Friday 28 February 2014

Hitchcock Blonde at the Maddermarket Theatre

On the evening of Thursday 27th February 2014 I attended The Norwich Players performance of Hitchcock Blonde by Terry Johnson at Norwich Maddermarket Theatre. This production directed by John Holden starred Edward Wallis, Libby Waite, John Mangan, Gemma Johnston, Dave Myers and Mandy Jean Jordan.

Media lecturer Alex tries to seduce a young blonde student with a trip to his Greek villa to investigate a collection of old film canisters. Will the heat of a Mediterranean summer and the temptation of discovering a lost Hitchcock film break down her resistance?

Cue to Hollywood in 1959 - Hitchcock is auditioning a blonde for the Psycho shower scene. But she has designs on being Hitch's next leading lady and is prepared to do whatever it takes... or is she? These two stories spooled out and intertwined as the two men pursued their image of the perfect blonde.

Hitchcock Blonde was about sex, obsession and yearning for the unobtainable. There were some fantastic performances from The Norwich Players as the audience were taken to the Mediterranean and to Hollywood in a play that drew parallels between the fantasy world of film and the real world of vulnerable young women and the men who exert power and influence over them.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

12 Years A Slave at Hollywood Cinema

On Tuesday 25th February 2014 I saw 12 Years A Slave at Hollywood Cinema, Anglia Square, Norwich. This very powerful and brilliant movie was directed by Steve McQueen and starred Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup. 12 Years A Slave also featured Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano and Lupita Nyong'o.

In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty at the hands of a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.

12 Years A Slave is a must see movie which I would recommend everyone watches. The movie has an important message and is full of powerful performances especially from Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup. This is a masterpiece from Steve McQueen and a piece of cinema history.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Richard Alston Dance Company at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Saturday 22nd February 2014 I attended the Richard Alston Dance Company's performance of Contemporary Dance at Norwich Theatre Royal. For Richard Alston every dance is a love affair with his chosen music and this was a night full of wonderful dancing and music.

The programme at Norwich Theatre Royal matched the beauty of Mozart with the exhilaration of Benjamin Britten and the lightning energy of Bang on a Can All-Stars. Commissioned to celebrate the centenary of Britten, the brand new Rejoice in the Lamb was danced to Britten's superb setting of Christopher Smart, whose poetry is fuelled by both religious fervour and such eccentric details as the poet's cat Jeffrey!

The programme also featured the duet from Unfinished Business, to the adagio of Mozart's Sonata K533. Lachrymae, set to Britten's compassionate and tender music for viola and piano played live, spun emotional variations on a gentle song by John Dowland. The evening ended with Martin Lawrence's Madcap which was fast-paced, thrilling and set to the driven music of ultra-cool New York band, Bang on a Can All-Stars. This was a fantastic night of Contemporary Dance at Norwich Theatre Royal from the Richard Alston Dance Company which was greatly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience. My favourite piece was Madcap.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Hannah Parry-Ridout Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 20th February 2014 I attended the Hannah Parry-Ridout Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. Hannah is Assistant Musical Director of the Fulham Camerata, Assistant Organist at St. Mary's Putney and a regular accompanist to choirs and instrumentalists. She started her musical career as a chorister in the Norwich Cathedral Girls' Choir and started playing the organ with the aid of a Norwich Diocesan Scholarship.

The programme consisted of Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 - Bach, Master Tallis's Testament - Howells, Intermezzo from Sonata No.4 - Rheinberger, Scherzo from Symphony No.4 - Widor and St. Patrick's Breastplate Movement III from Sonata Celtica - Stanford.

This was another fantastic Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral with featured works by Bach, Howells and Stanford. Hannah Parry-Ridout who graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2010 performed a wonderful programme of music which was greatly appreciated by the enthusiastic audience at Norwich Cathedral.

Thursday 20 February 2014

The Dragon's Spell at The Assembly House

On the evening of Tuesday 18th February 2013 I attended The Dragon's Spell - a reading by George Szirtes and Friends at The Assembly House, Norwich as part of the Norwich Dragon Festival 2014. The powerful and fascinating symbol of the dragon is an ideal way to explore and promote Norwich's rich cultural heritage.

George Szirtes, winner of the T S Eliot Prize for Reel and shortlisted again in 2013 for Bad Machine, launched The Dragon's Spell with a reading from his work. This event organised by Writers' Centre Norwich in the elegant surroundings of The Assembly House was full of wonderful poetry and music.

The Dragon's Spell was curated by the singer-songwriter Robyn-Astrid and featured readings on the theme of dragons and monsters by Meghan Purvis and Keiron Pim. This was a night at The Assembly House when the mythical symbol of the dragon captured our imaginations.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Sleeping Beauty at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Monday 17th February 2014 I attended The Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia's performance of Sleeping Beauty at Norwich Theatre Royal. This is the classic story of love and innocence, mystery and magic set to Tchaikovsky's sublime score.

A wicked fairy places a fatal curse on the baby Princess Aurora, which the good Lilac Fairy softens to a sleep of one hundred years. Only a prince’s kiss can break the spell. This is every child's favourite fairy tale which The Russian State Ballet of Siberia brought magically to life on the stage at Norwich Theatre Royal.

This was a night full of stunning choreography, sumptuous costumes and wonderful sets that formed the fantasy world in which the Lilac Fairy struggles against the evil Carabosse. The sell out audience had a brilliant evening full of fairy tale magic and the sounds of Tchaikovsky. It was fantastic to see such an amazing Ballet in my home city of Norwich.

Friday 14 February 2014

Wooden Arms and Heart of a Dog at Norwich Arts Centre

On the evening of Thursday 13th February 2014 I attended the Wooden Arms and Heart of a Dog double headline gig at Norwich Arts Centre with support from Cove Hithe. This was a gig full of local bands at a great venue.

Wooden Arms are a Norwich-based contemporary band featuring Jess Diggins on Violin, Fynn Titford-Mock on Cello, Alex Carson on Piano, Jeff Smith on Guitar and Milly Hirst and Lydia Walker on Vocals. With 6-part vocal harmonies and a distinctive yet delicate blend of classical instrumentation meets modern melody, Wooden Arms have released their debut, self-titled EP with independent record label Bare Feet Records in the summer of 2013. They are currently working on a new single Tide.

Heart of a Dog were born in the West Midlands then exiled to East Anglia. A lapsed duo of Leonard Samuel and Jonathan Allen , now joined by a interchangeable line-up of guest musicians and silent partners. They create an often tangible soundscape, characterised by a potent fusion of percussive, compelling rhythms that nurture tender melodies. Thoughtfully unaffected lyrics and rich harmonies yield a sound that manages to be both soulful and distinctively authentic.

Local band Cove Hithe is a trio of Jason Ducker on guitar/piano, Matilda Pendered on violin and Astrid Calloman on percussions. They gave us a set full of classical and folk which was a great opening before the headline acts took to the stage. Heart of a Dog with their rocky folk and the more classical sounds of Wooden Arms played fantastic sets full of amazing music which made for a great night out at Norwich Arts Centre.

Thursday 6 February 2014

Here Be Dragons from the Undercroft

On the evening of Wednesday 5th February 2014 I attended the Here Be Dragons Storytelling gathering at the Jurnet's Bar in the Undercroft at Wensum Lodge in Norwich. Tales from the Undercroft is a monthly gathering of storytellers and those who like listening to stories.

The first meet at the Undercroft in 2014 was dominated by dragons. As part of the bi-annual Norwich Dragon Festival we were entertained with stories of serpents, worms and all manner of winged monsters from Dave Tonge and Liam Carroll. Gareth Calway also shared with us his story of Cromwell's talking head.

This was a fantastic evening of entertaining storytelling at the Jurnet's Bar. It's always great to listen to stories about Dragons especially in such a fantastic and historic venue.