#Review of Ten Times Table – 1 Committee, 1 Pageant Funny Results. 5 stars ***** #TenTimesTable @RobertDaws @Ayckbourn #Edinburgh #York #Shrewsbury #Cheltenham #Chesterfield #Brighton @captheatres #Play #Theatre #humour #TheatreGoers

Ten Times Table
By Alan Ayckbourn
Rated – 5 stars *****

Bill Kenwright presents The Classic Comedy Theatre Company, who are performing – Ten Times Table – An excellent play by Alan Ayckbourn, set around a committee trying to put on a pageant. This is a fun revival of the Ayckbourn’s 1970s comedy play that is currently on a UK tour. Below, after the review, is also a list of where the play appears to be touring next, including links.

The Cast includes:

Robert Daws (The Royal, Outside Edge and Roger Roger. Also author and podcaster) 
Deborah Grant (Not Going Out and Bergerac) 
Gemma Oaten (Emmerdale, Holby City) 
Robert Duncan (Drop The Dead Donkey)
Mark Curry (Hollyoaks, Last Of The Summer Wine)
Craig Gazey (Coronation Street and The Full Monty, West End)
Elizabeth Power (EastEnders)

Ten TImes Table.jpg

Review

Braving the beginnings of Storm Ciara, a friend and I went to see the play we had booked months in advance at the Edinburgh King’s Theatre. The verdict – we both Loved It! This is a wonderful play that kept us entertained from start to finish. There were certainly lots of laughs to be had in this captivating, very enjoyable play. With an excellent cast performing the play, it was a great evening.

The basic premise is, a committee that is being formed in the Swan Hotel for the Pendon Folk Festival. It isn’t as easy as it seems as they try to create, develop and put on a re-enactment of “The Pendon Twelve”, after a story about the massacre is discovered.

The results of the committee are hilarious as the story unfolds, showing the many personalities around the table. There’s the chair just trying to keep everything together, albeit not terribly well and often ends up dominated by others, the one who interrupts and doesn’t really get on with anyone and storms out, the shy one, the one who is pedantic, the one just trying to get the task done, the one who doesn’t always follow what is being said or done and people with opposing points of view. The personal issues also come into play a bit too… Even though some of the behaviours/personality types are exaggerated, they are recognisable, so there is a bit of accuracy there.
They all have to find a way to reach the end result – to showcase the pageant. They all want the same goal, but all doesn’t exactly go to plan…

The Committee is led by Ray – played by Robert Daws, who is a treat to watch as he gave the audience a huge range of his acting talents. The way he delivers each line is so on-point and so expressive. Deborah Grant played Helen excellently and with great energy for this strong-willed, character. All the cast give equally terrifically strong performances. There isn’t one who lets the side down as it were.

The play is directed by Robin Herford, who has done a great job in managing this cast and it all flows very well with all the comings and goings.

For a play that is predominantly set around a committee table, it has excellent comedic writing and comedy-timing. It is a fantastic play that I recommend seeing for a great afternoon or evening out. It is highly entertaining from start to finish. My friend and I certainly were not disappointed as we talked about it all the way to the train station. The weather was horrendous with the storm, but it was absolutely worth it.

Here is a list of where the play is touring next:

Mon, 10th February 2020 to Sat, 15th February 2020
Grand Opera House, York»
Mon, 17th February 2020 to Sat, 22nd February 2020
Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury»
Mon, 24th February 2020 to Sat, 29th February 2020
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham»
Mon, 9th March 2020 to Sat, 14th March 2020
Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield»
Mon, 23rd March 2020 to Sat, 28th March 2020
Theatre Royal, Brighton»

Great Theatre Shows from 2019 and some to look out for on tour in 2020 #Theatre #Plays #Musicals #Humour #Drama #Theatregoers #London #Edinburgh #Glasgow #2019 #HappyNewYear #TheatreWrapUp #Review #culture

Great Theatre Shows from 2018 and 2019

I have seen some fantastic theatre shows and the shows I loved in 2018 and 2019 are, in no particular. Some of these plays are touring right now within the UK and others are getting set for national UK tours. So, I hope you have fun looking out for them. They are categorised by musicals and plays only. So, without any further to-do, here is my lists, with very brief reviews.

Musicals:

les mis        Theatre Strictly Ballroom musical
Strictly Ballroom – (on national tour in 2020). When I saw this in London, it was so much fun. It had a great cast, including Will Young as the narrator at that time. The costumes are outstanding and just so beautiful. The set was cool. The dancing and songs are expertly performed and choreographed.
Please take note that Strictly Ballroom (based on the same name) is doing a national tour within the UK (including Scotland in 2020). It has been expertly put together by Strictly’s Craig Revel-Horwood, amongst many other people. So, do look out for this fun, feel-good show. It is A-Maz-Ing… see what I did there? I couldn’t help myself, it had to be done. This is an exciting show and one that I am so pleased to see tour.

Les Miserables – This is exquisite and full of emotion. I’ve seen it twice, once in London, once in Edinburgh and it doesn’t matter where you see it, you are in for a treat. It is so well-performed and well-cast no matter the location. The performance, the set and the costumes are all so rich and it is all so atmospheric. It is often in London and also on tour.
A full review can be found within my blog

Plays:

The Greatest Play in The History of the World – This play was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has now reached London (check it out now for January 4th 2020. It’s an original love story set on Preston-Road and in space and time. Time has stopped in this wonderfully written and performed one-woman play that has poignancy and honour and I just love the use of shoes. You have to see it to see what I mean. I don’t want to spoil it. Shoes aren’t used in the conventional sense. Not when this was performed in Edinburgh anyway. There’s also great music too. The set may be minimalist, but the way it is written and performed feeds incredibly well into the imaginations of audiences because it is so cleverly done and so immersive and captivating.
It is performed by Julie Hesmondalgh (Haley Cropper in Corrie and other shows) and written by her husband Ian Kershaw (writer for Corrie, Cold Feet and many more shows).

This House – This play was an unusual play in that it encouraged people to be part of the cast on stage for the whole play. This was a political play set in the 1970’s and was set in the Houses of Parliament. There was a great cast playing the opposition party and party in power. There were high stakes, debates, fist fights in the parliamentary bar, crucial votes that had party’s hanging by a thread, games and tricks. It was all there. A friend and I with a number of others took up the limited spaces on stage, which was split for the left and the right of the House with its mocked up parliamentary seats. We were given our lines and directions as the play went on and followed accordingly to become part of the cast. It was lots of fun, if not a bit daunting looking onwards at a full theatre where the rest of the audience was sitting. It was completely immersive from our point of view and we are glad we did it and both enjoyed the experience immensely. Some of the key cast also took time at the interval to talk to my friend and I, which was most interesting and of which we again thank them for this. This immersive and brilliantly conceived play was written by James Graham.

ArtThis was a terrific play at the Glasgow Theatre Royal about 3 men and a piece of modern art, which happens to be a white canvas, bought for a huge amount of money. The play gets revived every so often and is worth looking out for. It is about friendships and those friends falling out and making up, it is about life and all the paths that it can lead people down. It also has a big twist in it. It is poignant, important, funny, sad and such a great pace. When I saw it, the cast was Stephen Thomkinson (Wild at Heart, DCI Banks and much more) Denis Lawson (New Tricks, Holby City and much more), Nigel Havers (Coronation Street, The Cockfields, Midsomer Murders and much more). I thank Denis Lawson and Nigel Havers again for their time in having a very pleasant quick chat and signing my programme.
Full review can be found on my blog. 
Duet for One – I saw this at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh as part of a national tour. I think I saw this in 2017, but then it toured again in 2018, which is why it is on this list. It was a both serious and funny two-handed play (tours from time to time), about a woman with MS, which at the time of me seeing  it was Belinda Lang, and wow, what a performance. She played someone coming to terms with MS and limited mobility as if she could have had it herself (I sadly speak from experience as a member of my family has it). The emotion was there, the movement and everything was brilliantly executed. If this ever tours again, seriously consider seeing it. This was a revival of this play, so it isn’t impossible for it to return. It isn’t as depressing as it seems. This play has humour at many points. It is so well-written. It was so lovely to be able to actually tell her how well she played her part and to hear what she had to say about it – which was all positive things. I also thank her again for signing my programme and especially for talking to my mother and being so insightful.
A full review can be found within my blog.

Humble Boy – directed by the always very busy Paul Miller, I wish it would do a national tour. If it did this, I would certainly write a full review. It is one of those plays I think people should see. It was a funny play that tackles love, death, friendship and the importance of bees. This play had it all. It had emotion, serious and tender moments, poignancy as well as so much humour. It was so well-written by Charlotte Jones.
The set was amazing. I saw it in a round theatre and it was set in a garden. The time it must have taken to set up the scenery must have been immense. Parts were actually real plants. I loved having to walk on the cobblestones to my seat with my friend (we were on the front row and the set started right in front of the front row). The cast were all fabulous – Belinda Lang (from 2 Point 4 Children she played the mother and other shows and theatre), Paul Bradley (Cardio-surgeon in Holby City and other shows), Selina Cadell (Pharmacist in Doc Martin and other shows), Jonathan Broadbent (Silent Witness and other shows). There was also Christopher Ravenscroft and Rebekah Hinds.
The cast all sounded like they enjoyed performing this show at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. It was a joy and privilege to catch up with the cast after the show, of which I thank them for their time and their sheer kindness and also for signing my tickets.

The Importance of Being Earnest – This was a fun production of Oscar Wilde’s play, brought to the Vaudeville Theatre by Classic Spring. It was in London (another play I think should tour. His plays do tour from time to time nationally within the UK, so do look out for them. The play was full of humour and was recognisable from the film-version of the play. There was again, another great cast, most notably – Stella Gonet (House of Elliott, Holby City, Outnumbered and much more), Sophie Thompson (Coronation Street and much more, also sister of Emma Thompson), Jeremy Swift (Downton Abbey) and many more. A full review can be found in my blog. I thank Stella Gonet again for having a very pleasant chat and for asking if I would like my programme signed.

De Pro-fundis – Simon Callow performed this in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival when I saw it. This was a play I just had to say Wow at. I was hooked from the beginning to the end. I have seen quite a number of his one-man plays before. All are amazing and this was no different. It was played with conviction, energy and how he remembers all those lines, I will never know. If you ever see Simon Callow is doing a one-man play or even doing a book talk, I urge you to go. De-Profundis was the letter Oscar Wilde wrote from prison. It was haunting, dark. No one talked, no one made a noise in the audience, you could hear a pin drop, until the stunned audience erupted in applause at the end. He captured everyone from start to finish. The set was minimalist, his performance was passionate and full.

I have some plays already booked for 2020 of which I shall review and I am planning on doing a quick resume of different plays and musicals I have seen as many of them still run in theatres today and I suspect they will for many years to come. This will be done in- between book reviews and the occasional article. I’ve plenty of exciting things to be blogging about in 2020 and I hopefully many more exciting opportunities will crop up in the future. For now, I hope you enjoy what I have for my 2019 resumes and all else that is on my blog. I hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2020. Thank you too for following and reading my blog, without such, it wouldn’t exist. I love writing my blog and always grateful to those who give me opportunities to review and to write and to talk to people and to those who read what I write. Thank you!!!!

Partner’s In Crime Podcast and more… @adamcroft @HobeckBooks @adrian_hobart @RobertDaws @CrimeFicPodcast @MorecambeVice #Crime #Podcast

Partner’s in Crime Podcast

Tune into the podcast Partner’s in Crime. Look out for it from Friday.
This was the fifth panel, but as it is aired shortly, I wanted to publish my review in time. I really enjoy listening to this podcast generally. It is entertaining and also makes some interesting points for readers and writers. It also has book recommendations and general chat about many subjects. It always sounded like there was a good atmosphere, so to see their very first live studio audience performance, was great fun!

The podcast is normally crime writers Adam Croft and Robert Daws. Very unfortunately Robert Daws could not make it, even though he planned to, but he had a very good reason… There was a good last-minute stand-in however who was a great replacement. You would never have known how last minute he came in by the performance given. The replacement was Adrian Hobart.

Let me first introduce briefly who the people from the podcast (including regular host Robert Daws) are before I write about the podcast itself.
Adrian Hobart is a BBC Assistant Editor is his day job and when night falls, he is a writer and narrator and makes up one half of indy publisher Hobeck Books.

Adam Croft, is one of the most successful independently published author as he is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with almost 2 million books sold in over 120 countries. Adam has been featured on BBC television, BBC Radio and other media.
In March 2018, Adam has an Honorary Doctor of Arts, by the University of Bedfordshire in recognition of his services to literature.
He also has a TV series in development.

Robert Daws is an actor and author. He has appeared in several tv series and films, such as The Royal, Roger Roger, Jeeves and WoosterOutside EdgeNew Tricks, Doc Martin, Death in Paradise, The Unfolding, Swimming with Men and many more
He has also appeared in theatre in many plays such as How the Other Half Loves, Blackbird and many more and is going on tour again soon in the play – Ten Times Table.
Robert has written 3 books to date of the Broderick and Sullivan series and 1 stand-alone book.

Adam Corft and HobartAdrian Hobart and Adam Croft

The Partner’s in Crime Podcast:

The Partner’s in Crime theme tune fits and all seemed well set-up during the interval in-between panels. There seemed to be an air of hushed excitement and anticipation lingering in the room, perhaps from all the talk during the interval about it. There seemed to be plenty of people looking forward to it. There was a mix of people who had listened to it before and others whom, this was their first time.
Many things were covered within the podcast:

  • Hear a little bit about Poirot, since the festival was held in the lovely art-deco Midland Hotel, where episodes were filmed.
  • Listen to them talk of crime and classic crime dramas. Later they also talk of Line of Duty and Bodyguard and they’ve quite a story to tell about a high-ranking police officer.
  • Discover out what Adrian is reading at the moment.
  • Find out about a news site and their discussion about women and crime and how crime readers are mainly women. Also listen in to see what it is that is causing much discussion in the crime writing community.
  • Listen to a parlour game involving the whole audience, words and a story of sorts… (yes it is quite nuts, but was so much fun).
  • Find out all the book recommendations of the moment. Also brief insight’s into what some members of the audience are reading or have read too and would recommend to others.

  • Find out what the preference is – writing or narrating for audiobooks and the challenges and the most interesting moments in a recording studio. It’s also amazing how many hours it takes to record an audiobook.

This panel worked extremely well. I loved the mix between audience participation (always get a little nervous at those parts, but I don’t care, I like to take part and also listen to others none-the-less) and the hosts talking. The balance was right and all felt relaxed and it was all good fun. Time flew by on this panel. I had been so excited about seeing this podcast unfold, since I listen to it ordinarily and currently is the only one I listen to fairly regularly. I was certainly not disappointed. It all lived up to expectations (well, alright, apart from Robert Daws absence, but it couldn’t be helped, but as I said, his stand-in did an impressive job).

It was with great pleasure that I met Adam Croft, who kindly introduced me to Adrian Hobart and we all had a nice, pleasant chat.

The latest books by the podcast creators and presenters are: Killing Rock by Robert Daws, The Wrong Man by Adam Croft. Killing Rock and other Robert Daws books are reviewed on my blog and one day, so will some of Adam Croft’s books I have read will too. I can highly recommend these authors and this podcast.
It was a terrific idea for a panel at this festival. It seemed so fresh and was a perfect “fit” for it.
Link: Partner’s in Crime
Morecambe and Vice

Killing Rock cover 

 

A Day at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Short Reviews of 3 shows @mattforde @DaveBibby @russellhoward @edfringe #Edinburgh #Scotland

An Evening at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

There is always fun to be had at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, from street performers to full shows performed by comedians, actors, musicians starting out their careers to those who are more established and some household names and some return having starting their careers at what is the largest arts festival in the world. There really is something for everyone. Yes it is busy as the world descends on the Scottish capital over August, but the atmosphere is amazing and everything from pubs to theatres and everything inbetween is a venue. There are plenty of places to eat too in the majority of the streets with various cuisines. This is one of many trips into Edinburgh over the years.

Fringe sign
SIGN SHOWING THE WAY TO SOME OF THE VENUES


I present to you a short reviews on these 3 shows I saw with a Fringe going friend.

Dave Bibby – Crazy Cat LAD-y
Globe Bar
On until 25th August at 4:45pm

Dave loves cats. Sit and enjoy random pics of his cats, which are cute and fun. The show isn’t all about his cats. The pictures are interspersed throughout witty banter throughout the show.
Take a journey with Dave through his favourite 1990’s childhood film of Hook. Please note this is very much an adult show. He takes the audience through Hook with a bit of funny acting and songs set to well known music. There’s a bit of audience participation, but in the main it is the audience as a whole.
The show is also about growing up as a man when the age 30+ hits.
In the main it is hilarious and worth taking a chance on.
He also encourages audiences to send him pics of their cute cats.

Where will you have seen him before? In the main in various adverts on tv but also Netfix, Comedy Central, Channel 4 and others, plus radio.

Tips: It is a small venue and because it is free and non-ticketed, it is worth joining the queue early. The area of the pub he used filled pretty quickly.

Russell Howard – A Working Progress
Assembly Hall – Main Hall
6:30pm

My friend and I saw Russell Howard last year and had lots of fun, so decided, since we knew the content was going to be different, to see him again. We were not disappointed. His show is called Working Progress because he is trying out different jokes and anecdotes to work out what works and what doesn’t so well for his arena tours and tv shows. He also tells some anecdotes that are only for a Fringe audience too.
His anecdotes covered family, school days, social media trends and influences, politics and a safari trip. Some worked better than others of course, but that’s the purpose of the show, but on the main his stories were very funny. He has some serious points to get across but does this well, in a comical way.
So was it worth seeing him a second year running? Yes it absolutely was.

Where you have seen him before? Various stages, Tv panel shows such as Mock the Week, Good News and Live at the Apollo etc.

Tips: It was a sell-out performance when I was there. If he is all sold-out, it is worth looking for returned tickets. You just never know your luck.
The venue is very hot, so take water with you.

Matt Forde – Brexit, Pursued by a Bear
Pleasance Forth 
8:30pm, various dates until 25th August.

Matt Forde gave a show of satire that was polished and full of humour, which was brilliant. He seamlessly balances the fun with the serious messages he was trying to get across. He has satirical fun with all the main parties with aplomb. His impersonations of politicians were great. His comic timing is excellent.
My friend and I decided to see him because we had seen him around a lot in the grounds of the Pleasance and decided we really ought to see one of his shows. We were very pleased we saw his show, we were not disappointed.

Where you have seen him before: Around the Fringe, On Tv shows as Matt Forde Unspun and is on radio.

Tips: Wear good shoes as there’s a number of stairs to this part of the Pleasance. Queues also build fast. He has announced a couple of other show slots on Friday 16th and Friday 23rd August

Scot Monument  SCOTT MONUMENT AT NIGHT

Les Miserables – by Cameron Mackintosh, Boublil and Schönberg A Tale for Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow @Captheatres #LesMiserables #Edinburgh #Theatre #Musical #Review

Les Miserables
Rating: 5 Stars *****

 

les mis

I recently saw the touring production of Cameron Mackintosh’s  Boublil and Schönberg’s acclaimed musical Les Miserable at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. I won’t go on too much about the story as I reckon most people know it by now, how it takes place during a French Revolution to bring about change. It’s the musical that invites audiences to join their crusade with heartfelt songs along with some humour and rousing songs too.

This is the musical with themes of romance, loss, strife, death, prosititution, suicide.

It was brilliantly done with the minimalist scenery, especially the barraks.
The use of projected scenery depicting tunnels of sewers, streets, fight scenes etc was very effective and used very well, to bring more depth to the scenery and to give the realistic impression of things like running through tunnels etc. It was a very clever use of this technology.

All the cast were excellent. There were some outstanding cast members who played main characters: Jalvert, the young Cosette and I could go on, but it was a big cast and they all performed spectaularly well.

There are things that perhaps people can carry with them today from this musical. In the French Revolution we see that really, no side wins. Everyone has their own crusade about something that’s going on in the world. Perhaps sometimes there can be winners and losers, but if this has anything to go by, there are times when it seems there should be a winning and a losing side, but the reality is both sides can pay a price, including the ultimate price.

Whether you have seen it once, twice or more or not at all yet on stage, it is still worth seeing.

_____________________________________________

Festival Theatre – Edinburgh

Running Dates and Times

Tue 22 Jan to Sat 16 Feb 2019

2pm Sundays, 2.30pm Thursdays, Saturdays and Wednesday 13 Feb, 7.30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays

Running time (approx.): 2 hours 55 minutes (Inc. 15 minute interval)

Currently Tickets are sold out but you can contact them to see if there are any Returns.

This is a musical that is touring round the country. The websites for the musical and your theatres will have listings.

ART by Yasmina Reza – An award winning, fun, feel-good play. It’s more than what it initially appears to be. Coming Soon! @captheatres @Arttheplay #YasminaReza #NigelHavers #DenisLawson @StephenTompki19 #theatregoers #plays #comedy

Art by Yasmina Reza
Rating 5 Stars *****

 

Synopsis

When Serge spends an extortionate amount of money on an all white modernist painting, his close friends Marc and Yvan are baffled. But does their violent reactions to this provocative canvas mirror more dangerous antagonisms towards each other?

Art is a phenomenon and one of the most successful plays ever. Having opened in 1996, it took both the West End and Broadway by storm, won Olivier, Tony, Moliere and every other major theatre award, and has been packing in audiences worldwide for more than twenty years.

Soon to be heading to the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh
Address: 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh South, EH3 9LQ
Dates: 11th Feb 2019 to 16th Feb 2019
Times: Evenings 7.30pm, Matinees Wed & Sat 2.30pm

CAST

Serge played by Nigel Havers
Marc played by Denis Lawson
Yvan played by Stephen Tompkinson

art pic

Review

Art is heading to The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. It is worth the trip to see this award-winning, humourous and quirky play that has themes of art, friendship and tolerance. I first saw it in Glasgow Theatre Royal in 2018 with the same cast performing as this time (Stephen Tompkinson, Nigel Havers and Denis Lawson) and couldn’t believe my luck when it was touring outside London, so just had to go and see it. I highly recommend that anyone who missed it then, takes the opportunity to see it this time round.

Art is a fairly short play, which is unusual, but don’t let that put you off seeing it. You will be enthralled and have lots of fun. Time, I found, passed by so quickly that I couldn’t believe it had reached the end already. It has a lot of wit and substance to this play and it captured my attention from beginning to end. It is the perfect antidote to the darkness and cold of winter.

Art is a quirky, fun, feel-good play with a lot of substance. It is about 3 friends, played by Nigel Havers, Stephen Tompkinson and Denis Lawson It all begins with a piece of art. A white painting. The question is this: Is it really white or is it not? That is the debate that the 3 friends have between themselves. It’s enough to test any friendship. There is also the matter of relationships and outlooks of life, loved ones and family that strategically weave throughout this play.

There is a lot of humour in this play that sits very well with the poignancy that comes through and a good twist at the end, which left me feeling more than satisfied.

The format of the scenes and the writing of the play really is incredibly good. The acting is exceptional by all 3 actors. This is a must see play that has lots of fun and the actors themselves look like they have lots of fun on the stage performing Art too, which adds to a very comfortable, very natural feel to the performance.

So now is the time for you to have the most magnificent fun and see if the 3 friendships survive or not and what happens within their personal lives as well of course to enjoy the debate of the white painting.

 

Kings Theatre in Edinburgh
2 Leven Street, Edinburgh South, EH3 9LQ
Dates: 11th Feb 2019 to 16th Feb 2019
Times: Evenings 7.30pm, Matinees Wed & Sat 2.30pm