The following items are press releases about shows we have attended. Written by our Publicity Officer Jenny Arnold, you may have seen some in the Gazette.
Jenny would appreciate some input from members who have attended a show and have a comment on it, favourable or otherwise! It will help her to give a broader picture in these reports. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org promptly.
Wipers Times - Sept 2018
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Northcott Theatre in Exeter but it is lovely. It is on the University campus, which is very attractive and leafy, and only takes ten more minutes travel time than Plymouth.
Yes, SHTCC has been to the Northcott and we saw The Wipers Times, a play written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman. It is set during the First World War in Ypres, commonly mispronounced Wipers by our troops. In a bombed out building, two officers find a printing press and are inspired to produce a newspaper but instead of producing a factual account of the progress (or lack of!) of the war, they come up with a jolly, optimistic and morale boosting journal with an embarrassing amount of poetry.
It is very hard to attempt to convey the experience of watching this story unfold. It is funny – hilariously funny – but underlying the fun is the reality of what is going on around the characters; the bombing, the deaths, the losses. The sound effects of bombs exploding shook the auditorium floor and was so very effective in conveying atmosphere. Injury, recuperation, returning to the hell of the trenches, all were there. Letters from home added to the poignancy. The relentlessly positive attitudes carried the day and it was a truly amazing play.
Miss Saigon - July 18
If I say it was too loud, do I sound like my grandmother? Well, I’m not the only one. SHTCC went to see Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth and several members said it made their ears ring.
Having said that, it was a superb show. The music, lighting, sets, costumes, singing, acting all were “excellent/brilliant/wonderful/outstanding” – comments from members on the homeward bound coach journey.
The story is set in the Vietnam war, when Kim, a 17yr old, is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a larger than life character known as The Engineer. Her first ‘customer’ is Chris, a GI, and it is love at first sight for them both. Disastrously for our story, Saigon falls and Chris is helicoptered out, not knowing he has fathered a son.
It completely swept me along with the events unfurling before us and the ending was heart wrenching.
You should have been there.
Sleeping Beauty Mar 18
We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty – the curse of the wicked fairy, slightly ameliorated by a nicer fairy to 100 years of sleep when pricking the finger on a spinning wheel spindle – and over the years it has been told in many formats, including the wonderful Disney film. However, it was the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s performance that SHTCC attended at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth, recently.
Yes, I can hear some of you already, declaring you ‘don’t like ballet’ but have you ever attended a live performance? The sheer spectacle is what draws me back time and again; the costumes, the colours, the luxury, the opulence. Gold, dusty pink, olive, ivory and teal; those wonderfully mediaeval colours glided, danced and paraded around the stage and will stay with me for a very long time. Tchaikovsky’s music is superb and was skilfully performed live by an orchestra. Not to mention the clunk of those ballet slippers hitting the stage!
It is also interesting, looking around the auditorium while waiting for the curtain to go up, that people of all ages attend the ballet, from keen young children with stars in their eyes, to those of slightly more mature years, dreaming of what might have been.
Hamlet - Feb 2018
What, I ask you, is wrong with performing a Shakespeare play in contemporary costume? (Contemporary to Shakespeare, I mean.) It never seems to happen these days. Having asked that, SHTCC went to see “Hamlet” at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth; it was in West African costume with the odd bit of drumming and music and it was superb. I, personally, wasn’t convinced that the music, and particularly the amplified drum beats, added anything but irritation but the set was innovative and the acting was truly wonderful. Paapa Essiedu, as Hamlet, was possibly the best I have seen; credible and convincing. The allocation of some of the male parts to be played by women proved not to be a problem or a distraction. The delivery of the entire cast was so very lively and enthusiastic that you were swept along with the drama and the magical, poetic wording and it is clear why it was such an overwhelming success at Stratford.
Sister Act - July 2017
Does the name Doloris van Cartier mean anything to you? Hint – Sister Act.
Yes, SHTCC went to see the stage version of Sister Act and, yet again, it was a Marmite show; we either loved it or hated it. The majority loved it, feeling it was full of energy and enthusiasm, great songs and an all-embracing rhythm. Others were bereft that the original beloved songs from the film had been expunged and replaced with tuneless, unmemorable pop. What we were all in accord about was the excellence of Alexandra Burke, whose singing, dancing and acting were – well – excellent. The show was directed by Craig Revel Horwood and was, unsurprisingly, a little over the top. Somehow, the set of an abbey also worked well as a nightclub; very clever. The lighting, which we tend to take for granted, was amazing and included 2 glitter balls, bringing back memories for those of us over a certain age!
Jane Eyre - May 2017
Consider these comments: ‘I loved it’; ‘I thought it was wonderful’; ‘I really did not enjoy that’; ‘I hated every minute of that’.
Believe it or not, those comments were made on a Tally Ho coach, organised by SHTCC, after a trip to see “Jane Eyre” at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth. Only once before (a Poirot play at the Princess Theatre, some years ago) have the attending members been so divided in their response. This was a modern interpretation of the fine and sensitive story of an orphan in love but, unexpectedly, done in fairly traditional costume. The set was a platform, with steps to the rear and ladders either side towards the front. Mr Rochester’s dog was a man, wagging a baton for a tail, which had the audience roaring with laughter, as did the running on the spot depicting a stage coach journey. Some found this verging on farce. A small group of musicians accompanied the action from time to time; some appreciated this, others thought it jarred.
No matter what our own opinion, it was good to see this performance and widen our experiences. You really should have been there, you know.
Mamma Mia - Feb 2017
I have a dream, a fantasy; to help me through reality. You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life but my my, at Waterloo Napoleon did surrender. Knowing me, knowing you, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, SOS is the name of the game. Voulez-Vous take a chance on me? You super trouper – the winner takes it all.
Much easier than a cryptic crossword clue is the answer to the following – which show did SHTCC visit recently? (Umpteen clues above.)
Yes, it was “Mamma Mia” at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth. It was SHTCC’s second outing to see this show, having been to Bristol about a year ago when it was there. It is a true feel-good show, clearly appealing to a wide range of people and age groups. It is lively, energetic, colourful, the singing is superb and you come out humming. It was a truly wonderful evening.
The Tempest ballet - Oct 2016
Do you know the story of The Tempest, as written by Shakespeare? Well sorry but I’m not going to re-tell it in depth here; far too involved. Short version: Prospero, a magician, and daughter are stranded on a desert island. He wishes to right a few wrongs and restore his daughter to her rightful place in Naples society and achieves this with the aid of a few sprites, an induced storm and more than a few magic tricks – as you do.
Well, Birmingham Royal Ballet has turned this complicated tale into a ballet, choreographed by David Bintley, designed by Rae Smith and with a brand new score by British composer Sally Beamish. I think if you did not already know something of the story, you may have got a tad lost as things progressed but there is no doubt as to the enthusiasm of the response by the audience. Personally, I found the music uninspiring but nevertheless, thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
It is interesting to observe the age range of the various shows we attend. This was a matinee, which meant, having arrived well before curtain up, we could book a very nice lunch in the theatre restaurant before the performance. It also meant that children could attend and the age range was one of the widest I have noticed.