Review: Amadeus, National Theatre Live at DCA, Dundee

Having loved my first National Theatre Live experience, I was really looking forward to returning to Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) to watch the latest NT production Amadeus, last week. The stunning show, starring Lucian Msamati and Adam Gillen, tells the story of Salieri, a celebrated composer who is thriving in the beautiful city of Vienna. But when musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart comes to town, Salieri’s whole world is rocked to the core.

Envious of the attention that the young Mozart is receiving, Salieri gets to know the composer and is stunned by his extraordinary talent. Consumed by jealousy, Salieri starts to plot Mozart’s downfall, ensuring that he will never receive the recognition that he deserves during his short lifetime.

The cast, which included the wonderful Karla Crome as Mozart’s wife Constance, was absolutely magnificent and brought the whole piece to life. Written by the English playwright Peter Shaffer, Amadeus is filled with drama, suspense and outstanding music, provided by a live orchestra who were very much part of the production. The packed audience at the DCA, were all absolutely riveted and on the edge of their seats throughout.

For a second time, the magic of the National Theatre was absolutely transmitted through the screen, making it feel like you really were there! Being able to grab a drink from the lovely Jute Café Bar at half time, also really added to the whole theatre experience.

With more National Theatre Live events due to be screened soon, including the award winning plays Saint Joan and Hedda Gabler, I’m looking forward to returning to the DCA for my next dose of culture!

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 Amadeus in exchange for a 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.

 

Lennon – Through A Glass Onion, Caird Hall, Dundee

lennon-4When I made my way to see Lennon – Through A Glass Onion at Dundee’s Caird Hall recently, with my Beatles fan Dad in tow, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Naturally, I knew all about The Beatles, but the life of John Lennon – not so much! Obviously I knew the basics –  the move to the big apple, the in the bed protests with Yoko Ono and his horrific murder, but the rest was well, it was all a bit sketchy to say the least.  So you could say I was looking forward to being enlightened! The fact that John and the rest of The Beatles had actually graced the Caird Hall’s stage back in the 1960s – only added to my anticipation!

The show, which is part concert, part biography, stars the very talented Daniel Taylor, who is a musician in his own right. The production begins on the fateful day that Lennon died, before looping back to his time with The Beatles before moving on to his solo career. As you can imagine, the soundtrack was amazing and included all the hits such as Imagine, Woman, Working Class Hero, and Jealous Guy as well as some of Lennon’s collaborations with McCartney, including Strawberry Fields Forever and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Filled with insights about John’s relationship with his bandmates and the love of his life Yoko Ono, the show gets to grips with the man behind the music and separates the facts from the myths and legends. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and would recommend it to anyone looking to know more about Lennon’s life.

For more information about Lennon – Through A Glass Onion, visit: http://lennononstage.com

 

Dragon Matrix, Monikie Country Park – Review

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If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…especially if it’s Monikie Country Park in Angus that you visit! You see there is something lurking there, deep inside the forest, and we’re not talking about anything as tame as teddy bears! Oh no! We’re talking about terrible trolls, wicked witches and deadly dragons, and they’re all waiting in the dark to greet you…

Yep, you’ve guessed it! Vision Mechanics are back again with another brand new augmented reality theatre show for families, and no one could be more chuffed than me and my over enthusiastic seven year old!

After completing Dragon Quest last year and receiving our first special dragon protection badges, we’ve been counting down the days until we could get back inside those woods to complete Dragon Matrix! The fact that Dragon Matrix is going to be on my big girl’s absolute favourite programme, Blue Peter, next week, only added to the excitement! We (okay then I!) just wish we could have timed our visit better, so that we could have carried out our dragon protecting alongside BP’s Barney (who may or may not be very easy on the eye)….screenshot25

With the sad absence of Barney, we decided to bring along another few comrades to help us out instead, including our very own brave four year old girl warrior and Granny 5 star (another story for another day!) who is most excellent at holding little hands in the dark.

As we set out on our mission, it was clear that this year’s event, which includes actors, real life props, spectacular lighting and special effects, was even bigger and better than last year! The Dragon Matrix app has also been improved and features more interactive features, adding some extra menace and magic to the enchanting experience.

wp_20161012_19_01_55_proWhile some small children might find the notion of walking around in a forest at night a bit daunting, the Dragon Matrix always stays at the right side of scary, and my four year old warrior had a spectacularly good time, as did the rest of us dragon protectors!

Clever, bewitching and scarily good fun – the Dragon Matrix is a must see event for the whole family.

The Dragon Matrix is at Monike Country Park until Monday the 31st of October. For more information and to book tickets, visit: http://dragonmatrix.org.uk

The Mousetrap, Perth Concert Hall – Review

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Tony Boncza (Major Metcalf), Oliver Gully (Christopher Wren) and Anna Andresen (Mollie Ralston) in The Mousetrap. Credit Liza Maria Dawson

It’s confession time. I’m a bit of a Agatha Christie fan girl. As a child I watched my mother devour her books, but it wasn’t until I watched a theatre production of Then There Were None, a few years ago, that I realised just gripping and relevant her work is still today.

On Monday night I had the pleasure of seeing her epic play The Mousetrap, which has been running in London for a whopping 60 years. Thanks to a UK wide tour I didn’t have to travel all the way to London to see it, I watched it from the very lovely Perth Concert Hall instead just 30 miles away from where I live.

The play is set in the newly opened guest house Monkswell Manor, where the owners Mollie and Gilles Ralston and their guests are snowed in. Then a visitor arrives, his name is Sergeant Trotter and he comes with news of a murder which is somehow connected to the guest house and its inhabitants.

To say any more than that, really would be a crime itself, so I’m going to stop there and urge you to see it as I did – like a blind mouse, kept very much in the dark!

With superb acting from all the cast, including the fantastic Anna Andreson as Mollie, Oliver Gully as Christopher Wren and Lewis Collier as Sergeant Trotter, and a fantastic set – this production is a must see. But it is the clever script and the glorious twists and turns that captivate the audience and make Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap a national treasure.

The Mousetrap is currently touring the UK. For more information and ticket information, please visit: http://mousetrapontour.com/