Sunday, April 18

Yorkshire & Humber

The Band Plays On – Sheffield Theatres
Yorkshire & Humber

The Band Plays On – Sheffield Theatres

Theatre may have been forced into an identity crisis with the core of its function being ripped away, but Chris Bush’s gig theatre homage to the city she heralds from is extraordinarily certain of itself in a way that’s neither brash nor obtuse, but fiercely considered in the best way – a way that makes its self-awareness invisible. Yes, the pandemic is touched upon, but it’s just that – a faint brush across a canvas we are all painstakingly navigating to this day, a reality we are so keen to escape. There are no broad strokes incessantly reminding here, and it allows for a sensitive, intuitive, ferocious piece of theatre that is both pertinent and liberating. The format, whilst perhaps drawn out in its committed structure, is solid. Often the simplest ideas prove the best and most ...
Jane Eyre – Hull Truck Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Jane Eyre – Hull Truck Theatre

Written by Charlotte Brontë, the classic that is Jane Eyre never fails to impress audiences - whether on film, TV or in the theatre. I viewed this particular performance (a world premiere) online - a necessity in these Covid lockdown times - and it wasn’t until the final words were uttered in the final scene, and I lifted my head from my computer, that I realised I had become totally and utterly engrossed in what I had witnessed on my 13ins screen. Filmed in Bracknell last November, it was originally scheduled to grace Hull Truck Theatre’s stage in March 2020, but the coronavirus put paid to that. So, settling down on my sofa at home, coffee and snacks at the ready and my husband promising not to utter a sound, I entered the fascinating world of the well-known orphan, Jane Eyre. ...
Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker – Hull Truck Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker – Hull Truck Theatre

On Tuesday evening, when I hit the YouTube button at 7pm to watch the premiere of Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker, coming from Hull Truck’s stage, I settled back, coffee in one hand, mince pie in the other, to watch live theatre - something I’d experienced little of since the dreaded coronavirus resulted in the closure of theatres nationwide. The fun began after 10 minutes of festive faves played by DJ Ratty (cast member Joanna Holden), against a video backdrop of Christmas lights in and around the city of Hull.. Ratty introduced the Prince Charming of the title, with the words “he’s handsome, he’s rich and he’s a bachelor” - as the Prince (Laurie Jamieson) took to the stage, which was bedecked by a huge Christmas tree, presents and a “Groove Machine”. A bag of nerves - this ...
A Christmas Carol – Leeds Playhouse At Home
Yorkshire & Humber

A Christmas Carol – Leeds Playhouse At Home

The Playhouse’s annual festive spectacular was just one of hundreds of productions forced to switch online just before curtain was about to go up and as good as this recorded version is it will always lack the yuletide magic of gathering in a shared space. This is a reworking of a production that began at Hull Truck Theatre, going on to be a big hit last year when the theatre’s ensemble brought it to life in the pop-up theatre used when the Playhouse was refurbed. The Playhouse’s associate director Amy Leach cleverly invokes the legend that every theatre has a ghost, but she deploys a team of them as they emerge from their offstage pods. They have gathered round the traditional ghost light that burns when a theatre is dark, and once they discover a puppet of Tiny Tim they decide to ...
A Christmas Carol, The Festive Audio Experience – Harrogate Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

A Christmas Carol, The Festive Audio Experience – Harrogate Theatre

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is as much a part of Christmas as tinsel and mince pies. A festive tale that people often forget is a ghost story, Adam Z Robinson’s adaptation, performed by him and Olivia Dowd, utilises Robinson’s expertise as a ghost story writer to bring the spirits and apparitions littering Dickens’ classic tale front and centre, creating a creepy and memorable version of this beloved tale of greed and redemption. Before the show starts, ominous ticking and a crackling fire create the atmosphere before the performance begins. The audio play has a very creepy opening, which makes it clear from the start the style that this version of A Christmas Carol is going to take. Robinson’s narration is warm and gives the story the feeling of an old friend you see every C...
The Aftermath – The Piece Hall Halifax
Yorkshire & Humber

The Aftermath – The Piece Hall Halifax

One of the most depressing aspects of the pandemic is how quick people are to condemn parts of our communities for its spread and even more bizarrely putting a lot of the blame on young people as a group. That’s why a troupe of young dancers from across Calderdale, supported by Northern Broadsides, worked with choreographers Sam Ford and Anna Holmes to devise this original piece reflecting on their own experiences of living under the shadow of the virus, and to rebut the idea that mass infection is somehow all their fault. Led by professional dancers Daniel Phung and Soul Roberts they delivered what appears to be a clever, vibrant and challenging piece. I say appears because Aaron Howell’s film of their performance in the piazza of Halifax’s historic Piece Hall is a distraction.&nbs...
Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show – Leeds Playhouse
Yorkshire & Humber

Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show – Leeds Playhouse

imitating the dog are a company who make things difficult as part of their creative DNA so it’s not much of a surprise they are the first company to try a national tour in the midst of a pandemic. The audience are placed on socially distanced cones outside Leeds Playhouse, sans cover, as are the three strong cast also exposed to the elements playing a gang of ghoulish vigilantes who travel the country righting wrongs. This time they are on the trail of a crooked mayor, a bent chief constable and a dodgy headteacher who are conspiring to build the biggest casino in the UK before pocketing in the profits. Some critics who like to over intellectualise work will no doubt bemoan the slight narrative, and the chance to rub their chin reflectively. The rest of us are just grateful it’s ...
Connecting Voices – Leeds Playhouse
Yorkshire & Humber

Connecting Voices – Leeds Playhouse

There’s no doubt that after seven months away most theatre lovers were so desperate for any live experience they’d watch pretty much anything – good, bad or indifferent. But that low benchmark was never going to be good enough for Leeds Playhouse and Opera North who have teamed up to create Connecting Voices as their comeback socially distanced mini-season of four very different short pieces. These two powerhouses have carefully crafted stripped down pieces almost devoid of any staging focusing instead on both the safety of the creatives, and the small audiences safely dotted around the Playhouse’s different spaces. It is a smorrebrod of styles that can be enjoyed in one sitting over a few hours that begins with Francis Poulenc’s short opera La Voix Humaine based on Cocteau’s pla...
The Hired Man – Hull Truck Theatre Online
Yorkshire & Humber

The Hired Man – Hull Truck Theatre Online

Rereading my June 2019 review of The Hired Man, my heart sank when I saw that I’d written: “For reasons I can’t explain, I found my mind wandering in the first half.” That was in the confines of the Hull Truck Theatre, so what chance did I have of stopping my mind  from wandering at home, with the kettle and fridge within easy reach (my two favourite things during the coronavirus lockdown)? Well, as 7.30pm strikes, I hit the play button on YouTube. I’m going in …. As the first scene of The Hired Man comes up on my screen, the first thing I become aware of are the subtitles.  Usually a pet hate of mine - I find them distracting - I found them very helpful in this case. They clarified much of what was happening and helped me remember more clearly the events as they hap...