Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Artwork for 'Little Shop of Horrors' at Lakeside, Nottingham

Here's my artwork for 'Little Shop of Horrors' (A5 flyer) at Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham in July 2012

Following the sell out success of Into The Woods in 2011, New Street Theatre and Lakeside present

Little Shop of Horrors

Directed by Martin Berry

A man eating plant. A hapless hero.
A beautiful maiden. A sadistic dentist.
What could possibly go wrong?

When Skid Row florist Seymour buys a strange and interesting plant, little does he know that it can talk and that it feeds on blood.  Seymour names the plant Audrey Two to impress his beautiful co-worker Audrey, but she is busy fending off the attentions of her sadistic dentist boyfriend.  Meanwhile Audrey Two has plans far greater and more terrifying than Seymour can possibly imagine.

Written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, this enormously popular musical is a hilarious pastiche of musical theatre and 1960’s style which has been seen by millions of people around the world.

Brought to you by the team behind the 2011 sell-out production of Into The Woods (described by reviewers as ‘wonderful’, ‘amazing’, ‘outstanding’ and ‘brilliant’), this is a rare chance to catch this timeless show and see what all the fuss is about.

Strictly limited run.

Contains mild peril!

Tuesday 10 July - Saturday 14 July 2012 at 19:30
Tuesday 17 July - Saturday 21 July 2012 at 19:30
Matinee on Saturday 21 July 2012 at 14:30

£12, £7 Concessions, £5 Restricted
Group discount: 1 ticket free in every 10

For tickets telephone the box office on 0115 846 7777 or buy tickets online at

This is a family musical, but some scenes may be unsuitable for very young children.

Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken
Based on the film by Roger Corman, screenplay by Charles Griffith
Originally produced at the WPA Theatre (Kyle Renick, Producing Director)
Originally produced at the Orpheum Theatre, New York City, by the WPA Theatre, David Geffen, Cameron Mackintosh and the Shubert Organisation.

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd,
on behalf of Music Theatre International of New York.

Additional artwork

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Review of 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' by Carole Philip

'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' at the Lace Market Theatre, 3-8 October 2011

Although I have seen many excellent performances at the Lace Market Theatre, none have impressed me enough to put pen to paper for The Boards.

Last week, however, I saw Chris Ireson give an outstanding performance as the Maniac in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and I felt it could not go without due praise.

Even in a well-directed production, which this was, it would have been so easy to overplay or ham up this role. Chris gave us a measured, meaningful and totally believable performance, changing character, mood and of course, accent, often in mid sentence.

The energy he gave every line and movement filled the stage throughout the whole performance. No mean feat at the best of times, but he was also ill and still managed to give a performance many of our members could only dream of.

The false hand and wooden leg scene could have desended into unfunny slapstick and chaos, but it worked because of the controlled delivery, pace and timing by Chris. Chris, your performance was a tour de force and you should be deservedly proud.

Carole Philip

Review of 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' by Janice White

'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' at the Lace Market Theatre, 3-8 October 2011

Leaving the theatre after Accidental Death of an Anarchist I walked down Halifax Place with an elderly couple. I asked if they had enjoyed the show. The old gentleman replied quickly 'Oh it was very well done. Excellent acting,' thus my own opinion ... 'BUT(Why is there so often a 'but'?), that sort of pure Marxism is very dangerous - especially at this time.' I reassured him that there were not enough people in the audience to start a riot. Until we parted he reiterated his concerns in deadly serious fashion to the consternation of his wife. What an endorsement!

Sooo ... the show was a spectacular success then, Andy! Except it didn't play to full houses. Shame on those who opted out of the latest Lace Market triumph. You missed one of the funniest, nay hysterical, farces we have ever staged. Chris Ireson, as Maniac, gave a master class in the full range of comedic technique with vocal and body language encompassing every nuance possible. As they plotted cover-up after cover-up of the anarchist's final hours, a fully supportive cast contributed lively caricatures of clownish buffoonery in keeping with the traditions of commedia dell'arte.

Mark James' set was a properly utilitarian 1960s Police HQ in Milan, the sombre grey office harshly lit with very white light, unnatural and hard edged, creating an exaggerated sense of reality which evoked a soulless institution. Researching the real crime which inspired Dario Fo's play, Mark pointed the crime scene as a high white framed window among four rows of red, set sufficiently downstage to allow 'the chase', lit from above, to be pantomimed behind. Rose Dudley (lighting) and Gareth Morris (sound - or sometimes lack of it), combined to create a feeling of discomfort in an audience complicit in the crime. Typical was the opening when the initial blackout was cut by a brilliant shaft of white light as the office door opened and Bertozzo entered to self-consciously preen himself in complete silence.

Congratulations to Andy Taylor for crafting a gem of a performance in which the audience was drawn mercilessly into the action. Its message is as relevant now as it was in 1970s Italy: power, politics and corruption are natural bedfellows unless we are eternally vigilant.

Janice White

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Adrian Bhagat went to see Accidental Death of an Anarchist at the Lace Market Theatre

In 1969 Giuseppe Pinelli, a railway worker and anarchist activist, was arrested on suspicion of planting a bomb in a bank in Italy. In fact, the bombing was probably committed by Fascist terrorists, wanting to destabilise politics and to give the police an opportunity to crack down on left-wing groups. Pinelli was interrogated on the fourth floor of the grim Milan police station until around midnight when he fell, jumped or was thrown from the window. The investigation ruled that his death was accidental but the circumstances were so suspicious they inspired Dario Fo to write this play.

So, prepare yourself for an evening of depressing, worthy theatre. Or, rather, don’t, because this play is an hilarious farce, hurtling through a series of ever more wacky and surreal scenes and subverting authority through ridicule. Set in the police station a couple of weeks after the death, the action is led by the Maniac who dances, sings, gurns, prances and laughs throughout. Disguising himself as an investigating magistrate, he persuades the police to invent ever more outlandish stories to explain away the death of the anarchist.

On a bleak set in tones of black, white and grey, with a backdrop of suspended frames which cleverly suggest the windows of the police station, the final hours of the dead anarchist are recounted. Every possible version of events that could clear the police of blame is tried for size. Did the man commit suicide because a telephone call from Rome had disproved his alibi? Or were the screams merely shrieks of laughter as he joked with the police? Was he wearing two pairs of shoes?

Chris Ireson plays the Maniac superbly, wandering through numerous accents (even doing a Sean Connery at one point), changing the mood and tempo at will and providing the laughs despite the serious subject matter. It’s a demanding role but he really cut the mustard. Tom Spencer was also very entertaining as the dim, ape-like bully-boy, Inspector Pissani, mentally three steps behind everyone else but always ready for a fight.

Dario Fo encouraged actors to ad-lib and wanted directors and translators to adapt the play freely for different cultures and situations. In this adaptation by Gavin Richards (who, incidentally, played the lascivious Italian captain in 'Allo 'Allo) there are references to Guantanamo Bay and Vietnam, prompting a complaint from one character that such references are anachronistic. This is followed by a discussion amongst the cast about the merits of Fo as a playwright and a moan about the standards of amateur dramatics. These breaches of the suspension of disbelief are carried on throughout the play. This device is perhaps used too much but at times it can be hilarious. At the very beginning an inspector warns that the playwright has the 'irrational hatred of the police typical of the left' and that he will no doubt use the play to make them look foolish, as indeed he does, repeatedly. This is a very accomplished production from the Lace Market with well-timed laughs and superb performances.

The Cold War period in Italy is known as the Years of Lead, characterised by political turmoil and extremist terrorism, much of it probably state sponsored. Dario Fo was himself affected by this when, as retribution for mocking the police, they commissioned a group of Fascists to kidnap, torture and rape his wife. The genius of this play is that it reveals the tragedy of state violence without ever letting up on the humour.

Accidental Death of an Anarchist runs at the Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 8 October 2011


Review: 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' at the Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham

"Certainly it was one of the best [performances] in Nottingham this year"

This evening at the Lace Market was remarkable on at least two counts.

The first was that here was a play, heavily and unashamedly political and didactic, that from start to finish managed to be a joy. It hit you over the head with its message but you loved every minute.

The second was Chris Ireson's performance as central character, Maniac. Certainly it was one of the best in Nottingham this year; it might be one of the best of Ireson's acting life.

Based on a real-life incident in 1969 where an anarchist was helped out of the fourth floor window of a Milan police station, Dario Fo's play combines agitprop with comedy. Maniac, a serial impersonator, obviously certifiable, turns up at the station in question to investigate the incident.

This is at times almost theatre of the absurd. And it's wildly meta-theatrical: the play talks about itself and its creator; and even the audience and the perils of am-dram. There are also some topical and local insertions, but even if there weren't contemporary parallels are obvious.

All performances are good. The smallest, from Chris Nixon as a compliant Constable who looks like a sheepdog, is a small gem.

But honours have to go Ireson's way. He looks sinister and menacing but child-like as well. And he pulls off a couple of long, animated speeches that ought to have drawn applause. He uses facial expression, voice, hands, entire body to dominate the stage.

More fine work from director Andy Taylor.

Alan Geary


Friday, 15 July 2011

Daniel Bryant reviews 'Dinner' by Moira Buffini at the Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham from 9-14 May 2011

As I sat viewing the stage and waiting for the house lights to dim, there was a certain sense of deja vu... a substantial dining table the principal element of a shadowy minimalist set ... was this a revival of Festen? These superficial similarities dissolved as the play got under way and Paige (Kareena Sims) used and abused her web-sourced Mephistophelean waiter (Marcus Wakely), the striking scarlet of  her frankly breath-taking costume creating other demonic undertones. High production values were evident from the start, with Mark James' set design enhanced by Rose Dudley's lighting plot; the combined effect prophetically suggestive of a Last Supper, perhaps as depicted by Francis Bacon. The diners were clearly in for an uncomfortable evening, with Lars (Chris Sainty) firmly in Paige's sights and the hapless Wynne (Ali Patrick) never likely to see eye-to-eye with her hostess. It was also apparent that director Graeme Jennings had chosen a cast that could do justice to the playwright's satirical intentions; by the time Sian (Nicky Ubhi) and Hal (Adam Roberts) appeared from the symbolic off-stage fog, the audience was showing an appreciation of the comedy and keen to discover what culinary delights Paige had in store for her guests. An uninvited (and possibly nefarious) caller, Mike (Chris Reed), filled the remaining empty chair and provided something of an Everyman commentary on the other diners' shenanigans.

The part of Paige dominates the play and Kareena Sims had both the stage presence and command needed to sustain the role as she mocked self-regarding Lars and their guests. As the main recipient of her venom, Chris Sainty's depiction of a less than original thinker, regurgitating atavistic mantras, hit the mark while Ali Patrick's Wynne contrasted humorously with svelte and sophisticated Paige and Sian.  As Sian, Nicky Ubhi portrayed the TV news anchorwoman with aplomb, deftly fielding barbed questions as to whether she was a 'proper' journalist (while doubting it herself) but increasingly exasperated with her partner's boorish ways. Adam Roberts was convincing as the complacent Hal, called to account by Paige for his adulterous misdeeds, while Chris Reed's Mike was another well-judged and endearing performance. Marcus Wakely's almost silent waiter was a suitably sinister attendant on the diners, reminiscent of the footman from Sartre's Huis Clos.

Moira Buffini has developed a reputation for using comedy to make serious points but, on the strength of this piece, it's not just satire; there is something of a morality play about it. It was my impression that both the director and cast had understood this and succeeded in highlighting that aspect of the play through thoughtful and effective characterisation and delivery. With fine contributions from wardrobe, properties and technical departments, this production will stay in my memory as some of the Lace Market Theatre's best work.

Daniel Bryant

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Cast photographs for 'Into the Woods' by Stephen Sondheim at Lakeside Djanogly Theatre, Nottingham from 6-9 July 2011

Into The Woods
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine

At Lakeside Djanogly Theatre from 6-9 July 2011, Nottingham.

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd. On behalf of Music Theatre International of New York.

Directed by Martin Berry, who’s produced such recent gems for Lace Market Theatre as Sweeney Todd and Mod Crop the Musical, this is a first music theatre production for Lakeside involving a community cast including some of Lakeside’s senior youth theatre members.

Stephen Sondheim’s magical fairy tale takes the timeless tales of the Brothers Grimm and gives them a dark and humorous twist. Journey into the magical woods with Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, the Witch, Rapunzel and even Milky White the cow to find out what happens when familiar characters find themselves in unfamiliar circumstances. Winner of several Tony, Drama Desk and Critics Circle Awards, Into The Woods is recognised as one of Sondheim’s finest and most popular show.

Alison Hope - The Witch/Cinderella’s Mother
Bethan Seller - Milky White
Damien Ebanks - Baker
Danielle Amie Easter - Florinda
Dee Whitehead - Cinderella’s Stepmother
Dermot Randall - Mysterious Man
Hannah Hall - Steward/Granny
James McAndrew - Rapunzel’s Prince
Kathryn Belmega - Little Red Riding Hood
Laura Kaye Thomson - Cinderella
Laura Rose - Lucinda/Rapunzel
Linda Croston - Jack’s Mother
Mahesh Parmar - Narrator
Nicola Bilton - Baker’s Wife
Ritchie Stainsby - Jack
Tom Beynon - Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Saturday, 14 May 2011

'Dinner' by Moira Buffini at the Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham from 9-14 May 2011

Illustration by Charlotte Thomson
'Dinner' by Moira Buffini
Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham from 9th - 14th May 2011

Directed by Graeme Jennings
Designed by Mark James

"Revenge is a dish served red-hot in Moira Buffi ni’s sparkling comedy treat. Brimful of spry humour, with lashings of caustic wit and a soup├žon of icy menace - let the dinner party from hell commence! Bon Appetit!"

'Dinner' by Moira Buffini at the Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham from 9-14 May 2011