Wednesday, 19 November 2014

André Rieu INTERVIEW

Photo by Marcel van Hoorn


The musically undisputed and crowned 'King of Waltz' André Rieu will be performing at Nottingham's Capital FM Arena on December 10th. Wowing audiences into sing and dance-along participation since 1987 with his Johann Strauss Orchestra with up to 60 musicians and with album sales of more than 40 million worldwide, he talks about his new album, romance and falling in love with his first violin teacher.

You will be returning to the UK in December for the fourth time. What can audiences expect from your new show?

We are going to play a completely new program with new music.  Preparing a new show, choosing a new program is a great joy for me. The tour is called “Love in Venice” like the new album and we will try to bring the beauty, passion and warmth of Italy to the UK. So we will play some well-known melodies from Italy but also waltzes, music from film, opera and operetta. The Berlin Comedian Harmonists will join us with English songs and we have lots of international soloists from all over the world! The evening will end again with a big party. I hope you will come, dance, sing and clap along with us.

In your concerts, people are known to get up and dance or sing along with you. How would you explain this passion?

I think it’s a mix. Every night, we play with our hearts and I choose the program very carefully. A song has to touch my heart and then I know it will touch yours, too. When I am on stage I try to communicate with the audience and to involve them. I make jokes, I invite them to dance. I see myself not only as a violinist, but also as a conductor and entertainer. Classical music is so beautiful and can be so entertaining. And of course my orchestra is so joyful. We laugh a lot. They wear beautiful dresses. And it’s true, yes, the atmosphere is completely different from a typical “stiff” classical concert.

Do you have any favourite cities in the UK to play?

That’s such a difficult question! It’s like asking which one of your children is your favourite. I travel a lot around the world, but unfortunately the only places that I see are the airport, the hotel and the hall where we play. I rarely have time to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere because I keep to a very strict routine on days of performances. So I experience a city through its audience -  and all of the UK audience is fantastic. That’s why we play twelve concerts this year. We just wouldn't know which city to miss. It’s wonderful to return.

What makes the British audiences special?

The British audience is very special because they have their heart open right from the start. They are “there”. It’s fantastic for any artist to play in the UK. In Japan they sit very quiet and polite and listen and then during the encores they explode.  But in the UK I can feel the energy from the audience the moment I step out on stage.

How do you spend your time when you are not on the road?

I work a lot. I practice the violin several hours every day, I rehearse with the orchestra, prepare the next album, that means I'm always looking for new repertoire, I compose together with Frank Steijns, I work a lot in the studio, assisting to the editing of TV specials and DVDs. And beside all these musical things I'm an entrepreneur so there is always a lot to do in business too. In my free time I do a lot of sports, I cook and of course love to spend time with my family.


Your new album, “Love in Venice” is a collection of the most beautiful and romantic Italian music, like O sole mio, Mama, Volare, That’s Amore and many more. Next year you will be married for 40 years. What was the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for your wife?

My wife is the most important person in my life. Without her I would be in the gutter. I was deeply touched when she wrote my biography some years ago, “My music, my life”. I gave her a necklace with a little golden book as a gift in which both our names are engraved. She thought that was VERY romantic! And during the summer we love to sit at the Maas river together and watch a pair of swans that lives there.

Have you every composed a song for her?

There are three songs on “Love in Venice” that are all dedicated to this beautiful city: Bella Tarantella, La Gondola and Love in Venice, the title song, which I wrote for her, yes. We both adore Italy and go there once a year on a private vacation. It’s the most romantic place I know.

Your nickname is “The King of the Waltz”…

…haha, yes! Although there’s only ONE true King of the waltz and that is Johann Strauss.

But where did the waltz come from and how come it is so special?

I am not a musicologist, but here’s the story in short: The waltz got famous in the second half of the 19th century and came from the minuet. The minuet was danced far from each other, very distanced – so when the waltz came up it was shocking. To hold a woman in your arms and turning her around so that she would get out of breath was a scandal. Fortunately for England, Queen Victoria loved to
waltz, she could go on and on. The Strauss family were the pop stars of their time.

Why did you choose the waltz as your signature  tune?

My father was a conductor and we always used to go and see his concerts. One night, after playing Beethoven and Mahler, he conducted “By the Beautiful Blue Danube” as an encore. It was magical. I saw people smiling the whole atmosphere changed. I realized how powerful this music is. In a good waltz you always find joy and melancholy, love and sadness. It’s a mirror of life – and I see that every night before me, when the audience gets up and dance.

…and you play a Stradivarius, correct?

Yes, it’s a Stradivarius from 1732 and was built in Italy. It is one of the last instruments Stradivarius himself built. I used to play one from 1667, which was one of his first, but it was too small for me, so I gave it to a young girl from Korea. His instruments vary in size, the earlier ones are smaller than the later ones. I love this instrument; it reminds me of the opera singer Maria Callas – very warm and passionate.

What kind of music do you listen to in your free time?

Ohh, I would love to surprise you, but, alas, like many musicians I am so much surrounded by music every day that I do not listen to music in my free time. Unless I am prepare a new album. So I spent a lot of time listening to Italian music recently to choose pieces for “Love in Venice”.

Could you name one or two major influences in your life, and why were they important?

That’s easy! The most important influence is my wife. We've been married for 39 years now.  I always dreamed about finding someone I could share my private and business life with. When I was young, she introduced me to a lot of wonderful music – operetta, pop music, musicals, music from the twenties and thirties, which we both adore. I was not familiar with that kind of music. As a child all I ever heard at home was Bach, Bartok, Beethoven – which was great, of course but Marjorie opened a whole new world for me. The other major influence was my first violin teacher. A blond beautiful 18-year old girl. I was five years old and immediately fell in love with her. So I practiced a lot to impress her!

You've said you would like to perform someday at the North Pole, and on the moon - what are some of the other things you have on your Bucket List, both professionally and personally?

Haha, yes, but I think my wife would stop me from doing that! She keeps my feet on the ground. Honestly, I’d just be happy to be able to go on like this for as long as possible. I hope live up to 120 years. Personally I want my family, my sons and grandchildren to be happy.


André Rieu will be at Capital FM Arena Nottingham on Wednesday 10 December 2014. For tickets or more information visit www.capitalfmarena.com/online/andrerieu or call 0843 373 3000.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Top Hat At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW


With a hat-trick of shiny Olivier Awards in its bedazzling mitts, this first-ever stage adaptation of RKO's motion picture Top Hat swept, tapped and sashayed into town dripping elegance and ravishing gorgeousness in its glittering path.

Starring, in true musical theatre tradition, understudy-turned-leading-man Alan Burkitt who not only had to step in at the last minute on the original West End Top Hat opening night but also has to follow in the lighter-than-air iconic debonair winged footsteps of Fred Astaire (no pressure) he proves to be no less than a long, lithe, leggy and lean gliding tap-dancing MACHINE with smooth as satin moves sublimely mixed with energy and grace. And with Charlotte Gooch as his splits-kicking glitzy feathered Ginger Rogers this dream-team power dance couple hit their fabulousness zenith in the exquisite Cheek to Cheek, together swooningly oozing swish swirling swelegance all over the dancefloor and confidentially, we're in heaven.

With a sizzling screwball 1930s plot peppered with one-liners, gags and comic turns by a terrific supporting cast together with a stageful of million dollar troupers dancing to divine Irving Berlin classics, lavish and lush, it's a sumptuous musical, genuinely funny and gloriously glamorous.

Dressed up to the nines, tens and elevens, top class, top notch and top dollar, confidentially we recommend you trip lightly and fantastically (or backwards and in high heels) to Nottingham Theatre Royal to catch this show. Super duper.

Top Hat is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 15 November 2014. Full details, show times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Friday, 15 August 2014

Get Up And Go Guide To Nottingham

Photo courtesy of Travelodge

Welcome to the City of Nottingham! In association with Travelodge let us confidentially reveal to you our top favourite Nottingham haunts, fabulous secrets and absolute must-sees for your perfect Nottingham day.

First, fuel up for your busy day with the best slap-up fry-up in town at the breakfastalicious Brown Betty’s on St James’s Street, just a close couple of streets away if you book your stay at the Travelodge on Maid Marian Way in the heart of the city centre.

Now you’re all set up to get down to the serious business of shopping! For under-one-roof chain stores including our massive flagship Boots shop plus an indoor market try Victoria Centre, the lovely shops in The Exchange located inside the Council House in the Old Market Square or the beautiful Bridlesmith Gate which leads up to Nottingham designer Paul Smith’s flagship Byard Lane store. For independents, try the extraordinary Ice Nine in the arty area of Hockley for gorgeously-unusual sterling silver jewellery and fun trinkets. For vintage music fans, the second hand vinyl treasure-trove Rob’s Record Mart in Hurt’s Yard is a must.

Lunchtime already and step briefly out of Nottingham and into the enchanting wonderland of The White Rabbit Teahouse on Hound’s Gate. With daintily-beautiful mismatched china teapots and teacups, confidentially, our favourite treat is the adorably-indulgent afternoon tea, tiered with sandwiches, jam and cream scones and mini cupcakes. Or try lunch with scenic views of the city in the café at Nottingham Castle, for a small entrance fee you can visit the castle’s museum, art gallery and beautiful grounds.

Ready to get scared? Check out the spookily-fascinating Galleries Of Justice Museum, pre-booking is advised, as at the mysterious City of Caves. If you’re staying at the Wollaton Travelodge you’re right on the doorstep for free entry to the glorious Wollaton Hall which starred as Wayne Manor in Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, read the exciting story of how it all happened here


Dinner time already and you’d better be hungry for the awesome Annie’s Burger Shack! Located in Nottingham’s beautiful Lace Market area, these epic mouth-watering burgers are the most popular in town, so make sure you book well in advance! Follow up with drinks at legendary ‘England’s Oldest Inn’ Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem or if cocktails are your cup of tea, follow our confidential clues to the superb secret speakeasy Boilermaker bar.

Night time and let us entertain you with top class theatre and shows at the Royal Centre. Capital FM Arena is within easy walking distance of the city centre where you can catch entertainment’s biggest names or head next door to the National Ice Centre where you can skate in the footsteps of Nottingham Olympians Torvill and Dean. Fancy a dance? Try the famous ‘sticky floor’ at Rock City or end up all the way back in St James’s Street at the Cookie Club where Nottingham’s singing-songwriting superstar Jake Bugg has been seen hanging out.

Finally, here are Five FREE Things To Do for that genuine Nottingham experience:

1. Strike a bow and arrow/raised arm clap pose at the Robin Hood/Brian Clough statue
2. Engage someone with the traditional Nottingham greeting ‘Aye Up Me Duck’
3. Skip (carefully!) through the fountains in the Old Market Square and watch the trams go by whilst the Little John bell chimes in the Council House.
4. Visit the plaque of Nottingham’s most loved busker Xylophone Man who couldn’t actually really play the xylophone at all.
5. Never, never, never refer to football club Nottingham Forest as ‘Notts Forest’.

Have a fantastic time in our City! From Nottingham Confidential with love x

You can check out our full Get Up And Go Guide to Nottingham together with full details of all Nottingham and natioanl Travelodge hotels on their official website here

Monday, 26 May 2014

Nine Inch Nails At Nottingham Capital FM Arena REVIEW

Photo © Nottingham Confidential
After calling it a day in 2009, with a twenty year career that spawned countless releases, Grammy awards and worldwide recognition behind him, Trent Reznor has revived the Nine Inch Nails name for another worldwide trek in 2014.

Nine Inch Nails has always been one man (Reznor) on record, with a huge roster of talented musicians joining him for live performances – like an electro-gothic Mike Oldfield. Certain members of this backing band roster have become fan favourites, and it's nice to see two of them back in the band for this tour - Robin Finck and Alessandro Cortini. So with all of the ingredients in place for a classic return, thousands of excited fans piled into the Capital FM Arena to experience the show they thought might never happen again.

Never one to disappoint, Trent's 2014 show covers all areas of the NIN catalogue. Newer material from recent years such as Everything, Disappointed and All Time Low from 2013's Hesitation Marks album sit well with the audience, and don't seem out of place compared to the much older and more well known “greatest hits” represented tonight. The band have been playing a slightly different set each night, with the classic 1989 track Terrible Lie being a treat for the Nottingham audience only so far. There are certain songs one would expect to hear from Trent tonight and indeed he did deliver the classics Closer, Head Like a Hole and March of the Pigs to a frenzied crowd. The set list perfectly marries the old and new seamlessly, keeping current and old school fans alike on side.

Having seen Trent performing as Nine Inch Nails back in 2007, I knew that a highlight of the show would be the song Hurt, the band's most famous song (which you may also know from the 2003 cover by Johnny Cash.) From the seminal 1994 album The Downward Spiral, Hurt has always been thought of as Trent at his most honest and vulnerable. Tonight at Capital FM Arena, NIN closed the show with the song, thousands of voices singing along in unison up to the final crash of drums – a truly had-to-be-there moment, with an atmosphere that cannot be described in words.

The crowd tonight were clearly glad that NIN are back on stage, and judging by the performance, so were they.

Photo © Nottingham Confidential

Monday, 19 May 2014

Splendour 2014 PREVIEW


Nottingham looks all set up for a very happy Saturday indeed on July 19 when Splendour Festival returns to Wollaton Park with head-liners the Happy Mondays and Tom Odell.

Bringing their famous party atmosphere to Nottingham, Madchester legends the Happy Mondays' full reunited original line up includes dancer Bez and promises a set including hits such as ‘Wrote for Luck’, ‘Step On’ and ‘Hallelujah’.

Appearing at Splendour in front of up to 20,000 people will be singer-songwriter Tom Odell's biggest headline performance to date. The No 1 artist and Brits award-winner will play singles from his debut album ‘Long Way Down’ including hits ‘Another Love’, ‘Grow Old With Me’, ‘I Know’ and ‘Hold Me’.

Scouting for Girls, Foxes and Ron Pope will also be joining the headline acts on the main stage whilst The Boomtown Rats with lead singer Bob Geldof will headline the Confetti Stage which also features Reverend and the Makers, The Rifles, A Plastic Rose, Uncle Frank, and Keto.

“After last year’s barnstorming headline set by local hero Jake Bugg we’re delighted to give another rising young artist a chance to play to such a large crowd. Tom Odell has become a big star over the past year while the Happy Mondays are a brilliant live act and a real crowd favourite." said George Akins of promoter DHP Family. "We've added an exciting mix of established acts and rising stars to the bill. It's important to get a variety of acts at Splendour for a different experience at each of the three stages. I think Foxes will become a big star and will be a big hit with younger people in the audience while Scouting for Girls and Reverend and the Makers will appeal to fans looking for melodic indie-rock."

With comedy acts, dozens of market stalls and a children’s fun fair, Splendour will also feature the winners of the Future Sound of Nottingham competition who will appear in the opening slot on the main stage.

Tickets for Splendour are on sale now priced from £15-£42.50. All the latest news about the festival can be found on the official Splendour website  http://www.splendourfestival.com/

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Natalie Imbruglia In Things We Do For Love At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW


It's a tale of unrequited love and requited love, illicit passion, ardent desire and secret, pervy admiration and it's into this hilariously lovable bizarre love rectangler Nineties Alan Ayckbourn revival that Neighbours legend and worldwide pop sensation the divine Natalie Imbruglia makes her stage acting debut.

Jolly hockey sticks ex-prefect and confirmed singleton Barbara - played like a magnificently perfectionist Titan by the extraordinary Claire Price - lives in the middle flat of her converted house and in a tantalising peep-show stage set up which reveals just the calf-skimming floor of the flat above and the ceiling of the basement flat below, home of lovelorn Barbara fan and DIY lackey Hamish. Into Barbara's inch perfect conversion world skips her sweetie-pie old school friend and freshly engaged Nikki - a breathlessly animated and Brit accent-perfect Natalie Imbruglia followed by Edward Bennett as hunky Scot fiancé lover-man Hamish to temporarily live in the flat above.

But brewing beneath the conversational social niceties, the tea and sherry and nibbles and nice blouses is a crazy-houseful of animal passions, let loose by Barbara's insanely disastrous dinner party, which confidentially ends up hosting possibly one of the best on-stage drunk scenes EVER by Simon Gregor as the gloriously peculiar lovesick Gilbert.

With cosy and civilised domesticity mixing dangerously with rampant lust that confidentially leads to possibly the funniest and most outrageously-choreographed on-stage lovers' fight scene EVER, this play is an acting-quartet triumph by the cast as Barbara and her heart-breakingly heart-meltingly passionate too-close-for-comfort subarban neighbours

Love, laughs, fighting and an Aussie goddess in the flesh, three curtain calls from an enraptured audience can't be wrong, there's not many things not to lurrve about the most bonkers and anarchically-romantic love story in town, fall in love with it at Nottingham Theatre Royal until this Saturday.

Things We Do For Love is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 3rd May. Full details including ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Friday, 25 April 2014

Hambleton Bakery Opens In West Bridgford



Baker Julian Carter, left and owner Tim Hart

If you prefer your daily bread to be traditionally made, preservative and additive free yet still last to up to a week whilst tasting honest-to-goodness wholesomely scrumptiously crustalicious, then the latest Hambleton bakery shop opened by local gourmet supremo Tim Hart of Nottingham's Hart's restaurant and Hambleton Hall is sure to fulfil all your specialist loaf needs- as well as any additional tart, cakes, bun and pastries cravings.

Patient, peckish queues spilled out of the shop into the seasonal April showers today to sample the bakery's range of artisan breads baked using stoneground flour and slow fermentation methods which maximise vitamins and mineral content leading to much more nutritious loaves.

It's a fabulous new foodie destination for Melton Road but why was West Bridgford in particular chosen? "We found a site that we like where there's other nice food retailers, a really good butcher, fruit and veg shop and a fishmonger where we buy our fish from," said Tim Hart. " It's a good place to pop in and you can often get a car in here. We thought of different places but we worked out West Bridgford would be the best spot."

Master Baker Julian Carter, voted 'Baker of the Year' at the prestigious National Industry awards (with Hambleton Bakery itself winner of Britain's Best Bakery 2012) agreed that West Bridgford was ideal for the bakery's new shop which also has retail outlets in Exton, Stamford and Oakham.

"People tend to go into the city centre not to buy food but to buy clothes and other things and I think you need to be near other good food retail shops like fishmongers and then it's a destination," he said. "We had so much demand from customers that wanted the bread that we opened our first shop in Oakham, that was a great success so we opened two more and now West Bridgford, I think it's perfect here."

It's a beautiful little shop packed with tempting and tasty treats."We want to appeal to everyone, not just bread fans, but anyone that likes bread at all and so we offer a wide range. But we're in control of it from start to finish from the pastries to the fillings, everything is made by us," said Julian. The specialist breads on sale are more expensive than supermarket breads but the extra quality and health benefits justify the price, he adds. "People will happily spend three pounds on a cup of coffee and that's for one person but they can spend the same on a loaf of bread that will feed four people for two days.

"When you stone-grind flour everything comes through. When you roller mill everything is stripped away bar the white flour, you're stripping away the wheat-germ and the important stuff. "

"The other aspect that makes the difference in terms of nutrition is Julian's long fermentation process," adds Tim Hart. "Industrial bread is made very fast with a lot of yeast and our bread is made very slowly and during very long fermentation the gluten in the bread is transformed into something much more digestible and so you get better digestion, better nutrition and better taste. Bread was always made very slowly until they invented these new processes."

Confidentially, the lemon and treacle tarts and the Campagne Bloomer and Hambleton Local loaves are catching our eye, whilst the Rutland Pippin, invented for Britain's Best Bakery Competition, an apple-shaped crusty dough encasing Lincolnshire sausage meat, ham hock and Stilton had already sold out, sigh. But which is their favourite Hambleton bread?

"My favourite is the sourdough," said Tim."If I was to take a loaf home, I'd always grab the sourdough, it's a bit of everything, you can make a sandwich with it, you can toast it or even have it on its own, it's got a good strong flavour and it smells lovely."

"I think I'd like to mention the Borodinsky which is a rye bread," said Tim Hart. Brilliant with smoked fish and it has a great crumpety texture."


Hambleton Bakery is now open on Melton Road West Bridgford, full details can be found on their official website http://www.hambletonbakery.co.uk/

Monday, 21 April 2014

Hit The Deck Festival Nottingham REVIEW



The annual Hit The Deck festival, held over four venues in the city centre, promised a packed day of punk, rock and metal, and boy did it deliver.

With plenty of Nottingham talent on show, HTD spans all of the top local venues; The Forum, Stealth, Rescue Rooms and of course, the world famous Rock City on Talbot Street. Boasting 100 bands there was something for everyone.

Our first band of the day, local punk influenced rockers Eva Plays Dead, performed in the basement at Rock City. Front-woman Tiggy did a superb job of getting the audience pumped up for the rest of the day. Her haunting vocals and strong stage presence commanded the whole room's attention. With great songs and four supremely talented musicians, they will definitely be going places in rock.

Next we headed upstairs to Rock City's Main Room, to check out Australian band Hands like Houses. Hailing from Canberra, they play melodic punk influenced rock with thought-provoking lyrics and an energetic stage show. The crowd reaction was huge, especially for 2pm on a Sunday afternoon – a fact gratefully noted by their lead vocalist, a charismatic and quite dashing expert on working the microphone.

The festival itself was packed with young and trendy fans, with plenty to catch their eye. Stalls from the scene's top brands such as Atticus Clothing lined Talbot street, with a marquee pitched next to the Black Cherry Lounge selling merchandise from all of the day's bands. The layout was well arranged, allowing fans and bands to mingle and shop in a friendly, stress-free atmosphere.

Having spent some time over at Rock City, it was time to head over to The Forum to see exciting new band People on Vacation. Consisting of singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton and Bowling for Soup front-man Jaret Reddick, POV are in the UK touring their new material in a full band set-up for the first time. Backed by local boys Michael Richards and Rob Lane (of Teenage Casket Company and Straight to Video fame) Jaret and Ryan's new material went down a storm with the gathered masses. Highlights for me were Lonely Fish (from POV album “The Summer and the Fall”) and an updated rendition of Bowling For Soup's The Bitch Song. Finishing with a gentle cover of Slade's Cum on Feel the Noise, Jaret suggested we stay to watch their touring buddies Patent Pending, and boy, are we glad we did.

Patent Pending turned it up to 11 – no, 12 – with an 8 song half hour set that had The Forum roaring from start to finish, including a “crowd surfing championship” match, male on male intimacy, a guitarist soloing from atop the bar on the opposite side of the room from the stage and a front-man who brings to mind Freddy Mercury when it comes to crowd participation. They have to be seen to be believed. Not usually one for listening to hype, now I've seen them with my own eyes, I have to say it's well deserved.

After a break for dinner, we went back over to Rescue Rooms, where Kris Rowe, lead singer of The Ataris, was preparing for an intimate acoustic set in the bar area. Usually fronting a hard rock band, Kris seemed just at home with nothing but a microphone and a guitar to keep him company. Rowe performed lots of Ataris hits, including a stripped down version of Don Henley's Boys of Summer which was a hit for the band in the early 2000s, on their legendary So Long, Astoria album. I was impressed with Rowe's humility, professing genuine gratitude that so many people had chosen to watch him when there were still bands on in five other rooms. Also impressive was his ability to let the crowd choose the songs he played, rather than relying on a prepared set-list. Kris and the Ataris are working on some more acoustic material to be released this year, which will definitely be worth listening to based on tonight's performance.

As the evening went on, the crowds seemingly began to concentrate into one huge mass. Queues started to form outside Rock City, with doormen frantically checking wristbands. It was head-liner time. This year's head-liners: New York City's Brand New. Brand New have a strong following since their formation in Long Island in 2000, and at Hit The Deck 2014 the were undoubtedly the main draw. Their 90 minute set was peppered with hits and fan favourites such as Gasoline, Millstone, and Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't. Front-man Jesse Lacey was the latest in a long day of incredible front-people, with the crowd fixated on him and his crew from beginning to end.

As the lights went up, a tired, sweaty, but fulfilled crowd made their way outside into the night air, completely spent but completely satisfied. Hit The Deck 2014 was amazing, and based on the smiles and excited chatter as everyone prepared to make their way home, 2015 will be even better.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Play That Goes Wrong At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW




If you think you're having a bad day then you really need to go and see The Play That Goes Wrong. Like most bad days, it all starts optimistically enough with Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society enthusiastically staging their amateur production of period murder-mystery drama The Murder At Haversham Manor with an endearingly hammy cast peppered with talcum-powdered-aged hair, notes written on hands and a lovably belief-suspending actor who claps along delightedly whenever the audience applauds him. But after an unfortunate false start, followed by various unlucky mishaps, every few seconds in the play something - or several simultaneous things- go wrong. And confidentially, it's probably the funniest catalogue of absolute unmitigated ill-fated and downright dangerous disasters you'll ever see in your life.

With valiant determination to Stick To The Script Whatever Happens whilst every conceivable nightmare -plus a hundred more problems you wouldn't dare to dream of - crash and hurtle around their ears, the cast gamely stagger on in spite of corpses that can't stay dead no matter how hard they try and heart-stoppingly break-neckingly precarious scenery-induced accidents that result in nothing less than girl-on-girl armed combat whilst a running gag of prop mix-ups leaves the hapless detective/director character resignedly reduced to writing notes on a vase. With a set of keys.

But if that old "Am-Dram theatre going awry"  theme sounds a little bit like familiar territory- and in some ways it is, particularly with the play's occasional Basil Fawlty/Ripping Yarns undertones - it's the incredible side-splitting split-second timing, choreography and ingenuity of this insane physical comedy that lifts it all the way up from likeable-enough silliness to a top-notch ding-dong stellar performance in an absolute classic class of its own.

Deserving a First Class Degree with Honours in Funniness and proving so many wrongs do make a right, lovably shambolic, accidentally anarchic - and don't forget to look out for a dogged little performance from a special guest star from Nottingham who may/may not make it onto the stage -  confidentially, this play can do no wrong in our eyes, do the right thing and catch it at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday this week.

The Play That Goes Wrong is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 29th March 2014. Full details about show times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Miranda Hart: My, What I Call, Live Show At Nottingham Capital FM Arena REVIEW


Clap your breasts in joy and be upstanding and then accidentally fall over for our national comedy Queen of goofiness, galloping and glorious girly fart jokes is in town right now, dividing her subjects into the many who Ardently Revere Her versus the few who are, what I call, wrong.

Plunging onto stage to the strains of the Chesney Hawkes's classic The One and Only mixed with the heady whoops and cheers of thousands and thousands of elated fan-girls and fan-women (plus a few fan-guys) Miranda Hart promptly invited the entire arena to a massive mad-cap feel-good party complete with buffet, catapulted sweets, sing-alongs and wonderfully dodgy dance routines.

"This is the biggest live audience I've played to so far" she tells the sell-out Nottingham Capital FM Arena and launches merrily into her hilarious and huggably-endearing set peppered with wee-wee jokes, playful flirting, delightful audience participation, trademark naughty asides to the camera and some cheekily impressive ad-libbing.

With priceless tales of bumbling awkwardness, camp cavorting and musical theatre jokes "I'm a gay man in a woman's body!" it's a comedy night of epic and magnificent silliness that all wraps up with a very satisfying completeness and to a thrilling standing ovation, but amongst the gags and humour are important messages and themes, the heartfelt encouragement to let go, feel free and enjoy being yourself, to make mistakes, to have more fun, to be more childlike and to hell with it and go ahead and eat that dessert.

Irrepressibly and irresistibly strutting her comedy-goddess stuff, such Miranda-shaped fun is still to be had in Nottingham so clutch your ticket to your bosom and prance, skip and thrust yourself Capital FM Arena-wards for the hot-damn funniest lady show in town.

Miranda Hart is at Nottingham Capital FM Arena Friday March 7, Saturday March 8 including an extra matinee show and Thursday October 16 2014. Full details about ticket availability and prices are available on the Capital FM Arena website here