A Fist Full Of Love
5 out of 5
Writer/Director Kellie Taylor’s outstanding new play dealt with the sensitive issue of domestic abuse within a same sex relationship, using the characters of Loren, a struggling performer, and Samantha, the owner of a cabaret club, as its two main protagonists.
The writing of the piece was practically flawless throughout. Characters felt real, shifts in behaviour were gradual and subtle, and scenes flowed seamlessly into one another. The original songs that were interspersed between the ‘traditional’ drama scenes were particularly effective, complimenting the action on stage without ever being too forceful of their presence.
The acting was sublime from the three lead actresses, Gemma Deerfield (Loren), Mary Hooton (Samantha), and Edwina Lea, who played Samantha’s half sister Charlotte. The chemistry between them was excellent, and really captured the audience’s attention throughout. The two dancers, Marianne Massey and Laura Hynes, were also brilliant; their movements harmonized beautifully with both each other and the music, and helped give a fresh new dynamic to the play. Drag act Anita Cock-Tail (played by Danny Idollor Jnr) featured at regular intervals throughout the piece, and provided some much needed light relief to proceedings.
The inevitable scenes of domestic abuse were indeed harrowing and gruelling to watch, but like everything else in the play, nothing ever felt forced or included simply to shock – the action was believable, like a slice of real life captured on stage.
So much love, care and attention to detail had clearly gone into the crafting of this performance. Everyone involved should feel proud of this exceptional piece of theatre that left its enraptured audience both stunned and moved.
Meditation Ruined My Life
5 out of 5
Playing to a venue filled beyond capacity, expectations were running high as comedian Sam Brady took to the stage. Thankfully, he didn’t disappoint. From the moment he walked out to the moment he left, Sam had the audience completely on his side. An honest and open performer, he worked tirelessly to ensure that his audience was entertained. He also judged the reaction of the crowd perfectly – on the rare occasion the material did not work as well as intended, he was always armed with a quip or one liner that guaranteed one more laugh, and instantly put everyone at ease.
His set revolved around a single narrative story, rare for a stand up comedian, but he had the audience completely enraptured. The story itself followed Sam’s real life journey of self discovery, as he gave up a high profile career and the successes it entailed to train as a Buddhist monk. It was a story that the audience totally bought in to, and were with him for the entire duration. For an hour and a half set, the time seemed to fly by. It was refreshing to hear a stand up routine that had a relevant message to it, and wasn’t just centred around humour.
By the end of his set, Sam had left his audience exhausted with laughter, enthralled by his story and moved by its content. A five star routine, without a shadow of a doubt.
Sam will be performing his show as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. I highly recommend anyone attending the festival to secure themselves a ticket whilst they still can.
Writer Mike Heath’s latest play revolves around two old flames reunited for one weekend, having been out of touch for the past eighteen years. Caroline is visiting Al, who moved up to Manchester to start a new life for himself. She has stayed at home and brought up three children. She also has ulterior motives for her visit, as she has some long overdue news for Al…
The writing of the play was strong throughout, with some very witty humour used to break the awkward tension in several scenes. Some dialogue could have been honed back in areas and focused more towards the storyline, the setup especially felt like a while before characters were properly established. However the play had a very strong voice, and touched effectively on messages about life, reflecting on chances gone by to how we leave our mark in the world once we’re gone. Amid some of the rapid fire dialogue, the quieter moments are what shone through the most, such as Caroline applying her makeup and the two observing an old dinosaur in a museum.
The two leads performed excellently in their roles, and were well cast for their characters, both conveying a strong sense of loss and regret.
Overall the play felt too short if anything. The climax of the piece felt like the end to the second act, and should have developed the characters beyond what we saw. On the whole however, a very well performed piece that moved and entertained in equal measure.
3 ½ out of 5
Ian Winterton’s new comedy centres around Jez and Alan, two lovable losers who arrange to go on a blind date with two girls they have met over the internet. However, when only one of the girls turns up, a power struggle emerges as to who will be the dominant male…
The four actors all gave great performances, and made the most out of every line they were given. Simon Parker (Jez) gave his character a cocky arrogance, yet always managed to remain likable. Danny Stewart (Alan), who gave the best performance of the night, invested his role with a geeky nervousness that provided many of the biggest laughs. Claire Dean as Claudia was a confident presence, who more than held her own against the two men. Laura Cope, who played Felicity, provided a calm amongst the madness, and gave the play a balance that grounded the action, whilst driving the narrative forward. However, her characters introduction was very confusing, and the play took some time to properly establish her role.
There was a very good chemistry between the two male leads – at times the play resembled an episode of Peep Show, the bickering between the two characters and the awkward situations they find themselves in led to many memorable moments. Whilst the script was funny, very funny at times, there should have been more big laughs in order for it to stand out as truly memorable. There could have been more of a message to the play – at times one started to emerge, but was soon lost after a few lines amongst all the jokes.
In the end there were some great hearty laughs, but some more substance in the characters and story would have added up to a more satisfying piece of theatre overall.