PICASSO by Terry d’Alfonso.

Grandeous narcissistic behaviour is central to the performance throughout Picasso, which brings the world renowned artist Pablo Picasso to life in the production currently 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.


Photo credit: Brigitta Scholz-Mastroianni Nux Photography

Three Stars.

Welcome to The Playground Theatre
https://theplaygroundtheatre.london

Leannes Lick Of Paint

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.

https://www.leanneslickofpaint.co.uk/membership-bundle

Facebook page Leannes lick of Paint.

https://instagram.com/leanneslickofpaint?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

Six Plays in One Day at The Space.

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.

The Space HOME

Six Plays One Day – Permanent Tenancy – Livestream

https://space.org.uk/event/spod-chicken-pasta/

https://space.org.uk/event/spod-ophelia/

Six Plays One Day – Unstitching – Livestream

https://space.org.uk/event/spod-at-eternitys-gate/

https://space.org.uk/event/spod-pill/

http://www.threedumbtheatre.com/about

Twinkle by Philip Meeks.

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.

Four Stars.

https://www.thedraytonarmstheatre.co.uk/#!

Allegiance staring George Takei.

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.

Telly Leung (Young Sammy Kimura) and Megan Gardiner (Hannah Campbell) in Allegiance by Jay Kuo @ Charing Cross Theatre.

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.

A scene from Allegiance by Jay Kuo @ Charing Cross Theatre.

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.

Aynrand Ferrer (Kei Kimura) in Allegiance

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.

George Takei (Sam Kimura/Ojii-Chan)

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.

Five Stars.

https://www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/

My Fair Lady at the Mayflower Theatre.

Director Barletta Sher brings 1913 London to life through My Fair Lady in the touring production of the same name. Based on George Bernard Shaw”s novel Pygmalion. The story is based upon Eliza Dooliittlle’s quick rise through the classes as an experiment devised by Professor Henry Higgins.

Charlotte Kennedy in the role of Eliza Doolittle combines the brash street dialect we are first introduced to, into the lady accepted by the Royal Court. Kennedy’s performance is flawless, with poise charm, and the most incredible voice during her solo singing performances.

Professor Hanry Higgins (Michael D. Xavier) the well-to-do scientist chooses Eliza from a crowd of street “gutter snipes” for a social experiment. Professor wants to prove that he can turn Eliza from a common talking flower seller into a lady fit to be presented at the Royal Court. However, no thought or consideration has been given to what will happen to her after he has proved his theory.

Costume designer Catherine Zuba creates a fantastic range of changing social status dresses for Eliza. My personal favorites are the male can-can dancers’ elaborate red costumes they are entertaining and all looked fantastic.

There’s a host of familiar actors in this production from Lesley Garrett (Mrs Pearce), John Middleton ( Colonel Pickering) to Eastenders Adam Woodyatt ( Alfred P Doolittlle) aka Ian Beale. Woodyatt encompasses the role with ease and certainly shows that he has an incredible stage presence.

The famous racing scene synonymous with My Fair Lady certainly doesn’t disappoint. The surround sound racing effect puts the audience directly into the action. Eliza’s hilarious descriptions of events in her life both shock and charm the Upper-Class company she has been introduced to.

This touring production of My Fair Lady is one not to be missed. One to put on your watch list for 2023. Playing at the Mayflower Theatre 12th-19th January 2023.

Five Stars.

For more information on this musical and future productions at the Mayflower Theatre Southampton please click on the link below.

https://www.mayflower.org.uk/

SIX by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.

It is six years since the origin of SIX the Musical started its infancy by Cambridge University Theatre Society. Knowing they had to produce an original musical to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe the idea of Six came to life. The festival is notorious for making or breaking many performances and artists year after year, for this team its lead to global success.

January 2023 the latest cast change and my first press night back in the West End. Unlike many of the audience members this happened to be my first time watching SIX. I certainly haven’t been at all disappointed. The strong female-led cast and the Ladies in Waiting four-piece band offer a feminist approach and insight into the reign of Henry VIII.

Strong casting has created a fantastic press night. The cast dynamics are incredible. Each of the six Wives of Henry VIII vying to win pole position by the audience as to which one had the harder reign as the Queen and wife to the infamous volatile King.

Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky starts the solo proceedings in the role of the divorced Catherine of Aragon. Wearing an outstanding gold embellished dress, fabulous gold make up and a voice to match. Each note held and delivered with power and confidence. Totally stunning and every bit a Queen of the stage.

The tone adapted by Claudia Kariuka as the ill-fated Queen Jane Seymour who tragically died in childbirth lowers the tempo and offers a kinder look into the relationship the pair shared. She recalls a loving caring husband. An opinion not readily shared by the other five.

Costume designer Gabriella Slade creates six incredible outfits. Each takes a different colour and uses as many gems and bling that is physically possible. Even down to the microphone holder loop on each outfit allowing the cast to free up their arms for dance numbers. The attention to detail is superb.

Carrie-Anne Ingrouille Six’s choreographer has bought together an incredible fast-paced seventy-minute production. From each of the solo performances to the whole cast’s dance routines.

Although a story of the tragedies which the King bestowed on each Queen. There’s a strong message of female empowerment, taking back the power of their stories and retelling them with a twist. Even though its possibly not historically accurate the idea behind the musical is fascinating.

For more information on SIX and ticket bookings please visit the link below. It’s definitely one of the best West End musicals in Theatres at the moment.

Five Stars

https://www.sixthemusical.com/

Lashings of Ginger Beer by Blue Apple.

Kickstarting the 2023 reviews season in style by being invited to drinks and review Blue Apple’s latest production Lashings of Ginger Beer a wonderful homage to the Five Famous characters created by Enid Blyton who are famously known to use that catchphrase.

Timmy, the dog (David Hunt) follows the group of four friends on their latest adventure to find the escaped prisoners. Julian’s (James Benfield) pompous, sexist attitude is sharply diluted by George’s (Ros Davies) feminist retort and forthright attitude. An empowering performance by Davies that certainly embodies the “tomboy” image of the Blyton character.

Lady Rich (Jane Chadwick) is a superb casting choice and the pink/purple glittery evening dress complete with a string of pearls completed the aristocratic look perfectly. The added subtle humour is delivered with precise timings by Chadwick.

Alan Titchmarsh’s voiceover during the visual historical voyage explaining the origins surrounding the famous Round-table adds a nice touch to the production. There were a few historical facts in his talk that I didn’t know anything about.

A stage full of smiling faces at the end of the performance suggests that the entire cast involved in “Lashings of Ginger Beer ” have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Director Richard Conlon triumphs again by giving the cast of actors with learning disabilities the stage to show audiences that they have talent and a fantastic stage presence.

As a regular reviewer and supporter of Blue Apple Theatre, I have had the privilege of watching many of the regular cast members grow in confidence. Jane Chadwick, Andy Canning, and Anna Brisbane stood out as three such members during last night’s performance.

There was an incredible display in the auditorium of merchandise for sale. As seen in the photo below. A fabulous memento to take home afterward.

Lashings of Ginger Beer is on stage at Theatre Royal Winchester Friday 6 January 7.30 pm, Saturday 7 January 7.30 pm when it will also be available to watch at home via Livestream, and Sunday 8 January at 2.30 pm. 

For more information about the performance and future productions at the Theatre Royal Winchester please use the links below.

https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/

https://blueappletheatre.com/performances/2022/5/12/lashings-of-ginger-beer

One Man Poe A Triple-Bill work by Edgar Allan Poe.

Director and performer Stephen Smith bought “One Man Poe” to our screens during the lockdown. The gothic trilogy The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit, and the Pendulum, and The Raven are now being performed live on stage at The Kings Head Theatre in Islington. Smith breathes an eerie new life into the C19th work.

The Tell-Tale Heart explains the murder of the gentleman with a false Raven eye through the justification of a madman murderer. The premeditated demise of a “nice” man whose only fault was his false eye.

The Pit and the Pendulum is a dark and harrowing account told by a prisoner kept in the depths of a dungeon cell. His surroundings are unknown and disturbingly come to life as Smith explores the dank and slippery environment. Discovering he is but a nose width away from plunging to death into a well.

His graphic account as the killer Pendulum which swings down from above will have you gripped throughout, to the point of looking up to make sure there isn’t anything coming down from the ceiling. Each sharp intake of breath and sweat module falling from his brow has you on the edge of your seat.

The Raven offers a shorter and slightly less horrific ending to the Poe trilogy. Although equalling as compelling in leaving you feeling uneasy and looking behind you.

Smith’s cast change between each of the three tales allows you a few moments of respite to gather your thoughts and prepare to be plunged back into the C19th gothic mind of Poe. The performance is one not to be missed and balances a compelling and repelling experience blended to leave you feeling disturbed and your senses on high alert.

Sound Designer Joseph Furey and Django Holder create a truly gothic experience. Especially in The Raven where I couldn’t quite locate where the noises made by the bird were coming from and found myself looking around at the time as Smith’s character.

The passion and understanding of how horror can captivate an audience are beautifully composed by Smith. Respecting the work by Poe and creating a performance that one would feel even the author himself would leave feeling disturbed by. I have a strong admiration for Smith’s portrayal of the three different characters and look forward to seeing future productions.

For more information on One Man Poe, Threedumb Theatre, and future productions at The King’s Head Theatre please use the links below.

Five Stars.

https://kingsheadtheatre.com/whats-on/one-man-poe-a-triple-bill

http://www.threedumbtheatre.co

What’s On | King’s Head Theatre
https://kingsheadtheatre.com/whats-on

The Wizard of Oz by James Barry.

It’s that time of year again when Pantomime takes over the local Theatres and auditoriums fill up with children of all ages ready to be transferred to another world, oh yes they are. For many children, this is the first encounter they have had with the Theatre and what an experience to take away with them.

The Wizard of Oz is an all-time family favorite. Dorothy Gale (Abigail Coy) is swept away to the land of Oz after Kanzas is hit by a tornado. Killing the Wicked Witch of the East was never her intention. However, after her house lands on her, she is instantly revered by the locals and Glinda (Katie Stasi) the good witch.

All the familiar characters appear as Dorothy embarks on her journey to the Emerald City. First encountering the “brainless” Scarecrow (Max Gallagher), Rusty the Tin Man (Libby Gore) and the cowardly Lion (Julian Eardley) whose braver than he realises.

An Emerald City Welcome by composer Simon Slater offers a promising start to Dorothy and her friend’s request to see the Wizard himself. However, the tune soon changes and they realize that he isn’t quite as magical as they had been led to believe. Gatekeeper (Jon Bonner) attempts to let them gently when he sends them out on a quest.

Choreographer and assistant director Sam Taylor-Martin leads the cast down the yellow brick road on Dorothy’s search to find the Wizard of Oz. I especially liked the “flying monkey’ scenes when they are following orders from The Wicked Witch of the East (Ellie McMahon).

This year’s support cast offers a range of characters supporting the main cast along the way from the farmhands on the Ranch in Kanzas, and flying monkeys to the City dwellers from Oz. Extremely talented ensemble.

It would be fantastic for as many local schools and children to watch this year’s Panto at Theatre Royal. It has a fantastic balance of humour, singing, and special effects. Plus a range of detailed backdrops is used throughout the performance.

For more information on the Wizard of Oz and future productions at Theatre Royal Winchester please use the links below.

Four Stars.

Photo credit The Other Richard.

THE OTHER RICHARD – THEATRE PHOTOGRAPHY & FILM
https://www.otherrichard.com

https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/

Musical Director Tom Attwood and his team who bring the stage to life.