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Friday, 27 November 2020

REVIEW: RENT at the Hope Mill Theatre (Online)

Loosely based on Puccini’s 1896 opera La Bohème, RENT is a rock musical which tells the story of a group of young struggling artists in 80s New York during the time of the HIV/Aids crisis. 

RENT premiered on Broadway in 1996 and has since gone on to become a staple musical in the theatre world; having international productions and tours throughout the past 2 decades. This musical about hope, community and love is beloved by all and during a time of global uncertainty from COVID19, seeing this production was like an old candle had been lit again. 

With the most recent lockdown in the UK forcing Hope Mill to cut short the run of the show, they luckily were able to record the show before they had to close their doors, allowing their audiences a chance still to see this glorious production. With a link and a password, we could see “The magic of RENT, from the comfort of your own home…” and it did not disappoint. 

I was initially worried about watching a pre-recorded performance, as I thought that it could translate as a video of a school production. However, I was happily surprised as there were multiple camera angles which had been edited together to really help capture individual moments of the characters, along with the big picture moments that you would get from a live experience; to fully appreciate the big ensemble numbers. The big opening of the titular song ‘Rent’ was a powerhouse of sound, light and dance, which could be felt through the screen and really let the audience know how the rest of this show was going to be and that we were in safe hands with this amazing cast.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

REVIEW: The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel at HOME, Manchester

Told By An Idiot, The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel is a slapstick, made up story set in 1910, created around a picture with Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin on their way to America as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe. On this journey, Charlie and Stan shared a cabin and then spent two years together touring North America, with Stan as Charlie’s understudy. This show is a take on their meeting on the boat during this time. 

I went to see this show during its run at the HOME theatre in Manchester. A nice small proscenium arch stage with a 3-tiered seated theatre. Sat in the middle of the stalls I had a fantastic view, but I believe that the view would be good no matter where you sit at this theatre. When you walk into the auditorium the house music is 1920’s type flapper music, setting the feel of the time and the ‘silent movie’ theme.

This show is mainly silent, using quips and slapstick humour from old silent movies for which Charlie Chaplin was famous for. There is no dialogue in the show, the only sound coming from the music, the physical movements and the occasional singing. It took me a moment to get into the silent mode of the show, however once I was in the zone, I found it very compelling and engaging, however I felt that I was taken from this slightly during the random musical singing moments.
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