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Sunday, 4 December 2022

REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk at the Corn Exchange Newbury

The creative team behind this year’s Newbury Corn Exchange Pantomime, as they have been for the last four years are Clare Plested, Adam Brown, and Amanda Wilsher (who also directs) and they had a clear concept underpinning this year’s show following last year’s success. The whole show is built around the musical choices of Musical Supervisor Dai Watts and played by the MD Josh Cottell and drummer Alun Watson and the thin plot is used merely to link the individual routines. It makes for a musical celebration and a party atmosphere that is fun and enjoyable but lacks some of the traditional laugh-out-loud moments and spectacle of Pantomime.

It opens very brightly setting the tone for the show with the arrival of Fairy Fabulous (played by William Beckerleg) dressed and impersonating Elvis Presley (definitely one for the older audience members as he includes Elvis’s lyrics throughout) who is then challenged about noise levels and singing in Newburyshire by Fleshcreep (a wonderfully silly and well-defined character by Matthew Cavendish). The Giant does not want any music and sends Fleshcreep down to stop them singing and playing music while the villagers want to burst into song at the slightest provocation. We then meet the chief culprit Jack (Sev Keoshgerian) who delivers two excellent songs from the 1944 musical Oklahoma! which give a bright upbeat start to the show. Despite the best efforts of an energetic young cast, it never quite reaches that level again during the show. Instead, we sit back and enjoy a jukebox show of familiar old hits with adapted lyrics.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

REVIEW: A Tale of Two Cities at the Corn Exchange Newbury

Lost Dog is an extraordinarily creative Company, and it was a stunning experience to see their latest work at Corn Exchange Newbury before it goes on to Norwich and Nottingham in May. In many ways it has to be experienced to fully appreciate the work and neither the handbill of an actress covering herself in clay nor the Brochure descriptor of Dance do it justice. It is a slickly choreographed multimedia performance with a brilliant soundtrack and an unusual presentation style that tells in a fresh and innovative way the core story of Charles Dickens’s Tale of two cities. Its ninety-minute running time passes very quickly as we become fully absorbed in the performance. 
The story explores the life of Charles Darnay and his wife, Lucie, their daughter also called Lucie and their son Sydney and Darnay’s escape from the guillotine after being found guilty of treason. A critical figure in Darnay’s life is Sydney Carton, who looks like him and gets him acquitted from an earlier trial before declaring his love for Lucie, Darnay’s wife. Interweaved in their plight is the story of the Marquis St Evremonde, Madame Teresa Defarge and Dr Manette (Lucie’s father). It is an epic tale set against the background of the gruesome French Revolution from 1775 to 1793. 
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