Theatrical 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.