The Twelve Shows of the Year – 2018 edition

This year has been a fantastic year for exceptional, affecting and meaningful theatre, something that should be celebrated loudly. This Year of the Women has been characterised by, and offered a plethora of exceptional pieces promoting gender equality and women’s power, whilst giving a voice to those that typically have none. Thus, let’s look back at the best incremental productions this year…

Once again, we’ll be counting down from twelve to one, our list comprising of musicals, plays and even works in progress, with the majority of productions as per usual coming from London-based venues, though there are regional exceptions. We would also like to offer two honourable mentions, firstly to the Old Vic’s return of their truly magical production of A Christmas Carol, the ensemble of which have been providing thrilling and awe inspiring performances this festive period, as well as a mention to the Young Vic’s Twelfth Night, whose community-led, musical retelling made Shakespeare incredibly vibrant and more importantly accessible to all. But without further ado, lets begin the countdown, here’s number twelve…
12. I’m Not Running, Lyttelton Theatre (National Theatre)

David Hare’s newest work intricately intersects politics with the personal, telling the tale of a fictional 2018, using a narrative that explores personal choices and their public consequences, through a twenty year intimate friendship.

Hare spiritedly writes for female empowerment, he anatomises the current political landscape and grippingly stages what it must be like for a women in the male-dominated topography of government, particularly capturing the consensus of women feeling as if they are not being taken seriously because of their gender. A sense wonderfully encapsulated in a section when politics and leadership are arrogantly mansplained to the female protagonist, affinities with which can only truly be shared by women. Hare furthermore, does not simply skate over issues such as FGM and the NHS, he bountifully sounds off about them.’ Read the rest of our review by clicking here.

I’m Not Running runs until January 31st. Click here to book tickets.

11. Fun Home, Young Vic.

Winner of 5 Tony Awards, this electrifying Broadway phenomenon staging Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel took America by storm and colourfully exploded onto the British Stage this year. The show introduces it’s audience to Alison at three stages of her life. Memories of her 1970s childhood in a funeral home merge with her college love life and her coming out.

This delicate musical wonderfully examines Alison’s relationship with her father, through which she finds they had more in common than she thought. ‘Fun Home is both tragic and completely uplifting. It is a delicate personalised piece that packs a punch and is ultimately relatable even for those that do not find themselves to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community.’ The perfect way to celebrate pride month this year. Read more here.

Fun Home may have closed, but writers Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori will have yet another musical on the London stage when Violet opens in January at the Charing Cross Theatre, click here to find out more.

10. Wise Children, Old Vic

A collective of collaborators brought together by Emma Rice cemented their formation this year with their first production Wise Children, from which they take their name, now touring the UK. Wise Children stages the impossible, that being Angela Carter’s last novel that spans over three generations.

It’s 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday. Exploring the lives of Nora and Dora Chance, we join them on their 75th birthday and their father’s 100th Birthday as they reflect upon their father, or lack of a father, alongside their years in show-business providing an interesting commentary upon gender and perception, artistically contrasting utter joy with painful turmoil. ‘As a love letter to the theatre and not just Shakespeare, Wise Children wonderfully employs any and all theatrical techniques in order to exhibit the breadth of talent within the collective, from puppetry to actor-musicianship, song and dance, to burlesque, caricature and even a specifically generated gestural language similar to sign language. Each technique symbolically representative of the theatre industry and its trials, tribulations, skill requirements and unlimited boundaries.’ Read our full review here.

To find out more about the Wise Children collective or to book to see their current tour, click here.

9. Zelda, The Other Palace (Studio).

With sounds similar to Post Modern Jukebox, Zelda brought the debaucherous 1920’s to The Other Palace Studio utilising an exquisite and satirical post modern score of reworked modern songs. Situated in the home of infamous flapper and socialite Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband F.Scott Fitzgerald, we meet the pair as they are throwing a party like no other… Packed with drama and wit, though the presentation was a work in progress and only semi staged, it provided so much viscerally, it wasn’t difficult to imagine a fully staged, extravagant party with huge numbers and intricate choreography to match.

With the piece filled with climactic and decisive drama, it is interesting to find that the work also has an absurdist and humorous layer to it. In the midst of these poignant moments the character’s sing modern, popularist songs such as Rihanna’s Umbrella and Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy.’ To read the full review click here.

In the titular role Jodie Steele absolutely shone, and do not despair, though she has finished her stint in Heathers, she can currently be seen in Rock of Ages on tour across the country. Click here for more info.

8. The Lehman Trilogy, Lyttleton Theatre (National Theatre).

Legendary director Sam Mendes returned to the National this year to direct Ben Power’s English version of Stefano Massini’s vast and poetic play. The story follows a family over three generations, a family and a company that changed the world. Providing a history of western capitalism in the scope of this famed banking family, the production following from the formation of their firm through to its collapse 163 years later, dramatically triggering the biggest financial crisis in history. With the narrative being told in three parts on a single evening this is an epic offering demonstrating the changing definition of the American Dream.

Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles provide a masterclass in acting and storytelling, effortlessly shifting from character to character between gender and age instantaneously. Engendered by the intricate revolving office space and representational style of the piece.

This illuminating and beautifully metaphoric work can be seen on Broadway next year and will then return to London for a West End run at then Picadilly Theatre in May. Click here for more information.

7. 100, 200, 300 Milligrams, John Thaw Studio (Tristan Bates Theatre, The Actor’s Centre)

Presented as part of The Blacktress Season, a collaboration between the John Thaw Initiative and Blacktress UK, Gloria Obianyo debuted her self-written and directed one women show, a musical weaving of a tragic monologue. Executed magnificently, focalising her work meaningfully on mental health and responsibility.

Gloria writes with such a level of compassion and emotion, synergistically inclusive of an awarity of her audience and the story she is trying to tell, that her compositions feel immediately real and raw, particularly when entwined with a psychological, poignant monologue. Resulting in an instantaneous bond of affection and empathy being formed between her and her audience. Obianyo’s musical configurations enacting cleverly, feature pockets of witty relevant phraseology and well-crafted metaphors, something she, through her character Remi, jestingly comments upon‘ throughout, to read our full review click here.

Obianyo can currently be seen in Antony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre, a production filled with both spectacle and exceptional acting. The piece runs until January 19th, click here to book tickets.

6. The Lovely Bones, Birmingham REP.

We were lucky enough to go to a pre-show talk with writer Alice Sebold in which she enlightened us not only upon her life and work, but the intricacies of this adaptation by award-winning playwright Bryony Lavery and we must say what she has to say is both fascinating and imminently worthwhile. Here Lavery takes Sebold’s delicate world and stages it so incredibly viscerally, giving it its own soundtrack and appearance whilst sustaining its heart wrenching qualities and stylistically allowing for the non-specifities of Susie’s heaven, making it aesthetically stunning, yet simple and imaginative. In short, it can be anything you want it to be.

With Susie dead, having been abused and brutally murdered, all she can do is watch her loved ones and her murderer as they go on living, in this beautifully tragic production, Susie is consummately played by Charlotte Beaumont backed by an ensemble of extraordinary actors who multirole terrifically. The piece providing a detailed examination into humanity, eloquently juxtaposing euphoria and tragedy.

The tour unfortunately finished in November, but hopefully it will be back soon.

5. Network, Lyttelton Theatre (National Theatre)

‘We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore’. Lee Hall’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s film of the same name, saw Bryan Cranston make his British stage debut toward the end of last year continuing into this year. Cranston gave the performance of a lifetime, supported by a powerful and large cast, including exquisite performances from Douglas Henshall and Michelle Dockery.

Network depicts a dystopian media landscape where opinion trumps fact. Howard Beale (Bryan Cranston), in his final broadcast, unravels live on screen. But when the ratings soar, the network seize on their newfound populist prophet, and Howard becomes the biggest thing on TV. Utilising cameras, live feeds and projections, this big budget work did much to construct the world of television and news broadcasting upon the National stage. Directed by the incomparable Ivo Van Hove, whose work proves to be continuously magnetic and electrifying, this truly was satire at it’s best. To read our review click here.

Cranston is reprising his award-winning role on Broadway this year. Click here for more info.

Additionally, Ivo Van Hove will next be directing All about Eve starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James. Click here for tickets. 

4. SIX Divorced. Beheaded. LIVE!

If you don’t know what SIX is, where have you even been? Taking the UK by storm and becoming somewhat a phenomenon with fans young and old, SIX is a girl-power, pop musical and concert experience telling ‘her-story’ from the perspective of Henry VIII’s wives and importantly includes an all female cast and band. We’ve been lucky enough to follow this production since it’s work in progress days earlier this year, having seen it at the Arts Theatre pre-Edinburgh, since then we’ve caught it again a few times in London and Kingston. Currently finishing its UK tour, SIX will be heading back the Arts Theatre for an open ended run in January.

One of the most inventive elements of the work is its experimentalism with the musical theatre form. The piece has remained intuitively not linear, moves away from providing a strictly musical theatre score and is self-aware. It allows the queen’s to speak directly to their audience and become their own storytellers, the pop-genre, concert-style becoming the force driving the narrative, this form symbiotically validating stories told by women. Proving these can be witty, clever and engaging and do not have to be about, or even include men.’ To read our newest review click here.

To book tickets for the Queen’s return to London or to find out about the upcoming Chicago production, click here.

3. Sylvia, Old Vic.

Featuring a past queen of the aforementioned SIX, Genesis Lynea in the titular role, and pop royalty Beverley Knight as her mother, this offering added a further girl-power / women’s rights explosion to the theatrical landscape this year. Billed as a hip-hop musical, Sylvia tells the story of the Pankhurst family and the suffragettes, from mobilising and militancy to politics and diplomacy. With inevitable stylistic parallels to Hamilton, this musical satirically and dramatically presented as a work in progress, left audiences begging for more, particularly for a cast recording. The perfect stand for women’s rights in a year characterised and celebrated for their past bravery.

Not only is the piece powerful and motivated, there is something so eloquently personal about the production as well, perhaps because it delves deeper into the lives of these powerful women and not just their involvement in the unions, particularly that of Sylvia. This makes her intrinsically identifiable with every women in the audience, as the varied occurrences in her life, such as love, lust, passion, family issues and beliefs are practically universal. This is superbly conveyed through the costuming as well, as from the neck down we get gorgeous and detailed period costumes, but above this the actors sport modern hair and make-up, reminding us that though they are portraying women from 100 years ago, they are women of today and have the same struggles as we do.’ The production unfortunately was caught in a media frenzy, to understand why and read our comprehensive open letter and review of Sylvia click here.

Sylvia will be back, to sign up to here more click here.

Alternatively, Sylvia herself, Genesis Lynea will be choreographing new musical Club Mex at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester. Click here to book. 

2. Hadestown, Olivier Theatre (National Theatre)

Rachel Chavkin directs this folk-opera non-specifically modernising the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice fusing American Folk Music and New Orleans Jazz. Hadestown crucially uses myth and music to comment upon the current socio-political climate in a polished and stylised, indirect manner.

Quite simply astonishing! Hadestown is wholeheartedly urgent and relevant, beautifully executed and thoroughly entertaining, the work is wonderfully inventive and imaginatively staged.’ To read our full review click here.

Hadestown runs at the National Theatre until the end of January, before transferring to Broadway. To find out more click here.

Rachel Chavkin will next be directing The American Clock at the Old Vic, click here to book. 

1. Emilia, Globe Theatre.

In this Year of the Women, the Globe Theatre in Michelle Terry’s capable hands, has delivered astonishing work, promoting change whilst demonstrating its inclusivity and diversity. Highlights include their magical Sonnet Sunday event, their inclusive production of As You Like It and their ephemeral and historical Voter’s Choice ensemble that went on to tour the country. But the most affecting and sincere offering was in fact a brand new production, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Emilia. A dramatisation of the life and times of Emilia Bassano, told through her eyes and by a cast of entirely women, this is the story of a poet and women’s activist who was detrimentally said to have been the muse for Shakespeare’s dark lady in his sonnets.

‘…a manifesto rather than an absolute history. It chooses to focus upon the biggest issues of the today and not just simply the oppression of women… Malcolm also touches upon themes of physical abuse and violence, sexualisation and the stereotypical journey of a women, i.e birth, marriage child birth and death… Therefore, Emilia is monumental, the performances are exceptional and the underlying manifesto is timeless.’ To read in full click here.

Emilia excitingly returns to the stage this year, this time at the Vaudeville Theatre. Click here to book your tickets and remember this is essential viewing!

The Globe’s next hotly anticipated venture will be an all female version of Shakespeare’s Richard II in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in 2019. Click here to find out more. 


As aforementioned this year has been an incredible year for theatre decisively characterised by activism. With this in mind, we are certainly looking forward to the year ahead! Stay tuned for our article detailing the most exciting productions set for 2019.



Review: 100, 200, 300 Milligrams, John Thaw Studio, (Tristan Bates Theatre, The Actors Centre)

Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸

Obianyo’s voice is a unique gift, glorious in tone, range and power it lends itself to a series of different styles, soaring and filling the space wonderfully, yet her song writing ability is something to be considered far more superior.

Gloria writes with such a level of compassion and emotion, synergistically inclusive of an awarity of her audience and the story she is trying to tell, that her compositions feel immediately real and raw, particularly when entwined with a psychological, poignant monologue. Resulting in an instantaneous bond of affection and empathy being formed between her and her audience. Obianyo’s musical configurations enacting cleverly, feature pockets of witty relevant phraseology and well-crafted metaphors, something she, through her character Remi, jestingly comments upon in her piece 100, 200, 300 Milligrams. Remi, a budding musician, is the parent of her parent, and by that we mean her mother suffers from a form of schizophrenia and often refuses to take her medication, resulting in her continuously turning away carers and eventually being sectioned, meaning Remi is often responsible for her mother and has been since she was a child. An increasingly difficult amount of pressure for a young adult, something Remi is now buckling under.

Though she self-proclaims that the dialogue needs work and it does in places, lacking some clarity and logic here and there, (something that may well be attributable to nerves also), what was provided by Obianyo in this manifestation of the work was for the most part aptly plaintive, juxtaposed by moments of endearing humour, that in part resembled a stand-up comedy performance, giving Remi a characterful and warming persona, a light to the darkness of the mounting pressure physically shown in the more consequential and impassioned sections of despair, where Remi tries to appease her mother. These feelings good and bad bubbling inside of her, are thus shown staggeringly by Obianyo’s own prolific acting abilities. Something she should be wholeheartedly proud of, we’ve never seen someone perform so powerfully, moving both themselves and us to tears in the process.

Most importantly 100, 200, 300 Milligrams truthfully considers what it is is like to be a young carer and admirably traverses the themes of mental health and suicide in an anecdotal manner. It delicately takes the concept of youth and explores what being a young carer means in relation to this. Such as the effects of losing your childhood through having to look after someone, juxtaposed with the needs of a young adult. Touching upon the urge to escape and explore the world, whilst delving into the euphoria of sex and relationships. Something Remi reveals she has done, but then as she explains, her obligations taint this due to their mental and physical constraints upon her life. Constraints that mean she battles both the stigma of having a ‘crazy’ mother and the difficulties of her mother’s non-compliance. Though the thematics are weighty, the delivery was nothing but charming and moving. Here, it is worth mentioning the wonder of Remi’s world that Obianyo effortlessly crafted, which warmly invited us in. This is Remi’s story, so you are in Remi’s room, hearing directly from Remi herself and it is incredibly personable. The engendering of Remi’s world, was not only built through a personal direct address, but also via the use of the stage space. The platform enacting as her bedroom, which, as a result, appeared remotely messy, filled with personal items, shoes, pens, paper and scraps of songs she had been writing. Yet the space simultaneously was distinguishable as the set up for a music gig, with both a mic and guitar stand, instruments and amp. Giving a reflection to Remi’s personality and aspirations, (as a musician and creative mind), whilst also practically providing the means to weave music into the piece, with Remi singing, writing and rehearsing here to pass time. Ultimately, it presented a safe space for the character to talk about her situation, a space that was hers. The bedroom setting was also the location of the plot, with the character retreating to her room to wait for the carers to arrive, her presence being required as means to let them in, as her mother had been refusing to whilst she had been away on tour. This sense of waiting beautifully accented the piece, with a ticking clock forming a continuous soundscape.

The only apparent criticism is the dialogue, as earlier mentioned it needs to be more developed and refined. An overall flow, as well as a cause and affect methodology must be applied in order to help in the earning of tension buildingm simply so Remi’s outbursts don’t appear as 0-100’s without much cause, giving us a greater understanding and reasons to feel empathy for her. She is already so likeable as a character, but just needs a coherent voice and means behind her. On the flip side, as aforementioned, the score was truly eloquent and beautiful, with Obianyo proving herself to be an exceedingly talented musician, playing guitar tempestuously whilst even navigating percussion at the same time. She surprisingly goes as far as to demonstrate her abilities as a looping artist, layering samples and harmonies on top of each other and even splitting a few beats along the way. A skill that to perfect live is particularly difficult, yet Obianyo, having demonstrated her pure talent, utilises it further for comedic effect in composition ‘I feel shit’. Another stand out songs are ‘Give Me A Reason’ and the upbeat, ‘Hey Momma’ number, in which Remi envisions the best possible, but totally fantastical scenario in which she can ask her mother to take her meds. If you want something to compare the overall vibe to, you could look to Charlie Fink’s Cover My Tracks which played limited performances at The Old Vic last year before touring. This stark comparison only provokes us into asking, when and where can we get an EP? The music is equally as, if not more stunning that the Noah and the Whale frontman’s and he released his music beforehand, don’t leave us hanging!

100, 200, 300 Milligrams was presented as a work-in-progress at the Tristan Bates Theatre in the John Thaw Studio for two nights only as part of the Blacktress Season. It is written, composed and produced by Gloria Obianyo. The Blacktress Season showcases the voices of identifying Black British Womxn from October to December, a John Thaw Initiative in collaboration with Blacktress UK for new writing/works in progress. To see what else is on click here.

To conclude, we ultimately hope Gloria Obianyo develops her piece further and presents it to audiences again soon. To visit Gloria’s soundcloud click here.


Review: Wise Children, Old Vic


Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸

Wise Children is joyous, skilled and poignant.

‘What a joy it is to dance and sing!’ After a turbulent couple of years Emma Rice emerges once again to critical acclaim, holding nothing back in the launching of her new company, (coincidentally christened Wise Children after this first piece). The work Rice delivers to the stage proves Angela Carter’s Wise Children to still be relevant and provocative, using this urgent narrative to physically stage a vaudevillian love letter to the theatre in all of its elements, whilst saying something vital about the current social-political climate and performance industry. But due to her wishes; ‘I just want to be Wise Children now’, we will fixate no more upon her, but upon the piece and the company, letting them speak for themselves, after all it is a team effort. As demonstrated by the variegated talent and malleability of the ensemble throughout, a company of collaborators.

Wise Children, an adaptation of Angela Carter’s swansong and last novel, explores the theatre industry though the eyes of twin sisters Nora and Dora Chance who grow up as part of an unusual theatre dynasty in the south of London. Their life being defined by illegitimacy and seediness, glamour and graft. The work overall exploring why it is people choose to dance and sing, and the price they pay for it, the true toil of show-business. The company slimming down Carter’s original work in order to promote an overall clarity, as Rice states, she enjoys the challenge of staging the unstageable, a book that spans over three generations. Allowing for choices that prove to be smart and bold whilst helping build a well rounded and polished production.

In the present, (though we see the Chance twins at different stages in their lives), Nora and Dora are celebrating their 75th Birthday, not only is it their’s, but also their father Melchior and his twin brother Peregrine’s 100th birthday. Symbiotically it is also the 23rd April, (Shakespeare’s birthday). Kinda cool karma for this theatrical family huh? There is no coincidence here however, as an interwoven through line, Carter’s work and subsequently this adaptation, is an ode to Shakespeare; Nora and Dora’s real father being a classically trained Shakespearean actor much like his father before him. With Nora and Dora in their heyday going on to work alongside their father, (Melchior Hazard) in a Shakespearean review. Thus, the piece is hilariously inclusive of mock stagings of the bard’s work, with Nora and Dora spending much of their life living at 49 Bard Road. Carter originally taking Shakespeare’s ‘It is a wise child that knows it’s own father’, as the conceptual basis for her narrative. Melchior consistently denying his paternal right to them even when they know the truth, they hope an invite to his 100th Birthday may mean he will finally acknowledge them for who they are.

As a love letter to the theatre and not just Shakespeare, Wise Children wonderfully employs any and all theatrical techniques in order to exhibit the breadth of talent within the collective, from puppetry to actor-musicianship, song and dance, to burlesque, caricature and even a specifically generated gestural language similar to sign language. Each technique symbolically representative of the theatre industry and its trials, tribulations, skill requirements and unlimited boundaries. The work utilising intricate physicality and stylistic acting to define the company’s very own, unique theatrical practice. A clearcut and well executed manifestation, that provides both scenes of power and tenderness, as well as joyous, sassy and sexy constituents. Whilst the piece harbours dark and robust elements, it is wonderfully riotous and uplifting.

The narrative teeters on exploring tragedy through comedy, a hybrid of Shakespeare’s two genres, thus this adaptation is subversive and satirical, whilst also heartbreaking and dynamic. Surreally, yet delicately it touches upon themes of sexual abuse and miscarriage as aspect of the female experience. It is the aforementioned engendered symbolism beautifully and cleverly peppered throughout and superbly well implemented that grittily commentates upon these poignant plot points and thematics. Adding a visceral side to the piece, integral to the meaning making. First and foremost is the open-faced 50s caravan which disseminates and remains onstage central to the storytelling. Adopted as tots by Grandma Chance, the caravan becomes the protagonists’ home for the rest of their lives, 49 Bard Road to be precise, though it represents various locations throughout. It is a scaled up doll’s house, the polar opposite to Nora and Dora’s living arrangements, having never been accepted into their legitimate family they have been neglected of a perfect home, a perfect home being what a child would imagine when playing with dolls. Yet the prominence comes in the lack of permanence in the structure, not only is it situated south of the river ‘the wrong side of the tracks’, much like Nora and Dora’s placement away from the interests of their father, it is non permanent and moveable. Representative of Nora and Dora never being acknowledged by their real family and thus their continuous illegitimacy and inability to plant roots, though they hope this might change like the structure’s location could change. Whilst the link to caravan culture also provides a sense of making do with what you’ve got, something Nora and Dora effect throughout their life. It is husband and wife duo Beth Carter and Stuart Mitchell that add more intensity to this design. They provide exquisite animations which are projected, particularly onto the caravan. A poignant moment comes towards the end of the piece when Nora and Dora travel to Melchior’s party. Carter and Mitchell illustrate the journey from Brixton to Chelsea across the Thames with autonomous ease and intricacy, this section being representative of the twins’ journey to the right side of the tracks, from south to north, poverty to wealth, illegitimacy to legitimacy. Hoping this will be the first time Melchior acknowledges them as his own. This section is so perfectly simplistic, that it imprints a real sense that this is the journey to change everything, doing an excellent job to locatively elevate and highlight London in a bout of magical realism.

In conjunction with this, is the other powerful element of symbolism prevalent in the use of the butterflies. Not only are these projected, they are also brought in as puppets and mentioned within the dialogue. The butterfly becoming an allegory for the female experience, a much needed sprinkling of intersectional feminism and nod to #MeToo. (The motif introduced by actors of different ages, genders and ethnicities). Upon running into Melchior, with him refusing to listen to Grandma Chance’s plea for him to do the right thing, she tells the young Nora and Dora who he is and decides to teach them the birds and the bees. This is first and foremost an important commentary on identity and the importance of knowing where you are from. It also introduces the idea of the butterfly as the female experience. The female organ thus being referred to as the butterfly and the male organ is the aggressor. Referring to the fact that in many cases women learn to fear men, whilst men learn to be dominant. Alongside that of, women and men adjusting their behaviour around this. With this in mind, the piece ends with a placating rendition of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, surmising the work, hammering home that girls, women even, simply want to live their lives not in fear, to live, experience and enjoy. The piece upliftingly closing on the line, said in unison, (as a commonality), ‘what a joy it is to dance and sing’. To dance and sing fearlessly, being the simple pleasure we should afford all individuals, that is the desired female experience. Thus demonstrating, that Angela Carter’s narrative still has much to say today. And Wise Children wonderfully draw this out.

Yet let’s delve more into the techniques by which they pioneer meaning making. Firstly there is a sustained level of truth in the delivery, not necessarily through naturalism but sincerity, particularly as the key to the work is, as aforementioned, the fact it is not too literal but symbolic, delivered in a highly physicalised manner. It is simple and emotional, whilst underneath the surface acting smart and sophisticatedly to embolden a particularly ideology, the level of the acting and performance exuding all else. We inherently feel Nora and Dora’s pain, wonder and enjoyment. The set and props are thus, likewise littered with integrity, the enviable detail feeding into the truth of the story, the stage for instance exhibiting dressing tables covered with objects of significance and wonder. An actual world having being built upon the Old Vic’s stage. The lighting on and off the stage space being used to perpetuate the desired location throughout. Crucially the performance techniques remain within keeping in the style of a Carter’s work. The piece overall acts like a musical review of Nora and Dora’s lives, (similar to the Shakespearean reviews they perform in with Melchior), the twins reminisce their past 75th years and it is acted out for us intermittently with song and dance, additions coming from the 75 year old Nora and Dora who address these directly to the audience, they are exuberant storytellers. This reflects not only their work with Melchior as showgirls in his Shakespearean review, but the glitz and glamour of Vaudeville. It is here that the vibrant choreography of Etta Murfitt shines. To work alongside this, the production employs the use of radio mics to allow for a series of wonderful underscorings to be played under a vast majority of the dialogue, these successfully accenting the piece and helping to engender both the Vaudevillian and storytelling aspects. With the company aiming and succeeding to sustain a Shakespearean fairytale vibe, drawn out by the bright compositions of song which invoke the use of Angela Carter’s poetry and set it to music, mixed with contemporary pieces to pin point the relevance of the thematics today. For the casting of Nora and Dora over three generations, Wise Children employs a methodology not of being gender blind, instead it is cast with eyes wide open or as Rice states ‘by spirit’ and not by gender or race. Therefore the three pairs of actors for the three generations of twins, are rivetingly not cast to look identical, but cast away from the idea of twins, demonstrating just how powerful suggestion can be. Nora and Dora being portrayed by black, white, male and female actors of all ages, making them a kind of ‘Everyman’ conceptualisation. There is a certain level of inclusivity in having even men representing the piece’s feminist values as well. Indicatory-wise, ‘N’ and ‘D’ sewn patches on all costumes are used to remind the audience who is who, as well as red dance shoes being worn by all Nora/Dora actors, demonstrating their love for performing, something in their very blood. Reappearing costumes over the decades are also visually aged to denote the passing years, a further welcomed bout of attention to detail.

To conclude the talent in the Wise Children company is exceptional, the team have created a new theatre practice that is unique to them, seamless and breathtaking. The possibilities are simply endless for the collective as they are already so accomplished and sure of themselves. The story they bring to life here, is thoroughly entertaining, polished and extremely urgent. A must see! There is one week of Wise Children left at the Old Vic, before it heads out on tour across the country. Click here to book.

Written by – Angela Carter
Adapted and directed by – Emma Rice
Set and Costume Design – Vicki Mortimer
Lighting – Malcolm Rippeth
Sound and Video Design – Simon Baker
Composer – Ian Ross
Choreography – Etta Murfitt
Animation – Beth Carter and Stuart Mitchell
Puppetry Designer – Lyndie Wright
Puppetry Director – Sarah Wright
Fights – Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown

Young Peregrine – Sam Archer
Young Melchior – Ankur Bahl
Musician – Stu Barker
Showgirl Nora – Omari Douglas
Young Nora – Mirabelle Gremaud
Musician – Alex Heane
Melchior – Paul Hunter
Showgirl Dora – Melissa James
Young Dora – Bettrys Jones
Wheelchair/Lady Atalanta/Blue Eyed Boy – Patrycja Kujawska
Nora – Etta Murfitt
Grandma Chance – Katy Owen
Musician – Ian Ross
Peregrine – Mike Shepherd


Review: I’m Not Running, Lyttleton Theatre (National Theatre)


Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸

‘David Hare’s weak satire has nothing to say’, The Stage’s Tim Bano on the National Theatre’s I’m Not Running, published 10th October 2018.

Bano’s dissection of Hare’s newest piece ultimately lacks one important feature. The viewpoint of a woman. Bano neglects to identify that Hare spiritedly writes for female empowerment, he anatomises the current political landscape and grippingly stages what it must be like for a women in the male-dominated topography of government, particularly capturing the consensus of women feeling as if they are not being taken seriously because of their gender. A sense wonderfully encapsulated in a section when politics and leadership are arrogantly mansplained to the female protagonist, affinities with which can only truly be shared by the women. Hare furthermore, does not simply skate over issues such as FGM and the NHS, he bountifully sounds off about them. 

I’m Not Running is Pauline Gibson’s agonising story of decision, she has transcended from a doctor to the inspiring and superfluously popular leader of a local health campaign and independent MP. Now, back in contact with her ex-boyfriend Jack Gould, a stalwart intent on running the Labour Party, she must decide where to go from here. Does she run for the leadership of a party she isn’t even in, sacrificing her private life and putting herself in the way of much scrutiny, whilst symbiotically giving up on her peace of mind by having to constantly think about and battle issues and adopt a stance on more than a single ideology; or does she run away, leaving it all behind. Bano is right in one respect, as he says, I’m Not Running has a clever, witty double meaning, firstly it refers to the act of running for a position of power, the Labour leadership. The work opening with Pauline having it publicly proclaimed by her ex-Labour party press agent, that: ‘Ms Gibson is not running’. But it is also figurative in the sense that she is running away from her past. I’m Not Running, thus beautifully and intelligibly does not stay in the present, intriguingly delving into sections of Pauline’s past as she tries to make her decision; from nursing her alcoholic mother and her university days with Jack, to her first days as a junior doctor. Though all of these instances are part of her make-up, it is as if she is running from them, searching for something more tangible, to build something more. As well as demonstrating how all of these past instances will and are being scrutinised now she is in the public eye. It is for this reason we see a transgression in her character, in early scenes of her past she appears very likeable and girl next door-ish, eager to please and thrive. And though she retains her charm in the present day and an air of inspiration, she has undertones of fire, a sense of world-weariness and anger. She is likeable but evidently collected and headstrong, the opposite of stereotypical female characters often exhibited in male written pieces of drama. This characterisation is fantastically sustained by Siân Brooke, a consummate actor who deserves an abundance of praise for her resilient delivery of a strong female influence, her Pauline is bold and unique, a women, who despite all of the set backs wants to make a positive difference, Brooke’s conveyance of her complexities, pains and passions exuding all else. John Nathan of The Metro, criticises the depth of the character: ‘Yet the focus is on the personal rather than the political.’ Again here is a failure to acknowledge that politics and private lives cannot be separated, something Hare appears keen to provide discourse on. Everything we learn about Pauline’s life would be aired for the world to see the minute she says she is running, taking a firm place in landscape of national party politics, thus the work is all about whether this is worth it for her. 

It is here that the design of Ralph Myers, Paul Arditti, Jon Clark and Jon Driscoll artfully comes into play. With the smoothest and most seamless revolve we’ve seen, the set, three white sides of a cube repeatedly rotates to reveal a new setting inside of it each time: a hospital ward, Pauline’s mother’s bedroom, her uni halls, Jack’s office e.t.c. Between these epic scene changes we witness multi-cam interviews of Pauline and others close to her from throughout her career being projected onto the cube, beautifully moving from wall to wall as it spins. This methodology has been insanely perfected. The result of which provides a gritty symbolism pointing towards the media’s heavy handed involvement in politics, as every detail of a politician’s private life is broadcasted and they are somewhat obliged to take interviews and respond to criticism. Something also noted in the open and closing media conferences within the piece. A bright lighting state almost blinding those stood centre stage behind the news mics in both cases. A light of scrutiny, representative of the public eye. The dialogue, wittily bombarding them with piercing questions that take no notice of a refusal to answer, much like the media’s usual lack of empathy. Delivered wonderfully and pointedly by the ensemble of actors from the wings also on mics themselves, a cacophony of voices. With Jack and Pauline also being watched from all angles, even by the on set of media crew, at funeral. It is from the very first media conference that Hare sets the tone for a piquant, sharp, gritty yet satirical marvel. He writes to be representative of today and raw, ‘a moral temperature of the times’ and mirrors what the political landscape is like, or would be like for a potential female leader of Labour, particularly as the party seem to have an archaic reluctance to consider and elect female leadership. Further delving into a commentary and acknowledging Labour’s residual focus on process rather than in votes, juxtaposed with the character of Jack. Jack as a potential labour leader, fits the role less so than Pauline. He is of little moral compass, putting political ambition before emotional honesty, (for instance calling feminists ‘stupid and lazy’). Pauline on the other hand, is incited by her own morality, wishing to save her hospital, she ultimately decides that inequality can only be fought through party allegiance, though accepts the moral implications she may face in this. 

Though it is fair to say that Hare’s showing of the past pulverantly explains Pauline’s drive, dealing with her alcoholic mother as she wastes away the result of having been in a abusive marriage, becoming addicted to a man who is no good for her, fighting for a hospital she has studied and strived to be a junior doctor at, and in the present watching a promising and morally strong talent die in her arms unable to save her, there is a small disconnect. With Hare ultimately not quite enunciating how these actions directly urge Pauline on. Though they do give her an abundance of character and provide a considerable understanding of her feelings and intensities. 

Asides from Siân Brooke’s astonishing performance, Joshua McGuire, as Pauline’s press officer and Amaka Okafor as Meredith, a young Westminster worker in Jack’s office are both enigmatic, sincere and versatile performers. Whilst Alex Hassel’s Jack Gould is decisively slimey and decorous. Their performances intertwine with phenomenal writing and a wondrous design, resulting in piece that is both throughly entertaining and powerful, a political excursion for our time.

I’m Not Running is on at the National Theatre until 31st January 2019. Click here for more information and to book tickets.



Director – Neil Armfield

Set Designer – Ralph Myers

Costume Designer – Sussie Juhlin-Wallén

Lighting Designer – Jon Clark

Sound Designer – Paul Arditti

Music – Alan John

Video Designer – Jon Driscoll

Company Voice Work – Charmian Hoare

Associate Set Designer – Tim Blazdell

Staff Director – Cara Nolan


Siân Brooke, Alex Hassell, Joshua McGuire, Amaka Okafor, Liza Sadovy, Brigid Zengeni, Roisin Rae, Owen Findlay, Harry Long, Nadia Williams.

Review: Stories, Dorfman Theatre, (National Theatre)


Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸

Powerful, intriguing, funny and symbolic, but ultimately dazed and confused. Leaving space for disparity between composition and performance.

Nina Raine instinctively takes her piece from the beginning of life, (childhood), to it’s middle and the ability to create it, right to through to the end of it, all via the narrative of one women, Anna. Anna is a 39 year old, recently single woman with a ticking body clock and evident aching womb. Having, as a twenty something, watched her elderly landlady die, she is now nearly 40 and childless, determined to have a child before it’s too late, perceiving that she has wasted, and doesn’t have time to find a suitable partner in order to have one with. Allowing for an interesting examination into the bravery behind what is like to want to conceive a child without a partner to share in your endeavours, against a comical imagining of what it would be like to approach men who may also want a child outside of romance. Locating the matter meaningfully on the more serious plain of the implications of using a sperm donor, bringing a child into this world without a father or even knowledge of a father, hinging this onto the wider topic of identity. A wonderfully thought provoking conceptualisation.

This witty and hugely symbolic piece cleverly centres itself on the medium of stories. Much like life, these must crucially have a beginning, middle and end. Stories also forming an important part of being a parent, with adults often connecting with their offspring by telling them bedtime stories at the close of each day. Not only providing the title, but a stimuli for much of the beautifully executed symbolism. Anna’s friend Beth, has a daughter and Anna, whilst staying at their house indulges in her appreciation of imaginative stories. As the piece moves on the Girl becomes a part of Anna voicing her internalised responses to situations and as a plot device to move the narrative along, it is as if she is both passively listening to Anna’s story whilst also acting as part of it. Alongside this, Anna also reverts back to her childish, primitive behaviours, she has an urge that she will stop at no means to scratch irrespective of the feelings of those around her. We therefore are treated to motifs of her becoming almost childlike, (sitting on her mother’s knee for instance). The lighting is also intriguing in this respect; as a scene closes, the lights consistently fade to black whilst a constant light remains on Anna’s face, the darkness closing in around her. This in a way creates an image much like she is in a womb, she is the only thing inside herself. Yet the most beautiful and symbolic tableaux closes the piece. As Anna is about to inseminate herself on a bed centre stage and ‘see what happens’, she is bookended by the Girl in her bed, the location of her bedtime stories and Natasha, Anna’s landlady who has died with Anna at her side. The start and end of life surround her.

However, as much as the piece is packed with provocative questions and intricate analogies, there is an amount of disparity as it doesn’t quite flow. The writing is clever, but packed with a multiplicity of over-complicated and compounded sentences employing the use of elaborate lexis as if Raine was trying to show off her intelligence, which she no doubt holds. The result is an unnatural sounding dialogue that does not reflect everyday conversation. Perhaps done knowingly to convey the ridiculous-seeming nature of Anna’s request in approaching men to father her child, yet remaining un-connective with the naturalistic attempt at the delivery of it. This naturalism is also much in contrast with the epic set, that has elements sliding on and off and coming up through the floor. It’s white colouring doing much symbolically to represent paper, the blank canvas upon which Anna can write her story upon, choosing for herself and on her own terms, if and how to bring a child into the world. Similarly, there was an abundance multi-rolling which contrasted the naturalism and felt unnecessary, (though it was skilfully executed). This only worked in Sam Troughton’s case, emblematically having him play all of the possible father’s to Anna’s baby. Highlighting Anna’s desperation as she goes through every man she knows, in this sense any man will do. They are all ultimately and satirically the same, able to, but not necessarily willing to give her what she wants. The lack of identifiable differences between the men Anna would like to have a child with, reflecting the life of a donor child, not knowing who their father is, his identity, or truly theirs.

Claudie Blakley is sensational, tapping into the pain and frustration Anna feels and conveying it so genuine and heart-wrenchingly. She is enigmatic, tender and passionate, an intuitive performer. Alongside her, Sam Troughton is wonderful, an exceedingly malleable and a bodacious actor able to grasp much of the satire and humour with ease. Sylvie Erskine as the Girl also deserves a mention, for her dynamic and skilled performance displaying an amplitude of clarity. The rest of the cast are similarly exhuberant and cognent, particularly Brian Vernel.

This is Anna’s story, ‘the fertilisation of an idea’. See it artfully, despite being somewhat disjointed, performed at the Dorfman Theatre until November 28th. Click here for more information.
Director – Nina Raine
Designer – Jeremy Herbert
Lighting Designer – Bruno Poet
Music and Sound – Alex Baranowski
Movement Director – Jane Gibson
Company Voice Work – Charmian Hoare
Casting – Amy Ball

Anna – Claudia Blakley
Felix/Tom/Lachlan/Danny/Corbin/Rupert – Sam Troughton
Joe/Peter/James – Brian Vernel
Paul/Dad – Stephen Boxer
Beth/Julie – Thusitha Jayasundera
Mother/Natasha/Jenny – Margot Leicester
Girl – Sylvie Erskine, Beau Gadsdon, Katie Simons

Review: Blink, Lion and Unicorn Theatre


Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸

Blink is a compelling and witty unconventional love story. Performed sincerely and jovially, the composition of the work presented by director Samantha Robinson delicately built something both exquisite and charming, the perfect dysfunctional romantic comedy.

Sophie’s father’s death leaves her with a void to fill and two conjoined flats in Leytonstone. Having been made redundant, she fixes up the lower flat which was her father’s and awaits a new tenant. Falling into a lonely routine of video games and trash TV. Jonah, a Quaker living on a farm finds hidden inheritance left to him by his mother, her words willing him to use it to go out and experience the world away from the sheltered lifestyle of ‘a self-sustaining religious community’, he travels to London and coincidently, through an estate agent, rents from Sophie, living beneath her. Sophie’s grief has pushed her into a position of loneliness, whilst Jonah’s inexperience, naivety and placement in a new city means he fails to connect with other living beings, except for a mange-ridden Fox in the garden. Sophie watches Jonah, Jonah watches Sophie. Something beautifully demonstrated with unseen glances towards the other, between sections of dialogue enigmatically directed straight out to the audience, facilitating the sense that though they are both present with each other, they are by choice not present, simply watching and not engaging. Brilliantly enacting the way people often passively act towards each other online.

As mentioned above Phil Porter’s work gravitates around the theme of watching (voyeurism), it is therefore rightfully so packed with symbolic references to seeing, following and visual stimuli, making for an interesting exploration into what it is like to be watched, particularly in the digital age, an era where the ‘me generation’ has emerged, creating content that can be stalked online by anyone. With many affairs now being conducted over social media, there is a shift in how human connection can be ignited and sustained, Porter thus examines this in an intriguing manner from a unique deeply symbolic perspective. Creating these characters that form a bond without even actively engaging with one and other. 

Opening with a comparison between the eye of a rabbit, that has been tracked and hunted, to a camera lens, an object that could juxtaposingly, be used in the act of stalking, it therefore questions whether trailing someone, encouraged or not and however innocently, can flourish into love, or if it only facilitates obsession. Set firmly in the present, the piece oozes relevancy, taking this phenomenology of the digital age and cementing it further within the universal themes of loneliness and grief, the powerful performances on top of this making for a deep rooted meaningful delivery. The two universal feelings forming the basis of a set of coincidences causing ‘lovers’ Sophie and Jonah to somewhat-distantly meet. Examining not only death and it’s impact, but more widely on London culture perpetuating a struggle-through-grief attitude, as well as expediting a deafening loneliness due to its fast pace. The ominous echo of the two thematics: (loneliness and grief) is first and foremost excellently manifested by the empty black box space, dressed only with flooring and chairs. The chairs as moveable objects, not only imaginatively and instantaneously create setting, but also convey the increasing proximity of Sophie to Jonah, as one begins to stalk the other. Sophie orchestrating and playing up to the attention received, as Jonah, having watched her through a screen at first, begins to follow her every move, an interesting dynamic, conveyed stupendously well here. The direction formulating a kind of disconnected flirting, the actors beautifully conducting the character’s delight and intrigue towards the audience and not towards each other, with a series of well-timed looks and expressions. This incites almost a comical game of cat and mouse, the tension heightening as they place the chairs closer and closer to each other, but never quite touch, the lack of physical connection demonstrating their refusal to directly converse. The actors hilariously move and dart past each other without even an ounce of acknowledgement, a kind of non-present presence. The superb pacing of these scenes establishes a rush in excitement and fascination much like in a new romance; Jonah becoming more daring and serious even, in his pursuit of Sophie, revelling in the fact she doesn’t know he’s there, (or so he thinks) and Sophie delighting more and more, (an upwards spiral out of grief), in taking them on various excursions, enjoying the sensation of being watched as it seems to give her a new purpose. This scintillating physicalisation of the game of flirting is thoroughly entertaining and cleverly built up, a million miles away from the earlier tender scenes of Jonah watching Sophie on the baby monitor she anonymously gave to him. We see him in awe as he watches Sophie eat an apple, fixated on the screen. Robinson accomplishes direction to highlight Porter’s theme of voyeurism astoundingly, after Jonah intricately describes her every move consumed by what he sees, Georgia Halford, (Sophie) then vividly recreates every move, indicating it is her he is watching in tandem to explaining how it feels to be on camera here. This powerful visual excellently denotes the start of the character’s connection, a moment of poignancy, triggering them doing everything together without truly being together. It is the performance of these delicate moments that creates a genuine feeling of care and tenderness between the two, we see motifs in which the two actor’s physicalities match, they almost mirror each other engendering a sense of companionship, for instance they excitedly shift in their seats and smile in close proximity, simulating watching TV together, showing the two to be content in simply knowing that the other is there. But as always looking outward to their audience to show they are not truly together. A feeling that is built musically throughout with the composition and soundscapes provided by musician Roel Fox, his music is light and delicate, a weaving of tenderness throughout. A sensation echoed throughout with the lighting, beating on and off the actor’s faces often in time to the music and dialogue, a stunning and reactive design. 

Robinson and Assistant Director Natalya Micic, take the visually symbolic nature of Porter’s play and run with it. First and foremost placing the kindled love between the two protagonists in the set and props, visually displaying it. Sophie anecdotally explains at the start of the piece, how her dad cared for her so much that he would fulfil even the most ridiculous request, recalling how he placed her bed on the lawn after a dental operation so she could breath in the fresh air allowing the grogginess to clear. Jonah reminds her of her dad, (with her earlier mentioning their similarity in movement), and thus when Sophie returns home from hospital in their timeline, Jonah copies what she told him her father did and we physically see an enactment of him moving the bed, from it being propped up side of stage and lifted onto the AstroTurf covering the stage space, followed by him making it. This staged act of compassion elegantly symbolises love and human connection, something that by this point is brewing between Jonah and Sophie. It is then the location of which they share their first kiss and begin to get intimate. Similarly we are shown Jonah’s wellies from the farm, as he introduces us to his sheltered life on in Yorkshire as a Quaker. We only see them again when Sophie banishes Jonah back to his flat downstairs, his intensified behaviour and obsession becoming too much for her, she hands the wellies back to him to signify things returning back to the way they were before, just knowing the other is there. 

Ashley Gyngell is wonderful, he unfalteringly captures Jonah’s bewilderment, innocence and naive charm. But is overall unprecedentedly animated and comically gifted. His counterpart Georgia Halford is likewise a powerful and formidable performer, grasping and conveying a semblance of genuine grief and pain. She is a pragmatic and talented storyteller, both also excellently multi-rolling at points. Whilst it is Samantha Robinson’s direction that foments the telling of this story so genuinely and presently. An absorbing and humorous story for our time. 

Writer: Phil Porter 

Director: Samantha Robinson 

Assistant Director: Natalya Micic 

Lighting Designer: Sam Thomas 

Music: Roel Fox 

Producer: Camille Wilhelm 

Sophie: Georgie Halford 

Jonah: Ashley Gyngell 

Review: Paddington’s Musical Adventures, Milton Court Concert Hall, (Barbican)


Martini Rating: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸

To celebrate 60 years of everybody’s favourite marmalade-eating bear, the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ben Palmer, with narration from Simon Russell Beale astonishingly brought to life two ‘beary’ good tales. Paddington’s First Concert written by the late and great Michael Bond in 1984, followed by brand-new adventure Paddington at St Paul’s published by Harper Collins this year. The concert intertwined storytelling, music and projections excellently to delight and thrill adults and children alike. With the whole event being recorded for BBC Radio 3 to be played in December this year as a Christmas special and Blue Peter also filming a behind the scenes for broadcast this Thursday, there’s plenty of chances to join in the magic.

Simon Russell Beale’s delivery of Michael Bond’s beautifully written stories demonstrates his consummate storytelling abilities, he is inadvertently animated and able to instantaneously mould himself into a plethora of characters fostering a wonderful amount of energy and pace. Techniques seen most recently in his performance in The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre. It was wonderfully to see him capturing the attention of the youngsters in the audience. Something likewise done through Ben Palmer’s enigmatic conduction. The selected music doing much to introduce the young audience to the sounds of various instruments and how they work together to create an exciting and intricate performance of music, Paddington’s adventure being the perfect methodology to do so, especially as he is no stranger to music, music featuring a some of his adventures.

Paddington’s First Concert introduced the audience to Paddington and how he came to live with the Brown family. It then followed him as he visited The Royal Albert for his first concert, disgruntled at a selected symphony to be played, (as it was unfinished), he accidentally ends up onstage as the surprise of ‘The Surprise Symphony’. He is then the first bear ever to conduct an orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. Simon Russell Beale’s singing of the bear’s own theme song here, was particularly entertaining. Herbert Chappell’s music for this Part 1 was exquisite and flawlessly performed to say the least. The music doing much to create not only location, setting and atmosphere but also to marvellously reflect Paddington’s thoughts and feelings, his delights and intrigues. With bright melodies, recurring motifs, (representing thoughts of darkest Peru for instance) and fast paced sections, there was no slowing down the stories, perfect to keep the young audience enraptured.

The next tale took us to the dome of St Paul’s, of course a mix up ensued in which Paddington ended up in the choir. This time the stories were wonderfully accompanied by illustrations from R. W. Alley, we didn’t think it would be possible but the audience became even more emotionally involved, the bear being visually shown to us. The detail of the penmanship was complimented by projection on the big screen, adorable segways and transitions added to the enjoyment. Musically the piece was accompanied by selected pieces by Benjamin Britten and Malcolm Arnold, Paul Ruders, Maurice Ravel, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Piotr Tchaikovsky. Creating pace, mystery, wonder and pure magic. Wonderful selections, the curation of which can only be congratulated. The music moves Paddington’s adventures on impeccably from the usual mix-up, through to the realisation that everything will be alright in the end. A much needed formula for a thrilling children’s story.

It is also worth mentioning Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell, who did much to warm up the audience before and between stories, giving youngsters a much needed chance to wriggle and shout out. There on behalf of Blue Peter, she explained that author Michael Bond used to be a camera man on the show and with the show celebrating it’s 60th anniversary too, it was a perfect opportunity to celebrate both anniversaries together.

Michael Bond may have sadly passed away in June last year, but he will certainly live on through a bear often seen dressed in wellington boots, a blue duffel coat and felt red hat. You can catch the Musical Adventures on BBC Radio 3 December 21st and don’t forget to go behind the scenes on Thursday 11th December with Blue Peter.