Saturday, 22 September 2012

Lots of Personifying Capitals in This Post

Hello Blogworld,

In case you haven't noticed, there has been a somewhat longer than usual gap in communications. This is mainly due to something someone invented a while ago called 'A Levels'.
I hate that someone. I really do.

The truth is, some students just don't suit this education system. I'm not one of them (blagging my way through exams since 2004), but I can undoubtedly recognise the 'symptoms', if you will, in some of my friends. Exams don't float their boats; they under-perform, they stress out, they panic. Give them a project, on the other hand, and they fly. This is something that the International Baccalaureate seems to have nailed - interspersing creative and self-driven projects with traditional exams. I wish the A Level system had more flexibility in this area... it then might be enjoyable rather than simply something to get through in order to get to University. With a capital U.

That's the other blockage at the moment - University. UCAS forms, Personal Statements, References - all these are words that if I hear again in this lifetime, I may just break down, then and there.
I am currently involved in what my school charmingly calls 'The Oxbridge Game'. That means I have decided to pursue a seemingly futile and foolish hope that one of the two greatest universities in the UK might actually want to teach me. As each week passes the odds seem to be stacked ever less in my favour.
And it is indeed a game. People try to second guess the admissions tutors; they try and balance out their Statement in favour of certain things; the References are all glowing. So y'know. May the best human win.

Hence my prolonged absence from a) the blogging world and b) the actual theatre world. Sad times.
BE NOT AFEAR'D! It all looks like it's kicking off again.
But then so's school.
So that's my excuse. Take it or leave it.

I will blog only when I have time and inclination, and as much as I love it, I also accept that this year is a ridiculously important year. I will look back at it and laugh during my finals, but at the mo, it's all anyone is talking about. So to stop it doing my head in, I just have to get on with it with my head down, barrelling through Life.

Keep projecting,


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Ssh. Tell No one.

Oh no. Oh dear. I am falling into staying up-until-ridiculous-time habits. Like now for instance.
It's 2.29. AM.
But no, no, no, do not mistake me, friends. It is not the internet keeping me up to unholy hours. No. Although it really doesn't help. It is my cretin of a brain, which clearly just doesn't want me to sleep well.
I think it is all down to being on holiday (YAY). I am therefore doing essentially nothing with my brain all day - so it then wishes to carry on working at a low (but never-the-less disruptive) level ALL NIGHT LONG. 'ARGH' I think is the word.

Moving on from my body clock.

Do you like the title of this post? I like the title of this post. It is mysterious. As is the 'society' I am about to tell you of - so can you keep a secret? Can you keep a secret really well?
If someone ever asks you 'Have you heard of Secret Cinema?' be assured, you are about to enter a world which hitherto you probably thought didn't exist. Secret Cinema are an off-shoot company of Future Cinema, and you may have heard whisperings about them.
But only whisperings.
Every three months, they put on a film. And they do 'put it on', just like a production. If you have signed up for tickets you are told nothing. Nada. Zilch. All you get are little snippets of information via email, Facebook, Twitter - little clues that you can interpret in any way you wish. You get this and, of course, you get instructions for what to wear. Oh yes. Costume.
Audience participation doesn't cover half of it. Also, anyone who has been to the show must keep the details entirely secret for the length of the run... word must not get out!
So you arrive in your getup at a meeting point (most recently, this was Euston Station). There you are greeted by actors who are already inhabiting their roles; everyone, including you, has to be in character.
And then the location.
Oh the location.
Secret Cinema transform deserted buildings and areas across London to become the set of whichever film you are watching... the effect is phenomenal. My favourite so far has been their screening of the Graham Greene film 'The Third Man', starring Orson Welles. The picture below is of myself and my darling Belle (whom you may remember from this post) in our costume.

<--  And then the incredible, atmospheric location.

We felt like film extras! We thought we were in heaven!

I was lucky enough last year to be selected to join Great Britain's National Youth Theatre (another heaven moment) and it was through them this year that I spotted an opportunity to be a 'supporting artist' with Secret Cinema. Having been to a couple of events previously I thought I had a pretty good guess as to what that title meant... I was right.

So that's how, for a week, I became the luckiest person I knew. I hopped on the tube in leafy Essex (skipping the last lesson of school - oh, bite me, why don't you) and hopped off it, backpack on, in not so leafy Euston. Off I went (and I knew a short cut by the end of it, so how smug did I feel) and soon arrived at my arcane destination.
Cue Instagram photo. 

So you see a sign like that and know you've arrived at work. This is my kind of life.
This time (and I can reveal this to you without being afeard for my life, the 'run' ended two weeks ago) Secret Cinema screened 'Prometheus' the new Ridley Scott film, which is a prequel to 'Alien' - this is unusual for them, as they usually screen classics (p.s see if you can spot me in SC's short film!). The interior of the deserted, ex-NHS building was transformed into a spaceship - a spaceship which I had to learn to find my way around. Pretty fast.
My job as a 'supporting artist' was to basically do what the (paid) actors did, but I didn't have a specific role in the whole thing. Each night us supporters would get assigned to different places; Embarkation (bringing people from Euston), Decontamination (spraying them with water, FUN), or numerous places inside the ship like 'Mother' the core computer system (and light display). We were there to enhance mood, essentially, and boost numbers.
The complete control audience members surrender to you is startling, and quite a power kick. At no point can you lose character, so any real-world-speak has to be met with bafflement;
'So, can you tell me, what is this space used for normally?'
'Well this is the Mess Hall, recruit, so this is were we crew take time to relax and enjoy ourselves.'
'Oh, no, no, I mean in real life. Reality.'
'Pardon, recruit?'
'When we're not here. What is this place used for?'
'Well, this is the ship's maiden voyage, if that's what you mean. It usually stands empty.'
'Oh... ok. Thanks...'
And that went on with one of the real actors standing right by me. I was quite proud of myself.
Another great one was a member of the public (no ticket) at Euston Station. She'd clearly gleaned quite a lot of info from my colleagues and was gripping one of our flyers;
'So you aren't really going into space, are you?'
'Oh... sorry, madam? We are, our base is just around the corner...'
'Someone told me you're actors. That this isn't real.'
'Is this your way of telling me you don't believe is space travel, madam. Because I can assure you it is real, and a lot of time, money and effort has gone into the mission going up today. It is very real for us. We will be living it shortly.'
In the same way people take the initiative, and come up to you and play the game. On my last evening I was placed in the Infirmary, and had just finished doing some post-hypersleep checks on people - which they took very seriously, despite the fact I had made them up on the spot - and this occurred;
'Hello, doctor?'
'Good morning, recruit. How was hyper-sleep?'
'Ok thanks, but I'm a bit sore.'
'That's quite normal, recruit. Two years is a long time to be prone and completely still.'
'Doctor... I'm a bit worried.'
'Well, I woke up from hyper-sleep, and I was dusting myself down - you know, usual checks - when I came across... a rash.'
'A rash, recruit?'
'Where is it?'
'Well it's... down there.'
'Ah. Nothing to worry about, recruit, it's probably simply lack of movement, lack of... usage.'
'Something to do with the air circulation too, maybe?'
'Oh, undoubtedly.'
'So should I give the area some air?'
'Yes, recruit, that's an idea. Perhaps retire to your bunk first. Here I'll give you something for it too... take this with water, and come back to me if your... unfortunate eruption... persists. Got that, recruit?'
'Absolutely, Doctor. Thank you.'
And of she went with her date, grinning from ear to cheeky ear.
Best. Moment. Ever.

I had an amazing time, and really want to write a proper post on how Secret Cinema do things - but at a later date, when it's not the early hours of the morning. The people there were so welcoming, so friendly and so scarily, awe-inspiringly creative and involved. Their project seemed everything to them.
I shall never, ever forget my week there.
Or that woman's rash.

And so I leave you with a cheesy picture of me in my attractive boiler suit/space suit uniform!
p.s from now on you have to call me Esther Heeley, data scientist.

Friday, 13 July 2012

An Ode to London's Flight Paths

The Globe, I'm not sure if you knew it,
is open, all up in the roof bit,

So for helis and planes
that circle, sans aim...

some fucking torpedoes would do it.


This limerick is dedicated to everyone who has ever tried to speak, or listen, over any ZSCSHOOOOOOOMING over Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank. Heaven knows, that's a lot of people.

Seize the Day

How in hell does one review a play like this?
This will test my mettle.
I shall make it easy for myself by stating NOW that this shall be a short review.
Because a) I saw it a while ago.
b) I need to just write the damn thing.
and c) I really think you should go and see it, and make up your own minds.

Well, for a start, when you walk up to a play and see this picture, it's a pretty good start:

'Ten of the best young actors we've seen on stage since The History Boys' - Time Out

High praise indeed. But, having walked into Posh by Laura Wade thinking 'Oh really. That's a big statement, that is, 'coz I've SEEN The History Boys and they was BLOODY GOOD', I can confirm that every single young man on that stage was also BLOODY GOOD.
Quick summary: story of boys at an Oxford gentleman's club, supposedly based on the Bullingdon club, old haunt of Cameron et al, called here 'The Riot Club', they cause lots and lots of trouble, and are essentially a dying, upper class breed, with no real place in the world, or so it seems.
My mother walked out of the theatre at half time for some air, and I could tell something was up. She and my uncle were both quite quiet, which, if you knew them, would be enough to tell you something was indeed very much up.
Friends were gathered. Drinks collected. My uncle lit up an obligatory half-time ciggie. Quietness. Mum, what's the matter?

'Well... I think I'm... I think I'm... shocked.'

The very same emotion then rocketed around our circle of friends.
My mother is a hard woman to shock. I know. I've tried. Laura Wade, congratulations. You shocked my Mum. You have triumphed where so much has failed.
I would like to shake you firmly by the hand.
'Posh' is one of those rare and sad things that can widen any generation gap. It can age a 30 year old in minutes. The older generation of our party just did. Not. Get. It.
This is mainly if not entirely down to the humour. It's bawdy - no, bawdy is wrong, 'bawdy' is Shakespearean, archaic - fine, it's FILTHY. Full of 'your mum'-esque humour, except it all sounds so much more detestable when coming from the mouths of ten titled young men, off their posh tits on champers.
What was so shocking for me wasn't the actual humour - I, regrettably, hear it every day, often all day, from male peers ('such a lad' etc ). Whether or not I should hear it is a whole different topic, and a can of worms I shall not deign to pry open on this particular occasion... but no, it was not the content that outraged. Everything took on a very different hue; maybe it's because that type of 'joke' is so close to me in every day life, but I found myself genuinely disgusted by these men - you could practically hear them thinking of 'make me a sandwich' jokes whenever the young, naive waitress entered the scene.
I still found them very beguiling. Perhaps that was because I was rather taken with one (ahem). Perhaps it was because they were Oxford boys, and that's where I hope to be headed in a year. I don't know. For me, a teenager, they were infinitely watchable, and even in some cases, I could get past the apparent snobbishness and misogyny, and actually find quite a harmless human being. Infinitely watchable, but not infinitely likeable; Leo Bill as the most hideous of the bunch was occasionally terrifying, and consistently repulsive. The rest only mildly better.

Oh but the music. Playlist please:
- I'm Sexy and I Know It
- Moves Like Jagger
- Pass Out
- and I've forgotten the fourth...

ALL SUNG - no word of a lie - A CAPPELLA. BY ALL THE CHAPS.
They need to make a CD.

I am deeply ashamed to say that I am far too ignorant and sheltered to comment on the political impact or message the play renders. It is clearly coming at a tender time; it clearly spells out a message that I'm sure members of our current parliament would like not to hear; but how far it strays from reality into satire, I don't know. Go and see for yourselves - I think you get what you look for out of this play. But be warned; in the words of The Observer, 'it packs the nastiest punch.'
Oh dear, this wasn't a short review, was it...
Some stand out moments were; a newbie's defence of an heirloom teddy bear from his fellow club members, the English student's rendition and Riot re-working of Henry V's 'One more unto the breach, dear friends' which I wish for the life of me I could remember, and finally, a phrase which, I'm ashamed to say, both I and my step-brother have adopted.


And on that lovely note...


Tuesday, 5 June 2012


Unbelievably for a girl so obsessed with the 20s and 30s, Noel Coward's Hay Fever (suitably playing at the Noel Coward Theatre!) was the first of his plays I have seen. And what an introduction.
The Bliss family are gorgons. Simon and Sorel, two late-teen siblings, bicker and chat whilst their mother, Judith, an ageing actress, wafts around the house with tragedy trailing from her poised wrists, and a mischievous glint in her eye. Their father you don't see until 20 minutes into the play, an irritable, rich novelist, whose works, by his own admission, are 'very bad'.
Oh, the wonderful, heady chaos this family operate in. The walls are strewn with Simon's paintings, cigarettes are available from every cranny of the house, and when Judith comes in from learning the names of all the flowers in the garden she artfully dumps a large clump of them into a bucket. This is fantastic, I thought. This is wonderful. This is... my family.
Well, not really. That would be unfair on my family. We do not have a disorderly house (just my room), nor do we burst into melodramatic flourishes at the slightest push, NOR, I hasten to add, do we torment guests. But the buzz and the lightness of touch and the occasional KA-BOOM is very much us. The only thing I would like to steal from the Bliss family is that everyone calls everyone else, regardless of relationship, 'Darling' *insert appropriate drawl*. I've attempted to introduce this. So far, no-one's really behind me.
I'll keep working on them, promise.
The costume and set designer, Bunny Christie (great name, Bunny), winner of two Olivier awards (one last year) is clearly a genius; the set soared up, creating the illusion of wonderful space and air in what is quite a small theatre, and the mottled grey of the walls yelled 'UPPER MIDDLE CLASS BOHEMIANS' at you, in the absolutely best way possible. Chairs were supported by books, shawls were draped glitzily over every single item of furniture, and the stairs had no banisters. Perfect. Plus, I want every single item of costume that was worn on that stage, most ESPECIALLY the one seen above. It suited Judith down to a proverbial 't' - billowing, breezy, and deeply dramatic, it complimented every single line.
Lindsay Duncan also suited Judith down to a 't'. I was actually sent to watch 'Hay Fever' because of her. An English teacher at my school - who also doubles up as my director in Polly Stenham's 'That Face' - urged me to go, as my character in 'That Face', Martha, is similar to Judith in many ways... though she's not as good a person... Martha was also played by Lindsay Duncan at the Royal Court when it opened. TA-DA. Research AND an afternoon out.
Needless to say, she was born for the role.
Hay Fever seems to be one of those ensemble plays where you cannot have a weak link - you just can't afford to. Everyone in this production flew with it - and clearly enjoyed themselves. Jeremy Northam, in a break from his usual suave, sexy roles, played a bumbling, proper 'diplomatist', and Olivia Colman's turn as Ms Arundel, the only one of the unfortunate guests to actually accuse the Bliss family of being horrific, was highly enjoyable.
The kids were great. Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Sorel Bliss tapped into that hurrah-jolly-hockey-sticks-and-pudding area of her vocal chords, and her stature - tall, slightly awkward, full of wild gestures with long arms - lent her that air of girl-woman that I'm sure Coward would have wanted to play on. She added humour to lines which, having bought and read the script, are not necessarily inherently funny. Freddie Fox (yes, a new one!) was as camp as a camp thing as Simon... his fabulously floppy hair was engrossing. So was he, but I enjoyed his hair too.
One of my favourite moments - alongside Sorel's bark of 'I AM FEMININE' - was a moment between husband and wife, with David played by Kevin R McNally. David clings to Ms Arundel as she tries desperately to escape, and presses her face into his chest, leaving her helpless aside from a wiggling bottom. In an echo of two earlier scenes between Sorel and Simon and their respective guests, Judith takes full control of the situation and affects wistfulness and vulnerability and, with the air of a wounded deer, 'gives' Ms Arundel to David, much to the astonishment and panic of the former. With Arundel's face pressed into the husband's chest, David and Judith exchange a silent but hearty laugh. As Sorel explains to her guest, Sandy:

'One always plays up to mother in this house; it's a sort of unwritten law.'

And so we see how the Bliss's work. Everyone plays up to mother, everyone plays up to each other. Other people will have to work it out for themselves. Lovely, lovely us.

On second thoughts, I'm really glad that's not my family.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Hello, Goodbye...

Well. There it is. My year of AS level drama has drawn to a close.
I'm trying not to think about it too hard.
Because I might cry.
I've really, really enjoyed it. There have been some very infuriating moments - a Theatre Studies essay is not at all structured like an English one, apparently - but mostly very, very fun moments.
Our first text was 'Dancing at Lughnasa' by Brian Friel. I had not heard of the play or the playwright, and after finally reading it at the start of term, I found myself entranced. It is a powerful portrait of 30s Ireland and a family of women struggling through the obstacles life puts in their way. I was lucky enough to play Kate, the eldest of the sisters; she is highly religious, strait-laced, and feels everything very powerfully. She was an absolute joy to get under the skin of, and my heart broke along with hers. I still feel my best and most powerful performance of the year was her pivotal point in the story.
I think this picture from the Second Age Theatre Company's
production captures the sisters almost perfectly...
Next was 'Death of a Salesman' by Arthur Miller, a play that is seen far more often than our first. We ran into a slight problem; in a class of two girls and one boy, we had to produce a convincing couple of scenes from a male-dominated play. Both I and my female compatriot played chaps at one point or another - I played Happy, the younger brother and delusional son. I also, to my dismay, was told to play The Woman, with whom Willy Loman, the protagonist, has an affair. Despite our early hang-ups and our drama teacher's disappointment, we eventually got over ourselves and did the bloody scene.
Philip Seymour-Hoffman as Willy Loman in the current
Broadway production
I feel I need to mention a particularly strong performance from my best friend (who doubles as my Sondheim buddy). She played Linda, Willy's long-suffering and mousy wife, in a scene near the end of the play, where she confronts her two thoughtless boys. We had been practising the scene for a few weeks and each time she got better and better; Linda finally snaps, and the build and release of tension in the scene was hard to capture.
The lesson came where we had to film our work (to send off to the exam board... one hour each of our work on our two texts). We started the scene - me adopting my 'masculine' stature! - and as soon as she walked on set I knew she'd got it. Tears spilled, words were shouted, doors slammed. Everyone was very quiet after we finished. She nailed it. Much love to you doll xx
This term, having finished all the time-consuming coursework, we focused on our practical work that would be examined at the end of the year; a monologue each, and a final performance.
It was hard work, but we got there. I've never done a three-hander before, and even though this one was only 35 minutes long, DAMN you noticed there were only three of you on stage. 'Wanted' by Michelene Wandor is a very strange play - it focuses on the issues that IVF raises, and does so by placing the ideas in a Biblical setting. Sarah, Abraham's apparently barren wife, is visited by an Angel, who attempts to persuade her to try various methods to get pregnant. Sarah is unaware of Someone, an unborn soul, who haunts the Angel throughout the play, and who emphatically does NOT want to be born.
Yep. It's weird.
But rather fun.
As Sarah, I got to swear and shout and hobble about like an old hag.
Yes, very fun indeed.
Our performances to the examiner and a small audience were on the 9th of May.
Now all we have to do is wait for the results.
I'm very sad to wave goodbye to this year in the Performing Arts Centre. But I have plans for next year. Oh, I have plans.



Friday, 18 May 2012

I'm Just A Broadway Baby

Time for a little backstory; a long time ago I was a little girl with a pudding-basin haircut, and I was living in the leafy suburb-state of Connecticut, in the USA. Though I was born in Britannia (in the equally leafy suburb of Essex) we were transplanted across the pond when I was just two due to my father's work. We often took the train to New York, New York (so good they named it twice), as it was only an hour away. So it came to pass that, even after we relocated back to the UK when I was 5, I find myself inexorably drawn back to that wonderful city, as strange, loud and crazy as it may be.
This year, we went back, and I had the opportunity to bring a friend. I whooped and cheered, and then phoned the wonderful girl whom we shall call Belle, who also whooped and cheered and said yes please, take me with you.
We had a crazy, wonderful time. We saw some amazing, unique people: we met a lonely pig called Clarence: we wandered New York by night and by day: we climbed the Empire State Building... and in between, and sometimes during these activites, we ATE. Oh, how we ate (you can see us in the picture above... about to eat).
It just so happens that both of us have the same dream - despite the fact that we bonded over woodlice when we were 6, not the arts, we have both grown to love the theatre. A lot. Often, it's all we talk about. Which is fine by us. And so treading the boards of a Broadway or West End stage is, you know, The Big Thing for us. So when we got to Times Square... we were very excited.
There is a picture of us looking very excited.
Before I go on to tell you about what we saw, I first MUST let you know about a certain diner in Times Square. It is IMPERATIVE that I tell you about Ellen's Stardust Diner. It serves your typical American food - burgers, chicken, chips, you name it. I'm going to be honest, the food isn't really why you go (though it is good... and there's lots of it...). You go because of the staff.
I know, unthinkable in England, right?
They just get up, grab the mic, and serenade the whole diner with a chart-topping hit or tear-jerking number from one of Broadway's finest musicals. It's fantastic. Our waiter was fab, and even gave Mum the mic for some ABBA (note to Ellen's: you will lose custom if you do that too much.) I'd never seen anything like it.

We saw two, rather spectacular pieces of Broadway theatre. First was 'Seminar', a new play by Theresa Rebeck about a literary composition class and their debauched, licentious 'teacher', played by the one and only Jeff Goldblum. He essentially spends an hour and a half (no interval) ripping their lives, emotions, and writings apart. It was surprisingly good viewing.
One small hiccup; Belle and I had previously been assured that 'Leonard', the chap in question, was to be played by Alan Rickman, Professor Severus Snape himself... cue slightly choked, teary assurances that we'd still like to go, even though his run had ended.
But we did actually want to go.
We just enjoy the drama.
Especially memorable was Zoe Lister-Jones as Kate, a feisty, budding writer who thinks she sees through Leonard's crap, and doesn't want to take it any more. Her numerous rants and acerbic put-downs were hilarious, while her eventual sheathing of her feminist sword and acceptance of the way the world really works was ever-so-gently heartbreaking. Everyone in our party thoroughly enjoyed it despite being greeted with this sign as we walked in late:
Cue my panic. I have NEVER been late to a performance. HUMILIATING. But hilarious if you're with the crowd I was... at the end a gentlemen behind us loudly exclaimed 'Well, I reckon the first 5 minutes were the best.' Whether he genuinely hadn't enjoyed it or just wanted to niggle at the people who had disturbed his view for 30 seconds we will never know. I like to think the best of him.
Our second Broadway treat was the production of 'Anything Goes' at the Stephen Sondheim theatre (yes... I got even more excited when his name came up). The story is complete fluff, of course, but it was rather spectacular - I saw Anything Goes in London a while ago, so I thought I knew what to expect... didn't really see the numerous tap and ballroom dances coming.
Those Broadway directors do things differently.
It was the last night of the run, and the cast were clearly having a whale of a time. Here is proof in a video that was made by them, behind the scenes. Brilliant.

So overall a total ball was had by everyone.
If anyone has a flat (or apartment) in NY that they are willing to rent out, please contact me. ASAP. Ta.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

If a little pocket calculator can do it... why shouldn't I?

Backdated from January, after my Christmas Carol post...
From one great master of words to another, completely different one.
Happy New Year!
On Sunday, I (along with my whole, large, family) was lucky enough to go to the rather awkwardly situated Cambridge Theatre to see the show of the moment 'Matilda, the Musical.'
With words by Dennis Kelly and lyrics by Tim Minchin, (yes HIM, the ginger one) and a spectacular cast it's not like you're walking in with any doubts. You are, however, walking in with 4 ankle-biters in tow, and are carefully picking your way around other people's small people. Not that the crowd was made up of just kids; not even close. It seemed that anyone who knew a small child took the opportunity and scooped them up as an excuse to buy a ticket... I suggest you do the same. Even if you don't have a munchkin. Take your gran. Take your partner, your sister, your small dog, whatever, just GO.
And we got our tickets in May. So get on Ebay.
When Tim Minchin said in interview that the audience would laugh and cry, and if you liked 'feeling stuff' you should go, I dismissed it as a bit of a cliche, but I was very, very wrong. To go from laughing to crying and back to laughing again in such a short time is bloody tiring, but my God, it's worth it.
Bertie Carvel as the terrifying Agatha Trunchbull, bane of my childhood, was an absolute revelation. A girl really did (very cleverly) get swung by her pigtails. Instead of the butch beast we see in the film, and possibly in our brains, he was a prissy, boarding school gal, clearly jolly-hockey-sticks and all that, and though the seemingly 'delicate' exterior was there, IT WAS STILL TRUNCHBULL. The menace Carvel portrayed in a single look at a squit (read: child) was truly paralyzing. And also, you know, hilarious at the same time. I admit that was often nervous laughter, yes.
Sophia Kiely was our Matilda, and she was just perfect. Tiny but determined, she pounded those stage boards like a total, total pro. The rest of the kids are hilarious, and you completely just want to get up and join them and shout 'YES! I'M ON YOUR SIDE!' - especially Bruce Bogtrotter, ever the hero. Matilda's parents, the Wormwoods, were played with aplomb, as was the lovely Miss Honey.
I know all the words to the soundtrack, which really deserves a post all on its own. Tim Minchin has not skimped on the tunes for his fancy wordplay, and every track is completely original and absolutely stonking. Chorus, duet, and solo all make you want to crawl onto the fabulous stage and never ever leave.



EDIT: In the 2012 Olivier awards Matilda absolutely stole the show, winning:
Best New Musical
Best Actor in a Musical (Bertie Carvel, Miss Trunchbull)
Best Actress in a Musical (which the 4 Matilda's shared!)
Best Director
Best Coreography
Best Set Design
Best Sound Design

And here are some FABULOUS pictures of the Matildas with our Sophia Kiely on the far left, and Bertie Carvel looking like one of the kids:


There wasn't even any chocolate involved...

So, for my first theatre trip in quite a while (excluding Broadway, post coming soon) I went to see, along with some friendly Northern lasses and lads who came down for the weekend, Educating Rita by Willy Russell at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Things that came to mind when I heard Educating Rita:
Mainly Julie Walters
A level text
Monologue books

So as any of you who have read or performed or seen Educating Rita will know, I was still a little far off the mark. But still quite close.

Things I got going to see Educating Rita:
A level text

And I THOUGHT I had grasped the basics. Clearly some of the list can be bypassed...
All in all, not a great production. Very telling when, being one for usually not blinking during a theatre trip, I looked at my watch 15 minutes in. The first half was bland, the first line (spoken by Matthew Kelly's Frank) was forced and unbelievable, and, while Claire Sweeney's Scouse accent was fab (she is a local girl after all) the pairing just did not click... Kelly dragged her down with him. The play is their own personal journeys as well as the emotional one linking them, and, while Rita's was clearly and effectively portrayed, I honestly could not have given a toss about the professor. I felt absolutely no sympathy or empathy or really anything at all for him. Lawks.
This was not helped at all by CARDIGANS. What harm, I hear you say, can a CARDIGAN possibly do? That garment so reminiscent of grandmas and teachers - what bearing did it have on Educating Rita? Well, imagine a small stage, covered mainly in books, with lighting from the back through a 'window' (through which, incidentally, I could see the edge of the backdrop). Now imagine ooooh I don't know, five, six, CARDIGANS littered strategically about this space.
I think the director Tamara Harvey's plan was to indicate the passing of time by not only having Rita change outfit (seriously swift costume changes there Claire) but having Frank swap his knitwear. On stage. When it was partially lit.
It was excruciatingly irritating. And when I pointed it out at the interval to my comrades, they went back in waiting for it, and sure enough, by the end, they were all excruciatingly irritated too. If not asleep. I can't help feeling that the relevance this tale of a plucky Northern lass would have had in the 80's is well and truly dead - the script felt dated, and, especially the younger members of our party, we really didn't get the 'vibe'. I've been told that the film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters is now even more of a must see, as it's still fab.
Dear me. What else to say. Some line foul-ups (NB does anyone know if Rita misquotes Shakespeare, or was it Miss Sweeney? I'm quite sure Macbeth says that the poor player 'struts and frets his hour upon the stage', not 'fruts and strets'... but I wouldn't wish to accuse anyone of misquoting the Master if they are in fact just doing what they've been told). Annoying little level at the back of the stage, but I suppose necessary in such a small theatre.
I really want to stop talking about this now.
And I wanted to say something nice because a friend of mine's dad went out with Sweeney.
I had to say that of course, I couldn't very well go and see her and NOT SAY THAT.
I have to go now, before I start fuming about Franks bloody jumpers again.
Sorry, can you tell exams are coming up?