Share |
Oct 9th

A Party to Murder at The Mill at Sonning

By Clare Brotherwood

 DSC_9985.jpg

Credit: Craig Sugden

I like nothing better than to have a really good laugh. I also like to be scared out of my wits.

And this comedy thriller by Marcia Kash and Doug Hughes delivers both - in spades. It’s an absolute delight from beginning to end, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially on Hallowe’en.

Set in a lone house on an island in the North American lakes, where writer Charles Prince has invited six people for a Hallowe’en murder mystery party, there are enough bodies, blood and things that go bump in the night, as well as secret passages and the obligatory thunder and lightning, to make this fast moving full-on entertainment go with a bang.

The 18th century mill lends itself to hosting an eerie spine chiller and audiences are given a taste of what is to come during their pre-performance dinner when the restaurant’s lights are dimmed and a ghostly voice can be heard.

That is all I am going to tell you, however, as to give away just a smidgen of the plot would spoil every delicious moment of surprise - and, believe me, there are plenty of them. They come thick and fast, delivered with great gusto by a stellar cast under the direction of Ian Masters.

As always, the Mill’s set is worthy of mention, an on this occasion Michael Holt should be particularly congratulated for creating a secret passage.

A Party to Murder is at The Mill at Sonning until November 22

Box Office: 0118 969 8000

www.millatsonning.com
Oct 8th

The Small Hand at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

The Small Hand - cast.jpg


Even before the curtain went up we were shaking in our seats - literally - as the whole theatre throbbed with the first of Dan Samson’s many thrilling sound effects.

Susan Hill’s latest tale of terror to be adapted for the stage has been greatly anticipated, and it doesn’t disappoint.

For me, nothing can match the sheer horror that is The Woman in Black (the stage version not the film!) but The Small Hand has a lot to commend it.

Presented in a similar way to The Woman in Black, with the actors narrating in between scenes, this adaptation by the hugely talented Clive Francis tells the story of an art dealer who is drawn to a dilapidated Edwardian house where the sensation of being gripped by a small hand begins a nightmarish tale which I won’t divulge so as not to spoil the fun.

As the art dealer Adam Snow, Andrew Lancel is a far cry from British Soap Awards’ Villain of the Year as Carla Connor’s violent boyfriend Frank Foster in Coronation Street. His fear is palpable and his anguish had me filling up with emotion.

Lancel is very well supported by Diane Keen and Robert Duncan in a variety of roles, showcasing their versatility, with Keen playing everything from an American art dealer to a Scottish housekeeper, and Duncan drawing us in as Snow’s troubled brother while also playing an assortment of eccentrics. Though, on the first night of this national tour, he may have been trying a little too hard as his expressive voice rose and fell to such an extent that we couldn’t always hear what he was saying. As the Scottish laird he also ought to lose the shotgun. He wasn’t dressed for shooting and I doubt he would bring a shotgun into his drawing room and place it on his highly polished table. It serves no purpose but to give the scene authenticity, which it doesn’t

Inevitably, there is a ghost and I do worry for six-year-old Charlie Ward who plays him. With such eerie sound effects, Gary Hickeson’s atmospheric music and Lancel’s harrowing performance, I wonder he isn’t traumatised, and yet he played his part perfectly, with a stillness which must be so alien to one so young!

As in The Woman in Black, the set is sparse, but Nina Dunn’s back projection is stunning. The way one scene washes over the next and windows expand and contract is almost nightmarish in itself and adds a lot to the atmosphere.

Roy Marsden’s direction keeps the tension bubbling below the surface throughout the evening and once the production settles in I’m sure it will be even more enjoyable.


The Small Hand continues at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Oct 18 and then tours:

Oct 20-25: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Oct 27-Nov 1: Grand Opera House, York

Nov 3-8 Theatre Royal, Brighton

Nov 10-15: Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

Nov 17-22: Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

www.kenwright.com
Oct 8th

BARNUM @ The Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

By Yvonne Delahaye

BARNUM_Wycombe_600x200_2.jpg ‘Barnum’s the name, P T Barnum, and I want to tell you that tonight, on this stage, you are going to see - bar none - every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!’
This exhilarating musical follows the irrepressible imagination and dreams of Phineas T Barnum, America’s Greatest Showman. The story of his life and his marriage to Chairy reveals a couple who looked at the world from opposite sides of the spectrum, and also reveals that she was the practical one who made his dreams come true.  We follow the legendary showman’s life as he lit up the world with colour, warmth and the excitement of his imagination and finally teamed up with J A Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey’s Circus - the Greatest Show on Earth.

Starring Brian Conley (Oliver!, Hairspray, Jolson) and Linzi Hateley (Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia!, Chicago, Les Misérables), Cy Coleman’s wonderfully exuberant score includes the hits; Come Follow The Band , The Colours Of My Life and There Is A Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute .
 Barnum is a musical with a book by Mark Bramble, lyrics by Michael Stewart, and music by Cy Coleman. It is based on the life of showman P. T. Barnum, covering the period from 1835 through 1880 in America and major cities of the world where Barnum took his performing companies. The production combines elements of traditional musical theatre with the spectacle of the circus. The characters include jugglers, trapeze artists and clowns, as well as such real-life personalities as Jenny Lind and General Tom Thumb.

The original production opened at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, on April 30, 1980 and closed on May 16, 1982 after 854 performances and 26 previews. The show starred Jim Dale as P.T. Barnum, Glenn Close as Chariy Barnum and Marianne Tatum as Jenny Lind. Jim Dale won a Tony and Drama Desk Award for his performance in the title role.

The show made its West End debut on June 11, 1981 at the London Palladium, where it ran for 655 performances. The London cast included Michael Crawford as P.T. Barnum, Deborah Grant as Charity Barnum and Sarah Payne as Jenny Lind. Crawford reprised his role opposite Eileen Battye in a UK Tour of the show which ran between 1984 and 1986, stopping off at various venues including the Manchester Opera House and Victoria Palace Theatre. The tour was recorded for television and broadcast by the BBC in 1986. It was later released on VHS and DVD.

In 2013 Cameron Mackintosh revived the musical at the Theatre in The Park for the Chichester Festival Theatre, which was closed at the time.  Two-time Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald played Barnum and when a UK tour was muted, Brian Conley was cast and so the hard work began for him.

Brian Conley is one of our great all-round entertainers and is perfectly cast as the larger-than-life showman, commanding the stage, eking out every bit of comedy, but also showing emotional depth in the second act.  I saw him earlier this year at The Swan in his one man show and his warmth, humour and energy infects the audience and you know he has everyone in the palm of his hands.  He said then that he was anxious about learning to tight rope walk and we all held our breath when he, thankfully, made it across the stage.  This role needs a big personality and with Brian’s stature dominating the stage, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the role now.

Linzi Hately, as his wife Chairy, is the perfect match and we really feel the genuine warmth, affection and support that she gave to husband P.T. She has a beautiful singing voice and captures her strength and vulnerability perfectly. When Kimberley Blake, as Jenny Lind the opera singer, sang Love Makes Such Fools of Us All you could hear every crystal note, so pure and resonant was the sound I’m sure it could shatter glass!

The show is brash, colourful, energetic and dynamic.  It’s a sensory feast that leaves you dazzled at all of the activity, never being able to see everything as there is so much happening all around you.  The costumes are sumptuous and vibrant and the ensemble of dancer/acrobats are so incredibly talented and strong, that I did wonder how some of their feats got past the Health & Safety brigade!


The show runs at The Swan, High Wycombe from:
Tue 7 - Sat 11 October
Tickets £23.00* - £39.00*
A £1.50 per ticket booking fee applies, capped at six per order. Fee-free booking for Friends of Wycombe Swan; Groups of 10+ please call 01494 552875.
The tour will continue around the UK until next summer, so for dates near  you please visit:
http://www.barnummusical.com/tour/

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
7.10.14
Twitter: yvonnedelahaye

Oct 7th

The Importance of Being Earnest @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

18796_full.jpg
What an absolute joy it was to see this star studded production, which has just transferred directly from the Harold Pinter Theatre in London after a hugely successful 3 month run.  Reprising their 1982 National Theatre roles as Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing, J.P. are Nigel Havers and Martin Jarvis.  When this cast was first mentioned I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to raise an eyebrow, after all John Worthing is supposed to be 29 and these 2 accomplished actors are, shall we say, a 'little way into middle age?'  How would this work I wondered, but of course all is not as it first seems for this is a play within a play.  Acclaimed comic novelist, Simon Brett, was commissioned to create an original new context for the play and the play opens with the actors from The Bunbury Company of Players rehearsing their next production.  It’s a brilliant concept and works like magic, so any concerns about age are quickly dispelled as we are absorbed into this joyful scenario.

The Importance of Being Earnest elegantly lampoons the hypocrisies of Victorian society and opens as two bachelors, the dependable, John Worthing, J.P. (Martin Jarvis) and upper class playboy Algernon Moncrieff (Nigel Havers), feel compelled to create different identities in order to pursue two eligible ladies Cecily Cardew (Christine Kavanagh) and Gwendolyn Fairfax (Cherie Lunghi). The hilarious misadventures which result from their subterfuge;  their brushes with the redoubtable Lady Bracknell (Siân Phillips) and the uptight Miss Prism (Rosalind Ayres) result in a plot that twists and fizzles with some of the finest dialogue to be found in theatre.   

The play moves along at a firecracker pace with the rakish charm of Nigel Havers still very much in evidence and Martin Jarvis’s stature and resonant voice lending a gravitas to the role.  The cast are all wonderful, but of course Lady Bracknell always steals the show and Sian Phillips is absolutely magnificent.  Every line delivered is ‘bang on the money’ and her energy is astounding.  I know how physically demanding it is to deliver 8 shows a week and I am in awe of her stamina, though she has, of course,  ‘remained thirty five for years!’

The notable cast also includes Niall Buggy and Patrick Godfrey, who also played Merriman in the 2002 film adaption of The Importance of Being Earnest.  The Bunbury Players include Portia Booroff, Carole Dance and Hugh Osborne who are on stage throughout ready to take over a role at a moment’s notice.

Rupert Gavin, producer for Incidental Colman, said “For our 100th production, in our 33rd year as a producing company with a long tradition in comedy, we are celebrating this milestone with a production of the landmark comedy in the English language, The Importance of Being Earnest. For
this, we have drawn together an exceptional creative team, a group of brilliant comedic actors, and we bring of course, a twist to proceedings, that you would only expect of us.”

Lucy Bailey, Director, said “I was lucky enough as a student, to be allowed to observe rehearsals of Peter Hall’s The Importance of Being Earnest at the National Theatre in the early 80's. I remember watching Nigel Havers and Martin Jarvis wrestle over cucumber sandwiches and being entranced by their charm and playfulness. When they approached me, some 30 years later, to work with them on a new production, I just couldn't resist! We have created a new framework for the play, aided and abetted by the writer Simon Brett and designer William Dudley. We have gathered together an exquisite acting ensemble to take on the challenge of Oscar Wilde's most popular and daring play.”

Seeing such a stellar cast having an absolute ball relishing their roles will be one of the lasting memories I’ll have of live theatre.  Even if you have to queue to get a return ticket, it really would be worth it as this has to be one of the best pieces of theatre you’ll ever see!

Book now at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office on 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee), or online at www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury  (bkg fee)

Performances:   Mon 06 - Sat 11 Oct 
Evenings 7.30pm, Thu & Sat Mat 2.30pm
Tickets:  £10 - £35 when booked in person at the Box Office or for full details when booking on-line or over the phone visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)
Box Office:  0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)
Groups Hotline:  0844 871 7614
Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)
Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury  (bkg fee)

Tour continues to:
Richmond Theatre from Monday 13th-Saturday 18th October
New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham from Tuesday 21st – Saturday 25th October

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
6.10.14
Twitter: yvonnedelahaye

Sep 24th

Double Death at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

DL007006 - Double Death.jpg

Brian Capron and Kim Tiddy

Claps of thunder and flashes of lightning are staple ingredients for setting the scene in thrillers, especially ones set in creepy Cornish country houses. And the sound and lighting effects herald this thriller particularly well.

The first act doesn’t exactly kick up a storm, however - until you realise that it’s a slow build up to a surprising and stunning climax.

The plot is certainly novel:  the combustible relationship between twin brothers has already led to attempted murder - or what it an accident? - and when the now paranoid paraplegic victim of that incident returns home from hospital, a game of cat and mouse ensues - with tragic consequences.

Described as ‘volatile and schizophrenic’, wheelchair-bound Ashley seems rather mild-mannered  as played by Tom Butcher; while as Ashley’s twin, Max, he is not particularly threatening. Playing two roles must be difficult, however, and hard work in such an eventful storyline, and I gather Tom joined the cast at a late stage. Certainly he doesn’t miss a cue as he swaps between the roles, mostly by disappearing into a working lift - whose light as it descends adds to the creepiness. It must have been a logistical nightmare for director and designer Philip Stewart, but the lift and an intercom are valuable props, unlike the playing back of a childhood home movie whose dialogue was too muffled to be heard.

Brian Capron who, after more than 10 years, is still remembered as Coronation Street murderer Richard Hillman, is on the other side of the law this time, convincing as a local policeman (complete with accent) with limited intuition, while Kim Tiddy as Ashley’s nurse has something of  Nurse Ratched about her. It is Judy Buxton as the twins’ indulgent aunt who makes the most impression. Her spirited performance adds colour and not a little humour to the proceedings.

Written by the Windsor-born actor Simon Williams, who starred as the twins at this very theatre several years ago, Double Death certainly has plenty of thrills and spills but it is sometimes a little lacklustre. Perhaps a bolt of lightning may help!


Double Death is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Sept 27 and then continues touring:

Sept 29-Oct 1: Civic Theatre, Darlington

Oct 6-8: Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

Oct 15-18: Haymarket, Basingstoke

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

www.talking-scarlet.co.uk
Sep 21st

Rhapsody Queen @ The Swan, High Wycombe on 19th September 2014

By Yvonne Delahaye

De%20Ster,%20Netherlands%20Dec%202012-184f9c1764.jpg

High Wycombe rocked to the sounds of Queen, when tribute band Rhapsody Queen performed at The Swan on 19th September.  The hits came thick and fast and the band gave a high octane show that had the audience on its feet within minutes.  The audience's ages ranged from 7-70, proving that the popularity of this band will carry on for generations to come.

We all sang along to the songs we knew so well; One Vision, Under Pressure, Another One Bites the Dust, Fat Bottomed Girls, You’re My Best Friend, Killer Queen, Bicycle Race, Lullabye, The Show Must Go On, Don’t Stop Me Now, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Flash, A Kind Of Magic, Seven Seas Of Rye, I Want It All, Somebody to Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, Tie Your Mother Down, Radio Gaga, We Will Rock You, I Want to Break Free and We Are The Champions.  It’s an extraordinary list of hits that began in 1973 and kept on coming until 1991, when tragically Freddie Mercury died.  We can only wonder how many more hits they’d have had in the ensuing years, but in the words of one of his songs his legacy will ‘live forever’.

Tribute bands often get a lot of flack, but I think they have to work extremely hard to produce the sounds and emulate their heroes. What is extraordinary about this band is that they’re all in their 20s, so wouldn’t have been born at the height of Queen’s success.  They met at music college BIMM in Brighton and this line-up has been performing together for the past year and they’re going from strength to strength.

Yvan Silva as Freddie Mercury, is an accomplished musician and has a good vocal range up to high falsetto.  He’s a great showman to front the show and has the strutting confidence to engage the audience and get everyone to accept his tribute performance in his own right.  No-one can match the vocal dexterity that Freddie had and Yvan struggled a few times with some of the complex key changes and could have brought more light and shade into some of the songs, but I’m sure that’ll come with time and more experience. Jonny Sennet produces Brain May’s distinctive sound and style and has the height and the hair, as well as the musical abilities to give the band the right image.  The band is completed by Paul Lennox as Roger Taylor, Matt Sparkes as John Deacon and Jason Mercer as Spike Edney, who are all accomplished musicians and singers.

The show is everything you’d want a Queen concert to be, theatrical, entertaining and good fun, with the chance to have a sing-a-long and bop to our favourite songs.


Catch the show on tour:
4th October at Floral Pavilion Theatre, Brighton
17th October at Palace Theatre, Redditch
29th October at The Courtyard Theatre, Hereford
It’s a show you can take your kids or your granny along to and have a great night out!
For more info visit: www.queentribute.co.uk

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
19.9.14
Twitter: @yvonnedelahaye

Sep 19th

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Twickenham Theatre

By Clare Brotherwood

SWEENY_1-1001_2.jpg

Preview pictures of next year’s production of Sweeney Todd at London’s Coliseum, where tickets will cost as much as £125, make Emma Thompson look like Mary Poppins and Bryn Terfel one of The Wurzels.

If you really want to experience this gory tale in all its glory however, for just  £15 you can see top West End performers up close and intimate and, at the same time, help the new Twickenham Theatre onto its feet.

For its inaugural production, this 60-seater above the London Road Pub (conveniently just one minutes’ walk from the station) is on to a winner.

To put it mildly, it’s a bloody good night as the demon barber scans the audience for victims and blood spurts freely in what becomes a claustrophobic but exciting space.

Did I say space? That there is not a lot of and yet in several scenes the cast of nine manage to create it as they act out their roles without falling over each other!

Don’t take this personally David Bedella but, the first time I saw you as the erring husband in Putting It Together at St James’ Theatre, I thought you looked like the Devil. I was right. One of your most famous roles, for which you won the 2004 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical, was as Satan in Jerry Springer – The Opera. So you’re made for the role of the demon barber!

But let’s not get as personal as the space in this tiny theatre…

As the wronged husband who returns to London to seek revenge for his wife’s death and to reclaim his daughter, Bedella runs the gamut of emotions. Haunted by the past, the pain and anguish in his face is heart-breaking, but as madness prevails it’s a wonder the blood that spurts from his victims doesn’t curdle.

Bedella, whose voice at times sounds like Anthony Newley, while at others sounding as if it was coming from the very bowels of the earth, more than meets his match in Sarah Ingram as Mrs Lovett. She may be the maker of those famous pies, and at times there are moments of pure madness, but mostly she comes across as an east ender (who won’t be out of place on Albert Square, to be honest) with a huge heart and a sense of humour just looking for love. It is her scenes which get the most laughs and the most applause.

Seeing as this is Stephen Sondheim’s musical version of the Victorian melodrama, the emphasis is on the music, and this production is strong on voices, expertly directed by Benjamin Holder. Special mention should be made of Genevieve Kingsford, making her professional debut as Sweeney Todd’s long lost daughter Johanna: though looking suitably waif-like, her voice is high, pure and memorable.

The production is the directing debut of Derek Anderson, who deserves his own round of applause, but there are just a couple of wrongs which ought to be righted. Mikaela Newton is utterly convincing as the young boy Tobias – except for her flowing blonde locks, which ought to be tucked away under her cap. And it was sometimes obvious that the actors were looking at the screen behind the audience where the musical director could be seen conducting – a bit off-putting.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street continues at the Twickenham Theatre until Oct 4.

Box office: 020 8787 5933

www.twickenhamtheatre.com

Sep 17th

Shakespeare’s Globe’s touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By Clare Brotherwood


20140905-142937.790_(165).jpg
Janie Dee and Aden Gillett

To be perfectly honest, it won’t matter if the audiences in the Globe’s current tour of the Far East and Russia don’t understand Shakespeare’s prose. For Dominic Dromgoole’s production is a visual feast, exquisitely choreographed and dressed, with shed loads of beautifully crafted comedy from The Mechanicals and X-rated passion from the fairy queen.

It was such a joy to watch that, having seen it at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, I insisted friends join me for a second helping at the stunning Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury before it set off on its international tour (first stop Shanghai).

It was far from being too long (at two hours, 45 minutes) for 11-year-old Amelia’s first taste of Shakespeare. In fact she was disappointed the second half was only to be an hour and said she wanted to see it again!

The tale of four lovers who wander into the midst of a dispute between the king and queen of the fairies is magical in every way.

The production bursts into action as Theseus, mythical king of Athens, conquers Hipployta and her Amazonian women in battle.

As the Amazonian queen, Janie Dee looks every inch the warrior, fierce, focussed, foreboding and not a little wild, a characteristic she builds on when she later appears as Titania, the fairy queen who, clothed in animal skins and smeared with mud, is almost feral.

Meanwhile, hapless lovers Helena, Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius (played with youthful vigour by Beatriz O’Hea, Lizzy Watts, Jamie Chandler and Philip Correia) are in love with the wrong partners, with or without the help of the bungling sprite Puck, who has been entrusted by the fairy king, jealous Oberon, to bewitch Titania so that she falls in love with the first persons she sees – the tradesman, Bottom, on whom Puck has transplanted an ass’s head.

As Oberon, Aden Gillett has tremendous presence as a somewhat malevolent character, in sharp contrast to Molly Logan who, as the playful Puck, is a little powerhouse of mischief and mayhem. Indeed her performance is so captivating that one of my friends likened her to a young Judi Dench!

20140905-145559.720_(251).jpg 
The Mechanicals 

For Shakespeare first-timers especially, The Mechanicals and the play they perform in the last act is greatly entertaining. I don’t remember laughing so much as I did this time round when the assorted group of tradesmen clattered on stage in proper northern wooden clogs. Their characters are evident from the start, especially bossy Bottom, played with gravitas by Geordie Trevor Fox; Steffan Donnelly, whose awkwardness as the young Flute is a tour de force; John Cummins as enthusiastic Snout, and Richard Bremmer who, as Snug, created a work of art as an almost wraith-like vision whose mournful expression is so sad and yet had us howling with laughter.

Staged as it would have been in Shakespeare’s Globe, complete with Claire van Kampen’s at times emotive music played on instruments of the time, this is a production Great Britain can be proud to export.

Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is now touring China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Russia until December.

Sep 8th

Ha Ha Hood @ The Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

By Yvonne Delahaye

HOOD_imageonlywithgraphics.jpg

After seeing the madcap comedy Ha Ha Holmes! last year with Joe Pasquale, I was looking forward to some more crazy antics from the Ha Ha! team with a brand new and all-out outrageous comic romp! Ha Ha Hood! And the Prince of Leaves, is the latest irreverent interpretation of a classic story from the team who also brought us Ha Ha Hitler! And Ha Ha Hamlet!  With all the terrible events happening around the world, we all need to escape and have some fun and laughter in our lives and this show is guaranteed to get your sides aching.

Ten years after a messy divorce Robin and Marian are forced back together to fight the Sheriff once more. Little John and Friar Tuck, now considerably older and rougher around the edges, join the merry pair to try and save the citizens of Nottingham…

Maid Marian, Nottinghamshire’s feistiest female, who has in the past been brought to life by the likes of screen goddesses Audrey Hepburn, Cate Blanchett and Uma Thurman  is now portrayed by Su Pollard, who serves up a world-weary Marian who is definitely more matron than maid!   Tommy Cannon takes on the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and Little John while Bobby Ball, currently starring in TV’s Not Going Out with Lee Mack, doubles up as Friar Tuck and Guy of Gisborne.

Su Pollard is a comedy icon who needs no introduction. The Nottingham-born lass makes for a perfect menopausal Marian, cutting her comedy chops on hit BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi as scatty chalet maid Peggy. Su cemented her camp credentials with comedies You Rang, M’lord and Oh, Doctor Beeching, and is a musical theatre and pantomime heroine! 

Cannon and Ball’s starring role in Ha Ha Hood!  Prince of Leaves marks forty years since their first television appearance and a whopping fifty years together as a duo.   The Cannon and Ball Show ran for 9 hugely successful years and the pair have 2 sitcoms and numerous theatre/pantomime appearances under their belts; not forgetting their hilarious stint on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. 

Ben Langley (Robin Hood) has worked in London’s Covent Garden as a street performer for the last 18 years, winning The Bristol Harbour Festival Street Performer of the Year award.  He is co-founder of the Ha Ha Boys comedy team, writing and touring the Ha Ha series of theatre shows since 2007. 

“For me, what I saw in Ha Ha! was a British version of The Reduced Shakespeare Company which, rather than taking the micky out of us, was embracing us and was very pro-British and was a tribute to all of the great comedy artists and routines that have made Britain funny over the last 50 to 100 years.” – Ben Langley, creator

Andy Pickering completes the cast, accompanying on piano and adding a variety of wigs and voices to the chaotic events.

Su Pollard has the most wonderful belting singing voice (and a lovely pair of pins!) and her energy is just as infectious as ever.  Bobby and Tommy are warm and funny and it’s a joy to watch the three of them working the audience, knowing exactly how to deliver a line and entertain us all.   We all enjoyed the show immensely and although we’ve seen the sight gags hundreds of times they all still work and have us giggling all the way through.  Some of the lines were a bit coarse, especially as there were a lot of young children in the audience, but overall the show is jolly good clean fun.

Switch off the news, go out and have a laugh – it’s the best therapy in the world!

Tour Dates:

Tuesday 9th September Venue Cymru Llandudno
Wednesday 10th September Crewe Lyceum Theatre
Thursday 11th September New Brighton Floral Pavilion Theatre
Friday 12th September Carlisle The Sands Centre
Saturday 13th September Durham Gala
Sunday 14th September The Hawth Crawley
Tuesday 16th September Milton Keynes Theatre
Wednesday 17th September Hastings White Rock
Thursday 18th September Leamington Spa Royal Spa Centre
Friday 19th September Redditch Palace Theatre
Saturday 20th September Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall Theatre
Monday 22nd September – Tuesday 23rd September Stevenage Gordon Craig Theatre
Wednesday 24th September Lancaster Grand Theatre
Thursday 25th September Grimsby Auditorium
Friday 26th September York Grand Opera House
Sunday 28th September Glasgow Theatre Royal
Monday 29th September Edinburgh Playhouse
Tuesday 30th September Billingham Forum Theatre

Further dates and info on www.hahahood.com

@HaHaShow

Reviewed by:
@Yvonne Delahaye
7.9.14

Sep 4th

Dangerous Corner at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

A shot in the dark, followed by a scream, and the stage is set for the first of J B Priestley’s many plays.

Dangerous Corner

But the content is in stark contrast to the rich, warm tones of the Art Deco drawing room of the country house in which the play is set. For beneath the 1930s respectability of wealthy couple Robert and Freda Caplan, their friends and colleagues, lurks the darkest of secrets which are disclosed as the evening unfolds.

J B Priestley himself described the play as ‘pretty thin stuff when all is said and done’, but if it were a book it would be a real page-turner, and in the hands of director Michael Attenborough and his sterling cast it has its audience in suspense right up to the very last line as devastating revelation after devastating revelation is exposed.

Some, such as affairs and homosexuality, probably wouldn’t turn a hair in today’s society, but in the mannered world of the 1930s, beautifully recreated by set and costume designer Gary McCann and lighting designer Tim Mitchell, what unfolds appears to be somewhat shocking when the stiff upper lip collapses - with tragic consequences.

As Robert Caplan, Colin Buchanan (remember Dalziel’s Pascoe?) is the perfect host for most of the evening but shows his passionate side in the closing scenes with a powerful explosion of emotions. Robert’s wife, however, shows her feelings more easily from the very beginning and Finty Williams portrays her as both fearful and feisty with a presence she has obviously inherited from her mother, Dame Judi Dench, who was in the audience.

Though Kim Thomson’s Olwen is gentle and almost wan, her presence is just as striking, as is Lauren Drummond’s Betty, for completely different reasons - a playful, shrieking child well suited to her gauche, lumbering husband (Matt Milne).

Though the most contained of all the characters, it is Charles Stanton’s lack of emotion which makes him the most menacing and Michael Praed’s performance is memorable for its steely coldness.

All in all, a class act to be savoured.

Dangerous Corner is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until September 13 and then tours:

Sept 15-20: Clwyd Theatr, Mold

Sept 29-Oct 4: Richmond Theatre

Oct 6-11: Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

Oct 13-18: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Oct 27-Nov 1: Theatre Royal Glasgow

Nov 3-8: Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Nov 10-15: Malvern Theatre

Nov 17-22: Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent

Nov 24-29: New Victoria Theatre, Woking

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

www.kenwright.com