Hannah Goslin

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Review Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Programme B, Peacock Theatre by Hannah Goslin

 

 

(4 / 5)

 

I got myself a taste of the Trocks last week, and I ached for more.

Probably not as much as they ache after performing 2 different shows over the course of 2 weeks.

You would think – doing comical ballet dressed as women would become old hat – but boy, are you wrong.

This time around, we had different ballets – from Les Syphides, Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux to Napoli Pas De Six, Raymonda’s Wedding and a revisit to The Dying Swan.

Each performance different to the last, there is no repeat of the routine – both comedy and dance and the stand out performers are not the same as last time, taking the lead with their characters and their foibles.

What can be congratulated by them as performers, is that no one is on stage and forgetting where they are. They are engaged, the are paying attention, and in their own subtle ways being involved and hilarious in their ‘hammed’ reactions as much as those we are ‘meant’ to be paying attention to.

Again, the ballet aspects are brilliant, perfection and stunning to watch. Their transformation and changes between the female and male characters invoke typical and traditional ballet. But they still have their own characters – the slightly dumb male lead, distracted by everything and anything in Les Syphides to the beautiful and slightly egotistical bride in Raymonda’s Wedding.

We have a repeat performance of the Dying Swan, but with a different dancer, they have taken their own take – the basic choreography is the same, but their character is different and so we are still easily engaged and laughing at different jokes.

Again, I really enjoyed Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and felt as if I was seeing an old friend, but with new and side splitting stories.

Hannah Goslin

 

 

Review Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Peacock Theatre by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

What’s better than dance?

Dance and comedy.

While I enjoy a good ballet, Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, or ‘Trocks’ as they are affectionately known as, are a triumph.

Ballet is beautiful, but Ballet can be ever so serious.

The Trocks take snippets from real ballets, such as Swan Lake and Trovatiara and present them in a humorous way – playing off the fears of ballet dancers and the mistakes that could happen, and in put their own slapstick amongst truly beautiful dance and technicality.

The Trocks are all male, dressed, colloquially, in ‘drag’ but still play both male and female parts with absolute brilliance – switching from serious ballet to comedy, they are nothing but awe-inspiring and engrossing.

The set is like any ballet – the costumes as opulent as any ballet and their beauty is beyond words. You feel that it should be wrong to laugh, but they somehow mix it so well that you laugh but also really appreciate their talent, stamina and grace. And gosh, they know the right time to pause, the right faces to pull and how to work us audience members.

I would suggest if you are new to ballet, to first see the Trocks – they are a lovely introduction to dance where it does not feel too serious, you are left time to appreciate the quality of dance, but also to relax into a comical and fun evening.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is also visiting the Wales Millennium Centre at the beginning of October – Do. Not. Miss. Them!

Hannah Goslin

Review In The Woods, Royal Court by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

What’s the worst thing that could happen on Press Night?

Except a huge accident that is.

A fire alarm.

Unfortunately our trip In The Woods became interrupted by an non-scheduled fire alarm followed by an evacuation. Although, the excitement of this did not deter us from the great performance.

In The Woods by Robert Alan Evans, is a production featuring little characters, but great impact all the same. An old woman in the woods rescues a boy, and we see her fight all her demons, her past and her future; a unusual and mysterious World where she is always haunted.

In The Woods is as abstract as it comes – The old woman, played by Lesley Sharp, known for a lot of British TV, Film and Theatre such as Doctor Who and The Full Monty to name but a few, creates this feeble and weak character, switching from deep southern to quintessentially British as she changes from her ‘played’ character, to her real character – which in itself is very clever and awe inspiring at her seamlessness . She creates a real epitome of showing mental health as she fights her demons, shown in the form of different, volatile characters, played by  Tom Mothersdale.

Mothersdale is comical but also extremely frightening but it can also be commended that he is able to change to a range of characters, maybe 5, only with the use of minimal prop and costume change. From his exit as one to his entrance as another, he defines his ‘new’ character in physicality, vocally and with the general atmosphere. I feel that he really did steal the show, while Sharp is also fantastic.

An interruption such as the fire evacuation shows the true talent of a performer – while they continued slightly, their pause during the announcement showed them to still be enveloped in the performance, almost ready to go again. Coming back, it was if no time had passed, as we still felt the uneasy chill and emotional turmoil in the air.

My only qualm with In The Woods was the break of scenes – I now feel like I see this a lot from the Royal Court – Black out followed by a drowning of soundscape. And while this is effective, I feel like now it is expected and a general ‘theme’ of productions at the RC.

Overall, In The Woods is well worth a watch, if not for the interesting writing but also for Sharp performing in person and the phenomenal performance by Mothersdale.

Hannah Goslin

 

 

Review Exit The King, National Theatre by Hannah Goslin

 

(5 / 5)

 

On the trans-formative stage that is the Olivier auditorium, something special is about to unfold.

Exit The King never really intrigued me before. But knowing such great actors such as Rhys Ifans (predominantly known for his starring role in Notting Hill and for our Welsh readers, Twin Town)  and Adrian Scarborough (Gavin and Stacey), along with such wonderful reviews, I was easily turned.

Unusually for the National, this play includes no interval – my favourite! There is nothing like immersing oneself into a production, and this one is definitely one that needs your full attention and no interruptions.

A play written by Eugène Lonesco, Exit The King is the story of a King who created everything in the World, but becoming greedy with this and the thought of living forever, is coming to the end of his life at 400 years old, and cannot give it up.

There is a clowning essence to the take of this piece – slapstick comedy is consistent and brings the right amount of laughter with it, gently provoked and visa versa by the writing, with its witty humour. As well as smudged clown make up, making this feel hyper-real.

But it is also dark, thought provoking an emotional. As Ifans character deteriorates, it’s all too realistic and while the humour continues, it’s hard to find him as a comical character when he becomes so vulnerable and worth pity.  And do not mistake this as criticism – this is exactly how this should be played and Ifans is nothing but a triumph! Even saying this about Ifans and his acting skills is almost too little a compliment – I’ve have always been a fan from his films but he brings out something else, something extraordinary on the stage. And with seats luckily as close as mine, being up close and personal as I honorably got to be, you can see how he envelopes the character into every essence of his being, physically, emotionally and deep into his soul.

Scarborough is as bafoon-ish and comical as you would suggest. A character as The Doctor was made for him – while in a way he is often typecast in these roles, he magically makes them all different, all new and this is of no exception. Complimenting the play and the writing, he has the ability to go from humorous to dark and cold and does this with ease and believe- ability.

Let’s not forget our leading ladies – both are so accomplished and different to one another. Indira Varma (Bride and Prejudice ) plays a quintessential posh Queen, with hilarity in her no-nonsense approach to Ifans, and ends with being the most poetic, heart felt and enticing monologue that is hard to look away from.

Amy Morgan, of Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama training, plays the over the top and hyper-real french, ‘true love’,  second Queen – pink, pretty, prissy and very french. She plays a great contrast to Varma’s character, very chalk and cheese and their duo makes a great battle of wit, beauty and intelligence.

Exit The King is nothing but outstanding. Going in without any expectations (as I like to with all productions)  I was suitably blown away by its perfection, its absurdity, its ability to pull on your emotions but also make you cackle out loud with laughter.

And coming away, I was more than starstruck by one of my heroes, Rhys Ifans.

 

Review Living with a Dark Lord, Mighty Pen Theatre, Drayton Arms Theatre by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

Who thought that this play would be about Harry Potter?

Hands up!

Well … yes, I did. However, when I discovered it was not, I was not disappointed but in fact, probably enjoyed it A LOT more than I would a Harry Potter play (no, I haven’t seen The Cursed Child yet).

While lacking in Wizards and Dragons, Living with a Dark Lord is full of comedy, heartfelt essence and a true family connection.

The play sees the story of 3 sisters celebrating their brother’s birthday – Sean has autism, and this leads him to not enjoy birthday parties as the loud lights and noises unnerve him. But this loving family still celebrate without him because, that’s true family love.

The three sisters are… real sisters. Sean is a real person. This is a theatrical story of their lives. And it is truly engaging, hilarious and the actresses are fully talented – how come the O’Sullivan’s got all the genes in their family huh!

Retelling the stories of their brother is heartwarming, it is at times sad, at times difficult yet full of fondness, love and oodles of comedy. The 3 bounce off each other, which, as sisters, you would expect. And this makes for a fantastic performance from all – I doubt that three strangers or ones not blood related could ping such comedy from one another and manage to show the true, yet theatrical essence of not only their family, but of themselves as individuals.

They looked at home – the props and staging felt necessary and they maneuvered around with ease and naturally. It helped give us a insight into their communication, but relate to us in our own families and how we react to the homes we own.

If this wasn’t enough, at the end of their first night, when the curtain (metaphorically) comes down from their performance, the three are rightfully very emotional leaving the stage, and somehow, this tops this performance as we know how real and meaningful it is to all of them.

Living with a Dark Lord is full of real family, real life, real love, and real comedy.  If you aren’t into that then… well… you better get into it or you are missing out!

 

 

Review Carmen La Cubana, Sadlers Wells by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

If you do not already know the story of Carmen, you will at least recognise the music.

Usually performed as an Opera, Carmen has been taken through lots of different twists and turns, in dance, in performance and the tale is retold in different places, in different ways. It is a versatile and, at times, relatable story.

For those who are unaware, Carmen tells the tale of the meeting of an elusive woman, and an (at the time) attached man. They fall in love but in the end, their love is too detrimental and Carmen grows bored, leaving Jose. With rage and jealousy, Jose returns, finding Carmen with another man and he decides that if he cannot have her, no one can.

The original Opera was set in Seville, Spain. This time around, at Sadler’s wells, we are transported to Cuba; rife with latin music, dance and attitude. It is fierce, sexy and full of drama and life – almost like a soap opera. We laugh, we cry, and we notice how ridiculous some of the dramatic storyline is.

Seeing Carmen at Sadler’s wells a few years ago, the premise was very different – set in a garage – a literal ‘Car-man’. It was full of dance, full of what we would expect from contemporary – showing all these fighting emotions through movement.

Whether I was assuming something similar, while set in a different part of the World, this time, Carmen La Cubana was in a way very traditional; there was plenty of singing, an almost Opera meets Musical theatre production with the same hammed up characters, fighting and ensemble dance.

While it was perfection in all emphasis of musical theatre, and could not be faulted in its execution, I think part of me wanted more dance – latin dance is so energetic and beautiful, it felt as if there was little room for this and it was just an after thought. When it did happen, it was beautiful and vibrant, it flowed well and left us in awe of their abilities, but there was a lot more emphasis on speech and the singing.

I did enjoy this, but maybe the fault is in me thinking more with a dance head, when attending a dance venue such as Sadler’s wells.

I was also undecided whether the narration should have had translation or not – on screens to the side and above, we had translation, which, with the speed of Spanish, was unable to keep up and I felt my eyes being drawn more to this than the stage. I felt perhaps if I did not have to read as well as watch, I would have been more invested in the on stage action. This is not to say it should be in English – far from it. While my Spanish ability has little to be admired, knowing the story, I would have liked the performance to tell me it; much like Carmen a few years ago, in only dance, did.

Overall, Carmen La Cubana is brilliant, beautiful and to all intent and purpose, perfection. But I felt a little disappointed with the lack of dance in the production, when Cuban dance is so energetic, beautiful and fantastic to watch.

 

 

Review, DOTS by Annie Cheung, Camden Fringe, The Lion and Unicorn by Hannah Goslin

 

(3 / 5)

 

In the simplistic black box at the top of The Lion and Unicorn, we are confronted by a minimalist set featuring upturned chairs and small balls.

Annie Cheung is a performing artist from Hong Kong, with her work dipping into a combination of therapy and theatre.

With DOTS, the main intriguing aspect of this production is the narrative. We see Cheung go through a series of emotions, stories, and feelings ; there’s a sense that this may be biographical but if not, and changed for dramatic effect, she still manages to pull at our heart strings, make our sides split and relate wholeheartedly.

Some of the narrative relates more to theatre and her struggle as an actress – asking whether The Stage and its uncertainties are worth it over the sturdiness of The Law Firm. A clever viewpoint of this is that she makes these as character’s themselves – she interacts and refers to them as if they were human, adding her husband’s business, or his ‘Mistress’, to the mix. It gives these more of a face, and the conversation is comedic and relatable.

And while her production is very much about the narrative, combating her mental health and the ups and downs in her life and industry, she manages to throw in physicality, using a chair as former partners when referring to her sex life, and moving around the small stage at great speed.

I would have liked to see more- while I love minimalist sets, and for a show to be all about the writing and the physicality, I do feel that DOTS could go even further, and maybe could develop into something even bigger.

DOTS really combats the mental health in the arts, but also manages to connect with anyone who has ever felt lost or struggling with where they are, at any time in their life.

 

 

Review Pity, The Royal Court by Hannah Goslin

 

 

(5 / 5)

 

One thing I did not feel for or during this show was, Pity.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am really into ‘theatrical experiences’ or ‘immersive theatre’. Something that I studied in my MSc and eventually would like to continue into a PhD, is the concept of creating an experience in Theatre, so that the audience feels included and forgets the outside world. But, just like with The Royal Court, architecture of standard theatre’s sometimes stops this from happening.

Beginning with starting from entering the back of the building, we encounter a temporary bar, an ice cream stand, and a brass band which we are encouraged to walk through. The neon green ground creates a hypnotic and almost another-world essence of a market square, and while we feel at home, we also feel as if we are in a different world.

Pity  written by Rory Mullarkey and Directed by Sam Pritchard is a crazy and mad, roller-coaster of a ride – it encounters the most ridiculous but yet still questions important social and political aspects. Politicians are made satire, war is a satire – this little town encounters everything ridiculous and bad that could ever happen, and will never happen all at once in 24hours.

The characters begin one dimensional – they are comedic, and unlike anyone we know. But as life deteriorates, they become more relatable.

Without giving away too much, there are so many surprises, so many hilarious moments, that it’s really hard to contain any of your emotions. Yet through the chaos, it is so well constructed, so perfect and seamless, that you can’t help but have a smile and laugh constantly throughout.

It’s really hard to review this show for the pure fact it is unlike anything I have ever seen – the creation of the narrative is beyond anyone’s brain, and yet someone has created such perfection in such disaster.

Pity is, probably one of the best shows I have ever seen. It ticks every box for me, although I can fully admit, it is probably not for everyone – the way the story line and the creation, with it being so far out, may not appeal to the traditional. But, by gosh, is it bloody good!

 

 

Review Home, I’m Darling, National Theatre/Theatr Clwyd by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

I’m going to begin this review, simply with, what a lovely play.

I wouldn’t say it is extraordinary, ground breaking or shocking. But it is clever, interesting, and a new view on feminism and the Me Too movement.

Judy (Katherine Parkinson, of The IT Crowd) and her husband Johnny (Richard Harrington, Hinterland, Poldark) love the 50’s. So much so, that one day they decide that with what they have in earnings, they could live the life of a real 50’s couple. The wife as a stay at home housewife, and the husband bringing home the bacon. Their home is styled of the era; their clothing is of the time period; technology is barely visible in their lives. All in all, they have a perfect yet romanticised life.

As time continues, their lives break down, and there are cracks in this perfect life. Questions on morality and feminism becomes heightened, with Judy announcing she is a feminist as she chose this lifestyle. The lifestyle of keeping a home and her husband.

From a unusual childhood, with divorced parents, this seems like Judy’s way to make her life and her marriage perfect. But is a relationship all about the aesthetics?

The set is beautiful – a cut away house, we fully delve into the ins and outs of their lives, the bad and the good and still feeling as if we are intruding in their facade of a life.  We are fooled, with how good the beginning premise is, that when she cracks out a laptop, there is a roar of laughter – is this some multi-dimensional world? No – it’s something even stranger; a couple living in the past.

 

Katherine Parkinson, is one of my favourite actresses. She adapts to any character, from The IT Crowd, to The Boat that Rocked and so on – this is no different. Every element of her acting is perfection – from her pristine housewife life, where even her walk is meticulous and precise, to a flash back to her as a finance manager, who is more laid back and carefree.

Richard Harrington, to our Welsh readers, is more well known for his starring role in Hinterland. Another well established actor, he takes on this doting and fun loving husband character, with gusto. When they become extremely emotional, it is natural and a triumph to acting relationships.

Home, I’m Darling, which had it’s debut at Theatr Clwyd, features two promising and excellent Welsh performers, (supported with the character, Alex, played by Sara Gregory). It is not only a wonderful play, showcasing welsh and english talent, but also surprisingly poignant for current climate in relation to feminism.

Home, I’m Darling continues its runs at The National Theatre until the 5th of September.

Hannah Goslin

 

Review Instructions For Correct Assembly, by Thomas Eccleshare, The Royal Court by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

The Royal Court does a wonderful thing with it’s writing/writers. There always tends to be a simple premise – a production will often start as normal as possible, with it then changing and surprising you through time.

Instructions for Correct Assembly, written by Thomas Eccleshare and directed by Hamish Pirie features a plain family – Mother, Father and Son. They have fun neighbours who are their best friends, who boast excellent children which always feels like a comparison. Their home is perfect, precise and generally like an Ikea show room.

There is a difference to this story however – as time goes by we see flash backs of their son who finds himself deteriorating in life; their struggle to help and eventually their resistance after the last straw. And once he is gone, their need to fill the void. In this futuristic world, the void is in the shape of a robot son.

The narrative is relatable even though the events seem a little impossible in our current world. We relate to the characters, feel what they feel, laugh at the right parts, but we also question how we would take the situation.

Jane Horrocks, of Little Voice and Ab Fab fame takes a front seat in this production as our mother. She is as homely and approachable as a stereotyped mother is. It’s nice to see her in a more ‘ordinary’ role in comparison to the hyper-comical characters we are used to seeing her in.

Mark Bonnar, known for Shetland and Apple Tree Farm is the doting husband and father who is easily bent by his son. He does well to play this goody-teacher type but together with Horrocks, evokes the emotion and feelings of a Mother and Father duo who are distress and worry for their son.

Brian Vernel does a fantastic job in a double role as our robot and the human son. His movements in comparison to the two characters are distinguished and differentiate them very easily. But he is also believable. As if this situation is real in our current society.

My only issue with the acting is at times when they have been instructed to move in jumpy motions, I can only assume to represent ‘models’/’robots at their basic moments, but this doesn’t feel like it fits. While I can see what they have done and why, and it does seem fitting, it just felt disjointed to the process of the production.

A review cannot be left without a comment on the staging and lighting/sound. Design is by Cai Dyfan and lighting by Jack Knowles. The Royal Court is known for its unusual take on these and this is no exception. For the ‘perfect’ family, the rooms look like they are all made of Ikea furniture and works well with the narrative, especially as the characters like to build flat packs. Slowly as the perfection breaks down, parts of the staging come away, revealing more emptiness, possibly close to how they feel. Finally a large natural wall of flowers and fauna appears at the back – an argument against robotics in comparison to naturalism? For whatever reason, this adds such depth and interest to the so far basic, perfect rooms.

Instructions for Correct Assembly is an interesting and inventive piece of theatre. While the concept of the breakdown of robotics in our future is a common topic, there is something more human and certainly different to similar writings.