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Review Power Rangers by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

Power Rangers is a franchise that has lasted because it has a tried and tested formula that works. Teenagers get superpower as well as colorful outfits and must defend the earth (or neighborhood) from a galactic threat that then escalates to giant monster vs giant robot.

There have been other movies before, but none have done that well. Now it seems that every studio needs a big franchise under their belt so why not this one?

Kicking off everything is a flashback to prehistoric Earth where colorful warriors lay defeated from a battle, when their armor disintegrates it reveals them to be aliens. One of them stands victorious over the others, this one is named Rita, the last one living, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) orders a meteor to hit earth and buries five colorful coins until the right people can claim them. Cut to present time where the land has become the small town of Angel Grove.

In the town we see a young man named Jason (Dacre Montgomery) attempting a prank that involves the school mascot cow, this goes awry and he is then sentenced to school on Saturday’s just so he can graduate. In this same class there is Billy (RJ Cyler) a possibly autistic kid that is the motormouth and juxtaposes the others with his offbeat ways (probably my favorite). Kimbery (Naomi Scott) a former popular girl but is now in-class and unfriended because she sent a picture and punched out a popular boys tooth (they put it back), later they run into Rini (Becky G) a girl who wander around pretty much and isn’t interested in getting to know the gang, then there’s Zack (Ludi Lin) who also wanders around but is also crazy (cause he tells us so) and more invites himself.

Eventually they do uncover the coins and they get powers and unlock other things and must face the threat, yadda-yadda-yadda.

Clearly the most effort has gone into adding depth to these teenage characters, giving them backstory and trauma and some kind of adversity to tackle. They are all part of a different ethnicity which adds diversity and is more like humanity coming together rather than mostly white people and the token minority.

The thing about all of this is that this is Power Rangers (try saying it out loud). This is by its nature corny, colorful and lighthearted. So they keep in some of the quips and color but when they introduce the dark, edgy elements it doesn’t mesh. A comedic scene can play out and it’s fine, however a dark scene can be pulled-off well but becomes that just happened in a movie where the cheesy things happened it’s like we’re in another movie. Good movies have a theme and tone consistent throughout, they establish if this is for children, teenagers or adults and plays to the kind of mood for said audience. This comes off more unhinged.

Rita Repulsa is the original big villain in the first season of Power Rangers. Here she is given a now look but still taking ques from the original (mostly in the staff) and reworked to be more threatening. The main draw is Elizabeth Banks who decides to go all out in performing her as well as clearly having a lot of fun. It’s hammy, but in a controlled way.

This movie has everything that fans of Power Rangers will expect, but may be not how they’re used to getting it. But even then, does this movie work? It works well enough, it is self aware enough to point out some more obvious cliches and pokes fun of itself enough while clearly being enthusiastic over the source material. For a summer blockbuster for kids and teenagers this is a standard plot with good intention of having a diverse cast. It will do no harm and there are moments where people will be entertained.

 

Review, Big Guns, Yard Theatre, by Hannah Goslin

In The Yard, this quaint and interesting theatre in a industrial state is flooded in red lighting, with two ladies eating popcorn, 3D glasses on and sat comfortably in a cut out piece of staging.
The music is ominous and leads us not to expect what we will witness the next hour or so.
Basic in its approach, Big Guns is filled with lighting changes from house lights, the red flooding, darkness and torches. The ominous music constantly giving us this uneasy feeling.
The performers perform a hour long duologue which aims to delve into the violence, danger and fear of every day, this increasing in today’s society. And while this is essentially a duologue, I was dubious a few minutes in as to whether this was all there was and was it worth it.
But somehow, the way the performers brought the stories, the thoughts, the emotions, the sense of fear was well done and I increasingly felt uneasy and a little scared of my walk home.
With recent attacks in London, daily negative news on our television screens and newspapers, the presence of social media ever apparent, the narrative hit the nail on the head and summed up our ever increasing danger.
Big Guns is certainly an interesting piece of theatre with an unusual approach and interesting set, lights and sound.

 

Review Kicked In The Sh*tter, The Hope Theatre by Hannah Goslin

(4 / 5)

Back again to The Hope which is always full of quintessential good writing and interesting drama.

Kicked In The Sh*tter is by Leon Fleming and directed by Scott Le Crass who are known for Sid which previously played at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff . The play aims to look at the welfare state, at mental health, the two coinciding and in between this, relationships and trying to live.

The production is ambiguous and simple in its attire – Fleming notes this in the programme as making the narrative be relatable and able to be placed anywhere but also to not avoid drawing attention from the storyline. And this all works well – a lot of productions at the moment are adhering to this and it is welcomed when a lot of productions think that special effects and pomp and circumstance is needed to make an impact. While as a theatre creator myself, these are all aspects that I like to explore, something so realistic and relatable does not need such accessories if it is good writing.

The performers of course do a great job – switching from their younger days to current day, they manage to change their approach to show the distinction.  The fact that they bounce off each other works well for a brother and sister relationship and when emotion is needed, awkwardness, a sense of struggling to help or accept help, we can relate to how they portray these.

A weird and subtle addition that I really liked was the stage movement – the sister does this always, with the brother watching, adhering to the essence that she has been left all responsibility. Subtle and small but I loved the attention to detail.

Despite all these good points, it was a good piece of theatre and I enjoyed watching but it did not astound me. But I cannot understand why. The elements were all there and Kicked in The Sh*tter should definitely been seen, if not only to be entertained but informed in the issues highlighted… there was just a spark that was missing for me.

 

An interview with actor and director Gareth Warren

Hi Gareth great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Hello! So, I’m an Actor from Cardiff and I trained at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I’ve performed all over the world – from the West End to the Sydney Opera House to Hong Kong. And lots of other places in between!

So what got you interested in the arts ?

Funnily enough, I never wanted to be and actor when I was younger. I wanted to direct music videos or be a novelist. The same things that made me interested in those things interest me in being an actor. That is, telling stories. I always enjoyed making people laugh at school and playing around – so it just made sense. It just took me a while to realise that!

You are a director and an actor, can you explain how this role operates within the creative team on a production ?

Well, I’m not quite a director at the moment. For our production of Jason & The Argonauts I’m the Associate Director – and playing Jason – I’ll be honest it can be quite confusing to explain! I was part of the original production of Jason & The Argonauts at the Hereford Courtyard in 2013 and the original Research and Development of the play in 2012. I’ve also worked with Mark Williams (the writer) on several other projects and we have developed a very close working relationship – basically we’re massive geeks and love Star Wars and comics! So… for this production I’m going to work closely with Julia (the director) and the production team to support in any way I can. This could just turn out to be making the tea and providing an array of chocolate based biscuits.
Thanks for clearing that up. As you have mentioned you are currently working on a brand new version of the classic legend Jason and the Argonauts. I loved the movie as a child so this new production sounds very exciting! Can you please tell us more about your role in this production?

So I get to play Jason. He’s just like us – a normal guy caught up in an incredible adventure – and surrounded by great hero’s of legend; Hercules, Orpheus and Medea. This show is a nod to many things – Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek and of course, the original movie. Essentially all great, epic quests. It’s been very playful to be a part of. We’ve enjoyed creating the monsters and having sword fights or messing with magic. And I’m lucky enough to be right in the middle of it.

Jason is the captain of the Argo in this production, it sounds a perfect production for teenage boys to see who might be interested in Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. What do you think live theatre can offer to audiences that differs from cinema?

Hopefully the show will appeal to a wide audience. Anyone who has an adventurous spirit! Whilst we have been influenced by science fiction and fantasy, you won’t need to be a fan of the genre to enjoy the show. This is how live theatre can differ from seeing a movie or watching a TV show. It’s all happening right in front of you – there’s no CGI and stunt doubles. It’s all happening right there! I think that can be very exciting for an audience to be part of. Because we’re doing it for you!

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

That’s an interesting question. I think that in the past there was a feeling that you had to be in London to be able to have access to creative opportunities. More and more I am seeing opportunities arising in Wales. The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is here in Wales and is considered one of the, if not THE best Drama School in the UK. The College also connects with young people in harder to reach communities in West Wales and the Rhondda Valleys and potentially further afield. We have the incredible TV studios at Roath Lock, and we’re always hearing about films or TV shows being made in Wales. We have the great work of NTW which seems committed to taking performances and opportunities to every corner of the country. That being said I believe that as a country we can still continue to improve to make art accessible to all members of all communities.

RWCMD in Cardiff, South Wales

http://www.rwcmd.ac.uk

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

I have been working with schools or young people in West Wales and in the Rhondda Valleys so perhaps I’m biased by this, but I would like more funding to be made available to those hard to reach communities. The world can seem quite disjointed to us at the moment. So community engagement through art is what I’d fund. Art can be used to change mentalities or to challenge stereotypes. It can also be used to educate in a creative way. And it should be fun! Everybody likes to have fun right?!
What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

City of the Unexpected

We have such a rich tradition of storytelling and have produced an unbelievable amount of talented writers, actors and singers over the years – and hopefully we will continue to do so. The last really great thing I experienced in the Arts was the Roald Dahl ‘City Of The Unexpected’ event that happened all around Cardiff City Centre. It was truly amazing. It featured so many different creative, quirky and stunning moments. And what I truly loved was that it was different for everyone who saw it – as some of the moments just popped up for a few moments and then were gone. Another thing about it that really excited me was the sheer number of people who attended. It made me realise that we, as artists, can make bigger and braver choices and people will embrace it. If the arts in Wales can continue to do that then I’ll think we’ll have a very bright future.

City of the Unexpected

Many thanks for your time
It’s been an absolute pleasure!

Review, A Profoundly Affectionate, Passionate Devotion to Someone (-Noun), The Royal Court, by Hannah Goslin

(5 / 5)

Again, The Royal Court does nothing but astound us with its epic writing and unique staging.

A profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone, written and directed by Debbie Tucker Green sees three relationships, intertwined and the love, passion, hate and pain that comes with being with someone.

What The Royal Court is very good at doing is by not masking the fantastic writing with bells and whistles. Set a little taller than us, the action happens around three edges of the squared room, where the performers move from side to side, from story to story – us being on chairs that rotate giving us the sense of choice as to whether we engage in stories that feel so private.

The performers are phenomenal – with such fantastic and funny writing they are open to exploration of feelings and expression and it feels very natural, very at home and pulls at our heart strings and our emotions.  We relate to the stories and relate to the characters, their emotions and circumstances. And it is evident that the performers are invested in their characters – not one break of it, not one slip, and when not the initial focus, their characters continue out of the spotlight.

Another triumph for The Royal Court- another fantastically written piece executed to perfection.

 

Review The Far Side of the Moon, ExMachina, WMC 24th-25th March 2017 by Emily Garside


It is a rare opportunity to see Ex Machina, company of renowned theatre maker Robert LePage, perform outside of London in the UK, and the opportunity to see such a trailblazer of theatre practice first hand. The Far Side of the Moon, originally conceived and performed by LePage himself, now in the more than capable hands of Yve Jacques.
LePage, founded Ex Machina in 1994 and quickly gained attention with their early works notably The Seven Streams of the River Ota (1994) and Elsinore (1995). LePage’s work fuses styles and disciplines, he does not characterise Ex Machina as a theatre company, and nor does his work, either in performance or in film does not slot easily into traditional descriptions. LePage has become known for his fusing of film and performance, of multimedia across his work- video projections, soundscapes and projected dialogue sit alongside puppetry and performance and choreography. Meanwhile his interests as an artist similarly span multifaceted and multimedia approaches incorporating science alongside philosophy and art. It is fitting then, in 1999 when beginning work on The Far Side of the Moon, it was the question of science alongside art that is a catalyst to the narrative.
In parallel narratives- one public, the story of the space race, one private, the story of two brothers, LePage explores the nature of humanity, and the direction of life. The story unfolds of two brothers, one gay one straight, one confident, one shy, the younger seemingly successful, the younger still struggling. Their domestic narrative is played out against the backdrop of the Space Race and younger brother Phillipe’s endless fascination with the cosmonauts, pitted against their ever more glamorous American counterparts the American Astronauts. The parallels between the struggling student and his glamorous and famous weather presenter brother are clear.
The storytelling is tightly woven, and complex, veering across Phillipe and Andre’s lives, touching on their childhood and adolescence, through their current situations and frustrations. It is a highly domestic, family oriented tale at its heart with everything circling back to the death of their Mother, and the realisation of what life is like without any parents.

 
The technical elements of the show are, as expected, astounding. In the hands of a lesser company the might come off as gimmicky, but here the fusion of projections alongside The performance is truly theatrical in its reliance on Jacques performance to encapsulate both brothers and a variety of peripheral characters, but also in the use of stage and props in a very traditional way. Although LePage is perhaps best known for his fusing of film and theatre, here although the film and multimedia elements are moments of brilliance, it is moments of simple theatricality that highlight the skill and attention to detail in the performance. When an ironing board becomes a bike, for example, and later a bed, or when through subtle costume change and mannerism Jacques becomes another character. The brilliance of LePage’s work is the fusion of these elements, and despite being a work of technical precision, it also has a very instinctual, organic feel that comes back to the engaging storytelling at its heart.
As LePage’s creation is always about fusion of elements, the bringing together of The Far Side of the Moon rests on the performance of Jacques. An intimidating ask to take on the very personal story that LePage wrote- he draws on his own Mother’s death, as well as hinting at his personal struggles with depression and coming to terms with his sexuality- as well as taking on the piece that LePage performed himself. However, Jacques having toured this piece for several years, has an easy stage presence which makes the precision performance of both hitting technical markers to allow projection, puppeteer or set to take over the storytelling, while also delivering two hours of single-handed narration while embodying Andre and Phillipe’s characters. Jacques does it with an engaging personable warmth that also brings the audience into what for those uninitiated might see as the daunting prospect of LePage’s theatrical world.
Robert LePage sets out to create fusion in his work- fusion in performance through multimedia, traditional and innovation, and through thematically, addressing issues side by side that might not traditionally be addressed. These elements alone could be a cold exercise in performance for performance sake, experimentation for experimentation’s sake which could leave the average audience alienated. It is the credit of LePage and the company that his work does not do this, while The Far Side of the Moon is a great introduction to the theatrical style Le Page is known for, while it is a challenging fascinating study of performance methods, it also keeps at it’s heart the element of storytelling. So while audiences may be intrigued, puzzled and hopefully challenged by seeing what may be a new approach to theatre for them as this work tours the UK and the world, they will also be invited in, and moved by, the story that facilitates the performance.

http://lacaserne.net/index2.php/theatre/the_far_side_of_the_moon/

Review Yamato, Peacock Theatre by Hannah Goslin

(5 / 5)

Japanese drumming seems like an odd production to have at a well renowned dance theatre. But bear with me – it is not just drumming.

My interest has always been grabbed by Asia, especially Japan. Last year I visited Tokyo and saw what we all think of in Japan – a mixture of tradition and unusual things. My very small and brief cross with Japanese drumming was at the Robot Cafe where giant drums played by smiling men and women in bright clothing came inches away from my face.

So my expectation was a little different – I expected something more traditional and more quaint I suppose. I was surprised, shocked and entertained like never before.

Yamato bring the essence of Japan – the curiosities, the tradition and the uniqueness. The performers throw their all into each performance; they smile, they have fun, they engage with us and play with us but there are times of what would seem like ritual and tradition.

They show the mixture of something so old with the way they play, the instruments and their movements – being very low squatted and grounded. But also they enjoy what they are doing, bouncing from one area to another, dancing to accompany the music but also doing comedic moves that everyone relates to and so it then makes sense that this is at a dance theatre.

What I found intriguing is the mix of performers. Both men and women played the same instruments – there was little sexism in what they wore, what they were capable of and it felt like a very equal participation-something much of the British theatrical scene could learn from!

While its evident their English is very small, we engage with them in universal movements and find comedy in actions rather than words. We do not feel so far apart from their culture as we may anticipate.

Yamato is heaps of fun and extraordinary – as a drummer I found their skills astonishing but even a novice would do so. They are so perfected and fantastic, it would be hard to attend and not to come away smiling.

http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2017/yamato-chousensha-the-challengers/

 

Review Zone Play Centre by Kate Richards

Get the Chance has a broad definition of cultural provision. Some of our team are parents or carers and may access theatre, soft play, cinema and leisure facilities. We are also part of the Spice Time Credits network. The Zone play centre supports Spice Time Credit spend.

Out of my Comfort Zone

I have to be honest, when I opened the door of Zone Play Centre on a drizzly Sunday afternoon my heart sank. I’m not a huge fan of indoor soft play centres at the best of times, so the noise that assaulted me and the orange-tinged glow of the artificial lights combined with the total lack of windows, was almost enough to make me turn back…..but breaking a promise to my 3 year old was not an option.
However, first impressions can be wrong. The first positive was the cost – Zone is considerably cheaper than some other options in Cardiff (£4.00 for under 4s compared to £10.50 for the same time in another well-known venue near the city centre).

Zone is also part of the Spice Time Credits Network,costing  2 Time Credits per child.

There is a link to the South East Wales Time Credits Spend brochure below

http://www.justaddspice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/SE-Wales-Spend-Issue-2-2016-Digital-update.pdf

The second positive was the amount of seating and its proximity to the play areas; yes it makes it louder and a bit more cramped, but the grown-ups in our party were able to sit fairly comfortably with a drink, whilst maintaining sight of the children as they played, and this even though it was very busy and had two private parties going on simultaneously.
Our party consisted of 3 adults, two 3 year olds and an 11 month old (who got in for free with his paying older sibling), and I have to say that this was one of the best suited play centres for children of those ages that I have been to. The frames are not so high and so big that the 3 year olds couldn’t cope on their own, or were at risk of going too high and getting stuck out of reach. Even better was the dedicated area for the babies. Most soft plays I have been to have an area for little ones, but often these consist of a ball pit, and some moveable soft blocks or shapes – most of which tend to be still too big or heavy for them to do anything with. Zone however had a basket of small toys (which if necessary you can take back to your table to amuse them whilst you deal with your other little one and supervise snack time or whatever). There was also a play kitchen and wendy house for them to explore as well as the usual soft balls and blocks that you would expect to find in a soft play centre. This section for the very youngest children is located in the middle of the larger frames, so you can sit comfortably in there with the baby, and still see (or be seen) by the pre-schoolers playing on the main frame – ideal for parents coping with two or more children of different ages. Again, whilst at first it seemed a bit cramped and noisy for the little ones to be in the middle of the space – it turned out to be very practical for us.
The other positive for my son, were the cars and bikes. He’s happy to clamber up a play frame and dive down some slides for a period of time, but he will spend hours riding around on a little trike or sitting in a ‘Cosy Coupe’ car, so he was absolutely delighted at the number of those available – even at a peak time on a very busy weekend.
We only bought cold drinks, so I can’t really comment on the refreshments on offer at Zone, but one facility we did make plenty of use of were the toilets. It’s not a pleasant topic, but it’s an important factor for any parent like me, with a recently potty-trained toddler who struggles to prioritise trips to the toilet over playing with his friends, and like most kids of this age can easily misjudge the time it takes to get from the top of a play frame, to Mummy and then on to the toilet, so we were frequent visitors. Again I was pleasantly surprised. Whilst not the most modern facilities I’ve seen, the baby changer had a clean, soft mat on it – and I think there were even wipes available (though those could have been left by another customer I suppose), and in the ladies, there was actually enough space within the cubicles to attend to my 3 year old without me having to train as a contortionist beforehand.
By the end of our visit, whilst pleased to step into daylight and give my ringing ears a rest from the cacophony within, I had to admit, that the kids had a great time, and for young children like ours Zone play centre is very well suited to their needs.
Zone Playcentre
http://zoneplaycentre.co.uk/
Entry prices

Under 8 months Free

9 – 11 Months £1 (Free if accompanied by an older paying child)

1 – 4 Years – £4.00

5 – 12 Years – £5.00

Time restrictions of 2 hours play will apply on busy periods.

Opening Times

Open 7 days a week

Open from 9:15 am to 6pm Monday to Friday

Saturdays 10am to 6pm

Sundays 11am to 5pm from 1st February 2017

No admittance an hour before closing from 1st February 2017

Kitchen Opening Times

Open 7 days a week

Open from 11:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Saturday

Last orders 4.45pm

Sundays from 11.00am – 4.00pm from 1st February

Last orders 3.45pm

 

Review E15, Lung Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

(4 / 5)

On such a tragic day, when London is in a state of terror, the production of E15 by Lung Theatre is more poignant than ever. A community joining together to stand strong and still invite others to London.

Based upon the social housing crisis, E15 brings a documentary style of theatre with true stories from true people and their struggle and fight for basic rights that all humans should be allowed.

As a previous private resident of Newham when I first moved to London over 2 years ago, I was aware of the poverty of this area but no idea of this movement. This production fully opening our eyes to the crisis. London is known as a welcoming city, with the recent Brexit vote forcing people to announce that London is still welcome. Yet it seems we can hardly cater for even local people, those who seek asylum – anyone who needs help.

The stage being plastered in protest flags, chalk writing on the floor, campaign voices over the microphone, we are put in the essence of this struggle. And all the rest is the perfection of the performers.

Their truthful, natural and passionate narrative is poignant and emotional. But strong. Strong voices. Strong men and women and their ability to tell this tale with added theatricality made something true and political stand out.

Some say that theatre should stay out of politics but with theatre like E15, the only helps the cause and puts it on the radar of the public.

A very important and creative production – a must see!

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42647/whats_on/whats_on/shows/e15

Review Tank, Breach Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

(5 / 5)

A almost crazed episode in American history, a NASA funded project during the 1960’s involving trying to make dolphins speak English is controversial and a shocking era. Based upon training scripts, Breach Theatre aim to discover what really happened, indulging in the pure animal cruelty and madness of the scientists involved.

A theme of water is obvious and consistent – the performers continue to hydrate from a water cooler in the corner, almost filling themselves with the tale.

By posing our dolphins in human form, we see the general cruelty, the unpicking  in a discussion by the performers of what would be happening, arguing and then agreeing on events, on emotions, feelings, what may happen, what may not- a worst case and probable truthful telling of behind the transcripts.

This soon  comes into physicality of the dolphins, still humanised to not only mirror what the scientist are cruelly trying to achieve but also to give us a connection and really how we would feel if this was done to a human.

The performers are relaxed, casual and act as if ad libbing despite us knowing this can  only be well rehearsed. They manage the right balance of comedy, of shock, of metaphor and lead us down a shocking and disturbing road.

Breach Theatre have managed to create a piece unlike any other and such uniqueness needs to be seen and celebrated.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42641/whats_on/whats_on/shows/tank