Our Jack Part 1

I wrote the script to the short play Our Jack a few months ago, I decided to do what I do best, to help me promote my Jack Harrison statue campaign.

With the date of Sunday 30th April now set for our performance(s), at Kardomah 94, I’ve decided to now start writing updates in my blog.

First let me introduce you to everybody involved in the production at this stage, we also have set dates later in the year for a feature length immersive production, so I will introduce you to more people as we move closer to that further down the line.

Our director is Theatre Goddess, and original Trucker, Cassie Patton. Working with Cassie is an absolute dream, she knows everything about working on a production, and she is a huge fan of the man whose story we are telling.

Cassie is working so hard behind the scenes, she has had us rehearsing in her own home, including one-to-one sessions with some of the cast when it has been needed. She has also helped with the cost and procurement of costumes.

Katie Stones is playing Lillian, Jack’s wife, this thoroughly compelling young lady is an absolute treat to work with, she’s massively enthusiastic, and seriously talented with it, I honestly think she will do us all proud, both in the short play and the feature length show.

I only found her by chance, and I’m so happy that I did because she is just going to be outstanding I have no doubt.

Clare Crowther will be playing Jack’s mum Charlotte, and I have to say that I’m thrilled to be working with her. Clare is a superb professional, and learned her lines and got off script in double quick time.

We keep throwing new lines at her for her to learn, today in particular, and it’s all just done almost instantly, it’s a joy to behold.

Kenny Richards-Preston is playing Jack’s father John Harrison. Having worked with Kenny a few times I know exactly what to expect from him, absolute professionalism in bucket loads, and that’s exactly what we’re getting from him.

Kenny is so talented, and I am really pleased he said yes when I asked him to play this part, he is the ultimate professional, everybody who sees this will love him to bits.

The high pressure part of Our Jack is taken on with relish by the brilliant Jordan Matfin. Cassie was the one who spotted him on stage in another show and, despite his considerable work commitments, he is really growing into the role.

Jordan is wonderfully talented, and a really nice lad with it, he’s really engaged with the whole process, and I couldn’t be happier to have him playing the part of Jack in the short play.

The reason I’ve started these blog updates today is because we started rehearsing on the stage at Kardomah 94, and I want to step up the updates other than the ones I’m already putting on social media.

I can confidently tell you that this is a very happy band of people that I’m working with on this production, and that is thanks in no small part to Cassie. As the director Cassie is making every rehearsal a very happy place to be, while also getting the best out of everyone, yours truly included.

Kenny was otherwise engaged today so I had to read in for him, playing the part of Jack’s Hull KR supporting father, most people will know that would be very awkward for me, being that I am a massive Hull FC supporter.

The only reason I can do that when needed, is the fact that I’m doing it for Jack, I like to think he’s smiling down on us.

When we had a meeting with Malcolm Scott about the feature length production, and he expressed his understandable doubts about showing a production about a historic Hull icon, it dawned on me just what we are taking on here.

When we started rehearsals for this short play it suddenly started to feel very real, and as we have been going through them, it’s certainly cranking up the pressure on all of us, hence why the feeling of fun is so important.

Katie and Jordan are having to get very used to each other to make their stage relationship look the way it should, as childhood sweethearts who had known each other all their lives, and then went on to become husband and wife and parents to their only son, as you can imagine, that bit isn’t at all easy.

Our next rehearsal is going to be a week on Wednesday so I want everyone looking out for more rehearsal photos on Facebook and Twitter.

At the time of writing this first entry, I have confirmation that Johnny Whiteley MBE will be at Kardomah 94 for the performance, which will include a Q and A with the cast, Cassie and myself on stage.

While I’ve been writing I have also just received a message from Sammy Lloyd that he will also be there on Sunday 30th April to perform some music for us, along with poetry from the brilliant Artful Codgers.

The Artful Codgers are a group of very good friends of mine Sue and Terry Ireland, Richard Harries and David Osgerby, and I believe there could be new work afoot from them, as well as their already established work, particularly including poems about Jack, Hull FC and World War One.

If you wish to donate to the statue fund here is a link to the JustGiving page.

The Facebook page is here and this is the Twitter account. Please also look out on social media for #Statue52

T2 Trainspotting- Review

When this sequel to the 90’s cult classic was announced, I thought to myself Oh please god NOOOOOO!! That’s just messing with near perfection.

I am happy to report that I was wrong with that thought, this sequel is brilliant, indeed some people may say that it is better than the original, depending on their viewpoint.

While I wouldn’t personally say this is better than the original, it certainly gives it a very good run for its money. The easy thing for ace director Danny Boyle to have done with this production would be to rely on quoting the original, dredging up the same stuff.

Instead what they have produced is a story that has moved on, taking into account the intervening 20 (or should that be 21) years, and while nodding to some of the best bits of the original, the movie also takes into account developments in the world, and the characters lives with expert precision.

The way that the four main characters have developed, and what they’re up to now, is beautifully presented and the story-line is quickly established, but you’re also kept guessing with some wonderful little sub-plots, adding to the nature of the characters that we know so well.

Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle are in particularly excellent form, whilst Ewen Bremner and Ewan McGregor also keep the story moving at expert pace.

Carlyle is fantastically menacing as the still psychotic Begbie, but he doesn’t over play it, as he also makes him quite comedic, particularly with one problem he has, and his over the top solution to it, he also makes him quite likable, even human, at times.

Miller reprises his role as Sick Boy from the original, adding to the original character expertly, and surprising us by going by his actual proper name, seemingly a shift forward from being the original Sick Boy!

There is more meat put on the bones of the characters Spud and Renton, and the friendships of the awesome foursome are even more developed right in front of your eyes, by going further back in their history.

The thrilling, but also beautifully shockingly funny, ending is superbly built-up and is executed with really genuine quality, rather than going for the all out bludgeoning ending, you are left with an ending that truly befits this marvelously entertaining movie.

The fact that the whole thing is fabulously believable also adds to the magic of this inspired piece of film-making, please enjoy!

La La Land Review

Having heard all the positive thoughts of people about this movie, and with a clutch of Academy Award (Oscars) nominations to back them all up, I decided to take the future Mrs Judson to see this apparently musical treat.

How wrong can the reviewers and movie-goers of this world be? The answer to that is, ABSOLUTELY wrong. If this is what Oscars domination looks like, then please god help the academy because it is clearly in dire trouble.

The music is distinctly poor, and a plot line seems very difficult to develop as the script wanders aimlessly from one point to another, with no explanation as to why, or how?

The image that this film is sold on is one of the characters Mia and Seb dancing as the character, played by the entirely wooden Ryan Gosling, walks his love interest to her car after a party.

Coming to the scene in question you expect this to be the most endearing scene of the whole film, instead what you are presented with is two ambling characters shuffling along, trying to convince the audience that they are madly in love, but the dancing is frankly badly choreographed, and terribly executed, Craig Revel-Horwood would have an absolute field day.

There is no spark, or real magnetism between Seb and Mia, played by the thoroughly unconvincing Emma Stone, and you certainly don’t care about any of the characters, this movie has been said to be appreciated by certain movie traditionalists, I honestly can’t imagine how?

Frankly the script is absolute tripe, the plot, if you can find one, is an absolute nonsense, the dancing is not up to scratch, and the whole thing relies on the sort of music that isn’t for this sort of film, at one point there is a party by the poolside of a nice big house, with a band, including Gosling’s character, that are trying to sing an 80’s classic, all they succeed in doing is murdering it.

The plus side, there is one scene when you see Gosling in another band, who have sold out a gig, and they do one decent tune, and there is a bit of Hollywood magic in a scene when Seb and Mia go flying around a room, with a backdrop of a night sky with a million stars, but that’s it.

The ending is very flat, as it transports you forward five years, and leaves you wondering what has actually happened, I think you’re asked to believe that, after a totally unconvincing audition five years before, Stone’s character has now become some sort of Hollywood A-Lister, just because she is offered free coffee’s where she used to work, then goes home to her husband (not Gosling’s character) and daughter.

What does appear more sure is that Gosling’s character has at last achieved his dream of mediocrity, owning a jazz club, since they went their separate ways, although this too, and exactly what happened to loves young dream, is very open for debate.

This movie does have its place, unfortunately it won’t be in my Blu-Ray collection, and if, as is expected, it cleans up at the Oscars, then that just goes to show what films like Titanic showed before it, that Hollywood’s back-slapping night isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and definitely isn’t all about talent.

This movie is, in my humble opinion, a complete waste of time and money to go and see.

A Christmas Carol at Park Street Performing Arts Centre

The delightful adaptation of arguably the best Christmas story has landed at Park Street Arts Centre.

This magical musical adaptation has all the Christmas heartwarming you could ever wish for, while staying loyal in parts to the classic Charles Dickens story, but gives a real treatment, with a different type of fun.

The constraints of quite a small stage are cast aside in thrilling style as the skillfully constructed set is used to its full advantage.

The masterful Richard Green plays the part of the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge with genuine aplomb, and his direction of the whole piece is a joy to behold.

Callum Mathers is also in top form as the downtrodden Bob Cratchit, and the whole cast communicate a real sense of togetherness throughout the very character driven show.

Gina Garton is very strong at setting certain scenes for the audience, and the scenes between her and character and Scrooge are genuine dynamite.

It’s a well known saying in theatre that you should ‘Never work with children’ but the supremely talented bunch in this gutsy production discard that saying with a real swagger and ability that looks boundless.

The musical numbers are scattered through the feast before your eyes, all perfectly timed and moving the story along beautifully, with a great dollop of realism.

With several actors and actresses playing more than one part, it would be easy for them to get a bit lost, but that doesn’t happen here, it all moves along almost serenely.

Keiran Danby is very genuinely scary as Jacob Marley, and the use of atmospheric smoke and the right choice of background sound, provides a tremendously eerie experience when it’s required.

The alternate scenes that have been inserted into the script are also masterfully handled.

Speaking to Richard Green afterwards, he said: “I think A Christmas Carol is one of those plays, that really sum up Christmas, it’s got such a good moral behind it.”

Speaking about playing the lead, and directing it as well: “It is a challenge definitely, especially when I’m standing on the stage, seeing what’s going on.

“Obviously I’m not supposed to be seen by them, so I can’t intervene, I just have to stand and watch.

“Apart from directing it, I’m also playing the lead, and it’s a very big part so it’s a lot to learn, sustaining the character, that’s quite a hard job.”

Callum Mathers also spoke to me about playing Bob Cratchit: “It’s a bit of a character role, he’s a family man, which is something new for me. Also a bit of a cockney accent is a challenge but it’s nice to try that.”

Being on stage with the director quite a lot actually brings some comfort: “It’s pretty comfortable actually sometimes.

“He’s been acting for many years, and directing shows, that gives you confidence in him, that if something does go wrong, you can work together with him and bring it through.”

Being on stage with several children: “It’s stressful at times, but it’s great fun because they’re so full of energy… You’re sort of mentoring them, helping them through it.”

Turning A Christmas Carol into something of a musical has its advantages: “It’s maybe a bit of a gamble, I think it brings a bit more enjoyment as well.

“I haven’t really done a lot of play work, musicals are mainly my thing, so I feel a bit more at home doing musicals, but I think it is a bit of a gamble.

“But I think the audience get a bit more enjoyment out of it, with a few songs in there, you maybe get them to join in a little bit.”

Tickets are still available for the performances which run all week, up to and including Christmas Eve afternoon, although there are only EIGHT tickets left available for the Christmas Eve showing.

Tickets can be booked over the phone on 01482 222452, priced at £6-£8.

Go and see it, you’ll love it to bits.