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Tuesday, 22 February 2022

REVIEW: Hamlet by Guildford Shakespeare Company at the Holy Trinity Church, Guildford

Guildford Shakespeare Company returns to Holy Trinity Church – a beautiful setting for this new production of Hamlet directed by Tom Littler and starring award-winning actor Freddie Fox, who most recently won acclaim for his TV roles in The Crown and White House Farm.

The venue was an eerie and atmospheric home for Shakespeare’s masterpiece about a man trapped in a life he’s keen to leave behind. Mystery and tragedy combine, together with some flashes of modernity and comedy, in this great retelling in which Fox shines as the lead, Hamlet.

The small but perfectly formed company of ten combine brilliantly, with some multi-rolling to bring this story to life. The production has a slick and fast pace to it with the action moving seamlessly from one scene to the next. 

Monday, 21 December 2020

REVIEW: D!CK The Adult Panto at the Guildford Fringe (Online)

In a year full of uncertainty, one thing you can be certain of is that the Guildford Fringe production of ‘D!CK the Adult Panto’ will leave no innuendo unspoken.

Without doubt the most obvious choice for an adult pantomime but writers James Chalmers, Nick Wyschna and Charlotte Bateup do step up to the plate by adding plenty of risqué comedy and on the line humour that is perfectly relevant for 2020. 

The witty one-liners, political quips and ingeniously raunchy references are perfectly questionable and there’s much more than dick jokes alone. 

The musical choices throughout provided some old school nostalgia with both musical and pop numbers from the last 3 decades. The lyrical rewrites are clever and imaginative but be prepared to never hear those songs in the same way again.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

REVIEW: Sleeping Beuaty at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Some of the best pantomimes are created where the creative team return and seek to build and improve on prior years rather than simply replicate their previous successes in a formulaic way and Guildford’s returning team have once again achieved that.

Jamie Smith (6th Yvonne Arnaud Pantomime) has given this version of Sleeping Beauty a very modern Eco warrior feel with the Prince a video blogger campaigning for less plastic and a greener world and his Princess Aurora a physicist inventing a time travel machine, a modern medieval maiden. It gives the show a fresh feel, although it never really reconciles its setting in thirteenth century with the smart phone live streaming! 

Choreographer Katie Beard (two previous Yvonne Arnaud pantomimes) gets the show of to a great start with "Flash Bang Wallop" with new words to introduce all the characters in the story, the ensemble and juvenile team. Throughout the show there are lively well drilled routines including an excellent fun Dance off and an evil "Poison” under the musical supervision of Anthony England (4th year) and MD Bryan Hodgson (three previous pantomimes).

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

REVIEW: Perfectly Ordinary at G Live in Guildford

Set in the psychiatric ward of an NHS hospital, this stirring new musical with book and lyrics by Matthew Rankcom and music by Joe Wilson is a poignant exploration of six inpatients; their past, their daily routines and their journey to feeling ‘ordinary.’ 

Wilson’s score is varied – from patter-like songs such as ‘New Best Friend’ to arpeggiated ‘Absence’ but the overall feel is one of fitting calm. Bookmarking beginning, middle and end is the beautiful Sunrise; each person sings their own individual part layered on the other, but together they produce one sound. Indicative of their shared experiences, their common truth, their normality. 

What is particularly fascinating is the staggering self-awareness written into these characters. With skill, Ranckom has afforded them the cognitive ability to reflect on both past actions and thoughts about the future and to articulate profoundly. Rarely, but albeit occasionally this becomes a little sweeping, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility to assume that these life-altering conditions afford the patients a greater perspective. And it is this self-awareness nevertheless which is what makes them so ‘ordinary.’ For every relapse in behaviour, these patients take time to reflect. Some also acknowledge their need to be looked after; there is fear of the outside world which stems from an introspective idea that they have of themselves. “It’s just not my time” is the way one character rationalises their decision to return to the ward. 
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