Category Archives: Film & TV

An Interview with Playwright Emily White

Hi Emily great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?


I grew up in Powys in the countryside on the outskirts of various small villages and towns (we moved a lot) although my mum now lives in Carmarthenshire in the countryside.  I started off wanting to be an actress and moved to London and trained at RADA when I was in my early twenties.  I acted professionally for some years, mostly in theatre and ran a theatre company with some friends for a while that did fringe shows in pub theatres in London and then I got to my mid-thirties and decided I needed to do something different so I went to University in York and did an MA in theatre writing, directing and performance.  When I decided to become a mature student I didn’t really have a new career in mind, I just wanted a degree because when I was at RADA you didn’t get one.  I was never particularly studious in High School (although I was always good at English and Drama) and I hadn’t written an essay since GCSE’s so I was amazed and thrilled to discover I was really good at it and that I really loved the playwriting part of the course especially.  I left with a distinction and hangover and haven’t stopped writing since.

So what got you interested in the arts?

My parents split up when I was two years old and my dad went back to London where he was from and my mum and I went to live in Wales.  My dad came from a working class background where no one in his family were interested in the arts but somehow he developed a love of the theatre and used to go to loads of plays and get the cheap seats way up in the gods and he also loves books and films and art, and passed all that on to me.  When I was three he got us cheap seats to see Peter Pan at the National Theatre and I was totally enthralled by it and apparently when we left the theatre I said ‘that’s what I want to do dad.’ So from then on whenever I went to visit him in London he would take me to the theatre, he’d take me to see Shakespeare, Chekhov, Tom Stoppard, Samuel Beckett and I just loved it, not that I totally understood everything that was going on but there was something magical about it all the same.  


My mum encouraged me to join Mid Powys Youth Theatre and Powys Dance when I was a teenager and I was really lucky to have some fabulous teachers and directors working with me who were really inspiring and got us all to work really hard and research whatever we were doing a show about – for example we did a show called ‘Frida and Diego’ about Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera so you had a bunch of kids in Wales learning about Mexican revolutionary painters and Mexican culture and Mexican dancing – totally mad and brilliant (not sure our accents were that authentic though!).  Mid Powys Youth Theatre won the National Youth Theatre awards twice and we got to come up to London to perform at the National Theatre – which was so exciting for all of us as teenagers as you can imagine.  


And my dance teacher at Powys Dance gave me my first professional job; touring a dance piece around Wales – which was during my GCSE’s so I’d finish and exam and leg it out the school gates to jump in a tour bus, go and perform and be back in school the next day for another exam.  I couldn’t have done any of that without the support of my parents so I’m really grateful to them for encouraging me to pursue the things I loved.  


Your new play Pavilion opens at Theatr Clwyd this autumn before then playing at The Riverfront in Newport. The production  has a wonderful tag line of “Dance.Drink.Fight.Snog” please tell us more!

The play is set in an old run down Pavilion where the local Friday night disco takes place every week and the whole community is out because the Pavilion is about to be closed down.  There has also been a protest that day about the High School being closed and merged with another school in a nearby town – so everyone’s a bit on edge.  One of the unique things about growing up in a small town is there’s only one place to go out and dance, so young and old have to socialise with one another and everyone knows everyone which makes for great drama and comedy.  So it’s a play about the effects of austerity on a rural community but it’s also a loud, raucous, all singing, all dancing, funny night out in a town full of larger than life characters.  


Pavilion takes place in a “small town in a forgotten corner of Wales.” As a Welsh writer how do you feel Wales has been represented on stage and screen recently?

We don’t see nearly enough stories about the Nations on our screens and stages and personally I think it’s important that we do, I feel representing the whole of the UK should be part of the diversity that theatre and television and film are aiming for.  We have a divided country at the moment so the arts has a really important role to play in representing the parts of the UK that feel invisible and unheard – people within the London bubble need to see our stories too.  How else will we begin to understand one another?


I’m interested in learning about other cultures and it’s been wonderful to see productions like Nine Night, Leave Taking or The Barbershop Chronicles and see a new audience in those theatres that are really excited to see their lives being represented on stage, I found it very moving to see that happening, I was watching the audience as much as I was watching the plays.  I’d hope audiences would be interested in learning about Wales: a country right on their doorstep with a fascinating history and it’s own language that they know very little about.  I have lived in London for 21 years now and in the theatre especially it’s rare to see a Welsh play about Wales, or a Scottish play about Scotland, Ireland gets a little bit more of a look in.  Things are starting to improve on television with the BBC encouraging writers in both the regions and the Nations by creating writing groups that help them into the industry – I was part of the BBC Wales ‘Welsh Voices’ group this year in Cardiff. 

And of course we have a very exciting boom of production companies starting up in Cardiff which have brought us some great TV shows like Keeping Faith and Hinterland – may they lead to many more!  As far as films go Submarine was fab, Craig Roberts has written and directed some interesting films recently and Pride was wonderful (although I would have preferred a few more Welsh actors).  

Tamara Harvey and the team at Theatr Clwyd have really invested and supported Welsh Playwrights. How did you become aware of the theatre and Tamara’s work supporting Welsh writers?


When I’d finished a second draft of Pavilion I contacted a tutor of mine at RADA, Lloyd Trott, he does a lot of work with emerging writers and arranged a table read, and workshop with RADA graduates and students.  He suggested we arrange a rehearsed reading and that I invite Tamara to come along.  She came up and saw the reading and then finally after a long hiatus she called me totally out of the blue (a year later) and said she wanted to do my play.  One of the most exciting phone calls of my life! 


I didn’t have an agent at the time so I had sent the play to every British theatre that had open submissions and received really glowing feedback from all of them but it was always ‘We loved it, it’s like a modern day Under Milk Wood but it’s not for us, good luck.’  Part of the problem being it’s a massive cast of eleven actors which costs a lot, theatre’s don’t have any money and I’m a totally unknown writer – so I really stacked the odds against myself ever getting this play on – looking back I should have written a play with two people in one room talking but unfortunately that is not the play I wanted to write!  So Tamara and Theatr Clwyd have really done something quite unheard of and amazing by deciding to put it on regardless of those things I am eternally grateful to them for their support.

Theatr Clwyd, Artistic Director, Tamara Harvey

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists? 


Well I feel I’ve answered this slightly already.  There is a barrier in Welsh writers getting our work on outside of Wales.  But I also think poverty is an issue – we need funding to be able support emerging writers and directors from working class backgrounds.  If you’re from a really poor family, you can’t afford to be part of a residency if it’s not paid or it doesn’t help with accommodation that’s going to be a big deterrent.  


In terms of public access, the lack of transport to the small number of theatres there are is a barrier – Theatr Clwyd is an incredible theatre but it is hard to get to if you don’t own a car – the council used to fund a local taxi company to lay on three buses a week that would collect anyone that couldn’t get to the theatre but with all the funding cuts that service is now gone.  I think that’s a crying shame for the theatre and for the audience because it meant that the elderly, the disabled, young people who can’t drive yet and just people who couldn’t afford a car, could go for a night out.  When I was a teenager we lived in a small town and my mum had to get rid of our car for a number of years because she was unemployed and there was no way to get anywhere to go and see anything.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

That’s such a difficult question because there’s loads of things I would like to fund.  But I think youth engagement is really important so I would want to put funding into that – funding to make sure that every child has access to a youth theatre, a dance centre, an art class or a writing class, music whatever it may be – and crucially enough funding that the organisation is subsidised so that children whose parents are on benefits can still afford to go.  All these groups allow young people to meet each other and encourage them to express themselves and to think about the world and their part in it.  Art encourages empathy and there’s nothing more important than that right now.  

What excites you about the arts in Wales? 

I think it’s a really exciting time for the arts in Wales.  The theatre scene in Cardiff has grown so much since I was a young, from home grown companies like Dirty Protest, Hijinx, and Chippylane to small venues like The Other Room and because of this there are a lot more Welsh writers around making their mark.  The new BBC Wales building and the television production company boom means there are more jobs in that sector in Wales than there has ever been so getting into the production side of the business is now a real possibility for young people in Wales and doesn’t feel so out of reach.  Theatr Clwyd are making great work in co-production with London theatre’s so is The Sherman, and NTW is touring round Wales taking projects to places that don’t have easy access to a theatre of their own – all really important, plus all these theatre’s are working with new writers which is fantastic. 

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers? 

Another really difficult question because I’ve seen so much great work this year.  But I guess the show which I can’t get out of my head is Cyprus Avenue by David Ireland – a writer from Northern Ireland – which was on at The Royal Court earlier this year.  The premise of the play is: an old unionist in Belfast is suffering with dementia and believes his new baby granddaughter to be a reincarnation of Gerry Adams. 


It was a surreal, obviously hilarious and at the same time deeply disturbing play that was an examination of blind hatred.  The play could only really end one way and he certainly didn’t chicken out. You spent the entire play crying with laughter but with this growing unease at what was coming.  He had us in the palm of his hand.  It also made me realise I don’t know nearly as much as I should about Northern Ireland and then we’re back to what I was saying earlier about diversity and representation.

I love a play that is politically charged but manages to still be funny and entertaining.  That balance of drama and comedy is, such an effective way to get an audience lured in and invested.  Humour is so important.  I talked about it for weeks afterwards.

Review Mark Watson, Theatr Clwyd by Russell Williams

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

To begin, Mark, unlike other comedians, does not have a warm-up act; he takes on the role himself as he likes to use this time to get the feel for his audience.

Mister Watson is not your usual joke-a-minute comedian, instead he takes a more subtle approach; his gags disguised along the way in what seem to be quite personal, relatable life stories.

He speaks warmly of his children and the difficulties navigating their childhood using audience participation from people who have experienced some of the same occurrences, with some hilarious outcomes. He also talks of his ex-wife and divorce in the same manner, again with very funny outcomes from the audience inclusion.

During the interval there are cards laid on for the public to ask Mark questions or make any statements they would like him to acknowledge, the outcomes of these cards and Mark’s reactions to them are ‘throw your head back and roar’ material.

To wrap up, Mark Watson was warm, friendly and exceedingly funny. He loves his audience and his time on the stage. I would recommend Mark’s show without hesitation.

Thanks, Mark, for a great night! I did not stop laughing!

Review Tolkien by Jonathan Evans

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

With a lot of the great artist, you can look into their lives and find a key moment or time in their lives that greatly affected them and can be found throughout their work. H.P. Lovecraft’s father was put in a mental asylum, Akira Kurosawa was witness to the mass of dead bodies in the Great Kanto Earthquake, and Alfred Hitchcock was traumatised at a young age when his mother told a policeman to put him in a jail cell for an afternoon.

Not all artists need an origin story like this but many do have a key incident in their lives that can be found within their work. Tolkien tells the story of the man that would reshape the Fantasy genre and make one of the biggest impacts on literature and what events shaped him to be able to write them.

An important element that should be talked about with any bio picture, do you need to know about the person or their work before going in? I believe if the movie is of any true merit then no, you shouldn’t have to be in the know before entering the movie theatre, a movie should be able to stand on its own without homework beforehand. That said, the people that do know about the person’s life and work will probably find themselves more at home and able to fill in the blanks and connect when certain words are said. But a good bio should please the fans and be just as engaging for someone who knows nothing about it (and if it really does its job, it’ll turn them into fans).

Opening the movie is our main character in one of the worst places during one of the worst times, the trenches during the First World War. We see him in the midst of a fever while bombs are going off, bullets are flying and muds splattering around him, but he tells his ward that he needs to get closer to the action to find his friend, he needs to make sure he’s alright. We then are taken back, to when the man was a boy and enjoyed time in the forest playing with his brother, reading and making up stories.

Due to the death of their mother, they are sent to a special school because of the benefit of a patron. While there young John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is clearly greatly intelligent, well versed in literature and very comfortable with a book in front of him (as well as able to speak Latin and other languages). While at this school he gathers three friends, Geoffery (Anthony Boyle), Robert (Patrick Gibson) and Christopher (Tom Glyn-Carney). Together they form a friendship built on the appreciation of the arts and dedicate themselves to changing the world through art, each with their respective field, literature, music, poem, painting, and music.

Nicholas Holt himself is responsible for bringing this wonderful portrayal to life, the script gives him plenty to sink his teeth into but a good script can only help an actor so much. Holt is able to hone in on the characters passion for words and language and the way he observes beauty in the world and is entranced by it but is also compelled to tell stories that make the character come alive. There’s also some joking around and tender emotional moments in there for texture than make it a fully realised performance of a character.

Nicholas Hoult in the film TOLKIEN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

if you know Tolkeins work or have at least seen The Lord of The Rings movies then you can probably grasp those stories are about humble people that start off in a simple place and enjoy the simple things. Then some great evil comes to threaten everything and they are thrown into a world of looming evil, of fire and mud. This contrast is present here in the movie, from a rich world of cake, tea, and art to a shaking unstable landscape that seems to have abandoned hope and civilization. What Tolkein and this movie does is take the two and link them for we understand the scale that humanity is capable of.

An element that would usually be the weakest element of another movie is the romance part of the narrative. Tolkien had a wife that he spent his life with and I’m sure it was a perfectly happy marriage. But with these movies, it seems like they need to throw that in there to make sure the movie checks all the boxes. Action? Check! Drama? Check! Song? Check! Romance? Check! But there is one here and it flourishes! It’s a wonderful layering in the movie, the character and enjoyable experience in its own right. This works because a) the characters were written with things in common and b) the actors themselves (Lily Collins) have chemistry together so they elevate the material of the script to something that you engage with. Furthermore, this is not a standard fairy-tale told on tracks, these people have similar interests as well as disagree and have arguments, like real people. Do I see it as being tagged on later in development? Yes, but they also made it work. 

Biopics are in no short supply these days but few of them really know what story they are telling, just a collage of events from the subjects life stitched together and we are pushed through it. This movie knows what it wants to say “Where did this great writer who changed a genre get his inspiration?” We learn and understand the man and are moved by it. This is a movie that looks on a mans life and knows where to focus itself.

An Invite to Visit the Magical Place

Get the Chance are working with new theatre company YEAH YEAH to support audiences to attend a sharing of an in development piece of work and then discuss their thoughts. The sharing will take place at Chapter Arts Centre on Saturday the 13th July at 7.30pm.

Please get in touch of you would like to attend.

https://www.chapter.org/whats-on/performance/magical-place-yeah-yeah/3532

YEAH YEAH are a new Cardiff theatre company developing uplifting gig theatre. A crossover for those that might enjoy a musical, tribute band, stand-up comedy, or a touch of ballet.

The work in development (working title) ‘Magical Place’ is free to attend.

Expect iconic songs you know and love plus drums, keytar, lycra, laughs, dance and the biggest pyrotechnics they can afford, Magical Place is a new work still in development and the company welcome your feedback

Please note, that this is a sharing of a work in progress, and therefore not the complete anticipated production. Sections of the work will be performed, with the aim to gather audience feedback. Audience members participating in feedback will earn two Tempo Time Credits for volunteering their time.

Tori is here to perform a musical, Morgan is here to perform a rock show.

So expect iconic musical and rock songs you know and love; comedy, dance, live drums, keytar and lycra.”

Age 16+

Duration: 1hr (which will include optional audience feedback)

Performers & Devisors: Tori Johns, Morgan Thomas

Director: Hazel Anderson

Dramaturg: Chelsey Gillard

Lighting & Sound: Gavin Hales

A co-production with RCT Theatres / Angela Gould

Funded by Arts Council Wales

Review Yesterday by Kevin Johnson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The latest film Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis is an interesting and very amusing ‘what if?’ idea about everyone in the world forgetting about the songs written by The Beatles, apart from one man.

That man is Jack Malik, aspiring musician, who’s tried to make it big for over ten years and failed. Now the key to success is in his hands, the ‘poison chalice’ of fame and money is offered to him, but is he ready to pay the price for it when the price is his integrity, his self-respect and his true love?

Of course he is! 

What follows is a funny, charming and well-made film, which makes some good points about how art becomes ‘product’, and how success changes people. There’s also some touching moments that avoid overt sentimentality (just), while still being very moving. Including one scene towards the end that’ll make you misty-eyed, but more on that I cannot say. You’ll know it when you see it.

There’s also a nice running joke about other things that have disappeared along with Lennon & McCartney’s music, and a decent cameo from Ed Sheeran. You can’t say fairer than that.

Boyle shows a visual flair, enhancing a script that is polished Curtis, giving it a more universal feel than the usual middle-class London scene, and it’s all the better for it. But it does have flaws.

Hamesh Patel is endearing as Jack, even though his motivation seems muddled at times. While Lily James as his longtime friend/love interest doesn’t really have a lot to do. And her surprise visit to Jack in Liverpool is so confusing to him (and us) that it makes you sympathetic as to why Jack never realised her true feelings.

There’s a good supporting cast, such as Sanjeev Baskhar as Jack’s dad, but Kate McKinnon is wasted as the stereotypical greedy agent, whose sole aim seems to be to buy up all of Malibu. I’ve yet to see her in a role that does justice to her talent.

The ending is also a little odd, and a good cameo from Sarah Lancashire hints at an interesting plot line that is never developed.

However, despite promising more than it delivers, there’s plenty to enjoy here. The film has an innovative idea at its heart, and the real star of the show is the music of the Beatles. Seen in one go, so to speak, you realise just how wonderful the songs are. Who can blame Jack when he decides to ‘re-discover’ them?

Review Hi-De-Hi, Everyman Theatre, Cardiff by Rhys Payne

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Hi-de-Hi, performed in Sophia Gardens at Cardiff Open-Air festival, was a stage adaptation of the classic TV show of the same name the production was performed by an extremely talented cast who performed a near-perfect tribute to the show. Most of the cast members had an uncanny resemblance to the original cast, especially Gladys Pugh (played by Sarah Green) who nailed every nuance and mannerisms of the character who was originally played Ruth Madoc including the distinctive voice. I have seen Sarah in many productions and each role is an almost stark contrast to the last who only goes to show the pure skill and talent that Sarah posses. My aunt, who also attend the show, was in such awe of the impersonation that she thought they had somehow managed to get Ruth Madoc to reprise her role.

Another standout performance in this show was Victoria Walters who played Peggy Ollerenshaw who managed to balance the comic and clumsy nature of Peggy with the serious/passionate side of the character while also creating vast amounts of pity from the audience.

The whole production ends with Peggy delivering a heartfelt and emotion realisation with the audience which tugged on every single person’s heartstrings. Pam Wiener and Richard Thomas performed perfectly as the constantly arguing couple of Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves.

Both actors performed almost caricatures of the uptight couple constantly and stayed in character even during audience participation segments.

Phil Bond and Chris Kendrick took on the roles of Ted Bovis and Spike Dixon, who are both considered the comic characters in this camp, and both created many comical moments which had the audience laughing. Toby Harris, who was cast as Jeffrey Fairbrother fitted the role perfectly. The costume and acting blended together to create a person who looked genuinely out of place in the camp and uncomfortable with what is going on which is the entire premise of this production.

Something that I had never seen before is the inclusion of the yellow coats. These were the entertainers in the camp, similar to a Pontins Bluecoat, who within the realm of the summer camp were there to aid in the running of day to day activities. Within the production itself, these people were helping moving set between scenes and stewarding at the beginning and after the interval of the show. This felt like a fourth-wall break which was cleverly done to blend the outside, real world with the theatre world.

This beautiful production tread the line between a traditional show and an experience. As if you were immersing yourself in the world that these actors were producing. This was added to by the fact that it was performed in an open-air theatre. As there are no boundaries and enclosures in the open-air, this production felt as if it was permeating the real-world. On top of this, there was a lot of audience interaction and games carried out by members of the audience. I was, in fact, chosen to play one of the games, which involved pouring ‘spaghetti’ into a comically large pair of trousers. While I was doing this not one single actor broke character on the stage (which should not go unnoticed and only goes to show the professionalism of the cast.) The whole premise of this show was almost ‘come and join us in a one-day summer holiday camp’ which worked perfectly and was very enjoyable to participate in.

In conclusion, this production was fun-filled and enjoyable while providing a unique theatre experience. I did, however, feel as if I may have missed some of the nostalgia of the production and people of a similar age may also found this but I was still able to enjoy the show and get involved. My only issue with the show (which isn’t particularly an issue with the performers themselves) but there was a metal beam that prevented me from seeing some of the actors during certain points in the show. I would rate this production 5 out of 5 stars and would encourage people to catch this production before it is over.

PS if you are under 25 and purchase tickets on the door to any of the Everyman productions (including Hi-de-Hi) between Monday to Thursday you receive a special discount so tickets are only £8.

Review A Night at the Musicals, Wales Millennium Centre by Rhys Payne

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

A Night at the Musicals landed at the Wales Millennium Centre, it was a fun-filled evening where Broadway/West-End alumni performed a range of musical theatre songs. But for me, the highlight of this show was the Novello Orchestra. Unlike many of the other shows I have seen the Millennium this show had the orchestra perform on stage which I thought was really great as often the orchestra is forgotten about but this show made it extremely difficult to not appreciate them.

It was fantastic to see the skill and craftsmanship required to play in a musical orchestra and allowed the audience to appreciate them fully. This was only added to as the Conductor David Mahoney was also the compere for the evening. David was charismatic and hilarious throughout the show but he seemed to take full advantage of his charisma more so in the second act. This again was great to see as often times I know from experience that many conductors become awkward when acknowledged in the bows but for David to be so confident and charismatic was a nice change.


This show had a star-studded cast of musical theatre icons who each had fantastic songs to perform but also really interesting stories and connections to one another. They did however constantly pander to the audience and talked about how amazing the center is and how awesome Cardiff is which did become tedious after a while. The show opened with David Thaxton (of Phantom of the Opera, Only the Brave) who performed superstar from Jesus Christ Superstar. This was fantastic however it did take David a little while to warm up and the latter half of this show was incredible. This song choice was unexpected however as when songs from Jesus Christ Superstar was advertised I assumed it would be Gethsemane as that is the popular, often time show-stopping number, that many musical theatre fans adore but this selection allowed people to experience a song they probably never appreciated before.

My favorite performer in this production was John Owen-Jones (from Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, Tiger Bay The Musical) and as I had seen him in Tiger Bay I already had high expectations for his performing abilities and he managed to even surpass the already high standards I had set. His rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Misérables was incredible and was definitely one of the best performances of the night. John also constantly promoted his albums which did become a running gag after a while and did cause a lot of laughter from the audience and the rest of the cast.


Kerry Ellis (of Les Misérables, Wicked) was out of this world. Her performance of ‘She Used To Be Mine’ rivalled that of London’s west end and ‘Anthem’ was an emotional performance that had many of the audience in tears. What made her performance even more incredible was that Kerry had lost a loved one on the day of the show but she still managed to perform at such a high standard. I know I personally would not be able to do this and Kerry remained professional. I would like to send my condolences to Kerry and her family at this difficult time.

Danielle Hope (of Wizard of Oz, Rock of Ages, winner of the BBC’s Over The Rainbow) completed the line-up and performed an excellent duet with John. Again her vocals were flawless.

This show used a children’s chorus who were incredibly talented and there is definitely many stars in that school who have a very big future ahead of them. There was however a few microphone issues that affected one of the solo singers but apart from this, they performed fantastically.


Overall, this show was a celebration of musical theatre performed by the highest quality musical theatre icons. The singing was incredible, the banter between cast members was fun to watch and the fact they support local school and area was the icing on the cake. I would rate this production 4 and a half stars and you should make sure you catch the next performance in Cardiff which is ‘Movie Mixtape: Songs from the Silver Screen’ on the 17th November 2019 which promises to have an even more star-studded cast that this show and so it is one not to miss!

Review INTO THE WOODS JR. Kinetic Theatre by Rhys Payne

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Kinetic Theatre arts youth academy’s production of Into The Woods Jr was performed in the Atrium USW. Having seen many of Kinetic’s productions in the past, including many of their Jr shows, my expectations were already set very high. Kinetic always produce high quality and professional productions that receive the highest praise and Into The Woods is no different. In fact, I personally think that this is one of Kinetic’s Youth’s best performances. At first, I thought it was strange to perform this show as it is one of Disney’s more dark and mysterious stories but the children managed to execute the show perfectly. One of the best things about this production specifically was that you can see the enjoyment and passion that these children have for performing. You can see many of the children getting very involved and having a good time which is so nice from the audience’s perspective, especially if you are a parent of one of the cast members. The children managed to balance the sinister and dark nature of some scenes with the fun and happy aspects of others which is not an easy thing to do. The show opened with a dark song in which the children wore black capes and moved in a sinister fashion. This scheme was actually spooky for the audience which means both the directors and the cast did what they meant to do.

All of the cast clearly worked very hard with the ensemble always being in character and providing beautiful vocals when required. Each child knew their role within the story and performed it the best they could. One of my favorite performers in this show was Tilly Birch who played Milky White (the cow) while she was primarily there for ‘awh’ factor moments but also she was clearly trying her best and having loads of fun in the meantime. A highlight for this character was when they swallow all the items and have to ‘milk’ the cow, obviously as Tilly is a girl in a costume I was confused as to how they would do this. What they did was place the cup down and Tilly what I can only describe as the cutest little dance I have ever seen which had both awhhs and laughs from the audience. She appeared very confident on the stage and I believe that she is a star in the making. The baker and his wife, played by Sam Walter and FFion Morris, helped drive the entire narrative of the musical. The role of Baker in the film version was James Corden (who I was a little disappointed with) but Sam, in this performance, really made the character relatable and his wife acted with emotion which built a great sense of sympathy from the audience. The stand out in this show was Lexi Ricketts who played the witch. Lexi managed to own the stage every time she was on it and actually made the character very scary. Her acting and singing were both incredible and she clearly has a very bright future in the performing arts. Her rendition of Last Midnight was perfect and was definitely on a professional level. The narrator in this performance, played by Amelia Francis, also helped move the story along but also sounded fantastic while singing her songs. The princes and Jack, played by Theo Birch, Harry Smith and Ben Page were fun to watch and again were clearly enjoying their time on stage. The princes had great chemistry together and performed like a double act which caused many laughs from the audience. The wolf, played by Ben Cogan, had a jazz-esque manner (similar to the movie) and was also very entertaining to watch.


Overall, this is a family-friend show that shows the talent and skills of the young cast while creating atmosphere and emotion like a professional show. I would rate this performance 4 out of 5 stars and I would encourage you to watch this show to see the full potential of every child on display while at the same time supporting a local theatre company.

Review Rocket Man by Rhys Payne

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Rocketman is a drama/biography about the life of Elton John and his rapid rise to mainstream fame. The director of this film Dexter Fletcher, managed to perfectly blend the flamboyant , over-the-top campiness of Elton’s life with the seriousness of his battle with mental health and addiction which I imagine took a while to plan and execute appropriately. It was fun-filled and joyous but also emotional with serious message to all the viewers watching.

Elton John was played by Taron Egerton who performed an excellent and tasteful tribute to the icon and I was pleasant surprise by the performance skills that Taron possessed. Having known Egerton from Kinsmen where he played a ruffian who becomes part of a secret resistance force, known as the kinsmen, but his role in this was the almost complete polar opposite. If I was Taron , I would have been very afraid when given this role as it deals with real-life , close to the bone issues such as addition and mental health issues and being able to do these scenes and making them as realistic as possible would have been very daunting. Also being a straight man and having to act as the wonderfully camp homosexual Elton must have been difficult. I feel as if when doing an impression of someone you have to be very careful to not make it an over the top caricature but at the same time it needs to contain as many as the mannerisms and characteristics of the person you are imitating which I personally would not be able to do. Taron did a spot on tribute of Elton which was incredible to watch and he deserves mountains of praise for doing it so well. He was able to perform the showman Elton as well as the often hidden dark side of Elton excellently.

The costumes in this film were incredible. The designer must have spent hours and hours trying to recreate some of Elton most iconic looks while also making them as modern as possible. One of my personal favorites is the sequined baseball outfit that look flawless and looked as if it took hours to make. Another one of my favorites was the opening and closing outfit of the big red costume. This outfit , I believe was meant to point to deeper aspects of Elton’s character. When he wears it in the beginning , he talks about his drug addiction , mental health issues, sex addiction and his anger management problems and at this point the costume is meant to signify him as an almost evil character who is in a really dark place. I think it suppose to resemble the devil which allusion to him living it what he would describe as his own personal hell. Towards the end of the film the same costume is used but the is an exaggeration of the use of feather is the outfit. On top of this the song, “I’m still standing is playing’ which is an up beat song about getting through dark times, I think this costume was supposed to signify an Phoneix who famously raise from he ashes and in many stories bring new life. This was the show the audience that since then Elton has been sober and turned his life around and so the use of the mythical creature is apt.

Despite this film being about Elton John’s life it deals with issues that affect everyone at one time or another. One of the main messages of the entire story is accepting yourself and who you are. Elton through his life dealt with many people who wanted to change him or wanted him to suppress who he really was (including himself) and he eventually become the Elton we all know and love today but ignoring all these negative comments. One of the most iconic lines in the whole film is “why should other people care about you when you don’t even care about yourself?” which is obviously a way to remind people that they need to love themselves before other people can love them which is incredibly empowering and is obviously a concept that Elton himself felt strong about.

In general , this film was phenomenal. It blended fun musical numbers with serious real life issue effortlessly as well as educating viewers of the issues and struggles Elton dealt with behind the curtain. It is a fascinating watch with incredible costumes, a talented cast and superb acting. I would rate this production 5 out of 5 stars. This is a film that you have to watch especially if you ever heard any of Elton John’s songs (and that’s most people) so don’t miss out because you’ll regret it!

Review Pokemon: detective pikachu By Jonathan Evans

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Pokemon is a phenomenon. I am old enough to have been there and remember the beginning of the whole thing, originally starting at a count of one-hundred and fifty Pokemon and the show and video games continuing so they cooked up more Pokemon to interact with and sell the toys. Though I have to admit that I’ve grown out of it many people (a lot of my friends included) never did and is still a tenacious hobby. It’s a solid formula for a long-lasting franchise, a world that is inhabited by unique creatures that have also become the world’s obsession, they are used to perform battles that gain the trainer a reputation. It keeps them moving by going to different locations, has a clear goal, a target to focus and work towards and has the collectible angle with all those Pokemon.

But for a simple, done-in-one narrative, is a little difficult, because this franchise doesn’t lend itself to that form of storytelling very well. Oh, there have been movies, I saw the first one in cinemas too. They just aren’t what you would call complete or even focused narratives. You MUST be a fan to watch and enjoy them because they give you no exposition.

Fun Fact: Pokemon translates to “Pocket Monster.”

Well, now we have this movie. An original English speaking version of the franchise. This has a bit of a challenge because it drops us into a world where the Pokemon are well-established part of the world. When you have a character and introduce them to a strange world you can have helpful exposition that explains to the character and us the audience what everything is and how it works, it is a much greater challenge to convey the way the world works through the character going about their lives (for examples of this see Blade Runner and Mad Mad: Fury Road). But anyway Pokemon exist in this world and have for a long time, one young man named Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) who is actually rather uninterested in Pokemon and wants to focus on his future career as an insurance salesman, he and his father Harry are estranged but one day he gets a message that Harry is dead and must come to Rhyme City and sort out his affairs.

When he gets there we are treated to a vibrant movie location. One like Blade Runner, or Rintaros Metropolis or Zootropolis. Of high building, bright colorful advertisements and of course the Pokemon that makeup just as much of the population as the humans. They walk around with them and even play parts for its function. Like some that must direct traffic and others are chefs. At night it becomes a place of deep blacks, smoke where the streets and room are lit by colorful neon lights. This did not need to be this good looking, but it is!

Tim goes to his dad’s precinct and sees his dad’s old partner and then goes to his dad’s apartment. There he looks over the rooms and the bed he made for Tim for when he’d visit but never did when he hears movement in the other room. In there he finds a Pikachu, the most iconic and recognizable of all Pokemon but not only this, he can understand the Pokemon and vice-versa. All other Pokemon usually can only say one word, whatever species (or is it breed?) they are, that’s important to know if you didn’t already.

The most grating part of the movie is Pikachu and all the lines he has. Ryan Renolds and his success clearly gave him carte blanche to say all the lines he could think of behind the microphone and the filmmakers put as many of them in as they could in the hopes the audience would eat ’em up. To be fair some are funny, but many of them aren’t and are just him throwing whatever improvised lines he came up with on the day of recording, in one scene when they enter a character’s room and they start speaking to them Pikachu literally says the basics of what the character is speaking. This doesn’t need to be here, but it is and most of the lines are a drag in the narrative.

This is a live action movie and so the Pokemon are inserted through C.G.I. Because of this, they need to be more realistically rendered. This is the right decision but also a challenge. The Pokemon have a wide range of designs but they have never overelaborated on them, they can easily be identified by their silohette and color combination. So from a design perspective they are solid but in bringing them into the real world more that poses a challenge. Luckily they abide by the mentality of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” they take the original character designs and stay true to them and just give them added textures like fur and skin so you buy them in the real sets they have.

Back to it. Tim and Pikachu are both very surprised that they can understand each other but after the initial shock wears off we learn that Pikachu has lost his memories and believes that Tim’s father’s death was no accident. So we have a mystery, a location and an odd-couple duo of boy and Pokemon to lead us through many different avenues of this city where one clue leads them to another location and suspect which takes them to another clue and so on and so on. As a mystery movie, this is a rather solid script, most things play a function and nothing is cheaply thrown in, but well established beforehand.

However when the movie was all done with and even while it was playing out it never really elevated with me. It was just another Noir mystery movie that looked good and was populated with Pokemon. It isn’t particularly mean spirited or shallow but it basically says that you should be a part of this hobby because if you’re not then you are unfulfilled. Which I suppose was, of course, it’s the main goal, this movie wasn’t made to get people to stop playing Pokemon. But it is, from its visuals, to script a solid movie.