The hit West End comedy with its unforgettable characters from the landmark novel and Oscar-winning film are brought to life on the stage of Cardiff’s, New Theatre.
Based on the novel by Charles Webb and the 1968 film, it concerns Mrs Robinson’s played by Catherine McCormack, seduction of young middle class rebel without a cause character Benjamin Braddock, played by Jack Monaghan. Who is struggling to come to terms with his future, worrying that his family expect too much from him, and feels thoroughly disillusioned. However, when seduced by long-term family friend the sensational Mrs Robinson his boredom takes a new direction. And when he has a date with Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine, he finally finds some meaning to his life, a meaning that Mrs Robinson opposes!
There is no denying that since it was first written and later immortalised on the big screen the world has drastically changed, which is reflected both in Terry Jonson’s adaptation and Lucy Bailey’s direction of the story for the stage. In no way does it shy away from the prejudices of that time, and in doing so gives the audience a sense of progress that we as a society have made in regards to sexism. Yet at the same time it gives you pause for thought in relation to how little progress we’ve made in some areas too – especially our ability to communicate with those around us. This theme in the play gives a great sense of amusement and laughter for the audience, especially when touching on the idea of a ‘generation gap’ in scenes between Ben and his Dad. As well as a much-needed sense of relevance, as we now live in a world where such dalliances have become the norm albeit not always outwardly accepted by those around us. Yet the idea that young people see a different future to their parents, but struggle to communicate that future, is still very much relevant albeit not as new as it was in the 60s.
However, to pull off Charles Webb’s original novel, which is a thing of beauty, takes a cast of supreme talent to pull it off. Unfortunately on this occasion, Bailey has failed to assemble such a cast; there was a lack of chemistry between the two leads and the attempt to bring emotional ballast to the piece in the second half by bulking up the role of Mrs Robinson’s daughter, Elaine, played by Emma Curtis. Turned The Graduate from being a dark, funny and beautiful satire of suburbia into a thin story about a kid who feels unsatisfied with his life, chucks his chances away and emerges relatively unscathed at the end.
From the opening we have questions, through the watching of the movie we gain context on those questions and will probably form our own opinion, but no answers. Few can have the gut to attempt such a feat let alone tell their story successfully.
My Cousin Rachel is a Gothic mystery, though not like many, due to it’s ambiguity. It is a tale of treachery, love and how there are secrets that people carry and sometimes you will never know them.
The movie opens with voice over from our main character Philip (Sam Claflin) asking the questions that will drive the movie and establishing his backstory. He grew-up being adopted by his cousin Ambrose and living a very happy life. When he grows up he leaves for Italy, leaving Philip alone. He writes to him, telling him that he’s met a woman named Rachel and have gotten married, through time he also writes that he’s getting ill. One letter arrives though, saying that she is the cause of his illness and he needs help. Philip goes to Italy but when he arrives Ambrose is dead and Rachel has left the estate. Philip is certain that Rachel killed him and vows revenge, however it is said and confirmed in the death certificate that he died of a brain tumour which caused delirium. Philip doesn’t accept it and prepares his home to be a trap for Rachel.
However when she does arrive it is followed by Philips plans not quite going as he intended and her melting away of all expectations. She is pretty, charming and humorous. Philip, who has spent such little company with women before, is no match for such charm. Suddenly he is telling his godfather (Ian Glen) and God-sister (Holiday Grainger) of all her fine qualities.
Rachel Weiz as Rachel is able to display this character as so many things. Instantly full of life and likeable, sad and grieving, but also flash hints of possible sinister intentions. It is in these little moments, that amount to a glance here and there and certain notes in her voice that make you guess that there might indeed be something else.
The movie is all about details, the binding of legal contracts, a phrase a character says, a precious possession that is worth so much. The words and phrases crystallize throughout and after the watching, becoming symbols of the story itself.
If you like you movies to be simple and at the end wrapped up in a nice bow then this is not the movie for you. If you like to be challenged, even a little bit then I believe you’ll be intrigued and drawn into this world of doubt and misconception.
It is indeed a rough magic. A clever, witty, kind sort of rough magic woven through this production of one of Shakespeare’s stranger tales.
Ambulating through Thompson’s Park, a space for the imagination if ever there was one, this charming, funny and imaginative version enchants us all.
Dull and colourless as this audience is in its raincoats and wellies, we provide a suitably leaden contrast to the spangles and sequins of the cast. Blue against the green leaves, gold against the grey bark. Barque. The puns are smart, the lines are clear. Nothing is left unexplained, untranslated, misinterpreted. It is all done with a competent amusement.
It is a marvellous interpretation. A 1930s cruise, flamboyant characters and the utter bonkersness which this Company does so brilliantly.
One of the things it also does so well is multi-casting. The comedy trio of Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban is just joyous. I absolutely love them – and this audience laughs back into their contorted faces. The three of them swap between roles smartly and provide that bit of Shakespearean slapstick we need between the heavy bits. Caliban is familiar, he reminds me of Moriarty, all cute and smarmy. Handsome as the glorious Miranda’s short (you will have to see it to get that) lover, he is captivating all round.
As is Prospero. A difficult and lengthy role which is delivered with assurance and terrific suavity. The compere of the evening, he is maitre d’ of his Island and of us all. He is appropriately edgy and advances on us loitering observers with confidence, making us fearful of his abilities. His soft voice persuades us to come closer, he is in charge.
Now. Ariel. The singer. The dishy sprite with the admiring backing group. Another tricky role and well played. As are all the roles. The exaggerated expressions, the songs, the comic timing, the acting, is all delightful. There is magic here. There is nothing not to like here. Shakespeare would’ve loved it, loved the inclusiveness of it all, loved the weather it played out in – can we ever control anything, anyone, however powerful we think we are?
We trip into the performance on bright blue boats and trip out wishing Prospero well in his new life. We have understood this complex play in a way we never have before, we have been entertained, educated and included.
Go see – take a lightweight, foldable chair & check the weather forecast as you may need a hat; sensible shoes are de rigeur.
Helen Joy for Get the Chance, 3rd Act Critics.
Photography – Jorge Lizalde- Studio Cano
TAKING FLIGHT THEATRE COMPANY
THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare
Director- Elise Davison
Designer- Becky Davies
Composer and Musical Director- Dan Lawrence
Costume Maker- Angharad Gamble
BSL consultants- Jean St Clair and Daryl Jackson
Milton Lopes- Ariel
Dean Rehman- Prospero
Stephanie Back- Miranda
Sian Owens – Antonia/ ensemble
Paul Henshall- Gonzalo
Sami Thorpe- BSL Dance Captain
Sam Bees- Alonso/ Stephano
Ioan Gwyn- Ferdinand/ Caliban
Huw Blainey- Sebastian/ Trinculo
Shannon Davison- ensemble
Lauren Burgess- ensemble
Audio trailer- English
Audio trailer Welsh
*Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07785 947823 to discuss any access requirement. Touch tours and BSL introductions are available by arrangement.
Supported by Arts Council of Wales
Unless otherwise stated next to date, follow this link below for tickets.
Taking Flight Theatre Company (TFTC) was formed by Beth House and Elise Davison in 2008. Beth met Elise whilst working on a youth theatre project in South Wales. Having worked extensively together since then on a freelance basis, they decided to make it official and set up Taking Flight Theatre Company. Our aim with this company is to work with groups of people who have traditionally been underrepresented in theatre, film and television, and to make fully accessible and integrated theatre for all ages. Taking flight Theatre Company regularly tour to some of the most gorgeous open spaces across Wales (and occasionally England) with beautifully realised Shakespearean adventures every summer. TFTC have also led on a Welsh Government initiative tackling Disability Hate Crime for the last 3 autumns- reaching over 9,000 young people in the last 3 years. TFTC also perform festival and street theatre pieces during the summer. You’ve Got Dragons is their first production especially developed for theatres and professional and community performance spaces.
Taking Flight Theatre Company have an integrated casting policy which goes hand in hand with their belief in creating fully accessible and integrated theatre- employing the best creative talent regardless of visible and invisible abilities. Our philosophy reaches out to performers who might traditionally have been overlooked by mainstream theatre, and as such they often employ disabled, D/deaf and sensory impaired performers, placing positive disabled role models centre stage.
Follow us at: @takingflightco
Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Takingflightco/
Selection of cast biographies
Following 4 years of touring theatre across Wales with various companies (Arad Goch, Bara Caws, Mess up the Mess), Ioan went on to study a Masters in Classical Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Since graduation he has performed in a variety of classical plays such as Volpone, Cymbeline and a one-off performance in Shakespeare’s Globe of an unearthed play by Thomas Jordan, Tricks of Youth.
Aside from performing Richard III at The Tower of London, this is Ioan’s first outdoor theatre tour, and he looks forward to the inevitable performance in the rain!
Paul trained at Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre.
He has worked extensively in theatre, and his TV credits include; Dr Dean West: Holby City, Paul Ball: I’m With Stupid, Michael Scant: A Thing Called Love, Ollie Beresford: Casualty, David Hobbs: Playing the Field, all for BBC. Prankster: Off Their Rockers – Blue Badge Special, ITV
Paul was the first disabled person in the country to gain a qualification in stage combat from the British Academy of Dramatic Combat, and in 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University for services to acting and the promotion of disabled actors.
Paul is also a trained and registered Hypnotist, specialising in confidence, stage fright and phobias, and also performs comedy stage hypnosis shows
Young Critic Jonathan Evans used Spice Time Credits to access this performance at Chapter cinema. He earned the Time Credits reviewing for Get the Chance.
“What is a man? If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet.
4 / 5
The Red Turtle is the kind of movie that doesn’t get made often. A movie that exists, sure of what it is and never attempts to explain itself.
I couldn’t even tell you what the “target demographic” for the movie is. It’s an animated movie, typically for children, but there’s nothing cute or funny happening, nothing scary or brutal either so not specifically for adults. Could this just be a movie for people?
The plot for this movie is so minimal. Man wakes on a shore and finds that he is stranded on an island. What does he do then? Survive and try to get back to civilisation. He tries building a raft but it keeps getting destroyed by a large red turtle (hence the title). This leads to other things and eventually he is joined by a woman and then a son comes along.
This movie exists without any spoken words of dialogue, only movements and images. The lead gives off the occasional huff and puff and a scream here and there, but no full words. This means that the visuals have to ring with absolute clarity, whatever the Man is doing or where he is has to be immediately obvious. Without the dialogue it must fall on the sound and music to keep us engaged on the audio level. Every swish of the waves, footsteps on sand or rock is perfectly clear and adjusted to the right level. Laurent Perez Del Mar delivers an emotional and at other times ethereal score that infuses itself so well with the images onscreen that the two harmonise in the most beautiful way.
The drawing style, particularly with the people, is more European. Like the works of Herge, thick, clear lines with black dots for eyes and vivid colours. The animation is constantly smooth and on-model. It is the backgrounds that have sharpest rendering to them, we are able to see every leaf on the trees and plants that grow on the ground as well as seeing way into the background.
This movie, I admit, a challenge to write for. It is so simple, to experience the product is the most thrilling part but to deeply describe it is indeed the challenge. It simply operates at such a minimal, smooth passe.
Who is this movie for? What was it’s purpose? Well it was beautiful and technically very impressive. But who exactly do I think the marked for it is and how to promote it? But maybe we don’t always need that from this medium that can deliver us so much. Maybe sometimes we are allowed to sit back and see and hear a journey and simply be moved by it.
Truth be told, I was a bit apprehensive that my 3 year old would be too young to get much out of the new Dinosaur Babies exhibition at the National Museum, Cardiff. He’s not fanatical about them like many of his little chums, and would really prefer to play diggers than dino’s given the choice, but in an effort to support the learning he’s been doing on dinosaurs in nursery, I arranged a family visit anyway.
I need not have worried. Even after a bout of tears in the foyer on spotting a staff member wearing the world’s least scary dinosaur onesie, he was quickly distracted and won over by the variety of interactive exhibits on offer. The content of the exhibition is displayed using a range of tactile models, large images with captions, real and model skeletons, an animatronic dinosaur and traditional displays in cabinets with short easy-to-read descriptions. Many of the real ‘show-stopping’ skeleton exhibits are housed in low glass cases that can be viewed all the way around, making it accessible for little ones and easier for everyone to get a good view even at busy periods.
As a family we’re still pretty new to this type of educational, family experience and museums have moved on apace since our childhood, so I chuckled when my husband told our son not to touch one of the egg models which was screaming out for little fingers to pat and stroke it, but there were plenty of helpful staff around to reassure and encourage children to touch the exhibits – and even to ride on one of the dinosaurs!
Working as a team to dismantle and reassemble a large section of a leg bone, proved a popular activity with the little ones giving the grown-ups additional time to browse the nearby cabinets and learn about some of the most rare and exciting finds like ‘Baby Louie’ who had scientists confused until the first example of a new species of giant oviraptor was discovered as recently as 2007. The highlight for me though were the three real dinosaur eggs in which you can still clearly see the fragile bones of the unhatched animals inside.
The highlight for our little one (and most of the younger visitors there), was most definitely the opportunity to play ‘palaeontologist’ for the morning. Sporting his safety goggles, he whiled away at least half an hour digging in the large pit hunting for bones and eggs, then joining in with other children carefully brushing away the ‘earth’ to uncover their finds. The activity stations at the end of the exhibition area are perfect for very young children, and we spent a happy hour or so counting dinosaur eggs, practicing letter recognition with the magnetic letters and doing the large dinosaur jigsaw puzzles on the board.
The exhibition really lives up to the claim that it is ‘family friendly’ and it genuinely manages to achieve that tricky balance of appealing to all ages and levels of interest in the subject, so even if like me you have family members that can best be described as ‘can’t read, won’t read’ don’t be put off giving this exhibition a try. I would seriously consider going again with my nephews who are 10 and 7, and know that my son would be really excited to go again. Even better is the fact that it’s free for the under 4s (yet there is plenty that appeals to them), and with a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children up to 17) at only £17 it represents superb value for money.
Dinosaur Babies Exhibition, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
27 May–5 November 2017, 10am-4.45pm (last entry 4pm)
This is a one woman show performed by the great South African actress Janet Suzman. Lasting just over 2 hours it is a tour de force, telling the compelling and poignant story of an elderly Jewish woman looking back over her long life. It spans much of the 20th century, from a hand to mouth childhood in a Ukrainian village up to a comparatively affluent retirement divided between Florida and Israel. Encompassing Stalinist oppression, the Warsaw ghetto under the Nazis, escape to Palestine on board the infamous SS ‘Exodus’, and then resettlement in America, she tells of her family, lovers, husbands, children and grandchildren. It is a story punctuated by loss and grief, as well as love and redemption.
If the aim of theatre is to educate then this play certainly achieves that, as we learn so much listening to this character’s story. But that’s not to say that this is a dry didactic piece. It is entertaining too, drawing us in with the wonderfully engaging power of the story. Written by the award-winning American playwright Martin Sherman the writing is never dull, often moving and sometimes amusing, a narrative that carries the audience along on the colourful and eventful journey through Rose’s life.
As for Janet Suzman’s performance it is an impressive feat for any actor, never mind someone of her age, to perform a monologue of this length and power with such apparent ease and charisma. We were quite simply blown away by it, and it won a richly deserved standing ovation.
A mention should also be made of the director Richard Beecham, as well as the design, lighting and sound team (Simon Kenny, Chris Davey and Adrienne Quartly), whose various contributions combined to make this into a memorable piece of theatre.
The National Museum of Cardiff has launched a new exhibition, Dinosaur Babies (27 May – 5 November 2017) as part of Wales’ Year of Legends celebrations, which allows visitors of all ages the opportunity to experience the world of dinosaur family life through their eggs, nests and embryos.
There are three real dinosaur embryos on display within eggs as well as replica dinosaur eggs and nests collected from all over the World, from major plant and meat-eating dinosaur groups. Many of which were discovered in China, are on loan from America and have never been publicly displayed in the UK before. The exhibition also features a ‘Big Dig Pit’ to let kids become palaeontologists as well as a play area with toy dinosaurs, cuddly dinosaurs, dinosaur books, jigsaws on the wall etc. There’s also a dressing up section!
The museum curators clear achieved their goal of creating an exhibition that is not only child friendly but is suitable for all ages given the staggering range of activities and the wealth of information available to visitors. From fake eggs that the children can touch, to moving dinosaurs they can interact with, and picture and video displays. Whereas the breath-taking skeletons are brought to life through the wonderful illustrations of Luis V. Rey whose use of a rainbow pallet helps us to imagine the creatures we are walking amongst throughout the exhibition. You could easily spend up to 2 hour here exploring your inner palaeontologist.
Without a doubt Dinosaur Babies will enthral and educate visitors of all ages, there is something for everyone and will certainly come in handy for those studying dinosaurs in school! Also given that it’s not a huge place, children have the opportunity to run wild like their newfound dinosaur friends!
The Dinosaur Babies exhibition is open from 10am – 4.45pm with last entry at 4pm. Tickets can be purchased at the Museum or via ticketlineUK.com (£7 adults, £5 concessions, £3 children, £17/£13 families). Children 3 years and under can enter for free.
Based on the hit TV show of the Nineties, Baywatch became a worldwide phenomenon, serving up sun, semi-naked beauties and very silly storylines. The big screen adaptation starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron is simply two hours of pure entertainment.
Everything about Baywatch the movie is big, brash and bombastic. The action sequences are huge, the soundtrack is awesome, and the people are ludicrously good looking. There is no escaping from the fact that at times the whole move particularly the storyline itself is not only completely ludicrous but also highly unoriginal. Basically Johnson character Mitch find packets of drugs on the beach and throw in a missing city official and unexplained yacht fire, its clear that there’s a larger criminal scheme in play. However, it is the caustic interplay between Mitch and Matt played by Efron who has to earn his place within this beautiful body of red clad lifeguards a much-needed spark of tension.
Praise has to be given to screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift as Baywatch keeps the spirit of the original TV series, which ran from 1989 to 2001, largely intact in it’s porting over many of the original characters. Take the character Mitch being portrayed by Johnson, originated by David Hasselhoff, is the superhero-like, fearless leader of these do-gooder lifeguards. Whereas Kelly Rohrbach character CJ is the classic Baywatch bombshell we would expect, as is Summer played by Alexander Daddario, although the film sells her somewhat as the girl next door. Ilfenesh Hadera character, Stephanie, is simply depicted as being nothing more than Mitch’s right-hand woman. Whereas Zac Efron character Matt Brody with his cocky and brash attitude simply throws the group’s professional camaraderie into the loop, as he needs to learn a thing or two about being a team player.
Baywatch is ridiculously entertaining especially each time Mitch gives calls Matt the name of another boy band, however, it is Johnson delivery that cracks like a whip ensure the joke stays fresh. It may not stand the test of time well, as long as your not expecting to see the next best picture winner it is a perfectly acceptable junk food film. You may feel guilty watching it, let alone never thought that in a million years you say the words “I’m going to see Baywatch the movie”, quite simply it is unfiltered escapism.
Click on the link below to listen to an audio review of this production by Karis Clarke.
This was my first outing to Venue Cymru and I wasn’t disappointed. Set on the stunning North Wales coastline the venue was alive with activity. The atmosphere was light and expectation high as several audience members dashed around in habits!
Sister Actis the musical comedy based on the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, and, unless you were living in a convent yourself back in 1992, it is highly unlikely you don’t have some knowledge of the film. (It’s popularity has ensured a regular repeats on TV at least once a year since circa 1995).
The stage version, unlike the film is set in the diva disco era of the 70’s and features original music from ALAN MENKEN, and the general feel of the show has Mowtown vibe that is more than fitting to the outstanding vocal talents of the lead.
But it’s not all about the star in this show. Deloris Van Cartier is a fantastic character full of witty one liners, side ways glances and comical physicality that Alexander Burke pulls off admirably. However the ensemble made the show for me. The combined talents of the supporting cast were superior. Acting, singing dancing and playing a variety of musical instruments on set allowed for a fluidity which you can sometimes loose with larger productions. However this cast owned the stage, literally, they knew every inch. Their management of the stage movement is a credit to Revel Horwood’s direction. The scene changes were flawless and were choreographed to perfection.
Credit should also be given to the set design, the main stay an impressive church interior yet with the cleaver use of lighting and props it easily faded into the background and made the transition between church, nightclub, street, police station and back to church with very little effort.
The musicality was, as one of the songs repeats, ‘Fab -U- Lous Baby,’ unfortunately this was also a slight disappointment for me as none of the songs from the movie were featured. So although the end of the play saw the majority of the full house clapping and on their feet I am sure if “I will follow him” had been played the roof would have lifted. However the original score was witty, befitting and more than enjoyable. It’s easy to see how Alan Menken has Oscars under his belt.
Stand out moments of the show were any time the “gangsters” featured. (They stole the show a little bit from the nuns). …..Joe Vetch (playing Eddie the sweaty police officer who saves the day) singing “I could be that guy ……Sister Mary Robert played by Alice Stokoe, who had a stunning voice singing a very Disney esq type song called “The Life I Never Had”…….. and the scene when the Sisters stand together for Deloris.
All in all there was nothing not to like, the show delivered everything thing it promised. One particular moment I found touching was on the final bow Alexandra Burke broke the fourth wall and you saw her thank the audience. She genuinely seemed to appreciate the standing ovation they received and this shone through as she skipped off stage laughing with co cast not as Deloris but as herself and within those few seconds, in my eyes I saw true star quality.
So unless you have lead in your feet and no soul in your heart I defy you not to enjoy this 4 stars production. Unfortunately for North Wales the runs ends on May 27th but you can still catch performances around the UK up until the 3rd September check www.sisteractuktour.co.uk for more details.
Starring ALEXANDRA BURKE and Directed and choreographed by Strictly CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD, Set and Costume MATTHEW WRIGHT (based on TheTouchtone Motion Picture “Sister Act”)
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