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Category: Features

The news items published under this category are as follows.
Posted by : RodDungate on Sunday, April 09, 2017 - 04:37 PM
The think-tank Midlands Arts Progressive has compiled eight wuestions for the West Midlands Regional Authority Mayoral Candidates around arts funding in the region. Although West Midlands based they have implications to many areas. See what you think.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Sunday, April 09, 2017 - 04:14 PM
Mayoral elections are coming up in many parts of England. What can a Mayor do to help fund the Arts?

Terry Grimley asks this on behalf of the new West Midlands Regional Authority. The article was commisioned by the think tank, Midlands Arts Progressive.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 02:39 PM
Steve Nallon is returning to Margaret Thatcher and fleshing her out. Alexander Ray Edser discovers how it's working out.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, August 04, 2016 - 04:18 PM
Do you think you have reviewing skills? Yes? Then read the following and contact the editor, Rod Dungate.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 09:30 AM
Ibsen Museum, Oslo, Norway
3Star***


Ibsenmuseet
Henrik Ibsen Gate 26
Open: 15/9 to 14/5 Mon to Wed & Fri to Sun 11-16. Thurs 11 – 18.
15/5 to 14/9 Mon to Sun 11 -  18.
Tel 40 02 36 30
www.ibsenmuseet.no
Price 100nk ( approx. £10) Reductions for children, seniors and students.

Review: Ian Spiby, July 2016

A useful insight into the life of the founder of modern drama
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Posted by : RodDungate on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 10:29 AM
Thelma Ruby takes to the stage again at 91. William Russell speaks with someone who encompasses musicals, revue, and General at the National.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, July 08, 2016 - 04:55 PM
Timothy Ramsden 3 June 1949 – 7 June 2016

Rod Dungate remembers the work of Founder Co-Editor of ReviewsGate.com, who died 7 June and who was cremated today, 8 July.


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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 02:22 PM
All in a good cause

Reviewer William Russell outlines a 25 June event:
Stonewall, funds, a response to the Orlando attack

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Posted by : RodDungate on Monday, June 20, 2016 - 09:25 AM
Moving On
William Russell looks at some major changes to important London Fringe venues
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Posted by : RodDungate on Sunday, June 19, 2016 - 03:14 PM
FURIOUS FOLLY: Mark Anderson
A 14-18 NOW Commission


A very special type of event

Alexander Ray Edser looks at a major commission commemorating the 14-18 War.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Monday, April 25, 2016 - 12:58 PM
William Russell considers ticket returns, non-performing stars, and other crises.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Tuesday, April 05, 2016 - 10:48 AM
An innovative way to celebrate the Shakespeare 400 anniversary. Alexander Ray Edser looks at an exciting new project for April and May in the Midlands and touring.

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Saturday, January 02, 2016 - 03:41 AM
There have been excellent productions and outstanding performances. But I’d like to notice some of the theatres and Directors who maintain the energy of British theatre in difficult times.

Sam Walters took Richmond’s Orange Tree theatre from a lunchtime pub operation in 1979 to a purpose-built auditorium with a year-round repertory of full-length evening shows, making him a hard act to follow.

Harder when incoming Artistic Director Paul Miller was greeted last year by news the theatre’s Arts Council funding would be axed during the year’s programme he’d just announced.

Yet Miller, now on his second season, continues and refreshes the Orange Tree’s mix of new plays with rare revivals. His first season seemed to create its own classics with Deborah Bruce’s The Distance returning to Richmond – and visiting elsewhere – besides being produced in America.

Meanwhile, the theatre lighted on one of the most interesting new writing voices in Alastair McDowall, whose Pomona has reappeared from last autumn, at a larger theatre-in-the-round, the Royal Exchange in Manchester, the city where the action’s set.

It’s hard to believe Chichester’s Festival Theatre was on the brink of closure when Artistic Director Jonathan Church arrived in 2006 (he leaves for Sydney Theatre Company this year). It now has a positiveness going beyond the succession of individual successes, enlivening the atmosphere of Oaklands Park. Who’d have thought a 1,000+ seater would commit several weeks to not one, not two, but three plays by Anton Chekhov – not one, but two of them ones not a lot of people know about?

Among such glittering surprises, let’s not forget last year’s pop-up Theatre on the Fly. Excellent, intimate productions in a kind of log-cabin theatre. I particularly treasure the moment when an apple discarded by one character through the opened rear wall during Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills was leapt on enthusiastically by a passing dog.

No changes yet announced, but likely to be pending at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake. This must seem an idyllic place to run a theatre, and doubtless often is. Yet it doesn’t take much by way of cattle disease closing footpaths in an area popular with walkers, or flooding around a town reliant upon visitors to make for anxious nights.

Keswick’s had both in the decade and a half of its permanent theatre’s existence. But what’s remarkable about Ian Forrest’s regime over the period is the way TBTL has become part of the town’s culture, involved with many of the Festivals by which a culturally aware tourist town thrives – books, jazz, film and others help sustain and integrate a theatre that meanwhile has steadily developed its core summer season.

Alongside the comedy and mystery elements of the main-house, Forrest has given expression to narrative voices from local writers in the spring productions. And, vitally, identified an audience for more varied work in the Studio, remodelled and enlarged several years ago, now meeting keen, critical responses from audiences who clearly identify with the lakeside programme.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, January 01, 2016 - 02:28 PM
William Russell’s Top 3 from 2015. CLARION, IN THE HEIGHTS, XANADU.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, January 01, 2016 - 02:04 PM
Carole Woddis's Top 3 from 2015; three theatres-Soho, Royal Court Upstairs, Theatre 503.
Note: Editor's Note: Carole Woddis has a longer list of thoughts about her year's work; her fuller list can be found at http://www.woddisreviews.org.uk/
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, January 01, 2016 - 01:48 PM
Alan Geary, Top 3 from 2015: ONE MAN, TO GUVNORS, IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, EAST IS EAST.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, January 01, 2016 - 01:31 PM
Alexander Ray Edser's Top 3 from 2015: HECUBA, QUEEN ANNE, TOP HAT.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, October 23, 2015 - 09:18 PM
What’s in a word? In the word ‘playwright’, everything.

Alexander Ray Edser considers an unfortunate trend in theatre today.


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Posted by : RodDungate on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 09:57 AM
Suffolk: Hightide Festival: Sept 10-20, 2015
Posted by: Carole Woddis on Sept 14, 2015 – 16.56 pm

Hightide Festival
Aldeburgh,
Suffolk


Review of three plays by Carole Woddis seen Saturday, Sept 12, 2015:

Rich plays in a beautiful setting
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Monday, August 10, 2015 - 02:06 PM

The latest West End cast of this play have come in from Scarborough - where it all started.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, July 24, 2015 - 11:44 AM
To boo or not to boo. William Russell explores the appropriateness of audience response.

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 03:18 PM
Tuesday, 14 July this year marks the 60th anniversary of a new theatre venture in Scarborough when the Yorkshire seaside resort’s town-centre Library became home, in 1955, to a professional company playing ‘in-the-round’ – that is with the audience seated on all sides of what was more a square.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Wednesday, April 01, 2015 - 10:43 AM
Writers of all levels of experience are invited to enter plays, which must be original, unperformed and unproduced for the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. The winner will receive a prize of £16,000 and a full production of their play at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. The competition is a unique partnership between the Royal Exchange Theatre and property company Bruntwood.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Saturday, January 31, 2015 - 12:23 PM
Walking the Tightrope: the tension between art and politics.

Carole Woddis asks 'What's the right balance?' prompted by Theatre Uncut's debate.
Theatre Deli, Farringdon, London.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, January 01, 2015 - 03:43 PM
Alexander Ray Edser, reviewing mostly Birmingham and Stratford, selects three productions and one book.

I’ve selected four items from my ReviewsGate reviews that have made a specially great impact on me this year – three productions and a book, and the order below is by no means an order of merit.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, January 01, 2015 - 03:33 PM
William Russell looks over 2014, and finds the London small venues powerhouses of creativity.

Little theatres have their drawbacks – the seats can be hard, the stairs to the inevitable room above a pub can be precipitous, and the pub itself less than desirable. The drawbacks are, however, frequently offset by what is on offer. Nothing wrong, by the way, about the following venues.


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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, January 01, 2015 - 03:17 PM
ReviewsGate co-editor, Tim Ramsden, finds that it's still possible to be surprised - and not all the surprises are in London.

Being surprised by joy is perpetually possible in theatre.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, January 01, 2015 - 03:05 PM
Carole Woddis selects a number of plays and gives a special mention to some venues.

2014 BUMPER YEAR?
On a programme over Christmas, in BBC2 documentary about an amateur company preparing their panto, an actor commented that he felt `theatre was a dying dinosaur’. Soon it would be no more.

Looking back through 2014, though, I’m reminded just how lucky we are in London.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, January 01, 2015 - 02:50 PM
ReviewsGate's Midland's reviewer, Alan Geary picks out his most memorably moments from 2014.

The shows that have had the biggest personal impact in 2014? Difficult; it’s been a great year in Nottingham. And after years of play-going I still take a delight in the same things as ever – fine acting, inventive sets, compelling texts, laughs, elevating ideas; and all right, (non-gratuitous) sex and violence.

Aside from amateur productions reviewed elsewhere, three shows in particular linger on the mind, refusing to go away: Nottingham Playhouse’s Arcadia; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Regeneration, both at the Theatre Royal.


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Posted by : RodDungate on Saturday, December 13, 2014 - 09:08 PM
The Witch of Edmonton - Does it have the right title?

Alexander Ray Edser explores how the play's structure reveals the true power of the work.


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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, November 07, 2014 - 08:06 PM
What’s in a play? : Alexander Ray Edser discusses this question while also examining how play structure gives clues to the play’s meaning. Thoughts triggered by a handful of current productions. On the way, the word ‘playwright’ is considered.

07 11 14


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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 03:41 PM
Chekhov and the Coming Storm.

Carole Woddis ponders the disappearance of politics in recent Chekhov productions.


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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 09:16 AM
ReviewsGate's Carole Woddis ponders the offerings of the HIGH TIDE festival. Plenty of food for thought.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, April 03, 2014 - 05:37 PM
Alexander Ray Edser looks at a new company in Birmingham, launching a new show about sexuality.

HETEROPHOBIA: An Urban Musical: Devised and directed: Hannah Phillips
Music and Lyrics: Nik Haley
Hippodrome Theatre (Patrick Studio) 3 and 4 April
Runs: 1h no interval

Feature: Alexander Ray Edser, performance seen 03 04 14

New company, new show, passionate new way of looking at the world.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Monday, March 10, 2014 - 02:02 AM
Islington's Little Angel has provided many young people with early experience of theatre and puppetry. In the second of their spring FIRSTS Festival they are looking to bring new companies and shows for all ages to light and rt a reasonable price. All at:

Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage N1 2DN 10-22 March 2014.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Tuesday, March 04, 2014 - 10:10 AM
Carole Woddis reports on these awards and comments on the state of writing by women for theatre

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Monday, January 20, 2014 - 01:19 PM
A confident-sounding annual report from Hampstead Theatre shows somewhere teetering on the brink of losing its artistic respectability (somewhat unfairly, but that’s another matter) and with finances accordingly in decline, renewed in confidence and prestige.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 05:29 PM
William Russell, one of our London team, is cynical about our passion for Theatre Awards.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 12:31 PM
Alexander Ray Edser picks out three plays and two books from 2013.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 12:27 PM
Carole Woddis makes her choices from shows seen in London - a good year she says.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 12:24 PM
Reviewer, Al Geary, is based in the Midlands; he makes his choices from tours and home-grown shows.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 12:20 PM
William Russell makes his top choices from around London.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 12:16 PM
London based Frances Grin, picks out two top plays.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 - 12:12 PM
ReviewsGate co-editor, Timothy Ramsden makes his top choices from around the UK.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, December 13, 2013 - 11:22 AM
William Russell gives an account of the launch of The New Musical Project.

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 03:10 AM
London.

UNFINISHED HISTORIES - RE-STAGING REVOLUTIONS
Alternative Theatre in Lambeth and Camden 1968-88.

Oval House 52-54 Kennington Oval SE11 5SW To 21 December 2013.
Tue-Sat 3pm-8pm.

Looking back at a past that was looking forward.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Monday, November 04, 2013 - 08:31 PM
THE NT AT 50: BBC2, 2/11/13.

Something uneasy stirs in Carole Woddis's soul during the NT's 50th birthday party.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 05:41 PM
So here we go again. William Russell questions Theatre Awards.

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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, October 18, 2013 - 11:44 AM
Carole Woddis ponders the appointment of Rufus Norris to lead the NT, and offers interesting insight and surprises.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 04:03 PM
William Russell hymns the treasury of forgotten British musicals.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 11:21 AM
CENTRE STAGE... A CELEBRATION

Lyttelton Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX 21 July 2013.
Ran: 1hr 30min
Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen 21 July.

A truly significant event.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Monday, March 25, 2013 - 01:24 AM
London.

A THOUSAND MILES OF HISTORY
by Harold Finlay.

Bussey Building 133 Rye Lane SE15 4ST To 30 March 2013.
by Timothy Ramsden

Showing the show no longer has to go on.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Tuesday, January 01, 2013 - 03:07 PM
This year, as co-editor of ReviewsGate.com, I asked our team of reviewers to come up with one or two shows from 2012 that, for whatever reason, they thought was outstanding.

Below are the ReviewsGate Critics’ Choices for 2012.

Rod Dungate

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Friday, September 14, 2012 - 10:36 AM
Edinburgh.

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL: DRAMA PROGRAMME.

With its most extensive and exciting theatre programme for a number of years, the Edinburgh International Festival has contributed to 2012’s Shakespeare focus, brought several well-received shows on different scales – and one smash-hit from a company too rarely (indeed, hardly ever) seen in Britain.

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Thursday, April 05, 2012 - 10:35 AM
Timothy Ramsden looks at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre, which like the city itself has survived tough times - and meets its Artistic Director who is determined tokeep on doing so.

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 04:27 PM
Of course, there’s a lot of 2012 to go still. Almost all of it; and a lot can happen before nominations are made for the year’s theatre awards in Britain (or England, or, mostly, London).
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Saturday, February 04, 2012 - 10:26 AM
In a season that might be dedicated to Nordic, and northern, gloom Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre is reviving Strindberg’s The Father and Stars in the Morning Sky, Alexander Galin’s drama of Moscow prostitutes being cleaned off the streets for the 1980 Olympics.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Monday, May 30, 2011 - 01:57 PM

It’s taken a decade to bring it together, but this year Nottingham sees an international theatre programme such as London, Edinburgh or Dublin may feel itself familiar with, but which, outside capital cities, is a great rarity. They’re calling it NEAT 11 – Nottingham European Arts and Theatre Festival 2011 – and it’s happening around the city, though focused on, and coordinated by Nottingham Playhouse, whose Artistic Director Giles Croft is the creative origin of the huge, untidy and exciting cultural present to the city and its visitors.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 11:01 PM
Flickering black-and-white images on a small TV screen go back to the dawn of Angel time. The days of schoolboys in caps filing into the converted Islington Temperance Hall building, in early 1961 – before the decade truly became ‘the Sixties’. In they troop politely to watch through a postbox-like slit a bright stage where puppets play-out stories, with a skill and depth that became trademarks of Little Angel Puppet Theatre. (Coyly, the theatre downgrades the word ‘puppet’ in their publicity – the web address is www.littleangeltheatre.com - presumably it’s thought offputting for anyone who hasn’t seen the work itself.)

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - 02:59 AM
Adam Spreadbury-Maher is not one to avoid a challenge. Deciding between the cultural opportunities Australia offered in Melbourne or Sydney, the Canberra-born, opera-trained performer decided on London for a career as theatre director. Because it is, he says, home to the English-language theatre tradition, has more theatres than any other city, and plenty of pubs.

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 09:54 AM
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - 01:50 AM
It wasn’t hard to estimate the Saturday night stalls crowd at Northampton’s Royal Theatre for the final performance there of Arthur Schnitzler’s Liebelei in a production by Luc Bondy of David Harrower’s English version, called Sweet Nothings.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 02:01 AM
Northampton expands the repertory with O’Neill’s long journey and Tennessee Williams on the unkindness of families.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Monday, October 05, 2009 - 01:05 AM
London.

AN INSPECTOR CALLS
by J B Priestley.

Transfer to
Wyndhams Theatre.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed, Thu 2.30pm Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 50min No interval.

TICKETS: 0844 482 5120.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 30 September at Novello Theatre.

Seemingly imperishable play and production.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 05:20 AM
Hazel Kyte shows all aboard needn't be bored.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Sunday, September 06, 2009 - 02:23 PM
Playwrights - and what they get up to in private.

I have just finished reviewing David Edgar’s excellent book on How Plays Work. Reviewing this book has focused my thinking on a word - the noun that describes the activity of writing plays.


Rod Dungate explores a linguistic anomaly in the world of writing plays . . .
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Monday, August 31, 2009 - 10:40 PM
Rupert Bridgewater takes on the challenge of unnatural selection for the short-term Fringe visitor.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - 03:59 PM
“Just Between Ourselves,,,”, “Man of the Moment…” and “Private Fears in Public Places” – the titles of the Alan Ayckbourn plays being performed this summer in Northampton somehow express the playwright’s diverse worlds: intimate conversation, headline declaration and a sociological thesis-heading. All come, of course, with laughs but they have their darker sides too. As the season reaches its climax Timothy Ramsden meets Laurie Sansom, Artistic Director at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate Theatre and former Ayckbourn associate, who put the season together.

Read on . . .
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - 12:51 AM
Hazel Kyte in the USA and Canada.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Monday, May 25, 2009 - 11:32 AM
The Cut Halesworth Suffolk 27 April-10 May 2009.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Sunday, April 12, 2009 - 07:54 PM
NEW YORK ROUND UP; Spring 2009

Hazel Kyte’s further bites into Big Apple theatre.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Sunday, November 16, 2008 - 08:45 PM
Hazel Kyte rounds up old and new.

Cabaret world.

My principle reason for visiting a Big Apple filled with pre-election buzz and Hallowe’en was the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s l9th annual Cabaret Convention. Taking place over four nights at the Rose Theatre, home of Jazz at Lincoln Centre, this is a superb venue with prices from $25 to $100 per evening, fantastic value for two and a half hours of the best cabaret stars strutting their stuff.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 - 01:57 AM
Between 3-6 April fourteen companies came together in the small Northumberland town of Alnwick to present and debate examples of the work they tour, mostly to rural settings. Timothy Ramsden reports.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, July 18, 2008 - 08:53 AM
Music and Lyrics balance in the theatre.

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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Wednesday, July 09, 2008 - 11:23 AM
Hazel Kyte on and beyond the Great White Way.
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Posted by : TimothyRamsden on Sunday, November 11, 2007 - 11:22 AM
When a theatre does like the Royal in Northampton, and revives a forgotten play, it becomes clear how stiflingly limited is so much of what’s seen on stage these days.
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Posted by : Geoff on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 09:48 PM
About to open at The Kings Head, Islington, Geoff Ambler spends a day watching this new production in rehearsals.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, November 17, 2006 - 10:14 AM
RSC actor Harriet Walter puts together an intriguing photographic exhibition in the RSC Theatre, Stratford.

Harriet Walter is starring in Antony and Cleopatra with Patrick Stewart - sold out in Stratford and moving to the Novello Theatre, Aldwych in January. Here's information about a photographic exhibition she has put together - celebrating the beauty of the ageing face. It will run from 2 December till February 2007.

‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety’ Antony and Cleopatra

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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, November 03, 2006 - 10:35 AM
Geoff Ambler completes his account of rehearsals for Follies at the Royal Theatre, Northampton.

He starts with the 'tech stuff' and completes his account with a note about the Press Night. Which is where Timothy Ramsden takes over - as ReviewsGate co-editor, he attended the press night to review the show.

Read on . . .
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Posted by : RodDungate on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 07:17 PM
Geoff continues with his account of Follies Rehearsals at the Royal Theatre, Northampton.

Here he is from days 19 - 22. Run throughs and first visits to the stage . . .
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Posted by : RodDungate on Monday, October 16, 2006 - 10:48 AM
Geoff Ambler continues his Fly-on-the-wall's eye view of the Follies Rehearsals at the Royal Theatre, Northampton . . . he has two more weeks to go.

His observations are in three parts. They are all held in the Features area of Reviewsgate.com; a unique record of a rehearsal process.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Monday, October 09, 2006 - 10:20 AM
Les Misérables – Twenty-one years on and you can still hear the people sing.

ReviewsGate team member, Geoff Ambler, reports back on a very special theatre event. Read on . . .
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, October 06, 2006 - 10:55 AM
Geoff Ambler continues his observations of Follies rehearsals at the Royal Theatre, Northampton

Geoff, our Musical theatre man, is sitting in on rehearsals. He's giving us a unique step-by-step account.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Friday, October 06, 2006 - 10:05 AM
A new gem in the West Midlands theatre landscape

Rod Dungate attends the opening of a new Birmingham theatre space.
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Posted by : RodDungate on Wednesday, September 27, 2006 - 07:15 PM
Geoff Ambler FOLLIES Days 1 - 3

Geoff has been invited to attend all rehearsals in Northampton for the show. His fly-on-the-wall account gives an intriguing insight into preparations. Here's the start: days 1 - 3


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Posted by : RodDungate on Thursday, March 02, 2006 - 10:30 AM
Stewart McGill looks back over the achievements of the Watermill's Jill Fraser and contemplates her lasting legacy.
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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 11:32 AM
Rod Dungate speaks with Joe Harmston Chief Executive of an innovative new-writing company THE IDEAS FOUNDRY. What's innovative about it? 'It's a business' says Harmston.
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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 10:20 AM
RSC HOSTS THE FIRST EVER FESTIVAL OF SHAKESPEARE'S COMPLETE WORKS IN
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON


For more details of this enormous undertaking, read on . . .

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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 09:52 AM
Birmingham Rep inform us that they're going to produce a new musical featuring the songs of Birmingham based UB40. It's called PROMISES AND LIES and till be performed in 2006. The musical is the result of a collaboration with young writer, Jess Walters.
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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 12:01 PM
Maureen Lipman is going to Birmingham Rep in September to play the worst singer in the world! Peter Quilter's play about Florence Foster Jenkins premiers at the Rep 2nd September.
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Posted by : Timothy Ramsden on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 11:14 PM
On 10 January, the Royal Court became one of the first London theatres to open its 2005 season, in the Theatre Upstairs, with a piece called Tim Fountain: Sex Addict. While this was undoubtedly spot-on in terms of the Trade Descriptions Act, it does seem to have limited qualities in some other departments. Mr Fountain, who has written several scripts and advised on many others, nightly recounts his, of necessity, one-night sexual encounter following the previous show.

He then proceeds to set up the next evening's (theatrical) performance by asking the audience to consider the offers made in real-time hits to his website and choose one for his next show's fodder. Alternatively, a member of the audience can propose themselves for this role.

Whether this is all as genuine as it seems has made at least one critic doubtful (though as Mr Fountain set up his own site after complaints from the established gay-site he'd previously used, some reality at least is suggested).

Leaving aside the potential argument between moralists who could surely be found to spout anything from homophobia to fears over AIDS etc. and folks who say a few dozen fun-lovers nightly should be allowed to have as much fun as they can, with or without their clothes on (not that the theatre itself becomes the scene of an orgy it's not that kind of royal court), there is the question of whether this is the best a new-writing theatre has to offer.

At one of the few times of year when reviewers have a bit of breathing space, and in one of the theatres that always attracts a clutch of copy, is there no playwright who deserves their own, dramatic, exposure? More than one review has called the show a waste of a space. But reviews there undoubtedly were.

Move now to Friday, 21 January and some 175 miles north, where the New Victoria Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme opened its spring season with a brand-new play Kitty and Kate by Claire Luckham. This 3-hour drama is based on the early life of prolific novelist Cathleen Cookson, who becomes Luckham's Kitty.

I have never read a word of the many millions Miss Cookson wrote, assuming they belong to what, late in her long (1906-1998) life, became known as airport fiction. But her early life, the basis for Luckham's play, is far from romantic. An illegitimate Geordie who fled her mother and managed a workhouse laundry in Hastings, Cookson in this play is a strong, determined, independent spirit

Wagner's operas have been said to have magnificent moments and tedious quarters-of-an-hour. It's the opposite here. Luckham provides some excellent sustained scenes with a trio of memorable performances from Becky Hindley as Kitty's close friend, Michelle Newell as the dogged, drunken mother and, notably, Johanne Murdock as Kitty. But there are far too many brief in-fill scenes, not helped by Sue Wilson's old-fashioned production.

Yet it is a proper' play written by a dramatist with a good track-record. Luckham's work includes the once ubiquitous marriage-as-wrestling-match Trafford Tanzi and a fine play The Dramatic Attitudes of Miss Fanny Kemble whose Southampton premiere helped launch the careers of Joe Dixon (later in the RSC Jacobethan' season) and Josette Bushell-Mingo (The Lion King and about to be Shakespeare's Cleopatra at Manchester's Royal Exchange).

According to the listings in Theatre Record' there was no other show, in London or the regions, opening the same night. Yet only one national newspaper (The Times') seems to have made it to the New Vic.

Perhaps others will manage it later in the run. And north Staffordshire is a long, expensive way from where most national critics live. In a crowded theatre schedule it might be even a new play has to give way if it dares show its face so far from the capital.

But we are still, just, in the calmer New Year period where there is no obvious reason for the lack of coverage. Most papers have more than one theatre reviewer each. When Mr Fountain's metropolitan sex addiction is splattered across the review columns while Kitty and Kate can hardly find a nook from the Midlands, what when it comes to theatre - exactly does it means to be a national newspaper?

Timothy Ramsden
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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 09:15 AM
TALKING HEADS AND TALES
An Audience with Alan Bennett

University of Warwick Arts Centre 26.05.04

ReviewsGate reviewer John Alcock reports on a visit to Warwick Arts Centre by Alan Bennett

This week's guest in the Warwick Writers' series was Alan Bennett, not so much following the usual practice of reading from his work as talking about it a monumental task in itself as he dipped in and out of three decades of writing for theatre, television and film.
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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 03:26 PM
The following note by Rod Dungate is reprinted from Encore Theatre Company's programme for their 2004 production of THE IMPORTANCE.

In my play Friends of Oscar I have Oscar's son Vyvyan in conversation with a male prostitute, Jack Saul (I lifted him from an erotic novel of the period). Part of the conversation goes:
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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Friday, March 12, 2004 - 09:16 PM
Interview with JOAN COLLINS, talking about her forthcoming role in THE CIRCLE. Syndicated from Birmingham Hippodrome

THE CIRCLE (Alan Melville) is at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 5 -10 April and tours.

Her career has spanned more than five decades, 55 films, 50 TV shows, nine plays, 10 books, three children and five husbands. She was superbitch Alexis Carrington Colby for eight years in the TV soap of the 80s, Dynasty; took most of her clothes off for Playboy at the age of 49 and received the OBE in 1997 for her contribution to the arts and to charity work.
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Posted by : Rod Dungate RG on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 12:41 PM
'Oh no she didn't!' 'Oh yes she did!' 'Oh no she didn't!' Recognise this? Right . . . the sort of thing we expect and possibly enjoy in pantomime. Is it good seasonal fare but bad theatre? Not surprisingly at this time of year, Rod Dungate has been wondering just that.
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Posted by : Joe Harmstone on Monday, October 08, 2001 - 08:44 PM
Bollocks to the Pause, or, Relative Truth


Joe Harmstone on directing Pinter in Pinter's plays, given as a lecture to students at Birmingham and Northampton Universities


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(Joe Harmstone is a freelance director)






Since 1994 I have worked with and got to know Harold Pinter and in 1997 I directed the first revivals of The Lover and The Collection in London since the early sixties. Harold played Harry the homosexual. My association with Harold began at Chichester where I was his assistant when he directed Ronald Harwood's Taking Sides. Later, I assisted David Jones directing Harold in his own play, The Hothouse, before assisting Harold again when he directed Twelve Angry Men. So I am fortunate enough to have worked with him in his three roles of writer, actor and director.


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Posted by : Joe Harmstone on Monday, October 01, 2001 - 09:51 PM
Noel Coward: In or out of Society: he WAS Society

Joe Harmstone: Notes on Directing and Acting Coward (HAYFEVER): given as a lecture to students at Birmingham University Drama Dept, Jan 2000

(Joe Harmstone is a freelance director.)


Length: 3100 words



In 1998, I was directing two Pinter plays at the Donmar warehouse when I was asked by a journalist to explain how you approach a Pinter? Before I could think of anything erudite, one of the actors responded, as befitted the question, 'With an upturned chair, a whip and a box of matches.'



I have been agonising about this talk for some time and it seems to me that the most useful thing I can do is to examine that very question How do you approach a Coward from a directors perspective. Though I do promise to give a slightly fuller, if less witty response.

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Posted by : Rod Dungate on Sunday, September 30, 2001 - 02:49 PM
Ben Jonson: Theatre Revolutionary


Rod Dungate


(Rod Dungate is a playwright and poet, arts journalist and co-editor of ReviewsGate)


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Jonson's reputation really rests on three plays, Volpone, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair. Even so, these are infrequently performed. His other later plays are much neglected, even thought unstageable. There are those who, not to put too fine a point on it, think that as he grew older, Jonson gradually lost his marbles.





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