Category Archives: Reviews

MandM’s hair academy – South Ealing, London.

Last year I moved from Newcastle to London, since then I have sorely missed good chips n gravy and my hairdresser. After some disappointing and expensive trips to the big names I decided to go to an independent salon, a quick internet search led me to the snazzy website of MandM’s Hair Academy – situated next to South Ealing tube station.
Art director Mo Nabbach was absolutely charming and handled my tresses with obvious skill and experience, he greeted all clientele by name and deftly moved between jobs, you can tell Mo is passionate about what he does, not only are the customers leaving with smiles on their faces but all the staff seem very happy to be there. Mo’s method (he told me) is not to cut hair but to sculpt it, sculpture is defined as “three-dimensional artwork created by shaping” and I must say that the proof is in the pudding.
If you want masterful care and attention at reasonable prices, not to mention the eye candy on reception, then look no further.
The search for good chips n gravy continues…


SKITZY A Play By Daniel Lake.

Skitzy. A dark comedy about hope. Formations of relationships in extreme circumstances. Escapades of 5 mental asylum inmates. Skitzy explores dark places in the mind while remaining a witty, ballsy comedy.

Originally written and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2007. Skitzy received glowing reviews, including a review on BBC radio 6 from comedian Phil Jupitus, who described the play as his highlight of the festival! Describing the piece as “Absolutely wonderful!”

Skitzy is brought to you by N.U.T. Productions, a new production and marketing company based in Newcastle hoping to promote and produce the arts and more in the North East.
NUT productions are proud to present a new and improved performance of Skitzy, with several of the original cast members returning to their roles. The script has been sharpened and we are confident that this is a play you won’t forget in a hurry.

Four nights at the People’s Theatre, from Monday the 24th until Thursday the 27th of May. Show starts 8 pm. Running time 1hr30min. Book now to avoid disappointment.

Get in touch via facebook, myspace, twitter or contact us on – 07545480791

For more information about The People’s Theatre follow the link to their website below;

Daniel Lake

Jonathan Dixon and Chloe Gosling of NUT Productions

Daniel Lake
Sean Mellor
Charlie Hindley
Jack Gardner
Phil Orme
Jo McGarry
JD Dixon
Chloe Gosling

Every good boy deserves favour.

At the ‘National Theatre’, London.
5/5 stars.

Exceptionally Good, Beautifully Done, Fantastic.

In this revival of Tom Stoppard’s deeply moving play, 33 years after its first production, directors Felix Barrett and Tom Morris have created theatre that not only does the author’s great work justice but also gifts viewers with an unforgettable and truly original theatrical experience.

The story concerns a dissident (Julian Bleach) being held within an asylum, he must admit to a non-existent mental illness to attain freedom, this he refuses do to. Alongside him in this prison is a patient (Adrian Schiller) genuinely ill who believes himself to be the conductor of a symphony orchestra, an orchestra that is physically on stage throughout the performance. The dissident’s son Sacha (Wesley Nelson) pleas to his father to free himself with the lie. The struggles between sanity and insanity, freedom and repression, humanity and politics are all dealt with delicately and thoughtfully.
To avoid its possibly imperious nature the darkly poignant content of the piece is communicated to the audience subtly by a cast of skilled actors and in such a way that makes it more engaging.

Sound designer Christopher Shutt, conductor Simon Over and Southbank Sinfonia combine to produce music that can only be described as aurally breathtaking. More overwhelming than the score was the multiple talents of the orchestra, who not only played exquisite music but also contributed to the action of the play with choreographed movement (Maxine Doyal), interaction with the actors and even mime.
Sensory indulgence was further supplemented by Designers Bob Crowley and Bruno Poet whose stage and lighting design combined a Brechtian set with emotive illumination, providing a visual parallel with a story that concerns touching drama within the cold confines of a metal institution.  The choice of the Olivier theatre worked well, the steeply raked seats, seating up to 1150, look down on the stage and curve round creating an expansive span of vision, much like an amphitheatre, giving the audience a detached yet holistic perspective enhancing the surreal beauty of the piece.

In only 65 minutes a piece of theatre is crafted with such beauty and power that it will undoubtedly be an experience remembered and treasured by all those fortunate enough to have seen it.

The ginge, the geordie and the geek.

At the ‘Live Theatre’, Newcastle Upon-Tyne.

A series of comedy sketch’s unsuccessfully linked by a feeble through line results in lowbrow humour badly disguised as intelligent entertainment.

Almost a year on from their intriguing success at the Edinburgh fringe festival Graeme Ronnie, Paul Charlton and Kevin O’Loughlin are three young men who form a comedy trio that leaves one wondering if wit is no longer a prerequisite to well received humour.

For the most part the comedy pandered to topics which whilst sometimes amusing were mainly lewd rude but never shrewd. Amongst the worst were paedophiles, incestuous fathers, masturbation, Catholic nuns and the French kissing of a disturbingly real fish.  Credit must be paid however to the one sketch that went beyond being solely controversial and showed a social perception and acumen that one wishes could have filtered into the rest; in this one hit wonder a David Attenborough style commentary dissected the nature and behaviour of Scottish larger louts as they drank, fought and failed to mate. Each sketch was rapidly succeeded by another, making the good momentary, and was perhaps due to a misconception that quantity and speed might veil a lack of quality. The three men occasionally broke away from the sketches to discuss how their skills as comedians were progressing, that instead of providing a structure drew attention to the absence of said skills. The music which came in short bursts presented a wonderful selection of 80’s power ballads, perhaps this enthusiastic trio should turn their focus far away from theatre to the art of mix tapes.

Live theatre is a venue renowned for its advancement of local talent and new writing, never before has it disappointed this reviewer and although ‘The Ginge, The Geordie and The Geek’ fell below its usual standards one should remain an avid supporter of the work they do. Its theatre space seats an intimate 170 and gives a movie theatre atmosphere of warmth and focus. Even with its sophisticated surroundings this production still felt ham-dram and amateurish. Despite its failings the audience responded gallantly with much laughter and audible appreciation, a response that was arguably enhanced by a well-stocked and highly frequented bar.

Peter Hall’s production of my favourite Shakespeare play, @ Rose Theatre, Kingston.

Peter Hall’s new production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is unadventurous, it uses celebrity hype to ensure ticket sales, Elizabeth Bury’s design is not memorable, and yet it is one of the most enjoyable theatrical experiences around.

What makes this production successful is the lack of tampering. Shakespeare’s work was written to entertain the masses and this production allows the play to achieve its original ends.  The audience’s response mirrored that of a comedy club; raucous, melodramatic and drunk with humour.

Credit is due too to the actors who communicated the complicated verse with great skill. Some characterisation fell short though. The depiction of Oberon King of Fairies (Charles Edwards) as a snuff sniffing dandy was disappointing and appeared weak next to Dame Judi Dench and her performance as the truly regal Titania.  Puck (Reece Ritchie) jumped about the stage with what can only be described as camp hysteria, which was oddly enough too controlled.  The performance of the night came from Oliver Chris who squeezed every possible comedic moment from his Brummie characterisation of the ever popular Bottom, this is an example of ‘milking it’ to great success.

The setting is Elizabethan England which “sees Titania, the Fairy Queen, as a portrait of the ageing Queen Elizabeth I, fascinated with the theatre, besieged by courtiers but ‘married to the people of England’”, this decision seemed almost irrelevant, apart from making the audience aware of the plays historical context. It perhaps was used, unnecessarily, to add magnitude to Titania’s comparatively small role.

Hall is lucky to have had accesses to such a phenomenal play and such good actors otherwise this production might have been more than disappointing. Fortunately theatres original ‘Rom-Com’ never gets old, much like Dame Judi Dench.

Review of ‘The Hostage’ at Southwark Playhouse, 08/02/10

A touching war drama, a ‘carry-on’ comedy or a musical drowning in Irish single malt?
Elements of all are to be found in Jagged Fence’s production of The Hostage. A performance that contained so much movement and alteration it seemed to be like a high tempo dance sequence where no one is dancing or that someone had pressed the fast-forward button (and I’m not sure I blame them).

Set in Dublin, 1958, the Irish are under the thumb of the IRA as war ensues. The stock characters, who had little depth, we find in a brothel; where constant drinking, sex and Irish Jigs are on repeat. The focus of the story finally comes when a British Soldier is taken hostage and placed in the boarding house; together with the other inhabitants he awaits his fate. This simple plot was made frenzied by the constant coming and going of characters, excessive movement within scenes, random musical-like numbers and rushed dialogue too quick to achieve impact.

The best thing about this production is its venue. Southwark playhouse has an incredibly individual look and feel to it. Cavernous bare-brick walls enhance the cold and gloom, giving the theatre the feel of an eerie but grand cave. The train rumblings’ overhead contributed to the play in that they could easily be sounds of war and destruction. Using a thrust stage on level with the audience meant that the intimacy was almost too much, indeed I moved back in my seat several times so as not to be hit by an all singing, all dancing, Guinness swilling prostitute.

The fight scene at the end of act 1 was contrived and childish but was nowhere near as bad as the stylised wailing that begun the second act. The cries made by the two girls can be compared only to those of a dying cat. It was neither touching nor comical and had no bearing on the play. If this wailing had a meaning it was not attainable and its only effect was confusion and a slight ringing in one’s ears.

The integrity of the piece and its historical, political and social significance was, in this instance, undermined. An abundance of dancing, song and lowbrow comedy made a serious drama seem whimsical and unthoughtful. Perhaps if slowed down and honed it would have felt more like a poignant story and less like a pantomime.

First fumblings into the realm of theatre criticism.

3 and a half stars

Captivated by the beauty, one is in danger of missing the dialogue.

Beauty is rarely found in London, rarer still in a war zone, and yet here it is in the recently founded theatre company ShiberHur’s production of ‘I am Yusuf and this is my brother’ at the Young Vic.

The setting is Palestine, 1948 the British mandate is ending, land ownership is being determined by the UN, and the story concerns the ordinary people whose lives it effects, their present and their future.

Much credit is due to Jon Bausor whose design of this production was, put simply, stunning. Each image presented could have stood alone as an outstanding photographic picture. The canvas, which cloaked the stage, echoed the deserts of Palestine and during the climax of the piece its elevation effectively complimented the surrealism. The overriding metaphor of water became literal when the stage was flooded during the final scenes. The rippling light reflections and sounds of splashing added significantly to the depth of the story. The aesthetics of this production are what made it stand out.

One moment in particular that stood out and was truly touching was the instant at which the British soldier Rufus, played by Paul Fox, crouches over his transistor radio as Yusuf holds the wire aloft and the sounds of Bellini’s “Casta diva” escape for a few short moments to Yusuf’s wonderment and the soldiers ecstasy.

The language of the play was less infallible than the design. Told in a mixture of Arabic and English one could not help wondering why it was not one or the other, the Arabic lent fantastically to the authenticity of the piece and complimented the exquisite Rai music. However the subtitles displayed far above the stage did restrict viewing, and the alternation between the two languages was often confusing.

Overall the acting was good but the performances from Amer Hlehel and Yussef Abu Warda as Yusuf outshone all others. The shifts between past and present and the merging between the two time periods was effective for the simple reason that these two actors mirrored each other so effectively without hindering their own portrayals. Yusuf talks directly to the audience and this interaction, which can sometimes, in theatre, feel contrived, works. It is humorous and makes the character even more endearing. Yusuf is the star of the piece both from the actors and the characters point of view. His innocence and vulnerability contrasted beautifully to the conflict of the plays setting. His use and focus on proverbs made certain moments more poignant and thought provoking.

One of the great things about a play whose writer and director is one and the same is the strength of the characters and as Amir Nizar Zuabi says “this play is about them: people, just ordinary people –“. Indeed it is the people of this play that give it its strength.

The main fault of this piece ironically conflicts with its best feature. The tragedy of the Palestine conflict and the lives it destroyed is undermined by the beauty and sentimentality of this production and yet the beauty and sentimentality is what makes it significant.