Tuesday, July 29, 2014

OTHELLO - Back of the net!!!!

The fabulous Lass Productions are about to launch their new show. Here's what they have to say about it...

The award winning team behind this brand new staging of Shakespeare’s OTHELLO, set in Venezia FC have launched a KICKSTARTER fund and there are a host of opportunities to get involved in the next week.

KICKSTARTER allows people to pledge money to help support staging the play and there are some great rewards on offer to donors - front row seats, custom designed badges, mugs and T Shirts from the renowned retro designer behind VWORP VWORP, COLIN BROCKHURST, and even special Venezia FC Panini stickers featuring the cast of OTHELLO!

The Kickstarter page can be found at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/507765479/othello-shakespeare-tragedy-in-a-football-club-wor

More information is available at www.lassproductions.co.uk or follow us on @21stcenturylass.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stars In My Eyes...

Brian Gorman and Caroline Munro on a date (in his dreams!)

When I review for others, I am usually asked to assign a star rating. I am now wondering whether I should devise my own system just for this blog.
I have decided. I will. Here it is ('BeeGees' is short for my name, Brian Gorman):

5 BeeGees: Me, Kathleen Turner, Kristen Scott Thomas, Patrick McGoohan, John Barry, Caroline Munro, and Christopher Walken in a bar on New Years Eve.

4 BeeGees: Excellent, but just something minor pulls it down.

3 BeeGees: Very good, but lacking something.

2 BeeGees: Good, but should be better.

1 BeeGee: I'll see you in the bar!

Be My Baby

Theatre Review

The King’s Arms Theatre, Salford

Part of The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival

Writer: Amanda Whittington
Director: Lucia Cox

A stifling hot evening in a jam-packed dark room is never a good thing. Unless you’re kept entertained, enthralled, and enlightened by a first rate company, that is. Under the quite wonderful high ceiling of The King’s Arms Theatre, which lent a Cathedral-like atmosphere to proceedings, the newly-formed Asphalt Roses theatre company made their auspicious debut. Manchester-based actor/producers Hannah Blakeley and Leni Murphy were quite rightly fed up with the dearth of female roles available in the industry, and decided to form their own all-female company to provide more opportunities for women in the North West. Amanda Whittington’s ‘Be My Baby’ provides ample opportunity for actors to shine, with half a dozen female characters. The story, set in 1964, involves four pregnant young women virtually imprisoned in an austere mother and baby home, under the watchful eye of a barely sympathetic matron. In a society unwilling to accept any behaviour outside of ‘traditional family values’, the unmarried mothers-to-be are faced with a life of shame and scarce employment prospects unless they give up their children for adoption. What could have been a scathing indictment of a backward-thinking society, a kind of female ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, is unfortunately on this occasion, more of a gentle tale of woe. Whittington’s script avoids any truly harrowing scenes (apart from the mental disintegration of Bethan Caddick’s Norma), and all the unfortunate girls actually seem to have a pretty good time. A fine ensemble cast led by Hannah Blakeley as the awkward teen-age Mary, do absolute wonders with the material, but everything seems a little too sugar-coated. Dressed in uniform white slips, the girls resemble angelic creatures; healthy, glowing, and with little to suggest any real stress about their situation. Lucia Cox’s direction is tight when it comes to the well-choreographed musical interludes (the girls often break out into the songs of the day, and there is one superb scene with Leni Murphy’s hard-as-nails Queenie morphing into a sultry nightclub temptress), but is a little too gentle with the material. There was a dream-like atmosphere, but little sense of actual despair. Morag Peacock is suitably restrained as Matron, but I really wanted more of Nurse Ratched. Her steely demeanour weakens for an unguarded moment when it is revealed she lost her husband of one year at Dunkirk. Victoria Tunnah is delightful as the impish and ill-educated Delores, while Laura Campbell as Mrs Adams is a frightening battleaxe of a woman. Set in the round with an old, iron-framed bed at its heart, there was a suitably claustrophobic feel about the evening. Overall, a tremendous start for this new company, with a wonderful cast, and some fine surreal moments (are the girls actually angels in limbo?), but what loses this production the full five stars is a lack of true grit.

Reviewed on 10th July

Originally published at www.thepublicreviews.com 

Tags: Be My Baby, Amanda Whittington, Lucia Cox, The King’s Arms Theatre, Salford, Hannah Blakeley, Bethan Caddick, Laura Campbell, Leni Murphy, Morag Peacock, Victoria Tunnah, Asphalt Roses


Photo: Shay Rowan

Theatre Review

The King’s Arms Theatre, Salford

Part of The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival

A familiar face on television (and team captain of BBC’s ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’), Phill Jupitus performed some of his early (and most recent) poetry in the guise of his alter-ego ‘Porky The Poet’. Saying that, there was no discernible difference between the Phill Jupitus we know, and the poet standing with a comically malfunctioning iPad before us tonight. In the Spartan, unpretentious space of the upstairs theatre at Salford’s popular King’s Arms pub, this was a pretty laid-back evening with plenty of smiles and a few loud guffaws. Nothing too outrageous or near-the-knuckle (save for the odd one or two cheeky, expletive-sprinkled tales). After a slightly nervy start, Jupitus relaxed into an hour long set involving rifling through reams of stationery, to regale us with short poems mainly involving going to music gigs as a young man in the 70s and 80s (his cherry being well and truly popped by the legendary Debbie Harry and Blondie). A variety of friends and fans in the audience led to some gentle banter, and a lovely moment of improvisation when a mobile phone went off. Questioning the red-faced punter about his choice of ringtone, Jupitus and his audience were delighted to hear that it was a little-known 80s band by the name of ‘Desperate Moment’. Instant Karma, one might say.
Jupitus’ ‘roly poly funnyman’ (as he described himself at one point) persona worked its charm as the evening wore on, and there was a definite warm glow in the room. Talking about his childhood, and the fact that he never knew his biological father (an Irish barman, who ran home to Cork on discovering Jupitus’ mother was pregnant), Phill gave us a short but brutally honest poem about his feelings for the man. It was on a visit to Cork that he came across the funniest newspaper headline he’d ever seen: ‘Cork Man Drowns’ (and yes, he did have to explain it). There was also a great anger at our current Government and the assumed entitlement of the ruling classes. A tale about the notorious Hollywood film star Tallulah Bankhead regularly popping to Eton to enjoy sexual encounters with the head boys was pretty eye-opening. As was her fate; spied on by M.I.5., and eventually deported. Jupitus had much to say about the state of the arts in Britain today, and illustrated his points with reference to the Red ladder Theatre Company in Leeds having its whole grant cut, while Opera North were awarded millions. The evening was a charity event in aid of a local school, and Jupitus gave a big thumbs up to The King’s Arms, and its owner Paul Heaton’s (of The Beautiful South fame) work to keep the free fringe alive and well.
All in all, quite a pleasant, undemanding evening, that felt more like a friendly session with an old mate than an actual gig. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

Reviewed on 9th July

Originally published at www.thepublicreviews.com

Tags: Phill Jupitus, Kings Arms, Salford, Porky The Poet


Theatre Review

The Apollo, Manchester
3rd July

Film-maker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back), famed for his foul-mouthed, hilarious, and Star Wars obsessed movies played to the converted in a sell-out show at Manchester’s Apollo Theatre. Joined on stage by his ‘best buddy’ and regular film co-star Jason Mewes, the hyperactive pair introduced their latest big screen effort, ‘Jay & Silent Bob’s Big Cartoon Movie’, a 90 minute, somewhat crudely animated film featuring such memorable characters as ‘Dick Head’, a savage super villain caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose ridiculously muscular physique is complemented by a huge purple head regularly ejaculating over everthing in sight!), and ‘The Dickler’, a self-abusing parody of The Riddler from the Batman comics. It was all good dirty fun, with a non-stop delivery of schoolboy innuendo, and some sharp-witted tongue-in-cheek swipes at the comics industry. A raucous audience lapped up every second of this 3 hour show, which also included a live podcast, and a question & answer session that regularly involved over-excitable fans climbing on stage for impromptu photographs with their heroes. Smith was a laid back, genial, and humble host, doling out pearls of wisdom about making it in the movie business, and delivered a genuinely moving story about a recent visit to the new Star Wars set at Pinewood Studios, and his sobbing uncontrollably in the cockpit of a life-sized Millennium Falcon. This is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, and is grateful for every moment of a career where he can indulge his every childhood obsession. In contrast to their big screen counterparts (Smith plays the almost mute ‘Silent Bob’, with Mewes as the obscenity-spewing motormouth ‘Jay’), Smith dominated proceedings with a breathless delivery, while Mewes gurned and played the silent clown. The main theme of the night was Mewes’ life-long battle against drug addiction (from which he has now been clean for 4 years), and Smith’s utter devotion to his friend. The pair have a genuine love for each other, which shines through; a love that clearly doesn’t stop them from mercilessly ridiculing one other. Smith is regularly referred to as a ‘fat fuck’, for instance.
The grand finale was a surreal game involving Mewes miming a variety of outrageous sexual acts with volunteers from the audience. Indescribable, disturbing, hilarious, grotesque, yet delivered with a charming innocence by the man-child Mewes.
Not for the faint-hearted, but a wonderful evening for devoted fans.
This was the final night of the 4 date tour.

Originally published at www.thepublicreviews.com (minus a few naughty words!)

Tags: Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Jay & Silent Bob, Super Groovy Cartoon Movie

Someone Who'll Watch Over Me

Richard Patterson & Alistair Gillies. Photo by Shay Rowan.

Theatre Review

Written by Frank McGuinness
Directed by Colin Connor

Tuesday 8th July
Joshua Brooks, Manchester
Part of Greater Manchester Fringe Festival

Three characters on a single set; this had better be good! And it was. Three totally committed actors play out Frank McGuinness’s modern classic in a completely appropriate setting; the basement of Joshua Brooks pub. Bare brick walls, harsh lighting, claustrophobic black flats, etc. This is a play that stands or falls on its actors. The well-known real-life tale of an Irishman, an American, and an Englishman held captive in 1980s Beirut. Based on a true story, but never falling into the trap of playing for easy emotional responses. What must it be like to be held in a dark cell, with no outside contact, no hope, no home comforts? Cynical Irishman Edward (Richard Patterson) is the lynchpin; all caustic humour, snide wisecracks, and homeboy charm. In the opening scenes we find him exchanging life-affirming witticisms with Adam (Alastair Gillies), a solidly-built, optimistic, bible/koran reading American. Gillies certainly looked the part with an enormous life-of-its-own beard (real, by the way), caveman hair, and wretched fingernails. Gillies tore at the heartstrings with many a fine moment; longing for freedom, praying for redemption, and stoically accepting his fate. This was a fine double act with Patterson’s skinny adversary; all trembling bravado, finely-tuned angst, and cunning mindgames. The acoustics certainly helped, as noises from the bar above helped to reinforce the atmosphere of a world tantalisingly just out of reach of our heroes. The addition of a third character; an uptight Englishman called Michael (Karl Seth) throws Edward and Adam’s relationship into sharp relief, and the stage is now set for an intriguing insight into human behaviour. Survival is the aim. Survival of the spirit. Who will crack? Who will make this shabby little cell their universe? Each character has his moment; each demonstrates his strengths and weaknesses. Seth’s Michael grows in stature with every moment; constantly challenged by Patterson’s niggling Edward. Superb scenes involving re-enactments of Virginia Wade’s 1977 Wimbledon triumph, various imaginary drinking sessions, and quiet moments of personal tragedy are expertly communicated. Grubby, dirty, with every dignity stripped away; who will triumph? But this is not the question. Writer Frank McGuinness isn’t interested in the easy answers. Whether they survive physically simply does not matter. We all die. We can all be humiliated and crushed by cowards, but we can all choose the manner in which we face adversity. This is a play that, in less expert hands, could easily wallow in sickly heartstrings-plucking emotion, but director Colin Connor has a firm hand, and the audience never has an easy time of it. These are real people, not stereotypes.
Three bloody good actors, one cracking play, and one expert director.

Originally published at www.thepublicreviews.com

Tags: Colin Connor, Richard Patterson, Karl Seth, Alastair Gillies, Frank McGuinness, Joshua Brooks