Putting My Left Paw Forward – My Guide Dog Experience

So this blog post I thought I’d write because I thought it might be good for you guys to see what the process is like in general and also see what my personal experience. This post will be about my Guide Dog Experience.

So back in 2015, I started studying at a college for the blind up into Hereford. We had a good mixture of visually impaired and blind students. As well as cane and Guide Dog users. Also one of my friends at the time was also a Guide Dog user. It was because of this time at college and being around Guide Dogs and their owners that I decided to go ahead and applied for my own Guide Dog, as well as the struggles I had getting around from day to day.

So one day in between lessons, I decided to go to the Guide Dog website and search for my local mobility team back at home. Once I found out their information I decided to email them to find out a bit more about the process and what was involved. Within a couple of days, I got an email back from someone at Guide Dogs to say that they would phone me to set up a home visit and send a member of staff to come and see me. Now, I must mention that I had applied for a Guide Dog some years before this, but I had been turned down at the time because I was too young. The first meeting was about me and my eye condition and all the boring paper that had to be done, as well as all the information I needed to know.

A few months went by, as at the time I was away studying a college so, my application had to be referred to the local mobility team up near my college. I then got a phone call from that team asking if they could come and see me and conduct a mobility assessment. This involves me walking around as I normally would with my cane, while the Guide Dog staff behind me look at the little things, like my walking speed and how I get around. Whilst doing this, they asked me questions like my distance in terms of my sight and how far I can see before things started to get blurry.

Once we got back to the college we sat down and discussed how we all thought it went. It turned out it went really well and that they were going to recommend I moved on the Guide Dog Mobility Assessment. After the Mobility Assessment, I got six to eight months went passed before I finally got a phone call from Guide Dogs asking to meet me for a Guide Dog Assessment around the college. About a week later, the day finally arrived and I must say I was really nervous, as I really wanted this to go well. We first sat down and discussed me and what type of dog I was personally looking for, and what Guide Dogs thought I needed. Once we had this discussion, we then did a harness walk. This is a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, brings along a harness, but sadly no dog. They hold on to the end of the harness and mutate what a Guide Dog would be doing as well as teaching me the basic commands to work the dog.

We walked around the college and practiced walking up and down stairs, practicing giving positive and negative reactions to a dogs behavior. This went so well and we were both really, really happy with how that went. Therefore I went on the waiting list for a Guide Dog. During this time, I had a number of visits from Guide Dogs including looking at where I was currently living and looking at the size of the garden and where would the dog ‘spend’. I had to do this another time, because whilst on the waiting list I moved house, so Guide Dogs had to come a assess my house again, along with looking and assessing my pet dogs.

As I had moved house, I needed new routes, to get out and about as well as routes for working my future Guide Dog. I had a number of mobility lessons before I went back on the waiting list for a Guide Dog. So fast forwarding to June 2017, at this point in my life, I had moved out of the family home, and living on my own, as well as visiting my girlfriend once a month up in Birmingham which I love to do, as still love to do! During this time, I had phoned Guide Dogs to give them an update and tell them that I had moved out and was living on my own. About a week or so later, I got the phone call I had been dreaming and waiting for almost three years. I got the phone call to say that Guide Dogs, had possibly found me a Guide Dog.

About a week later on a Thursday afternoon. A Guide Dog Mobility Instructor came round with a two-year-old, yellow Labrador Retriever cross. He brought her up to my flat, were my mum and I were waiting. We both said hello to the dog, and started to answer a few questions about where I was living, how the other residents would feel about having a dog around the place, along with my current routes and places a still go. We then went on another harness walk to practice the basic commands again, as it had been some time since I had done them before on the Guide Dog Assessment. Then we walked back to get the dog and do the same walk with the dog in harness. Once, we both started walking we didn’t stop. We carried on and on until we got to the end of the road, which was much more further then me and the trainer had done a few minutes before. After we turned around, we lead walk the dog back, and the trainer guided me back home. On the way home, he started telling me some more things about the dog and a little bit about her personality and characteristics.

Once home, went through how the two walks went. The trainer said that he thought it went really well and that me and Blossom when he then said what she was called work so well together, that he was going to recommend that we got matched as a partnership. After this, I then had to say goodbye to Blossom, which I was a little sad at because even though the chance was slim and wasn’t very likely as the meeting went so well. There was a little of me was sad to see her go, just in case I never got to see her again.

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Photo: Me & Blossom looking at camera on the day we met for the first time!

About a week or so later, whilst out having lunch with my girlfriend. I got a phone call from Blossom’s trainer, to say that I had been officially matched with her. I was over the moon! He then said, that some weekend in the near future I would I like to have Blossom for the weekend? Of course, I said yes. So we arranged a date for Blossom to come and stay with me for a couple of weekends time. Those two weekends went by very slowly, but eventually, the big weekend arrived. Once they had arrived, Blossom’s trainer brought her in to meet all the other residents in the building, and have a talk about, what is expected of them and what a Guide Dog does. Once that was all done, he then brought her back to my flat, and we went through the basics on how to look after Blossom, how to feed her and take out to ‘spend’. Once he taught me all that, he went to go and get Blossom’s bed, then quickly send goodbye and left. For the first few hours Blossom didn’t want to come near me, which I can understand. But looking at her now, you wouldn’t believe it. During the weekend, we weren’t allowed to go out anywhere, so we just stayed indoors and spent time together, watching telly, playing with Blossom’s starfish which she had since she was a puppy and still has to this day, and we watched telly together. When the Monday arrived and it was time for Blossom to leave, I got a little upset to see her go, but this time I knew for a fact I would be seeing her again.

A few months went by, then one day, I got a letter from Guide Dogs to say I had been invited to a ‘Client Day’ at their offices. On the day, a nice volunteer driver from Guide Dogs came to pick me up and take me to the office. Once we got their a member of staff took me into the building and introduced me to the three other people that were going to be in my class when I came to start my training the following Monday. Three of us, including me were on our first dog, while one other was on his second dog. The day consisted of a few presentations about dogs in general and then moved onto more specific Guide Dog related topics. After that, we then went down in twos to go and see our dogs and do some basic obedience with them. As I walked up to Blossom’s pen, she looked up at me, as if to say “I know who you are…” then once she was allowed to come and say hello she started wagging her tail as if to say “I remember who you are!” We then went outside into the car park to do some obedience which went really well. We worked on basic things, like walking to heel, following the lead and turning whilst on the lead.

After this, we then went back to Blossom’s pen, and had quick fuss of her, before we had to go back upstairs for lunch. After lunch, we all got to go on a walk with our dogs. We drove to an housing estate and each got to do a route that all the dogs knew well. After everyone had a go, we went back to the office and went through the finer point of training before we started for real the following Monday.

The weekend before training was the longest weekend ever! As I was so excited, I made sure I packed everything I needed, as well as the things Guide Dogs said I needed. When the Monday arrived, another lovely volunteer driver from Guide Dogs came to take me to the hotel where we were going to be staying for the next two weeks. Once everyone had arrived, as we had already met a few days before it was more relaxed a chatty. Then our trainer went through what the two weeks consisted of and what different things we were going to do each day. Then we were each given a bag of goodies! Which had in it all the essentials which included a brand new white harness, a new lead and lead flash, a dog whistle and grooming supplies!

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Photo: A clean white brand new harness and bag of dog supplies on a bed.

The next two weeks were very hard work, but at the same time very, very enjoyable! We were each taught how to put on and take off the harness, in my case i had to learn to look up and straight ahead and not look down, as for years I had got into the habit of looking down at my feet so I wouldn’t trip over them. We also learnt how to feed, groom, and ‘spend’ our dogs. As the days went on, the walks we did got a little more challenging each day, including things like going into shops, full pavement obstacles and even a walk at night. Even though I had an amazing time away training, and I’d definitely do it all again, the time came when we had to go home and start our home training. Home training lasted for three weeks, where I got to do all the local routes that I was familiar with, as well as public transport such as trains and buses. Once we had covered all my local routes and places of interested. I had one final walk, we went into town and done some shopping which I needed to do, and then we walked to catch the bus home. Whilst waiting for the bus, my trainer said that that was my final walk, and would I be happy if she qualified me and Blossom as a fully legal partnership? Of course, I said yes! So once we got home, she got out all the paper and started reading through the contract. Once she read through it, I said I was more than happy with it, and I signed all the paperwork and handed over my fifty pence!

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Photo: Me & Blossom in town, standing in front of aOnly Fools & Horses’ van!

After going through all this, I must say, applying for and getting Blossom, is honestly one of the best things I have ever done! She has given me so much confidence in going out, and people have said that it shows. Now, instead of thinking ‘I can’t go and do this, because I’d need someone to come with me’ now its a case of ‘Let’s go and do this event’ or ‘where have we not gone together’. I know it’s a common thing for a Guide Dog owner to say, but Blossom has truly been a life changer and now I honestly can’t see myself without her. She’s helped me not with just my ability to get out and round, but also with my self-confidence and sense of importance. She relies on me, just as much as I rely on her, and not a day goes by when I don’t thank her for what she does!

So here comes my advertising bit, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association solely run on public donations and get no government funding, it costs over £50,000 for life and aftercare for one dog and their owner. You can also Sponsor a Guide Dog Puppy, or maybe give up some time and volunteer. Whatever you can do I know Guide Dogs would very much appreciate it. If you would be interest, in looking into donating or volunteer for Guide Dogs you can do so, by going to www.guidedogs.org.uk!

If you have made it to the end, then thank for reading all of this, I know this post was a lot longer then what I normally do, but I wanted to write about this for three reasons. One, was to tell you guys about my experience, two if there is anyone out there who is looking to applying for or is think about applying for a Guide Dog, and three I wanted to document mine and Blossom’s experience, so we can look back at our first eight or so months together! She is right fast asleep on her bed as I am writing this!

Anyway, thank you so much for reading this, and I look forward to see you in my next review coming very soon!

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Photo: Me & Blossom (in harness) sitting in the gardens of the hotel!

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

Review of 2017 & Looking Towards 2018!

Well, it’s come towards the end of 2017, and the start of 2018! Throughout the course of this year, I’ve seen some amazing shows! All of them have been brilliant, but I think if I’ve had to pick a couple. I would have to say ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Monty Python’s – SpamAlot’!

But like I said every show this year has been so good! I’m not sure as yet when I will be reviewing again next year. But I’m hoping that next year will bring another lot of brilliant shows! I think it goes to show, that you don’t need to go to London’s West End to enjoy some great theatre!

I hope that by reading my reviews this year, that it has encouraged you to go and see more shows at your local theatre, and that you don’t always have to go to London’s West End to see some great theatre!

I’d like to thank The Mercury Theatre in Colchester for giving me a chance to review some of the great shows this year, and how they’ve made me feel so welcome and really looked after me and Blossom throughout this year, and I would forward to what comes along next year!

Finally, I’d like to wish every single one of you, a very Happy New Year and wish you all the best for 2018! 

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic!

The VI Critic
Photo Description: My logo of a cartoon Guide Dog with the words ‘The VI Critic wishes you… A Happy New Year’ in small and big blue letters!

Snow White & The Seven Dwafs

Hi Everyone!

I’ve been looking forward to writing this review all year! As it is December and the run-up to Christmas, then it can only mean one thing…it’s Pantomime Season! This year I went to see ‘Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester, and this year like every year previous did not disappoint!

‘Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs’ tells the story of a Princess, whose mother dies and her father remarries her evil stepmother wants the be ‘the fairest in the land’ and will stop at nothing to become so. It’s the classic fairytale of good and evil.

‘Snow White’ played by Megan Bancroft was very good in this role, and her singing voice was beautiful and I was very pleasantly surprised. Her singing was lovely to listen to. I went to look at her credits after the show and was surprised to see that she has not landed a major role in the West End. I honestly don’t know how she has not yet been picked up by one of the big shows!

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Photo By Robert Workman

Photo Description: Snow White & Robert sitting on a bench in front of bright green bushes

Like the previous two years, Anthony-Stuart-Hicks is back once again to play the role of ‘Nurse Nellie’ and as expected he did not disappoint! I was very happy to see him in the programme again this year! His humor and comedy left me and everyone in the audience in balls of laughter, making his own written jokes and playing with the audience in many ways! He was teamed up once again with Dale Supervillle, and these two working together is an absolute comedy dream! However, this year I was very disappointed to see that they did not have many scenes together, and were not on stage as much this year. The only criticism I have of the whole show was this. Please, please next year have these two have more time on stage and in much more scenes together!! After the show, Anthony said that he has already signed for next year, so please make this possible. 

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Photo By Robert Workman

Photo Description: Nurse Nellie & Muddles singing and dancing on stage in front of green bushes with red roses

I was a very good night overall and a MUST SEE this Christmas season! 

People With A Visual Impairment: The Mercury Theatre is quite small and the stage is very close to the audience so if you can manage to get a seat within the first six rows you will be more than fine. One thing to bare in mind is that throughout the show there, are a lot of bright and flashing lights.

People With No Vision: A performance with Audio Description and a touch tour is available (see website for further details) but if you can’t get tickets for that performance, then honestly you won’t have a problem. Sure there are the odd scene or two, which can be quite visual, but I don’t think it will affect your enjoyment or the show as a whole at all. 

‘Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs’ is running at The Mercury Theatre from 25th November until 4th January 2018! Get your tickets now, as they are selling very quickly! For more information, you can CLICK HERE!

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Photo Description: Me & my Guide Dog Blossom with the comedy duo Anthony-Stuart-Hicks and Dale Superville

Until Next Time!

The VI Critic!

 

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.  

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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

J.M.Barries ‘Peter Pan’

Hi Guys,

Welcome back another review! This time I went to go and see J.M Barries ‘Peter Pan’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester! With it being Peter Pan, as expected there were a lot of children with their families which surprising added a nice atmosphere to the whole thing! I am assuming and guessing that most of you if not all of you have heard the story of Peter Pan a million times before, but for the odd person who is reading this who hasn’t let me give you a brief overview. Peter Pan (played by: Emilio Lannucci) is the story of a little boy, who decides that he never wants to grow up. He runs away from his family and goes to live on the island of ‘Neverland’. There he is met and surrounded by all sorts of creatures, from mermaids to Indians. He also meets the evil pirate Captin Hook (played by: Pete Ashmore), who wants to revenge on Peter, for cutting his hand off and feeding it to a crocodile. 

I am assuming and guessing that most of you if not all of you have heard the story of Peter Pan a million times before, but for the odd person who is reading this who hasn’t let me give you a brief overview. Peter Pan (played by: Emilio Lannucci) is the story of a little boy, who decides that he never wants to grow up. He runs away from his family and goes to live on the island of ‘Neverland’. There he is met and surrounded by all sorts of creatures, from mermaids to Indians. He also meets the evil pirate Captin Hook (played by: Pete Ashmore), who wants to get revenge on Peter, for cutting his hand off and feeding it to a crocodile. 

 

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Me with James Peake (Slightly), Emilio Lannucci (Peter Pan) & Nicholas Coutu-Langmead (Tootles)

 

A few years later, he comes across a house in London where he meets Wendy (played by: Charlotte Mafham), a thirteen-year-old girl who dreams of meeting Peter. They go over to ‘Neverland’ together and have big grand adventures. 

Now here comes the negative part of this show, in the traditional story there are three children Wendy, John (played by: Nicholas Coutu-Langmead), and Micheal (played by: Alicia McKenzie). But in this version, John and Micheal are only mentioned at the very beginning and end of the show. This is me, for a massive disappointment! I do understand why they company had to do it, due to a lack of cast playing multiple different roles, which in turn actually works really well. In my option, if you are going to perform a really well-known story like ‘Peter Pan’ you have to have the four main characters. 

 

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Me & Charlotte Mafham (Wendy)

 

Anyway, now I’ve got that off my chest and out the way, let’s move on to the positives, and there are many! First, there was a great use of lighting, whether it was on land or at sea the lighting really set the scene. This is something I don’t often see so it made a really nice change. Next, comes to use of musical instruments! Throughout the whole show, all of the cast would play an instrument to sing songs or set the atmosphere! This for me is always a great addition. I have only ever seen this is one other time, and that was when I went to go see ‘Wind in the Willows’ last year. I loved the idea then, and I still love it now.

Honestly, I could go on and on about all the lovely things they did during the show, but then I’d go on forever, but there is one more thing I have to mention. Tinker-Bell (played by: Alicia McKenzie) whilst watching the show, I thought was just come up with random noises and talking complete rubbish, but after speaking to some of the cast after the show, it turned out that what she was saying was actually her lines! She had been given a script which actually had lines for Tinker-Belle which I thought was just amazing!  

 

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Photo of the stage before the start of the show. Everything is covered in sheets and is light by blue lighting

 

Let us move to the rating:   

People With a Visually Impairment: You will have a problem watching this show. With this, I think it would be wise to go on a Touch-Tour if you would like a better understanding of what physically is going on stage. But in terms of understanding the story, you will have no problem. The great use of lighting will be of a massive help in understanding where the scene is taking place.  

People With No Vision: Honestly, due to the amount of visuals and lighting throughout the show Audio Description is a must here. But in terms of understanding the story, again you will have no problems.  

‘Peter Pan’ is running at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester from 28th July until 26th August. This show is very family friendly so if you have any small children they are going to love it! If you would like to get tickets you can find the website to the theatre by clicking HERE.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Farm Boy’

Hi Guys,

Last night, I went to go see Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Farm Boy’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester. I’ve noticed recently that I have been doing a lot of reviews for The Mercury Theatre. But there’s no way I’m complaining, I’m obviously doing something right!

I should really start off by saying that this show is solely aimed at children around seven to ten years old. So this was something that I had to bare in mind whilst watching this. The story is about a farmer who has lived on his farm his whole life and enjoys the simpler things in life. Grandpa (the farmer) played by Gary Mackay tells the story of how he managed to win a race, going up against a top of the range tractor with none other than his trusted and favorite horses.  

As this show is aimed at children, the show talks about important human values, and how children should treat one another. Coming from a background where I have in the past worked with children myself. I can see how this show can be very beneficial to younger children today. Due to the modern lifestyle, we’ve grown accustomed to for younger children it can be very easy, to forget the basic human values. So for me, seeing this very small shows and companies going into schools and performing these hour long shows, can be very beneficial to children. For this, I give huge praise and more theatres and companies should be doing more of these types of shows.  

People With A Visual Impairment & People With No Vision: I have put these two ratings together this time because they are exactly the same for both. I believe you will have no problems seeing the show. As this is such a small company (two actors and one musician) the use of sound is key here, and it is used brilliantly. There is a great use of bright colours and senses to make the show more realistic. A great example of this, was when it came to the scenes with the horses, instead of having horse sound effects or something along those lines, all the actors did was tie some rope with tin cans tied to it to some wooden ladders. So you had a visual representation of horse but had some old fashioned sound effects to go with it. This is something you never see anymore so it was a very great thing to see! 

‘Farm Boy is running from 17th – 18th June at The Mercury Theatre. If you interested in purchasing tickets you can find the link by clicking HERE.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic!

 

Farm Boy

The ‘Farm Boy’ sitting on top of a green tractor with smoke coming out the Exhaust Pipe!

 

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”.

Monty Python’s ‘SpamAlot’

Hi guys, welcome to another review! I know this has been a long time coming but this show was worth the wait!

Last night I went to go see ‘Monty Python’s – SpamAlot’ at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester. Starring Bob Harms as King Arthur and Dale Superville as ‘Patsy’ tells the story of King Arthur, Camelot and the search for the ‘Holy Grail!’ Although, not as you’ve seen it before!

The story had lots of humor with plenty of modern references, including a massive twist to Lancelot I was not expecting at all! The singing by all the cast was brilliant although the voice of Sarah Harlington playing ‘The Lady of the Lake’ was stunning and she had a good strong voice! The sets of the show were brilliantly done, all the sets had a very cartoon texture about them, apart from Camelot which was the medieval version of Las Vagas!

I was lucky enough to go to the press party after the show, so I got to meet some of the cast after the show. Talking to them, you could really tell they were passionate about this show and you could also tell they were all very close friends by the end of rehearsals. 

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Me talking to Dale Superville aka ‘Patsy’
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Me talking to Bob Harms aka ‘King Arthur’

So using my new rating system of how I rate shows:

People with a Visually Impairment: The use of bright colours in the sets and the costumes along with the brilliant acting and humor you will no problem watching this show.

People who have no vision: When going to see a show having Audio Description is always going to be helpful, however, if you can’t seem to get an Audio Described performance for this show with the brilliant acting and humor I honestly think you will have no problem following this show. If you would like to see when they have Audio Described Performances then you can contact the theatre by clicking HERE!

To sum up, this is an absolutely brilliant show! If you have some free time in the three weeks then go and see this! ‘SpamAlot’ is running from 21st April to 13th May 2017! If you interested in getting tickets, you can find all the information by clicking HERE

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

Trailer (2010):

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: