A Christmas Carol at Shrewsbury House

Front Room Theatre A Christm,as Carol flyer

Local theatre group Front Room Theatre will be presenting their adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Shrewsbury House on Saturdays 12th and 19th December at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from TicketSource and cost £10 (concessions £8).

The adaptation is billed as a “multi-sensory experience for all the family”, and includes new music by local actor Natalie Wilcox and a special composition with lyrics by Natalie and music by Joseph Finlay. The play’s narrator is Sarah Barrowman.

Shrewsbury House has also hosted Front Room Theatre‘s previous productions “Lie Back and Think of America” and “Maya and Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals“.

Oh, and there’ll be mulled wine.

Natalie Wilcox at the Shrewsbury House Christmas Fair
Natalie Wilcox singing at the Shrewsbury House Christmas Fair

Maya and Natalie's Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals

Maya and Natalie's Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals leaflet

We heard a little of local actor Natalie Penn‘s excellent singing voice in Front Room Theatre‘s last production at Shrewsbury House, “Lie Back and Think of America”. Now there’s an opportunity to hear more of her singing in  their latest production, “Maya and Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals” which is on at Shrewsbury House on Thursday 20th and Friday 21st March. Front Room Theatre’s web site gives more details:

Front Room Theatre presents ‘Maya and Natalie’s Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals’ at Shrewsbury House on Thurs 20th and Fri 21st March at 8pm til 9 with refreshments available. Featuring the Woolwich Singers, and produced by the team behind ‘Lie Back and Think of America’, this new show interweaves musical numbers into stories from the lives of performers Maya Levy and Natalie Penn. Accompanied by world class musician Joseph Finlay, the show promises to be a wonderful evening’s entertainment. Tickets are £8 full price and £6.50 concession, with a group deal of 4 for £25. For tickets, call 020 7207 0296 or 07786 980 781 or email artistic.director@front-room-theatre.co.uk For online bookings please visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/frontroomtheatre (online booking fee applies, no fee for phone or email bookings)

Best to book soon if you want to see Maya and Natalie’s musical – there aren’t many tickets left on www.ticketsource.co.uk/frontroomtheatre, though as Natalie comments below more are available direct from her.

Maya and Natalie's Marvellous Mishmash of Musicals leaflet reverse

Lie Back and Think of America at Shrewsbury House

Lie Back and Think of America flyer

Theatre comes to Shrewsbury House next month when Shooters Hill based Front Room Theatre present their play Lie Back and Think of America. The one-woman, multi-role drama performed by local actor Natalie Penn and directed by Naomi Jones starts a UK tour at Shrewsbury House on 15th and 16th April. It will also play at Mycenae House in Blackheath on 26th April.

Lie Back and Think of America has been performed at various venues, including the Edinburgh Fringe. The Edinburgh Fringe listing described the play as:

1940’s London. Sarah wishes dad could meet GI Joseph. Evacuee-with-attitude, little sister Lucy descends on Wales. Can Sarah find the courage to tell them the truth? Engaging multi-role one-woman show. ‘Compelling … well written’ (Soho Theatre). ‘Amazing … kept us all enthralled throughout … a show good for both young and old’, ‘We both thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that Natalie was brilliant’ (audience comments).

Tickets for the Shrewsbury House performances are available from Natalie on 07786 980 781 and cost £8.00 (concessions £6.50).

Natalie has previously worked with Shared Experience, the BBC, Channel 4, Nottingham Playhouse, Watford Palace Theatre and the Guildford Shakespeare Company.

She was also in the video for Deptford band Athlete‘s Black Swan Song which was released to raise money for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Day Appeal. The song, described as “powerful and moving” is about the death of the grandfather of Athlete’s lead singer and guitarist,  Joel Pott. The video is certainly powerfuul and moving: I’ve included it below as a taster for what you might experience on April 15th and 16th.

A Murder of Crows?

London 2012 Festival Crow image

Crow is the third Handspring Puppet Company production that I’ve seen, and it’s very different to the other two. In War Horse it was easy to forget the people operating the horse puppets, and marvel at their subtle rendering of  small details of horse behaviour that made it possible to suspend disbelief. In Or you Could Kiss Me the puppeteers were harder to overlook as there were three for each three-quarter life sized man puppet and they sometimes seemed to be part of the play, like a medical crash team around a dying man. But sometimes their use of puppets put a spotlight on an aspect of reality such as the frailness and creakiness of old age.

In Crow the different crow puppets highlight different aspects of Ted Hughes poetic vision of the Crow, from a frail, skeletal creature struggling to be born to a nightmarish priapic wingless man-bird engaged in aggressive sexual pursuit. The word puppet just doesn’t do justice to these creations.  In Crow the puppeteers are completely engaged in the action- dancing and reciting the poems as well as manipulating the Crow creations.

It would be impossible to present the whole of Ted Hughes long and multifaceted mythic masterpiece in just over an hour, but I think Handspring have created a congruent synthesis of  poetry, music, movement and setting that captures its essence. The set is bleak and monochrome, post-apocalyptic, with a central hill composed of a kind of metamorphic material that might have been melted in a nuclear holocaust and re-solidified. Ben Duke’s choreography is not graceful, but is danced with hugh energy and commitment, complementing Hughes’ poems. During Crow’s birth it reminded me of tribal dancing seen on a holiday in India, and there was a hint of deep didgeridoo tones  in Leafcutter John‘s sparse music which added to the ancient primitive feel. Later a courageous, dangerous leaping embrace at the top of the hill was the perfect match to Lovesong‘s story of obsessive, competitive, dangerous love.

Although the production of Crow is dark and stark, Crow is ultimately a survivor ….   the final lines of Examination at the Womb-door:

Who is stronger than hope?      Death.
Who is stronger than the will?     Death.
Stronger than love?     Death.
Stronger than life?     Death.

But who is stronger than Death?

Me, evidently.

Pass, Crow.

Handspring UK’s production of Crow is part of the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF).  It is on at the Borough Hall in Royal Hill until 7th July 2012, tickets from Greenwich Theatre. Not to be missed.

The Secret Market

If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, there may still be a chance to see the Secret Market, a play put on by Greenwich Theatre in Oxleas Woods. Allocating free tickets significantly reduced the scope of the production (no effects, no musicians, minimal scenery and props), but the production nonetheless comes close to filling the large shoes left vacant by London Bubble, who appear to have been a casualty of the cuts in the Arts Council portfolio, yet have become much loved for turning South East London’s green spaces into a roving auditorium.

One good thing about the show is that incorporates the castle, which it is pleasing to report has recently moved a step closer to being re-opened to the public. Whilst it may still be a short while before the restoration begins in earnest, it’s still encouraging to hear on the grapevine that things are coming along, and the trust, council, and heritage lottery fund are working together towards one goal.

The Secret Market

The London Bubble Theatre Company have in previous years offered show after show of hilarious and inventive twilight performances that promenade around Oxleas Woods, however this summer they are going to be noticeably absent, which is a terrible shame…but these are hard times after all, and so on and so forth…anyway, live performance fans fret not, because Greenwich Theatre are going to be bringing their own outdoor show to the woods in a couple of weeks time!

Greenwich Theatre have got some form in the outdoor performance department, having recently helped to stage the hugely entertaining (if slightly under promoted) Greenwich World Cultural Festival, featuring the delights of Woolwich’s own Aircraft Circus, Greenwich’s Taiko Meantime Jumping Dragon, Zil’OKa” (a French Caribbean performance), Bhangra, the Lindy Hop, Ballroom, Steel Drumming, and Juggling, so whilst this may not be a like-for-like replacement for the way London Bubble use the change from day to night to make their shows so special, it should still be skilfully pulled off, if not amazing.

Sat 23 & Sun 24 July, 11am, 2pm and 5pm

Following the success of The Visit at Charlton House in 2009 and The Finders at Well Hall Pleasaunce last year, we are thrilled to invite you to our latest free outdoor summer show, which this year takes us to Oxleas Wood for The Secret Market.

The Secret Market follows our previous shows in uncovering a magical world in one of Greenwich’s most celebrated outdoor locations. Oxleas Wood itself dates back over 8000 years, and at its heart stands the impressive, gothic Severndroog Castle. It is here that we will meet the salesmen of the secret market, foraging for their wares. Ever moving, never sleeping, all they really want is a rest, but will the terrible queen who set them in motion ever let them be … ?

The family production will be directed by Amelia Bird, artistic director of Gomito Productions and director of last year’s production of The Finders – so audiences can expect a healthy dose of comedy, puppetry, magic and music.

The show will lead you on a journey through the woods, finishing at the castle. All tickets are free but we have strict limitations on audience size, so please book in advance by calling Greenwich Theatre on 02088584447 or visiting the box office. Tickets are not available online.

Meeting point: Oxleas Cafe, Crown Woods Lane, off Kenilworth Gardens SE18 3JB

Please note:

  • certain areas of the wood and certain sections of the route are relatively steep, and wheelchair users and those with pushchairs might experience some difficulties.
  • the show will go ahead regardless of weather conditions, so please dress accordingly.
  • there is limited parking available at Oxleas Cafe. Alternatively, buses servicing shooters Hill Road are numbers 89, 486 and 244.
  • the production will depart from the meeting place promptly, so latecomers may struggle to find the action and therefore may miss out altogether. Please arrange to arrive 10 minutes before the show is scheduled to start.

Thanks to stu for finding this.