Separated by War. Tested by battle. Bound by friendship.’

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On Tuesday night I had the privilege of watching ‘War horse’ live on stage at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic seat, only three rows from the front, giving me a fantastic view! I could see everything!

I had seen the film and read the book a while ago, but had heard great things about the stage version and I was not disappointed!

The story follows the tale of Albert, a young man living in West England with his parents who farm for a living and are constantly struggling to pay the mortgage. Albert’s father wins a young, small horse at an auction, and thus begins the friendship between Albert and his new found friend he calls Joey.

Joey must learn to earn his keep on the farm, and Albert is more than willing to dedicate hours on end to ensure he turns into a farming horse. Joey grows into a magnificent, beautiful horse whom Albert has grown to love, believing they will be together forever! That is until one day when Albert’s father sells Joey to the British army, leaving a devastated Albert speechless. Little do they both know that their friendship is far from over and that their journey together has only just begun.

Each horse was guided by three actors, but the movement and likeness to real horses was so realistic it was easy to forget that they were just made of wood. The noises, the way they glided not he stage was so life like, it really threw me!

Given the story involved the first world war, it showed a lot of men and horse dying not he battlefield, which was as sad and dramatic as it should be. The crescendo of the music supported the actors and the way the portrayed what war was from the soldiers perspective.

The big cast was involved in so much of the show, many taking on the horses, controlling and running around with the annoying yet funny little goose on the farm, and many stood during scenes to hold props and change the set according to each setting.

There was no need for this story to be developed into a musical, but the war songs and melodies that played were emotional enough and added a certain something to the atmosphere on stage.

Albert and Joey’s friendship is endless and its so refreshing to see a love between a boy and his horse rather than a boy and a girl, which is what we are all used to! It is strong and binding and clearly one that is worth fighting for until the very end!

I had decided to go on my own to see this drama, as I have no problem doing anything or going anywhere on my own and lets be honest no one wants a friend talking to them all the way through a play anyway, right?

Im glad I did venture alone as it enabled me to give my full attention to the story, despite the fact that I could hear constant whispers and giggles from 3/4 middle aged women sitting behind me. Now I’m all for a chat with my friends, but NOT during a performance and it is NOT FUNNY when a man or a horse is shot dead! Yes, the bang might have been a surprise to you but is it really something to giggle about? This story is intense and heartbreaking and in no way humorous! It drove me mad and I really wish I had asked them at the interval to stop it, especially as at a crucial moment in the last scene I overheard one woman say ‘Don’t worry he doesn’t do it!’

Thank goodness I had seen the film and knew of this, otherwise it would have spoilt it for me and I really would have lost my patience with them. *Rant over*

I smiled, laughed, gasped, shrieked and welled up on more than one occasion throughout the play, it was so much better than I could have ever anticipated! The theatre was packed and it is no wonder, and I am so glad I booked my seat to see this spectacular show!

I know this particular stage production is touring the UK, and I must insist you buy a ticket and see for yourself why I cannot stop raving about it!

Romeo & Juliet – theatre review

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Having never read or seen a play of ‘the greatest love story ever told’, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially as this production was an all men one!

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men formed in 2004 and named themselves after Shakespeare’s original troupe or travelling players. Their humour, wit and professionalism towards the arts was shown throughout the play and it was obvious that their hearts were in it.

We arrived to Cardiff castle in what we thought was plenty of time, only to find the only places left were on the floor right in front of the stage, which turned out to be an excellent view.

Cardiff castle was a perfect setting for this tragic love story, blocking out the loud city noise, the infamous lines were echoing from wall to wall, really encompassing us in the story itself.

The actors announced that given the grim weather conditions, if the rain persisted they may have t take a break, but promised us the show would go on having never cancelled a play before.

With less than five minutes to go, ‘Juliet’ broke character and stated that a break would be taken, to much relief of the actors and us the audience. Yes, we had umbrellas and hoods, but there’s only so much rain a person can take and we were soaked to the skin by the end.

Each of the 7 actors played great roles, and began each act by singing in harmony with each other. This worked really well and was a great way to take us back in time with them to really believe we were part of the drama.

At first I didn’t know how I would react to men playing women in such a tragic love story, but it was not an issue. Juliet was gentle and kind and the nurse was as caring and over the top as I thought she would be.

Mercutio and Romeo were amongst my favourite characters. How they kept their energy and enthusiasm through all the rain and delivered each line as though it was the first time was astonishing!

The fight scenes were great, but each time they plunged to attack their opponent, I was terrified they would slip on the water and off the stage!

It might be too late for you to see this production in Cardiff, but I know they tour all over the UK and would definitely recommend them!

If you think you’d enjoy their performances, check them out at: http://www.tlcm.co.uk/index.html

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‘Don’t believe the fairy tale!’

I have always been a girly girl since a young age and trying on high heels in shops, putting on too much red lipstick and braiding my hair was brilliant!

I grew up watching Disney princesses being saved by a handsome prince, longing that one day I would find my happy ending and live in a giant castle too, obviously. I remember that Cinderella was one of my favourites and that Sleeping Beauty was the one where I laughed, cried, danced along with and hid behind the sofa when the eve fairy first mad her appearance!

Growing up watching this film, where good triumphed over bad, where the princess woke up and all was good in the kingdom again, I didn’t know any different, until I heard about this film.

I have never been a big fan of Angelina Jolie, but if anything was going to sway me it was this film, and I can now say that I actually liked her in this one and will be more inclined to watch others.

Maleficent reminded me so much of Elphaba from Wicked, who eventually turned into the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Both these characters are strong and independent women who fall for a man they can never be with, and are completely misunderstood until you know the real story.

Told from the ‘evil’ fairy’s point of view, we follow a young, friendly Maleficent growing up in a colourful and exciting world, until she falls for a human boy and things start going a bit wrong.

At an only an hour and a half, this film doesn’t drag or dwell too much on the plot itself. We see the story through different eyes, leaving us to question the fairytale version we all watched over and over again as children.

The costumes and graphics were as colourful and in your face as you’d expect them to be, but from the start the true story reels keeping your eyes peeled to the screen right from the beginning.

Maleficent’s loving side is brought out, as she stays close to princess Aurora or ‘Sleeping beauty’ as we know her, from the moment she is born, watching and caring for her, like a ‘fairy godmother’ as she is called.

What i especially liked was the way the meaning of ‘true love’ was portrayed in an unexpected yet welcoming way for a fairy tale!

If you haven’t seen, I urge you to! Learn the truth about this fairytale..

The Last days of Troy

What a performance!

I knew the jist of the play before it began and had performed in ‘Women of Troy’ in school, so I had an idea of the history and the type of story to expect.. but I didn’t know the effect it would have on me!

The Globe Theatre was the perfect setting for the Greek play. The wooden stage and seats took you back to older times, really making you feel a part of the drama.

From the opening line said by Zeus himself, I was hooked. It really felt like the actors were giving their all throughout the whole 3 hours. Perhaps they upped their game as this was their last performance, but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed.

Personally, the comedy elements from Zeus, his wife and daughter weren’t particularly necessary. The story, the mythology is not a happy one and as light hearted as they tried to make it with a few jokes and puns, I could have done without it.

My eyes were glued to the stage during the battle scenes. The tension had built up so much between both sides, the second act was intense and enthralling to watch! The eye gauging, the blood spilling from their throats looked so realistic, I squirmed but at the same time could not look away!

Lily Cole, the model/actress, was just as pale and beautiful in real life, and took the lead role as the infamous ‘Helen of troy’ very well. She wasn’t on stage as much as I thought she’d be, but when she was, she did the part justice.

Having said this, I will definitely try the £5 standing tickets for a performance and I know now to come well prepared with an anorak, umbrella and comfy shoes!

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