Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Little Shacks 2

I promised a quick update on the latest models, not much has happened recently with these. I have now covered both with the base layer of sticks to give the basic layer planking effect. The second layer will add the cross beams and edging. 

A few deliveries this week have provided some cardboard which I’ve cut into the first pair of roofs.  These will be covered with sticks once they have dried properly. Because I’m making the roofs separate I’ll probably make a couple of variations to the roofs so that they can be changed about to get multiple use out of the models. 

These are going to be a small collection of rough and ready shacks that can be used on the outskirts of the larger ghost town or even as ... 

(Sorry can’t say as I might give a future plot away.)

First post in this series

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Theatre Roundup February

It proved to be a better month for theatre selections, although there were quite a few more this time.  A couple of the performances I’ll have to come clean up front and say they are not really being reviewed because I have friends who are or have been involved in their productions, and I wouldn't want to be accused of favoritism. Also apologies for the late posting of this blog, hence I've called it a round up rather than a review.

4th February 2013 
Anjin: The Shogun and the English Samurai
Sadler’s wells.
Directed by the Royal Shakespeare Company's Artistic Director Designate, Gregory Doran.
The story of William Adams, known in Japanese as Anjin, was an English sailor who was believed to be the first Englishman to ever reach Japan. The play was advertised as “An epic tale of friendship, honour, love and sacrifice.” It was certainly epic. Presented in a mix of English and Japanese with alternating subtitles for which ever language was being spoken meant that you actually spent a lot more time looking either up above the stage or off to the wings to read the subtitles rather than watching the performances. This did become quite tiring on the eyes after a time. However, the overall presentation was good and the international cast blended well to tell the story.
The show ran between 31 Jan - 9 Feb 2013

6th February 2013 
The Lost Theatre.
A new short performance from physical theatre group Limb2Limb.

Alex and his sister Kate have that typical relationship, friends one minute and fighting the next. However, as the story progresses all is not what it seems in this slick and quirky short play.

This is theatre group I hope to see more from in the future.

8th February 2013 
Romeo & Juliet
Upstairs at The Gatehouse

A modernised to some degree version of the play by Mr Shakespeare. Set in the 1960s and in Brighton, following the great bank holiday fight between the Mods and the Rockers.  For me, if you want to try resetting a play like this then either do it right or don’t bother. The dialogue followed mostly the original but with some changes, but not the obvious ones, money was left as written and so were location names even though the set was clearly under the pier at Brighton. The set was obviously designed before the theatre was seen as I’m sure the pier was supposed to be for the balcony scene, but as it was hitting the roof and with no way for the actors to reach it – it felt clumsy.  I can’t say I’m a great fan of theatre seating where the audience sits on 3 full sides of the stage, you lose so much and in this small space I felt the audience were very much in danger of having the cast land in their laps or having their feet following the same fate as some of the characters.

14th February 2013 
Glasgow Girls
Theatre Royal, Stratford East
From 8th February 2013 to 2nd March 2013

A moving and dramatic musical telling the true story of a group of teenagers in 2005 from Drumchapel High School in Glasgow who fought against the deportation of a Kosovan school friend. With good support from their teacher Mr Girvan (Callum Cuthbertson)and histerical neighbour Noreen (Myra McFadyen), this show delivered laughter and tears.

19th February 2013  (Preview night)
Pleasance Theatre
From 21st February to 10th March

The first I’m ducking out of reviewing as along with Phill Jupitus as Sir Francis Whitford the cast also boasts an old friend Mr John Dorney, he of the Big Finish acting and writing fame.  (See shameless promo spot below)

The play did well last year at the Edinburgh Fringe so transferred for a London run. Although styled on the Yes Prime Minister  productions the play was carried by the manic performances of the cast giving the laughs rather than the plot.

20th February 2013 
Union Theatre
The second I’m going to duck out of, for amongst the creative credits is Mr Andrew Ashenden, Fight Director. (I’ll include a shameless plug for his books below)

Not one of my favourite musicals to be honest and staged in the three sides I mentioned above. However the fight really got the audience’s attention at the start and as I sat there with Andrew watching it we had to take pleasure in the intake of breath from the people sitting around us.  My main problem, even though it was a small venue and full sold out for the whole run, if the performer turned away no matter how well they belted the songs out the words became muffled.

22nd February 2013 
Dear Edwina
The Lost Theatre
From 20th February 2013 to 23rd February 2013

Edwina Spoonapple, advice giver extraordinaire solves people’s problems to music. But Edwina has her sights set on appearing in the 'The Kalamazoo Advice-A-Palooza Festival', but will she and her team make it? Two different casts performed over different matinees and nights for this youth theatre production from Act Now Entertainment. I’m not sure which cast we saw, but there was some very promising up and coming talent on show.

28th February 2013 
Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy by Jonathan Harvey
The Lost Theatre                                                                 
From 28th February 2013 to 2nd March 2013
Another youth theatre production from Lost Theatre.
When a stranger comes to town asking about Darren, the boy that was recently stabbed to death, we find out all is not quite what it seems. The play starts at the end and works backwards which is ok but does require a level of commitment that did not quite come over from all the cast. With the audience being presented with the effect before the cause everything has to be crystal clear and some cast were too busy delivering ‘attitude’ and as a result were at times unfortunately quite incomprehensible.

 Next post will be an update to the coffee stick house models. Promise !

Oh and I nearly forgot ..

John Dorney's latest Big Finish audio adventure

Andrew Ashenden's Stage Combat books

Monday, 11 March 2013

Book Review January / February 2013

I decided to tackle some of the classics of the horror genre these last couple of months. 

I'm sure we all think we know these stories but unless you actually read the original, then all you know is an adaptation which in many cases contain just a fraction of what the original author imagined.

Wordsworth Editions - Classics
By Mary Shelley
ISBN: 9781853260230

We're all familiar with the square headed, lumbering and mono-symbolic monster of the Hollywood films, but the creature originally created by Mary Shelly bears no resemblance to this image. At times he is very articulate and despite being the perpetrator of several murders the reader has to accept a degree of sympathy for him, and the real villain of the piece is the monster's creator Dr Frankenstein. The story is not so much a horror story, having been polished and tweaked by Mary Shelly since its initial concept that wet week spent in Geneva, but is a love story and travel journal of the scientist who gave life to his created cadaver.

Wordsworth Editions - 
Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural
The Phantom of the Opera
By Gaston Leroux
ISBN: 9781840220735

if this was published today no doubt it would find itself on the 'Dark Romance' shelf, for the mysterious phantom is besotted with the opera singer Christine Daaé. When he finds that he cannot have her by fair means then foul will have to do. Again this is another story that has had many variations turned into stage and film, but how many actually capture the true feeling of the original? Presented as a report of an investigation to add further weight to the mysterious detective story.

Wordsworth Editions - 
Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural
Dracula and Dracula’s Guest & Other Stories
by Bram Stoker
ISBN: 978-1-84022-627-0

This is a double volume, Dracula and then a short story collection Dracula’s Guest & Other Stories. For the moment I've just read Dracula, the other volume in this book will come later in the year. This is another one those stories you think you know because of the many films and uses of the character, but it's one that I'm ashamed to say I had not got round to reading. For those of you who haven't read it either I suggest you grab a copy or download to your ekindy-pad-dodar-wotsit of choice.

Presented as collection of documents written by several of the main characters of the book, the collected works tell of Mr Harker's initial visit to Count Dracula as he arranges to come and live in England. Obviously not a good advertisement for immigration. The Count arrives and brings with him his dark cloud of vampirism, and soon sets about spreading himself across London. There are points in the book, maybe because we're more familiar with the old vamps these days that you want to take the characters and shake them but remind yourself this is one that set the bar in the first place.

And finally for something a little more modern.

Titan Books
Supernatural: Rite of Passage 
by John Passarella
ISBN: 978-1-78116-111-1

The boys are back! It seems like an age since I last read a book based on the TV series Supernatural. It was great to get into an old banger alongside Sam & Dean with Bobby in toe for an adventure set during series 7.

An Oni is in town, here to cause disaster and death to the local population by manipulating bad luck and disasters waiting to happen so that where ever he goes a trail of devastation follows. But this isn't his first visit, and he's back for a reason...

With Sam having moments of madness and chatting to his old bunk buddy Lucifer, Dean has a lot more to keep his eyes on. The book captures the mood of series 7 well, and provides a nice stop gap between episodes to help any withdrawal symptoms.

For more info on these books: