Tag Archives: James Briggs

Review Return of The Grumpy Old Women- Fifty Shades Of Beige, St Davids Hall by James Briggs

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Returning after their sell-out Spring 2015 tour the Grumpy Old Women are back to share their Grumpy tales and tips with the nation. Award-winning comedian and original star of Grumpy Old Women Jenny Éclair is accompanied by fellow recruits Susie Blake (star of Mrs Brown’s Boys) and Kate Robbins (Singer and star of Casualty). Before I go on with the review, however, I must mention I cannot go into too much detail as to the tales told with my review because as Jenny Éclair said “What goes on in Grumpy club stays in Grumpy club”.
The Grumpy Old Women
Landing at St David’s Hall in their shed from outer space the grumpy old women, spacewalk onto the stage complete with space helmets and uniforms to a momentous applause from the audience, unsurprisingly the audience was mainly made up of women, with just a few men dotted about the auditorium. Given that I was possibly one of the youngest in the audience and being male I still felt as though I was able to relate to the topics they discussed – mind you having a Mum the same age as the Grumpy Old Women did help!
The Grumpy Old Women talked about a wide range of subjects that any person was able to relate to including a guide to nagging, how to get a roof rack put on a car without your husband moaning, dancing at weddings and pole dancing. Props littered the garden set and were used to brilliant effect during the show and even included a gigantic pair of pants and a BBQ.
The show is very clever in that it can be talking about a topic and then the lighting will change and you are plunged into a mini sketch. The sketches highlight the brilliant acting skills of all the Grumpy Old Women. The amazingly funny script really worked well for the stars and left the audience in stitches and in my case tears streaming down my face. I really like the fact that all of the comedy was good clean fun with very little use of bad language. When the language was used however it was delivered with fantastic comic timing.
The second half of the show sees them return to the James Bond theme which sparked a debate into why there has not yet been a female Bond. With the current news of Daniel Craig’s decision not to carry on playing Bond there is no better time than now to consider the possibilities of a female actress playing Bond and the three Grumpy women are obviously showcasing their talents to play Jane Bond.
For me there were two stand out moments in the show that were utterly hilarious, the first of these was when team Grumpy took part in ‘Grumpy Come Dancing’ based on the hit BBC show which had the audience in hysterics especially with Susie Blake’s pole dancing performance. The second stand out moment for me was the posh version of The Jeremy Kyle show, the writing was amazing and Kate Robbins impersonation of Jeremy Kyle was brilliant and even mimicked the way he lies on the step and goes up close to the faces of the people on the show. The content of the Jeremy Kyle sketch is also fantastically funny due to it being based around a mother complaining ‘My son will not practice the cello’.
At the end of the evening the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation. Anyone who watches this show is guaranteed to have a fabulous night and will most definitely be leaving with an aching jaw from laughing so much. This really is a must see show that should not be missed and is most definitely the best night out I have had in a long while.

Return of The Grumpy Old Women- Fifty Shades Of Beige is currently on a UK wide tour and all of the dates are available via this link- http://www.grumpyoldwomenlive.com/

Review Richard Herring St David’s Hall, Cardiff


I must admit I knew very little about Richard Herring so didn’t know what to expect when attending his stand up show at St David’s Hall in Cardiff. Richard Herring is a 48 year old father and husband.

Herring begins his routine talking of the night his daughter was born and the hours afterwards seeing his wife in pain and giving birth. Herring does say that he doesn’t want to be one of the comedians that has just become a father and solely talks about that topic, however, this does form much of the material for the first half of the show. He does briefly talk about life pre marriage and the birth of his daughter which was funny and which was more relevant to my age group but on times was a little too explicit. However, the older members of the audience found it very funny especially on the topic of a possible affair with a life-like robot similar to that of Gemma Chan from ‘Humans’ at some point in the distant future.

In the second half of his show Herring moves away from family stories as he begins to think about the grammatical correctness of his mother in law’s door mat which welcomes people to their house with ‘Grand Children Spoilt Here’. His deconstructing of the lyrics of Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed was very well received with the audience. One feeling you really get from the show is that Richard Herring is extremely proud of his family and this is very much part of his act.

He confesses multiple times that his life has been totally focused on his career and since having a wife and child his priorities have changed and questions how we as adults can reach pure happiness like that felt by a child and whether it is even achievable at all. He also talks about how at the time of the moment of pure happiness we are too busy thinking about what could go wrong rather than really thinking about how important this moment is. Herring tells a story of how a three year old child walking on a beach in a hot country eating a Cornetto is as good as it can get for them at that moment and yet within a matter of hours they will forget the experience and may never feel that happiness again. All very philosophical!

When considering Herring’s performance and routine one can easily describe him as delivering comedy that makes his audience laugh out loud as well as ponder life’s big questions. Herring also talks about how he may not be as famous such as his friend Steve Coogan but seems very happy with his lot. It does encourage you to reflect no matter who we are or how successful we become there is always going to be someone doing that bit better than you and it is also important to remember that there may well be others looking up at you.

This show is not going to leave you with an aching stomach from laughing but will leave you with a smile on your face and a greater sense of appreciation for the smaller things in life that you may well have taken for granted before.

Review Film and Comic Con, Cardiff by James Briggs

Every year the Cardiff International Arena changes from a concert venue to a top convention hall crammed with swarms of TV and Film fans attending the Film and Comic Con, Cardiff. Converging on the centre of Cardiff is an assorted crew of Sherlock’s with Deerstalkers, Marvel and DC superheroes, Disney princesses, Imperial Storm troopers following Darth Vader and assorted geeks decked out in shirts of their favourite shows. There was even an appearance from the Mystery Incorporated gang and their Mystery Machine featuring Scooby Doo.
Cc3S4fcWAAIsPL1.jpg-largeWhen visiting Comic Con you come to realise that Cosplaying has become a central part in the overall experience. The near-compulsory cosplay code can mostly mean that if you choose not to dress up you can stand out more than someone wearing the costumes. Many celebrities often use this to their advantage by dressing up in a costume of their choice and walking the floors of the Comic Con without being noticed.

Angela Landsbury portrays Jessica Fletcher in MURDER SHE WROTE: SOUTH BY SOUTWEST.

From panels on Doctor Who and Cosplay showcases, to Thunderbird action figures, the comic con welcomes with open arms that which the rest of the world might think a little bizarre. The hall is crammed packed with stall after stall of different shops selling all sorts of collectables. A personal favourite of mine was the autograph section that sold the autographs of every actor or actress you could think of. Everywhere you looked on the autograph stalls there were famous names with Daniel Craig, Ian Mckellen and Benedict Cumberbatch to name but a few. I decided to opt for Angela Lansbury and Jim Dale. Two very big idols of mine.
IMG_0320It never ceases to amaze me with the lengths some people go to create amazingly accurate costumes from famous films, games and television shows. I knew that it was important to participate in this also so my brother and I decided to go as different incarnations of Doctor Who from the hit BBC series. I was dressed as Peter Capaldi with the striking red lined coat and done up shirt button and my brother dressed as his favourite Doctor David Tennant with a Fez added for good measure. One of the star guests at the Comic Con was Jemma Redgrave or as Doctor Who fans may know her Kate Lethbridge Stewart. As her fans gathered to have their photo taken there was an obvious sense of community about the event with many people talking to each other and having photos of their own taken. I even met a fellow incarnation dressed as Matt Smith’s Doctor.
James and Jemma Redgrave
With something for every fan of Film, TV, Gaming and Comic’s there is no reason why you would not want to go and in the words of Shrek “Let your freak flag fly” with pride! Although a word of warning you will most definitely be left with a feeling of wanting to have more money to buy all of the things you see.
The next Comic Con Cardiff will be held on the 29th – 30th of October 2016. Get your tickets now to avoid disappointment. They are available at: http://filmandcomicconcardiff.com/

Review Beyond The Barricade, St David’s Hall by James Briggs

At first I must admit I was a little apprehensive about going to see this show because many of the musical numbers being performed on the night I had seen before on stage in venues such as the Wales Millennium Centre and the West End. I was a little skeptical that they would not meet the standard of those performed on the West End and I must admit some of the numbers in the first half did seem to lack some strength, however having said that, you have to remember that they do not have a full ensemble to support them.
The standard of singing was very good and very much appreciated by the St David’s Hall audience and it is because of the quality of the singing and variety of West End songs that the audience stayed captivated for the two and a half hour performance. Beyond the Barricade consists of four musical marvels – David Fawcett, who performs as well as introduces each section of songs, Andy Reiss, who puts the show together and plays keyboard with the band, Rebecca Vere and Katie Leeming who not only have impeccable voices but have all played principal parts and the stage production of Les Miserables but also sang with the ensemble of the film version too.
The show celebrates a wide range of musicals and the first half ranges from the traditional musicals such as Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Carousel and Jesus Christ Superstar finishing with a medley of songs from We Will Rock You, Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia. The highlight of the first half for me was the rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the classic musical Carousel which really did make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
The second half started with The Lion King followed in my personal opinion with one of the best songs of the night ‘Always Look on the Bright side of Life’ from the Monty Python Musical Spamalot. It was a brilliant song that was performed perfectly with added comic timing that left the audience laughing and joining in.
However, the cherry on top of the cake was definitely the musical numbers from Les Miserables, with performances of ‘At the end of the Day, I Dreamed a Dream, On my Own, Bring Him Home, Master of the House and One Day More’. Considering the numbers of cast usually included on the West End production of Les Miserables, the four singers from Beyond The Barricade stepped up to the plate and delivered a powerful and emotional performance which was simply an astonishing and spectacular performance to witness.
Let’s hope that Beyond the Barricade and all its singers are able to continue for many years more and delight us further with their wonderful musical talent and voices.
Beyond The Barricade is currently on a nationwide tour of the UK appearing at a number of different venues. You can view the tour dates via this link to their website: http://www.beyondthebarricade.com/tour

The Museum Critics An Insight into National Museum Cardiff by James Briggs

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants over the next few days, next up Young Critic James Briggs.
Cardiff is continuing to grow enormously as a city and so is its status within Europe. Along with large growth within Cardiff we also have the National Museum continuing to grow, the museum houses some of Wales’ most famous pieces of art ranging from Ivor Davies to dinosaur bones, there is something for everyone. It is therefore particularly important that the museums are providing their visitors with what they want.
On the day we were very fortunate to be given a tour around certain parts of the museum. This was done to assist the members of staff at the museum with feedback on how the exhibits are designed and how it can be made more appealing for the members of the public visiting. We found when doing this it is in fact very difficult to come up with a wide range of criticisms, this mainly due to the fact that there is a large age range that must be catered for when people visit the museum; primarily young children and families and the older generation. Both of these age groups have very different needs and expect to see different things when visiting an art gallery or museum. It is this gap that needs to be bridged to ensure each and every person that visits the museum experiences everything they expected and more.
By attending an event such as this one you are given a unique insight into the world behind the museum doors and what it is like creating unique displays and galleries to really show off the amazing pieces of art. It was made apparent during the day to us that the job of a designer for a museum art installation is very similar to that of someone who works for the stage with directing and creating scenery for musical shows in theatre. This means that when going to the various parts of the museum today we were able to use our skills and expertise from critiquing musicals and plays to looking at displays and art. Much of what you see when at a museum is simply theatre with the use of lighting and sound effects to stimulate visitor’s senses; the only big difference is however we the public never get to see who created the staging for the artwork to be displayed on.
It will also be very interesting to see the response after Christmas when the new Indiana Jones themed exhibition ‘Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology’ will open for the first time in the UK.
I found it highly interesting today to look at the effects of production companies using the museum for TV programmes and Films such as Doctor Who. We also assessed if this could be used to draw more visitors in to see the exhibits. If this is the case could we be seeing far more interactive exhibitions in the future that follow the theme of the movies and television? Only time will tell.

Review Shrek, WMC by James Briggs

You know something special must be in town when the outside and interior of the Wales Millennium Centre is lit up luminous green. I must admit I was a little apprehensive that I would not enjoy the show and it would be something more suitable for younger children opposed to teenagers but I could not have been more wrong!
The show began with a voice over giving the usual warning to the audience regarding mobile phones but this warning certainly came with an unusual outcome!  The penalty being an ogre breaking wind in your face. It was from this you were able to get a pretty good feel of what you were in for with this musical.
Shrek The Musical is based on the Dreamworks animated film, and takes the audience on a magical and fun adventure with Shrek and his trusty companion Donkey who set off on a quest to rescue Princess Fiona. Their intention is to take her to the evil Lord Farquaad who intends to marry her so he can claim his rightful place on the throne.

Shrek the Musical UK Tour
Shrek the Musical UK Tour

The stage production very cleverly captures everything that was loved about the film. Ranging from the fairy-tale characters, like the gingerbread man who cringes at the thought of losing any of his gumdrop buttons to Peter Pan who is described in the show as being ‘a 30 year old who is in need of a shave’.
It was obvious that Gerard Carey stole the show as the strangely short Lord Farquaad, who had the audience laughing all night as he scuttled around the stage and repeatedly spread his legs, not to mention his entrance song ‘What’s Up, Duloc’ when he was sitting on top of his castle crossing his small legs.
It would be wrong, of course, not to mention the equally brilliant Shrek and Fiona. Shrek is played by Dean Chisnall who brings the well-loved character to life and his voice is so distinctive as that in the film. Fiona is played by the brilliant Bronte Barbe who shot to fame when she competed in the critically exclaimed Andrew Lloyd Webber search for the next Dorothy in ‘Over The Rainbow’. The complimentary pairing of these two characters reaches a whole new level when they sing the song ‘I think I got you beat’, the song is a sing off between them where they battle to prove who has had the worst upbringing before taking it to a whole new level with a competition of who is best at burping and passing wind. It also oddly becomes clear they are made for each other and should be together.
Shrek the Musical UK Tour
Shrek the Musical UK Tour

Another magical pairing in the show is Donkey and the Dragon. The Donkey is played by Idriss Kargbo who did a wonderful job and brought the playfulness and energy that Eddie Murphy brought in the film. Eddie Murphy is an extremely hard act to follow but Idriss Kargbo does it wonderfully. One of the big differences between film and stage is the lack of animation available and so for the show the Dragon was brought to life in the form of a gigantic puppet controlled by four puppeteers. The voice of the Dragon was provided by Candace Furbert who brought an amazing Gospel and Motown feel to the Dragon. The blend between actress off stage and the Dragon onstage was seamless making the audience feel the Dragon was alive and with them in the theatre.
Shrek the Musical
The show is wonderfully written and performed and crammed packed full of great jokes and innuendo that passes right over the heads of younger audience members. A must see Musical that is fun for all the family. Hurry up down to the Wales Millennium Centre because I guarantee you will be left shouting at the end “I am a believer!”.
Shrek The Musical runs at Wales Millennium Centre until Sunday the 10th of January 2016. Tickets can be purchased online at the Wales Millennium Centre website.

Review Cardiff Film and Comic Con by James Briggs

James at comic con
Young Critic James Briggs
Cardiff Film and Comic Convention
The Cardiff Film and Comic Convention is one of the biggest fan events of the year in the UK. Held at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, the weekend long event features the opportunity to meet some of the most well-known stars from the world of film, television, sports, comics and much more.
As the doors open and the mad dash to enter starts you find yourself feeling like a child again with a feeling of awe with the vast space filled with all of its amazing geekiness. You will always find the guests are located at the back of the venue past the merchandise stands and talk areas which greet you on the way in.
The feeling of awe is continued when it comes to meeting the celebrity guest that are attending the comic convention. One of the most exciting parts of a convention on offer are the photo shoots, this year there were many different celebrities but most popular were Carl Weathers of ‘Rocky’ Fame and Dave Prowse who shot to fame by playing the infamous dark lord himself ‘Darth Vader’ in the hit movie franchise ‘Star Wars’.
As well as having photographs taken with celebrity stars you are also able to have a picture in different settings (with the help of course of a green screen). This year I had a picture in the Jurassic Park setting where I was being chased by a deadly dinosaur.
When receiving autographs from the guests, Showmasters also supply photos of the guests showing them in the various television series and films they have appeared in. The public can also take along their own items such as movie props, books, posters and DVD’s to be signed. Showmasters are very accommodating to ensure each and every person at that convention has the best time they possibly can.
Another feature that the Comic Convention offers that draws in many different people is the panels they hold with special guest stars. One of the panels I attended on the day was that of the Doctor Who panel, the special guest stars were Angela Bruce who really got the audience going and had fantastic comic timing, Wendy Padbury and Annette Badland. The three were a great group and really made the audience feel that they were their friends and we had all just dropped in for a chat and a cup of tea.
Dr Who star Angela Bruce
As well as seeing the guest stars and stalls people were also able to take a look at the ‘KITT’ car from the well renowned television series ‘Knight Rider’ that was on display at the entrance to the convention, many people gathered in order to take pictures of this, one of the most famous movie cars.
Knight Riders car KITT
A special mention must be given to all the cosplayers that attended the two days of the convention. Many of the costumes were amazing and the cosplayers are more than happy to pose for photos with you. I happened to come across a very realistic Darth Vader and a gang of fellow Stormtroopers who happily went around threatening fans with lightsabres providing great photo opportunities for all fans.
One final mention must be to the city of Cardiff itself as the people there are always so welcoming to cosplayers and celebrity guests during the Cardiff Film and Comic Convention weekend and also enjoy seeing the movie characters gracing the streets of the city. We look forward to the next Cardiff Film and Comic Convention which will be on 5th and 6th of March 2016.