Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Tempest - Little Angel Theatre

It is with tears in my eyes that I set upon writing this review, for The Tempest at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington was such a wonder and joy to behold that I am still moved now.

What a sweet, unassuming place the Little Angel Theatre is, hidden in a little court off Cross street it would be impossible to just walk past it and notice it unless already on your way there to see something. Tipped by a friend, we managed to catch the last night of this sold out production of The Tempest and I am so glad. A mixture of puppets and people, this child friendly production was superbly acted and never patronising. All the actors not only perform multiple roles impeccably, with an ease that leaves the audience not quite sure just how many actors are in the play and a transport that makes their throats knot and noses tingle; they also double up as master puppeteers, dancers and excellent singers and musicians, playing a variety of instruments.

Gross Caliban is here a clunky, 2-people puppet that is utterly frightful when enraged and sweet when in a more delicate, vulnerable attitude. The other main puppet, the floaty Ariel, is fine and subtly animated and its interaction with Prospero is one of the most moving elements of the play.

As well as deeply moving, this production is terribly funny at different levels, sweet in the father and daughter moments between Miranda and Prospero, exhilarating when Trinculo and Stephano are on stage, and unpredictable when the actors leave the stage and interact with the public. Even the seagull puppets are riveting!

Finally, the lighting and sound effects were seamless and essential to the atmosphere, particularly fine were the shadow play, and choral and orchestral moments that seal the union of Miranda and Ferdinand; as well as the particularly suggestive opening, which sees Prospero light up the tempest with his staff as if with a giant match.

It's sad not to be able to tell you to go and watch it as alas! it is no more. But as a huge part of the charm came from the theatre itself, so intimate and special, and the puppets, which when well made like in the Little Angel Theatre, are twenty times as magical to behold as any computer generated thestral, I feel confident that you'll be just as ecstatic as we were tonight to see any of their future adult productions. Alternatively, you if you have any young friends between 3 and 6, you might seize the opportunity and catch the forthcoming production 'The Magician's Daughter', running from the 28th of May to the 10th of July.

After going to the Little Angel Theatre once, I am sure you'll also want to take one of their adult puppet making courses, so I guess we'll see you there!

-- Faye Fornasier

Friday, 6 May 2011

Latitude 2011

Today might not be sunny and warm, but surely you can remember the cleverly timed string of sunny days that blessed this country over Easter and the Royal holiday, if you can’t that’s probably because you are still sun stroked or were abroad on an anti kingdom trip. Either way, we're here to tell you that now it’s officially possible to envisage hanging out in a park and sleeping in a tent of your own free will and not just because you’re homeless. For a few months coming up we can confirm that the outdoors won’t kill you… it’s time to start thinking about festivals, and we’re thinking Latitude.

The Nutshell team went to Latitude last year for the first time and it was wonderful so this year not only we want to go again, we want you to be there too. Here’s a list of 5 indisputable reasons:

1. Sheep the colour of rainbow and the most bucolic of settings. I’m not sure why, but blue, green and pink sheep do exist outside the realm of hallucinogenics and they’re at Latitude, sprawled about on the field by a sleepy river, looking happy and chewing grass. Thick forest surrounds the main stages, with some smaller stages deep inside among the trees… We have to say, the location is perfect, and it kind of makes the festival.

2. The literary presence. There are several tents dedicated to poetry and literature. These are large, cool areas sheltered from the scorching sun and equipped with comfy cushions. One can very well wake up early in the morning, have a quick shower and then come here and settle on a cushion to see who’s reading what, not exactly dozing back to sleep but waking up gently to the sound of a poem or a story. If this doesn’t sound blissful I don’t know what does.

Later in the day, things warm up and the tents get packed, and the good thing is: they get packed with lovely people. The line up is super and the atmosphere great. Damn we do love those shady tents!

3. The comedyyyy. How blissful rocking up to the comedy tent at random times and finding ourselves sitting there in stitches for hours. The comedy tent is huge and really crowded, you’ll have to walk over people to get to an empty patch and that’s probably when you’ll be picked at by the comedian on stage. A tip: outside the tent we found some sofas lying about, if you see a free one, drag it all the way to the tent and use it. They’re the most comfortable way of watching comedy, they'll swallow you whole and you'll literally forget yourself.

4. The music. This year we feel like we're in a time warp, it's just a jump to the left and a step to the right and Suede appear, together with Echo and the Bunnymen. Those of you brave enough to admit it can join us right now and get really excited about these comebacks, what a treat! Also, remember when OMD meant Original Manoeuvres in the Dark and OMG absolutely nothing? We do, and we can't wait to be there and see how they hold the stage. The great thing about this year's line up is that Latitude combines good oldies with really fresh new bands, without forgetting the sweet inbetweeners like Paolo Nutini, The Cribs, Paloma Faith, KT Tunstall, The National, Eels, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan and British Sea Power.

5. The rest! Theatre, Cabaret, Film, Ballet, Contemporary Art... who knows what will impress you and capture your imagination, what will Sadler's Wells and the English National Ballet will come up with or what will happen at Pandora's Playground. One of the best things about festivals, and what it should be all about, is discovery and experimentation. Wandering the grounds finding new things to like.

We can't wait!

Paolo Nutini - Headlining on Saturday at the Obelisk Arena

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