18.7.2016 Shadowlands

shadowlands

Shadowlands is a love story, unfolding the unlikely coupling between C.S Lewis and Joy Davidman. Both literary fanatics but from different parts of the globe, sharing their passion for the written world through good old fashioned letters. Joy visits Lewis (otherwise  known as Jack) and from that time on a deep friendship flourishes. In time Joy is ditched by her no-good husband and makes the decision to move to England, and from there the story develops.

The theatre was on the quiet side during this monday night performance, but there was still a feeling of anticipation in the air. I can’t claim much knowledge of C.S Lewis, although I am of course familiar with his work such as the magical “The Lion The With and The Wardrobe”. The first few minutes seemed a little old fashioned and stuffy , which left me fantasizing about pub gardens and glasses of Pimms given the incredible sunshine we had been blessed with for the day. I was soon brought back to the present moment by the introduction of  Major Lewis (Denis Lill). His mannerisms and comedic timing caught me completely off guard, refreshingly modern and witty. His relationship with his brother Jack (Stephen Boxer) was utterly plausible and irresistibly charming, and despite its traditional nature I found myself grinning. The scenes were mostly fairly short and sweet, with the cast moving set and integrating it into the performance. I was initially skeptical about the relationship between Joy and Jack, but as it slowly unraveled I found myself willing their love to succeed and flourish.

There was something  very comforting about the whole production, with the older friendship group reminding me of my late grandpa (particularly with their singing and phrases!). The dry sense of humour and comedic timing was particularly excellent and made for a fun evening from start to finish. The set was of good quality and I liked the way the scenes linked together without stopping. My only criticism is that I had assumed that there was a larger age gap between Joy and Jack, which made their relationship seem a little far fetched initially. Overall I would suggest this play as a pleasurable evening out for any theatre goer, and would be of particular interest for those with passion for historical literature

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4.7.2016 The Mousetrap

the mousetrap

Everyone knows that name. Agatha Christie. The queen of murder mystery.

I normally like to build up the suspense before revealing my final verdict in these blogs, but in the case of The Mousetrap I will make an exception…go and see it! I had read a mixed bag of reviews on this play, many singing its praises, but a few relegating it to the archives of theatre – a part of history and nothing more.

The Mousetrap tells the story of Mollie Ralston (Anna Andresen) and new husband Giles Ralston (Nick Barclay) embarking on an adventure as proprietors of  a hotel inherited by Mollie. As the first half unfolds they welcome strangers into their home, excited at the opportunity to make some money in their fledgling business. Unfortunately snow is falling solidly, and the remote stately home runs the risk of becoming swiftly isolated. The characters spend some time becoming acquainted, and there is a palpable awareness that something big is about to happen.

The end of the first half sees a murder committed. But who is the victim, and how will the group uncover the killer? It did make me chuckle, hearing the descriptions of characters and rooms, like a live game of Cluedo! Was it Sgt Trotter with a candlestick in the kitchen? Or Miss Casewell in the drawing room with a carving knife?

For once, I couldn’t choose a favourite character, or find anything I didn’t really like (and dammit, I am horribly fussy) about the play. Mrs Boyle (Lousie Jameson) was wonderfully irritating and condescending, but I slowly developed a luke warm spot for her despite the cutting remarks.Major Metcalf was not as prominent a character in my mind, but I enjoyed piecing together snippets of his life and wondering if he had an ulterior motive. Mr Paravicini (Greogry Cox) was a total enigma…where did he come from? Why? Was he really who he said? Why was he so sprightly for an older gentleman?? Was the murderer Miss Casewell, a sullen young lady over from abroad on mysterious ‘business’ that she refused to explain? Or was it Christopher Wren (Oliver Gully) in the hot seat? He had me chuckling throughout the performance, with his hilarious exclamations and flamboyance. (Ok, maybe he was my favourite by a little bit.)

For me, the play worked wonderfully. I was expecting a bit of a slow ride, but my expectations were easily exceeded. I particularly noted the attention to detail – the specially made newspapers, the snow outside, even the soft sound of the wind when the windows were opened. All of the characters were strong in their own right, and I am certain the combination of comedy and suspense would appeal to a wide variety of theatre goers.

If I’m being really critical, I guess I would have to comment that the survivors at the end seemed to get over the ordeal with surprising speed, laughing merrily and exchanging gifts! But even that, I suppose, has its place in what I can only describe as a slick, perfectly paced and marginally tongue in cheek production of a true classic. For me, this is what a night at the theatre should feel like.

Finally verdict? Loved it! Well worth hauling my bum out of the house on a monday evening for!