Blood Brothers

4 stars

When I first saw Blood Brothers – nearly twenty years ago now – I loved everything about it. And as this current production shows, the storyline, acting and music still have the power to move me.  On a deprived Liverpudlian council estate, single mother Mrs Johnstone is trying to scrape together an existence for herself and her seven children; living from hand to mouth and unable even to pay the milk bill, she is persuaded – or pressured – into giving away one of her new-born twins. The recipient is the middle-class Mrs Lyons, and as though they’ve struck a deal with the Devil, the decision returns to haunt the women as the two boys grow to adulthood.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 29 November | Read more

Lady Chatterley's Lover

3 stars

This new adaptation of D H Lawrence’s notorious 1928 novel is convincingly acted, engagingly presented – and in its own way, quite thought-provoking, too.  Simply staged, throwing focus on the characters and the knot of secret passions they share between them, it’s a worthy homily on the need for human connections in an increasingly dehumanised age.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Wednesday 16 November | Read more

The Boys In The Band

4 stars

Some of the greatest hits of the Sixties usher us into the auditorium, and the simple set – a bachelor pad in New York – is also a mirror-perfect reflection of this time. Black-and-white pictures of Judy Garland and Bette Davis hang down, showcasing some of the icons of the era. And these are, of course, gay icons too … and so the stage is set for the revival of this celebrated play, often credited with transforming attitudes on its 1968 debut.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Thursday 10 November | Read more

Breakfast at Tiffany's

3 stars

It was with enormous anticipation that I waited for the curtain to come up on this stage adaptation of a much-loved film. The familiar story follows Holly Golightly (played by Coronation Street’s Georgia May Foote) – a flighty, flirty young singleton, who works her way through both men and boys as if they are going out of fashion. The unfolding of her life is commented on by Fred (Downton Abbey’s Matt Barber), a writer with big dreams and ambitions, who appears to be both enthralled and fascinated by Holly’s every move.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Thursday 27 October | Read more

A Room With A View

4 stars

This adaptation of the E M Forster’s classic novel transports the audience back to a time of elegance, poise, and obvious class distinction. We meet Charlotte Bartlett (played by Felicity Kendal), a very prim spinster, who is chaperoning her young and somewhat naive cousin Lucy as they travel round Italy. They meet Mr Emerson and his son George, who gladly give up their rooms to provide the ladies with the view that they might truly deserve. Amongst the contrasting beauty and the darker side of Florence, and despite their obvious class difference, Lucy and George find themselves drawn to each other – and eventually succumb to a passionate clinch, witnessed by Charlotte. The play then rests on how their story will unfold once they return to England.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Wednesday 12 October | Read more

Present Laughter

4 stars

Present Laughter fizzles with witty dialogue from the outset. It is one of Noel Coward’s most natural plays: full of humour, with characters you care for, and very few villains. The upper-class setting is just that, and the characters are genuine; although a discriminating audience may recognise some well-known traits, no-one is stereotyped or typecast. And therein lies the success of this production, masterfully executed by a convincing cast.

Reviewed by Roz Scott on Thursday 11 August | Read more


4 stars

Footloose is primarily about young people wanting to celebrate life. Based on the original film produced in 1984, the show opens with the actors playing instruments, singing and dancing – an energetic musical extravaganza. Accomplished actors and detailed direction from Racky Plews make the complex choreography look effortless.

Reviewed by Roz Scott on Wednesday 27 July | Read more

Let It Be

4 stars

This show is a full musical tribute to the life of the Beatles, incorporating every stage of their time together from their humble beginnings to their supremacy in the music world. As the action develops in front of us, moments in time are cleverly captured through plentiful original black and white footage, shown on two giant television screens. There was a clip from The Avengers, England winning the World Cup in 1966, and – most amusing of all, viewed from a modern perspective – an advert for cigarettes where a newly married-couple lit up in church, in full bridal gear. It was clearly important to “Never be without a Capstan” in the 1960's.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Tuesday 19 July | Read more

After Miss Julie

3 stars

The curtain comes up on a set which looks as though it’s literally been lifted from of the grandest National Trust houses in Britain. The country-house kitchen is superbly crafted, and the attention to detail is staggering, transporting us instantly back to 1945. The war is over; it’s the night the Labour party wins their overwhelming election victory over Churchill's Conservative campaign.  The daughter of the house’s never-seen owner, the young Miss Julie (Helen George), has been out drinking the night away and, in a drunken act of defiance, mixing with the below-stairs boys.

Reviewed by Tig Land on Wednesday 6 July | Read more

Spring Awakening

3 stars

Playing this week at the Lantern in Kemptown, Brief Hiatus’ unusual interpretation of Spring Awakening is modern, arresting and uncomfortable. If you like Bertolt Brecht, epic drama and Nietzsche you may enjoy this play – which contrasts male and female teenagers’ boisterous, comic, but ultimately dark odyssey into adulthood.

Reviewed by Roz Scott on Friday 1 July | Read more