Monday, 25 October 2010

Friel Festival

Interview with Selina Cartmell

Curve’s first visiting female director, Selina Cartmell, talks exclusively about her upcoming production of Molly Sweeney, for the Friel Festival next month.

Selina is the artistic director of Siren Productions, will be joining Irishman Mick Gordon in producing what will be a unique double dose of Brian Friel’s work in a four week festival of two of his plays.

The profound story of Molly Sweeney – Molly has been blind since infancy, who flourishes in her independence until the arrival of a ‘miracle’ doctor and a misguided new husband whose well meaning interfering threatens her very essence. Cartmell directs this haunting story as we join Molly on her emotional journey from a happy safe place to an overwhelming and ultimately devastating new world.

Never one to take a play at face value, Cartmell will tackle this three actor monologue play in her usual imaginary way.

She said, “I’m always up for a challenge and when Paul Kerryson invited me to come to Leicester to work on something I was delighted to take on Molly Sweeney."
Mick Gordon will be directing the seminal – Translations.

Translations depicts the English military conducting an ordinance survey of Ireland. They are set on translating the place names of long Gaelic tradition. Will mutual understanding eventually transcend language in this dangerous clash of cultures?

The show will mark the 30th anniversary of the story whilst the festival will mark the 50th anniversary of Brian Friel’s work.

Cartmell said, “Friel is one of the most renowned playwrights in Ireland who has produced masterpieces known all over the world. I’d definitely recommend reading the play to anyone.

“It has elements of a Greek tragedy even though it’s not which makes it a fascinating play to watch.”

As well as being the Artistic Director of Siren Production, Cartmell is Artist-In-Residence at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin. Productions for Siren include Medea, Macbeth and the award winning Titus Andronicus (four Irish Times Theatre Awards including Best Production and Best Director).

She has directed Marina Carr’s The Cordelia Dream for the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Giant Blue Hand by Marina Carr for The Ark Theatre. For the Abbey Theatre she directed Only An Apple by Tom McIntyre, Big Love by Charles Mee and Woman and Scarecrow by Marina Carr. For the Gate Theatre, she has directed Sweeney Todd (Best Opera Production – Irish Times Theatre Awards), Festen and Catastrophe as part of the Beckett Centenary Festival 2006 (Dublin & Barbican Theatre, London).

In 2007 Selina was chosen as a Protégé in the third cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, an international philanthropic programme that pairs rising young artists with master artists for a year of mentoring. Selina’s mentor was world-renowned director and designer Julie Taymor.

Next month’s Friel Festival is set to make a Curve a must this winter. For those that love their classic dramas or love the thrill of walking into the unknown then visit these two residential plays in the studio this November.

For more information or tickets visit

Momentum Festival

Preview of upcoming shows plus Interview with local poet Marilyn Ricci

Leicester poet, Marilyn Ricci, will join other budding playwrights this week when the Momentum Festival opens at Curve.

Giving already talented writers a chance to turn their skills at theatre making is a rare opportunity for many of the East Midlands marvels who will be producing shows over the next week.

City-born Marilyn has always secretly loved playwriting and is excited about her production which is tale close to her heart.
She said, “I’m working on a book with the Leicester Somali community which includes stories from their lives and their escape from the war-torn country. I asked some of the women if I could use parts of their stories to write a play and they said yes.”

She added, “The book, which will be out next Spring, is based on the civil war in Somali. I think anyone who has an interest in their culture would find the show fascinating.”

Marilyn admits she has written many plays in the past despite her roots lying in poetry. She said, “This experience has been great for me. I have written plays before but nothing has come of them so to actually work with professionals and see my piece come to life is amazing. I’d love to get the opportunity to do it again.”

The Theatre Writing Partnership and Curve will launch the festival tonight (Tuesday, October 26) with a one-woman show about social networking dilemmas and comedy mishaps – Fakebook by Michelle Vacciana.

Momentum Festival program:

Tuesday, October 26 2010 7pm

Wednesday, October 27 2010 7pm
Palm, Wine and Stout (Segun Lee French)

Thursday, October 28 2010
Unzipped (Talawa’s Writing Group)

Friday, October 29 2010 2pm/7pm – Saturday, October 30 2010 2pm/7pm
Extracts I-IV (Catharine Ashdown/Marilyn Ricci/Sundeep Maan Singh/Alice Nicholas/Louise Singleton.

Tickets cost £5 each or £25 for s festival pass. Visit for more details.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Twelfth Night @ Curve

Director: Sean Holmes
Music and Sound: Tom Haines and Ross Hughes
Creator: Filter
Writer: William Shakespeare

Seeing a play without knowing the story line and still not knowing it afterwards but enjoying it anyway is a new wonder to me.

I saw Twelfth Night as a chance to get over a long deeply rooted fear of Shakespeare’s work but came away from Curve on the show’s opening night feeling even more bemused but wanting to find out more.

International touring company Filter has brought their marvellously fantastical play to Leicester this week.

Twelfth Night synopsis:
Olivia’s melancholic, puritanical household clashes head on with Sir Toby’s insatiable appetite for drunken debauchery. Orsino’s relentless pursuit of Olivia and Malvolio’s extraordinary transformation typify the madness of love in Illyria: land of make-believe and illusion.

Stepping into Curve’s studio is always like putting your hand in a lucky-dip. You never know what you’re going to get and nine times out of ten it’s something that no one else will have.

Monday night was no different. The performance stage was littered with wires and musical gadgetry’s and people wearing ordinary 21st century clothes.
It’s hard to describe the whole show because it was so frantic the 90-minutes went by in a flash but I’ll tell you some elements that stuck out.

I knew it was going to have a contemporary twist and I hoped the language would be so too but throughout they stayed true to Shakespeare.

Speaking to Ollie Dimsdale, who played Toby Belch, over coffee the next day, he said, “We’ve been touring with this one since the RSC asked us to perform at the Complete Works Festival in 2006. We often get people asking how much of Shakespeare’s own words do we use and they’re surprised when we say 99 per cent.”

He added, “Because the show comes across as if it was written yesterday people who know the story well are shocked to hear lines they never knew were in the original works.”

Ollie’s character, Toby, was staggering around the stage and up the studio steps to the audience and portrayed a very amusing drunk. But Ollie said, “Our aim is not just to show a jolly drunk but to show the darker more destructive side of being an alcoholic.”

There was a lot of audience participation including youngsters being pulled up to wear velcro hats while the rest of the audience were given foam balls to throw at them. Whilst this was happening the characters were singing and performing and then a Dominoes pizza deliverer hands out pizzas to the audience.

Later on two men are plucked from the audience to join Toby in a Tequila drinking contest.

It was very raucous and outlandish. I was totally stunned by everything that was going on and the whole show gelled together for me because of the sounds and music.

Ferdy Roberts, who played Malvolio a character who was ridiculed and made out to be a mad man, said, “You often have the musicians hidden away and it’s almost like you’re saying their less important but to us they’re just as important as the actors.”

He added, “Ollie and I went to Guildhall School of Music together and you get the actors hanging around together and the musicians hanging around together. But we found that all so pertinacious. We used to go to the pub with the musicians who would be themselves and so down to earth it was great.”

Ferdy and Ollie, who are also the founders of Filter, plan to re-launch their eco-show Water and tour with a new show called Silence which will tackle the differences between British culture and Russia next year. I hope to see the company return to Curve to show us some more of their diversities.

You have four days left to see this show in Leicester before Filter continues the tour up to Lancaster. Great show was an entertaining night out.

The performance will run until Saturday, October 16 with shows at 7.30pm and a matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday. Tickets cost between £14.50-£24.50, concessionary discounts available.

For more information or tickets visit or phone 0116 242 3595.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hot Stuff - Review

Looking for something to warm up your cockles this autumn? Then get down to Curve for the hilarious Hot Stuff which will have you singing, dancing and laughing all night long!

Leicester Theatre Trust Director, Paul Kerryson, has brought back the electric performance to the city after more than seven years break.
With an all-star cast including some of the original members (Ceri Dupree as Lucy Fur) anyone who sees this will be left wanting a second portion.

Hot Stuff is the Faustus story re-told in an explosion of 70s and 80s disco and soul songs. The sounds that drove the disco generation wild, set the stage for this hilarious night of glamour, glitz and total mayhem as anti-hero Joe Soap trades his soul to fulfil his wildest fantasies.

From start to finish I was mesmerised by the sparkly costumes and dazzling light displays. I hadn’t seen the show before so I was expecting a fantastic performance but I never expected to be laughing so much.
The story is fused by songs and short stand-up comedy moments, which worked great and allowed the set to be changed without the audience being kept waiting.

Narrator, Melvin Whitfield, led the audience all the way through and his stage presence was phenomenal. He had many scenes with the other cast members including Jason Denton who played Joe Soap.
It was clear the humour in the story has created a wonderful bond between the actors and this made the whole thing more enjoyable.

I couldn’t help singing along to the well-known hits from Michael Jackson, Abba, Dolly Parton and Donna Summers just to name a few.
By the second half the audience had loosened up and many joined in and even stood near the stage dancing along too.

There was a scene in the second half were Jason’s girlfriend Julie, played by Ngo Ngofa, belted out Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit, ‘I will survive’ and the passion behind it was huge. Everyone in the audience felt her emotions and we all joined in. If you see anything this season then see this.

Some say this is a family show but I think a lot of the humour and innuendos is more adult and would be a great night out for a group of friends or couples looking for a good laugh too.
Be prepared to feel energised after sitting through this performance because you’ll be left wanting to find the nearest disco and bust out some moves yourself!

To book your seats for this explosive show visit or call 0116 242 3595.
Tickets cost £8.25-£26.50.
Performance runs from Saturday October 2 to Saturday November 6 2010.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Coffee with Jason Denton and Yildiz Hussein

Bringing handfuls of glitter and bucket loads of glamour to Leicester’s Curve this autumn is Hot Stuff.
To find out about the sizzling performance set to hit the big stage on October 2, freelance writer, Jemma Crowston, caught up with cast members Jason Denton and Yildiz Hussein.

Curve’s Artistic Director, Paul Kerryson, revives Hot Stuff after more than five years break since it left the stage at Haymarket Theatre.

Hot Stuff is the Faustus story re-told in an explosion of 70s and 80s disco and soul songs. The sounds that drove the disco generation wild, set the stage for this hilarious night of glamour, glitz and total mayhem as anti-hero Joe Soap trades his soul to fulfil his wildest fantasies.

The devil wears sequins in this wicked and outrageous musical that will have the audience dancing, singing, and begging for more. The show will feature timeless pop icons from Dolly Parton to Donna Summer, Abba to Queen and adaptations of Michael Jackson’s music are brand new additions for the Curve production.

Kerryson has brought some of the original cast with him including Yildiz Hussein who will play Miss Hot Stuff.

“I was in the show ten years ago, and then seven years ago and five years ago was the last time. It’s a spectacular show and I’m really excited about performing at Curve for the first time too,” said Hussein.

24-year-old Jason Denton will play Joe Soap. He said, “I’ve been told that this is one of the most fun shows to be involved in.”

He added, “Joe is a bit of geek who dreams of being a big rock star but his girlfriend wants him to get a grip. Anyway this guy comes up to him and says he can make all his dreams come true if he signs a contract.”

37-year-old Hussein said, “Miss Hot Stuff is used to lure Joe away from his girlfriend who’s holding him back.”

Denton adds, “My girlfriend’s describe as more ballroom than bedroom whereas Miss Hot Stuff is more bedroom and this is nothing like what Joe has experienced before.”

The pair have some big numbers to sing during the show so I asked what they do to help their voice. Hussein said, “Plenty of water. Sometimes we have too much though and have to keep running to the toilet. But generally I find water and sleep really help.”

With rehearsals underway, the cast are busy practicing their dance moves in high heels and platforms.

Londoner Denton said, “I wore my platforms for the first time the other day and I couldn’t believe how tall I felt. I’m definitely going to have to practice walking around more in them.”

Not only does Denton have to get used to wearing such high shoes but he has to get over his modesty for the scenes where he’s wearing just his y-fronts.
He added, “I’m thinking about going to the gym more in the coming weeks. I’ve never been on stage wearing so little.”

Despite Hussein’s brief appearances on screen (BBC’s Casualty and Mammia Mia at Pinewood Studios), she and Denton spoke about the true magic of theatre.
She said, “There’s nothing like the journey of working on stage. On screen there’s a lot of stop, starting and waiting around for filming but on stage you really get the excitement and buzz of performing.”

The Birmingham born Hussein said the show is a great night out and a chance for all the audience to get up and start dancing too.

To book your seats for this explosive show visit or call 0116 242 3595.

Tickets cost £8.25-£26.50.

Performance runs from Saturday October 2 to Saturday November 6 2010.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Swan Lake @ Curve

Matthew Bourne’s award-winning Swan Lake is a must see at Leicester’s Curve theatre this week.
Whether you love the theatre, like to watch contemporary dance pieces or just love classical music this is modern day classic that will keep your eyes firmly fixed on the stage.

Returning to the city after last year’s fantastic Dorian Gray, Director Bourne and his New Adventures company stunned the audience with its opening night of their re-interpretation of Swan Lake. The set design and its adaptability were astounding.

Combine this with the beautiful gowns and the Swans’ iconic costumes you’ve got a show to be reckoned with. It’s easy to see how the show has won over thirty international awards since Bourne replaced the traditional female corps de ballet with an ensemble of masculine swans in 1995.

I was surprised to see elements of humour blended into the story but it worked well to compliment the modern references throughout the performance.
When Jonathan Ollivier appeared on stage as the Swan you could see the passion oozing out of him as he danced. His prowess on stage was perfect for the role of the menacing creature.

The bewildering intensity between the Swan and the Prince, played by Simon Williams, was fascinating to watch. At times it was erotic which was made even more obvious with the powerful Tchaikovsky’s great score playing in the background.

When the curtains came down for the interval I was just itching for the show to start act two. By the end of the performance the audience including myself were marvelling at the extreme talent of the cast.

Tickets for the show are like gold dust and if you’re lucky enough to see this show you’ll be sure to have a brilliant night!

Tickets and information: / 0116 242 3595. Tickets £24.50-£34.50, concessionary discounts available.