The Tattershall Castle, Review

Local writer Catherine Derrick launched her latest production The Tattershall Castle at Kardomah 94 this evening.

The story mainly revolves around two sweethearts Jean Brown and James Palmer who are torn apart by the outbreak of World War 2 which causes the young man to go off and fight in the RAF.

The young couple stay in touch by sending letters but then disaster strikes as Jean’s house is bombed in the blitz and flattened, rendering Jean and her mum homeless which ultimately leads to them moving to stay with Jean’s nan in Pickering away from the bombing.

At the other end is James, love lorn and pining for Jean, upon seeing what’s left of her house when he returns on leave from Biggin Hill and the desperate fight in the sky James believes Jean has been killed in the blitz.

In the middle is James’ father, an unscrupulous, hard, wealthy man who believes Jean is nowhere near good enough for his son and heir apparent, who lies to both Jean, telling her he will pass on her new address to James so he can write to her, and James by confirming his worst fears saying Jean was killed by a bomb on Hessle Road.

You are immediately drawn in at the start as singer Carolyne Storey sings a wartime medley to set the tone as we are swept back to wartime Hull.

The early scenes with Jean, played by the thoroughly compelling Sarah Hicks, and James, played by the engaging Jack Holt, are well choreographed and get you hoping and wishing for the young couple.

Mrs Brown, played by Jackie Rogers, is another very likable character and the scene of the bombing when their house is hit is very well acted by both Hicks and Rogers as the desperation and panic of the blitz is brought to life with their actions, facial expressions and speech.

James’ father Mr Palmer, played by Anthony Musgrave, is a very well acted lowlife who clearly only cares about his bank balance and isn’t bothered whoever he upsets, including his own flesh and blood. He is so horrible that he draws boos from the audience when they see him on stage.

Jean’s brother Tommy, who is portrayed by David Dale, is another very believable character who clearly cares very deeply for his sister, his part is very well pitched so when he almost comes to blows with James later, believing James had dumped Jean for another woman, there is no question that his character would react like he does.

The barmaid from The Minerva, James’ favourite watering hole, is the character played by Lynda Harrison who gives the whole production a genuine element of fun as it moves into the 1960s.

The cast is completed by Chrissy, played by Catherine Rose Senior, she is Jean’s daughter and, in a beautifully subtle sideline, is the one who ultimately brings Jean and James back together after James’ father and Jean’s husband have died.

There is of course a twist at the end that you absolutely don’t see coming in a masterful piece of writing by the writer/director.

It is a very good production, well written, well acted and well directed.

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Interview with Number One Classical Album Singer Rebecca Newman

Rebecca Newman is a very busy lady, in fact she has been for about the last decade, but in recent times her incredible workload has been on a rapid increase.

In 2005 she started busking where she could revealing her enchanting voice to those who could stop and listen, then she started self financing CD’s to engage with a wider audience.

She then started touring to help raise funds for charities such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

Finally, with the help of her fans, known as the Newmaneers, she made the break into mainstream classical/crossover album production with a major philharmonic orchestra behind her as she went to Prague to record her number one selling album called Dare to Dream.

Sitting in the entrance to Hull New Theatre on the teatime a few hours before her appearance there on 17th June the People’s Soprano snatches a bit of time to speak about Dare to Dream, charity work and touring with international superstar Russell Watson, which is what has brought her to the 2017 City of Culture.

Asked about her success as the first ever self-released soprano to go to number one in the classical album chart she tells me how she felt confident when she first set out to do it, but then how that gave way to surprise at actually managing it at the time.

“I felt yes, we can do this when we started about 18 months to two years earlier, but then it was really hard work getting the infrastructure and we didn’t have as much of a pre-order period as I would have liked and pretty much no time on iTunes and Amazon so we kind of relied an awful lot on people buying it in the first week.

“Once it came to it I thought, oh I don’t think we’re going to do it, but then when we started getting the sales figures I was comparing my ranking in the overall top 200 to any other artist who would qualify for the classical album chart, I couldn’t think of anybody else that was actually higher in the chart who would be classical chart eligible.”

We then started discussing the tour which has brought her to Hull this time, I asked her what is it like touring with such a huge star as Russell Watson and, as I would expect from her generally very relaxed demeanor, she seems to be taking it all in her stride saying it’s the same as touring with anybody else, although you can see a definite excitement in her eyes.

“We’re both very professional in what we do, he turns up and rehearses with the choir, we’re almost like ships that pass in the night because we’re almost on different schedules, I’m at the front meeting people before the show while he’s rehearsing, then during the first act he’s on the stage whilst I’m getting ready so we do miss each other quite a bit.

Charity work is the next subject and she tells me about the homeless charity that she’s just become a patron of called Socks and Choc’s which was recently started in Birmingham and she is going to help expand across the country.

“It was set up by a man in the police force who was quite touched by a man dying in a fountain in Birmingham, it was a guy who had been a problem with other officers but he always used to get on with Ian, they used to have a bit of banter.

“He set the charity up as a way to break down barriers and encourage people to do collections and at the last count they had collected 8,500 pairs of socks and they had been distributed and it’s making a very big difference to people, small comforts like that.

“Now it’s expanded to include hats and scarves and sleeping bags and things like that, there’s lot’s of different things they’re doing with the charity but it’s focusing on socks and chocolates, a nice simple message.

“His motto is lot’s of people doing a little bit is better than a few people doing a lot.”

She then says why homelessness is a cause quite close to her heart, “For years I was out street performing and so I would regularly talk to Big Issue sellers and finding out how they’d become homeless like when they’d gone into care and then been in and out of Foster homes and they maybe had problems keeping themselves settled and secure.”

We then continue to the subject of City of Culture and a glint appears in the eye of the York based singer who confirms she would love to be involved in 2017 and then recounts about previous times she’s been working in Hull at things such as the Queen’s jubilee and the Christmas Lights switch on which clearly hold fond memories for her.

“I’m sure there will be lot’s of great events and I’ve been here a few times before so yes it would be great to do something here then.”

Singing with classical group Blake is another recent highlight for the new girl on the classical scene so i asked her if there is much of a difference between singing with them compared to singing with solo stars like Russell Watson or Aled Jones to which she replies that there is.

“When you’re singing with an individual you can be a bit more individual with what you sing, you still have to be sympathetic to the other person and not try to upstage them, you need to be sympathetic to how they sing.

“When you’re in a group you have to appreciate, it has to be a bit more structured, so it’s a little bit less free. But also what you’re getting in a group is bit more layer of a harmony and a different kind of sound and a different kind of sound around you as opposed to when you’re singing with just one other person, so they both have their own benefits.”

Finally chatting about Opera on the Marina, which will bring this wonderful singer back to Hull on 7th July as the headline act, there is again a brightening of the eyes which belies the tiredness that her energy sapping schedule must cause.

“That’s going to be a really great night, there’s some fantastic acts billed for that finishing with me in the evening, good food, good company and it should hopefully be a great night.

Opera on the Marina is taking place outside The Minerva pub with tickets available from HullBoxOffice.com starting at a price of £12.50 and includes Leroy Vickers, Farino and Tre Amici in its line-up.

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