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!!!!

Review of Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans by Justin Carroll @CazVinBooks @WriterJustinC #YA #Christmas #Adventure #Mystery #BlogTour #Review #Crossover

Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans
by Justin Carroll
Rated: ****

I was pleased when Caroline Vincent approached me to be part of the blog tour for what turned out to be not only a delightful Christmas read, but also an adventurous detective story all rolled into one that will make a great bookish Christmas present for any 10 and YA reader. Today is my turn to review this book.

Hemlock Jones Blog Tour Poster (1)

About the Author

Hemlock Jones Justin Carroll Author ImageJustin Carroll is an author who balances his love of comic books and games with a passion for martial arts and musicals.

Ever since he stopped wanting to be a dinosaur, Justin wanted to be a writer. He graduated with a degree in English Literature and Language from King’s College, London in 2004 and now, when not writing, he fritters away his time on all manner of geeky things.

Shortlisted for several international short story competitions, Justin was a finalist in the 2010 British Fantasy Awards with “Careful What You Wish For” (Wyvern Publishing) and placed in the top twenty of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge twice.

December 2012 saw the birth of Justin Carroll’s first novel: Everything’s Cool – a dark, psychological thriller.

His second novel, Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death, is a Young Adult novel and the first in a series featuring Hemlock Jones, the fiery 12-year-old demystifier whose brain easily equals and surpasses that of the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. “Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death” won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Wishing Shelf Awards.

Now, Justin has published the second book in the Hemlock Jones Chronicles: Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans, perfect for all fans of 10 years and above of adventurous detective mysteries!

Blurb

When orphans vanish from their beds across Victorian London, twelve-year-old demystifier Hemlock Jones and her companion, Edward, take the case!

This time, the trail will lead them from their Baker Street home, along lost rivers and into the heart of the city, to face exotic enemies and a charming man with dark plans…

 Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans is the second of the Hemlock Jones Chronicles, the award-winning series of detective adventures for children and adults.

Hemlock Jones The Underground Orphans book cover

Review

A children/YA story that is perfect for Christmas, It certainly isn’t fluffy. This is a quick paced mystery that will keep readers involved, but it is very much set around and during Christmas.

The cover is eye-catching and immediately spells out trepidation, action and adventure. I already started to have expectations of a good thrilling detective story. It takes place in the north of London, where readers will be transported back in time to workhouses and an orphanage, where readers meet Mr and Mrs Thicke who work there and have reported the disappearance of orphans. It already has a very Victorian air about the story.

Hemlock Jones, has a flat – 211B Baker Street – all very Sherlock Holmes, not a criticism, just got me thinking a lot about Sherlock Holmes, just slightly different number of address.

The story is intriguing and keeps a decent pace and the style of writing is what draws the imagination and desire to read further into the mysterious Victorian London, Justin has created, blending fact and fiction so well.
There’s adventure to be had and a mystery to solve, that takes Hemlock down a sewer. The atmosphere and the descriptions, such as beady eyes looking on are well done and in a way that sets the tone.

There may be pirates afoot and there’s mild trepidation as the orphan’s lives may be in danger. There’s some swashbuckling that bravely goes on. The pace by this time, I decided was terrific. The story just keeps moving on and the time (or pages), between the orphans going missing to readers actually “meeting them” is good, but not too fast that anything is missed. There is the journey above to under London to find them.

There is some welcome humour within the book as Hemlock Jones and her associate try to decide just who the pirates are and if indeed they are and there is quite a mystery surrounding this.

Whether above or below ground within the story, the geography for setting each scene is great and well-written, but still keeping up the pace of the mystery.

The elements of the story that don’t involve the mystery, such as Christmas Day is just as well-written. Christmas Day sounds delightful. The story keeps moving onwards with a mysterious interruption to proceedings and a concern that it could be due to N – their nemeses.

All in all, it is a good story, fairly reminiscent of Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan-Doyle’s stories, which I hope one day the readers will venture into as well, but it sits pretty well in the detective genre and it feels right for the era it is set in. Hemlock Jones sits somewhere nicely in-between those 2 famous authors works and sits well for the aged 10 plus YA age groups and is a good series for readers to get stuck into and explore London and follow the main characters to see if they can solve the mystery and find out who the pirates are and what happens to the orphans.

The conclusion is great and keep reading onto the epilogue because there is more to this mystery than meets the eye as it isn’t just about the missing orphans. There’s more to be solved and to discover that, there is another book too, just waiting to be read.

I recommend this book. It will sit well within the reading for pleasure trend and will make a lovely Christmas present for all genders.

Author website:         www.justin-carroll.com/

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/WriterJustinC

Facebook:                   https://www.facebook.com/JustinCarrollAuthor/

Amazon:                      https://author.to/JustinCarroll

GoodReads:                https://www.goodreads.com/JustinCarroll

Review of: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. 5 Star-Rating

The Importance of Being Earnest

5 Star Rating *****

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play I wanted to see for a long time and Classic Spring company happened to be doing this as part of their Oscar Wilde season. It was to be the last play Oscar Wilde wrote, before his death in 1900. In this particular production, the Director is Michael Fentimen, who, in my opinion has done an excellent job.

                     The Cast

  • Fehinti Balogun plays Algernon Montcrieff
  • Geoffrey Freshwater plays Lane
  • Jacob Fortune Lloyd plays John Worthing (Jack/Earnest)
  • Sophie Thompson plays Lady Bracknell
  • Pippa Nixon plays Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax
  • Stella Gonet plays Miss Prism
  • Fiona Button plays Cecily Cardew
  • Tim Gibson plays Moulton
  • Jeremy Swift plays Rev. Canon Chasuble

 

15398721253722621607279709738992     oscar

The play is about love, relationships and class. It is a witty and yet somewhat satirical play that covers all the aforementioned themes. It’s as deep as it is light.

Is the principle character John or Jack or Earnest? Where did he come from, besides a handbag? A very ordinary black handbag at that.

The play consists of 3 acts with a interval after the first.

 

Act 1

The Vaudeville Theatre Set is minimalist but effective. The first act has a lovely backdrop to suggest a sitting room with, most notably a piano within it.
There are laughs to be had from the beginning opening lines, after wonderfully played piano music has filled the air.
The interactions between Algernon, Earnest and Bracknell are brilliantly executed and witty in the first act. There is a great conversation about fools and cleverness.The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”, is one of the great quotes from this act. As are the interactions with Gwendolen Fairfax who is played, somehow better than I expected by Pippa Nixon.
Lady Bracknell, is snobbish and aristocratic. Suitors had better beware as they are practically interrogated as notes are taken. The character is theatrically played by Sophie Thomson.
Jacob Fortune and Fehinti Balogun, who play John (or is he Jack or Earnest?) and Algernon Montcrieff, give a sustained strong performances throughout the entire play.

Act 2

The scenery has changed to that of a garden with flowers and grasses at the back, and a table and chairs. Again it is a minimalist set, but effective. Here is where the audience is first introduced to Miss Prism, played by Stella Gonet and Fiona Button. The acting from both is strong. Fiona Button plays a very emotional and sentimental character, which she does convincingly and well.
Stella Gonet plays Miss Prism very well. She is an absolute delight to watch on stage.

Act 3

Set in an empty hall, but again the scenery designers have done it well to give the stage a sense of place with wooden surrounds and garden outdoors as Christenings and proposals are discussed.
The scene also completely answers all the questions that I reckon, appear to be posed at the beginning of the play.
The play was witty, cleverly written by Oscar Wilde that still very much has as much relevance today as it did back then. It was worth the hundreds of miles I travelled to see this play. It was well directed and very well performed by all of the cast.
My only quibble is that the production was not going to tour to all quarters of the UK. A real pity, in my opinion because it is certainly good enough and has a great cast and production team. I believe they did film a performance, but for me, live screenings of plays are never the same of actually being in a theatre seeing the cast properly in person. It always provides a reason not to try to tour, of which I am sure one day will have some unintended consequence. That aside, the play is definitely worth seeing and for me, it was worth the hundreds of miles travel and was worthy of my “bucket list” and I was impressed by the quality of the Classic Spring Theatre Company.
The final date of this run is Saturday 20th October. As much as this is a popular play, there are, at time of publishing, a few tickets left.
I am sure The Importance of Being Earnest will still be shown many, many times, so if you don’t manage to catch the play this time, it is worth looking out for in the future. I highly recommend this production of the play, the play itself and this theatre company.
The Classic Spring Theatre Company are also collecting at the end of each performance for a charity which helps prevent young people committing suicide.