Fights, Arguments And Humour: Private Lives A Success

Fights pursue, arguments happen, slaps occur – What more does one want?

Private Lives follows Elyot and Amanda who have both remarried and are honeymooning with their new partners, only to discover that they happen to be in the same hotel.

This in turn allows their ‘love’ for each other to resurface and they disappear leaving their new partners alone.

As events follow, we discover reasons why their previous relationship ended in the first place.

The play opens in the France resort of Deville.

The set contained a balcony and two benches that insinuated a shared balcony between two hotel rooms, which inevitably was true.

The play then cleverly takes you into the Parisian apartment of Amanda through a musical interlude where the set changes instantly which is the set for the rest of the play.

The apartment which starts as a well-kept home and slowly changes into a place of ruin through the argument that takes us into the second half.

The amateur performance, by permission of Samuel French Ltd, is not to be a criticism.

All four actors, plus the short cameo appearance of a French maid, brought to life their respective characters.

Each actor and character kept the audience engaged from the start to finish through both dialogue and acting.

This is a play for everyone. The snobbery of Elyot right through to the humble gentlemen of Victor complement each other.

The female characters of Amanda and Cybil also complemented each other. Cybil was the annoyingly, teary character whereas Amanda was portrayed as a more dominant figure.

Amanda’s character really stole the show. The performance was truly brilliant and is definitely not one to miss.

As said, the play was an amateur performance form the Lincoln Company but it worked really well.

From watching the production it was clear that all the cast enjoyed putting on the performance and it showed.

Noel Coward’s brilliant play was executed perfectly by the Lincoln Company which produces work for a range of festivals and runs shows in rep at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre throughout the year.

Private Lives was written by Coward and premiered in 1930 and received mixed reviews when first performed.

It has to be said that there are similarities between Private Lives and the French play God of Carnage which follows two couples discussing a fight between their sons which leads to utter carnage (it was also adapted into a hilarious film by Polanski in 2011).

It is clear that God of Carnage took some inspiration from Private Lives but they are both enjoyable in their own way.

Unsurprisingly, the auditorium was filled and the play had the audience captivated from the very opening scene right through to the final bows.

It was a fantastic performance and the cast should be proud of their performances.


Are We Due Another Movement In Writing?

Ever since the early 17th and 18th centuries there have been movements that have changed the way writers, well, write.

It got me thinking about where we are now and whether a new movement is just around the corner or that we have slowly merged into a way that feels comfortable?

Preferably not the latter, in my opinion.

As a writer, I cannot help but be inspired by the various (and exceedingly long list) of movements that have changed the way we, as writers, do what we do.

My love for writing really began at a young age but as soon as I hit secondary school (high school for any American readers) my love grew.

Studying the Romanticism Movement of the 19th century my love for Victor Hugo and Lord Byron more or less came to the fore front.

Their works are a true inspiration for any aspiring writer.

I then delved into the heart of literature and focused on the gothic novel (Bram Stoker’s Dracula a notable favourite) and I immediately fell in love.

The supernatural elements, the violence what more does anyone want in a piece of writing?

I was then lucky enough to study the lake poets who focused their work on nature and the sublime.

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge had a massive impact on my views on writing and The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge) is an outstandingly fantastic piece of writing.

I was in awe when I first read it.

Similarly Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market was another piece that had me in awe. The use of imagery and the power of the imagination is something that I hold very dear to myself.

There are so many brilliant pieces of literature/writing that came about because of a movement.

It makes you think ‘where are we now?’

We had the Beat generation, Dada, Surrealism, Postmodernism, Gonzo (more for journalism but still relevant) and countless others.

But what is next? And more importantly, who is next?

Will it be the Bloggers Movement or will there be a massive shift back to romanticism or surrealism?

Who knows, I know that I will want to be a part of it!


Silence of the Lambs: Hopkins/Hepburn

Last night, I decided to watch Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2004).

It’s not the first time I have seen the film but it hit me last night how bizarre Cate Blanchett’s voice is.

Blanchett plays the role of the iconic movie actress Katharine Hepburn and it, personally, is a realistic accent.

It got me wondering how she got the stop-on accent.

According to research, Blanchett diligently worked with a voice coach in order to master the Hepburn infamous accent.

Interestingly, Blanchett was the first person to win an Oscar for portraying a previous Oscar winner.

She nailed the voice perfectly of the Bringing Up Baby (1938) star.

More importantly, and interesting in my opinion, is the connection between Anthony Hopkins and Hepburn.

In his iconic role in Silence of the Lambs (1991), Anthony Hopkins said that his Hannibal voice was a mix of Truman Capote and Katharine Hepburn.

He achieved a certain perverse poignancy (and won an Oscar) by informing Hannibal the Cannibal with demonic charm, a sense of wounded innocence and an insinuating drawl that crossed Truman Capote with Katharine Hepburn.

He included some unusual touches for Hannibal Lecter during his preparation for the role, among which were making Lecter’s voice similar to the cutting warble of Katharine Hepburn.

Also through never blinking, he brought a characteristic that he picked up from watching tapes of convicted murderer Charles Manson.

It shows how talented Hopkins is as an actor but also shows just how iconic and memorable the voice of Hepburn was.

It makes one wonder how she would have felt with Hopkins anecdote.

Having worked together on The Lion in Winter (1968), one could hope that she would have been happy with it.

Probably would exclaim ‘Golly!’

There Might Be Life After Death: Pushing Daisies

Comedy-Drama Pushing Daisies Could Be Returning

Created by: Bryan Fuller

Cast: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth

Current number of series: 2

Genre: Comedy-Drama

For those who have never seen or even heard of Pushing Daisies, it was an American ‘forensic fairy tale’ and followed the story of Ned (played by Lee Pace) and Chuck (played by Anna Friel).

Ned is a pie-maker who has the ability to bring dead things back to life with just one touch, an ability that comes with consequences.

This fantasy comedy-drama was known for is unusual visual style, eccentric and quirky characters and fast-paced dialogue, often using wordplay, metaphor and double entendre.

The critically acclaimed series received numerous awards and received 17 Primetime Emmy Award Nominations, with seven wins.

It then came as a shock when the series would not continue and saddened audiences across the globe.

The finale of the superb series left viewers asking ‘what will happen next?’ with Chuck revealing that she is alive to her aunties.

The overall ending did tie up corresponding storylines with Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) meeting his long lost daughter and Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth) finding love and opening her own restaurant, but something was still missing.

Despite Chuck revealing herself to her aunties there were still questions to be answered such as ‘Will Ned and Chuck ever be able to physically touch?’, ‘How will her aunties cope with her being alive?’, ‘Will Ned figure out how to control his ability?’

It does seem like creator Bryan Fuller knew what he was doing by leaving the series with a potential for more to happen.

With a brilliant cast including Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz (plus narrated by Jim Dale) it was no surprise it was included in TV Guides list of 60 shows that were ‘Canceled Too Soon’For Pushing Daisies fans, who I can imagine have been eagerly keeping their fingers crossed for a new season, may get their wish granted.

Creator Bryan Fuller revealed in February 2014 of a potential reviving of the series as a film or a musical starring the magnificent Chenoweth.

Will we soon see Pushing Daisies ‘brought back from the dead’ or it is only a dream that we are clutching on to?

The Driver Is An Exciting Drama

The exciting new British drama The Driver is out now on DVD.

Director: Jamie Payne

Cast: David Morrissey, Claudie Blakley, Ian Hart, Colm Meaney, Sacha Parkinson

Available On: DVD and Blu-Ray

The gripping three-part series follows Vince (David Morrissey) whose life is turned upside down as he tries to escape from his mundane taxi driver life.

By getting involved in a criminal gang, Vince’s morals and empathy begin to surface as he realises what he has got himself into.

The brilliant cast includes David Morrissey (The Walking Dead), Claudie Blakley (Pride and Prejudice), Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Colm Meaney (The Damned United) and Sacha Parkinson (My Mad Fat Diary).

Written by Danny Brocklehurst, the series brings to life the violence and the aftermath of getting involved in a criminal gang.

The series starts with a fast paced, exciting car chase that will have you hooked immediately and there is no telling what would happen to Vince at the end.

Not only does the series contain fast-paced action but there are also some more emotional and thought-provoking scenes which show that Vince and his family have had their share of past problems.

Morrissey, Hart and Meaney bring to life their characters brilliantly and is without a doubt one of the most gripping series from start to finish.

Directed by Jamie Payne (The White Queen) The Driver is a thought-provoking, gripping story of an ordinary man who makes wrong decisions for the good of his family.

The DVD box set features two behind the scenes featurettes with the key cast and crew.

The series will have you hooked from start to finish and is a must-see for anyone who enjoys a thrilling, exciting and gripping series.

The Brilliantly Hilarious Cuckoo

The brilliant comedy Cuckoo returned to our screens last September, and to coincide with the return, FremantleMedia International is released season one on DVD.

This BBC 3 series follows Ken Thompson (Greg Davies) and his family as the spiritual Cuckoo (Andy Samberg) marries into the family.

As the series progresses, Cuckoo’s ‘cuckoo’ behaviour gets more eccentric and bizarre adding to the comedic genius of this programme.

By having no other choice than to accept Cuckoo into their lives, this hilarious comedy will have you laughing from episode one to the finale.

This hilarious comedy pits comic giant Greg Davies against Brooklyn 99’s Andy Samberg and features Helen Baxendale (Friends) and Tyger Drew Honey (Out Numbered).

Together, this excellent cast bring together every parents worse nightmare and each 20 minute episode is perfectly put together to keep you smiling throughout.

Season two of the brilliant comedy is currently airing and available for download episodically via iTunes and features Hollywood heartthrob Taylor Lautner as the equally estranged son of Cuckoo.

The DVD box set contains all six episodes so don’t miss your chance to get your hands on this critically acclaimed hit show.

Brought to life by the collaborating team of Robin French and Kieran Quirke who gave us Roommates, Cuckoo is a brilliant and hysterical must-see comedy for everyone and perfect for binge watching.

Four Short Productions Turned Into One Full Evening: Screenplay

A new method of theatre opened its doors in Scarborough last August with Screenplay.

Director: Henry Bell

Writers: Jimmy Osborne, Isabel Wright, Kate Brower, Claudine Toutoungi

Cast: Charlotte Harwood, Paul Ryan, Lara Stubs

Venue: The Stephen Joseph Theatre

Based in a cinema itself, this play consists of four short productions all of which were written by a brand new bunch of writers.

An Empty Seat (by Jimmy Osborne), the first play of the evening, follows the meeting of Henry and Mae in The Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1936 when it was an Odeon Cinema.

These two characters meet during the showing of The Ghost Goes West on the evening with Scarborough-born Charles Laughton, who made a guest appearance.

The next short of the night was The Illicit Dark (by Isabel Wright) where Jeanne, Charles and Susan meet during a screening of Rear Window in 1954.

This short definitely took inspiration from the Master of Horror himself with this story and takes the audience on a shocking and twisting journey.

Double Feature (by Kate Brower) was undoubtedly the more moving of the four plays.

Based in 1979, it follows Diana and Richie as they watch a midnight screening of The Wicker Man and tackles difficult and sensitive topics and will have you laughing and crying at parts.

The last short was based in 1998 and follows Julie and Martine as they went to watch a screening of Little Voice in 1998.

Bit Part (by Claudine Toutoungi) was the most humorous out of all four of the plays and follows these two sisters as they look for themselves in the screening.

Each play, magnificently directed by Henry Bell, will take you on a journey of emotions, being funny, sad and thought-provoking.

With a cast of three, Charlotte Harwood, Paul Ryan, Lara Stubbs, the four plays worked brilliantly and nothing can be faulted in this magnificent new way of theatre production.

Using the combination of live action and a screen reel, this play was truly a work of art and a must see for all.

Roundelay: A Unique Theatrical Performance

To mark his 53rd year as a theatre director and his 55th year as a playwright, Alan Ayckbourn brought his new play Roundelay to the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Director & Writer: Alan Ayckbourn

Cast: Russel Dixon, Nigel Hastings, Krystle Hylton, Brooke Kinsella, Alexandra Mathie, Sophie Roberts, Richard Stacey, Leigh Symonds

Venue: Stephen Joseph Theatre

This production is the playwright’s latest experiment and with five plays being able to be shown in apparently 200 different orders, it is clear that Roundelay will be unique in every performance.

Three quarters of an hour before the play starts, a member of the audience decides the order in which these five plays are shown.

This non-linear method is a new and boundary breaking way of creating a play and keeps the suspense high as no one in the audience has any idea how the story will unfold.

With twists and turns in the narrative of each performance, it will leave you wanting more from the respective play.

Each of the five plays had comic attributes but then a deeper undertone that surfaced at the beginning or near the end of the specific play.

All of the five plays were intertextually linked and referenced each other which shows that it did not matter what order these productions go in.

The performance called ‘The Politician’ is a light-hearted comedy and will have you laughing throughout the entirety.

‘The Novelist’ is a psychological thriller that will leave you speechless with a blood-curdling scream echoing through your head.

The next option is ‘The Star’ which is a drama that focuses on love and loss and could even make you reach for the tissues.

‘The Judge’ is one of the next options of the evening and is a trip down memory lane and once again deals with loss of both of the characters.

Last but not least is ‘The Agent’ which is a comedic ‘escape’ drama which will have the entire audience worrying what will happen to the characters.

Despite each play only running for a short period, they all provoke thoughts and emotions and with a small cast of eight brilliant actors, the play will have you thinking about past loves and losses.

With a simplistic set design that changes during a musical interlude, the play reinforces the talent of Ayckbourn.

Each play had its dedicated colour and the set design complimented that by having cushions and pieces of furniture with the plays respective colour.

Roundelay was an exciting and unique play and is a must-see.



A Musical Adaptation Of The Boy Who Fell Into A Book

The Boy Who Fell Into A Book premiered in Scarborough in 1998 and now 16 years later, it has been adapted into a musical.

Director: Alan Ayckbourn

Musical Adaptation & Lyrics: Paul James

Musical Director: Mark Warman

Cast: Evelyn Hoskins, Nicolas Colicos, Katie Birtill, Natasha J Barnes, John Barr, Stephen Matthews

Venue: Stephen Joseph Theatre

The play follows Kevin, a young boy who falls into not one but six different books and meets all sorts of characters including chess pieces, fairytale creatures and his favoured fictional character Rockfist Slim, an American detective.

Evelyn Hoskins was outstanding in portraying the 10 year-old Kevin and really brought to life the imaginative mind of the young boy.

In an almost complete polar opposite there is Nicolas Colicos’ portrayal of the two hundred and twenty pound Rockfast Slim.

These two protagonists were brilliant to watch and the two actors really worked well together in the entire production. The two characters were different both in physical appearance and in their outlook on their current situation – jumping from book to book.

The award-winning number Kaboom Kapow had to be the turning point when these two characters really began to fully connect with Rockfist Slim admitting that Kevin had more brains than he did.

As they journeyed through a varied selection of books, the one that really stood out was the insanely brilliant, extremely humorous and down-right creepy journey through The Wubbly’s.

Despite being a scene predominately aimed for the children of the audience it also featured stuff from nightmares (especially for me).

This part of the play saw some of the cast dressed up in bright pink outfits and dance around with both Kevin and Rockfist.

Each actor showcased how talented they all were through the variety of different songs that they each performed, some singing in certain accents including French, Scottish and American.

The musical numbers including Kaboom Kapow and Fairytales had everyone in the audience tapping their feet to the melody of these catchy tunes.

With limited and very minimal set design, the actors utilised the stage magnificently and really showed just how talented actors they were.

As the two journey through a collection of well-known and well-loved books including Kidnap (Robert Louie Stevenson) and Grimms Fairytales, they both learn the value of friendship and how characters in our beloved novels will stay alive forever.

This magical evening will have all audience members laughing throughout the entire production.

Now as a musical, The Boy Who Fell Into A Book is without a doubt will have you going home and grabbing your favourite book and reading it cover to cover.


Live Stream Of Billy Elliot: The Musical – A True Sensation

Billy Elliot The Musical was broadcast live from the Victoria Palace Theatre in London last night to 550 cinemas across the world.

For people who haven’t seen the film version (2000) the story is based around the minors strikes during Thatcher’s reign.

It follows a young boy named Billy Elliot who discovers that he has a natural talent for ballet dancing but tries to keep it a secret from his minor brother and father.

The live streaming from the theatre to the cinema was truly brilliant and opens up the question ‘Is this a new way of theatre-going?’

There was definitely a more connection with the actors and the cinema audience as, through the help of the cameras, we were able to get up-close to the characters and see their emotions as they performed.

The broadcasting also has benefits by allowing people who are unable to make it to London to see brilliant performances live as if they were really there.

It was truly a work of art and was amazing to experience.

With an outstanding cast including the brilliant Ruthie Henshall and Deka Walmsley, it was obvious that Elliott Hanna (Billy Elliot) took the stage.

The young star really showed how talented he is through his constant dancing and singing with hardly any time to rest.

It must be said that Hanna will definitely have a long career in the performing arts and will look forward to seeing his next starring role.

Throughout the production there was humour even throughout some of the more emotional scenes.

One of the songs that really sticks out is The Letter, this emotional song sees Billy’s dance teacher reading a letter from his deceased mother.

It is magnificently emotional and there was no doubt a fair few tears in the audience but nevertheless, it was a true heart-warming song that is one to hear.

To mark the 10 year anniversary of this magnificent production, there was an added treat for the audiences after the finale.

A crowd-roaring ‘Billy Mash-up’ featuring 27 Billy Elliot stars began and was incredibly awe-inspiring and had everyone in the theatre and the cinema screaming praise at the talented young dancers.

As well it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 24.

This feel-good story about acceptance is a must-see for all ages.