Matilda The Musical – A Review of the RSC Production

10 Jan

The actually quite precocious Matilda was my childhood dream book that I read over and over again. The wonderful advertising and positive reviews convinced us to book the tickets.

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Seeing the musical has fairly much convinced me of two things.

1. I am definitely no longer a child, although being silly remains a favourite pass time.

2. Musicals just don’t do it for me anymore.

I am sad about both. There was a time when the trip up to London on the train was the epitome of adventure and novelty, with those huge wallet sized train tickets that came in the post and a shiny programme full of pictures of the Real Life Actors. Now London is the Big City I traverse on my own and musicals are just a bit too escapist; sing-song; false entertainment. In light of this, however, I will review Matilda as though I were still a child who adored musicals.

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The Cambridge Theatre certainly has the sweetest situation, on a teeny tiny roundabout with three or four taxis swinging around it and a medley of tourists seeking their musical-mekkah. With the Christmas lights still up it was quaint and picture perfect. My friends and I amused ourselves with the chalk and blackboards adorning the foyer walls. This took me back to a time before plastic whiteboards and now electric pens that write ‘virtually'; gone are the days of shuddering at the squeaking on the blackboard and dusty dusty fingers…

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The set is just ingenious – a kind Scandivian-esque pale wood floor, from which pop desks, a bathroom…. oh just about anything they need. And book shelves that magically change configuration like the stair cases in Harry Potter. An array of colouring-pencil colours hits the stage with lights and lit up letters. A flurry of dancing kids, the littlest ones just so cute – but oh so precocious Lavender stole the show for me. Sure, Matilda had a great voice and sweet ballads. Miss Honey is ever so kindly, the perfect primary school teacher we all wish we had had: pretty, blonde, bespectacled and innocently dressed. The librarian has brilliant comic-timing, as Matilda keeps on postponing her story told with two rag doll puppets.But Lavender who arrests Matilda as her bestest friend ever and just HAS to tell us her newt plan, the whole of it, is sparky and witty and wins best actress for me.

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To be honest, catchy songs are few and far between. In my flat we had a spontaneous Wicked singalong for a good hour. That’s not going to happen with Matilda. The opening dragged a little with the song, ‘My mummy says I’m a miracle child…’ because it was not quite stereotypical enough to be hilariously cute, nor appealing enough a song to just sit back and listen. The dance routine seemed too staged; too rehearsed and false. It’s a shame because I’d dearly love to dish out all of the praises on this play.

It’s not a show to see on a one night visit to London, a first date or with sulky, rebellious teens. Nevertheless, take the children, take grannie with you and enjoy their laughter. Or for a bit of harmlessly fun nostalgia, go.

Mavala 175 Platinum Marble Nail Colour Review

10 Jan

For wintry days, this sophisticated grey-shimmer polish, would look perfect paired with a LBD for the winter party season.

Mavala 175 Platinum Marble

The colour is a dark silver, with a definite silver shimmer (no warm gold tones in sight!)

I regard Mavala as a high-end brand of nail colours. This shade was brought out with the winter 2011/12 Paradoxe Colours range. MAVALA introduce new ranges to accompany their fabulous range of standard colours each season. They do without the glitzy advertising associated with OPI releases such as their celebrity and film related collections, but maintain a fashionable approach to nail colour. If OPI were a makeup brand it would be MAC; MAVALA would be Estée Lauder.

Mavala 175 Platinum Marble

I purchased this polish for just £4.10 and although you only get 5ml, who ever in all honestly finishes a large bottle from Nails Inc or OPI, unless it’s an all time favourite?

I think their website evaluates the brand perfectly:

‘The iconic 5ml pots of colour are an affordable way to buy into this season’s key trends. Unlike traditional nail colour, MAVALA’S unique formula delivers microscopic air pockets to allow nails to breath and is free from parabens, formaldehydes, toluene, camphore, cellophane, animal ingredients and heavy metal.’

It’s a step-up from Barry M for just a little more cost and the quality exceeds them by far. One coat provides beautiful opacity and has remained a week on my nails without chipping, with a base and top coat.

The base and top coat I paired this with are both by Rimmel.

Mavala 175 Platinum Marble is available online from Beauty Bay for just £2.99.

Birdcage Walk Nails Inc. Review

2 May Birdcage Walk

The wisteria are blooming on the front of the house, the sun is out – albeit it a little windy – and the tennis season has begun. It is at the time of year that I fall in love again with pastel nail polishes.

Birdcage Walk (I like the name – but I don’t really get it – any thoughts?) is a French Manicure pastel pink, nude, pale – whichever description you may choose. It looks beautiful against a slightly tanned hand and transforms short nails into shiny, delicate beauties. In fact, this colour is the best to apply out of any I have had from Nails Inc; it’s a little thinner than most of their (slightly gloopy) darker colours and so brushes-on like a dream!

Pair the nail varnish with Kensington Caviar Basecoat, to ensure it applies smoothly and stays put. The basecoat also prevents any discolouration of your nails and makes the nail varnish last a bit longer. I quite often wear this basecoat alone, as it has a touch of pink within the clear, which makes your nails look darling.

The Top Coat, same brand, same name is a must as it maximizes shine and staying power.

Birdcage Walk is my all time favourite pale pink nail polish. Yummy.

Bourgois Volume Glamour Ultra Curl Mascara

1 May Bourjois Volume Glamour Ultra Curl Mascara

A glamorous member of the Bourjois mascaras, claiming it ‘Curls & Doubles eyelash volume for an even more glamourous look’. The bottle is a little bit like Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, and fantastically embodies the curves it claims to produce. Even the brush has a gradual curve, which can be held against the lashes to make them curl. The mascara produces long, shiny black lashes.

The mascara does not create outlandish volume, but it does sculpt the lashes into a lovely long curve. The formula dries quickly, so you can avoid those dreaded smudges (especially now the hay fever season has begun – I always manage to sneeze after applying mascara!)

The small, curved brush is not anything new, but nonetheless effective, for it is easy to use and coat  the lashes into the inner corners.

The mascara has waxes and silicon to make it last, which is does. This does not drift! Overall, a fabulous low price mascara that, for length and curl, easily compares to the competition.

£7.99 from Boots.

Chanel Rouge Coco Camélia Review

1 May Chanel Rouge Coco Camélia 10

The Chanel Rouge Coco lipsticks were created as easy to wear colours, in a long-lasting creme formula. For me, with dry skin, long-lasting formulas tend to dry out on my lips, or they look cakey straight away. Worn with a small amount of balm, however, this lipstick is a wonderful medium coverage lipstick with a noticeable shimmer (not glitter). I would suggest, however, that it is not the perfect lip stick for my skin type.

Camélia is a member of the ‘pink’ family and the name derives from one of Coco Chanel’s favourite flowers, which often subtly graced her designs. It has a light rose scent. The colour is a medium to full coverage, but adapts to your skin tone; how it looks on my lips will differ greatly to yours. This creates a ‘your lips but better’ look. One layer will seem as though many have been applied; in this sense it is good value.

The packaging it divine, as always with Chanel. As the colour is easy to reapply without a mirror (or just using the reflection in your phone) and so is a great handbag lipstick. It is the perfect accompaniment to Chanel Vitalumiere Foundation: luminous and satin.

Debenhams Chanel Beauty Website. Their Beauty Discount Card also accumulates points, which I have found fantastic!

See Also: Chanel Rouge Allure Review

Urchfont Scarecrow Festival 2011

1 May

A Day Out In… Wiltshire for May Bank Holiday.

Bank Holiday entertainment cannot get more typically English than this village festival. If you are feeling a little bit blue that the Royal Wedding is over and you want to spend some time celebrating being British, then Urchfont is the place to be this weekend. Every May Bank Holiday, this small Wiltshire village plays host to thousands of sight-seers, come to look at scarecrows.

The attraction may not be immediately evident. But these are no ordinary scarecrows. In fact, most of the creations bare little resemblance to their namesake. Firstly, there is a competition. You have to guess who or what all the scarecrows are. Not only do you have to name the scarecrows, but also match them to a clue. There’s a theme and this year it is advertisements, or ‘adverts’. This can be a fiercely competitive event. To win it you are required to get every answer correct (which many achieve) and thus the winner is decided upon by the expulsion of those with – dare I mention – spelling mistakes, or slight inaccuracies. Of course, winning is not what makes the day fun. There’s a kids trail too, so the little ones can get involved. It would be a lovely way to spend time with a partner, or the family, or friends.

Around the village duck pond are refreshment tents selling BBQ food, cakes, coffees and Scarecrow Festival Beer (which is a vibrant lime green)…

‘Urchfont Scarecrow Festival’ in Urchfont, Wiltshire until Monday 2nd May.

Macbeth at the RSC: Review

26 Apr

Macbeth played by Jonathon Slinger, who was well reviewed as Richard III in the last histories season at the RSC.

A brand new theatre with which to play and certainly the RSC have used every aspect possible in their production. But Macbeth spoke true when he described ‘merely players'; the production failed to impress. The ideas worked, as ideas, but the execution was poor – perhaps in time the polishing of nightly performances will prevail and create an inspiring show. But not yet, and not for a while. (For me to review accurately the following must contain many spoilers.)

The audience’s expectation of three witches attending in a puff of smoke was brilliantly revoked by three children hanging like rag dolls from ropes with innocent reverberated voices. The woe of child actors will always be, however, that even if they perfect their lines (which they didn’t) and remember all their direction, their characterisation does not feel intuitive or consistent; they rarely maintain a character throughout. (We had a cheekily grinning ghost and a spectacularly unhorrific slaughter of Child Macduff.) Type casting, which the casting of children must usually be, can work in Hollywood, but not in Shakespeare. The scene when they first meet Macbeth and Banquo works only if the witches appear intangible, instead the children seemed vulnerable, present and too real. It was as though Macbeth were in control of the scene, prompting, and the children replying. There was no dizzying confusion as the witches vanished and reappeared. It was too stilted and slow-paced. The children used dolls to suggest some sort of voodoo magic, they were a bit freaky, more a hindrance to the scenes. The children walked around holding them, but made little dramatic use of them except to suggest the characters they spoke of. Not creepy.

Madness. For me, Macbeth’s tyrannous progression is from ‘vaulting ambition’ to all-engrossing insanity, in partnership with a manipulative, beguiling wife. Lady Macbeth was most certainly ancillary in this production, confirming for Macbeth what he already wished to do; in some productions the Macbeths are presented as equals, or even Lady Macbeth as the more powerful. Lady Macbeth here was fine. Her sleep walking speech was fine, she captured some of the insanity, it was a little bit scary, it was quite mad, though it was without climax (the same can be said of the play). She was quite manipulative. She was very aristocratic with a hint of Scottish in her voice, sometimes. I liked her sort of crazy evil laughter at the dinner party. I liked the repetition of that scene with and without Banquo.

Macbeth seemed to have been directed to progress from a not-convincingly brave soldier, naively taken in by three children, whom he neither seemed frightened by, nor particularly aghast at their presence (in fact, it felt as though he were expecting the kids to mess up – he spoke patronisingly to them), to a babyish King and finally to a middle-aged man who is a bit fed up with life. His ‘strut the stage’ speech was projected from the top of a 7m ladder – I think to suggest him standing up on cattle battlements looking down to Birnham wood (four tree like leafy branches brought on by Mrs Macduff and her three children – their ghosts were Malcolm’s army). Whilst his elevated position removed him from the stage and thus he transcended metaphorically the players he spoke of,  he spoke as one who just cannot be bothered, cannot continue living. There was no sudden moment of eloquence in the madness, which instigates the result of catharsis, as the hero comes to the realisation that he cannot go on living. The magic of the speech can silence the audience into poised stillness; if well executed no one dares cough. People spluttered during this. The speech did not feel resultant, like it had come from frantic thoughts, or even from any remembrance of his murderous intents. Preceding the speech, every movement Macbeth made on the ladder meant his sword clanged against it. Irritating.

The cellos were fantastic. Awesome dissonance created, super technical playing.

The tour around the new theatre was more magical than the performance. I preferred the Court Yard theatre to see shows at. Row C in the Circle has a very uncomfortable seat, although the view was good, and I am glad I only paid for a £5 16-25 ticket. After The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet (twice), As You Like It and King Lear… well, it was a disappointment.

Let me know how you found the performance in the comments below. Have you seen the new theatre?

Macbeth RSC Website

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