National Theatre Live – Saint Joan at Dundee Contemporary Arts

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see the National Theatre Live production of Saint Joan at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA). The production, starring Gemma Arterton, is an updated version of George Bernard Shaw’s classic 1920s play.

Set in France on a revolving boardroom filled with hedge fund managers, the play tells the story of Joan of Arc: daughter, farm girl, visionary, patriot, king-whisperer, soldier, leader, victor, icon, radical, witch, heretic, saint, martyr and woman.

The play opens with the shocking news that hens have stopped laying eggs, leading to a crash in the stock market. The hedge fund managers are understandably worried but then a local farm girl called Joan arrives, boasting about her ability to speak to dead Saints and Angels and tells the men that God is on her side. She asks them to let her take control of the army so that she can drive the English out of France. Of course, she’s immediately met with ridicule, but then she does something amazing – she asks the dead saints to help her get the hens laying eggs again. When it works – she’s suddenly someone to be reckoned with.

While Gemma Arterton’s performance is wonderful as the feminist farm girl turned visionary, the modern setting with all its technology and gadgets left me a little bit cold. Personally, I would have preferred a more faithful adaptation of this play, but I still enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Joan and her amazing strength and conviction.

My next visit to the DCA will be to see the celebrated play Hedda Gabler, written by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Starring the amazing Ruth Wilson – it’s a National Theatre Live production, not to be missed!

For more information about National Theatre Live productions coming to Dundee and to book tickets, please visit: www.dca.org.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of Saint Joan in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Review – No Man’s Land, National Theatre Live at DCA, Dundee

I have been desperate to see a National Theatre Live performance for years now, but it’s something I’ve never quite gotten round to it. The initiative, that broadcasts National Theatre productions live to cinema venues around the world, has been spreading theatre joy since 2009 and ensuring that those of who don’t live near a National Theatre, don’t have to miss out on their spectacular productions.

When I finally got a ticket to see Harold Pinter’s classic play No Man’s Land, which was being broadcast live from the Wyndham’s Theatre in London, I was so excited to see how it was all going to work. As I made my way into Dundee Contemporary Art’s (DCA) cinema I was struck by how much it felt like I was entering an actual theatre. With beautiful views of Wyndham’s Theatre on the screen and the sounds of the audience’s chatter filling the room – the DCA contained that amazing pre-performance buzz, which I’ve never experienced in a cinema before.   

When the performance began – with the theatre’s curtain going up, the DCA audience were exceptionally quiet, taking great care not to chat or rustle their popcorn – it was as if we too were worried about distracting the actors.

The play was every bit as spectacular as I dreamt it would be. Pinter’s No Man Land is as poetic as it is dark and deliciously funny. Starring Sir Ian McKellen as Spooner and Patrick Stewart as Hirst, the story begins when the two ageing writers return to Hirst’s stately home after meeting for the first time in a pub on Hampstead Heath. As the pair become increasingly drunk, their friendly but boastful banter changes into something more serious and when they are joined by two younger men, the evening takes a sinister turn.

The small cast, which also included Owen Teale and Damien Molony, were superb and had both the theatre and cinema audience laughing along and gasping in equal turns. When the performance came to an end, I couldn’t stop myself from clapping along – it just felt rude not to!

After the event we were treated to a live question and answer from the four strong cast along with the Director of the play, Sean Mathias, which gave both audiences fresh insight into Harold Pinter’s original play, 41 years on.

I left feeling richer for having seen my first National Theatre production and very much looking forward to seeing the next one live at the DCA.

National Theatre Live are broadcasting a number of theatre productions in 2017, including Saint Joan, Amadeus, Hedda Gabler and the Twelfth Night all of which will be shown at the DCA. For more information and to book tickets, visit: www.dca.org.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of No Man’s Land in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

Discovery Film Festival at DCA – Review

discovery-film-festivalLast Saturday my family and I headed along to the Discovery Film Festival at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) with my family in tow for a bit of a cultural morning! I’d heard great things about the festival over the years and decided it was high time that we went along to experience it for ourselves!

Scotland’s international film festival for young audiences is aimed at kids of all ages with collections aimed at wee ones, middle ones as well as films chosen for a teenage audience. With my own little audience ranging from 4 to 7, we decided to attend both shorts for wee ones and shorts for middle ones, so that we could pack in as much culture into the morning as possible!

Having sat through both the shorts for wee ones and shorts for middle ones with my own little critics, I can tell you that both collections are just amazing and I’d thoroughly recommend watching them. Some of them had all four of us hooting with laughter while others had us oohing and ahhing in our seats whilst considering the true meaning of love and friendship. My favourite film from the shorts for middle ones collection, Rice Balls, even had this 37 year old critic moved to “happy” tears!

Both collections lasted around an hour and held our attention throughout. For me, the best part of the experience was knowing that my kids had been exposed to new ideas and different cultures from around the world – and you know what – they loved it!

The Discovery Film Festival at DCA runs until the 6th of November. For more information and to book tickets, visit: www.dca.org.uk

Dundee Flower & Food Festival

flower-and-food-fest-6Septembers in Dundee are always particularly special thanks to the city’s annual Flower and Food Festival.

The event, which is set in the beautiful Camperdown Park, takes place over three days and is chock-a-block with things to see and do, from watching demonstrations from some of the UK’s top celebrity chefs and listening to live music to admiring the award winning flowers, gardening displays and produce – there really is something for everyone.

The event is child friendly too with craft tents and kid friendly displays that really engage little ones and spark an interest in nature.

A highlight from this year was the scarily good dinosaur display designed by Angus based business Rococo Gardens, which won the Lord Provost’s Trophy at the event. The Jurassic themed display thoroughly thrilled my two little ones who spent the rest of the weekend practicing their own dinosaur roars.
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My favourite part of the weekend was taking a stroll through the festivals glorious food tent. Filled with some of Scotland’s best produce from craft beer and gin to artisan chocolate and jams – the tent is a absolute heaven for foodies!

My visit to the Dundee Flower & Food Festival was a complete joy and I’m already looking forward to next year.

To find out more about Dundee Flower & Food Festival visit their website: http://www.dundeeflowerandfoodfestival.com/

 

Review: The Lady Boys of Bangkok, Forever Yours…X

© Dean Martin Photography 2015 - www.deanmartinphotography.comAs soon as I stepped inside the Sabai Pavilion, the Lady Boys of Bangkok’s tented venue, I knew that this show was going to exceed my expectations. I’d been prepared for the show to be bordering on tacky, but when I entered the dimly lit tent I felt as if I was stepping into a very exclusive and extremely lavish nightclub. After getting ourselves a drink at the bar, we took our seats. This was my first time seeing the Lady Boys of Bangkok and I really didn’t know much about what the show would entail. But as soon as the velvet curtains opened, I knew I was in safe hands.

As the Lady Boys entered the stage I was wowed by their beauty but also by the sheer glamour of the cabaret style show. The costumes, the set and dance routines were all perfect, right down to the last exquisite detail. It was clear right from the start that this was going to be a slick and professional performance.

The show kicked off with a Kylie Medley, the best way to start any show if you ask me, followed with a fantastic set list, jam packed with party songs, guaranteed to make the audience feel good – from the soundtrack of Sisterhood and the Bay City Rollers right though to modern pop classics such as Uptown Funk.

© Dean Martin Photography 2016 - www.deanmartinphotography.comThe dance routines were so amazingly well timed that I felt like I was watching an MTV music video taking place right in front of my very eyes. The highlight for me was the Egyptian themed Dark Horse by Katy Perry which was just utterly magnificent! But I was also slightly in love with the Lady Boy’s performance of Nicki Minaj’s Starships which was a fabulous fluorescent spectacle.

There was plenty of humour threaded in there too, some of it deliciously naughty, but it never strayed too far into risqué.

By the end of the night, the atmosphere in the tent was completely electric and no one wanted the show to end. The Lady Boys of Bangkok gave the audience a night to remember and I for one, will be back again for more next year.

©Dean Martin Photography 2015 – www.deanmartinphotography.com

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The Lady Boys of Bangkok are at Dundee’s Baxter Park until the 9th of July. To book tickets and to find out more about the show, visit: http://www.ladyboysofbangkok.co.uk/