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Showing posts from February, 2018

Brief Encounter - The Lowry, Salford

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Brief Encounter was voted the twelfth best British Film by Time Out magazine in 2017. The 1945 romantic drama shows Laura, a wife and mother, have a chance encounter with a handsome stranger on a railway station that she falls in love with. The film starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard started life as the play Still Life by Noel Coward. The Times critiqued it as “a serious and sympathetic study of humdrum people suddenly trapped in love”. Ten years later, Noel Coward's play was brought to life on the big screen by David Lean. It became one of cinemas masterpieces, nominated for three Oscars and for a number of years it was voted one of the best films ever made. Released just after the end of WWII, it showed the British stiff upper lip in all its glory. Focusing on the day to day drudgery people went through, shopping, returning library books and taking some solace in a trip to the cinema; it also showed underneath the fa├žade that a generation of people who had sur

The Weir - Conor McPherson - Theatr Clwyd (touring)

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Connor McPherson is currently receiving huge plaudits for his West End hit, Girl from the North Country; a play that weaves the songs of Bob Dylan into a tale about the lives of several people living in a Minnesota guest house in the grip of the great depression of 1934. However, it’s always been his ability to tell a great ghost story that has made me admire his work. It is 20 years since The Weir made its debut at the Royal Court, but it is still a tale that haunts and enthrals its audience when it is told. I remember travelling around Southern Ireland about 20 years ago. I packed my little car (a blue Yugo called Fergus – very unreliable with only four gears, a tape player and windows that didn’t wind down) with no idea where I was going, or more importantly where I’d be spending each night. I would just drive and end up somewhere, usually on the outskirts of town, knocking on a B&B door hoping there would be room for me. It was in these smaller villages I’d go to the loca

An Assured Principal Refuge

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It’s 7am on a bitterly cold grey Saturday Morning. The wind is blowing a hooley and the rain is coming down in buckets. What I want to do is roll back over and pull the duvet over my head – instead I crawl downstairs, make a cup of tea (Assam – something strong and punchy) and head back upstairs to get dressed before driving to Manchester to tour a hotel. Yes you read that right – 7am, Armageddon outside and I’m driving to Manchester to tour a hotel! The Principal Hotel has a commanding presence. It is a large red brick building standing on the corner of Oxford Street and Whitworth Street. When you walk out of Oxford Road railway station, The Palace Theatre stands on one corner and The Principal Hotel with its imposing clock tower stands on the other. Now I know it’s strange for me to travel somewhere and ignore the theatre, but here’s the thing, I met friends and had lunch at the hotel in December. I was blown away by the interior of the hotel and the original circa 1900 glazed

The Play That Goes Wrong - Chester Storyhouse

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Dry January; the latest global fad to get people to stop drinking for a month. Other than the occasional catch up with friends and a few festive drinkies, I don’t drink an awful lot, so dry January wasn’t much of a challenge for me; but what if I gave up theatre for a month instead? December became too busy for me to write up my Christmas trip to London, taking in plays, exhibitions and the annual Operation Smile Carol service, so I haven’t been on here for a while. (A big thank you to those who asked me if I was OK – I never knew you cared!) During "Dry January" I spent the month watching films and burying my head in a multitude of books. I know I should have shared my thoughts about them, but lethargy had kicked in. If I was honest with myself, it was going to be hard to get back into writing mode after a two month break. The long daily commute in and out of work during inky darkness was catching up with me and I couldn't be bothered with much at all. Laughter