F**k Freud by Lucio Veronesi.

The semi-autobiographical storyline in F**k Freud by Lucio Veronesi watches twenty-something Leone a struggling Italian actor trying to make sense of the world around him while he is attempting to find his identity in a foreign country. Breaking up with girlfriend Sarah ( Siobhan Gallagher) just adds further pain to his situation.

His patience is tested by the customers and his co-worker (Jason Imlach) at the cinema where he works. The job is boring and unfulfilling but Leone needs to support himself between acting jobs and auditions. His sarcastic remarks and lack of tolerance is often lost on both of these parties. Which leads to some very funny one-liner scenes.

The selection of roles played by the incredibly versatile actor Robbie Fletcher-Hill keeps the storyline flowing throughout the performance and the energy in which he puts into these roles is extremely impressive as he switches between the different characters.

The interchanging stage is a really intriguing design made up of plain white pizza box walls representing Leone’s bedroom. The fluidity in which the cast make the stage changes from Leone’s bedroom to the foyer of the cinema and other scenes is incredibly impressive.

When Leone poses the question “Is there anything I want to live for” he isn’t looking for a way out or for any sympathy he is genuinely attempting to make sense of his existence and purpose in this confusing world.

F**k Freud is the debut play for both writer Lucio Veronesi and director Griffin Mosson showing that these two certainly have a flair for what formulates a good theatre production.

Four Stars

For further information on the cast and production please use the link below.

https://www.actorscentre.co.uk/theatre/fk-freud

The Fairytale Revolution:Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure by Louise Beresford and Anna Spearpoint.

New writing The Fairytale Revolution: Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure by Louise Beresford and Anna Spearpoint has taken the normal fairytale concept of the pantomime and turned it into a really interesting story when the characters decide to take charge of their own destiny.

Wendy Darling(Anais Long) as pictured below decides to rebel and leave Peter Pan ( Helena Morais) in order to pursue her own adventure and refuses to continue in the stereotypical role set out for her.

With the narrator who appears as a pink light before she speaks facing Anarchy from all of the fairy tale characters, she has a battle ahead of her in order to try and regain her status.

Director Carla Kingham has created a great twist on the traditional Christmas pantomime as what unfolds before the audience rewrites the featured tales in a fast-paced “family-friendly pantomime” as never quite seen before.

However, although there are many changes it does deliver the usual themes that you would expect to find within a pantomime from the “he’s behind you”, “Sweets being thrown” and the “oh no he isn’t ” one-liner appearing.

The children that were in the auditorium were encouraged to join in throughout the pantomime and even my “moody teenager” enjoyed it. Their laughter expressed how much they engaged with the characters and everything that was going on around them.

As you will see in the photographs the stage has been dressed really interestingly and the amount of time energy and effort put into creating a winter wonderland to enhance their vision of the new style pantomime has really paid off.

The main protagonist Wendy who is in constant odds with the narrator empowers the female role within the pantomime genre but it isn’t done in an aggressive manner it’s all about taking back the right to be who you want to be rather than who you are scripted to be.

Beresford in the role of Hook has rewritten the mean swashbuckling “baddie” who is out for revenge on anybody and everybody into a thespian reciting sonnets that he’s made up himself which bring many laughs within the role as he messes up some of the lines by miscounting how many words were needed.

Co-writer Anna Spearpoint pictured above plays Baker’s Swife the rebel banished from fairytale land for 184 years. Her only companion has been “Ken Wood” whose conversations are somewhat one-sided as he is a wooden chopping block.

This high standard of this production is one of the many reasons why I thoroughly enjoy going to the pub theatres to watch and review high-quality performances such as this. I would highly recommend anyone with children of any age to go and see what happens to Wendy.

Four Stars.

Cast

Hook-Louise Beresford

Wendy-Anais Lone

Peter Pan/Smee-Helena Morais

Baker Swife-Anna Spearpoint

Photo credit Helen Murray.

Please use the link below for further information and to order and tickets.

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Oi Frog and Friends based on the books by Kes Gray.

The adapted stage production of Oi Frog and friends by Emma Earle, Zoe Squire, Luke Bateman and Richy Hughes is a colourful and extremely well-presented collection of the well-known animals from the best-selling books by Kes Gray.

Sitting bottom School for animals is led by their prefect, Cat played by Lucy Tuck as seen below and her large red rule book. She makes it very clear in her stern stance that she will only allow each animal to sit on an item that rhymes with their name from the mules on stools, foxes on boxes and hares on chairs.

However, when newcomer Frog (John Winchester) arrives he protests at being told to sit on a log as he doesn’t want any splinters. With the help of his newfound best friend Dog (Darren Seed), Things at the school are about to undergo some changes as to who will now who sit on what.

The productions appeal to younger audiences is in abundance from the brightly coloured stage props, ingenious costumes designed by Chris Barlow and the Puppets of characters like frog and meerkat by designer Yvonne Stone.

The highlight of the show for me was the Cheetah cabaret-style act by Simon Yadoo who is pictured above in his colourful attire. His vibrant costume and all singing and dancing act was an absolute delight to watch.

The reactions from the children in the audience were clear to see just how much they all absolutely enjoyed this production with all the laughter, eagerness to join in when they were asked to and the rapturous applause at the end. Seeing an audience of smiling children leave is a clear indication of what they thought.

The actors coin the phrase “rhyme fever” in this production and although for some of the younger audience they may not fully understand the meaning of it the catchy phrase will probably stay in their memory. I thought it was a very clever technique to use in this production

The storyline is straight forward and easy to follow which will hold the younger audiences attention. Although this production is aimed towards younger children the adults in the audience also looked as if they were enjoying themselves too and it is an incredibly entertaining family production.

Five Stars.

Photographs by Pamela Raith.

Please check out the link below for performance details and ticket information.

https://oifrogandfriendslive.com/

The Exceptional case of Whizz and Drex by Fred Kelly.

The case is certainly an exceptional new piece of writing by Fred Kelly in his new play The Exceptional case of Whizz and Drex.

Kelly has captured the essence of how the mind of a narcissistic bully operates through Whizz played by Guy Samuels the manipulative boss who is charming on the surface but deadly underneath and lacking in empathy and compassion.

Guy Samuel’s courtesy of Santamana pictures.

His victim is his employee Drex played by Louis Strong. Strong’s performance is brilliant as he understands fundamentally what is right and wrong but stuck in a world where he is co-dependent due to his finances he allows Whizz to control more than he wants.

At first, when the fire lights up behind the boxes in the storage unit it does not seem to correlate with what you are introduced to by how this unique storage facility operates. However, without giving away any spoilers it becomes sinisterly clear in the end what they represent.

Louis Strong courtesy of Santamana pictures.

The storage establishment is run on the basis that you pay what you feel your package is worth. The higher price you pay the more likely you are to see the package again. Anything under about twenty-five pounds is fair game in Whizz’s world so the customer is very unlikely to ever see it again.

It’s not very clear when Nadi (Ellen Paterson) first arrives unannounced in the storage space of what she is trying to do when she is attempting to win the trust of Drex. Again without giving anything away everything becomes clear in the end.

The chaotic desk, boxes stored in a haphazard manner represent the chaotic jumbled up way in which a narcissist person operates. The more confused they can make their victims the more powerful they become and when Whizz tells Drex he is “…lucky he employs him…” it jolted me as I understood the implications of what he meant.

Chief played by Kathryn O’Reilly is immune to the workings of Whizz’s charms and unpicks the storyline intermittently in the form of police interviews with Whizz and Drex. As she determines the details of what has actually taken place there.

Kelly has created a captivating new play which tackles how bullying in the workplace can devastate the lives of the bullied and those around them. It is never just one major incident that the victim recalls as the bully takes his time and drip feeds fear, self-doubt and a sense of loyalty for the perpetrator in their victims minds.

Four Stars.

For further details on this production please use the link below.

https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/the-exceptional-case-of-whizz-and-drex.html

A Christmas Carol at Scrooge’s parlour Immersive Theatre.

Mr Scroggins welcomes you at the door as he checks you off his list before the evening’s spirits aka you the audience enter Scrooges parlour through the mock tavern where you are seated on wooden benches awaiting the evening’s proceedings to begin.

Directed by Tom Bellerby Jacob Marley (Jack Witham) returns from the afterlife in an attempt to try and change Ebeneezer Scrooge’s (Alexander Barclay) miserly ways in Alexander Wrights version of the Charles Dickens classic tale A Christmas Carol.

As you have a good look round the cosey parlour there are bookshelves high on the walls, candles burning and dominating the left-hand side wall is a large black debtors board marked out with a name inside each box with the amount each debtor owes from Oliver Twist to Lady Chlymydia Vicegrip. They are some familiar characters dotted amongst them if you look closely.

The tale of Scrooge follows the novel A Christmas Carol fairly accurately but for just over a two-hour immersive theatre experience it is inevitable some things would need to be cut from the original. However, there is nothing important missing that takes anything away from the enjoyment of the evening.

The evening’s guests are treated to a very generous and tasty Dickensian style Christmas feast from traditional turkey, mutton pies, roasted vegetables, roast potatoes, bread and cranberry sauce and lots of rich gravy there is plenty to share. Just try and leave room for the pudding. It’s certainly not a meal you would expect from such a miser as Scrooge.

Playing parlour games as part of the traditional Christmas is another addition to the evening’s experience. Everyone is encouraged to join in the immersive family-style games and as it’s Christmas they are some well-known carols to sing along with too.

With a selection of smoke effects, moving chairs and silhouette characters added into the production there is a good mixture of entertainment. For a Christmas get together with a difference this certainly would be one occasion you are unlikely to forget soon into the New Year.

Four Stars

Photo credit Brendan Bell.

For further details and tickets please visit the link below

Scrooge’s Parlour – immersive Dinner Theatre

IMMERSIVE LDN, 56 Davies St, Mayfair, London W1K 5HR
020 7836 8463

https://g.co/kgs/sDrbMy

Rules for Living by Sam Holcroft.

Rules for living directed by John Chapman is one of the most realistic Christmas plays I have seen in a long time. The decorations are up, presents are wrapped and dinner is in the oven. What more could anyone else wish for, silent night perhaps?

It’s a Christmas family nightmare which in my experience represents many forced families reunited over the festive period all desperate to be somewhere else and who avoid each other the rest of the year. Coming back together for a few days each of them tries remembering how they need to behave around one other. With each family member managing to fail miserably.

The main five characters have no intention of listening to each other on any matter or attempting to tolerate one another’s opinions without snide comments, cutting glares and arguments. The picture below sums up some of those looks.

As the revelations begin to unravel tempers flare, hidden dirty family secrets are released and suppressed emotions surface very fast. It’s a high-speed play set in real-time all taking place on Christmas day.

Brothers Adam (Dickon Farmer) and Matthew (Adam Hampton-Matthews) in appearance seem to be very different. However, Father’s pressure from being a high powered Judge pushed both of them into jobs as solicitors which neither seem to be happy about. As the play progresses the arguments and petty behaviour between the two is incredibly believable as they descend back to childhood behaviour. The rivalry and comments to one another are at times are extremely uncomfortable to listen to. The pair are pictured below in full flight.

The screen to the right of the stage pings up a rule each time a character is introduced. Allowing to watch their mannerisms and see the cues as their body language and behaviour changes to fit with how they cope with difficult circumstances.

The family try to unite yet fail in helping support Emma (Helena Braithwaite) Adam and Sheena’s (Hattie Hahn) daughter who is suffering from anxiety and depression, which for the vast majority of the play you never see. Through the help of her CBT counsellor, she has been learning methods in how to cope and change her own outlook on her life. However, the rest of the family could certainly benefit from CBT too.

Mum Edith played by Rosanna Preston copes with difficult situations by cleaning frantically. However, with her attitude to just gloss things over and pretend they are not happening, I found myself becoming frustrated with her which I am sure is the desired effect.

The energy and passion from the entire cast are clearly generated through the frustration and anger of a family completely at breaking point and with Christmas at the family home being the last place any of them actually want to be.

A really good alternative to pantomime to go and watch as part of the festive season and the energy from the production certainly raised my adrenaline. A word of warning if you sit in the front row be aware of flying sweets.

Four Stars.

Photo credit David Sprecher.

For more details and tickets please visit the link below.

Rules For Living

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/

The Cunning Little Vixen by leoš Janáček.

The Cunning Little Vixen was first performed on 6th November 1924 at the National Theatre in Brno. The version at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton was a co-production by the Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera, performed in Czech with English subtitles. Divided into three Acts the two hours long Opera seems shorter than that as you immerse yourself into the storyline.

The stage has been divided into three sections which are connected up into one larger area and then divided to allow other scenes to be created. It looked like an aerial view of fields that you would see when you’re flying over them in a plane. The combination of colours and patchwork designs looked stunning.

The stage and the impressive scenery was built and painted by Cardiff Theatrical Services Ltd. I was completely in awe of the scatter cushions that had been placed across the stage to create the imagery of hedges and trees which are used by various cast members to hide behind on occasions.

I particularly admired the symmetry of how the cast had been directed while they were all on the stage. Director David Pountney has created an extremely good balance and it is extremely aesthetically pleasing as the equal numbers io f cast on each side of the stage allow you to see the detail of the characters costumes and facial expressions by not overcrowding the areas.

The vixen (Aoife Miskelly) as pictured above and fox (Lucia Cervoni) have been well cast and their presence on the stage commanded the roles they were portraying convincingly. The fragile frame of the dancer portraying vixen allowed her the agility to take on the traits of the cunning and nimble animal as she moved across the fields while she hunted, played and attempts to get away from the poacher (David Stout). Choreographer Stuart Hopps has done a remarkable job.

The changing lights over the landscape, falling leaves and beautiful flowers endorsed the illusion if the seasons changing. Lighting designer Nick Chelton has certainly created lighting for all the seasons.

Costume designer Siân Price certainly has an incredible eye for colours and patterns and has created two beautiful costumes for both the vixen and the fox in various shades of reds. Along with the costumes for badger, frog, hare and all the other woodland creatures which are all easily identified in the Opera. The young actor Efan Arthur William was extremely endearing as he hopped around the stage

The photo above features the chicken scene, their mannerisms and clucking all sounded very realistic. The cockerel strutting around proudly was a great addition to the scene and added some humour.

Conductor Tomáš Hanus lead the orchestra through this enchanting Opera with perfect performance from every member of the orchestra. The whole production has definitely left me with a lasting impression.

The variety of scenes, cast members and the endearing musical score has bought this playful Opera to life with enchanting animals and humans attempting to co-exist within the boundaries of a small country village.

Five Stars.

Photo credit Richard Hubert Smith

For further details and information on future productions please use the links below.

https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/wno-the-cunning-little-vixen-2019/

https://www.wmc.org.uk/en/whats-on/2019/the-cunning-little-vixen/