OF MICE AND MEN at the Birmingham Rep

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Adapted from the original 1937 novella, Of Mice and Men follows “bindlestiffs” George Milton (William Rodell) and Lennie Small (Kristian Phillips) as they seek casual farm work in Soledad, California during the Great Depression. George is smart and strapping, but restless, while Lennie is mentally disabled, large, and physically strong. Together they dream of one day living “offa the fatta the lan’” and tending to rabbits.

Beatlemania at the Everyman, Cheltenham

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So how does Beatlemania measure up? Can you, with half-closed eyes, imagine you are at a concert of the Fab Four? Well, to be perfectly honest, if you concentrate on the right of the stage, you can. Visually John Lennon is incredibly believable and George Harrison is quite acceptable and so is Ringo. Paul McCartney less so although his voice is absolutely convincing. They recreate the Beatles’ sound to perfection using the same guitars and amplifiers . . .

AVENUE Q at Bristol Hippodrome

The Cast of Avenue Q. Photo Credit Matt Martin Photography (3)

Online reviews for this show range from ‘I have been to see Avenue Q three times and STILL came out desperate to see it again,’ to ‘Favourite moment: Leaving at interval.’ While not quite falling into the second category, I have to admit it failed to appeal . . . Yes there were some catchy, quite witty if moralistic songs but the whole thing relied heavily on our remembered love of puppetry classics such as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and that’s where it fell down for me.

REEL LIFE at the Ustinov Studio, Bath

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I’m always encouraged and delighted when a writer finds some fresh way of getting their ideas across, some novel way to use the empty space and offer the patient audience a new key to somebody else’s world. Alys Metcalf’s new offering is a stride in the right direction . . . The scene is a small riverside jetty where Jo, a writer and recovering cancer patient, is trying to teach herself to fish . . .

THE HOURS BEFORE WE WAKE at the Wardrobe, Bristol

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Tremolo Theatre’s The Hours Before We Wake is a little gem of a show, multi-faceted and polished to perfection. It begins in balletic slow-motion, with a young man swimming in dangerous waters. After evading snarling monsters he triumphantly dons a superhero cape and… wakes up. It is 2091 and almost all is well in Ian’s world . . .

THE MARKED at the Everyman Studio, Cheltenham

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I saw Theatre Témoin’s last piece at the Everyman Studio, The Fantasist, two years ago and rated it very highly. Their current offering, a devised play entitled The Marked, is presented as a work in progress and, as I understand it, has been developed in the Everyman Studio and previously at the Camden People’s Theatre in London.

MMM HMMM at the Ustinov Studio, Bath

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Like a newly anointed politician smartened up for public consumption the show has had a makeover since its first iteration at the Wardrobe Theatre, prior to an outing at Edinburgh. Some glitzy shoes and smart designer bag-dresses have allowed the show entrance into polite society. The concept does the rest: what starts as a kind of musical/theatrical joke soon becomes hypnotic. Like any worthy art it creates its own world the exploration of which gives us new insight into our own.