The launch of the new Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol

Bar and restaurant at The Old Market Assembly

StageTalk Magazine’s intrepid reviewers Simon Bishop and Graham Wyles battled their way across a gridlocked Black Friday Bristol to the official launch of the Old Market Assembly, a converted bank that boasts its own bakery, restaurant and the now the new Wardrobe Theatre, decamped from its former, much smaller home at the White Bear in Kingsdown. The Old Market Assembly is another stroke of genius from the team that has already created the hugely successful café/bars The Canteen on Stokes Croft and No1 Harbourside, the bustling live venue next to the Watershed.

THE 3 OF US at the Old Joint Stock, Birmingham


This musical is described as “hilarious and touching” in its promotional material. I expect that “mediocre and offensive” would discourage ticket sales, in spite of the extra kudos the production of The 3 of Us would receive for honesty . . . This is a (parochial) love story you have seen a thousand times over . . . Even if its humour were to be classified as “edgy” for some reason, it would be a mistake. There are great, new comedies out there – with verve and daring – that push back against boundaries; shows like The 3 of Us do not.

CINDERELLA at the Everyman Cheltenham

Cinderella crop

But of course it is Tweedy and William Elliott who are the stars of the show, Tweedy as the omnipresent Buttons and Willie as the Baroness – Hardup by name, hard-up by nature. The high-spot of the show was probably the archery, with each in turn being strapped to a giant revolving wheel while the other fired arrows at them . . . If it is Willie and Tweedy that provide the building blocks it is undoubtedly Wyn Pearson’s rousing music which is the cement that binds the whole lot together. His orchestrations are rich and opulent and really create the impression of a “big” pantomime.


The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe_crop

There is some impressive puppetry on show as Lion King and Warhorse influences are used to good effect. Aslan, the lion, is a gallant three man puppet, excellently voiced by the rich tones of Nuno Silva who also operates the head. He sounds every bit as grand as you would expect Aslan to be – ten feet high and 14 foot long – and you can almost hear the sound of dropping jaws from the auditorium.

OUTSIDERS at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol


A languidly sensuous Sumaya (Sara Sadeghi) in traditional costume, is apparently passing time by inspecting piles of documents scattered over the floor. The overall picture, with the set of soft geometrical shapes (a fissure symbolically dividing the large circle of the floor panel) looks like a typical Russell Flint watercolour depicting a North African hot afternoon. An impression of heat pervades. Behind a screen the shape of another woman, Marie, a French girl (Lou Broadbent) is in a state of agitation . . .

BERYL at the Birmingham Rep

West Yorkshire Playhouse production of
by Maxine Peake
directed by Rebecca Gatward

Samantha Power delivers the grit and determination, nay obsession, which it took Burton to become a champion whilst holding a day job and her duties as a mother at the same time – the drive that eventually lead to her untimely death. She covers some 10km onstage mileage, so no need for a gym membership and throughout she never lets the intensity drop – a real powerhouse of a performance . . . An educational and theatrical delight, full of hearty Yorkshire goodness – an enlightening and compelling watch.



The story follows a young scriptwriter and his new wife, struggling to make a success of things in London. They believe their fortunes have taken a turn for the better when they become the unexpected inheritors of a cinema in Sloughborough, only to discover it is on the verge of collapse both architecturally and economically. They decide to nurture The Bijou Kinema back to its former glory . . .

1616 – The Secrets and Passions of William Shakespeare at the Alma, Bristol


Set in his study in New Place, Stratford, the set has a slightly cranky nod towards expressionism with a wobbly table and oddly placed properties. A suitable subtitle for this piece could be ‘Will’s Last Tape’. Anybody unfamiliar with the known details of Shakespeare’s life will find this canter through the salient facts an interesting starting point for the coming revelries.