Sunday, 27 September 2015

Chantry Dance Company's Duology

Chantry Dance Company, formed in May 2012, gives a contemporary approach to dance being a 'liberating art form' and brings 'freedom of expression'.  This certainly has been demonstrated in this exciting and ambitious double bill.

Chantry Dance Company
Photo credit: Chantry Dance Company 
(Accessed from

Eine Kleine Nachmusik

Two's a company, three's a crowd!

This saying stuck with throughout this piece based on Mozart's famous composition.  Two dancers dance in unison while the third dancer dances independently thus making me think of that saying.  The music invites the audience to explore the dancers' personalities presented and observe their presence, relationship,identity,individualism and freedom amidst finding one's place in immediate surroundings and contextually in society.  There is an expression of challenging conformities of society and what is supposedly expected of them.

Vincent - a stranger to himself

This piece is certainly more conceptual than musical.  The dancers interpret symbolically the life of Vincent Van Gogh through his passions for women and art.  The passions are interpreted dramatically and intricately; the women in his life return to haunt and torment his emotions through the dramaturg.  The effective use of easels and canvases and the art muse (Rae Piper) reiterate Van Gogh's true passion and joy, his art. The physical movements are choreographed to a diverse range of music and soundscapes which certainly reflects the emotional journey Van Gogh faced throughout his life.  Paul Chantry beautifully interprets the Van Gogh and how the painter features in society with his relationships combining genius with compelling power.

An excellent programme with two very different pieces reflecting the spirit of CDC's ethos and aims.

Shrek The Musical - Alhambra Theatre, Bradford - Saturday 26th September 2015

I always have the pleasure taking my lovely niece to the theatre. When the opportunity arose to see Shrek The Musical in Bradford I did not hesitate to book for both of us.

 Shrek The Musical - UK Tour
(Photo credit; Shrek The Musical and accessed via

I saw the UK tour production (my review here) when it premièred at Leeds Grand Theatre in July 2014.  I remember being the first in the queue when booking opened on one Friday morning in September 2013.  My efforts were awarded with a free goody bag including the film DVDs.

In the queue for Shrek tickets when they went on sale at Leeds Grand (2013)
Photo Credit: Leeds Grand Theatre

My niece's thoughts of Shrek:

"The musical was absolutely amazing! Dean Chisnall was an amazing Shrek and Bronte Barbe was an amazing Princess Fiona! I particularly like Donkey (Idriss Kargbo)! He was very funny, an amazing dancer, a brilliant singer, and the outfit was adorable.  He was an amazing actor too!  Gerard Carey did really well as Lord Farqaad.  It must have been really painful being on his knees for the amount of time! I would love to go and see it again, it was really fun to watch! All the songs were amazing and the costumes were really unbelievable! My highlight, was when the Donkey and Dragon met.  It turns out she is a really good singer!"

 Shrek The Musical - UK Tour
(Photo credit; Shrek The Musical and accessed via

It was an excellent performance led by Dean Chisnall, Bronte Barbe and Idriss Kargbo.  I did notice some slight changes in the costumes but I consider this important as it keeps the production fresh.  There are comical and modern references (particularly from musicals and films) which do draw audiences in of all ages.  Shrek is a kaleidoscope of fairy tales rolled into one story about an ogre.  One can learn overall that ogres and key characters should not be judged by appearances.  Shrek will continue touring until 2016 and details can be found on the website.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Bogus Woman, Square Chapel for the Arts, Halifax - 26th September 2015

Kay Adshead's The Bogus Woman is touring at intimate venues across the UK.  The one person production starring Coronation Street's Krissi Bohn explores the harsh and cruel reality of asylum seekers in this country.  The asylum seekers escape a horrific journey from their country of origin only for this nightmare to continue with the country's bureaucratic and inflexible system which keeps changing with its ever changing politics! 

The Bogus Woman
Photo credit:

The play shares with the audience the appalling treatment of asylum seekers at detention centres,  their missing records including vital evidence for cases and appeals, and the everlasting formal processes and policies which are strictly followed.  This upsetting, harrowing and powerful dialogue gives one a realistic picture of what many go through when seeking asylum.  One feels during the performance that there is a glimmer of hope where the situation could lead to a indefinite leave to remain in their adopted country.  Sadly realities as explored in this dialogue for many is not the case and the horrific life journey continues on after their deportation to their country of origin.

A stellar and convincing performance by Bohn who interprets brilliantly the asylum seeker and the people involved in her disturbing life journey.  A great direction to this powerful dramaturg is done by Zoe Waterman.

The situation concerning asylum seekers and refugees is even more relevant today.  As reported in the news and media; more and more people are seeking refuge from war torn and political instable countries and this is on the increase.  Sadly ignorance prevails however hope is that many organisations are doing their utmost to make the refugees welcome in their cities and give them the support they will need.

The Bogus Woman is touring across the UK  and the schedule can be found via its website.  

Jonathan Watkins's 1984, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

The award winning dance company, Northern Ballet, premièred for the first time, Watkins's 1984.  The world première took place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and was received well by the audience and critics alike.

Jonathan Watkins's 1984 (Northern Ballet)
Photo credit :Emma Kauldhar
(Accessed from

Based on George Orwell's novel, 1984 could not be any different today than in 1948 when the book was written.  Big Brother reigns supreme as Winston Smith is watched 24/7 and any thought of freedom and rebellion is suppressed and subject to punishments and cruelty unimaginable!  This is seen parallel to lot of the political dictatorships in many countries today and even countries with supposedly more liberty is monitored indirectly by government through technology and records in order to combat the threat of terrorism and other atrocities.  1984 was written just after the Second World War and during a time of an ever changing political climate in Europe.

Simon Daw's set is thrown with Chris Davey's lighting and Andrzej Golding's video design focuses how its citizens are watched and scrutinised.  The clever use of television screens certainly control people's actions and even thoughts unbeknown to them.  This is all combined with dramatic choreography by Watkins and incredible and synchronised dancing performed by Isaac Lee-Baker (Winston Smith), Dreda Blow (Julia) and Ashley Dixon (O'Brien) with Alex Baranowski's musical composition.

This two hour production certainly provokes thinking and opportunistic reflection on how we live in society today with ever increasing scrutiny.  1984 is currently touring around the UK and dates can be found by clicking on the website.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Legally Blonde The Musical, Grand Opera House York

York Stage Musicals, directed by Nik Briggs, is presenting their brand new production of Legally Blonde The Musical at York's Grand Opera House.  Based on the Amanda Brown's novel and subsequent film, Legally Blonde became a popular and award winning musical both on Broadway and in the London's West End.  

Maya Tether as Elle Wood
(Photo Credit: York Stage Musicals)

Elle Woods (Maya Tether) is a girl who has it all but only to be dumped by her boyfriend, Warner (Matthew Ainsworth), for being "more Marilyn Monroe than Jacqui Kennedy".  This leads to for her to follow Warner to Harvard Law School with the hope in being reunited with him.  The musical follows her Harvard journey which she shares with Bruiser, her faithful chihuahua, Paulette (Jo Theaker) and Emmett (Timothy Gough).  She sums up her experience by proving to everyone that "being true to yourself never goes out of style" even in the most testing of circumstances.

Legally Blonde has it all with an excellent lead performance by Maya Thetherplayed Tracy in the YSM's production of Hairspray, in March this year.  She is supported by a thoroughly committed and talented cast who put all their awe and effort in making this an excellent production with Lesley Hill's choreography.  Cool and imaginative sets highlights Elle's favourite colour and great musical catchy numbers written by Laurence O'Keefe and Neil Benjamin under the direction of Stephen Hackshaw.

A feel good musical to contribute towards a feel good night.  This production is on until Saturday 12th September 2015. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Film: The History Boys at Square Chapel for the Arts, Halifax- 5th September 2015

Square Chapel for the Arts in Halifax is screening films in its debut season and an addition to the exciting programme of events which the centre is reputed for.  Their aim is to reach out to a diverse audience with its programme including a wide range of films.  

The History Boys is written by Alan Bennett' and the film is adapted in 2006 from the National Theatre's production.  It is based at the fictional Cutlers' Grammar School in Sheffield during the 1980s.  It is about a class of boys who have sat their 'A' Levels and are staying an extra term with an aim of getting into the coveted Oxford University.

The boys have the tutelage of three teachers whose teaching styles could not be any more different from Hector's (Richard Griffiths) enthusiastic knowledge of the arts, citing that “all knowledge is precious”  to Irwin's (Stephen Campbell Moore) inflexible and target driven teaching.  Both teachers consequently face issues of their sexuality which brings threatened chaos to the headmaster (Felix Armstrong) and supposedly the school with regards to targets and reputation.  In the mix there is the liberal and plain talking Mrs Lintott (Frances De La Tour) whose feelings are known in the history's adversity.

Irwin, in particular, is lost with what the boys' quests are and it isn't solely on just passing the examinations. Each pupil has its unique personalities and desires which are summarised in and out of the classroom from evaluating their educational expectations particularly Dakin (Dominic Cooper), Posner (Samuel Barnett), Timms (James Corden) and Rudge (Russell Tovey).  The film doesn't compromise Bennett's authorial presence and his playwright skills shines with its humour, double meanings, indirectness, innuendoes and metaphoric language and questions negatively and positively the educational system, past and present, and the relevant sociological issues. 

The History Boys has something for everyone and it isn't limited to just education! An excellent classic starring a group of talented actors and the film is highly recommended!