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27th Jan, 2015

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet
24th January 2015
New Diorama Theatre



I’m on a mission to watch all of the Shakespeare I can see in London now as I’m currently developing some of my own work loosely based on this wonderful piece of creation that makes me cry rivers whenever I watch it. It just is my all--time favourite play in the whole world. I must be able to recite the whole thing if I concentrated.
             I thought this company’s interpretation was rather wonderful. They had such young energy – I think the story has been told so many times, interpreted in so many ways sometimes I just forget that it’s about young people. Chaotic emotional teenagers that can’t keep their hormones under control. It’s essentially about sex. Shakespeare just likes to jazz it up a little.
            The whole ‘meeting each other at a rave’ thing is a prime example. After a few too many tequila shots doesn’t everybody think that the man they might be dancing with is their Romeo? I’ve done it a few times myself. That’s not to say that all the poetry is irrelevant – it’s so beautiful it breaks my heart but I think part of that is because the two leads are so damn impulsive. These actors managed to portray that perfectly in their choice of casting. Clare Latham’s Juliet was perfectly done – stroppy without being histrionic – she had a real innocence about her and I found myself warming to her choice of American accent. It felt like she knew she didn’t belong in her family and that made her struggle as a character even more believable.
              The standard of acting across the board was excellent. Mercutio’s ‘Queen Mab’ speech was as over the top as it needed to be. I loved that this company weren’t afraid to be graphic – they pushed every innuendo to the extreme and it was exactly right. After all, the ultimate goal for these two main characters is to sleep together – granted their might be a bit of emotional turmoil in between but that’s it. It’s about getting it on.
              I also love Kate Sawyer’s Nurse in her pink velor tracksuit. She was just the right amount of comic relief and contrasted the rather well spoken Capulet’s really well. Romeo (Christopher York) was adorable and naïve – just between a boy and a man and had chemistry in all the right places. You genuinely believed his efforts to try his best for this girl. I have to say I was mighty impressed

Overall – innocent, energetic, dynamic

1st Dec, 2014

Museum of London Takeover Day

Another interesting thing happened in my life last week! I was invited to be a Very Important Person as part of the Kids in Museums Takeover Day.  It involved being invited to a very special performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by the kids of Conisborough College in Lewisham
They had all been working so hard with drama tutor extraordinaire Keith Park who adapts stories for children with learning disabilities. He uses a mixture of sign language, poetry, call and response and character improvisation to create a narrative for them to participate in I found it a profoundly humbling experience to watch these young people engage with Shakespeare in such a refreshing and interesting way. Granted it wasn’t theatre in a conventional sense but the work, passion and love that went into It was so clear. How lovely and exciting is my job that I get to watch things like that?
Here’s a picture of me with these lovely young people! Well done everybody!


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30th Nov, 2014

Tis Pity She's A Whore

First of all I love the title of this play because it just makes me laugh – it’s one of those kick ass little Jacobean phrases that’ll always be funny. Could be a wonderful little quip if I ever needed one.
           The show was amazing. Utterly screwed up storyline that includes incest, hearts on a spike, multiple lovers, a psycho wife and more sword fighting than an entire season of The Tudors (yes I watch that on my downtime, your point is). The fact I can watch candlelit theatre 10 minutes from my house makes me excited enough anyway. I honestly think that era was so much sexier and more interesting than nowadays – I’d much rather have a man compose a sonnet to me than compliment me on my dress and offer to buy me a beer. Sigh
           Things I liked best about this play – 1) the atmosphere. I’d had a hugely long and exhausting day skiing (yes, I ski as well) and I tell you nothing picks your spirits up more than pretty candlelight. The space is so intimate and beautiful, it transports you completely. I just got so entirely lost in all of it. I can’t imagine a more satisfying feeling than going home at night after performing in a place like that. It’s one of the things I’ll always admire and strive for.
           The acting and characterisation was pretty good too. In a nutshell it centres on an incestuous relationship and both leads were fantastic  (Max Bennett and Fiona Button a.k,a Giovanni and Annabella) – they looked very good together, then it dawned on you they were brother and sister? Oh God. The mind boggles.  My second favourite was Vasques (Philip Cumbus) – he was a servant to Soranzo, another of Annabella’s suitors. It’s far more complicated than that but I’m just going to suffice and tell you it was brilliant. Difficult to make a play that’s over 400 years old and much less well known than Shakespeare a success. The choreography, especially the fight scenes were so well executed – my mum was scared they would cut her nose off; it was that close to us.
           Final point I would like to make – let’s talk about theatrical sex scenes. They usually aren’t that great. This show officially had the best sex scene – awkward, wonderful and just plain wrong but THEY WERE NAKED. FULLY NAKED. And on top of each other. It was great. Old fashioned bedstead, silk sheets the works. It was ace. Sorry I just had to get that out my system.

Overall – sexy, gory, fabulous!

30th Sep, 2014

Dizney Rascal

Dizney Rascal
25th October 2015
Museum of Comedy

Dizney Rascal by Rebecca Humphreys

Writing this far later than I should because I’m a terrible procrastinator. And I have a mug of tea in my Minnie Mouse mug beside me and a Disney Princess playlist in the background. I have such a cool life.
I’ve always been a sucker for a Disney film – mainly because they seem to be the origins for musicals and they never fail to cheer you up when you’re feeling rubbish. I didn’t realise they could be material for stand-up comedy though. Comedy is a difficult thing to get right and I’ve never been a huge fan but there was something about this that just worked – the construction was perfect, the music, the timing.
It started with a Disney sing along, as we all filed in the familiar sounds of Hakuna Matata (The Lion King will always be the best). I proudly belted out every word. Then the jokes began. A video cplays of a young woman sitting in front of a laptop with her jar of Nutella – WRITING MY NEW EDINBURGH SHOW. I’ve been putting off that moment for as long as I can.
The thing about Disney princesses, even though they might be beautiful they are profoundly stupid individuals. Snow White getting involved with seven younger men, Cinderella staying out way beyond her curfew, Belle getting Stockholm syndrome and putting herself in a very vulnerable situation, Jasmine falling into the hands of arranged marriage. I mean come on – I was trying to grow up and make good choices guys. Could’ve fooled me.
Anyway, back to the show. Rebecca managed to vilify Disney and create so many awkwardly dirty and wonderful jokes. I loved how home made this was, filming sequences in her living room where Disney princesses magically appear asking for relationship counselling. The effort was admirable. Also freakishly similar to real life. We women are such strange creatures.
I also learned something very important whilst watching this show – the construction and musical composition of a Disney Princess song. It must have taken Rebecca some serious research. The instrumental build-up, the confused ‘what do I do with my life choices’ couple of lines, the light bulb moment when everything makes sense and finally the tiny moment of self-doubt at the end before she finally plucks up the courage to kiss Prince Charming or throw that snowball, or whatever she was going to do. So accurate it was painful.
I have to say this is one of the few stand up shows I’ve really enjoyed – probably because it reminded me how pathetic and sad I am for being a tad Disney obsessed. But at least I’m not the only one. Even though I’ll probably find a way to throw a Minnie Mouse reference into my Edinburgh show – or I might just perform it with my ears on. Any advice from professionals?

Overall – nostalgic, informative, original
 

8th Sep, 2014

Edinburgh 2014 round up!

Hello people of the world

I have returned from the depths of Edinburgh after spending 6 weeks working as a Press Office Intern at Assembly. Most exhausting work ever! Tea was never more needed in my life. Luckily I got time to squeeze in a few shows - here are my top 5 this year!

5) Francesca Martinez - What the F*** is Normal

One of my favourite women in the universe. Based on her book which made me laugh, cry and reflect on my own life Francesca challenges the notions of 'normality' and struggles with how difference is seen in the moden world. The perfect mix of comedy and frank life expierience her one woman show is the least depressing thing you'll ever see on disability. Includes an Irishman reading poetry

4) Freak

'I am no angel I like it when you do that stuff to me'. 15 year old Leah - innocence personified, everyone's talking about 'doing it' - she's got the fittest boy in school. Maturity - 30 year old Georgie, just come out of a relationship. Sex makes you better right? The best way to get over someone is to get under someone. Thought provoking. full of important lessons and brutally honest about sometimes the act of love doesn't fix everything. Also won a Stage Award for Acting Excellence

3) The Addams Family Musical

Watching the West End at the Fringe! Presented by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland this is everyone's favourite scary family as you've never seen them before. I'm a massive fan of musicals in general and this had such a catchy soundrack. Costumes were amazing, performances were flawles and Pugsley was adorable. All Wednesday wants is one normal night with her family and new boyfriend Lucas. Can that ever happen when you live with zombies?

2) Best of Burlesque

Show a little more. Show a little less. It makes me very proud that I'm old enough and sophisticated enough to watch this now. A combination of beautiful women, sparkly corsets, an amazing MC (Im
presario Chez Royal to be precise) and the most obscene card tricks I've ever seen. I would quite like to be one of those when I grow up. Moulin Rouge watch this space!

1) This is Ceilidh

This was so much fun! I've never been to a ceilidh before but it's absolutely the best raucus party starter I've ever done. So much noise, music so loud and fast the floor shakes and the spinning headache afterwards was like nothing I've ever had. Although I can't exactly ceilidh in the conventional way I loved soaking up the atmosphere - I thought the concept worked really wel  - MacPherson's vs Campbells dance off, the clans, the list of Scottish banter and the fact you have no choice but to get involved. Must be enjoyed with multiple whiskey and coke's. Catch it at London Wonderground!

14th Jul, 2014

Titus Andronicus

  Titus Andronicus
Tuesday 8th July 2014
The Globe

Officially Shakespeare’s bloodiest play! And according to my poster on my bedroom it has the largest death toll. Don’t continue reading if the cutting off of someone’s hands, baking children in pies for revenge and extremely sad outcomes bother you. It won’t work.
           This was rather amazing I have to say – I’ve never seen a production that moves around quite so much. Actors worked the crowd on huge metal trollies declaring speeches from above the audiences head; we were pushed and shoved everywhere, bloodied bodies dragged between people. The play is impossible to explain and I find it pretty hard to follow the narrative, you just kind of have to soak it up and let the gore wash over you. It’s challenging to watch if you have a weak stomach.
           What made this show was the atmosphere.  The Globe as a building transforms Shakespeare regardless but the constant thrill of testosterone, open wounds, swords and clashing armour was quite a beautiful thing. You couldn’t escape it. My general thought with plays like Titus is that it’s not so much about the performing but about how you feel when you leave. I was exhausted and my ears were ringing from the loudest drums and gongs I’ve heard
           Not to disregard the acting which was strong all round. Titus (William  Houston) had plenty of presence and majesty and Lavinia (Flora Spencer Longhurst) was as painful and woeful as a ravaged woman could possibly be. I always find myself shedding a tear at the absolute state she is reduced to and it always makes me immensely proud of Shakespeare that he treats her rape with such dignity. He understands that bad people exist in the world and he isn’t afraid to expose them.
           Titus Andronicus plays on the visceral and brutal parts of human nature. The play is driven by a lust for blood, flesh and power. Heroes, pretty women and armour are what is important. I don’t really have much else to say other than the ending has a slight Sweeney Todd feel. Best way to get revenge on someone. Feed them their own children in a pie.

“Overall – macabre, heroic, bloody”

30th Jun, 2014

The Last Days of Troy

The Last Days of Troy
Saturday 28th June 2014
The Globe Theatre

I’m back in the reviewing game! After finishing my whole degree, moving back home and anticipating my graduation (yay excitement) I feel like I haven’t been to the theatre in an age.
           Saw this at The Globe yesterday. It’s the story of the last few days of the Battle of Troy – not easy to explain in a review but it involves lots of battles, interferences from gods, plenty of armour and a few jilted lovers. The script was by Simon Armitage. It was in a mixture of modern and archaic language and although the story made sense to me sticking to one poetic form would have made it clearer for those who aren’t as familiar with the Iliad as me. I was raised on it as my bedtime story.
           Of course no Greek myth is complete without a beautiful woman – and this one is perhaps the most important of them all. Helen of Troy (Lily Cole) was supposed to be the sexiest woman in the world. She essentially started the war, men fought over her, grudges stayed put, armies got involved and it just escalated. Something I remember thinking as I was watching was how utterly pointless war is as a pastime. For thousands of years people have been spending time, energy, metalwork, losing fingers for what reason? It’s an issue that’ll probably never end but honestly guys. Have a cup of tea and read a book instead.
           Something I quite enjoyed about this production was the conversations and banter between the gods. Zeus and Hera’s relationship was particularly amusing, they are essentially an old married couple (Richard Bremmer and Gillian Bevan) but he constantly cheats on her. She’s one hell of a wife. It was unusual to see them having the ordinary conversations that couples do, moaning about when the chicken was ready for dinner, that he didn’t have any clean robes. Just shows you that even the Queen of Heaven has wifely duties.
           I thought the acting overall was decent – definitely not the best I’ve seen from The Globe but not the worst. Achilles (Jake Fairbrother) was the strongest cast member, real aggression and testosterone. Nothing better than a nice bit of stage fighting and good abs to get me through an afternoon.
           I’d recommend this show if you are a total Homer enthusiast and lost for what to do on a Sunday afternnon but not for any other reason. It was successful, entertaining and some parts were funny but it didn’t make my heart race unfortunately.
           “Overall – manly, amusing, forgettable”

19th Jun, 2014

Wish list of reviews....and a long awaited return!

  Hello!

Apologies for being away for such a long time (I know you've missed me) - but now all my university finals are over I shall be back with a vengence

Here's the next few things I've hopefully got lined up

  • Titus Andronicus at the Globe - blood, gore, cut off arms. Yay

  • Fathers and Sons

  • To Kill a Mockingbird - one of my favourite books just starting it's UK Tour

  • Miss Saigon - a new musical. of course

  • Southbank Festival of Love - although it'll probably make me want to wail in my singleness

  • Shakespeare in Love

Also hopefully more news about Edinburgh Fringe - watch this space!

30th Jan, 2014

Eileen Atkins – Shakespeare’s Women

Sunday 26th January 2014
Sam Wannamaker Playhouse

First of all let me apologise for the severe lack of reviews in the last few months. A combination of all the excitement of turning 21, being catapulted into the world of TV acting and the last year of my degree means I’ve had other things to think about. But I’m back with a vengeance and with the opening of a new Jacobean playhouse ten minutes from my home – where better place to start?

        The new playhouse is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Lit entirely by candles with a tiny little stage and wooden benches round the edges it is hard to believe that outside the modern world carries on, people on iPhones, buses, the Tube and inside people are reciting these wonderful plays by candlelight.  This most recent performance tapped into that exactly –  exploring the psychology of Shakespeare’s female characters. Shakespeare (although I am a tad obsessed) knew more about women than any man I’ve known and probably will know. He knew what turns us on, what makes us angry, how we feel when we fall in love, our danger to be impulsive and talk too much. I have found so much comfort in him as I’ve grown up.

        Doing a one-woman show about Shakespeare is rather a splendid thing. Eileen Atkins herself had played most of the roles. Although she is not an actor of my generation, it’s clear she loves the Bard as much as me. The performance was a series of portraits. For one person to take on so many female characters in one evening was impressive and her ability to change so subtly – morphing from one character to another by just turning her head. I wish I could do that! I thought her Juliet was the strongest performance she gave by far – her knowledge and understanding of the part was evident and her ability to portray such a young woman surprised me – she must be a good age. I appreciated the intimacy and bravery of Eileen, and her knowledge of Shakespeare both contextually and in performance meant I learnt a lot. Whether this show would appeal to anyone other than a crazy Shakespearean is debatable. Despite that, the venue is still one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been and I definitely will be making another visit to the 1600’s soon! Much prettier than London these days!

Overall – educational, candlelit, subtle

Eileen Atkins – Shakespeare’s Women

10th Sep, 2013

More Fringe reviews will appear soon

I've popped off for a rest after the fantastic reception and coverage of my New Tricks debut. Thanks to everyone who sent kind notes and support. Here's a couple of my favourite pieces - http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/should-only-disabled-actors-allowed-2233289   http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/new-tricks-storme-toolis-what-2233214

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