During my second semester at University we had to attend a performance by Queen Mary Alumni. This performance was called Letters to Windsor House by Sh!t Theatre, performed at the Soho Theatre. Briefly, the play is a true story about a couple of friends who started receiving other people’s mail, opened this mail and started guessing who or what kind of people they were.
The set consisted of a projection of a PowerPoint slide that guided the content of the play with a sofa that was split in half. During the performance the set increasingly became more cluttered with various props. I really liked the setting because it made you feel like you were sitting in the house with them in the very beginning of the play and the size of the Soho Theatre (upstairs) helped this. It was also very relevant to the piece as they are talking about an event that happened in their home but it wasn’t a boring way of setting out a home, they split a sofa in half – that’s exciting! Of course the sofa would have been slit before and they just pulled it apart but the concept of this split became relevant in the last few lines on the PowerPoint at the very end.
Anyone who has been a Drama student at Queen Mary will know exactly what a performance presentation is and be pretty unenthusiastic when hearing it. Briefly, a performance presentation is a presentation that has to be performed but it cannot be too much like a performance and cannot be too much like a presentation either – it’s complicated. At first I was not sure about this type of performance being used in a professional theatre setting but I was happily proved wrong. There were many performative elements such as dancing, singing and direct address that aided in delivering a story that was pretty funny. The comedy gets you through the piece, the story is interesting but it was the character and personality of the actors that made you enjoy it.
As funny as the piece was, you started to get to know who the actors were in “real” life and this was not so jolly. I believe so strongly to the point where I think it is obvious that your personal experience impacts how you take a performance. The actors described their friendship to each other through letters to a point where it felt painfully real in juxtaposition to the comedy. I have experienced similar feelings and am in a similar friendship and seeing this performance the particular time I did made me feel rather empty. It was as if all the honesty in my friendship was being shown directly to me through two other people in a similar situation and it was not pleasant.
This is one of the reasons why I love theatre so much. Parts of who you are can be portrayed right in front of you, making you think about it in a different way than you have before. It is because of this play that I realised I had some very bad faults that seriously needed correcting and since then I have been working on correcting them. I and no one else is perfect but with the power of something as special as theatre we can understand this and work to improve.
Thank you for reading,
I saw Amaluna performed by Cirque Du Soleil at The Royal Albert Hall 25th January 2017. Cirque Du Soleil is a group who perform circus type acts along to a story with song and music. Amaluna is a coming of age story of a girl who falls in love with a guy in a nut shell.
First I want to talk about the experience of The Royal Albert Hall. I was absolutely astonished as soon as I saw the huge building poking around the corner of the street I was on. I think the area of Kensington alone is pretty impressive, a very wealthy area that can make you feel pretty good about yourself walking along all dressed up to go to the theatre. I was amazed by the size of the outside and became extremely exited to go inside. It is a complicated building to find yourself around, in a large circle with presumably the hall in the centre; it feels like you’re trapped in a cylinder maze!
Entering the hall made me well up, the sheer size of the space available to perform was amazing. This leads me onto the set. I really liked the jungle-type feel and it felt very open which is something I really liked, and I believe this was probably more to do with the hall rather than something they had intentionally planned. Although there were two characters (Papulya and Malnha) that interacted with the audience and made everything feel very fun. The top of the hall had white circles which I wasn’t entirely sure of the purpose for but they looked good.
The individual acts themselves were very impressive. There was everything from water stunts and pole climbing to acrobatics and extreme balancing! My favourite act was the artists that hung from ropes and at moments felt like they were coming up to us (sitting at the very top). My brother was with me and his favourite act was the men who used a giant sea saw to do stunts. The boring act for him was the balancing as it took a while to put all of the sticks on top of each other, however I can appreciate this would have been incredibly difficult for the performer and I found this very credible. The only disappointing act for me was the fire guy as he didn’t actually juggle fire. I know he was meant to because it is promoted on everything for the show but he dropped a lot of what he was juggling so I was also very relieved this didn’t exculpate to fire.
There was something about the environment created at the Royal Albert Hall that made me feel invincible. There were so many people from so many backgrounds yet because of the hall you feel like you are being treated like royalty with the red velvet everywhere. It felt like an empowering place for me I was absolutely astonished by the whole experience. The venue fitted Cirque Du Soleil perfectly too, it was large enough for the acts to really stand out and visibly look as large and grand as they are. You feel like you are seated vertically which works very well with the areal work as the performers fly right in front of you.
After finally seeing a Cirque Du Soleil show I can officially say that I entirely understand what the fuss is all about!
Thanks for reading,
Sophie’s Bubble =D
Theatre: I am going to kick off this month’s favourites with my favourite (admittedly only) show this month: Kinky Boots. Briefly, Kinky Boots is about a run down shoe factory passed down to a son and to save the factory he decides to make “a range of shoes for a range of men”. I saw Kinky Boots on Broadway in 2014 which was my first Broadway show so i didn’t pay as much attention to detail so it was nice to be able to do that this time. I felt very proud of British Theatre during the performance, i thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was much better than Broadway in terms of the acting and singing, probably highly due to the accents as these were rubbish in NYC.
This night was the highlight of my month, potentially even the year so far. I have always kicked myself for not waiting outside stage doors but that night i plucked up the courage to do so and met David Hunter (shown in the headline picture). David played Charlie. Charlie is one of my favourite characters from musicals and David’s portrayal of the performance was by far my favourite. I love the vulnerability of Charlie combined with his passion and loyalty and David made this feel very real, I didn’t feel like i was watching someone play Charlie, i felt like he was Charlie which was very special.
Music: The above leads on to the music i have been most obsessed with this month. The first half of the month i was constantly playing Adele, particularly ‘Don’t You Remember’. After meeting David Hunter i looked into his music as i loved the way he sang ‘Soul of a Man’ (one of my favourite musical songs). I found a song he wrote and sung called ‘One of a Kind’ and i love it very much, the video is very simple but it shows him getting into the music and almost shows how you (or i do anyway) feel listening to it. This has been combined with ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Moana.
TV: My best friend recommended 13 Reasons Why to me and i have now watched the series twice, once alone and the second time with my mum and brother. Briefly, 13RW is about a girl who commits suicide and leaves behind tapes containing 13 reasons why she killed herself. Each reason is attached to a person and the tapes have to be passed on to each of them in the order that they appear on the tape. The first 4 or so episodes are very high school, relationship dramas that are still interesting to watch, but after this period it gets very messed up and it is brilliant! To start off with, the actors are great, Dylan Minnette plays the lead character, Clay and i completely fell in love with him! You spend a lot of time feeling the way that they do when listening to the tapes. You feel like you have hundreds of questions but the only way of getting them answered is by watching more and you get nervous anticipating Clay’s tape. Clay’s tape and the final tape are the most emotional and i almost could not bare Clay’s guilt myself. There is definitely opportunity and demand for a second season due to the popularity and some hints give in the final episode but i am unsure of whether this would ruin the first season and the ideas of the show altogether. I think there is a point when you make something so messed up that you don’t believe it is to ever be realistic, but then again this could be the whole point.
Quote: I love to pull apart quotes. My favourite quote of this month is “you have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” This is a Dr. Seuss quote. Thinking into this, we all have a brain to know what we should and should not do, we are intellectual enough to think about things at least to the extent of knowing what we want. We have the power to be able to go and do what we want to do, if we put our minds to it then we can at least try.
Random: My last favourite thing for April 17 is outdoor summer games. Yes, it is still a little chilly to be outside all the time but most shops now have sections of outdoor games and the bright pastel colours that symbolise warm weather is coming and it is going to be good! When i see these isles in shows my inner child comes out. Only yesterday i bought a pocket sized kite with my trip to the Isle of White (June) in mind. Of course these isles are designed to children but we are all children at heart!
Thank you for reading,
Sophie’s Bubble =D
I love watching YouTubers and a lot of them do favourites videos and I believe this may be done by a lot of Bloggers too. I thought I would give it a try because it is a nice way to capturing what I’m interested in now to look back on. This will also be the first time I talk on here about something that is not completely theatre related too! So here it goes…
Book: My favourite book this month has been The Girl without a Voice by Casey Watson. The book is about a teacher who specialises in a behavioural unit and she is met with a girl called Imogen who suffers from Selective Mutism. Medically and psychologically the book is fascinating as the characters try to understand the illness themselves, along with trying to uncover Imogen’s past. I haven’t finished the book yet but whenever I pick it up I can’t put it down.
Music: I have been obsessed with two songs this month. The first has been ‘Dancing on My Own’ by Callum Scott. I tend to listen to this song in the background when doing everyday activities such as checking emails or filling the silence when walking around the house. The other song I have been obsessed with is ‘The Middle’ by Jimmy Eat World. The best way that I can describe this song is that it is a dancing alone in your room with no one watching you type song. I also love to listen to it when I commute home but on the walking and jumping on and off trains half of it as it’s quite and powering song with a beat to walk to. It can also feel very encouraging to pick yourself up if you are feeling stressed or having a bad day.
Theatre: I won’t go into too much detail on my favourite play of the month as I have not written my review of it yet. My favourite has been Ugly Lies the Bone at the National Theatre. The play is about a veteran who returns from the war both physically and emotionally scarred and virtual reality is used as pain therapy. Out of everything I have seen this month I believe this had the strongest moral values and painful truths such as “no one really likes themselves” which left me feeling incomplete – a very powerful and frustrating emotion.
Image: This may seem odd but I was scrolling through Instagram a couple of weeks ago and saw a square filled with quotes from Billy Elliot. I don’t know why but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. It literally captures everything about the musical that I love both the sad and the hilarious.
Another image but this time one that I took myself. I was travelling into London on St Patrick’s Day and they changed St Pancras International to St Patrick’s International on all of the digital signs. I was so excited to see this because it is very rare for South Eastern to actually make me smile!
Event: I visited Ripley’s Believe it or Not in London. This is mainly advertised to children so I was apprehensive about entering at first but I was very pleasantly surprised. The facts and the displays were incredibly interesting and there were constantly challenges and activities along the way that made it very fun. I’m 18 years old and the friend I was with was the same age and we both turned into excited children which makes me want to bring my younger siblings to explore! We were in there for two hours but it only felt like twenty minutes.
TV: I have finally gotten Netflix and it is mind-blowingly amazing. It is literally a binge-watchers haven! I have been catching up with Sherlock which I am absolutely in love with. At first I didn’t like Cumberbatch’s character but I think they really established it in the second series that I am currently on. I love watching the developing and unusual friendship between him and Watson, along with the captivating crimes, it is unlike any other detective-type show I have seen before. I have also been watching Outnumbered an awful lot. The show is about parents raising three children that can be a nightmare. I’d say that parents with children would probably be the type of audience that found this show most entertaining but it reminds me so much of my family which makes it hilarious. My favourite thing about it is that everything is completely normal, the events are normal and the situations are normal, there isn’t anything that makes you think “oh that would never happen”.
Thank you for reading,
Sophie’s Bubble =D
I saw The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Roundhouse. This is quite far away from where I live so I only saw the first half of this performance so this review is based on what I saw. Essentially the play is about the characters of Alice in Wonderland in therapy. Each character has a mental-illness and the therapist is trying to understand what is wrong with each of them and why they are like this.
This play is aimed at all ages; however, parents have to be aware that there are themes that children will not understand. So first you have Alice; she doesn’t know whether she should be big or small: she has anorexia. Next you have the Mad Hatter who is week and in pain due to “mercury poisoning”, so in other words he is addicted to drugs. Now you have the Queen of Hearts. When she was younger she was abused by her parents making her feel like she has to stand up for herself, causing her to grow up with anger management issues. The story of Tweedledumb and Tweedledee were the first to be found out but I found this the saddest of all. One of the twins died when they were little due to a fight that led to an accident and the other twin still imagines the other is there by screaming about a stolen rattle. My favourite of the actors was the White Rabbit. He has OCD and I found the way he portrayed the illness fitted very well with the character of the White Rabbit. Cheshire Cat was brought in and it was clear that he had been “smoking herbs” that has led to him feeling as though he has more than one personality, so he suffers from multi-personality disorder due to drug abuse. The Arch Hair has attachment issues and can’t seem to find a girlfriend that will stay with him which has led to depression and I am also pretty sure they hinted to him being suicidal but this was not direct due to the large volume of children in the room.
I absolutely love the idea of attaching mental illnesses to the characters from Wonderland. Although it brings a negative association to the term “mad” (I always think being a bit mad is nice), I think it is a great way of exposing issues of mental illness. However, I do have some major criticisms about this piece. The characters broke into hip-hop all of the time. I’m all for dance but the hip-hop wasn’t making sense and felt very detached from the emotions and themes. The OCD piece by the White Rabbit and the final dance by the therapist did, in fairness, work very well as hip-hop but this is only 2 out of a few dozen dance pieces. I feel like the piece would have worked amazingly without the hip-hop, or with the hip-hop but without the mental illness. It felt like throwing Alice in Wonderland, mental illness, and hip-hop was an attempt to draw as many people in as possible but they didn’t work together at all. It felt detached but not in a successful Brechtian way.
Another major criticism I have is the play being open to children. There was a young girl behind me who couldn’t have been older than 4. After the serious explanations of the mental-illnesses were given she would turn and ask her mother “what does that mean”. There is so much in the media lately about mental health issues being made aware and I felt this play almost made a mockery of that. The only thing in the play for the children was the dancing and I felt highly uncomfortable being around so many children when they were talking about beloved children’s characters wanting to kill themselves. I believe it may be successful for early secondary school children as they may understand the seriousness of mental health issues and could make them more aware, but this effect can’t happen on primary school children they are just too young to understand the seriousness. This play would have been hugely successful in my eyes if the hip-hop was taken out and the truths about these mental illnesses were shown to their full extent.
Thank you for reading,
Sophie’s Bubble J
I’ve always said that I will never see a musical a second time in case it ruins my previous experience. Then I discovered Mousetrap Theatre Projects and was compelled to see Wicked again. I was very apprehensive because Wicked was my first musical so I thought I wouldn’t like it as much, especially now that I have seen “serious” musicals such as Les Mis and Miss Saigon. I was in for an amazing surprise.
I have always loved the music from Wicked so for the last 7 years have been playing the original Broadway soundtrack with Idina Menzel and Christopher Fitzgerald. The different singing voices took a while to get used to, some moments and notes I didn’t like as much and some I loved a lot more, but none were particularly hated. I thought no one could beat Idina Menzel but Rachel Tucker definitely did in my books! I have never taken to Idina Menzel as a person but her voice is undoubtedly amazing, but Rachel Tucker’s voice alongside the way she portrayed Elphaba made me fall in love with her and the character even more!
Fiyero is a different story. I did enjoy Oliver Savile’s performance but I much preferred Lee Mead’s from when I had seen it before. I must admit Oliver Savile didn’t stand much of a chance as Lee Mead is one of my favourite actors so Lee Mead is and always will be the Fiyero of my heart.
Seven years is a long time, allowing me to forget some key points in the musical, still leaving me shocked towards the end. I have also never attended a musical where I already knew all of the words. I found this contributed a lot to my interpretation of the musical. I didn’t see it for all of the fantasy: I saw it as a girl who doesn’t fit in and no matter how good she is and how she tries to help only few see the good in her. Although Elphaba ends up with Fiyero, there is still sadness because Glinda thinks they are both dead, showing that there is still no perfect happy ending, very much like life.
Thank you for reading,
Sophie’s Bubble =D
Hello! I (Sophie) am a Drama student and Queen Mary University of London and have always wanted a place to write what I’m thinking and decided it was about time to do it. My blog will probably entail talk about Theatre (particularly reviews) and may also include thought and opinions on life itself as I am that sort of person!
I want this blog to be a place where I can write freely. I am not going to make it something I do in certain time frames or in any frequency and I don’t care if I don’t make sense, sometimes I may not even read back over what I have written. So if you are reading this, I hope you find my blog interesting and if not that’s okay 🙂
Sophie’s Bubble =D