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Review Choosers The Bread and Rose Theatre, Clapham Fringe, By Hannah Goslin

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(2 / 5)

In the top of this theatre pub, the Clapham Fringe has been conjuring an array of performances. This day, I happened to be seeing the show ‘Choosers’.

Choosers sees the meeting and friendship between two homeless men. Spanning only a few months and based all around one park bench, these two unlikely kindred spirits meet, and we are introduced to their past present and future.

The set it simple – one bench, the younger homeless man with a suitcase of bits and pieces, the other with only what is on his body. There are leaves pinned to the staging and strewn across the rostra to give that ‘park feeling’.

Our younger performer is a university student who has run away from his course, his home and his responsibilities, feeling unloved and unseen in comparison to his marine brother. The older, full of secrets, some of which we never find out, has been homeless for 5 years out of choice.

Both with a different story to tell, yet both choosing this life, our views on the homeless are challenged, from not only why they have chosen to become homeless, but to the way they live – the older actor says that begging isn’t right and that it should not be done. He makes friends to find food and we soon warm to him as he warms to the younger performer. The younger performer is annoyingly young – perhaps slightly stereotyped, he is bouncy and full of naivety. At times it’s hard to keep up with his fast paced approach to the character, and becomes a little exhausting with consistent pacing.

Overall Choosers is a lovely performance, full of friendship and warmth, contradicting the world views on the homeless. Well worth a watch if you are able to keep up with the speed of the university character.

 

Review NDCW Autumn Tour ‘Folk’ by Tanica Psalmist

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A surreal world, with fanatical weight

Performed eight, Eastern-European dancers, with different mental state’s

With significant traits, they all took us on a visual journey

Dancing their way through a contemporary, dynamical theory.

Whilst individually reaching their peak, through dancing only did they speak,

Expressions, Tones, intertwined mixed emotions frantically

Erupt, corrupt you saw poison in each character’s guts

Each motion, devastation, made you attentive to their synchronisation

Each subtle flow, every blow, every dramatic move, each hard gesture that looked smooth

One scene was a circular pattern with no gaps, just them walking in bare feet,

Tight, narrowed direction they walked, as the drumming tone hit home

Witnessing to all, who gathered interpretations of their own

Mine was the constant spinning of a world, that we live in

Formulating different connections and identities to who’ve we’ve grown in.

The elements of every dance move, physically so strong, gripping you at your feet as they exhilaratingly, followed along.

Enchanting your mind, through the multiple conventions,

The tree upside down, made you wither into your own imagination

Native tongue, of French descent, grasped a different interpretation.

Charismatic music echoed, as the dancers moved in utter fabrication.

Different themes of love, social dynamic’s was explored in a world of dark, comic indication.

Animated features, made you laugh, a penguin and its posture, of what the dancer conveyed it to be, was interestingly unique.

Another power scene, portraying to the viewers that your interpretations to what exists, in your head is how it ought to be.

Freedom to express, talk as you like, stand up, obnoxiously move in a crowd, being big, swaying loud, being persistent in what you do and speaking in your comfortable native tongue in a community, where no-one understands accept you, Is entirely down to you.

That was my connection with Folk, and the production design as well as the dancing crew, grew on me.

So fortunate to attend, and watching the dancers pull through till the end.

Folk to me is living in a surreal world that mentally, emotionally and physically, comes alive as a believable, existing world where you desire to survive and let your feelings stay alive.

Review The Sewing Group, The Royal Court by Hannah Goslin

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(5 / 5)

After being away for a while, my Royal Court cravings were high, so to be back and excited to what I was about to see was a lovely feeling.

As always, the Royal Court produces performances that make me feel as if I am entering a new theatre. Their spaces are so transformative, even the proscenium arch. However, this time we were upstairs and this space continues to be new, disorientating me in a good way as I try to think back to previous productions and how it was styled. It’s like a completely new place.

The Sewing Group begins exactly as it sounds. We feel intrusive – the staging a simple wooden box with 2/3 women sat on stools sewing. Dressed in Amish style clothing, I begin to feel apprehensive – would this be a really intense piece? It did not seem at first as if this simple set up would be funny or surprising… boy was I wrong.

Directorially – this piece is brilliant and clever. Short scenes – and I mean short, perhaps only a few minutes are stylised with immediate black outs and tingy music. Each time it’s as if we see a snap shot, creating the element of passing time. The two women sat sewing at first, limited speaking or movement, remind me much of the beginnings of a horror film – quiet yet concentrated, not revealing much, the entry of a third woman, an outsider brings home this element as she reacts to their strange ways just as we do. The character’s quickly become more 3 dimensional – revealing more about themselves, their village and with the new arrival, some comedic moments come out.

Without any spoilers, these performers bring such interesting characters and elements to the piece, that you cannot fail be engaged. As the relationships and events progress, the scenes become more intense, more comedic, more emotional and to do this in short scenes is a triumph to the actor’s capabilities.

The Sewing Group is surprising and enjoyable. Something that begins with apprehension to its creativity and a feeling that it may not be liked, soon becomes fantastic, intelligent and makes you wonder why you ever doubted The Royal Court’s brilliance.

The Sewing Group

Nora, The Bread and Rose Theatre, Clapham Fringe by Hannah Goslin

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(1 / 5)

Written and performed by Portuguese artists, Nora is a take on Ibsen’s classic ‘A Doll’s House’. Taking the female character, David Silva has created this piece, highlighting the past and present of the character and her question of who she is. We see Nora when with her husband and family to once she has left them to find herself. This abstract piece crosses the boundaries of both past and future and takes a look at the female’s identity.

This performance is basic with its design in staging, costumes and movement which at first is lovely and exciting. Both performers have studied physical theatre and there is an attempt to bring this into the piece. Heavy footed, the physicality does not seem well executed and at times seems as if it is thrown in to make this piece weird and wonderful when it doesn’t need to be. Trying to blur the lines, there is interaction between the two Nora’s but alleviating to no real event or conclusion.

Both of the performers are very different and perhaps with the time state that each are meant to be in [past and future] it is this way to show the difference between the progression of these characters. However, there needs to be some similarity to the characters and unfortunately there is not, making it feel as if we are just watching two unhinged characters wearing similar clothing – and that being the only similarity.

I really wanted to enjoy this piece – you can see what they are trying to do and where they are trying to go but unfortunately it does not hit the mark and you find yourself either waiting for some big change in the piece or for the production to end.

 

Review NDCW Autumn Tour ‘Folk’ by Helen Joy

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(4 / 5)

Profundis, They Seek to find the Happiness they Seem, Folk

Profundis

In whispered tones of reverence, I am told: it is, oooh, wonderful, you’re in for a treat…

A woman in purple stands hugging herself in dance. She is singular, beautiful.

The spot light shifts to a gloriously sexy scene, a woman in white revelling in her spot-lit body writhes on the stage. She is right in front of me, I can see into her eyes. I am mesmerised. Carted away by men in black, the performance erupts into a fantasy of colour, dance, commentary, music and comedy. It is at once surreal, curious and charming. Sinister. Younger audiences find this funnier; we are awkward, we laugh in the wrong places. The dancers say that they find their voices in dance not in language but have enjoyed this challenge, being free to be themselves, to speak, to interpret freely within the confines of the psalm. De Profundis.

It is the creation of genius. It has the feel of a masterpiece. It is an abstract painting come to life. It is Kandinsky dancing. Of all the images, I am left with the man in red knuckling his way across the floor, man as ape as movement to music. A treat, indeed.

The Seek to Find the Happiness They Seem

Dance partners in black and navy and they trip through the dark, faces lit like portraits looming out of Rembrandt. Oh, this is exquisite. They are so lovely to watch. Perfectly in unison, Fred and Ginger ducking and diving and dancing in front of us, I can feel the warm swoosh of air across my face as they sweep past.

To Richter, they fail, their sense of loss and confusion is complete.

Folk

Bosch. It is a Bosch in all its painted madness cavorting in front of us. It is a crazy world. It rises from the soil of Autumn leaves into this crepuscular land. It is a topsy turvy place, a slight inversion, sensitive to struggling personality, to groupings, pairings and isolation.

Something warm and heavy, muted and visceral, carefully cadaverous, so beautiful from a distance but gently sinister close up. It is a convoluting palette of earth. It is breathtaking.

To see these dancers up close and personal, the bandages on their toes, the straps around their knees, the sweat on their faces, each muscle flexing, is to see perfection. To hear their feet feel the ground, to see expression in every tiny movement, is to see beauty.

I want to pull this piece into the night air, I want to let them free to scatter real leaves, dancing under real trees.

I want to press Stop: I want to fix them like statues and examine every moment. I cannot watch it all and I have missed so much but oh, I have taken something magical, ethereal, wonderful away with me.

http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en

Enjoyed:         14th November, 2016 at NDCW, Cardiff

Profundis

Choreography:             Roy Assaf

Music and Sound:       Uoon I, Alva Noto (Vrioon Electronic)
Enta Omri, Umm Kulthum (Original 1964 Live Recording)

Lighting Design:          Omer Sheizaf

Costume Design:          Angharad Matthews

Costume:                     Deryn Tudor

Angharad Griffiths

 

They Seek to Find the Happiness They Seem

Choreographer:        Lee Johnston

Music:                                    Max Richter

Lighting:                     Joe Fletcher

Costume:                   Zepur Agopyan

Dancers:                    Matteo Marfoglia, Elena Thomas

Folk

Choreographer:        Caroline Finn

Visual Artist:             Joe Fletcher

Music:                                    Assorted (see website below)

Lighting:                     Joe Fletcher

Costume:                   Gabriella Slade

Dancers:                    Josef Perou, Camille Giraudeau, Matteo Marfoglia, Mathieu Geffre, Angela Boix Duran, Elena Thomas, David Pallant, Josie Sinnadurai, Ed Myhill

 

 

http://www.ndcwales.co.uk/en/what-s-on/autumn-tour-folk/

 

Review Lost Souls and Lunatics, The Bread and Rose Theatre, Clapham Fringe, By Hannah Goslin

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(3 / 5)

Back again to this wonderful spot. The Clapham Fringe, with all its’ wonders is something that should definitely be looked out for by all artists.

A one man show, we are introduced to an hour of semi-biographical account of the east end of London and the writer’s response to the Peshwar massacre, reminding the writer of children who are affected by World War 2 and other traumatic incidences. We visit some painful, some funny and some unusual events.

Reminiscent to me of east end/Londoner stereotypes such as Ronnie Barker’s character in the Tv sitcom Porridge, and infamous villains such as the Kray brothers (who are also mentioned as an memorable event), it is a wonder whether this period of time (50’s-70’s) stereotype of hard Londoners is true or a play upon what we already know. Either way, Billy Colvill does a wonderful job of portraying this lost soul – an east ender himself along with writer Johnnie Quarrell, I suppose we can assume that this is more biographical than theatrical.

Colvill’s stage presence is distinct – able to produce an hour long one man show is a feat in itself and is impressive to watch as the cogs in his brain moves from one story to the next. The writing at times goes back to previous stories or references and at times is a jumble to show his deteriorating brain. This confusion in itself is representative of the character and Colvill is fantastic enough a performer to execute this well and without stammer.

Lost souls and lunatics is funny, touching and an engaging piece of work. Without thinking, it is relatable to each person well worth a watch for Colvill’s abundant character.

http://www.breadandrosespub.com/theatre.html

Review Trolls by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

Trolls is like a sugar rush. Giving you loads of candy. There are so many colors, jokes and popular music but even though there are moments to enjoy you will realise that too much sweetness can make you sickly. No matter the intentions or effort.

In a far off land there is a kingdom where creatures called Bergens (that look a lot more like typical portrayals of Trolls), they are unhappy creatures by nature and can only experience happiness by eating Trolls (looking like their toy counterparts). One day they escape and are able to live in happiness and not fear being eaten.

Years later the Trolls have made their home deep in the forest and now enjoy singing and hug-time with Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick). They have a special ability to manipulate their hair as they wish and others have some other abilities that go by without explanation. However there is one Troll that doesn’t join in on the dancing and singing Branch (Justin Timberlake) who dedicates his life to preparing for the day the Bergens come after them. Which surprise surprise one day they do. So now Poppy and Branch must go on a quest to rescue their friends.

Poppy and Branch serve as a good duo. They are opposites that due to inconvenience have to work together. They have the same goal to work to but have different ideals and morals so they debate which leads to character dynamic.

Dreamworks, typically, is known to cater to the larger demographic, it takes on material that is popular in the public mind now and cast celebrities for their voice cast. This is the prime example of Dreamworks trying too hard to connect with the children and be popular. The premise itself is cute but they feel the need to add all these other pop-culture references and sayings for the children to connect to when what they really do is cheapen and distract.

This is one of the most colourful children’s movie, or maybe just any movie you will find. It really looks like a children’s toy-box come to life. With all the different shades of the rainbow moving on the screen. It’s like Cloud Cuckoo Land from The Lego Movie, but throughout the movie.

As a unique visual gag it gives Poppy the characteristic of doing scrap-booking which lends itself to visually engaging to audience with a mix-up of style. It serves to give the children something to connect with as well as serving as an excuse to have exposition with something interesting happening on-screen.

The soundtrack is composed of covers (mostly) they are the hit pop songs that everyone knows. But also some of them have rapping verses inserted within. They are just so clearly forced and in bad taste. Also there are a few times when a song plays and it doesn’t seem like its the right pick. Just a popular song that doesn’t work for the scene.

The movie is at its best when it is cynical and picking apart the cutesy things that the other Trolls hold so dear. Its a case of everything being too adorable that it becomes sickly so some bitterness is welcome.

Trolls will have the children happy, smiling and probably singing along to the music. A few adults may also smile or even get a chuckle out of the moments that make fun of the cutesier moments.

Marina Abramovic, Southbank Centre, By Hannah Goslin

(5 / 5)

A once in a lifetime opportunity – Marina Abramovic has been an idol of mine from a young age when performance art was being introduced to me as a performer. A strong female taking the performance world by storm, to listen to this woman talk about her life, work and future only a few yards away was nothing less than extraordinary.

A simple set up on a Q&A, Abramovic is at all times in control. Known for moving interviewers in the direction she wishes to go, this simple Q&A soon becomes a little less simple, flustering the interviewer as she opens up to interesting, moving or hilarious stories on a tangent.

Growing up with not such a wonderful childhood, from the age of 14 when she put on her first performance, she says she believed even then she was too old to put on performance work as greats such as Mozart had done so at a much younger age. She takes her pain, her love, her anger and releases it in her performance art, challenging boundaries and the society of the time.

An honest woman, there is nothing she does not offer on the plate to us. From such inspiring and emotionally full work, I expected a serious yet dedicated woman. And she is, but mostly, she is funny. She has an addictive and wonderful personality that makes your ribs hurt and a can do, but also care free attitude that is inspiring and envious of.

An interesting point made by Abramovic, is that she does not believe she is a feminist. Questions from the audience about femisim, one from an art student from South Korea where woman are taking their sexual abuse and turning it into art is offered to Abramovic to comment on. And she does not hide behind a lie – she has experienced pain, euphoria, many emotions that you can see in her work but she admits she has never been abused, nor has she had any patriarchal/misogynist comments or influence and admits that this way she cannot comment. A lucky lady, we think of performers of having some tormented soul, but this woman has not, she is purely clever, creative and a genius.

Marina Abramovic has released a memoir on her life, and it is my belief that this is worth a good read for all performers, male or female to explore and gain insight into one of the greatest performance artists in our world.

Review Snout Sherman Theatre by Helen Joy

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(3 / 5)

 

This is a tricky one. The write up says that this is a play which examines ethical farm practices and may put you off your pie.  This is not quite what we get. It is not ‘Fun’ but it is ‘Food, Drink and Drama’. Or did I miss something?

I take three friends with me –we are all women, all farmers and two of us keep pigs. We discuss the play we have seen and the pie we have eaten a lot. In fact, we talk about it over chips later on Penarth Pier and again in the week. It has made us think. But perhaps not in the way Playwright Kelly Jones would like us to.

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Cast members  Sally Reid, Michele Gallagher and Clare Cage

Photographic credit Kirsten McTernan

It is a play about 3 little pigs, 3 women acting as pigs and as women. They are in a trailer heading for the slaughter house. Their actions and conversations are an odd mixture of supposed pig talk and young women chatter. They grunt occasionally. One is a cross carrying faithful type who misses her sister, one is a punky type who misses her lover and the other is a party going good time girl. A bit stereotypical. They work out that they are not going to a show but to the abattoir and so forth.

Now here’s a problem. Facts. Anyone who knows anything about pigs, knows that they don’t carry hairbrushes or wear crosses. They also don’t get electric shocks for bad behaviour when they squeal in a trailer. They might wander into a shed to watch a farmer, er, enjoy himself but we are pretty sure that we don’t know anyone who finds pigs that attractive.

When they talk about life, death and the lack of control over their lives, something resonates with me. Do they contemplate the meaning of life? Do we, as owners, play God?

Pigs are fun to be around precisely because they are calculating, funny and usually, miles ahead of their keepers. But we keep them also because they can be eaten. The speech at the end, before they trot out to their doom, is tediously predictable and aimed at converting the audience to vegetarianism, I think. My colleagues are not impressed and feel that this last scene spoils an otherwise interesting and thought-provoking play.

Then we have the after-show discussion. Lots of people have stayed behind for this and we are keen to debate the ideas raised in the performance.

But there is a surprise. Jones take an unexpected stance. She tells us about tattooed pigs and cruelty. She then explains that the play is actually about feminism; she uses the pigs to slaughter as metaphor for seeing women as meat, as bodies to be cut up into pieces, as porn, as without control. Oh. I see now. This makes sense of scenes previously lost to me.

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We discuss life and end of life, self-determinism, women’s rights, farming practices and eating meat. The audience is enthusiastic and picks up a particular thread with zeal: why have a play about killing animals and then give us a meat pie? Where does that meat come from, asks another. But it’s about women, not pigs, really.

We get it.

It makes even more sense when Jones explains to me that she had taken a 1hr40min play and made it into a 40min production. Sometimes, we need to rewrite not just slash and edit or we lose the meaning of a piece.  The playwright cannot attend every production to explain. The metaphor is clever, her idea is sound and with tweaking, would make an outstanding work.

I looked up the use of tattooed pigs for handbags – can’t be true, we said, but it was: art as an excuse for profit. Deeply shocking. I can see where she is coming from and Jones definitely is on to something here.

Enjoyed:         10th November, 2016 at The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

Playwright:    Kelly Jones

Director:         Kenny Miller

Actors:

Coco Clare Cage

Lacey Michele Gallagher

Viv Sally Reid

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/a-play-a-pie-and-a-pint-november-16/

 

 

 

Review Ethel and Ernest by Jonathan Evans

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(5 / 5)

Ethel and Ernest tells the story of a boy meeting a girl, they fall in love, get married and then share their life together. That is the story and through watching it I realized that it was enough. There doesn’t need to be anything more, a life is filled with so many moments and challenges that that’s all you need.

It is based on the graphic novel by Raymond Briggs, who is a household name because of his extremely popular The Snowman (which was also adapted into animation). He based it on his own parents, he himself is introduced into the story but the material seems oddly uninterested in him. More on these two people.

They first met in 1928 in London so that is where our story starts. Ethal is a young woman working as a maid in a wealthy house. Ernest is living his life by riding his bike down the street when they gazes meet, Ernest takes it on himself to ask her for a night in the cinema. Soon after they get married, move into a nice house and from then on they witness history. From the rise of Nazis, surviving World War two and having a son its all about what comes and how they deal with it, but no matter what, their love endures.

Brenda Blethyn plays Ethel, Jim Broadbent plays Ernest. They are able to recreate the quick, higher tones of their youth effectively though if you are looking to find the elderly tones in their voices you’ll find them. But they own their dialog as simple people but filled with personality. Ethel is a woman that was one of eleven children so is very restrained and enjoys things neat, clean and proper. Ernest was an only child and raised in the slum area of London and knows a lot of cockney songs. He is more spirited and more likely to play pranks.

The drawing style is based off and very effectively emulates Briggs. The characters have realistic proportions but their features are stylized, the eyes are where they’re meant to be, but just dots with a line above and below. Other interesting touches like noses and fingers being shades redder than the usual skin color makes the whole thing feel more textures and organic.

The movie is so generous with its film-making. What I mean by that is that there are moments that could have gone by with less effort but they decide to put in the extra effort for the simple reason that they want to film be be good. Take for example a moment where Ernest goes to light a cigarette, he strikes his lighter a few times and no flame, he inspects it, tries again then the flame comes. In live-action you would have gotten that moment for free, with animation, every new pose cost money and requires planning. So they had no other reason to put it in the film other than it serves as a little extra charm.

This movie falls under that same category of The Long Grey Line, Bambi, Tokyo Story and Boyhood, just the tale of life. A simple story with simple people at the center but filled with great moments. By the end I was so moved by the feeling that I had really experienced these peoples lives with them, things had changed and I was nostalgic for the good old times. A sign of a truly great movie.