The Spice Girls reunited for the London Olympics in 2012 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Victoria Beckham thinks the Spice Girls performing at the London 2012 Olympics was enough of a reunion. Victoria reunited with bandmates Mel B, Emma Bunton, Geri Horner and Mel…
What the Butler Saw
All scenes take place in a clinic room. Doors off lead to and from the garden, a backroom, and to other parts of the larger building. The opening scene begins quite sedately with Dr Prentice conducting an interview for a secretarial position. Interviewee, Geraldine is soon stripping from behind the curtains at the request of the doctor. This she does unwittingly and without question.
In the meantime, the doctor’s sex starved wife enters unexpectedly and she is wearing only underwear under her coat. Another medical ‘professional’ Dr Rance comes along and provides a madcap diagnosis of the couple’s marital problems. Later a black mailing bell boy, accused of sexual harassment, enters. Finally a policeman and we think the whole thing will settle down.
Of course, it doesn’t settle down, the six make their entrances and exits at different times. The two doctors are the only two characters who remain in their day clothes/white coats throughout. The two youngsters swap identities and therefore their genders too. The policeman is drugged and bloodied by the end. For all of the time Dr Rance continues misdiagnosing everyone to the sordid and most outrageous degree, and so it goes…
This production of ‘What the Butler Saw’ is well cast, the physical work and dialectal skills is exceptional by all players. The subtle interchanges between characters, plus and the full-on tussles are timed to perfection.
The work encompasses all the elements of a farce, but despite all the good work associated with it I was turned off greatly by the script. Written back in the day when sexual innuendo and blunt indiscretion featured high in comedy. I found the humour to be very base; therefore the comedy was boring for the larger part. It wasn’t that I was bored watching, but I wasn’t happy, happy with it either. I’d not left my sense of humour at home particularly, it is just that the play is a product of a time past. I doubt it will appeal when performed in future years. What it will do is act as an exposé perhaps of the kind of social injustices that people once found to be a source for amusement.
Review by theatre critic, Debra Hall who attended press night of What the Butler Saw at The Curve Theatre, Leicester on Wednesday 08 March 2017
Production Photography by Catherine Ashmore
My first time reviewing a stage show at The Curve and what a stylish venue for Leicester central! The curved architecture brings a different vibe within its walls, the seating in the auditorium is spacious and allows a little extra leg room than some traditional theatres. The late and highly revered playwright, Joe Orton, having been Leicester born and raised, meant there was much local interest and high anticipation from last night’s theatregoers so the venue had a full house feel; it had a buzzy ‘spirit of place’ about it.
Author Sally Chomet
Illustrated by Sylvain Chomet
Published by Walker Books in Hardback
Release date 03 November 2016
A Children’s Fictional Book – for 8 years +
Overview: Caleb’s Dad has vanished. Caleb has one clue of his Dad’s last movements and so he tries to solve the mystery. The Money Mongers might snatch him but Caleb is determined to solve the mystery of his Dad’s disappearance.
Comment and Guide:
A French tale but in some ways it feels British, yet, it is a neither nor kind of place. The text containing colloquial speak from a time long gone will be unfamiliar to young children or to their parent reader even i.e. ‘Mongers” ‘Greasy comb overs’; trestle table; camphor, Spam, canteen, bingo halls. In most cases, it is not always wise for a children’s author to even try to be authentic in writing their story of the past using language and referencing things using old terminology, as there can be a real possibility of ending up with something irrelevant and unappealing for its child audience. That said, if you’re going to attempt it, then do it like the Chomet’s have done in this story. Modern day life is switched on enough to engage a child and a child does not need to know or understand everything to get a handle on things and to enjoy it. The narrative can leave one feeling rather quizzical whatever the age. The language is lively throughout and words like ‘Pleb’, ‘computers’, ‘DNA’, ‘microwaves’ etc fill the lines too. This eccentric story is well written and the writing flows well. Illustrations by animation film director, Sylvain Chomet. Chomet’s illustrations are fab and oldie world authentic in their muted tones. This is a book that is best read out loud and if an older/adult reader gets to grips well with the lively dialogue this would make for an enjoyable shared reading experience! However, if selected for a short bedtime story read, then this would probably be something that would run over a couple of nights.
Greg Shepherd is a Devon UK based photographer who takes shots of various collections of unique items that are theme based. The images he then sells for commercial uses. The image above has been commissioned by Ravensburger and is No 8 from their Perplexing Puzzle range. The puzzle is called ‘Glittering Gemstones’ and, like all from the range, it is a difficult and challenging puzzle to tackle. The product has achieved 100% 5 star awards for published reviews on Amazon
Click on the following link to read our full artist profile of Greg when tss reviewed the ‘Cooking up a Feast’ jigsaw in Jan 2016 Source: Blogging 101 #4 a Review of the Cooking up a Feast jigsaw puzzle
I saw and heard everything but I’m none the wiser of what the play is meant to represent or any closer to making any sense of it, and this, evidently, is the thinking space conclusion that playwright, Eugene Ionesco first intended.
I overheard someone say when asked if they liked it ‘yes, it was good…’ then a slight pause followed by the reaffirmation ‘bizarre, but good’.
Reflecting on what we saw:
We saw a strange couple (Amédée and Madeleine) trying to cope with a shared problem. One that has been growing and growing. One that they have failed to get to grips with over a fifteen-year span and because of it they both appear to have lived a very insular and frugal existence inside a one bed-roomed flat.
Though the title suggests this is going to be about Amédée. I think we did not really get to know him. We know ‘the problem’ had made Amédée terribly indecisive and he possessed no ability to concentrate. We see a weird, scatter-brained character living on his nerves and who accomplishes nothing, nothing at all, until he floats away at the play’s end; quite literally.
As for Madeleine, well she is at odds with herself as to how she and Amédée had got in to this predicament in the first place, and is relying on to him to make things right. She works hard to keep on top of ‘the problem’ but she is plainly exhausted. She has a job too, because she is the bread winner. Madeleine works as a telephone operator, who sits at a switchboard to filter calls, but she does not appear to leave the flat to do it! She routes queries from and to royalty and political figures, war officers and democrats across different realities and different time frames.
If there is any bluffing, or double bluffing intended in the script, Sean Foley is fully engaging with the exactness of that activity as well as the surreal, in this, his very fine adaptation of the original. Talk about going off on tangents though! I wonder if Amédée (the play itself) was meant to represent a state of mind, or a noun of some sort. Who knows!
I have mixed feelings overall. The script is a little pedestrian with not much escalation because of deliberate repetition, but there is no taking away from the fact this is blackly funny and the two main actors handle the dialogue and the physicality expertly. Theatrically, Ti Green’s set design is rather good, and ‘the problem’ (the elephant in the room) in other words, is represented visually, and rather stunningly. I’d be a spoiler if I mention what that is exactly, but know its inclusion and the creative work to do with it raises the quality bar, and I settle comfortably at an award of 4 stars for this stage production.
Theatre critic, Debra Hall attended press night showing of Amédée at The Studio theatre at The Rep, Birmingham on Tuesday 28 February 2017
Photography: Ellie Kurttz
Miraclesuit Sheer Slip. A Shapewear undergarment with double panels for Extra Firm Control designed to flatten the tummy and shape the hips. Made from Nylon, Elastane and Spandex and has a Gusset that is 92% Cotton.
Colour: Black (also available in Nude)
Design and Decoration: Plain. High waist. Double sheer panels. Built in Panty. Elasticated waist. Flat seams and hemlines. With Edge technology designed to create a smooth look under clothes
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THE PROMOTION STATES
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TSS TESTER SAYS
The tester is female with a full figure (size 16 UK). In the morning of the test she put on the slip (size XL 14-16 UK) to trial. She reports that this was not a strain to do and that the sketchiness of the fabric immediately felt comfortably light, figure hugging and secure across the body. Over the top she pulled on a close fitting to-the-knee pencil skirt. The tester reports that the lining of the skirt glided smoothly up over the hips and she was able to fasten the zip to the top more easily than usual. She states that it was immediately apparent that the skirt’s waistline was a looser fit and there was a seam free and firmer appearance around her bottom and hips, and, when looking in the mirror, the Tester thought her side profile was smoothed and straightened around these areas; but says her usual tummy bulge was not any flatter or noticeably reduced at all.
Our tester reports that the hook fasteners around the gusset area (like those on a bra strap) can be completely undone for ease when visiting the bathroom or to do away with having the inbuilt panty in place. She stated that when opting to wear this item as a slip only that one’s usual panties can be worn underneath. This, however, does change the look and to some degree the performance because it is suddenly more ‘open’ and the gusset is then two short flaps that hang loose (one to the front and to the back) but they are tucked away still and are not outwardly visible so that is a good thing.
The tester wore the item for many hours as part of the trial. The tester believes this is not a 24 hr performing garment. The tester found that after her evening meal and being in a centrally heated home environment that she was getting slightly uncomfortable and restricted by evening time. However, during the day, she found the fabric to be cool and that her movements i.e. bending down, stretching up, sitting, stepping etc. were not restricted at all; in fact she very much liked the sensation and security of the bands and panels doing their work. The edge technology being a real plus point because she found that the slip did not ride up or the waistline did not roll down and her figure outline was enhanced.
Tester concludes that the slip flattered her figure and that made her feel good, and that wearing this slip under her choice of every day or occasion wear she knows she would be enhancing her style and look every time.
1. This Sheer Hi Waist Slip is not designed to be worn under trousers.
2 Always buy nude shape wear if you are going to be wearing it under white clothes. It will not show though whereas white underwear will
See 1.1 Disclaimer
Cirque Berserk is an extremely reputable version of a circus troupe touring theatre land and there is much more than just a tipping of the hat to the traditional in their work. Gymnastic, acrobatic, and agility talent is evident in all performances, as well expert timing and the sharp minded actions of trained minds. Much strength and concentration apparent in set skills and it is very obvious how much of a life’s work this is for most.
This show will present its audiences with a lot of visual fun wherever it goes. The ‘Berserkers’ are made up of a multicultural array of circus performers mostly from South American and Eastern European countries, also, France, Mongolia and Kenya. Many are similar in their physicality within their individual ethnic groups so the stage had a real feel of the exotic.
Supporting acts are the Berserk Dancing girls who hip roll and step left-and-right stage front, while the performers make those all-important stage prop changes behind.
I would never wish to be pinned down to a conclusion where I have to state that I either like or dislike this art form. Though it is second nature for me to conduct a risk assessment if anything is potentially dangerous, because it seemed quite possible that the Bolas Argentinas duo could have flung their swinging clackers into the audience by mistake. Or that the dreadlocks from any one of the Timbuktu Tumblers might have caught fire. I fretted, be it very briefly, for the very life of the knife thrower’s assistant! And when I saw the Globe of Death move off its feet under the strain of the whizzing bikers inside, I looked around incredulously wondering if anyone else had noticed.
Seeing everyone clapping and cheering however, I thought this is it, Exactement! Without the threat of danger there wouldn’t be a show, and though I can always recognize and have an appreciation of artistry whenever and wherever it is present, there’s a layer that remains undefinable to do with this particular form of entertainment, even with animals being out out of the picture as is the case with Cirque Berserk.
On the other hand I see that it gives the people attached to the circus a good life and that they are absolutely dedicated individuals who enjoy peak body fitness, the thrill of performance and the chance to tour around. Who is complaining? I’m not, not really! It’s great!
Despite all of the wild activity present, it was the balancing act, and the slow and controlled movement of the toned torso and strong limbs of, Jose and his partner the gorgeously supple and graceful, Gaby I found to be the most captivating.
The show stealer however, is the slapstick comedy of, Tweedy who seems to incorporate all kinds of circus skills in his clowning around. Scottish man, Tweedy makes his routines look easy , yet he is so incredibly clever. The audience loved him. I heard children giggling every time his slot came around.
An enjoyably different theatrical experience for me. One in which etiquette was more relaxed and the rules attached to matters of Health and Safety and Intellectual Property were waived – for one week only at The Rep!
Theatre critic, Debra Hall attended the press night performance of CIRQUE BERSERK at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, UK on Monday 20 Feb 2017
We chat to Dr Anjali Mahto, a Consultant Dermatologist & British Skin Foundation Spokesperson. who explained how pollution can affect the skin:
“As skin is your outermost barrier, it is one of the first and largest targets for air pollution. So, what exactly is air pollution? Air pollutants include the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), volatile organic compounds (VOC), oxides, particulate matter, ozone, and cigarette smoke. Prolonged and repetitive exposure to these agents can have negative effects on the skin.
Scientific studies in both animals and humans have shown that these components of air pollution can contribute to premature skin ageing (wrinkling, pigmentation spots) and worsening of inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. One major mechanism is via the generation of reactive oxygen species that can damage DNA in skin cells.” She adds “For many of us settled in city life, it is worth thinking about taking extra precautionary measures to protect against noxious chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. We may not be able to control the environmental factors that lead to skin inflammation and ageing, but it is in our hands to try and limit these.”
A recent report reveals pollution levels as being ‘very high’ or ‘high’ in eight regions across the UK. Dr Mahto tells us that short of leaving the city and moving to the countryside there are measures one can take at home to protect your skin and limit damage
1. Cleanse your skin every night to remove dirt and environmental toxins from the skin surface
2. Exfoliate once weekly (less if you have dry or sensitive skin) to give your skin a deeper clean. This will also improve the penetration of any products that are later applied to the skin.
3. Use an antioxidant serum – antioxidants such as vitamin C and resveratrol have the ability to neutralize damage caused by reactive oxygen species. They certainly have a role in your anti-ageing armory.
4. Use a regular sunscreen (SPF 15 or above) – don’t forget your skin also needs UV protection to help reduce risk of skin cancers and signs of premature ageing.
5. Moisturise daily, particularly if you have a tendency to dry, inflammatory skin conditions e.g. eczema and psoriasis. This will keep your skin hydrated helping to maintain the integrity of the barrier function of your skin
Image Source : Pixabay
There is nothing more the silver screen loves than an underdog story, and the only thing better than a fictional ‘rags to riches’ is a real one. Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance is a documentary funded by the Channel 4 sister channel Film Four, that follows the story of a small mining village community in South Wales who bred a racehorse called, Dream Alliance and went on to astound the racing community.
Barmaid, Janet (Jan) Vokes is the woman who started this incredible story. She was inspired to breed a racehorse after overhearing a conversation about raising racehorses while working. After buying a mare and breeding it with a stallion, Dream Alliance was born in 2001. 23 villagers funded the horse’s training and upkeep by forming a syndicate and chipping in a tenner every week. Dream Alliance, after moderate success, won at Chepstow and again at the Perth Gold Cup. The next big competition was to be the Grand National when disaster struck and Dream Alliance sliced a tendon. As many will be aware when a racehorse suffers a serious injury they are normally put down. However, the village pulled together the winning’s pot to fund stem cell treatment. DreamAlliance not only recovered but also raced again at the Welsh National winning it by three quarters of a length.
The film will resonate in today’s Britain, where this sport is still very much elitist. How many race winning thoroughbreds were brought up on an allotment! Owners and trainers were completely dumbfounded at Dream Alliance’s success. Dream Alliance is called a “working class horse” in the film.
The film was directed by Louise Osmand and produced by Judith Dawson. In an interview with Rialto Channel 39, the pair explained how they fell in love with the story: “it’s about a community that had lost everything, who felt forgotten by the world; it’s about the irrepressible spirit of barmaid, Jan who bred the racehorse, and who persuaded others to share the outlandish dream…above all it’s about the extraordinary bond the characters forged with a beautiful animal that seemed almost like something from a fable.”
It certainly struck a cord and won the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award in the World Cinema Documentary competition. Horse racing has always been a popular screen story to tell and has been explored numerous times.
Racing holds a special place in many people’s heart and the popularity of events such as the Cheltenham Festival demonstrates how much the sport means to people. The event will be held this March and “features a trio of major hurdle races,” according to Betfair. Cheltenham is one of the biggest races in the UK race calendar and attracts thousands each year with the dream of seeing a horse like Dream Alliance compete in real life.
There is something about Dream Alliance that elevates it above the normal racing stories. It is a story of both human and animal strength in the face of great adversity. This documentary is highly recommended and as good as any fictional rags to riches story you will see on the screen.
Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance is available on DVD
See 1.2 at DISCLAIMER