Natural Causes

IF I hadn’t known that the choice of this play was made several months ago I might easily have been persuaded that it had been chosen to reflect our current climate, as there are numerous references to the rain, and in particular the fact that the Thames valley is under water.

Private Lives

JUST the other week I was looking to book tickets for a particular West End musical and was horrified to find that seats in the stalls and circle were over £120 each, with ‘Premium’ seats in excess of £150 and even the gallery costing £90. No wonder then that this fairly new innovation, pre-recording London productions and beaming them out across the country, is catching on fast.


THIS was a real community pantomime with lots of local support for the children and adults involved. Clearly the audience knew the cast well as they vociferously helped the story along.


MOST of us are familiar with several of Jane Austen’s works, Pride and Prejudice being perhaps the most well-known, but it is rare to see Persuasion aired so this production, adapted and directed by Helen Watts, Artistic Director of Dorset Corset Theatre Company, is a real treat.

Sleeping Beauty

NOW I think about it, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen Sleeping Beauty as a pantomime. A ballet yes, definitely, but if I have seen it as a panto it was almost certainly a more traditional story that this one, which comes from David Swan’s stable of scripts and is directed very successfully by Wendy Cronan.

Jesus Christ Superstar

JCS is easily one of my top 5 musicals, telling the story of the last week in Jesus’ life. It starts with the almost anarchic aura of his personality cult threatening the order and status of the temple officials; their conspiracy with Judas; The Last Supper and the night of reflection in the Garden of Gethsemane. Act II, in this version, then covers the actual betrayal, Judas’ pay-off and suicide, his trial before Pilate and Herod, and culminates in the crucifixion.

Peter Pan

I am pretty sure that my first experience of live theatre was a performance of ‘Peter Pan’ at London’s Scala Theatre, where it was the Christmas production for twenty years or more; playing the title role was a rite of passage for promising young actresses, ranging over the years from Margaret Lockwood to Maggie Smith, from Dorothy Tutin to Hayley Mills. The production was always the same – as with Gilbert & Sullivan in those days, there was a feeling that any change would be sacrilege – but once the work was out of copyright, it was open to the imaginations of adapters and directors to make of it what they would. This latest version, specially written for Castle Players by director Linsey O’Neill, is a delight.

Side Effects

TO the strains of the late Gene Pitney’s ‘Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart’, the curtains of the Barrington Theatre’s stage open to reveal a set that effectively combines the clinically uncluttered with the neutrally homely. When such moments evoke scatterings of applause, I tend, I confess, to squirm: it’s as though some members of the audience are relieved at having their expectations exceeded immediately ... but never mind.

Dick Turpin

IT’S been a few years since I last saw a panto, and I have never seen Dick Turpin in this format. Bishopstoke Players was a new group to me (until this show) and some major roadworks nearby gave me some concern en-route to the venue.  In fact, the venue was the only thing familiar to me, so it was with some trepidation that I took my seat.  I’m pleased to say that this concern was dispelled almost immediately by the introductory Front of House announcement. I have never heard an auditorium referred to as a time machine before, and the “Please switch your mobile phones off as they won’t work anyway” comment was a nice comedy touch to set the scene for what was to follow.

Treasure Island

VE had the pleasure of reviewing Highcliffe Charity Players' Pantomime for two years running now, so  I knew even before it started that I would be in for a spectacular spectacle, a frivolous, fantastic, fun show full of glitz, glamour and gorgeousness. And this year’s extravagant offering of Treasure Island was not to disappoint. Loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of buried treasure, tropical islands, treasure maps and swashbuckling buccaneers, we follow young Jim Hawkins who, after finding a map of what can only be buried treasure sets sail in the hope of finding the lost gold and saving his poor Ma from the clutches of poverty and hopefully securing the heart of his true love Felicity Trelawny. On the way he meets a rather scrupulous looking cook, a very suave castaway and some comical pirates, but can he find the treasure before that nasty Long John Silver? You’ll have to wait and see because I’m not telling you…oh-no I’m not (sorry, I couldn’t resist)!


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