We kept the Faith

Faith – The George Michael Legacy

G-Live

Wednesday, May 9 2018

George Michael fans were thrilled as tribute act Wayne Dilk’s and his talented eight-piece band brought George’s legendary music to life at G-Live. The theatre was jam-packed with a lively audience visibly excited to relive their youth and be part of a musical journey of 35 years of hit records.

There was no mistaking who Wayne was trying to impersonate as he entered the stage in George’s signature dark glasses and bouffant hair. The crowd went berserk and were up on their feet instantly to ‘I’m Your Man’. There was a clear similarity in Wayne’s voice but as he rightly said: “There is only one George Michael”. His fast-paced energy lasted throughout the whole show covering classics such as ‘Club Tropicana’ and ‘Fast Love’. He maintained fantastic interaction with the crowd who never stopped dancing and singing along.

However, the best singing came in the slow tracks with a wonderful rendition of ‘Father Figure’ and of course ‘Careless Whisper’ to finish up.

Wayne is a self-confessed super fan himself and was clearly honoured to impersonate his role model as his career. He shared the history of George and his music including where certain songs were written and where the inspiration came from. Videos played throughout the show on the screen behind the stage, some of which were quite random but whenever footage of George came up the crowd went wild.

Fantastic entertainment from a superb tribute act which made hundreds of people very happy and celebrated George Michael’s legacy expertly.

Alex Ashbee

Treasure chest of talent graces the Minerva Theatre

REVIEW

Double bill: random and generations (by debbie tucker green)

Minerva Theatre, Chichester

A wealth of theatrical talent, probably unknown to most theatregoers in the south-east, graces the Minerva Theatre until June 2. Chichester Festival Theatre deserves great credit for choosing random and generations, two one-act plays written by debbie tucker green, an Oliver-award winning playwright, who also acts and writes screenplays.

She adapted random into a Channel 4 screen version, which won the 2012 BAFTA award for Best Single Drama. Her work is familiar to audiences at the Royal Court, the Young Vic and the National Theatre, And second coming, her follow-up feature film, won an award in Rotterdam and was BAFTA nominated.

Petra Letang, the star of random, has appeared at the Young Vic, the National Theatre and on Broadway. And she gives a searing solo performance with wit, wisdom and pathos as the oldest daughter in the day in the life of a household, which starts mundanely but ends in tragedy. Amusing take-offs of her parents, her teenage brother and her workmates turn to despair when the family is brought to its knees by a random act of violence. Never trouble trouble til trouble trouble you’ is a memorable line doomed to haunt the storyTerrific.

The first play in the double bill, generations, concerns a South African family, where Mama and Dad, Grandad and Nana, Boyfriend and Girlfriend, and Junior Sister discuss family cooking skills. Characters disappear in turn, starting with the youngest, as the dialogue is refrained in a subtle circular fashion, ripe with nuances.

Cleo Sylvestre (Nana) has also played Mary Seacole, Rosa Parks and Jospehine Baker, and appeared at the NT and in the West End. As a schoolgirl she made a record with the unknown Rolling Stones, and still performs regularly with her blues band, Honey B Mama and Friends. Also watch out for Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo, who made her debut as Girlfriend, Lauretta Essien (Mama) and Derek Ezenagu (Dad).

The director Tinuke Craig, on her Chichester debut, won the 2014 Genesis Future Director Award, and her credits have included debbie tucker green’s dirty butterfly at the Young Vic. The performance is superbly supported by the South African Cultural Choir, who lit up the Minerva with their capella singing and rhythmic Zulu dancing.

www.cft.org.uk

Nick Keith

CFT’s Coward classic bound to take Hound to the West End

The inestimable Noel Coward is a safe choice for CFT to launch their 2018 programme. However, this production, directed by Sean Foley, has veered away from traditional roots of suave sophistication and smooth style, and chosen to go down a slapstick farcical route. This has been well trodden, or rather stumbled over, by the star of this Present Laughter, Rufus Hound.

This well-known comic actor and stand-up comedian gained true public recognition when he followed James Corden in One Man, Two Guv’nors (about to be performed in an amateur production in Petersfield) on tour and at the National Theatre. In build, demeanour and style, Hound is no Noel. At first that was disconcerting, but the manic mood of farce and quick wit soon prevailed, driving away all memories of mannered mischief, while retaining Coward’s clean dialogue and sharp dramatic lines.

Photos by: Johan Persson 

The programme has kindly pointed out that Essendine is an anagram for Neediness, and that becomes all-apparent in Garry’s dealings with the constant stream of admirers and hangers-on, who are bound to hound many stars. Written in 1939 but delayed for three years because of the War, Present Laughter hangs loose on morals, with women keen to get Garry into bed. And the dress code for the evening involves mainly silk dressing gowns, another of Coward’s personal hallmarks.

The first seductress is young Daphne Stillington (Lizzy Connolly) who is eager to further her career on the stage, and in Essendine’s bed, having met Garry at a recent party. She appears one morning from a bedroom at the top of the stairs in a silk dressing gown, claiming she had to spend the night in the star’s home because she did not have her house keys.

From then on, doors open and close at rapid intervals, ushering people in and out of sight of one another.

A constant source of calm is provided by his ex-wife Liz Essendine (Katherine Kingsley), the only character who knows exactly what she is doing and what Garry wants, and needs. Another character who remains almost in charge of an ever-changing situation is Monica (Tracy-Ann Oberman), his secretary of many years, who has control of his diary – and most of his movements.

Into the giddy mix add his comic in-house staff, Fred (Delroy Atkinson) and Miss Erikson (Tamsin Griffin), who is ageing awkwardly; would-be playwright Roland Maule (Ben Allen); Garry’s theatrical promoters, Henry Lyppiatt and Morris Dixon  (Richard Mylan and Emilio Doorgasingh); and a gorgeous temptress Joanna Lyppiatt (Lucy Briggs-Owen) who is married to Henry but seems to have bedded all and sundry.

Naturally, Coward is not content with pure physical farce, and the play is leavened with witty lines and real pathos as several of the characters reveal their frailties to Garry and their friends and colleagues. The whole performance works sublimely well in a great set (designed by Alice Power), with excellent timing for both the dialogue and the pratfalls. It will be a big surprise if this production does not end up in the West End, so get to see Present Laughter before it leaves Chichester on May 12.

www.cft.org.uk

Nick Keith

Time-travelling Ayckbourn play delivers

REVIEW

COMMUNICATING DOORS

Cheriton Players

Cheriton Village Hall, Cheriton

Friday, April 20, 2018

After a tentative start, the cast were soon going at full-throttle, making sense of Ayckbourn’s mind-boggling, time-bending plot, where three women, from different eras, come together to thwart evil and defy the predictions of time.

In the feminist script Ayckbourn emphasises the strength, wit and compassion of the female cast – the original “girl-power”. Fiona Mackay (Poopay) plays the role, full of the teenage vulnerabilities that have led to her dubious career as a dominatrix, in contrast to sensible, stoical Helena Gomm (Ruella), the backbone of the trio. Last and certainly not least, as their performances were a total delight, were Isobel Wolf and Rebecca Leadley (Jessica). The chaps – David Cradduck and Charlie Hellard (Reece) and Tim Conway (Julian) are commensurate baddies and Sam Griffiths (Harold) is solid as the hapless concierge.

The set was cleverly constructed (with revolving doors, the very latest in time-travel) so that all the action was visible on the small stage and subtle lighting changes defined the eras.

The energetic entertainment meant that 40 years passed in a shot!

Rebecca Case

Poets, performers and songwriters – showcase your work in Petersfield

Write Angle poetry and music cabaret returns on April 17 to The Townhouse in Petersfield, with guest performer Cam Brown.

Cam Brown

Founder of Write Angle, Leah Cohen, said: “Cam’s first time with Write Angle was so successful, we had to ask him back – it’s his third time! He’s guaranteed to give you an evening of fun.

“Cam’s an accomplished musician who plays a mean guitar and harmonica, sings non-stop, and involves the audience – you can’t help liking the guy or laughing at the lyrics!

“Since age 16, when he sang at the ‘Epsom Folk Club’ (Paul Simon topped the bill that night), and heard the traditional comic, non-PC folk song genre along with the more contemporary music of Jake Thackray, George Melly, Paddy Roberts etc, that’s become the core of his repertoire.

“For 50 years, he’s continued strumming at pubs and folk singers’ clubs, as well as currently running a successful open mic night at The Chelsea Arts Club, London.

“His extensive repertoire of witty and funny songs is organised into themes, including social attitudes, drink, love, relationships, and more. He also includes traditional ballads and poems picked up in those early folk club days; then embellishing, rewriting and setting them to his own tunes, Cam is a very talented guitar player who loves entertaining, and it shows. He’ll have you beating your seats – if you can keep up with him – and singing along. He’s an irresistable charmer!

“As well as his amazing ability to hit the strings with fingers flying at the speed of light, he sings in a blues band called SCRAM, as well as forming an Americana trio, Blazing Saddlers, performing three-part harmony material from the fifties and sixties (think Lonnie Donegan meets the Everly Brothers), and having just completed two very successful evenings at the Claygate Music Festival, he produced iis first CD, titled Cam Brown Sings vol 1′ in 2013.”

Write Angle is at The Townhouse, High Street, Petersfield on Tuesday, April 17. Doors open at 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start. There will also be an open mic spot for anyone to read, play or perform their work to a supportive audience. Admission costs £6. See www.petersfieldwriteangle.co.uk to find out more.

Liss Film Festival this month

The Triangle Centre in Liss will be hosting its 6th annual film festival from February 15-18. Films to be shown include Victoria & Abdul, Hairspray, Despicable Me 3, Lucky Logan and Tea with Mussolini.

The Triangle will also be introducing its new Cinegi system by showing the award-winning theatre production of The Audience, with Helen Mirren.

Further details can be found at www.liss-triangle-centre.org.uk or by telephoning 01730 301000.

Festive poetry and fun at Write Angle

Write Angle

The Townhouse, Petersfield

December 2017

Paul Lyalls’ performance at Write Angle’s December gig held the audience from start to finish with ‘endless’ laughter. It was truly a Christmas special.

He’s a great poet but also a stand-up comic and confident performer. His long lanky body and mobile face capture the audience. He works in schools but his poetry is geared to the child in each of us – if only we’d had a Paul Lyalls in our schooldays!

In Poetic Lonely Hearts Act, the Poet “seeks audience….You must like rhyme but not all the time.” In Ask the Audience….Or Listen to Your Heart, he tells how, as a loving man, his first reaction to his partner’s “What are you thinking” is “What should I be thinking?” but he answers “I want to look into your eyes forever” when he’s really thinking that “the next time we go to Ikea, I want to get into one of the wardrobes and when someone opens it, leap out and ask what country are we in?”

His Shakespeare parody, Let Me Compare Thee, talks of “Reality, Reality, wherefore art thou?” Only in the Movies listed all those impossible situations such as “You’ll easily survive any battle…..unless you make the fatal mistake of showing somebody a picture of your sweetheart who’s waiting for you.” He ended his performance with The Label Prayer, which dealt with the two core values of Christmas, “religion and shopping”. Unsurprisingly, the open mikers featured Christmas strongly. Jilly Funnell provided two covers, Shakin Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone and Martin and Blane’s Have Yourself a Merry Christmas, followed by a reprise of her own naughty Principle Boy – “Make sure you all check out his tights before your wedding day.” Richard Hawtree provided another view of Christmas with Wrappings – “A ruse you trust to make the wise men late in setting out on their epiphany.”

Leah contributed four seasonal poems, finishing with Santa Has a Problem, when Mrs Santa “wants me healthy” puts him on a diet “but if I’m not a jolly fat man, kids won’t know I’m Father Christmas”.

Dick Senior, more serious, in Cake, told the story of a suspicious husband following his unfaithful wife, “Like white knuckles at his throat, the furies of self-pity and rage, like rats writhing in a bag of his skin”. “That night, they ate the cannabis cake”, which was followed by an orgy of destruction when he took a hammer to his home and his car. Evacuee told the story of the youngster Dick’s grandparents took in “from Tottenham who….became a village boy” but who Dick knew as Uncle Stan.

Your reviewer lightened the mood with Charlie the Spider, who “lives in Jake’s black car” and whose social life was “When we park at Tesco….I meet my friends in other cars”. Piers Husband read from his Christmas Book. First, Santa Meets Satan and, then, Satan, “the horned devil fell through the air in a million particles. Each particle entered the body of a spider….” Brian read a humorous Thurber short story The Night the Bed Fell, chronicling a chapter of accidents culminating with the bed falling on father.

Although the number of poets and musicians were few, the quality of their work made up for it. It was a memorable evening and contributed well to the Christmas season! The Raffle was sponsored by The Half Moon at Sheet.

Jake Claret

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Attila filled the Petersfield room in more ways than one

REVIEW
Attila the Stockbroker – Petersfield Write Angle
The Townhouse, Petersfield
November 2017
Attila the Stockbroker filled the room at Write Angle’s November gig – not only with the power of his presence but by filling the space to ‘standing room only’ – the best attendance in a long time. He is a masterly force of nature. His energy is boundless! Whether ranting about his political convictions, playing numerous instruments such as the mandola, mandocello, bass recorder and violin, singing the lyrics he composes, or digging deep into his feelings about illness and family, whatever he does, one feels his sincerity and natural connection with the audience. With a full programme of gigs while touring the country, Europe and beyond, he snatches time to write and compose – he wrote nine songs in the previous three weeks!

Attila the Stockbroker, performance poet at Write Angle, Petersfield

You have to be young and black to rap!” Starting with Spirit of the Age, Attila rapped that, giving the lie to it: “I’ll be rapping to the day I die.”

With his deeply held political views, he rants….and rants. Looking back to the period when England had no monarchy, he sang of the great ranter of Cromwell’s Commonwealth time: ”I have been a ranter for nearly 40 years….but I’m a total lightweight compared to Abiezer Coppe.” More topical and poignant was The Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington who “serve Knightsbridge, not Latimer Road” ending with “Appearances matter more than flesh, skin, hair, muscle and bone.” There was also his Corbyn Supporters from Hell: “We undermine everything that moves.” In Rock n Roll Brexit, he chronicalled the formalities, difficulties and indignities of Europe with borders that he used to experience, saying that, if these had to be suffered again, “I’m British and WE HAVE TAKEN BACK CONTROL!”

In addition to his politics, what we also get is Attila the loving family man. In Never Too Late, his tribute to his stepfather, he tells: “You were the head of the household, I was the stroppy kid”, as a chorus to “Here’s a poem I wrote for you, you decent, gentle man”; ending with “It’s never too late to tell anyone you love them.” It’s no wonder Attila has a fan club of over 6000 people!

At the open mic, newcomer Dick Senior had Referendum in which “John Major’s bastards bided their time” until they were “probing the cracks in Cameron weak”. Still political, he followed with A Famous Old Etonian, where he described Boris as “the Bullingdon” bore with “Government by the Etonians, for the Etonians”. Another newcomer, Denys Whitley, told of schooldays in Ireland with Rabbit Killers, recounting the grisley details of skinning the rabbit then “march back in triumph past the younger kids, holding up the fur and tail”. In Heliport, he told of the solar wind and the edge of the solar system – a physics lecture beyond the capability of this reviewer!

In Rosary, Sue Spiers itemised the things to pack for a holiday in Spain, if that will be possible after Brexit, ending with “Hale holiday, full of gin!” Then, in November 1987 she looked back to the devastation caused by the “worst storm in my recollection” to oak trees and people’s lives. Richard Hawtree’s My Tongue was a version of an early Irish poem about Cormac the king of Tara, in which, all the experiences of childhood, “seduced my tongue to what I’ve left half said”. Colin Eveleigh A Brush With Life paid tribute to his father, “He was never still, mostly silent and ever resourceful, my Dad”, painting everything, even his bicycle, in battleship grey – “was there no end to this dubious stash?” A keen potter, Colin tells, in Pressing the Button Marked Fire “like diving into a volcano” of the excitement of giving birth to new objects that leave to go to new homes but “Those that didn’t make it, I love you even more”.

In Leah Cohen’s Winter ,“Please, bury my feelings. Freeze them till the Spring”. In Child’s Tale, “You love to edit the tale of my life and credit yourself as if you’d written the contents” while in My Selves , she read of meeting her selves in different places including a traffic jam on a busy day, ending with “maybe it’s time we met…”. Jilly Funnell, with guitar, did a duet with Phyllida Carr, on bongo drums – a lovely tribute to Jimmy Lee, WA’s October guest. Then Jilly sang her raunchy Principle Boy, about Cinderella’s disappointment when Prince Charming took ‘his’ tights off, the consolation being “her sisters might be ugly but at least they’re boys.” Richard Lanchester’s Age of Enlightenment was dedicated to poet Heathcote Williams, telling how everyone says, “We got to have more” but all his things are second-hand -”I’m not part of the rush to buy the newest, the latest.”

Andy, from Hoyk in the Scottish Borders menaced your reviewer with talk of imminent class war; then, in The Lonely Man Contemplates His Non-existence, he gave a truly lyrical description of a walk in the rain and mist with his girl, who asked, “have you ever run with your eyes closed without being in control of yourself?” Fearfully he did it and then, while she ran towards him, “I saw every blade of grass spring from her footsteps”. Another newcomer, Bethan Screen, in Sweetheart told how “being a young girl is to be visible and commodified”, and that the attentions of men are “a dripping tap that whisper, whistle and shout.” and after any incident, “you wish you could have reacted in a different, more intelligent and effective way.”

Isabelle Sene, operated on for breast cancer, told of her experience adding humour to lighten it such as when the nurse kissed her before the operation, her father said, ‘They never did that to me!’ She also told of how, when “the consultant marked the breast to be removed, he leaned on her right breast , to which she screamed, ‘NO, THE LEFT’ ‘sorry’ he said, ‘I’m having one of those days when everything goes wrong’!”

Jezz closed off a great evening, singing Cadillac Dream and High and Dry, both very emotionally and sensitively rendered.

There were several raffle prizes, the first a voucher for two meals at fine Italian restaurant, La Piazetta; the second, Attilla very kindly offered his book Undaunted, and third and fourth were vouchers Leah & your reviewer offered, for the Spice Lounge Indian restaurant.

It was a deeply charged, memorable evening with the outstanding and formidable Attila together with a wealth of talent from new and regular open mikers and an appreciative audience expressing their gratitude and still laughing, as they left the room.

Write Angle will be presenting the very confident and comic performance poet, Paul Lyalls, on December 19 for Write Angle’s Christmas special. There will be another open mic spot for anyone to read/perform a poem, song or piece of prose.

Jake Claret

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The Seeing Eye photography exhibition – Farnham Pottery

Farnham Pottery is not only a place to learn how to throw a pot, do some life drawing or write a masterpiece (to mention just a few of their programmes) it also makes an engaging exhibition space. At the latest exhibition – Seeing Eye – Responding to the environment – works by six photographers are given extra dimension by being displayed on walls and in corners that seem to hum with almost 150 years of creativity.

The six photographers are varied but fit together neatly. Headlining is Jacqui Hurst who delights in gardens and urban areas colonised by unexpected plants and will return to the same spot time and again to find the right light and the composition that works to create her beautiful  work. Angela Shaw also turns to nature for her inspiration and works as an “environmental artist”.

“I am not a photographer, I am an artist working with light,” she says. She has created intriguing installations, placing items in Alice Holt Forest and playing around with them then photographing them, and also uses pinhole cameras to take pictures over months, something that allows her to capture the changing seasons.

“It’s about slowing down to spend time in nature,” she says.

In contrast, Hugh Rawson literally “shoots from the hip”. A headteacher at a local school, Hugh turned to street photography in recent years as a creative outlet and is particularly drawn to urban environments where, camera on his hip, he takes thousands of pictures from which he chooses just a few. He chooses well. The results are cool, compelling glimpses of lives, mostly in black and white, which leave you wanting more.

Mike Green, on the other hand, also produces black and white film but works the old way – 36 prints per film, each shot lovingly often after a long wait. “I often find a spot which speaks to me as a place and then I wait for perhaps a couple of hours and I see how people interact with that space.” The results are little stories which draw the viewer in.

Luke Whatley-Bigg takes a different angle – usually from the sky. Just 13 years old, he specialises in drone photography and takes his drone out to local landmarks where somehow me manages to hold the drone steady and work out exactly the right angle for stunning photographs. He is certainly a name to watch.

Finally, Wrecclesam resident Miriam Windsor is exhibiting six intensely personal photographs of women who have suffered from post-natal depression, alongside letters written by the present-day women to their former selves. Among them is a picture of Miriam herself and it is photography which helped her to find a sense of herself when she was ill after the birth of her daughter 10 years ago. The portraits are regal, like ones you might find on the walls of a stately home, the letters are intensely moving and the combination is a reminder of both the dignity and the fragility of human life.

The exhibition continues until December 7. For details see www.thefarnhampottery.co.uk or call 07733 325138.

By Stella Wiseman