Competition: Micky Flanagan, Live!

WIN a pair of tickets to see Micky Flanagan live at the Metro Radio Arena, on Thursday 26th September!

An East End boy done good, Micky has risen to the very top of the stand-up world in the past few years. With his show stealing turn at The Royal Variety Performance, for which he was nominated for the Best Breakthrough act at the British Comedy Awards, to unforgettable appearances on Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo, Micky has secured his reputation as one of the best comics performing in the UK today.

All you have to do to win this prize is… Make us laugh!

To enter, tweet your favourite joke to @NSRLive, or post on the NSR Facebook Page

Entries are accepted up to 4.30pm on Wednesday 25th September 2013. The winner will be announced after the competition closes, live on air during Wednesday evening’s show, and via the NSR Facebook and Twitter pages. The prize is two tickets to Micky Flanagan – Back in the Game at the Metro Radio Arena, 26th September 2013. The tickets are non-transferable and no cash alternative can be offered. Please see our full competition terms for more details.

Blue Remembered Hills, Northern Stage

Dennis Potter’s unflinching snapshot of the joys and brutalities of childhood is revived with a glorious vigour in a new production from Northern Stage.

 

The eponymous rolling hills envelop almost the entire performance space, and as the lights go up, the reason for its soft starkness becomes apparent – like a memory in a film, the set is black and white. It’s a well-played move by designer Ruari Murchison, who says ‘the set…was deliberately designed to look like an old photograph’.

 

The production and direction is rife with well-placed symbolism, but it’s not the decision to keep the cast as adults playing children that ensures that The Famous Five, this ain’t. There are no Victorian romanticisms of childhood; this is a realistic portrayal of the viciousness and crudity of children’s play – killing squirrels, beating each other up, and discussing who can piss the highest up a wall. But there is an innocence, too, which is preserved – when one of the children hears their mother say that their neighbour’s bedsheets ‘could tell a pretty tale’, the filthiest response the group can produce is ‘maybe ‘er do wet the bed!’

 

It’s easy, too easy, to sink into the story of Peter (Christopher Price), Willie (David Nellist), John (Phil Creadle), Ray (James Bolt), Angela (Tilly Gaunt), Audrey (Joanna Holden), and Donald (Adrian Grove), as their childish games in the Forest of Dean echo the horror of a world war which they cannot fully comprehend, but which touches all of their lives. The buildup to the play’s climax is therefore so subtle that when the lights do dim, the audience is abruptly shaken from its reverie. Where did they go? What happened then? But surely the mark of a good play is found in that old showbiz adage – always leave ‘em wanting more.

 

Rachel James Brown

 

For more information about shows at the Northern Stage, visit their website: http://www.northernstage.co.uk/

Pictures We Make, Northern Stage

 

The best piece of art is one the viewer can relate to, medicine but given the highbrow nature of the old masters’ paintings and the modern work you find in the Tate, finding a connection can be a tricky task. After all, it is only human nature to try to make sense of things.

Contemporary dance often seems like art form that exists for a small elitist group of people who understand the stories the dancers tell with their bodies and movement. However, with their latest performance Pictures We Make, the Manchester-based dance group Company Chameleon has created an unusually accessible choreography that invites the audience to identify themselves with the dancers and their experiences.

 

The double-bill quartet – a show consisting of two independent performances, involving 4 dancers – was actually a trio as one of the dancers and choreographer of the second piece Pictures We Make, Kevin Turner, was injured; however, the remaining three artists effortlessly managed to convey the spirit of the pieces as if they were produced for only them.

 

The first performance Eden, co-choreographed by dancer Gemma Nixon, explored the internal life of human emotions, thoughts and feelings, hidden away from the world, but living inside everyone of us. Happiness, affection, the endless search for the self- these were only a few themes the dancer skilfully brought to life, accompanied by the diverse and always fitting musical scope by John Matthias and Andrew Prior.
The second eponymous part of the show was based on the lives and experiences of the dancers themselves, so the audience was naturally drawn to interpret the story unfolding on stage, wondering what it was that moved the lives of these people right in front of them. The performance was seemingly based on a love story, full of jealousy and desperation, that felt marvellously familiar to anyone who has ever been in a similar situation.

 

Apart from their great expressive abilities, the dancers Anthony Missen, Gemma Nixon and Elena Thomas proved their talent in their unconventional, yet gripping style of dance, being smooth and controlled in their all of their lifts, poses and movement. With the frugal costumes and set design, the performance left enough room for the viewer’s own interpretations to make it an equally accessible and wondrous piece of contemporary dance.

 
Lisa Bernhardt

 

For more information about shows at the Northern Stage, visit their website: http://www.northernstage.co.uk/

 

 

Tony Law, The Stand

How to describe Tony Law? Well, erectile if you ask him, vcialis 40mg he’s currently a Virate – half Viking, half pirate – several elephants, or possibly a competitor from the 1908 Olympics. Law’s blend of madcap ramblings, wry observations on the mixed joys of parenthood, and a healthy peppering of historical references, goes down a treat in a packed Stand.

Law is not the kind of comedian to rip members of his audience to shreds (well, unless, like tonight’s extraordinary coincidence, Pol Pot is in the front row). Nor does he allow them pause for breath; the show is hurtled around the globe, the stage, and the space-time continuum – the only lull in activity being the interval, during which, one assumes, Law is plugged in and recharged.

The pace is excellent, the imagery inventive, and the delivery impeccable – and with a Monday night audience determined to enjoy themselves, it’s a very warm room indeed, and one from which the echoes of laughter never quite die away.

Rachel James Brown

For more information about The Stand Newcastle visit their website http://www.thestand.co.uk/newcastle.aspx

 

Steptoe and Son, Northern Stage

Emma Rice’s adaptation foregrounds the pathos behind the laughter as the much-loved BBC comedy is brought to the stage.

 

Adapting such a classic of British comedy for a modern audience is a challenge, tadalafil and the introduction of an ever-changing female character (Kirsty Woodward), as well as an ever-present turntable, which moves the Steptoes’ story through the years, is a risk, but one which pays off – especially when we see Dean Nolan’s Harold gyrating his way through a Cliff Richard number.

 

 

What is perhaps most starkly present onstage is the reality often masked by the TV Steptoes’ loveable antics. These are two men living ever on the brink of poverty, scraping a living in the same backbreaking way of their grandparents, and doomed never to escape. Harold yearns to break the cycle and make something of himself. Albert is terrified that he’ll leave him to die alone.

 

 

Inter-weaving the storylines of four episodes – ‘The Offer’, ‘The Bird’, ‘The Holiday’, and ‘Two’s Company’ – Kneehigh Theatre’s production is certainly not the ‘Steptoe and Son’ of the BBC’s golden years, but there are resemblances enough to satisfy most fans. The inexplicable skeleton, the vests and braces, and Harold’s long-suffering relationship with the Steptoe horse are all there. Mike Shepherd’s Albert is a reassuringly dirty old man, whining, winking, and manipulating his way through life.

 

 

Trading some of the laughs for tragedy may not have sat well with some sections of the audience, but what results is a moving and brave piece of theatre, with , at its heart, the spirit of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson still very much alive.

 

Rachel Brown

 

For more information about shows at the Northern Stage, visit their website: http://www.northernstage.co.uk/

FLOCK – A Zendeth Production, Northern Stage

Stepping into the enchantingly exotic set was like being transported to a parallel world from the drizzly reality outside. Flock – An Iranian fairy tale about the mystical self-discovery of a woman and her three children magically conjured from a pomegranate in the forest – is set amongst the tension and unrest of Iran’s impending revolution.

 

The play was inspired by Farid ud-Din Attar’s North-East Iranian poem ‘The Conference of the Birds,’ and begins with a warm-hearted headmistress called Zeba (played by Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh, who also directed the play.) Zeba desperately seeks change for her beloved yet corrupted Iran. Her adventurous spirit and magical beliefs lead her to meet a mysterious creature called Omeed, who takes her life down an unexpected turn.
Zeba’s three children – Farjad, Shaheen and Tannaz – all perform a convincing stylized transition from baby, to teenagers to adults, providing the audience with some comedic moments as wailing babies, hyper toddlers, and individual young adults each with a unique identity. The character of Omeed pushes the play’s boundaries by introducing circus techniques such as hoop and rope. These worked brilliantly in the set, creating  new levels for the actors to play with and adding a sense of floating fantasy.

 

A clear sense of unity was evident in the cast working well together as an ensemble as the story unfolded, as much through their movements as their words. Each child crawls, dashes and dances across the stage. The clever use of sound: trickling water, whooshes of air, combined with stylised physical gestures conjured up powerful imagery of the forest without any set being necessary. This allowed the freedom for simplistic yet visually opulent storytelling which felt both traditional and yet extremely skillful.
For 90 minutes the audience remained engaged with the fast shape-shifting performance; this was however compromised when in turn each child sang a solo as it briefly leaned towards “high-school musical.” This was a contrast to Omeed’s song which had an Iranian style and felt in context with the play.
Overall the play was a beautifully constructed, thought-provoking and truly magical establishing Zendeth (which is the Farsi for the word ‘Alive’) as a theatre company I will be watching out for.

 

Laura Misch

 

For more information about shows at the Northern Stage, visit their website: http://www.northernstage.co.uk/

Chortle Student Comedy Comes to Newcastle Uni!

So you think you’re funny? Britain’s biggest search for the funniest students is coming to Newcastle University SU in Newcastle on February 21st.

The Chortle Student Comedy Award is now in its tenth year, and comedians who have previously come through its ranks include Simon Bird, Tom Rosenthal, Tom Deacon, Iain Stirling and Lloyd Langford. And 2012’s winner Kwame Asante, is already signed up with Micky Flanagan’s agent. Asante said: ‘The student comedy award was an incredible experience. It is such a high profile competition, with an impressive host of previous winners, so winning it feels like a huge achievement!’

The final takes place at the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe in August, but it all starts with a regional heat, which is being held at Newcastle University’s Students’ Union in Newcastle on February 21st. The competition is run by the comedy website Chortle, ensuring the winner unrivalled exposure to all the movers and shakers in the stand-up world to help launch their career – plus a top prize of £2,000!

Doors 7.30pm, show 8pm. Tickets £2. For more information, visit www.chortle.co.uk

Spectacular student radio from the North

Is that not enough?