Friday, March 31, 2017

REVIEW: Junkyard (Theatr Clwyd, Mold)

If the Children's Film Foundation had decided to make a movie of the Bash Street Kids in 1978, Junkyard would undoubtedly be the result. This new musical from the pens of playwright Jack Thorne (writer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and composer Stephen Warbeck (Oscar-winning musician on Shakespeare in Love) is a raucous, riotous, rambunctious romp through what life was like for kids growing up in and around Bristol in the 1970s.

It's unapologetically in-yer-face, intentionally disruptive and offensive, and perfectly captures that feeling of restless rebellion that all teenagers develop on their journey between childhood and adulthood. Thorne's uncompromising but searingly truthful book weaves a set of characters that at first push you on your back foot, but by the end you find yourself caring about, even wanting to spend more time with.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

REVIEW: Ghost: The Musical (Venue Cymru, Llandudno)

Live every day as if it were your last - that's the message to take away from Bruce Joel Rubin's Oscar-winning screenplay for the 1990 film, on which this Bill Kenwright Productions stage musical is based. The original film starred Man of the Moment Patrick Swayze and Soon-To-Be Woman of the Moment Demi Moore and became the highest-grossing film that year, scooping five Oscar nominations (winning two of them) and four Golden Globe nominations. It was a phenomenon.

Twenty-one years later it was rejuvenated for a stage musical version, with new songs added by Eurythmics maestro Dave Stewart and veteran songwriter Glen Ballard (he's good - he co-wrote Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror). This Kenwright production is enhanced even further, with an improved story and different songs.

Rubin's original story is an undisputed classic, it's one everybody remembers and loves. At the start of the show, Molly and Sam are head over heels in love, so we know straight away that something bad is going to happen, and it does. Sam is shot and killed by a street robber, leaving heartbroken Molly alone and vulnerable. But for all the proclamations of love and devotion in the early scenes, it's only when Sam's shot dead that the show comes truly alive as his ghost hangs around in order to protect Molly from ongoing dangers.

Monday, March 06, 2017

REVIEW: F.E.A.R. (Galeri, Caernarfon)

Every one of us lives in fear every day, from the moment we know what being afraid feels like, to the moment when the ultimate fear consumes us. We might not be consciously aware of all our fears, but they are there, programmed into us, subliminally controlling the way we live our lives, the way we react and respond. And then there are the greater fears that we recognise all too well - the phobias and the nightmares and the manias.

Gareth Clark is one half of the performing duo Mr and Mrs Clark (he's the Mr), but for F.E.A.R, he works alone in what is a solo show written and performed from the very depths of his heart and soul. A result of 12 months of research into both his own and other cultures, F.E.A.R is both an intensely personal work and also terrifyingly relevant to almost everybody who sees it. It speaks to every member of the audience as much as it does on behalf of Gareth Clark.