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Archive for October, 2015

When you go to see a show and the stage has a giant pink lipstick in the middle of it, you have to suspect that you are in for a evening of glitzy camp fun. Of course, if the show you’re going to see is Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, that’s probably what you’re expecting, and indeed would be disappointed if it turned out to be anything other than campy fun.

Well fear not – this show delivers on every level. With more outrageous outfits and lines than you can count, more 80s hits than you can remember and a laugh in every scene, you would have to be a real curmudgeon to leave this show without a huge smile on your face.

Jason Donovan, who previously played the character of Tick in the West End, reprises the role here (alternating with Duncan James). He is excellent as the drag queen, who crosses the Australian desert with his two friends Bernadette the transsexual (Simon Green, and fellow drag queen Adam (Adam Bailey), to see his former wife and finally meet his young son.

Green and Bailey are both perfect. Having recently watched the film with Terence Stamp and Guy Pearce in these respective roles, I thought that anyone performing these roles on stage had a lot to live up to, but by goodness these two actors managed it. Green was wonderfully bitchy but also displayed a genuine vulnerability as a literally new woman, who feels that her glory days are behind her. `Bailey (like Pearce before him) also makes a brash and often insensitive character, actually very sympathetic and likeable.

Of course, with more glitter and sequins than you can imagine, the whole thing is as camp as Christmas, and intentionally so, but there is a also a real heart running through this story – the theme of acceptance runs throughout  as the trio encounter hostility, rejection and prejudice during their journey.

A special mention also for Philip Childs, who plays open minded but unhappily married mechanic Bob – he eventually joins the trio on their journey. Bob was one of the more sympathetic characters – sensitive and kind, but living in a world of close minded people. Julie Yammakee as his bride Cynthia also definitely makes her mark with a saucy dance routine where she does unimaginable things with ping pong balls! Her role may not be that big, but it is certainly memorable.

The cast seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience – I had a huge smile on my face from start to finish, and the standing ovation at the end was well deserved.

Fantastic show, with lots of wonderful music and dance, some unbelievably creative costumes and great acting – this is a must-see production which the term ‘feel-good’ should have been created for. Don’t miss it.

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Mary Gibson’s debut novel takes place between 1911 – 1919, and revolves around Nellie Clarke, one of the ‘custard tarts’ who works at Pearce Duff biscuit factory in East London. It begins with her meeting the charismatic Eliza James, who encourages female factory workers to strike for better wages and living conditions, and follows Nellie through the first world war, as she sees the young men in her neighbourhood go off to fight for their country.

As Nellie is just sixteen at the start of the book, the story sees her grow up and have to work hard to keep her family safe and together. She faces numerous challenges, both romantic and financial, and has to make the transition from child to adult very quickly.

I think the book was well written, and it certainly seems that the author has done a lot of research about the era. There were quite a few twists and turns, and while some parts were predictable, there were some surprises along the way too. Having said that, it didn’t ever completely engage me, although I think that is more down to my personal taste – I’m not really a big fan of cosy historical sagas, which I would categorise this as, despite the fact that it demonstrates the hardship of Nellie’s life, and the effect of the war upon her and her friends.

Nellie though was a likeable central character, as was Sam Gilbie, a young man who played a very central role in the story, and even if it was not really my kind of book, I still found myself reading large chunks of it at a time.

If this is the kind of genre that you enjoy, then I would certainly recommend this book, but on a personal level, while I enjoyed it in part, I am not sure that I would try another book of this type for a while.

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Following last years successful Full Frontal Nerdity show (review here) Steve Mould, Matt Parker and Helen Arney are back with Just For Graphs, a comedy show with science related songs, experiments with fire, and lots of graphs and maths.

These are the kind of people who you wish had been your teachers at school. Science is a lot more interesting when you are actually part of the experiment – such as the experiment showing the conductivity of humans which was demonstrated in this show – or indeed when a tennis ball set on fire is thrown across the stage (it’s not as dangerous as it sounds!)

The show was more maths centred than Full Frontal Nerdity, but even though I am not a maths lover (give me English and Drama over Maths and Science any day), I found it very interesting, and there was certainly a lot to laugh at. There was a great section about Venn diagrams (yes, really!) and Euler diagrams (often mistaken for Venn), and light and bouncy atmosphere kept the whole audience engaged.

Arney, Mould and Parker all interact very well with each other – I can only imagine that they are great friends offstage, and this makes for a friendly dynamic with the audience. Parker in particular is well aware that many people see maths as boring or dry, but if anyone can change people’s minds, he can.

Definitely a fun night out whether or not you have an interest in science. Go catch them on the tour if you can.

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