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Showing posts from March, 2016

Only the Brave- Wales Millennium Centre

Note: I saw this performance on the first preview, so there may be changes before the opening night, and this review keeps in mind that the first preview is not always the 'finished product'. 

Only the Brave is a landmark production for Wales Millennium Centre. For the past 10 years it has been a leading touring venue, as well as providing a home for smaller local companies to create work in it's smaller spaces. However it has yet to originate new work on the main stage...until now. In this co-production with the Soho Theatre, Daniel Sparrow Productions and Birdsonng Productions, Only the Brave is a brand new British musical theatre production.

Only the Brave tells the true story of the Airborne division, who in 1943 were recruited, trained and eventually led a crucial part of the D-Day operations. While, as authors Rachel Wagstaff, Steve Marimon and Matthew Brind, note some events have been abridged somewhat, the musical seeks to tell their story. The men we meet are, as …

Tom the Tom Jones Musical

I may be a disgrace to my people, I know nothing about Tom Jones. Despite having worked in Pontypridd for a year and living two doors down from a Tom Jones impersonator, what I know about Tom Jones is well, limited. In that sense it was great to hear some of the 'real' story behind the man, the trousers and the hair.

The show itself is also as Welsh as, well the man himself. I really enjoyed the expertly written dialogue that could have been a verbatim piece from any South Wales valleys town. Getting the right pitch between authentic regional dialogue and sounding like a parody is a difficult thing. But the tone was perfect, I knew these people, I knew the way they talked. Mike James certainly knows both his setting and his subject matter, and that aspect of the book is crafted perfectly.

Unfortunately I felt something lacking in the narrative overall. I think that there just wasn't enough drama in Tom's story to engage with. By the end I wanted more, I wanted to know…

Review: St Nicholas (The Other Room, Cardiff)

There is something to be said for some good old fashioned storytelling in theatre. The kind that sits an audience and does simply that; tells a story. While I love theatre that plays with form, stylistic theatre and sometimes even big flashy theatre, I think we sometimes forget that what we're after is a story. And Conor McPherson's St Nicholas gives us exactly that, in a deceptively simple manner.

On the surface the pitch about theatre critics and vampires might have seemed a bit out there from McPherson in 2007, when he was riding the wave of success from The Weir. However it's a great thing that someone decided there was probably something in that combination. What is in it is a great tale of questioning life choices, and veering towards a darker side of things.

We meet The Man, a theatre critic we are quickly told. A large, slightly bombastic man, who is clearly enjoying the spoils his job has offered-wine, fine dining, money and power. This is a man who has a lot of p…

Footloose (Tour)

Footloose is the best 80s dance film. Better than Dirty Dancing. There. I've said it. I stand by it. I love an 80s dance film in general (except Dirty Dancing, I really hate that film) but Footloose is unashamedly my favourite. Added to that an early 00's pop favourite in Gareth Gates and Footloose is the making of an excellent, entertaining night out.

David Ellis for Boom Ents

I love Footloose. I love the film and I have seen the stage version more times than I should probably admit. And for someone who is admittedly fairly snobby about film to stage/jukebox musicals that's saying something. Did I mention I just really love an 80s dance film?

The current touring version (Directed by Racky Plews) is a slightly altered version to the original that toured in 204 (is it that long ago already?) with altered orchestrations-including actor-musicians, and new choreography. And it looks better than ever.

David Ellis for Boom Ents

The story, in case you've never encountered it,…

Meet Fred: Review

It was time to Meet Fred last night. The latest offering from Hijinx Theatre, Fred is a puppet, except he doesn’t know that at first. He soon does though, much to his shock. What follows is a clever, touching and at times hilarious look at life and the obstacles it throws at us (literally at times) through the eyes of two foot high puppet Fred.

Meet Fred is the result of a collaboration and intensive workshop training with Blind Summit. A company that coined the term ‘Extreme puppeteering’ to describe what they do, and it’s easy to see why. Based on the Japanese Bunraku (three man puppetry) Blind Summit coined it for the extremes of emotion that it illicit, but a fitting description for the work the puppeteers do. The puppet operated by Dan McGowan at the head (and voice) along with Morgan Thomas and Craig Quat operating legs and arms. Fred himself is a plain white puppet, expressionless which adds to the experience of ‘projecting’ on to him that becomes so integral to the piece. Re…