Review: 3*** The Winslow Boys The Marlowe Canterbury @marlowetheatre

Just how much are we willing to invest in the pursuit of the truth and justice and can one ever win against the establishment? The Winslow family are tested in every way in their journey to prove Ronnie’s (Misha Butler) innocence.Aden-Gillet-as-Arthur-Winslow-and-Misha-Butler-as-Ronnie-Winslow-c-Alastair-Muir-e1519386494479

Expelled from Naval College, aged 13, for Monetary Theft, Ronnie returns to the family home in trepidation. Scared to tell his Father, Ronnie confides in his Sister Kate (Dorothea Myer-Bennett) about his recent expulsion.

All the while protesting his innocence, Kate has no choice but to inform their Father. A long legal battle ensues, a Fathers fight to clear his son’s name. Many sacrifices are made by the Winslow family, a family used to certain privileges but it’s not just the monetary sacrifices that take their toll.

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Review: 4**** Schism – Park Theatre 90 @ParkTheatre ‏

Tweetingit: 4* an engrossing study of the pupil/teacher relationship and attitudes towards disability. A sometimes heavy going but ultimately rewarding experience.

The ridiculously convenient Park Theatre sprang another surprise on me last night; a small but beautifully formed studio theatre upstairs, mysteriously dubbed Park 90. Park Theatre, Finsbury Park: Schism 2018An excellent performance area is distinguished by a brilliantly simple lighting system. Schism is ostensibly set in an office with a window represented on stage by a Venetian blind. The blades gradually space out as they gently wind across the ceiling; strategically placed lights are trained upwards and onto the blades creating an amazing series of shadows. The effect is amazing and builds the atmosphere in the transition between scenes.

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Review: 3*** In the Shadow of the Mountain – Old Red Lion Theatre @ORLTheatre ‏ @InstinctTheatre ‏

Tweetingit: 3* A solid two-hander focusing on a couple thrown together by circumstance; the realisation dawns on them they both have mental health issues. Excellent character acting compensates for a painfully thin plot.

Mental health is sadly a poor relation in the strife-ridden NHS. So it is refreshing to see a play addressing the issue with the support of leading charity Mind. In the shadow of the mountain may have drawn some inspiration from a Canadian film bearing the same name. The film explored disassociation and how depression can transform our vision of the world.Shadow

The play follows a similar theme as two lost souls collide in the midst of a mental health crisis. The story begins supposedly at a train station. Ellie (Felicity Huxley-Miners) literally throws herself on top of Rob (David Shears) convinced he is about to take his own life. Rob, confused and diffident is immediately smitten by the attractive, chatty Ellie. She wastes no time in probing the thoughts of a total stranger. Their relationship develops at a rapid pace as their mental frailties become all too obvious.

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Review: 4**** Building the Wall – Park Theatre @ParkTheatre @angela_griffin @ROBERTSCHENKKAN @mrtrevorwhite

The daily headlines alone provide fertile enough material for a critique of rising populism. But Robert Schenkkan’s play forces us to look up from the daily news drip feed and reflect on where an unchecked Trumpism could lead. Not in a far-off, technologically-facilitated dystopia, but as near as next month or next year.Trevor White and Angela Griffin in Building The Wall at the Park Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet _50A2512_preview

Rick (Trevor White) is being held in solitary confinement awaiting sentencing for… one isn’t quite sure – but it’s clearly not a minor misdemeanour. Academic psychologist Gloria (Angela Griffin) has obtained permission to interview him, with the hope of really understanding how events came to pass. As the play progresses, Rick opens up to Gloria’s questioning and the true horror of what ‘building the wall’ meant in practice is bit-by-bit uncovered. Relayed second-hand in this way, the contingent nature of reality in a world of ‘fake news’ is subtly teased out, and the audience is forced to consider the limits of what they can give imaginative credence to.

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Review: 4**** Baby Box by Laura McGrady at the King’s Head Theatre @JosephineShipp @LLMcGrady #WhoRunsTheWorld @KingsHeadThtr @SleeplessTC

#Tweetingit – 4**** funny, heartrending, thought provoking, troubling. Exactly like gynaecological issues are. Bravo!

I’ll start by nailing my colours to the mast.  I am an old school, angry feminist who seethes every time talk about women’s biology is shut down for being disgusting, or private, or unladylike.  This meant I was delighted when I heard about Baby Box – a humorous play focussing on endometriosis. 

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Eugenie taking over the Kings Head theatre (SleeplessTC Instagram)

We need to be able to talk about our bodies, particularly when they aren’t functioning as they should, and humour and entertainment is a great way to facilitate this.  Bravo to Laura McGrady for writing this play and huge kudos to The Kings Head Theatre for staging it as part of their Who Runs The World feminist season.

 

The play starts with the introduction of our protagonist, Chloe, through an explanation of what it is to be born female in the UK.  We are immensely privileged, though fail to reach the pinnacle thereof due to the slight issue of being born with a tiny womb of our own.  We are told that your womb won’t define you, and indeed it shouldn’t, but we know that it will.

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Review: 5***** Chess, the London Coliseum @mrmichaelball @cassidyjanson @timhowar @alexandramusic @SirTimRice #Abba @chessthemusical @bjornulveus # Benny Andersson #ABBA

Tweetingit: 5***** A chess Master-piece makes a triumphant return to the West End. Beautifully sung & visually stunning – if you’ve got a pulse, you’ll love this!

Chess had its first West End run at the Prince Edward Theatre from 1986-1989. Having seen the latest production two questions persistently nag at the back of my mind; how on earth did I miss this show first time around…and why has it taken over 30 years to make its London return? I arrived at the London Coliseum unfashionably early. The paps were gathering around the main entrance, but managed to give them the slip as I brushed shoulders with Michael Grade. 

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Michael Ball and cast

A grand four-tier auditorium greets patrons with a sense of occasion slowly takes hold. An excellent set design was predictably based on a chess board illuminated according to the scene. The orchestra were pitched centre stage and flanked by giant screens; always useful in a theatre of this size, and also means you don’t stare at dots if seated in the balcony

It tells the story of two grandmasters striving for supremacy; their respective nations (USA and Russia) see their match as symbolic of conflicting ideologies and covet the propaganda value of victory – a scenario reminiscent of the duel between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972. A new cold war may well have begun, but the reference point for this portrayal is firmly rooted in the 80s.  However, it doesn’t need to make political points and is not an academic study of east-west relations; it’s really a love story providing a highly effective vehicle for some great songs.

 

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Review: 4**** Blood Brothers The Ipswich Regent Theatre @IpswichRegent @BloodBrosUKTour @LynPaul6 @BKL_Productions

Having wanted to see Blood Brothers for years, the time came when Willy Russell’s show coming to The Ipswich Regent. It tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences. It has been lovingly christened the ‘Standing Ovation Musical’, and I can completely see why.C9s1hl4XgAEKiWQ

Lyn Paul, voted the definitive Mrs Johnstone, was phenomenal throughout. Having first played the role back in 1997, she completely encompasses all that you’d hope from the struggling mother of many, just trying to keep her family happy in a desperate situation. I believed her character and loved her effortless singing – it was captivating! Mathew Craig plays the narrator throughout the production, interacting with the other cast members, and always only a stone’s throw away – ready and waiting in the background to add to the story and keep the audience updated on less wordy scenes. He was, at first, difficult to understand, partly due to the accent, and partly due to possible mic issues, but he added an interesting dimension to the story. His accent and the sound improved greatly in the second half, and he became a favourite character for me.

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Interview: Owen Kingston – Writer and Director or King and Country @Thecolabfactory until 10th June @_Parabolic_ @ColabF #ImmersiveTheatre #ForKingAndCountry

It’s December 1940 and a Nazi invasion force has landed on the south coast of England.
For King & Country offers audiences a chance to immerse themselves in this gaming style
experience where decisions taken in the bunker will shape the course of history!
Michael Thomas, Zoe Flint, Peter Dewhurst, Christopher Russenberger and Edward Andrews in For King and Country, courtesy of Owen Kingston_previewReinventing the wheel of immersive theatre, Parabolic Theatre present an escape room-like experience with a high level of interaction where the audience determines the direction and flow of the story.

Before we attend, we got the chance to speak to the Director, Owen Kingston, about what we should expect

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Upcoming Shows and interview with Josephine Shipp, Producer of Baby Box, at the King’s Head Theatre now .@KingsHeadThtr ‏@LLMcGrady ‏@SleeplessTC @SarahJCullum #WhoRunsTheWorld @JosephineShipp

Playhouse Pickings sat down with Josephine Shipp, Producer of Baby Box, to talk about chronic pain.

Are the males in your life grossed out by your period? Do you hide your tampon up your sleeve when you go to the bathroom? Whilst angry have you been subjected to the, “are you on your period?” comment? I suspect that, if you’re a woman with a vagina, you’ve probably answered yes, yes and yes to the three questions above – which really is quite depressing, if you think about it.

Issues like periods and female sexual pain live behind closed doors. They’re discussed in hushed tones behind hands – “do you have a tampon? I just came on.” baby-boxHeartbreakingly, when it comes to female pelvic pain, it is often never mentioned at all even to the best of friends, out of fear, shame and the worry of disgusting or displeasing the men in our lives. Sex should be pleasurable for everyone involved, and if it’s not, you should be able to discuss it openly, not just grit your teeth, go through unbearable amounts of pain, make the noises and hope it finishes quickly. #LieBackAndThinkOfEngland – we’ve all heard the saying before, and it’s quietly depressing. Modern society has moved past having to wear skirts that cover our ankles, we’re no longer required to be housewives first (not that making a full-time job out of raising the next generation of humans isn’t kickass), and we got the right to vote. So shouldn’t all that mean that we should be at a place where we can mention painful sex and the monthly visit from Aunt Flo without half the population cringing in fear? Apparently not.

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Review: 3*** Trainspotting Live, the Vaults @thevaultsuk @TrainspotLive

Tweetingit: 3* an ideal opportunity to re-acquaint with familiar faces including Renton, Begbie and Sick Boy. However, truncated stage version loses some spirit of the original screenplay. But still great fun!

The dark, cavernous atmosphere of the Vaults in Waterloo would appear to be the perfect venue for Trainspotting Live. Most will be aware of the startlingly original film version from the 90s. One would naturally assume the stage adaptation would be a shoe-in. Although solid and entertaining, this production still left me with mixed emotions.

download (9)The slow descent into Leake Street leads into a dark alley adorned with Banksy inspired street art. The main entrance appears to be a lock-up and greets visitors with metal shutters if arriving early. Once inside, we were issued with glow stick wristbands and ushered onto the front steps. We’d heard rumours of audience participation; so slipped quietly into the back row when they weren’t looking. The performance area was an odd shape and felt more like a catwalk at a fashion show. The only props were a mattress at one end and a toilet bowl in the centre. It was an awkward space for the audience to negotiate. Visually, you chase the action from side to side, and momentarily lose characters if seated at the opposite end.

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