Looking back at my original biography section on here I can see how far my writing life has gone. With two Edinburgh Fringe seasons behind me and a huge variety of Theatres visited things have grown beyond my wildest dreams.
I now write for my own blog, London Theatre Reviews and Broadway Baby. On top of this I am an Off West End Senior Assessor and throughout lockdown helped turn the Oncomm into a success and watched Scenesaver become a huge success. Recently I was on the panel to vote for Scenesaver production awards. It has been an amazing journey and I am looking forward to the Theatres reopening next week (from 17th May 2021). My original introduction is underneath as a reminder to myself of just how far I have come. Long may it continue.
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I am an English graduate who loves the arts. However, I do battle with dyslexia and when I make any errors it is not deliberate. I am a fourty something, mother of 4 who wants to try my hand at writing reviews. All blogged reviews are my personal opinions. Any event blogged I will have personally attended. If you like my work please feel free to share it or if you would like a review written please message me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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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.
For more information on this play and future productions at Waterloo East Theatre please use the links below.
Charlie andStan 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.
For more information on this production and future productions coming to The Mast in Southampton please use the links below.
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.
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.
Everyone remembers that ‘one’ teacher who helped inspire, encourage, or left a lasting impression during their school years. Equally, we all remember the ones who you dreaded encountering too. John Godber’s writing in Teechers encapsulates these experiences brilliantly. From the inspirational new drama teacher, and “stuffy” Mathematics teacher to the “prissy” stuck-up PE teacher.
The cast of three (Michael Ayiotis, Terenia Barlow, and Ciara Morris) switch quickly between the role of students and teachers throughout the performance. Quick-witted humour, dancing, and singing (sort of) keep the performance flowing. The fast-paced changes and challenges faced by the secondary school environment have been perfected.
Whitewall is a struggling secondary school that knows its failings before it begins. The students don’t believe they are worthy of a good education, and the teachers are stuck in a rut, even in the staff room. Even the established Maths teacher chooses to send his twins to the rival Private school St George’s.
Hobbs’s performance as the new drama teacher brings hope to the horizon. Offering the kids an escape from the treadmill and space to create their destiny. However, she becomes worn down by the attitudes of teachers and the establishment, demoralised she leaves for pastures new. leaving hurt and angry students behind her who take her departure personally. Who can blame her she doesn’t even have a permanent classroom!
Breaking the fourth wall throughout performance and engaging directly with the audience. Pointing out different teachers and people they recognise.
Firmly set in the Summer of 2022 through the eyes of year 11 leavers. Their experience of surviving lockdown isolation and the effect it has left on them. With a year 11 leaver of my own in 2022, I remember how we adapted to all those Zoom lessons at home. It certainly wasn’t easy some days but a whole generation of children showed immense strength and achieved so much through the uncertainty.
I dare say everyone will be able to recognise something of their school days in Teechers. It’s funny, soul-destroying, and entertaining, which for me resembled a term inside the secondary school. Director Adrian McDougall brings these themes to the stage and offers them to the audience without excuses or apologies. Simply an insight and dose of educational reality.
For more information on Teechers and future productions at Theatre Royal Winchester, please visit the link below. Teechers is currently on tour until May 2022.
Grandeous narcissistic behaviour is central to the performance throughout Picasso, which brings the world renowned artist Pablo Picasso to life in the productioncurrently playing at the Playground Theatre until February 4th.
Peter Tates performance of Picasso reflects the barbaric treatment of the ladies whom he chose to lure into his bed chamber. Promising each of them undying love and immortality within his paintings. Believing his words were verbatim, they fell for his charm, and I am in no doubt that he meant them all, even if it was fleetingly.
Excruciating embarrassment washed over me while watching Tate (Picasso) dance during the performance reminiscent of the “drunk Uncle” at a family wedding who believes he is “gods gift” to women. His self belief that he could do anything perfectly encouraging him to continue. Yet, in reality, he was as floored and imperfect as the rest of society.
The screened sections where each of his ladies came to life were cast onto the stage curtain behind the artists working circle. It was disjointed slightly by the curtains and the fragmentation added another dimension to the disjointed life of the artist. However, I felt a larger variety of paint stains on the artists clothing would have added more of a realistic touch to the costume.
Picasso wasn’t going to win any popularity contests or parenting awards. Every person in his life was treated as disposable or as his latest piece of artwork. Serving a purpose to his ego until he became bored and abruptly moved onto the next obsession to serve his own overly inflated flawed ego further. Uninterested in the trail of devastation left behind.
Director Guy Masterson captures the essence and bullish character, which encompassed the artist. Highlighting his flawed personality and horrendous behaviour through Tates convincing performance. The production doesn’t offer excuses or apologies, just a raw and uncomfortable portrayal of the man behind the art.
For more information about Picasso and future productions at The Playground Theatre please click on the link below.
Reviewing online courses isn’t my usual genre as my regular followers will know. However, as someone who has always decorated their own home and likes to regularly maintain it. I have found many of the tips and advice in this five part course very useful. Especially the room preparation section as that’s not my strong point.
Divided into five easy to watch and follow sections Leannes step by step guide takes you through everything you need to know when embarking on home decorating. In the current climate, many will be turning their hand to these jobs in order to save some money.
The initial thoughts of prepping your room and getting everything set up can be quite daunting when it comes to decorating. Where to start? What colours to choose? Leanne talks you through the whole process logically and calmly with a few short cuts thrown in. If you get the preparation set up right, the rest in theory should fall into place.
Problem areas, we have all come across them at times. From treating damp to final preparations. Leanne explains how to tackle these areas and hopefully eliminate the areas that were causing the problems.
Painting walls and radiators. Like many others, I find radiators can be daunting. Which paint can I use? Will the finish be smooth? Watching and following the advice in this section you can obtain a more professional finish and feel more confident painting them.
Feature walls, how to create a statement wall that stands out and you can be proud of. Whether you choose a bold wallpaper or a darker paint, your feature wall is all about you creating a statement that you can admire.
Finishing off the woodwork and frames. Instantly recognized is the smell of gloss. Yet applying this paint and getting a “run” free finish isn’t easily achieved. From the first to the last coat, the advice offered in this section helps you achieve the perfect glossy look.
By purchasing the five parts you are also buying on-hand expert advice. Complete with a factsheet that you can print off or read online to help you improve your technique and hopefully feel more confident when it comes to redecorating.
Leanne can be found on various social media platforms. These links are available below. You can see regular updates and handy tips that save you time, energy, stress, and money.
Reviewing Six Plays in One Day can feel like an endurance test at times. Beginning at 2 pm and finishing at 9 pm. The range of performances kept my interest alive. Produced by Threedumb Theatre with Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts sponsoring the day hosted at The Space Theatre.
Permanent Tenants by Louis Gale an interesting idea where five housemates are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning due to their negligent landlord. The cast of six were still reading off script. With all the stage directions and prop details read out too, the production is quite a way off being finished.
The audience were informed at the end that it was destined to be a television, theatre and various other productions a long the way. Their best way forward if this piece is going to be developed would be to decide on a performance platform. Strict editing and good direction would be advised. At times, the performance descended into a disorganised shouting chaotic situation, which is one area in which good direction would help.
Chicken Pasta by Katie Read facing the “Big C” at any age is a frightening prospect. When George is a personal trainer who eats healthy, never smoked, and drinks in moderation, he has to live with the terminal bowel cancer under the age of thirty life is cruel.
Married to Cat the ups and downs of everyday life are marred by the ticking time bomb which is ever present in their lives. Potentially, the subject matter should leave the audience with at least a lump in their throat, sadly that part was missing for me.
Ophelia by Hannah Roze-Lewis advertised as a work in progress. Delivering every line with a smile Roze-Lewis describes the horrendous circumstances surrounding Ophelia’s friend Emma going missing. The damage caused by males and phone cameras, violation of privacy, and the heinous behavior of exploiting obscene images on the “darker side” of the Internet.
Unstitching by Ruby Shrimpton facts and upbeat entertainment from the world of Eurovision song contests past and present. Shrimpton’s analysis of the sometimes deemed “rigged” voting system left me looking at the contest in a different light.
There’s a platform on the Fringe Festival circuit where Upstitching will be welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed. The Eurovision Song Contest has a large following, and if the advertising is targeted correctly, Shrimpton could be playing to full auditoriums.
At Eternity’s Gate by Joseph Winder is based on Vincent Van Gogh. His brother reflects on living in the shadows of the famous artist. Selling his artwork, trying to live his own life, and the pressure he felt from his brother’s demands. An interesting insight into the brothers’ relationship.
Although, at times, it felt slow and would benefit from editing. Covering the floor of the stage with papers and props left the majority of the audience at a disadvantage from not being about to see what he working through or looking at.
Pill by Rebecca Phythian,the contraceptive pill was created to liberate women and allow them to control their bodies against unwanted pregnancies. Studies have shown that for some women, the risks to their physical and mental health issues are far too high.
Phythians’ pent-up frustration and anger directed towards the doctor during her appointments and their refusal to listen to her concerns reflected some of my own experiences with health professionals.
The information and facts delivered through Pill are more of a public information production. Colleges and Universities were the younger generations of women who could be affected by the concerns raised during this performance.
New showcase work is always unchartered territory. Out of all the pieces today, the two that stood out are Ophelia, Roze-Lewis has an incredible stage presence and delivery. The piece is well-written, compassionate, and disjointed to represent the fragility and destruction mental health creates. One actor to watch in the future.
The second is Pill, although I don’t necessarily see this work appealing to Fringe Theatre audiences on its own due to being thirty minutes. It would have a future in touring Colleges and Universities raising awareness among young women, and creating a platform for discussion around what they are putting into their bodies. It might help others recognize symptoms they are suffering from and, in some circumstances, save someone’s life. I make sure that I question everything I am offered by doctors, especially side effects, and I feel more patients should do the same.
New artists and new work benefit from showcase events like these. Giving the artists a safe platform to perform and audiences to watch up-and-coming creatives under one roof.
For more information on the day and future productions, please visit the links below.
There’s nothing quite like a Dame. Behind every Dame lies a backstory. Harold Thropp is no exception. He arrives at the Theatre to find he has been moved into a dilapidated dressing room and downgraded by the latest demands by the star of the annual pantomime and nemesis “soap star”!
Dereck Walker brings Thropp to life through Twinkle as he explains how and why he is working there. His heartfelt journey and demise in social standing as the mask/makeup is applied and he transforms into character as the pantomime Dame, Twinkle.
Tackling past attitudes and laws regarding homosexual relationships and men who “came out” is difficult to comprehend in modern society. Thropp discusses the attitudes he faced from his deceased partner’s family are designed to infuriate the audience. However, Thropp understands their behavior and lacks empathy in a matter-of-fact tone. He simply loved and was loved everything else was just material.
In another life Thropp trained and became a fully qualified electrician he decided to make his safety checks before the big Christmas light switched on to ensure that the night will go off with a spectacular festive bang.
Thropps sixty minute monologue tackles the loneliness of his situation, anger at being downgraded and dictated to by a “nobody” stars manager, and consumed with grief at losing the love of his life. The storyline gently draws you in before delivering a powerful punch!
Please note this production comes with a trigger warning and there are certain attitudes and references throughout the performance that might cause offence to some audience members.
Tonight Saturday 21st January 2023 is the last night of this run. However, there are plans to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2023. For further information on upcoming productions at the Drayton Arms Theatre in West Brompton please use the link below.
George Takei headlines the moving Broadway Musical Allegiance at Charing Cross Theatre. Based on the book by Marc Acito. Elements of the story are from the life experiences of Takei while he was growing up, the events that take place in Allegiance are not biographical although they are based on another family’s experience in the same camp as Takei’s family.
Sam Kimura (George Takei) has been estranged from his family for over fifty years. The news of his sister’s death and a delivery of a mystery envelope forces Sam to revisit a part of his life that he had suppressed for all those years.
The stage comes to life as the cast brings Kimura’s memories to life and we have the privilege of watching the events that shaped the man and caused the deep family and cultural divide. Telly Leung steps into the role of younger Sam Kimura as the family’s past unfolds and has shaped the future Sams response to the letter delivered.
In 1941 America all residents of Japanese descent were automatically classed as “enemies of the state” after Japan attacks Pearl Harbour. The descendants are forcibly removed and held in camps to keep America “safe” for an undisclosed amount of time. These families had made America their home, the inhumane actions divided the community. To show their “Allegiance” to the USA it’s decided that a questionnaire is distributed to the camps. Seeing some of the men signing up to fight as American citizens and others refusing to.
Kei Kimura (Aynrand Ferrer) plays Sam’s sister is an incredible actor with a voice to match. Her stage presence and compassion for her whole family are extremely moving. When she argues with Sam about her husband upon his return from war it left me with a lump in my throat.
During one scene the camp is engulfed by a terrible sandstorm. The effects are incredibly realistic and for a moment through suspension of disbelief, I felt I was witnessing an actual event. Extremely moving to watch the cast trying to escape out of the sand before being overcome by it and choking.
Tara Overfield Wilkinson’s choreographer and director are flawless. From the train formation journey to the camps, numerous uplifting musical routines, and harrowing battlefield scenes. I fail to see that anyone couldn’t be moved by the roller coaster of emotions played out in Allegiance.
Leung has been brilliantly cast, his bone structure, mannerisms, and smile resemble Takei in his younger days aboard the Starship Enterprise. Making the step back in time to the younger Sam believable.
History isn’t meant to be comfortable or edited. Bringing one of the misjudged and darker sides of American History to the stage in a musical format has been sensitively worked and presented to allow audiences to understand the cost on humanity and innocent people.
Allegiance will be one of the musicals that leaves a lasting memory for all the right reasons. Running until April 8th there’s plenty of time to catch a performance and catch this legendary actor on stage.
For more information on Allegiance and future productions at the Charing Cross Theatre please use the link below.