legend · London · myth · National Theatre · performance · play · review

Saint George and the Dragon

I thought I knew the tale of England’s patron saint, yet this National Theatre production alternated my preconceptions of the famous story.

While we may begin with dragons and armour, knights and fair maidens. The story soon shifts to convey a much deeper message; questioning the world that is to come. Saint George (John Heffernan) interjects comedy at just the right moment bringing light relief to this otherwise quite dark play. Rory Mullarkey’s writing is tactically clever, intertwining this historic story with many modern twists and relatable experiences. Perhaps, we too, live in the constant shadow of the dragon.

Yet, it was the set that craftily brought each element together, bringing with it the world we know and the world we think we know. Gradually turning the simple village into a busy town and a thriving city — each time with a new challenge to face. The backdrop enhances the tale and with it the perception of development, of a new and improved life, while hinting at the sacrifice this entails.

This may have been my first visit to the National Theatre — but it certainly won’t be my last.

exhibitions · London · Museum · review

London – The National History Museum

This past month has been quite a busy one, I’ve moved to London and in a typical fashion of exploring a new city took the first opportunity to be a tourist. While I’ve visited the majority of London’s museums, most of my memories are ten years old. It seemed the perfect time to take the tube to South Kensington and visit the National History Museum.

I expected the dinosaurs, the fossils and grand scale of the exhibitions – one thing that surprised me was the architecture. Hintze Hall was astonishing, a masterpiece of the victorian era and something my younger self hadn’t noticed or appreciated. Regardless of the displays and taxonomy this room now held, it was the stonework, bridges and arches that held my attention.

The experience from start to finish was impressive, entering through the Earth’s core and being taken on a journey across the atmosphere from the Earth’s beginning to today. It’s a perfect spot for half term this week with a range of exhibitions everyone will enjoy.

London · Musical · review · The Book of Mormon · Theatre · West End

The Book of Mormon

I’ve wanted to see the Book of Mormon for quite a little while now, it’s a musical that I know very little about. Although it’s been in London’s West End for four years, it’s managed to keep its plot fairly secret if you don’t go looking too closely.

book-of-mormon-2

Although I’ve stood in line for the lottery on two different occasions, failing each time to be the lucky one, I finally booked tickets for the show. It was certainly well worth the wait.

The show is a spectacular twist of comedy and musical – combining the very best of both. I’ve never laughed so hard while being sat in the stalls, and briefly I think even the actors corpsed on stage. Occasionally when at the theatre, you have an audience that heightens every emotion of the show, we laughed together, gasped in shock together, and stood together for a well-deserved standing ovation. It certainly added to the atmosphere and in response the actors put on a brilliant show.

The songs are incredible, brilliantly slotted into the plot of the musical. There are unexpected moments around every corner as the plot twists and turns at every opportunity. A hilarious and clever production.

 

 

fiction · Harry Potter · literature · London · performance · review · Theatre · West End

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has claimed its place as the play of the year — it is quite simply magic.

hp-the-trioI am more than happy to admit that I am a Potterhead, I’ve read the books more times than I can count, watched the films; I’ve been to the studio, the wizarding world in Orlando, and most of the UK film locations too. So of course, I found myself online last year waiting patiently in the queue for tickets of J.K.Rowlings eighth story.

Wow, just wow, it was worth the wait.

From the emergence of familiar faces, characters we’ve seen grow up to the new; Albus and Scorpius create a duo based on strong friendship and a desire for justice. It’s a story that holds parallels to the series, that of bravery and friendship but also unexpected twists and turns. We return to some of the most memorable times of Harry’s world, in a totally new light, exploring the manner in which Harry, Ron and Hermione fight with the past. But this is truly a tale of Albus and Scorpius and a lesson on magic’s restrictions in today’s world. Albus’ determination mirrors Harry’s own adventures of bravery, and at times disobedience, with one of times biggest lessons to learn.

The theatrical side of this production is really where the play outshone. I’ve never witnessed such clever incorporations of dance, choreography and scene changes — allowing the story to flow continuously.

hp-hogwarts

Yet it is the magic of the show that takes centre stage, perhaps it’s the magic of theatre, the belief of the audience or the Harry Potter world the audience knows and loves. Spells from the good-old expelliarmus, to duels between Harry and Draco were dotted through the performance. My favourites included the use of polyjuice position, I still don’t understand how it happened on stage, to transporting into the Ministry of Magic in the famous red telephone box, and of course the use of floo power. Magic as I have never seen albus-and-scorpiusit before.

Writing about a show can never do it justice, especially a play embedded with magic from start to finish. Sam Clemmett captures Albus’ attributes perfectly, his sidekick Scorpius, Anthony Boyle, and their friendship is one of the strongest I have ever seen on stage. The golden trio are, of course, perfectly cast and captured. A production that shines with talent.

I laughed, I cried and I wanted to head straight back in for more. This was a most magical experience, brilliantly portrayed on stage — the perfect extension to Harry’s story.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing at The Palace Theatre, London – currently sold out until 2017 (with more tickets coming soon!). You can read about my ponderings of the play, and other Potter reviews here.

books · classics · fiction · literature · reading · review

Nineteen Eighty-Four

This morning I grabbed one of the first books my hand came across as I headed out the door. It’s been at least a couple of years since I’d last read Orwell’s masterpiece, and I’d quite forgotten the treat I was in for.1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four is now a much-loved modern classic, it contains ideas and words we forget were created entirely for the novel. Big Brother and Room 101 still hold power over the everyday public, with little acknowledgement for Orwell’s creation. Similarly, Winston Smith sits as a well-known character, and the tale’s fist line is often featured in a pub quiz. Not to mention the linguistic heaven of Newspeak, an entirely reimagined version of English- a way to control not just our language but our very thoughts. Orwell was incredible.

It’s a story of rebellion, revolution and self-control. But also of love, finding happiness and a desperate search for truth. Orwell encapsulates the desire for justice and a life of honesty. The laws that surround this world, open your eyes to the freedom we have today, not just freedom of speech, but freedom of thought and expression.

Although the world still has a long way to go, this tale allows the importance of truth and integrity to overcome everything, no matter what the cost.

Broadway · exhibitions · London · Musical · play · review · Theatre · West End

Curtain Up at the V&A

IMG_6145As the Olivier Awards turn 40, the V&A has created an exhibition exploring the last four decades of theatre, plays and musicals on West End and Broadway. It was evident I needed to go and have a look.

Featuring backstage details, first scripts, notes and editorial requests, I felt as though I was getting a small glimpse into the hidden side of theatre. The exhibition held design plans, amazingly scaled model boxes, costume designs and even lightening plans, it shows just how much work is required to begin the staging process, let alone the ongoing work once a production has started.

There were interactive elements, allowing you to arrange the sound of Hairspray, balancing the singers and musicians alike. Equally a lighting deck presented the many spotlights and various coordination of lighting available to the light managers each evening. It showcased the work required for each production to even exist, the detail of plans and notes to ensure each show is perfect.

I also learned a lot more of the world of theatre, various facts and figures were presented across the exhibition, showing the difference between West End and Broadway productions but also the similarities and incredible records some productions held to their name.

IMG_6147It was great to see the set and costume designs for one of my favourite shows: Matilda, to see the essence of the character in each sketch and the grand scale of the stage. Alongside stepping into the stage of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, allowing you to feel the confusion Christopher goes through on stage.

If you’re around London and a theatre fan, it’s an exhibition not to be missed. The exhibition is at the V&A until 31st August before it moves to New York.

London · Matilda · Musical · West End

Matilda the Musical

When I was taken to see Matilda the Musical at the end of last year, I’ll admit I was expecting something similar to the film from my childhood.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

MatildaFrom the very start I fell in love with the music, the lyrics, the actors and of course little Matilda. The show moved at such a fast pace, the audience were transported to Matilda’s brilliant brain and her naughty temptations. It permitted us to reach out, become petrified of Miss Trunchball; become as mischievous as Matilda and fight for the chance to be a little bit naughty.

So it seemed the logical thing to visit the show again and be spell bound in Roald Dahl’s imagination. It was even better second time around. I knew the songs, I understood the story and because of all of this I was able to focus on smaller things, to really listen out for some fabulous lyrics, spot clever set designs and incredible acting.

MatildaThe show portrays the very best aspects of childhood, when we dreamed of eating sweets on our way to work or watching cartoons until our eyes went square. But now that I can, it just doesn’t have the same appeal. The only advantage is I don’t have a teacher like Miss Trunchball nor Parents like the Wormwoods, for that I count myself very lucky.

Matilda was outstanding, with that one little girl stealing the show. Its the cleverness of the choreography, the lyrics and of course the acting that makes this play stand out from the rest.

Matilda the Musical is playing at the Cambridge Theatre, London.