Blogged: Stars in my eyes

I’m going to New York and this time, nobody’s gonna stop me… At the third time of trying (after traumatic passport lost and a wedding cancellation (someone else’s I should add), I will finally be making my way over to the Great White Way over New Year and though it will be my first trip there, I’m thinking I’m pretty much going to spend most of it in the theatre (where else!). I can do the touristy stuff next time because at the moment I’m just dazzled by the opportunities to see some proper famous people on the stage, shallow fame whore that I have turned out to be.

But even then, the people who I’m most excited about aren’t necessarily the ones you might expect – Bradley Cooper is headlining The Elephant Man but it’s Patricia Clarkson who’s most exciting me in that cast, Ewan McGregor may be the biggest name in Stoppard’s The Real Thingbut it’s the opportunity to see Maggie Gyllenhaal and Cynthia Nixon that is getting me there and if Hugh Jackman is the main draw in The River, it’s the unexpected appearance of our very own Cush Jumbo that is most intriguing. That said, there’s no point in me pretending that I’m more excited about Ruth Wilson than Jake Gyllenhaal in Nick Payne’s extraordinary Constellations – we’ll call it the most high-scoring draw ever.

Continue reading “Blogged: Stars in my eyes”

A night of blog-gin(g)

There aren’t many things I love as much as theatre, but gin is certainly one of them and so the invitation to a soirée that promised gin tasting and cocktail making – on a night when I had nothing booked – was pretty much a gimme. Organised by the delectably dressed Rebecca Felgate from Official Theatre, the evening promised gin and mingling (gingling if you will) with a wide range of theatre bloggers with the intention of trying to start to build something of a community around our shared interest. Of theatre that is, although if anyone wants to start a gin network, I am there.

Our cocktail cabinet for the evening

Continue reading “A night of blog-gin(g)”

Fed up with football? World Cup theatre offers

“Football crazy, football mad”

The World Cup kicks off on Thursday 12th June in São Paolo and will run for a goodly month as 64 games are played throughout Brazil (I’m tipping Bosnia and Colombia to do well, and Rooney to get sent off in his first game). Television and work schedules will be all askew as people try and wrestle with the time difference so the people at Theatre People have teamed up with a starting squad of West End stars to highlight a month of offers and discounts to wide range of shows which offer an alternative to sitting in and watching men in shorts on telly.  Continue reading “Fed up with football? World Cup theatre offers”

12 reasons to go and see Privacy at the Donmar Warehouse

“Ladies and gentlemen, please leave your mobile phones…on”

James Graham’s new play Privacy has just opened at the Donmar Warehouse and I cannot stress how much your viewing pleasure will be increased if you go into the theatre knowing as little as possible about it. So instead of reviewing it, I’ve taken inspiration from Buzzfeed and opted to go down the route of a list of 12 reasons to go and see it, within which is a gentle homage to the show 

1. I liked it

2. No, I really liked it

3. It’s written by the guy who wrote the frankly marvellous The Man (and the also good This House)

4. It has a fosterIAN award-winning actress in it

5. And a fosterIAN award-winning actor


7. It also has #TinyHamlet in the cast
8. It’s in a convenient central London location
9. You get instructions when you arrive
10. You’ll find things out about Google 

11. And about selfies


So there you have it, why wouldn’t you try and get tickets?! Sign up to the Front Row scheme if you haven’t done so already and you could be seeing it from amazing seats for just a tenner.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 31st May

Blogged: S&S Award

“Find the words”

Set up in honour of and named after his parents Sidney and Sylvia, The S&S Award was created by Warner Brown as a celebration of new and as yet unproduced British musical theatre writing and held its inaugural award presentation at the St James Theatre on Sunday 24th November 2013. Don Black presented the prize to this year’s winners – Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie – for their show Forest Boy, of which we saw an extended excerpt but the audience were also treated to snippets from other shows in the running for this new prize.

Recent graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Gilmour and McKenzie based Forest Boy on the true 2011 story of a boy who appeared in Berlin claiming to have spent the last five years living in the woods with his father. But rather than a straight retelling, they use song and dance – movement director Emily-Jane Boyce contributing some excellent work – to explore the psychological journey of the young man, the troubled relationship with his parents, and the power of the imagination to invent and/or protect, as the truthfulness of his fantastical tale is probed by officials. Continue reading “Blogged: S&S Award”

Blogged: NoFit State Circus, the Eden Project and me

Roll up roll up… just the mere mention of the word ‘circus’ has to be one of the most evocative in the English language. Whether from personal experiences or from the multitude of cultural references in which the circus plays a key part – mine include trips to Blackpool Circus in infant school (the water!!), this frequently chilling Doctor Who story and of course Dumbo – there’s something undeniably persuasive about it, a sense of magical escapism that means the brain never quite discounts running away to the circus as a potential life choice 😉

But times change and so too has the circus, or at least some parts of it, as can be seen in the rise of the incredibly popular strand of contemporary circus. Companies like NoFit State and shows like La Clique and La Soirée, and Cantina (which is still running at the London Wonderground) may have left the animals behind but in doing so have focused the attention onto the often breath-taking, boundary-pushing physical endeavours of their human ensembles. So when I was invited to come and preview NoFit State Circus’ upcoming show at the Eden Project in Cornwall, it was something of a no-brainer. I’d never been to this part of the UK before, the offer to teach us some circus skills intrigued and the clips on YouTube looked frankly amazing.

NoFit State partnered with the Eden Project last year, creating the site-specific show Labyrinth which proved to be a huge success and so producers Tom Rack of NoFit and Tom Critchley of the Eden Project decided to continue that relationship for a second summer. This year’s show – Bianco – is being written and directed by Firenza Guidi and has been designed with a view to taking the show on an extensive tour after its run here in Cornwall. The full company of artistes had only just come together before our visit, but the 10 minute snippet of the show that we were privileged to witness already had a pulsing, vibrant energy and the makings of something really rather spectacular. Continue reading “Blogged: NoFit State Circus, the Eden Project and me”

Interview: Blanche McIntyre

Something of a departure for me, my first ever interview, originally written for The Public Reviews. McIntyre is a director I’ve admired for a couple of years now and so I was quite keen to take us this opportunity when it presented itself.

Waiting for Blanche McIntyre to emerge from the Whitechapel rehearsal room where The Only True History of Lizzie Finn is having its first run-through, I glance over my notes and a little incongruity makes me smile. Her presence as a director to watch was firmly announced when she won the 2011 Critics’ Circle Most Promising Newcomer award for her work at the Finborough, yet she’s been directing since 2000. When we meet, she agrees that recognition was perhaps a long time coming but that she was extremely well served by a long, long apprenticeship which was the best possible preparation for her career.

A further examination of her CV demonstrates a tendency for working in more intimate theatres – the Finborough, the Union, Southwark Playhouse, the Cock Tavern; even her West End debut was in the intimate Studio 2 at Trafalgar Studios. I ask what draws her to these dark, intimate places. “There’s a grubby reason and a soulful reason,” she says. “The reality is that it costs a lot less, and when I was starting out, I was doing it all myself so it made it that much more affordable. But I also love the idea of the audience sitting right in there, in the action – it’s a great artistic challenge for the actors and there’s a real reward in how much more connected the audience feel.” Continue reading “Interview: Blanche McIntyre”

Out-of-Office

I won’t be posting for a few days so I thought I’d leave you an out-of-office message so you’d know nothing was wrong – I have coping strategies in place to manage six days without theatre (though celebrating my birthday in Florence with friends will certainly help…!).

And as a birthday present to you, my readers, I’ve selected some of my favourite current videos for your viewing pleasure.   Continue reading “Out-of-Office”

Blogged: the return of You Me Bum Bum Train

Sound the klaxon, blow the whistle, You Me Bum Bum Train is coming back! It ranked as my second favourite thing that I saw in the entirety of last year and I could not be happier to be able to experience what Kate Bond, Morgan Lloyd and their tireless team have in store for us this time around. It is quite difficult to explain just what You Me Bum Bum Train is without giving it away, and a massive part of the pleasure is the complete unexpectedness of what it is that lies in store for you. Though it may seem a little scary, and believe me just before I went in last year I was genuinely freaked out and very close to backing out, but I persevered and boy am I glad that I did as I got to do things I never dreamed I would ever do, and will most likely never get the chance again!

What I can say is that rather than being a traditional show, You Me Bum Bum Train is ‘a participatory theatrical experience’: you enter on a solo adventure that takes surreal twist and turns that will introduce you to a world like no other where you will get opportunities like no other. It may sound a little intimidating, especially for the more reticent, but it is done with such a huge amount of sensitivity and such an amazingly supportive atmosphere that you never feel exposed or embarrassed, but rather encouraged to have the best time you can possibly have. So put any doubts whatsoever to the side, embrace the unknown and take the plunge as you will only kick yourself if you don’t! But move quickly, tickets sold out for last year’s run in nano-seconds – making it the fastest ever selling show at the Barbican. Continue reading “Blogged: the return of You Me Bum Bum Train”

Blogged: When social media really is social (and not so much)

Late June saw me attend the Devoted and Disgruntled satellite event What Are We Going To Do About Theatre Criticism and followed by calls to action from other bloggers who wanted to hear more voices than just the reviewing one, I decided that I would give it a try and attempt to bring a different perspective onto certain issues that I felt I could contribute to. I had the best intentions but life has pretty much got in the way since then and I haven’t really had the time to devote to writing. But one issue has kept burbling around in my brain and it was all brought back to me in various ways last week, so here goes (apologies for the length).

The subject I decided to hold a session on at the above-mentioned event was “Should bloggers aim for/be held to a set of professional standards/code of conduct” the notes of which can be read but a quick summary was a definitive rejection of the statement and a recognition that blogging is an individual act which can’t (and shouldn’t) be policed. I have to admit to being a little surprised by this, but as the discussion progressed I realised that the issue I really wanted to delve into was an offshoot of the original question: something along the lines of ‘what value would a bloggers association have and is it desirable’, this similar idea of trying to provide some sort of structure that bloggers could rely upon if necessary.

It’s something that resonates with me as, without wishing to play the ‘woe is me’ card, I have been involved in a couple of extremely bruising online encounters which resulted in some pretty vicious commentary being flung my way and leaving me questioning whether I wanted to continue blogging at all. The first time it happened, it was genuinely upsetting to have my motivations questioned so publicly and my working practices dissected so brutally without any prior communication with the people throwing out their opinions, but I was fortunate enough to have an amazing group of fellow bloggers and Twitter buddies to keep my spirits from falling too low and keeping me going whilst I tried to regain my equilibrium. Continue reading “Blogged: When social media really is social (and not so much)”