REVIEW: Rambert: A Linha Curva plus other works (The Lowry Theatre, Salford)

A scene from Frames by Rambert Dance Company ©Tristram Kenton
A scene from Frames by Rambert Dance Company
©Tristram Kenton
upstaged rating: 

Now in their 90th year, Rambert continue to lead the dance world with their exhilarating and  innovative dance works. Back in 1966, the company changed their artistic focus from classical to contemporary. Always forward thinking, they commission the most exciting choreographers, composers and designers and give them the freedom to lead wherever their vision and imagination takes them.

To celebrate their 90th year in true Rambert style, the world-class dancers are presenting three contrasting works at The Lowry, Salford. Opening with the world premiere of Malgorzata Dzierzon’s Flight, followed by Frames choreographed by Alexander Whitley and ending with the beautiful, vibrant and sexy A Linha Curva.

Malgorzata Dzierzon used stories and dialogue about travel, migration and shifting space as inspiration for Flight. It’s a captivating vision set to Kate Whitley’s evocative soundtrack, delivered by the company with fluidity and grace. A revolving set design accompanied by Luke Halls’ video projection creates an eerie atmosphere, drawing our attention to the pace at which we move through our everyday lives. Paul Koegan’s smart lighting design works perfectly alongside the dancers, creating sharp powerful silhouettes during the stunning duet between Miguel Altunaga and Liam Francis.

Frames provides a fascinating contrast, exploring themes of permanency and the dance space or theatre as a construction site. With set design by Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen, the performance space is transformed into a white box as the dancers construct their performance within it. The sound of metal bars clashing and Daniel Bjarnason’s industrial-esque soundtrack heighten the senses as the dancers hold the audience’s gaze, moving with agility and strength. Who knew that you could make dancing with metal structures look easy and stunningly beautiful? 

And just as you think the performance could not get any better… A Linha Curva, choreographed by Itzik Galili, explodes onto the stage, giving a powerful  injection of colour and carnival to the evening. The audience begin to join in, clapping and bobbing, whooping and cheering to the sound of the samba beat. The live percussion musicians are elevated above the dance space, upbeat and vibrant they use a range of instruments, their voices and their bodies to create the dynamic soundtrack. It’s sensual, witty and terribly good – the dancers are faultless as they move alongside each other in a truly intoxicating display.

There’s a true sense of celebration throughout the performance and during the standing ovation, which is very well deserved for Britain’s oldest dance company. Rambert may be 90 this year but they show no sign of standing still.

-Kristy Stott

Rambert: A Linha Curva plus other works is at The Lowry until Friday 30th September 2016 and you can get your tickets here.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Gangsta Granny (The Lowry Theatre, Salford)

Birmingham Stage Company's Gangsta Granny by David Walliams. ©Mark Douet
Birmingham Stage Company’s Gangsta Granny by David Walliams.
©Mark Douet
upstaged rating: 

The Lowry fizzes with excitement with the arrival of the Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of David Walliams’ much-loved Gangsta Granny.

Since 2008 David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm – writing nine children’s books and selling more than 12.5 million copies worldwide. Children (and grown-ups) love his books and it was clear to see that this stage show was also well received. Gangsta Granny has been a staple read in our house- the immersive sheer brilliance of Walliams’ wit has ignited our imaginations and prompted conversation. While the stage show doesn’t offer the same enveloping delight as diving into the original, the charm and excitement of the live stage match the vigour and flamboyance of Walliams’ writing.

Adapted by Neal Foster, Gangsta Granny tells the story of Ben (Ashley Cousins) and the relationship that he has with his little scrabble playing, cardigan wearing, cabbage chomping Granny (Gilly Tompkins). Ben loathes having to stay at his boring Granny’s house every Friday when his Mum (Louise Bailey) and Dad (Benedict Martin) go to watch their Strictly Stars Dancing show.

Vibrant and colourful, each character looks as though they have sprung from the pages of Tony Ross’ wonderful illustrations. Travelling around on her motorised scooter we soon learn that Granny is not as boring as we have been led to believe. Action packed and dream-like with a wicked brilliance, Gangsta Granny is poignant with some top-trumping wit and offers a thoughtful twist as Ben comes to realise that beyond the drab exterior, his gran is wild and adventurous.  

‘It’s important to follow your dreams Ben, it’s all you’ve got to guide you.’

Jacqueline Trousdale’s set is colourful and snappy, the simple design makes scene changes swift and fluid. Jak Poore’s ballroom themed musical composition is lively and comical, adding further depth to the production.

© Mark Douet
© Mark Douet

 

Gangsta Granny is fun and fast paced and the perfect outing for children, parents and grannies. It continues to tour right through summer  2017 – running at 2 hours and 10 minutes, it is the ideal treat for those children who read, share and love Walliams’ writing.

-Kristy Stott

Gangsta Granny gets a WEST END transfer! Catch David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny at The Garrick Theatre, London from 26th July 2017 to 3rd September 2017- tickets are available here.

Gangsta Granny continues to tour the UK right through to September 2017. Click here to find your nearest venue and book tickets.

REVIEW – Maggie and the Song of the Sea (The Lowry)

Maggie-and-the-Song-of-the-Sea
Upstaged Rating: 

THINGSTARS: 

Playing as part of the Roundabout Season at The Lowry, Colour The Clouds Theatre Company are back with their new production Maggie and the Song of The Sea. Recommended for those aged seven and over, Maggie and the Song of the Sea explores bereavement through the eyes of a child. Colour The Clouds Theatre have been able to develop this important and universal piece of theatre with the full support of Winston’s Wish, The Charity for Bereaved Children.

Maggie (Josie Cerise) is a young girl whose world is coloured by a beautiful playground of music. Every feeling, person or object in her life has a sound – whether it is the rough sound of the scraping of a woodblock as she brushes her hair or the calming strings melody that she associates with her beloved Grandad (Scott T Berry).

Maggie’s best friend is her grandad who looks after her while her Mum (Samantha Vaughan) is at work, together Maggie and her grandad have amazing seaside adventures and take fantastic imaginative journeys to a special place called Shingle Bay.

When Maggie’s grandad dies suddenly and the adventures that they shared together come to an end, the musical backdrop disappears from Maggie’s life as she deals with the loss she feels and tries to adapt to a different world. The idea is that the young audience follow Maggie’s journey through grief and acceptance and then onwards to understanding and hope, as Maggie breaks through her wall of silence and finds her music again.

Under Alyx Tole’s direction, Maggie and the Song of the Sea offers young children the opportunity to learn about death in a safe and calm environment. Maggie’s story is told with vibrant, colourful puppetry and live music which assists the fantastic storytelling, giving a portrayal of grief that children are able to engage with.

Fully complemented by the ambiance of the Paines Plough Roundabout, Catherine Manford’s charming and playful musical composition and Mark Fox’s sensitive but atmospheric lighting design provide a perfect multisensory environment to tackle this difficult subject. Writer Sarah Birch has penned this story with a truth and honesty which is truly beautiful, offering a realistic insight of a child’s journey through grief.

-Kristy Stott

Maggie and the Song of the Sea visits the performance space at Oldham Library on the 10th October 2015. For information on times and tickets please click here or call the box office at the Oldham Coliseum on 0161 624 2829.

For more information on Winston’s Wish and the work that they do – please visit www.winstonswish.org.uk