Tag Archives: drama

Review The Graduate, New Theatre, Cardiff by Jane Bissett

4 Stars4 / 5

The stage production of The Graduate  is Terry Johnson’s adaptation of the 1967 screenplay for the film of the same name. The story of the Graduate was written by Charles Webb and was his first novel written at the age of 24. Whilst it is not considered directly autobiographical, Webb’s own life is very much reflected in what he wrote and he has drawn on his own experiences to portray the, what was then, young Benjamin Braddock.

The play, set at the time it was written, gives us an insight into the world of the 1960s up and coming affluent American families and their aspirations for their offspring.

In contrast Benjamin shows us a confused young man who having graduated is unclear of his route ahead. His parents want him to follow a career path that will lead him to a secure future both financially and socially, however, Benjamin does not view this life with such optimism.

On the day of his graduation party he is propositioned by a friend of his parents, Mrs Robinson, a woman clearly bored in an unfulfilled marriage that denied her of a career and life before her life as a mother and housewife began and has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Shocked and knowing the close relationship between his parents and the Robinson’s he rejects her. Curious, bored and wanting to experience life Benjamin later begins an illicit affair with Mrs Robinson that lasts the summer. However, he quickly realises that he wants more from life and from a relationship.

Behind the scenes Mr Robinson and Benjamin’s father have been matchmaking and have arranged for him to take the Robinson’s daughter, Elaine, on a date. Disinterested Benjamin takes her to a venue that he is certain she will not like and he isn’t disappointed. Benjamin and Elaine continue to date much to the disapproval of her mother, his former lover, and when Elaine finally returns to college Benjamin announces to his parents that Elaine Robinson is the woman he will marry.

Benjamin then pursues Elaine, declares his love, only to be brought home by his father after the discovery of his affair with Mrs Robinson. As far as his parents are concerned his issues stem from his childhood and as a family they go to see a therapist.

The discovery that Elaine is to marry spurs Benjamin into action and his timely arrival at the church stops the wedding…. does it have a happy ending? Only time will tell but Benjamin and Elaine do end the play by running away together.

In Webb’s life his college romance with Eve Rudd (aka Fred) faced disapproval from her parents and despite numerous barriers put before them it went on to be a lifelong relationship that endured the tests of time and that of family life as they had two sons.

This production was set at the time it was written and had a very retro feel to the set design and the way in which the scenes changed. There were some up-to-date touches with dream sequences being projected as a film in the background which I felt visually worked well.

Jack Monaghan’s portrayal of Benjamin Braddock was very reminiscent of that given by Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 film of The Graduate. His slow American accent accentuated the personality of Benjamin and indeed allowed us to consider his age and thought processing of the situations that he found himself in. Whilst in 2017 a young man of 21 is worldly wise we have to remember that this was certainly not the case in the families of the new up and coming affluent classes of American society of the 1960s.

From the moment Catherine McCormack (Mrs Robinson) sets foot on the stage we see a bored middle aged woman who is desperately trying to cling on to her youth. Her marriage is unfulfilling and she has taken refuge in alcohol a poor excuse, even then, for her behaviour. As the story unfolds we see a woman who has lost control of her family and resents her daughter for having all the advantages she did not but who does not have the personality and enthusiasm for life that she considers young women of the liberated 1960 should have.

All the cast members enhanced the main characters and gave credible performances in their own right. It was a thought provoking and enjoyable production and never before have I seen a bed with so much stage presence and a the ability to move seamlessly between scenes.

The Graduate needs to be viewed in context to its time and place in history. From conversations around me, many of the audience had seen the film and clearly were enjoying this performance, the only thing that was missing was a Greyhound Bus.

The Graduate plays at Cardiff’s New Theatre from;
Tuesday 20 June – Saturday 24 June at 7.30pm
On Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday there are performances at 2.30pm.
For further details about the show or to book tickets call the Box Office on 02920878889.

http://www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk/what’s-on/the-graduate/

Review Not Dead Enough, New Theatre Cardiff by Jane Bissett

 

5 Stars5 / 5

NOT DEAD ENOUGH

Review by Third Act Critic, Jane Bissett

NOT DEAD ENOUGH – if ever there was a understatement for a title of a play this is it. This adaptation, although from a book of the same title, was a very much alive, fast moving drama which moved at a pace that ensured the audience was running alongside, wanting more but never left behind.

Peter James is an acclaimed author of crime fiction and Not Dead Enough is the third book in a series of 13 featuring DS Roy Grace. As a writer of crime fiction James has researched extensively interviewing convicted murderers and has a great insight into the criminal mind and indeed that of the seasoned detective. As an avid reader I am always in awe of the person who has the ability and imagination to adapt a book for the stage but Shaun McKenna has this cracked. He has done an outstanding job of bringing the story to life in the most believable way and I am sure with the approval of the novelist, Peter James.

All credit to an amazing Creative Team of; Director, Designer, Lighting, Sound, Production, Costume and Props who have created an environment before us of a Pathology Laboratory, a Police Station and an outside scene where it is as easily believable as the more sophisticated setting of the lab. In fact the staging of this production is the key to its ability to draw the audience into the world that James’ has created for us.

It is difficult to talk about the story line without giving away too much. If you have read James’ novels then you will be familiar with DS Grace and know him already and you will be entranced as the James’ characters are brought to life before you.

I guarantee this crime thriller will have you on the edge of your seat. Indeed at one point the gentleman sat next to me exclaimed out loud, in reaction to DS Grace searching for something, “It’s not in the box!” clearly this audience member was totally immerced in the investigation, as were we all.

All productions have their leading roles however, in Not Dead Enough all the characters were of equal importance to the storyline and you would be easily convinced that they were police officers who had worked together for years not actors playing a role.

However, that said I have to mention Gemma Stroyan who played Bella Moy and Gemma Atkins who played Sophie Harington.

Stroyan gave us a confident portrayal of a female police officer which was seamlessly believable at every level, comfortable in her skin and confident in what she was about. I would like to think that maybe James would take her character in the future and promote her to the central character in her own novel(s).

Atkins also gave a polished performance as Harington keeping us guessing about who she really was and what (if anything) she was really up to.

During the interval the auditorium was alive with chatter and theatre goers were talking not only amongst themselves and also with neighbouring audience members as to what they thought was going on, who had done what and making predictions about how it was all going to conclude.

Like DS Grace, I wanted to believe the main suspect, but how could we?! What was the evidence showing us? Who was safe? Who was next? WHAT WAS GOING ON?!

It would be wrong for me to tell you more but be aware it is not over till it’s over and even then not all the questions will have answers.

At curtain call the volume of the applause was only just that above the whistles of approval. This is an unmissable crime thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting more all the way until the end.

I for one will be looking more closely at James’ novels and perhaps it will be my summer reading for 2017.

And for the record, on the way out people were still chatting and animated about what they had just seen.

NOT DEAD ENOUGH plays at Cardiff’s New Theatre from;
Tuesday 13 June – Saturday 17 June at 7.30pm
On Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday there are performances at 2.30pm.
For further details about the show or to book tickets call the Box Office on 02920878889.

 

“I am a member of Get the Chance because ….”

Get the Chance supports critics from a variety of ages and backgrounds. In the article below some of our members give a personal response as to why they are part of our team. 

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I am a member of Get the Chance because it gives me the opportunity to review exciting productions and to have my reviews read by a wide audience. Another plus is that as a mature writer it is great to meet up with young critics with a fresh approach and style.”

Barbara Michaels Third Act Critic

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“I am a member of Get The Chance because it gives me a platform where I can speak my mind . It allows me to give my opinion and being able to do so enables me to explore the media, the news and whatever preferred genre or medium of entertainment I want. When it was introduced to me I was into writing and that has helped shape what dreams and ideals I have while also keeping my writing skills at a solid, good level. I am fortunate to be a part of Get The Chance because it has given me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.

Amina Elmi Young Critic

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GTC is a progressive and pro-active platform. It’s a community where culture critics can express themselves liberally and creatively. Time Credits remuneration is a real bonus. The opportunity to participate is wide open. Access is the magic word! If you are interested then you will Get The Chance here!

Leslie Herman Jones Third Act Critic

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I am a member of Get The Chance because I am a life-long lover of theatre as an art form and I am keen to see more people involved in and responding to live performance. Coming from Tonyrefail near the Rhondda, I have fond memories of Christmas pantomimes, school plays and as a Welsh school pupil, Eisteddfodau. But I was in my twenties before I started watching theatre independently. I am constantly learning about theatre and all of the components that go in to it. The scheme draws in people from all backgrounds and experience levels and gives them a platform to share their experiences of the live performance in a very real and authentic way. We respond as members of the community, as a young person or as older people, with no pre-existing affiliations or expectations. As a community critic, I feel it my job to look beyond the show’s hype and the ‘creative vision’ behind the script or the journey of the actor and act as a bridge between the sometimes intimidating or stereotypically elitist or stuffy world of theatre and people with no or very limited experience of the theatre. I write openly and honestly about what I see and I love every minute of my involvement with Get The Chance.

Gemma Treharne Foose Community Critic Wales

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I am a member of Get the Chance because it grants me access to a supportive network of like-minded individuals – people who are passionate about the arts; who contribute towards an open-dialogue about its creation and existence. It’s an inspiring organisation to be a part of.

Lauren Ellis Stretch Young Critic

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I am a member of Get the Chance because it has given me an unbelievable amount of opportunities and allowed me to meet amazing people. From allowing me to appear on a local radio station to securing a job at the Wales Millennium Centre.”

James Briggs Young Critic 

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“I am a member of get the chance because I feel like I should have an opinion when it comes to the arts and theatre as it is something that I have been passionate about from a very young age. I have been performing since I was little and have always loved being able to express myself through art. Through critiquing I can give my opinions on theatre and art from a passionate young persons perspective.”

Eve Limbrick Young Critic

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I am a member of get the chance because it allows me to meet new industry creatives like myself and to see a wide range of great shows and performances.

Kaitlin Wray Young Critic 

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I am a member of Get The Chance because I strive to be a writer and truly love writing from the bottom of my heart. Being a member has allowed me to explore my opinions on different pieces of entertainment and push my writing skills. Through publishing reviews my abilities have grown, and I am wholeheartedly grateful for having the opportunity for this to happen. Publishing reviews and receiving responses is thrilling and something I enjoy. Get The Change provides this and so much more, and I feel lucky to be included and involved.

Sian Thomas Young Critic

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I am a member of Get the Chance because I want to write, I want to write well enough to share my own experiences of art, theatre, dance & opera with others & widen their audiences, encourage attendance & sometimes, maybe, help us see things differently.

Being a Third Act Critic has opened doors for me – I see work I would never have seen otherwise; I get to draw dancers, talk to directors & actors, meet other critics & writers, I even enjoy the odd free drink!

I enjoy the interaction on Twitter & Facebook, relish any compliments & learn from criticisms.

I also enjoy telling other people what I do & try to get more people involved in this remarkable chance to see things & to review them.

Having just received my Spice Time Credits, I am also looking forward hugely to a few new experiences, armed with sketchbook & pen.

Helen Joy Third Act Critic

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I’m a member of Get the Chance because of the invaluable opportunities and skills it provides me.”

Shannon Newman Price Young Critic

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I am a member of Get the Chance because it is a close knit community that allows you to voice your opinions and meet new people along the way, as well as offering you with amazing opportunities.

Caitlin Finn Young Critic

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I am a member of Get the Chance because it opens up access to the arts and everyone’s voice is valued

Corinne Cox Young Critic

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I am a member of Get The Chance because I wanted to push myself. I knew I could do it, so I did!

Amelia Seren Young Critic

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I am a member of Get the Chance because theatre and the arts is what I eat, live and breath. To be able to connect with fellow performers, practitioners, critics and journalists is a wonderful chance to learn, be inspired and to network.

Hannah Goslin Young Critic

Get Involved

For further information or to take part contact project coordinator Guy O’Donnell: odonnell.guy@gmail.com