Sam Lee, Rachel and Becky Unthank credit Sarah Mason

A Time and Place: Musical Meditations on the First World War

A Time and Place is a World War One themed live event incorporating uniquely original folk music with both existing and new poetry; so the fantastic storytelling, in other words, is channeled through music and songs. The live projection is the work of Birmingham’s Matt Watkins (Gorillaz – Plastic Beach Tour).

In his intro Mercury prize nominee, Sam Lee – folk artist and singer, explained how he and his project collaborators, while down in South West England, had met with some of those who had been close to people who had passed on their firsthand accounts of their own experiences of World War One. The voice of a woman is heard recalling a conversation she held with an ex WW1 soldier. This recollection inspired the first song that is performed called Bideford Bridge.

I have seen a few fine examples of this kind of insightful approach taken with the transference of thought and the transformation of traditional pre-existing material being fused with new writing, singing and instrument playing, as well as technical input providing stimulus in both an aural and visual sense; but anything I have seen to date, following this kind of vein, has not been anywhere near as movingly beautiful as this work.

The poetry and writing from those war years, by poets Jessie Pope and Seigfried Sassoon for example, and the words Vera Brittain exchanged with her lover Roland Leighton who tragically never lived to read them, is still as raw, but respectively re-encapsulated and re-embodied.

The Unthanks

Rachel & Becky Unthank (The Unthanks)

Sam Lee has a soulful visual persona, and along with his co singers Rachel and Becky Unthank (The Unthanks), delivers gentle, harmonious vocals. Musically speaking the composition is a vital contribution to all that is beholden, as is the performance by the musicians. The words and the message may be sombre but the music is rolling and sometimes repetitive; the backing is “quite restrained and intimate” just as pianist Adrian McNally describes. The visual work does not juxtapose with what is going on particularly, but it definitely enhances nevertheless.

I have only reviewed music a handful of times, and last night was my second visit ever to Birmingham’s Town Hall building. I felt privileged to engage in this experience.

Reviewer, Debra Hall attended a performance of A Time and Place at Town Hall, Birmingham on Wednesday 17 September.

Black and White photography featuring Sam Lee and ‘The Unthanks’ by Sarah Mason


Becky & Rachel Unthank – Voice
Sam Lee – Voice
Adrian McNally – Piano
Nico Brown – Recorder, Mandolin, Concertina, Harmonica, Bodhran
Kath Ord – First Violin
Niopha Keegan – Second Violin
Becca Spencer – Viola
Francesca Ter Berg – Cello
Lizzie Jones – Trumpet
David Belshaw - Euphonium
Matthew Watkins – Visual Design

About these ads
Propaganda Swing

Stage Review – Propaganda Swing

The curtain is already up at the very start and the scene is a radio station with live band. It is Berlin, 1939.

It is interesting for writer of this new play, Peter Arnott to pinpoint the positioning of Jazz music for those living and working under Third Reich rule at this time. The jazz scene was by now well established worldwide and Europe was no exception. Jazz, however, was of deep set American origin and had been written, toured and performed by black and Jewish people particularly, so this was something that was always going to be conflicting with the racist ideology of the National Socialist Party.

There was little room for sentimentality, in those dark days, when many had to watch their back for fear of recrimination in regard to their positioning in life, and of whom they chose to keep company with; and we are often reminded of this fact in the story line. Another story thread is the fast development of an ‘against all the odds’ love affair between the already married (for convenience rather than love) Lala Anderson (Miranda Wilford), and American broadcaster in Berlin – Billy Constant (Richard Conlon).

People have used various art forms to channel messages since time in memorial, so songs like ‘Whose Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ which features, may seem like an innocent nursery rhyme with a jaunty tune, but was a definite smokescreen to rile and mock Hitler when performed and aired. But if the play is to inform us of anything, it tells us of the conscious decision made NOT to quash this particular music genre altogether by removing it from the airwaves in Germany, and that, instead, it was made to be more acceptable to the German State. So we learn that the State themselves took control and used the music’s popularity and its communication outlets to their own ends, while being particular in ensuring that band leaders and band members fitted a specific demographic profile they set out for themselves.

By the time war was announced, the discrimination of the Jewish people in Germany had been happening for a few years, so there are subjects, within a subject, to base a full length play on. So I was left considering if there is enough said and done within the script itself, and whether enough theatrical strategy has been followed through to do the subject justice.

I am still mulling over these things in my mind the morning after, and, strangely, I find it hard to put my finger on how and why I’m left feeling indifferent about this piece of work.

A good few positives: to be able to acknowledge the versatility of musician and actor, Clara Darcy having seen her in a previous incarnates is one, and to note the expert characterisation of Otto Stenzl by stage actor Chris Andrew Mellon, is another. The Art Deco set design is fantastic with lots of visible evidence of the hard work undertaken in that regard, and lastly, but by no means least, the live band of course, quality-driven, music played by members of a talented cast. Fifteen songs altogether, include Minnie The Moocher and You’re Driving Me Crazy.

At The Belgrade Theatre until September 27th – Details here

Reviewer, Debra Hall attended press night at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry on Tues 16 September. Review also published at Remotegoat stage

Photography by Robert Day


Propaganda Swing - Callum Coates as William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) - Robert Day

Propaganda Swing – Callum Coates as William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw)

Review of Ravensburger Puzzle entitled Peony Cottage (1000 pieces)

Peony Cottage
The Artist

You would be hard pushed to find illustrative work that is any more colourful and ‘busier’ than that by Howard Robinson. Robinson sets about drawing and painting using his masterful 2D skills and then he digitally enhances those designs. It is the one off final print that he produces which forms the original artwork. Robinson then licenses his designs for commercial use. Wildlife is what he depicts mostly. But we’ve all seen his work in some shape or form, whether it on stationery items, posters, greetings cards, tea towels, mugs, or jigsaws; Robinson’s sharp, boldly bright art is in all of our consciousnesses. Take a look at arrange of designs by Howard Robinson on Pinterest we think you will see what we mean!

The Theme

British garden birds and insects; full bloomed flowers and fauna, and flower names in Cursive writing frame a large, red brick and tiled cottage, with glass and leaded windows which sits, centrally, within a country garden scene. Scenes like this one have been popular for many, many years on a jigsaw.

The Product

Rectangular in shape, measures: 69.9 x 49.7 cm approx on completion. The picture is a somewhat traditional puzzle pic, so if traditional is the main appeal you will not be disappointed, especially as the jigsaw is so well made and the pieces being so easy to handle.

Suitable from 12 years upwards – Not suitable for children under 36 months (small pieces).
RRP £11.99
What is in the box?
1000 premium pieces plus Artist’s biography and an additional puzzle picture for further referencing.

The Promoting
Peony Cottage is number 8 from a 1000 pieced jigsaw collection called ‘Country Cottage‘ from Ravensburger. Other flower named cottages from the Country Cottage Collection includes Tulip, Foxglove, Rose and Wisteria.

Ravensburger UK

This review will also appear at Ravensburger Puzzle club

Lenny Henry (Adam), Jeffrey Kissoon (Clifton). Larrington Walker (Rudy) and Lorna Gayle (Doreen) Rudy's Rare Records

Stage Review – Rudy’s Rare Records

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lenny Henry is a treasured and well respected comedian, presenter, impressionist and a critically acclaimed actor. He is the person who is always bold in including racial issues in his comedy. Working behind the scenes alongside his creative collaborators, he has been co-writer of this project designed to bring the already established Rudy’s Rare Records Radio 4 show to the stage.

This production is currently running in The HOUSE at The Rep Birmingham and is a fabulous introduction to the autumn calendar, and a well chosen marker to celebrate one year on from the reopening of the theatre and the iconic library building next to it.

So to fit the occasion aptly, we must first recognize that Henry feels very much at home in Birmingham; although this is his first time at the theatre. This fun show provides a real trip back in time for its Birmingham audience. Throughout the 1970s Jamaican reggae was influencing a new generation; and it was wholly resonating in our UK lives at this time. A new fabric of life from our urban settings was being created; straight out of places like Handsworth … and in his own inimitable style, Henry delivers as Adam. Adam being the middle one of three generations of men from the same family, he is truly feeling the full weight of responsibility for both the elder and the younger member that is either side of him.

The comedy is a little corny, but the top laugh is always achieved because of the timing of the delivery and rhythm of the accents used, and we have wonderful, intelligent contribution from Larrington Walker (Rudy), Jeffrey Kissoon (Clifton) and Lorna Gayle (Doreen) who are playful and funny. These three are defiant and proud and a little mischievous, nevertheless there’s a thread of innocence and vulnerability running through the characterization. All six characters we witness being at odds and ends with themselves over a personal worry; including the youngsters Tasha and Richie, played by Natasha Godfrey and Jovian Wade respectively. In fact many elements are present to demonstrate very well the light and shade of life – and the reggae beat, the rapping, and the soulful sounds played live throughout by a fantastic four piece band, and vocalized and performed by members of the cast is pure icing on the cake.

I love Henry, he always captures a past that falls within living memory and we relate to it, that is why his comedy is so appealing and he never needs much of an excuse to exercise his ability to deliver a tune with his wide ranging vocal, or wiggle in the groove – Don’t ever Stop that messin’ around’ Lenny!

Photography by Robert Day

Review by Debra Hall, who attended Press Night on Tuesday 9th September at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Review also appears at Remotegoat Stage.

Note: Following its premiere in Birmingham Rudy’s Rare Record’s will run at Hackney Empire from 24 Sept – 5 Oct,


Review of Philips Sonicare EasyClean Whitening Toothbrush

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Putting the Philips Sonicare EasyClean Whitening model to the test.

What is Sonic Technology in a toothbrush?

It is a long time patented technology developed by Phillips Sonicare that is identifiable as the movement and vibration of an electrically charged handle and brush head and a particular kind of whipping and blasting action on the teeth, as well as a certain kind of fluid distribution between the teeth and along the gum line, while cleaning

THE PRODUCT – EasyClean Whitening 500 series

All Phillips sonicare products Includes the sonic technology as described above.

019The pack contains:

A Sonic Toothbrush handle with built in rechargeable battery

A Diamond Clean brush head (Standard) with hygienic cap

A charger base


Features include:

A Smarttimer /Quadpacer

An Easy-Start power (pre-activated)

A 28 Day Money Back Guarantee on the original purchase price

2 Year Warranty



Clinical trials of this product have proven that the removal of plaque was significantly higher in comparison to using a manual toothbrush. Marketing information and promotional activities reverberate this fact and advertorial language is echoed widely online by the company and by dental professionals alike, but the variables around the trials have not been publicly disclosed in any detail


RRP £90.00 Consumers and professionals visit available at Boots the Chemist



  • Both methods have the potential to address many oral care needs
  • Both methods require the application of toothpaste
  • The manual method can produce a higher percentage of undirected toothpaste and saliva foam which gives the illusion of a more thorough clean if nothing else
  • The manual method can incorporate a slim handle for manoeuvrability around the mouth that is in ways similar to the EasyClean
  • The manual method can involve curvature and angles to its bristle structure that is in ways similar to the EasyClean Diamond brush head
  • The manual toothbrush can be ergonomically designed so the brush head fits between teeth in ways similar to that of the Easy Clean
  • Manual toothbrushes can, and EasyClean already does, incorporate a multi-bristled head that will remain gentle on the gums when used as long as no hard scrubbing is applied
  • Both methods have potential to maintain strong teeth and keep gums in a healthy condition
  • Both methods have potential to lightly whiten teeth
  • Both methods are effective in removing bacteria, and food that has been deposited after eating
  • The EasyClean alone delivers around 31,000 strokes per minute as part of the cleaning action
  • The EasyClean method is more dynamic
  • The EasyClean removes a higher degree of plaque than manual brushing does
  • The EasyClean is easier to use than a manual when working back and forth along each tooth individually (from the front, over the top and in behind), so it is much more straightforward to target each tooth separately and the motion cleaning is delivered almost automatically
  • The EasyClean alone has an Easy Start feature which allows time for the user to get familiar with power style brushing
  • The EasyClean alone incorporates a Smarttimer so actively encourages, and helps the user adhere to the recommended two-minute brushing time
  • The EasyClean alone incorporates a Quadpacer to ensure the teeth in each quarter sections of the whole mouth get full 30 second cleaning benefit, while encouraging the user to adopt a teeth cleaning programme which lasts a minimum of two minutes
  • The EasyClean alone requires electrical re-charging on occasion (flashing green light together with 3 beeps after brushing cycle indicates that the toothbrush needs to be recharged).
  • The EasyClean requires a simple assembling and disassembling routine for usage and for maintenance
  • The EasyClean cleans the teeth of a brace wearer more effectively than a manual toothbrush
  • The EasyClean means a large monetary outlay in comparison to the manual toothbrush. Heads need air drying in both cases, new toothbrushes and replacement of Diamond Clean brush head (whichever applies) is three months in both cases
  • You can brush your tongue using both methods
  • Many dental professionals worldwide favour the use of this sonic toothbrush brand over a manual toothbrush and will outwardly recommend one


Need For Speed Is Boring Indeed

Originally posted on IMDBwords:

Don’t you think that? I loved Trailer of Need For Speed because it thrilled me but watching the film was so disappointing. Even you can say that it hurt me because I wasted my time just. Story is so poor I’m sure. I can imagine that if you guys would have watched the movie then how much stunned you’d be. Unfortunately I cant recommend that one because it would be just waste of time and you guys know that time is money. Need for Speed game is much better than the movie.

View original

Featured Image -- 4545

Games Inbox: Uncharted 1 review, Super Smash Bros., and Resident Evil Revelations 2

debra hall:

Join the discussion at – Read contributors views and reviews on recent new and soon to be released games and consoles – Playstation 4, Super Smash Bros for the WiiU, as well as Uncharted 4, and Activision’s Skylanders: Trap Team ( out soon) and more…

Originally posted on Metro:

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune - has time been kind?

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – has time been kind?

The morning Inbox wonders if Skylanders can outsell Call Of Duty, as one reader tries to explain the sudden survival horror boom.

To join in with the discussions yourself email

Drake’s poor fortune
Given all the talk about Tomb Raider vs. Uncharted 4 last year I thought I’d go back and take a look at the original Uncharted. I’ve owned it for a long time but never got very far as the other games seemed more interesting. And going back to it now I have to say things have not got better. The game’s gun action is pretty awful, with nothing but bullet sponge enemies and a terrible camera.

Now I can understand the graphics looking not as good as they used to, so I won’t criticise that (although they are pretty bad now) but thanks to the camera the platforming’s…

View original 1,525 more words