Tag Archives: Play

London & Matilda the Musical

Hi guys!

Happy July! I can’t believe it. July is my favourite month so I’m quite pleased it’s here. 


I started this month with a trip to London. More tourist time! Originally this trip was for my Mum as we got her Adele tickets for Christmas. However, you may have seen in the news that she cancelled the last two shows. This caused a slight problem for us, but, I managed to book us tickets to Matilda the Musical. 


This musical started in Stratford but my mum gave her tickets away, meaning we never got to see it. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to finally see the show AND on the West End.


I do not have enough words to explain or describe how amazing this show is. From start to finish I was completely hooked. The kids are awesome, loveable and incredibly talented. It stuck to the original novel, with some tweaks and added catchy songs that I’ve had in my head ever since. 


The set was really clever. It was full of books (I LOVE) and lights and things popping up and across. It was always moving and constantly changing, keeping the audience captivated. The lights were a really clever way of showing the chalk writing and the chokey. 


My favourite (well joint favourite) characters were Matilda, played by Eva-Marie Saffrey and Miss Trunchbull, played by Craige Els. Honestly, Matilda made my heart melt. Miss Trunchbull brought the humour and entertainment to the show. It was a nice surprise to see this part played by a male actor too! Now I’ve seen it, I can’t see how it could be done any other way. 


I realise in every post I say things like ‘you have to read/see this’, ‘I don’t have enough words to say…’ but for this, it’s completely true. It’s just magical. I knew the ending of the story and I still had a tear. I felt on cloud nine when I left. It was truly amazing. 


Well, you know me. I love an opportunity to go exploring and be a tourist. I certainly did that this weekend and it was fabulous. Making memories with my lovely family, spending time together and living for the moment. It was lovely. 

I especially love these signs at the tube stations around London. This one resonates with me because it is absolutely true. If you’re around London, keep an eye out for them. 


Until my next tourist adventure! 

Big love to you all xx

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Filed under Exploring, London, Photography, Places, UK

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Hey everyone! 

I hope you’re all happy and well on this lovely Monday morning. August already!! I can’t believe it. One week into my summer holiday as well. Time really does fly. 

Well, yesterday the big day finally came, the day when the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play script was released, on Harry’s birthday nonetheless. 

I’m excited but apprehensive like everyone else I guess. When you grow up with something it becomes a part of you. When something gets changed or adapted or added to, you always wonder whether it will be as wonderful as you expect it to be. Yet, I’ve got no doubt I will fall in love with this. 

However, this is marred with some sadness. It is the end. I can’t believe this is really it. Rowling said herself: 

“He goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done. This is the next generation, you know. So, I’m thrilled to see it realised so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now.”

Could this ever really be the end when so many live and breathe Harry Potter? 
Regardless, I’ll see you on the other side. Have you got yours? 

Magic is happening all over again. I can’t wait! 

Big love. Xx


25 Comments

Filed under Books, Harry Potter, Play, Reading

Educating Rita – Willy Russell


Hey guys! 

I’m on a massive countdown now until the summer. I just can’t wait. I’m so exhausted. I’m also a bit down about my reading. I either can’t get into books or I fall asleep. It’s frustrating me immensely! However, I have had a little treat recently, and that is to revisit Educating Rita. I’d kind of forgotten just how magical this play is. Then, my school for free trinkets to see this at Hull Truck which was equally awesome. (More on that later!) 

The play focuses on two characters, Rita, a working-class woman in her twenties from Liverpool and Frank, a late middle-aged professor at a university. The play begins with Rita arriving at Frank’s office. She’s there to be tutored after deciding to return to education to pass her exams. At the start, Frank is on the phone with Julia, his younger live in girlfriend. He claims he will be going to the pub on the way home. This becomes a prominent image in the play. 

“Life is such a rich and frantic whirl that I need the drink to help me step delicately through it.”

Like a whirlwind, Rita enters bold and brash but utterly charming. She focuses her attention onto a nude painting on the wall that Frank claims to never look at anymore. She jokes with him and gives her opinions on various matters without holding back. Frank is amused and intrigued by her. He offers her a drink, revealing numerous bottles as the play progresses behind a number of books. 

“But if you wanna change y’ have to do it from the inside, don’t y’? Know like I’m doin’…tryin’ to do. Do you think I will? Think I’ll be able to do it.”

Frank presses Rita to know why she is there. She wants to learn everything, much to Frank’s surprise. She is hungry to learn and tired of everyone around her. Her job as a hairdresser, where she has to listen to mundane chat every day is bringing her down. She teases Frank about needing a haircut, but he disagrees. 

Rita is naturally inquisitive. She starts to ask him questions like what assonance means. She tells him her real name is actually Susan, but she prefers to be known as Rita after the author of her favourite book, Rubyfruit Jungle, which she repeatedly presses him to read. 

Rita reveals how she wants to improve herself, but her husband Denny does not understand why she wants to do this. Frank agrees to teach her but informs her of how he is openly disillusioned with education. He tells her that once he is done telling her she should go and not come back. Eventually, he tries to get rid of her, but she pursues him as her tutor. 

Rita continues to come for her lessons and Frank has usually been drinking. Frank enquires about her experiences at school when she was younger. It is quite disheartening. People fought, argued and didn’t know any better. No one ever paid attention and anyone who wanted to learn was automatically an outsider. She went along with everyone else but started to wonder if she was missing something.  

“See if I’d started takin’ school seriously then I would have had to become different from my mates; an’ that’s not allowed.”

Attention then focuses onto a written response from Rita about her favourite book, Rubyfruit Jungle. Frank criticises her work for being too subjective with no literary criticism. Rita struggles with the concept of criticising something she likes. Discussion then moves onto a Forster book Frank had mentioned previously. She hated it! One thing she does learn though is that Frank wrote poetry. She pushes him to see some but he refuses. 

The more their conversations develop, the closer Rita and Frank become. Frank’s negativity towards the world is more and more apparently. He claims this would not be the case if Julia were more like Rita, but Rita just laughs these comments off. 

The tone seems to change in Act three because Rita rushes in, apologising for being late. It was because of a very talkative customer. Frank doesn’t seem annoyed about this, rather her answer on the staging of Peter Gynt seems to infuriate him. Rita admits it’s quite short and reveals to Frank a growing conflict at home regarding Denny and her education. Therefore, she has to write her essays at work. Discussion changes to culture, with Rita saying the working class has no culture. Frank tries to say they do, but Rita’s questioning making him realise that maybe she is right. 

Their next meeting is quite frosty as Frank is annoyed that Rita hasn’t got her essay. He eases when he realises that Denny has burnt all of her books and notes because he was mad at her for not taking the contraceptive pill and for going back to school. Rita explains his reasoning for it, how he feels betrayed and how they already have choices in their lives. Yet, Rita knows they don’t. Rita decides that they need to have fun and go to the theatre. Frank joins her, despite it being an amateur production. Rita’s love for the theatre grows as she boasts about seeing a Shakespeare play. 

“But it’s not takin’ the place of life, it’s providing’ me with life. He wants to take life away from me; he wants me to stop rockin’ the coffin, that’s all.”

Frank invites Rita to a dinner party Julia is giving; Rita agrees but she doesn’t turn up. She later reveals to Frank that Denny did not want her to go and she felt nervous and underdressed. She obsessed about bringing the wrong wine. Frank tries to explain how none of that matters and she just needed to be her charming self, but Rita is offended. She wasn’t going to provide the ‘banter’ for anyone. 

“…I don’t wanna spend the night takin’ the piss, comin’ on with the funnies because that’s the only way I can get into the conversation. I didn’t want to come to your house just to play the court jester.”

At the next meeting, Rita comes in upset with a bag of her belongings. She tells of how her and Denny have split up and she is going to live with her mother. She begs Frank to keep on teaching her, to change her. She refuses to give up, despite Frank telling her she is fine. He gives in and does as Rita asks. 

Over time, Rita becomes more and more like the other students. She gets herself a new flat mate, a new job at a bistro and makes new friends. She also starts to speak without her trademark Liverpudlian accent. On the other hand, Frank is drinking more, troubles with Julia remain and is saddened by the changes he sees in Rita. 

“I have merely decided to talk properly. As Trish says there is not a lot of point in discussing beautiful literature in an ugly voice.”

Things take a turn for the worst when Rita next arrives as Frank is frantically packing his books. He tells of how the university suggested he take a sabbatical because of his drinking. Rita tries to sympathise with him, but his attitude and negativity towards her exam paper make her angry. She yells at him saying he told her to be objective and to do her research, which she has done. She claims he does not want her to have her own thoughts. But, their fight fizzles out when he says he read and enjoyed Rubyfruit Jungle. 

Their meetings start to dwindle because of Rita’s busy schedule. Frank is drinking even more and seems somewhat jealous of Rita’s new friends, in particular a young student called Tyson. He and Rita are fighting more, but he does sign her up for her exam. After the exam Rita returns and tells him she wanted to write something sarcastic, but she ended up writing a thoughtful answer. She admits she is still learning about life, but that Frank was a good teacher. Frank doesn’t believe her. He is depressed and getting ready to go to Australia without Julia. 

There is a pause and Rita says she has something to give him. The play concludes with Rita sitting him down, taking out her scissors to give him a haircut. 

“I never thought there was anything’ I could give you. But there is. Come here, Frank…”

This play really is cracking. It showcases the beauty of education and what it can do to people. It also shows the power of friendship; Rita and Frank need each other. This play naturally appeals to the educator in me, but it works on other levels. Who doesn’t want to better themselves?! The production at Hull Truck Theatre was also brilliant. It is a play you have to see. 


Big love xx

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Filed under Book review, Drama, Theatre Review

An Inspector Calls – J B Priestley 

  

Good evening all! 

Can you believe I’ve not written a book review since December? That’s shocking! So, I’m back to review one of my favourite plays, An Inspector Calls. I’m currently teaching this as well so I had to re-read this ready for that. The kids are hooked as well which is a bonus! 

It’s true to say that the more times you read this, the more you get from it, the deeper you feel you have to dig. It’s like you become an inspector too. I love the fact that it goes deeper than appearance to find true meanings. 

So, without further ado, here comes the review. 

The play opens in 1912 at a family celebration at the Birling household. Arthur Birling, a wealthy mill owner and local politician, and his family are celebrating the engagement of Shelia, their daughter, to Gerald Croft. Gerald is the son of Birling’s competitor, thus making this engagement one of need as well as want. Attending the party are Sybil, Arthur’s wife and their children, Shelia and Eric. Eric, the younger sibling, has a drinking problem that is ignored throughout the play. Once dinner is finished, Arthur decides to give a speech about the importance of self reliance. One of the things he discusses is his impending knighthood and the classes. 

“There’s a good deal of silly talk about these days—but—and I speak as a hard-headed business man, who has to take risks and know what he’s about—I say, you can ignore all this silly pessimistic talk. When you marry, you’ll be marrying at a very good time.” 

Inspector Goole arrives at their house and interrupts their celebration. He explains how a young woman, called Eva Smith, has killed herself by drinking strong disinfectant. He implies that she left a diary of names, including members of the Birling family. The Inspector produces a photograph and shows it only to Arthur Birling. At first, he doesn’t seem to recognise her. But, he soon openly acknowledges that she worked in one of his mills. It comes to light that he dismissed her from Birling & Co. 18 months ago for her involvement in an abortive workers’ strike. He firmly denies responsibility for her death. 

“It’s the way I like to go to work. One person and one line of inquiry at a time. Otherwise, there’s a muddle.”

It is at this point that Shelia walks in and is immediately drawn into the discussion. She too is then shown the photograph. (Was it the same? No one knows!) She admits to also knowing Eva Smith. She confesses to the Inspector that Eva served her in a department  store. Shelia did not have the best experiences and this resulted in her having Eva fired. Shelia admits that Eva’s behaviour had been blameless and she only wanted her fired because she was motivated by her jealousy and spite towards an attractive working class woman. 

“If we are all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we’d had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn’t it?”

Sybil then joins them whilst Goole continues his interrogation. He reveals that Eva was also known as Daisy Renton. Gerald’s reaction to this news causes suspicion. Gerald then admits he met a woman by that name in a theatre bar. He gave her money and arranged to meet with her again. Goole pursues this line further by revealing that Eva was Gerald’s mistress. He gave her money and promises of continued support before ending the relationship. Naturally, Arthur and Sybil are horrified. As Gerald leaves the room, Shelia acknowledges his nature and appreciates that he has spoken so truthfully. But, she also notes that their engagement is over. 

“I don’t dislike you as I did half an hour ago, Gerald. In fact, in some odd way, I rather respect you more than I’ve ever done before.”

Inspector Goole then identifies Sybil as the head of a women’s charity to which Eva turned for help. Eventually, Sybil admits that Eva came to her committee for financial aid. She was pregnant and destitute. Despite this, Sybil convinced the committee that the girl was a liar and that her application should thus be denied. Despite vigorous cross examination from Goole, Sybil refused to accept any wrongdoing. Shelia is horrified at her mother and begs her to not continue any further. Goole then plays his final card, making Sybil admit that drunken young man at the front of this should be made to give a public confession to admit the blame. 

“You’ve had children. You must have known what she was feeling. And you slammed the door in her face.”

It is at this point that Eric enters. After a brief amount f questioning from Goole, he breaks down and admits to drunkenly sleeping with Eva. He also et up with her several times later and then stole £50 from his father’s business to help her when she became pregnant. Quite obviously, Arthur and Sybil, who are driven by appearances and class, are horrified. The party and the family breaks down. 

“The fact remains that I did what I did. And Mother did what she did. And the rest of you did what you did to her. It’s still the same rotten story whether it’s been told to a police inspector or to somebody else.”

Goole’s questioning implies that each of the people there that evening contributed to Eva’s death. He reminds the Birlings of the aged old classic: actions have consequences and all people are intertwined in one society. He leaves. 

“There are millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, with what we think and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.”

Gerald returns telling the family that there may be no Inspector Goole on the police force. Arthur, enraged, makes a call to the Chief Constable, who confirmed this. This leads to Birling believing that if there is no inspector then there may be no girl. He makes a second call to the infirmary to find out that there had been no recent cases of suicide. They are off the hook it seems, so the elder Birlings and Gerald celebrate. Arthur dismisses the evenings events as nothing. 

“Everything we said had happened really had happened. If it didn’t end tragically, then that’s lucky for us. But it might have done.”

However, the younger Birlings realise the error of their ways and promise to change. Gerald is keen to resume his engagement to Shelia. Naturally she is reluctant because he did admit to having an affair. Hardly a desirable man! He does have status though…

“There’ll be plenty of time, when I’ve gone, for you all to adjust your family relationships.”

The play ends rather abruptly with a telephone call. Arthur answers and reports to the group that a young woman has died, a suspected suicide case by disinfectant, and that local police are on their way to question the Birlings. 

“This girl killed herself—and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it. But then I don’t think you ever will.”

The true identity of Inspector Goole is never explained. What is clear, quite possibly the only thing in the play, is that the family’s confessions are true. This will result in them being public ally disgraced when the narration of Eva’s demise is revealed. 

“We’re respectable citizens and not dangerous criminals. Sometimes there isn’t as much difference as you think.”

Didn’t I say that this play was totally gripping?! It leaves you feeling uncomfortable and on edge on o many levels. We all get distracted sometimes by appearances. This play is an example of don’t believe everything you see at every level. Nothing is to be trusted. 

You have to read this, or better, see it performed on stage. 

Big love xx

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Filed under Book review, Drama