Review of Ravensburger Puzzle entitled THE RED BOX (1000 pieces)

the red box puzzle









The Artist
We have come up nice and close to photograph the many compartments which appears in this beautiful illustration by artist, Colin Thompson (born Colin Willment 1942). The impression is that the picture has been hand drawn and painted using pen and watercolour, but it has been produced digitally in fact with some clever editing techniques used; using computer software. Thompson says that he is able to express his creativity just as effectively as he can when drawing in 2D, by combining digital painting and photographic image manipulation techniques. Thompson’s working background in design and print, and in theatre, will explain his keen eye as his detailing is exquisite and his use of colour makes this a top decision by Ravensburger to produce it in a puzzle format.

The Theme
The picture is made up of lots of red coloured compartments. Within each compartment Thompson has produced a little work of art in itself. Images of the Far East features. A dark silhouette fronts a fiery sky. Designs include China Blue and other oriental patterns; bright coloured parasols and Chinese lanterns; various water holding vessels; old bounded books and ancient time pieces. As you slowly build the picture piece by piece you will spot the creatures here and there (great and small), acknowledge the symbolism depicted and enjoy it when you discover those pieces that are more identifiable such as the dragon mask and the golden, Koi Carp.

The Product
We like having opportunity to review Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles. We like to research the artists and we enjoy compiling the jigsaws, of course! This is another premium puzzle made up of 1000 engineered cardboard and precision cut pieces. For those who have come to know Ravensburger and have enjoyed their products over the years will know that Ravensburger puzzles are always top quality. Included inside The Red Box, box, is a leaflet with the Artist’s biography and a further picture for reference (which is really useful when more than one person is working on it). This jigsaw is rectangular on completion, and measures 69.9 x 49.7 cm approx. Not suitable for children under 36 months (small pieces). From 12 years to adult. RRP £11.99

The Promoting
communication and online selling of this item includes:
This review will also appear : Ravensburger Puzzle club

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Omron HJ321-E Walking Style One 2.1 Pedometer


I am becoming more and more interested in knowing the benefits that low intensity exercise can bring, so I’ve been wearing an OMRON Walking Style One 2.1 Step Counter on my more active days when I’ll go out for a 40 minute brisk walk, and on my inactive days when I sit at the desk working and so doing much less stepping out in comparison.

This is a slim line device with a secure clip that will fit on your waistband which measures the intensity of a walking activity and then can calculate the approximate amount of calories burned over 24 hours.

Active Day – 8000 steps – 1.6 miles walked – 166 calories burned
In Active Day – 1696 steps – 0.3 miles walked – 1 calorie burned

Results revealed the days of inactivity (working at the computer) I am burning so few calories that I could only maintain or lose weight by reducing my calorie intake, if my aim was to lose weight. Whereas I would only need to include three Active Days to my fitness routine and I’d be burning up over 500 calories through taking walks over the course of a week.

by Debra Hall on behalf of TSS


Review of Kitchen/Bathroom Matt Emulsion by Crown Paints

Crown Paint’s Kitchen & Bathroom emulsions are available in two finishes (Mid Sheen and Matt) and seven colour groups: Reds/Pinks, Blues, Whites, Greens, Yellows, Creams, and Greys

All paints from Kitchen & Bathroom collections are steam proof and stain resistant

Pack sizes : 40 ml, 2.5L, 40 ml

Under review are two Matt Emulsions 2.5 litres – Olive Press and Pure Brilliant White – Price £25.49

This was a repainting project. The surfaces for decoration were a window wall (Olive Press) and ceiling (Pure Brilliant White) of a small guest bathroom. In the pre prep floors and furnishings were covered, the window blind removed, and tiles and skirting boards protected with masking tape. The window was opened for ventilation. Paint was applied with a roller, ‘cutting in’ undertaken with a small paintbrush. Paint was poured from the plastic pots into a painting tray and this was the vessel used for application. The emulsion had a high viscosity, and no separation had occurred in the pot. The odour was fairly minimal. The first coat provided a decent base. Drying time was quick; the paint was dry to the touch in less than two hours. After applying a second coat the quality of the matt finish and depth of colour was evident. We were pleased that we achieved a finish that had that slightly roughened quality about it and no hint of sheen. Two coats of the white paint was suffice for completing the ceiling job but a third coat of the green was required on the window wall, to ensure all patchiness was eliminated from view. Note: a fourth coat may be required if trying to cover something very dark with a colour that is very light/white in comparison

283282273 copy
TSS Says:
In our experience we feel an environment which is often steam filled and where water is being splashed onto painted walls from washing and when hand drying requires application of a special paint which will combat residue, marks and stains being left on the painted surfaces as much as is possible. We expect a paint finish that does not hold on to water staining and if it happens to occur we want a paint that allows spotting, streaks and drips to be wiped away easily, in order to preserve the quality of a matte finish. We can verify that these two paints have been put to the test and have fulfilled our expectation in these regards.

Paint manufacturers are doing all they can to encourage us to introduce strong, dark primary and secondary colours into home décor, in an attempt to buck the long time trend of neutral themed decoration. In terms of colour choices we were surprised to find that currently the Olive Press shade is the only Kitchen/Bathroom paint available in the green palette; and that there are no subtle or hints of colour in the white versions either. The Olive Press is a warming shade, but any overuse could be deemed as too heavy and somewhat frumpy. We think if you strike a balance the exact opposite can come about. We have made a feature wall with the Olive Press. This has instilled vibrancy and energy to the room, whereas the use of a pastel shade of green would not have managed to produce the same effect.

These two paints under review are high performing, home decorating products. Recommended.

Book Review – Contemporary American Playwrights (a Methuen Drama Guide)

contemporary American PlaywrightsISBN 978-1-4081-3479-5
Text: Christopher Innes, Martin Middeke, Matthew C. Roundane, Peter Paul Schnierer

Published by Bloomsbury December 2013

479 pages
The in depth introduction is 15 pages long and explains the structure of the book and how the book surveys 25 American playwrights with emphasis on plays of those who appeared in the 1970s or later, with Arthur Miller’s and Edward Albee’s post-1970 work the only exception. With this recent time being a starting point, there is a scholarly reassessment made, of how American dramatists have progressed in significance since and how their work had been received, not just as rhetoric for a Nation, but symbolically speaking. A team of scholars have, as contributors, explored reasons why contemporary plays have become important, artistically, in the US. Social trends have been overviewed and wider contrasts and comparisons have been made. A bibliography of published plays and a select list of critical works are included

This book provides an authoritative interpretation of over 5 (or more) plays by 25 major Contemporary American Playwrights (over 140 plays are detailed). Each chapter looks at the life and social backgrounds of each dramatist and what is regarded to be their important plays

The 25 American Playwrights featured in the book are listed below with the authors’ names in brackets:
Maria Irene Fornes (Scott T Cummings),
Richard Greenberg (Jochen Achilles, Ina Bergmann),
John Guare (Ken Urban)
David Henry Hwang (Russell VandenBroucke),
Adrienne Kennedy (Klaus Benesch),
Tony Kushner (James Fisher),
Neil Labute (Christopher Innes),
David Mamet (Toby Zinman),
Donald Margulies (Kerstin Schmidt),
Terence McNally (Peter Paul Schnierer),
Marsha Norman (Annalisa Brugnoli),
Suzan Lori Parks (Ilka Saal),
Sarah Ruhl (Deborah Geis),
John Patrick Shanley (Annette J Saddik),
Wallace Shawn (Martin Middeke),
Sam Shepherd (Katherine Weiss),
Christopher Shinn (Stephen Bottoms),
Luis Valdez (Jorge Huerta),
Paula Vogel (Joanna Mansbridge),
Naomi Wallace (Pia Wiegmink),
Wendy Wasserstein (Frazer Lively),
August Wilson (Sandra G Shannon),
William S. Yellow Robe, Jr (Birgit Dawes)
and Miller and Albee as already mentioned written by Susan C W Abbotson and Thomas P Adler respectively

Using Neil Labute as an example the format throughout is like this – Labute’s chapter opens with a short biography, talks of his influences, his first play, and his stage work including his work as a director, and how he went on to write film script and to direct film. Tells of his strong international reach, particularly London and how he is viewed on both sides of the Atlantic. Four of his plays are discussed in regard to style, dramaturgical concerns and contextual relevance plus the critical reception is analysed. There are one or two examples from the script and the chapter finishes with a Summary, the primary and secondary sources are listed as are the Notes

…to reiterate the structure of the chapters – they are in four parts. First an introduction which is a biographical sketch of each playwright, followed by a chronological ordered analysis of major work, a Summary of the playwrights contribution to contemporary American theatre and a bibliography of primary texts
Plain text (some italic) with Quotes
List of Contributors
Index (11 pages)


a comprehensive Drama study guide

modern british playwriting

Book Review – Modern British Playwriting 2000-2009 by Bloomsbury

modern british playwritingISBN 978-1-4081-2956-2

Text: Dan Rebellato, Jacqueline Bolton, Michael Pearce, Nadine Holdsworth , Lynette Goddard and Andrew Haydon for Chapter 1

Published by Bloomsbury Oct 2013


340 pages

Being one of a series of six volumes, this book relates to theatre from 2000 – 2009. In the preface the series editors Richard Boon and Philip Roberts explain how the book fits with others from the series in reassessing theatre for a specific decade; and this is followed by acknowledgements by editor, Dan Rebellato. In Rebellato’s introduction his overview of life in Britain in the 2000s comes in six categories: Domestic Life, Society, Culture, Media, Science and technology and Political events. Each category follows a chronological order of events. Chapter 1 reflects on verbatim responses to the political happenings of the decade, the impact of technological advances (growth of multi-media productions) on theatrical pieces; topics also include, site specific theatre; and the growing influences over this time in regard to the staging of new work including the popularity of ‘Scratch Nights’. Other headings for this Chapter are entitled: The Royal Court, the money and the new writing industry, Authors, National Theatre, Criticism, Autumn 2009: Postcards from the end of the decade

Rebellato’s introduction is interesting reading and an effective recapping of what has come to be known as The Noughties, and these sections are useful as a point of reference. And Chapter 1 is indeed a ‘punchy’ viewpoint from the reputable theatre critic and blogger – Andrew Haydon

Here the authors’ go all out to demonstrate how the works of five British dramatists are deemed as being representative of the last decade (the 2000s) in a contextual sense. The names of the playwrights follow with the author’s name in brackets:
Simon Stephens (Jacqueline Bolton),
Tim Crouch (Dan Rebellato),
Roy Williams (Michael Pearce),
David Grieg (Nadine Holdsworth),
and Debbie Tucker Green (Lynette Goddard).
The introductions of the five playwrights and their plays are designed to enlighten us, so we might come to understand them and so be appreciative of their work. Showing examples of their differing approaches to script writing and providing explanations of intended messages, in relation to themes, is crucial in regard to us recognizing and defining what is or may have been in their minds; thus educating in the process of writing effectively for Stage. The book demonstrates how playwriting can hold on to a message, take it forward by creating a situation/setting, one that can be acted out, and, therefore, be used as a vehicle for that message to transcend.
Includes interviews.

The book is well structured. From pages 213 to 285 there are real documents presented; these are largely unseen and unpublished alternative sections to the plays mentioned in the book. This section is fascinating and insightful. Pages of ‘Notes’ include publishing attributes, quotes, acknowledgements, online links, websites and blog addresses and recommended books and articles and bibliography information. The book ends with little work related bios about the authors entitled ‘Note on Contributors’ and, finally, a 19 page Index


Paperback. Fact boxes in the introduction. Plain text (some italics). Upper cased headings in bold. Text set out in medium length to long length paragraphs


An intelligible book for writers, theatre critics and for students of theatre studies



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Seeing this company’s members perform with their obvious or not so obvious disabilities took me back in my mind to 2007, when I trained alongside a woman who was a versatile artist with a sunny personality. It was during one of those excruciatingly embarrassing and somewhat pretentious sessions when the group were ‘exploring relationship between emotion and its ‘affect’ on self confidence’ that there came a sudden wave of emotional outpouring from her. She said, through tears of frustration, that before she did ‘anything’ – she always had to get past ‘THIS’. She was referring to her wheelchair. And I remember thinking, Bloody-hell – yes, in this unequal and discriminating world, and knowing how intimidated I was feeling about putting myself out there without the added complexity; well, I felt hugely empathic and I’ve never forgotten it.

The Paralympics have crashed down these kinds of barriers in sport, worldwide. The work of the Graeae Theatre is ground breaking, a credible force for changing attitudes toward disability within the creative industry if ever there was one. All credit to The Birmingham Repertory Theatre to allow the company to take over their theatre – until April 12th.

About the show…The ThreePenny Opera was written and performed pre WWII. This is a reinvention of what is called the “opera for beggars” and mixes up the dark ways of the world in the past, present and of the near future. I don’t remember the lyrics to Mack the Knife being quite as scary as they are here (so they’ve been changed in versions since). This well known song is performed in the opening scene and introduces bad boy, Macheath. The rest of the operatic score was unfamiliar to me but the visual juxtaposing of the words on a screen as they are sung, or as they are spoken for that matter, as well as the signing for the deaf was stimulating for the senses. Anarchy is advocated in the music, the tone is aggressive and is projected with ‘in your face’ attitude. There is not much contrasting themes and with all the loud voices I felt disengaged for the best part. All in all the stage is, intentionally, a pretty preposterous place with beggars and thieves, tarts and vicars; a corrupt cop and a snarling narrator, much of what you might expect from the genre in fact. There is no flick knife slashing however, a little too much sexual teasing and taunting and the odd ripple of comedy.

Many members of the cast are multi-talented, possessing not only great vocal skills but are able to play different instruments. Noteable performances are too many to mention in a 500 word review, but Garry Robson holds on to a defining presence as JJ Peachum.


All photography by Patrick Baldwin

Slideshow features Cici Howells (Polly) and Milton Lopes (Macheath) Amelia Cavallo (Jenny) Natasha Lewis (Lucy) Joey Hickman (Performance MD/keyboards), Stephen Collins (Ned), Garry Robson (JJ Peachum), TJ Holmes (Smtih) and Joe Vetch (Bob/PC/beggar)

Review by Debra Hall in an official capacity attended the press night showing of The ThreePenny Opera at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 27th March on behalf of Remotegoat. Review also published here