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Bomb Happy

Play : Bomb Happy

Venue : Pocklington Arts Centre

Dates : On tour until November 24th  2017

Review by : Julia Pattison

Bomb happy PAC Performance2017

We were very fortunate in Pocklington,  that Pocklington Arts Centre was chosen to host one of only six performances of a special new play, Bomb Happy, which brought to life the first-hand accounts of D-Day of the last five York Normandy Veterans.

Sadly, Dennis “ Hank ” Haydock and George “ Merry ” Meredith didn’t live to see the play project completed, but thanks to the dedication of writer and director Helena Fox, working closely with York Normandy Veterans, and her team of Creatives and Cast, their memory lives on.

Ken “ Cookey ” Cooke, Albert “ Bert ” Barritt and Ken “ Smudger ”Smith were guests of honour as the play was performed in front of a packed audience in Pockington. I spoke to Bert after the performance, and he said how much the play had meant to them all, because it helped to explain “ what we ordinary lads went through ”. What a wonderful tribute to the playwright and her team.

Queenie’s character ( Beryl Nairn ) was based on the experiences of the wives and widows of Normandy Veterans, and her opening and closing words brought home to us all the long-term impact that war can have on both veterans and their families.

George Stagnell was outstanding  as Ken “ Cookey ” Cooke, with Carl Wylie capturing George “ Merry ” Meredith’s,  jaunty Jack- the Lad manner brilliantly. Joe Sample was wonderfully earnest and convincing in his portrayal of Ken “ Smudger ” Smith, as were Adam Bruce , playing Dennis “ Hank ” Haydock and Thomas Lillywhite playing Albert “ Bert ” Barritt.

The simple set was most effective, as was the use of music, movement, sound and lighting. Each lad took his turn in the spotlight to tell his story ; you could have heard a pin drop as those stories unfolded.

After this unique and truly moving play, the Veterans were invited up onto the stage with the actors who had portrayed them so accurately, receiving rich applause.

“ We will remember them ”.

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Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Play : Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Venue : York Theatre Royal

Dates : ( On tour till 10th February 2018 )

Review by : Julia Pattison

 

There was much to be commended about this revival of playwright Andrea Dunbar’s second, most famous play, Rita, Sue and Bob Too, which led to the subsequent iconic film in 1987 starring George Costigan as Bob.

Presented by Out of Joint, Octagon Theatre Bolton and the Royal Court Theatre the cast of six captured the raw energy and dark humour of the bleak Bradford sink estate world that Dunbar’s characters inhabited.

Taj Atwal, Gemma Dobson and James Atherton playing Rita, Sue and Bob were most convincing in their roles; despite the fact that this was an older married man grooming, then seducing a pair of fifteen year olds the “ jump ” scenes on the backseat of the car were hilariously  awkward , unerotic and matter of fact.

The 80s tracks such as Tainted Love, and Do You Really Want To Hurt Me were used to great effect, as was the choreographed movement of props such as the reclining car seats, and the ensemble,  where laughter soon turned to tears and tantrums, involving frequent fights featuring an exchange of foul swear words, particularly from drunken Dad ( David Walker ) and his long-suffering yet strangely wise wife ( Sally Bankes ). Samantha Robinson playing Bob’s wife Michelle used great facial expressions to the audience, leaving us in no doubt that she’d finally seen through her deceitful husband’s lies.

A frank, fearless and poignant portrayal of the grim truth about growing up on a Bradford estate.

 

Working on Korean War Veteran’s story.

Having interviewed Denis many times, we’re now working together on his story. I write up a chapter at a time, then, for his ” homework ” he checks it, and edits it accordingly. A slow job, but very worthwhile – we’re getting there!

An Interview In The Afterlife Review The Fleeting Arms York August 2015

This dark comedy about love, friendship, custard creams and suicide was a surreal, entertaining piece, which would be very much at home at the Edinburgh Festival 2016 – a dream which hopefully could well turn into a reality, judging from the performance I saw on Press Night.

Written and directed by Matthew Wignall, we were drawn into Stephen Thornton’s world :

“ How are you ? ” Hope ( Elizabeth Lockwood ) asks Stephen ( Matt Pattison )as she endeavours to deal with his case.

“ I’m dead , ” he replies incredulously.

“Yes, but apart from that…” she persists.

This was the black humour that set the tone for this whole deliciously dark piece about what led this 26 year old man to commit suicide.

Matt played the character of Stephen most sympathetically, so we truly empathised with him, willing him to succeed in life, sharing his hopes and dreams, yet all the while aware that he’d ended up in the Afterlife.

Andy Love made the part of the mysterious Farrington his own – was he a true friend to Stephen – or was his offer to him too good to be true?

The swearing in the play was entirely in keeping with the most observant portrayals of Stephen’s dubious friends, Greg ( Teej Jackson ) and Gary (Charlie Voltaire ), and added to the humour of the most bizarre scenes .

A very strong cast, along with a sparklingly sharp script, made this brilliantly entertaining theatre; watch out for “ the whole truth, and nothing but the truth ” scene, which was one of many highlights.

Amidst the laughter, you were really given food for thought, about our greatest gift of all- life.

Crossed Swords Review by Julia Pattison July 2015

Play: Crossed Swords

Venue : Upstage Theatre, Monkgate, York

Review by: Julia Pattison

The rafters rang to the sound of rousing sea shanties and crossed swords on Press Night of Olivia Jayne Newton’s lively pirate play. Olivia had felt inspired to write the play after hearing the story about two real women, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who defied all the odds to live a life of freedom, and forged a deep and meaningful friendship in the process.

Olivia cast herself in the part of Anne Bonny, as well as co-directing, with Natalie-Clare Brimicombe taking on the role of Mary Read. Their characters’ firm friendship came across really well, as did the very different personalities of the women. Olivia revelled in being the feckless rebel Anne, and Natalie had her calm hand on the tiller of turmoil that seemed to surround Mary. She nearly stole the show with the cool calm way she crossed swords with Calico Jack Rackham ( admirably portrayed by Daniel Wilmot, who was also co-director of the play.) and won. Later, she took on the dastardly James Bonny ( James Tyler ), despatching the varmint with ease – go girl!  Credit too, to Hayley Patrick for her excellent choreography.

Daniel relished his role as Jack Rackham, instantly commanding the space when on stage, yet showing true tenderness in his relationship with Anne; their bitter parting was most convincing.

There were times when the play lacked a little pace, but the wonderful sea shanties and ballads performed by a talented musical cast more than made up for that.

I had a lump in my throat at the poignant rendition of the Ensemble Cast singing The Parting Glass, as, to the sound of the harp and sweet harmonies, we reflected on the women’s fate.

Jekyll and Hyde the Musical Review Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York

Show : Jekyll and Hyde The Musical

Venue : Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York

Review by : Julia Pattison

A Gothic gem was lurking in the shadows of Haxby Road  1st -4th July: The York Orchard Musical Theatre Company’s first show, Jekyll and Hyde, yielded a bumper crop, and looks likely to continue bear fruit in the future…

Jekyll and Hyde, the musical thriller, had its Broadway debut back in 1997, and was a great choice for this newly formed Company, founded by Artistic Director Justine Hughes and Marketing Director Will Jackson. Rob Fisher played the leading role of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde, and clearly demonstrated his skills as a versatile actor; his transformation from the shy, kindly Jekyll, to the possessed, manic Hyde was a masterpiece, particularly with changing the timbre of his voice, so that Hyde spoke with gruff, deep tones, adding to his general menacing presence. Beth Stevens was superb in her role of Lucy Harris, and commanded the stage whenever she sang; this was definitely her Moment. Lucy and Nellie ( Rachel Dennison )gave a particularly spirited performance too, in the gentlemen’s club, with the decadence of the den coming across loud and clear, complemented by atmospheric lighting.

Director and designer Justine Hughes should be justly proud of her directorial debut, as she’d obviously had a firm guiding hand on production and staging.

Credit too, to Musical Director Ben Papworth and his Orchestra whose wonderful music played a vital part in building up the tension of the piece.

Good to see so much local talent showcased in this impressive show. Bravo!

The Ukulele Orchestra Review Grand Opera House York June 17

Concert : The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Venue : Grand Opera House, York

Review by : Julia Pattison

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is celebrating 30 plucking years with a nationwide tour, which luckily included the Grand Opera House, York on Wed June 17.

An eight piece line up, the Ukulele Orchestra came onto the stage to rapturous applause – their reputation as irresistible entertainment obviously clearly established. Dressed in formal evening wear and sat symmetrically, they quickly created an intimate atmosphere with their wise cracking quips, and comic capers, whilst all the time making their superb ukulele playing look deceptively easy. The ukulele has been brought to prominence in recent years, and is beginning to get the respect it so richly deserves.

We were treated to wonderfully imaginative arrangements of the most unlikely songs, such as Get Lucky, Le Freak and Dancing Barefoot ( now up on YouTube ), all with carefully considered tight harmonies too.

The Orchestra opened the second half with a fabulous rendition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, building up from a vocal soundscape to the full sound of every player’s stunning contribution.

If anyone new to their act thought every song would sound the same, they must have been delighted to listen to the Orchestra’s unique rendition of Kraftwerk’s The Model.

This wonderful concert concluded with a most innovative Balalaika sounding version of George Formby’s classic number, Leaning On A Lamp –Post, leaving the audience yelling for more.

Pure family entertainment from start to finish – here’s hoping they return next year.