Mercury Theatre’s Christmas Pantomime of ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’

Hi Everyone! Welcome back to another review!

It’s Christmas! Which means only one thing in theatre land…it’s pantomime season! This is by far my favourite time of year because of no matter what pantomime you go to your always guaranteed a good time!

This year, once again we’re back at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester for this year’s pantomime of ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’! After going to The Mercury Theatre Pantos for some years now, there’s not a lot about them that I’ve not already said in previous years. What I can say, is that this year it was absolutely sublime and just around first class!

Photo shows Antony-Stuart-Hicks as 'Dolly Trott' she is a red polkadot dress with the base colour being bright red with white dots. She is also wearing a bright pink boe on her head.

All of the cast were just brilliant, and out of this world. But it’s not a Mercury Theatre pantomime without Antony-Stuart-Hicks playing this ‘Dolly Trott’ Jack’s Mum who runs an ice-cream dairy, and Dale Superville as the family cow ‘Day-Z’ and yes it is actually spelled like that! These two were comedy gold as they are every year! Antony, as he does every year, had the audience rolling with laughter within the first thirty seconds of being on stage! There was even one point where he even came out into the audience and spotted me sitting on the end of a row, and let’s just say what happened next I was not expecting. But as soon as he saw me I knew something was coming! Mercury Theatre if your reading this, get this two back next year whatever the cost! They make the show that extra special thing that it is, and without them, it just wouldn’t be as good!

This years pantomime will not disappoint anyone, there is something for everyone both adults and children alike. I always love reviewing the pantomime every year, because when I go I know I don’t have to do a lot as I know it’s already going to be so good, I can just sit back and have a whale of a time! You will not be disappointed at all! Please, everyone, go and see this! I and my family are going again, we always go twice every year as we know it is going to be so much fun!

Photo shows a villiage scene with numerous villagers dancing in the background whilst 'Day-Z' the cow sings a musical number

Onto the ratings!

People With A Visual Impairment: I think you will not have no problem watching this show, there is a good use of bright colours and good use of lighting, there is one point during the show where it does get dark and pyrotechnics are used throughout, so something to bare in mind. Try and get a seat in either rows ‘D’ or ‘E’ and you will be fine!

People With No Vision: Again here your have no problem there are some gags and jokes that are physical nut honestly there are few and far between, so really nothing to worry about. almost all the show is dialogue so you will have no problem following with the story and what is going on, so if you can’t get tickets for the Audio Deception, then honestly don’t worry just go to a normal performance and your have no problem. 

‘Jack & The Beanstalk’ is at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester, Essex running from 24th November until 20th January 2019. The tickets for future performances always selling out fast so I would try and book as soon as possible. There are Audio Description and Touch Tour performances available, so see the theatre for details!

photo shows me and Antony-Stuart-Hicks after the show at the press party. Both me and antony are standing next to each other, with Guide Dog Blossom in the middle. Anthony is smiling very excitedly whilst pointing at me!

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic!

“Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” – The Warner Brothers Studio Tour “The Making Of Harry Potter

The ‘Harry Potter’ series by J.K Rowling will always go down as a classic books series along with the likes of ‘The Chronicles Of Narnia’ by C.S Lewis and ‘Sherlock Holmes’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Back in August of this year, me, Guide Dog Blossom, my girlfriend, and family got the chance to go to the ‘Harry Potter Studio Tour’ in London. All have always been huge fans of the series, so we were all really looking forward to this immensely. This trip had been booked a few months before, which is highly recommended as the tickets will sell out really quickly.

Once we had arrived (in a bit of a rush and a panic, as we were running a little late) we made out way through the crowds of people to the ‘Guest Services’ desk. Back when booking the tickets, I had also phoned them up to tell them that both I and my girlfriend were visually impaired so, I wanted to find out what was available to us in terms of accessibility. They answered, by saying that some commentary headsets would be available and that also we would get our own tour guide to take as round the tour.

Once we got the ‘Guest Services’ a lovely staff member by the name of Carmen greeted us! We said that we had booked some assistant and once she came back after checking with staff, she said that she would be happy to take us around. Carmen, help us to the entrance and said that she would return once we had reached the other side. We walked through into a giant room with some huge screens on both side walls showing all the Harry Potter film posters.

Once the staff had filled the room with guests, they began to play a short film, showing an interview with the director of the Harry Potter films David Yates. After, the film had finished, the doors open to a small cinema screen. As I had Blossom with me, the staff kindly placed us on the front row so Blossom could happily lie down. Once everyone had settled and were seated, another staff welcome us again and said that we were going to watch all eight Harry Potter films back-to-back and that he’d see us to three days! Some people were actually quite happy about this!

Photo shows the Goblet Of Fire standing in Great Hall surrounded by the 'age circle'.

I don’t want to go into detail about what happened next, as I don’t want to spoil it for everyone, but what I will say what happened next was amazing! Once we had been through the introduction and were free to roam about as we pleased, Carmen met up with us again and started to takes us around and showed us some key things that you get to see! Whilst going around with her, she showed us some key props and sets from the films and told us somethings that you wouldn’t get to know if you were just going around on your own.

Some of the things Carmen showed us we got to touch and feel to get a better understanding of what it looked like and how it was used in the film. Some of the things Carmen showed I didn’t even think were physically real. When you watch the films, in some scenes you sit there and think ‘ah that was probably done my computer!’ But actually it wasn’t, which was amazing, some things actually moved and worked! It was brilliant! Not only were there things to look at, but there were also things to do! As we were going around the tour, there were several activities using a green screen, that you could dress up as a Hogwarts student and take part in! This was so much fun! Whilst I was going all these, Blossom was left with my mum. I got told later that Blossom had this confused look on her face as if to say: “why is dad sitting on a stick?” After the various activities, your photo and some videos were taken, after which you purchase them. Which of course I did!

Photo shows the set of the Gryffindor common room with red arm chair and a roaring fire place in the background.

Whilst we were going round we got to ask Carmen all these types of questions and almost every question she expertly knew the answer to. There were a few she didn’t know, but to be fair they were some pretty daft ones, mostly asked by me! Once we had got halfway around the tour, there was a large cafeteria, where you could buy food and drink, we had already eaten before we had arrived, but it was a chance for us to take a breather and take the load off. I went and bought a ‘Butter Beer’ whilst my mum, brother and my girlfriend all had normal soft drinks. Carmen showed us to a table and said that she would go off and have a break and come to us.

After about twenty minutes, Carmen came back and we continued the tour. We moved on and went to see some physical sets, which the actors had actually used, we got to go in them!! Which was again amazing! Every time I sit and watch a Harry Potter film now, I sit there and think ‘I’ve seen that’ or ‘I’ve been in there’ or I’ve touched that!’ Carmen showed us some special effects props which again we got to touch and feel, at one point she showed us a hand that we got to touch. At the time we felt really strange because even though you knew it wasn’t real, it felt like it was, so my brain wasn’t sure how to process that! But then came the one thing that blew us all away! We turned around a corner, and there ahead of us was…the Hogwarts castle! The sight was absolutely beautiful, it was all lit up and cycle from day to nighttime. At night all the lights in Hogwarts Castle lit up, and it felt as though it was alive! We spent some time taking numerous photos, I had taken so many photos that day, but one of the photos, of me, and my girlfriend standing in front of the Hogwarts castle is by far my favorite photo of the whole visit! To the point where now, I have it framed and sitting on display at home.

Photo shows a photo of the giant 'mirror of erised' reflecting some of the crowd.

We could have spent hours in that one room alone, and truthfully I didn’t want to leave! They had music playing from ‘Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire’. Now, when I listen to that song it always that’s me back to that one moment!

Erm…anyway moving on! Once we had exited, we then came to the end of the tour and into the shop! Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I really enjoy shopping, so combining ‘Harry Potter’ with shopping…fatal! Now granted I went online to their website a few days before so I already knew what I wanted. There were a few times where my mum had to say to me: “now are you ever going to use or wear that?” “probably not…” I said, “but it’s Harry Potter!” In the end, I only came out with two items, a Gryffindor jumper, and a Gryffindor backpack and was red with gold zips!

After we had paid (well, I paid), Carmen then escorted us back to the car, I let Blossom go to the toilet as she had been so good whilst going around, that she hadn’t had a chance. I think even she enjoyed herself, there was one moment where we went into the forbidden forest and she wasn’t a fan, so Carmen asked for the sound effects to be turned off whilst we were going through which was lovely of her to think of. Blossom then came face-to-face with a big mechanical version of Buckbeck which she was not a fan, so she quickly decided to pull me away from.

photo shows me, my girlfriend and blossom standing in front of the Hogwarts Express

Overall, we had such an amazing time! Carmen if your reading this again you were amazing! You really made our trip the extra little bit special for us thank you! I would highly recommend you go if you blind or visually impaired. If you are worried about not being able to see anything, don’t! All the staff were great and super accommodating! If you have certain accessibility requirements, they will be more than happy to accommodate!

Some top tips then if you are, or deciding to go in the near future:

  • Book Months in Advance – I highly recommend you book your tickets months in advance, they will book up so quickly. This isn’t something you can just turn up to, as it is so immensely popular!

  • Phone up the studio tours to book disability assistant and access tickets – If you want to book disabled tickets, you will need to phone and do this. You will need to book one adult ticket to allow for a free entry for a carer. The way I did this, was I phoned up asking about disability tickets, and what they told me was I had to go online and book the adult tickets first, then phone them back and book the carer tickets. However, I think there now is an option to phone them and book everything together. But phone and check with them,

  • Going Around the Tour – When going around the tour either with a tour guide or on your own, take your time, the majority of the props and sets that you get to see is in the FIRST section, so take your time and look at everything, because once you leave the first section you can’t go back!

  • Take Plenty Of Spending Money – Throughout the tour, and shop there is so much you can buy and purchase, these things are not cheap, they are quite expensive! There are now two shops at the studio tours, One during the tour and one at the end. There might some items in one shop that you can’t get in the other. So have a look in both, but in my experience, the majority of items are in the bigger shop at the end.

  • It’s going to be very crowded – As the Harry Potter Studios is so popular all over the world, you will get lots of people going to the tour at the same time as you, both people from the U.K and tourists from around the world. If you struggle with crowds or struggle to find your way in them, then let the studios know before you arrive, that way you can be accommodated and help with this as much as possible.

  • Going to the tour with your Guide Dog – obviously, by law, your Guide Dog can accompany you throughout the tour and other areas, when I went with Blossom they had no problem with her being that what so ever. However, it is a good idea to bring your Guide Dogs I.D booklet with you just in case you are asked to present it. They didn’t ask me in my case, but that doesn’t mean to say they might not. Also throughout the tour, once you start, there is nowhere for your dog to go to the toilet, so make sure your dog gets the chance to go before you enter the building.

  • Going through security – When you arrive you will have to go through a security check. Don’t worry it is not too intense, but they will have to check your bag before you enter, so be mindful of this before you arrive.

The ‘Harry Potter Studios’ is a fanatic place to visit, I would highly recommend it to anyone. If you haven’t got the chance to go yet I strongly suggest you do! You won’t be disappointed!!

The last photo shows me and my girlfriend standing in front of the Hogwarts castle (my favourite photo!)

Until Next Time!

The VI Critic!

Nicola Werenowska’s – ‘Silence’

Hi Everyone,

Coming back to you with another review, look at that two shows this month! On Wednesday night I went to see ‘Silence’ by Nicola Werenowska at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester.

‘Silence’ is the story of three women: one a mother, a daughter and a grandmother all of polish decent. The way, the show was written and was directed brilliantly, but very interesting. I have been going to shows for many years, but this is the first time I have seen a show where it is performed entirely in third person.

This was very interesting to me. I was expecting it to be a very traditional play with normal scenes where the characters would interact with each other, and yes there was some of that, but it was kind if here and there, only to expand on the story. There was very little scenery and very little props which I think only added to the character of the whole show.

Photo shows all three characters, the grandmother is holding a new-born baby, looking at her granddaughter. Whilst the mother is looking over her shoulder all looking very happy.

The show tells the story of one family but from three very different perspectives. one from a young twenty-something year old, about to come out of university, to a middle-aged mother, who is struggling to connect with her husband and daughter. To a polish grandmother very set in her ways and likes everything just so.

With all these things put together, comes a show that I have never seen before, but comes across wonderfully and brilliantly. Acting from all three actresses was amazing! You could really tell and touch upon the emotion that each character had, and you could really understand what each character was going through. 

Photo shows all the three characters. Both the daughter and the grand mother are sitting on grey chairs, both looking concerned. Whilst the mother, is leaning over her daughter with her hand on her left sounder trying to reassure her.

Having all three characters, all on stage, all doing different things, in different places, all at the same time, was a little confusing at first, but after a few scenes of the show, you picked it up quickly and were able to keep track. There were times where I didn’t quite understand something, but then the show would touch upon it again, so then it made it easier to understand. One thing  I wanted to outline is the great use of costume. As the stage, set, and three chairs that were used throughout the show were all grey. It made the colours of the costumes of all three characters stand out hugely, so I can only give massive praise to the director here because then the characters more so much easier to see! I later found out whilst talking to the director, that through the show the character’s costumes would get brighter as the show progressed. Which I didn’t spot at the time, but it wasn’t until they said that I could see it, and that was brilliantly done!

Onto the rating then:

People Who A Visual Impaired: You will have no problem here, as the show is performed in the theatre’s studio it was nice and close so you can see that was going. The use of colour against the grey background, is great, because if you can limited vision then you will be able to track each character quite easily.  

People With No Vision: Again with this show I think your do fine here, most of the show is dialogue with never little action, the actors will move from one end of the stage to the other from time to time. But as the space is so small, you should be able to track this very easily, and know where all three characters are at one time. There is an Audio Description available (see website for details) but if you can seem to get a ticket then if you go to a normal performance then you should have no problem.  

‘Silence is running at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester from 12th – 20th of October, but it is also touring around the UK. So if for some reason you can’t get a ticket at The Mercury, Then I will leave a link for the show below also so you can see where they are going to be playing next.

As always I will leave a link to The Mercury website, you can find a link to show and ticket information: Here

You can also find a link to the actual show: Here

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic 

Daniel DeFoe’s ‘Moll Flanders’

Hi Everyone,

Now I don’t normally do this right at the beginning of a review, but please before you read this go and get tickets for this show! Was Absolutely brilliant!

Right now I’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the review of ‘Moll Flanders’.

‘Moll Flanders’ based on the novel by Daniel Foe is about the life of young ‘lady’ during 1683 London. The story talks about her rather miraculous life, and what she has to go through during that time.

This is one amazing story! accompanied by the absolutely amazing cast, set design, lighting, costume everything really. When I got to the theatre I had bought myself a drink and some sweets, but not once did I touch them, as I was so engrossed into the show and story. There was a great use of light and darkness, the acting by all the cast was sublime. Some of the best I’ve seen in many years.

Photo shows full cast of stage, with the character 'Daniel DeFoe' setting the scene. The light is a mixture of reds and oranges. Daniel is standing centre stage with the title 'Moll Flanders' behind him on a canvas.

There were a few times where the cast one break the cast would break the ‘4th wall’ to encourage the audience and to make them feel part of the show, which I loved and I thought was an excellent touch. The use of light and costume and lighting put together, made the show gorgeous to look at. There are some singing numbers throughout the show, which the cast sang beautifully especially the main leading lady Eva-Jane Willis. She definitely stood out for me during the show.

Moll Flanders (Eva-Jane-Willis) is stnading in a church in a green and gold coat looking up into the distance, wondering what she should do with her life.

Though-out the entirety of the show, you could see that the whole cast had a great deal of fun, and enjoyed themselves immensely. There was a fair number of jokes and ‘gags’ which was a very nice touch and made the show very, very enjoyable!

‘Moll Flanders’ is running at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester form 28th of September until 13th of October! I’ve I can find some tickets, I will definitely be going again for sure!

Onto the ratings then:

People With A Vision Impairment: You will have no problem watching this show. There is a great use of lighting during the show and a great use of colour with the costumes. The theatre is traditional so as it is quite small I would say if you can I would sit in row D or E and you’d be fine.

People With No Vision: Here I think your do fine. There is plenty of dialogue that tells the story and definitely enough to understand what is going on in certain particular scenes. But an Audio Description performance with a Touch Tour is available, so get the website for details.

Honestly, everyone if you have the time to go and see this show then I highly recommend you do! It has an excellent story with an extraordinary cast, and trust me it is not to be missed!!

Until Next Time!

The VI Critic

Song From The Show: ‘London Town’

‘Babe The Sheep Pig’

Hi everyone, and welcome to another review. This time, I went to go and see ‘Babe – The Sheep-Pig’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester!

This is definitely a show for all the family! ‘Babe’ tells the story of a farm pig who dreams of becoming a sheepdog, and all his friends at the farm help him to fulfill his dream. But without some scary things happening along the way.

As usual The Mercury Theatre and their ‘Made in Colchester Production’ didn’t disappoint. The show was fun, lively, and upbeat, there was never a dull moment.

There was a lot of humorous moments both for children and adults alike. As this show has a somewhat small cast, most of them having to play multiple characters or animals. The only person who didn’t was the puppeteer who was operating Babe, along with the actress playing ‘Fly’.

'Fly' the sheep is a black and white sheepdog, and she looking at the audience smiling

Like I said at the beginning, this is a show for the whole family, however, there are some scary scenes that younger children may find too much. But I believe if this is the first time taking your children to the theatre, this would be a good show to start them off with! It has elements of a professional production, and I came away with that feeling, which is good for the adults and parents. But there is no doubt this show is aimed at children. The show has a very good message of friendship for children which is always lovely to see!

Also another thing I wanted to point out whilst I was there, was that The Mercury Theatre have now installed boxes in the auditorium, so you can go and sit with your family or party without having to be around the crowd of people, if your children aren’t a big fan of crowds, or has a visually impaired person, like me you find it difficult to walk about in crowds of people!

Overall, ‘Babe’ was excellent and would thoroughly recommend during the school holidays and summer season!

Picture shows Babe and the farmer meeting for the first time, as they look at each other, under a single white light.

People with a visual impairment: I think your do fine here, there’s plenty of light, throughout the show, and plenty of colour. There are a few scenes which are set at night and are quite dark along with strobe lighting!

People who have no Vision: Again, I think your do fine here too. The show will be very easy to follow without audio description and it is very audible and not so much visually, but if you prefer audio description there is a touch tour and audio description performance available!

‘Babe The Sheep-Pig’ is running at The Mercury Theatre between 27th July – 29th August! If you wish to purchase tickets or find out more about the show. You can do so by clicking Here!

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic!

Photo of the full cast and Babe, at the end of show with all the cast playing musical instruments and singing and dancing to the final song of the show.

Europe After The Rain!

Hi Everyone,

Coming at you with another review! This is ‘Europe After The Rain’ by Oliver Bennett. It talks about politics and The EU exit vote back in 2016. The story includes four main characters Will, Max, Marta, and Yana. 

The story covers these four characters as Will owns at large house, and one day comes across two refugees who have come into England. As they have no place to stay, he offers for them to come and stay with him. Will has strong views on the now then current British Government and what he feels they should do. Marta and Yana, however, have no interest in the vote, so throughout the first have of the show, Will tries to explain to them, but with little results. The second half of the show then shows an extreme version of what could happen after the vote to leave the Europian Union. 

Simon-Haines-Max-Natasha-Kafka-Marta-Photography-by-Robert-Day-800x530
Photo Description: Simon Haines (Max) & Natasha Kafka (Marta) looking together at a tablet.

I feel that writer here is not trying to tell the audience his views on what he thinks of the whole subject. But to show a version of what could happen. I personally don’t take much interest in the subject, as I personally struggle to understand it all. But for those who do, I think this show is a show where I think you’re doing to love it or not. The show was performed in the theatre’s studio and not the main Auditorium, so there was very little space, so this was one of those times where I was glad I’m quite a small person! As it was such a small space to work it, there was a lot of realistic features, for example, the use of candles and realistic cigarettes. 

I thought the play was acted very well by all members of the cast. There was a fair amount of humor which was nice from the character Max. There was also a fair amount of strong language in this show too, I thought maybe too much but again added to the realism. You got a real sense that the household was struggling financially, due to the use of some characters using beach chairs and some using plastic and again same with the tableware. 

Simon-Haines-Max-Photography-by-Robert-Day-2-800x530

Photo Description: Simon Haines (Max) dancing around, hold a bunch of red flowers laughing.

The whole show was also performed on sand, which I thought was interesting. Along with robes hanging down from the top of the studio, I can only assume that was to simulate rain, or maybe walls as it wasn’t really made clear. But was an interesting visual. If you’re looking for something different to go see, this Definitely ticks that box!

People With A Visually Impairment: Your have no problem watching this show at all, I would suggest you get a ticket within the B or C rows of seats to get the best view possible!

People With No Vision; Again you will have no problem here! Most of the story is Dialogue with very little visuals. every now and again a character will light a cigarette or light a candle but it has very little if at all to the story. The use of sound is also very good in this show, so you shouldn’t really have a problem. There is an Audio Description & Touch Tour available though if you want to have descriptions. 

‘Europe After The Rain’ is running that The Mercury Theatre in Colchester from 25th May – 9th June! If you wish to go and purchase tickets, then you can find the link by clicking here!

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

 

‘A Classic Ghost Story’ – Turn Of The Screw

Hi everyone! Here’s to 2018!

For the first show of 2018, I went to go and see ‘Turn of The Screw’ by Henry James’ adapted for the stage by Tim Luscome. This show has been advertised as ‘The Classic Ghost Story’ and that is definitely the case. This is very much a play of despair, unconditional love, and fear!

‘Turn of The Screw’ tells the story of a fifty-year-old governess who is interviewed to take charge of her mistress’s children, for her then to find out she is actually one of two children she used to look after thirty years ago. The play tells the story if the governess’s time at Bly House and it’s haunted past. I enjoyed the show overall, but due to the time period in which the play is set, at times I personally struggled to understand a certain scene, due to the type of language used. This is anything, but a good thing, as it helps set the scene of the period.

A scene from Turn of the Screw by Henry James (adapted by Tim Luscombe) at the Mercury Theatre Colchester. Directed by Daniel Buckroyd. Designed by Sara Parks. Lit by Matt Leventhall.

Description: The Governess & Mrs. Grose looking far into the distance, in the children’s nursery

Throughout the show, there were transitions for the governess (played by Carli Norris) and Mrs. Conray between a past younger version of themselves and the present, and this was brilliantly done. Often when I go and see shows of the same style and layout, this can come across very confusing to the audience. However, in this case, there was no confusion and it was expertly done.

At first, I thought this is being a somewhat quiet show that someone with no vision would struggle understanding the story and what exactly was going on. But actually, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure there were some parts of the story that I struggled to understand, however, is the show progressed I started to get used to the style and started to understand the flow. There were some key moments, that as an audience member I did not see coming.

A scene from Turn of the Screw by Henry James (adapted by Tim Luscombe) at the Mercury Theatre Colchester. Directed by Daniel Buckroyd. Designed by Sara Parks. Lit by Matt Leventhall.

Description: The Governess sitting in a rocking chair facing forward, looking dazed.

Do not get me wrong, this is not a show for the faint-hearted and does have some loud sounds and flashing lights throughout, and the show has a very dark awareness about it. But this in no way should it take anything away from your show. All the cast were brilliant, and the story was excellently written and directed. I must say, this is not a show for everyone however if you enjoy a traditional vibe of theatre, then I can highly recommend this.

People With A Visual Impairment: I think with the show, not using a lot of lighting, the use of flashing lights and blackouts. I think you may struggle here, the use of Audio Description would be a good choice, along with a close seat to the stage. Please also if you are light sensitive, you maybe want to bare this in mind.

A scene from Turn of the Screw by Henry James (adapted by Tim Luscombe) at the Mercury Theatre Colchester. Directed by Daniel Buckroyd. Designed by Sara Parks. Lit by Matt Leventhall.

Description: A younger Mrs. Conray & her brother playing in the Nursery, she is wearing fairy wings, whilst her brother is wearing a horse head shaped hat.

People With No Vision: On a whole, I think you do fine here, again I think Audio Description is a good choice, however, if that’s not available then I think as long as you can understand some of the period language I think your do just fine. There some visual aids in the show which might not help in understanding the story, e.g. the transitions between the past and the present day, but I think if you go with a sighted friend then you should be okay to watch this without a worry.

‘Turn of The Screw’ is running at The Mercury Theatre from 23rd February until 10th March. But the show is also on a national tour throughout the UK. If you would to see if ‘Turn of The Screw’ is coming to your local theatre, then you can find out by clicking the link below:

Mercury Theatre Tickets Click Here. For all other UK Tour dates Click Here.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic!

 

Photo Credits: Mercury Theatre & Robert Workmen

Conor McPherson’s ‘The Weir’

Hi again,

Last week I went to go and see ‘The Weir’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester! I know this review is a little late in coming as I went to go and see this show almost a week ago. But this show will not disappoint. 

The show I feel is a set of smaller stories, as each character tells a mixture of folklore, fiction, and ghost stories. This show has a  somewhat small cast consisting of Finbar, a man that came across to me as someone who is a member of the wealthy family of the village who had been living there for many years as he seemed to know a lot about the village. You then have Jack and Jim, who are regulars at the Irish pub,  Brendan the pub landlord, and Valerie a newbie to the village, and is on a local retreat to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  

John-ODowd-Sean-Murray-Sam-OMahony-Louis-Dempsey-The-Weir-Photography-by-Marc-Brenner-800x530
Photo Credit: Mercury Theatre & Marc Brenner

I’m going to come out and be honest, after coming home from the theatre I was thinking that this is something which I wouldn’t normally come and see myself. However, as I’ve had a few days to think about it, I’ve changed my mind! This is definitely something I would happily go and see again. Natalie Radmall-Quike’s acting as absolutely brilliant! Her character had a scene where she was really emotional as the scene was of her child. But I felt that I had a real connection to her character. Jack played by Sean Murray, I really enjoyed his acting and accent! He provided the humor through the whole show and I think the audience enjoyed his jokes and humor, not just me. Don’t get me wrong, there were some serious scenes too, but there was a clear definition, and you could honestly feel the pain and emotion all characters were feeling. Would I go and see this again? Yes!! You got a real sense of Irland, the country, the Irish people and the way they live. 

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Photo Credit: Mercury Theatre & Marc Brenner
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Photo Credit: Mercury Theatre & Marc Brenner

People With A Visual Impairment: You will have no problems, go and see this!

People With No Vision: I normally would say to you, get Audio Description as this will be a massive benefit. However, with this show, I honestly don’t think you need it here. The story, emotion and acting from all characters and actors will get you through this show without an issue.

‘The Weir’ is now on tour throughout the UK so if you’d like to see when they are coming to a theatre near you, then click here for the English Touring Theatre!

Trailer:

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

The Events

Hi Guys, coming to you with yet another review! Last night I went to go see ‘The Events’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester!

Now this show was somewhat different, in the fact that this was not in the main theatre. This was performed in the Studio at the theatre which is a much smaller space. Initially, It was quite very cosy space but as time when on it became very cramped and I personally found it very difficult to move and in the end I was afraid to move, just in case I accidentally hit the person next to me. I personally think from someone with a Visual Impairment this is not the most ideal space to watch a show because of the very limited space to move. If you are a Guide Dog owner there is very limited space for your dog to sit let alone lay down.

Let’s move on the positives, the acting from both actors was really good, the acting from Josh Collins particularly stood out. The show was very audience interactive, because of the small space all members of the cast and choir would enter and exit the stage through the audience, and even some of the acting and lines were said in amongst the audience which I thought was a nice touch. 

 

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‘The Boy’ played by Josh Collins wearing all black clothing and headphones, looking into the distances and saying his lines.

 

Now, reading this you’re probably thinking: ‘Hang on, you haven’t told us anything about the story?’ and you’d be right I haven’t. But as always there is a method to my madness. The story, I found it very difficult to follow and understand. After spending some time thinking about this I think I have worked out why. Throughout the show, it was not very clear to me at least where the scene and characters had changed. Josh Collins, for example, played two different characters ‘The Boy’ and Claire’s partner Katrina. Now, this is nothing against Josh or any of the cast on their acting. But sadly it wasn’t until half way through a scene did I work out that this a new scene with different characters, and therefore this made it very difficult to understand the story.

But having said all that, the bits and pieces that I got about the story are as follows: ‘The Boy’ who to my knowledge has no name, wants to leave his mark on the world and feels that the only way he can do that is either through art or violence, and has he says he was not very much good at art. Therefore he decides to get hold of a gun and go on a murdering rampage and take out a whole choir and theatre teacher Claire. Claire is struggling with her own problems and trying to figure out herself and her faith. 

 

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‘Claire’ played by Anna O’Grady, wearing a brown and dotted dress looking into the distance with the choir in the background.

 

I personally don’t think this is a show for the average Joe, just someone who enjoys theatre. I think this show is for the more mature theatre-goer who enjoys a deep subject matter, and because of the very deep subject matter, violence and swearing throughout, audience members have to be at least 15 years or older to see this show. 

Onto the ratings then:

People with a Visual Impairment: Assuming the fact that you have booked yourself a close seat to stage you will have no problem watching and understanding this show. The only downside I feel is that there is very, very limited colour throughout the show, the only colour they show in the show is grey so that could produce a problem if you rely on colours.

People Who Have No Vision: I think you will have no problem with this show at all. You might have to concentrate a little harder in terms of understanding the story, but that’s the only negative I see.

‘The Events’ is running from 2nd – 17th June at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester Essex. If you wish to know more about the show and interested in booking tickets, then you can follow this link by clicking HERE.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic 

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Promotional graphic. A black and white photo of a young girl sitting on a seawall looking out to sea. Written in the sea: “The Event’s by David Greig”.

Lord Of The Dance – Dangerous Games

When I researched the show, like I do for all the shows I go and see. This one seemed different. Last night I went to go see ‘Lord of the Dance – Dangerous Games’ at The Ipswich Regent in Ipswich. If I’m honest after researching the show I wasn’t entirely sure whether I would like it or not. But as you will find out later I definitely did!

‘Lord of the Dance’ is a show that tells it’s story solely through dance. There are no lines or acting involved. I’m going to go out and say this right from the start, this show is one hundred percent a visual show. Sadly you would need some form of vision to really understand this show fully. This is the one main down side, I found out that this show has toured many countries and completely sold out! I would like to think, on knowing how big this show is, they would adapt the show for people with Visual Impairments or someone with no vision. But this I can’t tell you for certain. The only downside of the actual show, I never really understood the story. You could tell there was one, in certain scenes like the fighting scenes for example. But apart for that I didn’t really get the story at all.

Moving on the positives, you could immediately tell the high level of dancing standard that is required of all the dancers in the show, because all were absolutely amazing! You could tell it took years of practice and it definitely showed. The high level of visuals were brilliant! They used two LED screens, one giant screen at the back of the stage and one more towards the front, which was used as a platform which the dancers could dance on. The high definition animations were breathtaking, and really made the show more beautiful.

Michael Flately who is the Creator, Producer and Choreographer, is world famous for his energetic and fast dancing and his shows are always sell outs world wide. I’m going to be honest and say that until now, I have never heard of him before. Now I have become a massive fan and I hope I get to see another one of his shows again. When I researched the show I found an interview that he done a few years ago and he said something that completely sums up the point I’m trying to make very nicely, he said: “I wanted to try and make tap dancing popular again!” and he has certainly done that.

If you have some free time go and see this show you will not be disappointed! For all information on the show and to buy tickets – Click Here.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

Trailer Below: