productions has respectfully kept their memories alive with their own company of comedy geniuses. Especially Bird in the insightful and empathetic role of Chaplin, I can only begin to imagine the hours spent studying the late and great silent movie genius.

Oliver Hardy performed by (Nick Haverson) as well. Transformed into a character on stage before us, and although the audience knew who it was, his entrance was well received. No performance of Stan Laurel would be complete without his appearance. Although brief, just enough information to know how the famous double act met.

Charlie and Stan is a must-see production. I would encourage younger audiences to watch and marvel in the work created by Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.

Four Stars.

For more information on this production and future productions coming to The Mast in Southampton please use the links below.

How The Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn.

Alan Ayckbourn’s play How The Other Half Loves is the perfect comedy entertainment to brighten up a Winter’s evening. Three couples’ lives and marriages entwine. It’s the morning after the night before and two have been playing away from home. There’s no mystery about who they are from the start of the play develops around their secret coming out.

One stage boasts two homes. Half designed in the style of the affluent home of the boss Frank Foster ( Philip Bretherton) and his wife Fiona (Sherry Baines). The other Half belonging to Franks employee Bob Phillips (Haydn Oakley) and wife Teresa ( Joanna Van Kampen) the family life mess is evident and the furniture is functional.

Alternative decorated walls depicted whose house you are in during the play. The ceiling heights, a higher standard of decor, and soft furnishings in the Foster household including the sofa coverings split. The details and organisation of a complex set such as this on are superb and made it extremely easy to follow where you were at all times.

The dinner party scenes split between Thursday and Friday night at the different houses are timed perfectly. Both of the couples invite William and Mary Featherstone (Sam Alexander and Rebecca Cooper) around for an evening of dinner and getting to know one another.

The Featherstone’s sit on swivel chairs to switch quickly between both homes to engage with their hosts. Conversations and revelations are perfectly timed letting the audience follow the fast-paced storyline without losing any of the dynamics built up between the three couples. The cast of six bring the classic Ayckbourn play to life with precision and confidence.

Philip Bretherton’s portrayal of the slightly forgetful and erratic boss Frank Foster catches you unaware at times, and you burst out laughing. Don’t be fooled, though. This man doesn’t miss anything and eventually pieces everything together.

Director Gareth Machin has created an incredibly funny, finely tuned production of the Ayckbourn play to the stage. With so many intertwined complex scenes where both families are simultaneously in their homes on the stage together, nothing overlaps. I left completely in awe of Machin’s direction skills and considering where you start when putting a complex performance on stage such as this.

For more information on this play and future productions at The Salisbury Playhouse, please use the links below.

Five Stars.

Playing from the 9th February to 4th March 2023.

Photo credit The Other Richard.

When Darkness Falls by James Milton and Paul Morrissey.

When Darkness Falls is a ghost story within a ghost story. Historian John Blondel (Tony Timberlake) president of the Guernsey Historical Society only believes in historical evidence and “facts” he asks The Speaker (Thomas Dennis) into his office to record a podcast on some of the folklore ghosts connected to the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Sark. Can the self professed non-believer be convinced that there are unexplained things that do go bump in the night!

Twisting and turning throughout the performance, the tales of four harrowing ghosts stories are set to the backdrop of the raring stormy night in 1987, the hurricane that weather forcaster Michael Fish got very wrong. The flickering lights, power failures, and claps of thunder add to the atmosphere, and many members of the auditorium jumped in sync at certain times.

There are subtle clues throughout the performance to The Speakers true identity as the tale unfolds. Working his way into the mind of Blondel, it infolds that he is forcing him to confront the depths of his memories that were buried years before and be honest with himself for once.

Justin Williams set designer creates a tired and cluttered working office capturing every detail of Blondel’s working career. Even a small money tree plant is buried amongst the files, clutter, and machinery. With traps and falling props positioned around the office as tempers flair you never quite know what will leap to life next.

Overall, the performances by both cast members is captivating at times and very good. However , I wanted to leave the Theatre feeling on edge and wary. Instead, it lacked the power and dramatic effects that could make the production a truly horrific Theatre experience.

For further information about Richmond Theatre and details of future  for “When Darkness Falls”use the links posted below.

Three Stars


A Ghost Story by James Milton and Paul Morrissey

Wednesday 9th – Saturday 11th February


Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th February


Thursday 23rd – Saturday 25th February


Monday 27th February – Saturday 4th March

LOWRY, Salford

Tuesday 7th – Saturday 11th March


Tuesday 21st – Saturday 25th March


Tuesday 4th – Saturday 8th April


Wednesday 12th – Saturday 15th April

CURVE, Leicester

Tuesday 18th – Saturday 22nd April


Wednesday 26th – Saturday 29th April