Smack Family Robinson – April 2013

Experience: 7/10

By Richard Bean

Directed by Richard Wilson

Venue: Rose Theatre, Kingston

Date: Thursday 11th April 2013

Richard Bean rewrote this play specifically for this venue, relocating the drug-retailing family to Petersham and including lots of local references which some of the audience found particularly amusing; presumably we weren’t the only non-residents attending the performance who didn’t understand all these jokes, although we got the gist most of the time. Aside from the local stuff, there were a lot of very funny lines, though not enough to make this more than a patchy comedy at best, but as the funny stuff was well worth the trip we’re not complaining.

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Before The Party – April 2013

Experience: 9/10

By Rodney Ackland

Directed by Matthew Dunster

Venue: Almeida Theatre

Date: Wednesday 10th April 2013

Based on a Somerset Maugham short story, this is a brilliant play in an excellent production. The performances from the cast were all flawless, and even though our seats were far enough to one side for me to miss the odd line here or there, it wasn’t enough to diminish my enjoyment. I would happily see more of this writer’s work if we get the chance.

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Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham – April 2013

Experience: 9/10

Venue: Hawth Studio

Date: Monday 8th April 2013

This was another great concert in the Hawth’s studio, fast becoming a favourite venue. We hadn’t seen this duo live before – I saw Silly Wizard many years ago at the Edinburgh Folk Festival – but the Transatlantic Sessions on the Beeb certainly whetted our appetite, as well as introducing us to a much wider range of folk musicians. The evening went well beyond any expectations; despite the apparently limited range of instruments – Aly used two different fiddles, to accommodate different tuning – the music was very enjoyable, with the fiddle and accordion blending beautifully as well as working well on their own at times. What really made the concert a superb experience was the chat and stories from the two men. We laughed as much as we applauded, and we did plenty of both. And I don’t just mean me and Steve – the whole audience was involved and very appreciative of these two talented and experienced musicians.

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Feast Of Fiddles – April 2013

Experience: 10/10

Venue: Clair Hall, Haywards Heath

Date: Thursday 4th April 2013

This was fantastic! The fiddle line-up consisted of Peter Knight, Garry Blakely, Ian Cutler, Brian McNeill, Phil Beer, Tom Leary and Chris Leslie. The rest of the band were the usual suspects – a great combo.

They started off with some tunes, then more tunes – sorry, they didn’t give us the names and I’m not that familiar with their repertoire – and then Hugh actually said hello to us. He mentioned the new CD Rise Above It (we’d already spotted it, and bought our copy) and after Lochanside to Maribor*, Garry did his solo spot: Sons Of The Soil*, with Peter, High and Brian doing the backing vocals. Garry then introduced Tom Leary, who arrived with Chris Leslie, and the trio then did three tunes, with Chris playing a woodwind instrument which had a lovely haunting sound. There was a minor problem with feedback, soon sorted, and they began again. One of the tunes was called Tartan Slippers.

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The Captain of Köpenick – April 2013

Experience: 7/10

By Carl Zuckmayer, new English version by Ron Hutchinson

Directed by Adrian Noble

Venue: Olivier Theatre

Date: Wednesday 3rd April 2013

I wasn’t sure what this would be like, but as we’ll be seeing Arturo Ui again this year at Chichester, this seemed like a good play to contrast with it. They started on an empty stage with a black background which had a working clock projected onto it; according to this clock the performance began at ten to seven. Lots of prisoners came on stage and formed up into rows, singing a hymn. There was some dialogue at this point, but the music was too loud for us to make out much of it. At the end of the song, two of the prisoners were due for release, but there was a problem. One of the prisoners had the correct papers but the other, Voigt, had none.  There followed some amusing exchanges as the Prison Director didn’t want to free Voigt until he got his papers but the guard refused to take him back as there weren’t any papers authorising his return to prison. Eventually the Director was distracted by memories of his time in battle, and Voigt was released into the care of Kalle, the other prisoner being released and Voigt’s friend.

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