Who Killed ‘Agatha’ Christie? by Tudor Gates.

If you’re expecting to watch an adopted play from the pen of the famous author Agatha Christie then you might feel slightly disappointed when you realise it isn’t. However, the plotline, twists and turns fail to disappoint and draw the audience into the storyline with bated breath.

Theatre critic Arthur Christie (David Gilbrook) has reviewed hundreds of plays during his long esteemed career. Destroying the playwright’s careers along the way is just part of his “subjective appraisal” and he certainly cannot be held responsible. However, playwright John Terry (John Goodrum) doesn’t share this opinion and has finally had enough of feeling on the outside of the literacy elite. But just how far will go to get revenge?

Christie reiterated many times in his reviews how “absurd and melodramatic” Terry’s plays were when he had reviewed them. However, the over melodramatic plot now being performed to destroy Christie leaves nothing to chance. From the tampered taped betrayal between his boyfriend, Brian Coombes and Terry’s fantasy wife Joanne Terry appears life-like as their tryst is taking place in the flat below them to their murders.

The strong reactions by Terry as he listens in to the couple “having sex” on his tape machine add to the dramatic effect. Goodrum’s sinister and calculated performance is disturbing at times.

As the plot unfolds we witness the fine details and exceptional mind behind the proposed “perfect murder” of Christie. Terry is far from inadequate and has the understanding and skills equal Christie’s literary elite status.

Gilbrook’s performance as a sufferer of angina was superb. Grasping his side, stumbling around the stage while desperately clinging onto his final moments of life while taunted by Terry who refuses to give back the life-saving medication.

As a critic watching this performance I left with an uncomfortable feeling. Criticising anyone can leave one open to repercussions.

For more information on this production please use the links below.

Four Stars

https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/whats-on/who-killed-agatha-christie

Crimes on Centre Court by New Old Friends.

When it comes to a good old-fashioned whodunit-style comedy. New Old Friends bring Crimes on Centre Court to the stage. Delivering an excellent service in concluding who murdered Lord Knows (Emile Clarke).

Lord Knows senior is murdered while eating his strawberries and cream laced with Brandy. His son the new Lord Hugh Knows returns to take over the helm. After all the tennis tournament at Wombledon Court must still take place. However, as the murders increase just how safe is anyone involved in the tournament?

PPDA is called in to help solve the case. Penny Pink (Sedona Rose) and Perry Pink (Ben Thornton) try to blend into the scenery and find out who murdered Lord Knows. However, Officer Cuthbert (Kirsty Cox) is called in as the bodies stack up and it all becomes rather dangerous.

The fantastic range of characters is performed throughout the play by the talented cast of four, From the well-groomed hedges to the landed gentry. Their role changes take place smoothly yet as the action speeds up at the end there is a comedic sense of urgency as the character’s headwear is the only part changed.

The highlight of the production is the amazingly talented singing hedges and scrubbery. Who better to keep the audience entertained between the scenes. Honestly seeing is believing.

Listening carefully you hear the mention of many infamous names associated with the tennis world. From the mention of “Fred” Digby and “Perry” Pink to the hot heated American player “Jon” presumably based upon John McEnroe when he shouts at the linesman “you cannot be serious”. It’s cleverly crafted and a fitting tribute to the real-life characters who shaped the game.

Writer and director Fergus Woods Dunlop has certainly won the audience over “game, set and match” with the brilliantly funny Crimes on Centre Court. Directing a large cast of characters with only four actors is a superb achievement.

For more information on the upcoming tour and remaining performances at Theatre Royal, Winchester please use the links below.

Four Stars

Crimes on Centre Court

https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/whats-on/crimes-centre-court

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch presented by Fat Rascal Theatre.

It’s rare as a reviewer to be invited to a tour of the Theatre as part of your invitation package. Tonight before being watching Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch. Behind the scenes at The Mast in Southampton gave the group of invited press a comprehensive and interesting guided tour of where and how the Theatre magic is created.

When I first read the press release the idea of an adult parody comedy musical from the perspective of Ursula the sea witch, the notorious villain from Aerial the mermaid. The concept intrigued me as to how this could work and I decided to find out how this would play out on stage. Well, I was certainly not disappointed.

The fast-paced adult-themed humour certainly lives up to the advertising. Cleverly scripted to bring current important affairs to the “surface” from the disgusting environmental crisis of waste being dumped into our seas, plus-size ladies are beautiful and the damage caused by the negative press has a lot to answer for and reminded the audience that men and women should be treated as equals.

Robyn Grant’s role as Ursula is outstanding and throughout the performance, her American accent reminded me of the incredible comedian “Ruby Wax” cutting to the quip and making a stand for powerful women. It’s never right that women standing up for themselves are often vilified.

Ursula’s love interest King Triton’s (George Whitty) charismatic charm and operatic voice left the auditorium stunned during several of his solo songs.

The fantastic display of underwater sea life puppetry bought the ocean scene to life and it would not have worked without them. However, Sebastian the crab played by Allie Dart was my overall favourite. Slipping in and out of an Irish accent throughout.

It’s refreshing to watch a musical comedy that highlights and raises such important topics without feeling like you have sat through a long speech. Presenting them in a way that you carry on considering them long after leaving the Theatre.

Outstanding musical performances all around and a selection of fantastic costumes. There’s nothing to dislike about this musical, I was “hooked” from the first number. As a company, they have set their sights on performing in the West End and I honestly think they have an excellent chance of fulfilling that dream.

For further information please use the links below.

Five Stars.

https://www.mayflowerstudios.org.uk/what-s-on/unfortunate-the-untold-story-of-ursula-the-sea-witch-2022/

Home

Medico by Stefania Licari.

Billed as a Theatre performance more exciting than the American television series “ER” Medico takes the audience through Stefania Licari’s medical training and her experiences from working in A&E to Intensive Care departments, through her comedic alter ego to educate and entertain audiences.

Licari kindly asks the audience at the beginning of the show if they should have a medical emergency during her performance please can it wait until the end of the show. For some reason, she’s a little bit busy during that time.

Candidly approaching all the first-hand experiences in the hospitals where Licari trained led to this warts and all creation, Medico. The gallows humour is often associated with those who work in the medical sector. She has her trusty skeleton to help her with the more technical aspect of the show.

Growing up in Milan, Italy with Sicilian family roots and now a British citizen. Licari reminisces over home and her native cuisine with fond memories as she compares it to our typically British damp cold days that soak into evey bone.

The production covers many of their varied experiences and talks about her love of the job. Be prepared to have a lesson on how to analyse urine! Licari has warmth and humour throughout the performance and is one of those Doctors I would trust with my life.

For more information on the performance please use the links below. Hopefully this will come back to the stage next year for the Edinburgh Fringe.

Four Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/stefania-licari-medico

https://www.stefanialicari.com/medico

Landscape with Weapon by Joe Penhall.

Behind every deadly weapon, nuclear bomb and latest weapon technology lies an engineer and a team of scientists working on creating something stronger and more accurate than weapons currently on the market. Where the government then takes over these designs to trade their arms and manipulate the world market.

Landscape with Weapons focuses on Ned (Danny Szam) whose deadly vision is to create a flock of drones capable of taking out enemies that are hiding in buildings or underground with horrifying precision. Therefore eliminating the need for mass killing and destruction of civilians often caught up in the firing line.

Brothers Dan (James Robinson) and Ned appear worlds apart at first as they try to understand each other’s world. Yet when Dan explains his venture into the world of botox Ned attempts to take the moral high ground over his brother putting “snake venom” into customers’ faces.

Suzy Bloom’s performance as Ross the government official responsible for obtaining Ned’s signature to sign over the rights for his designs and software begins with a friendly approach, as he questions the motivation behind the officials as to where these will end up she has to change her tactics to make him see “sense” with the help of Brooks (Malcolm Jeffries).

The Cockpit Theatre boasts a large stage area befitting of the large blueprint-designed floor tiles reflecting the images Ned sees when creating his designs. The three sections of surrounding seats allow the entire audience a good view of the action.

Overall the strong cast of four delivers a thought-provoking insight into the world of arms and double-dealing that one suspects will go on behind closed doors. Although first night nerves were evident and the ending appeared to cut off without any clear conclusions unless we are meant to never know how engineers in Ned’s position end their days.

For more information on the run currently showing from the 13th-18th of September at the Cockpit Theatre please use the link below.

Four Stars.

Photo credit Giacomo Giannelli

Cast
Dan ……………..James Robinson
Ned …………………..Danny Szam
Ross .………………… Suzy Bloom
Brooks ………. Malcolm Jeffries

Director ……………Jason Moore
Set floor & costume design …. Ian Nicholas
Sound/Lighting design .… Jonny Danciger

https://www.thecockpit.org.uk/show/landscape_with_weapon

http://www.onbooktheatre.co.uk/

http://www.instagram.com/onbooktheatre/

No Time for Strangers by Mermaids Performing Arts Fund.

When a stranger walks onto the train platform he has no idea what awaits him. Spotting the two friends already on the platform, who are deep in conversation what happens when they finally stop to engage with him?

The madness of the storyline mimics the chaos and uncertainty that could be found on a train platform. Nobody is sure when and where the next train is due. As he goes into the station offices to attempt to find someone who might know he discovers they have no idea either.

The script is disjointed and disorganised at times. Then it’s described as a play that doesn’t “take itself seriously ” and certainly lives up to the claim.

There are comedy moments within the script. With elements of the BBC comedy series A League of Gentlemen surreal ideas and formula running through it. I don’t particularly find this comedy funny. However, the audience was laughing most of the way through it.

For more information please use the link below.

Three Stars

https://www.edfringe.com/event/2022NOTIMEF_3T

Spit me Out by Slap n Tickle Theatre Company.

The two against one ratio of male to female actors deliver a hard-hitting story where Sophie recalls her first sexual encounter at school with the school’s “catch” Jamie McDonald, who transpires to be a sleazy sexual predator with no regard for anyone else’s feelings or boundaries.

Although the title appears to have a sexual connotation. The reference is made to the toxic male’s behaviour against the female. You can behave however you like and then simply “Spit her out” without any thoughts or consideration about the damage their behaviour has caused.

The hard-hitting musical production highlights that society still has a long way to go in changing the attitudes and ideas of what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour towards women. There is no doubt that any form of forced sexual behaviour is a crime.

Toxic masculinity dominates the performance. Even when Sophie begins to talk about her experiences and reactions to her current boyfriend’s sexual preferences which make her uncomfortable. Her two male counterparts sing or speak over her, drowning out any opinions that she has or manipulating the events to fit their narrative over hers.

With sexual assault cases on the rise and prosecution levels extremely low. A huge amount of work is left to be done in our justice system to bring perpetrators to court and charged for these heinous crimes they subject their victims to.

Prepare to be challenged and feel uncomfortable throughout the performance. After all these subjects are not meant to be comfortable viewing.

For more information on this production please visit the link below. If you have been affected by any of the topics mentioned above there are a couple of website links you can access.

Four Stars

https://www.edfringe.com/event/2022SPITMEO_U8

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/gender-violence/rape-and-sexual-assault/

Rape and sexual assault

https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/sexual-assault-and-rape

World Wide Web by Linda Morse.

For many years certain men, especially those in a position of power were allowed to get away with the most horrendous sexual misconduct against women. Victims of these abusers were sometimes known for colluding with them out of fear their careers would be finished and exposed. Meaning that the cycle escalated the crimes further enabling the abuser to continue.

World Wide Web by Linda Morse uses events similar to these in her play. Jess (Holly Cassidy) is a promising newly discovered working-class artist about to be launched next to her icon and now rival Minnie Goldchild (Tori Deffee). Jess believes Annette Seymour (Sarah-Jayne Wareham) owns the gallery and upon learning the truth everything begins to fall apart.

While awaiting trial gallery owner Sir Humphrey Neville-Wright (Neil Gwynne) known to his friends as “Humpty” is using his status and gallery contacts to launch a young new female artist with strong working-class roots. Could Jess become his next victim?

As the twisted story behind his sleazy activities is unravelled at quite a pace by Jess the level of disgust and uncomfortable watching rise within the auditorium. Especially as Humpty’s behaviour hasn’t changed even in the light of his upcoming case.

The plot is cleverly crafted and written with so many uncomfortable truths about how and why these men were allowed and enabled to continue on their paths destroying women’s lives in their wake. Be prepared for a challenging watch.

With a few edits to the script, this play can be held as an important part of documenting the disgusting practices that have taken place for many years to help launch very talented people, through unscrupulous manipulative alpha males. Using Jess’s position and talents as a powerful example that fame and money don’t need to be obtained through “sexual favours”.

For more information on this production please visit the link below.

Four Stars.

Linda Morse

https://lovesalisbury.co.uk/event/world-wide-web-play/

Fear of Heights by Kevin Flynn.

American comedian Kevin Flynn’s show Fear of Heights is centred around the iconic picture of the construction workers on the steel girder back in the 1930s. Flynn’s grandfather can be seen sitting on the end at the right-hand side. A photograph that has been viewed by millions bought to life on stage.

The performance describes in detail the lives his Grandfather and Father led on the construction sites. There is so much love and admiration reflected through the show, it’s all based on the morals and principles that both of these men lived and died by, one of which was always doing the best they could for their families.

Part of which Flynn reflected upon his own decisions when he made career choices for the sake of his relationship with his daughter after his marriage break up. Declining very high-paid television jobs in other states to stay close to her. He wasn’t risking his life in the same way his role models had but he did lose part of his promising career for the sake of his principles.

Explaining how his career in Comedy and Hollywood took off. Plus an outstanding audition performance for a pringles advert was a fascinating insight into the steps many famous people take in those career paths.

What does it mean to be a man? Flynn’s honest reflection concludes that it is to be the best man you can be for your family and your conscience. It’s okay to admit that you are scared of heights.

For more information please use the link below.

Four Stars.

https://kevinflynnlive.com/fear-of-heights/

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/kevin-flynn-fear-of-heights

Retribution Day from Blueberry Goose Theatre.

Retribution Day offers an insight into the mind of a victim of abuse. How the acts against them penetrate the subconscious and whittle away their self-confidence and self-esteem. To the point where all they have left is a hopeless sense of revenge and retribution.

Malcolm Jefferies and Julie Martis present a superb two-hander performance. Abuse isn’t gender-specific and shouldn’t be judged as such. In a world where many instinctively believe abuse is against the woman.

The concept of Retribution Day is a brilliantly scripted portrayal of a non-gender specific abuse victim through a two-handed performance. The storyline explains how he/she on the eve of their wedding is plotting revenge for the horrendous abuse they have endured.

Two powerful performances that aren’t looking for sympathy or any form of reconciliation. They are simply portraying that abuse is wrong no matter who the perpetrator or victim is and should be spoken out to help raise awareness and understanding for things to change.

In just over thirty minutes the audience is swept along through the chaos and discord bought on by the effects of slow-burning domestic abuse. The catalyst eventually breaks the victim until they can no longer tolerate what is happening to them.

For more information on Retribution Day and Blueberry Goose Theatre please use the links below.

Four Stars

Homepage

https://www.facebook.com/thegoosegroup/