Hannah Goslin

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Review Made In Dagenham Adelphi Theatre by Hannah Goslin

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Many in London are talking about Made in Dagenham. Set close to London in Essex, it’s only a short tube journey to find the real town yourself. But was bringing it to the West End the best idea?

The story sees a group of women during the 1950’s working for the car manufacturer Ford. Some of their husbands, including the main character’s (played by Gemma Arterton) working side by side with them in the factory. This fictional tale comes from the film in 2010 and highlights the inequality of women in the work place and how a lack of equal pay shows the continued discrimination of women.

As someone who has not seen the film, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting; and yet I still am not sure. As a musical, there are catchy songs and liberating ones; as a feminist, the story appealed to me and I so wanted to like it. Moments I enjoyed were the mixture of comical to fiercely independent songs, highlighting the stupidity of the government and women’s empowerment. There were character’s that were exaggerated stereotypes or parodies of public figures and they gave a chuckle and a giggle at interludes in the storyline.

However, it seems this production couldn’t make its’ mind up. It either had to be comical, or hard-hitting but it failed to be able to do both. While I didn’t find myself bored, I still expected there to be more. The director took a nice approach in bringing characters into the audience with spotlights, but without any real interaction with the audience, not even eye contact, this seemed a little futile.

My disappointment finished at Arterton’s performance. As a great fan on hers in many films, I was excited to see her on stage, in the flesh. However, with her character being quite plain and the more serious of the group of women, she struggled to stand out. The performances of exaggerated characters unfortunately overshadowed her and her great talent.

Over all, this happy-ended revolution of women and what we continue to strive for is feel good and nice to walk away from. But it is only nice, and not as astounding as one was expecting.

Review Scottsboro Boys Garrick Theatre by Hanna Goslin

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The tale of the Scottsboro Boys is a tough story to believe. Based on true events, this musical looks at the story of the falsely accused southern black young men of a rape on a train. The satirical play shows the injustice and the apartheid in southern America… something that seems strange for a musical, no?

Cleverly, the writers of this performance have hit on a range of events of this era (1930’s onwards) of this appalling discrimination. Setting the group of black performers to perform their story as a minstrel show, we begin to see how mistreated these humans were. There’s an element of comedy but more of a focus on the ridiculous nature of views of this time and with this in mind, these accomplished performers produce a stunning and hard-hitting performance.

Instead of using a range of cast to perform the parts of the ‘white folk’, a handful of the performers used small costume changes and prop additions to highlight the change, but mostly this is shown in their over-acted and almost parody of these characters. Somehow, to see these parodies would sound unfitting for such a tough story, but it fits correctly to humiliate the wrong opinions, the poor reflection of  human nature and the insolence of these characters.

The Scottsboro Boys portrays a sad reality, with no happy ending. The musical numbers pull at the heart-strings and make you hate the white people who were wrong. And somehow, this seems a perfect way to bring this story to the forefront of the public. With a standing ovation and tears swept from the corners of many in the theatre, this performance is not only different but a daring addition to the West End.

Review The Play That Goes Wrong, Mischief Theatre at the Duchess Theatre By Hannah Goslin

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In the spacious Duchess theatre, The Play that Goes Wrong is a production exploring more than what it says on the tin!

The narrative created by Mischief Theatre is of an amateur company putting on a murder mystery play, but unknown to them, everything goes wrong. This begins as the theatre’s ushers open the curtains, letting us audience into our seats where two frantic ‘crew’ members are looking for a run away performer – the dog.

Many events go wrong from parts of the set coming apart, missing actors and forgotten scripts, ending in a huge climax of mishaps. This particular performance felt accomplished; with a group of school kids in the theatre, actors managed to easily interact with us with the use of improvisation and while we knew this was a scripted play, there was a great sense of these actors’ abilities to digress from the script and still manage to show professionalism and skill.

These latter attributes also manifested themselves in how well rehearsed the play is in relation to the safety of quite dangerous stunts, performed by the actors. While able to mix with each other and the set without injury, they still manage this and perform with humour and still in their characters.

The Play that Goes wrong at no point goes wrong in achieving their goal. With elements reminiscent of productions I’ve seen by Forced Entertainment, while not trying to Brecht-ify the audience, we are felt included in the humour and clumsiness that is this mishap of a murder mystery.

Following this show, Mischief Theatre will be performing one-off shows at the Duchess with ‘Lights, Camera, Improvise’ where this talented company will perform with a hint of forum theatre, using audience suggestions to influence what they produce. By seeing how well they can improvise, I am especially excited to see more from this talented company.

REVIEW Neville’s Island, The Duke of York’s, London by Hannah Goslin

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Neville’s Island

The Duke of York’s, London

17/11/2014

What excitement I felt when I knew I was about to see Neville’s Island, staring comedy greats such as Adrian Edmondson, Miles Jupp, Neil Morrissey and Robert Webb.All known for their influence on British culture, I was sure that a comedy performance was in store.

The story of Neville’s Island saw four business men, shipwrecked on a work’s team building exercise. The story embarks on the foursome’s hunger, fears and conflict with one another. We see four very different individuals, and as the show unfolds, different significant stories of each person is revealed.

The main source of comedy was seen in the angst and anger of Edmondson’s character, inflicting insults upon the apparent stupidity of the other character’s in the scenario. This proved many laughs and was helped by the minimal acting of the other’s in retaliation; later building into each burst of madness that they experience as survival begins to be a struggle.

There were times of slapstick comedy, using the very well constructed and realised set of trees, rubble and real water at the front of the stage. Audience members near the front were even given rain macs with the knowledge that this water became a element to some of the comedy gold on stage.

However, I wouldn’t call this production ‘side splitting’. These little moments created hysterical laughter but were far and few between. It felt that more activity was needed on stage to compensate for quiet moments where the comedy did not quite hit the funny bone. While each actor was fantastic in their performance and execution and couldn’t be faulted, the content wasn’t enough for them to truly show their comedic skills and left myself wanting more.

Review Miss Saigon Prince Edward Theatre London by Hannah Goslin

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Miss Saigon

Prince Edward Theatre London

11/11/2014

In the heart of the West End, the Prince Edward Theatre transported us deep into the depths of the Vietnam War. A remarkable and detailed set, Miss Saigon was full of oriental decoration and this vast stage contained so much detail to help us feel as if we had come off the wet streets of winter London and into the slowly destructive slums and alleys during this time of conflict.

It can be argued that a production must firstly rely on its actors performance and not trust that set, lighting and sound must take a centre stage. However, this was different for this show. These elements only enhanced the performance on stage and created phenomenal and easily changing locations, at times it was difficult to comprehend how so much was possible on stage. For example, the piece de resistance of the production for me was the projection of a helicopter coming to land; air conditioning was switched on for a gust across the audience to really feel this and suddenly, a huge functioning helicopter appeared on stage. Gobsmacked is a severe understatement!

This tragic tale of a love story between a Vietnamese girl and an American Soldier and how the war tore them apart contained so many amazing characters. These main character easily professed the sheer Hollywood true love that we only wish to experience; their performances pulling heart-strings of the most cold. Along with the Engineer; a money hungry ‘pimp’ who continues to play a sidekick part in the life of these two star crossed lovers, manages to bring not only a slimy and seedy character that we would expect from such a profession, but also provided much humour – a wonderful way to break the intensity of the heart breaking storyline.

Not knowing exactly the story, it was a shock for me to see scantily clad women (and at one time, also a man) writhing on stage. The movement of these performers was as slimy and seedy as the Engineer, at times a borderline imitation of sexual acts being played out on stage. I began to feel uncomfortable and to really question whether there was a need for acting so obvious to be played out in front of us. Till I warmed up to the reasoning that to feel as the main female character feels in these prostitution dives, we had to also feel as intimidated and uncomfortable as her. And happily, this worked extremely well.

This performance also wouldn’t have been anything without the chorus. The scantily clad women, the Vietnamese and American soldiers and the Vietnamese villagers – all together produced beautiful song and dance numbers, creating the right feeling of fear from the villagers, the seedy yet fear of the prostitutes and the military strict fashion of each sides soldiers.

Miss Saigon managed, what all theatre should do, to create a magical world where despite the unrealistic song and dance, was easily a, what one would assume, realistic representation of this historical period – but theatrically sound and relatable for audiences all the same.

REVIEW Good Cop, Bad Cop, Primley Road Productions BY Hannah Goslin

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Good Cop, Bad Cop

By Primley Road Productions

Leicester Square Theatre

11/11/2014

Leicester Square Theatre is one that I have never been to before. In the basement of this small theatre, I sat in front of a simple set of a table with three chairs – the table containing only a mug and a lamp and a filing cabinet with a fax machine and telephone on. A sign with the ‘L.A.P.D’ ‘s rules the force lived by also hung from the wall. This seemed all reminiscent of the typical Cop dramas we are used to seeing on TV and in Hollywood.

As the name suggests, Good Cop, Bad Cop is set within a interrogation room and undertakes the story of an older detective, Alan, joined by a young trainee, Jonathan on his first day, interrogating the suspected drug trafficker known as ‘Noah’ whose character goes by the name Joe – a hippy looking, down and out man.

L.A.P.D isn’t what we expect it to be. The London accent soon appears to announce it as the ‘Luton Airport Police Department’ and soon the hilarity in this illusion unfolds. Alan and Jonathan undertake the stereotypical scene of playing Good Cop and Bad Cop to try and lure the suspect into a confession. Alan as the older detective insists on his Good Cop nature despite seemingly being a ‘hard nut’. Jonathan, however is a timid and shy man who has no idea how to convincingly be tough and so his attempts forever become hilarious through clumsiness and sheer lack of confidence in his new persona.

Not only are these confused and unlikely characters thrown together to convincingly go around in circles such as a comedy routine would encourage, but Joe, our hippy suspected ‘drug lord’ soon speaks up to become, not only a little strange, but a well educated Oxford Graduate. This surprise in itself is humorous and provides a third party for the original characters to hilariously bounce off.

The relationship and understanding the actors have of one another and the writing proved to create a slick and well directed performance. At no point was a single actor not ‘on’ and even developed to combine both exaggerated movement and gestures with small actions and facial expressions. To combine both and still achieve audiences to belly laugh, in itself, is a achievement, showing how much of a substantial understanding of comedy this company has.

Review John DV8 National Theatre, London by Hannah Goslin

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Photo (Hannes Langolf) by Hugo Glendinning

‘For nearly thirty years, Lloyd Newson’s DV8 Physical Theatre has produced original and challenging dance theatre unafraid to push audiences out of their comfort zone’

During my performance training from the age of 15, I was introduced and inspired by DV8’s work. Thirty years of bringing thoughtful and impacting theatre into the forefront of audience’s minds. After seeing ‘Can We Talk About This?’ in Truro a few years ago, knowingly, DV8 brings a great approach to discussions that can be taboo, or if beginning to be spoken more about, still laid bare, and this has always had an amazing impact on me.

John was no exception. A simple rotating staging was easily turned into several different locations with little change; just the addition of occasional props. The performance was about the story of John, not stage and lighting trickery and attempt to astonish audiences in this way.

John’s life was from verbatim – a production based on a solo interview with a normal human being and how his turbulent life from childhood to his present shaped who he was, what he wanted and despite a possible more negative life compared to some, something relatable … wanting someone to love and love us.

A combination of physicality and spoken word caught the eye and ear of every audience member. A pin could be heard within the theatre as John’s story of the horrors he had experienced and the life he was entering were laid in front of us, with no fear or cover of the truth. For some, this blunt-ness of the taboo subjects may have been much to handle, with, at times, comedy with topics that could make the strongest person cringe but what would DV8 be without this?

The versatility and fluidity of the performers brought interesting scope to the spoken word ; each one was astonishingly capable of beautiful movement and never took away from the intent of their words. How their ability to contort themselves and move in such a way and still easily and with steady breath speak their lines was inspiring. And ensuring that their words still gave as much meaning as the movement, left myself in tears of awe and from the impact of the story.

DV8, as usual have brought a fantastic and must see performance into the public eye. It is almost impossible to come away without a feeling of elation at seeing theatre at its best.

Review The Commitments Palace Theatre, London by Hannah Goslin

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The Commitments

Palace Theatre, London

05/10/14

The intimate and ornate setting of the Palace Theatre in itself was a great experience. Picking seats close to the action, I felt it was a perfect place for The Commitments. A story about a group of working class North side Dubliners trying to hit the big time with a make shift band – my seats allowing me to look up in awe at the action.

Set in the 80’s, even the relatively young in the audience would be able to relate to the stereotypical costuming with large mullet-ed hair and velvet ruffles in abundance. To complement this, the songs that are either in full performance or even snippets of are well-known and repeated by the audience – a real concert style atmosphere begins.

As a regular visitor to Dublin with close Irish friends, many of the references to the ‘North Side’ and the prominence of U2 during this era with the dislike of this fact, tickled a funny bone. I wondered if all of  those who had come into this performance would have understood the gags and puns as well as others.

The actors themselves were very inspiring. With Dublin accents and enlisting the same amount of professionalism as one would expect from a continuous running show. Despite this, the performance seemed new and fresh; not expectant of a performance which would have been shown a mere hours before. General movements and speech in the background, interaction with one another and the set was constant and almost naturalistic in such an exaggeration of comedy; showing the subtle skills that these actors are capable of. Such a talented group of performers – not only do their acting abilities rival many of this genre in the West End, but their singing and musical abilities are also top-notch, giving something very special and unique to this show.

Ending on a high is an understatement. The Palace Theatre was turned into a concert, leaving you forgetting that this is a written play; with little bits of improvisation, along with a borderline of acting versus personality of the actors themselves; This production was wonderful to see as it showed the joy and excitement that the performers themselves have with this production. The standing sing along, clapping and dancing of the audience looking onto this pretence band was a strange but also an endearing ending to a West End musical and brought a great sense of the Irish community to London.

REVIEW Briefs-The Second Coming, London Wonderground BY Hannah Goslin

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Inside the European Spiegeltent on London’s Southbank, a new world is formed.

This cabaret, fringe style hub hosts a huge supply of performances to see, all different and all spectacular.

London Wonderground introduced me to the Briefs – a circus, cabaret, boylesque drag show from Australia.

As a fan of all these types of performances, I thought I would know what I was heading for, but in reality, I could not have ever guessed !

We were introduced to a host who not only welcomed you to their show, in a friendly and personal manner but also cracked many a joke and innuendo that could only be described as side splitting. Her costumes were ever changing and lived up to the notoriety of drag acts for being stunningly beautiful – from her costume,  to her make up,  to her on stage persona.

Not one group of performers has ever had so many skills and used them so well together in such a polished show. Dallas DellaForce brought her stunning change of drag acts, lip syncing and changing her personality from a Cher lookalike, to a posh dog owner, to even a boylesque balloon act with a split personality syndrome. Her beauty, charm and fantastic acting skills won over every audience member.

Acts such as a young gentleman able to complete a rubik’s cube in little more than 3 minutes while dressed as a cheeky school boy made everyone astonished and giggle. His skill in as little as yo-yo tricks, while talking about it here may seem tedious, but was in fact awe-inspiring, linking this into a burlesque routine, also divided the audience from the strong to the prude, releasing the naughty but rude nature of the show.

This continued with acts such as a crazed and clown-like monkey character, who used innuendos and phallic inspired jokes to ensure that this show was not for the faint hearted, but definitely for those with a great sense of humour.

Of course, this wasn’t always the aim of the show. Adult content always ticks a box for me in shows such as this, but moments of sheer awe not only gives a break for those who feel a little shocked, but to also gives a moment for your jaw to drop. A flexible and strong male who was able to contort himself, fly high above us in a hoop performing tricks that you could only wish to do left the room in silence, with the occasional ovation and cheer for the fantastic tricks he was able to do.

Finally, to end the show, a fantastic burlesque act. Beginning in an outfit to die for as a beautiful bird of paradise, ending up in a Dita Von Tease style champagne glass of water, and again, a series of acrobatics movements above us, this act was not only verged classic and elegant, but comedic with water splashing everywhere, drenching the poor premium Wondergound seating areas at the front. Who could ever be mad at water-soaked performance when it was executed so perfectly and gracefully!

REVIEW Briefs-The Second Coming, London Wonderground

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Inside the European Spiegeltent on London’s Southbank, a new world is formed.

This cabaret, fringe style hub hosts a huge supply of performances to see, all different and all spectacular.

London Wonderground introduced me to the Briefs – a circus, cabaret, boylesque drag show from Australia.

As a fan of all these types of performances, I thought I would know what I was heading for, but in reality, I could not have ever guessed !

We were introduced to a host who not only welcomed you to their show, in a friendly and personal manner but also cracked many a joke and innuendo that could only be described as side splitting. Her costumes were ever changing and lived up to the notoriety of drag acts for being stunningly beautiful – from her costume,  to her make up,  to her on stage persona.

Not one group of performers has ever had so many skills and used them so well together in such a polished show. Dallas DellaForce brought her stunning change of drag acts, lip syncing and changing her personality from a Cher lookalike, to a posh dog owner, to even a boylesque balloon act with a split personality syndrome. Her beauty, charm and fantastic acting skills won over every audience member.

Acts such as a young gentleman able to complete a rubik’s cube in little more than 3 minutes while dressed as a cheeky school boy made everyone astonished and giggle. His skill in as little as yo-yo tricks, while talking about it here may seem tedious, but was in fact awe-inspiring, linking this into a burlesque routine, also divided the audience from the strong to the prude, releasing the naughty but rude nature of the show.

This continued with acts such as a crazed and clown-like monkey character, who used innuendos and phallic inspired jokes to ensure that this show was not for the faint hearted, but definitely for those with a great sense of humour.

Of course, this wasn’t always the aim of the show. Adult content always ticks a box for me in shows such as this, but moments of sheer awe not only gives a break for those who feel a little shocked, but to also gives a moment for your jaw to drop. A flexible and strong male who was able to contort himself, fly high above us in a hoop performing tricks that you could only wish to do left the room in silence, with the occasional ovation and cheer for the fantastic tricks he was able to do.

Finally, to end the show, a fantastic burlesque act. Beginning in an outfit to die for as a beautiful bird of paradise, ending up in a Dita Von Tease style champagne glass of water, and again, a series of acrobatics movements above us, this act was not only verged classic and elegant, but comedic with water splashing everywhere, drenching the poor premium Wondergound seating areas at the front. Who could ever be mad at water-soaked performance when it was executed so perfectly and gracefully!