Thursday, 21 July 2011

Twelfth Night @ Little Moretone Hall 14/07/2011

* Theatre review originally printed in The Sentinel 16th July 2011

FOR over a decade Alsager Community Theatre group has been performing open air productions of classic plays within the warped black and white walls of nearby Little Moreton Hall. Performed in the courtyard with minimal stage props, the setting lends an instant Elizabethan feel to this, one of Shakespeare's most enduring comedies.

Central to the plot is Viola, played by Deborah Smith, who disguises herself as a man to serve the noble Duke, but attracts unwanted affection from the countess Olivia. Meanwhile, her twin brother is also at court, leading to frequent cases of mistaken identity, which climax in an on/off fencing fight scene.

The sub plot, featuring Malvolio, who is tricked into thinking that the countess is in love with him, is also handled very well. Initially, Johnathan Hutchins plays Malvolio as a cold puritanical figure, but as soon as he is consumed by the midsummer madness and dons yellow stockings, the play swings into farce mode.

The comedic pairing of David Bryan, as a drunken Sir Toby Belch, and Rory Poole's flamboyant dandy, Sir Andrew, steal the show as far as laughter is concerned. In comparison, Matthew Bateman's Feste, the classic Shakespearean fool, almost comes across as the straight man. He is reserved a couple of songs however, accompanied by a three-piece folk band, which catapults this production into another level.
Alsager Community Theatre may not have done anything different with the material, but this production is well executed and the unique surroundings create a warm, intimate feel.

Sherry Counsellors - Tear Me To The Core

*originally printed in The Sentinel on the 3rd June 2011 


Local five piece, Sherry Counsellors are relatively new to the scene but already they have proven to be very productive and generous in how they are promoting their music. You can download their EP Dance of the Birdman for free via their facebook page along with new song Tear Me To The Core, which is being released as part of their ‘one song per month’ policy. This would mean nothing if it wasn’t so good. Tear Me To The Core is a straight up ballad with the Manic Street Preachers being a clear influence. The bittersweet Brit guitar melody reverberates serenely over delicate acoustic rhythms and understated percussion. It has a very chilled out vibe despite the clear emotional compromise that the lyrics are embattled with. It may not be the most original release in the world but it still works as a slow burning ballad and I, for one, definitely look forward to hearing more from this band.         

Mr Will Music - Sing For The Moment

*originally printed in The Sentinel 16th June 2011

Along with his trusty guitar, Mr Will has long been a key member of the local music scene, promoting the many sounds and styles of world music to a wider audience through the Planet Sound Community Arts program. Recently he has gotten back into recording and playing music as part of his band, Mr Will Music, releasing new single Sing For The Moment. The result is an eclectic mix of African and Latin genres that definitely succeeded in brightening up my day. Instantly, I was won over by the dueling guitar melodies and the frenetic finger picking madness of it all. The rhythm section is fast and funky and the harmonizing vocals provided by Seby Ntege and Hassan Kayemba sing out an infectious chorus. Lasting just over three minutes Sing for the Moment is a literal whirlwind of joy, which I would thoroughly recommend to everyone.