#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»

#Review of Lucy Mathers Goes Back to Work by Julie Butterfield – A book with relatable qualities for both mothers and fathers @juliebeewriter @rararesources #blogtour #romance #comedy #bookish #fiction #parents #family

Lucy Mathers Goes Back to Work
By Julie Butterfield
Rated: 3.5 stars***-

 

It is my pleasure to present my review on Lucy Mathers Goes Back to Work as part of the Random Resouces blog tour. This is a book that so many parents will find something to relate to within it.

Lucy Mathers Full Tour Banner (2)

About the Author

Julie Butterfield belongs to the rather large group of ‘always wanted to write’ authors who finally found the time to sit down and put pen to paper – or rather fingers to keyboard.
She wrote her first book purely for pleasure and was very surprised to discover that so many people enjoyed the story and wanted more, so she decided to carry on writing!

Social Media Links –

Twitter @juliebeewriter

Website    www.Juliebutterfield.co.uk

 

Blurb

Lucy Mathers was once the golden girl of Simcock & Bright. Four years later, she’s a stay at home mum with two adorable children, has swapped her Louboutins for rabbit slippers and spends her day making crustless sandwiches and colour co-ordinated lunches instead of signing up high profile clients.

When her husband is suddenly made redundant, there is panic in the Mathers’ household. With a mortgage the size of the national debt and a credit card balance that’s in danger of toppling, Lucy reluctantly decides she must return to work. So she digs out her old power suits from the back of the wardrobe and leaves Will to become a house husband. But sitting in Lucy’s old office is Grant Cassidy, suave, handsome and ruthless and with no intention of letting Lucy walk back into the number one job.

At home, despite his breezy declaration that swapping boardroom battles for toddler groups would be a doddle, Will’s belief that parental/household issues could be solved with forward planning and a spread sheet soon falls by the wayside.

With both Will and Lucy struggling to adapt, could their previously happy marriage be developing some cracks?

Lucy Mathers Front cover

Review

The beginning launches right in the middle of a “debate”, what I would more call a family row, but perhaps what others would call a debate, with the tensions there about the fact Will has lost his job and Lucy has a suggestion about them swapping places. It’s something I can quite well imagine happening in many households these days and with the tensions of family dynamics changing and then working through them.

The children – Harry and Emily are their young children with characteristics I am sure will be familiar to so many parents.

In a way it is a pity in some ways that the cover is quite feminine, even though some men are embracing the “pink” in life, because there is a lovely bit when Will is introduced to other parents in the different clubs children love to attend, in a way that may ease any negative as in self-conscious feelings a male may have when there is essentially a role reversal. It made me hope that some positive conversations between mothers and fathers (I say this because this family happen to be a traditional mother and father family, although other shapes and forms of famlies may gain from this fictional book too) can occur around this book.
I must add, going back to clubs/groups, I love that they mention going to a group to sing some nursery rhymes. This type of thing, for parents who don’t know, often takes place in libraries across the UK (perhaps other countries too). In Scotland it is Bookbug, in England it is often Rhyme-time.

t’s interesting about the office dynamics and changes that are faced by Lucy Mathers when she returns to work for Simcock & Bright alongside Rob and Grant. She has worked here before, but returning to work there seems a little different in-terms of position. I was pleased that although things had clearly changed upon Lucy’s return, the atmosphere isn’t a particularly bad one, not always totally positive, but it isn’t as bad as what it could have been. I liked that.

The story then takes readers back to Will, trying out all manner of methods to keep things going at home, including resorting to trying a spreadsheet.

There are however cracks that begin to show and arguments and suspicions of an affair come to the fore. I’ll let readers find out whether Will and Lucy make it through or go their separate ways and to read to also find out what happens at Lucy’s workplace.

All in all the story is pretty good. Parents will relate to so much on some level or indeed, perhaps a very similar level in experience. It is however a little slow in pace. For busy parents needing something to read that is relatable and not going to tax the brain too much, then this is ideal for you.

*With thanks to Julie Butterfield for signing the book. It was lovely of you to do that. Thanks for the print/physical copy of the book, organised by the blog tour organiser.

Celebrating The Enduring Love of Roald Dahl for Children and Adults #RoaldDahl #RoaldDahlDay2019 @QuentinBlake #ChapterBooks #TalesoftheUnexpected #Kidslit #Fiction #Humour #Fantasy #Family #Friendship

Celebrating the Enduring Love of Roald Dahl

This is a short article on the enduring love of Roald Dahl. Today is the anniversary of his birthday and what we call Roald Dahl Day.

Roald Dahl Pic

In the Beginning

Roald Dahl was born in 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales. He wrote from his shed using HB pencils. He wrote for children and adults. His books live on in both book and film form. Sometimes the films are done well and sometimes they are not, that’s always the nature of films however, no matter who the original creator is. Some stories have also been adapted for TV and Radio.

Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day

Schools and libraries across the country tend to celebrate Roald Dahl every 13th September – his birthday. This year’s theme for Roald Dahl Day is Matilda. She is courageous and has a love of reading, even though it means going against her parents and isn’t seen as being trendy. The book is fun and has magic within it, but it is also sweet and gentle with Miss Honey, but then there is a marked contrast between her and Miss Trunchbull, which makes for great characterisation and story-telling.

The Books and Films

RD books

The books feed into children’s desires and imaginations. Take chocolate for example. There is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and what child wouldn’t want to join Charlie Bucket and the eccentric Willy Wonka in a factory that experiments and creates chocolate and sweets, even in this more health conscious society. The follow-up – Charlie and the Great Glass elevator has some adventure and also takes children a little into the political world and what the USA was like at the time Roald Dahl was writing about.
There is magic in The Witches, The Magic Finger and Matilda and family and school life as themes, that also have mild trepidation and villains and heroes. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was made into live action films – two of them.

James and the Giant Peach also has magic and heroes and villains. There is also friendship and adventure and a need for escape as James wants to escape his two gruesome aunts.

There is fun with The Enormous Crocodile that takes children through the jungle meeting different animals and with just enough scariness that children really enjoy when the crocodile wants to eat children.

Fantastic Mr Fox is also about nature and animals, but this time about the need to understand and look after them. It also has a political element, but on a child level about the landscape and fox hunting. This was also made into a CGI film and there was a song I remember learning when I was in primary school for the baby foxes. We acted it out and I was a baby fox.

There is also Daniel, Champion of the World about a boy and his plans. This was made into a live action film

There’s mischief to be had in the Twits and George’s Marvellous medicine. There’s also elements of inventiveness. George’s Marvellous Medicine was used for a Jackanory story on tv.

The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me shows teamwork, friendship and entrepreneurship as they set up their own window cleaning company and there is also some trepidation with a burglary in a grand house.

The BFG with his good dream catching skills befriends Sophie and the two become lovely friends.

Esio-Trot was the last book to be published in Roald Dahl’s lifetime. For those who haven’t worked it out, it is Tortoise spelt backwards.  Esio-Trot tackles loneliness and is about Mr Hopper trying to make a connection with Mrs Silver, who he has loved from afar. This was made into a film for tv.

Boy and Going Solo are both Non-Fiction and tell of Roald Dahl’s life. It may sit generally in the children’s non-fiction area, but really both children and adults will gain fascinating knowledge from them. There was a documentary style programme about them on tv.

Revolting Rhymes is exactly that and has twisted takes on fairy tales. There used to be a tv series also inspired by this with chef Gary Rhodes showing how to make revolting recipes inspired by the book with his assistant – actor, Pam Ferris.

There are books that are not only for children too, although the main emphasis seems to be on children. He also wrote really dark stories for young adults and adults alike that are twisted tales such as Skins and Tales of the Unexpected, which were on TV. Tales of plants that could talk; tattoos that someone wanted and could have straight from another person; tales of sinister bedsits etc.

There are also other books too that have been and are being produced.

Further Facts

Roald Dahl wrote everyday from 10 am to 12 noon and then from 4 pm to 6pm. His first book wasn’t what people imagined it to be – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it was The Gremlins, those furry, cute characters that change when wet and well, aren’t so cute after that.

This was not the end of his talent. He worked with illustrator Quentin Blake (more about him later) and with James Bond creator Ian Fleming and created Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and worked on the book for the film of this and of James Bond: You Only Live Twice. He and Ian Fleming worked together prior to this during the second world war, providing information for MI6. Roald had also been in battles during the war too. He was with the Royal Air Force (RAF) until 1946.

Roald Dahl had 5 children and married twice. He has a granddaughter still living – Sophie Dahl. 

Roald Dahl died on 23rd November 1990. He was 74 and was suffering with myeldysplastic syndrome (a type of blood disease). He is buried in the cemetery of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. He was buried with some of his favourite things, including: a power saw, HB pencils, chocolate, red wine and his snooker cues.

Inspiration and Importance

Roald Dahl’s stories and screenplays endure as does the love for them. He had a talent for knowing what people like and to be able to us universally broad themes to create magical worlds and fun and adventure. He had a talent to bring about some really dark stories and yet aiming them just right for his target audience. It now also helps that schools and libraries celebrate his life. He is still an important author within this age of computer technology as children and adults read less. Mention Roald Dahl and everyone knows his books, which is a good place to start. Curiosity about authors will hopefully come too as so many have led or do lead such fascinating lives. Roald Dahl is everywhere, in his own work and has inspired other authors and it is seen in their work, such as now there are people like David Walliams and other writers who are similar to him, whom it is evident must have been inspired by Roald Dahl.

Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake Books

Now it wouldn’t be right not to mention Quentin Blake too. He illustrated many of Roald’s books and has many fabulous books of his own creations too that are so full of fun and excellent illustrations. His books are now of many, his most well-known perhaps being Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage.

Children’s Laureate and other Awards

The Children’s Laureate seems to have been around forever, or so it is sometimes assumed, but it wasn’t until 1999 this post was created. Today in 2019, as I write, it is Cressida Cowell. In 1999, the very first Children’s Laureate was Quentin Blake.

He has also received so many awards for his books, including the Whitbred award. He has also been personally recognised and has certainly been living an illustrious life. He was made CBE in 2005, is an RDI and has numerous honorary degrees from universities throughout the UK. He received a knighthood for ‘services to illustration’ in the New Year’s Honours for 2013, and became an Honorary Freeman of the City of London in 2015. It is an impressive career and impressive to be recognised so much for all his work that endures and I am sure will also endure, not just through his collaboration with Roald Dahl, but also the work he has produced himself too, which is quite some body of work indeed as he has always worked in illustration and even illustrated for Punch magazine.

An Additional Career

Quentin also has another career. He works as a curator for exhibitions in well-known famous places – the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. In the last few years he has begun to make larger-scale work for hospitals and healthcare settings in the UK and France where his work can be seen in wards and public spaces.

In Conclusion

So, two great men who inspire and whose work will, I am sure will continue to for generations to come with libraries and schools and parents and children all playing their part. There books I am sure will always be somewhere in bookshops, on library shelves and hopefully also in the hands of readers. I am also sure that they will be inspiring other current and future authors for years to come.

Roald-Dahl

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

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