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An Interview with scriptwriter David Lloyd

“Hey everybody, my name is David Lloyd and as much as I hate to blow my own trumpet, Im going to be like Marvin Gay and tell you my life story. You see, I’m 22 years old and I am currently attending my third year of BA Hons Scriptwriting at the University of South Wales based in Cardiff. From my past writing experience I find myself drawn more specifically to psychological dramas, but I do try to widen my genre field. Admittedly, I would jump higher than a grass hopper on a pogo stick at any opportunities, but I do prefer writing for film and television where I find myself working on amateur short films with the master film production students.”

“Since I was a child (where others say I still am!) I have held a passion for creative writing, but it wasn’t until I had performed in my first self-written theatre play where I knew which career path I intended to pursue. The performance, title ‘The Mask of Eldernon’ was a psychological drama based upon a mass murderer who suffered from a split personality disorder where the protagonist was both the victim and the culprit. It was performed by myself and four of my peers as part of our course at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) in Hereford.”

http://www.rnc.ac.uk

“Oh… perhaps this would be a good time to mention how I am in fact visually impaired- it’s funny how some things slip your mind. Anyway, the diagnosis for my sight loss is a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and I have a detached retina which was caused from fluid seeping in beneath my eye. From six months of age. I also have an extremely rare metabolic disorder called LCHAD where my liver is unable to process fatty acids so I must stick to a three gram diet and I sustain my energy from an overnight feed. In result of this condition I have problems with my muscles and my energy levels and it attacks the nerves in my hands, feet and eyes which is what caused the site loss, but enough about the reason that would make me the perfect Olympic athlete, let us return to the topic of RNC.”

“Being a college which specialises in visual impairment, the purpose of me attending was mainly to be taught independence and mobility skills. As well as this, in the two years I attended I managed to obtain a Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts, a single award in Brail and a C in re-sitting my A Level English Literature. I feel  my biggest achievement was the confidence I had built with the help from my friends. Being amongst other people who had gone through the same experiences and had tackled the same difficulties as I have has really opened my eyes. The whole experience has change my life completely and inspired me to chase my dreams and overcome any obstacles that stand in my way… except from a Rubiks cube, those things are very hard!”

“Speaking of difficulties, despite the little deterioration that I already had, I have lost a significant amount of site in my right eye during my A Levels and couldn’t see how I was going to cope, especially when I was studying art and design, but I suppose If Van Gogh was able to paint with one ear missing then surely I could do it with one eye… yeah? you see what I did there? One ear, one eye- oh forget it. Anyway, this sudden site loss meant that I had to apply drastic changes to my work method, like studying films in class, but having to wait until I went home to hear the audio description, reading out of large print text books and perhaps the cruelest… sitting in the front row to see the board. The changes in my artistic techniques however, did allow me to stumble upon a hidden talent of drawing surrealistic images derived from my imagination with the smudging of compressed chalk.

Now for those who don’t know, compressed chalk can get extremely messy and stick to pretty much anything it comes into contact with, so you can imagine the site of it being used by a visually impaired student and then going home to a recently cleaned house… to a recently cleaned house with white walls… a recently cleaned house with white walls and an angry mother following the fingerprints… well you get the idea. So despite the change in methods, the giant printed books and the cloak covered fingerprints, I was able to obtain my Alevels in English Literature, Art and Media Studies, I had been accepted into RNC and I didn’t even have to bribe anyone either, which is always a plus.”

“Which then ledd me to the most scariest three letters I thought I’d never meet: U… N… I (which is just an abbreviation for the ten letter word, but this sounds cooler). I remember when I first started and feeling so scared of joining a new university in a city I wasn’t familiar with, but I kept thinking to myself ‘I just need to bite my tongue, hold my breath and jump into any opportunity that comes my way’ … but then naturally start breathing normally otherwise I wont be there for long. I understand how this may seem easier said than done, but with the support of the lecturers and my fellow peers and the provided equipment university became a life changing experience. Admittedly it was difficult adjusting to uni life what with the independence required for maintaining my condition, the continuity of eating and finding a healthy balance between work and social activity, but reflecting on it now makes me realise how these difficulties and mistake I had made have helped me become a better person and do you want to know what else… I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”

 

Review: Babulus, Gwyn Emberton and ilDance by Helen Joy

Babulus

4 Stars

Tower of Babel, says a friend next to me.

 Communication, that’s what it’s about, she says, all the different ways of communicating.

 I’m not sure about the bear, I find the bear creepy. Oh, she says, I like the bear.

Did you like the dance as a whole? Oh yes, mesmerising. I like going to things with you, I see things I wouldn’t otherwise see.

I see things I wouldn’t otherwise see. This is one of them for me too.

 

I was facilitating art classes last week with older people in hospitals and care homes and one of them, Brian, was unable to speak or hear. Don’t worry, the nurse said, he will make you understand him. And he did. Brian painted flowers, big colourful flowers. We chatted with our hands, our faces and our paint. We did not need to use our voices. It was a dance between two people.

Babulus is a dance between five people, one of whom is a bear now and again. A bizarre, fluffy, comedic yet sentient and sympathetic character to foil the darker elements of tied hands and closed mouths. I still found it creepy. The clown in the classroom, the slapstick to the poignant. I realise that this is just me – everyone else loved the softer element, the balance, the reference to a childhood toy. I still have my Bear, he sleeps with me still and he is my most valuable possession so I do get it, I get the thinking, I just don’t like it until I watch her loose a dancer’s bonds, quietly, softly.

But the dance itself? Oh it is superb. The dancers come together, push apart, come together, push apart using movement, chatter, language, sticky tape, song and light. They are beautifully choreographed, they are beautifully lit. It is mesmerising. There are two themes I particularly like: the holding of hands over each other’s mouths; and the bunching together babbling in their mother tongues. I like that they emerge from behind us, that they make eye contact with us, that they threaten us and engage with us. They laugh with us too.

It is the dance between two people, one with his hand over her mouth with her twisting away to speak, that I will remember most – they roll into and over each other in a balletic, deceptive, controlling, power struggle. I wish I could see this again and again. It called to me.

It is also one of the best after show discussions I have ever attended. The performers, dancers, are as engaging vocally as they have been throughout their piece. Clever, open, responsive to their audience, they are indeed communicating at all levels. Not babbling at all, really.

 

Event:                   Bablulus

Seen:                    1930, 17th February, 2017

Reviewer:            Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics

Running:               Friday 17 February – Saturday 18 February

Cost :                    Tickets: £12/£10; Age 11+

Running time: approx. 50mins  

Links:     http://www.chapter.org/babulus

Production:         Gwyn Emberton and ilDance collaboration

Music:                  Oscar Collin

Lighting and design:         Joe Fletcher

Direction:            Sara Lloyd

Babulus was created and toured with the support of Arts Council Wales, Gothenburg International Theatre and Dance Festival, The Work Room, Wales Arts International, Göteborg Stad, Västra Götalandsregionen, NDCWales, Ballet Cymru, Balettakademien Stockholm, Konstnärsnämnden, and Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

Review The Lego Batman Movie by Jonathan Evans

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

The Lego Batman Movie does the same for the Caped Crusader that Blazing Saddles did for the Western genre. Poking fun at all the various versions of the character, the overabundance of praise from his fans and some of the most colorful villains in pop-culture history. But done with genuine love, enthusiasm and knowledge of the source material so it is never bitter or poorly thought-out.

This is the same Batman that we got in The Lego Movie, the Batman that the overzealous fans talk about but don’t know they are. Completely impressed with himself because he can so effortlessly accomplish every seemingly impossible feet, has wealth and many, many cool possessions and everyone else is his lesser (he believes). Will Arnett has made this version of Batman his, having a deep raspy voice but also able to use it for dry delivery and even being petulant at times. He accomplishes one of the great examples of voice acting, remaining in-character while truly acting with it, able to maintain the same voice but use it to convey different emotions.

The other members of the cast members are Ralph Finnes as Alfred Pennyworth, the loyal butler. Through his straight delivery it makes the comedy all the more hilarious, it is a genius contrast against the wackiness he has to work off. Michael Cera plays Dick Grayson/Robin the energetic flamboyant element in the Batman universe and is very unwelcome to this Batman that believes he’s cramping his style. Rosario Dawson plays Barbra Gordan, who they unblinkingly changed to Latino, who’s the level headed, no-nonsense character she’s always been. Zach Galifianakis takes on the role of the Joker, obviously this a much more comedic focused version of the character, but there are a few moments where you can detect his malice, but he is here for comedy and you will laugh.

The animation is just like in The Lego Movie. Using actual pieces of Lego’s and cutting down on the frame rate so that it creates a choppy effect. However there are moments where it isn’t as refined as the previous movie. For example in the last one they only had on-screen what they could do with real Lego’s, here they cheat but manipulating the arms or having the pieces goes where they wouldn’t with a real toy, other times they look less realistic and more like C.G.I. characters, moving more smoothly. This isn’t really a detriment to the movie, it’s just that previous instalment was meticulous in it’s execution of animation.

The message and overall character-arc for Batman in this movie is to not be alone, to let others in because one man (even if they are Batman) can’t do everything. That and life just goes by better if you have someone to share it with. A simple message but told in such a gloriously overblown and entertaining way that it’s damn near impossible to not enjoy it.

Like what Blazing Saddles did to the Western genre I wonder if this will have a similar effect on the “serious” portrayals of Batman. That the people will see that this is all really rather ridiculous and not be able to take it so seriously for a time and have to wait. Or maybe that will be a good thing and realise that to be a real character is to have flaws so they may be willing to accept that their favourite Superhero has more than a few.

REVIEW ANTON AND ERIN SWING TIME, ST DAVID’S HALL BY JAMES BRIGGS

“I’m puttin’ on my top hat, Tyin’ up my white tie, Brushin’ off my tails” to welcome the fabulous Strictly Come Dancing duo Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag. On Sunday 19th February a packed crowd at the St David’s Hall was treated to an afternoon of high class ballroom dancing from two of Strictly Come Dancing’s most famous dancers.

I must say I was extremely excited before watching this show as I am a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing and really love ballroom dancing so for me this show was a dream. The brilliant dancing duo was accompanied by a whole host of other dancers who were just as brilliant. The three male dancers easily kept up with the style of Du Beke and they were Scott Coldwell, Luke Field-Wright and Adam Lyons. The ladies dancing within the show were equally as brilliant and gave the same grace as Erin Boag. The brilliant ladies dancing were Hayley Ainsley, Victoria Hinde and Francesca Moffat.

Alongside the brilliant dancers within the show there was also a fabulous orchestra namely that of the London Concert Orchestra. Anton Du Beke himself joked about how he would have had the Welsh Concert Orchestra only they were too expensive. The London Concert orchestra was conducted by renowned conductor Richard Balcombe. The orchestra accompanied a very special guest singer for the show Lance Ellington who is one of the singers on the show Strictly Come Dancing. His voice was brilliant and worked very well with the music chosen for the show. He even joined in with some of the dances and certainly showed how massively talented all of the performers are on Strictly Come Dancing.

All of the brilliant dances were choreographed and directed by Nikki Woollaston who has worked on productions such as 42nd Street at the Theatre du Chatelet and many other tours with Anton Du Beke.

All in all Anton and Erin put on a fabulous show that really is a joy to behold. With such magical dance numbers and brilliant performances it really is a show not to be missed. So if you have chance to watch this amazing duo performing grasp it and just “face the music and dance”.

Tickets for the tour around he UK are available via – http://www.antonanderin.com/_blog/The-Anton-And-Erin-Blog/post/swing-time—our-2017-tour/

Review: Love’s Poisoned Chalice season – Madam Butterfly & Le Vin Herbe

Madam Butterfly & Le Vin Herbe

Love’s Poisoned Chalice

Welsh National Opera at Wales Millenium Centre

 

Madam Butterfly 4 Stars

Sweet little Butterfly is but 15. A child.  A beautiful, lost child to us.

Pinkerton is to our eyes horribly unattractive, horrible in deed, fact and person. I don’t want him anywhere near her.

But, she is in love and he is in lust.

He is the archetypal American soldier – overpaid, oversexed and over here. He has the tacit and overt support of his colleagues. He blinds Butterfly’s friends and family with his pomp and wealth.

It is an arranged marriage. Butterfly enters into it with enthusiasm and a love for Pinkerton which is not reciprocated.

He, of course, leaves her. She brings up their child with the help of her servant, Suzuki, over the 3 years of his absence in hope and penury. Pinkerton returns with his American wife and they assume the boy as their own. Butterfly kills herself. She has loved too much.

Not a new story in any sense. It is utterly predictable and pitiful. And honest.

I have seen this production before but I have not heard or seen such an utterly perfect Butterfly before. She is a little light burning into the sepia staging. She sings with her soul on fire.

 

Le Vin Herbe  5 Stars

The story of Tristan and Iseult the fair. Accidental lovers brought together by circumstance and potions. Their love is inconvenient and uncontrollable. Their exile and their isolation disrupted by a secret visit from the king, Iseult’s husband to be, who leaves his sword to show his lenience. The lovers overthink his intentions and return to their respective lives at court.

Tristan marries Iseult of the white hands who takes her revenge on his love for the ‘other woman’ when he is dying. Iseult returns to die over his dead body. The brambles entwine their bodies for eternity.

An outstanding production. Skeletal, dark, passionate, ironic.  Show-stealing leads against an outstanding chorus. This is a well-known story well told and chest-beatingly hot.

A few thoughts:

Now, both of these operas are about love and life and fate and death. They both imply you can love too much. They both sing to us of the nasty twisty business of chance and tell us that passion will end badly. They both show us women who give up their hearts to their men, to their lords and masters.

Butterfly sees a way to a happy, comfortable, settled life with her soldier and gives up her faith, family and friends to do so. Iseult gives up a husband, crown, wealth and status to follow her knight into the woods to live in a poor shed full of flowers.

Pinkerton makes no sacrifices; he is not in love. Butterfly, Tristan and Iseult are all in thrall to love and make the ultimate sacrifice. Pinkerton is rewarded for his disinterest.

Messing with fate is clearly a bad idea but the music it invokes is not. These are two visually and vocally disparate operas with similar stories to tell. They are well chosen, well cast and masterly.

 

Madam Butterfly’s Un Bel Di Vedremo is Puccini at his best; Le Vin Herbe is opera at its best.

 

Event:                   Madam Butterfly, Puccini

Seen:                    Feb 10, 2017

Website:              https://www.wno.org.uk/event/madam-butterfly-0

Running:              Friday, February 10, 2017 – Saturday, April 29, 2017

Conductor                           Lawrence Foster (until 4 Mar). Andrew Greenwood (from 24 Mar)

Director                               Joachim Herz

Revival Director             Sarah Crisp

Designer                              Reinhart Zimmermann

Costume Designer         Eleonore Kleiber

Chorus Master                 Stephen Harris

 

Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton           Jonathan Burton

Goro marriage broker                                                 Simon Crosby Buttle

Suzuki a servant                                                             Rebecca Afonwy-Jones

Sharpless the American consul                                David Kempster

Cio-Cio-San (Madam Butterfly)                             Karah Son

A Welsh National Opera production, sung in Italian

……………………..

Event:                   Le Vin Herbe, Frank Martin

Seen:                    Feb 17, 2017

Running:              Thursday, February 16, 2017 – Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Conductor                                           James Southall
Director                                               Polly Graham
Designer                                              April Dalton
Lighting Designer                            Tim Mitchell
Storytellers                                        Full Company
Iseult’s mother                                 Catherine Wyn-Rogers
Iseult the Fair                                    Caitlin Hulcup
Brangien, companion                    Rosie Hay
Mark King of Cornwall                   Howard Kirk
Tristan his nephew                         Tom Randle
Duke Hoël a nobleman                 Stephen Wells
Kaherdin his son                              Gareth Dafydd Morris
Iseult of the White Hands           Sian Meinir
Solo narrators                                   Anitra Blaxhall, Rosie Hay, Sarah Pope, Joe Roche, Howard Kirk, Stephen Wells, Catherine Wyn-Rogers

A Welsh National Opera production, sung in English

 

 

Review The Magic Flute Mid Wales Opera by Barbara Michaels

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Mid Wales Opera’s exciting new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute opened appropriately in the Company’s home venue of Theatre Hafren in Newtown to a packed audience, proving once again that opera, once regarded as mainly for the elite or the cognoscenti, is gaining in popularity across Wales. And rightly so, given that Wales has given birth to some of the best singers in the world. Mozart’s sardonic fairy-tale, with its contending forces of good and evil, has more than a hint of the pantomimic, but is none the worse for that, consisting as it does of some of the composer’s most memorable arias and lyrical duets.

This opera has it all – romance, comedy and mysticism. The connecting link which runs throughout is the quest of Tamino, a Prince no less, who sets out to find and rescue Pamina, who has been kidnapped.by the villain Monostatos by order of Sastro, head of a mystic cult.  Tamino is helped by the magic flute and  Papageno, the birdcatcher who  lives in a hut in the woods and whose idea of heaven is hearth and home with Papagena, the girl of his dreams, and a clutch of little Papagenos to make it complete.  The story, with its  mix of wonderful music , soaring arias,   lovers’ tiffs and misunderstandings, set against a background of birdsong and mysticism, also manages to reference the power of womanhood and the number three, the latter being a send-up of the Masonic w which is both spooky and hilarious.

In the role of Tamino, William Wallace is a perpetually perplexed fresh-faced Tamino with a clear tenor, heard to advantage in his duets with Pamina. Frederick Long’s Papageno pulls out all the stops in a performance that bears evidence of Long’s familiarity with the opera and grasp of the role – truly a delight.  The latter also applies to Papagena, sung by Laura Ruhi Vidal, who makes her appearance in Act II,

This wouldn’t be opera without the element of evil, the equivalent of the Wicked Fairy in pantomime, here in the shape of the Queen of the Night, Pamina’s wicked and scheming mother  ( making a change  from the classic wicked stepmother.).  This is possibly one of the most demanding soprano roles in the history of opera, with an incredibly high range with which even the most accomplished of soprano can struggle.

Full credit to soprano Samantha Hay who, cocktail-hatted,  masked and black ball gowned, takes command of the stage with confidence, soaring to the difficult top F. A creditable performance deserving of the calls of “Brava!” awarded to her at the end. The forces of evil are well represented, with Matt R J Ward as the sinister Monostatos, swooping down like a predatory crow on the unsuspecting and naïve young Pamina, sung prettily by Moscow-born Galina Averina, who has worked with Dame Kiri Te Kana and WNO’s Dennis O’Neill.

Mention must also be made of the three ladies, an enthusiastic performance and some great costumes – I particularly like the red cross outfits in Act I. The orchestra, under the baton of conductor Jonathan Lyness, segues seamlessly between the familiar themes despite Lyness’ reduced orchestration.

Scenically, the production is helped by Declan Randall’s excellent lighting – a necessary facto, as, due no doubt to budget restrictions and the difficulties of touring, scenery is kept to the minimum, a lack particularly noticeable in Act I. Not even a token bush or tree in sight in the opening scene set in a forest, although designer Richard Studer’s ploy of using  a backdrop of a giant sun /or moon works to some extent.

http://www.midwalesopera.co.uk/productions.php

THE MAGIC FLUTE Mid Wales Opera, Theatre Hafren, Newtown

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Libretto: Emanuel Schikaneder

Artistic Director: Richard Studer

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Tunes with Sophie Smith from Outpost Coffee and Vinyl

Sophie and Matt from Outpost, portrait by Jon Pountney.

Top Tunes is a new feature for Get the Chance in collaboration with Outpost Coffee and Vinyl  http://www.outpostrecords.co.uk

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Sophie Smith one of the founders of Outpost Coffee and Vinyl. Their aims are,

“To introduce you to new music, get you tasting amazing coffees and enjoying freshly baked treats. Cardiff is full of amazing music, food and drink, so come and check it out! We want to meet new people, introduce you to exciting things and see your lovely faces time and time again. We hope to create an environment that you can come and chat, socialise and enjoy, no pressure, no strings attached. So come and say hello!”

Hi Sophie, this chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to? 

Tennis

Ron Gallo

& William Onyeabor

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, so we want to ask you to list 5 records/albums which have personal resonance to you.

1 Brian Eno – Another Green World

2 The The – Soul Mining


3 Haim – Days Are Gone


4 Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense


5 LCD Sound System – This Is Happening

Thanks Sophie, just to put you on the spot could you choose one  from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this?

“Brian Eno’s Another Green World is one of my all time favourite records, it has such an interesting story behind it. The production on it is so layered, it’s a great album to listen to on vinyl. It took me a long time to track down & is one of my most prized possessions!”

http://www.outpostrecords.co.uk

 

Review Sunny Afternoon, Venue Cymru by Donna Poynton

Sunny Afternoon charts the rise of 1960s British rock band, The Kinks and if you don’t already adore their incredible back catalogue, then you will after seeing this hit musical.

Upon entering the auditorium we see an open stage, able to look upon the band warming up and the simple, yet extremely effective set which, throughout, allows the stage to be transformed from a teenager’s bedroom in a Muswell Hill flat to the rock ‘n’ roll stage at Madison Square Gardens, New York.

The costumes are wonderfully reflective of the time and are a nostalgic time travel back to the fashions of the era. In fact, one of the stand out musical numbers ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ sees Dave Davies donning a sharp suit and a feather boa whilst the rest of the band perform a dance routine with shop mannequins-utterly good fun!

The band’s story lends itself perfectly to its musical adaptation; a rags to riches tale with plenty of love, heartache, fame, fortune and even a few punch ups! But this is more than your average jukebox musical with every piece of music beautifully intertwined within the narrative including a stunning acappella rendition of ‘Days’ and a show stopping version of ‘Sunny Afternoon’ which combines a hark back to England’s 1966 World Cup victory (and could easily have been the finale!)

The production includes a stellar cast who not only provide various reincarnations of the story’s colourful characters but who also play a number of musical instruments throughout the piece (kudos to Andrew Gallo as Mick Avory for his immense drum solo!) Special mention must also go to Ryan O’Donnell as Ray Davies and Mark Newnham as his brother Dave-both flawless performances.

“Will they still be playing it in 30 years time?” asks lead singer Ray Davies, talking of his self penned title song. Well, it’s been over 50 years and I’m now evermore convinced that this ground breaking music will live on for a lot longer yet!

Venue Cymru, Llandudno

February 14th-18th 2017

Authors: Ray Davies music and lyrics, Joe Penhall book, based on an original story by Ray Davies

Director: Edward Hall

Design: Miriam Buether set and costume, Rick Fisher lighting, Matt McKenzie for Autograph sound

Musical Supervisor : Elliott Ware

Choreographer: Adam Cooper

Technical: Tom Nickson production manager, David Curl company stage manager, Deborah Andrews costume supervisor, Carole Hancock at Hum Studio wigs, Robyn Hardy, Hannah Sharp props supervisors, Suzanne Crowley, Gilly Poole casting for Hampstead and West End, Natalie Gallacher for Pippa Ailion casting for West End

Cast includes: Victoria Anderson, Nathanael Campbell, Tomm Coles, Deryn Edwards, Andrew Gallo, Richard Hurst, Sophie-Leigh Griffin, Mark Newnham, Ryan O’Donnell, Garmon Rhys, Joseph Richardson, Robert Took, Michael Warburton, Libby Watts, Lucy Wilkerson, Lisa Wright

Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions with Tulchin Bartner Productions, Greg Ripley Duggan for Hampstead Theatre Productions, Tanya Link Productions, Just for Laughs Theatricals/Glass Half Full Productions, Rupert Gavin

Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes (with a 15 minute interval)

Review Trainspotting 2 by Ben Poulton

Danny Boyle chose not to choose the rehash, he chose something else.

T2 caught me off guard and I loved it. I was expecting the rehash, but no, he came in with the energy and film making pioneering that I believe will be analysed for years to come. The aspect I would most praise from my viewing is the pacing, as it is something that was uniformly exciting through the film, but also each aspect of what made the film brilliant.

One of the main things I noticed was that, essentially, there isn’t much of a plot at all. Yes we have Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and Renton (Ewan McGregor) buying and setting up of a ‘sauna’, Begbie’s (Robert Carlyle) return from jail and Spud’s (Ewen Bremner) struggle with addiction and suicide, but they seem side-lined to what we as an audience are wanting to see, The characters being as candid as we’ve always known them to be, and, in all honesty, see Begbie (Robert Carlyle) flip his shite when he gets his hand on the c*** what stole his four f***ing grand.

With 20 years of build-up it was essential that T2 understood something that most sequels don’t, and that’s how to work with nostalgia, and with a great exhale of relief, executed endearingly. In the real world nostalgia is a feeling, a little shot of endorphins that spikes dramatically from a single glimpse of an old friend, or the first few beats of a previously well versed song, it gets you riled up with a sudden awareness of blood running through the veins.

This understanding is used with tantalising precision throughout, the well loved soundtrack teased at us in tiny increments, original clips intercut with live action of the aged characters, to engulf us in memory, whilst standing side by side with the characters. This merging of the two assists the audience to come together with the characters, we are never allowed to forget about the content of the first film and are reminded throughout of the goings on in the first Trainspotting, and how although the characters have aged, the harrowing memories and experiences forgone have timelessly stayed with them. In one scene in particular when they return to the ‘great outdoors’ and we are flooded with the memories of Tommy (Kevin McKidd), and baby Dawn. Boyle does this, whilst also creating context and tension in the current film, by having the characters consider their role in the fates of these two from T1, a sign of empathy that goes ignored in the first film. This also goes to show that the characters have genuinely matured, and possessed the reflexive capacity that may only come from one who has decided to choose life.

The only real segment of T1 that Boyle indulges in is choose life, with a spritely modern rendition of the passage. When viewing it in the trailer I did think that it would turn into a pop culture rehash, but again it is the context that it is used in the film that pulled it off.

The new soundtrack itself is riddled with oldies, whom take the lions share of run time, with the likes of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Clash, Blondie and Queen, mixed with contemporary artists The Rubberbandits, Wolf Alice, Young Fathers, Shows the dedication to the mix of old and new, whilst primarily aiming to please the mature audience.

The difference between T2 and any other sequel is both the mind-set of the filmmaker, and the respect by that filmmaker, for the original viewer. These two things are key to why films of late, which should have gone down in history as beloved sequels, or prequels, shelved with pride in the collective box set, have been scorned and cast aside by original viewers out of sheer insult or boredom, personally I find myself struggling to mention The Hobbit in fear that someone may watch it if reminded about its existence. There was nothing of the kind in T2. A small disclaimer, I was born on the year of the original release and so my viewing platform is skewed about 10 years. However I do feel that I am an ‘almost original’ as I had watched it when I was a teen and had loved it since, and so view it in relatively the same perspective and the classical viewer. As I was saying, Boyle has taken great pride in creating the film for the simple purposes of entertaining himself and his audience. He knows what the audience has been longing for, the same vibrant, eccentric, experimental joyride that he has always delivered, but with 20 years of build up behind it.

The two decades have been evidently packed with visual ideas, as the variety of shots was phenomenal. Each scene filled to the brim with interesting angles and camera trickery, (including, in my eyes, the first successful use of a go pro shot in cinema to date). This, along with several POV shots from phones and CCTV cameras, worked well in comparison to other less successful uses (think first season Peep Show), is because the shots do actually blend in with the professional camera clips, you just accept it as a regular old clip and can move on without noticing it to stand out. I found myself to be in constant awe of the bountiful scape of shots and the exquisite use of them. It was utterly crammed and I loved every frame.

As much as I have praised the originality and lack of conforming to modern film problems, it is no without fault. Be sure to try to spot the money flow, a fancy new tracksuit you’re wearing Renton (Ewan McGregor), quite the refreshing beer there Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and oh my, I never noticed how very attractive Edinburgh really is. Alongside this there is the odd cringe worthy pop culture reference, the pick of the pile must be the bad photo. ‘Delete that now’, ‘no I’m putting this straight on my twitter profile’ repertoire, maybe they’re looking for this to be nostalgic in 20 years time? Aside from that the use of current technology was effective as they did it either for a reason in relation to the story, or used as a filming technique.

All in all my opinion on T2 is in high regard, mostly on its own merit as a film itself and also on the fact of it being a genuinely exiting sequel, maybe the film industry will take heed of this and produce unique exciting films, regardless of their continuing themes. I’m actually vaguely hopeful of the next year for motion picture, despite them trying to ruin it with another Pirates of the Caribbean.

 

Review Frankenstein, Black Eyed Theatre, Greenwich Theatre by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Anyone who is anyone at least knows the main premises of the classic, Frankenstein. Depicted over the years from the original novel in films, television, even costume at Halloween by the kids that knock on your door asking for mounds of sugar.

This is what makes this production such a challenge – how do you take something so well known and turn it into something that feels fresh, new and still a surprise?

Black Eyed Theatre have gone back to basics – they have taken the story and been true, reverted back to original theatre with keeping to the era, to the proscenium arch, no audience interaction and while this sounds unoriginal, it’s actually refreshing that they haven’t decided to take some modern take or make it some metaphorical twist on the story. Sometimes, keeping to the original is extraordinary in itself.

But while they do this, they still make it original to their company – with only four members of the cast, everyone pitches in – music and sounds are made on stage with instruments, objects and their own body and voices; times when the characters are changing, this leads to a change in instrumentalists and this is done with no pause of hesitance making the doubling up of characters and the atmosphere made by sound seamless.

Each performer (except for Frankenstein) at least has a minimum of two characters to play – there’s a sense of melodrama to this as at times the gestures and characterisation are a little hammed up – this does provide a little comic relief which is helpful in keeping us upbeat and ready for shocks and surprises when we are also being drawn into the deteriorating mental state of Frankenstein but they also play each character very well, letting us forget that they are only a cast of 4.

The highlight for me, as a huge collector of and interest in, is the puppetry. How do you make a huge muscly monster of 6-7ft tall? The National Theatre Saw Benedict Cumberpatch and Johnny Lee Miller in costume and mask created especially for them each, changing the character they played each night and this was a triumph itself. Here, Frankenstein is a full sized puppet, movement and speech only being possible with a minimum of 3 of the performers. Made of rope, it has been made in such a way as to represent his strong muscular form, and with the head with moveable mouth and eyes, he is eerie, frightening and also pulls at your heart strings. One performer providing the simplistic voice, and the others providing soundscapes to represent echo and give a horror atmosphere, we are sucked in and see only a 5th member of the cast, not a puppet.

Frankenstein is clever, truthful to the novel and an inspiring approach to theatre and classic text.