Vamos Cuba! – Theatre Review

Amazing dancing but lazy plot making.

When I watch a dance show I don’t usually mind not having a plot to follow. I would almost prefer it to be done in a series of small sketches, like a comedy show. However, if you want to have a story line at least make it visceral to the show. It killed me that in the midst of such exception dancing and choreography the plot failed to impress as much. Why oh why was it set in an airport? It just made very little sense and would have been far more captivating if it was set in the streets of Havana. The public wanted Cuba and that would have delivered Cuba. The idea was flawed and too complicated when the audience was craving the latin everything that the show could have potentially offered, setting and plot included. That being said, choreographers and concept designers are not authors, so I will forgive them for that.

Dance wise, what an incredible show to watch. It was fun, sassy and everything I imagined Cuban dancing to be like, both structured and dirty to the core. There was enough variation that the audience was always left wanting to watch more. For this reason I can only advise people to watch the show when it comes around again. It is reinvented by the company every few years and it is such good fun, followed by the dance class at the end which is just an absolute joy.

The Rembrandt Spa #DiscoveryFriday

A spa day is always an absolute must and the Rembrandt delivered it beautifully!

A friend of mine and I had planned a little girly day for a while, to simply catch up and relax in a pool, a jacuzzi and have a massage, the Rembrandt in South Kensington was just the answer to our prayers.

A small spa that rests quietly in the basement of the hotel, it features a beautiful pool with columns and a fountain in the middle, a relaxation area, open gym, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. We got a twenty minute treatment, which was a massage and so completely relaxing. I really carry a lot of tension in my shoulders and need to very often have some help to relax them so this was PERFECT!

The beauty is that spas are slowly but surely becoming more accessible. We booked our afternoon with spabreaks.com and it cost us each £45, with free teas and coffees, treatment and full use of the spa for the whole day. It was great. Prices outside of London are even better and cheaper so it is definitely do-able to treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon once in a while.

So that is my little discovery for this week, let me know what you guys are getting up to.

Happy reading, writing and travelling!

Woman in Black – #ThrowbackThursday

So November 14th 2015, I had the opportunity and pleasure of watching the Woman in Black live in the theatre, and today I am throwing it back to this theatrical experience.

Let me make it explicitly clear that I am awful with anything horror. I sat through the movie Woman in Black with a scarf wrapped around my head with just a gap for my nostrils where I could breathe and the tiniest slit in my eyes so I could barely see it. The sound of it alone is just agonising let alone the visual impetus. I felt that in the theatre it was made ten times worse, seeing as I could also smell everything and the performers are at arms reach.

The play itself is actually really different from the movie, in that is it all a recollection of a story and uses metatheatre as the story telling device. For those who do not know, metatheatre is when you are watching a play about a play, so theatre within theatre. This is how the piece is originally written and it works so well, with two primary actors taking on all the roles and making it a very intimate setting, which only adds to the creepiness of the whole affair.

Now I am painfully aware that OBVIOUSLY there is a third performer who plays the woman in black HOWEVER, theatrical license is everything and the performer who plays the woman in black is not mentioned AT ALL in the programme nor do they appear at the curtain call. This only adds further to the creepiness of it all. I did some extra research into this and found out that in the actual script she is not written in either. This is far too much for me to deal with, it is too creepy.

The production was amazing and they were all fantastic and really delivered the spooky story successfully. I for one will leave this behind as one of those things I have done and watched that I do not have to do again. That is how much of a wimp I am. That being said, I have to say that in the end – SPOILER ALERT! – for those who have watched it – she comes out, for the scariest bit after all the build up, the sound team are pressing those buttons with all their might, there is a fog machine going, you do not see her coming from anywhere but she appears in all her might, scary as hell, and she accidentally – or I am hoping it was accidentally – revealed her face and got lit up with a weird green light and no word of a lie, the woman in black looked like Elphaba the Wicked witch of the west. That really did help me go home less paranoid so I am so grateful, and I hope no one else saw that and it was just me.

You can watch Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre in London. Tickets are available on www.thewomaninblack.com

2015 in Discoveries

Can you guys believe that 2015 is coming to an end? I feel this year has absolutely flown by and so much has happened and taken place, so much that I have yet had the opportunity to share with you all. I feel like this year has really shaped me as a person, from personal development and overcoming turbulent situations, to simply discovering things about myself through some experiences and adventures I have had. I wanted to share with you how I feel that instead of planning new year’s resolutions that may or may not come to be, reflecting in the year that has just passed is always an important ritual for me. It is an opportunity for me to really think about all the things that I am grateful for this year, grateful to have worked my hardest to be able to experience as much of the world as possible and to see that another little section of my complete person has been chiseled.

Travel

This is very exciting! As you all know I am a lover of all things travel! I had the opportunity to go back home to Macau which was lovely, but the highlight of Asia for me was discovering another corner of the Philippines that I did not know. I LOVED Cebu! It is honestly stunning and the cross of cultures is brilliant.

I also had the chance to go to France twice! And Paris really did take my breath away. I knew that it was beautiful, I mean there are thousands, millions, billions of photos of Paris roaming the internet, plastered across travel brochures and travel memorabilia, it is one of those cities with so much iconography everywhere that it is used for everything and anything used with travelling. Still, after knowing this and seeing these images everywhere, I was still in awe of how beautiful it was, and it really is the city of love. I was such a melt the entire time!

I discovered that I really actually enjoy staycations/weekend trips within your country. It is so important to explore and love the place you live and I LOVE England.

Finally, and although you won’t hear about this until 2016, I am going to Mozambique on the 27th of December! How exciting! A post will follow on how to travel from winter to summer, and what to pack, but the trip low down will come afterwards upon my return in January. This is really exciting! I have never been anywhere in Africa, and am so excited that the first country I will be visiting there has a rich cultural heritage and Portuguese influence.

Theatre

My theatrical highlight of 2015 has to be… Mamma Mia! I know I know, it’s like saying a blockbuster film should have won best script at the Oscars, HOWEVER, I was completely overjoyed at this musical, I loved every second of it. This was pre-blog so I never wrote a review of it, but I will give you a Throwback or Flashback one of these days for you to know what it was like.

I also loved Memphis, more than I can say! I know I criticised a few of the choices, but I am quite a critical person when it comes to things like this, I like to analyse and understand and that is why I question things. You can read my full review of this awesome musical here.

Activities

I have done some things this year that I really didn’t expect to be doing. From returning to pantomime as a spectator, to joining an amateur dramatics society and performing, to going to the Adnams Brewery to taste beer! It has been a year of adventures, but by far my favourite activity, which will be featured soon, was an indoor skydive! It was ridiculously cool, I loved every second of it and was so upset that my partner was not allowed to do it due an injury, but I will do it again with him one day. Keep your eyes peeled, this is coming to the blog very soon.

Hidden Treasures

Some true little gems have been discovered, from recently speaking about the wonderful everything of Mulled Wine – not mould, I have made that mistake quite a few times – to a huge discovery which was the little village of Lavenham. Lots of hidden little treasures that I had no idea I would love or even existed have occurred.

I absolutely fell in love with a restaurant in London, Covent Garden area, called Sarastro. That was one of my favourite discoveries, I booked it for my mother’s birthday surprise that my sister and I organised, but I ended up being mostly surprised myself. It is a theatre restaurant, and you will only really get what I mean by looking at it. Tables are sat in their own little theatre boxes, and the restaurant is famous for their performances during the week. Let me not forget the FOOD! Which is just absolutely incredible and delicious, the Turkish oriented menu, with flavoursome Mediterranean dishes is absolutely divine, so much choice and it is not as costly as expected!

Mostly, I think my favourite discovery of the year, was that I learnt I don’t have to sacrifice my career or my passion for travel to see the world. You can read all about this in one of my very early blog articles, ‘Travelling on a time limit’. I have found a very healthy balance and am really enjoying my trips and staycations, discovering England has been a huge thing for me and I really want to go to Jersey next year and maybe even Scotland. I won’t let anyone name my wanderlust ‘tourism’ because my desire to have a healthy life balance does not make me less of an explorer, it just makes me practical. I think it has been a huge learning curve for me, as it has been my first year in full time employment and I have learnt that actually this profession has opened a lot more doors for me rather than shutting away my life. I am currently in the process of requesting a sabbatical from work to see if I can travel for 3 months in 2017, and if that goes through I still have my job in hand for my return as well as enjoying the trip of a lifetime in South America, hopefully.

2015 has been an incredible year and a stepping stone for me. I can tell that this is a strong foundation for the way I want to build my life and I have so many more lessons to learn. I am already dying of excitement to discover 2016 and share it all with you guys. How was your 2015?

Gypsy – theatre review

Hello everyone, apologies for the absence, so much family and work stuff has happened in the last 4 weeks that DiscoveringDiana has just fallen by the waste side a bit. However, I have discovered many things! So hopefully lots of fresh content will be coming very often this month 🙂 Happy December, countdown to Christmas is officially on.

I love going to the theatre and watching things I would typically not choose to see. This was the case on Wednesday 21st of October.

23720_full

I know this is a bit weird to admit, but as a thespian you don’t always involve yourself in every piece of theatre or film based on theatre that you can. Gypsy was never a show that fascinated me, I didn’t even know what it was about or did I have any immediate desire to watch it. I knew of it, knew its most famous song ‘Everything is coming up roses’, I knew it was a thing that existed but really not much more. I knew for a fact that it was one of my best friends’ favourite musical, but for the life of me I did not know why. Attending Gypsy came around for two very simple reasons: Imelda Stauton – DUH! – and it was a present from me for a friend’s birthday. Needless to say we both were in for a complete surprise as we both came from the same Gypsy ignorant group – and we call ourselves thespians, shame on us!

So Gypsy is set in the late 50s and 60s, and is a musical that follows the memoirs of Burlesque performer Gypsy Rose. The plot, however, centres itself around Rose, Gypsy’s mother, and the lengths this woman went to to guarantee her daughters’ success, even to the point of ruining the family relationship. It is an incredibly American plot, with the stubborn desire for more leading the way for Rose’s incessant plotting and scheming of theatrical greatness in Vaudeville.

Imelda Stauton is A M A Z I N G! Can anyone deny this? I watched her a few year’s ago in another Sondheim piece, Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, where she played Mrs Lovett. She is just joy in a box. Her vocal prowess and strength is incredible, and it is such a flexible tone. From Rose to Mrs Lovett she is able to embody a character so entirely that it extends to her voice. A lot of actors I have found revert back to one vocal line when singing and can only hold a character and make them standout in straight acting situations. Being able to differentiate character even in song is a great ability to master, and Stauton has it down to a T. She honestly sounds NOTHING alike in each of the pieces I have seen her act in let alone sing. It is truly humbling to be in the presence of such a rich talent, who has voiced puny yet terrifying Umbridge, to the lustful and desire ridden Mrs Lovett, to motherly determined Rose. I cannot extend the amount of shivers this woman caused me that evening, especially because she stood right next to me to make her first entrance on stage. I was in the same air bubble as Imelda, and myself and my friend shamelessly gasped and shrieked when we realised she was RIGHT THERE.

Aside from the incredible performance of the protagonist, the remainder of the cast was incredibly talented. From the children performers to the adult versions of Rose’s children, the entire cast held their role and their parts in the world of Rose very well. There is not much I can say, effortless singing and dancing, great comedic moments from some, but to be honest the entire cast, and indeed the entire piece, falls flat in the background of Imelda’s outstanding performance as well as Rose’s overzealous personality and way of living.

As much as I enjoyed Gypsy, there are a lot of aspects of it that I have to analyse. For me, at many points this story has no need to be shared as a musical. I find most successful musicals the musical numbers actually drive the plot forward and seem to influence the story. I felt the musical numbers in gypsy existed to simply make the play a musical. Aside from some numbers most of them were unnecessary. I understand that the piece has to demonstrate Rose’s failed attempts to grant her daughters’ success by constantly re-hashing dead and exhausted performance numbers, but this is in itself becomes tiring for the audience. From one perspective this makes Sondheim’s musical very static, very unmovable. It seems the show never truly evolves because Rose – the lead character – is constantly on the same page. However it shows that in the background the world and her daughters are evolving and growing up. If this was used as a device, then Sondheim wrote the static music perfectly. The numbers therefore become a true aid to the play to continuously show the cyclical never changing nature of Rose’s path. Stuck with tunnel vision her life is reflected in the repetitive nature of the song numbers. Now thinking about it, that would be what Sondheim did, as he is obviously a genius.

However, from an audience view point, Sondheim loses the interest precisely because of this technique. Then again, if you were offered a front seat to the saga of Rose’s life that’s exactly what you would have felt. The pivotal numbers ‘Everything is coming up roses’ and ‘Rose’s Turn’ demonstrate the true determination of the woman in succeeding. Once for her children and once finally for her. We know that really her projection of her desires towards her children’s lives stem from her own wish to be accepted and loved which make Rose a very human character – although incredibly demanding and driven. By the end of the show, just in time for ‘Rose’s turn’ everything seems to take a sudden halt, as Rose has been abandoned by the daughter she coddled and pushed to success, and abandoned by the daughter who once wanted to please her the most. At this point she is able to analyse her own life in reflection of what she had done to her daughter and family, how she has driven them away by wanting to drive them to a success written entirely in her own rules. She cracks, and Sondheim’s lyrics here beautifully portray the break down and thought process of the character, who in the end is somewhat redeemed as we are given a shred of hope that everything will be alright when Louise seemingly suggests that she will forgive her mother.

Complete highlight of the performance for me was a very well written and staged introduction to the world of burlesque! With Anita Louise Combe, Louise Gold and Julie Legrand taking the roles of Tessie Tura, Mazzeppa and Electra respectively, they introduced and seduced Louise into entering the world of Burlesque. It is very fun number that steals all the comedic thunder of the musical, with phenomenal shabby choreography, great inventive and interactive costumes and three incredible actresses that have no fear in looking, acting and sounding like fools, it really did brighten my day in the middle of an otherwise incredibly intense play.

images

I feel that Gypsy is a very entertaining musical, incredibly American in its ambition and characters. It is flamboyant but also somewhat understated musically. With very little original large musical numbers, and very repetitive music that add to the overall feel of the piece, it is a musical I was more than happy to have the pleasure of watching before closing in November. I feel it was a great choice of revival for 2014/15 when younger generations and even my current one is struggling to achieve immediate success in many industries and we are all being pressured from every direction. It is a learning lesson for parents and children alike, it is fun and lively, but also quite emotionally consuming. The performances delivered were absolutely captivating and incredible. I for one, as someone who always wants the music to be the driving force of the musical, felt a bit robbed of that pleasure when I saw it, but upon thinking about it I find it very refreshing and intelligent to show the music reflecting the entire mind of one particular character, Rose the true driving force of the piece.

23725_full

Please watch it if it ever returns! Or get your hands on one of the recordings which will be kept in the archives of the Drama and Theatre Department of the V&A – Victoria Albert Museum – and you will be able to watch it for a very small fee.

Let me know what you have been watching at the theatre lately!