Category Archives: Play

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.

No Man’s Land.

Saturday 3rd September 2016 and a change of venue for me today. Visiting the New Theatre in Cardiff to watch No Man’s Land, a play by Harold Pinter, starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen along with Welsh actor Owen Teale and Damien Molony. It’s not very often you get two massively huge theatre stars in the same show and in Cardiff as well, what an honour for the New Theatre to host these famous names. 

I don’t see many plays, I’m mostly musicals and opera, but I need to broaden my horizons, and of course a once in a lifetime opportunity to see two amazing actors in action together, live on the same stage. Just looking at the programme you realise just how much the two sirs have achieved in their lives, with a full page of credits for each of them. So awe inspiring just to be in the same building. And a delightful treat for myself as well.

And so to the show from the start we have Ian Mckellen and Patrick Stewart onstage for the whole first half of the act, with Ian literally talking for most of it, a really impressive vocabulary, and diction. Also to keep the flow going for so long with apparent ease, showing just how much talent there is to behold. Patrick is pretty quiet for that section but still has the ability to act believably drunk throughout. The introduction of Damien and Owen provide a different path that the play takes from that point until the end of act one. A brilliant piece of literary theatre brought to life by four amazing actors. True talent shining throughout.

So on to act two which begins with Ian and Owen in the study, a really funny section with Owen looking like Ray from life on Mars, a little like him to. Moving to a scene with  Patrick entering and reminiscing about the past with dalience a with Ian’s wife. A really impressive second act with Patrick taking up the mantle of main speaker, at least for half the act. With Ian finishing off the dialect with amazing ease. A truly fantastic play with comic undertones throughout. A true masterclass of acting Skills brought to life by a fabulous cast. I have to say I could not fault any of it, and would say that I was totally engrossed throughout. For my first Harold Pinter play I really enjoyed the whole performance. A lot of it was of course down to the brilliant cast assembled on stage (which I’ve aluded to already), just brilliant absolutely brilliant,made my day and just cannot believe what I’ve seen. Never be able to forget this as long as I have breath in my body.

A Midsummer Nights Dream

Saturday 28th May 2016 at the New Theatre,Cardiff.for a performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream. One of Shakespeare’s best known plays.A production with the RSC and Everyman theatre company,with a special mention to the children of Rumney primary school here in Cardiff for their roles of the fairy train.

As this is my first ever Shakespeare play it intrigues me to see how it unfolds. I have to say I was pretty impressed with the first act a good mix of comedy combined with a superlative script aptly performed by all the characters.Puck and Helena steal the first act with such passion for each role, played brilliantly by Lucy Ellinson and Laura Riseborough. 

As the play progresses to the woods we meet the troupe of actors rehearsing for a play to be set at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta and there the fun begins with mayhem and comedy running until the close of the first act. An amazingly funny and brilliantly acted first half leads me wanting more. Can’t wait for the second act to begin now. 

To the second act,which I so enjoyed so much. As the act progresses and Oberon reverses the damage Puck has done to the lovers. They awake and unite with their rightful partners to wed with Theseus and Hippolyta. At the wedding reception a play is requested and performed by the troupe to end the play. At this point the audience is in hysterics as am I. This was a true delight and executed to perfection by the Everyman company who were all outstanding in their roles.

A special mention to the staging of the production which was excellent. Another major factor was that the whole cast worked so well together you could hardly tell the difference between the amateur and professional actors,which in the end is a huge bonus to all.

In all a fantastic play brilliantly performed by all of the cast. A special mention to the children of Rumney primary school who all performed so well. To the Everyman theatre company who gave the audience so much laughter and merriment. Also to the musicians on and off the stage who were magnificent. A strong cast of Performers for the RSC made this a wonderful occasion. 

Finally a magnificent gesture by the RSC Cast as they themselves applauded the amateur players and children who had worked so well with them over the week, a gesture noticed by the audience and brought a tear to my eye. One last word to sum up the evening,SUPURB.

Goodnight Mr Tom

Saturday 14th may at the New Theatre,Cardiff. A play by David Wood and starring David Troughton as Tom Oakley. A story of a young boy (William Beech) evacuated to the countryside as World War Two looms, who is taken in by Tom rather reluctantly at first.

As the play progresses we start to see a relationship develop between William,Tom and the other children in the village especially a young thespian named Zach. The other cast members play dual roles including the other children in the village.

Williams mother portrayed by Melle Stewart, a hard religious woman who beats will before he is evacuated,is not seen until act two but envokes a dangerous threat to will as he is sent back home to be with his mum. These scenes are very harrowing with the upshot that will is left alone with his little newborn sister and tied in a cupboard until found by Tom, who missed will and went to London to find him.

From that moment on we see the struggle for Tom to adopt will after kidnapping him from his hospital bed during an air raid.

This play was extremely well made with a host of good actors taking you through a roller coaster ride to a satisfying end which brought a tear to many eyes in the auditorium. A special mention to Sammy the dog played by Elisa De Grey,who was outstanding and reminded me a little of war horse puppeteers,so good to watch and so lifelike you forgot it was a puppet by the end of the show.

In all a fantastic show,wonderfull acting by all and would definitely see this production again. Unfortunately it’s ended its run in Cardiff but is still touring.