Monday, November 28

REVIEWS

<strong>Jack and the Beanstalk – Lyric Hammersmith Theatre</strong>
London

Jack and the Beanstalk – Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Widely acknowledged as a staple part of the festive celebrations, pantomime has a long theatrical history in the UK, performed up and down the country during Christmas and New Year, with the expected, cookie cutter format, with singing, dancing, cross-dressing and slapstick humour, along with a healthy dose of topical references and audience participation. It’s not often you would describe a pantomime as quality theatrical production, they are usually lots of fun, something for the kids to enjoy, and a mixed bag of talent, but the creative team at the Lyric Hammersmith has raised the bar this year with this year's production, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, written by Jude Christian and Sonia Jalaly, and directed by Nicholai La Barrie. The team has kept all of the essential pantomime elements b...
<strong>A Double Helping of Talent – Melrose Hall</strong>
North West

A Double Helping of Talent – Melrose Hall

Both drama and music were on the bill at Melrose Hall, Hoylake tonight, Friday 25th November. Presented by the multi-talented Calli Hughes, this was a showcase of first, her directing talent and then her well-known talent as a local singer. The first half of the evening gave us an award-winning drama and in the second half Calli was joined by her equally talented husband Mark for a ‘Songbirds’ session – the music of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. Melrose Hall is a bijou venue seating around 80-100 in the heart of the Hoylake community. On this occasion it was set cabaret style and the audience could bring their own drinks. The first Act, a three-hander ‘Effie’s Burning’ originally directed by Calli for the Leverhulme Drama Festival last year.  This powerful drama was written as a...
<strong>An Edinburgh Christmas Carol – Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh</strong>
Scotland

An Edinburgh Christmas Carol – Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Last performed here in 2019, the Lyceums’ Artistic Director David Greig gives this Edinburgh take on the Dickens classic a well-deserved re-run. And why not, it is an absolute joy to the eyes and ears and will surely be a big hit with audiences old and young alike. The well drilled and very talented cast play out the well-known tale of Scrooge on the cobbles of the old town against one of the undoubted stars of the show, the set; a series of finely painted backdrops of side screens from Edinburgh’s old town, featuring great stone quoins and air scraping tenements, with the castle looming like a constant dark presence overall. The set cleverly mirrors Mr Scrooge’s oppressive domination over the lower elements of Edinburgh, the underpaid clerks, like Bob Cratchit, or poor evicted tena...
<strong>Mozart’s Requiem – Liverpool Empire</strong>
North West

Mozart’s Requiem – Liverpool Empire

Two composers, two very different backgrounds, yet both with stories swirling with intrigue and rumour. As the Glyndebourne returns to the Empire for its annual residence, tonight is an interesting showcase of arias from composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, sometimes nick-named the ‘Black Mozart’ alongside the legendary Requiem of the main man himself. Part one focuses on Bologna, who may not have reached the heights of fame that Mozart would eventually achieve but still impressed many of his contemporaries with his abilities (Beethoven was reportedly a particular fan). Director Simone Ibbett-Brown has cleverly combined elements of Bologne’s remarkable story – a Creole sone of a slave-woman Nanon and her Plantation owning master who travels to France to make his m...
<strong>Puccini’s Messa di Gloria – Liverpool Philharmonic Hall</strong>
North West

Puccini’s Messa di Gloria – Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

I’ve often wondered what factors go into the decision of programming classical music concerts. Apart from the logistical decisions, on an artistic level, there must be well-known and well-loved pieces to attract the audience’s attention and guarantee ticket-sales, while also drawing in audiences by offering something new and/or challenging. Last night’s concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic managed to resolve this conundrum by a combination of two well-known and one far less well-known piece while triumphing in all three.  That said, Debussy’s symphonic Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and what he called the "three symphonic sketches” that form La Mer, now familiar to and much loved by audiences around the world, were new and challenging for the audiences that first heard them in...
<strong>Henry V – Shakespeare’s Globe</strong>
London

Henry V – Shakespeare’s Globe

When Henry IV dies, his son takes over the crown. The new king has risen to power in fragile and uncertain times. He is provoked by an insult from the French Prince Louis. His brother and his uncle elicit him to prove himself. Henry V decides to invade France. Henry V has popularly been received as the celebration of an uncompromising nationhood and the eminence of imperial ambitions. But this production seems to offer several counter-narratives that exist within the story. Such as the story of Pistol, Bardolph, Nym and a young Boy, who are all caught up in the patriotic fervour and join Henry's army, hoping to enrich themselves in the chaos of invasion. Their narrative brings to light the indifference of the kings towards their infantry and the unfair imbalance of power structures tha...
<strong>Elf the Musical – Dominion Theatre</strong>
London

Elf the Musical – Dominion Theatre

Ask anyone what their favourite Christmas films are and Elf will inevitably be up there. Buoyant Will Ferrell, singing and silliness and just the right amount of schmaltz to give you the festive feels - it ticks all the boxes. So as a self-confessed enthusiast for all things Yuletide and a long time musical fan, I was made up at the chance to see Elf the Musical. To say festive cheer has been in scant supply this year would be an understatement, and so with a month to go until the big day I was absolutely ready for Buddy the Elf and friends to send some joy my way. And there was much joy to be had. The staging is top notch; with ever shifting back drops, moving scenery and a sleigh that gives Back to the Future’s Delorian a run for its money, the action shifts seamlessly from Santa’s N...
<strong>The Snow Queen – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh</strong>
Scotland

The Snow Queen – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Always leave ‘em wanting more.  That seems to be the philosophy behind Scottish Ballet’s latest production, the fairly short but very sweet production of “The Snow Queen”.  A festive show for all the family at just 40 minutes for each of the two acts, with a 25-minute interval, this colourful charming fairy tale is perfectly pitched for all ages to enjoy without the wee ones getting too restless. “The Snow Queen” is a Hans Christian Andersen story on which the film “Frozen” is based, but Scottish Ballet brings the original tale to life with choreography by Christopher Hampson and music by Rimsky-Korsakov played by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra conducted by Jean-Claude Picard.  It tells the story of two sisters, the Snow Queen, (Constance Devernay-Laurence) and the Summer...
<strong>Baghdaddy – Royal Court Theatre</strong>
London

Baghdaddy – Royal Court Theatre

Baghdaddy is a poignant and moving piece that shifts the lens on the indirect survivors of war. The play centres on the daughter-father relationship to provide an unseen perspective on the intergenerational trauma of war. It speaks to many truths - of being mixed heritage/ multilingual, making England home, the immigrant student experience, and witnessing war in one’s home country. The two Qareens and Jinn played by Souad Faress, Hayat Kamille and Noof Ousellam are captivating. Their obtuse costumes, clowning influences and magical aspects create a sanctuary for issues to be dwelled on but not be didactic. The memory of when we are first aware of where we are from. Zeroing on the feeling of a child watching an adult making sense of the war that unfolded kilometres away and bending time...
<strong>Cell Outs – Traverse Theatre</strong>
Scotland

Cell Outs – Traverse Theatre

Two ex-screws take to intimate interior of the thrust stage of Traverse 2 to provide a thought-provoking insight into the British prison system. Glasshouse Theatre Company’s, Harriet Troup and Ella Church play themselves as graduates cajoled into the prison system on the promise of putting their arts backgrounds to good use in rehabilitation, only to find that barely six weeks later they are ‘lambs to the slaughter’ as fully qualified Prison Officers. In a comedic twist the two friends are posted to prisons within waving distance, one to a male prison, the other a female, covering both bases as it were, and provided rich material for this production. Set against a period of government cut-backs and lay-offs, the play takes us from initial recruitment through the ‘breakthrough gra...