The Musketeers

•June 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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Fans of The Musketeers may be disappointed that series three will be the last, but all good things must come to an end, and the popular BBC One drama is set to go out with all guns blazing.

It’s a brave stance to take in a media world where commercial pressures often dictate that if you’re on to a good thing, you might as well milk it for all it’s worth.

Co-produced by BBC Worldwide and BBC America, The Musketeers has been an international success story, broadcast around the world and flourishing in line with the tried-and-tested TV formula: If it works well in the first season, give the viewers more of the same, with a few variations.

Loosely based on The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, the title was changed simply to The Musketeers. (In the novel, d’Artagnan, who aspires to be a musketeer, meets up with the other three.) There have been strong performances throughout from Tom Burke as Athos, Santiago Cabrera as Aramis, Howard Charles as Porthos, and Luke Pasqualino as d’Artagnan.

Our heroes have been pitted against a trio of top-notch villains, in the form of Peter Capaldi as Cardinal Richelieu, Marc Warren as the Comte de Rochefort and finally Rupert Everett as the Marquis de Feron, the Governor of Paris, and illegitimate brother of Louis XIII. 

Having reached the end of the main storyline, fleshed out with additional characters and sub-plots, it appears that the programme has now run its natural course. One major advantage of jumping before you’re pushed is that you get the chance to tie up all the loose ends satisfactorily, and end it on your own terms. This is far preferable to the annoying habit of plotting the final episode in the hope of securing another season, complete with cliff-hangers and loose ends, only for the series to be cancelled and viewers left with a wholly unsatisfying ending.

As executive producer Jessica Pope says: “Once we knew it was going to be the last season, we could play to that, so instead of doing a rather unsatisfying ambiguous end, we knew we could do something extraordinary – which we have done.”

It’s a smart move to stick to the old showbiz adage: “Leave them wanting more.”

The Merchant of New York

•May 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The Bard’s birthday may have been and gone, but there are still plenty of Shakespeare400 themed events around to carry us over into the summer.

 

At the taimerchant of new york 01-28-2016-235512-4690l end of the Brighton Fringe, the Cracked Shakespeare Company presents The Merchant of New York by Nathan Ariss, winner of the Rialto Theatre’s 2016 ‘Scratch’ New Writing award.

Shakespeare meets the Mafia in this witty reworking of the Merchant of Venice. When the characters go off-script, and the writer stops playing God, where is the mercy?

At the Rialto Theatre, Brighton from 29-31 May at 7:30pm. 

Tickets priced £10 (concessions £8)

 

Reflections of Japanese Art

•May 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Entitled “Reflectijapanese art 2016-StudentExhibitionons”, this exhibition of students’ work displays the true beauty of Japanese art, portrayed through different styles of writing, skilled techniques and brush strokes, in a collection of paintings by both children and adults. 

The exhibition aims to embody Japanese calligraphy in its pure form, with its many depths; as a piece of poetry and a form of self-expression, displaying a delicate balance between freedom and self-control.

The exhibition runs from 10-14 May at Bourne Hall, Spring Street, Ewell, Surrey. Open Tue to Thu 9am-8 :30pm, Fri & Sat 9am-5pm  www.koshujapaneseart.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Midlife Cowboy

•April 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

 

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Jack Dee, Doon MacKichan, Ben Miller and Caroline Quentin are among the cast in a special performance of Tony Hawk’s musical Midlife Cowboy, hosted by Graham Norton.

 The show, which follows the fortunes of a cowboy club based in Swindon, was first performed by Hawks and Miller (of the comey double act Armstrong and Miller) at the Edinburgh Festival, where it received a ‘Perrier Pick of The Fringe’ award. Originally called The Heartbreak Kid, it has now been reworked and retitled for its 2016 revival.

The event is being organised in association with the UK charity Child Aid to raise funds for The Tony Hawks Centre for children with cerebral palsy in Chisinau, Moldova.

 

Midlife Cowboy is showing at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, on Monday 25 April at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced from £16. Box office 0330 333 4812 http://www.nimaxtheatres.com/lyric-theatre/

Comedy Fundraising Night

•April 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment


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Great line-up for comedy night in support of charities CAYSH and Mind in Croydon –
Kevin Day, Reginald D Hunter, 
Jon Richardson, Mark Steel and Seann Walsh

The Mayor of Croydon’s charity night is on Sunday 17 April  All tickets priced £30 

At Fairfield Halls, Croydon http://www.fairfield.co.uk

Kevin Day
Kevin Day is a stand-up and TV writer, whose credits include Have I Got News for You, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and the British Comedy Awards. He has co-written a history of the Old Vic with Kevin Spacey and directed Arthur Smith’s Dante’s Inferno. He also presents the filmed inserts on Match of the Day 2.

Reginald D Hunter
Georgia-born Hunter first made his mark on the UK circuit in 1998, when he was a finalist in So You Think You’re Funny? He has been appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe since 2002, when I Said What I Said was nominated for the best newcomer Perrier. He was also nominated for best headliner in the Chortle Awards in 2004 and 2007.

Jon Richardson
Jon Richardson is best known as team captain on Channel 4’s 8 Out Of 10 Cats, for which he was nominated for best male TV comedian in the 2013 British Comedy Awards. His other TV credits have included Have I Got News for You, Live at the Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow.

Mark Steel
Mark Steel has performed as a stand-up since 1983. For Radio 4, he has written and performed four series of both The Mark Steel Solution and The Mark Steel Lecture, which transferred to BBC4. He also hosted the BBC Radio 5 sports programme Extra Time, and writes for The Independent.

Seann Walsh
Seann Walsh was nominated for the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2013, won the Leicester Comedy Festival comedian of the year competition in 2009, was runner-up in So You Think You’re Funny? 2008 and was nominated for the breakthrough award in the 2010 Chortle Awards.

The End of Longing

•March 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

 

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Matt Perry’s West End  debut The End of Longing has been described as Friends for grown-ups – and the “F” here is not for Friends.

Freed from the confines of TV sitcom to create comedy drama with an edge, the script’s over-indulgent use of the F-word makes Perry seem like a naughty boy letting out a torrent of expletives on the bus ride home from school.

Chandler has morphed into Jack and in place of his pal Joey, we have the nice-but-dim Joseph (Lloyd Owen). They meet two women in a bar –   glamorous, high class prostitute Stephanie, (Jennifer Mudge) and her neurotic friend Stevie, (Christina Cole) who is more of a Bridget Jones type than a Phoebe, Monica or Rachel.

That makes four, so only two thirds of the six-strong cast of Friends, but a quartet is all it takes for the accompanying harmonies, discord and occasional key change.

Having survived years of alcoholism, admitting that there are three seasons of Friends he barely remembers, Perry has now created a character who is a loud and embarassing drunk – which is not, he insists, the kind of drinker he was, begging the question: What kind was he? The embarrassingly quiet and morose one?

The first half gives Jack plenty of opportunities for wisecracks, often made at his own expense, so he can do himself down before anyone else does. The second half delves into more serious issues, with fewer laughs, including the show’s best line, coming as welcome light relief from the heavier dialogue about life, the universe and the compromises required to sustain a semi-functional relationship.

Perry is fine as the slightly damaged, intelligent, sensitive one, wishing he could be more like Joseph, who enjoys the simple things in life, like chatting about football over a few beers – and knowing when to stop.

When it comes to the more challenging emotional scenes, Perry sometimes resorts to shouting, rather than going for a more controlled, nuanced delivery, but perhaps this will improve as he gets into his stride later in the run.

The sets divide mostly between bar room and bedroom, with one scene where Jack appears in his underpants (in bed, not in the bar, in case you’re wondering, although the other way round might have been funnier.)

Daring to bare will probably please the Friends fans, but it takes greater courage to reveal your weaknesses in public, and for doing that, as both writer and performer, Perry deserves due recognition.

The End of Longing is now showing at the Playhouse Theatre, London until 14 May.

 

Cinderella

•November 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Panto season is upon us and Cinderella comes to Croydon this year, with Stephen Mulhern as Buttons.

“Cinderella is the best panto of all time,” he says, “It’s in my top three, along with Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty.”

He’s appeared in panto for the past 12 years, developing his own style which is a mix of magic and comedy.

“With panto, you can ad-lib and change things, which I like to do to keep the spark going,” he explains. You never know how the audience is going to react – that’s all part of the attraction!”

 

Also starring Stewart Wright, Matt Daines, Lisa Davina Phillip and Joanna Sawyer,  Cinderella can be seen at the Ashcroft Theatre, Fairfield Halls, Croydon, from Friday 4 December 2015 to Sunday 3 January 2016.

 Tickets available from the Box Office on 0208688 9291 https://www.fairfield.co.uk/