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Apr 19th

The Little Mermaid Northern Ballet at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Alison Smith


David Nixon’s Little Mermaid – a reworking of Anderson’s fairy tale – is as atmospheric as it is absorbing. The underwater world is portrayed imaginatively by an aqueous set, resplendent with shimmering, weaving creatures in beautiful costumes, and undulating  waves in delicate shades of blues and greens . Most notable was the fluidity of the elder mermaids (Ailen Ramos Betancourt and Miki Akuta) held aloft by the male waves.

The little mermaid Marilla – a Celtic name echoing Sally Beamish’s Celtic musical touches –  was danced by Abigail Prudames who excelled in her role, both as a lithe rippling mermaid and a pained, physically and emotionally, two-legged creature. The weightless submarine world is contrasted with the heavier, dowdier appearance of humans. Again there are Celtic touches in the kilts and in the earthy colours of the costumes, drab shades of brown with the occasional red and pink.

 Prince Adair (Joseph Taylor) is the beloved of Marilla, but he falls in love with Dana (Dreda Blow), a human; Marilla, bereft returns to the sea. The duets between the prince and his beloved are joyful ; the couple are perfectly matched in precision and athleticism. The choreography of the duet between the prince and Marilla is doleful in comparison and transmits the sadness of Marilla. For this is a tale of unrequited love and of sacrifices made for love. It is not a happy-ever after tale.

The action is accompanied throughout by an eerie, folksy score played by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia and ethereal  lighting – blue for undersea and yellow for land –  the filtering of  shafts of light into the sea was most effective.

This is a wonderful production. The story line brings with it many limitations for the choreography ; my one negative comment is the consequent  lack of vitality in the dancing – Lyr, Lord of the Sea ( Matthew Topliss) danced with verve and spirit,  but there was not enough of this . Beautiful and captivating as the ballet is, it is also somewhat soporific.


 The Little Mermaid is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday  21st April

 0844 871 7652

 Booking fee applies


Apr 17th

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

By Kirstie Niland

Blackpool Grand Theatre

(Now showing at Bradford Alhambra until Saturday 21st April, on UK tour until May 19th)

I caught this classic gothic production at the end of its run in Blackpool, eager to see how the horror of Dr Jekyll’s nightly transformation into the evil Mr Hyde would stand up on stage.

I was not disappointed, for actor Phil Daniels’ portrayal of the two characters forming the dangerously split personality was as close to resembling a physical metamorphosis as you could get in the absence of special effects or time-consuming costume changes.

The Victorian, split level set provided a balcony for singer Rosie Abraham to permeate the proceedings with some eerie melodies. Beneath her, a periodic reversal of the set highlighted which of the physician's personalities we were about to encounter, as Daniels entered or exited his lounge or laboratory respectively. The darkness was lifted by flickering candles, but these were often dimmed, drawing us forward to see better, creating tension. 

Daniels’ use of a Scottish accent paid homage to the writer, Edinburgh’s own Robert Louis Stevenson, but this and the show have generated mixed reviews, particularly during a recent run in the author's home city. However I found his accent, along with the West Country twang of his lively maid Annie (Grace Hogg-Robinson) added a punch, and a rhythmical juxtaposition of harshness and light amidst an otherwise relentlessly terrifying plot. Their relationship was strangely more fascinating than Jekyll’s experiments with a potion that released a savage alter-ego. It culminated in an abused Annie’s psychoanalysis of the finally broken and suicidal man, whose childhood issues bred a monster ready to be unleashed as the evil Hyde.

Overall this production, by Touring Consortium Theatre Company, features a strong and talented cast which affords extra guts via more developed female characters. Whilst it isn't as scary as big budget productions, it does still inject the necessary chills – including a gut-wrenching, bone-crunching assault which successfully illustrates Jekyll’s surrender to Hyde's murderous urges.

UK tour dates are here.

The company’s next production is an exciting new adaptation of Dracula, again by David Edgar and directed by Kate Saxton, in association with Everyman Theatre Cheltenham. For this European Premiere, Bram Stoker’s book has been re-imagined in all its spine-chilling glory by a world-class creative team from London’s West End and Broadway.

Age Guidance; 16+

Everyman Theatre Cheltenham

Fri 28 September – Sat 6 October 2018

Box Office: 01242 572573

Photograph courtesy of Touring Consortium Theatre Company

Apr 17th

Writer Douglas Day Stewart talks about An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical on the eve of its national UK tour

By Clare Brotherwood

One of the highest grossing films of all time, ever since An Officer and a Gentleman hit our big screens in 1982, this multi-Oscar-winning movie has, says its creator Douglas Day Stewart, changed lives and, according to the US Navy, was the greatest thing that had ever happened to them. Now Day Stewart has written An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical, which premiered at the Curve Leicester earlier this month and is now touring the UK. At a press conference at the Edinburgh Playhouse this week, he talked about the film, the musical and how Edinburgh is playing a part in their future.

Before he arrived at the press conference at the Edinburgh Playhouse, Douglas Day Stewart had been in his hotel room, finishing the final touches to the screenplay for a sequel to his original film of An Officer and a Gentleman. “It’s a bit of a secret,” he added. “I’ve been working on it for three years and I’ll be taking it to Warner Brothers in the next couple of weeks.”

At 78, Day Stewart shows no sign of letting up. He is as enthusiastic about An Officer and a Gentleman now as he was when he first wrote it back in the Eighties and it won three Oscars - for Best Supporting Actor (Louis Gossett Jr), Best Music and Best Original Song (Up Where We Belong, which also won a BAFTA).

“I’ve seen it about 100 times. I like it,” he laughed. “Once I start I can’t stop watching it.”

An Officer and a Gentleman tells the story of Zack Mayo who is training to become a US Navy pilot, has a tough time from his drill sergeant and falls in love with a local girl, and Day Stewart based the story on his own experiences in the US Navy. “I was an artist, an actor, and one day I was visiting my parents’ house still in make-up where I met an officer who told me we were about to go to war, though people didn’t really know anything about it yet. He said I could join the Army where I’d probably die on some muddy battlefield or join the Navy and live through the whole thing. I wanted to live so I went to Newport Rhode Island (Naval War College) for 12 weeks.”

Day Stewart went on to base ‘the officer and a gentleman’ on himself, though he ‘roughed him up a bit’ to make him more interesting. “I was in the military for three-and-a-half years and there is something about it you never get out of your blood. It’s a very unique experience and it made me a stronger person. Hollywood people are pretty tough but not as tough as a drill sergeant. That school was the toughest thing anyone could imagine and that’s what I tried to portray in the film.”

In order to keep it authentic, Day Stewart insisted on being one of the producers so he could ‘protect it all the way’. He hired military experts and had a big say in the casting.

John Travolta had starred in Day Stewart’s ‘highest rated TV film at the time’, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, so he was first choice, but when he chose not to do it the part went to Richard. “He is a consummate professional,” Day Stewart explained. “His Buddhist beliefs are very real. He does a lot for a lot of people. He is genuine, a real human being. For the film he taught himself to do the real martial arts. Everything he does he does with that dedication.

“Louis (the first African American to win an Oscar) is another man, like Richard Gere, who believes in things other than his own fame.”

But we are here to talk about An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical, and Day Stewart says he’s excited and thrilled about it.

“It’s pleasing to me to see this story which is so personal being reincarnated. It’s not hard to maintain an enthusiasm for it. So many people’s lives have been touched by it. Time Magazine said we took the negativity of the military out of the Vietnam War and I am proud of this.

“It’s an experience. It’s not like anything you have seen. It’s not like any other kind of musical. It’s so uplifting and emotionally powerful. It will make people fall in love again and retake their vows. It is as much for young people as their parents. It’s a story the young generation needs.

“It’s not quite as raw as the movie. It is respectful that you are watching live entertainers, but we still maintain the raw edge of excitement, sensuality and action. It’s a roller coaster ride.”

As well as including the hit song from the film Up Where We Belong, it also features Eighties classics such as Don’t Cry Out Loud, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Toy Soldiers and Material Girl.

The musical is directed by Nikolai Foster, artistic director at the Curve, who recently directed the West End productions of Annie and Calamity Jane and is, says Day Stewart, ‘going to emerge as one of the UK’s artistic lights’.

“He moves at the speed of light. Every scene moves into the next with such fluidity.”

He also has praise for choreographer Kate Price, ‘another great bright light in the UK’. “She’s fresh and she has a certain style which makes it fun, but the routines feel integral.”

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical will be touring the UK until September. Meanwhile, Day Stewart, whose past credits include the ground-breaking 1980 film Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields, is enthusing about the sequel to the film.

“It’s a trailblazer. It’s about female empowerment. I’ve taken the daughter of Zack who wants to be a jet pilot, but who knows her dark secrets? And there’s also a gay love story in there.”

Future projects include ‘other deeply personal stuff’. “It seems the only way you can succeed in the film industry today is to get a comic book character, but stay with what you know. Don’t try to tailor yourself for the market,” he said.

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical is at the Edinburgh Playhouse from July 2-7  0844 871 3014

Until April 21: Curve Leicester

April 24-28: Leeds Grand Theatre

May 1-5: Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

May 7-12: Wycombe Swan

May 15-19: Birmingham Hippodrome

May 21-26: Liverpool Empire

May 28-June 2: Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin

June 4-9: Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

June 18-23: Theatre Royal Newcastle

June 25-30: Wales Millennium Centre

July 9-14: Milton Keynes Theatre

July 23-28: Theatre Royal, Nottingham

July 30-Aug 4: Bristol Hippodrome

Aug 6-11: the Marlow Theatre, Canterbury

Aug 13-18: Manchester Opera House

Aug 20-25: Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Aug 27- Sept 1: Regent Theatre, Ipswich

Sept 3-8: The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Sept 10-15: Glasgow King’s Theatre


Apr 11th

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh

By Clare Brotherwood

I felt an air of excitement as I made my way to the King’s Theatre, knowing that the original version of its latest production was written by Edinburgher Robert Louis Stevenson, who is said to have based his story on Deacon Brodie, by day a respected businessman and councillor, but by night a housebreaker - and who lived not a mile from the theatre.

That excitement never left me. Adaptor David Edgar, famous for his award-winning reworking of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby for the Royal Shakespeare Company, has teamed up with Jenny KIng’s Touring Consortium Theatre Company, Olivier Winner for Best Entertainment for its production of The Railways Children at the Waterloo Station Theatre, for this latest version of the classic Gothic horror.

And good, all-round entertainment it is.

Simon Higlett’s two-tiered set depicts, on the upper level, a foggy London street, while below, despite modest props, various scenes change seamlessly and effectively to provide an atmospheric backdrop, helped enormously by Richard Hammarton’s chilling music and sound effects and Mark Jonathan’s creepy lighting.

But Edgar’s version of this dark tale has an unexpected lighter side. He introduces to the story a sister for Jekyll, a fun-loving mother of two played with much warmth and humour by Polly Frame, while Phil Daniels, playing both title roles, becomes an almost Vaudevillian villain as Mr Hyde, mostly making us laugh more than shrink back in horror - although a couple of scenes are frighteningly graphic and had me worrying for the lives of the actors involved! It was also amusing to hear Daniels sporting a soft Edinburgh accent as Dr Jekyll while as Mr Hyde he is the epitomy of a Glaswegian drunk, and sounding not unlike Billy Connolly. It’s a brave act indeed for a Londoner to play Scots in Scotland, and I wonder, had he been playing these roles in Glasgow, if he’d have given Hyde the Edinburgh accent!

Adding to the more chilling aspect is Rosie Abraham who not only plays Jekyll’s niece and a maid but will remain in my memory as ‘the singer’, an enigmatic figure who bridges the scenes and whose plaintive strains sent shivers down my spine. Grace Hogg-Robinson, as Annie, also gives an emotion-driven performance, in contrast to Sam Cox as Poole, every inch the restrained butler.

As I said, this is good, all-round entertainment with some nice little touches from director Kate Saxon.


King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Tues 10 – Sat 14 April 2018

Box Office

0131 529 6000

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Tues 17 – Saturday 21 April 2018

Box Office

01274 432000

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Tues 1 – Saturday 5 May 2018

Box Office

01902 429 212

Cambridge Arts Theatre

Tues 8 – Sat 12 May 2018

Box Office

01223 503 333

Darlington Hippodrome

Tues 15 – Saturday 19 May 2018

Box Office


01325 405 405


Apr 11th

Cilla The Musical @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Cilla - The Musical Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre,

When Jeff Pope’s iconic TV series, Cilla, aired in September 2014 featuring an incredible performance from Sheridan Smith, no-one could have predicted that within a year Cilla Black would sadly be dead.  Initially she was very nervous about her life story and romance with Bobby Willis (who became her husband and manager), being portrayed in a TV series.  Once she read the script though, she felt reassured and once she saw the TV show she was thrilled.

Cilla was born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in 1943, but when she signed a recording contract with Brian Epstein in 1963, he changed her name to Cilla Black.  When Cilla sang with her friends, The Beatles, Brian came along but a poor choice of song meant he left early and Cilla almost gave up. Fate was on her side though, as he heard her singing again and this time the rock song delivered and he signed her up.  The first recording failed to make a mark, but once they’d selected the right song ‘Anyone Who Has A Heart’ hit the number one slot in 1964, Cilla’s career was assured.

Adapting his TV series for the stage musical, Jeff Pope has concentrated on these early years up until the launch of Cilla’s own TV series for the BBC in 1967, which ran until 1976.

Fellow Liverpudlian Bill Kenwright, seized the opportunity to turn the successful TV mini-series into a stage show and Cilla the Musical opened in September 2017 at the Liverpool Empire and has been touring ever since. Giving a fantastic performance as Cilla is Buckinghamshire lass Kara Lily Hayworth.  She nails the accent, humour and character of one of the UK’s best-loved personalities.  Kara’s voice is stunning and she commands the stage with her presence and has the same star quality as Cilla, so expect to see and hear a lot more of her over the coming years.

Carl Au plays Bobby Willis, the totally besotted man who becomes indispensible to Cilla and gives up his own career potential to take care of her. Andrew Lancel is the manager, Brian Epstein, who adores Cilla but has a self-destruct button that can’t be switched off.  Neil MacDonald (as Cilla’s dad John White) has brilliant comic timing and is a joy to watch.

Supported by a talented cast of musicians, dancers and singers, this really is a fabulous night’s entertainment.  The costumes were stunning, particularly the long glittery dresses designed to maximise Cilla’s famous red hair.

The Waterside Theatre has a special connection with Cilla, as she opened the theatre in October 2010.  She went on to appear in Cinderella and I’ll never forget her entrance flying in wearing a long gold sequined dress with a long train...amazing!

Cilla’s memory and the legacy of her work will never be forgotten and she will always be fondly remembered by her adoring public.  This is a wonderful tribute and everyone was on their feet at the end singing and dancing along.  Adding in an extra song (which I didn’t know) after that made everyone sit down and I wasn’t sure that it actually added anything to the show, but that was only my observation and it’s a great night out!

The show runs at The Waterside to Saturday 14th April and from 17th-21st April at Norwich Theatre Royal.  Further tour dates will be available later this year.

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye



Apr 10th

Hairspray at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Alison Smith


Hairspray at Milton Keynes Theatre

One of the producers of Hairspray, Mark Goucher, says’ theatre has an obligation to both educate and to entertain’.  And the educational message in Hairspray is as relevant in 2018 as in the original 1988 film – that segregation and intolerance are immoral and that differences, be they of skin colour or weight should be a cause for celebration. On the surface such issues would not seem to be elements of entertainment, but with creators of the calibre of Waters, O’Donnell, Shaiman and Whittman, Hairspray becomes outstanding entertainment.

 It is, above all, a feel - good musical; the main character Tracy Turnblad has not been endowed with the best physical accomplishments to become a dancer on the Corny Collins TV Show, but with youthful determination , optimism and a strong sense of right and wrong she succeeds, and, moreover, gets her man. It is a most pleasing example of the winning of good over evil, a battle accompanied with great dancing and music .Short, chubby Tracy (Rebecca Mendoza) with her school satchel is an unlikely heroine, but rather than change herself to fit in with the American ideals she changes the attitude of most of those around her; Collins says ‘put kids on the show who look like the kids who watch the show’ and as a result  the monthly Negro Day on his show is abolished and teenagers of all colours and sizes dance together. Hairspray is the professional debut for Rebecca Mendoza. She is almost continuously on stage and does not lose any dynamism throughout her performance.

The musicality of all the performers is exceptional, but most notable is Brenda Edwards with her rich powerful voice. She excels in I know Where I’ve Been – a story of hope, tinged with great sadness. And the Dynamite Trio – Emily-Mae, Melissa Nettleford and Lauren Concannon - in Welcome to the 60s are as good as the Supremes. The dancing is uplifting, but the prize for flexibility and athleticism must be awarded to Seaweed (Layton Williams), who back-flipped across the stage with ease.

The ‘different ’relationships of the characters play an important role in the musical –  especially that of Edna Turnblad  the overlarge, agoraphobic wife of the weedy Wilbur. Their well- practised ad-libbing caused hilarity in the audience and their good natured relationship caused, I feel sure, envy. Penny and Seaweed, Tracy and Link are also examples of how external appearances have little effect on love.

The setting is simple – the streets of Baltimore in the main; the lighting and wardrobe colourful and the band tucked in at the back played the rhythm and blues numbers with expertise and gusto. The choreography was impressive and the vocal numbers great. Hairspray is a wonderful evening’s entertainment of music and dance together with a thought provoore in the main; the lighting  'reography was impressive and the vocal numbers great. A wonderful evenong'de of most of those wking message.

 Hairspray is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 14th April 

0844 871 7652

 Booking fee applies


Apr 5th

Jersey Boys at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe


A review by Suzanne Lowe


Having had the pleasure of watching Jersey Boys before I was more than a little excited to discover that the show would be returning to Glasgow.  You know how it is, you build up a show in your head only to actually find out it wasn’t quite as entertaining as you remembered.  This show certainly lived up to my expectations.  With a superb cast, well known songs and fast paced scene changes this was indeed a great night out at the theatre.


Jersey Boys tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  Cleverly revealing a past through the eyes of each band member.  A past which was well hidden from fans and record industry moguls.  Prison sentences and associations with the Mafia only coming to light as Jersey Boys came to fruition.  Each member’s memory of events slightly different.


Of course along with the revelations of a life behind the stage we get to experience the wonderful sounds of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  With hits such as ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, ‘Oh What a Night’, and ‘Who Loves You?’ resonating around the auditorium, it was difficult not to find yourself singing along (normally a practice I would frown upon!)  The slick dance moves and exceptional voices a joy to watch and hear.


The supporting cast totally embraced the era and performed every number with gusto, many performing several roles.  Top marks have to go to Dayle Hodge (Frankie Valli), Simon Bailey (Tommy Devito), Declan Egan (Bob Gaudio) and Lewis Griffiths (Nick Massi).  All four giving outstanding performances.


With his amazing vocal range the unique voice of Frankie Valli was superbly recreated by Hodge.  Along with the incredible sound came a solid acting performance with a particularly moving scene depicting the moment Frankie learns of his daughter’s death.  A brief moment in the evening when the audience fell silent.


As Tommy Devito, Bailey gave us an insight into this stereotypical New Jersey tough guy.  As his connections with the mob and gambling debts become clear we are also drawn to his vulnerability.


Egan played the part of Bob Gaudio the genius behind the hit songs we all know and love.  His portrayal revealed a rather sensitive but focused individual endearing himself to the audience.  With superb vocals his performance has to be admired.


We are also introduced to Nick Massi with an intentionally laid back performance by Griffiths.  As the quieter member of the group and somewhat downtrodden by Devito, Griffiths gives us an insight into how Massi actually felt being part of The Four Seasons.


All four incredibly talented performers gave the audience a great night with their outstanding vocals added to memorable acting pieces.   Be assured that the life of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons was a story which had to be told.


And yes….definitely just as great a show second time round.


Jersey Boys - King's Theatre Glasgow

03/04/18 - 14/14/18

Matinee (Thu, Sat) 14:30, Evenings 19:30

Tickets £18 - £63.50

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7 p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge



Apr 5th

TOSCA at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Louise Winter

Reviewed by Quentin Fox

4th April 2018

TOSCA RIchard Huber Smithimage copyright Richard Huber Smith

Puccini was, in his time, derided for not being genius enough. Such a brilliant talent, contemporary critics said, should be shooting for the heaven of musical invention rather than dwelling in the verismo gutter of small lives and sordid passions. The Welsh National Opera’s production of Tosca explodes that notion and reveals a composer who was not only musically innovative but an absolute master of modern narrative, almost filmic in its construction and pace.

Tosca’s themes are simple: love and loyalty. How far, Puccini asks, would you go to save someone you loved? He poses this universal question a specific place and time. Set on a single day in the Rome of 1800, the background to the tale is one of political uncertainty. The Eternal City became a republic under Napoleon who drove out the forces of the monarchy and the Pope. With Napoleon’s retreat, these fragile states were re-occupied by the forces of reaction intent on revenge and rounding up the usual radical suspects.

A republican, Angelotti, breaks out of prison, pursued by Scarpia, head of the secret police, and rushes into a church to seek help from his old comrade, the painter Cavaradossi. In hiding his friend the painter arouses the suspicions and insecurities  of his jealous lover, the singer Floria Tosca. Scarpia tricks Tosca into going to Cavaradossi’s house where he is arrested while Angelotti escapes.

Scarpia tortures Cavaradossi but Tosca, in order to save her man, reveals Angelotti’s whereabouts, But with the news that Napoleon is victorious and set to return, Scarpia condemns Cavaradossi to death. Tosca begs Scarpia to save her lover's life. In return for staging a mock execution and arranging safe passage for the pair, Scarpia, who delights in rape, demands that Tosca yield to him. As he touches Tosca, she stabs him to death.

So where are we? A murderous woman on the run is making a bid for happiness that depends on the word of a duplicitous secret policeman and a firing squad armed with blanks? Crumbs. The politics may seem remote but you know that this is not going to end well…

The production matches the simplicity of the themes and is a bitter-sweet delight. In the title role Claire Rutter (soprano) brings a real sense of coquettishness in her first scene which emphasises her eventual transformation into the resolute and tragic woman at the end. While her acting is strong, questions have to be asked about the power of her voice, though her rendition of the aria Vissi d'arte was well received. As Cavaradossi, a superb Gwyn Hughes Jones (tenor) conveys tenderness, anguish and resignation by turns. In his hands E lucevan le stelle is hugely moving. His stagecraft is magnificent, too: a single look to the audience during Tosca’s jealous hissy fit in the first act is enough to say ‘I know, she’s barmy, but I love her.’

Mark S Doss sings Scarpia with a sense of restraint which makes him less of a pantomime villain than a malign but human figure who uses his position to slake his lusts. Praise, too, is due to Michael Clifton-Thompson who offers up a splendidly weaselly Spoletta, Scarpia’s henchman.

The WNO orchestra performs with real panache under the baton of Timothy Burke and the sets offer a richness that makes the production unforgettable. The church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, Scarpia’s room in the Palazzo Farnese and the battlements of the Castel Sant’Angelo are all rendered on a monumental scale emphasising the real power and the glory in a tale of small people.

This production offers us a Tosca for the 21st century: we’ve seen what power and chaos have done in Iraq and Syria and the debasement that has resulted in #MeToo. That’s the enduring genius of Puccini.

Tosca plays MK theatre April 6th 7.15pm. The conductor will be Carlo Rizzi 
and Cavaradossi will be played by Hector Sandoval
Don GiovanniThursday 5 April 7pm  
La forza del destino Saturday 7 April 6.30pm
Box office 0844 871 7652
Booking fee applies





Apr 5th

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

By Trevor Gent

Arriving at the theatre to see lots of empty seats for the first performance of this horror thriller by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the Swan theatre, High Wycombe was a shame. This was perhaps due to the delay of one day to start the week run due to technical issues, but hopefully a few more people will come to see this one. This production is from the Rose Theatre Kingston in cooperation with the Touring Consortium Theatre Company. Stage play adapted by David Edgar and produced by Kate Saxon.

It was a signed performance and although I did not need it, but should you have needed this facility I was pleased to see that the subtitles kept up with the dialogue on stage, unlike watching TV with text which is usually playing catch up. There were also a lot of younger people in the audience as it seems that this is in the curriculum for GCSE, but as the action on stage unfolded I found myself thinking I hoped they had more of a clue as to what was going on than me.

Being penned by a Scot it was perhaps inevitable that some of the main actors in this play portrayed their role using a Scottish accent, some better than others though.

I liked the simple set and staging albeit somewhat dark in a lot of places for effect should the scene require a more sinister feel or mood. It was clever how the space was used to scene change almost immediately just by a backdrop change, swing of a side wing or bringing on a work bench.

Originally written in 1886 it is a Gothic novel where Dr Jekyll transforms into Mr Hyde, a man without a conscience, through the use of potions. Eventually the transformations get out of control, and his friends become aware of his situation. Drug abuse of the Victorian era one could say and the consequences that it brings. A struggle between two personalities, one good and one bad, where one eventually takes over.

There is a lot of dialogue and at times it is quite difficult to follow, and hear at times, especially in the first half but try and stick with it. I found it much easier in the second half.

Phil Daniels takes the main role as Dr Jekyll, he is a fifty year old Doctor, fascinated by the workings of the human brain and intrigued by notes he has discovered in a book left by his late father, outlining a way by which a man may separate the two opposing elements of his personality. Jekyll is a highly intelligent man who enjoys his own company, and, despite his wealth, is careful and lives simply. As Hyde, he is younger, smaller and dangerous. Hyde has no inhibitions, and engages in violent, depraved acts, not caring if he is observed. In the play, he is a murderer and rapist. Hyde is released, and Jekyll is restored, with the consumption of specific and mysterious potions.

On the whole he does quite a good job as it is quite a daunting challenge to change from one character into another, right before your very eyes so to speak.

There is quite a large cast and they all play their parts well. I especially enjoyed Annie the parlour maid who originally works for Katherine (Dr Jekyll’s sister) However, she leaves Katherine’s employ after her father is violent towards her, and seeks refuge with Dr Jekyll, who takes her in and gives her a position in his household, despite the disapproval of his valet, Poole. Annie is a perceptive young woman, who nevertheless falls foul of the devilish Mr Hyde. She is dismissed by Jekyll when he realises she is pregnant.

The chilly temperature in the theatre certainly helped to keep you alert and added to the tension on stage. I always enjoy an evening spent in any theatre and it you want to catch this production at the Swan it continues there until Saturday 7th April and after that at the following venues.

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Tues 10 – Sat 14 April 2018

Box Office
0131 529 6000

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Tues 17 – Saturday 21 April 2018
Box Office
01274 432000

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
Tues 1 – Saturday 5 May 2018
Box Office
01902 429 212

Cambridge Arts Theatre
Tues 8 – Sat 12 May 2018

Box Office
01223 503 333

Darlington Hippodrome
Tues 15 – Saturday 19 May 2018

Box Office
01325 405 405

Apr 4th

A Play, A Pie and A Pint

By Clare Brotherwood

I moved to Edinburgh for the theatre.

There are five main ones, all within half an hour of my harbourside home, and each has something different to offer.

The Traverse is the flagship for new creative talent but, not surprisingly since it was founded to extend the spirit of the Edinburgh festivals, it offers something I’ve not come across anywhere else, though it is now world famous - a lunchtime theatre experience where your ticket includes a play, a pie and a drink, all for £13.50.

Apparently, it was first conceived in 2004 by the late David MacLennon (he of 7:84 fame), at the Oran Mor in Glasgow, as a platform for new Scottish plays. Now theatres in Cardiff, Bristol and Aberdeen also present PPP, while the Traverse has been collaborating with Oran Mor to present a varied programme from established names and new first time playwrights since 2009.

Its two five-week seasons are, from what I hear among the locals, eagerly awaited, so it’s best to book early for a seat in the 115-capacity Traverse 2 studio theatre.

The programme covers all sorts of themes, characters and stories. The latest season features new works by actor, director and playwright Rob Drummond, crime writer Val McDermid, screen writer Ann Marie di Mambro, and actress Meghan Tyler. But it started this week with an exciting and very enjoyable new approach to an historical figure in Gary McNair’s McGonagall’s Chronicles.

McNair’s dialogue is in the true style of Scotland’s best worst poet, and as the Victorian bard his delivery is spot on; his timing is better than any stand-up comedian’s and yet the story he relates of McGonagall’s quest for fame, is at times as moving as it is hilarious.

McNair is ably abetted by Brian James O’Sullivan, not only on keyboard and accordion but in various other guises, and musician Simon Liddell.

This play, together with a tasty haggis pie and - er, a coffee (I was to be driving later and in Scotland drinking is totally out if you’re going to get behind the wheel) is a great way to spend your lunch hour, have an excuse to meet up with friends or, at just 50-minutes long, an ideal introduction to the theatre for newcomers.

I’ll definitely be back!

McGonagall’s Chronicles runs until April 7 at 1pm with a 7pm performance on Apr 6.

April 10-17-21: Margaret Saves Scotland by Val McDermid

April 24-28: Eulogy by Rob Drummond

May 1-5: The Persians by Meghan Tyler


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