Rambert 15.3.2018

It’s not often I get the opportunity to review a night of contemporary dance, so it was a lovely surprise to get a Rambert ticket at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.

“Rambert is unique. Our history as Britain’s oldest dance company is constantly refreshed by the creation of new dance works. We commission the most exciting choreographers, composers and designers around, and give them the freedom to lead us wherever their vision and imagination takes them.

Current and recently commissioned choreographers include leading UK-based dance-makers Kim Brandstrup, Aletta Collins, Shobana Jeyasingh, Ashley Page and Rambert’s Artistic Director Mark Baldwin. Alongside these new creations, we have revived seminal works from our past repertoire by internationally-celebrated choreographers including Christopher Bruce, Lucinda Childs, Merce Cunningham and Siobhan Davies.”

The evening entertainment was split into 3 performances -” A Linha Curva”, “Ghost Dances” and “Goat”.

The first piece was bursting with energy, a stage full of vibrant dancers in fluorescent hot pants. I enjoyed the use of lighting, cleverly segregating and reuniting lines of bodies as they leapt and shimmied. The choreography was mesmerising and my thoughts wandered to imagery of tribal dances and the addictive movement of carnival. The freedom and abandonment was infectious – upbeat, cheeky, sexy fun.

Section two brought an entirely different feel to the evening. Interestingly the first few minutes were music free, which is a bold move indeed. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to walk across a stage quietly, let alone leap and lift without each landing mimicking thunder, yet the Ghosts were so silent I could hear their breath! Christopher Bruce’s combination of ballet and modern dance worked perfectly, and created a melancholy yet hopeful feeling amongst the characters. The repetition of movement, spliced with the beautiful panpipes and haunting Ghosts was thought provoking, bringing together the vitality of life and love with the unavoidable, cloying touch of death.

The final part of the evening threw me completely. From the upbeat, to the political, we finally landed at the utterly bonkers. Initially I couldn’t work out what the title had to do with the piece, but I clocked on fairly quickly (before it was explained, go me!) After two intense performances I was delighted by the irony of Miguel Altunaga whose perfectly timed, entirely inappropriate questions brought a beaming smile to my lips, his sensual accent welcoming me in. I found myself transported to what seemed like some sort of 70s cult meeting/love in, which wasn’t where I’d imagined I’d be on a Thursday evening, but I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Liam Francis was an intriguing lead, his character’s intense persona a stark contrast to our friend the TV presenter. There were so many themes to absorb and reflect on, it’s the kind of piece you would watch multiple times and continually notice something new, or perceive a different message. The closing section was captivating, Liam and Hannah Rudd left me a little teary eyed with their passionate final dance. What a beautiful pairing.

I hadn’t realised there was a Q&A after which is a real shame, but in a way it was quite cathartic to enjoy my own interpretation of the evening, and take it away to ponder some more. Contemporary dance isn’t for everyone, as it doesn’t always have an exacting conclusion and may not answer the audience questions directly, but in a world of Google and instant gratification, I found an evening of Rambert the perfect therapy.

If you need to escape, click the link below to check ticket availability



The Barricade Boys 12.3.2018

The Barricade Boys showcase some of the world’s finest male voices from the West End, Broadway, International Tour and Hollywood movie of the world’s longest-running musical – Les Misèrables.
As seen on ITV’s This Morning and The Paul O’Grady Show, The Barricade Boys are quickly securing their place as theatre land’s newest and most exciting male vocal group!

**Confession – I had thought I was reviewing “Beyond the Barricade” as I have seen them before, these are not the same people!! **

This evening’s show featured the vocal talent of four rather dashing young men, who spoilt us by belting out a catalogue of well loved anthems spanning several decades. I was amazed by their versatility, and pleased that they poked fun at themselves by suggesting we were in for several hours of ballads (we weren’t, although I certainly have nothing against a moody number or two!) Throughout the night we were treated to a multitude of medleys, from mainstream musicals to jazz remixes with a few cheeky pop songs thrown in. What The Barricade Boys did well was build up a sense of apprehension as the evening progressed, teasing the audience with their rather snazzy crushed velvet jackets and funky moves, and splicing classic favourites with unexpected song choices. Watching them on stage together was a bit like watching the first act of a musical, followed by a sneak peak of them letting loose at an after-show party. Each of the gentlemen had their own distinct singing (and dancing!) style, which was a delight to watch, at points I felt almost as though there was an “in joke” running between them as they winked and smiled to one another and the band.

My particular favourite was the extremely bouncy Simon Schofield, who blew me away with his intense vocal range and performance zest. I loved his polished tones, and wish I’d had the chance to see him in Joseph – Simon if you’re reading this please feel free to invite me to review your next production! There were a few minor lighting/sound issues, and unfortunately the theatre wasn’t filled to capacity, but in spite of this the lads received a well deserved standing ovation. Perfectly pitched for tonight’s audience, and much to my delight I was informed by a lady of a certain age (as she queued for an autograph) that she is now a “Barricade Boys groupie”. Bloomin’ marvellous. You go girl.

Son of a Preacher Man 6.3.2018


“Three broken hearts, one Soho hang-out, and the only man who could ever help them…
Welcome to the Preacher Man, the swinging Soho joint where the kids used to dance the night away and dared to dream of love, while the legendary owner, The Preacher Man himself, dispensed advice to cure the loneliest of hearts… until now.”

Listening to the soulful hits of Dusty Springfield seemed like the perfect way to shake off my bad mood on a grey Tuesday evening, and I was looking forward to a toe tapping Motown experience down at the Aylesbury Waterside. The opening scene was a little random, with 3 strangers talking about a forgotten bar run by a “preacher man”. I was slightly confused, as neither of the women were old enough to have been around in the 60’s, but it became clear they were on quests to find the “preacher man” in memory of older family members. The lady they initially spoke to who was running the coffee shop for “Simon” was hilarious – such a shame she didn’t have a bigger part to play as she added some real comedic energy (and I can’t find a credit either, sorry!)

Unfortunately the preacher man the trio sought had long since passed away and so the love sick strangers (Michael Howe, Michelle Gayle and Alice Barlow) tried to find the answers to all their problems by turning to his son Simon (Nigel Richards), who played the socially awkward part perfectly.

I must admit, the show wasn’t quite what I had in mind, and there was a rather Marmite clash between 60’s culture and modern day. I enjoyed the choreography a great deal – the movement was varied, thoughtful and unpredictable throughout (check out the dance number between the two young men – beautiful physical theatre). I found the vocals a bit of a mixed bag, with the powerful singing of one particular male (tall blonde chap) during the “I just don’t know what to do with myself” skit showing up some of the weaker cast vocals. The storyline interspersed plenty of ‘glory days’ shenanigans with modern themes, and the “Cappucino Sisters” kept momentum going throughout. I did find the main trio a little irritating at times, their lack of gratitude towards the “son of the preacher man” seemed a little unrealistic, as did their instant friendship and inexplicably never-ending time in London (where were they sleeping?? how long were they up there??) Fortunately the male lead (Michael Howe) pulled me back from the brink by being the most interesting character of the three, and not a bad guitarist!

As a modern day online dater, I had to chuckle at the somewhat tongue in cheek look at 21st century love and the brilliant “selfie dance” in the first half, although I was admittedly distracted by the splendid form of Mike (Liam Vincent – Kilbride). At the risk of sounding like a bit of a perve, I can spot a good pair of thighs from a mile off, so to witness this cello playing, dancing singing marvel IN A KILT during the second half was certainly a highlight for me. Why does someone like him never appear in my inbox?!

If gentlemen in kilts aren’t your main reason for an evening at the theatre, I can assure you that “Son of a Preacher Man” offers jam packed, all singing, all dancing light hearted entertainment that will have kids (10+), parents and grandparents boogying the night away. Some of the acting left a little to be desired in my humble opinion (it was slightly wooden, and bits of script just didn’t flow properly), but it isn’t often that you get the opportunity to watch a production with 60’s jams, a modern twist and a cast playing instruments live on stage. I must also just mention Lewis Kidd, as his energetic, genuine and totally believable performance had me gently smiling to myself on the way home.

For a totally groooooovvvyyyy experience of your own, click the link!


19.2.2018 The Case of the Frightened Lady

the case of

“When Inspector Tanner is called in to investigate a ruthless murder at Mark’s Priory, the grand ancestral home of the Lebanon family, he quickly discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. The household is controlled by the family physician, the footmen behave more like guests than servants and the secretary Isla is afraid for her life. As Tanner moves closer to the heart of the mystery he uncovers a shocking and closely guarded secret…”

Murder mysteries always promise plenty of head scratching over the age-old question “whodunit?” and an evening watching “The Case of the Frightened Lady” was no exception. The show boasted a cast of well known TV actors, from Gray O’Brien (The Loch, Peak Practice, Casualty) to Philip Lowrie (Coronation Street), and even an appearance from Charlie Clements (Bradley in Eastenders). During the opening scene we were invited to the annual fancy dress party of the Lebanon family and met the rather sombre Lady of the house and her guests as they danced the night away, oblivious to the tragedy about to unfold. From the start I was somewhat suspicious of the staff always loitering just outside the room when people were talking, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why they were constantly eavesdropping in darkened corners. There were plenty of characters with motive to kill, and by the end of the first half I heard several audience members questioning their companions about who had committed the murder! The second half brought more clues, and further questions about what was being hidden under our noses by the somewhat strange Lebanon family and their shifty servants.  As a performance I found it a little “old school” for my taste, but for anyone with a passion for murder mysteries “The Case of the Frightened Lady” is an absolute classic. Shameful secrets, love affairs and shifty butlers galore! If that sounds like your cup of tea (or tumbler of strange tasting whisky..) you can experience the drama for yourself by clicking this link….




Blood Brothers 13.2.2018

I have just returned from a truly exquisite evening at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, reviewing Bill Kenwright’s Blood Brothers. In the interest of salvaging my bloodshot eyes (I’m afraid there was some crying involved) I will keep it brief, but not so brief that I undersell one of the best shows I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

The set was imaginative and great quality, with the twinkling lights of the town guiding a haunting opening scene. The captivating yet modest narrator sang us into the picture, his stance from the sidelines elevating to a bold “voice of conscience” as the performance reached its climax.  I am not usually a fan of adults playing children as it can be somewhat cheesy and overdone, but Mickey’s character progression was utterly astonishing – the energetic 7 year old, the hormonal 14 year old, the carefree 18 year old and the broken man in his 20s were so perfectly portrayed I can barely believe the same actor created them all. Every scene was painstakingly executed, with attention to detail abundantly evidenced by each and every performer. I could honestly write pages about my experience this evening, but I’m emotionally drained and a little overwhelmed by the heartache suffered by the two families and the gloriously confused Linda so I will try to be succinct!

One particular moment that stood out to me was the dole queue in the second half, as there was something so depressing and art-like about the formation, I found “The Full Monty” film popping into my mind as they stood in line singing. The props were just enough to add depth to the scenes without becoming a distraction from the quality of the acting – clearly the result of many hours rehearsal, consideration and revision. The relationships were incredibly believable and gritty,  yet uplifting enough to not spoil the humorous musical overtones. It was refreshing to belly laugh, and have some audience interaction interspersed with the inevitable tragedy unfolding.

The vocals were powerful and moving, leaving me with goosebumps throughout the evening, and although there were no weak links in the chain it was the pleading tones of Mrs Johnstone that got the tears flowing for me! There were so many positives during this breathtaking emotional roller-coaster of a show, with a cast that defies adequate description from me. It was probably summed up best by the extremely well deserved standing ovation at the end of the evening – it appears the audience of many generations thoroughly enjoyed it. I would hand on heart watch this again tomorrow night if I could, and urge you to see Blood Brothers this week at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.  Everyone loves a love story, even if it can’t be forever…


The Play That Goes Wrong 5.2.2018


2015 Olivier Award Winner for Best New Comedy

2015 BroadwayWorld UK Winner for Best New Play

2014 WhatsOnStage Award Winner for Best New Comedy

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on a 1920s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does!  The accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call, with hilarious consequences!

Given 5 stars from The Daily Mail, called a ‘Gut-busting hit’ by the New York Times and with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Ant and Dec ‘funniest show we’ve seen! If you can get a ticket go.’ 

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is guaranteed to leave you aching with laughter!

The aptly named “Mischief Theatre” Company have a lot to answer for when it comes to their latest touring production “The Play That Goes Wrong“. I am honestly not entirely sure what I can say to sum up the experience adequately (which is unlike me!) but I shall attempt to share with you the remaining crumbs of the nutty pie unapologetically spilt down my lap as I sat so innocently in my seat last night.

Kenny Wax Ltd and Stage Presence Ltd present an absolutely seamless (and slightly ridiculous) show, the likes of which I can truthfully say I have never seen before. The play is a play within a play, cleverly introduced by a “behind the scenes” warm up skit involving “Trevor” (Gabriel Paul) and “Annie” (Catherine Dryden) as the insanely disorganised, unlucky and accident prone crew. I loved the audience participation – the unwitting chap they dragged onto the stage couldn’t have looked more uncomfortable if he had been asked to tap dance in the nude while playing Frere Jacques on the panpipes. The scene is then set for the “actual” show itself (“Murder At Haversham Manor“) introduced by the hapless (and somewhat hopeless) optimist “Chris Bean” who promises an evening of theatrical entertainment unlike any other…He definitely got that bit right.

The cast were outstandingly powerful as a whole, with exquisite comedic timing – I genuinely winced in pain at every “bang”, “crash” and “wallop”. Having had my moments on stage and behind the scenes over the years it was utter car crash entertainment watching the stage malfunctions and understudy cock ups. Perkins (Dennis Tyde) had me howling at his pronunciation issues, and I still cannot understand how Sandra Wilkinson has any unbruised skin left on her body after her window scene! There was abundant slapstick precision throughout, and just as gags reached their ridiculous climax the cast somehow managed to push them that one step further into the abyss. It was also quite a first for me to find a corpse (Jonathan Harris as Charles Haversham) quite so comically endearing – who knew being dead could be so hilarious!

The evening was a big old glug of everything that’s right with decent theatre, and I tip my proverbial hat to the amount of hard work it must have taken to prepare to get it quite so entirely wrong. I love that so many risks were taken with physicality and pushing the set to its absolute limit, especially in light of the amount of prep and clearing up each show must require on tour!

An explosive production with so much going for it that I would happily watch it all over again. Think: Fawlty Towers meets Acorn Antiques with a splash of first year at Uni Drama and Performance (cringe), and you might begin to understand what on earth I witnessed last night.

Aylesbury Tickets

MK Tickets



George’s Marvellous Medicine 30.1.2018

It is no exaggeration to say that Roald Dahl has always been a hero of mine. As a child I was an avid reader, hiding under my covers late at night with a torch and a well thumbed paperback. In light of that, seeing one of his absolute classics “George’s Marvellous Medicine” being performed at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre was an opportunity not to be missed.

For anyone who has lived under a rock, the story is a children’s novel by Roald Dahl following the misadventures of George as he attempts to create a potion to make his grandma a better person. Nothing George does seems to ever be quite good enough, so he decides to make the cranky old lady a new medicine that will truly change her for good…

As any serious reader will know, watching a film or production of a much loved book can be a sizeable gamble. One wrong move and it’s game over. That in addition to a generally critical theatre eye can result in a complete make or break situation. No pressure.

I was very excited by the funky looking set, and have to say the production team were admirable in their creativity considering there were no set changes for the duration. The storyline was pretty ambitious for a travelling theatre environment, which left me curious as to how the magic would be convincing for a high definition, special effects generation of children.

The cast consisted of only 5 performers, but they brought constantly high energy to the stage and the humour ranged from the extremely silly through to politically influenced references. My favourite character was George’s dad, played by the hilarious Justin Wilman. I really appreciated his dry humour and comedic timing, and most of all his sufficient supply of gin!

Seeing as this is a review, I would like to address a few minor criticisms.. I would have liked George’s granny to have been older and more disgusting. As a child I envisioned a frail but terrifying ancient hag who looked ready to snuff it at any moment, so I was most surprised to see such a leopard print clad character take to the stage. That said, she was hilarious and added a slightly “gangster granny” feel to the production, and the cheeky fart jokes were of course an absolute hit. I felt that George could have been younger and distinctly more weedy and geeky, given that he was from a poor farming family – Roald Dahl loved to back an underdog and although Preston Nyman offered an excellent performance I found his character a little “Queens English” for my palate. I was somewhat disappointed by the closing scene of the show, which came across as a bit of a “don’t try this at home and don’t sue us!” disclaimer, which although sensible in a society of “where there’s blame there’s a claim”, made me a little sad that red tape has gone quite so bonkers (I never tried to make a medicine for my granny and I read the book several times!!) My only other comment would be that (wow I know I’m getting old to be saying this!!) at times I found the scenes a little ‘manic’, Roald Dahl on acid if you will. This is not entirely a negative, as it clearly appealed to the audience members 20 years my junior who related far more than I to certain scenes (although I absolutely cracked up at granny when George imagined her being nice – watch out for that!)

There were many seriously magical moments that saw me cackling with laughter, and the audience participation sections resulted in a couple of children practically fainting in their desperation to help George recreate his marvellous medicine. I also loved that the actors were highly skilled in a multitude of instruments, and whipped them out at the drop of a hat!

Overall, a perfect show for anyone with a child under 12 or any Roald Dahl fans out there who fancy a classic book adaptation with a modern twist.

Tickets available via this link