Category Archives: Play

War Horse.

Saturday 21st July 2018, another glorious weekend and a trip to the Theatre for two more performances of ‘ War Horse’, at the magnificent setting of the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. Last week I talked about the production side along with the technical aspects of the show, today I’d like to look at the musical side to this drama, and the influence it has on this amazing play.

Most plays I’ve seen do not have a soundtrack as moving as this has. The opening sequence has a calming effect on proceedings with a beautiful piece of music set to represent the early morning before the fabulous voice of Bob Fox enters the fray, with his soothing Devonshire voice and accordion by his side, he almost narrates the story (in song) as the play moves along, the sequence then continues with the whole cast appearing on stage, joining in with the opening song, so superb to watch and brilliant to listen to. As the scenes progress the music links nicely to the scene it portrays, beautiful melodies as we see Joey and Albert bond over training and beyond.

Towards the end of act one, we see the mood of the music changes, from happy melodies to the brutal reality of war. Continuing in act two as the war progresses. Again superb pieces only this time more robust in nature depicting just how harrowing the First World War must have been for all those who were forced to participate in such violent years. The music adds so much tension to the war scenes, but the voice of Bob Fox appears throughout the act, seemingly calming everything down for a few moments before the intensity begins again, with loud explosions and gunfire filing the auditorium, the dramatic musical infill between these sections helps with the fluency if each scene, making it seem film like in it’s essence.

If you mix the fabulous music with the superb technical aspects of the show, you get a really amazing piece of theatrical magic happening on stage in front of your very eyes. Probably the best I’ve seen for a non musical production. Can’t wait to see it again, if I’m honest.

War Horse.

Saturday 14th July 2018, another glorious weekend is upon us, and back to Cardiff Bay and the magnificent Millennium Centre, for two performances of another of my ultimate favourite stage productions in ‘War Horse’. After last weeks double show, I have to make the same decision and repeat the feat. When a show this good comes to a theatre so close to home, you have to make the effort to watch as many times as you are able to, for me that’s every weekend on its run in Cardiff.Today I’m looking at the production side of this Play, the technical aspect of putting this together is just phenomenal. The Horses look spectacular, the detail in their mannerisms, all achieved by the puppeteers running them (which after a while you actually forget they are even there) just blow you away, I could sit and watch them for hours.

The scenes during the war can be pretty harrowing in places, but that adds so much to the production, telling you how barbaric that part of world history actually was. The choreography during these scenes were superb, with actors placed strategically around the stage to assist with following scenes, seamlessly interwoven during the play. To get everyone in the right place at the right time is such a feat to accomplish, but this show gets it right every time I watch.

Another impressive technical assist for the show is the sound and lighting. From the start the lighting focuses on the spot you need to be looking at, mainly on puppetry and keeping you there for the remainder of the show. The sound is also exemplary, especially in the war scenes, with huge explosions, gun fire and a great musical soundtrack to add to the occasion. Put these two together and the whole story comes alive in front of you, almost transporting you to the harrowing scenes contained in the War itself. I must also mention the amazing sound the horses produce throughout the play, even the hooves seem real as they move around the stage, along with the other horsey sounds made by said cast.

The whole show is sheer brilliance from start to finish, and I still want to watch over and over, next weekend I will get the chance to do it all again.

War Horse.

Saturday 7th July 2018, and I’m back in Cardiff Bay for two performances of ‘War Horse’ at the Millennium Centre. I absolutely love this amazing show, I’ve seen it before on its previous visit to the Bay, then it just blew me away. It’s got so much going for it, a great storyline, with scenes of comedy, heartache, and triumph all rolled into one, the amazing Puppetry on show really adds some sheen to each performance.One of the Musical highlights for me is the role of the Song Man with the brilliant voice of Bob Fox, adding a musical treat at strategic intervals throughout this incredible show.

Amazing choreography between the cast and puppets also add to the spectacle, making me forget that the horses are actually puppets and not controlled by three people. I’m also emotionally drained after watching two shows, I’ve laughed, cried and felt so many different emotions throughout the day, but it’s worth it just to see this beautiful show.

So looking forward now to next weekend and the chance to watch ‘War Horse’ all over again. knowing myself I’ll probably cry and laugh in exactly the same places as I managed today, we shall see.

Strangers on a Train.

Saturday 31st March 2018, another long weekend again, so I’m back in Cardiff for a performance of ‘Strangers on a Train’ at the New Theatre. The classic film version was based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith and directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock. Having once again not watched the film in question, the stage play will be my first foray into this adaptation of the story.

Tonight’s cast has quite a few recognisable faces in its midst, including Jack Ashton (Call the Midwife), John Middleton (Emmerdale), along with Chris Harper and Hannah Tointon. Chris plays the role of Charles Bruno with an eccentricity, making him look like a total nutcase, intent on keeping promises made on a train journey in past times. The plot is fast paced, keeping everyone on the edge, wondering what’s going to happen next.

The set is designed brilliantly, with opening sections to both floors, bringing the action to life, in various guises, as the plot moves on. Very impressive use of space. I was also fascinated with how the second act unfolded with Charles getting drunker and madder, also Guy (Jack Ashton) getting more tormented as the act unfolds. Great acting by both. Although I have to point out that I was impressed with all the acting from all. It was nice to watch a play for a change, don’t get to watch many.

Today has been an extra treat for me, loads of walking around the Bay and the City followed by a wonderful play to round off a superb day.

Jane Eyre.

Saturday 1st July 2017, and another glorious day here in Cardiff Bay, where I’m back to watch two performances of ‘Jane Eyre’ at the Millenium Centre.  Another play I have yet to see, I don’t think I’ve even watched a television adaptation of the ‘Charlotte Bronte’ book. So today is going to be brand new, with a chance to broaden my literary works, and witness something completely different to my usual viewing habits. I must also admit that I’ve been looking forward to this play for a while, I’ve read good reports on its tour so far.

Firstly may I say, Oh my god, I was not expecting that, what an absolutely magnificent production. I was hooked from the very start, and had tears in my eyes constantly. So beautifully done and extremely powerful, with some stunning background music live on stage,along with the amazing voice of Melanie Marshall, yet again another fabulous voice filling this brilliant auditorium.

Nadia Clifford is just brilliant as Jane, with Tim Delap as Rochester, both have great back up from all the cast, and a special mention to Paul Mundell as Pilot (Rochester’s dog), playing his part brilliantly. With the show over 3 hours long I never lost interest for 1 second, as the cast and musicians on stage, held me, stuck to my seat for the whole show, totally engrossed in the proceedings. Also the way the cast worked for each other, supplying props and just supporting through the show, for me that really made the show so immense.

The adaptation is incredible, with a great set and lighting, bringing the whole show to life, combining with great and believable sound effects, this is one of the best plays I think I’ve ever seen. Credit must go to the National Theatre, whose plays just get better and better.  With War Horse touring again next year this is another show I really can’t wait to see. Such a fabulous show and I so enjoyed both performances, really made my Saturday come to life. 

The Crucible.

Saturday 27th May 2017, back in Cardiff, on this bank holiday weekend, at the New Theatre for two performances of the 1953 play written by Arthur Miller ‘The Crucible’. A partially fictionalised story of the Salem Witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692/93.

The cast includes Charlie Condou (Coronation Street) as Reverend Hale and Victoria Yeates (Call the Midwife) as Elizabeth Proctor. A very powerful performance from all the cast, lots of emotion thrown in, as we see life in 1600’s flash before us. With talk of Witchcraft and courtrooms, seeming to hang women as witches, for the slightest of things, it seems very harsh times in this period of American history. Eoin Slattery as John Proctor with Victoria and Charlie, bring the story to life with some wonderful performances, very gritty and dark to watch, but with the brilliant acting skills of the cast, draw you in and keep you glued to every scene, which meant the first act was over in a flash.

Act two brings with it even more emotion and suspense, the courtroom scene is so well put together, with the arrival of the Boston judges,(played brilliantly by Jonathan Tafler (Judge Danforth) and Patrick McKenzie (Judge Hathorne), along with the testimony of the children and others. I actually had tears in my eyes in the next scene as John and Elizabeth Proctor plead with each other in the face of a public hanging. The play had that much of an influence throughout, you couldn’t help but feel something for the characters portrayed in the whole show.

An extremely well written play which does draw the audience into this world. At 3 hrs (with interval) it really does go so quickly, but it’s totally compelling to watch. A brilliant play, extremely well executed, which I thoroughly enjoyed, seeing it twice in one day was well worth the trip. 

Out of Order.

The weekend is back around, with two shows on the go today, Saturday 20th May 2017. First up, this afternoon is the comedy play ‘Out of Order’ at the New Theatre in Cardiff. Written by Ray Cooney, this play has a host of well known tv actors within it, including Shaun Williamson (Barry in Eastenders), Sue Holderness (Marlene in only fools and horses), Andrew Hall, Susie Amy and Arthur Bostrom (the inept gendarme in ‘Allo Allo’) to name but a few.

The play, set in a fictional hotel room, and of course, being a comical farce, anything could happen. And as you’ve guessed it, it does. Extremely funny, plenty of innuendo, and brought up to date with reference to current affairs, as the story centres around a junior minister, and his affair with a secretary from the opposite party.

The comedy acting and timing is really good throughout, with so many funny scenes, and may I say James Holmes is fabulous as the aged waiter. In fact very impressed with the whole cast.  British comedy has always been the best, in my opinion, and as the play builds, we see why. With cast members husbands and wives appearing all over the place, just to put a damper on any misleading plans the lead cast had of ‘getting away’ with any credit at all, then this play is perfect. Brilliantly written to cause extreme laughter from any audience, that watches, this becomes a masterpiece  of comedy. 

A perfect start to the days theatre going experience, I could watch this again, very easily, and look forward to a few more fabulous British comedy’s due to tour in the next few years.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Saturday 6th May 2017, back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for two performances of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Another milestone for me today, as this will be my 100th blog, all about shows I’ve seen during the past year since my first ever blog (14th May 2016). This is another thing I love about the theatre, publishing my writings, in the hope that like minded people can share my thoughts, on what I love most about the brilliant shows I constantly see.

I love this play, it’s so well put together, so imaginative and just a complete joy to watch. I first saw this a few years ago on a previous tour, and totally blew my mind watching it. I saw it 4 times in the week it was here, and could have seen it a lot more. I’m lucky this time around to see it twice more, although, I have to say, a week in one venue isn’t long enough, two would be better, so I can watch it again and again, as usual I’m just being greedy now.

The show itself is phenomenal following the adventures of Christopher, a young boy with Asperger Syndrome, who finds a dead dog in his street, and sets out to find its Killer. The story moves progressively onwards and covers various themes in his life, his love of Mathematics, for example, followed by his epic search for his Mum in London. A very powerful performance from Sam Newton as Christopher, in the matinee show, had me in tears for most of the production, with brilliant back up from the rest of the cast. Lucianne McEvoy (Shobhan) plays a cracking part as Christopher’s calming influence, and Teacher. The roles of Christopher’s mum and dad are also brilliantly played by Emma Beattie and David Michaels, adding so much emotion to the play as it moves along at breathtaking speed. 

With giant screenes surrounding the whole production, and an incredible light show pinging around the stage,  this play just gets better and better as it goes on. Another fabulous aspect of the play is the timing involved throughout, as in act one we see Christopher building a train track at various stages, which comes to life at the end of the first act, leading to the interval. A well rehearsed, choreographed piece of theatre magic. I have to admit, that as usual, I never want it to finish. You get so carried away by the brilliance of the play, you never want it to end, with emotion and comedy mixed to perfection, spread throughout this two and a half hour play.

The evening performance has Scott Reid Playing the role of Christopher, giving us yet another powerful and emotive performance throughout. Again I’m so lucky to have been able to see both actors playing this role, and both giving such fabulous performances on the day. Even having the same tears in the same place for both shows. A truly magnificent days entertainment, with a play I will definitely be back to see again on its next uk tour.

The Play That Goes Wrong.

Saturday 15th April 2017, today is my birthday, so I’m celebrating with a trip to Cardiff for two shows today. Firstly I’m at the New Theatre in the heart of Cardiff City Centre, for the Matinee performance of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’. The reviews for this play have been phenomenal, so really looking forward to watching this and having a laugh while I’m there.

This play is based around the adventures of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, under the premise that if something can go wrong, then it will go wrong. Even as people are taking their seats the fun goes on, and never really ends until the interval. The comic timing is superb, with so many laughs as things start to go wrong from the very start. I have to say the actors are magnificent in their portrayal of inept characters in a murder mystery play. The first act is extremely funny and in some cases you know what’s going to happen next, yet you still laugh at the sequence that follows, due to the fact that it’s actually choreographed so well.

The second act was just as good, with so much slapstick comedy and sets failing all over the stage, it makes for a fabulously entertaining afternoon. With so much going on, actors getting hurt and set guys filling in, with such hilarious consequences, you just had to laugh, it was impossible not to. Again the cast were so good, brilliant in fact, to be able to carry on the way they did without falling about in stitches themselves was unbelievable. Definitely one to watch and rewatch again and again. I hope it tours again soon or Peter Pan goes wrong and I’d love to see the new one about a bank robbery. So good to watch and just have a laugh on the way.

So part one of birthday shows completed. Moving off for part two at the Millenium Centre.

Pride and Prejudice.

Saturday 25th February 2017 and another show at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay. This time a play ‘Pride and Prejudice’ from the pen of author Jane Austen. This is another new experience for me, I have not watched many plays live on stage, so I’m not sure what to expect from today’s performance. 

So onto tonight’s show, and yet again what a fabulous play. All of the cast were just brilliant, with magnificent performances from Tafline Steen as Elizabeth Bennet, Felicity Montagu as mrs Bennet, Benjamin Dilloway as Mr Darcy, Matthew Kelly as Mr Bennet and Steven Meo as the hilariously funny Mr Collins. I was also very impressed with the vocabulary throughout the play. As with a typical period drama every word was clear and precise from all the members of the cast. So good to listen to the way people spoke to each other without mumbling or swearing.

There was a good mix of drama and comedy throughout and the odd tear as well (especially towards the end as Elizabeth and Darcy finally get together). Steven Meo (mr Collins) was magnificent with his overstated bow and comic lines.

The set and lighting for the production were also really good, with all the action centred around a revolving stage which served as the houses and gardens as the scenes progressed. May I also say this was beautifully produced, with so many highlights dotted throughout the whole performance, I couldn’t fault anything, it was just magnificent.

I have to say that I believe that any stage production is far superior to any film or TV show that has been made. The thrill of sitting in a luxurious theatre (like the Millenium Centre) watching the drama unfold in front of you, live and unrecorded, makes one feel alive and without a care in the world. That’s how I get by week by week, watching fabulous entertainment. And tonight’s serving was no exception, just wish I could have seen this a few more times (I always say this), it was just superb. I may have repeated myself a few times tonight in my blog, but when you see something that moves you so much, the odd repetitive theme is necessary to describe just how good this play actually was.