Northern Broadsides: King Lear @ Viaduct Theatre, Halifax & touring
Rich Jevons talks to Barrie Rutter, Founder and Artistic Director of Northern Broadsides, about his forthcoming performance as the lead role in a Jonathan Miller directed King Lear, following their successful collaboration in Rutherford & Son.
“Barrie Rutter’s performance as King Lear excels under the creative clarity of Jonathan Miller’s direction in another triumphant tour de force for Northern Broadsides.”
Opera North: La Vida Breve / Gianni Schicchi @ Leeds Grand Theatre
“..a fabulous ensemble performance that benefits .. from masterful direction by Alden and exacting leadership from conductor van Steen.”
Anything Goes @ Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Rich Jevons talks to Simon Rouse prior to a homecoming at Bradford’s Alhambra in Anything Goes.
“Anything Goes is a colourful, sparkling, witty and wonderful musical with the feel-good factor on an all-time high. Daniel Evans’ assured direction brings out every facet of the talent on display..”
Pre-theatre eats: Grand Theatre & Opera House, Leeds
Rich Jevons goes to Leeds and visits three venues in walking distance of the Grand Theatre & Opera House: Chaophraya, Veritas, and Roots and Fruits.
Uncle Vanya @ West Yorkshire Playhouse
Rich Jevons talks to West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Associate Director Mark Rosenblatt about his work on Samuel Adamson’s new adaptation of Chekov’s classic melodrama Uncle Vanya.
“..the profundity of Chekhov’s writing is illuminated with loving care. We are left contemplating the characters’ sense of futility which inspires us to look upon on our own selves following such a soulful and deeply moving experience.”
Northern Ballet: Romeo and Juliet
“The UK premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Les Ballets de Monte Carlo’s Romeo and Juliet sets Shakespeare’s classic love story against Profokiev’s alternately fiery and romantic score to produce a sexy, dynamic feast for all the senses..”
“I first came across Pippa Hale when she was a curator of pop-up art spaces in Leeds and I was arts editor at The Leeds Guide. Now co-founder and development director at The Tetley Centre For Contemporary Art and Learning in Leeds, Hale talks to Rich Jevons about The Tetley’s first year..”
Dark Horse: Snakebite @ Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
“Dark Horse’s Snakebite benefits from a strong narrative written by their Artistic Director Vanessa Brooks that really plays to the very capable ensemble’s strengths..”
Anything Goes is a colourful, sparkling, witty and wonderful musical with the feel-good factor on an all-time high. Daniel Evans’ assured direction brings out every facet of the talent on display. It is an all-singing, all-dancing, celebration brimful of zest, energy and enthusiasm visually as rich as its magical musical numbers.
It is essentially a farce and the plot reveals the influence of PG Wodehouse who wrote the original book. So there are gangsters in disguise as priests, an evangelical showgirl and, of course, an eccentric snob. It all takes place within Richard Kent’s elegant and glitzy design with the benefit of Alistair David’s magnificently fluid choreography.
Debbie Kurup as Reno Sweeney captures the audience and takes them with her all the way. Hugo Sachs relishes his role as Moonface Martin with perfect comic timing, while Zoe Rainey as the heroine chased by Billy Crocker (the irrepressible Matt Rawle) is suitably demure and naive. Stephen Matthews excels with an aristocratic air maintained until his time comes in the number ‘The Gypsy in Me’ when he hilariously strips to his underwear and prances with Reno.
There is strong support from Simon Rouse as millionaire entrepreneur Elisha Whitney and the assorted sailors serve as both stage hands and eye candy for the ladies (for the men the reclining sunbathers should be more than enough!) Cole Porter’s songs are simply timeless classics with cheekily cheerful lyrics that add to the escapist nature of the show. And the dance here is tap at its very best. See it and swoon!
Zodwa Nyoni’s Boi Boi is Dead is a poetic and poignant piece that successfully studies a dysfunctional family in a time of grief and gradually reveals secrets that they would really rather were never exposed. The late Boi Boi is an Afro-jazz legend, but flawed as a family man, and as heavy on the drink and drugs as he was with the women he picked up on the way in his fitful career.
The temptation may have been to make this a naturalistic kitchen sink drama design but Francisco Rodriquez-Weil prefers a more symbolic approach with a supremely successful subtlety and sensitivity to the narrative. While some reviewers have disliked having Boi Boi’s ‘spirit’ on the stage I can quite cope with this, but the amplified trumpet I felt was confusing, it would have been better un-muted and blasting out right there, not as noises off.
But as for the cast: I simply adore Lynette Clarke’s Stella, a gold-digging slapper who pours on the histrionic over-acting of her grief quite cynically in a quest to get her ex-lover’ s pension and house. Throughout she is a scheming wretch, desperate and uncaring in her ways, fickle and two-faced too.
It is Andrew French’s Ezra, Boi Boi’s brother, who dominates the proceedings and this is cleverly exhibited throughout in the status games that highlight his position of power and responsibility. Boi Boi’s blood daughter is the subject of much of the family squabbles and she is quite swamped by the emotional baggage all around her. But it transpires that she has a sensational singing talent, quite a revelation, that we are left hoping will improve her future.
The saddest characters are played Joseph Adelakun as Boi Boi’s step-son Petu and Angela Wynter as Miriam, the jazzer’s long-suffering lover, now disenfranchised. Petu has attempted to protect his mother but in the process got involved in dodgy deals that could cost him his life. While Miriam is more grief-stricken than any other family member, she is still struck numb and so unable to let out the screams inside her.
Nyoni perfectly captures the drives and motives of her characters as well as their fears and inner demons. And the quite surprising conclusion is by no means a resolution, more bringing in to bear a whole new set of questions, especially for the next generation. Lucian Msamati’s masterful direction brings out every ounce of talent from the very capable cast to produce an astutely observed family study. Nyoni and Msamati between them take all the best facets of soap opera and melodrama and use them with intelligence to a powerfully profound effect.
Until 7 March, West Yorkshire Playhouse.