Spotlight On… Star of Penthouse, Dario Coates

Penthouse runs throughout the Edinburgh Fringe festival at The Space on Niddry Street from the 4th – 26th August (excluding 13th) 16:45 – 17:40. For tickets  Penthouse Tickets

Recently nominated for an ‘Off West End award for Best Male Performance’ in the play ‘Sid’ at the Arts theatre, Dario Coates is also recognised for Coronation Street, ITV’s Endeavour and Another Country at the Trafalgar Studios. His next part takes him to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival playing Danny in Penthouse, where audiences will be plunged into the dark side of the banking underworld. 

Here, Dario talks to Break A Leg about the piece, his character and why we should all go and see the show.

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, tell me about the piece and your character

Penthouse is a claustrophobic play set over one night in a penthouse of a swanky London hotel. Ewan the main character battles his demons by having one last hurrah. I play Danny, a loud, confrontational and sadistic banker friend of Ewan’s who crashes the party. He is everything Ewan is scared of becoming.

What was your initial impression of the script?

I’ve been friends with Ed since drama school where I saw the play in it’s first incarnation: a 30 minute dissertation piece. I thought it was a great idea then so I was glad when he asked me to be on board. Since I first read it, it’s grown and grown thanks to Ed’s willingness to workshop..

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

That’s always the end goal so it wasn’t difficult.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

Yes. Initially the character of Danny was a slightly more comic relief role. I wanted to play him with something darker. Luckily Ed’s allowed all the actors a lot of input..

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

Like I said it’s a claustrophobic play that focuses on the character interactions and The Space on Niddry Street is a very intimate space.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

If you’re interested in the relentless physiological effect of what capitalism can do, look no further. Or if you just want to see actors snorting fake coke for 50 mins, wishing they’d not asked for it in rehearsals.

Thanks again to Dario, wishing you all the best with the run!

 

 

 

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Casualty ‘One’ ~ Episode Review

Oh my! What a series finale for Casualty, and what an incredible year they’ve had! The National Television Award win, all of the amazing storylines that have rolled out as the series has progressed. Many plots carried over week to week giving even more reason to keep tuning in. Tonight, history was made and I couldn’t be prouder of website Patron, Cath Shipton – for leading the pack as they took a brave step. Here are just a few highlights from an episode I shall remember for a long time to come…

Duffy ~ Well, Cath gave one of the performances  of her career didn’t she? As the hub of the activity, the responsibility for the episode lay on her shoulder. She shouldered it brilliantly, the natural ease with which she appeared to take the helm was quite something. I feel that this history making episode will always be associated with Cath, and that’s quite an accolade.

Work Experience ~ The work experience girls were a fantastic addition to the chaos, they fitted in brilliantly and speaking personally as one who worked for the NHS and has taken charge of students, the opposite behaviours of the pair were on point. What I especially loved was how much Duffy inspired them both. Will we see then as trainee nurses in the future? I hope so!

Picture Shows: Jez Andrews (LLOYD EVERITT) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Adrian Heap

Jez ~ Jez loses his cool as he realises that a patient he has pulled from a burning building has left a baby behind in there and he hasn’t the opportunity to go in after her. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the paramedic so in-glued and I feel that recent events have taken their toll on him. Well played by Lloyd Everitt who knocked his performance out of the park in extreme circumstances.

Trouble in Triage ~ Missing a Receptionist? No problem? Wrong! The lack of Noel means that triage is not in hunky dory order and a patient is put at risk as a result. A good reminder of how all members of the team in a hospital environment (or indeed any working environment) are integral cogs.

Picture Shows: David Hide (JASON DURR), Di (JENNY PLATT), Alicia Munroe (CHELSEA HALFPENNY) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Adrian Heap

One Shot ~ Finally, congratulations on the entire team on pulling off no mean feat as a finale de force. It was very clear that the episode had been filmed in one take and therefore gave a different feel, ambience and atmosphere to the overall show. A gamble that paid off, undoubtedly!

Casualty Episode Cast

 

Odd Man Out ~ The Hope Theatre

Odd Man Out runs at The Hope Theatre until Saturday 12 August 2017 – book here: Odd Man Out Tickets

Star rating: *****

A double bill of monologues from writers; Dominic Grace and Lesley Ross, performed respectively by Luke Adamson and Gregory Ashton form the structure of Odd Man Out. Both plays are vastly different yet synchronise and almost meet in the middle, surprisingly well.

Rabbitskin (written by Dominic Grace) is a finely constructed piece narrated by the central character, Joe (Luke Adamson) who is a book-obsessed baby of the family and self-confessed lost soul. He focuses on specific moments in his life and how they make him feel – from washing up to sitting on the sofa with his dad and brother with whom there is a three year age gap. He’s the youngest of five brothers, all of whom he is intimidated and bullied by, his mum having passed away when he was young enough to have been left with the vaguest of memories of the lynchpin of the family. The bookish lad has to man up while his dad skins rabbits for their tea. The rabbit inspires reflections in Joe, (who is unable to switch his thoughts off unless he ‘floats’ outside of his body) putting death and the pointlessness of it to the forefront of his young mind. It seems that many life events in one so young have catalysed panic attacks and general poor mental health.

Luke Adamson is a revelation in the role, holding the audience to rapt attention as he portrays the boy who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, let alone a rabbit, then shocks with the ferocity in which he switches Joe’s emotions. Adamson offers a physical, engaging and intense performance which is not to be missed. The set, although basic, provides just enough of a backdrop to demonstrate emptiness, pointlessness and obsession. The lighting design also complements the piece superbly, enhancing the monologue at every turn.

With an ending which is both predictable and unpredictable in equal measure, too – this is a monologue which knows no bounds and it’s been brought to life innovatively and imaginatively.

(Review by Helen McWilliams)

 

Diary of a Welshcake, written by Lesley Ross and performed by Gregory Ashton, is an interactive, emotive and belly laugh inducing piece of theatre. If you were lucky, you were fed too! I thoroughly enjoyed my welshcake, thanks! Ashton instantly has the audience on side and tuned in to his story as he played the role of Ralph, the Welshman who would rather be called Tom and has an affinity with elephants. The piece offers a snapshot into Ralph’s life, the scene is set superbly as we are moved rapidly to a major life event for the non-welsh speaking Welshman.

A broken relationship inspires a decision to move to Hong Kong and teach English, so we are transported from the valleys to the orient where we are introduced to Fanny, Windy and Hymen (three of Ralph’s pupils). The puns are there for the taking and they pepper the script appropriately. The clever flipside being that homosexual welsh elephant, Ralph’s journey takes him to unexpected and often dark places – despite the vibrant characters who provide hilarity along the way.

The piece is intricately written, Lesley Ross has a gift for painting a picture with words and creating characters who spring to life in your imagination, courtesy of the precise narration. Ashton has a clever way of leading you to believe that Ralph is a soul who bounces back easily – therefore it comes as a surprise when he falls. The set offered everything we needed to see because the script itself showed us the real heart of the story, which shone through. Lighting also provided its own ‘scene changes’, reflecting the myriad of moods and atmospheres.

I’ve never had so much fun with a handful of Skittles (as in the sweets…) and I reiterate that I enjoyed that welshcake, theatre and food should go together more often!

(Review by Jen Franklin (Guest Reviewer))

 

City Of Champions ~ Press Release

CITY OF CHAMPIONS 

★★★★ Carn’s Theatre Passion “poignant and thought-provoking ”
★★★★ Last Minute Theatre Tickets “Beautifully written”
★★★★ The Reviews Hub “Packs a heavy punch”
★★★★ Theatre Weekly “A powerful story that is well told”
 
A new play by Steve Brown
 
Presented by London Theatre Workshop
17th July – 5th August 2017
 
Written and Directed by: Steve Brown
Cast: Joel Arnold, Amy Burke, Ian McCurrach, Maggie Robson, Joe Southall, Ellie Ward
 
Developed through the London Theatre Workshop, this poignant new play is a world premiere from Steve Brown, an exciting new writer.
 
Set in 2010, in the city of Inglewood, Los Angeles, CITY OF CHAMPIONS focuses on two former nineteen-eighties child superstars, Lonnie Drake and Laurie Monro, who are living with the after effects of early stardom and abuse as teen stars.
 
Lonnie, a recovering alcoholic is married and still working in the industry.  Laurie, although clean after numerous trips to rehab, is broke and unemployable.  He is living in the ‘guest lodge’ in Lonnie’s backyard.  Desperate for work and money, a job opportunity presents itself but it means working once again with the director who abused him during his teen career.
A reunion with someone from the past and an unwelcome visit from an old colleague act as the catalyst for Laurie to make a decision to take control of his situation and change everybody’s lives.
 
CITY OF CHAMPIONS is at once charming, funny and heartbreaking.  Charting the very familiar path of a history that catches up with someone at both the best and worst of times, the play focuses on the very human issues of dealing with abuse and trust.
 
Artistic Director of the London Theatre Workshop, Ray Rackham says: “It is with huge delight and pride that this important piece of theatre, developed over LTW’s three-year history both in Fulham and in its new home at Leadenhall Market, is ready to be produced for an audience.  I am exceptionally proud of LTW’s Theatre Lab, which provides a safe and playful environment for new writers to develop and eventually produce new work.  After the success of APARTMENT 40C, JUDY!, and TRIBE, I am honoured that Steve Brown has entrusted CITY OF CHAMPIONS with London Theatre Workshop, for its world premiere.”
 
Runs at London Theatre Workshop, Leadenhall Market, 88 Gracechurch Street, London ECV3 0DN (above the New Moon Pub).
17th July – 5th August
Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Additional Saturday matinee on 29th July at 2:30 p.m.
Not suitable for children.  Contains strong language and adult themes.
Ticket Bookings
Tickets can be purchased at LTW’s online box office: City Of Champions Tickets
Photo credits: Rosalind White Photograph

St Paul by Mendelssohn ~ 3 Choirs Festival, Worcester Catherdral

3 Choirs Festival runs until 27 July 2017 book tickets for the various events here: 3 Choirs Festival

Star rating: *****

Mendelssohn’s St Paul is rarely performed, therefore it’s selection for this year’s 3 Choirs Festival came as a treat indeed. With the Philharmonia Orchestra providing stunning backing to the stunning vocals of the Three Choirs Festival Chorus and the incredible soloists; Eleanor Dennis (soprano), Yvonne Howard (mezzo-soprano), James Oxley (tenor) and David Stout (baritone). As most enthusiasts are only familiar with St Paul via recordings, which certainly is the case where my knowledge of the libretto is concerned, to listen to parts I and II performed live was an unforgettable experience.

The oratorio begins with an introduction (Nos. 1-3), and continues with the martyrdom of St. Stephen, and St Paul‘s conversion and baptism (Nos. 12-22). Part Two continues with the mission of Paul and Barnabas (Nos. 23-27), Paul’s persecution at the hands of his former co-religionists (Nos. 28-31), the healing of the lame man of Lystra (Nos. 32-36), the resistance of the Jews and heathen (Nos. 37-40), Paul’s departure from Ephesus (Nos. 41-43), and following the mention of his martyrdom, a final chorus based on Psalm 103.

Both Eleanor Dennis and James Oxley provided a form of narration between them and their vocals were clear, pitch perfect with precise diction. David Stout’s baritone voice lent itself exceptionally to the oratorio and his voice possesses a rich, engaging quality which I am keen to hear again. Yvonne Howard, I was already familiar with, she is one of my best-loved opera and classical singers. Although in this piece her mezzo-soprano voice is used little in comparison to the other soloists, the quality of her sumptuous tone was a joy to behold and carried superbly by the acoustics of Worcester Catherdral.

The Three Choirs Festival Chorus performed spectacularly well as an ensemble, their voices blending seamlessly together as they followed the lead of their Conductor, Gerraint Bowen. I have not had the privilege of hearing the chorus before but they are the jewell in the crown of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

The festival overall has been organised superbly, hats off to the team – and Break A Leg can’t wait to support this marvellous event again.

 

 

 

The Beggar’s Opera ~ Storyhouse Theatre, Chester

Beggar’s Opera run at Storyhouse Theatre 19 August 2017 The Beggar’s Opera Tickets

Star rating: *****

Bawdy, brutal, a rollicking good ride of a show with fantastic vocals from all cast members and a script filled with local, relevant references – making a classic piece a very current piece. The Beggar’s Opera is a musical based in 18th century Chester with a varied mixture of genres of music giving edge, energy and substance to it.

The tale of Mac (Macheath) The Knife (Alex Mugnaioni) is at the root of the plot, he’s putting himself about all over town while he’s supposedly engaged to Polly Peachum (Charlotte Miranda-Smith) and knocked up Lucy Lockit (Nancy Sullivan) yet he’s regularly cavorting with prostitutes and not Son-in-Law material as far as Polly and Lucy’s father’s are concerned. That’s because Peachum (Daniel Goode) and Lockit (Jonathan Dryden Taylor) are involved with Macheath in so much as they pocket the belongings of the victims Macheath. The fathers decide to close in on Macheath and hatch a plan to have him hung. However with two love-struck females desperate to be loved by him, the one thing that slippery Macheath has is people on his side, to begin with at least! Add to the mix Mrs Peachum, who is the epitome of Madame Therardier from Les Miserables, devoted to her husband who appears to have an inappropriate lust for his own daughter, Polly.

The set provided its own ambience and was atmospheric to the extreme, it even felt as though there was a musty stench in the air which is what one would expect from the era and location of the story. There was also an excellent array of audience interaction which was innovative in itself.

Alex Mugnaioni gave a stellar performance as Macheath, he was sly, cunning and occasionally quite ditzy in his manner which gave delightful nuances to the character. Daniel Goode was over-bearing and wickedly crooked as Peachum, he has excellent chemistry with Charlotte Gorton who played his wife as well as two other characters, Mrs Vixen and Mrs Trapes. Considering that Gorton was playing three different characters in total, I occasionally had to do a double take because she played each one so vastly differently. She’s the proverbial chameleon and an extremely strong member of the ensemble. Nancy Sullivan performed the role of Lucy Lockit with sharp comic timing combined with a level of emotion appropriate to a girl in Lucy’s predicament. Charlotte Miranda-Smith played Polly in stark contrast to her love rival, simpering, sweet and slightly dim at certain junctures! Jonathan Dryden Taylor also put in a strong performance as Lockit and he had some delightful scences with Goode as Peachum.

It’s a piece that’s stood the test of time and the fact that actor-musos were used provided an extra dimension to what was already a fantastic night at the theatre. A must-see which offers a modern take on the 18th century!

 

Alice In Wonderland ~ Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester

Alice In Wonderland runs at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester until 20 August 2017 – book here: Alice In Wonderland Tickets

Star rating: *****

I’ve seen Alice In Wonderland in almost every incarnation, now and watching this version, adapted by Glyn Maxwell, in the glorious open air setting of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre was a real treat. It’s set in the round with a fairly moderate space for the action to occur in but plenty of opportunities for the cast to interact with the audience and make appearances sitting beside the unwitting theatre-goers. It all added to the fun and made for an energetic, exciting and unpredictable Alice In Wonderland – and given that unpredictability is at the heart of the story, the direction by Derek Bond has proved to be exceedingly on point.

This particular version follows Alicia (Anna Leong Brophy) as she worries about going to school and is confronted with Alice (Rebecca Birch) who proceeds to chase after the White Rabbit (Tom Connor). There’s excellent use of large prop letters which form the word ‘Wonderland’ as Alice goes about her adventure, encountering all the usual suspects, The Mad Hatter (Alex Mugnaioni), a rather sporty Duchess (Charlotte Gorton), three sneering school girl flowers, the science teacher in the form of the caterpillar (Jonathan Dryden Taylor) and Humpty Dumpty (Daniel Goode), who is rather well to do and was obviously laid with a silver spoon in his mouth!

The costumes are notable, they add to the ambience of the piece and I have to add that it poured with rain during the second half and they bravely soldiered on – with Alicia becoming extremely soaked in her white nightdress! The Mad Hatter’s tea party table is also a wonder in itself and extremely cleverly assembled, so basic yet so effective.

The cast work together amazingly well as an ensemble, they’re a tight unit and all exceptional in their roles. Rebecca Birch is a fun and frivolous Alice while Anna Leong Brophy is a serious and emotional Alicia. Charlotte Gorton puts in an incredible performance as the Duchess, high kicks, cartwheels and long strides – a real physical portrayal, she also shines as Alicia’s mother. Alex Mugnaioni is wondrously mad as the Mad Hatter and Tom Connor is a skittish White Rabbit and also brings hilarious madness to the March Hair. Daniel Goode as Humpty Dumpty was one of my personal highlights, his toffee-nosed accent was such stark contrast to his appearance. Jonathan Dryden Taylor was laid back to the extreme as the Caterpillar and fantastically ditzy as the King. Most of the cast played multiple roles and were adept at putting different characterisation into each part that they performed as.

It’s a show not to be missed, my favourite incarnation of the story to date and I could watch it again and again if offered the opportunity! I recommend that you embrace the open air setting and head to Chester by 20 August!

 

Casualty ‘Somewhere Between The Silences – Part 2’ ~ Episode Review

Well, well, well – Ethan certainly took revenge to a whole new level in Saturday night’s episode didn’t he? I could almost see that end coming, and then convinced myself that Ethan wouldn’t have it in him – but he did! Here are the highlights while I try to come terms with what the young doctor has done!

Picture Shows: Mickey Ellisson (MITCH HEWER), Denise Ellisson (LUCY BENJAMIN) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Screen Grab

….murdered by his brother? ~ We picked up from where we left off, with Scott lying on the floor not looking too clever after his brother had accidentally ‘thrown’ him over the railings on the upper floor. It’s all hands to the pumps, of course as the wounds are assessed and Scott has certainly survived the fall thus far…

Ethan’s dilemma ~ Ethan is in turmoil when he discovers the situation – he’s out for revenge for Cal, so here is an opportunity to take it. However, professionalism takes over, to start with at least.

On the mend ~ Some good news in an otherwise grim episode, Grace is on the mend and demonstrates the benefits of her physio to Charlie! Connie is also delighted of course and it seems that her relationship with her daughter has also healed. Connie’s offer for Grace to move back home is met with a big smile. Happy days! Although it’s not all plain sailing and by the close of ‘play’ Grace has come to terms with the fact that her mum is always going to be busy. The gal’s growing up!

David’s date ~ Noel and Grace play a trick on David, he’s still mooning after a love life and a series of text messages lead him to believe he’s got a date… until the pesky pair’s meddling is uncovered!

Pay-back ~ Scott is still waiting for a full assessment of the injurie he’s sustained – he signs his own death warrant by admitting it was he who murdered Cal, but tries to convince Ethan that he brought it on himself. Not really the best way of going about things. So, when Scott starts to choke, what does Ethan do? Leaves the room. Revenge might not be so sweet, though….

Full cast list can be found here:

Casualty Episode Cast

Funny Girl ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Funny Girl runs until Saturday 29 July 2017 Wolverhampton Grand Theatre Box Office

Star rating: *****

The toast of the West End has been celebrated in Wolverhampton this evening as Natasha J Barnes (Understudy for Sheridan Smith in the show last year) gave a performance to remember as Fanny Brice. It’s easy to see why audiences took Barnes to their hearts last year and long may she reign, what an incredible find she is.

Funny Girl follows the story of Fanny Brice, a wannabe star who hasn’t the conventional beauty and figure of the traditional chorus-line girl. This does not faze her as she feels able to bring something different to the stage, her proposal being to become a featured comedy act. With her mother, Mrs Brice (Nova Skipp) behind her all the way and the aid of her confidante, Eddie (Joshua Lay) hot on her heels and also head over heels in love with the funny girl, she pursues her dream all the way to the top. Along the way we meet her mother’s cronies, Mrs Meeker (Zoe Ann Brown) and Mrs Strakosh (Myra Sands) who love a little flutter when they get together, usually Poker. However, it’s the introduction of big-time gambler Nick Arnstein (Darius Campbell) which not only turns Brice’s head, but her career and life as she knows it on its head. Arnstein doesn’t want to be tied down, but once he’s declared his love for Brice, she is hell bent on tying him down.

There are some stand-out musical numbers in this epic production, ‘People’, ‘I Want To Be Seen With You’, ‘Sadie Sadie’, and of course, ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’. The piece has been beautifully choreographed by Lynne Page, plenty of solo work – the tap dancing in particular was extraordinary and ballet en pointe too. The set was quite something to behold, the scenery depicting the theatre in which Brice was playing was stunningly constructed and drew me in.

Darius Campbell is quite an imposing presence as Nick Arnstein, he had excellent chemistry with Barnes and his performance of ‘Temporary Arrangement’ was beguiling. Nova Skipp (standing in for Rachel Izen) gave a fine performance as Mrs Brice and demonstrated why she is a Swing in the show, an extraordinary all-rounder if ever I’ve seen one. Joshua Lay was incredible as Eddie, his dancing skills alone were stupendous and I felt that he worked brilliantly with Barnes. I was also thrilled to see Zoe Ann Bown back at the Grand having seen her in The Sound of Music last year. When she appeared in The Sound of Music she stood out for me, and this time in the role of Mrs Meeker, she was both comedic and gentile in equal measure – a firm favourite here at Break A Leg.

The hype around Natasha J Barnes is justified in my humble opinion, she gives Streisand a run for her money. From comic timing to rival any stand-up comedian, to her vocal capabilities and an uncanny ability to switch emotions on and off – this actor has it all. So grab the chance to see her in the role – you’ll be mighty glad you did. She’s more than just a Funny Girl, that’s for sure.

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