Review: Much Ado About Nothing at Dundee Rep

MuchAdo-Artwork-650x450I’m going to start this review with a bit of a confession – until Saturday night I was kind of a Shakespeare virgin! While I have of course watched various adaptations of his work on the silver screen and read some of his plays (I went through a huge and somewhat depressing Romeo and Juliet phase during my teenage years) I have never seen any of his work brought to life on stage. Shocking I know.

So when I made my way to the Dundee Rep, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I didn’t know the story of Much Ado, and I was a bit worried. Would I know what was going on? Would it be really long and boring? Well the answers to those questions are yes and no, and thankfully in that order. The story is an age old one. It’s the tale of a man and a woman, who are both absolutely perfect for one and other, but are just too proud to admit their feelings.

When I discovered that Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, I’d hoped that there would be a few laughs, but I hadn’t expected to spend most of the performance collapsed in giggles. And it wasn’t just me, the entire theatre was filled with brilliant roars of laughter.

Emily Winter was fantastic as Beatrice, the lovable but stubborn heroine of the play, but it was Robert Jack who completely stole the show, and the audience’s heart, as the hilarious Benedick. His comedic facial expressions and slapstick performance made the play for me. Of course it wasn’t all laughs, every story needs a villain and this play is no different. The darker part of the play, featuring the downfall of Beatrice’s cousin Hero (Marli Siu) at the hands of Borachio (Ewan Donald) and Don John (Ali Watt), provided just the right amount of darkness to make the story gripping as well as funny.

I needn’t have worried about the performance dragging, in fact the evening flew in and by the end of it, I’d laughed more than I had in months, years even. When I left, I heard the woman in front of me tell her companion, that Much Ado About Nothing had been so good, that she would have to come and see it again. I think I might just have to join her.

Much Ado About Nothing is at Dundee Rep until the 26th of June.

 

Review: Tell Me On A Sunday, Caird Hall Dundee

Tell-Me-On-A-Sunday-2011

I’ve seen a lot of musicals – Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Guys & Dolls and Les Miserables – just to name a few, but I’d never seen a one woman musical before. So on Monday night when I made my way to the magnificent Caird Hall, a theatre that has been graced by everyone from Bowie to the Beatles, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Starring West End star and former I’d Do Anything winner, Jodie Prenger, Tell Me On A Sunday tells the story of a young English woman’s emotional journey to find perfect love in the big apple.

The show, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black features some of the duos finest songs including Take That Look Off Your Face and Tell Me on A Sunday, both of which Jodie and her spectacular voice, performed superbly well.

But surprisingly it wasn’t the stunning musical score that was the highlight for me, it was Jodie’s superb acting skills. Her performance was captivating and she pulled off this one woman show with ease. I found one scene where the lead (and unnamed) character had her heart broken, particularly moving. Jodie’s eyes glittering in the darkness just about pushed me over edge but thankfully, she pulled me back up again before I officially slipped into emotional wreck mode! After the show, Jodie came back out with the musical producer of the show, to perform a few more songs and to answer questions from the audience. Out of character, Jodie was every bit as warm and funny as any leading lady and it was clear that she has all the talent and stage presence she needs, to be entertaining audiences for a very long time to come.

Tell Me On A Sunday is touring the UK until the 8th of June. Visit: www.tellmeontour.co.uk for details.

Review: Funbox, Superheroes Show

super_centre_image1-730x453While I’d love to be all cool and pretend to be indifferent, I cannot lie – I am a huge Funbox fan. I love them because they are keeping all the traditional songs and silliness alive for my two girls. I love them because, when I tell my kids that we’re spending the afternoon in their company, they light up like little Christmas trees. But mostly I love Funbox because they are just really, really brilliant at what they do.

So it’s fair to say that we were all a little bit excited as we made our way to see their Superheroes show in Dundee’s Whitehall Theatre. When we arrived to a theatre packed with little superheroes, my little Supergirl and slightly bigger Animalgirl, were more than ready for the laughter and fun to commence. And it certainly did! As usual, the show included some new and very catchy tunes, some old classics like The Quartermasters Show and Little Bunny Fou Fou as well as lots and lots of laughs including a hilarious and slightly awkward incident when Kevin and Bonzo met for the first time!

As always the gang came offstage after the gig, ready to greet their fans. They are always so generous with their time posing for photographs and chatting with the kids, adding to the excitement of the day. As I watched my two girls cuddling Anya and giggling along with Gary and Kevin, I just knew that meeting the gang, was something that they’d always remember. Funbox have helped to create a special memory for my kids that will last a lifetime. And because of that, I’ll love them forever.

Find out more about Funbox and their current Scottish tour on their website: www.funbox.co.uk

Horrible Histories: Incredible Invaders – Theatre Review

Horrible Histories - Birmingham Stage CompanyWhen it comes to TV, there aren’t many programmes that all four of us enjoy, but the one programme I can always guarantee will entertain my three year old and seven year old, at the same time, is Horrible Histories. The fact that that my husband and I absolutely love it too is an added bonus! Filled with catchy songs and gruesomely horrid historical facts, it’s the one show I can let the kids watch without feeling guilty! So when we heard that the Horrible Histories theatre show, Incredible Invaders, was coming to Edinburgh Playhouse, we were all very excited to check it out.

Written by Terry Dreary, the bestselling author that penned the original Horrible Histories book series, Incredible Invaders tells the story of the UK. Lead character Mavis, played by Hannah Boyce, is a Briton who is desperately trying to avoid a life of slavery at the hands of dastardly interlopers. On her journey through time, Mavis meets everyone from the rotten Romans, the smashing Saxons to the vicious Vikings and finds how their invasions shaped the Britain, we know and love today.

In classic Horrible Histories style, Incredible Invaders is a fantastic mixture of history and hilarity. The small and extremely talented cast, from Birmingham Stage Company, had the audience on the edge of our seats throughout and we spent the hour and a half show, howling with laughter and joining in! The second half, which featured 3D special effects, had the whole audience screaming and ducking as bloody heads and rabid dogs came flying our way, which only added to the great excitement.

We had a splendidly horrid time at this wickedly funny and gruesomely educational show and would highly recommend it.

Horrible Histories is currently touring the UK with their two shows Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders. Please visit: Barmy Britain for more information.

Theatre Review: Little Red and the Wolf at the Dundee Rep

Little Red newStepping into the Dundee Rep to see Little Red and the Wolf was like stepping into a fairy tale. The theatre had been completely transformed into a magical wood, where mischief and mayhem lurked around every corner. Doing away with the theatre’s traditional seating, the action all takes place on set. Perched on our plastic chairs and floor cushions, we were so very close to the action, that we felt completely immersed in the experience the whole time.

Sitting waiting for the show to begin we were greeted by the cast who were mingling amongst the audience. Meeting Granny Island from Katie Morag (Annie Louise Ross), who plays the part of Little Red’s Granny, was a particularly special moment for my two girls who were rendered speechless for the first time I can ever remember. But also seeing the rest of the cast including the beautiful Little Red (Marli Siu) and the very charming wolf Lyka (Cristian Ortega) up close, was also very lovely.

When the play began, it was clear that this was going to be a very special production indeed. Filled with laughs, suspense and plenty of scary moments, Little Red and the Wolf had the whole audience on the edge of their seat.

Superbly acted, the concept of Little Red and the Wolf is very clever, completely turning the traditional fairy tale on its head. Watching the production I experienced the whole range of emotions. One minute I was rooting for characters and the next I was jumping out of my seat. During one particularly touching scene I may or may not have shed a tiny little tear or ten. As the mother of two girls, I was particularly pleased to see a feisty and very clever Little Red, who makes a fantastic role model for children everywhere.

My girls too absolutely loved it too and were completely mesmerised throughout, being so close made them feel like they had really been part of something very special. On leaving one wanted to become a wolf and the other an actress – so I think I can safely say the production made a big impact. All in all Little Red and the Wolf is an absolutely spellbinding production, which is not to be missed. Little Red and the Wolf runs at the Dundee Rep until the 9th of April.

To find out more and book tickets, visit the Dundee Rep’s website: www.dundeerep.co.uk