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.

 

Review: Sinbad at the Webster Memorial Theatre, Arbroath

Every year my family and I make a point of going to see the pantomime at the Webster Memorial Theatre in Arbroath. Filled with fun and frolics, it’s the perfect way to get our Christmas on for another year. After all Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without shouting “He’s behind you” to the pantomime dame and “Oh no she didn’t” to the dastardly villain.

This year’s production is Sinbad written, as always, by the wonderfully talented playwright John Binnie. The swashbuckling adventure stars panto favourites Nathan Byrne as Sinbad, Graham Crammond as Baghdad Betty, Isabelle Joss as Velma, Sita Iona Pieraccini as Princess Persephone and Simon Donaldson in multiple baddy roles including the Evil Vizier and the terrifying Cannibal Chief.

When our panto hero Sinbad sets off to sail the seven seas to find his long lost father who is missing presumed dead – an adventure filled with high jinx follows. Because Sinbad can’t go on this journey alone! Oh no!  His mother and two suspicious men, who look surprisingly like disguised women, come along for the ride, leading to a tropical adventure filled with danger, romance and songs a plenty.

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We absolutely loved the show and my two girls aged 4 and 7, were absolutely riveted throughout. As always the Webster Memorial Theatre’s panto production was pitched absolutely perfectly for the family audience. We laughed and we yelled and we sang along and every single person in that theatre left with an extra festive spring in their steps.

Sinbad at the Webster Memorial Theatre is a pantomime not to be missed! I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.

Sinbad is on at the Webster Memorial Theatre until the 24th of December. For further information about the production and to buy tickets, please visit: http://www.webstertheatre.co.uk/


*Disclaimer: I was very kindly provided with tickets to this performance in exchange for this fair and honest review.

 

George’s Marvellous Medicine at the Dundee Rep – Review

I was brought up on a diet of Roald Dahl. Matilda, The Witches and George’s Marvellous Medicine were my all time favourite books and kept me captivated through most of the 80s. Of course, I’ve also watched Matilda and The Witches on the big screen too – and although I enjoyed them both, for me the movie versions never had quite the same appeal as the books.

So when I heard that George’s Marvellous Medicine was coming to the Dundee Rep, I was curious about how the deliciously simple but dark little tale would work on the stage.

Dundee, UK. 23.11.2016. Dundee Rep Ensemble presents GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE, adapted from Roald Dahl's book by Stuart Paterson, and directed by Associate Artistic Director, Joe Douglas. With design by Ana Ines Jabares-Pita and lighting design by Mark Doubleday. The cast is: Rebekah Lumsden (George Killy-Kranky), Ann Louise Ross (Grandma), Emily Winter (Mary Killy-Kranky), Irene Macdougall (Giant Chicken) and Ewan Donald (Johnny Killy-Kranky). Photograph © Jane Hobson.

I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. While some of the elements of the play such as the incredible set of George’s House, had an almost futuristic feel, the plot never strayed far from Dahl’s story, capturing all of its tremendously wicked humour.

As always the Dundee Ensemble cast gave wonderful performances. Rebekah Lumsden shone as George as did Emily Winter and Ewan Donald as the mischief maker’s parents. But it was Ann Louise Ross (Granny Island from Katie Morag) as Grandma who absolutely stole the show as the foul, repugnant and terrifying Grandma. She managed to be both menacing and funny all at the same time – making my little one jump and chuckle in equal turns.

The special effects and stunning set, added a magical feel to the production, ensuring that George’s Marvellous Medicine the play, was every bit as glorious as the book. I’ll never forget my seven year old’s face when Grandma started to grow – it was an absolute picture!

If you’re looking to take your children some where enchanting this Christmas, I’d highly recommend a trip to see George’s Marvellous Medicine. After all there is no place more magical than the theatre.

George’s Marvellous Medicine is at the Dundee Rep until the 31st of December. To book tickets visit: http://www.dundeerep.co.uk

Image by Jane Hobson

Disclaimer: I was given two tickets to see the Dundee Rep’s production of George’s Marvellous Medicine in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Dundee Literary Festival 2016 – Review

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When I was a little girl, it’s fair to say that I didn’t exactly fit in. I was rubbish at sports, useless at computer games and I wasn’t really the outdoorsy, go out and ride on your bicycle kind of girl. The only thing that I ever really wanted to do was just sit down and read. In front of the fire with a cat on my lap was always the best case scenario, but you know what, it didn’t really matter where I read, as long as I had a book in my hand I was happy.

It took me until adulthood to realise that being bookish was my kind of my “thing”. Perhaps I even rebelled a little against the label, because let’s face it, reading isn’t the most sociable of hobbies…

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Outer Edges with Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack, hosted by Stuart Kelly

Except sometimes it is! Once a year, when the autumn leaves start to fall, being a book geek like me is actually an extremely sociable thing to be – thanks to Dundee Literary Festival.

Now in its 10th year, the festival is THE place to be in October if you love reading. With a schedule packed full of book events for every taste right in the centre of Dundee, the event is every literature lover’s dream.

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First Writes with Shelley Day and Sandra Ireland hosted by Zoe Venditozzi

A few weeks back I attended the five day festival, fitting in as many events as I possibly could. You could say that the range of events I attended was pretty eclectic!- From A Rock & Roll Roald Dahl Party with Scots writer Matthew Fitt and Outer Edges with non fiction writers Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack to Haunting Afterlives – an event examining the work of Shirley Jackson and Josephine Tey – the subject matters were pretty diverse but I got something out of them all.

Attending debut author events with the wonderful Sandra Ireland, Shelley Day and Martin Cathcart Froden was a real highlight, especially to an aspiring novelist like me. As was seeing more established authors such as James Kelman, the only Scottish author to ever win The Booker Prize, read with such passion.

But for me, the best thing about Dundee Literary Festival is the sense of community that it has. It’s a fabulously warm and engaging event, full of friendly faces who all share the same love and passion for reading.

So thank you Dundee Literary Festival! Thank you for making me feel part of the best bookish gang in Scotland! I’m already counting down the days until next year!

Dundee Literary Festival is run by Literary Dundee as part of Dundee University. For more information, visit their website: http://www.literarydundee.co.uk/

Photographs by Bob McDevitt

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