Posts Tagged ‘children’

Anything from the Mischief Theatre Company is worth watching, and after this got postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was really looking forward to finally getting to see it (and finally getting back to Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre, which is one of my favourite places).

If you’re familiar with the Mischief Company’s work, you’ll know that the usually play a group of amateur actors who stage plays that go disastrously wrong, and they have had huge success. A few years ago they wrote a straightforward comedy (The Play About A Bank Robbery) which was extremely funny. Groan Ups has all the laughs and gags you would expect, but there is a surprising tenderness and poignancy in it as well.

We first meet the main cast of five as a group of six year olds at school together, and we can see their early personalities which become more developed as they get older. There’s the precocious, spoiled Moon (played by Yolande Ovid), who spends more time with her au pair than her parents. There’s sensitive Archie (Daniel Abbott), the new boy in the class. Katie (Lauren Samuels) is a worrier and a hard worker. Spencer (Dharmesh Patel) is the popular lad who is not exactly academic. And Simon (Matt Cavendish) is the object of their teasing (and sometimes out and out bullying). After the first part where each child describes their weekend and naively talks about things their parents have done or said without understanding the adult implications of such words and actions, we next meet them as teenagers, where we can see deeper friendships having formed, crushes develop and their adult futures loom. In the final stage of the play they are adults who have left school, but return to the building for a reunion.

There’s a lovely running physical comedy gag about the school hamster, and a fabulous turn from Jamie Birkett as Chemise, the lady who Simon brings to the reunion. The small cast was rounded out by Paul Brown, who played another former schoolboy at the reunion. (Brown was understudy to Killian Macardle).

The sets were fantastic – all set in one classroom, but in teh first part, the doors and furniture were huge, helping to give the impression that the cast were little children. By the time they return for the reunion, the furniture is child sized.

I loved the show; it was so clever, so funny and very sweet. Everyone in the audience seemed to be having a great time and laughing a lot! The whole cast was great and I highly recommend going to see this if you get chance.

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This is the second book by actor and producer Rob Lowe.  Having read his autobiography ‘Stories I Only Tell My Friends’ and really enjoyed it, I was very much looking forward to reading his follow-up, and I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint.

In ‘Love Life’, Lowe shares stories and anecdotes from his life, both personal and professional.  He is a very engaging narrator, thoughtful and contemplative, but also very witty (his story about dressing as Bigfoot on a camping trip with his children was wonderfully told and incredibly funny).

Other stories involve his musings on marriage – from being a playboy with an addiction problem in his 20s, to being a sober, happily married father of two 25 years later; being involved in a tv show which is rapidly heading toward oblivion, and making a monumental script cock-up on stage in the West End.  He talks with pride of his two sons, and the chapter where his older son goes away to college was very moving.

Maybe I’m biased – I really like Lowe as an actor; he is very versatile, and equally able to do both comedy and drama, and understandably, he does discuss his acting career here – but I think I would have enjoyed this book even if I was not especially a fan of his.

As mentioned earlier, this is not an autobiography, and nor does it claim to be, but it does provide more insight into his character and his philosophy.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I would definitely recommend it.


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As might be expected from the title, this is a novel which centres largely around motherhood, mothering and the effect that it has on people’s lives.

The Melrose family is in freefall.  The father, Patrick is torn between feelings of betrayal and compassion for his mother – betrayal because he feels that she has always been utterly selfless to everyone except her own family, and it now looks as if he will be disinherited, and compassion because of her deteriorating mental and physical health.  Additionally, he feels neglected by his wife, who has just given birth to their second son, and is totally wrapped up in the demands of motherhood.  In an effort to console himself, he lurches from one vice to another.

His wife Mary feels that she has lost all sense of self, and knows that her husband is frustrated at what he perceives as her obsession with being a good mother.  Mary is determined that she will give her children the love and affection that her own mother failed to give her.

Their five year old son Robert is a child wise beyond his years, and at the start of the book, he is a little put out by the arrival of a new baby brother.

The book is told in the third person but most of the sections (there are four, told over four consecutive summers) focus on events from just one person’s point of view.  I have mixed feelings about it; it started off promisingly, but eventually I was happy to finish it.

There is actually very little plot, although this was not a problem for me.  The book simply paints a portrait of a family which has fallen on hard times, financially and emotionally.  All of the characters were certainly very well drawn and believable, but after a while I stopped caring about what happened to them.  There were however some moments of genuinely bitter humour, and I laughed out loud on a couple of occasions. However, this is not a work of comedy.  It was well written and credible, but ultimately, it left me fairly cold.

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