Review: An Octoroon

It’s been a while since I last posted something! This is partly due to expensive life things happening, and theatre unfortunately having to take a back seat for a while. However, if you do find yourself in that situation, it’s always worth signing up to receive email offers from theatres. I got an email from the National Theatre and they were selling tickets for a tenner to watch the preview of An Octoroon by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins. I’d heard good things during its run at the Orange Tree, so thought – why not?

An Octoroon is an adaptation of the 1859, The Octoroon by Dion Boucicault, a play about a white plantation owner falling for an Octoroon woman (someone who is an eighth black). The play opens with Ken Nwosu, playing a depressed playwright, explaining how he plans to put on an adaptation of The Octoroon to work through his depression. This introduction monologue is engaging, as he speaks candidly to ‘the white people’ in the audience in nothing but his boxers. He then begins to cover his face in white paint with rap music blaring in the background – it is here that we are introduced to the culture-clash theme and willingness to play around with taboos as the actors paint their faces white, black and red throughout.

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Ken Nwosu (left) and Alistair Toovey (right) (Source: National Theatre website)

The transition into the world of the play is truly magical – the lighting dims and we see something white in the darkness – the lights suddenly come up and the stage is covered in white powder and we see Cellist, Kewsi Edman in the centre. As a rule, the lighting and design by Elliot Griggs and Georgia Lowe is stunning-  it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.

We are then introduced to house slaves, Minnie (Vivian Oparah) and Dido (Emmanuella Cole). Through quick-witted dialogue and the energetic persona of Minnie, we establish a brilliant sense of sisterhood as they gossip about everyone on the plantation and joke about white masters sleeping with their slaves – an everyday occurrence it seems. Minnie talks about which white man she would choose to sleep with – this is met with a witty jibe from Dido: “Don’t think you’d have much of a say in the matter”. These women carry the play as they become useful plot devices, building up the world of the plantation.

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Emmanuella Cole playing Dido. (Source: The National Theatre website)

Ultimately, this isn’t a love story, in fact, this adaptation makes the declarations of love between plantation owner, George (Ken Nwosu) and Octoroon, Zoe (Iola Evans) a mockery in its melodramatic delivery. This production explores racial taboos, identity and the horror-esque appearance of depression as the whole play appears to be inside the playwright’s mind. Throughout the play, the playwright’s depression rabbit appears eerily on stage as the lights flicker and sound becomes distorted – this imagery is terrifyingly disturbing, yet intriguing as it appears quite separate from the world of the play, tap dancing between the characters. I was sufficiently shook.

The second acts picks up the action a bit, as George loses the plantation and the slaves have to be sold – including Zoe. Nwosu breaks the fourth wall by bringing the house lights up and instructing the backstage crew to remove the panels from the floor, leaving one in the middle to act as the pedestal for the slave auction. The music is brooding, he simply watches them while they work. We then snap back into the action of the scene as Nwosu craftily plays both George and the evil villain, M’Closky who seeks to own Zoe and the plantation. A fight between the two characters ensues, and we see Nwosu frantically changing costumes as he fights with himself. This section of the play, as well as the fast-paced retelling of Act 4 offers some light relief, which is starkly contrasted later on with a huge projection of the famous image of black lynchings. There’s a stunned silence in the room. The themes from this 1859 play are summed up in this one image, and we’re left speechless.

The lighting, set and use of makeup in this production is simply incredible and are the most memorable elements of the piece. The play itself suffers from a few pacing problems – lamenting on certain scenes at the beginning for far too long, and then racing through the action in Act 4, but ultimately, the theatrical experience as a whole is so visually powerful, you forgive it.

An Octoroon is on till 18 July – BOOK NOW.

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12 Really Useful Things I Learned about Playwriting

Over the last ten weeks, I attended a playwriting course called Write Away, hosted by the wonderful Laura Horton and Vicky Long. This group provided an affordable opportunity to gain useful writing skills, meet other budding playwrights and get advice from a variety of people in the theatre industry. We had directors, critics, producers and theatre makers come in to discuss their experiences and how we could apply them to our work.

Here are a number of things I learned and will bring forward into my future creative endeavours, which I hope other playwrights will find helpful!

  1. Make sure your play has a central dramatic question. Are your characters running away or finding something?

  2. As a character building exercise, think about: What they look like, the way they speak, something significant that’s happened to them and a personality trait they might have. 
  3. Read new plays! Royal Court sell texts for as little as £3, for example. 
  4. Make a list of things that make you passionate – your play should address at least one. 
  5. When writing a short play, structure is everything. You don’t have time to ramble – each line has to serve a purpose. (e.g – furthering the plot or building a relationship) 
  6. Write a list of external and internal changes that can happen to a character and how that can impact their life in the future. 
  7. To get your head around exposition, write three short scenes about the same scenario. In the first, the characters dump all the information of an event that happened prior, in the second, they have different accounts of what happened, and in the third, they disagree about what happened and argue about it. 
  8. What does your character desire and do they subtly show that in your play? 
  9. Don’t set out to please an audience – set out to write good theatre. 
  10. Sometimes you can solve a problem with your play by getting actors to work on it. Moving around a space can really help solve any issues 
  11. When reading a script, get the actors to change places after every scene, that way you can tell if some scenes are too long or busy. 
  12. WE NEED MORE WOMEN IN THEATRE. PERIOD. Part of that is throwing away our self-doubt and telling ourselves that we can write, direct or act in that play.

Now I just need to set aside time each week to write without a group structure behind me – yikes. Wish me luck and send motivation on Twitter please: @TheatreGirl_94

Review: Dust

Yesterday, I braved the “Beast from the East” to watch Milly Thomas’ Dust – a play about mental illness and suicide. When informing people about the content of this play, I was met with questioning frowns: “Why would you want to spend your evening watching that?”

Why would anyone want to see an hour long monologue about a young woman who kills herself?

Dust answers that question.

We are immediately placed into a very small and intimate space on the top floor of the Soho theatre, with only four mirrors and a steel autopsy table. Thomas, the writer and performer of this piece draws us into Alice’s life – or death, as it turns out. Alice has killed herself and is overseeing the events that follow. For the next hour and ten minutes, the audience are nestled inside the warped mind of Alice as she unlocks the thoughts and desires she left unsaid during her life.

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Milly Thomas on the set of Dust. Image Sourced from BritishTheatre.com

Thomas effortlessly introduces Alice’s family and friends as her dead self visits them. We see the vulnerability around family life, and the cracks that appear after something this traumatic occurs. Thomas showcases her incredible talent to shift her body language and voice to depict a conflict between her mother and rich aunt. Contrastingly, we see the deep sorrow and inability to express grief within her father and brother – her brother turning to drugs for comfort instead. What this play so craftily portrays through the fallibility of its characters, is that many of us are ill-equipped to manage mental illness or its aftermath.

We see the depiction of female sexuality, as Alice appears to resent the sex she has with her boyfriend – she describes it as uncomfortable and thinks about ways to kill herself while she endures his pounding, squirming when he touches the scars on her arms. Yet, we see a different side to her as she watches in awe at her best friend having sex when she revisits the flat she used to live in.

The tone shifts are dealt with seamlessly – one minute we’re laughing at the horsey replacement housemate, the next we feel the deceit Alice feels at not being told that her best friend is pregnant. Throughout, Alice is reminded that she can no longer have an influence over her life and others – she cannot fix this. This message prevails throughout the piece as Alice wishes to fix the situations that go on around her, but is left feeling helpless.

The ending is perhaps the most shocking as we are forced to watch her death – lights flash and her body convulses on the table as paramedics attempt to revive her. The play closes with the same statement it opens with: “I think this is the end”.

Dust leaves you squirming, unable to watch, unable to listen – but its function acts as the first step towards opening up the conversation around mental illness and suicide. It smashes through the taboo by talking openly, honestly and with a sharp wit. Thomas is a genius and should be commended for her bravery in presenting this raw depiction of such a challenging subject.

For theatre updates and shenanigans, please follow my Twitter @TheatreGirl_94

Review: What I Really Wanted To Say Was

Fresh out of East 15, Lance Jeffery, Nyke Jackson and Rosie Jane burst onto the theatre scene with What I Really Wanted To Say Was at the Camden Fringe on 14-Aug. It’s presented as a social satire about prejudice in the workplace. The fourth wall is immediately broken as they introduce themselves, Nyke identifying as a mixed race male, Rosie as a mixed race female bisexual and Lance as a white male. 

They then draw us into a variety of workplace scenarios, focussing on the challenges each of them face on an every day basis; sexism, racism, ADHD and dyslexia. We are introduced to Terry Bellowman – a cocky, white male boss, symbolising all that is politically incorrect and backwards about society. Then we have Orin Sundrie, a new member of the team multi-roled by all three actors as a strong figure of diversity within the workplace.

This particular workplace is an advertising agency, attempting to present their adverts as ‘multi cultural’ and ‘diverse’ to the point where it comes full circle, prompting questions around what sells in the advertising industry: white, black, gay, hetero, gender, etc?

But the backwards culture and attitude starts within. Rosie plays a female Orin who is constantly sexualised, harassed in the office and ridiculed for her afro hairstyle. For these reasons, she struggles to make her way up the ranks in the business. She later shares the shocking statistic that 1 in 10 women are sexually harassed in the workplace.

Nyke plays an ADHD Orin who struggles to achieve in an agency that fails to understand the way he works and functions everyday and purposefully marginalise him for it.

Lance then plays a dyslexic Orin who is ridiculed for his reading difficulties, resulting in an effective physical fight to enhance the visual and physical power over Orin who relies on audio a lot to digest information.

Nyke, Lance and Rosie are very strong actors with bewitching stage presence and the content they present is engaging and relevant. You can really tell that a piece of each of them has been put into the show. However, I’m unsure of what to take away from it – after addressing such strong issues, the end is a little inconclusive. I’m aware of the difficulties faced within the workplace, but a solution or at least a stronger message at the end would have a more powerful impact.

Overall though, this is a strong piece with a lot of potential.

I wish them all the best for any future runs of the show. There’s a lot going on at the Camden Fringe, so for anyone who’s around, check out what’s onDon’t forget to like, share and tweet me @theatregirl_94

Keeping Shakespeare Fresh in 2017

How is it that plays that were written almost 400 years ago still bear relevance today? I’m aware that not everyone is a big fan of Shakespeare, namely Emma Rice, Artistic Director of The Globe who stated:

There’s a lot of theatre, some of it Shakespeare some not, which feels like medicine. You feel like if you can get through it, you’re a better person. I have no interest in that; I can’t bear to be in a theatre that feels like medicine.” (Telegraph, 2016).

If a Shakespeare play does feel like medicine, then it’s obviously not been done very well. I recall watching a production of Hamlet at the Tobacco Factory last year – not that I’m a massive fan of Hamlet as a play anyway, but this production was unbelievably dry. It went down like cod liver oil (if we’re going with the medicine simile). Kate Wyver’s review summarised that the reason for this was a lack of risk – the production was far too safe.

We’ve all studied and watched Shakespeare till we’re blue in the face. Something has to give. This is why I’m highlighting a couple of productions I have seen, and one that I have booked to see that break the mould, make us think and drag out themes and emotions that we may not have even considered before.

  • Julius Caesar, Bristol Old Vic: Starring Julian Glover from Game of Thrones, this production chose to take a contemporary route, which really accentuated the political angle of the play. The crowds shouting Caesar’s name may as well have shouted Corbyn’s – their demeanour very similar to the passionate Glastonbury attendees only a few weeks back. I had never read or watched Julius Caesar, so had no idea what to expect, but this production was fresh and defiant. The themes of treachery, political arrogance and scheming felt ever present; while Caesar is accused of being a dangerous threat to his people, Corbyn was bashed by every tabloid going leading up to the election.

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    Julian Glover as Julius Caesar (Sourced from Bristol Post)


  • Twelfth Night, The Globe: This funky, glittery 70’s inspired production was bursting with life and was simply glorious. Not only did it include the fabulous drag queen Le Gateau Chocolat, who truly encapsulated the cross-dressing theme, but Katy Owen who played Malvolio stole the show with her crazed body contortions and facial expressions. I was unfamiliar with the play before going, but the whole concept worked incredibly well. The cheesy camp-ness of the whole thing was in keeping with the cross-dressing, bi-curious elements the plot lends itself to. Luckily, you can still catch this production if you’re quick – it’s on till 5-Aug.

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    Le Gateau Chocolat. Sourced from The Globe website.
  • The Tempest, Tea Powered Theatre: A local Bristol theatre company, Tea Powered Theatre specialises in steam punk inspired theatre while serving cream teas with a fabulous selection of teas from Bristol Tea Company. This particular production of The Tempest is directed by Calum Anderson and is set in space where reality ceases to exist; up is down and white is black. Nothing is as it seems. A group of stranded astronauts delve their way into a world of discarded technology and madness. There are a few showings of this in September, so don’t miss out!
    5-Sep – 7-Sep: Bierkeller Theatre (Cream tea not included)
    9-Sep – 10-Sep: All Saints Church (Cream tea included) – I’ll be going to this one! 😉
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If you have seen any Shakespeare productions recently that you’d like to mention, then please comment or tweet me @theatregirl_94

Review: Licensed To Ill

You can’t deny that hip-hop has crept into every form of entertainment now – from the Netflix series The Get Down, to Lin Manuel Miranda’s award winning musical Hamilton. So it’s no surprise that Licensed to Ill, a small-scale show about the life and times of the Beastie Boys has been unbelievably popular in the theatre sphere – there’s rap, beats and bold dance moves, all with hilarious consequences. 

It all started with Adam El Hagar and Simon Maeder who concocted the idea of building a show around the surprising rise of the Beastie Boys while flyering and rapping to passers by in London. 

From there, the show was born. They fought for their right to party.
And thank goodness they did – because we get a great night out of it. 
We follow the highs and lows of Mike D (Simon Maeder), MCA (Adam El Hagar) and Ad-Rock (Daniel Foxsmith) as they accidentally trip upon hip-hop and create one of the most iconic records ever made alongside producer, Rick Rubin (Tope Mikun). 

Licensed to Ill Show
MCA (El Hagar), Mikun, Ad-Rock (Foxsmith) Mike D (Maeder) -Sourced from The Guardian.
 

The thing that stands out the most is their ability to morph into these caricatures with such ease – they’re obnoxious, fun, boisterous and unafraid. They step into a world which is predominantly black and face it with complete boldness. We learn to appreciate how they broke boundaries and adapted to their audiences; their tour with Madonna being a specific highlight. 

We’re taken swiftly through the humble beginnings of hip-hop, the boys’ transition from punk and their rise to fame – amongst other personal struggles. As they work through the story, the transitions between scenes begin a little shaky, but become much smoother and refined later on. Overall their collaboration is impeccable. I can’t pick out a weak member of the group; they’re all equally slick performers who are obviously passionate about the genre. Nevertheless, Tope Mikun in particular proves to be a truly versatile performer as he jumps from being producer Rick Rubin and puppet master, to the famous “Mix Master Mike”. I appreciate the puppet puns thrown in – something to please the nerds out there.

And of course – a show about hip-hop and the Beastie Boys would not be complete without a bit of audience interaction, right? Cue budget hand-held camera reenactment of ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)’ music video starring members of the audience dancing, rapping and partying – truly bringing the fun, freestyle vibes of the Beastie Boys to life. 
Although you could describe the Beastie Boys career as a ‘flash in the pan’, we certainly got a hell of a lot of entertainment out of them, and this show certainly proves that they left a legacy worth reflecting on. Licensed To Ill is a fitting tribute to the “three idiots” who “creat[ed] a masterpiece” – flawless rap, silly costumes, puppetry and sick beats…what’s not to love?

A rip-rapping triumph.
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Review: No Man’s Land

It’s been a crazy long time since I wrote a blog post but I’ve been very busy! I went on holiday to Portugal straight after I saw No Man’s Land, but I bought a notebook and scribbled down some thoughts before I forgot – so hopefully this review won’t be too shabby. However, if you are truly unimpressed then you can jolly well move on to another corner of the internet (no, not that one).

Anyway, No Man’s Land – a play written by the mighty Harold Pinter himself in 1974 and starring two incredible legends: Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. The two men, Hirst (Stewart) and Spooner (McKellen) appear to have met in a pub and ended up at Hirst’s house to continue drinking. The set itself reflects the general mood of this play; a darkened, grand, circular room where the men bounce pointless conversation off each other and never reach a resolution. The circular room and lack of progression from the two men hint at elements of Beckett; a moment in Endgame in particular where Hamm asks Clov to push him around the room stands out:

HAMM:
Take me for a little turn.
(Clov goes behind the chair and pushes it forward.)
Not too fast!
(Clov pushes chair.)
Right round the world!
(Clov pushes chair.)
Hug the walls, then back to the centre again.
(Clov pushes chair.)
And it’s no surprise really, No Man’s Land is considered perhaps one of Pinter’s most absurdest plays – so a lot of parallels can be drawn from Beckett. In fact, Pinter himself described this play as “hauntingly weird” and that he “can never fully understand – who can? But it works on you.”
Well that sums it up really. The whole play is a slow-moving drudge through whatever these men are trying to achieve. Not going to lie, it was confusing. In act 1, Hirst is a little worse for wear and is far from impressed by Spooner’s ever more outrageous tales; Hirst eventually leaves, crawling out of the room, completely inebriated. Two younger men then enter, Foster (Damien Molony) and Briggs (Owen Teale) which shifts the whole power structure; a previously very chatty Spooner is silenced by the menacing presence of these men. From what I can gather from this scene, it is partly about the physical decline of Hirst and Spooner as they have gotten older; Hirst exits by crawling weakly on his hands and knees, while the two younger men assert their dominance over this unknown man in their house by physically threatening him.
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(From left to right) Ian McKellen, Damien Malony, Owen Teale, Patrick Stewart. Sourced from Delfont Mackintosh Theatre website.
The second act is a huge improvement as Hirst enters into the room the next morning as if nothing has happened; their roles switch. Hirst is now bright, refreshed and talkative. He makes up wild tales about sleeping with Spooner’s wife – a power play much favoured by Pinter; the ownership of women. Like in Pinter’s play, The Homecoming, there are a lack of female roles, so they must perform the typical ‘domestic’ roles around the home, which threatens their masculinity. There’s also an element of intellectual competition; although the two older men can no longer assert physical dominance, they are both writers, so fight it out that way. Yet, they are constantly crippled by their poor memory.
It’s terribly existentialist, which I have no problem with, but it can leave you feeling empty. There’s a reference near the end to the seasons and it remaining winter forever – unmoving from no man’s land:
No man’s land…does not move…or change…or grow old..remains…forever…icy…silent.”
This is much like how Beckett refers to the passing of time (or not as the case may be). It’s a heavy performance with a few laughs throughout, but very tough to follow. Naturally, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are excellent, but I didn’t warm to the play at all – yet again, that’s never Pinter’s intention in the first place.
Confusing man.
The tableau at the end speaks for itself; Hirst and Spooner are front and left, whereas Foster and Briggs are in the background by the bar. The older men are always at the forefront leading the way, while the younger generation can only look on and attempt to replicate.
Although well executed, the play really wasn’t for me. I mean, if Pinter himself didn’t get it, then I don’t stand a chance in hell.
So I’ll just leave it at that.
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Review: 946 The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

I met Michael Morpurgo when I was about twelve years old and he signed my copy of Kensuke’s Kingdom – it was the best day ever (at the time). Ever since I have been in awe of him as a writer and storyteller. He has this incredible knack of evoking every emotion in you; his books make you laugh out loud and sob uncontrollably all at the same time. For this reason, The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips is not simply a ‘kids’ book, it’s a story that uncovers some cold hard truths about World War 2. I went to see the production of it on 12 August at The Globe and thought it would be a nice one to mention in my blog, especially because it was my first time at The Globe.

The tale is based on a real life event that happened on 27 April 1944. American troops ventured over to Slapton Sands in South Devon to practice and fully prepare for Operation Overload on 6 June 1944, the D-Day landings on Utah Beach, France. However, this didn’t go quite to plan as German ships launched a torpedo attack in the Lyme Bay area, resulting in the deaths of 946 American soldiers. This mistake was kept under wraps until 40 years after the Normandy landings, thus the story of Adolphus Tips is partly a reminder of what actually went on at that time.

But this adaptation by Emma Rice and Michael Morpurgo is far from doom and gloom. Naturally, this is helped a lot by Kneehigh, who utilise their familiar tropes; live music, puppetry and physical theatre. The show opens with a live band led by Adebayo Bolaji wearing a slick black satin suit; he proves to be an excellent frontman and interacts throughout with Lily Tregenza (Katy Owen), who is the protagonist of the story. She’s a twelve year old girl brought up in Slapton around the war; we follow her throughout her life as she is constantly on the look out for her cat, Tips and eventually makes friends with the adorable evacuee, Barry (Adam Sopp).

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Katy Owen as Lily Tregenza with Tips the Cat. (Sourced from Variety.com)

The live music aspect proves to be the highlight of the show; it ranges from folk to American inspired jazz. One of my favourite parts is when American soldiers, Adi (Ncuti Gatwa) and Harry (Nandi Bhebhe) come to visit the Tregenza’s to celebrate Thanksgiving and it turns into a lively, vibrant party with jazz music and tap dancing. It’s a all swinging, all dancing extravaganza. The actors genuinely look like they’re having a lot of fun, and so are we! The idea that a group of people from very different backgrounds can still unite in times of turmoil is an ever-present theme in this story. In fact, the famous quote by Martin Luther King is mentioned to highlight this:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

And of course, as I previously mentioned, it wouldn’t be a true Kneehigh production if puppets didn’t make an appearance somewhere. I’m always amazed at how seamlessly the cast work them into the piece; you barely notice the puppeteer at all! You end up falling head over heels for Tips the cat, which is very much down to the incredible level of puppetry from Nandi Bhebhe.

At the beginning we’re introduced to Boowie (Adam Sopp), Lily’s grandson in the present day as a miniature puppet running around the farm kicking a ball around with his sheepdog. This tiny puppet scene is transfixing and so cleverly done; it really helps set the scene as we are then introduced to the life size Boowie and puppet sheep dog. In my opinion, this technique could have been used more throughout. However, for a large space like The Globe, I can understand why they avoided doing it too often.

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The Set (Photo taken by me)

The Globe proves to be an incredible venue for this type of production; there are propellers attached to the front of the stage which are powered by cast members and are used to dramatise the battle scenes. This and the metal baths full of cold water at the front make it an all-encompassing experience. Here’s why. Naturally, it’s difficult to portray a battleship scene on stage, but Kneehigh tackle this with ease; while Bolagi narrates the action, the other cast members dive small battleships into the tin baths, splashing water over all of us in the yard; it’s an incredibly immersive experience. We feel physically and emotionally taken over by the whole event and it’s absolutely breathtaking.

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Ncuti Gatwa as Adi and Nandi Bhebhe as Harry. (Sourced from theupcoming.co.uk)

I honestly can’t imagine any other theatre company doing it better; Kneehigh add fun and energy as well as moments of thoughtfulness and peace. As always, the cast are incredibly talented in the way they multi-role, pick up instruments on the fly and burst into song. Katy Owen as young Lily is a burst of life with a touch of mischievousness about her, although she could do with a little toning down as she tends to be a distraction. Another favourite of mine is Ncuti Gatwa as young Adi; he’s instantly charming with a smile that could stop a bus. Honestly, just look (the one on the left):

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Sourced from birmingham-rep.co.uk

Anyway, if you do get a chance to swing by The Globe, it’s on till 11 September – so get your tickets now! It’s only a fiver to stand in the yard, and the show is so good that you don’t even notice you’re standing for that long.

Whether you’ve read the story or not, it’s an enchanting show that’s guaranteed to pull on those heart strings.

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Review: Goldilock, Stock and Three Smoking Bears

It looks like the Wardrobe Theatre have done it again! Goldilock, Stock and Three Smoking Bears is a mismatched delight of gangsters, posh bears, Scottish porridge makers and a disillusioned Goldilocks selling her wears and tears on the mean streets of London.

After a long day at work, this show is exactly what you need. The cast burst onto the stage and pull you into their world with forceful ease. The metatheatre style is warmly received by the audience as characters are introduced by a London geezer voice-over and Goldilocks openly addresses scene changes and plot development.

You soon empathise with poor Goldilocks (Emma Keaveney) who tries her best to earn a living. However, it all starts to go a little bear shaped (…sorry) when she runs an errand for renowned gangster, Harry (Harry Humberstone) – who has an unhealthy obsession with chairs.

They cleverly weave elements of the fairytale and Guy Richie’s gangster classic Lock, Stock and Three Smoking Barrels into the narrative. Goldilocks has to deliver a third chair to the run-down flat where Winston, Rupe (Lotte Allan) and Paddy (Andrew Kingston) live; three rather posh bears who’ve no doubt

Goldilock Sourced from Lotte Allan Twitter
Winston and Rupert (Sourced from Lotte Allan’s Twitter)

just returned from their ‘gap yah’. There she finds their left over porridge – to which the mockery of the ‘too hot, too cold, just right’ ensues. Goldilocks’ song about nothing being ‘just right’ is a wonderfully melancholy parody in itself.

The physicality of the piece is incredibly inventive and effective; from an exaggerated card game ending in Goldilocks’ doom to the stereotyped Scottish witches working at Uncle Hamish’s Porridge Emporium painfully contorting their faces as they attempt to uncover Hamish’s secret ingredient (which we never find out actually – ooh, intrigue). The two Scottish witches are most definitely a highlight of the piece; they have the whole audience in stitches with their hyperbolic Scottish antics and one liners.

Goldilock. Sourced from Matthew Whittle's Twitter
The Scottish witches and Uncle Hamish. (Sourced from Matthew Whittle’s Twitter)

My friend and I make the questionable decision to sit at the front, which means we have to get very involved in pulling Goldilocks out of the clutches of the three sleepy bears. However, this fails to make us uncomfortable – partly because we’re drama students, and partly because the cast interact with the audience so naturally.

Goldilock, Stock and Three Smoking Bears is a triumphant parody that doesn’t shy away from highlighting the silly conventions of fairy tales, gangster films and theatre itself. It’s a good ol’ bubble bath!

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Review: Dinosaur Park

It became a roaring success at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, so naturally, Dinosaur Park by the wonderful Superbolt Theatre Company had to come to Bristol. Quickly becoming my favourite venue in Bristol for new theatre, The Wardrobe Theatre is the perfect, intimate space for such a touching, yet hilarious show. Although it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Jurassic Park, the references to the iconic 1993 blockbuster film made me howl with laughter!

We join dad Terry (Frode Gjerløw), his daughter Jade (Maria Askew) and youngest son Noah (Simon Maeder), who make us feel right at home; they chat to the audience with ease, displaying their distinctive characteristics before the show even begins. We soon learn that we are there for a showing of (you guessed it), Jurassic Park, in memory of the children’s mother who passed away a year ago. But alas – the original video tape is missing.

This is where the fun begins. There’s no Spielberg style special effects here; the three actors recreate the film by clambering upon each other, using a rucksack as a dinosaur mouth, prancing around pretending to be DNA (Gjerløw steals the show with that impression!) and effectively use an umbrella in the memorable scene where Dennis Nedry gets attacked by a Dilophosaurus. My tacky description fails to give it justice; you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Time out
Frode Gjerlow, Maria Eskew and Simon Maeder. (Sourced from Time Out London)

It’s a hilarious, creative and wildly intelligent piece, yet isn’t afraid to approach sensitive subjects, which cushions the humour very well. I especially like the song accompanied by ukulele, where they link the moment where the triceratops dies to what happened to their mother. It’s a moment that leaves you silent for only a moment though, as it continues to move at a fast pace, with laughs at every turn.

Each character is loveable in their own way; Terry is a pityingly hopeless father with his heart in the right place, while Jade is a rebellious teenager, drawing parallels with the trapped female dinosaurs in the film as she not only tears down the fences at school, but the feminine expectations of a patriarchal society (I know, deep). And lastly, perhaps my favourite, is the excitable, wide-eyed Noah who shares a pure love for Jurassic Park and life in general.

I highly recommend that you see this play if you fancy a good laugh, although I reckon it’s a good idea to dust off your copy of Jurassic Park first as you might need a recap of the story! Regardless, I laughed the whole time, so if you don’t get time to refresh yourself, it’s not the end of the world.

Rawr.

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Read my previous blog about Breakfast At Tiffany’s.