Reviews

Ben Miller -‘The Aliens Are Coming!’

Tuesday May 31st 2016, 7:30pm, Salisbury Playhouse

As a person who doesn’t particularly believe in science, Ben Miller talked with extreme passion about science and all the topics he had discussed in his book ‘The Aliens Are Coming!’, and now I want this book.

I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed him discussing his book because of his incorporation of science and comedy. Nothing about Ben Miller on tv differed from the one I witnessed on stage. He was relaxed and natural, giving a sense of ease that made it look like it was just general conversation. There was a bond between him and the audience because he was hilarious and down to earth, lighting the whole event up with his personal humour. Miller enjoyed laughing and joking about how he chose acting and comedy rather than science as a career, which was fresh and innovative because it was focusing on him as a person so that the talk was not just aimed at increasing book sales. It was so surprising to see someone so naturally funny, enjoy and be inspired by the idea of science and its capabilities. It was made known from the get go that Ben Miller knew so much about his subject that I believe he found it hard to keep his knowledge so controlled and concise. This was so refreshing to see especially through the enthusiastic body language highlighting excitement and passion for science.

He was brilliant at discussing the links between his comedic self and his science side, in which he opened the audience up to the idea that comedy and science are essentially art. It challenges opinions and “scepticism” by opening us up to the truth about life and reality. The amount of ideas and possibilities that were conveyed were endless, and the best part of it all; it made sense! The talk (and the book) wasn’t in big, complex science words that only a minority of people would have understood, instead ordinary everyday language was the crux of this event. My favourite phrase in particular was calling carbon a “party animal” because it bonds with everything. The effective use of this language not only allowed everyone to understand quantum mechanics or the golden record, but time just flew past. I was unsure at first whether it would drag and take a while to get into it but everything was explained simply so anyone could understand these theories and explanations. The audience participation connected everything all together, and allowed any questions to be answered.

I doubt I will be able to watch something so funny and informative than seeing Ben Miller, because it was so memorable and unique. I would recommend it to anyone who is a science sceptic or even anyone who needs a whistle stop science revision tour before exams.

See Young Writers: Salisbury International Arts Festival blog

Story Pocket Theatre – A Pocketful Of Grimms

Saturday 11th June 2016, 11am, Salisbury Playhouse

Brother Grimms are notorious for their thrilling fairy tales that they wrote in Germany in the 1800s. The ‘Story Pocket Theatre’ company did an excellent interpretation of capturing the Grimms essence in their harrowing tales of abandonment, disruption of job roles and the consequences of greed, all suitable for children.

The conviction and passion that the actors had for each of their characters was amazing. In the beginning, the actors played roles different to the ones they were about to perform which was captivating and the audience fell hook, line and sinker. I knew from that moment on that this was not just going to be an average production but a great one with humour for all ages.

The actors played several characters across the fairytales and each one was so unique, it is impossible to make a single comparison to another character; this is because there were distinct features in each tale to make it obvious their transition into another role. The variation of voices was remarkable; I never thought one man could play three different brothers in the same set of clothing…convincingly! They were so poetic and elegant in their acting and singing featured throughout the event that this elevated the experience and exquisiteness of the production.

The various puppets that were brought out on occasions were excellently crafted and supported this poetic nature of fairy tales because although they required more than one actor to move and support the puppet, you were completely unaware of it. The primary focus was the detail and the excellent voice behind the puppet, especially in the case of Rumpelstiltskin.

An important feature of the production was that they were stories within a story so that it didn’t feel as if the company were just listing all the fairytales that Brothers Grimm wrote. Instead the incorporation of the background story being children wanting to hear stories that written by their father made it all that more relatable to children in the audience. The dimmed lighting aided this as it was like having a story at bedtime with the fun elements of spontaneous audience participation. The room was filled with children and their parents and it appealed to them because it was so easy-going and effortless due to the calm lighting.

The set was very minimalistic leaving much of the big scenes like castles and candy houses to the imagination. The audience were able to create their own individual scene just the way they wanted rather than witnessing one provided by the theatre company. It stopped children from getting restless because they were continually thinking of new settings as each scene began, expanding their own imagination by the amount of freedom they had to play with.

All in all it was a beautiful production and one that has inspired new interpretations on the most well loved fairytales, brought to life by the incredible acting of use of minimal props by ‘Story Pocket Theatre.’ It appeared so effortless that it was just a pure joy to watch, and to maintain that level of commitment to the various characters showed the professional level and expertise of the actors.

See Young Writers: Salisbury International Arts Festival blog

La La Land

Friday 20th January 2017, Salisbury Odeon

Image result for la la land

Returning uni next week means I miss my only sister’s 13th birthday and because it’s a pretty big thing turning a teenager, I felt it was only right that we should do something more grown up and independent; whilst still maintaining that element of fun that you never want to lose.
As much as she wanted to watch ‘Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’ and ‘A Monster Calls’, it appeared that it was only because her friends had seen them and wanting to fit in so did she. I know her, and I know she loves musicals and the magical element of music and dance I thought’La La Land’ would suit her down to the ground.

La La Land and its actors (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone) have been nominated for various awards and has been reviewed highly by an incredible amount of critics. I was very excited to see it because the trailer looked incredible but when it came to the opening scene and song, my heart flopped. It looked amazing and well constructed but, for me, the song just fell flat and I really hoped that the rest of the songs weren’t as flat in feeling throughout the rest of the film.
I was wrong, it was all up from there. The dances were beautiful and punchy, at times it felt like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were dancing again. The songs were unexpected at times and the lyrics sounded so simple but held such a deeper meaning. I honestly fell in love with Sebastian and Mia during their duet together, they weren’t actors in that moment. They were the real deal. I was amazed by Gosling and Stone and their effortlessness throughout the film because it didn’t look like they had to spend hours practicing singing, dancing and playing piano, it looked all too natural to them. They should win an award just for that. They are true actors that have surpassed my expectations.

I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet watched it but it did reduce me to tears at the end. It made me realise how real Sebastian and Mia’s story was, and how real all our lives are. The director didn’t glamourise the twists and turns that life has for every individual and as much as the ending upset me and even annoyed me; we can’t all have it our own way. The one big problem I did have with it is that it looked like Mia had some serious daddy issues going on, she went from Sebastian to that man. A downgrade if you ask me.

I was enamoured by La La Land and it’s creativity that as soon as I returned home from the cinema, I ordered the soundtrack because it was such a burst of creativity and happiness that I’m going to play on repeat back in my university halls. It was an incredible film and it won’t surprise me if after I’ve finished writing this I log in to Amazon again and preorder the DVD.

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

After watching the BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s popular book ‘And Then There Were None’ and thinking it was so cleverly put together and not quite believing the murderer once they revealed themselves; it became the first Agatha Christie I would ever read.

I never forgot the impact and terror that as I watched it so at the next opportunity I got at buying the book without the BBC drama cover. In February this opportunity came up and I was lucky enough to buy the Crime Club version of Agatha Christie’s book. As much as you’re told not to judge a book by its cover, I couldn’t help it. The skeleton of the hand touching the house on Soldier’s Island chilled my spine and I couldn’t wait to devour it.

This week I travelled to Mallorca for a couple of days and my chosen book was this one. I was hooked from the beginning, the introduction and development of the characters were detailed and plausible, yet all pretended to be innocent and it was hard to believe that any of them had the capacity for murder. I sat by the pool and just read and read, I hated being disturbed by my boyfriend because I was so encapsulated in the terrifying world Christie had masterfully built.
I finished the book on the flight back to England and I just wanted more. As much as I loved it, I wanted to know more about these deaths. Not just the ones that take place on the island but those that happen outside of the novel. They were vague and necessary for the plot and Christie’s style, but I was hungry for more. More detail and description. Though this is just me being selfish, so all in all, I was thoroughly satisfied and shocked by this tale being so violent that I will definitely read it again. I feel that it is a story that just keeps giving, there is more to look out for. I will never forget the murderer, that has made a lasting impression.

If like me you’ve never read an Agatha Christie or even a traditional crime novel before (this is only my second crime book I’ve ever read) then this is a good place to start. It isn’t too long but neither too short. The chapters are split into smaller chapters so is able to be put down and picked back up again if it gets too much, or like me, you get distracted easily. It is a brilliant read and definitely one that should be on any avid reader’s book bucket list.

ISBN: 9780062484390

The Bricks That Built The Houses – Kate Tempest

20th April 2017

After reading around for some decent reviews that truly justify this novel, I felt it was only right for me to share my insight into the unknown wonders of Tempest’s debut novel.

I had heard of Kate Tempest before but hadn’t taken that much notice of her, in all honesty, I wasn’t sure what the fuss was about but when a very good bookseller colleague of mine recommended ‘The Bricks That Built The Houses’ not only did I feel I had to buy it because he has such good taste in books but finally I would learn what many people love about her.

I have to admit, I did read other books whilst reading this book at the same time and therefore it did take me a while to get through the novel but I was glad I did.
Tempest has a great way of creating sentences, they are so floral and beautiful. As I was reading, I let myself just bathe and soak in her language, I found it fascinating. She has a way with words. She writes with experience as if she’s seen the world for what it really is. She doesn’t mollycoddle the main characters but lets them experience the harshness of youth with full force.
My favourite thing about this book was the depth of character and the back stories of each character. The families and the problems that they all had were so relatable and I could see people in this day and age going through the same things. It was all too realistic.

I was warned by my colleague that Tempest’s novel is NOT about the plot and fast paced storyline but about the prose. He was right. Even though I was made aware of this, I still wanted a bit more movement something just to pull me out of the character’s problematic childhood but soon enough it did. It yanked me back to reality and suddenly, my heart was racing and I couldn’t wait for these Londoners to be jumping in the Ford Cortina and getting away from London as fast as that car made it possible.
If you don’t want to wait for the last 150 words or so for something to happen, then this book is not really for you but don’t disregard it. It’s a fantastic composition and for that reason I loved it.
For someone studying English Literature, it is a great way to introduce contemporary but not populist fiction. It’s one of the first modern books I’ve read in a long time that is filled with detail but not overpowering and off-putting, like some of Stephen King’s (namely Salem’s Lot).

Read this and your eyes will be opened.

ISBN: 9781408857304