Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Madness Of George III Starring Mark Gatiss At Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW

Opening with a beautiful and visually arresting scene with the entire cast pausing in full regalia in the manner of a richly dramatic Baroque painting, this Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company production of The Madness of George III is a local production for local people and also a worldwide audience - with tickets still currently available for a special 20 November performance to be broadcast live to 700 UK cinemas and an incredible 2500 venues in 65 countries 

Mesmerising in the titular role, Mark Gatiss' prolific acting spectrum and range royally lords over the entire play, masterfully portraying the humour, the horror, the gut-wrenching grotesque and gentlemanly gravitas combined with a heart-breaking vulnerability during his brutal and harrowing medical treatments which forces you to mentally strap yourself down to your seat to avoid leaping on stage to give him a comforting hug.

But the distressing scenes of suffering and maltreatment are skilfully balanced with humour by the expert pen of Alan Bennett and never has such a profuse run of poo jokes been such a welcome relief. Mark Gatiss' performance is ably accompanied by Nicholas Bishop as a pensive William Pitt, a magnificent Adrian Scarborough as the didactic Doctor Willis, Debra Gillet fiercely charming as the love-matched Queen Charlotte and Sara Powell as a dignified Lady Pembroke.

Set in ingenious concertina-kaleidoscopic scenery which expands outwards and back into itself to a fold-as-you-go Georgian-Ikea effect and with women cast in several of the male roles with varying degrees of success, confidentially, The Madness of George III is a sumptuous and illustrious event for the city, and with majestic authority and with regal pomp, poop and circumstance, Mark Gatiss Rules OK.

The Madness of George III is at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 24 November 2018. Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse website

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Shrek The Musical At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Tristram Kenton

To successfully transfer the boundlessly unlimited medium of animated film to the confines of a real-life stage show takes a visionary with outside-upside-backflipping-over-the-box thinking and Shrek the Musical joyfully ticks all those boxes with an imagination of psychedelically monster proportions, roar!

Bellowing onto stage and making the light fittings rattle, Steffan Harri's hunkily-ug-er-lee Shrek teams up with Marcus Ayton's sassily kick-ass Donkey to rescue the smart, wise-cracking and amazingly streetwise for one so longterm-housebound Prncess Fiona, both cutely and fiercely played by Amelia Lily.

From the super-heavily knee-padded dastardly-dinky and irresistibly-naughty Lord Farquaad to an animatronic portable traybake Gingerbread Man, a fluffy slipper turned tap-dancing rat infestation and a staggeringly-gigantic puppet dragon-rockstar, Shrek the Musical sticks to the kiddie-to-adult-appeal script with enough wit and ingenuity as to both equal the classic film version and to create a stand-alone entertainment spectacle all of its own, playfully referencing  Les Mis, Wicked, Avenue Q, The Lion King and more along its merry way.

It's a singalonga farting and belching competition love-story, a screamingly-funny technicolour extravanga, Mother-Hubbard! Confidentially we recommend you get your freak on for the looniest-tooniest real-life cartooniest anti-fairytale in the land! You'd better believe it.

Shrek The Musical is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Sunday 23 September 2018. Full details, show times and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Theatre Royal website

Monday, 25 June 2018

Summer House Sounds At Belvoir Castle PREVIEW

It's an unusual and resplendent setting for a series of big-name music performances and this July, the beautiful Belvoir Castle will host four Summer House Sounds concerts, featuring major headline acts and artists.

Music legend Tom Jones, disco king Nile Rodgers and his band CHIC, dance DJ Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra with Ibiza Classics and the world’s most successful classical crossover group Il Divo are the incredible line-up for four consecutive nights in July.

Presented by live music promoters Cuffe and Taylor, Summer House Sounds is about bringing music to the people in unique and beautiful locations. Director Peter Taylor said: “We’re delighted to be presenting Summer House Sounds across the UK this July and are especially delighted to be doing so at Belvoir Castle.

“Since our inception more than nine years ago Cuffe and Taylor’s ethos has always been about taking music to the people and working in areas that don’t tend to attract huge household names.We’ve not worked with Belvoir Castle previously so to be bringing such a stellar line-up to this most magnificent location this year is very exciting."

The Belvoir Castle Summer House Sounds series is:

•   19 July – Nile Rodgers & CHIC
•   20 July – Il Divo with very special guest Michael Ball
•   21 July – Pete Tong Ibiza Classics with support from Becky Hill
•   22 July – Tom Jones with support from Into The Ark

Tickets to all Summer House Sounds concerts are available from

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Accenture World Triathlon Mixed Relay Nottingham 2018 REVIEW

Triathletes diving into the River Trent
Photo copyright Laura Patterson ©

On a mellow June evening, around the stunning setting of Nottingham's beautiful Victoria Embankment and River Trent, international triathletes came to town to spectacularly dive into the river, jump onto bikes and then run a circuit over Trent Bridge and Wilford Suspension Bridge in a heart-poundingly breathtaking inaugural event.

Jonny Brownlee
Photo copyright Laura Patterson ©

In an unforgettable - and FREE - sight, to rousing cheers from the crowds of all ages lining the entire route, including spectators watching from outside pubs and bars on Trent Bridge, top athletes from eigtheen countries competed in Nottingham to earn qualification points for the next Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

For a thrillingly-superhuman ninety minutes, each mixed quartet raced valiantly around the course, and even the drops of rain that began to fell cleared away in respect for this superb sporting spectacle. Finally, Team GB's Non Stanford, Thomas Bishop, Vicky Holland and Jonathan Brownlee took second place, clinching the Silver Medal behind the winning American team with France coming in third.
Matthew McElroy from Team USA
Photo copyright Laura Patterson ©

It's the second triathlon to take place in Nottingham in less than a year and if you missed this awe-inspiringly inspirational event, confidentially, we recommend you come runnin' swimmin' and cyclin' to the next one in 2019.

You can find lots more photos of the triathlon by Laura Patterson in glorious technicolour on our Nottingham Confidential Facebook Page

For more details about the next Accenture World Triathlon Mixed Relay Nottingham in 2019, visit
Triathletes running along Victoria Embankment
Photo copyright Laura Patterson ©

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The Last Ship at Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW

Docking last night at Nottingham Playhouse for a week, The Last Ship musical, with original score and lyrics composed by Sting, is a salty sea tale of shipbuilding, love, loss, heartbreak, resilience and defiance - complete with a first night performance sprinkled with extra special rock star super-stardust by the attendance of none other than Sting himself, sitting right there in the auditorium in jeans and piratey red and blue striped t-shirt, hello sailor.

The decline of shipbuilding in Tyne and Wear, on paper an unlikely and difficult story for musical theatre, is intertwined with a love-interest romance between the dishily fantastic Gideon Fletcher (Richard Fleeshman) returning home after seventeen years at sea to win back his childhood sweetheart, the gloriously feisty Meg (Frances McNamee). With an earthy, gutsy and roaringly-exceptional cast led by a staunchly convincing and endearing Joe McGann in fine voice as foreman Jackie White, it's a dramatically and poignantly staged show, full of heart and pride running the full spectrum of fervent and affecting emotions.

With a spectacular setting showcasing breathtaking projections by Olivier Award winners 59 Productions transporting the audience through incredible storms with vast ships and glowering moody shipyards, it's a jaw-droppingly impressively staged show, interspersed with beautifully poignant flashback moments, bewitching dancing silhouettes and thrillingly-fierce protesting women at the picket line. Sting's wistful ballads, jaunty sea shanties and raucous protest songs are accompanied by folk dancing and lots and lots of exuberant foot-stamping and stomping with spine-tingling choral singing from the cast.

With a standing ovation on this opening night and Sting on stage at the finale stomping along with the cast, confidentially, we recommend you get your stomping boots on for some cathartic stamping about the decline of shipbuilding, the problems with the NHS and some retro anti-Thatcherism to boot, ahoy and wye aye mateys.

The Last Ship is at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 12 May 2018. Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse website

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Hairspray At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Exploding gloriously onto stage like a giant psychedelic sequinned-scattering party-popper, Hairspray hit Nottingham running and generating enough breathtaking energy to sky-rocket the sub-zero February temperatures all the way up to eleven and settled in to go-go on with the show which is twisting and shouting in town for a whole fabulous, flamboyant fortnight.

Addressing hard-hitting racism and segregation issues in 1960s Baltimore with unabashed full-on thunderous ra-ra razzmatazz, Hairspray is a joyous, feelgood spectacle, both fervently and light-heartedly making everything and anything seem possible.

Cha-cha-ing without putting a foot wrong or a hair out of place, and sprayed to within an inch of their haircuts, this is a one hundred percent tip-top top-notch inch-perfect cut-above show. Cast, singing, dancing and staging all bellow out QUALITY and are topped off with the roof-raising, hair-off-your-face-blowing knockout performance by the supreme and divine X Factor semi-finalist Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle together with a truly touchingly-funny double act of Nottinghamshire-bred Norman Pace and the toweringly gorgeous Matt Rixon as star-turn Tracy Turnblad's parents, awww.

Get on up, get down and get up again and shake what your mother gave you for the not-standing-but dancing ovation after the eye-popping, jaw-dropping, back flipping finale. Confidentially, we recommend you leave your calculus for the morning bus, doo-wop doo-wop a dinga linga shimmy-shimmy right on over to Nottingham Theatre Royal and spray it all over liberally at maximum volume for sensational glittery shine, technicoloured vitality and long-lasting hair-raising bedazzling pizazz (keep away from naked flames.)

Hairspray is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 24 February. Full details and ticket prices are available on the Theatre Royal website

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Cinderella At Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW

Once upon a time, in a magically serendipitous local Christmas fairytale, no sooner had one newly matched Royal couple visited our fair city this very week then, slap my thigh, another popped merrily right up the very next day, complete with a Meghan Markle-lookalike Cinderella in the launch of the annual Nottingham Playhouse Christmas panto. 

A beautifully charming dancing woodland creature scene with delightfully gambolling badgers, foxes and hedgehogs, a loveable Buttons and a boy-band-blonde Prince Charming rockin some damn fine duets with a genial Dandini all set the scene of cutesy panto adorableness which all suitably crazily descended into a madcap riot with the unleashing of the triple-threat-terrible-trio of the Step Sisters and their Auntie, the Dowager Duchess Devilla, deliciously-devilishly played by a raucous Rebecca Little.

And oh boy, was John Elkington doing it for himself as sensational Step-Sister Bella, whether wisecracking local gags, batting away first night glitches with a flutter of false eyelashes or belting out a bring-the-house-down torch song solo, woah!

What the show lacked in a bit of a short-changed side-step off-stage transformation scene and a royal palace ball scene that only appeared to have five guests, it gleefully made up for with great one liners and sight-gags including a brilliantly simple joke about hiding a key under a clock that was only a painting on the set, an in-out in-out screwball broken-down car comedy routine, whooped-up incongruous dance routines and local reference jokes taking the mick out of everything from Beeston to Broadmarsh all mixed together with more running gags about sponsors Nottingham City Transport than you could shake a Robin Hood Pay As You Go Card at (with another two gags guaranteed to turn up right behind -you!) All topped off with a surreal but strangely soothing tap dancing fluffy bunny rabbits number.

But the funniest part of the show was the fantastic ad-libbing by John Elkington with children from the audience brought onstage to sing along with Bella in the Songsheet Scene. And there was also a special surprise guest appearance onstage (and apparently the biggest surprise to himself) by none other than Adam Penford on his very first day as the new Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse.

With a glorious array of outrageous costumes, beautiful dresses, a glittering golden carriage and stunning crystal slippers to sprinkle stardust on your festive season, it's time to officially cross Prince Harry off your Christmas wishlist and treat yourself instead to a Haribo sweetie high, wave your spinning psychedelic toy windmills in the air, indulge in cathartic bellowing audience participation and release your pre-Christmas angst and/or get right into the festive spirit, Nottingham Playhouse Cinderella panto-style.

Cinderella is at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 20 Jan 2018. Full details of show times and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse website

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Low In High School By Morrissey ALBUM REVIEW

So there was a time when Morrissey word association games usually went ‘Glasses! Oscar Wilde! Kittens!’…now they’re more likely to go, ‘Farage! Airport security! Italian policemen!’. Morrissey enjoys a devoted global following and yet even they are scratching their heads and wondering just how to react to all of Moz’s strangely contemptuous and ill-advised pronouncements, trying to explain it all away as Morrissey being typically perverse, not playing by the rules and refusing to ‘be nice’. 

 Anyway, what I would say to everyone- naysayer or tattooed follower (and I am in the latter camp- full disclosure here- no fake news)- just play the first track on Low In High School – My Love I’d Do Anything For You- earsplittingly loud, stomp your glam boots, use wooden spoons and saucepans as make shift drums and practice elephant style bellowing noises and forget all the UKIP silliness- Morrissey is STILL a godamn genius, I’m afraid, and you ain’t getting away from that easily. I’m not saying that the album is perfect all the way though and there are some serious horse troughs of woefulness there. For example; the weirdly leaden and rambling anti-soldier diatribe I Bury the Living. Morrissey can be brilliant on masculinity- I refer you to I’m Not A Man on World Peace is Not of Your Business- hell, I’ll even refer you to Vicar in a Tutu if you want to go back to 1986’s The Queen is Dead, but this just feels like back of a beermat writing. I don’t like the silly artwork on the cover and Who Will Protect Us from The Police is basically the same sentiment as live favourite Ganglord (which Morrissey helpfully accompanies with a montage of US police brutality).

 But I’ve known committed Morrissey despisers to hum Spent the Day in the Bed over the last few months, especially with the amount of airplay it has received (which surely even Morrissey couldn’t complain about), and All the Young People Must Fall In Love is a charming dismissal of world leaders (‘Presidents come, presidents go, And nobody remembers their name two weeks after they go’) interspersed with young love- ‘the kids around here have the best idea’. And there are many times on this album when Morrissey’s voice sounds truly magnificent- just listen to the final bars of Home is a Question Mark- he might not be breaking into falsetto anymore, but his voice has a strength and richness to it that is undiminished despite the rigours of endless touring and intermittent poor health. Second single Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on Stage is a quirky, self-referencing exploration of how the allure of fame and adulation can make everyday life seem deceptively meaningless (‘Jacky cracks when she isn’t on stage’)-   and is another stomper. It might not have bellowing elephant calls but a killer chorus of ‘Exit! Exit! Everyone is heading for the exit!’ is guaranteed to get into your head – so take the easy way and give in.


Lyn Lockwood is a teacher and writer living in Sheffield. She has been listening to Morrissey since she first heard Reel Around the Fountain on John Peel  in 1980-something

Friday, 13 October 2017

Roxy Ball Room Nottingham REVIEW

There's a whole new ballgame in town and when we say it's called Roxy Ball Room - we don't mean you'll be needing your dancing shoes, neither.

With specially commissioned Jimi Hendrix graffiti-artwork decor, psychedelically-colourful Beer Pong tables plus pool and ping pong tables, Roxy Ball Room is like a kaleidoscopic, spaced-out-chilled-out grown-ups' playground, serving up a night of fun, games and various alcoholic concoctions.

Fast food grub is also available with the California Chicken burger our confidential fave, which washes down very nicely with a purdy pink Berry Smash, our signature cocktail of choice. Sharing trays, pizza, doughballs, mocktails and craft beers will keep you going or you can get up and go-go burn it all off ping-ponging.

Winning extra bonus points for the pretty frickin' awesome background music and outstanding service from the friendly staff and offering a wacky and welcome alternative to those too many two-a-penny sitting-in-a-corner-with-a-pint-with-nuffin-much-going-on places, confidentially, Roxy Ballroom shoots, scores and good and proper puts the ping and beer into your pong.

And you can see lots more photos of Roxy Ball Room in glorious technicolour on our Facebook page

Roxy Ball Room is at 10 Thurland Street. Full details and prices can be found on their website

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Crazy For You At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Loaded to the rafters with lashings of classic musical numbers, Crazy For You is a hybrid-Gershwin mash-up, a let's-put-the-show-on-right-here/mistaken identity kray-zee tale, punctuated by cracking oneliners, sight gags, physical jokes and some of the most sublime stage show songs of all time.

Achingly-beautifully voiced leading lady Charlotte Wakefield delivers mesmeric crystal-clear performances of Someone To Watch Over Me, Embraceable You and But Not For Me, transcending the silly-nonsense story all the way up to top quality theatre.

But the star of the show we've all come to see is Tom Chambers' moves- and boy, does he bring them, and loads of old Hollywood-stylee all over the dancefloor - and then some. Toe-twisting and slide-gliding with panther-like grace, he swoops, he soars, he scores and he dances with alpha-male ownage, leaping onto piano tops and nimbly clambering up nervewracking ladders and high platforms, whew.

The show slowly builds and then firmly finds its feet in the Act One climax performance of I Got Rhythm, a jaw-dropping, glorious, fantastical tangle of rootin' tootin' singing and tap dancing mixed up with (count 'em) QUADRUPLE threat musicians playing their instruments right dang in the middle of it all and with Tom Chambers dexterously playing drumsticks on the upturned feet of the dancing girls, it's the show-stopping musical money-number. Choreographer, take a bow.

Looking hot but not given enough to do is the woefully under-used former Strictly winner Caroline Flack, strangely denied any kind of killer dance-routine that we all know she could pull off, no sweat. And if only we could have seen Polly's mum dance on stage!

Cray-cray and cute, plucky, screwy and sunny, Crazy For You is a tonic of fun to warm you up in this chilly season. Confidentially, we recommend you go nuts fer it.

Crazy For You is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 7th October 2017. For full details of show times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website