THE HISTORY BOYS at the Everyman, Cheltenham

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” . . . This production certainly conjured up the chalky feel of the school room and all the boys were excellent. I liked Richard Hope as Hector although he lacked the seedy edge of Richard Griffiths. Alan Bennett, the older he gets, is taking on the mantel of Oscar Wilde with a quotable quote for all occasions. For example, history dismissed by one of the boys as being just one thing after another. There are moments of hilarity – the best being near the beginning when the class re-enact, in French, a scene in a French brothel. Is this the first inkling of what the play is really about – sex? . . .”

MASS at the Bristol Old Vic Studio

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” . . . Risking excommunication, and taking audience participation into hitherto unexplored territory, Amy Mason has created a totally non-churchy ceremony for our times, modelled closely in structure on the Catholic Mass. A recent survey suggests that less than 40% of us are religious, a statistic supported at the start of the evening by the few hands raised in response to the question, ‘Do you believe in God?’ Has this absence of faith created a vacuum and, if so, what might be filling it? . . . “

MY THEATRE MATTERS publishes a new advocacy document

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With the General Election looming, MY THEATRE MATTERS has published a new advocacy document highlighting why our theatre industry is the world leader and how we can help ensure it remains so in these challenging times. The second half of the document contains four ‘policy asks’ which we hope are easy for politicians, people working in theatres and theatre goers to understand.

A MAD WORLD MY MASTERS at Malvern

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“London’s Soho, on the verge of the 20th century’s sexual revolution, may seem an unlikely era for the English Touring Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company to set the Jacobean play. Yet, Thomas Middleton’s saucy comedy, A Mad World My Masters, finds new vibrancy in the late 1950’s, a dichotomous time of sexual frustration and liberation. Phil Porter and Sean Foley, who also directs a large ensemble cast, have edited this new version to include the usual ETT live band and, on this occasion, the divine vocals of Linda John-Pierre . . . “

KING LEAR at the Everyman Cheltenham

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“King Lear is arguably Shakespeare’s most moral play, dealing with themes of domestic frictions, sibling rivalry, loyalty and greed with which we are all very familiar – at least we are down our way. In spite of being part of what appears a close-knit group and having our kith and kin around us, ultimately we are all alone. As Hamlet, Shakespeare’s other great troubled hero, beset with family problems says, they can be more than kin but less than kind. . . Jonathan Miller’s current production for Northern Broadsides takes pride in being what it describes as being “traditional” . . .”

VITOMORI at the Alma Tavern & Theatre, Bristol

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“The Tobacco Tea Theatre Company is back in the Alma with a play written and directed by Christopher Cutting. Vitomori takes a wry look at our narcissistic, selfie-obsessed age through the eyes of a 1000-year-old vampire. This satire on social media certainly has bite, mounting a forceful attack on those whose self-esteem depends entirely upon the number of ‘likes’ they score, and I particularly liked the line: ‘PR – the modern form of friendship’. . . this play certainly responds to our growing obsession in an often clever way. . . ”

Hattie Briggs in the Everyman Studio, Cheltenham

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“Hattie Briggs was playing first-up in Corin Hayes’s annual Buzz, Buzz, Buzz celebration of the art of song-writing and acoustic music. She plays nice, simple unpretentious guitar or piano and was, last night, accompanied by a cello, as often as not played pizzicato to provide a bass line. But what is outstanding about Hattie is her voice. It has a rare, pure quality that moves and excites. She is also no mean song-writer. . . what is outstanding about Hattie is her voice. It has a rare, pure quality that moves and excites . . . “

A Passion for Birmingham at the Old Joint Stock

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” . . . A Passion for Birmingham is difficult to describe; one’s religious orientation and political position bear more weight in forming one’s opinion of this Old Joint Stock production than perhaps any other this year . . . Preaching to the unconverted is often a problem paramount to the most adroit dramaturgy, but A Passion for Birmingham maintains a commitment to immersive storytelling and boasts enough strong central performances and great music to impress.”