Thursday, 24 March 2011

Calendar Girls (Sunderland Empire, Sunderland UK)

Video review:

I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional struggle one is faced with when they, or their loved ones, are battling with a horrific, life-threatening disease. Each day, more and more people are affected by the heartache it brings. Often it may seem like there is no end, no cure, no way out. However, there are many who are determined to not give up, trying to put a stop to diseases such as Leukaemia, and a prime example of this comes in the form of the Calendar Girls.

Calendar Girls tells the true story of a group of women who set about putting together a calendar: nude images, poses carefully arranged with props, to help raise money and awareness for the fight against blood cancers. After a successful run in London’s West End, the Tim Firth production is now embarking upon a tour across the UK.

While the story is based on an unfortunate event, you will find that it is woven throughout with tasteful humour. This helps capture the spirit which many sufferers often hang on, living each day with as much love and joy as possible. A lot of the hilarity comes from unexpected lines and outrageous tones, however you will also
find a few entertaining surprises along the way thanks to the (lack of) costumes!

Of course, there are the more serious scenes throughout, making sure we do not forget what the calendar, and the production, is really about. You can guarantee that on several occasions you will reach for your tissues to dab away at the tears.
The cast is marvellous; everybody is exceptional but there are a few performances in particular which stand out.: Lynda Bellingham gave an outstanding performance as Chris, a caring and supportive woman who has an incredible level of determination. The most beautiful voice filled the room as Bernie Nolan sang at appropriate moments throughout the evening, adding her own style to the character of Cora. Lisa Riley gave us a lovable character with Ruth, a sweet woman who always tries to do the right thing whilst adding an enormous amount of entertainment.

Calendar Girls is a massively moving production.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

'Boyzone: Brother' tour (Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle UK)

Video review:

TAKE four strapping Irish alpha males, add a dollop of talent and a supersized portion of passion.

What do you get? Why, Boyzone, of course!

However, there is one important ingredient missing.

When the tragic news regarding the late Stephen ‘Steo’ Gately was announced in October 2009, fans and supporters of the singer and the group were shocked, to say the least.

Now, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating and Shane Lynch are taking their Brother tour around the country, keeping the memory of their friend alive.

After a wonderful warm-up from Irish girl group Wonderland, the four boys take their much-deserved time to shine in front of the enthusiastic audience with their high energy and delightful presence.

As they grace across the stage, you can enjoy the occasional input from the female dancers who accompany them several times throughout. While some may only have eyes for their ‘one true love’ in the group, the dancers do give the set a bit more colour and intensity.

We’re given a delightful selection of songs to take us on a beautifully nostalgic trip back to the ’90s, as they proudly share with us hits such as No Matter What.

We’re also introduced to some new songs which can be found on their latest album, also titled Brother, which was released as a tribute to Gately.

One can feel the great level of love and emotion which has been woven right through those songs, a tearful yet sensational way to commemorate somebody greatly loved.

Across the several hours, you will discover all sorts of your own emotions being pulled out of you, each one providing a unique, but equally sensational, experience of their own.

The four may have their own solo projects on the go, but it is clear to see the dedication and true commitment they hold for the group.

Their eyes remain glistening throughout as they reminisce over past memories, enlightening us with their fond tales.

The strength in their vocals is, as one could expect, breathtaking, and their energetic travelling around the stage is exceedingly uplifting.

Whether you are already an avid follower of Boyzone or you have yet to discover the utter perfection they bring to their performances, their 2011 Brother tour is one which you simply cannot miss!

Comedy of Errors (Theatre Royal, Newcastle UK)

Video review:

NINE men, all dressed in loosely fitted, brightly coloured shirts, their looks topped off with large sombreros, whilst they play an assortment of instruments; it's not an image one would usually conjure when considering the works of Shakespeare. Nevertheless, the scene laid the foundations beautifully for the rest of the two hour comedy which followed.

Comedy of Errors tells the tale of two sets of identical twins, whom were all separated at birth: Antipholus of Syracuse (Dugald Bruce- Lockhart) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Sam Swainsbury), along with their servants Dromio of Syracuse (Richard Frame) and Dromio of Ephesus (Jon Trenchard). Now all staying in the same city of Syracuse some years later, they unknowingly find themselves being subject to mistaken identity by those who should know them well, thus resulting in some rather unfortunate, and indeed hilarious, incidents.

The all-male production uses slapstick comedy to play on the humour of the audience, with many witty surprises along the way. Weaved in between the poetic script are some truly wonderful one-liners which will urge you to roar with laughter. Your cheeks will be left aching from the plentiful puns and occasional innuendos which build on the comedy.

A great deal of the entertainment comes from the extravagance of the actors, their talents shining brightly.

With a plot so rich with excitement, the audience is kept engaged all the way through, with many unexpected happenings.