On Tuesday evening, one of my new besties and I headed to Hull Truck Theatre to see their latest hit – Abigail’s Party. Set in the 1970’s, it is written by Mike Leigh and directed by Amanda Huxtable, and is a really comical (and rather disconcerting) portrayal of social dynamics and relationships, that left us both wondering one two thing’s – Who the heck is Abigail and what actually happened at her party?!

I am not old enough to remember or know much about this original classic, but having studied recently about Sociologist Erving Goffman and his dramaturgical theory of us all playing parts and never truly being ourselves around others, I was intrigued by the whole story and theme of Abigail’s Party.

The saying of “we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors” really comes alive in this play, as does this idea of us all playing parts around others and how drink can quickly hinder this! I loved the topics it explores and the way the characters brought them to life. Beyond the comical surface of this play (and those brilliantly strong characters), it was filled with real life issues and evidence of “playing parts” in society, and it was this aspect of it all that I really enjoyed seeing unravel.

The play is set in Beverly’s rather modern and sophisticated 70’s lounge, and consists of just 5 incredibly well plated character’s (with reference to others). Whilst these characters come and go throughout, there is no set change, giving focus to the characters and their stories. I liked the simplicity of this and the excitement to settle back into my seat as a spectator into her home to see how things unfurled in the second half.

Beverly tries hard to be a model of middle class behaviour and taste – She enters in a cobalt blue floaty dress and sparkly heels, behaving and looking the epitome of middle class, and then opens her mouth to reveal what we would class today as an “Essex girl”! Her marriage to Lawrence (a workaholic estate agent) seems pleasant on the surface, but you soon begin to see the cracks forming. Whilst they attempt to put on a good show to try and impress their new neighbours, it quickly becomes apparent as the drinks, nibbles and snobby comments flow that they have a very sad and dysfunctional marriage and life together.

Her first guests are nurse Angela and husband Tony (Tone – a computer operator). Angela is excited for a new home and life in a “posh” neighbourhood, and is eager to please Beverly, but whilst Beverly tries to impress (or even dominate her), it also becomes clear that Beverly fancies her friends husband Tony, which fuels more snide and blatantly rude comments fired in her husbands direction. Whilst this element is very funny too, it also becomes rather sad too that none of them are really and truly happy in their costly lives and relationships – all trying to impress and keep up with others.

And then they are joined by Sue – a divorcee and long standing resident of their street, who is much more reserved and a seemingly vulnerable character. She is what would be seen as true middle class, and yet whilst the cheese and pineapple sticks are circulated and awkward pauses are filled with sneaky cigarettes, she becomes the butt of many comments and jokes. The reason being that the real party in this play isn’t what is happening in front of us, but rather it is happening back at her house, where her teenage daughter Abigail and her mates are having the time of their lives!

I enjoyed all of the characters – they each brought something witty and unique in their own right, and each one was played wonderfully. “Tones” really made us laugh, and I liked seeing how Beverly begins to evolve into a monstrous person, with no thought or regard for those around her. As she drinks more and more, her character becomes all the more forceful and jugey, often thrusting unwanted drinks and cigarettes onto her guests, belittling them and winding up her husband. She is really funny and plays the party well.

But my most favourite was definitely Sue! I liked her vulnerability and element of snobbiness and uneasiness around the others. I liked her disapproving looks and general awkwardness to be sat there at her bossy neighbours home (that obviously had a vibe of not being quite up to standard) with people she wouldn’t dream of mixing with under normal circumstances. I really felt for Sue as the other guests mocked her life, along with how anxious she was about her daughter Abigail’s party! She was fantastic!

I really enjoyed this play and despite us leaving with many unanswered questions and wonderment about the whole ending, it is definitely worth going to see either with friends or on a date! It is funny and brilliant and the whole theatre was laughing out loud throughout!

Abigail’s Party is on until Sat 20 OCT. It starts at 7.30PM with Matinees at 2pm on the 6th, 13th, 17th & 20th OCT. It is 2hrs 20mins (inc interval) and Tickets cost £10 – £24.50 

*Thank you to Hull Truck theatre for inviting me along to review this play. All thoughts are my own & Photo credit goes to Paul Floyd Blake

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Last night I took Megan with me to the press night of “Madagascar The musical” at Bridlington Spa, and of course she absolutely LOVED it! One of our goals this year was to take the kids on dates with each of us regularly, so that we could spend one on one time with them, and so they could have fun solo with mum or dad. We felt it was a good way to be able to talk with them, as well as create special memories too. And so, when I received the invite to review Madagascar The Musical, I knew it would be ideal for our budding zoo keeper and a “mummy-daughter date” and it really was!

Madagascar The Musical – Starring X-Factor Winner Matt Terry

I think at some point of life we have all seen the hilarious and much loved film “Madagascar”? With it’s cheeky plotting penguins and hypochondriac giraffe, it won our hearts many years ago as fine choice family film (and lets not forget the humour of king Julien’s character and his epic partying)! It is without a doubt a favourite here too for us all, and the stage adaptation is just as enjoyable for both kids and adults alike.

Based on the hugely popular DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar The Musical remains true to the plot and follows all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar. Starring X-Factor Winner Matt Terry as “Alex the Lion”, this show was filled with swag, brilliant singing and dancing, and very impressive plotting puppet penguins.

I loved the character of Gloria (her voice is incredible), and Megan loved “Alex the lion” (but didn’t like the lightning effects). Matt Terry played it very well and his voice (as well as all of the others) and performance was fantastic.

The character of King Julien had everyone in stitches, and the costumes of all of the characters were simply outstanding. The set is imaginative and colourful and it oozes comedy and high energy throughout. I love the bond of Alex and Marty, and the friendship portrayed between them and the others, is a wonderful message for any child.

There were little kids and big kids surrounding us in the Spa, and everyone was fixated and laughing throughout – it really was a great family experience. Younger kids will most definitely be blown away with the lifelike costumes and puppetry, and older kids will love the plot, singing and jokes.

And us adults? Well, for me it was lovely to see a much loved film come to life on stage and bask in its humour and adventure with my little girl – I loved King Julien and I loved attempting to “floss” with Megs during the finale while we laughed our socks off! We both had a wonderful night and went home singing and laughing all the way!

So why not join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime. Filled with outlandish characters, adventure galore and an upbeat score, you’ll have no choice but to “Move It, Move It!”!

And….If you’re not quite sold yet, then check out this video for a sneaky peak at how amazing it truly is –

What you need to know:

This brilliant family show is now on tour, and is currently being performed at Bridlington Spa. It is here until the 22nd of September and Tickets start from £29.50 for Adults and £17.50 for children. It starts at 7.30pm and ends around 9ish (with a 30 min interval) which isn’t too bad for school nights!

*Thank you to Brid Spa for inviting us to this. Tickets were complimentary in return for an honest review. 

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Last night we were entertained to the max, when Ethan, Megan and I had a wonderful night out to Hull New Theatre, where we saw the award-winning stage adaptation of David Walliams’ bestselling book “Gangsta Granny”! It was a fantastic play filled with lots of trumping, crime, mischief and laugh out loud jokes. We had sparkle, dancing, creative scene changes and a whole load of absolutely fantastic acting that kept us engrossed throughout!

It was most definitely worth some bedtime rebellion on a school night!

If you don’t know the hilarious and captivating tale of Gangsta Granny then where have you been?? It is brilliant and filled with some right good British humour! It follows the story of an 11-year-old boy “Ben”, who is doomed to spend Friday nights with his “boring old Gran” whilst his parents pursue their Strictly Come Dancing dreams. He dreads the games of scrabble, the array of cabbage inspired delicacies, but mostly though, it’s the thought of ending his week with a “boring” old lady that smells a bit funky!

But what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret – and he soon discovers that Friday nights are about to get a whole lot more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny.

I loved the British humour throughout and each character was played incredibly well. It was a brilliant, family friendly evening and one of those performances where you really feel a part of it – right in there feeling the heart of the whole thing! It was so good to see such a favourite come alive in that way and share it with Ethan and Megs.

We all loved the props, the set, the dancing, jokes and persistent cabbage trumps! We loved the real life granny scooter – “bezzing” (yes I know that’s not a real word!) around the stage and the humorous antics of “Mr Parker” and Ben’s parents. We loved the cheeky character of his Granny and in between all of those laughs and action packed moments, we also loved how it captured our hearts to see the fun and beauty of a relationship grow between a boy and his Gran, when they finally found a shared passion and adventure!!

I would, without a doubt recommend this to everyone. It is so much fun to be a part of and thanks to the Birmingham Stage Company we can now cross “dance with the Queen” off our bucket lists after such a brilliant finale! But don’t take my word alone… I’m a “boring old(ish)” mummy! Here’s what my kids thought of it too – Ethan is 7 and Megan recently turned 6!

Ethans Review: 

“That was so so so funny! I really loved it and thought their acting was just so good – they were all really good and it was so cool how they looked like they were in the car and the water but not a real one! And I loved the stage – yes the stage was so magical because it had all hidden things that turned into stuff and it was marvellous how they did that.

I would give it 1,000 stars – it was really good!!”

Megan’s Review:

“I liked the trumping the best (*of course!) and the dancing cat and Queen were really funny! I didn’t know the Queen could do the floss but that was the real Queen and she can so I will be telling everyone that!

I’d say it was the best night, not becuase we stayed up late, not because I loved it like Ethan and laughed my head off too. I will tell all of my friends they have to see it because the trumps are sooooooooo funny and they have a dancing cat!”

If your kids find trumping Granny’s and trumping Queens funny and, if they like dancing cats and seeing the Queen do the floss, then the exciting tale of Ben’s “Gangsta Granny” with all of its secret plans and plots, is certainly not to be missed. It was a lot of fun and you will certainly not regret a night out to catch a piece of the action down at Hull New Theatre this weekend! Birmingham Stage Company have done a fabulous job of this well loved tale and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute!

Gangsta Granny is showing until Sunday the 8th July and tickets are on sale now from £15.50! Book at the Hull City Hall Box Office by calling 01482 300 306 or visit their website www.hulltheatres.co.uk.

*This was complimentary press visit in exchange for a review. 

 

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They say that laughter is the best medicine, and after what has been a gloomy period in life recently I was in desperate need of some that I assure you! But when I accepted the invitation recently to see “The Play That Goes Wrong”, I had no idea just how much I would be laughing my head off, and what an overdose of the ‘laughter medicine’ I would be getting into!

Last night laughter filled the air, and we were well and truly overdosed on humour and comedy ,and entertained to the max at the incredibly funny, and down right brilliant performance of “The Play That Goes Wrong” at Hull New Theatre!

I haven’t been to Hull New Theatre since it’s fairly recent refurb, and I must say it is looking grand! It was exciting to be there and the atmosphere last night was most joyful right from the start – it was relaxed, feel good and I cannot tell you how clever and absolutely side splitting hilarious it was! Antics of the play began in the foyer, had some audience participation, contained moments of Improv, and there were jokes and surprises left right and center – as well as up in the box!

The Play That Goes Wrong is a highly physical comedy packed with finely-tuned farce and Buster Keaton inspired slapstick delivered with split-second timing and ambitious daring. The play introduces The ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does, as the accident prone thespians battle on against all the odds to get to their final curtain call.

From start to finish it was clever, impeccably timed and ridiculously entertaining, and quite possibly the funniest theatre production I have ever seen. My friend and I howled with laughter, and it made for the perfect girls night out (or a date or just for the fun of it!).

Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields (all members of the Mischief Theatre Company), are the masterminds behind this epic play, and if you love things like “Fawlty Towers” then this will be right up your street! If not then I dare you to go and try not laugh!

I could, with pleasure, go and see this many more times! I have already said to Mr Smith that it is a must see for him as he would LOVE it, and that we need to try to go again later this week. I can just imagine us both sat there laughing together like my friend I did, because this play creates that type of laughter where tears are rolling down your cheeks, your sides hurt, and you can barely breathe! It is a night out that is good for the soul, and better yet is clean and generally good old original humour!

I cannot thank the cast, writers and producers enough for such a spectacular performance, evening, and all those extra laughter lines! Bravo guys – it was magnificent!

Tickets for The Play That Goes Wrong at Hull New Theatre from 21 -26 May are on sale now. Book via the Hull City Hall Box Office, call 01482 300 306 or visit their new website www.hulltheatres.co.uk 

*Thank you to Hull New Theatre for inviting me along for a piece of the action – it was so good to laugh that hard! 

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