THE EVENTS TEAM

THE EVENTS TEAM

Part of the BA Events Management Degree Course

Flash Theatre Festival 2016

 

I would like to say right at the very start of this review, that this year’s events team has set the bar incredibly high for those lucky enough to follow in their footsteps. I will break down my review as follows:

Ticketing. Despite a behind the scenes hiccup, the tickets were on sale in time and in an easy to buy way. The team was only constrained by the website they are forced to use. It is basic and does the job, but I think they could have done more if allowed a better site.

The Hub: Choosing Hazelrigg House as the hub was the right choice. Better than this, the hub was always manned and we were welcomed like old friends every time we walked in. The hub was always buzzing and everyone in the room was part of the buzz, unlike other years where it was always a small click away from the rest.

The performance spaces: This is where the events team are really head and shoulders above previous years. Rain or shine, one or more of the team was at the event venue before we, the audience arrived to queue for admission. From the first show on Monday to the last one on Saturday evening, the team was there and every ticket was scanned, every queue was controlled and every door shut on time with no latecomers allowed. This really helps the performers and the tech teams so much and they, I am sure are grateful for the events team’s diligence.

Social media: Both Twitter and Facebook were well used and constantly updated with information all through the event and before. Some great videos were shot by the team and put on line for us to view. The one that showed the venues was a great idea as I for one, had never been to any of them before.

The team itself: This was without doubt the most well matched, well balanced and happy team we have ever had. They never lost any drive or passion no matter what silly hours they were all working. They were always happy and welcoming and it was real; not an effect wiped on in the morning and washed off at night. Having two gentlemen in the line up was a surprise to me and they added to the energy of the team.

To sum up, Vicky Cooper, Aisha Ruth-Francis, Lucy Taylor, Daniel Gardner and James Broomfield were together, the best events team I have seen in four Flash Festivals. There have always been some outstanding individuals in previous years, but this team is streets ahead.

So, that thank you all for making Lynne and I so welcome, for treating us like friends and for always offering me a chair. Towards the end of the week I really needed one!

The very best of luck to you all in the future.

 

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HIM

HIM

Written and performed by Just Bear Theatre Company

Flash Theatre Festival 2016

 

When you see the play contains a character called Happy, something inside you hopes to see Doc, Sneezy and the rest of the gang. If you get a chance to see HIM, dismiss this from your mind because you are about to enter a world, far darker, far more thought provoking and powerful that Uncle Walt ever dreamed up.

Set in the spartan, yet kind of cosy interior of a church with a storm raging outside, we find Happy, with his soon to be proved ethereal girlfriend only known as Her. We hear a hammering on the church door and after hiding her and a short verbal standoff, we meet Isaac. From this point everything changes for Happy and the play examines these changes in depth.

As the play moves on it soon becomes clear that Happy’s girlfriend is nothing more than a well dressed mannequin but neither of them are ready to admit this.

The play is all about the question of living alone, being content on one’s own and not seeking the fellowship of other human company. Indeed, the question “are you Grizzly enough” was posed on the early Twitter feed for this show and this is really pertinent to the play I saw last night. Do you need the company of others? If you shun society, does your mind eventually create illusions that allow you to live alone yet share your thoughts with others. This is what has happened to Happy and now he is forced to share with Isaac.

There are some very funny sections in this play and each were well received and understood by the audience. Other times, the discomfort of the audience while watching what was happening produced nervous laughter. Again, the perfect reaction.

Jack Alexander Newhouse and Neizan Fernandez Birchwood as Happy and Isaac respectively, have an abundance of talent between them and in this production they complement each other perfectly. Jack has perhaps the most soulful face and eyes I have seen on stage. His loneliness is evident with each look, yet his is also protective of Her and their isolation. Like most Grizzlies, he does not share well with others. Neizan is very physical and the size difference between him and Jack works well and adds to Jack feeling threatened by Isaac’s presence in his life. This play is finely crafted, well rehearsed and extremely watchable. The moment when Happy finally admits that his girlfriend is not real makes your chest tighten with emotion and as the two men realise they need each others company and leave is simply the most perfect end to this play.

This play is a great showcase for Jack and Neizan and gives great display of their acting and writing talents. Congratulations to you both. A highlight of my week.

A special mention for Jemma Bentley who played Her. On stage only briefly but with a smile that would brighten the darkest day!

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X OR Y

X or Y

Written and performed by Infuse Theatre Company

Flash Theatre Festival 2016

 

So, here I am, 61 years old, never even thought about whether I was a man or not, I am now faced with 5 young ladies telling me what I need to know about body dysmorphia and the struggles of transgender people, and I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a little discomfort at the thought. But this is Flash festival 2016 and I am here to be educated so on with the show!

Infuse Theatre Company is an amalgamation of the talents of Annalise Taylor, Rhiana Young, Stephanie Waugh, Grace Aitken and Kathryn McKerrow. And talent there is in abundance as we are treated to some hilarious characters, who with crazy hats and costumes describe the struggles of a pair of gentlemen in the 19th Century and their wish to be live and be treated as women. Funny yet poignant, as we hear of their trial and from the doctor (in the loosest sense) who carries out their examination. His lascivious discussion with the judge is funny and disgusting in equal measure. Annalise must have a back ache from her portrayal of the judge and Stephanie as the doctor had to be seen to be believed.

For me, the most eye opening parts of this show, were the individual stories from both male and female points of view and the struggles of being born into the wrong body. Being forced to choose between being what they knew to be their true selves and their families. The acting talents of each of our company were put to the test with these parts and they did themselves proud. They gave us a glimpse, a small insight into the difficulty these people were put through. I had no idea of the brutality they are subject to and cannot comprehend their families disowning them.

As well as educating the audience, there was more than enough fun and humour to make this a joy to watch. The 5 ladies work extraordinarily well together and their tremendous talents, both individual and as a group are bought to the fore in this production. Of all of the shows I have seen this one without doubt has some of the most complicated choreography, including brilliant chair moves, costume changes and all carried out faultlessly.

Once again, a show with a social responsibility message and this is definitely to be welcomed. There was nothing in this show that I would change and I would love to watch it again. As for the tiny technical glitch, who gives a monkeys as this performance was so good, there could have been seagulls loose and it still would not have detracted from the talent on show.

Congratulations to you all. This was a well devised, thought provoking piece and you all work together like you have never been apart.

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MORTEM ARTIS

MORTEM ARTIS

Written and performed by Artifex Theatre Company

Flash Theatre Festival 2016

 

Do you read, write, paint, perform or enjoy watching others and enjoy their work? Can you imagine these pleasures being taken away from you? Can you imagine that our world has decreed that all of the creative processes, perpetrated by the right hand side of the brain are to be kept hidden, under control, under lock and key? Can you imagine that even if you are out with friends, you are unable to even discuss these subject for fear of incarceration? In Mortem Artis, this is the world that we are plunged into in the confined cell like space of the basement.

The creator of Mortem Artis, Amber Mae, is the girl subject to all of these things and the play is the story of her fight to stand against the new corporation for her right to enjoy the art that is in her and that needs to be expressed for her soul to flourish.

It is obvious to anyone with eyes to see that this was not a play to be simply performed, but something that is deep with Amber Mae’s very being. Her eyes sparkle and her face lights up as she sits on the floor and draws or paints. No, this in not just a play for her dissertation but a heartfelt portrayal of her worries and fears for the future of the arts in this country of ours. The sparkle and the lights are soon extinguished by the removal of all of her books, her paints and finally the closure of the pirate radio station that sustained her for one hour ever night. Even her colourful clothes are exchanged for gray ones, almost a prison garb and all of this “for her own comfort”.

Amber is extraordinary as an actress and we delighted in her joy, as she danced like no one was watching, sung like no one was listening. Moments later we cared for her so much as she was locked up, her individuality stripped from her, forced to choose between her art and permanent removal from society.

Mortem Artis is a well written, intelligent and insightful work and it was only right that its author and owner, Amber was allowed to express her feelings through her considerable acting talents. Having seen her in two other roles Amber has always had great presence but this play has elevated her in my estimation and is a great showcase for her. I hope she finds a way to bring this to a wider audience in the future.

A quick word regarding the tech associated with the show. Faultless, perfectly thought out, well rehearsed and executed.

 

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THE ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORK

THE ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORK

Written, adapted and performed by George Marlow

Flash Theatre Festival 2016

 

In the confined underground space that is The Basement, we find our smiling, welcoming, unnamed host, played by George Marlow sitting at his computer. The soundtrack is Normal Everyday Guy by Jon Lajoie. This track was unknown to me but I later realised it really did set the scene very well for what was about to come.

In this performance George, on the most part uses other peoples works but speaks the words himself. Not only does he speak them himself but he truly delivers the message behind all of them and this is George’s artistry coming through. Each piece has been very carefully chosen to fit in with the message being delivered and each piece is delivered in exactly the right sequence. Looking back on it with 24hrs since the performance itself, it worked so well because it had been do deeply researched.

Our protagonist, has a Brooklyn accent but in between what could be regarded as soliloquies, George comes back in an English accent to give us some of his own thoughts, written by him and in some cases really funny. I will never yawn in front of a deaf person ever again! In other cases poignant and always thought provoking.

The rap that George delivers is quite incredible. Kudos to the guy that wrote it but bravo to the way it was delivered. Word perfect, ridiculously complicated, so fast and with feeling. Like all other works used in this play, it fitted in place and fitted the theme perfectly.

The message was how much the social networks are making us so anti-social and it was delightful, as George made us, the audience connect with him, and each other. This without a single smart phone or tablet, he bought us all together. He shared his food with us, he danced with some of us and he included us throughout. He shared his worries, his thoughts and he shared his soul with us.

George has devised an educational, thought provoking piece of social theatre that leaves the audience questioning their addiction to the “Like” button or the “Retweet” tab in their lives. He delivered it in such a passionate and open way that you could not help but agree with him and identify with the words spoken with such feeling.

I really enjoyed this experience and have no doubt that George and Barefeet Films are going to go from strength to strength. A great way to finish off three years hard work and study. Congratulations.

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WHAT IF THEY WERE WRONG?

WHAT IF THEY WERE WRONG?

Written and performed by Two Funny

Flash Theatre Festival 2016

 

As an honest reviewer, I have to state here and now, that I do not care for clowns, clowning, mime or slapstick.

As an astonished reviewer, I have to state that I adored our two clowns, Cynthia Lebbos and Benjamin Williams, I loved their clowning, mime and slapstick! From the first second when Cynthia stepped on stage, I was under her spell and when the totally demented Benjamin joined in, I was hooked.

Cynthia’s character, a diminutive , innocent looking, elfin creature with a teletubbie voice almost lulls us into a false sense of security. The less innocent of us should have realised something was amiss when she produced 50 Shades of Gray from her bottomless bag and declare it as her favourite! As she goes off for bread for her picnic, enter the long, skinny and, as I said before, the totally demented character portrayed by Benjamin. With his hat pulled down over his ears, his squeaky otter toy and his huge bag, he trashes Cynthia’s picnic and lays out his own.

What ensues is a master class in clowning and the use of the audience. From the start we are used to the full, and the direct jokes to us just add to the joy of the performance. Who knew that pointing out the bread was “reduced” could make us shake with laughter? Ridiculous but true.

Everyone will agree the wedding scene was without doubt, one of the funniest things they will have seen throughout Flash 2016. Using not less than five members of the audience, the next 10 minutes were trouser wettingly funny. No description would give a clue as to how the whole thing worked, but work it did and by now, I was aching all over from grinning and laughing so much.

Wedded bliss was not on the cards for our love struck clown couple and it soon became obvious that the female is deadlier than the male. He is sent to the dungeon and we are given weapons and sent down after him. Exit the studio and down to the basement and poor Benjamin is subject to more abuse. However the worm turns and the bloodbath that follows was darkly funny.

It was obvious that a huge amount of work has gone into this production and I can imagine that it has been polished many times over. What resulted was great fun, great theatre and something to be very proud of. As with all stories, there is a message to be gleaned and this was one of anger management and how it can get out of control.

Congratulation to you both, Cynthia and Benjamin, you suit each other very well and I hope you bring this show to wider audiences soon. If you do, please ask the audience to use the toilets before they come in or you ill without doubt, find damp seats when they leave!

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THE SHOW MUST GO ON

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

Written and performed by Lead Feather Theatre Company

Flash Theatre Festival 2016

 

Lead Feather Theatre Company is the brainchild of Penelope May, Jake Rivers and Madeleine Hagerty. Their programme advises us that they devise emotive and thought provoking theatre. What the programme does not tell you is that you are about to be treated to the best script seen in my four years of Flash Festival; the best back and forth between two friends and the most heart warming and heart breaking performance of 2016.

The play centres around Alice (Penelope May), her brother Ed (Jake Rivers) and their crazy friend Sally (Madeleine Hagerty) as they make plans for the rest of their lives. Alice and Sally want to form a band, but perhaps not a thrash metal one! Ed is full of worries but has a girlfriend that he is out to impress. Without any warning, Alice is diagnosed with cancer and everybody’s life changes. We laugh and cry through the lethargy, the hair loss and we all hope we have a friend like Sally who keeps her friends spirits up at the worst of times.

Jake also plays Gareth. Gareth treats us to the blackest humour as he performs his stand up routine, sitting down. This is an audience cringe moment as he tells us several dreadful jokes concerning his wife, and her cancer amongst other things, each getting worse and the audience slowly stops even their nervous and embarrassed laughter.

Wickedly funny is when we have Tracy (Madeleine) waiting for the results of her test. Jake and Penny play two young fairly hopeless doctors who have no clue how to tell her she has cancer and only 6 weeks to live. As you laugh at the brilliant writing and acting, you are thinking how does a doctor cope with telling a patient this kind of news and what sort of training could possibly prepare them for this.

I dare not analyse each and every scene as I don’t believe I could cope with sobbing again as I write so I will skip to our final scene.

Alice is dead and now Ed and the Macmillan nurse (Penny) pack away the belongings and put the flat in mothballs while front of stage we have Sally at her audition belting out her rendition of The Show Must Go On by the late great Freddy Mercury. The audience is once again wracked with sobs and tears are rolling down every cheek, especially mine. Quite simply the most heartbreaking end to any play I have ever seen.

This play deals with difficult subject matter but treats it with respect and dignity at all times. I am now going to wipe my eyes and spell check this! Thank you and congratulations, Penny, Jake and Madeleine.

 

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