Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang – Performed By The Trinity Music & Drama Society

Hi everyone and welcome back to another review! 

This time we are actually at a new theatre! I got kindly invited to The Chelmsford Theatre in Chelmsford, Essex! First then, about the show! I went to go see ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ performed by a local drama society ‘The Trinity Music and Drama’ society located in Chelmsford.

The show is based on the well-known classic film of the same name and starts with Caractacus Potts an inventor trying to make a better life for his two children Jeremy and Jemima with their grandpa lending a helping hand where he can. But then one day the Potts family come across Truly Scrumptious the daughter of a well-off sweet factory owner and they instantly have a strong connection as a family. But then things start to go wrong for them and they end up travelling to this strange country with an evil king and queen.

From start to finish you could instantly tell that all the members of the cast were all having immense fun, especially the two children playing the Potts children! Could you tell it was an amateur production, yes. But didn’t it matter not at all! I have always believed that it’s so important to support local groups and societies like this for two reasons. One because this is. where the love for theatre comes from, and it will inspire the next generation of actors/actresses. But also secondly it allows actors who maybe couldn’t have turned professional for whatever reason, or professional actors to take more of a back seat to still continue the one thing they enjoy the most and that’s entertaining audiences. 

On to the accessibility of the show, The show constantly has bright colours and lights, so if you have some useful vision then you will able to see everything that is going on. If you have limited vision or you struggle with bright lights or light bouncing off of objects then you might struggle a little but then the show makes up for it in the fun and laughter it provides the audience. There a two loud pyrotechnics during one scene of the show but that’s all there is. There are slight sounds of cannon fire and one quite gunshot, but the sound effects were not very loud. But something you might to prepare yourself for if you struggle with loud noises. Sadly there is no Audio Description or Touch Tour available, but this was to be expected the show being performed by a local drama group. However, maybe this is something they could possibly look into for future productions? I am of course happy to assist in this, so please do get in touch if this is something you wish to pursue.

A outside shot of the Chelmsford theatre with a red coloured top half with the lego in white. with pink lights going down the walls.

As this is a new venue I have been to, I wanted to touch briefly on the accessibility of the theatre itself. Before arriving at the venue, I notified the venue that I would be bringing my Guide Dog with me, and could they accommodate her whilst I was watching the show with my dog in the box office with staff. They then sent back some questions they wanted me to answer which of course I was more than happy to answer. To which they said they would look after her. On the night, the staff were really welcoming and friendly and loved looking after my dog. I did notice however that the box office was smaller than some other venues I have previously been to so if you are going with a group of more than one Guide Dog, do contact the theatre in advance, and they still might be able to assist, but bare this in mind. Also, there are very little to no patches of grass for your dog to ‘spend’ so if like me you have a dog that prefers grass, then make sure they go before your trip, but the staff are more than happy to take them out for you if you ask. 

In terms of the building itself, as you go into the building, there is a very wide open space, with very few walls to help guide you along. I found the staff to be very helpful and will happily help if they can. There are also unisex toilets available, I wasn’t told of any disabled toilets available so something to ask the staff if you require that. All of the building is well lit by lights and I was able to easily get around before the show, but after the show had finished getting out of the theatre was a little tricky because of the mass exit from the audience so maybe hang back a little until the crowd clears. 

A picture of the stage before the show, with a bright blue background with an old fashioned red car cover in a old green sheet.

Overall I found the venue to be easy to navigate but if you are someone with little to no vision then you will struggle due to the amount of wide space so I would strongly suggest going with a friend or family member on your first visit to then be able to understand your bearings better. 

Overall, I definitely recommend this show and this theatre! ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ is running at The Chelmsford Theatre from Wednesday 24th until Saturday, the 27th of May 2023, if you are looking for a relaxing, enjoyable and fun night out I cannot recommend this enough, and I can’t wait to see what this theatre has in store in the future! Tickets for the show can be found on The Chelmsford Theatre’s website by clicking here.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

Charles Dickens – ‘Great Expectations’ Adapted By Gale Childs-Daly

Hi everyone, I’m back with another review!

After the fun and laughter of ‘They Don’t Pay, We Won’t Pay’ comes another classic story by Charles Dickens. The Mercury Theatre in Colchester kindly invited me to their press night of ‘Great Expectations’. I haven’t very read or watched this in films so I had no idea what it was about, but `I had heard of the story of course. 

‘Great Expectations’ tells the story of Pipe a country boy orphan who was adopted by his sister and her husband Joe. Joe is a blacksmith so he and Pipe have a close relationship. One day Pipe is called to go and see Miss Havisham and to play with Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter Estella. Years later Pipe comes into a wealth of money and becomes a gentlemen of London. Once there Pipe’s life starts to unravel and things don’t seem to end right for him.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show! I went into this show knowing nothing about the story so I really enjoyed it! There was so much drama and scandal that you could help but be focused on the story. The cast was amazing and they all told the story brilliantly. Some had more than one character to play others only had one. In some scenes you would feel the tension, fear or worry that that particular character was feeling, everyone did a fantastic job! I feel like however I need to mention both Stanton Wright (Pip) and Emily Pollet (Miss Havisham). When had scenes together you could feel a sense of bond and friendly affection between them particularly when had scenes which just the two of them. Brilliantly played by the cast! 

Photo shows Pip and Estella dancing in front of a crowd in a very pink lighting
Photo By: Pamela Raith

I found various points of the show to be quite dark. Even when I walked into the auditorium I found it to be darker than usual so was a struggle to find the right seat. Luckily my mum had come along to this show so she was able to help me out. But I would have either struggled but found the seat eventually, asked a member of the public or asked a staff member to get around this situation otherwise. I can defiantly understand why the theatre might have wanted it a little darker to keep with the atmosphere on stage. But I found this to be a little difficult. On the subject of lighting, Quite a fair few number of the scenes within the show, are in quite a dark/gloomy setting. I guess this is to be keep in with the setting of a smoggy London, But there were times when I struggled to see some of the scenes or the characters. But there were also times when the characters were lit up by light, either by a spotlight or an orange light coming from the floor of the stage to imitate fire, which I thought was a lovely idea and a great touch. But keep in mind that ninety per cent of the show is in very low lighting, and most of the characters’ costumes are in very dull colours to keep in with the period. So have this in mind if you would like to come and see this show. 

Each character was very distinguishable either through their change in costume or mostly through their change in voice. I was very impressed with the way nearly all of the cast could their voices to sound like they were in different parts of the country. 

I would also recommend you get a decent seat, as there is very little set design with some costumes being similar colours to the background, if you had low vision you will want to be able to see as much as you can. There are a few physical scenes but only one very dramatic scene, but this is helped by a light and crowd of people but still quite a dark scene, so if you want to see the show comfortably I would suggest getting a seat in Row E or near if possible.

Photo dhows Pip & Joe searching in the darkness with a lantern.
Photo By: Pamela Raith

There is an accessible tour touch performance on the last date of the show’s run at 2.30 pm. The Mercury Theatre are excellent. They are very in-depth, they have some of the props and costumes you can feel and touch along with the set. If possible some of the cast will come and talk to you about their character and what is in store without spoiling the show. Would highly recommend going to the touch tour if you can.

Having gone into this show not knowing anything about the plot or story, I can say I thoroughly enjoy the show immensely! I would recommend anyone go and see this show. As I said above, if you have low vision, there might be times when you will struggle in certain scenes, but most of the show is dialogue, so you miss very little of the show. If you can blind or have little to no useful vision, then I would say of course try and get the touch tour and Audio Described performance on the last day of the show if you can. But if for some reason you can’t, then I honestly feel you will miss out on very little and will still enjoy the show anyway because of the amazing cast!

‘Great Expectations’ is running at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester from 18th – 27th May 2023! If you wish to get tickets for this show, you can find the link to the show’s information page on the theatre’s website by clicking here.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic  

Imitating The Dog’s ‘Macbeth’

Hi everyone, back once again with another review! It’s another Shakespeare play. But this one is well known, I got invited by The Mercury Theatre to go and see a slight adaption of ‘Macbeth’ by Imitating The Dog (ITD).

Some of you might have read my ‘Comedy Of Errors’ review. This is one of William Shakespeare’s earlier plays, so you will know that I do sometimes struggle to understand what is going on. But I did Macbeth in English so I knew the rough outline of the story. The basic outline is Macbeth an Army general is promoted by the king, as this happens three witches appear to Macbeth and say to him that he will become king. Macbeth along with Lady Macbeth plots to murder the king and then take the thrown. Macbeth does, then goes mad with power killing more people until he is eventually killed himself.

This adaption follows that basic outline, but there are some slight changes. For example, instead of the king of Scotland, he’s a mob boss, instead of the three witches, there are three clowns. Instead of it being set in Scotland it’s set in a fictional city. These are all welcome change, as it brings the story up to date with the modern day, and are more than likely to appeal to younger audiences.

I like the fact that not all of the show was in Shakespearean language. Of course, the main characters like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth would talk in this way, but the three clowns did not so the story was much easier to follow than the traditional play, which was a very welcome change. On just the show alone I enjoyed the whole performance. If you are taking someone to see their first Shakespeare play, then this one would be great for anybody going to see Shakespeare for the first time.

Photo shows all five of the cast posing with colourful screens behind them with two cameras either side.

In terms of accessibility, I was impressed with what was available. The main thing that stood out was the fact that all the sets and scenes were projected on a giant screen behind the actors, and depending on where the characters were going or where they were supposed to be, they what be in that part of the stage in front of the part of the screen that showed the setting, so for most of the show all the cast were actually on stage. Another big plus I want to give is the fact that there were two smaller screens one on the right and one on the left, with two cameras on stage. Throughout the show, members of the cast mainly the clowns would move the cameras around, this way you were able to see the actors’ facial expressions and emotions. Which was very much a welcomed edition, and one which I would advocate for other shows to do. As this helps visually, and allows you to get more engrossed in a story, as you were able to see the actors’ emotions, and as an audience member, you felt them too. As someone with Sight Loss, this has a huge benefit, as depending on your level of vision you would be able to sit anywhere and still comfortably enjoy the show.

This show is a brilliant example of how using technology can benefit everyone including disabled people, and this is something I can nothing but endorse. If you are new to Shakespeare but know this story, then this is worth a go! Whether you are young or old everyone can get something from this show, including if you have sight loss. It is worth pointing out, that there is a lot of lighting, shadow and darkness throughout the show, which people may struggle with, but again where the screens help with this. So use the screens as much as you can. If you have little to no vision, the three clowns/witches describe most of if not all of the action scenes which is a nice addition. There is a list of trigger warnings for this show which is listed as follows: flashing imagery and lighting effects loud noises, including recorded gunshots, strong language throughout, scenes featuring moments, descriptions and images of violence and use of firearms, simulated smoking, simulated sex scene, some drug use, reference to child abuse.

Various colours on all the screens with two of the clowns talking to each other, while lady macbeth is signing into a microphone.

All of the acting in this show was absolutely for-nominal! You could really feel the emotion from all the cast, there were a few times throughout the show where I was so engrossed in the show I forgot where I was, and I never thought I would say that about a Shakespeare play! The little added modern touches helped the understanding of the story.

Unfortunately, there was no Audio Description or Touch Tour performances. whilst at The Mercury, but hopefully it will be available at the other theatres as it is currently on tour so hopefully it will be available elsewhere! Macbeth is going on tour at the following venues on the following dates:

The Liverpool Playhouse: 25th – 29th April 2023
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield: 3rd – 6th May 2023

I thoroughly recommend you go and see this show! As of writing, there is one more performance at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester as of writing so get your tickets now!

Until Next Time,
The VI Critic

photo is of macbeth and lady macbeth, with macbeth whispering into lady macbeth’s ear.

They Don’t Pay, We Won’t Pay!

Hi everyone, and welcome to another review!

This show, that I am going to talk about was on my radar even before I got invited by The Mercury Theatre to go and see this. I am also hoping to go and watch this again soon, so that should give you a smaller insight into what I think of the show but please do read the rest of what I think! As hopefully some of it will be helpful if you wanted to see this yourself. I also need to say as always a huge thank you to The Mercury Theatre for their kind invitation and for giving me the opportunity.

‘They Don’t Pay, We Don’t Pay’ is Produced by Tracey Childs, and directed by Ryan McBryde. Both have bought us amazing shows in the past so I am always hopeful when I see these names in the programme! The show tells to story of local people who have had enough of the ‘Cost Of Living Crisis’ currently happening in the UK and tells the story of local people just paying what they can for the food they take, or not paying at all. The storyline follows the couple Anthea played by Laura Doddington and Jack played by Joseph Alessi as they try to figure out what they doing to do about all the food and energy bills going up, but when Anthea comes home with all this shipping, and she starts telling these web of stories to try and get them out of the current situation that she has landed them in. That night turns into the most action-packed they have ever had!

Photo shows Jack, Lewis and the police sergeant running towards the police tape like its the end of the race.

The show was very current to the time and conveyed well what it can be like for people living below the breadline and just about making ends meet. But at the same time, there are heaps and heaps of comedy throughout the whole show. Sometimes I could tell whether or not something was meant to happen or not, or if something went wrong! All of the sets were bright and colourful, along with the characters’ costumes. This was a massive help, as Anthea wore a pick hoodie/jumper, Jack wore overalls for his work, and Maggie played by Tesni Kujore Anthea’s close friend wore a flowery dress. It was really easy to tell who was who at the right time. Even though all the cast did such an amazing job, I have to shout out Marc Pickering who played several supporting characters, all very similar and this was an amazing use of comedy as the other characters would reference this at times which only added to the hilarious comedy.

This show has to be the most accessible show I have seen so far this year! I mentioned the use of colour and costumes above, but all the comedy was verbal with little sprinkles of physical comedy but they were described by the actors! When going to shows, I have sometimes felt a little left out because of a certain scene, but this is rare. But I have to say, this is the first show in quite some time that not once did I ever feel this! Everything was clear and easy to follow, even though there was one darkness scene it was described to the audience from start to finish! I have to say a big thank you to the writing and production teams! As it was you that make this show accessible, and it is clear to see that you thought about your audiences, including those with Sight Loss!

Photo shows Jack and Lewis holding sacks of rice. with lewis talking to Jack with Jack having a worried look on his face.

I cannot think of higher praise than this. I plan on coming back to watch this show again. I just need to find a date that works! 

Talking of Accessible performances, there are available: A Audio Description performance is available with a Touch Tour before the show on Thursday 30th March at 2.30 pm. Prices range from £15 – £30, but also accessible and carer tickets are available. 

‘They Don’t Pay, We Don’t Pay’ is at The Mercury Theatre from 17th – 31st March 2023! Tickets can be found on The Mercury Theatre website! Get your tickets whilst you can! You don’t want to miss out on this!

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

Manjeet Mann’s ‘Run Rebel’

Yesterday I was kindly invited by The Mercury Theatre in Colchester to see Run Rebel.

I opted to go to the matinee performance which I felt turned out to be a good decision as the atmosphere seemed more relaxed and informal. There were two schools in the auditorium which was a little distracting for me but in some scenes really added to the emotion of the performance with all of their reactions. This was highly welcomed and I felt was a nice change.

Run Rebel is produced by the same company that also put on the show Noughts & Crosses, which has seen numerous awards since. I was somewhat excited to see this after enjoying their previous show, and I wasn’t disappointed.

shows a picture of the stage before the show, and the view from my seat.

The show tells the story of Amber, a teenager who feels trapped on one side by her family and the expectations of her father and on the other by her love for running and her dream of one day representing her country. There is tension as her father feels she should give up on her dream and follow the traditions of the household but the love of running and the will to follow her dreams is too strong a siren’s call for Amber to resist. Within this show is a strong use of Amber’s mental health and also of her family life, with everyone scared of her father due to domestic violence.

But once Amber learns about the French Revolution in her history lesson, she encourages her family to revolt against her drunken father.

This is very much a welcome change for me, as these are subjects aren’t spoken about enough in todays modern world, especially by teenagers. It was great to see school children at this show, and I really hope they took something from it.

The cast were brilliant, I could really feel the emotions from all of them incredibly well. Jessica Kaur did a fantastic job playing the character of Amber, along with narrating the story to the audience. The chemistry behind all the cast was palpable, especially between Pushpinder Chani who played Amber’s father and Jessica Kaur as Amber. During their scenes together, I truly felt like they were indeed father and daughter. This really made me feel I was watching professionals at work!

On to the accessibility; the main issue was a strong use of harsh or minimal lighting. Most of the performance it was either one or the other, which on occasion made it very difficult to fully see what was happening. At times when Amber was talking to the audience she was lit by a spot light so she was easy to see but there were other scenes where the characters were washed out by the lights, so it was a little difficult to see. Also in a number of scenes especially when Amber was at home with her family, the stage would be very dark so I found it difficult to see what was happening.

As I was in row E this time, if I were to go and see the show again I would pick either row D or ideally C, as they are much closer so I would be able to see much more.

photo shows Amber and other class mates all wearing colourful clothing all standing in a line preparing for a race.

On the plus side however, the use of action scenes was low. Most were just some of the actors running up and down the stage or running on the spot, but with the spoken dialogue filling in the exposition. This is a great addition as then you really aren’t missing out on anything for about ninety percent of the show. The only scene you do miss out on is the more physical/fight scene towards the end as that isn’t really described in detail, but I feel like I can forgive them for that.

 As a result, the story flowed really nicely and I was able to understand what was going on really well, and missed very little. My own tiny gripe is that I don’t think microphones were used during this performance? This would have been helpful in certain places, as I found that in some of the scenes I struggled to fully understand what some of the cast were saying. So maybe in future shows this is something that could be added?

There are no access shows unfortunately according the Mercury’s website. I would assume this is due to Run Rebel having a short run at The Mercury. However as this show is going on tour around the UK, hopefully if they have longer runs at other theatres this is something that can be added in the future.

photo shows amber and her dancing laughing, dancing, and bumping hips to some music.

Finally then overall, I feel it really doesn’t matter if you are a blind or visually impaired theatre-goer as I think you are going to get something out of this show, whether you are young or old. As I said, Run Rebel is touring so go grab yourselves a ticket!

I think this is an important production as there is so much merit in the huge amounts of discussion on mental health, as well as the scenes of domestic abuse and violence.

A ‘Content To Consider’ document has been created should you feel that the show may possibly be triggering for you so if you are interested and would like to know more, I will link it for you below.

Visit The Mercury Theatre’s website to find information on tickets and more!

Run Rebel is running at The Mercury Theatre from Thursday 2nd March until Saturday 4th March 2023, but is on tour at the follow dates and venues:

York Theatre Royal: 7th – 11th March

Derby Theatre: 14th – 18th March

Belgrade Theatre Coventry: 21st – 25th March 

Alnwick Playhouse: 28th – 31st March

Until Next Time, 

The VI Critic

‘Charlie & Stan’ At The Mercury Theatre!

So here we are with the first theatre review of the year! As always I was kindly invited to this performance of ‘Charlie & Stan’ by The Mercury Theatre in Colchester! 

So I will be honest and say that when i got the invite for this performance, I was a little worried when the email said that the story was told using physical comedy and no words, but since seeing the show, I’m not as worried now writing this as certain things have been put in place to help blind and visually impaired people which I will go into a little later on, but first the show itself.

The show tells the story of Charlie Chaplin and Stanley Laurel and their trip towards America. Charlie Chaplin rose to fame in 1888 in which the medium of ‘silent film’ was a the height of is popularity, to which there would be little sound only music, with the odd title card here and there that would appear on screen, describing a scene or telling the audience what the characters were saying. During these films Charlie Chaplin would make audiences laugh with his large array of physical comedy.

Stanley Laurel or Jefferson when he was called by his real name was well known to generations he was part of the ‘Laurel & Hardy’ double act. Even I watched them a little when I was a kid. 

The show tells the story of how they both become known and started to get a name for themselves and how they almost worked together. The show was very much entertaining and good and fun night out! With a few elements of audience participation. As I was sat on row D I was able to see the show quite well, due to the amount lights on stage, with one darker scene but it didn’t last very long. The show itself was really fun and enjoyable to watch, the over expression of all the actors especially Nick Haverson and Jerone Marsh-Reid really made the whole performance and the format of silent film come to life! 

Coming out of the show, I was a little concerned about writing this review, as at the time, I felt like I would be unable to recommend to show to anyone with a visual disability. However that has since changed! I have since discovered that on the shows webpage of the Mercury website, there is an audio recording that is nine minutes long, and describes the show in great detail! This is something that I can but only applaud! It would be great if all future shows had this feature as it will only add the accessibility of all Mercury Theatre future shows! The audio recording goes into deep detail about the show: how many actors there are, describing each actors costumes, what the characters look like, how tall they are etcetera. This is a very much welcome change to the website. I wish I only had access to it before the performance! 

Photo shows a photo of the set before the show. A makeshift boat made of wood planks, with two stories, with the stairs on on the left hand side.

There is also a Audio Description performance for this show, as well as a touch tour, which the audio recording tells you about and the details, I will link it here: if you are using a screen reader is under the heading ‘accessibility’ which is roughly half way down the webpage. 

In terms of accessibility this is the best I have seen to date, and I really hope this format continues in the future. In light of all this, I can do nothing but thoroughly recommend this whole heartedly. It’s a really good and fun night out, that will have you in balls of laughter from beginning to end!

‘Stan & Charlie’ is running at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester from 8th – 11th February 2023! Full details you can find by clicking the link here!

Until Next Time!

The VI Critic 

Photo shows the adverting poser for Charlie & Stan, with both characters in the sea sitting on a water barrel, with charlie holding a umbrella above thier heads.

Cage Warriors – 138 at Charter Hall Colchester

Hi all,

So today I’m going to review and talk about something that didn’t think I’d ever go to! Along with Em from InvincibleWomanOnWheels! She kindly invited me to a Cage Warriors event. Em goes to these events all the time all over the county so if the UFC and MMA fighting is your thing then you need to check her out for sure! Not to mention she is just awesome!! 😀

So heading into this, I wasn’t sure this was going to be something I was going to enjoy, but boy I was wrong! It all started when we arrived about ten or so minutes before ‘the doors opened’. Em had said that the first fight wasn’t until 8.30 pm. So I asked why we had arrived so early! I found out seconds later as the queue was massive!! So we only had to wait a few minutes to get in. Once we got to the door we got searched by the security team of the event! They went through my pockets as well as the body search. So my advice would be to take only take essentials with you! I didn’t take my white cane as I wasn’t sure how they would react to it. So I left it behind and Em kindly helped me and guide me if I needed it. But I warned you are thoroughly searched. But that’s always a good thing!

Once we got into the venue and walked into the hall the music was very, very loud and was throughout the night. If loud music and noise aren’t your thing. You might have to bare this in mind. Due to the type of event (MMA fighting), there are a lot of flashing lights! So if like me you are light sensitive, again this is worth bearing in mind. The staff could have not been more helpful though so if you are unsure then you can always ask.

photo shows a photo of the cage warriors fighting game, with white lights flashing around. Gage warriors branding is all around the sides and above the cage with screens all around the room.

We got very lucky with the amazing view we got! So I was able to see always everything that was going on in the ring. Although there were times when I couldn’t see what was going on when the fighters were fighting on the mat. But there are screens around the venue. Which lucky enough wasn’t too far from us either so I was in luck. It’s worth saying though, these screens were not the biggest. So if you’re far away from the ring and are relying on the screen. Some people might struggle. If you have some Low Vision I would strongly suggest you pay a little extra and buy closer seats if you can.

This was such a fun night. I’ve watched some UFC before now on TV and I’ve very really gotten into it. However, it was completely different going to a live event! All the fights were such fun to watch and I was getting intense willing some of the fighters to win! After one of the fights, the winning fighter threw his mouthguard at someone in the crowd! But it landed in my lap!! Didn’t quite not what to do! But the fighter’s partner was in front of me, and asked for it! So I gave it to her! That’s gonna stay with me for a while for sure!

Image: A selfie of me and Em before the start of the show! With a crowd of seats behind us!

For sure this was one of the best nights I’ve had in a while! Hopefully, I will be going to another event with Em again in July! I would strongly recommend that if you haven’t experienced a live MMA event, do it!! You wouldn’t be disappointed! The only thing I will say is that if you have limited to no vision at all. There is no commentary fed through the arena that’s only for the tv/online broadcast so that’s something you need to know if you rely on things like commentary in sports!

Again I thoroughly had an amazing time!! I even bought some merch (photo above)! This is one of those times when the universe says to try something and go to an event that you would normally never go to! You just never know how you will find it! Plus it’s even better when you go with friends!

As a visually impaired person, I would recommend that maybe cage warriors offer a form of in-arena commentary for blind and visually impaired fans. This can be done in several ways either a headset that can be handed out before the start of the show. Or an app so then the person can use their own smartphone and headphones at the event. That way this adds more of an immersive and an accessible experience for all fans!

Please do go along and check out Em’s event review to get her views and perspective as someone in a wheelchair! Go check her out she’s awesome!!

Since going to this amazing I have gone to others in this last year, and will continue to go to more events this year with Em! So would this be something you would like to see more? Let me know!

Last, all that is left to say is I hope you all have a wonderful and happy new year! There will be yet more theatre and other reviews of some of the things I get up to this year! But…

Until Next Time!

The VI Critic

The Mercury Theatre Pantomime 2022 – ‘Beauty & The Beast

Hi Everyone, and welcome to what probably will be my last review of the year! It’s almost Christmas so that can only mean one thing… it’s Panto Season! My favourite time of the year!

This year I went and got the chance to see ‘Beauty And The Beast at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester! As I have said in all years previous this show once again didn’t disappoint in the slightest, and like always when watching the Mercury Pantomime I had a wonderful time. But there are some key moments that I thought I might mention.

Firstly, Beauty and The Beast isn’t something I would normally think of when I think of pantomime, so I was interested in what direction they would take the story and what changes they would make to the story. One of the first things I noticed, was that there was not a beast straight away, but a nice-looking prince that Bell had already met earlier on in the show, but if it wasn’t for the evil witch, just trying to cause trouble he was turned into the beast.

Photo shows both and the best dancing in the dining hall, bell is wearing a dark purple ball dress, and the best a bear like creature with horns on his head is wearing a while shirt in blue and grey trousers with masssive brown hooves.

I must say a huge well done to Daniel Jagusz-Holley who played the beast because the skill he showed in walking on stilts for eighty per cent of the show not to mention dance in some parts is some art and looked like a lot of hard work to pull off must be congratulated!

It isn’t a Mercury Theatre Pantomime review without mentioning to comedy duo that is Anthony-Stuart-Hicks and Dale Suerpville, because quite frankly it would be the same without them! Both Anthony and Dale had the audience howling with laughter from the moment they step on stage and through the show! I strongly believe that Mercury’s Panto would be not as successful and popular if they both were no longer in it! I always look with bated breath looking at the vast list every year and worried that the year before will be their last, but they keep coming back making the audiences’ night and for some their whole month. After the year we have had this year, we need you both more than ever to make us all laugh, I hope you will continue and keep coming back for years to come!

Betty Bon Bon (panto dame) is speaking to the audience wearing a bright pink dress with wig and same gloves the same colour with a dress of a net and ball balls
Dale Superville is wearing a multicoloured suit like costume with a multicoloured hat point and talking to another character on stage.

I love that, the whole show had a lovely underlining message of it should matter whether someone is different or not, it should matter, it only matters what person they are and as someone who is visually impaired, it is so important that more and more shows have this underling message to children and young people. So hopefully in the future thing will be different for all people!

Onto the accessibility then: There is an Audio Described performance and Touch tour available on 7th January 2023 at 2.30 pm! But if someone reason you can’t get tickets, then I believe that most people should be okay. If you have some useful vision, then sitting in row A-D you will have a very good view of all things going on. There are some scenes that are further back on the stage which some people may struggle with but for ninety per cent of the show, you should be okay. If you are light-sensitive some scenes have strobe and flashing lights, so that is something to bare in mind, but it isn’t on for very long!

If you have limited to no vision, then even without Audio Description I think you should be fine! Most of the jokes and jags are verbal and there are very few physical jags, with one exception of a small yellow worm-like creature flying abound the stage for one scene, but if you decided to take a sighted person with you, then you will have no problems at all. You will still have just as much fun as everyone else!

Beauty And The Beast is running at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester from 24th November 2022 until 15th January 2023! I was told last night that they have already sold ninety per cent fo ALL tickets for the whole run! So get in there quick if you haven’t got yours already!

All that is left is for me to say, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

Until Next Year!

The VI Critic!

Title card of ‘Beauty and the beast’ in gold glittering letter with a silhouette of bell and the nest dancing in background behind them a Stainglass window of a rose behind them!

Tommy Campe’s ‘Bring Back Chainmail!’

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another review! This time it is for something a little different but great and brilliant all the same.

I got the chance to go and see ‘Bring Back ChainMail’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester, and for those of you who don’t fancy a long read at the moment then it was one of the best things I have seen this year!

For those of you who fancy a long read, here it goes: Written, and starring Tommy Campe, comes the story of James, a normal teenager, who has an obsession and fascination with the medieval period. So much so that he has turned his bedroom into a medieval kingdom of his own. With help of his loyal friend Sophie or Bard as she is known to him played brilliantly by Megan Risley, he can bring his fantasy world to life!

James (Tommy Campe) is sitting cross legged on the floor wearing a blue medieval garment, playing the ukulele.

But there is a whole other reason why this kingdom exists, downstairs, James’ dad has to come to terms with the loss of his wife and James’ mother due to a terminal illness. Due to this, they are both further apart as a father and son can be. But through this play, they become closer as a family, thanks to James’ dad embracing his son’s magical world!

This show deals with the subject of death and grief and what it can do to the people left behind, and it captures all this beautifully. It has a lovely neutral progression, but can understandably be triggering for some.

This show is also in collaboration with Autism Anglican and I feel this show delivers a great representation of how someone with Autism might deal with the loss of a loved one, but also how loved ones around them can love and support them.

Bard (Megan Risley) is wearing a very colourful court jester outlet whilst smiling juggling some colourful juggling balls.

I went to a ‘relaxed performance’ of this show, where people were able to come and go as they pleased if they ever needed to, and people did, but this didn’t take anything away from the show, and was lovely to see a chill out area outside the studio with chairs and water should people need it, which was excellent to see. You could that they thought about people with autism and other disabilities.

I strongly believe that this show needs another national-wide run as well as schools, and maybe for those who struggle to get to the theatre, later on down the line, with maybe some more financial backing it would help make ‘Bring Back Chainmail’ bigger and better than it already is, and give it the springboard it truly deserves!

I am not sure, if or when this will happen, but it needs to so that more and more people experience the joy and spectacular of this marvellous show!

Until Next time!
The VI Critic

The Poster of ‘bring back chainmail’ with james, ina knights outfit holding a sword, his dad wearing a medieval king outfit and Sophie in her jesters outfit with a blue and orange background.

Illusion Impossible

Hi Everyone, and welcome to another review. Todays review is something very different and not what id ever thought I would do a review on but here we are.

Recently I went to see the one night show of ‘Illusion Impossible’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester. In their first UK tour since 2019, comes a really entertaining show, so much fun for any age.

Staring international star and world renowned illusionist Kayden Black, along with Oliver Tabor. With special guests magician Micheal Carr and “TV Legend” Wayne Dobson. Comes and engaging and entertaining show, full of comedy and laughter for all the family!


I was kindly gifted these tickets as part of the press night, but the show is on a UK tour so for more information on tickets, you can check out the ‘Illusion Impossible’ website by clicking here.


I have to say on this occasion the seat seating was far from ideal, as I was sat in N15 which was three rows from the back of the theatre. This made in very difficult to see fifty percent of the show. When I came to big illusion tricks I was able to see most of what was going on on stage, but sadly when it came to the audience participation and the slight of hand tricks I saw very little which was a big disappointment. As I feel like I miss out on half of the show.


This is largely going to depend on you as a individual and the amount of vision that you have. If you have some useful vision and you can get a seat which is close enough to the stage then I would say that yes, definitely give this show a visit you will have a lot of fun and enjoyment. If however, you have limited to no vision. Then I sorry to say, I would give this show I pass. Eighty percent of the show is all visual. Micheal Carr would come onto the stage and do a trick with the audience with some really fun jokes and comedy which were absolutely brilliant and so their for I can’t fault him at all. However the rest of the show and magicians do no speak whilst they are performance. So their act is one hundred percent visual. There is also no audio description which I didn’t expect as they only do one show per night per venue so there just isn’t the time to accommodate it unfortunately.


Overall, I really enjoyed the show and had a really fun evening with really good entertainment. If you have a family and fancy a great night out then I would highly recommend giving this shot, you would be disappointment. But if you are totally blind and have no vision at all. Then maybe keep an eye out and see what I review next!

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

Photo shows various images of the show, with the names Kayden Black, The Glamourists, and Oliver Tabor with special guests. With the title of illusion impossible in big silver letters.