Category Archives: Uncategorized

Review: ‘Jurassic Kingdom – Where dinosaurs come to life’ by Eloise Stingemore

The dinosaurs have been let loose and have arrived at Cardiff’s, Bute Park.

The beautiful grounds of one of Cardiff’s most loved parks has been turned into a prehistoric world this summer, where over 30 interactive, life sized replicas rome the grounds. Brave explorers come face to face with a 26m long Diplodocus and the notorious Tyrannosaurus Rex, all of which come to life before your eyes, with their tails, eyes, heads and arms moving and making you jump with their raging roars.

In the education marque one can watch a 30-minute viewing experience produced by the BBC, which plays on a large projection screen and documents the dinosaurs time wandering the earth right up until the ice age.

One aspects of this attraction aside from the dinosaurs themselves which are fantastic, is the excavation, which will keep mini-dinosaur palaeontologists entertained for hours as they dig for bones.

There are a herd of street food and drink vendors for when the gang gets peckish or thirsty. A retail marquee sells a range of educational and entertaining branded merchandise so dinosaur-lovers can remember their experience.

This is the first outdoor dinosaur experience of its kind in the UK and a truly entertaining and educational experience for children of all ages.

The event is open daily from 10am to 6pm with last entry at 5pm. When selecting tickets you will be asked to select a time slot and entry is at hourly time slots from 10am to 5pm. Once inside the event visitors can stay as long they wish but it will close at 6pm.

Tour dates be found here: http://www.jurassickingdom.uk

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 of “Twelfth Night” performed at Hatherop Castle by Roger Barrington

 

(3.5 / 5)

 

The Venue – Hatherop Castle

 

Cotswold Arcadians 2018 Shakespeare production, performed outdoors in the gorgeous surroundings of Hatherop Castle, is The Bard’s exquisite  comedy, “Twelfth Night or What you Will”.

This tale of mistaken identity, cross-dressing and humiliation is regarded, by many, (including myself), as Shakespeare’s finest comedy.

Viola has been rescued from a storm at sea and lands on Illyria. She believes that her twin brother Sebastian has not survived the ordeal and has drowned. Disguising herself as a young man, she enters the service of Duke Orsino.  The Duke belives himsellf to be in love with the highly desirable countess Olivia, and uses Viola, (now known as Cesario to act as a go-between to aid his courtship. Olivia, much impressed with Cesario, fulls in love with him.  Cesario, in the meantime fulls in love with Orsino. Still with me? The matters are brought to their conclusion when Sebastian enters the confused threesome’s world and all is happily resolved.

Sub-plots involve some of Shakeseare’s most famous creations. Sir Toby Belch, (Countess Olivia’s kinsman), who is fervent i n his desire to live the heady time of “cakes and ale”, typical of the twelve days of Christmastide to its utmost. His silly friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Olivia’s fool Feste, (although he disputes his role himself), Maria, (Olivia’s gentlewoman companion), and Flavia, (a servant in Olvia’s household). combine to humiliate Malvolio, (steward to Olivia), because he is a prig and pompous fellow, full of his own self-importance. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” (Act II, Scene v), read out by Malvolio from a letter written by Maria, and thereafter used as his creed.

One of The Bard’s themes in this play is to bring attention to the controversial law regarding no female performers at this time being allowed on stage. Therefore, young boys tended to play women parts and this led to inevitable problems relating to sexual exploitation, homosexuality and prostitution.

Since 1991, Cotswold Arcadians have produced an annual Shakespeare production, which has been performed at Hatherop Castle for the past fifteen years or so. The Company has acquired a respected reputation within the amateur theatrical world, and has been recognised by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in its Open Stages project as a Company worthy of assistance, and this has been shown through members taking parts in workshops at Straford-upon-Avon.

Director Geoff Butterworth has set the plot in the 1920’s, the Jazz Age era. This is exemplified by period costume and a live band playing 1920’s hits. This isn’t the first time that I have seen a Shakespearean play adapted in this way. Back in 1992, I enjoyed David Thacker’s, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” which did exactly the same thing. It work’s well, although I felt that the frivolous nature of flappers and The Jazz age is a little at odds with the Yuletide setting of “Twelfth Night”. The hot summer evening didn’t help either, but, I would much prefer viewing in this climate outdoors, than a cold January night in a deep beak winter.

The grass stage lies between two temporary stands in a traverse style.  On either side of the space there are two primitive doors, one of which has a raised balcony . The four-piece band is placed just off-stage.

The quality of acting is of a good standard and in some instances reaches a height that would grace a West End stage.

Samantha Swinford as Viola/Cesario, after a nervous start, grows into her role and is particularly  good at displaying masculine gait and characteristics. I watched the first night of this production, and based upon her improvement as the play progressed, I believe that she will do full justice to this demanding role.

Olivia, (Lizzie Leach) and Maria, (Heidi Price), both possess fine voices for Shakespeare and are equally impressive.

Fabia, (Caz Shaw) delivers her lines with a deadpan voice, if she added a rural Berkshire accent, with her appearance, you could take her for a youthful Pam Ayres.

On the male side, I warmed to Tony Free’s, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. It is easy, (and indeed I have witnessed it in a RSC production), to overplay this part, and it must be tempting to do it, but in this case the balance is spot-on. Some of the best scenes are reserved for his interaction with cronies, Sir Toby Belch, (Dave Kilmister), and Feste, John Salter), both of whom are also very good.

Jonathan Vickers, as the humiliated and somewhat tragic  Malvolio is excellent, both in his early pomposity and latterly as the affronted victim.

There are no weakness in the remainder of the cast who collectively pull off a highly accomplished performance.

Veteran director Geoff Butterworth keeps the action rolling along at a good pace and shows nicely judged delicate touches. I feel that he should reconsider the opening scene whereby Viola’s voice is largely rendered inaudible due to sound effects of the tempest. I feel that Viola’s voice should be amplified somewhat whilst the effects moderated to get a balanced result. I also felt that the actors’ voices were louder after the interval, and as it being an outdoor production, this greatly added to the enjoyment. The actors’ delivery of both prose and iambic pentameter are conscientiously delivered.

I am not sure whether the live band worked that well. It seemed to me to be an odd variety of instruments and may have been improved by just a soloist or duo. Piped music may even work better. To have a live band is ambitious, but you need it to work well, and to depict the Jazz era more realistically, I feel the playing needs more zest.

These issues aside, this is a worth presentation of one of Shakespeare’s best loved plays and together with its idyllic outdoor setting marks an enjoyable evening’s entertainment in the Cotswold, on a warm summer’s evening.

The performance runs for about 160 minutes including a 15-minute interval. It continues to run until July 28th.

Continue reading Review of “Twelfth Night” performed at Hatherop Castle by Roger Barrington

Review For All I Care, National Theatre Wales by Kevin Johnson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Last night I saw For All I Care, part of National Theatre Wales’ NHS70 Festival. Written by Alan Harris, it’s a one-woman show about Clara, a girl on the fringes of society, suffering from mental illness, and Nyri, a nurse struggling to keep her life, the NHS and Clara together.

Yet again I was amazed by the talent we have in Wales. Harris has that rare ability as a writer, making a serious point one moment & making you laugh the next. In Clara we have a girl who is slipping through the cracks of the system, in Nyri we have a woman desperate to save her. Both characters are fully fleshed out, but they are brought to life by Alexandra Riley, a young actor who seems to get better with every role. She gives Clara a streetwise innocence, making you warm to her. She then switches to show Nyri, a nurse & Mam, made of steel and love. I’ve seen Alexandra Riley in four different roles now, and she was good in all of them, but always as part of a cast. In this play it was just her going solo, and what a marvellous thing it was to see her stretch her wings and take flight.

Go see for yourself, thank me later.

Venue 1, Georgetown, Tredegar NP22 4LD. Details on NTW website. There is a minibus from Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, to the venue & back. The final two shows are today 5pm & 8pm.

The venue itself is owned by the community and they’ve done an excellent job with it. One woman told me how the kids go there after school for dancing and singing lessons, often doing their homework upstairs.

We are told by the ‘Powers That Be’ that the arts are not essential, and we can’t afford them. Looking at that place last night, the hard work that’s gone into it, and the pride that woman showed me in front of her grandson, you can see what a lie that is.

The arts are essential.

Review: ‘Misfire’ from Old Sole Theatre by Gareth Ford-Elliott

(4 / 5)

Misfire from Old Sole Theatre Company is relevant and shows real promise to be an excellent piece of theatre.

In the interest of clarity, I’ll start this review by saying I am good friends with the director Nerida Bradley, despite what she may tell you. That said, I believe in constructive, critical response and it is what I would want as an artist myself. You can either believe me or not.

I will also be reviewing this piece based on it being an R&D production and part of the Fringe Lab at the Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival. So, the star rating is given on the basis it is R&D and the review is also acting as feedback.

This piece is here to further the discussion of the main theme of the play, toxic masculinity. It also takes inspiration from the exposé of the #MeToo Movement, exposing the likes of Harvey Weinstein.

The play is a monologue set up as anti-stand-up comedy. A stand-up comedy show that goes wrong if you will. We immediately get a sense of the character’s obnoxious nature during his entrance. Jon Parry plays Jake, a stand-up comic, who enters, demanding a drink at the bar. Unsuccessful, he goes to the stage and waits for the music, ‘The Entertainer’  by Tony Clarke, to stop.

Jake then proceeds to make some terrible jokes. “Next joke… Carrie Fisher died… Princess Leia’s gone.” This just isn’t funny – but the distasteful pleasure of the joke shows us a glimpse of this characters mindset and the dry delivery from Parry enforces this well.

The great thing about this play is, from the start of the play you really have no idea what is going to happen. You have no idea what Jake is going to do.

Jon Parry does a good job of portraying the stand-up comedian, who is drunk and stoned. The highlight of the performance comes when Jake has a gun in his mouth and tells the story of a congressman, Budd Dwyer, who shot himself in the head on camera. In this we also have a double-entendre of speaking about dying. The comic doesn’t reveal whether this is dying on stage as a comedian or literally dying. But to the relief of anyone who doesn’t like death endings, like me, he doesn’t kill himself, literally. And he dies on stage at the start of the play.

The writer James Neale does a good job of covering the subject on the scale of your average guy. However, the piece often lacks vision and ambition. The feeling that the stand-up comic could do anything is good, but needs to be met with sufficient vision and structure. It also feels like the boundaries could be pushed much more. In the post-show Q&A it was clear from a few of the audience members, that the script needs work in this sense.

Structurally, the script gets going into the theme very quickly, but then dies out a little. Not completely, but the most explicit stuff comes at the start. The piece doesn’t build particularly well. We need to be building to something. This is what the piece lacks more than anything. We don’t need to know where we’re going, but need to be taken on a journey.

The language used is good and we get a really good sense of the character. There are parts of the script which are very well written. But when you’re talking about toxic masculinity, it needs to push more.

The direction for this piece is good. Jon and Nerida worked well together to portray James’ script. The messy moving around the venue – AJ’s Coffee House – works well as it feels naturalistic.

We could see a more sinister approach at times, particularly when Jake talks about stalking girls and choking his girlfriend during sex. The relaxed nature works in that it shows these things as normal to the character. But the tone is often quite relaxed and with this, these significant moments only stand out in text and not in the performance. The tone and pace of these things could be played with.

Overall, I’ve given the play a star rating of four as I feel with a bit of work, when it gets to a place where it is ready to go on stage fully, it will be a very strong show. It was certainly a strong R&D performance and exactly what the Cardiff Fringe Lab is about.

The post-show Q&A was an interesting discussion – but it definitely became clear that there is more vision and potential not being explored in the text and in the rehearsal room to come from this play.

Also, very quick note. It’s really nice to see shows that are BSL interpreted – but sometimes this can’t be arranged for whatever reason. It was nice to see an apology for this on the freesheet. The more we can normalise BSL interpretation, even if we aren’t using it, the better.

Tonight, June 12th at 7.45pm, you GET THE CHANCE to see this production again. Tickets are available here.

Misfire – Presented by Old Sole Theatre Company and Cardiff Fringe Theatre Festival.
AJ’s Coffee House – June 11-12, 2018.
Written by James Neale.
Directed by Nerida Bradley.
Starring Jon Parry as Jake.
Poster art by Miles Rozel Brayford.
Running time: 30 mins approx with 30 min Q&A about the play and toxic masculinity following.

Review by Gareth Ford-Elliott

Free Workshop: How to Win Friends and Influence Critics

Free unticketed development event

Venue: The Other Room

Host: Guy O’Donnell

Should you care about a five star review? Which online platform connects most with audiences? Is everyone a critic these days?

All these questions and more will be discussed and answered in this fun quiz-based workshop geared towards new critics, companies, arts marketing staff and interested audience members.

Speakers at this event include:

Alice Baynham

Alice Baynham is a Cardiff-based PR and marketing specialist working mainly in the arts and has previously worked at organisations including the Sherman Theatre, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Welsh Government and Cirque Bijou.

For the last seven years, Alice has been freelance and has worked with a variety of companies on their marketing and PR activity, including Theatr Iolo, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Chapter, WOW Film Festival, Trac Cymru, The Torch Theatre and The Spring Arts Centre in Havant. Alice is also press officer at Cardiff’s pub theatre, The Other Room, where she has delivered all press activity since the theatre’s launch and first season.

Matthew Bulgo

Matthew trained at LAMDA and is an actor, playwright and dramaturg. He is also an Associate Director of Dirty Protest.

As an actor credits include: The Cherry Orchard (Sherman Theatre); All My Sons (Theatr Clwyd); I’m With The Band (Traverse); Praxis Makes Perfect, The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion (National Theatre Wales); Kenny Morgan (Arcola); Under Milk Wood (Royal and Derngate); Play, Silence (The Other Room); The Prince Hamlet (Toronto Dance Theatre); Breakfast Hearts, Choirplay (Theatre 503); The Play About The Baby (Battersea Arts Centre).

As a playwright credits include: Last Christmas (originally produced by Dirty Protest/Theatr Clwyd before being remounted at the Edinburgh Fringe, Soho Theatre and the Traverse); Constellation Street (The Other Room); #YOLO (National Theatre, NT Connections); The Knowledge (Royal Court, ‘Surprise Theatre’ season); My Father’s Hands (Paines Plough, Come To Where I’m From); Lacuna (New Wimbledon Studio).

He also writes plays for young people including THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE (performed by WGYTC at the Richard Burton Theatre, RWCMD), Homo Economics (Bridgend College) and The Hydra (Young Actors Studio, RWCMD).

He is currently under commission to write new plays for Theatr Clwyd, Theatr na nÓg and Papertrail along with a number of other projects in development.

Ben Cook

Ben Cook is the South Wales Partnerships Manager for Spice Time Credits. Time Credits are a community currency where each note (worth one hour) is earned from an hour’s volunteering – these credits can then be spent accessing over 600 venues across the UK. Ben is responsible for over 230 partner venues from Pembrokeshire to Monmouthshire, many of whom are arts, theatre, music and cultural venues.

 

Nick Davies

Nick Davies is a Wales-based theatre reviewer for The Stage. Nick is also a freelance writer of screenplays, novels and magazine articles. He lives in Cardiff and previously spent 17 years working for the Arts Council of Wales covering the performing arts.

Emily Garside

Emily Garside is an academic, playwright, dramaturg and theatre critic (not always in that order). After starting as a historian then training as a performer in Montreal and at RADA she became an academic. Her PhD looked at the role of theatre as a response to the AIDS epidemic, with particular focus on Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Her first book, reflecting on the history and significance of the play will be published by McFarland in 2019. As a playwright she is currently working on a commission around the subject of HIV today, and in 2019 her play ‘Don’t Send Flowers’ will be produced by Clocktower Theatre Company. Emily writes about theatre for many publications, including American Theatre, Howlround, Wales Arts Review, BBC Cymru, Get the Chance and Miro. She has also written essays for theatre programmes and runs several blogs. Emily is also Social Media and Website Manager for The Society of Theatre Research New Researchers Network.

Jafar Iqbal

Jafar currently works on both sides of the fence. As an Associate Editor for Wales Arts Review and contributor to The Stage and WhatsOnStage, he has travelled around the country talking about theatre. As a Marketing Campaigns Manager for the New Theatre, he is responsible for putting bums on seats and developing relationships with critics. He’s also a writer, a performer and a cake (though many have argued he may be a biscuit).

Sarah Jane Leigh

Sarah Jane Leigh is the Senior Producer of Producing and Programming at the Wales Millennium Centre. In her role she looks after the teams who programme the Performances of the Curious Seasons and the Public Spaces along with the in-house productions the Centre is now producing including Highway One, Double Vision and Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff) which are currently being performed as part of Festival of Voice 2018. Before working at the Centre, Sarah was an independent Producer working with companies in South Wales such as Motherlode, August 012, Dirty Protest, James Jones Collective and Jem Treays. Sarah studied at Goldsmith’s University in London and gradated with a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts and a MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy.

 

Mair Jones

Mair Jones is Marketing and Communications Manager at Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, the national Welsh language theatre company.
Prior to joining Theatr Gen, she worked as Communications Officer at Chapter, where she was responsible for Welsh language policy, print and PR.
She started her career in arts education (secondary and further ed) before moving to communications. Whilst her background is in the visual arts, she has experience of marketing all art forms. Originally from Newtown, mid Wales, she now lives in Cardiff.

Megan Merrett

Megan has been Projects Administrator at Creu Cymru since 2015 where her main role is managing hynt, the national access scheme for theatres and arts centre in Wales. Hynt is an Arts Council of Wales initiative managed by Creu Cymru in partnership with Diverse Cymru. Megan has also undertaken several freelance roles including her current work on Theatr Pena’s R&D for Blood Wedding as Access and Engagement Officer following 3 years as their resident Marketing Officer. Previous to this Megan worked at National Dance Company Wales for a decade as Participation Officer. Whilst at NDCWales Megan completed a post graduate diploma in Arts Management from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Megan is also a school governor and Chair of a community focused charity and a community hall in Barry.

Stella Patrick

Stella has worked in Arts Marketing in Wales for just under 20 years. As well as venue based marketing, she has worked on national and international touring projects; EDFringe events and site-specific work.

Employers/clients include: Taliesin Arts Centre, Blackwood Miners’ Institute, Cascade Dance Theatre, Theatr Pena, Pontardawe Arts Centre and Dirty Protest.

During the workshop you will be given an insight into the role of the arts critic. You will be given instructions on how to create a review and upload your response online. Participants will look at blogging, video, social media and much more!

We will also hear from freelance arts marketing staff and producers about how companies can best present themselves to venues to develop relationships and maximise their impact.

All workshop participants will get the opportunity for their reviews and feedback to feature on the Get the Chance website.

Access information: This venue is wheelchair accessible, via the back entrance.

Thursday, June 14, 2018
1:30 PM 3:30 PM
The Other Room
Harlech Court Cardiff, CF10 2FE

REVIEW: ‘SON OF A PREACHER MAN’ BY GEMMA TREHARNE-FOOSE

(3 / 5)

It helps when you see a show if you take along someone who actually remembers the era the show was set in. When I saw ‘Sunny Afternoon’ at the Wales Millennium Centre, my theatre companion (who happens to be my Mum) remembered the energy and the buzz of the musical revolution of the 60s.

Through them, you get to imagine what it was like – they are the ‘litmus paper’ for the legitimacy and authenticity of the storyline, the music, the fashion and the dancing. Sunny Afternoon captured the wonder, the outrage and the rebellion of the era – and even if you have no direct experience of it, you admired it and felt part of it. It was beautifully done without overly relying on nostalgia and famous songs. Although I didn’t know anything about Dusty’s life, I knew many of her songs through my mother and was hoping for a feel-good good show which would bring her original material to life – perhaps even a sense of nostalgia for my own childhood, where I spent many happy hours dancing in the kitchen and living room to my mother’s vinyl records.

Son of a Preacher man is clearly written to cater to the boomers and the sense of nostalgia they feel about their teens. The British public clearly still have a sense of loyalty and affection towards Dusty Springfield, whose memorable songs were the soundtrack to their youth.

My mother recalls seeing Dusty Springfield perform in Cardiff during her teens. In a nod to the rivalry (real or imagined) between Dusty and Sandy Shaw, Dusty came on stage wearing massive comedy feet – taking a pop at Sandy’s reputation for singing on stage while barefoot. Perhaps this is testament to Dusty’s rebellious spirit and humour. I hadn’t known until my Mother relayed it to me in the interval but Dusty’s real life was marred by a set of tragic and difficult events, from her early childhood in a children’s home run by Catholic nuns, to being in the closet then losing her eyesight at an early age.

The production doesn’t really pick up much on Dusty’s legacy or life story – this is a show punctuated by her musical repertoire plus a few additional tracks from the era. This production looks back wistfully at a more innocent time – spent in Saturdays in record shops, dancing, and dating.

The three central characters all have a connection with the ‘Preacher Man’s’ record shop. Somehow they all end up going back to find him – and find their histories and collective futures become intertwined. We blend in an out of the 60s back to present day, through the youngest character Kat (played by Alice Barlow), Michelle Gayle’s character Alison and Paul – who on the night I attended was played by Gary Mitchinson.

Audiences will surely remember Michelle Gayle, best known for playing ‘Hattie’ in Eastenders and releasing a number of hits in the 90s including ‘Sweetness’. Her role as Alison is a little awkward at times – she doesn’t really suit the character she plays.

Hats off though to two of the show’s stand out stars – the incredible Alice Barlow who played Kat – her vocals were incredible and she is magnetic on stage. Also, the charismatic Nigel Richards who plays Simon (The Son of a Preacher Man) had a beautiful baritone voice and great comic delivery.

It was easy to forgive some of the cliches of the script when Alice Barlow was performing. It’s a credit to the cast that they were able to rescue the credibility of the show with their fabulous ensemble performances and blended vocals. Michelle Gayle is far too fabulous for the role of Alison – but her vocal performance is still hitting the spot years after ‘Sweetness’ was released and she is an accomplished singer and dancer.

The jury is still out on how well the show straddles both the 60s flashbacks and present-day vignettes. We get scenes talking about Tinder interjected with a cheeseball 60s routine with an unhealthy dose of Dad-dancing. So much Dad-dancing! But perhaps I wasn’t the right demographic for this show. When I whispered to my Mum ‘Look at that Dad dancing!’ she said ‘That what it was like – it WAS hammy and cheesy.’

Perhaps best known for his attachment to the show as Director with a musical staging credit is Strictly Come Dancing’s outrageous judge Craig Revel Horwood. His flamboyant touches are evident throughout – and don’t always land in the way they are perhaps intended – the ‘Cappucino Sisters’ deviate between 60s dancing and the occasional twerk, bump and grind.

I’m going to be frank. The story was a little…underwhelming. A teacher falling in love with a teenage boy, a teenager falling in love with someone she saw on Tinder and a man who is still in love with a guy he danced with a few times in the 60s. It was weak and was held up (just about) from the talent of this great cast and fabulous on-stage musicians. For me (and I speak as a lover of the poptastic and the cheesetastic), I found certain elements a little cringeworthy. The show was overly wistful, the opening scenes with the smoke and the ‘I remember it…. I remember it….I STILL remember it…’ were overdone and made me fear for what was ahead.

Was it just me?

Apparently not, according to the criticisms I heard in the queue in the lady’s loo during the interval. You know you’re in trouble as a theatre producer when you hear a lady say to her friends “The music is brilliant, but the story! It’s like pulling teeth” and everyone else in the queue laughs and agrees.

Theatre producers should be made to listen to reviews of their shows in ladies loos – they could learn a thing or two and perhaps even improve it before they tour with it.

Musical theatre isn’t to everyone’s taste. Some complain that songs are shoehorned in, there are too many ‘filler songs’ and some even dread the moment an actor starts singing. With this production, I found myself hoping they would hurry up and get to the song. It’s hard not to enjoy the music and it’s done really well – it’s the saving grace of the production. But It’s such a shame the show didn’t quite hit the mark. It just doesn’t quite match up to the true legacy of Dusty Springfield – and she deserved better.

If you’re a die-hard Dusty fan, you need to take the show with a pinch of salt and keep a (very) open mind. If you go – go along for the ride, have a few glasses of vino and enjoy the music. The story is a bit of a stinking bishop, but who doesn’t love and look forward to a slice of cheddar or a Dairylea triangle now and again?

Son of a Preacher man is currently on tour and will play in Venue Cymru in Llandudno on May 29th-June 2nd. The production will then visit King’s Lynn Corn Exchange in Norfolk, Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, Orchard Theatre in Dartford and Empire Theatre in Liverpool.

Review The Vagina Dialogues, The Volvas, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

(5 / 5)

 

We’ve all heard of the Vagina Monologues. While maybe a little dated , it is a key theatrical production in the history of performing arts for women and with International Women’s Day fast approaching, The Volva’s bring a freshened up version with The Vagina Dialogues.

These women are clever, talented and fierce. The are all able to play different characters, changing their voices, general approach to show this and so the transition between the scenes are flawless and easy; with minimum set as well, we are able to focus on the story and their performance rather than gadgets and gizmos.

The Vagina Dialogues takes three stories ; the story of two sisters, long drifted apart, the story of best friends facing a pregnancy scare and one of a comedic office woman that we all can relate to in many different ways. The stories and sliced and interlink within each other to create a suspense to the conclusions. It is interrupted by comical songs and an advert for finding the Female Orgasm, shown by (the attempt) to juggle balls and dropping them every time with their eyes closed…

Somehow all these pieces of theatre, these stories are so relatable, making us feel safe and somehow settling our minds that we are not the only ones. And therefore, that brings on the comedy. I have never laughed so much in my life and agreed so much with every point being made.

But it is not all about the comedy – there are heartfelt moments; moments of real pain, struggle and unease. And they are important parts of the story to tell. It is all well and good having a good old laugh, but with issues such as the Weinstein news and #MeToo trending on our social media, more than ever we need these stories told; of harassment, of mistreatment of women.

The Vagina Dialogues is a must see – any woman would come away with not only sides hurting from laughter but with a real sense of camaraderie with fellow woman kind and euphoria at the state gender politics are in.

Hannah Goslin

 

The Get the Chance team choose their 2018 Cultural Highlights

Roger Barrington

The 13th Brecon Baroque Festival. Maestro

I am particularly looking forward to the 13th Brecon Baroque Festival. Maestro violinist Rachel Podger, a Brecon resident, will present her annual baroque extravaganza in such wonderful venues as Theatr Brycheiniog and Brecon Cathedral from 18th-22nd October 2018. YTou can visit the dedicated website to read reviews of the 2017 Festival at http://www.breconbaroquefestival.com/

Gemma Treharne-Foose

Matilda, Wicked, Wales Millenium Centre

A trip to Chicago

Looking forward to seeing the big hitters this year at the WMC: Matilda (which I’ve already seen in the West End) and Wicked (which I saw at the WMC on the 2013 tour).

My major highlight this year will be an extended trip to Chicago. I’m hoping to see some new comic talent at ‘Second City’ theatre – the place that launched the career of great comics John Belushi and Tina Fey. I’ll also be paying a visit to some of Chicago’s best Blues venues – Kingston Mines and Buddy Guy’s legends. These are places where you can re-live the glory and timelessness of songs from legends like Muddy Waters and BB King and really get to appreciate the genre, which has fallen out of popularity over the years. It’s also one of the few opportunities you’ll have in life to witness 3 blues bands in one venue, order catfish from a little hatch and pop a tip in a little hat that passes around the tables – from artists who have actually played with these greats. A true Chicago experience!

Emily Garside

Tremor Sherman Theatre.

I’m looking forward to this exciting new work from Brad Birch, Tremor at Sherman Theatre directed by David Mercatali, Birch is always an engaging and challenging writer. This work promises to be an exciting edition to 2018 theatre and one to give audiences much to talk about.

Hannah Goslin

Red Bastard : Lie With Me

This year I am looking forward to Red Bastard : Lie With Me at London’s Vault Festival. Since my performance training many years ago, Red Bastard had been introduced to me as a example of Bouffon theatre in my studies and from then on has always intrigued me. I have always wanted to see him perform, and now is my time to live out that dream.

Kevin Johnson

Grav, Torch Theatre 

‘There’s plenty of great theatre in 2018, both local & national, from star-studded Shakespeare to Hamilton to The Madness of George III with Mark Gatiss. But my personal highlight is a short tour in Jan -Feb of ‘Grav’, the one-man show about Ray Gravell. A simple, extraordinary play about a simple, extraordinary man.’

Barbara Hughes Moore

Dublin Carol, The MotherF***** in the Hat and Tremor, Sherman Theatre

Young Frankenstein, The Musical 

Black Panther

In 2018, as always, I’m looking forward to the new slate of shows at the Sherman Theatre. Ever innovative and always daring, their spring ’18 lineup includes plays by Conor McPherson, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Brad Birch. I’m excited to finally be seeing the Young Frankenstein musical in London in January 2018 – as a super-fan of the original Wilder/ Brooks 1974 comedy-horror magnum opus, I’m intrigued (and a little anxious) to see how it translates to an on-stage musical. And as for cinema, no upcoming film excites me more than Black Panther in February 2018. Having cried and cheered throughout Ryan Coogler’s masterpiece Creed, I’m tremendously excited to see his vision of one of Marvel’s finest superheroes. Personal hopes include world peace and finishing my PhD thesis.

Rhys Morgan

Ten Plagues,  Sherman Theatre 

I’m really looking forward to Mark Ravenhill and Conor Mitchell’s upcoming piece of music theatre entitled Ten Plagues, which will be shown at the Sherman Theatre on the 13th of March. It sounds really fascinating–it’s set during the height of the Great Plague in 1665, yet parallels will be drawn between this particular epidemic and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. I’m really interested by any work of art which thematically connects distant historical periods, as it encourages us to view contemporary struggles in an entirely different light. Hopefully this play will be as gripping and as thought-provoking as I’m expecting it to be!

Karis Clarke Price

Great Expectations, Of Mice and Men and A Midsummer Nights Dream and The Great Gatsby, Theatr Clwyd.

Infinity War

Dr Who

I am very excited about Theatr Clwyd’s Spring program bursting with classics such as Great Expectations, Of Mice and Men and A Midsummer Nights Dream! After watching the BBC’s A Christmas Carol goes wrong I am looking forward to the slap dash comedy of The Play That Goes Wrong. However my main must see is the eagerly awaited The Great Gatsby. I have seen on social media announcements that Theatre Clwyd will be adapting an old manor house in the local area and a community cast has been assembled to bring to life the razzmatazz of the roaring twenties offering an interactive audience experience, what’s not to love!?

Cinema wise I can not wait for Marvels Infinity War and on the small screen it has to be will the Dr make it as a lady?

Barabara Michaels

Sunset Boulevard, Wales Millennium Centre

It has to be Sunset Boulevard at the Wales Millennium Centre! I’m so excited at the thought of seeing this production starring Welsh actress Ria Jones. Ria has already received great reviews for her portrayal of the ageing Hollywood star Norma Desmond. We need more shows like this one!

Kate Parkinson

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella and The Last Ship both at The Wales Millennium Centre

What the Ladybird Heard, New Theatre, Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales, Sherman Theatre and Milkshake Live , St David’s Hall

Working with Get the Chance is great because it actually prompts me to look at what is coming-up on the varied arts scene in Cardiff. A couple of productions in particular at the Wales Millennium Centre have caught my eye. The first is Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella.  I have been lucky enough to see two of Matthew Bourne’s previous productions, and his all male Swan Lake still ranks in the top 3 live performances I have ever seen in my life. To me it was perfection – strong, masculine dance style, humour, incredible costumes and of course the wonderful classic score that everyone knows at least some of. I am less familiar with the music of Cinderella, but the story still holds magic from my childhood and everything Matthew Bourne does is worth watching – so consider giving this a try.

The other production at Wales Millennium Centre that intrigues me is ‘The Last Ship’ this is  because I had never heard of it but notice that the music and lyrics are by Sting. To the best of my knowledge this is the first musical written by Sting – an artist whose music I have loved since his first singles with the Police and through-out his whole solo career. The story is based on his childhood experiences of growing-up in the shadow of a ship building yard at the time when the industry was struggling and ship yards were closing.

I also enjoy taking my 4 year old son to the theatre, and so other performances I am considering are: ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ at the New Theatre. This is currently his favourite Julia Donaldson book and inspired his current obsession with becoming a policeman. Previous stage adaptations of Julia Donaldson’s books have proved a big hit with him and his friends so this promises to be a great way to spend an afternoon this coming half-term holiday. Another Julia Donaldson favourite, Tiddler and other Terrific Tales is on over two days at the Sherman this half-term  giving you the opportunity to see both of these wonderful stories brought to life.

Other stage productions to appeal to the younger audience include: Milkshake Live at St Davids Hall- a veritable feast of all your children’s favourite characters from TV, and guaranteed to include at least one of their favourites  but sadly it’s scheduled for the same day as What the Ladybird Heard – so you’ll have to choose between them!

Amelia Seren Roberts

Object Performance continues @ Primary with ‘Thusly’ by Sophie Yung.

Where: Primary, Seely Road, Nottingham.

When: Preview: Thurs 18 January 2018, 6-9pm, Exhibition: 19 January-24 February 2018.

Find out more: http://www.weareprimary.org/2018/01/sophie-jung/ & http://www.weareprimary.org/2017/03/object-performance/

Concluding the Object Performance series at Primary in Nottingham, Sophie Jung will present a new installation employing both sculpture and video.

“This programme aims to consider what an expanded form of sculpture might be today, where objects, images, text, performance and sound are interwoven.

Each of these commissions explores the ways in which objects can be activated, whether as prop, performer or instrument, with the seven performances continuing to expand how we see, use and relate to the objects, things and materials in the world around us”.

Other artists that’ve shown at Primary as part of the Object Performance series include Sahej Rahal, Remko Scha, Jan Vorisek, Guillaume Pilet, Andrea Neumann & Anna Susanna Woof, and William Hunt.

I’ve made it along to most of the events and commissions presented in the series so far and am yet to be disappointed. Expanded interpretations of sculpture recently exhibited at Primary have proven to be exciting and strange. It’s often best to visit during Primary Lates, an evening event where all of the galleries and associated galleries at Primary open simultaneously – yaaas for time-strapped art-goers. Grab a Black Iris brew if it’s not too late//

 

Ye Funa: From Hand to Hand @ Nottingham Contemporary

When: 17 Feb 2018 – 04 Mar 2018. Exhibition Launch: Fri 16 Feb

Where: Nottingham Contemporary, Weekday Cross, Nottingham.

Find out more: http://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/art/ye-funa-hand-hand

“Ye Funa’s practice is concerned with the boundaries between daily life and contemporary art. Her work explores the effects of new media and globalisation on cultural identity and gender. For our exhibition, Ye will produce a new episode in her online Peep-Stream series, addressing society’s current desire to display ourselves through selfies, webchats and social media. Ping-Pong Stream, an interactive live streamed performance, will focus on China’s waning interest in ping pong in favour of celebrity sports of basketball and football.

The final video will be embedded in an immersive installation that converts the Project Space into a nail salon. Here, nails become the exhibition space through which Ye artificially reforms the natural extremities of the body”.

 This exhibition sounds like my cup of tea. From the press release it comes across as if it’s going to be relatable, relevant and not take itself too seriously. The opening nights of shows at the Contemporary are always packed so it’s probably best to pop down to the show a second or third time if you want to absorb any of it. Though there’s usually a free drink on the night of the launch if you manage to turn up on time (thnx).

 Coming Out: sexuality, Gender and Identity @ Birmingham Art Gallery

When: 2 Dec – 15 Apr 2018.

Where: Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham.

Internet: http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/whats-on/coming-out-sexuality-gender-and-identity

“This major exhibition will feature over 80 modern and contemporary artworks by internationally renowned artists who explore themes of gender, sexuality and identity in art”.

I’m cheating with this one, I’ve already seen it once but I’m definitely going to get down there to see it a second time before it disappears in April (that sounds so final – there’s probably a book??).

Marking the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts in England and Wales this exhibition maybe feels like a cabinet of curiosities of/for the queer (a dress worn by Grayson Perry stands in a glass vitrine and the list of artists involved reads like a queer phonebook) but the general hum of the gallery is positive and feels very much like a cosy book that you keep returning to, finding some exciting little sentence you hadn’t quite grasped the time before. I want to spend more of my time here – like this.

“Visitors will see works by Andy Warhol, Sarah Lucas, Grayson Perry, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Steve McQueen, Derek Jarman, Sunil Gupta, Chila Kumari Burman, Linder, Richard Hamilton, Gillian Wearing, Eric Bainbridge, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Robert Colquhoun, Kate Davis, Jez Dolan, Mario Dubsky, Harry Diamond, Mark Francis, Anya Gallaccio, Colin Hall, Andrea Hamilton, Margaret Harrison, David Hurn, Bob Jardine, Isaac Julien, Karen Knorr, Hilary Lloyd, Robert MacBryde, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, Hadrian Pigott, Charlotte Prodger, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, James Richards, Derek Ridgers, David Robilliard, Maud Sulter, Keith Vaughan, John Walter, Annie Wright and Vanley Burke”.

2018 is the year to ‘come out’ to anyone you haven’t already divulged to at 3am in a loo <3

Film Free and Easy @ Primary.

Where: Primary, Seely Road, Nottingham.

When: Thurs 4 May, 19:00-22:00 or Sat 26 November 20:00 – 00:00.

Internet: http://www.weareprimary.org/tag/film-free-and-easy/

“Film Free and Easy happens three or four times a year. It is an event devised by artists to explore new ways of showing moving-image works based on the audience bringing along the material that will be shown. Every Film Free and Easy night is a unique mixture of projections, installations and performances shared by an audience who enjoy the unexpected and the surprise of discovery”.

Get down to this if you can. It’s always a good night and the works are more often than not surprising and clever – plus you’ll probably recognise the artists in the audience (those living and partying locally). Everyone tends to end up in the Organ Grinder (pub) following the event which is a fab opportunity to buy an artist a pint.

Dog Man Star @ MPND, Loughborough

Where: Modern Painters, New Decorators, Unit 33, Carillon Court Shopping Centre, Loughborough, LE11 3XA.

When: Opens: Sat 20 Jan 11am-2pm. Exhibition: 20 Jan – 3 March, Wed-Sat 11am-5pm.

Internet: https://www.facebook.com/events/1980986932225938/ @mpndprojects.

An exhibition of works by Jackie Berridge and Sam Francis Read hosted by Modern Painters, New Decorators.

“Jackie Berridge and Sam Francis Read are both artists based in the East Midlands who make paintings, drawings and prints which reference fables, fantasy media and iconography – combining anthropomorphic characters with an often-dark sense of humour. Behind the façade of the narratives and characters they use, both artists are interested in human behaviour, social isolation and the group dynamics that can occur anywhere from the playground to the boardroom”.

I’m already familiar with the work of both of these artists having seen Jackie’s work at the Nottingham Castle Open and Sam’s at HUTT (and having exhibited with him, Craig David Parr and Alice Hicken at 2 Queens). I flippin love them both. This exhibition is going to be fun and both artists are skilled makers/story-tellers.

“Modern Painters, New Decorators is a not-for-profit art organisation running art projects and building creative communities in Loughborough, East Midlands”. <<<< Support this art spaceeee.

Follow all of these on Instagram if you can — I <3 everything they post: @samfrancisread @j4ckieberridge @mpndprojects

Everything Went Heavier 2018 @ Rough Trade, Nottingham.

When: Sat 10 March. Doors open at 1pm / Curfew 12am.

Where: Rough Trade, Nottingham.

Internet: https://www.facebook.com/events/537565839935776/

“This is a special one-off benefit gig for Chris Kaye (Witch Hunter Records/Bumsnogger) and his wife Tracy. Tracy has been diagnosed with a rare form of bowel cancer called Signet ring cell Carcinoma and is currently undergoing treatment. We hope that we can raise some funds through the power of heavy metal to help them and their growing family at this difficult time”.

A welcome break from the well-behaved and too-often hushed/polite arena of contemporary art this all-dayer will knock your socks off and it’s for a great cause. I’m pretty sure the Doom Metal heavy ‘Everything Went Heavier’ will in practice be the antithesis of “doom and gloom”. We’re a cheerful bunch at shrunken heart <3 Expect a marathon of distortion and limited choreography.

Lineup Includes: CHARGER, WITCHSORROW, IRON WITCH, LET IT DIE, BARRABUS, WIDOWS, LIMB, MAGE, WOLFBEAST DESTROYER, UNDERDARK, KING OF PIGS, ANTRE…

Have a good one.

Gareth Williams

The Assassination of Katie Hopkins: A New Musical, Theatr Clwyd

The piece of theatre I’m most looking forward to in 2018 is…….

The Assassination of Katie Hopkins: A New Musical , Theatr Clwyd
Perhaps one of the more intriguing titles of 2018… The title alone has peaked my interest sufficiently. The fact that it’s a musical is simply a bonus. There’s not much to go on plot-wise as it will be the world premiere. But it has the ‘Made by Theatr Clwyd’ stamp on it, whose seal is always a mark of high-quality entertainment in my view.

Donna Poynton

Jon Boden, Pontio

‘I am particularly looking forward to catching Jon Boden at Pontio in Bangor, North Wales in April. Sheffield born former frontman of Bellowhead (whom I was lucky enough to see on their farewell tour in 2016), Boden has now gone on to carve out a successful solo career and is touring throughout the UK this year.’

Sian Thomas

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Wales Millennium Centre

I’m seeing  Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella on April 7th and  after seeing The Red Shoes, I’m immensely looking forward to it. My introduction to ballet is slow and purposeful (I didn’t much understand The Red Shoes at first without explanation, so a fairytale I know well will be easier to follow, I believe) but I’m getting there at a pace I enjoy and being brought the opportunity to by people I love.