The Silhouette in the Smoke

The immersive theatre production The Silhouette in the Smoke has been set in the London Steam and Water Museum near Kew Bridge by Immercity and run by Rosanna Mallinson. Jackdaw and Magpie are your guides for the evening. Jackdaw explains clearly and concisely what you need to do at each step of the way and helps you throughout the evening.

The Victorian-style high tea is a nice way to start the evening off as you can relax around your table with the group you are selected to be with. Giving you plenty of time to introduce yourselves and relax into your teams.

In your groups of around 6-8 people and you are asked to choose a character from the photos spread out on the table in front of you and each member from each of the groups who have chosen that character then follows that ghost around for the first half of the evening, watching the cast interact and make mental notes about which part of the story you witness.

The second half of the evening you regroup and work together piecing the different parts of the story together in order to solve the murder.

Each of the six characters is connected to the factory in some way from the factory owner Matthew Shaw to Robert Morgan the Cheif Engineer. The tragic death of the young lad “Billy” becomes the focus of the evenings “whodunnit” detective mystery.

The factory based immersive theatre venue is full of character and an eerie atmosphere. The darkened areas and dimly lit staircases are the perfect settings to heighten your senses as you are all trying to work out who the killer was!

One piece of advice when you go is that you dress for comfort as there is a lot of walking involved as you move up and down the stairs and over the floors in pursuit of each of the characters. Watching as they interact and you gather the clues to help you solve the murder mystery.

The cast of six was fully immersed in character throughout the entire evening and even when the time comes to question each of them individually they still command their statuses and will not be swayed to answer anything if asked in a manner that offends them. You have been warned!

The entire experience was brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable. An evening where you can exercise your detective skills, socialise with new people and have fun all at the same time. I would certainly like to try other immersive theatre productions.

Five Stars.

For details, information and availability please use the link below.

https://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/theatre/the-silhouette-in-the-smoke?t=tickets

Photos are all taken by myself of The London Steam and Water Museum.

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At Last by James Lewis and Alexander Knott

At Last, what happens when an Island puts up the barriers and withdraws from the rest of the world? ID cards are mandatory and failure to produce one resulting in your imprisonment or worse, families are forced to choose a side and your friend’s and family mysteriously disappear overnight by force! Who do you trust and what do you decide to do next?

Playwright’s James Lewis and Alexander Knott’s new play allows a terrifying glimpse into the way an event such as that could become a reality.

The answer should be live in fear and follow the regime without default on pain of death. However, while humans still live and breathe “fight or flight” naturally takes over. Each of the seven characters in At Last show the resilience and strength we all have inside us when facing fears beyond our comprehension.

Grace (Melissa Phillips) attempts to allow her fellow citizens a safe platform to openly discuss what has just happened to them in a moving performance as the Lawyer for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Her empathy is evident as she becomes emotionally overwhelmed throughout the play, she wasn’t quite prepared for the scale of people affected and the horrendous ordeal these families endured over the two-year regime.

Colin (Anthony Fagan) follows the rules and keeps working in the office department whereas Nikki (Gemma Wray) refuses to accept the fate dictated to her and everyone else. She chooses to rise up and rebel. Neither character is right or wrong they simply follow what they deem to be their destiny in this uncertain world.

The audience is drawn into all seven of the characters lives. Each of them telling their story about how they view the world that all seven had co-existed within during this unprecedented period in history. No two people experience major life-changing events with the same outlook and with At Last it deals with how these stories vary and regardless of the chosen side they are on each of them struggle to come to terms with the past in order to face the Brave New World.

David Brady’s direction with the help of fellow director Jess Barton mainly focuses on the actors. Each of the seven is under the spotlight during their explantation of the life-changing events they went through. Brady’s style keeps stage dressings to the bare minimum, costumes simple and effective and the spoken word becomes all you need to absorb yourself in as the unfolding stories bring you closer to the truth! But are you ready for the truth?

Walking away from this production left me questioning how would I start to rebuild my own life should I be faced with a situation like this? In all honesty, I have no idea which side I would choose and in an ever-changing unstable world never say never!

Four Stars.

Playing at

The Lion and Unicorn

42-44 Gaisford Street

Kentish Town

London

NW5 2ED.

10th-22nd of September 2019.

https://www.proforca.co.uk/atlast

Kinky Boots in The Mayflower Southampton.

The latest production of Kinky Boots now touring the UK is performing in the Mayflower from 3rd-14th September 2019. It is packed with every bit of glitz and glamour that you would expect to find in this musical since it was first bought to life on Broadway in 2012.

Charlie Price (Joel Harper-Jackson) inherits the failing shoe factory in Northampton from his late Father Mr Price and needs to find a way to save it from being turned into luxury apartments and forcing him to make the entire long-standing loyal workforce redundant.

After a chance meeting in an alley with drag queen Lola, he finds himself inspired by the idea of ladies/mens boots which might save the day and he embarks on making a completely new style of footwear. Charlie is pictured on the left of Simon/Lola below.

Kayi Ashe in the role of Lola/Simon is outstanding, a true showman with an incredible voice and cabaret-style dance moves to match. He looks fantastic in a sequinned cabaret dress or smart working suit as pictured above and below, either way, he certainly knows how to carry himself with ease and finesse.

The six drag queens perform great cabaret routines in towering heels that would make many women struggle to just walk in let alone dance and do the splits. The perfectly chosen outfits for each of them have been created by Gregg Barnes and in all honesty ‘wow’ is the best way to describe them.

Harry Fierstein’s book along with the collaboration of music from Cyndi Lauper set firm foundations for an award-winning musical. Lauper’s influences in certain scenes are very apparent from her music career in the ’80s especially when factory worker Lauren ( Paula Lane) a seen below uses the air pressure blower through her hair!

The staging is definitely on par with the former West End production and as a touring production I certainly admire how much work has gone into all the factory details, costumes and of course the amazing array of “Kinky Boots”.

Choreographer and director Jerry Mitchell’s musical success ends in an uplifting finale. This is definitely a musical worth spending an evening watching and over the years has definitely retained the high standard it started with seven years ago.

Four and a half stars.

Performing at

Mayflower Theatre

22-24 Commercial Street

Southampton

SO15 1GE.

Book online mayflower.org.uk

Tel 02380 711811

https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/kinky-boots-2019/

Living the Dream by John Warrington.

The Other Palace theatre in Westminster near Buckingham Palace played host to the read through the performance of John Warrington’s new play Living the Dream which took place on Wednesday 28th August, it is now currently in production and expected to be on Stage early 2020.

Upon watching the read through the performance of Living the Dream, I took some time to consider this new play by John Warrington. The narrative is based upon the true story of a letter written to George Best from a Romanian political prisoner. Each of the main three characters played by Diane Keen as Ana, Bill Fellows in the role of George Best and Stephen Donald as John Lennon, appear an unlikely trio of characters be the subject of this play with music. However, they take us on an unexpected path to another life and as the story unfolds, each of their characters is woven together brilliantly.

John Warrington has captured a very poignant subject from the historical archives. Ana is based partly on a lady who lived during the post-war re-education programme in Romania and who was subjected to vile and heinous abuse and torture. Ana’s story is juxtaposed with the lives of George Best and John Lennon from just before their rise to fame and up to their deaths.

Brian Capron’s character Popescu, the Prison warden of Mislea Prison where he instigates the Communist Government,s post-war programme of targetting the elite which was known as the re-education programme. Popescu represents the psychological aims of the programme; his conflicting feelings and actions leave the audience in a position of never being sure about his motives or reasoning behind his appalling behaviour.

Spirituality is an important theme throughout the play and it questions redemption and forgiveness. Whether the audience believes in life after death or not is not important. The way in the play explores these themes gives us plenty of “food for thought”. Opening up questions on how we treat each other in life and if we do get to the “waiting room” do we forgive those who have abused us in this world?

The musical numbers in the performance are poignant and you could not have the legend John Lennon play a role in which he didn’t sing at least once. there are some well-timed humorous parts in the script too which break up some of the very heavy drama, comic relief is very welcomed during some scenes.

At times during the evening, the writing was so dense that I closed my eyes and visualised how some of the scenes might take their form when they are staged. Director Katherine Mount has so much scope with this play and her job is certainly not going to be straightforward and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

Venue 28th August 2019

The Other Palace,

12 Palace Street

Westminster,

London

SW1E 5JA.

Slice of Eel Pie by Lesley Ann Albiston

Slice of Eel Pie introduces us straight away to the main two protagonists of the story. As the two boys who are now all grown up are left putting together the missing pieces of their lives in a quest to find out who their real fathers were as their deceased Mother claimed not to have known. Their chosen method of detecting is somewhat unconventional though.

Pony( Malcolm Jeffries) wears his Mother’s dresses throughout the play and although it should appear to be out of the “norm” once you become familiar with the characters it becomes part of him and he wears them very well. Meatball (Neil Cole) is characterized as the stereotypical “skinhead thug” and fits his role perfectly or so it seems! However, as the story develops looks can be very deceptive.

Their Mum, Samantha played by Rafaela Elliston is a fantastic stereotypical hippy. Drugs, free love and music from that generation play a major role in her life. The aspiring Fine Arts Student loses her way as she becomes beguiled by Noel (Anil Desai) and enters Eel Pie Island the notorious jazz and rock hotspot in the 1960s.

The artwork, clothes and props are all in keeping as the script switches between early 2000 and the 1960s smoothly. A difficult achievement to have created convincingly in such a small space.

Free love is not a reality when Mint Julip finds herself left on two separate occasions holding the baby from two separate men from the Island. Somebody needs to pay for them as they are brought up! Neither of the Fathers wants to take responsibility they just want to be free!

Elliston’s performance was outstanding from the moment she quoted her art knowledge in detail to the scene when she enters the stage high and smoking a fake joint she actually appears to be under the influence of drugs, it looked one hundred per cent genuine.

The storyline is intertwined and very detailed. The way in which Albiston has directed the play the audience doesn’t struggle to follow any of the themes that are taking place during the different eras. Certainly, a piece that has been written to be seen in the intimate setting of a Pub Theatre and well worth catching if it returns to the stage after it finishes at Camden Fringe.

Four and a Half Stars.

Cast

Mint Julip-Rafaela Elliston

Noel-Anil Desai

Meatball-Neil Cole

Pony-Malcolm Jeffries

Detective Gold-Danni King

Detective Harris-Hraban Luyat

Sir Jasper-Marc McCardie

Firefighter/Bunny-Harrison Cole.

Written/Directed and Produced by Lesley Ann Albiston.

Lighting and Sound technician Peter Donaghy

Stage Manager Lesley Clay.

Playing from 22nd-25th August

Hen and Chickens

109 St Paul’s Road

London

N1 2NA.

https://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/London/Hen-And-Chickens-Theatre/A-Slice-Of-Eel-Pie/13560784/

Space Age Love Songs written by T L Wiswell.

Space Age Love Songs is an interesting musical play where space has no limits or boundaries. The writer has created a “science fiction fantasia” where we see a relationship blossom between a gay male and a straight female.

Cami played by Reanne Black moves to her new high school due to her Mum’s financial situation. Alienated at her new school for being herself and the deteriorating relationship with her alcoholic mother befriending Daniel is everything to her.

From the Queer genre, it encompasses Queer theory very well where the basic rule to follow is that nothing in the world is “normal “it is about our individual perception of what normal is. Queer theory is one of the very interesting modules I studied at University.

With some great classic numbers from Gary Newman to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. The out there futuristic soundtrack has been carefully selected to enhance the play.

The storyline struggles in places and sometimes following when Daniel played by Robert Twaddle is a robot in the club to the high school Daniel can cross over leaving you wondering where you are in the performance.

Twaddle is a professional drag queen and this added another depth to his performance especially when he was performing the hatching chicken number in one of the club scenes. Costume designer TL Wiswell created the perfect black lace outfit he was wearing. It was absolutely stunning.

I was completely in awe with Daniel and Matt’s ability to dance in heels that would have made many females wince at the idea of even walking in them let alone dance. Both of the guys made it look effortless.

Although I enjoyed sections of this production it still needs to sort out some of the clarity as to where the characters are in certain scenes. This lays at the hands of the director though as the very talented cast of five all worked extremely hard. In what looks like a very exhausting and energetic performance.

Three Stars.

21st-25th August at 9 pm.

Hen and Chickens

109 St Paul’s Road

London

N1 2NA.

No Limits-A Song Cycle by Sam Thomas.

No Limits-A Song Cycle is a new musical written by Sam Thomas performing at the 2019 Camden Fringe.

The cast of six performers delivers an energetic and very enthusiastic musical production. Once you see a cast enjoying the production the quality of the show is often raised and this was certainly the case.

Each of the musical numbers offers a short completed story exploring various feelings and situations relatable to everyone. From the feelings of inadequacy as everyone around you appears to be achieving something better than you are, infidelity and death to name but a few.

The cast photographed above used the game of twister in a funny musical number discussing openly how everyone has a slight “kinky” side in the bedroom. They sing about the varying degrees with a glint in their eyes and a lot of smiles exchanged between them.

I especially like the line used several times through the musical where the cast sing “taking the scenic route”. As evolving human beings, I believe everyone in some way is taking that route through life. Some are more extravagant in their choices than others. A thought-provoking simple line which has stayed me to think it over!

No Limits-A Song Cycle delivers everything you expect to find in a musical catchy song, some cheesy performances and plenty of dancing. Accompanied by the two talented band members who were on time perfectly. An extremely well-structured production which is thoroughly enjoyable.

Four Stars

Cast

Woman 1 – Emily Carter
Woman 2 – Megan Jobling
Woman 3 – Keisha Mowchenko
Man 1 – Timothy Roberts
Man 2 – David Gibbons
Man 3 – Aaron Jenson

MD and Piano – Sam Wells
Percussion – Ben Jones

Writer – Sam Thomas
Director – Jordan Scott Turner
Assistant Director – Jennifer Ruth Adams

Playing Friday 23rd August 430pm, Saturday 24th August 6 pm, Sunday 25th August 3 & 6 pm.

Hen and Chickens

109 St Paul’s Road

London

N1 2NA.