Big This Week

Recent Posts

Sunday, 4 December 2022

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Salisbury Playhouse

Salisbury Playhouse took a year off in 2021 from Pantomime and therefore Cinderella was their first in the venue for three years. They borrowed the script from the creative team behind last year’s Newbury Corn Exchange Pantomime, Clare Plested, Adam Brown, and Amanda Wilsher with its fresh take on the Ugly Sisters as social media “influencers” Hashtag and Viral and the Prince’s aide renamed Deldini. Curiously and disappointedly, they dropped the character Buttons from the show, a standard of Cinderella for years who usually adds comedy and pathos to the show. This places more weight on the shoulders of the Dame, Uglies, and Deldini with mixed results. For some reason, Deldini, originally written as a Del Boy character with lots of reference to Only Fools and Horses, retains only a few catchphrases like “plonker”, “lovely jubbly” and “cushty” but drops most of the other successful business from last years show including the brilliant bar fall.

Lucy Alston and Fergie Fraser as Hastag and Viral bring a fresh modern infectious energy to the Ugly Sisters full of self-confidence and social media references which will appeal to the younger audiences and their parents frustrated by the kids overuse of mobile technology and social! The comedy is broad and a little one level with the sisters being mirrors of each other in character and dress, but they are engaging and well-delivered characterisations including a good energetic Ball Cabaret routine.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

The Past, Present & Future of Pantomime

Pantomime is often a child's first experience of live theatre and therefore it plays a critical role in establishing a young person’s love of live entertainment. It is also a unique shared experience as the whole family go together and the genre is built on audience interactions and traditional calls and shout outs. Sadly, this year there will not be the usual hundreds of venues staging a pantomime, and thousands of actors and technical staff will be unemployed. Only a few have survived the Pandemic and even then, in an abbreviated form, led by Qdos with Lottery funded shows in large venues to ensure they are Covid safe.

Qdos has established itself as the leading Pantomime production company usually has 35 productions each year including the two leading venues of the London Palladium and Birmingham Hippodrome but there are many other companies who usually produce multiple productions (UK productions, Imagine, PHA, Jordan and Evolution) and lots of “in house” productions. All of them are built on the same traditional elements that have made the genre so established over the last two hundred years.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

REVIEW: Moonfleet at Salisbury Playhouse

Gareth Machin, one of the executive directors of the Salisbury Playhouse, has boldly written the book and lyrics and directed a new musical version of the classic novel of Moonfleet, the book written in 1898 by J Meade Faulkner. Set on the Dorset coast in the 18th century it is a dramatic tale of pirates, smugglers and a young boy John Trenchard who narrates the original book. New musicals present a real challenge to successfully develop but in this short run in Salisbury, Machin has demonstrated the potential of this story to create an engaging, dark, musical with a light operatic feel with music written by Russell Hepplewhite.

The atmospheric setting designed by Tom Rogers very effectively creates the multiple locations in which the story unfolds and slickly moves from the Why not Inn, to the crypt, to the local beaches, to Carisbrooke Castle and to Holland. He cleverly uses stage traps, and high levels balconies to simply provide an ever changing setting. The whole effect is enhanced by Tim Lutkin's wonderful lighting design which evokes candle light and moon light and tightly defines the various acting spaces.Together they create a strong period feel and perfect backdrop to the action. It also allows Ashley Mercer as Blackbeard the pirate, to quietly drift into vision through the darkness and shadows as a mystical brooding observer and guide to the drama with a powerful deep voice.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

PANTOMIME REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk at the Salisbury Playhouse

Many pantomimes sell themselves on a poster of celebrities from children's TV and the soaps, corny and topical jokes and borrowed or reused sets so it is very refreshing to see a production that sets out to create its own unique feel while remaining consistent with pantomime traditions. Andrew Pollard's script and Ryan McBryde's direction achieve this with Jack and The Beanstalk at Salisbury Playhouse. 

You get a sense that you are going to see a production created with loving care as soon as you enter the auditorium and see the beautiful sunflower covered proscenium arch and large giants eye looking out with clever lighting highlights behind the clouds. The opening prologue by Jemma Geanaus as Fortuna (the fairy character) reinforces the fresh take on the familiar story and her active role in the story with a good rendition of "I need a hero" to defeat the gIant . The not so obvious choice of hero is Jack Trot (played by Sam Harrison) who with easy charm establishes himself as both the love interest and usual silly character.Richard Ede plays his mother Dame Dottie Trot with equal charm and delightfully plays to the audience. 
Blog Design by pipdig