Review: Macbeth

Rufus Norris’ production of Macbeth gets off to a great start. The dark, grand scale set is suitably bleak and atmospheric. Three witches clamber to the top of poles almost the height of the proscenium arch. As they hang and slide with inhuman grace and their unnerving voices echo through the theatre, we begin to witness a high-brow production that’s well suited to a pre-halloween week run.

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Review: Calendar Girls

There’s a particular joy to be found in films, TV and theatre pieces that celebrate the relationships, determination and humour of womankind. Calendar Girls captures the essence of this with gusto and alacrity. Its upbeat, yet poignant portrayal of a bunch of WI members experiencing life beyond youth, brings us fun and laughter, but importantly, a sense of hope and worth.

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Review: Rebus, Long Shadows

Rebus: Long Shadows hit the news this week. A new incarnation of the Rebus story from local and internationally famed writer Ian Rankin, was bound to attract some attention – along with a loyal fan base. But it was when the lead actor and star draw, Charles Lawson (previously of Coronation Street), took ill and had to leave the stage during the press night, that the drama got real. It was understudy Neil McKinven who finished the show that night and played the title role throughout. On the night I was in, (the following one) McKinven’s valiant performance would have been barely distinguishable as a last minute swap-in, were it not for the script in his hand and subtley referred to, for the last quarter of the piece. A classically trained actor (RADA no less), McKinven certainly impressed as a realistic and authentic Rebus, despite the huge strain of being thrust into quite such a bright limelight, so soon into a run.

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Review: Twelfth Night

The scene for this incarnation of Twelfth Night (a joint venture by the superpowers of the Edinburgh Lyceum and Bristol Old Vic), looks like an imagined interpretation of a house party at George Harrison’s in the seventies. There’s a sense of hedonism, in a gentle hippy way, as the characters drink, dance, sing and play (for music is the food of love don’t ya know?). There’s a distinctly odd feel to proceedings aided by the psychedelic-meets-medieval tunes played on a range of both ubiquitous and obscure instruments. The costumes too are deliciously strange, incorporating glam rock, woodstock, power suits and a whole lot of sequins. The stunning and creative set design makes use of two fireman’s poles connecting the mansion set’s upper level with the main stage, a ladder connecting the Royal Box and a hole in the set wall from which various actors emerge. It’s multifaceted, layered and a visual feast – even without anyone uttering a word.

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