Category Archives: Theatre

Review: Monogamy at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

Monogamy means sharing your life with one person, but what if you shared your kitchen with 5.6 million?

That line was all I knew as I walked into Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on a Tuesday evening, to see this new comedy by Torben Betts, that had just started it’s national tour. Unfortunately ‘due to technical difficulties’ it was running 20 minutes late.

We all know that celebrities portray that they have a perfect life, a little like the rest of us on social media; but behind the scenes we all have the same problems, issues and challenges that have to be dealt with.

I’m actually finding it hard to put words onto paper. The play didn’t really have a worthwhile story line that made you passionate enough to care, nothing that kept you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happened next… but in spite of all that I found myself laughing continuously throughout.

The opening introduced us to Janie Dee, as Caroline Mortimer, filming her show as a TV chef, set in her kitchen at their North London home, was just as it should be. Her PA Amanda (Genevieve Gaunt) won me over straight away with her accent and flair, even though she was off her head on cocaine the whole time.

Once the camera was off, as we met the characters one by one, it was soon apparent that Mortimer’s ‘perfect life’ was actually complete chaos, fuelled by alcohol.

Mortimer, was clearly an unhappy wife that not only covered her emotions and filled a void with alcohol, but had the added excitement of an affair with Graham (Jack Sandle).

Her husband, Mike, (Patrick Ryecart) showed more emotions about his love for golf than his wife or children – yet he was one of my favourite actors. As much as in the real world you wouldn’t warm to him, he was actually very comical.

Their son Leo, (Jack Archer), who returned from university announcing he was a vegan that wanted to become a volunteer in Syria, was was desperate for the relationship he didn’t have with this parents, who in my opinion thought loving him meant throwing money his way by paying his university loans off and buying him property.

Former EastEnders star, Charlie Brooks as Sally, was mentally unstable and didn’t want to lose her husband even after she found out about the affair with Caroline through text messages.

The play was exhausting, much like a soap on Christmas Day; yet it had me laughing all the way through, which can’t be all bad!

Monogamy runs until Saturday 20th May at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

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Review: Champions of Magic at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

Who doesn’t love a little magic and illusion?

I grew up loving David Copperfield, Paul Daniels and other much loved magicians and don’t think we ever grow out of asking that question “How did they do that?” – Last year I met Richard Young at a friend’s wedding where he blew me away with his lime and glass tricks, so when I heard he was part of Champions of Magic which after touring America was going to end up in Aylesbury, I couldn’t have been more excited – I was like a kid at Christmas and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The show began with double act Young & Strange (Richard & Sam), where right away I was like “Err, but how?”, and then continued with routines from other magicians who not only amazed us, but made us burst out laughing, a lot! The blend of comedy and magic worked perfectly together and I also loved the fact that the performers were laughing at themselves. Not sure if that was part of the act or not!

Alex McAleer was incredible as he read people’s minds with his cold-reading techniques. How can you read a stranger’s mind? And not only a stranger’s mind but the mind of a stranger of what they will be thinking in an hour’s time?!!? He blew my mind, as well as winning me over with his sharp whit, dapper suit and showmanship.

Someone else with a cracking personality was Kayla Drescher, a close-up magician from America, who even had a ‘magic dance’. She has the most amazing facial expressions that made you warm to her right away, and whilst she wasn’t all glitz and glam, she left you wanting more.

I liked the fact that a camera man allowed you to follow tricks from a large screen on the stage; which allowed the performers to get so much of the audience involved, allowing them to feel part of the show.

From card tricks to the breathtaking ‘jaws of death’ with Fernando in a straightjacket, close up magic, classic tricks, light shows, fire, snow confetti and so much more … there really is something for all the family.

This is one of those shows where although you know what you are watching can’t actually be happening, the kid in you still believes it is… it definitely leaves you questioning “How did they do that?” just as a magic show should.

Their awesome final illusion took me right back to my childhood, giving me that warm feeling and confirming the fact that – Yes, I still believe in magic!

Champions of Magic runs until 2nd May at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available fromhttp://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 760.

Review: Q The Music Show – The James Bond Concert Spectacular at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

I’m one of those people who love those ‘feel good’ songs in films that inspire and move your soul – those that give you goose bumps on your arms and/or a chill down your spine. I love those moments in life where it feels as if someone has hit the pause button in order for you to take in that special moment in time.

Well the Bond hits had that effect on me when I was growing up, so when I heard that Q The Music – the World’s leading James Bond Tribute Band, Concert & Orchestra was coming to Aylesbury, I was extremely excited at the expectation of seeing the show and the privilege of being able to review them.

The band founded in 2004 by Warren Ringham was the first band in the world to provide a tribute to the music of James Bond; bringing together not just theatre and music lovers, but also the hundreds of thousands of 007 enthusiasts around the world.

I was not disappointed. It was truly an inspiring experience. I grew up watching the Bond films with my dad but until this evening I didn’t realise how many Bond films there actually are – 26 films in the past 55 years! The treat that I wasn’t aware of until the night was the compere, Caroline Munro, who talked us through the Bond years. You will remember her from The Spy Who Loved Me – she actually reminded me of my mother the way she was so passionate about everything. I particularly loved the way she appeared to go off script in order to tell us about her memories of Sir Roger Moore. I felt it would have been nice to have had a few more tales like that thrown as the stories no one knows about is the good stuff!

The show was spectacular. The combination of the 13-piece orchestra band as well as the incredible vocals of Kerry Schultz as she belted out song after song including ‘Nobody does it better’, ‘For Your Eyes Only’, ‘Diamonds are Forever’, ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Live and ‘Let Die’ were stunning. It could even possibly be argued that they were performed far better than the originals. The other vocalist, Matt Walker, also gave a strong performance as he covered ‘All the time in the World’, Tom’s Jones’s ‘Thunder ball’ and ‘From Russia with Love’.

If I was going to grumble, I was disappointed with the lighting that was a little off at points and yes the whole experience could have been heightened by a simple glitzy back drop or video clips running along in the background just to add that little extra something.

The songs ran in age order so I was more in love with the second half which was more in my time zone, but during the intermission while talking to someone he mentioned that he loved the first half because that was the time zone that he grew up with. So it appears that there really was something for everyone, even for a little seven year old girl in the audience who was loving every moment!

It was good to see how a few people really got into the part by dressing up in tuxedos and wonderful to watch a gentleman one row in front of me enjoying every moment… In fact I actually said to him as it ended ‘I don’t know what I loved more, the show, or watching you watching the show!

All in all – it was a fabulous night! If you closed your eyes you would think you had all the artists together within one room – a truly wonderful concert full of world class talent!

The one thing I was left wondering was which Bond film, song and actor was my favourite? They were all so incredibly amazing I could not possibly pick one out.

Check Q The Music Show on their website for more details about them and their tour dates https://qthemusicshow.com/

Caroline Munro

Review: Son of a Preacher Man at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

Sometimes in life seeing or watching something can completely change your day and even alter how you feel. Tonight was one of those occasions for me. I didn’t fancy going out (which is so unlike me). I had a banging headache and just wasn’t in the mood. In fact I was in the mindset that if the show wasn’t any good I was going to leave halfway through. I’m not a Dusty Springfield fan (well I didn’t think I was), nor a lover of jukebox musicals, so I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired, to the point that I asked as I arrived at the theatre if there was in fact a storyline to the show or was it one of those shows when it just went from song to song.

As I had nothing to compare the show with and didn’t even know if I knew Dusty Springfield’s songs, my views are purely on how the show made me feel.

Right from the start it wasn’t at all what I expected, and praise the Lord there was in fact an enthralling storyline! As the show started we were introduced to the three main individuals. An older gay gentleman played by Michael Howe, who was looking for someone he fell in love with way back in his youth; a school teacher played by Michelle Gayle, who felt a connection and thought she was in love with one of her pupils and vice versa; and the youngest of the three, a girl played by Alice Barlow, who had fallen for a guy she had met through a dating website. Their lives were intrinsically brought together as they individually found their separate ways to Soho to find a bar, now a coffee shop, the Double Shot, where they met three enthusiastic waitresses (the Cappucino Sisters) who added a touch of 40’s glamour, and Simon ‘The Son of a Preacher Man’ who eventually agrees to channel his deceased father and attempt to fix their problems.

I think it’s very brave and risky to mix the 1960’s with such a modern story and am quite sure that some people would have been muttering under their breath, questioning whether certain things were indeed appropriate. They definitely touched on a few delicate subjects that brought real life to the stage.

The show was upbeat and colourful throughout, with lots of very funny moments, especially the chicken scene that was simply hilarious!!! I adored the romantic dance scene with the two guys, and actually felt a connection between them which is what theatre is all about. I think it’s very rare these days to feel such chemistry.

The show is probably quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, but maybe I felt this way because I wasn’t aware of what to expect. The best way I can describe the show is that it’s pretty much like marmite, you’re gonna love it or hate it! If you’re a huge fan of Dusty then it’s probably not the tribute show you are expecting. Think of it more like a light-hearted show put together to celebrate Dusty Springfield’s hits. Even though I didn’t go as a fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and to my surprise found I knew far more of the songs than I had expected. I totally loved the storyline of the three individuals all on their own journey in life, and brought together because of the one thing called ‘love’.

I arrived in a bad mood and left feeling fabulous so to me this is a winner. I’m sure there are those who left with very mixed feelings about the show, those that loved it, those that hated it and those that remain on the fence, unable to decide, but no matter how we felt about it we were all brought together this evening because of one thing. Just as in the three stories we followed this evening, we were all brought together because of ‘love’, the love of theatre, and if that makes one feel good, then it certainly gets the thumbs up from me!

The Son of a Preacher Man runs until Saturday 10th March at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

Review: Blood Brothers at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

blood

“Did you hear the story of the Johnson twins?” is the opening line to Willy Russell’s musical Blood Brothers. I, myself had heard of the title but knew nothing of the story, but left the theatre not only knowing it, but feeling I had travelled their story with them mentally and emotionally. I left as a blubbering wreck!

The story set in Liverpool tells of the harrowing experience of how the Johnson twins were separated at birth. Their mother, a worker at a posh house and fell pregnant and with the combination of her struggle as a single mum with the many children she already had, and her boss who was so very desperate for a child after years of trying and unable to conceive, a deal was struck, one that no one was to ever know about; she was going to give one of her babies up.

As a mother this really tugged at my heart strings, wondering how on earth any mother could give a child up?  Or perhaps it was better to give one up, knowing he would have a better life?

Initially I thought Lyn Paul as Mrs. Johnstone was too old for the role, as she certainly wasn’t 25; yet quickly I couldn’t help but love her, almost with as much love as she had for her kids.

As the boys grew older and their paths crossed, it was fascinating to see how they instantly bonded and even pricked their fingers in order to become blood brothers, this in spite of one coming from rags and the other from riches – they had such a strong attraction to each other’s lives.

The narrator role performed by Matthew Craig was dark and devilish as he helped the story along, and he actually reminded me of Antonio Banderas from Evita. I’m not normally a fan of narrators as I feel the story should be strong enough itself, but his presence was not in your face, was soft but strong.

In my opinion the production had a fantastic casting. Sean Jones as Mickey, had the audience crying with laughter as we watched this 7 year old boy loving life, using his imagination as he played with his friends. As he got older we related to his struggle trying to find himself as a teenager, whilst falling in love with his childhood sweetheart Linda (Danielle Corlass) who was just so bubbly she reminded me of Reese Witherspoon; before he struggled with depression as an adult. I just wanted to hug him on stage towards the end guessing what the ending would be.

Mark Hutchinson as Eddie might have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but you could see something was missing, which is probably why he went looking for Mickey and therefore found a connection with his mother, in spite of the fact that he did not know who she really was.

I was unable to write my review yesterday as I left the show so full of emotion. I needed to sit with it before getting any words out. From the standing ovation (it’s a hard task to get Aylesbury on their feet) and Lyn Paul crying on stage whilst taking a bow it was clear that this story is so strong it reaches out and touches everyone’s heart – however one word of advice, bring tissues!

Blood Brothers runs until Saturday 17th February at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

bro

Review: George’s Marvellous Medicine at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

What better way to kick off 2018 than with a Roald Dahl classic, George’s Marvellous Medicine, adapted by David Wood. This is a wonderful wacky story that celebrates the power of imagination as George cooks up a new medicine for his horrid Grandma when she comes to stay at the farm during his summer holidays – but it’s a little more magical that he ever imagined.

Walking into the auditorium it was clear from the set this was going to be an updated funky show; there was a posh portaloo on the left, long draped material as a backdrop and what looked like an open caravan, shed or room on the right. It was of a cartoon style that would be as of a child’s imagination.

The cast of only 6 flipped in and out of different characters, with their enthusiasm bringing the story to life. We learn very quickly that George and his family were happy with a quiet life out on a farm, where as Grandma was more of a city girl. Before Grandma even arrived we were lead to believe that she was evil and not what we would except a loving Grandma to be. As she arrived on stage in her leopard print coat she reminded me more of Dorian from Birds of a Feather than anyone’s Grandma; I was expecting her to be old, frail with grey hair and less ‘Gangster Granny’.

The show was full of energy which kelp our attention, the jokes weren’t just aimed at children as I kelp finding myself laughing out loud, even the fart jokes went down a treat, I guess some things just never get old and brings out the inner child in us all.

If I was being picky, there are a few things I would have changed, for me the chicken could have actually been covered in feathers, like Big Bird, bringing more of a cartoon element, but I guess that’s where a child’s imagination kicks in. George I imagined to be younger and more geeky looking – not that it mattered but I guess that’s what I imagined as I grew up with Roald Dahl, therefore it’s what I was expecting.

I took an 13 and 8 year old with me who both thoroughly enjoyed it and though it was hilarious. It without a doubt kept the audience young and old engaged and laughing all the way through; they also had the right balance when involving the audience as they made the medicine which made the children feel part of the magic and with the show being 90 minutes from start to end including the interval, it didn’t give enough time for the children to get fidgety.

Just as the show ended and I thought to myself, “Yes, I actually enjoyed that”, then came a closing scene, a cheesy song telling the children not to try this at home. I understand the importance of health and safely, but it felt like the world’s gone mad, it’s sad that we live in a ‘Where there’s a blame, there’s a claim’ world’. I’m sure schools don’t read out a warning after studying books. In my view it just spoilt it.

All in all, this is a great introduction to theatre for the little ones and Roald Dahl fans, it embraces the child in us all, drawing you into the magical tale.

George’s Marvellous Medicine runs until Saturday 3rd February at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

Review: Personal Training with James O’Driscoll the UK’s first blind Personal Trainer

I’m one of those people that have a love and passion for fitness. I’ve worked with a number of personal trainers over the years, some being more effective and knowledgable than others. When I heard the name James O’Driscoll I was fascinated, ‘Why?’ you may ask… well, because he is blind! – Just take a moment to imagine if you could do your job blind? I know I couldn’t.

James was diagnosed with Leber’s optic hereditary neuropathy, a rare condition which affects just one in 20 million, causing him to lose his sight at 26 years old. He turned his life around through exercise, which inspired him to become the UK’s first blind Personal Trainer.

I was fortunate enough to have a PT session with James, who recently moved from Kent to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. After leaving his clients at Virgin Active, he decided to go out on his own (well with his dog, Disney) starting up Simply FITT, converting his garage into a gym/studio.

The morning of our session I typically overslept, had only 20 minutes to get up and out the door, literally sprayed myself with body spray, quickly brushed my teeth and left the house, which got me thinking as I made my way over… James couldn’t see me, he didn’t care what I was wearing, whether my hair was brushed or not, whether I had make-up on, as long as I smelt ok he wouldn’t know. It made me question how much time do we waste getting ready for things that really isn’t necessary?

I was really impressed with his gym and the facilities he had, I felt like a kid in a sweet shop wanting to try everything. We started the session with a warm up on the holistic water filled rowing machine. Instantly I was taken aback when James corrected me on my technique, I questioned as to how he would know my shoulders weren’t back, which of course they weren’t! We moved on to a kettle bells circuit, consisting of swings, head cutters, goblin squats and press ups with James continuously instructing techniques and pushing that extra rep out of me.

Then came the fun stuff – anchor training! I put on this body suit which James handed me. By this point I felt so comfortable with him that I kept forgetting he was blind, he doesn’t look blind and with how confident he is as a trainer it completely left my mind. Anyway, back to the anchor training. Basically I was in this body suit. The best way to describe it is to imagine something from 50 Shades of Grey that’s attached to the wall by big elastic bands! Following his instruction I did bear crawls, frog squats, iguana walkouts planks, reverse bear crawls, polar bear presses, side crawls, all whilst in this suit with resistance working against me. I actually found myself paying attention to my technique more that I normally would and when I got to the end of something found myself confirming with James that I had, but in turn I was also confirming with myself with what I was doing. So by talking about what I was doing it actually made me more aware.

We ended the session with some boxing pad work using a strike man which tested my reflexes and finally finishing with abdominal work using a surge, which is basically a water filled viper before stretching.

I throughly enjoyed my PT session even though my legs felt like jelly by the end. James is obviously a very knowledgable, passionate and dedicated PT, just from talking to him you can tell that sessions with him don’t stop at the end of your session. He looks at nutrition and lifestyle. Health and fitness to him is a way of life, not just for the month after Christmas.

I know so many people who are to self-conscious to walk into a gym, or to put on running shoes and pounding streets is just so scary that it doesn’t feel like an option. But to have a trainer that can’t see you I feel would help really boost people’s confidence, after all training isn’t always about how you look, it’s about how it makes you feel.

I can’t wait for my next session, those plyometric boxes have my name all over them!

For a FREE 30 minute complementary session or to find out more contact James on 07881 100746 or email him at james@simplyfitt.co.uk

Check out the Simply FITT website by clicking on the blue link. You can also follow Simply FITT on Facebook and Instagram by clicking on the blue words too.

J