Thursday, 17 November 2011

Buried Child



Walking in the studio to see a crop field and hearing the sounds of a soul/country song I was immediately reminded of the sublime set-up of Lieutenant of Inishmore.And what followed was a performance that added yet another high credit to director, Paul Kerryson’s, portfolio.Leicester’s Curve theatre is currently showing their latest production, Sam Shepards’ Buried Child, and this is one show not to be missed.

Synposis
Vince and new girlfriend Shelley arrive at the remote farmhouse and walk straight into a terrifying night to remember. Why doesn’t anyone know who Vince is? A dark and sinister secret is set to be revealed.
The suspense builds in just one setting, with startling actions and surprising revelations. There’s certainly no place like home in this engrossing and disturbing thriller.


Former Stars in their Eyes presenter, Matthew Kelly, and Home and Away star Michael Beckley, who played McMurphy in Curve’s production of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest earlier this season, brought the characters of Dodge (Kelly) and Bradley (Beckley) to life.

As the stars of the show, it was clear that their experience and talents out-shone the younger cast members of Catrin Stewart playing Shelley and Lloyd Thomas as Vince.Stewart and Thomas’ sometimes exaggerated expressions made the second half seem transparent but their performance improved in act three which saw the audience hanging on to every word to find out the buried family secret.

Jane Lowe portrayed wife Halie as a sinister character who was only interested in pretence and denial. Her awkward relationship with Father Dewis, played by Gary Lilburn, was uncomfortable to watch but yet it was hard to look away.The middle son of the family, Tilden, played by Matthew Rixon, had a hard task of being a man who had regressed to being almost childlike because of something traumatic from his past – but what that past experience was exactly was something the audience had to wait to find out.

His on-stage mannerisms were eerie and he moved with caution just like a timid child. The most shocking part of the show came at the end of act two with a disturbing scene between Bradley and Shelley. After the lights when down and came back up again for act three, the audience were thrown into bewilderment by how the characters were going to recover from what they had just witnessed.

To everyone’s surprise act three started as the show had begun, with the characters in a daze and in denial.A huge part of the show was the spectacular set design by Paul Wills and lighting by Rob Halliday.The crop field was used as the roof of the farmhouse by turning it at an angle and lifted into the fly tower.

Whilst Halliday used lighting to illustrate characters ‘upstairs’ in the house in act one and three.
You have until December 3 to see this show so make sure you book your tickets today!
Tickets and information:
http://www.curveonline.co.uk/ / 0116 242 3595





Photos by Johan Persson

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Curve theatre seeks child stars for musical Gypsy




Leicester’s prestigious Curve theatre is searching for 16 child stars for their spring 2012 musical - Gypsy.
The theatre, based in Rutland Street, announced their spring season programme last month and is excited to have won the rights to revive this classic which was last seen in the West End during the seventies.


Curve is looking for young people under the age of 16 who look between the age of 9 and 11 to come to auditions on November 17 at 6pm-8pm for girls and November 21 at 6pm-8pm for boys. The applicants must be no taller than 5ft, have a very strong singing voice and the ability to tap dance.


Paul Kerryson, Curve’s artistic director, said: “These are very important roles, Baby June in particular must be able to knock us out with her enthusiasm and volume, she must be able to do the splits and baton twirling would be an advantage!”


They will recruit two teams of eight parts (4 girls and 4 boys) who will rotate performances during the run from March 10 – April 15 2012. The roles available include:

• ‘Baby June’ to look between 9-11 years old, needs to have a loud singing voice, tap ability, and can do the splits
• ‘Baby Louise’ needs to look between 9-11 years old and have singing and tap ability
• Two other girls - to look between 9-11 years old, singing and tap ability
• 4 Newsboys or boy show dancers who look between 10-12 years old who need to be able to sing and dance, tap would be an advantage

Closing date for applications is at 12pm on Monday 14 November 2011.
Rehearsals for these parts will take place in the New Year so applicants need to be available from mid-January 2012 to the closing date of the show, 15 April 2012.


This jewel of American musical theatre is inspired by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee and charts the story of Mama Rose and her determination to live out her dreams of stardom through her two daughters, June and Louise. Curve’s revival of this classic musical fable will star Caroline O’Connor as Mama Rose. Caroline is a multi-award-winning actress who continues to grace the stages of Broadway, the West End, the Royal Albert Hall and Sydney Opera House.

Gypsy was last in London’s West End in 1973. Securing the rights to produce the show is a coup and ticket sales demonstrate that this Curve production is already attracting musicals fans spanning the length and breadth of the country and even overseas from Ireland.



Young people interested in auditioning can register their interest by emailing a.smith@curvetheatre.co.uk

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Interview with Kate Cowan



Got an idea for a business but don’t know where to start? Spring to Action is not-for-profit organisation set-up to help support new and small businesses grow in the East Midlands.

Drinking tea and talking shop with co-owner Kate Cowan, read my interview below and find out the best tips for all your entrepreneurial desires.


Kate and business partner Kash Khunkhuna initially set-up the business to enable people from disadvantaged communities to develop enterprise skills to either start a business of their own or use it to gain employment.

The enterprise agency, based in Derby and Leicester, was set-up five years ago just after Kate joined Leicester’s LCB Depot as an Enterprise Support Manager.

Last month, Kate decided to leave the Depot to concentrate on Spring to Action. She said, “I was working on Spring about two days a week whilst at the Depot but as our client list grows I needed to dedicate more time to it.”

Now working full-time on Spring Kate says the timing is just perfect. “Businesses are losing the support of other free services such as Business Link which is now only going to offer an online service.”

She added, “The best part of my job is seeing people realise their dreams and supporting their families.

“My mum used to work for Citizen Advice Bureau so we always had discussions over the dinner table about debt management and so I’ve had an interest in businesses ever since.”

Kate’s proudest achievement with Spring to date is working with VoiceUK. Spring produced a three year business plan and VoiceUK subsequently won a contract with NHS and went from being a regional organisation to national.

In a bid to help young enterprise entrepreneurs, the 34-year-old became an investment panel member for the Bank of TMC.

The Bank of TMC is a programme launched by The Mighty Creatives to support enterprising, creative young people in Leicester Shire; working together to turn good ideas into living, breathing businesses that provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs, create employment for other young people and make a positive difference to our communities.

Davey Ivens, Bank of TMC manager, said, “Kate was able to offer clear advice for the young social entrepreneurs about their business planning and market research. She also helped the Bank remember that we’re working in a business environment and encourage the young entrepreneurs to behave in a business-like manner too.”

Kate, who grew up in Hertfordshire, studied performing arts and arts management at Leicester’s De Montfort University.

She has a passion for project management and said she loves everything “from the budgets to the planning and mapping.”

Kate’s tips for budding entrepreneurs
Think about the effects on your families finances and your relationships
You have to put a lot of effort into setting up and running your own business. Make sure you’ve got the full support of your family behind you.

What’s your survival income?
Work out what is the minimum you would need to earn to survive.

Is it financially viable?
Can you afford to invest time and money into and will it be worth the rewards?

Is there a gap in the market?
There’s no point duplicating a product or service which has been made a thousands times over. Make sure you’re product or service is offering the customer something different or new.

Are you going to enjoy doing the job?
You will be spending all your time and effort working on this so make sure your interest can withhold the length of hours you’ll be putting into it.

Research and don’t get fixated on one aspect be prepared to be flexible
Some ideas will need to be moulded to fit into the market place but if you get fixated on one idea or a particular way of delivering it then it won’t work.

For one-to-one advice or to find out more about Spring to Action visit http://www.springtoaction.co.uk/ or find Kate on Twitter @springuk


Thursday, 20 October 2011

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest







Prime Minister backs somewhereto_


Prime Minister, David Cameron, hopes to inspire more businesses to open spaces for young people after unlocking No.10 for young people to free run, perform and practice boxing.
Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, somewhereto_ is a nationwide project to help young people find the space they need to do the things they love, within sport, culture and the arts.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, said, “somewhereto_ is a fantastic initiative to help young people to find the space they need to develop their passions. This is a great example of the Big Society – connecting the businesses that have space they can spare with people in their community who have a dream they can use it for.


“If Downing Street can open its doors to something as adventurous as free running I hope it will inspire other people to see what their building could be used for.”
The Mighty Creatives (TMC) is one of the organisations chosen to deliver somewhereto_ in the East Midlands.



The project is run by Livity, a youth engagement agency, in media partnership with Channel 4 Education and funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity set up to help build a lasting cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games across the UK.
TMC is the young people’s creative development agency for the East Midlands who use creativity to make positive change in the lives of young people and the communities.

Some of the spaces unlocked in the East Midlands so far include Pedestrian Arts Gallery in Leicester, Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and Quad in Derby. To see the some of the venues unlocked visit http://www.somewhereto.com/ if you're looking for a different space then get in touch with your regional coordinator.

If you’re aged 16-25 and need a space to do the things you love, or are a space-holder who has access to or influence over how a space is used, get in touch.
To get involved, or to chat about the project, contact daisy@somewhereto.com

For more information about The Mighty Creatives visit www.themightycreatives
.com

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

"Don't be mad - come and see this play"

Michael Beckley playing Randle McMurphy. Photo by Pamela Raith

Interview with Michael Beckley and Thomas Renshaw

“Don’t be mad come and see this play.” Michael Beckley playing Randle McMurphy

Former Home and Away star, Michael Beckley and De Montfort University graduate, Tom Renshaw, spoke to freelance journalist, Jemma Crowston, about their upcoming roles in Curve’s new production of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Based on the 1962 novel by Ken Kesey, which was later adapted for the 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson, Michael Buffong, award winning film, stage and television director, will bring his explosive adaptation of this cult classic alive in Leicester next week.

Synposis
Upon being sentenced to prison, Randle P. McMurphy hopes to avoid hard labour with a stint in a mental institution. However, his anti-authoritarian attitude and compassion for his fellow patients make him a prime target for the insanely fearsome Nurse Ratched, which leads to explosive results for everyone, including those caught in the cross-fire.

Beckley, who is most known for his role as Reece Sutherland in the Aussie soap – Home and Away, will play McMurphy for the first time whilst 25-year-old Renshaw will play The Chief for the second time.


The DMU theatre studies graduate first played The Chief as a student, he said, “The rehearsal process have been a lot more thorough and I’ve discovered a lot more about the chief.

“The Chief looks at the world in his own magic way. In the film he is a mute but in the play he acts as the narrator. McMurphy will eventually bring him out of his catatonic state.”

Beckley said that audience can expect more comedy than the novel and film. He said, “Of course there’s humour in a lunatic asylum. Our friends and families have their own little ticks and we do too. We use exaggerated versions of these to portray the characters mannerisms.”

He added, “The novel is so detailed and Buffong has had to cut it down but he doesn’t lose the story in any way. This is one of the best adaptations I have ever read. Each character goes through a journey and by the end of the play they have all transformed.”

The show, which will run for three weeks, uses a rake on set which acts as a sloped hill towards the audience. Beckley said, “The stage is designed to make the audience feel uncomfortable and to feel like they’re in an asylum.”

The pair will join 12 other cast members including Catherine Russell as Nurse Ratched.
Beckley said, “The relationship between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy is between equals. She likes order and calm and he’s all about freedom and freedom of spirit. The whole play will see this story unfold.

“People put on different masks whether it’s for work, when you’re with friends or in another scenario and these men don’t have masks but Nurse Ratched does. Some say that’s why Nurse Ratched is the maddest one in there and she’s running the joint.”

He added, “When all the cast met for the first read through we all just looked around at one another and thought Buffong has picked everyone perfectly for the roles. It went so smoothly and I’ve got a great feeling about this show.”

Renshaw, who grew up near Doncaster, said his favourite scene is the party scene because the cast get to be messy on stage.

Beckley said, “I know this isn’t the answer you’ll want but I love all the scenes. I do particular like the scene between McMurphy and The Chief in act two because it’s a beautiful moment. The rest of the play is full of good meaty stuff that actors love.”

Beckley and Renshaw both agreed that Buffong is a superb director to work for. Renshaw said, “He’s [Buffong] is an actors director. He lets us get on with whatever we want and whilst we’re rehearsing you’ll see him move around the room and make little suggestions by whispering to the cast and then we do the same scene again and it’s completely transformed and you think what did he say?

“I see him as an artist painting a picture. He sits back to look at the whole landscape and then tweaks it here and there.”

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an American play and so UK born Renshaw and Aussie Beckley both have to act using an accent.

“When I played Lenny in Mice and Men I had to put on a mid-west accent and I’ve worked on mainly American plays so I’ve got used to how to use more vocal chords,” said Renshaw.

Beckley said, “Aussies seem to be really good at putting on an American accent. I’m fascinated with phonetics so I’m really interested in sounds and how to make sounds in different parts of your mouth.”

On their first visit to Leicester’s Curve theatre, the cast were given a personal tour of the state-of-the-art space.

“Wow”, said Renshaw. “It’s just stupidly impressive”, said Beckley.

Beckley, who was working as a dresser in London before auditions, added, “England has a lot of old buildings so theatre can tend to be quite small and pokey but Curve was built with a modern sense in mind and there’s tons of space.”

Renshaw said, “I used to work at the Haymarket as a student and I remember how much it felt like a family because everyone was to friendly and personally and Curve have got that too. It’s great to see these kind of traditions carried on.”

The show will run from Friday, October 14 to Saturday, November 5. Tickets cost from £7.25 - £24.50

To book your tickets phone 0116 242 3595 or visit http://www.curveonline.co.uk/

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Interview with Jason Wood


It’s been almost four months since Leicester’s De Montfort University set-up DMU Square Mile.
Ahead of the official launch and big volunteer day tomorrow (September 22), I caught up with DMU Square Mile Research Director, Jason Wood, to find out all about the innovative community initiative.
Mr Wood started his career as a youth worker 12 years ago. He was the youth and community researcher for DMU before taking on the Vice Chancellor’s Square Mile project.


Tell me about DMU Square Mile
Square Mile was an idea generated by our Vice Chancellor, Dominic Shellard, to see how the university could make a difference in the community with the support of the local authorities.
I’ve been involved in the set-up of investments and assessing the potential impact of the project.
We started in May (2011) by working with the community and speaking to residents for a period of consultation.


What will happen on the Big Volunteer Day?
We’re holding a big volunteer day as the official launch of the project. We will see students, stakeholders, board members and the community all pulling together to start 21 mini projects.
Some of the projects include planting a sensory garden and setting up a community café. They’ll be some volunteers litter picking too.
We’re encouraging anyone living in local area to get involved. The success relies on community involvement.

The Square Mile project work is around the university campus covering estates such as Fosse, Abbey and Western Park.

How can people get involved?
Email Mile2@dmu.ac.uk or call 0116 2577102 or follow @DMUsquaremile

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Akram Khan's Desh



Tonight Curve will welcome audience members to the public dress rehearsal of Akram Khan's Desh.The internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer, opens the autumn season at Curve with the World Premiere of his new dance productionthis week.

We last saw Khan at Curve with his successful co-productions with the theatre In-i and Vertical Road.
Inspired by his home country of Bangladesh,
Desh, will explore the idea of transformation – of body, land, identity and memory, while examining the contradictions of Khan’s British-Asian identity. Created after a year of research both in the UK and Bangladesh and performed during the year Bangladesh celebrates the 40th anniversary of its independence from Pakistan, DESH draws together multiple tales of land, nation and resistance.

Oscar and BAFTA winning Chinese designer Tim Yip (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) has created the set and costume designs.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Summer Sundae - Review


Leicester’s crown jewels of family entertainment, Summer Sundae, returned for its eleventh year at the weekend.
The city saw De Montfort Hall and Gardens transformed into a haven for music lovers of all tastes and creeds.
With dozens of acts across five stages (main stage, indoor stage, Last FM rising stage, The Musician stage and eFestivals Comedy Tent) I was certainly spoilt for choice.
Arriving at the gates early on the Saturday I took a quick whistle stop tour of the grounds via a free rickshaw ride. This quirky little eco-friendly taxi was perfect for the chilled vibe of the weekend.

To read the rest of my review visit The Public Reviews website.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Summer Sundae 2011

Today (Saturday, August 13) was my first festival experience - Summer Sundae @ De Montfort Hall. Some say it's quite odd that I'm 25 and only just having my first taste of festivals and others have said it's the perfect chilled festival for an introduction to a world of music, fast food, flip flops and hats. My highlights of the day include riding a rickshaw, having my palm read and soaking up the sounds of acts like Beth Jeans Houghton, Kissmet, Reef, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, The Jim Jones Revue and The Paradimes.


With dozens of acts across five stages (main stage, indoor stage, Last FM rising stage, The Musician stage and eFestivals Comedy Tent) I was certainly spoilt for choice. My day started off with a ride on the rickshaw to assess the lay of the land and then I went off for a browse through the marquee stores including a thorough hunt for gems in the vintage tents. This is where I discovered Geoff & Mildred Crank (finger puppets). This old knitted duo soon became the mascots for the days adventures (photos below).





Mildred & Geoff Crank


My full review will be uploaded to The Public Reviews website tomorrow but for now here's some opinions from other people at Summer Sundae.

First, I caught up with parents of a member of I am In Love. The couple from Milton Keynes had never been to a festival before.


I spoke to father, daughter, Cliff and Fiona about their highlights of the festival so far.

23-year-old Adam tells me his highlights so far.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

In Pictures: Leicester Riots



Jacobs, Granby Street







Curve Side Cafe






Pound Stretcher, Granby Street








Exchange Bar - boarded up

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The City Gallery @ Pedestrian Arts

(Me) enjoying the 'no frills' exhibition at Pedestrian Arts created by The City Gallery


The City Gallery Exhibition @ LCBDepot

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A How-to guide for using Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform, designed to get quick messages, news and updates out to the world in no more than 140 characters.


Below you will find information about Twitter jargon and how to start your very own Tweet journey.


Homepage
When you’re logged in to Twitter you will see five tabs: ‘timeline’/@Mentions/Retweets/Searches/Lists
You’ll find descriptions, examples and guidelines for these tabs below

Followers
You can follow people/organisations by searching for them using the search box at the top of the web page and clicking the follow button on their profile.
Once you’ve clicked follow you will then see their Tweet updates on your ‘timeline’ which is your home page of Twitter which appears when you log in.

Conversations
To speak to someone or mention/reference someone in your Tweets just simply put a ‘@’ symbol in front of their Twitter name.

Examples:-
I had a very productive meeting @LCBDepot today


@Richard_TMC what will the weather be like today?

Sharing links
If you would like to share a website link or promote a website to your followers it is always a good idea to shorten the URL (the website title) first because you only have 140 characters per Tweet.
You can shorten your URL easily by copying the URL you wish to share and going to http://www.tinyurl.com/
on this website you will see a box which asks you to paste your long URL into and simply click make tiny URL and click access clipboard when the box appears. You will then be able to go to your Twitter status box and click paste to add the shortened link to the site you wish to share.

Hashtags #
The # symbol called hashtag is used to mark topics or keywords in Tweets. You will often find events such as conferences, meetings or courses have their own hashtag. This allows people to monitor, follow or keep up-to-date on events or subjects.

For instance, The Mighty Creatives used #AICDerby and #AICLincoln for the Adventures in Creativity Summer events 2011.

Retweets
On your ‘timeline’ you will see Tweets from all the people/organisations that you are following. A Retweet is where you simply Tweet someone else’s Tweet.
If you hover the cursor over a Tweet that you like you will then see three options appear: - Favourite/Retweet/Reply
If you want to share someone else’s Tweet with your followers simply click Retweet.

Favourite
This option allows you to add a star next to Tweets you like. You may want to use this function if a Tweet has a link on you wish to explore later but don’t have the time to look at it then.
You can then return to that Tweet later by clicking on your profile (either at the top of the screen or on the right hand column) and you’ll see your ‘favourites’ tab next to the timeline and your Tweets.

Reply
You can click this button to make a comment to someone’s Tweet. This button adds the persons @ Twitter name into your Tweet status box and allows you to type a message and when they receive it they’ll be able to see which of their Tweets you’re replying/commenting to by clicking on a small arrow which will appear at the end of the Tweet.

Searches
The search tab allows you to save your regular search subjects. For instance, if you wanted to keep up-to-date with a hashtag or particular word you could use the search box and save it so you can re-visit it at any point.

Lists
You may find it useful to group the people/organisations your following into lists. This allows you to then view the Tweets from a particular group in its own ‘timeline’.
For instance, you could choose to create a list of journalisrs. This way you’ll be able to view all journalists’ Tweets in a single ‘timeline’ without having to sift through your main ‘timeline’. This tool is useful if you follow lots of people or if you like to categorize subjects.

For instance, you could create lists for each region so that you view all the Tweets from people/organisations that live in Leicester under one ‘timeline’.

Trends
You will see the word Trends in the right hand column when you’re signed into your account which will list the most popular search words or hashtags being used on Twitter.
These are great for keeping up-to-date with popular worldwide discussions, topics and even sometimes great for finding out ‘news’ before the newsreaders know themselves.

Your Twitter settings
By clicking on your name in the top right hand corner when your logged in and choosing settings you can amend your profile and notifications.
Profile options: - photo/bio/location/web address/profile background/password/Twitter name
Notifications: - email alerts about direct messages, @metions, retweets and new followers
Applications: - linking your account with other accounts such as Linkedin, Foursquare etc
Mobile: - receiving update notifications via text messages

This was a basic guide to for those Twitter virgins. Please add comments if you would like to share your tips on using Twitter.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Indian Summer



Free Event at Leicester's Phoenix Sqaure this weekend. Come and sample the sights, sounds and tastes of India.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Uniforms and Orgasms




What do you think 25-year-old Lucy does for a career? This seemingly sweet looking Derbyshire lass has a naughty side. Find out why…

If I said to you Lucy’s job involves firemen and police officers you might be fooled into thinking she worked in the emergency services. Or how about if I said her job involved multiple orgasms would you think she was in the porn industry?

Well combine the two and add a pen and paper and you’ve got yourself an erotic literature writer.

“It was a dare! Back when I was at Uni, I was chatting with some friends and one of them jokingly said I should write an erotic story. I laughed it off, but my friend pursued the conversation and eventually dared me. I couldn't back down then – so I gave it go! The result was received very well and I continued to write, with my first published story appearing in now-defunct magazine, Scarlet.
“That first publication gave me the confidence to continue and I've never looked back”,
said Lucy Felthouse.

Do you ever reference your own life in your stories?

Lucy said:
“I think every writer does to some extent, regardless of genre. There are themes that slip into my stories, for example my love of the outdoors and my appreciation for a man in uniform. Other than that, though, I keep my private life private – I'd never write something that was a word-for-word account of something that had happened to me.”

Do your family know what you do? If so, what do they think?

Lucy said: “Yes and no. They know I write, but as none of them have actually asked outright, I haven't enlightened them as to the genre. They see my job as being self-employed, "doing websites and stuff."

Do you have a partner? What do they think?

Lucy said: “I do, and he's fab. He doesn't really read my writing, he's much more into crime fiction and thrillers. But he's massively supportive and listens to me waffle on about various writerly things without complaint. I can't ask for any more than that!”

What’s the best atmosphere you find for writing?


Lucy said: “I have to be alone. Not necessarily in the house, but certainly in the room. I'm getting better at ignoring distractions, but I do find it difficult. I'm massively jealous of writers that go to cafes to write, it seems like such a cool thing to do. But the reality is, if I was sitting in a cafe with a notebook I'd be doodling on it and eavesdropping on people's conversations!

“I also can't have any music or anything. I find myself thinking about the lyrics and humming along, rather than writing. I tried music without lyrics for a while, like classical music, but it was still a no-go area. I just have to knuckle down and get on with it and try not to stare out of the window, or get distracted by the internet.”

Do you have any rituals or traditions you must do before starting a project?

Lucy said: “No, not at all. I guess I like to clear any other pressing jobs out of the way so when I sit down to write I'm not thinking "Oh, I really need to get such-and-such finished," but other than that, I just go for it.”

Do you keep a notebook at the side of your bed in case you get some inspiration?



Lucy said: “Absolutely! I have notebooks everywhere, and if all else fails I can email myself from my iPhone. The trouble is though; I tend to get ideas at the most ridiculous times, like when I'm in the shower or something.”

Do you have friends/colleagues whom you can share ideas with?

Lucy said: “Yes and no. The friends and family I see from day-to-day aren't creative, so I wouldn't bore them with writing stuff. However I have lots of writer friends that I chat to regularly via text, emails, Twitter and Facebook. To be honest, though, I don't tend to share my ideas that often, I just think about them myself, scribble some notes down and hope they develop into stories.”

Whose your best critic?

Lucy said: “Me! I don't have a beta reader or anything. I've toyed with the idea but I'm often so close to deadline with submissions that it's probably not a good idea! During my degree I was taught that it's not good to be too precious over your work – and I've always stuck to that. I'll edit and edit until something is right, even if it means cutting lots out.”

Do you have any idols?

Lucy said: “Oh yes, loads. I think many writers dream of being the next J.K. Rowling, but I don't, necessarily. Obviously having her millions would be fantastic, but I wouldn't want the fame that goes with it.

“Within the erotica/erotic romance genre, though, some of the writers I most admire are Portia Da Costa, Saskia Walker, Kay Jaybee, K D Grace, Justine Elyot and Charlotte Stein. They're all prolific and very talented writers and I'm so happy that I can call them my friends, too.”

Who has been your favourite character that you’ve created and why?

Lucy said: “This varies from time to time. But at the moment my favourite character is Sam, who appears in Just Couldn't Wait, a story in the erotic anthology Uniform Behaviour. He's my favourite because he bears an incredibly strong resemblance to one of my celebrity crushes and is totally gorgeous.”


What’s the best erotic phrase to describe a penis you’ve either created or read elsewhere?

Lucy said: “I literally can't answer that question. There are so many excellent writers out there that I definitely wouldn't class my own work as the best! Plus I've read so much that I couldn't pick out any phraseology. It's characters and storylines that tend to stick in my mind, rather than individual phrases.”

What are you working on right now?

Lucy said: “At the moment I'm weaving my writing in between all the freelance PR & Marketing stuff I'm doing. But I'm finishing up a couple of short stories to be submitted to various anthologies. I'm also trying to find some time to work on a novella I've been thinking about for a long time.”

Do you want to write in other styles/genres?

Lucy said: “I have toyed with the idea of writing chick-lit, but every plot that I've ever thought about has seemed ridiculously cheesy or unbelievable. I know that reading, for many people, is about escapism but if I read something too off the wall, I lose interest.

“I am trying to stretch myself with the erotic genre. The majority of what I've written has been contemporary stuff, but I've also written some paranormal and I'd definitely like to do more of this.

“I also do quite a bit of copywriting and journalistic stuff on top of my fiction, and I enjoy that immensely too. I'm very lucky that I'm getting to do what I enjoy, particularly as so many people don't.”

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a creative writer?

Lucy said: “I briefly touched on this in one the previous questions. I was taught the importance of not being too precious about your own work and editing to the best of your abilities. After all, what's the point of writing a story that you like if nobody else is going to like it?”

To find out more about Lucy or to read her work visit http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk/

Running for a cause





Finding out you’re diagnosed with a life-altering disease is difficult at whatever age but for 15-year-old Stuart Rose, it was an added strain to adolescent life. The Scotsman had to deal with the side-effects of medication whilst taking his exams.

But six years later and Stuart is living life to the full and using his plight as a motivation to help others. Not content with letting Multiple Sclerosis rule his life, Stuart will be taking on the Loch Ness Marathon this October.

How did your friends/family react during the time of diagnosis?
Stuart said: “When I was diagnosed my family and friends were understandably upset. I guess when I was diagnosed I didn’t know too much about MS apart from knowing that my auntie had been diagnosed with it. Many people were surprised as I was only 15 years old when I was diagnosed which is unusually young to have this disease. The support and kindness from my family and friends was very important to me and helped me to try and get on with my life as best that I could.”

Multiple Sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults, with diagnosis generally between the ages of 20 and 40.

MS is the result of damage to the myelin - a protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system. When myelin is damaged this interferes with messages from the brain and other parts of the body. There is currently no cure for MS. For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission while for others it has a progressive pattern.

For everyone, it makes life unpredictable.


What type/form of MS do you have (if you know yet)?
Stuart said: “I was originally diagnosed with relapsing/remitting MS but last year was told my MS was now highly active relapsing/remitting MS. I had several relapses in about a year and I was given another MRI scan and, unfortunately, the results showed evidence of new MS activity. As I now have ‘highly active’ MS I qualify for a treatment (‘Tysabri’) which I receive once a month, by infusion at the hospital.”

When was your last 'attack' and how does it make you feel?
Stuart said: “My last relapse was in August 2010. This resulted in numbness to the left side of my body – leg, arm, hand which also affected my balance and co-ordination. I spent the night in hospital and was given a course of a three day treatment of steroids which helped clear my symptoms up after about a week. My other relapses have mainly been numbness (particularly to my left side) with one of my first also being an attack which gave me double vision for about 10 days which was extremely worrying.”

When you run what spurs you on through bad weather conditions and knee injuries?
Stuart said: “I think what motivates me is the thought of helping others. Every training run I go on, no matter how hard, I try and remember why I am doing this and who I am doing this for.

“The feeling that I am doing something to try and improve peoples lives is a massive motivation for me.


“There have certainly been runs which are very tough and I have felt that I cannot do more but I just keep doing what I have been doing – trying my best to achieve my goal. Also, one of my main symptoms that I find with MS is that it affects my mood but I feel that getting out for a run can sometimes help to lift it.”

How often are you training? How many miles etc?
Stuart said: “I began training in January and it was very difficult with persistent interruption due to wintry weather and also after four weeks of training I had problems with my knees. I found that due to my knee injury I could only run once a week instead of the intended four.”

When Stuart signed up for the Marathon he was also registered for the Inverness Half Marathon in March. After seven weeks of training he took part in the half-marathon just three months ago.



He said: “It was a real challenge. The weather on the day was terrible; there was snow, freezing rain and strong winds throughout. This was not helped by my knee problem recurring before I was even three miles into the run. However, I persevered and completed the half marathon in a time of two hours 20 minutes.

“After the Half Marathon I decided to take a break for a few weeks (to give the knees a rest!) and have recently got out my running shoes again. My weekly mileage ranges from 15 miles to 39 miles.”

Are you currently working or a student? What are your ambitions?
Stuart said: “I am currently working as a Learning Support Auxiliary in a secondary school in Inverness. I have worked at the school for nearly two years now and I am finding it extremely enjoyable and rewarding. I am also studying an honours degree in Psychology with the Open University; however I am taking a break from this to concentrate on my running and fundraising. I will continue with my studies after the marathon in October. In the future I would like to go into teaching.”

What piece of advice would you offer to anyone whose newly diagnosed with MS?
Stuart said: “I would say the most important advice would simply be – do not worry. You are still you. You are still the same person you were before you were diagnosed. I would research the type of MS you have and also research the different options of treatments to help manage MS. In addition to this, I feel it is also very important to surround yourself with supportive family, friends or work colleagues. I know from experience you may feel like you just want to try and shut people out and ‘deal with it’ alone but try find a way to take care of yourself and just relax and know that you have many people in your life who care for you.”

21-year-old Stuart wants to raise as much money as possible for MS Society Scotland. He said: “The MS Society Scotland depends entirely on charitable fundraising and the support of the public and volunteers to be able to do their fantastic work.”


To support Stuart’s Marathon challenge visit http://www.justgiving.com/stuartrose89




Review: Mr Stink




The world premiere of Mr Stink was a sensory treat for all the family at its opening show at Curve, Leicester last night.

The ‘stinkiest show in town’ came with its own scratch ‘n’ sniff book to truly let the audience become absorbed in the story.
Its creator, Little Britain star David Walliams, and his supermodel wife, Lara Stone, were seen enjoying the production from their mid row seats.
The co-production between KW & NB Ltd and Curve Theatre, Leicester with Hackney Empire and Nottingham Playhouse had its first public dress rehearsal last night (Weds, May 25).
The show has been adapted and directed by Matthew White (Director of the recent West End productions of Sweet Charity and Little Shop of Horrors and the forthcoming production of Top Hat) with music composed by Matt Brind (Musical Director for Legally Blonde and Conductor and Orchestrator for John Barrowman’s latest album).
Chloe doesn’t like school very much. She isn’t as cool as the other kids, no iPhone, no DS and no friends. Then she meets Mr Stink – the local tramp. Yes, he smells a bit but he’s the only person who’s ever been nice to her, including her mother who wants to be the local MP and is trying to rid the streets of its homeless. About to lose her only friend, Chloe finds Mr Stink a secret hiding place…but is there more to him than meets the nose?
The simplistic yet easily moulded set was a great use of Curve’s studio space and allowed the audience to follow the story by establishing each scene with its props.
Three of the characters were played by puppets; Amber, The Duchess the dog and Elizabeth the cat.

Speaking to Mark Peachey, who works The Duchess, during rehearsals he said Toby Olié had taught them how to move with the puppets and bring them to life.

This was a fantastic element to the show which helped bring the original books characters to the stage.

Mr Stink’s (Pete Edbrook) larger-than-life personality lit up the stage throughout both acts. His loveable nature and charming quirks had the audience laughing with delight.
The on-set relationship between Mr Stink and Chloe (Lotte Gilmore) was heart-warming and in the final scenes you’ll see how much Mr Stink really cares for the 12-year-old girl.

The stereotypical corner shop owner, Raj (Irvine Iqbal) and Chloe’s mum, Mrs Crumb (Julia J Nagle), had some of the funniest scenes in the show.

Mrs Crumb’s ambitions to become a politician leads to some hilarious consequences on Question Time and whilst out campaigning.

When summarising the best bits from the show its hard to single just one thing because it was all outstanding.

But whilst typing up my review all I can seem to do is hum some of the wonderful songs which I heard last night including Mrs Crumb’s campaign song ‘Wake up and Smell the Coffee’ and The Duchess’ song which was a cue for the audience to use their scratch ‘n’ sniff books.

This is set to be a huge theatre hit across the country as it continues its tour until December 2011.
For a guaranteed giggle and a good night out, make sure you see Mr Stink live on stage.
http://www.mrstinklive.com/




Thursday, 26 May 2011

Interview with Mr Stink and The Duchess



Leicester’s set for a smelly treat this May half-term with the world premiere of Mr Stink.
Freelance journalist, Jemma Crowston, caught up with case members Peter Edbrook and Mark Peachey during rehearsals.

Little Britain star David Walliams, will see his award-winning children’s novel come to life with this musical adaptation.
The co-production between KW & NB Ltd and Curve Theatre, Leicester with Hackney Empire and Nottingham Playhouse had its first public dress rehearsal last night (Weds, May 25).

Tweets following the performance said, “if you only see one show this year make sure you see Mr Stink. It’s awesome and great for adults and children alike.”

The show has been adapted and directed by Matthew White (Director of the recent West End productions of Sweet Charity and Little Shop of Horrors and the forthcoming production of Top Hat) with music composed by Matt Brind (Musical Director for Legally Blonde and Conductor and Orchestrator for John Barrowman’s latest album).

Chloe doesn’t like school very much. She isn’t as cool as the other kids, no iPhone, no DS and no friends. Then she meets Mr Stink – the local tramp. Yes, he smells a bit but he’s the only person who’s ever been nice to her, including her mother who wants to be the local MP and is trying to rid the streets of its homeless. About to lose her only friend, Chloe finds Mr Stink a secret hiding place…but is there more to him than meets the nose?

“It’s an absolutely charming play for all the family”, said Peter Edbrook who plays Mr Stink.






Rehearsal photo: Peter Edbrook (Mr Stink)


Edbrook, who lives in Chester, is well-known for his performances at Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre.

Mark Peachey, who plays Mr Stink’s dog – The Duchess, plus Mr Crumb and other parts, lives in Glenfield, Leicestershire.

David Walliams’ smelliest book of all time will include the first ever interactive scratch ‘n’ sniff family show! Each audience member will be given a free scratch ‘n’ sniff booklet bringing Mr Stink pungently to life.

“We tested the scratch ‘n’ sniff books out at a school. Children’s reactions are huge so it was great fun to see them laughing or squirming depending if it was a horrible smell or a nice one”, said Peachey.

The musical comedy has a five star cast and there is some puppetry including The Duchess, Mr Stink’s dog.

Rehearsal phot: Mark Peachey (The Duchess)


Peachey said, “I’ve never done puppetry before so this was something completely new. I had training from Toby Olié who is truly fantastic at what he does.

“The main tips I’ve took from him is to remember the breathing and watch your eye line. His work makes you almost forget that the puppets aren’t real.”
Olié’s most famous work is in a production called War Horse.

Mr Stink is suitable for children aged 7+ and their families. The show will kick start the Spark Children’s Arts Festival programme at Curve.
A special Curve Ball will open the show’s first night on May 26. Two schools working on the Creative Exchanges project with Curve have created an installation and musical feast to entertain the audiences from 5pm.

The Mighty Creatives, the young people’s creative development agency for the East Midlands, who deliver the Creative Exchange project as part of the Government’s flagship learning programme Creative Partnerships.

The show also lends itself perfectly to schools audiences. Ideal for key stage 2-3 PSHE – Education Pack available on request.
Following its world premiere at Curve with previews from 26 May, Mr Stink will embark on a major National tour between May and December 2011.

http://www.mrstinklive.com/

For tickets visit http://www.curveonline.co.uk/

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

My MS Story



I had just landed my dream job as a reporter, I was finishing off my law and news writing exams and moving out of my parents’ house for the first time.
It was a hot summer that year too. All of these life altering events (and the climate) were blamed for what was happening to me.



I can see that very first day like it has just happened all over again.


A typical Sunday afternoon at my parents.
I had washed the car and gone inside to get my dinner. It's always chicken when I'm round because I can't stand red meat.
As I picked up my tray with a plate sloshing with gravy I lost the feeling in my right side, the world around me went into slow motion and I was about to fall. My short mumblings and no doubt horrified look alerted my Dad that there was a problem. His quick actions stopped the tray from smashing and me from falling with a thud.



I was helped to the ground by my terrified parents who didn't have a clue what was going on and neither did I. My immediate reaction was tears.
What has just happened?



My head went fuzzy, my arms and legs went limp.
I was shocked.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.
It was soon put down to the stress of everything that I mentioned at the beginning but then it happened again.



As part of my initiation into the news hound gang I was given the fabulous task of wearing the mascot uniform during carnival week. A hot summer's day and I was dressed in a dog suit! It was great. I loved it. We all went back to the office for pizza and drinks. I drank plenty of water which is what everyone was telling me to do all the time since the first incident.
I wanted to show off my new office to my boyfriend and again I went into a state where the world slowed down and so did my right side.



I turned to smile and that was it I went down.
I couldn’t move my limbs and this time my face started to twitch.

Both incidents didn't last more than a few seconds but they're the scariest moments of my life. What was happening to me? After months of tests and a horrible lumber puncture I was called back to the neurologist.

“I’m afraid we suspect it’s MS”.



My only knowledge and only image of MS is that of someone who is bed-ridden and unable to care for herself.
My world had just crumbled.
What am I going to do? I’m 23 years-old and I’ve just been told I’ve got a condition which could potentially paralyse me.



When the self-pity faded and the realisation settled in I knew I was going to have to deal with this. I often think why me, why now but then I have to remember that life is what you make it. I’m not brave and I’m not a heroin. I’m just me. If anything, having MS has reminded that life is fragile. Where you expecting me to say something else there? Like life is short, life is sweet or life is great. But life is fragile. Seemingly simple incidents can alter your life, they can alter your perception and open up your thinking.


MS is a part of my life now. My last attack came just before Christmas 2010 and this time the pains in my arms and face were too much to handle and I went on medication for a short while. I’m currently awaiting the results of my latest scan.


Waiting.
It’s a huge part of life. My MS story seems mild compared to many sufferers. It some ways I feel quite embarrassed at my own feelings of upset because I have seen the worst case scenario and I’m not there, well yet anyway. Do I have the right to feel the way I do? How can I sit here writing my MS story like it was the hardest thing ever? Well, for me it was and still is. It might not be as progressive or aggressive as some people’s symptoms but my own experience of multiple sclerosis has been the most challenging part of my life to date.



Of course I wish I didn’t have it but I’m a big believer in fate and if certain life events hadn’t happened to me would I still be the ambitious and head strong person that I am today? Life is a gamble, a turn of a card which you can never fully predict. My deck seems to have a few jokers but then doesn’t everyone’s?



MS is still a disease not fully understood by the masses and is often confused with ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy).


The work of the doctors, nurses and charities is simply amazing. The support I’ve been offered is outstanding. I knew right from the first incident and the following appointments that I wasn’t alone. If I could offer any advice to someone learning about their diagnosis for the first time, it would be to use the support around you. I’ve been to the support groups; I’m a member of my local MS group and keep up-to-date with the latest news stories. It’s a big help. To read about the research being carried out or the latest fundraiser is a testament to the strength of the MS Trust, the MS Society and all those affected by the disease.

Today is World MS Day (Weds, May 25) please help support the work of the MS Trust and MS Society by using the hashtag #MSWeek on Twitter and sharing my story with your friends.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

New Season at Curve



Leicester’s Curve theatre has opened up the ticket lines for this autumn’s jam-packed season of stage delights.
The exciting new programme features three Curve productions, two Curve co-productions and two Curve collaborations plus a host of visiting companies.



Paul Kerryson, Artistic Director for Curve, said: “I am pleased to announce Curve’s autumn 2011 season of work. We open with a Curve co-production and dance World Premiere from Akram Khan, followed by a thrilling mix of contemporary drama and new writing.

“Musicals also form a key part of our season, including Broadway glamour in our Christmas production of 42nd Street.”

Khan returns to Curve following Vertical Road with another world premiere – Desh. This solo dance performance by Khan is inspired by his homeland of Bangladesh. This new dance work is a Curve co-production which premieres in Leicester ahead of another world tour. Desh will be on at Curve from September 13 to September 17.

The season will continue with a series of unmissable home-produced thrillers including One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Director Michael Buffong will bring the adaptation of Ken Kesey’s 1962 cult classic to the stage from October 14 to November 5.



Kerryson will bring Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Buried Child, to life in November.
When Vince returns to his family’s farmhouse with his new girlfriend Shelley they walk straight into a terrifying night to remember in Buried Child on stage from November 11 to December 3.


Towards the end of the season we’ll see two popular and timeless musicals at Curve – Blood Brothers and Curve’s Christmas special – 42nd Street.

Speaking to Kerryson at the beginning of the spring season he said: “We’ve been very lucky to get the rights to do 42nd Street and we only got them because of the success of previous performances such as King and I.

“It’s a very magical story and one of the most famous around the world so we wanted to give the audience time to buy their tickets especially those who couldn’t get tickets this Christmas to our sell out show.”


To see the complete list of autumn 2011 shows visit http://www.curveonline.co.uk/

Monday, 2 May 2011

Bin Laden dead or is he?



America's most wanted was found and killed on May 1 2011 or was he?

Osama Bin Laden has been hunted since the devastation of 9/11 in 2001.

Many suspected he was hiding in a cave like an animal but I never heard anyone suggest he was living in luxury with his many wives and children.
How did you hear about his death? I heard via Facebook and then I checked Twitter for verification before finally switching on the news channel.
It was during the flicking between Sky News, BBC and Fox that I discovered that his ‘body had been buried at sea’.

So, the most wanted man was killed and just discarded in the sea leaving a gapping hole for all the conspiracy theorists in the world to gather. Is this a ploy to boost Obama’s campaign? Are we trying to forge links or destroy confidences in Pakistan?

Or was Bin Laden killed and dumped in the sea to avoid a shrine being made as speculated by key world leaders?

What’s your theory?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Gadget Show Live




The Jungle Book



A classic tale about a young boy who is raised in the jungle by a family of wolves entertained a theatre full of families last night.

The Birmingham Stage Company production, The Jungle Book, opened at Curve, in Leicester, for its five night stop.



It’s the shows fourth tour since its launch in 2005.

Stuart Paterson has adapted the well-known Rudyard Kipling story about a young boy called Mowgli, his friends Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther and his nemesis Shere Khan the tiger.


The jungle holds many dangers for the man cub who must return to the man village for his safety.
The title of the show might have you expecting to hear songs like I wanna be like you but this is not a stage version of the Disney adaptation of Kiplings story.

Music in this production has been specially produced by BB Cooper which still had some of the audience humming his tunes when the show had finished.


Samuel Hargeaves made a perfect performance as Mowgli. His cheeky nature and adventurous attitude were apt for the boy who grew up in a world without a normal structure to life.


The scenes with Mowgli and the monkeys were a fun part of the night. This is when the silliness was brought to the stage and the classic panto cries of ‘he’s behind you’ was used to encourage the younger members of the audience to interact with the characters.
Animal expert Peter Elliot created the fantastic animal movement in the play. Elliot created and played the apes in hit films including Gorillas in the Mist and Congo. For The Jungle Book he directed the bear, tiger and monkey characters.


With most family stories there are some hidden lessons to be learnt and The Jungle Book certainly had its own meanings.
One of them came from the scene with the monkeys. Mowgli thought it would be great to have fun all the time and to never be serious but he soon realised that rules and structure are important at times too.


The stage was dressed up with vines and had a moveable mound and steps in the middle. The interludes of music allowed the characters to quickly wheel these on and off stage without too much disruption to the play.

If you’re looking for some entertainment for the family this half-term then go see The Jungle Book.

Runs until April 16.

Originally written for The Public Reviews.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Spamalot




If you want a night of guaranteed laughter and fun at the theatre then Spamalot is just the ticket.
The show which is described as a ‘new musical lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ opened at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall yesterday.
Arriving at the theatre you could already hear the band in full swing and when you stepped inside the auditorium you were greeted by the colourful set which included a castle on one side and a forest on the other.

The show’s director, Christopher Luscombe, has taken the story by Eric Idle and John Du Prez and made it even more outrageous.

There’s nothing like the feeling of recognition and knowing. When the scenes from the film came alive on the stage the audience howled with laughter while reminiscing about the times they’ve no doubt watched the film.
The new scenes, however, created by Luscombe had a touch of modernity and this drew in the audience even more so. For instance, in act two we discover that Lancelot (Graham MacDuff) is gay. During the musical number, His Name is Lancelot, we see him and the dancers prancing around and his outfit would be familiar to anyone who has seen Matt Lucas in the BBC series, Little Britain.
During the Knights that say Ni scene the actors were laughing so much too and it was funny to see King Arthur (Phill Jupitus) trying to repeat the new saying that the Knight’s now say.
Another great scene at the end of act one was when the King and the Knights reached the French Castle. Patsy (Todd Carty) was left in the middle of the stage with a cow on top of him. His character is like the King’s slave and horse. He uses coconut shells to create the sound of the horse trotting. He is such a lovable character because of his simple wit and funny facial expressions.

The powerful voice of the Lady of the Lake (Jessica Martin) was amazing. Her skill for holding notes and taking them high was awe-inspiring.
Her character had a bigger role in the stage production than the film that it’s taken from. This is played on and sees her sing comical duets with Sir Galahad (Simon Lipkin) in act one and with King Arthur (Phill Jupitus) in act two.

The are a couple of scenes including the Black Knight in the forest and the killer rabbit which were ingenious. In the film these scenes see people lose limbs and I was wondering how they were going to do this on stage.
They managed to do it with such hilarity that I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet.

In act two the Holy Grail is found in the audience and one unsuspecting audience participant was pulled on stage to be a part of the finale. This was a great touch to the show and funny to see the person squirm with bewilderment.
If you haven’t seen the film (Holy Grail) then at least expect to see silliness in abundance when watching this fanciful musical.

Runs until April 16.

Originally reviewed for The Public Reviews

Friday, 8 April 2011

East is not just East

What was sold as an alternative to the hit 90’s film East is East turned out to be a confusing muddle which left the audience less than satisfied.

East is not just East was created by Jez Simons, artistic director of Hathi Productions, and last night saw the show open at Curve, Leicester.

Speaking to Simons beforehand he described it as a ‘musical comedy extravaganza’ and promised that a Hathi show is no ordinary theatre experience. The latter was certainly true.

The concept behind the show was to depict the epic journey of one Hindu’s life across three continents.

In the film version, the Hindu community were portrayed in a somewhat negative light and so Simons set-out to tackle this with his own take on events from his research and own knowledge of the Leicester Hindu-Asian community.

The storyline for the show didn’t have a concrete thread to tie all the scenes together which made the show feel unfinished. This wasn’t helped by the lack of passion and emotion in some of the acting by the 15-strong cast.

Actor Vinay Trivedi, who played Joshi as an old man, and his son played by Chirag Patel, were the only good thing about the whole night. This duet worked well together and the scenes with the two of them were the most enjoyable because their on-set chemistry worked.

Anand Joshi, who played Joshi as a young man, was comical at times but because the story lacked a focus his actions were often unnoticed. The Indian Forrest Gump character did have some very amusing facial expressions.

The bi-lingual production sees the cast mix different languages together and at times the audience members who didn’t speak Gujarati were left feeling like they’d missed out on a joke as the rest of the audience laughed.

Music from the 70s, 80s and 90s was used to break up the scenes between the different continents and ordinarily this would have worked but the cast lacked direction and it seems practice.

Although the choreography was good there were several cast members who didn’t know the routine. The show used Curve’s studio space to perform but didn’t crowd the set with too many props. A drop down mesh screen was used to represent the memories and stories being told by Joshi at the forefront of the stage. Act one was quite light-hearted but ended on a very poignant note.

The audience were left feeling a twinge of sadness for Joshi and his mental state because they felt connected to him after listening to his stories so far.

But act two tried too hard to be a serious hard-hitting story about dementia. The sudden change in genre and the lack of tangible storylines left the audience perplexed about what was happening on stage.

The show ended with a solo performance by one of the actors who sang a very slow song. If the story had been polished then this finale might have worked but it didn’t have meaning in the end.

It’s the first show I’ve been to where the audiences’ applause ended quickly and the actors didn’t even come out to bow.

Let’s hope Hathi’s third production, Taj, steps up a mark this autumn!

Runs until April 9.
Originally reviewed for The Public Reviews