Julius Caesar – at the Bridge Theatre

I was pretty excited about seeing this production, including visiting a new theatre, a brilliant cast, having standing tickets to get close to the action, and all the while contributing to my dissertation! We went during previews for the show, before its (now controversial) press night, so I really did have no idea what to expect. Well, I was amazed.

It’s performed in a modern political setting, including Caesar (played by David Calder) presented in direct parallel to Trump (with red caps on sale and all!), but in my opinion this made the play all the more engaging. In fact, if I had to sum up the play’s experiences in one word, it would be just that: ‘engaging’. Our standing tickets only heightened this feeling too, as we were used by the actors to be the people of Rome, whom throughout the play speeches are directed to, encouraging us to shout along to bring a real sense of community.

I was very conscious while writing this review about spoilers – I’m usually not so hesitant, but with the run continuing I don’t want to ruin the brilliant surprises. I will say though, that the way the staging is used is utterly brilliant, and like nothing I’ve seen before. It’s modern, unique and inventive, and certainly made this production for me. The sets move around quite a bit, and with it therefore also the standing audience, including to let the stage managers and actors past us. It was strange at first, but we all quickly got used to being moved about in a way that  mirrored Cassius’ manipulation of Brutus.

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David Morissey as Mark Anthony, surrounded by the promenading audience

Being so close and involved in the action was a strange but brilliant experience (although a word of warning: the play is 3 hours with no interval, so wear comfy shoes and be prepared to be uncomfortable by the end.) As a performance in the round, this worked with the promenading audience, and didn’t really matter where you were stood  or sat.

The acting performances were strong from everyone: Michelle Fairley, who played a female Cassius, was the epitome of the strong female politician, and subtle in her manipulation of Ben Wishaws’s ignorant Brutus. David Morissey as Mark Anthony stole the show for me, captivating all the audience – although all the actors were very good at making the Early Modern language sound natural.

The Bridge Theatre itself is lovely, with a big foyer and bar that fit everyone waiting – and the view of Tower Bridge lit up as we left was a nice added bonus. This production had me captivated throughout (even despite my aching back by the end). It made me feel shocked, scared, passionate and even outraged far more than a usual trip to the theatre would invoke. As a play, Julius Caesar has never been my favourite, but even so I would not hesitate to return and see it again!

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Hamilton LDN – in the Room Where it Happens!

I was lucky enough to see this highly anticipated musical last week. I was so excited, having listened to the original cast album since it came out, as well as attending a #Ham4Ham live when I went to New York. I think, as a result, I had subconsciously set my expectations quite high for this show – and yet, it certainly didn’t disappoint!

As can be expected from a new West End cast, the performances were all brilliant. Giles Terera, playing Aaron Burr, was captivating, and kept my attention whenever he spoke/sang (and rapped too, I guess!) which seems a perfect quality for his narrator-type role. He was definitely the star performer for me. The part of Hamilton is in safe hands with Jamael Westman, despite his limited professional experience. (I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read about the controversial casting decision online.) I feel like a special note must be given to Christine Allado, playing Peggy/Maria. Her versatility of performance in these two very different characters is very well done, and her voice as Maria is stunning – she’s jaw-droopingly sultry and sexy as Maria. (I usually hate Hamilton in this moment, but if she was truly like that then I can’t really blame him!)

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Giles Terera as Burr

I knew coming into this performance that the songs were brilliant, so I was mostly looking forward to what the production elements had in store – and it was spectacular. The set is brilliant and well-used, particularly the rotate, which although is employed a lot, it’s in such a clever way that I didn’t feel like it was overused at all. (There was one point I started grinning to myself because it was so damn clever.) The ensemble, and the choreography they perform, are undoubtedly the unsung heroes of this show. (I suppose it shouldn’t be that unsurprising, considering how much I enjoyed the dance in Miranda’s previous show In The Heights.) Hamilton‘s choreography is so energetic and slick, in a style that perfectly suited both the music and the story, and emphasised by the simple white costumes. There were a couple of very small mistakes in the performance, but they were only so noticeable because of the seamless perfection of the choreography throughout the rest of the show.

It was all just beautiful to watch, and very creative too, particularly in combination with the lighting design. It added a further smoothness to the production that all begins with the music. The subtle details, such as coloured lights to denote specific characters and settings or time, all added to the production’s mastery.

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I’m aware that this all sounds like the ramblings of a fan, but I promise you these opinions were all developed after a few days of consideration, with my ‘theatre student’  hat firmly on! This musical really is fabulous, and of course I would suggest getting tickets to see it, except I know how difficult they are to get! (Although I’m confident it will stay open in London for quite a while!) This musical was a joy to watch (except when the story made me cry), and I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to see it for myself!


 

2017 In Review

I can’t believe it’s already a new year – it seems the last few weeks have gone so quickly, with the end of term and Christmas festivities taking up all my spare time, and yet the year itself has seemed very long! I usually do my blog review before the new year, but this year has been so busy I didn’t have time, so I thought I would do it today instead.

Well, as usual, I’ve rounded up my favourite things from this year, so here we go!

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BOOK (FICTION): The Power, Naomi Alderman
Ever since I read this book over the summer I haven’t stopped thinking about it. (Particularly as I’m currently writing an essay about dystopian fiction and feminism for a university assessment!) If it isn’t already obvious from this blog I love dystopian fiction, and I really enjoyed the multiple character perspectives within this novel – not something you too often see in dystopia. If you haven’t read this book, then please do yourself a favour and pick up a copy! (See my full review here.)

BOOK (NON-FICTION): Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick
This book was just so much fun to read, just like the woman herself. I don’t read autobiographies that often but this was really interesting, and I learnt some things that I didn’t know about Anna before. (See my full review here.)

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PLAY: The Ferryman, Jez Butterworth (Royal Court Theatre)
This was a great play – possibly made enjoyable because I didn’t have any idea what to expect in the first place. I know this play is on in the West End currently, and I’m glad I got to see it in its original state before the move. (See my full review here.)

MUSICAL: Working (Southwark Playhouse)
I can’t believe that this was the only musical I saw this year? But nevertheless, it still probably would have come up on top, it was very impressive and a neat concept (produced fabulously in my opinion, particularly using both seasoned performers and those straight out of drama school.)

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Croatia

HOLIDAY: Seattle, USA and Croatia
Okay, I’ve been to so many wonderful places this year, and this was by far the most difficult to choose from! So given that it’s my blog and my rules I chose two! The USA is always going to be a great holiday, by just getting to go somewhere I’ve only ever been to once before). Croatia was also just such a memorable holiday though, particularly travelling across the country to be able to see the contrast in areas. (You can see my post on Seattle here, and Croatia here.)

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Happy to New Year to everyone, and I wish you good luck and happiness for this year!


Sunshine in Seattle

Earlier in December I was lucky enough to be taken on holiday to Seattle in the USA, as a  birthday present from my wonderful boyfriend. We went primarily to attend the first ever PodCon, but also to be able to explore a place that we may not otherwise have ever visited. During our time in Seattle we spent two days wandering around the city and two days at the convention (with our first day taken up by a delayed flight and then trying to fight off jet lag!). Given that we therefore only had two days to explore, we tried to cram all the important and well-known sites into our visit.

Downtown
Pike Street Market (one of the oldest continuously running farmers markets in the USA) was a surprisingly fun experience – especially with all the run up to Christmas starting.
Pioneer Square is not necessarily that much to look at, but I found it interesting to go to the area where the original settlement of Seattle started. (Oh, and stopping off to visit the very quirky-looking city library too!).
The water front is certainly one of the more iconic areas of the city, with a gorgeous view of Mount Rainier.

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Pike Street Market

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Austen, Bookshops and Roman Baths in… Bath!

A few weeks ago I had a late celebratory weekend for my birthday in Bath with my family and boyfriend. Bath is certainly a beautiful city, especially with its Georgian architecture throughout the centre. (As Alex pointed out, its unusual to see such consistency of architecture in such an old city.) The Georgian style is definitely one of my favourites, and Bath did not disappoint!

We were only visiting for a few days (I would love to have stayed for longer), but we still managed to get a lot done in the time we had. Along with the well-known and touristy areas, we also discovered some bookshops (obviously!), went to the theatre and had lots of cake and tea and coffee at various shops across the city.

Roman Baths
The Roman Baths have got to be the most famous landmark of this city, and a “must go” place while here – and to be honest, I agree! They were fascinating, and the museum complex was really interesting, with lots of information available (both to read and with the audio-guide – provided in the price of entrance).

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Oxford – SYP Conference 2017

Last weekend I travelled to Oxford Brookes University for the day to attend a conference about the publishing industry, held by the Society of Young Publishers (SYP). Publishing is where I hope to work following my studies, so it was a great opportunity to talk with like-minded people (who were either looking to work in publishing, like me, or already worked in publishing), gain some very good advice, and obviously an opportunity for some networking.

The conference was titled Publishing: A Brave New World? (because no-one can resist a literary reference!), and the whole day was based on the idea of innovation and disruption. The keynote at the start, given by Katie Espiner from Orion publishers, and the closing panel, both featured heavily on this theme, but there were also smaller panels throughout the day (with lots of choice about which to go to!) which discussed various issues within this larger scope.

It was a really great day, with some useful insights into the publishing industry that I’m sure will be invaluable for such a competitive area for careers. It was especially fun to be involved in discussions about the industry with other people who were also interested in its future (and I’m sure will one day be running and shaping it too).

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Third Year Feelings – The Start of First Term

I’ve been back at university for over a month now and, so far, third year has been a mixture of emotions and experiences already. Most prominently, this year started off with the usual excitement and apprehension, but also a feeling of fear and being overwhelmed. Speaking to my friends, I know I’m not alone in this, and it all stems from the thought of life after we graduate. (More specifically, having no idea what is going to happen, despite the various talks we’ve been given about our opportunities after uni – which right now only seemed to have increased this worry rather than cured it!) But, also alongside these concerns, for me is a great deal of excitement too; I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing, and I’m looking forward to the opportunities that I know I’ll discover throughout this final year.

Yet, as much as I am enjoying my work this year, there has been an awful lot of it! It may be that the workload is in fact more than last year, but it could also be that I just forgot how busy university can be – after all, we’ve just been thrown completely into the deep end this year! It really has full speed from the first week.

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