Monday, 9 September 2019

The Feeling at The Other Palace | Review

This ticket was kindly gifted to me by The Feeling.

If you're a fan of new and developing theatre then The Other Palace is the place to be and I found myself in their studio once again over the weekend to see the brand new developing British musical, The Feeling. Written and produced by Kyra Jessica Willis and directed by George C. Francis this musical follows a friendship group as they tackle some pretty heavy problems, as well as a few romances. The stories of Kasey, Edie, Jessie, Lexie, Archie and Mel interlink along the way, with characters Jamie and Holt also appearing to help tell this story.

The stage in The Other Palace studio is small but the space was really used effectively to help tell the story, with the majority of it revolving around a cafe where the friend's lives seem to unravel. Some really serious topics are touched on within this show, including mental health and alcoholism and I feel they are all handled really sensitively and I liked the touch of the back of the programme containing information about where you can receive help if you are experiencing anything that is happening on stage. This is an honest piece of theatre that feels realistic but still has the dramatic edge that theatre fans enjoy.

In my opinion I think this is a show that would perhaps work better as a play, whilst I did enjoy the music I felt at times that more of the story needed to be told through the script. There were occasions where it felt like we were almost going into one song straight from another, equally there were also times that there was either too much or too little happening on stage. I think the story shows a lot of promise though and it's a story that people would find relatable. With some more development, the running time being cut down and some work on the script I think this could become an important piece of theatre that certainly has a place in this industry.

I also applaud Monsteers Artistry for representing and hiring actors that really reflect everyday life as well, they are supporting the underdog and that's something I think we'd all love to see more of. Overall, I'm really looking forward to seeing how this show develops in the future.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Exploring Covent Garden | AD

AD - This post is in collaboration with, the spending money was gifted by, but all views are my own.

For just about my whole life I've lived a 20 minute train journey away from central London, something I feel so incredibly lucky about. I'm in London several times a week right now and yet I often feel like I've seen hardly any of it, especially some of the more touristy spots that I've avoided for all of my adult life. I find myself passing through places on my way to a theatre or a meeting, so it felt like it was time I did some proper exploring and took a day to just see what myself and my girlfriend Jemma could find and Covent Garden felt like the perfect place to do just that. It's an area I've always thought I knew quite well when in fact, there are so many spots and hidden corners that I didn't even know existed!

Now if you're going to explore London properly then I suggest a little weekend break so you have a base to head back to for a rest (or if the wonderful British weather decides to turn) and there are certainly plenty of Covent Garden Hotels to choose from! I think it's such a central place to stay with the West End, Oxford Street, Trafalgar Square and a bunch of museums to explore nearby, as well as it being well connected to other parts of London. As for transport of course you have the underground but I'd actually recommend London buses, especially if you're disabled like me, as it means you get to see more of London rather than just the inside of a tunnel! You never know what you might come across by doing this.

If you're anything like me food will play a central part in your day and we are certainly spoilt for choice in London. Being a wheelchair user restricts my options slightly and means some of the cute independent places are off limits but I recently came across the most beautiful and tucked away Bill's in Covent Garden. It's hidden away from the busy streets, making it a tiny piece of quiet heaven compared to the busy environment that London can often be. You can find this particular Bill's in St Martin's Courtyard and it's the ideal brunch spot to start your day off. I can personally recommend either the Egg's Benedict or the Smashed Avocado, Feta and Poached Egg's, I've eaten both far too often recently but they are just so tasty!

Once we'd fuelled up we headed off to start our day, with Neal's Yard being top of our list. I've seen photos of this stunning corner of London across social media over the years but I've never got around to visiting until recently and it was certainly worth the hunt to find it. I'll admit I couldn't get into any of the shops in the little courtyard but the buildings are incredible, I just love these kinds of places which make you forget you're in one of the busiest parts of central London.

Something London, but particularly Covent Garden, are really good for are pop up's! You'll find all sorts of pop's up if you simply stroll around the area, right now there is even a Heinz beans one near Leicester Square station so we really do get it all! One that I had been spending all Summer trying to visit though is the Disney West End pop up, featuring costumes from The Lion King, interactive games and some photo opportunities. Frozen The Musical arrives in London next year and we couldn't resist having our photo taken in the Frozen photo booth area. Unfortunately I think this particular pop up has closed now but as I say, keep an eye out in the area because you really never know what you might find.

Continuing on the stagey theme, if you're in the Covent Garden area then the West End is just a few minutes walk away from you and it really would be rude not to pencil a show into your day! I'd really recommend seeing Six The Musical, it's just down the road from Covent Garden tube station and it's only 75 minutes long with performances on Saturday's and Sunday's. It's the perfect show if you want to get some food and do some exploring during your day as well. The show itself is like The Spice Girls meets musical theatre meets Henry VIII's six wives!

Of course it's not a day in Covent Garden without heading to the famous market. Not only is there the market itself but there's also such a wide range of shops and places to eat there. The queue was huge so we didn't get any ourselves but if you fancy a mid-afternoon snack head to Ben's cookies for a gorgeously melty cookie! We went in search of a different sweet treat however and came across Milk Train where we had what was honestly the best ice cream I've ever tasted. You can add different toppings or buy specially made ones and you can even add candy floss to them, both tasty and ideal for an Instagram photo. It was a much needed afternoon energy boost and I know for sure we'll be heading back there again in the future.

By this point we were both in need of a rest so we headed to one of our favourite cafe's, taking a detour via a colourful Instagram spot first. If you've not visited yet you must head to Long Acre Street to find the rainbow tunnel. I'm all for being a cliche and going to get snapped there because it really does make for some cute photos. We even saw a dog having a mini photoshoot in it!

Whether or not you're seeing a show during your day I think if you are at all a theatre fan you must head to The Theatre Cafe on St Martin's Lane! They are a lovely little cafe where you can get drinks in cups covered in your favourite shows, as well as the yummiest cakes, all with constant musical theatre songs playing in the background. You can even add your own favourites to the playlist and they also have shows come in to do live performances so it's always worth popping your head in to see what's going on. Their walls are also covered in everything stagey, from show's props to signs and fun places to take your photo. For example, if you head to their toilet you'll find the perfect selfie taking mirror.

As for shopping, I'm sure many of us will remember that there used to be a LUSH in Covent Garden and it was often the highlight of my trips there when I was younger. Unfortunately it's not there anymore but you can find LUSH Oxford Street just a short walk away, they house the biggest variety of products I've seen in a LUSH store as well as offering the opportunity to try out hair treatments and there is of course the LUSH spa. They also offer so many exclusive products and it's my go to for some of my favourite lesser known offerings that my local shop don't do, like the shower bombs! You could honestly spend well over an hour in there. We treated ourselves to a few things to recreate our own relaxing experience at home and by then it was time to call it a day!

I have to say this has really encouraged me to pencil in more days like this, whenever I'm in London I'm always on a schedule and I'm often seeing a show which means I've not seen anywhere near as much of the city as I believed I had. I'd forgotten how nice it is to just explore an area without a plan to see what you come across!

Monday, 2 September 2019

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery | Review

Show rating: ★★★★
Accessibility rating: ★★★

'Summer 1958. Minneapolis City Bank has been entrusted with a priceless diamond. An escaped convict is dead set on pocketing the gem with the help of his screwball sidekick, trickster girlfriend... and the maintenance man. With mistaken identities, love triangles and hidden agendas, even the most reputable can't be trusted. In a town where everyone's a crook, who will end up bagging the jewel?' - The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

If you're at all stagey then you probably have a long list of shows you'd like to see and are slowly ticking off, I know I do and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery ended up being pretty high on my list in recent months. It seemed totally different to the shows I usually go for and came across as a fun night out. You might be familiar with Mischief Theatre, the geniuses behind The Play That Goes Wrong, and unfortunately the theatre that production is in isn't accessible for me as a powerchair user so we decided on seeing one of the newer productions from them instead and it definitely proved to be a good night out.

The comedy is very slapstick and the humour is very British, resembling the kind of comedy my Mum grew up on and it's definitely the kind of show I think you could take your parents and family to. It took a while for the show to get going, at first it felt a little cringey but by the time everyone had settled into the roles they'd be playing for most of the show I was laughing and smiling constantly. It's definitely a show not to be taken seriously, it's one goal is to make you laugh and smile and it definitely delivers on that.

When we entered the theatre the stage was very bare and I really had no idea what to expect set wise but it truly blew me away. Parts of the set were almost like Ikea flat pack furniture, they came out of nowhere to build up the bank that the play is set around. I love a good set and this one was really up there for me purely for how clever it was. There were also some scenes that used some of the best staging I've ever seen, I won't spoil anything but I think it's worth a trip just to behold the set and staging. It's clear to see that a lot of thought has gone into everything, the cast are constantly working hard to make it appear almost like organised chaos. Everything is seamless but the comedy factor is always there and I like how they played on the fact and recognised that what they are doing is acting.

I think if you're looking for a guaranteed fun night out, with good humour, and something you can bring the whole family to then this is the show for you! I'm really glad I finally went along and saw what it's all about.

As for the access at The Criterion Theatre, it was like no theatre I've been to before and that is because the two wheelchair spaces are in the upper circle! Never before have I come across this, I think it's potentially unique to the Criterion because it's underground in the middle of Piccadilly Circus so the upper circle is actually on the ground level. Access into the theatre for wheelchair users is via a back entrance, I wasn't able to get into the box office so my girlfriend picked up the tickets and a member of staff took us round to the entrance. The accessible toilet is on the way to your seats, there's quite a lot of doors involved in this journey but a staff member was always with us to help out. It was a decent sized accessible toilet, not huge but not so tiny that I couldn't turn around in it.

Our seats were back of the upper circle, although back of the upper circle is only row C in this theatre. I really expected it to be really far away from the stage, in both height and length but it felt more like we were sat in the dress circle because it wasn't far away at all. I quite enjoyed experiencing a show from a totally different seat to what I'm used to as well! Our tickets were sold as restricted view, with the upper circle itself restricting the front of the stage ever so slightly but it wasn't an issue at all, we certainly didn't miss anything. Our access rate tickets were £11.25, with seat prices starting from that, so it's a really reasonably priced show. As always it would have been nice to have more seat choice and to have been able to see more of the theatre than just the auditorium itself!

The show has captioned, audio described and signed performances coming up in November and it's currently booking until May 2020. You can find access information on the Criterion Theatre website.
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