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.