Tag Archives: Comedy

Review Mata Hari’s Laughter Harem by Lois Arcari

Hosting a monthly comedy act with niche and alternative themes – dipping into the historical with Mata Hari’s harem and Franco’s dictatorship – Hoodenanny is a small club that’s sure to leave a big impression.

Sticking loosely to the theme with Flora Wheeler’s performance as Mata Hari and Emily Smith’s Marlene Deitrich, we were ushered in from the cosy but characteristically costly pub (with event tickets themselves a bargain £3, or £6 for VIP gifts shown below) we were then ushered into a cutting and chaotic night of burlesque and comedy.

The VIP goodies, inside and out

Aaron Hood, founder and MC, was impeccable at compering the night, managing to both steer and steal the show without taking away from any of his performers. Using the clown horn he was so besotted with, Hood ushered us in to the themes of debauchery, mental illness and dark humor that weaved through most of the performers on the night.

As much as his cynical wit landed with razor sharp precision, Hood deserves to be commended for his organisation and dedication. Not only is he a well established member of UEA’s own Headlights comedy club, but he’s fully comitted to his vision of alternative comedy.

“A safe and friendly space for edgeiness.”

At the time of reviewing, he’s also creating a Fringe showcase in Bury St Edmunds. This is a man with too much frantic talent to waste.

First up on the roster was Sussana T Jones, well known throughout Norwich as the singing comedian who’s appeared as up and coming talent on BBC Radio and Director of UEA’S side-splittingly Silly “Game of Thrones: The Pantomime.”

She started with her staple routine, singing a parody of teenage youtube musicians called “My eyeliner.”

Then she brought out a new song especially for the night – about dating as a nerd. Filled with zany puns and enough references to stuff a TARDIS, this was a great start to the night. It provided an odd proto-breather for the heavier – but slightly sharper material – to follow.

Helen of Norwich and Aaron Hood

Second up was Helen of Norwich, who opened her set with some deadpan comments about her age.

Despite her self deprecation, she brought the audience immediately on board. She deployed her experience with the NHS and CBT – though not quite the type we were expecting, and thrived on a comedic style that was personally honest but full of comedic midirection.

Her nervousness was at times palpable – fitting for a set based on anxiety – but her minor struggle with confidence in no way undermined her as a performer. Her understated brand of subtle but sparkling dark humor held its own amongst much louder and more acerbic comedians. This proves she’s a comedian to watch out for.

Ciara Jack also based her set around mental illness, but expanded politically to joke about immigration on class. A lovably brash performer, she shone when using characters and impressions.

Pope Lonergan was a stand out of the night. A booming comedian with riotous jokes, he sealed and intensified the theme of dark humor. Again drawing on incredible personal anecdotes – how did he get to them, let alone survive the tale? – His anarchic sincerity was a real delight. He also posed a question that will now stay on Norwich’s lips forever.

“What would YOU do if you broke a woodlouse’s pregnancy sack?”

A night of big questions Indeed.

The evening ended on a high note with a burlesque performance by Zinnia Rose, who captivated the audience with sultry dance moves to Beyonce and Shakira’s beautiful night. Despite being referenced consistently, I felt this act might have felt more cohesive if the Mata Hari theme was expanded throughout the night.

However, the sacrifice of theme did nothing to hinder such a brilliant night – and the upcoming theme, “Austistic Anarchy” seems much more likely to be woven throughout the night. (With many of the club’s performers having autism themselves and referencing it in their sets.)

Overall this was a truly dynamic night and has established Hoodenanny as an almost unrivaled gem in Norwich’s comedy crown. With an inclusive and energetic vibe, performers with great careers ahead and all for less than a pint at the bar, I’d encourage everyone to make the trip down and have a hoot at Hoodenanny.

Review: Camp Be Yourself at The Other Room by Gareth Ford-Elliott

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

As we enter the space at The Other Room, we are greeted by Betty Walsh (as Betsey) and Emilia Stawicki (Emily). They remind you that your alcohol is apple juice and, as the play starts, that you, the audience, are a group of ten-year-old girls, arriving at Camp Be Yourself. Also, to stay inside the red-markers because there isn’t (but might be) the threat of bears.

What follows is an organised and hilarious mess where two characters, Betsey and Emily, are exploring what it is to be an adult, whilst they’re supposed to be running a camp.

Delusions of grandeur, suppressed insecurities and the absence of a mother drive Betsey’s character. Whilst Emily is nervous, repressing emotion, unsure of herself and eager to impress.

The performances of both characters are hilarious and relatable. Both Walsh and Stawicki are great comedic performers, exploiting the use of facial expressions and mannerisms expertly. They both perform with conviction and full knowledge of their characters who are instantly recognisable, but leave room for growth.

Whilst a lot of that growth and conflict is subtle, it’s presented clearly and naturally throughout. Everyone leaves the theatre sure of who these women are, what issues they have whilst having a good laugh along the way.

The writing is more sophisticated than you might expect. It’s well-structured, the characters have real depth and there’s natural conflict which builds very convincingly.

The writing and performances from Stawicki and Walsh deserve huge credit for achieving this.

The fact that there is a non-binary character (Billie) referred to throughout the play may go unnoticed by some but definitely deserves a mention. It’s nice to have a non-binary character where their gender doesn’t affect the plot, they’re just a normal person and that’s okay.

The pop-culture references provide a fair amount of comedy throughout. The few references to Tiffany Trump, in particular, are great. The use of music too is really funny. Michael Sambello’s ‘Maniac’ used for a dance-break reminded me of American Pie, when they use the same song for a dance-off. That made me chuckle, along with the use of PTAF’s ‘Boss A** B*tch’, which I recognised from the first drum-beat.

It certainly helps that the references and comedy generally fit my personal sense of humour. Betty Walsh’s character in particular I liked. It reminded me of Ja’mie King from Summer Heights High or a female David Brent. My worry is that perhaps this won’t appeal to an older audience. But a lot of the comedy does come from tried-and-tested means, is fairly intellectual and very self-aware (even if the characters aren’t).

The play touches on various themes, such as; adulthood, sisterhood (in a friendship sense), motherhood, childhood (in particular, how that affects us later in life), responsibility and insecurity. What is really nice about this play is that it doesn’t try to answer any questions, it merely explores the characters and themes in a comedic way and leaves room for you to think further. Both characters have a lot of depth and we explore that through comedy rather than a dramatic exfoliation of their personal history. This works really well and is really satisfying and refreshing to see.

Camp Be Yourself is a must-see, hilarious hour-long exploration of two very different women and their ideas of adulthood.

Camp Be Yourself is part of The Other Room’s ‘Spring Fringe’ curated spring season. One of eight shows coming to Cardiff’s only pub theatre over eight weeks. Tickets can be found for this and other upcoming Spring Fringe shows HERE, with an ever-growing discount for the more shows you book.

Camp be Yourself at The Other Room, Cardiff
20 – 23 March 2019
Presented by Box. Theatre Company
Created by Emilia Stawicki and Betty Jane Walsh
Starring:
Betty Jane Walsh as Betsey
Emilia Stawicki as Emily

REVIEW: Laurie Black: SPACE CADETTE at The Other Room by Gareth Ford-Elliott

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Laurie Black is sick of humankind and decides to take us on her journey to be the first woman on the moon. A contemporary cabaret show that showcases Black’s musical and comedy abilities through her quirky, green alter-ego (who might not be an alter-ego).

Black takes us on her journey escaping Earth and encountering David Bowie’s alien spaceship (yes) before landing on the moon. The journey, which takes three-days but feels like an hour, is a fairly simple one as far as plot goes but exists to give context and thematic links to the main event of comedy and music.

Black’s music is a varied mix of genre that, for the most part, has a somewhat futuristic feel. She exploits the sounds of synths, piano and a small drum machine well on stage. But, it is Black’s enthralling voice which captures the audience the most. Not relying solely on her voice however, Black is also a great songwriter using witty pop culture references, the occasional political statement and comedic wordplay.

Mostly original music, there are some covers of popular songs in Space Cadette. Starman by David Bowie stands out as a strong point where the audience are encouraged to sing along with the “la, la, la”s. There are also covers of Radiohead, Muse and Leonard Cohen as well as a funny reference to The Proclaimers.

The comedy and storytelling that comes between the songs was usually good. Nothing to make you belly-laugh, but enough to keep you interested. It is fair to say also, that the comedy suffered due to the low turnout on the night. Some jokes are sleepers which will have you chuckling two-hours after the show as you walk home in the rain – which Black correctly predicts.

The stage set-up is simple. For the most part it’s just a microphone stand and a piano. This worried me at first, but as the show goes on, it isn’t an issue as Black keeps the attention on her. Except for one moment when she gets out her mini-moon that she passes around the audience.

There’s a lot of frustration in the show that gets channelled into humour and songs. On Black’s journey to the moon, we see further into her persona and whilst the outer-shell is hard, by the end we can tell she secretly loves us. There’s no particular agenda to the piece but an overriding theme of frustration at the current state of the world.

Space Cadette is part of The Other Room’s ‘Spring Fringe’ curated spring season. One of eight shows coming to Cardiff’s only pub theatre over the next eight weeks. Tickets can be found for Space Cadette and other Spring Fringe shows HERE, with an ever-growing discount for the more shows you book. If you can’t make the show, but like the sound of Laurie Black, you can find her music on most streaming services online.

Space Cadette is an enchanting, funny cabaret show from Adelaide Fringe 2018 winner, Laurie Black. An exploration to the moon that has so much to say about Earth.

SPACE CADETTE at The Other Room, Cardiff
5th February – 8th February 2019
Created and performed by Laurie Black
Technician: Garrin Clarke

Review Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Werner Herzog, the great German director, once said that “We must not avert our eyes” he was talking about getting up and out into the world and looking at what is popular because that says something about what the people want, be it stupid, abstract, misogynistic, violent etc. The internet has absolutely allowed people to embellish in their base instincts and shows what the people want in some sense. Whether this was something the filmmakers had in mind while making this movie I cannot say but it stems from the same mentality.

We pick up the story where first Wreck-It Ralph movie left off. Ralph (John C. Reily) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are sentient gaming characters that live their lives being played by unsuspecting humans and during the night they travel to other arcade consoles and partake in what they have to offer. They do this every night for the past six years. Ralph being the incredibly simple character he revels in having his best friend by his side and fun activities to keep them occupied, Vanellope, on the other hand, is growing bored with the repetition and would welcome something new. Luckily…

One day there is something new installed in the arcade, a WiFi box, at first the other gaming characters decide not to mess with it but one day the steering wheel on Sugar Rush (Vanellope’s game) breaks and a replacement can be bought on eBay but at an expensive price. So our hero’s quest begins!

The WiFi is connected and into the internet, they go. While being initially flung in we see all the familiar names and logo’s, Google, eBay, Twitter, Snapchat (easy to see how this movie got funded). The landscape of the internet itself is like a sleek city with each website being represented as a building. Everyone that logs on is represented as a simple human with a square head and navigates the city, there is plenty of high-speed transportation to get them from one site to another.

They then come across on an online racing game that is much more extreme than Sugar Rush and is populated by some more intense drivers. Head of the gang is Shank (Gal Gadot), one of the purest embodiments of cool you will ever find, with a leather jacket, always beautiful hair and a smirk that tells you she is always in charge. She points them in the direction of making online videos to get money to buy the steering wheel. This then leads them to a video website (clearly meant to be YouTube) that is overseen by a programme named Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) a blue, snappy go-getter that brings a lot of energy to her scenes and has a different costume for each of her scenes.

Being that there are all kinds of different websites and different users for different purposes it only makes sense to incorporate various animation and design styles. We have characters that log on for gaming and they are simple designs that are jittery in their movements, advertisers that take the form of street hustlers, and an assortment of other creepy things. It is a testament to not only the talent of the animation capabilities working at Disney but also the variety of the ability to portray such a variety of designs and styles.

I guess I can’t really call this a complete review without acknowledging the giant tiara in the room. There is a segment where Venellope goes the Disney website and along with seeing a few other familiar characters, MARVEL and Star Wars she enters a room with all the Disney Princesses’s. All the voice actors that are still alive to voice them return for their few lines, they all get an even amount of screen time and lines so no favorites will be shortchanged. For the ones that were originally 2D animated have been converted to 3D, I think they look fine. This is not a throwaway gag and does serve a purpose to the movie. All of this considered I was pretty helpless throughout and loved it.

Ultimately though this movie is about the bond of friendship between Ralph and Vanellope and moving forward. Friendships can be the same in some elements but things have to change because otherwise, they will inevitably become stagnant.

This is a sequel that expands on the scale of the first movie greatly and pushes the characters forward while doing it. It is very clever in its visualization of navigating the internet and using the elements of that platform for plot points and some characters. Though you will not be greatly changed in your use for the internet itself after watching, it does acknowledge the good, bad, and plain stupid elements of it. It has what made the first a really good watch and just makes it a bigger serving.

 

Review of “Exodus” at The Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare by Roger Barrington

 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

 

I have an unusual degree of uncertainty on how to review Motherlode’s latest offering “Exodus”. I say this because the majority of people around me were regularly laughing out loud, whereas I could only manage a couple of chuckles throughout.

I think there are two reasons for this.

The first being I had difficulty understanding the actors at times. In fact, Gwenllian Higginson a Mary, I only tuned into during the final twenty minutes. It pains me to say this as Gwenllian attended my almar mater, Rose Bruford College.

But she wasn’t alone, as I had problems ith the other two speakers, and as many of the jokes are quick fire, they just evaporated into thin air around me.

Also, the play is set in Aberdare, and there are a number of in-jokes relating to it, that I just didn’t get.

The odd thing is that for the past eighteen months, I have lived in Aberdare.

Written and directed by Rachael Boulton, “Exodus” is the company’s second production.  It’s first, “The Good Earth” toured Wales and New York where it received a favourable review from The New York Times.

In 1865, a party of mostly Welsh people sailed on the “Mimosa” to start a new life in Patagonia – Y Wladfa. Aberdare was one of the places where colonists gathered prior to their embarkation. They left because of the social and religious problems in their own country.

Fast forward to today, and a party of four disillusioned daring Aberdare people decide to set off on their own adventure, piloting their plane to Cuba.

Along the way, they recruit, train and eventually head off into the sunset, using High Street Aberdare as their runway.

Along the way, there is much social comment, mainly uttered by Mary in lengthy monologues.

Where the production works really well is in it’s moments of physical theatre. By using clever lighting and a backdrop of a 5 square panelled window, with a scene of green hills and blue sky that cleverly illuminates the action – I particularly liked the blinding sun when the plane changed course.  The use of Karim Bedda’s, (Timmy) violin skills accompanying   the physical theatre also worked well.

The other two members of the cast, Liam Tobin as Raymond  and Bewwyn Pearce as Gareth strive hard for laughs and the whole cast performed energetically throughout.

A special mention is reserved for the innovative programme.

The play tours Welsh venues and moves on to London, where I’m certain it will go down well with exiles, needing a nostalgia boost.

There are many excellent components found in this production – I just wished that I enjoyed it more.

 

Roger Barrington

 

 

 

 

Review BlacKkKlansman by Roger Barrington

 

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Spike Lee’s latest joint, BlacKkKlansman is based upon the book of the same name by Ron Stallworth who relates his amazing experience as Colorado Spring’s first African-American police officer, and his infiltration of the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

At times hilarious, it never fails to be an engrossing and unbelievable story, even more so  as it is based upon real events.

Lee has reset the action to 1979 although in reality, they occurred seven years earlier.  With questionable fashions and afro hairstyles,  you can easily be mistaken for believing that you are watching a 70′ Blaxpoitation film.

 

 

 

Ron is at first assigned to the Records Department of the Colorado Spring P.D.  There he frequently encounters racial insults from his so-called colleagues, especially the out and out racist Andy Landers, (Frederick Weller), and consequently feels that he can be more purposefully employed undercover.

His initial assignment is to cover national civil rights leader Kwame Ture, (perhaps better known by his birth name, Stokely Carmichael), address at a local rally. There he meets Patrice who is the president of the black students’ union at Colorado College.

Later, Ron is horrified to learn that Ture who is being escorted back to his hotel post rally, had been threatened  by Landers, and Patrice sexually assaulted under the guise of police handling a situation.

Ron is then reassigned to the Intelligence Department where he notices an advertisement in a local newspaper  for recruiting new members to the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. It amazes me that a country that prides itself on individual freedom, has no “hate crime” legal definition that allows such an insidious organisation to be allowed to flourish in the 21st century.  Ron picks up the phone and amazes his colleagues in the room, by launching into a vitriolic tirade of abuse against black people. He is so convincing that he dupes the recruiter of his deeply engrained racialism. Ron states is ability to be so convincing stems from being fluent in both The King’s English and Jive.

The problem that lies ahead is how to deal with face to face encounters. Enter Flip Zimmerman, (Adam Driver) who trains himself to imitate Ron’s style of speaking and gradually ingratiates himself within the local chapter.

In order to expedite his membership, Ron phones David Duke, the KKK Grand Wizard. He so impresses Duke that they start a regular conversation over the telephone and the Grand Wizard, readily agrees to pass through Ron’s membership acceptance and promises to attend his ceremonial baptism into the Order.

 

 

 

Flip is Jewish and after the hatred of the Afro-American community, Antisemitism is the next important agenda for the KKK. Flip, through his involvement in the undercover assignment, for the first time becomes aware of his Jewish identity, and he too realises like Ron, that he is to some extent an outsider in the Land of the Free. A bond develops between the two of them as they infiltrate deeper and deeper into the KKK local chapter.

 

 

 

In many ways, Spike Lee’s film is one of contrasts. Kwame Ture and David Duke are both advocates of social reconstruction. Patrice doesn’t at first know that Ron is a cop, but, later, they both accept that their purpose is the same – to help their racial group emerge from the gutter of white dominance. However, Ron insists that it can only be achieved on the inside, exemplified by his role in the Colorado Springs P.D. and through his KKK infiltration, whilst Patrice believes it can only be obtained on the outside, through rallies, literature and other media instruments. When the real Ron is assigned to provide personal protection to David Duke at his fake counterpart’s baptism, (along with others), you have on the one hand, the KKK whooping it up and getting off watching D.W. Griffith’s technically brilliant but racially charged 1915 epic, “The Birth of a Nation”.  At the same time Jerome Turner, (Harry Belafonte), an elderly civil rights leader relates a story about Jesse Washington’s lynching in 1916 to an Afro-American gathering. But perhaps the most striking example of contrast is in the final shot, where an inverted Stars and Stripes slowly fades into black and white.

The casting is spot on. In particular, the two Ron Stallworths are outstanding. John David Washington as the real Ron is both immensely likable whilst being able to portray a steely determination in eradicating the evil of the KKK. Adam Driver as Flip, is, in my opinion, one of the best actors around at the moment. Check out his brilliant performance in the title role of Jim Jarmusch’s masterful 2016 movie”Paterson”.  His outbursts of racial tirades are superbly executed.

Spike Lee has an impressive portfolio of films that tackle social issues, (mostly against his own Afro-American community), behind him. “Malcolm X” (1992), “Inside Man”, (2006), “Get on the Bus”, (1996) among them, but BlacKkKlansman is the best film that he has directed for quite a while. Its lengthy 135 minutes running time passes by in a flash as the action and your interest never flags as you become enveloped within the two Ron’s infiltration. The film has received widespread acclaim and was awarded the Jury Grand Prize at this year’ Cannes Film Festival.

Lee keeps a controlled balance between moments of comedic brilliance and advocating a message of social injustice.

The KKK members come across as redneck dumbos who for all of their mental and racial inadequacies will shoot you in the head if you are Afro-American, Jewish, homosexual or any other minority group that doesn’t match up to their feeling of white supremacy.

David Duke, (Topher Grace) is a slightly different kettle of fish. His understanding of the situation is purely down to eugenics, in exactly the same way that members of the Nazi Government propagated their evil message. However, he doesn’t seem to have a personal hatred of Afro-Americans, borne out by his acceptance of the real Ron’s presence as his bodyguard, accepting his professionalism, and when he agrees for Ron to be photographed with him – something that our hero exploits to comedic effect.

For me, the final sequence that shows true life coverage of the  Unite the Right rally at Charlottesville, Virginia that occurred only a year ago is really hardhitting. This white supremacist rally, attended by David Duke, resulted in fierce clashes and the death of a counter-protestor in a vehicle ramming attack. The refusal of President Trump to solely single out the actions of the supremacists in a subsequent speech provides Lee to ram home the message of the natural association between far-right policy and racialism.

It is a salient reminder that the U.S., (and for that matter Britain) is a tinderbox waiting to explode and we ignore this message at our peril.

Country: USA

Genre: Biography; Crime; Comedy

Running time: 135 minutes

Certificate: 15 for bad language and racist dialogue and themes

The film was viewed at Chapter Screen 1 and is also widely available at nationwide cinemas throughout the country.

 

Roger Barrington

 

 

Review: Mischief Movie Night, New Theatre By Eloise Stingemore

The Mischief Theatre Company returned to Cardiff with a brand new show, Mischief Movie Night, which delivered calamity, insane capers, and much hilarity on an epic scale. What is different you may say to the company previous productions such as The Play That Goes Wrong that showed at the theatre in May – the audience is in the driving seat!

The cast is at the mercy of the audience and who must use their quick wit, creativity and sheer talent to create a performance based on the scenario you created for them in that moment. This is no small feat but The Mischief Theatre Company as demonstrated in the previous productions (Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robber) certainly pulled it off. The seasoned original cast members we know so well and have come to adore for their laugh out loud shows packed full with British humour and organised chaos, exceeded all my expectations with their new production.

Their objective is to create a feature-length film based on the genre, location and title provided to them by their audience completely on the spot, and getting you to laugh while they’re at it. A whole host of genres, mythical creatures and wishful fantasies where thrown at them, ranging from erotica to anima, fire breathing dragons and Wales winning the Six Nations. Oh boy did they deliver!

The Cardiffian Tales were born which saw Wales a divided land full of mythical beasts and creatures unite and defeat the evil ice king with a tree elf leading the charge and as a symbol of their new unity saw Wales rise up and win the Six Nations. One aspect of the show that I particularly liked was the live rewinds, plenty of pauses and even a fast-forward or two, utilised by the narrative using a figurative remote to cut out dead ends or repeat audience-hit jokes. The continuous slapstick and stupidity for a whole 75 minutes brought tears of laughter to the audience eyes and put smiles on their faces from start to finish.

Mischief Movie Night is improv theatre at its best! A masterpiece was created that night, which was brilliant, funny, interactive and truly a crying-with-laughter experience you will not forget.

Tour dates and ticket information can be found here: https://mischieftheatre.co.uk/shows/mischief-movie-night

Review: Camp Be Yourself by Sian Thomas

From the get go of this show, Camp Be Yourself, I saw that there was a lovely theatre space being used. I hadn’t been aware of 10 Feet Tall in the first place, nevertheless the kind of atmosphere it was hiding upstairs. A nice rustic feeling to it and it’s plush chairs, I felt like I was in for a good evening in a space so suitably equipped for creating just that. There was an atmosphere that had definitely existed since it was built and decorated in the way it was (disco ball? Rustic looking wooden furniture? Soft blue couches? Dotted around fairy lights? All of those are right up my alley) which had an impact on the feel of the show. What I had expected had been much different or what had been delivered. What I’d thought I’d be seeing was a more sombre or rather, a more serious, at least, show about growing up being oneself in the world where it feels like everything else is more important. I have a tendency to look at dates and times of shows and go, sometimes more than seeing what the show is about first. What was delivered however was so different, but still so good in that different way: two girls running a camp and preparing for a talent show while one finds a passion and the other opens up about her past and they do it in a way that unrelenting in their comedy.

The performance was lively from the very beginning, also, what with leagues of “hello campers!” And “nice! High fives!” going all around the room and making it back to the stage. I thought for a while there would be more audience participation, which lead me down the “oh NO!!!” path I’d been down recently with Fringe shows but quickly overcome, but to my relief I was allowed to sit and kick back and be shown. It was nice, I really think, to be able to watch. And it will also be nice to give them five stars based on things I saw and felt, not on things I did and joined in with. Both of these things are good in their own right, but it was really nice to experience this one after experiencing two bouts of the other.
There was a lot to pick up on, as well. Fun costumes, firstly – that, in all honestly, were exactly what I’d picture for a camp-based story. Yellow t-shirts with a white outline, jeans, those eternal trackies that are somehow always everywhere. Also, bunches and high ponytails, because yeah, of course.
There was such a good use of space and effects! I hadn’t known what the theatre space had looked like beforehand but what it was hadn’t been what I’d expected but it seemed such a good fit for the show. A semicircle(ish) arrangement of seats and a nicely black and white striped wall of the stage, a disco ball (really loved that touch) and an array of lighting choices. A number of songs used, of laughs created, of amazing jokes told.
Five stars are normally used because the book was so good it must be bought or there’s more showings of a performance and I am yelling into the internet hoping someone will take my word for it and go to that other showing. I’ve broken that rule a couple times and given one time things five stars and felt weird about that even though I enjoyed them so heartily it was unbelievable. But I don’t feel bad doing that things time! There is a second showing of Camp Be Yourself, in the very same lovely little theatre space, and I can’t recommend enough going to see it (http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/shows-tickets/).
One last thing was that I think it’s wonderful and I think it’s important that this show was two women cracking us all up and how full the seats were, too. I really liked that. It’s nice to see women in all fields, especially comedy. They really hooked me in, that’s all I can really describe about that. I really want to put my kudos forward; I loved the two girls, the energy they had and the laughter they created. I hope the show goes on to do well!

Sian Thomas

Review: Godden And Barnes by Sian Thomas

Coming in to see this live show, to see Godden and Barnes, there was a swelling atmosphere in the Sherman Theatre foyer. A trepidation centring when the piece would begin and exactly what it would entail, because I certainly didn’t know, but I’m glad I went to find out. Gearing up, the microphone (and microphone stand) was used and quickly the height difference between  the two was staggering (and relatable: I’m short, everyone else isn’t. I’ve been told to do my fair share of things and only been able to stare up at them and stare back at the person). I remember that being the moment that I was tipped off and knew I’d be having a fun time.

Audience participation is still (and probably always will be) both spring upon me and terrifying. I’ve said this previously and I’ll probably continue to stand by it based alone on that “oh no what are they doing oh my god what’s happening oh NO” feeling that occurs very quickly. The sudden realisation that I could be up in a crowd unprepared and anxious is so frightening. Which is kind of weird, then, that this time I got up and joined in. I don’t normally do that, but it was nice to. Normally participation like this has an overwhelmingly intimidating feeling to it, but the two did a good job of deflating that tension before it could really arise. So I jumped their taped line and I ran around in a pencil skirt (a feat, if I say so myself) and I danced (ISABELLE IF YOU’RE READING: thank you SO much for being there, helping creating the Fringe, all those things too, but especially for: dancing with me in that moment. I have no idea how to dance and you saved me from what would have definitely been me embarrassing myself. Thank you).
I’m giving this show five stars in the hope that 1) it returns and 2) because it got me out of my seat and the whole time I wasn’t in it I wasn’t acutely terrified – which is also a feat, if I do say so myself.

I normally like to keep myself under wraps at any show. I have a huge preference for staying inside my own head and sorting my own thoughts to be laid out, often in a piece like this, later on in a day or so. I like watching a performance, and bookmarking in my mind how I feel about it. I have, as well, a tendency to look quite blank while I do this (I swear I was enjoying the show, I was just doing this, and I was shy about laughing too loud in the foyer that could have echoed if I’d have let loose).  I also wasn’t aware that some of my favourite jokes must be impressions but based on the noise I made when I heard an impression of Owen Wilson’s “Wow” (something I already find funny, mind you, because I’m young and know that that is a popular joke) must make it true.

The two used the space they had really well. I didn’t even know the foyer in the Sherman had a balcony that could be used in the way that they used it. It made me think that the show itself must have to be quite flexible and the placement quite malleable in order for things to work in the order that they did the night I saw how it would flow.This production was also just an hour long (another easy thing to give! Just a slice of time reserved for the laughs we all need) It felt like a lot less; I heard myself say “Oh?” When they told us they were done (the time that they meant it, though).
The Fringe will press on in good time, continuing to carry shows I’m excited to see. (http://www.cardifffringetheatrefestival.co.uk/shows-tickets/).

I was sorry to hear that the show will be stopped for a little while, but I’m sure enough that it’s for a good reason and will yield good results for the future. I hope that whenever the show returns, I might be able to see it again, and enjoy it all over again.

Sian Thomas

Review: The Play That Goes Wrong, New Theatre by Eloise Stingemore

Returning to the New Theatre, Cardiff where the original tour begin in 2014, The Play That Goes Wrong, is a side splitting, belly aching, highly physical, extremely ambitious slapstick comedy that has taken both the West End and Broadway by storm.

The play introduces The ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920’s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does. In fact, it all starts falling apart even before the actors take to the stage in the equivalent of a pre-titles sequence. As a member of the cast runs around the theatre looking for a dog called Winston and a Duran Duran CD, whilst stage hands recruit an unsuspecting member of the audience to help finish the stage construction with hilarious albeit disastrous results.

 

The show sits in a fine tradition of British slapstick, and of plays about theatrical blunders: from doors not opening to the same doors not closing, pictures and props falling off the walls and parts of the set collapsed with cast members on them and parts of the script repeated on a loop as members forgot their lines. There was barely time to breath in-between each joke, for the first time in my life I truly experienced what it means to laugh till it hurts.

It is difficult to single out a cast member as they each showed excellent knowledge of comedy timing and demonstrate the physical prowess to perform their role while having to think about so many different things happening on stage.

The Play That Goes Wrong delivers laughs that come thick and fast, Mondays’ Opening night audience at the New Theatre, Cardiff absolutely roared with laughter and where buzzing as they left. If you have recently found yourself in need of cheering up make sure you catch the show as it tours the UK in 2018. It’s the perfect remedy to making all your worries and cares disappear for 2 1/2 hrs that is!

Tour dates and ticket information can be found here: http://www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com/uk-tour/tickets