#Review of Anno Domino By Alan Ayckbourn – Observational Audio Play at its best – rated 5 stars @Ayckbourn @thesjt #Play #LockDownTheatre #AnnoDomino


Anno Domino

By Alan Ayckbourn
Rated: 5 stars *****
Available Now Until 25th June

After listening to Anno Domino, I decided I would write a review for it. Discover the cast, synposis and review, then at the bottom, the link where you too can listen in this fabulous play. There are also captioned productions available. The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, does ask that if you would like to donate, then feel free to. 

This is an online theatrical treat to behold, which is an online exclusive for The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, intorduced by Paul Robinson, the Artistic Director Not only is the play written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn, but it is also starring him alongside his wife, actor Helen Stoney. They play 8 characters ranging from 18 to their mid 70s. It marks Alan’s return to professional acting 56 years after his first stage performance. Since then he has written and directed plays such as:

     Ten Times Table               Life of Riley                    Seasons Greetings
                              Bedroom Farce                   The Norman Conquests                                                             Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present
                                                     and many more              

This, however, is a momentous occasion as it is the first time Alan Ayckbourn has acted, written and directed in the same show.

Heather Stoney is known for shows such as:

Z Cars              Raw Meat         Masquerade and more…

Anno Domino         Anno Domino         Anno Domino


Play List of characters and cast

Alan Ayckbourn  plays Ben, Craig, Razz (Raymond) and Sam 
Heather Stoney plays Ella, Martha, Cinny and Milly
Stephen Joseph Theatre Production

Synopsis

Sam and Milly are gathering the family together for their 25th wedding anniversary dinner at their favourite local bistro.

They’ll be joined there by Sam’s parents, Ben and Ella; his sister, Martha, and her new partner, Craig, and Martha’s son Raz. Also present – and she’s definitely caught Raz’s eye – is trainee restaurant manager Cinny.

But Sam and Milly have some life-changing news to share.

As the family prepares for the big event, we catch a glimpse into each of their living rooms and lives. Every couple has their tough moments: Anno Domino asks what happens when the strongest of us falls apart. How do our actions ripple out and affect those we love?

Review

The dominos (people) that stood upright in the certainties of life start to wobble. It’s a great premise and name to show how people can start to fall and if you imagine the domino effect, how one domino affects the next and the next and so on, this is what this play shows very deftly, with people. There is humour, sadness and cause and effect spanning throughout the different generations. It’s a masterful and observational of human life.

The play starts with Sam and Milly’s silver wedding anniversary. The getting ready to go out is full of humour and what everyone can relate to, supposed lost handbags, the fussing around the teen son, Raymond who is too into his music. They have a big announcement to make to Sam’s family. The lead up to it is well executed and revelations come out. It is nuanced as conversations play out about what  couples do as life moves onwards to different life stages. It has everything that Alan Ayckbourn is a master at, when creating a play for the stage. This medium of online has not affected his writing, directing, acting at all. His wife Heather Stoney also plays her characters very well and the 2 have made this fabulous play come to life, and I should think, that’s no mean feat. The actors really do move seamlessly and convincingly between the age ranges and characters.

In the first act, listeners get to know the characters pretty well and the people the main characters know, with that sublime humour throughout.

Act 2 takes place in the garden, where plants and family bonding occurs.
There’s really interesting and sage advice to Raymond (Razz). It’s eloquent and also cleverly layers in a bit of background to characters.

Things get a bit heated over very strong, definite, but differing opinions are formed between some of the character.

In a twist, revelations about relationships come out and come to a head and bit by bit, the domino effect happens from a sole event.

In another twist, there is some heartwarming moments to be had in the play.

Link to the website –

Listen Here

 

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By Jeeves by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Aykbourn @OfficialALW @Ayckbourn #ByJeeves #JeevesWooster #PGWodehouse #Musical #Farce #VirtualTheatre #Theatre #Stage

By Jeeves
By Andrew Lloyd Webber
And Alan Ayckbourn

Rated: ****

I just love theatre and I’ve wanted to see By Jeeves for a long time now, based around the characters of the famous P.G Wodehouse books – Jeeves and Wooster. This is a Musical/Play and it is jolly entertaining. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and directed by Alan Aykbourn, both who are masters at their craft. Andrew LLoyd Webber with his music and Alan Ayckbourn with his plays/farces.
The cast includes Martin Jarvis and all the cast play their parts splendidly well. You can buy it on DVD, listen to the soundtrack and see small previews on You Tube. It’s worth a watch. Below you will see the synopsis and review.

By Jeeves cover

Synopsis

At a benefit gala to raise money for a new church steeple, Bertram “Bertie” Wooster is preparing to take the stage. The banjo-playing star is thrown for a loop when he finds his banjo has been stolen! Bertie’s faithful manservant, Jeeves, suggests Bertie tell the story of his adventure to Tot leigh Towers to entertain the impatient audience. Bertie recounts to the audience how he became embroiled in the romances of several dim-witted members of the privileged class. With mistaken identities, romantic entanglement, and the adventures of the upper class, By Jeeves is the quintessential British musical farce.

Review

I just had to write about this play because it simply won’t leave me alone. I have had the song “Half a Moment” stuck in my head for a couple of days now. Anymore and I’ll have to play it on Spotify or play it on my keyboard, since I have the music for it. It is actually a really good song though, as are all the songs in this musical.

This musical, perhaps because it also has Alan Ayckbourn, who is a playwright and an incredibly skilled one at that, is partly play and partly musical. The two mediums meet together and actually rather well. It makes this unique in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s body of work to date as it isn’t song after song to convey the story. It is the spoken word with some background music and songs within it, which together, masterfully tell the story which is based on the books of Jeeves and Wooster by PG Wodehouse. It is very funny, and I do hope one day it will be revived and do a proper UK tour. It’s a play within a play (if you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll see there’s perhaps a bit of a trend in that here. It does seem to work very well). I feel it would do well to be on tour, when the virus is over and all is safe (it will be one day), as we have The Play That Goes Wrong, which has now got quite a body of work that is incredibly successful and By Jeeves, which came long before that team, is a bit like that, but with all the Jeeves and Wooster humour within it.

There’s fun with props in a clever way and songs that are memorable – more than just Half A Moment. There are clever lines and musically, notes brilliantly forged together, as you would expect. It is all in all feel-good and entertaining as there’s mistaken identities and romance all on a fun adventure that is also done so well with parts addressed directly to the audience. It’s a farce that is done well, so I have absolutely no idea why on earth it should have been a flop when it opened in London, except slightly over long, but not by much. Perhaps it should have toured and could have been more of a success that way with different audiences, or perhaps it was to do with timing, who knows, but what I do know, is it is jolly good and quite simply spiffing.

I watched this online. There are tracks on Spotify and some previews around on YouTube. Do watch out for Cats on You Tube via The Show Must Go On. It is free, but you can donate money to the actors’ fund if you so wish as they are all totally out of paid work at the moment. This is a kind thing Andrew Lloyd Webber is doing to help us stay at home or to stay alert, depending on which part of the country you are in and to help actors too.

I thank Andrew Lloyd Webber and the cast and production team for putting this on and for introducing new people, like myself who had never seen it before and always wanted to, to have that opportunity to watch it and for keeping little snippets of it around. It is also available to buy on DVD.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is working on a new musical – Cinderella and is busy writing the orchestrations of it, as well and his team doing a marvellous job entertaining us all and keeping us all informed on Twitter – @OfficialALW is where he and his team can be found.

 

Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber @OfficialALW #BenElton #LoveNeverDies #AndrewLLoydWebber #FrederickForsyth #GlennSlater #Theatre #Review #VirtualTheatre #Musicals #Books

Love Never Dies
By Andrew Lloyd Webber
Rated 5 stars *****

Love Never Dies

Today I present a review of the sensational follow up to Phantom of the Opera – Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This was a virtual event. Like most musicals, there was also a book produced too. This is however primarily a theatre review, but would give you an idea too as music, lyrics and the written words in a book collide for both art forms.

Composer – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics – Glenn Slater

Book written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Frederick Forsyth.

Synopsis

The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris Opera House and the Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak-shows of Coney Island. In this new electrically-charged world, he has finally found a place for his music to soar. All that is missing is his love – Christine Daaé.

Christine is struggling in an ailing marriage to Raoul. She accepts an invitation to travel to New York and perform at a renowned opera house. In a final bid to win back her love, the Phantom lures Christine, her husband, and their young son Gustave from Manhattan; to the glittering and glorious world of Coney Island, not knowing what is in store for them…

Review

A couple of weeks ago I watched Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber on You Tube. It is the sequel of Phantom of the Opera and is every bit as stunning and attention grabbing as The Phantom of the Opera. It got some bad press, but certainly would not from me. It is set on Coney Island. For those who do not know – Coney Island is near New York and was a place that gained a reputation for fun fairs, circuses, and freak shows. Today, this doesn’t really exist quite in that form, but there does seem to be a fun fair and eateries.

The Phantom has moved from Paris to Coney Island and seems to be controlling it with all its glitz and mystique, but still has an obsession with Christine. The singing is beautiful, the music and lyrics works so well for the story that is being told. There are bits of music and song reminiscent of the times in the opera house in Paris in the first musical about the phantom, but there are plenty of terrific original songs to whet your appetite and really get into as well. The musical is full of life when showing the circus. The set is always sumptuous and at times has an element of fun to it, although always dark. The atmosphere that is created fits every mood and absolutely fits with the storytelling.

There’s shocks and surprises and some almost edge of your seat scenes. This is a musical that swept me away with it and grabbed me and took me into every dark corner, every bit of romance and every bit of emotion. If this is ever on stage, when things return to normal (which they will someday), it would be absolutely be quite the spectacle to see.

I was slow off the mark writing about this. Other life things took over, so it is not available on YouTube anymore, but there are previews and it is available on DVD. So, not all is lost. That is the positive, that you can indeed still watch this spectacular musical.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, every Friday for 48 hours has got creative and kind and is putting on You Tube many of his musicals and concerts under The Show Must Goes On. Pay or do not pay into the actors’ fund, that is up to you. It looks like Cats is the next musical to be streamed.