Mrs Henderson Presents at the Theatre Royal, Bath

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This is a play about age, fortitude, life, sex and much else, with a nod to the indignities of censorship. If I was at times a little lost as to where the play was taking me it didn’t really matter since, like the revue it documents and dramatises it is a gallimaufry of cameos, not least Graham Hoadly’s, Lord Cromer whose Lord Chamberlain’s song is a clever blend of Gilbert and Sullivan, Monty Python with a dash of Benny Hill.

ALICE in the gardens of St Hugh’s College, Oxford

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When the White Rabbit comes bounding over from the far end of the garden in the first scene you know you’re in for a treat. . . when dusk comes on apace and the fairy lights shine more brightly, we go to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. I overheard one little girl in the audience ask if the dormouse (a puppet) was real. I think it’s this that makes Creation productions such a joy to watch. They weave a spell over the audience so that it’s easy to get swept up in the moment, and forget the mechanics of what you’re watching.

THE MOUSETRAP at Oxford Playhouse

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This production has all the elements of a classic Agatha Christie whodunnit – set in Monkswell Manor, a sumptuous country house, plenty of suspicious characters with dubious pasts are thrown together cut-off and unable to leave as a snow storm ensues, whilst murder is committed in their midst. . . there are reasons it is still drawing in the crowds 60 years on and it might just be worth your while to take a peak and along the way become a part of theatrical history!

THE BROTHERS BLUE at the Tunnels, Bristol

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The seven-piece band is a tight outfit with a three-piece brass section punching above its weight in producing a rich, fat sound, which drives the faster numbers. With a polished take on a sound that has never really gone away since the sixties, Brothers Blue are set to be turning out ‘Sweet Soul Music’ wherever the memory of Otis Reading, Wilson Picket and the rest of the artists responsible for that flowering of black music, finds a receptive ear. The emphasis is on fun, which some fine musicianship and blues singing delivers with ease.

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME at the Bristol Hippodrome

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Part detective story, part road trip, part family drama and part psychological analysis with comic notes, the play defies easy categorization. . . The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has us consider a life without metaphor and stripped of the petty emotions that lubricate or irritate human interaction. . . The final positive message of the play is that it is not really a question of ‘us and them’, but rather of the varieties of humanity being on a continuum. Could anything be more positive?

TWELFTH NIGHT at Brandon Hill, Bristol

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There is an undeniable added piquancy in an all male production of the cross-dressing, mistaken identity goings-on of Twelfth Night. In the advancing gloaming on Brandon Hill, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men gave a show in which director, Andrew Normington, cheerfully plays gender-bending as his ace . . . his direction is clear and uncluttered with a straightforward interpretation of the characters and themes . . . Morgan Brind’s multi-levelled corner of Illyria gives plenty of scope for movement in the confined acting space whilst the gulls and bats were by no means incongruous.

AS YOU LIKE IT in the gardens of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

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The setting is very important in this production. The Director, Tom Littler, has chosen to set the play in Nazi-occupied France during World War II – Duke Frederick is a Nazi-collaborator, while the exiles in the woods are the French resistance. This clever interpretation gives an interesting, modern dimension to the play . . . All in all, this was a wonderful romp in the woods; just as Shakespeare himself would have liked it.

TALKING HEADS on tour

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Bennett takes us inside the head of three protagonists who are all in some way trying to postpone a bleaker future. Their passions for order or for simple continuity are both pitiable and at times hilarious . . . It is a testament to Alan Bennett’s acute observation that it is possible to believe a single biscuit in the wrong place could possibly mean the difference between a job lost or an unwanted referral to a home. How our lives are so precariously poised!