Monday, 28 October 2013

Review of Teddy Time - Sunday 27 October

Mary Barton, Hawthorne Theatre Reviewer

We took our 4 year old twins to see teddy time, firstly lilly is a likeable person and the kids could really interact with her and they felt comfortable too,

The 2 stories lilly told were ones all the children knew so it made them feel like they was part of the story and they could follow along with it too,

The moving teddy lilly had and the magical wardrobe the kids loved it, made it all feel very magical.

Costumes were good, the children was a little unsure with the wolf at first but after some silly dances they were fine with it.

I asked the children what they thought and replied with "lilly has a beautiful voice and magical teddy's and what to watch it again".

Duration was perfect the children were interacting so much they didn't have time to get bored.

All in all we give teddy time a 10/10 happy face's of all the children coming out and would take the kids to see it again.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Review of Garden Opera Company's Carmen - Saturday 19 October

Adrienne Perry, Hawthorne Theatre Reviewer

Last night the Hawthorne Theatre welcomed The Garden Opera Company who performed the opera Carmen by Bizet.

This production was set in 1921 in a speak easy in New York City. The set was simple in design a compact backdrop of a run down bar called Remys. I was a little concerned that the chamber ensemble were perched so close to the main set that they would cause a distraction and for me this was the case, in saying that what amazing musicians they were.

When the opera began there was quite a lot of 'business' faffing about with drinks,tables windows etc i just wanted them to get on with it...and then it began. The audience was whisked away to this run down speak easy run by Remy and his sisters Frasquite and Carmen. They are trying to scrape a living whilst the police chief Zuniga, played by Mark Saberton is extorting money from them running a protection racket. He is obsessed with Carmen. Whilst he gave a convincing performance as a bullish police chief during his speaking parts he had an English accent which didn't for me quite fit in with 1920s New York.

Then we meet Carmen played by Maria Brown. What a talented singer and her voice was enchanting and I was immediately captivated. Carmen is arrested for trying to steal from Micaela and is arrested. She sets out to seduce new recruit Don Jose so she can escape. She succeeds and Jose is left to face the music. His life then spirals out of control due to his love and infatuation with Carmen he murders Escamillo (Adam Green who was excellent) because he steals Carmens heart. Finally he loses his mind and kills Carmen in a jealous rage.

This all sounds very dramatic individually they gave great performances but I found nothing convincing about their chemistry together on stage. I cannot give the actor who played Don Jose a named credit as it was omitted from the programme I would like to say he had an amazing voice but I could not believe he was in love with Carmen.

I also felt that Carmens costume was all wrong. She was in my mind to be a sexy lady who used her sexuality to get what she wanted. Men were a means to an end. She needed to stand out be different from everyone else on stage but it looked like she was wearing a nighty and it was an insipid yellow colour and she tended to blend in. I would have loved to see her in a more dramatic costume perhaps red she needed to stand out.

The two other members of the company were Remendo played by Alex Anderson Hall and Aoife O'Sullivan who played Frasquite and Micaela both were very good in their supporting roles.

I do think the company did an amazing job. I have never seen a full opera performed before mostly because I thought I wouldn't understand it. This adaptation was translated into English and was easily accessible even to the uninitiated. Would I see an opera by this company again you bet!!

One final thought don't be scared off by opera embrace it and enjoy it. Should there be another at the Hawthorne Theatre give it a go because I certainly will.

Review of Blue Orange's Treasure Island - Friday 18 October

Tracey Hamilton, Hawthorne Theatre Reviewer

So managed to hobble my way to the Hawthorne Theatre last night and watch Treasure Island, an adaption of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel by Eric Gracey. 

The show was performed by The Blue Orange Theatre.  Its been a long time since I read the book but Long John Silver is a big memory! When we first entered the Theatre, the cast were already on stage playing guitar and accordion. The story is based around characters such as Jim Hawkins (played by a female) Billy Bones and Long John Silver and starts off at The Admiral Benbow Inn. 

The cast of 5 played their parts and they certainly played many different characters, extremely well with different accents and with lots of enthusiasm, Jim Hawkins mother was played by a male, very convincing! 

Billy Bones gives Jim his book and scarf which has the Treasure Map on so Jim sets off with Dr Livesey and crew by ship to see if they can find it. Aboard the ship, Jim meets Long John Silver. Loved how there was a tinkling of chimes when Treasure was mentioned Plenty of pirate fighting and singing were also part of the show, special effects with thunder and lightening, slow motion action and had to feel sorry for one chap who was killed off several times! 

Highlights of the show include the weeping willow trees and when Jim Hawkins met Ben Gunn, totally crazy and bouncing around the stage and into the audience!! A great performance and would certainly recommend people to see future shows at our local theatre.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Review of Julian Lloyd Webber - Thursday 17 October

 Jasmine Alice, Hawthorne Theatre Review Team

You had me at Cello

Last night I had the pleasure of watching a captivating cello performance by Julian Lloyd Webber. With Rebecca Omordia as the supporting pianist, the pair took their willing audience on a journey of emotions; transforming a dark, lifeless stage into a characterful array of colour, imagination and art.

The instant connection between the two musicians was reflected in the dynamics of the pieces, as they were performed with no less than perfect symmetry. The captivating musical arrangements were linked together with insightful anecdotes, treating the audience to amusing facts and opinions which only compelled us further.

The highly commendable, intricate finger-work by Omordia added to the colourful texture of the music throughout the night and together with the hypnotic cello part I felt myself being drawn in with every note. I found the clever use of volume and tempo to be faultless, as the intertwined instruments displayed raw emotion through the contrasting waves of sound. The range included some loud, heartfelt peaks and some more quieter, poignant moments which together proved a well constructed, rounded performance.

A particular personal highlight in the first act was ‘Elegie’ by Faure. I felt from the very first moment that Lloyd Webber’s bow glided over the strings, I was hooked. However, it was the lengthy sustained notes which were combined with the delicate quick-paced piano part which really captivated the audience. It was a magical atmosphere after the climax of the piece when everybody was held in a moment of silence, not wanted to even applaud in fear of disrupting the gorgeous moment created.

After the interval proceeded three beautiful compositions, each one written by a Lloyd Webber brother, the first being William, then Julian and finally Andrew. It was a touching part of the overall performance as we really got a feel for each individual personality of the men brought up in a very musical family.

Julian’s precious ‘song for baba’, written for his baby son embodies the whole sense of the word lullaby. The memorable melody personifies nurture and wisdom, and the protecting, warmth only a parent can hold for a child.

During the performance, a short video montage of instrumental performances from Julian was played. The array of clips ranged from a deep orchestral piece to an amusing ‘jazz-style’ cello presentation, and was very enlightening, not to mention inspirational. It was a refreshing display of real musical talent which definitely evoked a lot of admiration for Julian’s life and accomplishments.

The night ended with an inquisitive Q & A session, where the audience were given even more of an insight to the man behind the bow. When asked if Julian had any advice for younger musicians he responded with the very sensible statement ‘practise makes perfect’ – that and love and passion is what I believe to be the large shiny key to his success.

My only criticism for the overall performance would be that I felt the rendition ‘Music of The Night’ from the critically acclaimed ‘Phantom of the Opera’ lacked the power in which it holds in the musical. Personally, I feel it needed more of a crescendo to heighten the raw emotion within the music. Although, it was still a touching piece, and wasn’t short of spirit.

Julian Lloyd Webber himself came across as a very humorous, witty man with a kind, genuine nature which stole the hearts of many watching. His modesty was endearing and he spoke with a humble, grateful tone when talking of his lifetime achievements.

Last night was very enlightening, and has given me a unquestionable new found love for the Cello. The evening presented an ultimate display of talent, from the wonderful composers through to the gifted musicians, who emulated sweet music which resonated to each corner of the auditorium.

However, the best part for me was being shown the intensity and magnitude of one man’s love for his best friend, the cello.

Renee Rogers, Hawthorne Theatre Review Team

One Man and His Cello

Tonight was a night of many firsts. The first time I have visited my local theatre The Hawthorne Theatre, the first time I have had goats cheese popcorn and the first time I have experienced the beauty of a cello.

Most will know me as a total musical theatre buff so cue the excitement when I get to review An Evening with Julian Lloyd Webber, the younger brother of the notorious Andrew.

Julian is world class in his own right as a solo cellist and has achieved the highest accolades possible in the world of classical music…oh and a BRIT award. With a strong connection to education and the arts he formed the Music Education Consortium and was honourably the only classical musician chosen to play at the Closing Ceremony of Olympics 2012.

The evening was a layer cake of delight. Starting the proceeding was a favourite piece of mine by Bach, Adagio in G leading into five more solid numbers. Each piece was interspersed with short snippets of information and every time we seemed to learn more about the man behind the bow and his love of his art.

Accompanying Julian was the pianist Rebeca Omordia, who provided the perfect support, showcasing Julian’s talent without compromising her own. Britten’s Scherzo Pizzicato showed the pair at their best, with a frantic cat and mouse chase played out via frenzied and static plucking. There was an unspoken dialogue between the two that was delightful to watch as they were engrossed in their own musical conversation.

The meet and greet interval led onto a family affair with Julian playing homage to his father, son and brother. His rendition of Music of the Night by Andrew was a highlight and made me download ‘Julian Lloyd Webber plays Andrew Lloyd Webber’ on iTunes as soon as I left the building.

A comic reading from Travels With My Cello peered into the life of the Lloyd Webber household and gave an insight into the truly talented family that resided in South Kensington many years ago. With just a few minutes of reading I was hooked and so wanted to hear more; Julian’s calm yet comic nature made for a great storyteller.

The Q&A session started tentatively but a tongue in cheek question about Lloyd Webber’s support of Leyton Orient had us all chuckling in our seats and set the tone for a much more relaxed session. The evening concluded with two rousing pieces that maximised the skill of both musicians as their skilled fingers climaxed with bursts of Staccato.

Altogether an intimate two hours composed of many mediums working brilliantly together. The classical virtuoso that is Julian Lloyd Webber has ignited the fire within me to see more classical music on stage.

So although tonight has been a night of many firsts, they are definitely not my lasts…

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review of Snow White - Sunday 13 October

Johnny Tait, Writer/Director/Performer

How do you get your children to sit quietly in order for you to be able to sit back and enjoy a show?

Visitors to The Hawthorne Theatre  will know the answer to that.
Take them along to see a production from The Vienna Festival Ballet.
With their colourful costumes and excellent choreography performed by a talented enthusiastic cast. Set to a story-line that is both entertaining and easy to follow, we have a show that will enthrall audiences of all ages.

We have all seen Snow White performed, as a pantomime and as an animated film.
But seeing this classic tale come to life in the form of a ballet has to be the most enjoyable and spectacular way of viewing it.

In this version the Queen is obsessed with her own beauty and gazes into the enchanted mirror every day, which informs her that she is the fairest of them all.
One evening a party is being held at the castle for the Queen, and as she is dancing with the huntsman who I suspect the Queens as an eye for, when in dances the beautiful Snow White who bears an uncanny resemblance to Laura Spencer. Immediately the huntsman falls for Snow White, much to the envy of the Queen.

 Later that evening the Queen returns to the mirror but it is not her own reflection she sees but that of the beauty Snow White, she wants to do away with her, so Snow White heads off to the woods to hide, and resides at the home of the seven dwarves. 

The Queen decides to mix a lethal potion and whilst she is doing so the routine and the costume's worn by the dancers tell us that the potion she drops the apple into will be deadly. 
Snow White takes a bite from the apple and falls into a deep sleep, but one kiss from the handsome huntsman and she immediately wakes. And in true tradition they all live happily ever after. 

How can children and adults alike follow the story-line? Do we have narration? No it is not nessarsary, every scene in this production is so well presented with costumes and dance that they never need narration. The entire show was captivating from start to finish but for me the highlight was the seven dwarve's, which was both original and amusing. The Hawthorne theatre or Campus West as some people still call it have been presenting top class family shows, and in the run up to (Dare I say the see C word Christmas) have lined up top quality entertainment for the whole family. And if you were unfortunate to have missed The Vienna Festival Ballet company keep an eye on the theatres events programe as they will be tip toeing back in March with their production of Cinderella.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Review of Betrayal - Saturday 12 October

Jon Brown, Hawthorne Theatre Review Team

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review this play as I am a big Pinter fan; having previously directed and performed in his plays. I therefore was optimistic and hopeful of experiencing an absorbing and confrontational spectacle. 

I wasn’t disappointed. Firstly, a brief synopsis; Emma is married to Robert, a publisher.  However for seven years, she has been having an affair with Jerry, a literary agent who just happens to be Robert’s best friend. What is clever and refreshing is that it’s not the traditional beginning to end story, but quite the opposite as time is whipped upside down as the play presents major events in reverse.  The audience are taken ahead to the end of the affair in the spring of 1977, and then are pushed into a complex and engrossing journey back to its very beginning; the winter of 1968. 

As with all Pinter’s work, there is a quirki-ness, an oddness and a surreal feeling, that are all woven into his plays. The one element that significantly distinguishes his work from other playwrights is the execution of the dialogue. The deliberate use of pauses and at times sharp and quick delivery of the lines tend to be the heartbeat of all Pinter’s plays, making it a tense and at times uncomfortable experience. 

I was very impressed with what London Classic Theatre did with the play. Despite it being set in the sixties and seventies, they injected a freshness and at times electrifying pace to all the scenes, that brilliantly counter-balanced the more anxious and uneasy silences.
Here were four actors who completely knew and ‘got’ the play and who were totally comfortable with the dialogue. For me it’s always special when you see a chemistry between actors, and when they have a giving nature on stage. They all had that. They bounced off each other brilliantly, controlling each scene with an exquisite self-assurance, ease and pace.

Pete Collis as Robert impressed me a lot with a cool confidence in all his scenes. He attacked the dialogue superbly and managed this complex and at times aggressive character with an effortless technique. Rebecca Pownall gave a delightful portrayal as Emma, bringing comedy and some welcomed lighter touches to the play. Her versatility as an actress was demonstrated throughout when we then saw the more fragile and vulnerable side of her character. Her best example of this was during the final scene where we see the foundation of Emma and Jerry’s affair. She begins with stubbornness and control but then visibly and emotionally conveys a delicate and exposed side, as she gives in to Jerry’s attention and lust. Steven Clarke as Jerry was ‘on the ball’ from the start showing energy, panache and attack from the opening few lines, which gave the play the best possible start. The only slight disappointment I had was that he at times seemed to over play the trademark ‘Pinterest’ delivery. This may have been deliberate but for me it resulted in a lack of depth and emotion to this character which I wanted to see more of. Max Wilson as the waiter was charming, funny and was skillfully and modestly integrated into the whole piece, delivering an impressive professionalism and energy. 

I enjoyed the simple, very natural and thoughtful direction by Michael Cabot and it worked in total unison with Bek Palmer’s design. The subtle cut-out sections of rooms worked brilliantly and I believed in the various locations. It was all that was needed to allow you to focus totally on the characters, action and the writing. Andy Grange’s lighting was simple and beautifully delivered. Having the actor’s set each new scene and location was perfect and slick and following this with a brief announcement of the year and season was a helpful and nice touch. 

Betrayal is a ruthless exploration of the complexity of the human heart and is definitely one of Pinter’s most accessible works with desire at its core. I very much look forward to seeing a performance by London Classic Theatre again. It was enthralling and tense and I was really drawn into the bubble of this stimulating piece of theatre; a bubble that definitely didn’t burst for me.