Trespass – May 2017

Experience: 6/10

By Emlyn Williams

Directed by Patric Kearns

Company: Talking Scarlet

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Thursday 11th May 2017

The charms of an old-fashioned spooky play were lost on Guildford’s playgoers – tonight we were among only a few dozen who chose to spend their evening facing this stage. While this piece isn’t the best of its kind, and the production was towards the cheaper end of the spectrum, we found it enjoyable enough: perhaps a fuller auditorium would have given it more atmosphere, but maybe not.

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The Merchant Of Venice – May 2015

Experience: 6/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Polly Findlay

Venue: RST

Date: Tuesday 26th May 2015

This has only just been reviewed by the papers, so it’s still early in its run; hopefully it will come on from this shaky and rather uninspiring start. The production style included a fair amount of gimmicks – a swinging pendulum, mirrors at the back and on the floor, lots of candles – which often proved to be a distraction, and with very little detail in most of the performances I found I couldn’t care about these characters at all. The script had been heavily edited but the story was pretty clear; it’s just that their way of telling it didn’t engage me or give me any insight into the play. It’s possible that the inkblot style had been deliberately extended to the characterisations as well, supposedly allowing us to make our own minds up; although some people prefer that style of production, I generally find it unhelpful. Having said all this, we enjoyed ourselves enough to rate the performance at 6/10, so there’s the possibility of improvement on further viewing.

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Stella – February 2015

Experience: 6/10

By Siobhán Nicholas

Directed by the company and Polly Irvin

Company: Take The Space

Venue: Minerva Theatre

Date: Thursday 19th February 2015

We’d seen this company’s Hanging Hooke several years ago, and were keen to view this new play. By the same writer, it also involved Chris Barnes from the earlier piece, Siobhán Nicholas herself and Sian Webber. They played characters in both the present and past, and although this meant a fair bit of jumping around, the story gradually began to emerge.

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Miss Julie – July 2014

Preview performance

Experience: 6/10

By Strindberg in a new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Directed by Jamie Glover

(Paired with Black Comedy)

Venue: Minerva Theatre

Date: Monday 7th July 2014

I was the one nodding off this time. Whether it was just tiredness or a lack of energy on stage I don’t know, but this is certainly a difficult play to follow if you don’t give it your full attention. It meanders about and presents us with people whose background and expectations are very different from our own. There’s no clear unravelling of a plot, and if we don’t feel some kind of sympathy or understanding for the main characters it can be a hard struggle to find anything to enjoy. From the pre-show talk with Jamie Glover (a few days later) we learned that the preview phase can bring about many changes as the audience gives its feedback; perhaps we’ll see something different on our next viewing.

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Titus Andronicus – July 2014

Experience: 6/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Lucy Bailey

Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe

Date: Wednesday 2nd July 2014

This rating was Steve’s – I chose to spend the second half in the Globe café so as not to be completely bored out of my mind. Even so, I would have given the first half a 5/10 rating as there were some good bits, but so much was happening on the far side of a pillar today that I wasn’t able to engage with or enjoy the performance at all.

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The Man Of Destiny – February 2014

Experience: 6/10

By George Bernard Shaw

Directed by Michael Friend

Michael Friend Productions

Venue: Mill Studio

Date: Friday 28th February 2014

This little-seen Shaw play was paired with another one-act piece by the same author, The Fascinating Foundling. They were both amusing, and while the Foundling was like a Gilbertian mini-farce, Man Of Destiny had a bit more to it, and we could certainly see the influence of Arms And The Man in the discussions between Napoleon and the Strange Lady. We were glad to have caught this performance, especially as we’re not likely to see these anywhere else.

The set consisted of a wide swathe of green carpet, suggestive of grass, a backdrop showing a large house with one wing coming forward on the left side, a doorway in the appropriate place on that side and a table with two chairs in the middle of the stage; the table was laid with some plates and a glass. There was a bench on the left with a bottle on it and another bench tucked away in the far right corner. I wasn’t sure if the space was indoors or outdoors – the program specifies the courtyard of an inn, which would account for the ambiguity.

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September In The Rain – November 2013

Experience: 6/10

Written and directed by John Godber

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Friday 22nd November 2013

This is not John Godber’s strongest piece. It’s a two-hander full of reminiscences of earlier days, the 1950s in particular, and times spent together on Blackpool beach by Liz and Jack. They’re an elderly couple, based on Godber’s own grandparents, and they’d spent many of the family holidays in Blackpool over the years. We got to see them back as they were, recalling the events of some memorable Septembers on the West coast, getting soaked in the rain and occasionally having some fun. Personally I thought the fun was in not having to relive the events, given the amount of arguing and fighting that went on. And not just between the two of them; Jack was quick to use his fists in those days.

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