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Review: NT Live ‘Present Laughter’

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Present Laughter follows a few days in the life of Garry Essendine, an esteemed stage actor, just before he embarks on a tour of Africa. As the play progresses, it delves into Garry’s ego, penchant for one-night stands with bright young things, and precarious relationships with his nearest and dearest – an ex-wife, a beleaguered secretary, and friends and business partners Morris and Henry – all explored with equally humorous and heart-breaking results. The play debuted in 1942 and was one of Noel Coward’s best-known plays, earning great praise from critics and the public alike. Many have said that the character of Garry Essendine is a self-portrait – Coward was known as ‘the original pop star’ and had to navigate the highs and lows of celebrity life himself.  The 2019 revival’s director, Andy Warchus, chose to stay true to Coward’s script, apart from two key gender swaps: ‘Henry’ becomes ‘Helen’, and his wife becomes a husband. This is key in the way that the relationships between characters play out, and, arguably, more accurately reflects Coward’s character and original intention for the script, as he himself was closeted during his lifetime.   Continue reading Review: NT Live ‘Present Laughter’

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Review: Exeter University’s Shakespeare Company’s ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Love’s Labour’s Lost, a poetic story of four couples, is a rarely performed gem by Shakespeare. I especially have a soft spot for the character of Berwone whose romantic iambic pentameter burrowed their way into my heart quite a few years ago. This production was able to adapt the story successfully by keeping the central point relevant, and making the humour and wit punchy.  Continue reading Review: Exeter University’s Shakespeare Company’s ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’

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Review: Showcase- Jazz Orchestra and Ballroom & Latin Society

A chance to get all dressed up and attend the Exeter University Great Hall, alive with lights, jazzy tunes and spectacular dance numbers – what more could you want from a Monday evening? The Exeter University Ballroom and Latin Society and Jazz Orchestra Showcase promised to be “an unforgettable journey through Hollywood classics” and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere was filled with energy and expectation as audience members began to arrive and dancers milled around in their costumes for the opening number. The private bar and black-tie dress code added to the event’s glamour, with some people really committing in their DJs and posh frocks. My housemates and I certainly appreciated the opportunity to get out our classy velvet dresses without a £40 ball ticket usually characteristic of a Uni black-tie event! Continue reading Review: Showcase- Jazz Orchestra and Ballroom & Latin Society

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Review: Theatre with Teeth’s Duet

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For most, a railway waiting room is a fleeting moment, a brief pause on the way to a real destination. However, in Duet, the protagonist Josh (Finn Thornton) has no other destination. Every day he visits his station’s waiting room to play the piano as he waits to move on from his wife’s tragic death. In this touching play, James Murphy has crafted a script that explores the difficulties of grief, love, mental illness and friendship, in words that are able to move us both to tears and laughter. Continue reading Review: Theatre with Teeth’s Duet

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Review: Breaking Up With JK Rowling @ Exeter Phoenix

I didn’t know what to expect walking into Breaking Up With JK Rowling at Exeter Phoenix as part of the Come As You Are Festival, and I don’t think I could have correctly guessed. Upon walking in, I was greeted by a striking image of J.K. Rowling’s books torn up, defaced, scattered around tables and all over the floor, and a single microphone in the middle of the room. The cabaret-style seating encouraged chat between audience members and performers alike as they set up casually in full view, creating a relaxed ambience. Each tattered and scribbled-on piece of paper, child’s sock and crumbled-up ‘Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans’ wrapper stirred up a feeling of pleasant nostalgia. There was immediately a feeling of powerful, jarring contrast in having a story that has so pivotally shaped a generation being treated with physical disregard. The sacrilege of mishandling a book is one felt by many book-lovers and, for the right viewing audience, a powerful semiotic image. But where there is sadness, there is anger, too. After all, J.K. Rowling was the first to rip apart her own work with all the clumsiness of physically ripping out pages. Continue reading Review: Breaking Up With JK Rowling @ Exeter Phoenix

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Review: Com Soc’s “A Streetcar Named Shakira”

Have you ever dreamt of witnessing a real, live witch burning? Or getting the inside scoop on Gwyneth Paltrow’s successful skincare range? Maybe not, but “A Streetcar Named Shakira” is a comedy sketch show which will give you just those things (and more). Bursting with originality, confidence and energy, this innovative performance engages the audience and delivers a night full of side-splitting laughter. Continue reading Review: Com Soc’s “A Streetcar Named Shakira”

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Review: The Silver Lake @ Exeter Northcott

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Moving, theatrical and passionate. A treat from start to finish!

The English Touring Opera treated us to Kurt Weill’s Der Silbersee, The Silver Lake. The songspiel (play with music) is mostly known for being banned by the Nazis as soon as it was created. In the current political climate, ETO argues, it is imperative that art makes a political comment and the narrative seems to ring true today. Continue reading Review: The Silver Lake @ Exeter Northcott