Share |
Feb 15th

Henceforward... at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

Alan Ackybourn really is astonishing. His characters have often been ordinary, even boring, people whose lives usually go no further than their suburban gardens. And yet, through his powers of observation and his unrivalled talent he makes them into roles which have had audiences transfixed for over 50 years and have professionals and am dram societies alike clamouring to perform his plays all over the world.

But Henceforward… is a world away from suburbia. And its characters are, well, not of this world. No breathing Ayckbourn’s magic into the lives of dull little families here. Instead, the actors are challenged with bringing to life and living with a robot, and a dysfunctional one at that.

The play premiered in 1987 and was the first time Ayckbourn used a robot in the storyline. Eleven years later, in Comic Potential, his second robotic character won Janie Dee three awards only ever bestowed on one other actor before or since… Judi Dench.

There are certainly award-winning performances in this production but, first, to the set the scene. Henceforward… takes place in the not too distant future when society has broken down and thugs called The Daughters of Darkness police the area where composer Jerome Watkins lives in a dingy tower block with steel shutters on the windows. It’s totally unnerving. Though written 30 years ago Ackybourn’s vision was extraordinary and nowadays is way too close for comfort. The grey, concrete walls and drab surrounds of Roger Glossop’s set is unsettling.

The play is also extremely funny. Jerome has an android, model no NAN 300F (listed in the cast as Herself!), which a neighbour gave him for spares, but though he refers to her/it as ‘a load of old scrap’, he has programmed her to walk (after a fashion) and talk (after a fashion) - with hilarious consequences. We must surmise that Jacqueline King, who plays Jerome’s unpleasant and forceful ex-wife Corinna in the second act, is indeed NAN, and, therefore, she should be praised for both monumental performances. I could never tire of watching what NAN gets up to next. Just the anticipation is pure joy.

But King is not the only actress who has to walk the walk and talk the talk of NAN. In the first act Laura Matthews plays Zoe, an escort hired by Jerome to play his fiancée so as to make his ex-wife think he has a stable home where his daughter Geain can visit. Beaten up by the Daughters of Darkness, Zoe’s various emotional states, which range from highly entertaining to down-right moving, are superbly drawn by Matthews, but there is more to come in the second act when she too becomes NAN.

There is a great deal of underlying darkness to this play, but it is so well balanced with great humour and strong characters including Nigel Hastings as the all too human Mervyn and Jessie Hart as Jerome’s complex daughter. King and Matthews understandably command the stage, but Bill Champion will stick in my mind as the troubled, humourless Jerome whose one, blind obsession loses him the thing he was looking for but had all the time.

Superbly (of course) directed by Ayckbourn himself, the production could not work without video designer Paul Stear’s special effects.

Henceforward is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Feb 18.

Box office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

Further dates include:

 

Feb 22-25: Cambridge Arts Theatre

Feb 8th

Kiss of Death at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

After many decades as a theatre reviewer, nowadays when someone asks me what play I’ve just seen I often can’t remember! But such is Simon Williams’ gift for playwriting that his previous productions are lodged firmly in my brain and I’ve found them hugely enjoyable. Unfortunately, Kiss of Death will be memorable, but not for the right reasons.

The trouble is, this talking Scarlet production is woefully under-rehearsed. On the opening night the actors were speaking their lines rather than performing them and there were issues with the sound, including lack of projection, while the set, which is little more than a mishmash of chairs, adds nothing to the ambience. In fact, there isn’t any. It’s a travesty that a production which carries the name of such a distinguished actor as Williams is allowed to be performed in such an unfinished state.

It’s not as if the cast don’t know what they are doing. All four members have solid backgrounds. David Janson has appeared in everything from The Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night to TV comedies ‘Allo ‘Allo and Keeping Up Appearances, and from working with the RSC to panto, while his daughter Ciara Janson spent three years in Hollyoaks before making her West End debut. And Peter Lovstrom and Davies Palmer both have many film, TV and stage credits. Yet they failed to make their characters or the storyline in any way believable. Only Ciara Janson shows any form of emotion.

It’s a complicated, imaginative plot, with many twists, and, done properly, would be a spine-tingling psychological thriller, if a little off-beat. It all centres on actress Zoe Lang (Ciara Janson) who finds herself auditioning to be the bait for a real life serial killer, but even when the sardonic murderer reveals himself there is no real feeling of menace, and two policemen handling such a big case shouts a tight budget! In this state it also feels disjointed; it’s very slow to start – building up the tension, I kindly thought, but I soon realised it was because it lacked pace.

Let’s hope Patric Kearns, director, designer and artistic director of talking Scarlet, takes a hard look at the production and puts things right. I have always admired Williams’ writing – both his plays and novels – and I wouldn’t want anyone to judge him by this one.

Kiss of Death is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Feb 11

Box Office: 01753 853888

 

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

Jan 26th

Dreamboats and Petticoats at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

Ain’t life strange! After three days of wallowing in family photos, mainly from the Fifties and Sixties, as I prepare to move house, last night I was pitched into another journey down memory lane. It felt like I’d never left home - except I don’t have live music on tap where I live!

And what music! It would have certainly awakened the neighbours! There really was dancing in the aisles as this feel-good celebration of pop songs circa 1960 exploded onto the Windsor stage at the start of yet another mammoth Bill Kenwright tour.

Dreamboats and Petticoats has been on the road before but this latest version celebrates the 10th anniversary of the million selling album of the same name.

It starts with Bobby reminiscing to his granddaughter about the good old days when, as a gauche 17-year-old at his local youth club, he first encountered love, and fame as a song writer.

The action, of course, goes back to those days when we see the young, enthusiastic Bobby ousted by an know-it-all by the name of Norman, played by a swaggering Alastair Hill, who steals his place as lead singer with a band (oops, sorry, group), and his girl. It’s no surprise that it all works out, but until that happens we are treated to a feast of rock ‘n’ roll, served up by a company of versatile and talented musicians who also double up as dancers and actors. There are no less than 46 songs in the show, each of which links together the story of Bobby, Laura and their friends at St Mungo’s Youth Club at a time when songwriters really knew how to write. I especially like To Know Him Is To Love Him, poignantly sung by Elizabeth Carter as Laura, a 15-year-old geek with pigtails and national health specs. It is hard to imagine she is anything but a little girl until she blossoms into a 16-year-old, and Carter’s voice proves she is no child.

Alistair Higgins also puts in a good performance as Bobby - his duet with Carter of Let It Be Me brought tears to my eyes - while Jimmy Johnston adds gravitas as Bobby’s father and the older Bobby.

The music isn’t the only good thing about this show, however. It really is very funny in places. Look out for Mike Lloyd as the Southend Slugger and a scene in slow motion. Brilliant! And then there are the references to all sorts of things that were popular around 1960 - much appreciated by members of the audience who are of a certain age! But it’s not only for people who were around back in the day. If you like a good night out, exciting music and are into retro fashions, this is the show for you.

Dreamboats and Petticoats is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Feb 4.

Box office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

 

It then tours:

Feb 6-11: Southsea Kings Theatre

Feb 13-18: Cardiff New Theatre

Feb 20-25: Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Feb 27-Mar 4: Manchester Palace Theatre

Mar 13-18: Billingham Forum Theatre

Mar 20-25: Southport Theatre

Mar 27-Apr 1: Chesterfield Winding Wheel Theatre

Apr 3-8: Everyman Cheltenham

Apr 10-15: Stoke Regent Theatre

Apr 18-22: York Grand Opera House

Apr24-29: Blackpool Winter Gardens

May 2-6: Birmingham Alexandra Theatre

May 8-13: Edinburgh Playhouse

June 12-17: Glasgow Kings Theatre

June 19-24: Sunderland Empire Theatre

June 26-Jul 1: Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

Jul 3-8: Milton Keynes Theatre

Jul 10-15: Leeds Grand Theatre

Jul 17-22: Torquay Princess Theatre

Jul 24-29: Bristol Hippodrome Theatre

Jul 31-Aug 5: Liverpool Empire Theatre

Aug 7-12: Norwich Theatre Royal

Aug 22-26: Mayflower Southampton

Aug 29-Sept 2: Southend Cliffs Pavilion

Jan 20th

Dead Simple at The Mill at Sonning

By Clare Brotherwood

 

It’s taken me a while to get down to writing this review because, there are so many elements to The Mill’s latest production, I don’t know where to start.

I wish I could just stay with… it’s outrageously entertaining. Words fail me (which isn’t a good thing for a writer!). It’s a storyline which is so jam-packed full of completely unexpected surprises, all I can say is, how one man can think up such a plot is beyond my wildest imagination. It’s one of the best I’ve seen in a lifetime of theatregoing, and gave me huge enjoyment. I don’t think I’ve ever reacted so much. It left me open mouthed, gasping with surprise and incredulity and, at one point, I was even stuffing my fist into my mouth. Best-selling author Peter James, whose book Shaun McKenna’s stage version is based on, is a genius!

It begins with the run-up to Michael Harrison’s wedding. His business partner is arranging a stag night but when armed men turn up at his flat, kidnap him, bury him alive in a coffin in the middle of a forest and then go off and get killed in a head-on crash, the question on everyone’s lips is, will he get out alive?

That remains unanswered for most of the play, but in the meantime all sorts of sub-plots keep us literally on the edge of our seats, as psychopaths and even the supernatural abound.

It’s a hugely complicated and technical production for all actors involved, and my huge thanks to them and to director Keith Myers for presenting us with such thrilling entertainment. I don’t really want to single out anyone as I can’t say why without giving some of the game away, but Louise Stewart as Michael’s fiancée; Martyn Stanbridge as her gloriously camp uncle; Lewis Collier, who has to go through physical torture as Michael, and Matt Milburn as Michael’s emotional business partner, are the protagonists, together with a seriously disturbed young man, magnificently portrayed by Daniel Buckley.

If you like a cracking good story that is likely to scare the hell out of you, this is a must-see!

Dead Simple is at The Mill at Sonning until March 11

Box Office: 0118 969 8000

 

www.millatsonning.com

Jan 12th

A Judgement in Stone at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

If the opening night audience was anything to go by, Windsor theatregoers are ready to shake off the panto season and embrace the Theatre Royal’s programme for 2017.

A packed auditorium heralded the first of this year’s productions which celebrates the 10th anniversary of The Classic Thriller Theatre Company with a tour of, so far, 29 theatres, which will keep the cast in work until at least September. Some marathon!

That cast includes familiar favourites such as Mark Wynter, a pop star in another life who gets to sing in this play; star of classic films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Entertainer and Alfie, Shirley Anne Field; Andrew Lancel who won the Villain of the Year in the British Soap Awards for his role of Frank Foster in Coronation Street; Deborah Grant, best known for A Bouquet of Barbed Wire and Another Bouquet, and Sophie Ward, who has numerous film and TV credits.

A Judgement in Stone is considered to be one of Ruth Rendell’s greatest works, but unlike the queen of crime novelists Agatha Christie she is more concerned with the psychological sources of a murderer’s actions.

So we don’t have a whodunnit here, rather a whydunnit, and how did it come about.

The play alternates between real time and the months leading up to the murder of a wealthy family of four. We know where we are because of Malcolm Rippeth’s atmospheric lighting - warm and homely for when the family is still alive, and cold and stark for the time after the murders when the police are investigating the crime and questioning various suspects. It’s an intricate business. At the flick of a switch the scene changes and, last night, characters sometimes didn’t get on or off stage in time for the next scene. But it was, after all, opening night, and under Roy Marsden’s skilled direction I’m sure the production will be tightened up in no time.

It is beautifully set, in an oak panelled room with large leaded windows looking out onto a garden, so top marks to designer Julie Godfrey who makes the whole thing look so realistic.

There are surprising performances from some of the actors. Sophie Ward plays Eunice Parchman, the housekeeper whose attempts to keep her illiteracy secret lead to the tragic deaths of her employers. As such she is wonderfully withdrawn but with a very dark side, quite the opposite of Eunice’s only friend Joan Smith, the village postmistress. She’s not at all like you’d expect a postmistress or Deborah Grant, for that matter, to be. I love Grant’s performance as a bleached blonde, mini-skirted common ex-prostitute who has found God. Way over the top and hilarious with it, the funniest scene is when she is dancing on the table.

I wouldn’t have expected Shirley Anne Field to be playing an embittered cleaner, either, but that’s showbiz!

Everyone deserves praise: Andrew Lancel is suitably authoritative as DS Vetch, up from London to head the investigation, while Ben Nealon adds a homely touch as the local DS. As master and mistress of the house, Mark Wynter and Rosie Thomson are full of bonhomie and pretty smug, and I also like the performances of their children. Although not the biggest parts Joshua Price makes his mark as the moody Giles, as does Jennifer Sims as the friendly, lovable Melinda, while Antony Costa as the wayward gardener may seem just a nice country lad, but he does show his hidden depths.

 

A Judgement in Stone is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until January 21

It then continues to tour:

Jan 23-28: Richmond Theatre

Jan 30-Feb 4: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Feb 13-18: Kings Theatre, Edinburgh

Feb 20-25: New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Feb 27-Mar 4: Eastbourne Devonshire Park

Mar 6-11: Hall for Cornwall, Truro

Mar 13-18: Buxton Opera House

Mar 27-Apr 1: Northampton Theatre Royal

Apr 4-8: Cardiff New Theatre

Apr 10-15: The Playhouse, Weston-Super-Mare

Apr 18-22: Bromley Churchill Theatre

Apr 24-29: Leeds Grand Theatre

May 2-6: Malvern Festival Theatre

May 8-13: Cheltenham Everyman Theatre

May 15-20: Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells

May 22-27: Crawley The Hawth Theatre

May 30-Jun 3: Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Jun 5-10: Southend Palace Theatre

Jun 12-17 Derby Theatre

Jun 19-24; Glasgow Theatre Royal

Jun 26-Jul 1: New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Jul 3-8: Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Jul 10-15: Harrogate Theatre

Jul 17-22: Stoke Regent Theatre

Jul 24-29: Milton Keynes Theatre

Jul 31-Aug 5: Newcastle Theatre Royal

Aug 19-23: Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Sept 25-30: Orchard Theatre, Dartford.

 

Box Office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

Jan 12th

The Kite Runner at Wyndham's Theatre

By Clare Brotherwood

Films and plays based on books are usually a disappointment. So I didn’t hold much hope for Khaled Hosseini’s best seller’s transference to the stage.

But here is a production which is true to the book. And how they manage to transfer an enraptured audience to the Afghanistan of childhood friends Amir and Hassan with a minimal set and a dozen actors is down to the genius of adapter Matthew Spangler and director Giles Croft.

It’s a simple format: Amir, now married and living in San Francisco, looks back on his life from his childhood days in a relatively peaceful Kabul when kite flying was a competitive sport. It begins with him narrating his story, but it’s not long before Ben Turner, as Amir, becomes more than a mere narrator. Taking on the cloak of the child he once was, the former Casualty nurse transports us back in time, becoming that child in mannerisms, speech and attitude.

It’s an extraordinary performance, for not only does Turner become child, adolescent and adult, he also runs the gamut of emotions from childish wonder and fear to adult love, to guilt and despair as he carries with him a secret which fractured his friendship with his constant companion, his servant, and kite runner, Hassan.

Hassan is totally loyal to Amir and defends him whenever he needs him, never wavering, and Andrei Costin’s portrayal is most moving. I also like Emilio Doorgasingh’s emotional Baba and Nicholas Karimi certainly struts his stuff as the bullying Assef.

Alongside Amir’s story is that of Afghanistan, from the communist coup in 1978, the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the rise of the Taliban. Together, Hosseini and Spangler make the situation real and personal, giving the play an extra dimension, while Hanif Khan adds an extra treat, playing the tabla beautifully at the side of the stage. And it’s not without its humour. Christopher Biggins’ loud laughter from the first night auditorium truly endorsed that!

 

The Kite Runner is at Wyndham’s Theatre until March 11.

Box office: 0844 482 5120

www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk

Dec 16th

Robin Hood at The Egg Theatre, Bath

By Clare Brotherwood

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the legend of Robin Hood has been around since 1377.

Greg Banks’ version, however, is bang up-to-date, opening with rough sleepers prowling the stage as one of them recalls the man who robbed the rich to feed the poor.

The characters may have been made homeless by Prince John but there are many today who are just like them, living on the streets and begging for food, while instead of Robin Hood we have charities such as Crisis and Shelter.

This production is far from downbeat, however. Yes, it’s got a heart. It’s a story with substance and some robust characters, but it is also rollicking, good entertainment, with a live band, songs, dancing and some audience participation. Banks, who also directs, is to be praised for fitting so many elements into 1 hr 50 mins, while the cast of four are to be applauded for their energy, physicality and all-round versatility.

Much of the fun is down to Thomas Johnson’s music, and lyrics co-written by him and Banks. It’s a mix of reggae, rap, Madness and The Proclaimers, with the cast belting out songs such as Liberation Day to rousing accompaniment from Amy Sergeant on guitar, Julie Walkington on double bass and Rhian Williams on drums. The fact that they perform these songs with hand-held mics and sometimes wear Blues Brothers-type sunglasses makes them extra-cool and identifiable to today’s young audiences

All four play a myriad of characters, only going to the side of the stage to instantly turn round transformed into a goodie or a baddie. But they each have major roles.

Peter Edwards is your archetypal hero, leaping from tree trunk to tree trunk firing imaginary arrows and being an all-round good egg (pun not intended). He’s brave but when he and Marion fall in love he is as soppy as you can get.

Although she gives in to the Sheriff of Nottingham to save her father, the character of Maid Marion is a lot more spirited, and her bravery, loyalty and love makes her a perfect role model for girls of today. It would be a better message to send out  if Robin had fallen in love with her because of her bravery rather than her beauty but, whichever, audiences will fall in love with Rebecca Killick (who also plays Much, an adolescent member of Robin’s Merry Men), a cracking little actress who has huge presence and even makes turning cartwheels look easy.

Nik Howden and Stephen Leask are at opposite ends of the scale. As the Sheriff of Nottingham, Howden is perfect as a thin, black-leathered, streak of evil, while Leask shows his comedic skills, playing Prince John as a figure of fun.

Performed in the round with Hannah Wolfe’s set of a clump of frosted tree trunks presenting challenges to the actors, this production for six-year-olds upwards is a real Christmas cracker, while The Egg, built specifically for use by young people inside a Grade II listed Victorian building, is a star in its own right.

Robin Hood is at The Egg Theatre, Bath, until January 15.

www.theatreroyal.org.uk

Box office: 01225 448844

Dec 5th

The Elves and the Shoemaker at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead

By Clare Brotherwood
 

For many youngsters, Norden Farm’s Christmas show is their first experience of theatre, and this year’s production from the Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company should ensure that they come back for more.

Excited chatter turns to squeals of delight as two little green men set about helping hapless shoemaker Sam Lacey make magic shoes in artistic director Niki McCretton’s adaptation of Vera Southgate’s all time favourite.

Stuff and Nonsense’s claim of making ‘energetic, mischievous and inspiring theatre’ is spot on.

The fun starts when Sam’s neighbour Belinda bustles through the audience, chatting animatedly to all and sundry, making the little ones feel part of the production.

Her enthusiasm continues throughout the show, not only for life but for Sam and his good fortune. She’s desperate to make friends, and Chloe Conquest’s lively performance endears her to all.

Sam spends the entire time in his pyjamas, which may be a clue to the fact that he is a bit slow and sleepy. Certainly, his ideas of making shoes out of bricks and bread show that he is not the brightest, and Graham Elwell portrays his ineptitude in such a way that he has his audience screaming with laughter and offering plenty of support when the elves appear to shouts of that Christmas anthem ‘Look behind you!’

The elves, looking like distant cousins of Kermit the Frog, are also the subject of great hilarity and excitement as they turn up when least expected and from all sorts of hidden places, keeping little minds engaged. Sarah Moody’s quirky music, which sounds like a collection of kitchen utensils banging together, also adds to the mix.

There is, of course, a feel good factor, a message about helping each other and making friends, but most of all it’s an entertaining 55 minutes which will hopefully nurture future theatre audiences.

 

The Elves and The Shoemaker is at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead until December 30.

Box office: 01628 788997

www.nordenfarm.org

www.aloadofstuffandnonsense.co.uk

Nov 30th

High Society at The Mill at Sonning

By Clare Brotherwood

Think of High Society, and Cole Porter classics such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, True Love, Just One of Those Things, and Samantha, come to mind, sung by original cast members Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

It’s a frothy, funny, feel good show you’d think would only be at home in Hollywood movies or on the West End stage. But, to quote Mr Porter, you’ll be ridin’ high if you join in the swell party this is at The Mill at Sonning.

Just how this ‘big’ musical fits so comfortably in The Mill’s small space must be an illusion. The audience is certainly not short changed by the intimacy of its surroundings, nor the calibre of the performers. It’s full-on, fast-paced, all-singing, all-dancing entertainment, yet it isn’t in your face - and we must thank director and choreographer Joseph Pitcher, who has been resident director on the RSC’s West End production of Matilda for the past two-and-a-half years, for striking the perfect balance.

Perfect is an adjective I think I shall be using more than once in this review.

High Society is set on Long Island in 1938 and charts the events leading up to the wedding of the fabulously wealthy Tracy Samantha Lord to the humourless George Ketteridge. Enter Tracy’s ex-husband, a couple of undercover reporters wanting to dig the dirt on Tracy’s erring father, and a lot of Champagne, and things don’t always go according to plan.

From the outset, Kirsty Ingram proves she is a star in the making as Tracy’s kid sister Dinah. Although aged 22 and only in her second professional production, she sparkles throughout her perfectly portrayed role as a petulant child, bossy and cheeky, but with a vulnerability, especially in scenes with Tracy’s ex, on whom she obviously has a crush.

At the other end of the scale, David Delve is an old hand at musicals, both in the West End and on tour, and although his larger than life performance as Tracy’s Uncle Willie would satisfy audiences in big theatres, it is not over the top in this smaller venue. The big expressions, flashing eyes, swivelling hips (and wandering hands) all make for a great deal of hilarity.

All 11 members of the cast must be congratulated on their fine contributions to this perfect way to celebrate the festive season, not to mention musical director Charlie Ingles’ hard-working band, Callum White on percussion, Pete Hutchinson on double bass and the impressive Joe Atkin-Reeves on clarinet, sax and flute.

As Tracy’s mother, Elizabeth Elvin, a regular at The Mill, fits right in with a cast whose background is in musical theatre rather than as actors who sing. Bethan Nash has an amazing voice and sings and dances her way through the role of Tracy Lord with fluidity, pose and an endearing sense of fun, but among my favourite scenes are those between Rachel Moran as Polly the maid, and Grant Neal as Chester the butler. Every time the stiff, poker-faced servants launched into a wild, abandoned song and dance routine the audience erupted. A swell party indeed!

 

High Society is at The Mill at Sonning until January 14. Box office 0118 969 8000

www.millatsonning.com

Nov 3rd

Pierre Bensusan at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead

By Clare Brotherwood

Occasionally, when I find myself moved so much by a performance other than acting, a review about music finds its way onto this website.

Last night was such an occasion. Pierre Bensusan is recognised as one of the premier musicians of our time. Winner of the Independent Music Award and voted Best World Music Guitar Player in 2008, his humility is touching as he tells his audience he is privileged to be playing for us. But let us tell you, Monsieur Bensusan, the privilege is all ours.

I had gone along to the theatre disgruntled - by too many things happening in my life. By the start of the second half I was in a state of quiet euphoria, totally at peace with the world. I was even moved to the odd tear. Music at its best is like that, isn’t it? It’s magical; it can make a difference, and Pierre Bensusan makes a difference.

Not that his music is an easy ride. He is famous for using the Dadgad method of tuning which isn’t always melodic, but it does wake up your senses, and makes you aware of the complexities of the guitar. You wonder, are there really only six strings on this instrument which seems a living extension of this gentle yet passionate performer? His music is both soothing and invigorating, and his songs, which he and his wife, Doatea, compose, can be moving or amusing. It doesn’t seem to matter that they are in French. Infact, that adds to the appeal.

Bensusan may be known as The Mozart of the Guitar and, as such, is worthy of the title, but he takes after no-one. He is unique.

Pierre Bensusan tours continuously worldwide, and his remaining dates in England and Scotland are:

Nov 5: Bristol Folk House

Nov 6: The King Arthur, Glastonbury

Nov 9: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Nov 10: Broadoak Hotel, Ashton-Under-Lyme

Nov 11: Crown and Mitre Hotel, Carlisle

Nov 12: Milngavie FC, Milngavie

Nov 14: Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

 

www.pierrebensusan.com