‘Oh Yes She Is!’ Looking Glass Theatre’s Cinderella: Review 2014

WHO would have thought that a mere 317 years after The Brothers Grimm published it, the fairytale story of Cinderella would still be entertaining audiences, albeit in panto form.

But yes it is, and Looking Glass Theatre (LGT), a local professional theatre company, has brought it to life in 2014. Based on the Royal Theatre script from 1983, director James Smith and his cast of just four have been touring the traditional family pantomime with something a little extra.

Yes, there is a stage with comedic characters and garish (in the best way) costumes, but LGT takes their audience’s experience a little further. With a full lighting rig and masses of sound equipment, viewers were treated to a full show with live sound and lighting cues, coordinated by James.

Although priding itself as an old-school panto with audience participation and the obligatory back-and-forth ‘oh no he isn’t!’, LGT brought something new to the mix by incorporating puppetry, local puns and references and exquisite hand-painted canvas backdrops; changed discreetly during the performance by the cast and really do put this show head and shoulders above others.

When it comes down to the cast, with only four actors and eight characters to be played, quick costumes changes were on the cards, but these were very successfully pulled off, especially since some were quite interesting costumes!
Singalongs and audience participation was only part of the recipe to great performance energy in Cinderella, as the actors brought each character to life.

From the most dashing Prince Charming, played by recent University of Northampton acting graduate Marvin Freeman, to the multi-role king Tim Cole with impressive shifts between the evil stepmother and Cinderella’s confidante, the show keeps the audience awake, that’s for sure!
Cinderella’s gentile nature is played well by Lucy Ellis-Brown, teasing out the rather moral lesson that people should be treated as the treat others, and the comedy factor in the form of ugly sister Eloise is reserved for David Heathcote, guaranteed laughs to follow.

In short, Looking Glass Theatre have not only managed to keep a classic performance alive with just a few small modern additions, they have kept it affordable and something ideal for kid and parents alike. What’s more, they have something very unique in what they offer, for they turn the local village hall into a full theatre experience. ‘Oh yes it is’ something you should go and see!

Performances run until January 9, tickets are available from http://www.lookingglasstheatre.co.uk or catch up at lgtheatre on Facebook.

BIANCA CHADDA

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Do you know your Sell-By-Date?

You won’t find a show with nudity, comedy, puppetry, tragedy and death in such massive measures as graduate production Sell-By-Date. 

[DISCLAIMER: Yes, my boyfriend is in this show. No, this isn’t bias. It isn’t a review. It’s a synopsis.]

Sell-By-Date - Marbleglass Theatre Company

Sell-By-Date – Marbleglass Theatre Company

Tragicomedy. A dramatic genre the average layman like you and I are probably unfamiliar with. Quite self-explanatory nonetheless- a mixture of tragedy and comedy. And let’s be honest, there are few things more tragic than death. But graduate theatre company Marbleglass from The University of Northampton have jumped in at the deep end to prove the topic of death  on stage can indeed possess comedic value.

The four members [Sophie Murray, Ashley Sean- Cook, Joseph Derrington and Marcus Churchill] developed the show from scratch; a product of their final year dissertation project. Deciding to construct the piece around the effect of tragedy and comedy genres have on each other, death seemed to be a major tragic throughout.

Sell-By-Date - Marbleglass Theatre Company

Sell-By-Date – Marbleglass Theatre Company

Sell-By-Date - Marbleglass Theatre Company

Sell-By-Date – Marbleglass Theatre Company

The premise of the play is clever; each actor playing out their own life with its trials and tribulations. Now, something past reviews have mentioned is the way in which you are drawn into the lives of these characters. Each scenario unfolds and will be something you can relate to- whether you’ve experienced it or not.

Comedy is not to be forgotten however, as each moment you begin to feel the character’s pain, there will be something hilarious in the pipeline that will confuse you as to whether not it’s ok to laugh! Nakedness, vulgarity, dancing and puns are aplenty, and these promise that this play revolving around ‘passing on’ doesn’t die a death.

Touching, witty, fun and honest, you’ll be dying to see it again before it’s even finished. Death- it’s a funny thing.

Sell-By-Date - Marbleglass Theatre Company

Sell-By-Date – Marbleglass Theatre Company

See Sell-By-Date at BedFringe this summer on July 21, 22 and 26 on stage at South Bank Arts Centre, Caudwell Street, Bedford at 7.15pm.  Tickets £5, www.bedfringe.com.

Charmed by Sharm

First holiday with my boy, first time to Egypt, and first travel feature published in Bedfordshire on Sunday earlier this summer. As one of the main reasons I took geography (because I somehow thought it’d help my career sail towards that of a… travel writer?), it was a bit of a deal to get it in print.
So here ya go!

SMELLY and irritable (no, not me as I got off the flight, says BIANCA CHADDA), the awful sound my camel made when I sat on it was a little daunting. But I’ll admit; riding a camel provided a bit more leg room than the Thomas Cook jet. It may only be five hours away, but boy was my trip to Egypt out of this world. The plane was cramped, but the 36C breeze as we got off made up for it.

Hangin' at the airport

Hangin’ at the airport

When you arrive at the airport expect to be herded, much like a camel in fact, towards the visa desk.  If you’re planning any excursions, you’ll need to buy one of these.

Sharm El Sheikh, meaning ‘the bay of the Sheikh’, has gone from just three hotels in 1982, to more than 320 today. But don’t worry; the huge tourism industry won’t stop you from getting any authentic Egyptian culture.

Getting on our transfer bus was our first experience of the Egyptian expectation of tipping. A man stopped us putting our cases in the hold, just so he could do it and then ask for a tip. Hand held out, he demanded money. My boyfriend and I exchanged awkward glances. “We have no money,” we said in sync. He hissed and turned to the next tourists, leaving us a little scared our cases wouldn’t make it to the hotel.

Just fifteen minutes from the airport, The Three Corners Palmyra looked rather grand with its terracotta coloured domes and arches. But it was the incredibly helpful staff that made the hotel the most amazing place to stay, so remember to tip before you leave if you think they did a good job.

Beautiful hotel chillin' at The Three Corners Palmyra

Beautiful hotel chillin’ at The Three Corners Palmyra

Sharm’s Old Market is a barrel of laughs, if hassle from Egyptian shopkeepers is your sort of thing. I can’t deny that it’s an extraordinarily cultural place. I mean, we saw a boy on stage swinging a cobra around his head, camels carrying anxious looking tourists and cats roaming the streets like pigeons, but ladies, don’t wander anywhere alone as it might not be safe.

Beautiful mosque at The Old Market, such amazing  archaeology.

Beautiful mosque at The Old Market, such amazing archaeology.

If the hassle gets a little too much, pay Soho Square a visit. It’s much more westernised, with a British bar and plenty of English tourists. It’s the best of both worlds, with all the Egyptian shops but none of the full-on shopkeepers. With bars, clubs and even free wi-fi, it’s a must-do night out.

Naama Bay, one of the first tourist establishments in Sharm, is your place to go for a drink and a bite to eat. Not without its home comforts in the form of McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC, there are still lots of authentic Bedouin bars, complete with dancing and shisha for all the culture vultures. Expect some hassle here too, but probably more for the bars and restaurants than in the Camden-esque shops.

Can't beat a little Maccys. However, let me state that this visit was mainly to escape the hassle...

Can’t beat a little Maccys. However, let me state that this visit was mainly to escape the hassle…

Our hotel had a private beach in Shark’s Bay, where we took like ducks to the warm Red Sea waters, spending hours snorkelling off the shallow, coral-lined shores. As one of the world’s top three locations to dive, Sharm has, in my opinion, even more beauty underwater than on shore.

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Beach bums

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Snorkelling is my new favourite water-based activity!

We took a surprisingly cheap day trip, snorkelling with amazing English-run dive company Ocean College, who took us to Ras Mohammed National Park. Here we had the luck to catch a glimpse of, not only sea turtles, but a breathtakingly colossal Manta Ray.

Hey there HUGE MANTA RAY

Hey there HUGE MANTA RAY

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Nice little boat trip with Ocean College Diving group

Coinciding with my 21st birthday, we took an excursion into the middle of the Sinai Desert, where we met lots of Bedouin children who helped us up onto our camels, ready for a ride to their camp for tea.

Birthday Bea!

Birthday Bea!

We tasted some authentic dinner, consisting of humous, chicken, salad and incredibly sweet Bedouin tea, it was a real experience. That and the funky dancing around the campfire, the happy birthday singsong just for me and Ashley getting his groove on in a Bedouin dance-off.
We also did some stargazing, where a very nice Egyptian man used a super-strong laser to point out constellations before we had a peek through an amazing telescope to see Saturn (the planet with the rings!)

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Bedouin babes after a rocky climb to the top of an amazing view

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After thinking I may not enjoy the camel ride, I think I did pretty well…

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Enjoying the camel ride after all!

Despite the often barren desert landscape, and besides having to put your toilet paper in a bin and not down the toilet, Sharm is most definitely charming, and I’d recommend it in a flash. With so much ancient culture, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and breathtaking views both on land and off, it’s a place to visit before you die, for sure.
Mind you, I think I’d take a bus over a camel any day.

Mini Chadda beats brain tumour

Mini Chadda Love

Mini Chadda Love

So, just thought a celebratory blog was in order… It’s no secret about my little brother having a brain tumour. And it’s even less of a secret that he had it removed today. You guys have been messaging me, donating money for my run, praying, thinking about, and sending love to us all, and I’ve never felt so supported in my entire life.

Some people might find it hard to understand, but I’m gonna try my best to put the experience into words. Because it’s been the best lesson of my life, and I hope others can learn from our journey too (Oh my God, I sound so deep and thoughtful, haha, but it’s true!) .
I found out three years ago nearly he wasn’t like everybody else, he had a little extra (in the form of his tumour)… When he first had a fit, I was holding him, and boy, did that scare the shit outta me.

Time went on, and we learnt that it was a tumour. My world came crashing down. This sort of thing only happened to the families on the adverts, and friends of friends of the people down the street. But this was real, and it was happening to us. Wow, fuck.

Time went on. Hospital appointments passed, and it was either more drugs, or a new therapy, or something else to try. And I just carried on as normally as I could. There was nothing I could do about it- I couldn’t change it, so I might as well get on with it.

Daddy Chadda and Georgie

Daddy Chadda and Georgie

So, as we move on with our lives, I became a little more used to it. I was happy to talk about it, quite open to the fact, but I was, I think, a little blasé about it all. I was scared, and I don’t think I let it really hit me. But this past week, I’ve felt like a train wreck; like it’s all just hit me again and every day I woke up was like a realisation he had cancer. And was having major brain surgery.

All that filled my head was morbid thoughts of “What if this…. What will happen if… This time next week…” It stressed me out at home, at work, in my relationship. Tense was the understatement of the century. But, does worrying have ANY benefits? Not really…

So, his ten and a half hour operation to remove his brain tumour was completely successful. The lovely lady surgeon was just about to sew him back up, when she decided to go back in for one last try to remove it all, and she did. George is cancer free.

Dad and Sarah hadn’t told him where he was going. Hospital has been the norm for him for months, and so it was just another trip to see the doctor. It was better that way… As he was in the bed, wheeling his way to the operating theatre, he said “Daddy, where are we going?”

He and Sarah looked at each other, no idea what to say. “To the shop,” he replied. George thought… “For some choccie?” They nodded.

So, the wait was painful, and I tried to preoccupy myself. And then I felt guilty for not thinking of him. I thought of all the times I thought I was having a rough time, and realised that I’ve been selfish, and take things for granted.

But the call came from my step-mum Sarah. Telling me he was fine. My heart lifted about 5 tonnes. He was fine and awake, and his first words after coming round were “Can I have some choccie?”… (You can tell he’s my brother!) He’s experiencing a little temporary paralysis in his leg, and is battered and bruised, with a tube coming out of his throat and a huge scar on his head… but he’s alive and well (not to mention doped up on baby Morphine!)

There’s still a long way to go in his recovery, and I don’t doubt that there’ll be a few complications and things holding us back, but my Mini is alive and fighting. He’s my inspiration without even trying.

I’ve never felt this alive; this priviliged to be breathing and happy and healthy. I could have lost one of the most precious things in my life today. Instead we just lost a tumour. And gained a sense of life I’ve never had before. I’m exhilierated. I feel like I’ve learnt from him something that he doesn’t even really know himself.

I’ve learnt that when it hurts, is when it matters to be strong. It’s easy to be strong when the going is easy, but not when it’s tough. He may not have even known how he needed to be strong, but by God, he’s making one hell of an impression on the staff at Alderhay. Who I also owe the biggest thanks to.

So, if you take nothing else from this story, then please go away with the sense of strength to get through your days. Please realise who and what really matters, and what should be left to the wind, out of your mind. People won’t always be here, and it’s cliche, but you really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Tell people you love them, and take loads of photos. Have fun, but don’t be a dick. Don’t live everyday as if it’s your last, live it as if it’s gonna be the best.

Thank you all for the incredible and breathtaking support. I could not have got through this without each and every one of you.