Archive for February, 2018

Review of Viva’s production of Sue Townsend’s ‘Bazaar and Rummage’ in The Brook Soham on the 8th February 2018

February 13, 2018

You are always assured of good quality when you go to a Viva production and ‘Bazaar and Rummage’ was no exception. The clever script regularly played on words –the first sign of this in the title. We were not only entertained in the setting of a bazaar and rummage sale, we were also immersed in the bizarre behaviours of an array of anxiety-ridden agoraphobics and their so-called carers who had enough problems of their own.

The acting was excellent and had us thoroughly immersed throughout the play. Characters included Gwenda (played by Mary Barnes) the neurotic control freak, Fliss (Hannah Schunmann) the seemingly sole character on track only to reveal her own deep-seated anxieties in the end, Katrina (Sarah Shorney)  a dumb blond obsessed with Barry Manilow, make-up and pretty dresses, Bell-Bell (Anthea Kenna) with her obsessive compulsive disorder cleaning everything in sight, many times, wonderful Margaret (Kirsten Martin) outlandishly swearing, smoking against the rules and telling the harsh truth no matter what the circumstances and the WPC (Vicki Jelleyman) arriving near the end of the play provided another anomaly: a police woman who is afraid and hates people and the world.

The success of the play was not only the wonderful characterization by the cast, but the truthfulness of the anxieties, interaction and back-stabbing of the characters that is easily recognizable in any age.

Yet with all this serious exploration of the human condition the play was also hilarious. We could almost predict the rebellious quips and colourful comments by Margaret who, for example, was told not to swear and immediately and naturally replied with a string of expletives complaining about being restricted.

Director Gail Baker and her team are to be congratulated for such a wonderful, hilarious yet thought-provoking evening’s entertainment.

I look forward to their next event: ‘Hairspray’ from the 7th to the 10th March 2018 at the Brook, Soham contact details:


Review of Warren Mailley-Smith’s performance in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 10th February 2018

February 13, 2018

Local concert pianist, Warren Mailley-Smith, gave a wonderful St Valentine’s concert on Saturday. He has a phenomenal technique that never ceases to amaze. The strength, agility and fluidity of his playing in the most demanding passages enhanced the pieces wonderfully. His fingers flew over the keys giving each phrase the right amount of pressure so that we were mesmerised with clear powerful melodies and flowing accurate rapid accompaniments. He often used that special musical technique of holding back just a moment, making the listener wait until the last second before a poignant note is struck inextricably drawing us into the inner workings of the music.

The programme was especially well devised and the inclusion of the highly competent Veles ensemble and Susan Parkes (soprano) coloured the performance positively.

The variety of composers included in the programme added to the sparkle of this wonderful evening too. The compositions chosen were those unforgettable, romantic favourites that reflected the romantic nature of this Valentine’s Concert perfectly.

In Debussy’s ‘Claire de Lune’, I could at easily imagine moonlight shimmering on the water, his fluency  reinforcing the nature of this impressionistic work.  Other notable items included Mendelssohn’s ‘Song without Words’, Liszt’s ‘Lieberstraume 3’, Chopin’s ‘Fantasy Impromptu’, Pachelbel’s Canon in D and a delightful selection of Puccini’s best arias. The thrill and excitement of the final rhythmical foray in works by Piazolla, brought this wonderful concert to a most entertaining close.

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Review of ‘The Wiz’ by Witchford Amateur Dramatic Society at Witchford Village College on Friday 2nd February 2018

February 5, 2018

Who needs TV when you see a show like ‘The Wiz’ produced and directed by Witchford’s own Lucy Short? I stopped watching one of those live talent shows on TV recently because the singer was NOT using his voice well. It was excruciating.

Yet, here, in the village of Witchford, this so-called ‘amateur’ production reached the heights of real professionalism without a doubt. Every participant sang proficiently, their voices clear, well produced and evoking emotions that had the packed audience spellbound.

The characters were clearly defined. They were natural, and believable, not like the forced American caricatures that so many productions of The Wizard of Oz exhibit. Dorothy (played by Kerry Maltby) was wonderful, not so much the naïve little girl but a real flesh and blood young human being enduring trials that brought her insight.

The scarecrow (Joe Robbins) had the most amazing vacant expressions. We were in no doubt that he needed ‘a brain’.

Lion (Steve Barker) trembled delightfully, using his costume to great effect, the Tin Man (Craig ‘Banjo’ West) opened with very realistic mechanical movements that soon melted as we witnessed his apparent developing ‘heart’.

Aunt Em (Lucy Short) and Uncle Henry (Dylan Cardwell) were just as you would imagine a kindly aunt and uncle.

The witches were personalities that stood out clearly. Evillene (Sarah Bloor) revelled in her malevolent antics, Glinda (Carole Robbins) was goodness itself, while the lovable Addaperle (Chloe Grimes) looking good in blue hair and red-rimmed glasses reminded many of us of a kind Aunty we know.

The Wiz (Claire Mead) huffed and puffed with glorious intimidation made all the better by her amazing costume.

Other vital contributors to this fine drama were Kalidah (Kerry Wallis), Lord High Underling (Dan Waller), The Gatekeeper (Chris Jones), Messenger (Emma Mcclagish), the Crows (Alfie Peckham, Toby D’Cunha), Head Munchkin (Chris Jones), Assistant Munchkin (Dan Waller), the Wiz Singers and the myriads of young people filling the stage.

The stage was packed, yet movements were interwoven very effectively, the participants living the part, especially some of the highly talented youngsters.

Costumes, scenery, and make up were splendid.

The band excelled with a wide variety of sounds and sound effects that created an up-beat, infectious, all-embracing atmosphere that was a vital part of events, not a mere accompaniment.

The sound was also expertly controlled so that we could clearly hear the soloists as well as the amazing backing groups.

This was indeed a fantastic production. Director/Producer Lucy Short and her co-producer Craig ‘Banjo’ West, Jonathan Carter and Naomi D’Cunha (Musical Directors) and their teams are to be congratulated for such a wonderful evening’s entertainment of the highest quality. We are very fortunate to have such talented, hard-working villagers in our midst.