15th April 2013

The best/worst thing I’ve ever seen

Ben Marshall gives us his best and worst

The best thing I’ve ever seen: Blood Brothers (Phoenix Theatre, London, 2012)

Say it’s just a story! Well luckily Blood Brothers is, telling the highly emotional tale of un-identical twins who are separated at birth, and then unknowingly reunited later in life, with devastating consequences. Its perfect accompanying musical score features such classics as “Tell me it’s not true” and “Marilyn Monroe”, which along with the play’s richness of real life characters who the audience truly empathises with, were a great source of catharsis for me. The idea of the challenges of growing up in a rapidly changing world is ever-present, and since I saw this play just days before starting university last September, I was filled with an overwhelming epiphany of how my own life was changing. Sadly, gone are those care-free school days and long summers spent in the park when there were no worries in the world, “well, apart from deciding what clothes you’re gonna wear!”, and that’s exactly what we witness here – two lads going from chirpy children to troublesome teens full of freedom and fun, and into the big bad world of adulthood – poignant, heart wrenching and beautiful.



The worst thing I’ve ever seen: Sleeping Beauty (Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, 2012)

I’m a huge fan of the timeless “It’s behind you” routines and the larger-than-life dames that pantos showcase, and this production of Sleeping Beauty did have both of these. However, these were the only positive droplets in this sea of theatrical shame. The acting overall was tired, bemusing and dull, with the comedy-clown character doing anything but make us laugh. At times, it was cringe worthy, due to this actor’s lack of melodramatic style. This is a character who is meant to delight the audience by handing out sweets and blowing up balloons etc, but the only balloons I noticed in the whole show were lead ones. The screeching villain Carabosse wasn’t much better, sounding more like a broken Witney Houston record than a wicked queen and as well as this, the storyline was all over the place, with an overly repetitive Act I, a terribly unstructured Act II and an ending that must have been written by a three year old. And this isn’t just my cynical views – I overheard conversations of my fellow audience members expressing their disappointment after the show. If it wasn’t for the brilliantly played dame, I would have walked out of the theatre at the interval. Oh yes I would!

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