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Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

This past Tuesday, along with assorted family, I had the privilege of seeing The Secret Garden at the Minack Theatre.

For those who don’t know it, the Minack (from the Cornish meynek meaning ‘rocky place’) must be one of the most dramatic performance venues in the United Kingdom, perhaps the world. Built on a rocky outcrop at Porthcurno, the theatre sits on top of granite cliffs with a sweeping view of the Atlantic, its stage open to the elements. Constructed rock by rock by Rowena Cade and her gardener to accommodate local village players, the theatre’s first performance was The Tempest in 1932.

I realised the last time I had been was 1995, to see The Questors perform Denise Deegan’s Daisy Pulls It Off. On that occasion, we sat there with black bin bags on our head eating a huge Spanish omelette made by our friend Victor, who spoke very little English. Quite what he made of these barely audible schoolgirls pranking each other in the rain, we never found out, but it was surely a very English summer experience.

By contrast, this visit was in stunning sunshine, the kind of April day that teases with the possibility of long hot summer days to come. The site has been considerably developed over the last couple of decades, with a little complex of shops and a cafe. If they were there twenty-four years ago, I certainly don’t recall them.

Jessica Swale’s adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic is a superbly paced and good-humoured romp, the energy of the cast, young and old, matched by wonderful, inventive puppetry. Although manipulated by humans, the animals, particularly the fox, are beguiling and the movements uncannily lifelike.

This was the first performance. The younger cast members divide into two teams, Foxglove and Bluebell, for different shows and it was Foxglove for the premiere. Perhaps the standout performance for me was Alina Hulse, whose portrayal of Martha, one of the nurses, was simply superb. She had all the assured presence of an actor twice her age – learning after the show that she was just twelve (my sister, who is an artist and also involved in Cornish theatre knew a number of the cast and the puppet makers). Credit, too, to Juliet Colclough (Mary Lennox), Roisin Bermingham (Dickon) and Harry Ladd-Carr (Colin Craven), for drawing us into the magic of The Secret Garden.

Seeing shows like this takes me back to the 1980s and Basildon’s Towngate Theatre and the shows we did with the English National Opera and the Basildon Youth Theatre.

Perhaps I should have stuck with acting.

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“Heed now the tale of Rapunzel and Thyme,

Tick tock tick tock,

Whose lives were bound by a pocketwatch,

Tick tock tick tock…”

Effervescent Theatre have a new production opening in Plymouth on 13th February. It’s called The Fish Hearted Bride and is a dark and twisted story that mixes in elements of well-known fairy tales to create a show for all the family.

As part of the promo, my ultra-cool future brother-in-law was asked to star in their promotional film trailer. Check it out below and tell me he shouldn’t be in the next Tolkien movie, swinging a bloody great sword!

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My sister, Ellie Williams, has gotten involved with another fantastic project, this time in Port Talbot in Wales. Once again she’s working with her flatmate, Myrddin Wannell, and the international theatre company Wildworks, this time for the National Theatre for Wales. Driven by the actor Michael Sheen, The Passion is a piece of community theatre taking place over three days (22-24 April). Read more about it below!

 

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Those of you of a creative disposition may be interested to know that the theatre company Supporting Wall have commissioned the first five plays of a new Parliament.

For those not familiar with them, Supporting Wall are a small but exciting company of players who have received rave reviews for their production Moonfleece, an exploration of the inner-city, urban-myth psychology of BNP activism.

In an exciting experiment in political theatre, all five plays will be written, cast and rehearsed within twenty-four hours of the polls closing. The one-off performance will be at 8pm on the 8th May at the New Players Theatre.

Those playwrights announced so far include:

  • Che Walker (The Frontline, Been So Long);
  • Rex Obano (Slaves);
  • Anders Lustgarten (A Day at the Racists);
  • Phil Willmott (director of Once Upon a Time at the Adephi)

Tickets are £10 each and are available online or by calling 020 7478 0135 (Soho Theatre)/08444 771 000 (TicketWeb). All profits will be donated to the Hansard Sociey.

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