Hannah Goslin

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Review Flossy and Boo : The Alternativity, The Other Room, Cardiff, By Hannah Goslin

Photo by Llyr Attala 

(5 / 5)

What do you think about when it comes to Christmas? Religion, commercialism,  Santa and his Reindeer, Scrooge?

Christmas sees a lot of theatre come to the stage, but usually it’s the wholesome, profound meaning conclusion for children or we delve into religion. Where is the room for an adult production?

Flossy and Boo have hit the nail on the head. This comical duo has been asked by the almighty man of The Other Room to put on a Christmas production – however, they do not know what Christmas is or a play for that matter.

A hilarious, slapstick and musical production ensues with the idea that we will reach a nativity production but first we must see the concept behind Christmas – the duo’s research.

Purely at random, we the audience are in control of the schedule, picking from a stocking the topic. Flossy and Boo use this technique a lot in their work and I am a big fan – it shows real talent and skill to be able to produce a show where you never know the order.

Music is always a key part of their work and their comical original music always comes as a surprise to the rhyming and the road it will take. A favourite of mine was a American Southern acoustic number where the use of the floor, a tambourine, guitar and beautiful voices were all they needed.  It was strong, powerful and a lovely addition to their more gentle, folk music.

And we cannot leave without a note on the set and props – thought was put into every aspect not only making it homely but complimenting each topic – things became creepy when needed, others warm and fuzzy and each bit was there for a reason.

Great thought is put into each any every part of their work and when things may go awry, these two are amazingly skilled that it becomes part of the production. We feel welcome, we feel like friends and this Christmas, we laughed, tapped our toes and smiled at something very different and totally brilliant.

 

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    Review The Claim, Tim Cowbury and Mark Maughan, The Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter, by Hannah Goslin

     

    (3 / 5)

     

    In the brick walled room, the stage is set up with bright vertical solo lights and rostra featuring one white chair and a box of tissues.  Simplistic yet clinical.

    The Claim is a story featuring an asylum seeker and two British office staff dealing with his claim to seek sanctuary in the UK.

    The play purely faces upon the narrative. The interaction features interaction between the two office staff, their personal lives, their relationship and the participant, Serge; Serge and his broken English with one office staff and Serge and more fluent speech with the other office worker which we understand to be translated French.

    This is a sneak peak at the difficulties in understanding communication, how stories can change a little like language Chinese whispers, and how a small misinterpretation can cost someone’s life and safety. In contrast, we see the luxury lives that we take for granted in the interaction of the two office workers but also picking on race and sexism and how even in a stable country as the UK, there is still hardship of some kind ; that makes us question why these two have less sympathy for Serge than they should do.

    The conversations are rapid as they interrupt one another with short bursts of involvement. There’s a little Pinter-like technique in this, when some questions are answered and others aren’t, purposeful pauses, all highlighting the miscommunication and the lack of listening from the office workers. These short bursts also make us as frustrated as Serge – why can they not understand him? How are they getting it so wrong? Just help him.

    At the beginning of the play we are invited to see an installation outside of interviews with real asylum seekers and this all brought together gives the points being made in the play a face, a personality and leaves you really thinking about the state of immigration and level of help governments give.

    The Claim is a sympathetic look into current issues and a very thought provoking performance.

    Hannah Goslin

     

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      Review Fourteen Days, Balletboyz, Exeter Northcott, by Hannah Goslin

       

      (5 / 5)

       

      Balletboyz have been a favourite of mine since my university days. Always heading to the Taliesin in Swansea, this company have never struggled to surprise me with their brilliance.

      Today was of no exception.

      Looking in the crowd the audience was of a mixture – dance enthusiasts like myself, an older generation who may or may not have seen them before and know their unique and modern take on dance and a huge amount of boys and young men. Beating the stereotype of ballet and dance being for girls, these masculine role models are obviously very influential.

      Fourteen days comprises of 4 short pieces followed by a longer finale. As the programme states, these dances are created by a host of different choreographers, including Strictly Come Dancing’s, Craig Revel Horwood and all feature an underlying theme of balance and imbalance.

      “The Title is in the Text” is our first piece by choreographer, Javier De Frutos and really draws on the theme. Set around a see saw, the dancers balance, propel and manoeuvre around it creating beautiful shapes and a sort of child-like playtime with each other . It’s simplistic, yet powerful and with elements of subtle humour with the interaction and response between them. Dressed in jumpsuits, firstly it feels mechanic and as if they are workers but the play in the dance makes them feel more childlike.

      “Human Animals” by Iván Pérez changed the dynamic completely. The floral shirts with legs bare for all muscles to be seen makes this animalistic – the routine gentle, light and almost mimicking deer jumping in a forest as one. It’s repetitive but easy and lovely to watch.

      To me, “Us” by Christopher Wheeldon was the highlight of the show. With only two dancers, the performance is intimate, a consistent flow and full of emotion. Along with the music by Keaton Henson, this very minimalist piece but full of vigour and emotional power resonated personally with me, leaving me in tears at the beauty of love and conflict.

      “The Indicator Line” by TV star Craig Revel Horwood is in itself a surprise.  There is a Soviet element to the narrative and comes across as very dictator-like but with bells on. Mostly I would expect something musical theatre based from him and that’s a little of what we get but it’s strong, powerful and full of momentum. The dancers also show a great talent in their trade when ballet and contemporary turns to tap. However there’s anger in the tap -no Fred Astaire here, this tap dancing means war.

      And finally, “Fallen”by Russell Maliphant – a rebirth from it’s debut in 2013. Until I read that fact, there was something familiar about the piece but nothing less enjoyable. The whole ensemble is involved and there is always something to watch. Different scenes broadcast from different areas; crescendos come and go and levels change from all to duo to solo and back again. This piece has a fluidity to it, not just in dance but in its expression, leaving you struggling to take your eyes away.

      What I love about Balletboyz is their ability to be about the dance. Yes the odd bit of staging and changing of lights adds to their composition but mostly the stage is naked, stripped bare of trickery leaving us engaged with the dancers who make every element look effortless and with sheer beauty.

      Hannah Goslin

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        Review Fiction, Bikeshed Theatre by Hannah Goslin

         

        (4 / 5)

         

        In the brick theatre of the Bikeshed, we are separated into singular seating, correspondent to our numbered headphones. Instantly we are dubious of what is about to happen especially when you end up in the front row and your guest is right at the back.

        The only other things in the room apart from us spaced out is a large projection screen and a lectern. The projection screen acts as our welcome party before we are delved into sheer darkness.

        Fiction sees us travel through a world of imagination and suggestion. Being in pure darkness, we feel vulnerable and open to the elements. Therefore sounds effect us more than normal, we do not feel as safe as we normally would and suddenly there are voices describing and taking you through an almost apocalyptic world and story.

        One hour of this would, from the outside, seem tiresome but somehow the content of the narrative and what we create in our mind keeps the entire experience interesting and new.

        The wonderful thing about this event is that while the narrative is the same, our own minds create a world that would be different to the next person. An uncertainty of whether the person speaking is sat next to you or not – yet you still do not reach out and move despite a 95% assurance it’s all coming from the headphones.

        Fiction is very clever, intense and very simple, yet brilliantly executed. Such a clever experience is very unique and totally worth undertaking.

        Hannah Goslin

         

         

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          Review People, Places and Things, Headlong, Exeter Northcott Theatre by Hannah Goslin

           

          (4 / 5)

           

          People, Places and Things by Headlong Theatre has taken the theatre scene by storm. Debuting at the National Theatre, London , the production was all anyone could talk about.

          Touring the UK, a different cast still brings the story and theatrical experience from a world famous stage to our local venues.

          Taking on the issue of addiction, we are taken though the life of Sarah as she undertakes rehab and combats her stubbornness against asking for help. We meet other characters, learning their stories and the different ways addiction manifests.

          The naturalism from the actors is fantastic. There is no stereotyping of ‘junkies’ or the help they receive that we see on television and projected by the media. The stories are hard hitting where we are thrown from sympathy to dislike and to understanding.

          Adding to the performers, the staging, lighting and sound adds to emphasising the clinical rehab atmosphere as well as helping us to understand moments of reaction from drug taking and the reaction of coming off them.

          The stage is interchangeable and develops into different rooms with ease. The audience are placed either side making it feel as if we looking into a box – something like a zoo or science experiment adding to the sense of combating our original thoughts of addiction.

          People, Places and Things is a hard hitting revelation of a play, taking our initial misconceptions and bringing forward the truth.

          Hannah Goslin

           

           

           

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            Review, Spamalot, Exeter Northcott Theatre by Hannah Goslin

             

            (4 / 5)

             

            If anyone is anyone from the ages of 20 and above, it is unlikely that you did not grow up with Monty Python and their slapstick, intelligent humour. Despite the Python’s Holy Grail making its debut on our screens in 1975, their comedy and genius sketches have become not only legendary but with the ability to never age, becoming a deep part of British culture.

            To bring something so acclaimed to the stage must be daunting, however with the input of Python’s own Eric Idle and original Holy Grail score writer, John DuPrez, what we see on television is brought to live performance with every bit of silliness and pizzazz as the original.

            The performers themselves took on every character with perfect recognition of the originals, to uncanny resemblances of John Cleese in King Arthur particularly, making us feel as if the Python’s were really in the room. To bring such simple comedic tricks that often are hidden on television, the performers perfection in timing and perfectly rehearsed actions and movements, made us see a performance that left little to critique in what could be improved upon.

            Fun was poked at the status that the performance found itself in – as a live musical number with little to hide in special effects. Songs were created about how romantic songs lead to a kiss or how an actress had been off stage for too long and her annoyance at this. Special effects weren’t trying to be hidden and clever, but became satirical and obvious, creating humour in not only our views of musical theatre but adding to the key approach that the Python’s take to comedy.

            What really made this production special was the interaction with the audience. We were not left behind or made to watch but our knowledge engaged us in the action – singing along to well-known tunes, laughing uncontrollably at the same jokes that never get old, and cheers from the crowd at favourite character entrances and scenes from the original sketch. Even a slight moment of corpse-ing from the performers did not take away from the fun – personally I love a moment when performers slightly lose track. To me it makes them human but also shows how much they enjoy the performance themselves, and such as in this case, it never destroys the audience’s belief but creates more humour for them.

            Spamalot is a well-constructed and brilliant production, bringing the 1970’s humour of the Python’s to new audiences but also revoking comedy for the older fans; modernising the production to fit current situations yet somehow keeping the original essence of The Holy Grail, this performance is a triumph.

             

             

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              Review Mixed Grill?, Beyond Face, Barbican Theatre Plymouth, by Hannah Goslin

               

              (2 / 5)

               

              My first time at the Barbican, this little theatre tucked away in an alley opposite Plymouth Aquarium is a little gem in itself.

              For my first trip here, I came to see Mixed Grill? by Beyond Face. The production uses many elements of music, video, real life story telling and picking up on history and present day topics related to race, with some physical theatre/dance fusions thrown in. One could say this is for sure a multi-media production.

              The premise of the show is to highlight and explore race, from two mixed raced performers where they share their personal stories and feelings but also make comments on well-known worldly stories. They support this with mixture of music that represents the Caribbean and Britain and combine this with a narrative of making a traditional Caribbean curry for their British friends. Not only does the smell of real life cooking add to the senses and bring you into the room, but the naturalism of the performances invites you to the discussion.

              A simple set, we see a bookcase with blank frames, adding to the tales of not feeling placed or at home with who you are and where you are. Other than that, it is set like a standard kitchen and with all the appliances and ingredients for the performers to make this curry, it is very lifelike and relatable. This puts us in the room and makes us feel affiliated with the performers, giving us the option to side with their ideals and opinions on race.

              The performers themselves pick up on very good points – showing physically with black and white liquid the ‘one drop system’ in America which was originally unknown to me; transpiring their uneasiness with their own difficulties when it has come to race and their stories and, for example, the male performer and the 50/50 life he had growing up in London where he was accepted but other times not, through dance and physicality. They were lovely additions but it did feel as if a lot of the other points they made could have been presented this way.

              While you can tell they have theatrical backgrounds and a want to show important points through this, the script was lengthy and, at times, were just chatting but without conviction. Such a huge amount of facts and points must have been hard to recite and therefore lost a little personalisation and theatricality – unfortunately it felt over rehearsed and scripted. As previously said, the physicality, while it  was good but seemingly also felt in production still,  perhaps throwing more of this into the performance to compliment the speeches would have made this feel less like a lecture and more of a performance. With this also comes projection – at times their voices did not quite fill the room or music drowned them out and this was a real shame as I really wanted to hear what they were saying from the important points to the comedy they were also trying to bring.

              Saying all of this, Mixed Grill is a great concept, comical and a joy to watch but it still felt in a scratch stage and could become something really interesting and amazing – physicality, energy and more theatrical projection is needed just to push it that little bit further! And there is something about this pair and their approach to comedy and vast knowledge and research into an obviously personal subject that makes you really root for their success.

               

               

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                Review Running Wild, Theatre Royal Plymouth by Hannah Goslin

                Image result for running wild tour

                (5 / 5)

                Let’s start with a bold but true statement – Michael Morpurgo is one of our country’s literary geniuses. From World hits such as War Horse, from book to stage and film, Running Wild seemingly is following suit with such success and ingenious theatrical approach.

                Running Wild sees the modern day tale of a young girl, on a trip with her mother to Indonesia after the death of her father, who finds herself lost in the jungle after a natural disaster and help of a beach elephant; along the way meeting new animal friends and facing terrifying situations. This tale sees the growth of her and her developing relationship with her family, both those alive and passed away as well as making bold and blunt points about human destruction of nature.

                The narrative itself is well formed, in a way relatable in the sense of love and loss and pulls at your heartstrings constantly – whether this is with relation to her passing father or the bond she makes with her new animal friends. A tale that, like War Horse, has taken a lot of perfecting and trust in theatrical ability from actors to puppeteers, stage and lighting technicians to designers – the collaboration from all involved syncs this production well and seems perfect for the stage – as if Morpurgo wrote it for theatre.

                Like War Horse, which coined the large puppeteering techniques used, the animals are to size and travel the stage in a very lifelike manner – the puppeteers making sounds and at times many controlling different parts of an animal, made this all seem very lifelike and by getting lost in this, you forget that the puppeteers are even there. As someone who has been up close to a real elephant, the detail and natural/lifelike nature of the animal was on point and extremely real. Obvious time and investment in the research and performance is abundant and really makes the difference for the experience.

                To agree with the modern day story, Running Wild is modernised and at times takes on a ambiguous and alternative lighting, staging which creates another difference in the two productions – Running Wild is not just a carbon copy of War Horse and its techniques, but its own incredible production. The set itself gathers understanding and sense – a stage covered in random objects then compliments the natural disaster and the destruction from this that occurs. The puppeteers bringing out rectangular harsh lighting to represent the unusual environment while the girl and elephant run through the jungle and a big favourite of mine, moveable trees with fruit represented by shower luffas to add to the nature vs human element.

                And finally the performers – from actors to puppeteers. Some puppeteers doubled up as actors, and some took on several characters and puppetry. To invest the performers in all elements adds to the great understanding they have with the storyline and at no point was concentration, energy or enthusiasm lost in either/all performances.

                Running Wild is by far a triumph. Following in War Horse’s footsteps in some theatrical elements, there is, however, no competition; both performances are perfected and in their own right, theatrical perfection. Running Wild not only makes you well up in happiness and sadness, create shock and fear, comfort and protect you, and make severe points of modern human impressions on nature, but it manages to get you lost in the jungle with all your new animals friends.

                 

                https://openairtheatre.com/production/running-wild

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                  Review Tell Me Anything, On The Run, The Bike Shed Theatre by Hannah Goslin

                  Image result for on the run theatre tell me anything

                   

                  (4 / 5)

                   

                  A simplistic staging – we are greeted with a blank space, the floor filled with cylindrical tubes and in the corner, a dolphin.

                  Immediately this is comical and  theme of comedy runs through this clever piece to counteract the raw topic. Tell Me Anything is the theatrical adaptation of David’s teenage years with his first love, who happens to have an eating disorder. This takes over their love and their relationship, as we see his side of the story. This is a new take on such a topic, seeing it through the eyes of a loved one, without the character whose disorder it is. David makes it very clear that his development of the piece isn’t without his former girlfriend, and now friend, Kate’s input and knowledge of the piece.

                  With mostly a true narrative, excerpts from his diary, emails and memories, it’s hard not to feel warmth in the piece and the love he had at the age of 15. Unfortunately the only thing with this is that is feels a little fairy tale; the ‘true love’ tales of conversations, feelings and interactions seem so blissful that at times it’s hard to really believe such things; the performance then feeling a little fantasy like – or maybe that is just the cynic in me talking?

                  David interacts with us constantly – his narration directed to us, involving us by asking us questions and also asking us to close our eyes and put ourselves in his shoes – this feels intimate and struck a chord with myself as being asked to envisage someone we love just as he describes his love for Kate, bringing up personal feelings of loss, love and all the in between.

                  The lovey dovey nature, soon takes comical turns when he creates satires through his energy and vocal inflections to show the silly nature of 15 year olds. And then it gets dark – his anger, his hopelessness and his pain shines through, even 14 years later it is evident on his face and in his performance. A theme throughout is that it isn’t about him, it’s about her, but this shows exactly how invested he is in his story to show both sides, without the other participant.

                  The lighting is simple, and it changes to flicker when anxiety and anger rises. The tubes are like a minefield, or like ‘treading on egg shells’ as he manoeuvres himself through them– the more the story deteriorates and their relationship does, the tubes and their movement by David as less controlled and begin to fall. An interesting representation of control and descent of happiness. And of course, the dolphin. The representation of being the dolphin who gently helps and nudges those in need, is brought in as support, strapped to David’s back, and later, is let out of air and crumbles as David does.

                  Tell Me Anything is full of theatrical symbolism, heartfelt emotion and a real life and raw story. A piece of theatre that resonates with anyone who has tried, hopelessly, to help someone they love.

                  https://www.bikeshedtheatre.co.uk/shows/tell-me-anything/

                   

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                    Review Give Me Your Love, Ridiculusmus, The Bikeshed Theatre by Hannah Goslin

                    Image result for ridiculusmus give me your love

                     

                    (4 / 5)

                     

                    Back into the underground bunker of The Bikeshed Theatre, this week sees the company Ridiculusmus who have been bringing funny yet thought provoking theatre to venues such as Battersea Arts Centre, Soho Theatre, Barbican, National Theatre, Royal Court and The Arts House, Melbourne for around 20 years.

                    Artistic directors and performers of this piece Give Me Your Love, Jon Haynes and David Woods take a look at PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) within a former soldier of the most recent of wars in Iraq, basing this in West Wales. They take a humorous look at this condition but filling it with strong metaphors which in balance work well to really make us think about the disorder.

                    The majority of the 1 hour show is mostly purely a conversation between Zach who is in a cardboard box, for his own safety (or so he believes) and his friend, Ieuan, and occasionally his wife Karen. With all of these characters, we never see their faces. Karen is in a different room shouting through the wall; Ieuan Is trying to get into the room through the chained door, his only presence represented by his speech and his hands/arms peeking through and of course our main character, Zach, is always in the box. This interesting take on theatre is brilliant and simplistic. It takes a lot within creation, writing and the skills of the performers to be able to bring such comedy, the issues and pure emotion to an audience without much physicality or facial expressions.

                    The narration is great; it is as if the characters are having a simple chat, going back to the issue at hand but occasionally having a moment of off topic interaction. Somehow this makes the unordinary visuals seem very naturalistic – with Welsh accents as well, are perfect and I guess with the sing song nature of the Welsh accent, adds to the humour.

                    Taking my parents, we later discussed how clever and important this piece of theatre is, and whether the performers themselves were Welsh as they seemed to be on point with Welsh humour. I do wonder whether some humour was lost a little on the audience as it did touch upon things that we agreed may be more comical to the Welsh or those familiar with Welsh culture and humour. Despite this, there was plenty of comedy and strong emotional moments that visibly effected the audience in obvious ways.

                    Give Me Your Love is such an important production to see – Zach is seen to say that he has put himself in the box – and while this is represented physically, it also has huge representation to how we see PTSD ourselves. How society coaxes suffers into this one box and not taking in that each person is human and different. If you do not get a chance to see this production, so many emotions and thoughts will be starved of its theatrical influence.

                    http://www.ridiculusmus.com

                     

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