Category Archives: Culture

Review: The Rocky Horror Show

By Megan Dibben

A timeless musical returns…and is still as energetic, hilarious and transfixing as its debut! If you are a theatre fanatic or just looking for evening entertainment which is like nothing else you’ve witnessed before, then this is the perfect production for you. Not only does it include huge amounts of audience participation (which makes the show that much more amusing), it also has the most amazing Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired soundtrack- which really gets the audience on their feet, and I mean literally! If you are considering maybe paying a visit, then I would suggest that you book your tickets as soon as possible because this is a performance you will never forget. You would not regret your choice…

Not only does this play include witty jokes and songs within the performance, but it also allows for audience participation – something you wouldn’t normally get in a regular theatre production. Going to watch Rocky Horror for the first time is very, very strange yet wonderfully entrancing at the same time. You see masses upon masses of people dressed up as their favourite characters, and others dancing around, belting out their favourite show tunes- creating the classic Rocky Horror atmosphere before you even take your seat. And throughout the production, there are a number of pauses, put in place to allow the audience to shout out whatever profanity they choose- which only makes the show that much more enjoyable and comical! It is somehow a perfect combination of pantomime and Broadway style theatre, so cleverly intertwined that it becomes its own type of theatre, which is what makes it so unmissable.

If you think this still isn’t enough to inspire you to purchase some tickets immediately, then you wait until you listen to the songs! Not only do they fit so perfectly in with the dialogue it’s hard to decide which is more entertaining, the crowd goes wild for them every time! As soon as ‘Time Warp’ came on, it was like we were transported to a Rock ‘n’ Roll concert. The audience seemed to know the whole dance, and from first hand experience – it’s not easy to learn!

So, whether you want to try something new or return to an old favourite, I’d suggest this show to absolutely anyone – as it appeals to the masses. This show is proof that no matter how uptight you may be, there is always a way to loosen up and let your hair down!

The Ladder (Review)

By Tobias Chalcraft

If you seek a production that will convert procrastination and grief into motivation, look no further than THE LADDER at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

This intimate, absorbing & emotional show is a real treat for drama fans. The use of excessive volumes, audience interaction and unorthodox casting leaves you engaged and entertained for the duration of this Brechtian-styled performance.

Simple props, including a laptop, water bottle and stationery, provide the cast with a beneficial set of tools to add to their presentation – this includes the use of a water bottle as a spanner in a game which ends up with serious repercussions. Microphones are also scattered around the stage, to allow lines to be delivered with emphasis and boldness, but also to provide a cosy, podcast-like atmosphere at times.

On reflection, the introduction to THE LADDER really sticks out. ‘Emerging’ actor Hugh Hughes, portrayed by Shôn Dale-Jones, starts off by entering the audience to greet us and shake our hands, whilst we are unaware that the show has even started. It is this interaction that ensures we continue to root for him, whether that is by laughter or stunned silence. This is returned by Hughes, who shares his thoughts and feelings like we are imaginary companions.

Initially, the casting of Julian Spooner as the Father is interpreted as comedic, due to the fact he is visibly younger than his on-stage son. However, Spooner’s acting soon captivates hearts and minds as the audience develop empathy for a character that has faced a broken family, illness and a livelihood lost at the hands of urbanisation in the late 1900s.

The layers of an onion are perhaps inferior to the quantity of sub-plots within THE LADDER, and these expertly intertwined stories are tied up by three main events: Hughes’ fascination with Greta Thunberg and the Youth Climate Strikes, his writer’s block and the death of his Father, as a result of him falling off a ladder.

This web of plots provides THE LADDER with its ability to confidently convert unpleasant and relatable behaviours, such as grief and procrastination, into pure motivation to do better in the world. This created a big struggle in reviewing this show, as the simplicity of being absorbed into the storyline maintains a high level across the production – which at one point will allow you to experience joy, sympathy and inspiration in a matter of minutes.

Breaking Creatives: A New South West Series

By Katie Stote

Would you consider yourself a Creative? Do you produce creativity in your day to day life or career? Are you interested in the local creative economy in your area? If you answered YES to any of those questions, Breaking Creatives is the series for you. If, by some small chance, you didn’t answer YES, Zoe Bloss’ new YouTube series Breaking Creatives will inevitably change your mind.

On the 1st of November a new interview series, Breaking Creatives, will be gracing the world of YouTube. As its title suggests, the series is a celebration of creativity which is hidden in some of the most unlikely places. We sat down with Devon based actor, youtuber and, most importantly, creator of the Breaking Creatives series, Zoe Bloss, to find out more about the series and what inspired her to begin her challenging and innovative project.

Each episode of the Breaking Creatives series features one self-starting creative who is, as Zoe passionately describes, “making waves in their industry”. Each interviewee either works in a creative industry or uses creativity in their career. When asked what inspired her to begin the series, Zoe explained,

“I started the series to try and begin a discussion about the creative economy and the value of having a strong creative economy; I really don’t think we value creativity in the right way. I see creativity in every industry, not just in creative jobs.”

Through interviewing people from a broad range of careers ranging from poets and photographers to STEM and music industries, Zoe aims to demonstrate that creativity is a versatile and useful skill to have, develop and nurture.

However, the Breaking Creatives creator isn’t only highlighting how creativity is imperative for a variety of industries; she is also hoping to inspire the next generation of creatives. After reading an abundance of articles about the lack of access for creative subjects in schools, Zoe decided to try and help creative students who may be feeling anxious about their future prospects.

“I worry about the lack of access to a wide range of subjects in schools. It’s not necessarily their fault, it’s just the situation we are in right now. Sometimes, if you see someone who has similarities to you, doing something that you are interested in doing, that can be a really big motivator. If I could just show people that these really cool people exist, then that’s amazing. The normal jobbing creatives are out there, making it happen for themselves, they’re everywhere and we just don’t necessarily know about them. So, we just need to show young people there are these really cool people, who aren’t necessarily in the well-known creative hubs and cities, doing these really cool things for themselves, by themselves; then maybe their goals will feel that much more attainable.”

Zoe Bloss, creator of Breaking Creatives

For Zoe, it was imperative to shine a light on creatives from as wide a variety of locations as possible. Her passion to inspire people from all locations and backgrounds is so strong that, during the interview process, she has travelled by car and train over 600 miles without any financial funding or support. She explained:

“It was so important to me to not just have people in London. I’m so glad I’ve got Hadeel Ayoub who is in episode two, she is incredible, but she is the only one based in London. I wanted to get as much variety as possible. I don’t know if I’ve fully achieved that yet, but that was really important to me.”

Hadeel Ayoub, who features in episode 2 of Breaking Creatives

Breaking Creatives also highlights an incredible sense of community which can be found within the creative economy. At a time when it is easy to feel more disconnected and fearful of each other than ever, Breaking Creatives reminds us of the beauty of mutual trust and support. The project wouldn’t have been possible without trust; the interviewees had to place trust in Zoe that their work would be handled with respect and sensitivity, whereas, Zoe, travelling to their towns and cities, was trusting that each creative would be as kind and generous with their time as she hoped.

Breaking Creatives is more than a YouTube series. It’s an inspiring celebration of creativity in its most incredibly varied forms, of working hard for more than monetary gain and supporting strangers without seeking anything in return. Zoe is hoping to continue her inspiring work on Breaking Creatives; creating more content for you to enjoy and giving creatives across the country some much deserved recognition.

To find out more about the series, head to Zoe Bloss’ YouTube Channel, ‘Blossom Bite‘. The first episode of Breaking Creatives will be uploaded on the 1st of November 2019.

A Cafe with a Twist

By Lacey Mannell

Taking drinking coffee to a competitive level, Twist Board Game Cafe offers a new way to drink your latte whilst having fun. 

Twist was recommended to me by a friend who’d visited a few times with family. Located near the Armada Centre in Plymouth City Centre, it’s easy to get to, and a great place to relax after a day of shopping. Originally, I wasn’t all that interested in the cafe, but as soon as I went, I kept wanting to go back. 

It’s a bit like a book you don’t want to put down, which aligns with Haley’s, the founder of Twist, own ideas for her cafe. Haley described Twist as the book she wants to read, a place of: ‘chilling with friends, board games, tasty homemade food and quality drinks.’

Twist was created around seven core values: fun, inclusive, conscious, exciting, social, quality and easy-going. I believe the cafe meets all of these values. 

It’s both fun, exciting and social, with great games that encourage people to engage as a group – whether this is by competing or teaming up. There are no limits to who can play games, with a £4 charge for under 16’s and a £5 charge for those over 16. The cafe is both clean and modern; with wooden tables that look like boards and a menu including a variety of cakes (which tasted delicious) and a range of beverages from coffees to gins. The atmosphere is calming; a room full of people relaxing and having fun (unless they’re losing at Monopoly, or when a Jenga tower falls over).

There are a variety of two to eight player games on offer. From Scrabble, Monopoly and Ludo, to party games like Chameleon (one of my favourites) and Bucket of Doom or First Dates. There are quick games that take a maximum of five minutes and games that can take up to an hour (I never quite realised how long Scrabble takes until I played with my friend at Twist). There’s a bit of something for everyone, whether you like something strategic, or simple and fun. 

One of the best aspects of the cafe is the welcoming staff members, or more specifically, the ‘Gurus’. There are Gurus who help with the games, taking the time to set them up and go through the rules, and even making recommendations if your table is in need of something new. 

Twist Board Game Cafe is a lovely addition to the list of places for a nice day out in Plymouth, and I’d definitely recommend it for anybody who’s looking for a day of fun and laughter. 

For more information on the cafe visit: https://twistbgc.co.uk/about/

Review: Influence (Theatre Royal Young Company)

By Megan Potterton

The Theatre Royal Young Company return with their latest production this week. Influence is on at The Drum theatre from Wednesday 21st – Saturday 24th August, and is yet another amazing example of the exceptional talent that this young theatre company brings to the stage.

Influence, written by Andy McGregor, is thought provoking, entertaining, funny and at times frightening, and the Young Company have done an amazing job at bringing its characters to life.

The play follows a group of young people who ‘enter a world of illegal data collecting and mind manipulation’ when a local boy goes missing. Without revealing too much of the plot (the twists, turns and shock factor of the play truly make it what it is), the play revolves around technology, adventure, and everything not being as it seems. The writers of Influence have taken inspiration from the likes of Stranger Things, Black Mirror and The Matrix (we were given blue and red ‘pills’/Tic Tacs on our way into the auditorium) to create a story that you can’t help but be drawn into from the very moment the play opens.

Of course, it was not only the play’s plot that captured the audience’s attention on opening night. The company (consisting of a principal cast aged between 14 and 17 years old) immediately brought the play to life with their powerful dialogue and synchronised movements. They created believable and memorable characters and worked incredibly well alongside each other. Each member of the cast was engaging and energetic, adding to the plot with every interaction and facial expression made.

You could certainly feel the energy and excitement of opening night emanate from the cast. Notable performances were given from the young actresses who played Bobby Raferty and Marj Ainsworth, both of whom portrayed interesting and complex characters with what seemed like ease.

The direction, choreography, lighting and sound of this production are also impressive, and definitely play a part in creating a production that leaves such a lasting impact.

Influence is on at The Drum at the Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 24th August. You can buy your tickets here: https://theatreroyal.com/whats-on/influence/#book

British Firework Championships 2019

By Megan Dibben

The British Firework Championships 2019 took place in Plymouth last week. With the amazing turn out of the weather, the outstanding entertainment and the spectacular fireworks displays, it is safe to say the two day event was a brilliant and unmissable one.

There was a lot of speculation as to whether Wednesday night would be worth attending due to Plymouth’s unpredictable weather, however many people were pleasantly surprised by the clear skies; perfect for viewing the fireworks late into the evening. Thousands of people flooded the Barbican’s narrow streets and crowded onto Plymouth Hoe awaiting the firework displays, and by 9pm it was difficult to even roam around the roads due to the amount of people who had arrived. This was an outstanding turn out, and it was lovely to see the people of Plymouth come together for a wonderful night.

The fireworks weren’t the only attraction however, as there were many local acts who performed for the crowds earlier in the evening – and they were spectacular! These included Ocean City Sounds Barbershop Chorus, a four part harmony singing group of around 50 men, Stage Stars musical theatre group and Street Factory dance group. On Thursday evening there were more fantastic performances from Plymkids musical theatre group and Natasha’s Bollywood Dance. These groups gave outstanding performances both nights, adding to the buzz of the evening and providing a wonderful build up to the fireworks displays at the end of the night.

Finally, the moment we all came for arrived, and the first bang of a firework silenced the crowds. The vibrant explosion of purple, red and blue above our heads was stunning, and for one moment everyone was looking in the same direction, watching in awe.

The competitors for Wednesday night were Nemisis Pyrotechnics, Aurora Fireworks and Phoenix Fireworks, however the third display was sadly cancelled due to technical issues. Thursday’s competitors, there were Illusion Fireworks, Selstar Fireworks and 1st Galaxy Fireworks. Selstar Fireworks were crowned the winners of the British Firework Championships 2019 the next day.

All of the displays were absolutely breath-taking however, and I think everyone who watched them can agree with me. Overall, both nights ended on a beautiful finish thanks to these brilliant competitors.

Photo provided courtesy of Will Hexter (Instagram: willh.jpg)

Boardmasters 2019 Cancelled

By Megan Potterton

Boardmasters 2019 has been cancelled by event organisers due to forecasted severe weather conditions.

The major music festival was due to begin in Newquay today, Wednesday 7th August. Florence and the Machine, Wu-Tang Clan and Foals were all scheduled to headline the festival, which was expected to run from Wednesday 7th until Sunday 11th August.

Gates were due to open to festival-goers at 7am this morning, however event organisers released a statement cancelling the event across Boardmasters’ social media channels at 11pm last night.

Here is the official statement:

“Due to forecasted severe weather conditions, specifically high winds, Boardmasters 2019 has been cancelled. 

Following full consultation with all of the relevant authorities including independent safety advisors, Devon and Cornwall Police, emergency services and the Met Office, a final decision was made yesterday evening (6th August).

The safety of you, the fans and attendees, as well as performers and crew comes first, and the potential risk is too severe for the event to go ahead at this time.

Refund advice will be shared as soon as possible – please follow Boardmasters’ social media for official updates. 

We sincerely regret the disappointment to fans, and apologise for any disruption caused to local businesses, performers and crew who were looking forward to Boardmasters as much as we were.”

Fans and artists alike have expressed their disappointment on social media. Sam Fender, who was due to play the Main Stage on Saturday, tweeted:

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Sunday headliners Foals also tweeted that they were ‘Gutted’ in response to the official statement.

Ticket holders have been told to keep an eye on the Boardmasters social media pages for advice on refunds. Great Western Railway have also advised that all unused tickets to and from Newquay this weekend are eligible for refund, including normally non-refunable Advance fares.

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