Reviews

God of Carnage

Chesil Theatre kicked off their Golden Jubilee season with God of Carnage by French writer Yasmina Reza, and the small venue was packed to view this latest offering from the group. The play is intense, lasts about one and a half hours, without an interval, and is the story of how two sets of parents are thrust together after their respective children have a fight in the school playground. I have to say that I struggled with the play. It was very dark and at times very weird indeed. It was also a play that felt the need to add
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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Let’s gloss over the fact that it took three Americans to write the script of this whistle-stop tour through all the plays of our most English of playwrights, and simply be very thankful that they did, because a funnier, more manic evening would be hard to find. It first saw the light of day at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe way back in 1987, and has rarely been off the stage since. Whether you see it as a homage to Shakespeare or just an irreverent take-off of his work doesn’t really matter; in this year of celebrations to mark the 400th
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Love, Lies and Taxidermy

PAINES Plough was formed back in 1974 and I have long been aware of its great reputation, so when I was asked to review this show I jumped at the chance, not least because it was also to be performed in a pop-up tent and the synopsis sounded decidedly quirky. Let’s deal with the ‘tent’ part first. If you’re thinking of something with guy ropes and lots of poles, you’re way off beam – this is the world’s first pop-up, plug-and-play theatre, Roundabout, and is a sturdy, state-of-the-art 150-seater with surround sound and LED lighting. The company say they’ve tried
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An Evening of One-Act Plays

I quite like an evening of one act plays.  It’s like an evening in front of the telly, watching different programmes – and a hark back to the times when ITV used to run Armchair Theatre.  A little before my time, but I think it should return. Poole and Parkstone Players here present three lovely little stories. The first, Alternative Accommodation, by Pam Valentine, is the story of the recently widowed Anna (played by Virginia Harrington, who never fails to impress and delight) and her three children trying to do the best for her and make arrangements for where and
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Mamma Mia

I had never seen this show before. A woeful five minutes of the film version put me off entirely but those with similar prejudices who reject the juke box musical genre need not fear: this is joyous entertainment from start to end. The music of Abba interweaves a tenuous plot but the lyrical quality of the original storytelling songs are such that only occasional tweaks of the words are needed to move it along and create a musical with warmth, wit, style and a heavy dose of nostalgia. The ‘Winner takes it all’ sequence works particularly well and evokes comparison with Kander and
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The Mandela Trilogy

Why an opera? Read Road to Freedom, read any biography of Nelson Mandela and you would probably be more moved than at any moment in the Cape Town Opera production currently playing at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. Libretto and music have to complement each other, to add emotion to thought, and it doesn’t happen here. This is a hybrid. The very fact that acts 1 and 3 are written by different composers seems odd in the first place. You are constantly asked to adjust your response to what is happening on stage. Are you light-heartedly enjoying the ‘Pata Pata’ dance
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