Marc Graham Interview About Middle Child Theatre Panto

Actor Marc Graham has spoken about the Middle Child Theatre Company panto which is a Dave Windass written adaptation of Aladdin and has a special guest appearance by Hull rapper Nineties Boy.

The production, which runs from 21st to 29th December at Fruit, is the fourth time the Hull-based company have teamed up with the prolific writer for their take on the mad-cap world of pantomime and has, once again, seen Middle Child parody a popular Christmas advert, with their version of a girl making friends with Nineties Boy on the moon after seeing him through her telescope. Trailer

Looking relaxed back with the company Marc is best known for working with, after his sojourn to Hull Truck Theatre to appear in the sensational Dancing Through the Shadows, you get a definite sense of contentment as he says: “Middle Child feels like home, it’s what I’m used to, where it started for me and where I get the most enjoyment.”

Laid back on two chairs oozing the professionalism the company is known for and showing the attitude of a major star he then speaks about how the Nineties Boy connection came about: “We do a quiz at Fruit every month and Nineties Boy was on the sort of panel we have for it once so we just asked him to be in it.

He carried on in his relaxed mood: “He’s playing Wishy Washy but it’s an alternative production so it’s a very Nineties Boy Wishy Washy.”

Then we got onto the subject of working with Dave Windass for a fourth year in a row so Ensemble 52 got mentioned as I asked if he could see the two companies working together in future to which the reply had a hint of the unknown: “I don’t know, maybe but I’m not sure what we’d have to offer each other, which is a shame.”

Then he told me about the challenge of doing three different types of shows every day: “It’s really hard work doing three different performances in a day.

He continued: “Christmas is secondary because you have to be really focused on what you’re doing. Panto is really fun, you might spend the rest of the year doing really deep stuff like Mercury Fur, then panto comes along and it’s really good fun but you have to work really hard to get to that, you have to know it better than every other show you do that year.

“We try and make it completely up to date so it’ll be different every time.”

The performances will also include a band on stage which will have a different name every time and Northern Lights Drama Children’s Choir will be involved as well.

Tickets are priced at £8 Adults £6 Concessions/ £10 Adult Shows Tickets and £24 Family Tickets which is for 2 Adults and 2 Children and can be purchased on the Middle Child Website or Hull Box Office Tickets

 

Wife After Death- Review

Hull’s Chameleon Players are back at the Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) with another treat for theatre-goers with their take on the classic Wife After Death by Eric Chappell.

The production deals with the funeral of Dave Thursby, a lovable rogue actor who has a few skeletons in his cupboard which he managed to keep very well hidden until his untimely death.

Most of the action revolves around Dave’s two best friends Harvey (played with great distinction by Allister McNulty) and his wife Vi (played with great poise by Paula Branton) and the dialogue between these two is very dynamic and builds up the first impression of the recently deceased man with great composure.

Laura (played with great attitude by Kathy Smith) is the widow and she fits beautifully into the dialogue with her entrance which is a credit to her timing and the way her entrance is set up by Branton and McNulty. The ensuing conversation with her talking about her dead husband which causes a few heart flutters on stage.

The strong acting by Branton and McNulty expertly develops the other characters even before we see them and when we do they are exactly as you expect them to be.

Kevin (played with great elegance by Steve Willis) is the dead man’s long suffering agent and when he enters you know what to expect and the building-up to the point of him looking in the open coffin is superbly skilfully handled by Willis and McNulty.

Harvey is the writer who has written a lot of work for the dead man and the life and character of a writer are expertly delivered by McNulty in an outstanding performance with fantastic wit to go with it.

The character of Jane (played with wonderful presence by Joanne Gallagher) is very strong at first but is unraveled expertly on stage as the revelations which are a big part of the production keep coming.

The entrance of Kay (played with excellent conviction by Sharon Burton) changes the whole dynamic on stage with a fantastic development of Dave’s dim and distant past which nobody will see coming.

Despite all the tragedy about the death of the popular entertainer and the shocks in stall there is a wonderful sense of comedy timing about the whole thing.

Everything is beautifully ramped up just before and after the interval and you honestly wonder which way everything is going to go.

The background is changed in the 2nd half after Harvey has an idea of what he’s going to do in the near future but then comes the biggest shock of all which is a very hot brick which is superbly handled by the whole cast.

The final piece in the jigsaw also fits in extremely well with everything else that has happened and brings the whole production to a predictably unpredictable ending.

Wife After Death is on stage at NAPA on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 November as well with tickets available on the door, you would be very well advised to go and enjoy this treat of a production.

Fracked Off- Review

New Hull- based theatre company Radio Faces treated Kardomah 94 to the first showing of their new confrontational comedy Fracked Off on Saturday night.

The production, which is explained with the title, is a genuinely funny romp in the countryside showing off truly quality writing with bags of character and hysterical laughter along the way.

With great dialogue from writers Mark Bones and Mike Foston the story moves at a very good pace and the relationships between the four main characters Tonto (Jack Holt) Panda (Luke Gillingham) Annabelle (Sarah Hicks) and Janice (Tiolina Puteh) are clearly defined and draw the audience into the world of the anti-fracking urban warriors and the ladies who have a clear interest in the field where the protest is happening.

Throw in a slimy newspaper reporter called Flip Greasley and an angry farmer who is the father of Janice and you have the perfect concoction for a delectably riotous comedy which will capture the heart of all who see it.

The playing out of the would-be relationship of Tonto and Janice is quite heartwarming and the efforts of Panda to try and get fresh with fire-brand Annabelle provide a beautiful balance to the story and definitely keep you guessing about what’s going to happen next right the way through.

The scenes which show when trouble could erupt with police and TV cameras supposedly in the area are handled quite expertly by the actors, and the Jack-the-lad approach of Panda and the great attitude of Annabelle make great comedy look like almost effortless normality.

The show will now move on to the studio theatre at Hull Truck on 6th and 7th April 2016 for its next outing and there is talk of a possible tour of the East Riding to take this production to some of the places where fracking is still an issue, it’s a chance that anybody would be well-advised to take to see it.

 

Six Characters In Search Of A Handout- Review

Theatre On The Edge have launched their latest production called Six Characters In Search Of A Handout at Kardomah 94.

This new black comedy is an outstanding piece of theatre with laughs, confrontation, guts and an unflinching genuine quality at its heart.

Dealing with a very hot subject that is very capable of blowing up if done wrongly, this production with a quality cast presents extremely well with six ‘Characters’ (real life people) asking six ‘actors’ (played by actors) to tell their real life stories of meeting at a food bank and how they ended up there.

The reality of the stories and the acting of them is hard to tell apart in a blissfully excellent way which moves the story along at a fantastic pace and also seems to explain some of the myths about the reputation of modern theatre in this day and age after careful cultivation over many centuries.

With a cast of 12 handling a really hot brick it would have been very easy for writer/director Barrie Wheatley to go down the political route and bash the Conservative government from pillar to the post due to the explosion of uses of food banks but it doesn’t.

It is also pleasantly noted that no one character dominates and the dynamic changes around as each character is explored in depth but for exactly the right amount of time to explain their personal story.

The cast of Molly Robinson, Maxwell Smales, Sara Featherstone, Dave Bush, Clare Crowther, Jamie Wilks, Kirsty Old, Ella Straub, Stan Haywood, Chris Gruca, Jackie Rogers and Katy Burgess are expertly pitched and perfectly suited to their parts.

The main strength comes from Arnold (Haywood) and Katie (Burgess) as the latter arrives last on the stage and gives a whole different dynamic with her ruthless treatment of the ‘Characters’ and is eventually taught a harsh lesson by the messed up but meaningful and charming older man.

With a political undercurrent which is perfectly handled by the wonderful cast who never allow it to takeover the proceedings this is very powerful storytelling at its finest with breathtaking control of a very difficult subject without creating a pervading scandal.

There is also an appeal to give to a collection for organisations that help to fight against food poverty with donations of Tinned food, Packets of food or money.

The production is on at Kardomah 94 on 5th and 6th November, Holy Trinity Church on 10th November and Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) on Anlaby Road on 13th November tickets are £7 each at Kardomah 94, £5 each at Holy Trinity Church and £7/£5 at NAPA on the door at either venue.

Six Characters

Poles Apart review

John Godber has landed at Hull Truck Theatre with his latest offering called Poles Apart which is an attempt at asking the questions that exist between theatre and your average Joe Bloggs.

The set up, ordinary working men (scaffolders in this case) working in the slightly run-down ageing theatre with a proud history which has apparently seen its stage graced by Ken Dodd, Jasper Carrott and John Bishop, while the executive director Grahame (played by the reliable Rob Hudson) and star attraction Abi (played with great poise and presence by Ruby Thompson) fret about the opening night of the show which is meant to save the theatre financially.

Added to their problems is that workmen Phil (played with just the right chauvinistic attitude by Keith Hukin) Jan (played by the compelling Frazer Hammill) and Pete (played by the wonderfully timed Adrian Hood) seem more interested in drinking tea, eating and talking about their problems/connections with the ladies.

The first half ambles along with the occasional decent laugh to be had but seems slightly off key for a comedy although there are some definite highlights in what is a well acted piece with a strong script and the early establishment of the relationship between Grahame and the workmen is well done and draws on established theatre language that everyone will recognise instantly.

The set up before Jan’s one man show is built up quite well and his little show maybe deserved a small round of applause but didn’t get one.

There is a bit of a cliffhanger thrown in just before the interval when Phil overhears a conversation between Abi and Grahame which leaves him feeling rather annoyed.

In the second half the production clearly improves with more laughs and moving at a faster pace, however the whole piece suffers from the direction. John Godber is a wonderful writer, of that there can be absolutely no doubt, but what this piece needs is an independent director who would undoubtedly get more out of the script.

While it asks plenty of interesting questions about modern theatre and the audience it draws, and why certain people maybe don’t go, there is a spark there which needs more punch from the direction which could be un-achievable when it’s being directed by the person who wrote it.

One other area where this production also fails a bit for me is that the character of Abi is not on stage enough, when she’s there her effervescence is plain for all to see as she provides that touch of star quality that her feisty character is all about, when she isn’t there it notices although the other actors do make-up for it with some tangibly strong acting.

All-in-All the production is crying out for some stronger direction but it is also well worth watching with some good laughs guaranteed.

The production is on at Hull Truck until Saturday 14 November with tickets available at the Box Office at the theatre, on the phone on 01482 323638 or online Tickets

Poles Apart