Friday, 27 July 2012

Theatre Review: The Doctor's Dilemma at Lyttelton Theatre (The National Theatre) London

On arrival at The National and entering the Lyttelton Theatre, I was pleased to see that all seats offered a good view. My seat was in row S of the stalls and I could see perfectly clearly from there.

The opening scene was in a doctor's office and the play starts with humour in the shape of Emmy (Maggie McCarthy) the doctor's housekeeper who was my favourite secondary character.

The dilemma as implied in the title of The Doctor's Dilemma by Bernard Shaw is whether Sir Colenso Ridgeon (Aden Gillett) should use his new discovery of a treatment of consumption to treat an honourable doctor, or a talented younger artist. Quite a dilemma indeed, without the added factor of the artist's beautiful wife who all of the older/elderly doctors seemed to take a shine to in a comical yet perfectly typical fashion.

The four main doctor characters were brilliant together and they played the comedy in the situation with effect. My favourite of the four was Robert Portal whose character Mr Cutler Walpole was obsessed with surgery being the way to cure people of 'blood poisoning' and provided many laughs.

I found the set incredibly surprising as I had wrongly assumed the set as it was on opening would remain for the whole play.  I was very impressed with it, but my favourite location was the artist's studio where the action began in the second half.

The view from my seat
Although I enjoyed the first half, I felt the second half was superior. The chemistry between the artist Louse Debedat (Tom Burke) and his wife (Genevieve O'Reilly) was fabulous, and they switched between comedy, heated discussion and heartbreak with effortless skill. There was also a lot of passion between them, in a very subtle way, but you could not fail to notice it.

My programme
I don't want to give any of the plot away but I thoroughly enjoyed this show, I thought the cast were incredible, the set amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys intelligent comedy.

The only thing about the theatre was the seat left me with a numb backside by the end of the show (run time 2 hours 40 minutes including interval) and the typical lack of adequate toilet facilities for the ladies. But theatre wouldn't be the same without a queue for the ladies, would it?


Find out more at the official website, which includes a great teaser video.

Follow my Entertainment list on Twitter.

In the interests of full disclosure: I was invited to watch The Doctor's Dilemma in exchange for an honest review of the show.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Theatre Review: Les Miserables at Queen's Theatre London

On Saturday 21st July I went to the evening show of Les Misérables at Queen's Theatre in London. This was the third time I've seen this show, and the first time I've seen it since it moved from The Palace Theatre to Queen's in 2004.

I have to say of the three times I have watched Les Misérables, this was my favourite. The cast were amazing, with particularly outstanding vocal performances by Tam Mutu as Javert and Danielle Hope as Eponine.  Sierra Boggess played Fantine beautifully and broke my heart at least three times.

There is a great mixture of drama, humour, romance and action in this show. In fact it's non stop action with the revolving stage ensuring that the cast never stop moving as they go from one scene to the next seemingly effortlessly.

I had bought "restricted view" tickets which were in the front row. I would highly recommend these seats for anyone over the height of 5 foot 7ish because they were amazing seats. Especially when the cast were on the edge of the stage bellowing at us and almost close enough to touch. The only restriction would be for a shorter person who would not have seen all of the action near the floor.

Find out more on the official Les Mis website

Follow my Entertainment list on Twitter which includes some of the cast.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

My Dark Horse - An Unexpected Tale

Last year, I heard quite a bit about self-publishing and I was wondering if I could publish my second novel myself. Like all new things, I didn't feel very confident in my abilities to begin with, and that coupled with wishing I had all my favourite short stories in one place led me to the conclusion that I should have a "test drive" at self-publishing a story collection before I decided whether to publish a novel in that way.

I blogged about the processes I went through in detail (click here to see the posts) and as time went on I was pleased that I'd have a nice little book for my Mum, sister and maybe a couple of friends to have for Christmas.

It never occurred to me that this little project of mine would lead to sales. That thought didn't hit my radar until I had struggled my way through my first Kindle formatting and upload session and felt so chuffed with myself that I told my Facebook friends. And within ten minutes 14 of those people had bought a copy, inducing a mad panic as I hadn't even checked it through myself.

Since then, A Knowing Look and Other Stories has steadily sold across all formats.

I am so proud of this collection now. What started as a "test drive" has turned into a book I am incredibly happy to think about, not least because of the reviews it has received on Goodreads, Amazon and elsewhere.

I made a decision a couple of months ago to upgrade my paperback distribution to enable people to buy it from all online retailers as well as via "proper" bookshops out in the real world. That distribution is now complete.

And all good bookshops 

This book is included in my ebook Summer Special; reduced price applies until 4 September. 

Thanks, as always for reading.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Twenty Five - A sci fi short story

Today sees the Australian launch of a new Literary Mix Tapes compilation, Deck The Halls as our friends there celebrate 'Christmas in July'. Any excuse for a celebration, eh?

For 24 hours only, some of the stories from the book are being featured on the Literary Mix Tapes blog. You can find my sci fi story, Twenty Five by clicking on this link. Sci fi is new to me, but when I was given my prompt 'Tis The Season To Be Jolly' this story formed itself in my head.

The UK/US/ROW launch of Deck The Halls will be in November 2012.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Friday Flash: Hope

Today I'm reusing this 41 word piece for my #fridayflash. This was published on Stephanie Butland's blog this week.

"How can it be everlasting?" they whisper in awe.
Sometimes hiding,
only to resurface; a reaction
to a flicker of sunlight;
the sound of a baby’s cry;
a crash of a wave or glimpse of a thriving blossom.
Mankind’s constant: hope.