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Little Shop of Horrors

Not all plants are friendly in the Little Shop of Horrors

Not all plants are friendly in the Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors
by the Seagull Rep at the Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 7 April 2016

The spoof, B-movie musical Little Shop of Horrors is a joyfully ridiculous tale set in a Skid Row flower shop where a rare flesh-eating plant is nourished.

The Seagull Rep excelled themselves with their take on it. Director John Hales and the Seagull team worked talented, top-notch performers from principals to company round the clever set with a first class band rocking above the action.

Michelle Long, the romantic-at-heart Audrey, was an outstanding singer and actress, with John Jones playing her nerdy love interest. Jimmy Atkin as the flower shop owner was spot on and the three chorus/do-wap girls (Amanda Wisher, Claire Welham and Alisha Giles) captivating.

The evil dentist Daniel Hughes brought a specially demented madness that made the sell out audience glad when his remains were fed to the ever-growing plant, Audrey II, provided by Scenic Projects and voiced by Dave Higgins.

Throughout, there were catchy feel-good songs in the 1950s-early 60s‘ style that kept feet tapping and faces smiling along with moments of pathos and emotion.

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Norwich Theatre Royal Youth Company

This review was commissioned by the Eastern Daily Press, but not used by them for an unexplained reason

The intimate, flexible staging at The Garage is ideal for a cracking performance in the round by young actors in a play that stretches the mind and questions identity, friendship and peer relationships.

Set on an anonymous patch of waste ground and a field, Amy (Beth Jacklin) has fallen off a high grid after drunkenly larking around and the tomfoolery of the others throwing stones at her. The story shows how the enigmatic Phil (James Bell) leads them into a cover up and framing of an innocent man.

The play, specially written for young people asks how far it’s right to do something bad if it’s for a higher purpose and can the world really be altered by a small change within ourselves?

The interlocking complexities of shifting power games and mutual loathing among teenagers is superbly conveyed with tight performances from Heather Kelly, Lydia Richards, Lauren Bryant, Annabella King, Francesca Ali, Eleanor Jenkins, Amelia Stephanides and Matthew Doswell.

These are young people with a future in performance and this thought-provoking show should be supported and encouraged.

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Somewhere in England

Somewhere In England

Somewhere In England

Somewhere in England by Eastern Angles Theatre at the Hungate Church, Beccles

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 14 March 2016

Eastern Angles Theatre Company have a unique style making drama from history of our region. Their latest is a study of American GIs ‘somewhere in England’ during the war, when they brought Coca Cola, chewing gum and their culture.

It’s about their relationship with locals, particularly through a black man from Alabama, grippingly played by Nathanael Campbell with a woman (the excellent Georgia Brown) and a teenager (lively Grace Osborn).

Through a doomed love story Polly Wiseman sensitively explores the forgotten battle of the races during the struggle against Nazi tyranny and how the Americans fought for freedom yet enforced legal segregation.

Mixed-race Walter White of the organisation to advance ‘coloured people’ had white features but was classified black. Doubling him with the white airman who made tentative friends with the black guy before falling out over the woman, Joshua Hayes carries us to the heart of the dilemma.

This unforgettable play will leave you thinking about the war and its continuing fallout and how the colour of our skin still determines so much.

NOTE: Somewhere in England is on tour throughout Suffolk and Norfolk up till 1st June.

SOME OTHER Eastern Angles’ reviews include:

A Dulditch Angel


Cuckoo Teapot

Return to Akenfield

Getting Here



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Betrayal (Foolhardy Theatre)

Betrayal by
Foolhardy Theatre at Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft

This review of Betrayal was commissioned by the Eastern Daily Press, but not used by them for an unexplained reason, February 2016

To experience Pinter’s mini-masterpiece Betrayal in the intimacy of the Seagull Theatre is to relish the sharpness of his writing, the acute observation and interlocking of his characters and universal yet comic truths about people.

Inspired by his own affair with Joan Bakewell, the play starts at the finale of a couple’s long term adulterous relationship and travels back through snapshot scenes to the exciting beginning – a powerful device that reveals subtleties in the characters.

The high-class actors are a tight team. Abi Watson as the wife balances her life, love and career in a mature way that is written across her face throughout. Andy Wisher is her slightly bumptious husband, a man under no illusions about people and betrayal.

Jonny Goddard, the lover and best, oldest friend of the husband appears to feel no guilt, yet no action in life is without a price.

Director William Isgrove brings out the comic, tragic complexities of three adults in a world we briefly understand, or we think we do.

Foolhardy Theatre have a reputation for quality, thoughtful theatre and this confirms it.


NOTE: Previous review of Betrayal at the Seagull Theatre was by Open Space Theatre (2012).

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A Christmas Spectacular 2015

A Christmas Spectacular 2015

Lowestoft Players at the Players’ Theatre, The Bethel, Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 7 December 2015 and The Lowestoft Journal, 11 December 2015

It’s a real treat to come in from the biting Lowestoft wind to the welcoming warmth of the Lowestoft Players’ own Bethel Theatre, sit back, relax and start to feel a lot like Christmas.

For their fourth Christmas Spectacular they pull out all the stops with colour, costumes, songs, dances, thoughtful readings and an enveloping aura of peace and goodwill.

Some of the humour is knockabout belly-laughing stuff; songs range from the traditional Christmas repertoire to Hallelujah, fast becoming a national favourite and the cast is a happy blend of Players’ stalwarts and younger performers.

The direction, choreography and music team of Beth Lewis, Jimmy Atkins, Louise Clarke and Francesca Warren do a stunning job placing tableaux, varying lead vocals and harmonies, smoothly and professionally.

Lighting and stage visuals are brilliant. The contribution from children and older students from the Louise Elizabeth School of Dance is outstanding.

Yes, Christmas can be sentimental, lachrymose, extravagant, a trial, hugely enjoyable, heart-warming, generous and emotional – or a mix of all these things. This show is just that – a sweet confection of fun and joy.

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A younger Maggie listened to by the older Queen in Handbagged!

A younger Maggie listened to by the older Queen in Handbagged!


at the Theatre Royal, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 12 November 2015

Handbagged? Well, The Audience featuring the imaginary conversations between The Queen and her 12 Prime Ministers in their weekly meetings has already been a stage hit. Now it’s just Her Majesty and Mrs Thatcher.

Liz versus Maggie, two powerful women born in the same year is a comedy that speculates what these two women, these icons of power in different ways actually talked about in private. Or they might have done.

Critically acclaimed as witty, confident, mischievous and clever it’s ‘tea at four, handbags at dawn’ subtly moving from slapstick to the real stuffing of life as the women look back on their younger selves in what could have become a history lesson but is priceless theatre.

Moira Buffini’s West End hit is on tour and the Theatre Royal rocked at the astutely drawn comedy, the human frailties and the strengths of characters embodied in these women.

We follow though high and low lights of the Iron Lady’s three terms, her eleven years in No10 with the dangerous and terrifying Brighton bomb as an emotional climax. The treachery of those closest to her that ended her reign was movingly handled.

The funniest asides are from the older Queen, yet each of the women, young or old are sharp, on point and spectacular. Support from multiroling Denis Thatcher, Ronald Regan and Nancy (played by a man) and Rupert Murdoch and Geoffrey Howe among many are superb cameos.

We love laughing at public figures for the right and wrong reasons. This play is set to join the pantheon of richly comic yet beautifully poignant political comedy for years to come.

Try and see Handbagged, whether you remember the era or not. You will be royally entertained.

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Into the Woods

Int the Woods by NYMT at the Maddermarket Theatre

Into the Woods by NYMT at the Maddermarket Theatre

Into the Woods
Norfolk Youth Music Theatre at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 6 November 2015

Into the Woods, the 2014 film with its stellar cast list helped popularise this musical, which remains one of the darkest, musically challenging and fascinating from the Sondheim repertoire.

NYMT are to be congratulated for boldly engaging with this dramatic musical theatre at every level – singing, choreography, stage business and some superb characters to interpret a selection of ‘fairy tales’ which are not for young children.

Each character’s quest has an effect on others; every action has a reaction. Cleverly, it appears all done with a happy ending as the first act closes. Into the second half, it gets darker as life and death choices are made.

The band is strong and Adrian Connell’s overall direction is sensitive, dramatic, shocking, very funny in parts producing a great piece of youth theatre.

Cinderella (Leila Hooton), Baker (Archie Brown), his wife (Olivia Taylor), Little Red Riding Hood (Daisy Wilson), the Witch (Molly Cutter) and the princes (Zachary Green and Felix Revell) are stand-out performances from a confident and talented cast.

If you go down into the woods at the Maddermarket this week you’re sure of an entertaining surprise.

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The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales - a fresh insight

The Canterbury Tales – a fresh insight

The Canterbury Tales
version by Impulse Collective at The Garage, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 22 October 2015

Touring professional performers Impulse Collective brought their take on Chaucer’s 14th Century epic Canterbury Tales to the Garage arts centre.

It was a zany, physical interpretation taking a set of well known, but ancient, tales and turning them into an accessible message and commentary for modern, contemporary times.

The 24 stories that form the contest among a group of pilgrims walking to Canterbury remains the base structure, but with added ‘now’ touches such as speed dating, lashings of physical and improvised comedy and some genuine, spontaneous audience participation.

Those were juxtaposed with moments of real, heart-felt depth of emotion and feeling as the search for personal truth was explored through relationships and abuse.

It was a well-judged performance by five young actors at ease with their skills and they related superbly to the packed audience of almost entirely students who joined in, made judgements and surely learned a lot about drama techniques and how to realise a challenging text.

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The Thrill of Love

Ruth Ellis story The Thrill of Love in rehearsal at Sewell Barn

Ruth Ellis story The Thrill of Love in rehearsal at Sewell Barn

The Thrill of Love
Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Review for the Eastern Daily Press, 1st October 2015, not yet published

There’s something about sitting almost with the performers, as the audience does at the Sewell Barn, that makes everything so intimate, so absorbing.

This play packs a punch exploring the tragedy that was the life and death of Ruth Ellis. Notorious as the last woman in England to be hanged, she is superbly portrayed by Abbie Eastwood – the frail, petite platinum blonde who dreamed of Hollywood but got Holloway.

The abuse she suffered and the dying of her dreams in the reality of life in seedy nightclubs was the backstory while the police inspector-cum-narrator (James Thomson) grappled to understand the woman who shot her lover.

Her speedy confession, explanation of all the facts except how she got the gun and her rejection of a final appeal comes over with shocking clarity. Director Ginny Porteous brings out her vulnerability amidst the wheels of criminal justice which contributed significantly to the abolition of the death penalty.

Friends who care (Jen Dewsbury, Hayley Evenett and Verity Roat) catch the 1950s period with its values and struggles to support the telling of this poignant, memorable true story.

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Andy Kind, Stand-Up Comedy

Stand-up comedy is fun way to express meaning

Stand-up comedy is fun way to express meaning

Andy Kind Stand-Up Comedy Night, The Depot, Lowestoft

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 22 September 2015 and The Lowestoft Journal, 2 October 2015

Stand-up comedy that’s not in a pub or club atmosphere might appear to present certain challenges. A Christian stand-up may sound like an oxymoron.

However, the mark of a good performer is to take the show to an audience. Andy Kind is a talented storyteller, not simply a joke-teller, pointing out our common frailties and absurdities in the human journey with his unique observational comedy style.

Improvising through banter with a few individuals in the audience he cleverly exploited every comment, every piece of unintended material.

Needing neither bad language nor cruel mockery, his stories of people in situations we recognise – his family, marriage, children, school, living in Britain and his work on the stand-up comedy circuits held a large audience with laugh out loud humour.

Hosted by Lowestoft Community Church it was an opportunity for him to explain how his Christian faith sustains his life without over-selling it.

Andy is indeed one of a kind and Christian or not, when he comes back try to catch him for a thought-provoking, laughter-packed night out.

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