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Showing posts from February, 2020

CIRCUS REVIEW: Luzia ★★★★★

Cirque Du Soleil: Luzia
The Royal Albert Hall, London
Sunday 12th January - Sunday 1st March 2020Founded in 1984 by performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix, Cirque Du Soleil have wows millions of visitors with their hair-raising and death defying stunts throughout the last 35 years, and Luzia has been my own personal introduction to their work, a production that first toured in 2016, and is just 1 of the 51 spectacles that the company has brought to fruition; Right from the moment the interval came during this performance was I certain that this wouldn't be the last time I would see a Soleil extravagance.With each creation based as circus styles around the world, Luzia focuses primarily on the Mexican troupe, with a multicultural creative and cast that together bring sheet tenacity and focus to be able to produce a tight and visual masterpiece, but which also has a central storyline interwoven throughout. Here, Luzia presents the idea of Luz and Lluvia (Light and Rain in Spa…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Wigs Snatched, Perceptions Destroyed ★★★

Wigs Snatched, Perceptions Destroyed
The Crypt, Vault Festival
Tuesday 25th February - Sunday 1st March 2020At the time of posting, Erinn Dhesi boasts over 5.4k followers on her Instagram page 10mmballpointpen, a channel that allows us to post unique illustrated thoughts and opinions, as well as emotions through memes, and is clearly quite successful in making a living from her followers. An alumni of The Soho Writers Lab, Erinn is embarking on a brand new show which'll delves into preconceptions of British Asians, the life of a bisexual role model, and the world of celesbians (Celebrity Lesbians).Erinn struts onto the stage in a suit jumper, and sunglasses, and instantly we feel this wall that she has put up towards her public; this show is a premiere at the vault festival, and as a result suffers from first night nerves, with stumbling of words, missed slides from her multi-technical PowerPoint companion, and awkward glances up to the tech box when tracks do not seem to come in …

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: If This is Normal ★★★★

If This Is Normal
The Pit, Vault Festival
Tuesday 25th - Friday 28th February 2020It's the summer before the start of uni, and Alex, Madani, and Maryam are going to have the best one yet, with festivals, drinking cocktails in the park, and in Mars case, watching ted talks and getting ready to study at The University of Bristol. If This is Normal is a tale of friendship, trust, relationships, whilst tackling the hard hitting subject of Consensual Sex and First Times.We start with a flashback, were having moved to Kilburn London, Maryam (Zarima McDermott) and Madani (Isambard Rawbone) are finding the prospect of moving to a new school a rather daunting one, but it's until the end of their first day when Maryam makes friends with Alex (Aoife Smyth) and so begins a budding and tight friendship which shows no cracks and a strong sisterhood. The performance is structured around breaking the four wall, with monologues regarding internal emotions spoken towards the audience. It's …

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Angels ★★

Angels
The Cavern, Vault Festival
Wednesday 19th - Sunday 23rd February 2020The magic of theatre is held together when you can walk into the auditorium and completely immerse yourself into a different world; Moulin Rogue on Broadway is the perfect example with a Parisian decor, or the Immersive Great Gatsby in London which had transformed a warehouse into a 1920s vibe. After reading the description of Angels, the excitement of walking into a loud and crowded room full of poles and dancing to depict a strip club were quickly dampened, as instead we entered to hardly any music and frozen stances on stage; already the production wasn't giving us this freedom from an outside world, and it wasn't about to get any better.As the performance begins, we are introduced to Coco (Producer and Performer Valerie Isaiah Sadoh), who is fundamentally the main character of this story. Trying to make enough money in London whilst working as an actor on the side, Sadoh is strong and confident as …

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Madame Ovary ★★★★★

Madame Ovary
The Studio, Vault Festival
Tuesday 18th - Sunday 23rd February 2020For most of us, the idea of New Year Resolutions would result in learning a new skill, quit smoking, or loosing weight. In 2018, Rosa Hesmondhaigh's case wants to make good art, start doing yoga, but will not give up the booze as she has a tinder date coming up and she would not be able to face it sober. For the majority of the audience, we know what we are about to witness in sorts, but nothing will compare to the journey in which Rosa takes us on; you'll feel numb of emotion at times and salute the bravery in the performance on stage, because even though Rosa would have told this tale many times in past performances, it feels as fresh and raw as it could ever be, and will take your breath away.It's early February 2018 when Rosa starts getting pains in her stomach, and numbness in her legs. She spends hour upon hour in hospital, until she is given the heartbreaking news; Rosa has Cancer. Thoug…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Essence ★★★

Essence
The Cresent, Vault Festival
Friday 21st - Sunday 23rd February 2020Elyot (Timothy O'Hara) lives in Peckham, where he takes bite-size language lessons, listens to music without lyrics, and leaves his window open. On such a day, Laquaya (Nina Barker-Francis) enters through Elyot's window and starts making herself at home, after all she is certain that the man who owns the house is in fact her father, who abandoned his family when Laquaya was just four years old to live alone and never find love again. Essentially, the plot of Sarah Henley's script is that of the description above but drawn out into a 60 minute production which constantly has you checking your watch as time seems to come to a hault.Elyot doesn't come across to begin with as a likeable guy, in fact he's rather irratating in his ways with constant alarms and changing of his records; O'Hara is stable in his portrayal, who you could almost like him to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. B…

NT LIVE REVIEW: Cyrano De Bergerac ★★★★★

Cyrano De Bergerac
The Playhouse Theatre, London
Weds 27th November - Sat 29th February 2020 For those who missed their chance to see the now sold out production of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano De Bergerac, or unable to make their way down to London to catch James McAvoy in the flesh, National Theatre Live were on hand recently to provide yet another unmissable outing for the organisation, with many encore screenings planned, and if this particular trip was anything to go by, I'm sure a certain amount of attendees will likely rebook for another expedition, as Martin Crump's adaption is simply breathtaking and a defining career highlight for McAvoy himself.Jamie Lloyd has recently become a director at the forefront who I admire profoundly; we hailed his take on Harold Pinter's Betrayal in March last year as 'breathtaking, suspenseful and stunning', as well as his collection at the Pinter Season was an event like no other. Here, Lloyd continues to push the boundaries …

THEATRE REVIEW: The Laramie Project ★★★★

The Laramie Project
Western Studio, Bristol Old Vic
Thursday 20th - Saturday 29th February 2020To Celebrate LGBT History Month, and marking the 20th Anniversary of Moisés Kaufman harrowing play, The Laramie Project tells the verbatim aftemath of Matthew Shepard's murder in 1998, and how it changed the community of Laramie in Wyoming, with a population of 26,687. For this particular production, Nancy Medina has taken the directorial position, with Laura Hensley assisting Medina in this Bristol Old Vic Theatre School offering.We're transported straight to Laramie when the lights dim for the first act as we hear from a plethora of citizens in the area, who recall the days before Shepard's death, as reports travel to unravel the lead-up to the shocking events. This cast, made up of a fifteen strong ensemble, move with precision and drive as we bounce from one report to another, each performer portraying at least four to five locals, which comes with a flurry of personas and fa…

THEATRE REVIEW: Shirley Valentine ★★★★

Shirley Valentine
The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Thursday 13th - Saturday 22nd February 2020From the team that brought Waiting for Godot to the stage in early 2019, The Everyman Theatre Company presents Willy Russell’s (Educating Rita, Blood Brothers, Our Day Out) 1988 one-woman production of Shirley Valentine, with Claire Sweeney in the titular role. For a one woman play, Claire Sweeney is simply captivating in the role of Shirley, a woman who longs for a simple life, but is far from living the dream as she finds herself bogged down by her emotionally deprived husband Joe, and constantly finds herself talking to the kitchen wall, or to a rock whilst on holiday in the second act.We’re first introduced to Valentine as she returns home with a bag of potatoes, ready to peel and cut into slices, preparing to cook her husband’s usual dinner of Egg and Chips. We instantly connect to Valentine through her emotional state and feel like we can interact and reply to her observations and anecd…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: The First ★★★

The First
The Pit, Vault Festival
Tuesday 11th - Sunday 16th February 2020In the not so distant future, Rose and Simone are so very close to becoming the first astronauts to ever set foot on the Red Planet, Mars. They discuss what their legacy will be back home, and if they even will make it back after years of outer space; they always plan what other firsts they would like to conquer, such as sexual interaction, despite their preferences, as well as reminiscing about those they have left behind, whilst Marcus and Aisha back on Earth must write two contrasting speeches, one for the journey’s success, and the other for a pending disaster.Situated in The Pit, we as an audience feel a part of that journey with Rose and Simone; though they speak about how lonely they both feel inside, we are practiculary right beside them rooting them on with their journey; we experience their excitement and worries,  and feel like we know them as real characters, something that Barry McStay’s writing han…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: The 4th Country ★★★★

The 4th Country
The Crypt, Vault Festival
Tuesday 11th - Sunday 16th February 2020In October 2019, the abortion laws in Northern Ireland were finally discriminated after many years of fighting for freedom, with Plaine Heroines taking on this monumentous time in history to tell real life stories from the time before the movement, in this poignant and often harrowing, ambitious piece. Kate Reid's writing puts four performers, including herself, at the heart of the piece, with an initial apology towards the audience, for this isn't a show about leprechauns and Irish Dancing, but instead a story that at the time changed history, and had inspiration from press that would often only earned single articles in the British media.Aoife Kennan, Cormac Elliot, Kate Reid, and Rachel Rooney take the stage together to tell this tale, as we follow Connor Murphy and his sibling Niamh, one of many families who were affected before the change in law. This is also a story that we as the audience …

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Sister! ★★

Sister!
The Cavern, Vault Festival
Saturday 8th & 15th February 2020Festivals can always go one of two ways, and it was only a matter of time before a show would be seen where you wonder why in the first place it was produced. It's unclear whether it's the seating situation in The Cavern to blame, which can be very adaptive to the production, or the lack of projection and story, but this production that celebrates women throughout history is almost not what this production is about at all. Instead, this 40 minute production rushes around to jump between time periods that make little sense, with not one moment making us feel like we know the characters being presented, which is told through verbatim and movement, not that much of the verbatim can be heard in a venue that does not suit the piece. Though we do get Brechtian signage to indicate dates such as 1941 and 15th February 2030, a decade in the future where there is an urgent need for doctors and nurses in the NHS, we …

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Cabaret Sauvignon & A Single Vault Whiskey ★★★★

Cabaret Sauvignon & A Single Vault Whiskey
The Cresent, Vault Festival
Friday 14th February 2020Let me ask you this; how did you spend your Valentine's Day? Was it a romantic meal at your favourite restaurant, or a more casual self-care at home with pampered good, because those two options would probably be near the top of most people's lists, but for myself and around 170 others this late Friday evening, we spent around 100 minutes with eachother in the safe hands of 'Stiff and Kitsch', a female comedy duo formed by Rhiannon Neads and Sally O'Leary, who most certainly could give musical sister legends Flo & Joan a run for their money.From songs about Hangovers at the tender age of 21 to audience participation games surrounding Google Predictions, conveniently centred around the romantic evening, Stiff & Kitsch are hilariously brilliant and likeable,  as two strong women completely own the stage; Rhiannon is trying so hard to convince us that Dominic in…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Coming Out of My Cage ★★★★

Coming Out of My Cage
The Pit, Vault Festival
Tuesday 11th - Sunday 16th February 2020Mid December last year, Netflix released a documentary titled 'Don't F**k with Cats', which followed two YouTube fantics going beyond the call of duty to venture on a manhunt and find a killer. Okay, so maybe Shepard Tone's production surrounding the best rock song of the decade in the shape of 'Mr Brightside' isn't exactly as gruesome as the former documentary, but there are eery similarities as Tim and Hannah go on a physical adventure ( by also skipping a rehearsal) to find Brampton Flowers, the owner of a YouTube channel which holds 24 karaoke versions of The Killers Classic, Thrown into the mix of the great adventure is short bursts of episodic skits from both performers who showcase a sheer musical ability that if built up could see a two man band play a plethora of instruments to the tune Mr Brightside; even the beginning of the performance holds a visual gag to the…

THEATRE REVIEW: Uncle Vanya ★★★

Uncle Vanya
The Harold Pinter Theatre, London
Tuesday 14th January - Saturday 2nd May 2020Celebrated as one of the greatest writers of all time, Anton Chekhov was a man who never shied away from putting characters to the forefront that were troubled and unlucky in their passions, with Uncle Vanya showcasing Sonya (Aimee Lou Wood), a young woman fixated with her family's doctor, Astrov (Richard Afmitage), as she looks after the estate in which is soon to be handed down to her thanks to Vanya (Toby Jones), her often deluded uncle.Chekhov excels mostly in his writing when it comes to ensemble pieces, in which this production throws abouts with high intensity and comedic moments that have us in awe of the talents on stage, but stumbles mostly in providing efficient backstories to some of the personas, especially from Mariya (Dearbhla Molloy), the Mother-in-law who is often faded into the background and forgotten about, both in presence and storytelling. Rosalind Eleazar on the other han…

THEATRE REVIEW: all of it ★★★★

all of it
The Royal Court, London
Friday 7th - Saturday 15th February 2020For 8 performances only, Alistair McDowall's latest production for The Royal Court, all of it, sees Kate O'Flymn take the stage, or a stool to be precised, illuminated under a single spotlight, to whisk us away on a journey through quite literally 'all of it'; from birth to first day at school, first kiss to puberty, sexual experiences and pregnancy, and an added measure of marriage to death thrown into the mix, it merges all the above and more into the space of 45 minutes, without giving you the chance to breath.What's fascinating about McDowall's writing is the way in which he allows us to care and laugh with O'Flynn's unnamed character without getting a chance to sink into a thorough backstory; we laugh so hard when the subject of puberty and male genitalia creeps into the script, but then are left in sudden silence when a medical scare moments into starting university weaves thr…

THEATRE REVIEW: Poet in Da Corner ★★★

Poet in Da Corner
The Royal Court, London
DatesBased on Dizzee Rascal's 'Boy in the Corner', which was a turning point for Grime, Debris Stevenson also felt the same, as after she listened to the album in full, it started to change her life, as she started to struggle with her sexuality, trust in friends, and her relationship with her family, especially with her mother.Stevenson and Jammz, who both feature heavily and play versions of themselves, are joined by Stacy Abalogun and Kirubel Belay to help tell a tale which is fused with poetic alternatives to Dizzee's album tracks, and multirole in parts that include Mum and Tony. As a collective, as well as control the decks, as we move through Debris' life with a flow of beats and rap battles as a mystery is unravelled and told through the years of Debris learning how Grime refined who she could become.It's slick transitioning and rapid energy between the four performers that make this seventy minute production fly …

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Since U Been Gone ★★★★

Since U Been Gone
The Forge, Vault Festival
Tuesday 4th - Sunday 9th February 2020Experiencing their first sexual encounter at the back of an English lesson as a young teenager to a straight boys amusement, it's fair to say that Teddy Lamb's biographical performance does not hold back in any form; there's even a bit where Teddy dances around in just their underwear whilst an electric score of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off blasts through the audience, though this moment does drag on a bit longer than it should do.Since U Been Gone has Teddy talk to us either as an audience or a past figure in their life, one that is no longer in their current existence, and from this we instantly warm to Lamb's personality; though clearly nervous throughout, at times feeling muddled with their thoughts, we sit intently and interact at the most precious of moments, when Lamb may feel the most uncomfortable but bravely showing off their honest, true self with no forgery. Nicol Parkinsonp …

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: When The Sea Swallows Us Whole ★★★★

When The Sea Swallows Us Whole
The Forge, Vault Festival
5th, 7th & 9th February 2020Set upon a rather abandoned town upon a rock cliff with the fear of erosion tearing them apart, Natasha Collie's take is one of queer love and what we will do to protect those that we love, despite the consequences that may follow.Mila (Charlotte O'Leary) and Doll (Jack Archer) have been friends their entire lives, and as the near end of their existence is in jeopardy, Mila feels it's now more than ever to take advantage of the 24 pack of condoms she took from the shop and put them into good use, but Doll is rather preoccupied by the supposed Puma that lurks the island, and when newcomer Posy (Jacoba Williams) migrates from the city to look after her grandmother, she starts to threaten the close bond between Mila and Doll, with some rash actions causing catastrophic affects.The three performers manage to capture a vivid imagination from Beth Kaplia's direction, with Archer's unco…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Me Myself I ★★★★

Me Myself I
The Pit, Vault Festival
Tuesday 4th - Sunday 9th February 2020So rarely do Casting Directors get the recognition they deserve, especially as they are the cement that forms the chemistry we talk about happening on stage all the time, but for 'Me Myself I' in particular, the idea of having a clone throws the identical and similarity ideas into play, and from this Belinda Norcliffe CDG must be commended to the highest regard for casting Leah and Mhairi Gayer in the role of Lana and her identical clone, Lena, with both also having to deal with portraying a developed version of eachother throughout rather respectfully.Lana begins the piece recollecting a moment in time where she met her boyfriend Ben, who we never see on stage and is left to our imagination; she is in fact reciting this story for Lena, a story in which she hopes outlives her own life as she passes down her wisdom and knowledge to her identical clone who will then for the 100 years live on as a replacement…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: The Misadventures of David and Sam ★★★★★

The Misadventures of David and Sam
The Pit, Vault Festival
2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd February 2020Cheap jokes can usually go one of two ways, and quite often results in groans and little appreciation, but what Al Dente Theatre Company have produced is a production which throws bucket loads of the gags, from magic tricks to literal song lyrics acted out, to complete hilarity and characters that you warm to from the constant audience participation making you fully involved with the on stage antics.Liam Cullen, George Wing, and Michelle Pittoni make up the slick trio on stage who have bundles of energy and charisma with with eachother as David, Sam and Granny. Each bring their own uniqueness and you can tell that they are thriving off their audiences responses; the participation within the magic show segment is genius and the visual puns never feel tiresome. When Cullen and Wing multirole, their posture and mannerisms are quite honestly perfection, with the hint of camp  that would sit perfectl…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Gobby ★★★

Gobby
The Studio, Vault Festival
Tuesday 4th - Sunday 9th February 2020Having taken The Edinburgh Fringe by storm in 2019, Gobby has understandably had some hype behind itself; you only have to glance at the poster image, with party popper confetti spewing out if Jodie Irvine's mouth, to make an impact that will stick in your head, and the production itself does well in delivering a confident performance from Irvine, with this one woman show dealing with loneliness, honesty, and self awareness.With the real name of Bri, though nicknamed Gobby due to her constant talking, we are charted through five seperate parties that have changed her life, each one for a different occasion, with Irvine channeling a variety of guests, wether that's Welsh friend Beth, or to the boy that she has always secretly admired. Irvine captives us with her body language and accents, constantly bouncing between narration to conversation, and though she stands alone on stage full on balloons, bunting and c…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Mighty ★★★★

Mighty
The Crypt, Vault Festival
Tuesday 4th - Sunday 9th February 2020'Should we be taking Heightism more seriously?' is the tagline proudly printed on Jack AG Britton's A5 Vault Festival Flyers, and it is a funny one, as when was the last time you thought about height in terms of people with power, or simply dating in relationships? If Jack's aim was make us go away and re-evaluate our whole stance on this matter, he certainly did achieve something as I left with my party following his first performance to have that very discussion on height, particularly when it comes to choosing our romantic partners.So let's take it back to the start; as we enter The Crypt space, Jack is already on stage with his loop station playing away a beat with the odd 'Sit on the Front Row' thrown in for extra measure, already sensing Jack as a bit of a clever comedian, and in this performance it very much works with individuals obeying in coming to the front, which was needed f…

MUSICAL REVIEW: On Your Feet! ★★★

On Your Feet!
The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Monday 3rd - Saturday 8th February 2020Charting the rise of the Cuban-American singer songwriter and 26-time Grammy winner Gloria Estefan, One Your Feet began its life on the stage in 2015 when it opened in Chicago, and since has gone on to have life on Broadway, The Netherlands, the West End, and now it's latest venture is out on a UK Tour. The production primarily centres around the relationship between Gloria and her soon-to-be husband Emilo Estefan, and whilst many who watch the production will be hit with a wave of nostalgia, this jukebox musical fails to produce enough substance in the text to hold itself together, relying on shoehorning in the musical numbers to stretch the running time.Starting off with the height of fame before rewinding into a flashback is nothing new to the genre, with Jersey Boys being a prime example of this trait, but here there is a genuine sense of achievement involved when David Rockwell's panelle…

VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW: Cassie and The Lights ★★★★★

Cassie and The Lights
The Crypt, Vault Festival
Friday 31st January - Sunday 2nd February 2020Cassie, Tin and Kit are three sisters fending for themselves after the disappearance of their mother, though the circumstances are surrounded in mystery early on for us as an audience. With the use of fairy lights, an old school projector, and a loop pedal amongst many other elements, Patch of Blue enchant us on a journey of sisterhood, bravery, and raw emotion that makes you want to hold on tight with those who we care about the most.Alex Brain embodies 17 year old Cassie, a strong minded young adult whose main instinct is to step toward as the mother figure to her younger siblings, who at the best of times are still full of imagination and wonders that we all have inhabited at some stage as children. Tin and Kat are the two sisters in question, portrayed with impeccable vulnerability and childlike mannerisms from Michaela Murphy and Emily McGlynn respectfully, and as a trio each showcase th…

THEATRE REVIEW: Goodnight Mr Tom ★★★★

Goodnight Mr TomThe Playhouse, Cheltenham Friday 31st January - Saturday 8th February 2020 Pushing boundaries and bringing forward stories with hard-hitting themes is something the Cheltenham Operatics Society (CODS) has of late not shied away from, with the likes of The Producers, Our House, and now Goodnight Mr Tom, arguably the bleakest of the recent trio involving child violence and the horror of war, but teaches most importantly the value of choosing your own family, and not having to side with those who just share the same blood.The production straight away opens to the first meeting and our own introductions between Mr Oakley (Jason Blackburn) and William Beech (Lex Recine), in what is quite possibly the best casting CODs has achieved in recent memory; Blackburn's disheveled and rather grumpy portrayal of Mr Tom (the name given from William) at the start slowly starts to break as he volunteers to house William when the notion of a second war is imminent. Recine takes the emot…