Monday, 30 April 2007

Leave Them Kids Alone

On Friday night I went to see Teechers at Brook Hall in Ottershaw.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. When Clare put Act One on at the WDA festival last October,
I was stage manager, so I'd seen that version of the show dozens of times.

Back then it got treated pretty roughly by the adjudicator, though Jack Breslin was nominated for best youth performance.

This time around, with the cast 25% smaller (one of the original four had dropped out and Clare decided to use the suggested casting of 3 actors) the hard work has really paid off.

The show was excellent. Dynamic blocking and energetic performances in a non-stop, breathless production which amused everyone in the hall.

All three of the cast (Suzi Braggins, Jack Breslin & Thomasina Breslin) demonstrated better characterisations this time around, and the extra rehearsal time had led to a more interesting, yet simpler, range of props and furnishings, enabling the action to flow.

I was very impressed with the way they had managed to unlearn the parts they had originally and re-learn their lines as they had been redistributed. Along with learning the entire 2nd act, it was a great feat.

If I had to come up with any criticisms, there would be 2 small points:
1. I'd have to say that at one or two points the lighting was a little too dark (or maybe slightly unfocussed), though as Paul Foster was effectively making his debut on the lighting board, the odd problem was hardly suprising, and I have to say he seemed to get through the 60-odd cues without any fumbles, which is very creditable.
2. There were also a couple of times at which the 'scene changes' (if you can call them that - actually, just moving a table and 4 chairs around!) seemed a little rushed. Once or twice there was opportunity to take time about the change, giving everyone, audience included, time to take a breath before ramping up into the next section.

But those are very minor criticisms and they certainly didn't prevent me enjoying the show enormously.

Well done to Jack, Tommi, Suzi, Clare, Danny, Phil, Paul and Chris for a fantastic production!

Friday, 27 April 2007

Just Five Minutes...

Blimey! It's been a busy week.

Sunday night we continued rehearsing for Whose Life Is It Anyway? Eek! It's about time I updated that blog too...

Monday - Ottershaw Players committee meeting.

Tuesday - rehearsals again.

Wednesday - AGM of the Woking Drama Association, which I needed to attend as I have (for some mad reason) agreed to act as publicity officer for the group.

Thursday - back in Woking again to see The Woman In White presented by Horsell Amateur Drama Society in the Rhoda McGaw.

[Capsule review: Not a bad performance, though it was at least 30 mins too long at 2.5 hours! Though that's partly due to the script (Victorians must have had sturdier bums) the production also could have done with some pep and pace in places. Standout performance was the actress playing Marion (sorry, can't find her name online!) with an honourable mention to Tim Morley as Sir Percival Glyde. Richard Walton gave a good performance as Mr Fairlie, but the decision (his or the director's?) to play the role for laughs, rather than to show what a nasty man he really was, did not help us to believe in the character. Finally, the story seems to come to a precipitous halt with a rather ludicrous explanation, entirely dependent upon unlikely coincidence, and leaves plenty of gaping holes in the plot. I'm not familiar enough with the story to tell whether this was the fault of the original material, the play or the production, but it made for a very unsatisfying ending. All-in-all, a decent effort from HADS, but let-down by a poor text in the final act.

One surprise was seeing housekeeper Mrs Vesey credited as "Marion Fields". This was the name of my 5th form teacher who also taught me drama for 4 years. And the lady did indeed bear a remarkable resemblance to my teacher. The only reason I thought it might not be the same lady is the fact that last time I saw her (a school reunion a few years ago) I'm sure she said she now lived down in Devon... Now I wish I'd gone backstage to say "hello"!]

Friday - I'm doing front-of-house (tickets and seats!) for Teechers at Brook Hall tonight. There's still a few tickets available for the performance on Sat 28th April if you want to come along.

Saturday - along with watching the football (this week I shall be mostly cheering for Man Utd and Bolton) I also need to get some miles on my bike in readiness for my charity ride. And we're entertaining my out-laws in the evening, which is always fun.

So - it's been nothing short of hectic this week. I haven't had a chance to watch anything on the Sky+ box (so it's lucky we've got 20% free). We've got the whole series of Spiral (8 spisodes) to watch at some point. Who knows when we'll get the time...

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Bang Bang

There's a nice piece from Richard Herring talking about the lunatic NRA’s response to the recent shootings at Virginia Tech.

[It’s below the weird stuff about Natasha Beddingfield]

Yes, I’m sure the NRA are right, in this particular instance. If every student was armed, then the perp would have been shot by someone else after only killing one or two people.


Of course, IF every student at a large university was armed, that’s the only reason they’d use their guns, isn’t it? We wouldn’t see people getting shot because someone had stolen someone’s girlfriend; or because they were failing their classes; or depressed; or mad.


Those fuckwits at the NRA. Really. They are fuckwits. And if you really believe the first thing that they say it’s because you want to be a macho gun-slinging fool yourself.

Those are the only people we see whenever the NRA try to represent themselves. They put out well-meaning-sounding statements and talk about everyone’s right to have a single, appropriately-calibre'd weapon in the house “just in case”, but then you see the people who are actually IN the NRA and they all own hundreds of assault rifles and bazookas and flame-throwers.

Really - if anyone seriously thinks that the "right" to bear arms, just in case you MIGHT be the victim of a violent crime outweighs the tens of thousands of people killed with registered, legally owned guns each year, then they've got a screw loose.

The NRA card-holder would answer that by saying; "Look at Canada, or Finland, or Switzerland. They have very high gun-ownership rates, but they don't have huge problems with gun homicide rates".

Well, that's true. But then again, it's also true to say that macho, belligerent, posturing is not a national characteristic in those countries in the same way it is in the US. [And in the UK and many other countries.]

The difference is that in the countries where people tend to be a bit "gung-ho" about their civil rights and their property, gun control already exists.

The countries with high gun-ownership and low gun-crime are like the elder children. The ones you trust to baby-sit and cook dinner for the other kids while you're out.

Unfortunately, someone left the USA home-alone with a box of matches, some petrol and a few empty milk bottles...

Monday, 16 April 2007


To the dentist today to have a filling. It seems that one of my old ones had deteriorated and needed replacing.

I'm glad that I can now go to the dentist without too much terror and pain (although now the local anaesthetic has worn off, my gum/jaw is very sore where he stuck the needle in).

Until around 8 years ago, I'd avoided going to the dentist for a long time. Around 16 years, I reckon.

Our childhood dentist was a sadist. I know that some people think that they had bad dental experiences when they were kids, but unless they went to the Stepgates clinic in Chertsey in the late-70s/early-80s then I'm inclined not to believe them.

[Legal note: I should probably stress here that I'm sure the current dentist at Stepgates is very professional and pain-free. Thank you!]

Back then, the sadistic bitch used to drill out cavities and fill our teeth without any anaesthetic. It's the sort of thing they did in Victorian times, before petticoated ladies threw themselves under the King's horse during the Derby to give us the right to pain-free dentistry.

I remember that other kids at school didn't used to believe me: people still don't believe me. Most people of my generation don't like dentists because they didn't like the discomfort of the injection. Hah! That glorious, numbing balm is soothing compared with the option of having high-speed, diamond-tipped, steel drills buried deep into a molar nerve!

Madame Vlad Dracul (I think that was her name) took a revolutionary approach to pain-relief. When I complained of a slight twinge (as she jabbed an aluminium javelin into my caries) she would twist my arm, giving me a chinese burn, and tell me "if you would only relax, it won't hurt". The stupid, fetid witch.

I don't remember if we ever told our parents what a sadistic cow this dentist was. I'm sure my sister will vouch that I'm not imagining it.

All I know is that if I was to meet her now, I'd twist her ear and punch her in the face and if she yelled out in pain I'd tell her that she obviously wasn't relaxed enough.