Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

By Catharine Baldwin

Review: Simon Amstell

Venue: Oxford Playhouse

Rating: ****

Simon Amstell, the hilariously witty former host of Popworld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, delved deep into his own insecurities and angst during his new stand-up routine to deliver a very touching and personal performance. Coupled with his own memories and philosophical contemplations the performance was not only incredibly funny but intelligent at that – a ‘genius recluse’, as he revealed he prefers to be seen as. Read the rest of this entry »


By Sam Hilton

The English Department ran a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see two Shakespeare plays ‘As You Like It’ and ‘Winter’s Tale’ in  September, and a drama workshop run by the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Read the rest of this entry »

By Samantha Hilton

The award ceremonies were held within a few days of each other in February. Both events had good winners, but some people may think otherwise! Read the rest of this entry »


Peter Symonds College, November 28

Reviewed by Ben Moncrieffe

Rating: ****

Imagine yourself as a deranged person living in a 19th Century asylum. Now imagine, being in a complex play concerning the different view points to the French Revolution. Hard isn’t it? Well the A2 Drama and Theatre studies students did just that, and I must say, it blew me away. It was creepy, interesting, enlightening and gripping.

‘Marat/ Sade’ is a play written by Peter Weiss in 1963. It concerns two main characters, Jean Paul Marat, a revolutionary and politician of the French revolution, who spent the later years of his life confined to a bathtub due to incurable skin disease. Throughout most of the play, he is in favour of perpetuating the revolution so that nobody is oppressed. At one point he describes how despite the fact that the middle classes were liberated and freed from the oppression of the aristocrats, the working class then became the new oppressed class. James Deacon (in the first act) and Richard Spencer (in the second) played Marat and they captured his surging desire to continue the revolution; to give his ‘Call to the people’ from his bath while being slowly overcome by his disease .

Joe Dodd and Adam Feltham played the Marquis De Sade, the writer and director of the ‘play within a play’ in the asylum. De Sade essentially uses the play to argue two sides of the Revolution, despite the fact that they are both for it. Both actors created a calculating revolutionary that wanted us to see everything in the play, much to the distaste of Coulmier (the Asylum curator) played by Ben Farrar and Sophie Cavey.

At the end of the play, Marat is assassinated by the mesmerizing Charlotte Corday played by Ainѐ Mcgarvey and Angharad Tye-Reeve. However the director decides to bring Marat ‘back to life’ and he gives one final emotional monologue, which is a fitting end to the play.

Although a complicated plot, I felt that the actors made it much easier for me to understand using their clear voices and excellent gesture and expression, supported by the exciting and colourful performances of the four singers who gave the performance a musical element. At times it was quite grotesque, especially the way Tom Vickers played the Herald in the first half. But at the same time I couldn’t take my eyes off of the performance.

The tickets were only £2, but to be honest I would have paid to see that play in London at 20 times the price.

Did you see the play? What did you think of it? Add your comments below.

The Mighty Boosh Live Show

Three of our reviewers saw The Mighty Boosh Live Show at Portsmouth Guild Hall on November 10-11. Here are their opinions.

Rating: ***

Honestly, I thought Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett’s comic duo was a little disappointing, especially considering how good their TV series and last live show was. As ever their dual stand up as Vince Noir and Howard Moon was funny, but there just wasn’t enough of it.

 Instead they chose to play some of their old songs for most of the gig, which are ok for two minutes an episode, but they’re not exactly famous for their music and I paid £25 for them to make me laugh, not wince. When they weren’t doing that they were bringing in guests from the series, like the Crack Fox and Tony Harrison, who didn’t really crack any good jokes either.

However, it picked up in the second half, when the twosome did a lot more of what they’re good at. And most people in the theatre seemed to be loving it throughout, so it could just be that my 50-year-old’s mentality is dribbling through again.

 James Bunyan

Rating: ****

As I made my way to my seat, I was struck by what a phenomenon the Boosh has become. There were some very impressive efforts at dressing up as the various different characters – the man sitting behind me was even singled out by Noel Fielding himself. The show was very entertaining and had some particularly unforgettable costumes (I don’t think I will ever forget Julian Barrett sporting what was essentially a potato sack).

However, the real comedy lay in the Fielding-Barrett double act. They stood in front of the curtain during scene changes, and their seemingly improvised conversations were hilarious. A highlight of the evening came when Fielding was dealing with some of Portsmouth’s finest hecklers. “Usually, people clap when something’s funny”, he told them, grinning. “But just then, that was a clap of hate. The whole audience hates you.” Funnily enough, he didn’t get a reply.

Rosie Wilson

Rating: ****

So, we’ve got a giant inflatable eel the size of a double-decker bus, a make-shift glam rock band and two awkward but albeit fascinating men on Portsmouth Guildhall stage… it’s a combination that only two sublime comedians could conjure. Seeing the outrageous Noel Fielding and the mysterious Julian Barratt on tour provided me with same surreal sense of comedy I’d seen on TV; there were all the flamboyant characters I could want, such as the green man/woman ‘Old Greg’ and the ridiculously inappropriate Bob Fossil (yes.. hyper middle-aged man bursting out of shiny Lycra from all angles).

However, the ‘live experience’ is just so much better, because you can share these bizarre moments with hundreds of other adults, all transfixed by a duo who only had to pull out a rap about soup and croutons to get their unmitigated approval. I’m not personally a fan of cults, but I couldn’t help but approve of the hundreds (literally) who walked through the streets of Portsmouth dressed up as cats with needle hands, pink heads with tentacles and gorillas; very brave.

Emma Waller


David Tennant as Hamlet


Review of Hamlet

At the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Courtyard Theatre, Stratford Upon-Avon

2008 production

Rating:  *****

Written by Sam Hilton


David Tennant, widely known as the most recent TV’s Dr Who, is becoming well respected for his portrayal of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, which he has been playing at the RSC’s Stratford Upon-Avon’s Courtyard Theatre.


David Tennant’s performance was truly captivating. As he entered, it was clear who owned the stage. As he crosses the stage, unnoticed he stands in the corner, holding a champagne glass. As soon as the supporting cast leave him alone, he falls to the floor in utter despair, grief and rage over the death of his father, and the quick re-marriage of his mother to his uncle Claudius.


Despite this shocking rage and grief, Tennant also portrays Hamlet’s madness well. He is quick-witted and has a crazed energy about him, which he portrays well throughout. He jumps over the stage with such boyish energy; it can bring a smile to any fan’s face, reminding them of their very own Doctor.


Apart from Tennant in this wonderful play, many other famous faces also star. Patrick Stewart, known to many as Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc-Picard, plays Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet’s father. His portrayal of the role, Claudius, is also extremely chilling and a thrill to watch. When Stewart enters as the ghost in the first scene he sends shivers down people’s spines, his eyes stay totally fixed on the people around him, slicing them in two, with just one look. Oliver-Ford-Davies, also a highly respected actor, plays Polonius. He has starred as the Archbishop of Canterbury in Johnny English.


Many may think of Tennant as just a TV actor, but in this play he shows true diversity. In a matter of moments, he changes the moods of the character with no difficulty. By returning to his theatrical roots, he has shown how he can deliver anything and everything well.


If anyone thinks that this is just another one of Shakespeare’s boring old plays, they are wrong. Hamlet is an interesting story about how he, the Prince of Denmark, is seeking revenge against his evil uncle Claudius for the murder of his father, but covers it up with madness.


The audience thoroughly enjoyed it; they gave a standing ovation as Tennant, Stewart and the supporting cast came on for several encores, as the audience kept on cheering.


Many may criticise how the director, Gregory Doran has cut parts of the play. This new look is revitalising and attracts new people to the theatre, who may have never seen a Shakespeare play before. The director has modernised the play, but he hasn’t cut out major scenes that are vital. He has kept the most famous scenes, such as: “To be or not to be” “Alas poor Yorick, I knew him.”

Also by putting the actors/actresses in modern clothes makes the play more understandable for the new theatregoers. In the “To be or not to be” scene Tennant came on sporting a nice t-shirt, jeans and bare-footed look. This was appealing to the younger generation in the theatre.


Lighting was used well to set the scene. For the backdrop of the stage, there are massive mirrors, which reflect any light that is used to show mood and feeling.


When Hamlet (Tennant) shoots Polonius (Act 3 Scene 4), the mirrors smash in a fraction of a second into a crooked, cracked outlook on part of the stage, and they remain like it throughout to show how Hamlet is slowly becoming more revengeful and unhappy.


Sound is also used effectively. As the ghost of Hamlet’s father exits (after telling Hamlet about his murder), his voice is amplified throughout the room to make the scene even more chilling. He is shouting at Hamlet to “Swear!” on his sword that he will never speak of what he discussed with the ghost ever (Act 1 Scene 5).


Overall this version of Hamlet is amazing and I highly recommend it. Tennant plays this part excellently and should be highly praised.


Hamlet has now finished playing at Stratford-Upon Avon, but resumed at London’s Novello Theatre on December 3, 2008.


Have you seen this version of Hamlet? What did you think of it? Add your comments below.

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