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Review | Matilda The Musical | Manchester Palace Theatre

Review | Matilda The Musical | Manchester Palace Theatre


Over 30 years after Roald Dahl published this beloved children’s book, Matilda is still a big hit, with the hero being not afraid to stand up to bullies, be brave and nerdy all while being a little bit naughty.

Living with horrible parents who lie and cheat their way to the top, five-year-old Matilda escapes the real world in the world of books.

Bringing to her imagination to life, Nik Ashton’s direction of Dennis Kelly’s witty book uses different forms of storytelling and creates something extraordinary on stage. Tim Minchin’s comic and cleverly written songs, the show has every kind of classic musical theatre song in it, but that extra British comic twist!

The audience is taken to a circus, moved from school to home in seconds, all using bookcases that shift and move around the stage.

The show is led and held by the child actors, and stealing the show, and the audience’s heart is the incredibly talented Sophia Ally, who took on the lead role of Matilda in her stride. Her stage presence, unmoving nerve and superb performance of “Naughty.”

Towering over the children and adults alike, Craige Els embodies the large and scary Miss Trunchbull with incredible wit and authority. The moment when Trunch grabs Lavender by the pigtails and flings her across the stage is comical and also breathtaking, leaving some perplexed and amazed faces on in the audience.

The highly grotesque Mr and Mrs Wormwood steal the show at many moments, including the fast-paced salsa dance “Loud”. I have to applaud Rebecca Thornhill’s performance as Mrs Wormwood and how high she can lift her legs!

Being the complete opposite of every other adult, Carly Thomas’s portrayal of Miss Honey is sublime, and “My House” was a tear-jerker.

The production and whole show are one for the entire family to enjoy and fall in love with, and the cast and crew didn’t let the slight technical hitch at the beginning of the show stop them from delivering a stand-ovation worthy performance.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s hit show is running at the Manchester Palace theatre for 11 weeks, and the show is as magical on stage as we all picture it when reading the book!

Matilda the Musical is on at the Palace Theatre until November 24. Tickets are on sale from ATG Tickets.

Review | OthelloMacbeth | HOME, Manchester

Review | OthelloMacbeth | HOME, Manchester


Jude Christian’s mash-up of two classic Shakespeare tragedies is clever, beautiful and breathtaking.

Creating a fusion of drama, the two shows are individual in their own right, but Christian’s links in narratives is award worthy! Condensing the plays into 1-hour versions, Christian’s direction and choice of focus are not on the male characters, but on the females, all while not losing the plot of the plays.

The plays run at a faster pace, and the events seem to happen all in one day, which creates a sense of urgency on the stage.

The movement between one play and the next is faultless and honestly breathtaking, leaving you on the edge of your seat! I have to applaud Christian’s direction on this part.

The show did take a while to get off the ground, as Paul Courtenay Hyu’s performance as Brabantio and later in Macbeth as Duncan, was a bit too hammy for my liking – think classic Shakespearian acting but times ten.

Proving she is a triple threat, Kezrena James performed Bianca, and the witch was gusto and sass. A beautiful singing voice was the lead of the female song “Ain’t it always about a man”. Christian’s compelling choice of song is repeated throughout the show and links in well with the female focus of the show.

The stand out performers of this show has to be Samuel Collings as Iago and Macduff, and Melissa Johns as Emilia and one of the three witches. Their chemistry as a couple has power and the sense of a lot going on behind closed doors. They had their backstory worked out, and you could see this from the moment they entered the stage together. Johns’ comic timing and whit was the perfect reflection of Collings’ dark and manipulative mind.

Basia Binkowska’s steel set in Othello adds to the tension of the piece as the men use it to slam their fists and their wives into the wall. Sadly, the wall was too far forward, meaning the actors only had the front of the stage for action. It felt like they were almost on top of the audience, and too close to be able to enjoy the acting. In Macbeth, the open stage uses metal strings stretched over the stage that the witches use to create loud sounds and squeaks.

This production leaves the audience feel confused and like it’s not completed, with ideas being touched on but never get completed or discussed in depth. The base of a great show is there but needs a look at how it can be developed further.



Restaurant Review | Bisou De Vin, Bournemouth

Restaurant Review | Bisou De Vin, Bournemouth

If there’s anything that a Friday night needs, it’s cheese and wine.

Just before heading back to uni, I got to visit the brand new restaurant Bisou De Voin, in Bournemouth’s town centre. With bare brick and white tiled walls, the restaurant is welcoming, friendly and warmly lit.

The owners have kept the menu simple and classy – a vast range of cheeses from around the world, a lovely selection of cold cut meats and a massive wine collection.

If you are a bit daunted by choosing a wine off their impressive list, the friendly waiters are on hand to recommend ones that compliment your platter.

I went for a Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand which was a very fruity white wine that went down a little too quickly…

There are different sized platters, from an intimate board, where you can choose three kinds of cheese and three types of meat (£29.50), party board, with a choice of 8 cheeses and eight meats (£59.50). Finally, the big boy – the ultimate board, with a selection of 12 kinds of cheese and 12 types of meat (£89.50).

All boards are served with olives, pate, cornichons, feta stuffed peppers, sundried tomatoes, hummus and grapes, as well as bread and crackers, chutney and pickles.

For our board, we chose a Spanish manchego cheese, Brie de Meaux and a Neoploen cheese. We decided on the prosciutto, bresaola and lamb Lucanian salami.

The manchego was rich and had an almost fruity flavour. It was perfect with the crackers and chill jam. The brie was so creamy and was very strong in earthy flavours.

The Neopolean cheese was a harder cheese that has quite a nutty flavour. It tasted very good with the pate on the freshly baked bread.

The meats were just heavenly. The bresaola was so tender and salty. The salami was meaty, and it didn’t taste like it was out of a packet from a shop – it felt expensive. The prosciutto was not too salty as you can get sometimes, and it was a perfect compliment to the manchego cheese also.

From the moment you arrive, you are welcomed and made to feel very at home. The staff service was terrific and I will be returning here for more cheese, more meat and more wine!

Bisou De Vin, 14 Post Office Road, BH1 1BA / 01202 610330

Interview | The Feeling Talk About Their Comeback Tour

Interview | The Feeling Talk About Their Comeback Tour

Sitting in a quiet studio in London, I catch up with The Feeling about what’s been going on recently and the exciting tour they have ahead of them this year.

After selling out their first gig at London’s Apollo Theatre in under a minute, the Feeling is hitting the road again with a UK tour, celebrating the anniversary of their album.

“After ten years of touring, we decided to give ourselves a couple of years break. We had a couple of years off that ended up being quite busy for all of us.”

This will be the band’s first tour for over two years, and everyone sounds very excited to get back on stage with each other.

“We initially announced the one show, doing a 12-year anniversary concert. We thought it would be quite nice to play the songs on that record. It was also a nice way of easing our way into playing live again. And then that went so well, we thought, “Oh, we could do a tour!”

It’s a been an enjoyable and nostalgic experience.

“We are touring the whole album and playing the entire collection from top to bottom, how it was recorded and actually as we always meant it to be listened to.”

As we joke about getting used to being on the road with each other again, the band explain how even during their break they were all working with each other still on little projects and gigging together.

“Whatever we are doing outside of the band, we always support each other.”

“Even before the Feeling existed, we were musicians who were mates and doing other things. It’s always been part of our story.”

The tour is a celebration of their million-selling album ‘Twelve Stops And Home’ – a record that has vibes of The Beatles, Queen and Scouting for Girls. The album was played nearly 100,000 times on the UK radio and in 2006, was the most played act on UK radio.

Keeping with the 12 themes, the Feeling is visiting 12 UK venues on this tour, including Manchester O2 Ritz on 27th October.

Tickets are currently on sale here and www.thefeeling.com

Lead singer Dan Gillespie Sells has not only written the songs for the band but the music for the award-winning West End musical ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’.

Opening at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre and then transferring to the West End, Dan was surprised but “absolutely delighted” with the response to the show.

“It’s something I think you hope happens. It’s like when ‘Twelve Stops And Home’ came out. You put it out and hope for the best. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to become a hit.”

“The show is a really joyful and coming of age story about a 16-year-old boy. It’s hilarious – it makes people laugh and cry.”

Restaurant Review | Zouk Tea Bar and Grill | Pre Theatre Dining Menu

Restaurant Review | Zouk Tea Bar and Grill | Pre Theatre Dining Menu

Going to uni just down the road from this place, I have been meaning to go to Zouk for absolutely ages! The flower wall itself is just one reason to visit (obviously got to get that Instagram photo!)

The pre-theatre dining menu is available for two courses (£15.95) and three courses (£19.95).

Now, I’ve had many a curry in my life, but I’ve never been to an Indian and Pakistani restaurant before. For those newbies to it too, the flavours in Pakistani curries is a bit tamer than usual, and a lot richer in taste.

The layout inside is very simple, with just lots of tables fitting lots of hungry customers – even though when we dined, it wasn’t too busy.

To start, we were offered popadoms and chutneys to dive into, and what you see is what you got with these. The sauces sadly weren’t too exciting, but still tasty (I mean you can’t go wrong with the classic mango chutney, can you?)

The cocktails were strong but tasty. I went for a fruity and fresh cocktail made with gin and mango! Lovely!

My friend chose the virgin strawberry daiquiri, which was very bland and didn’t have any sweetness to it, sadly.

For starter, I chose the vegetarian Samosa Chaat, which was served in a large metal martini glass, which was quite challenging to eat out of. It was a traditional Pakistani chaat, made of chickpeas, with a crunchy samosa, tamarind sauce and raita. This was the tastiest part of the meal, and I could easily eat one of these as my main too, as it was a generous serving!

My friend tried the humous, made with chickpeas, lemon and Mediterranean herbs and spices. Sadly, the humous just tasted like chickpeas crushed in a blender – we didn’t get any spices or lemon. The homous was served with naan bread and some crudites vegetables.

For the main course, I chose the butter chicken curry. Now, it might be because I’m not used to the flavours of Pakistani curries, but I felt that the curry was quite tame with spice. It was very creamy, and the chicken was cooked perfectly. I had the curry with naan bread, and the serving was more than enough for two people.

My friend has the Chicken Jalfrezi – chicken pieces cooked with peppers and onion in a thick spicy sauce and finished with masala and coriander. She had this with rice. The curry was full of flavour, but sadly a little too oily for her liking.

For dessert, we were very excited about what was on the menu, but sadly we couldn’t have these and weren’t told why until after the meal (they didn’t have a pastry chef at this point.) We were served strawberry gateau and chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was very moist, but very heavy. The strawberry gateau was light and fluffy, and the strawberry sauce was sweet. They were tasty, but not showstoppers.

Despite the slightly underwhelming food, the experience was enjoyable. The venue is gorgeous. I hope that it was just that the kitchen was having a bad day because I’d love to come again and eat here.

It’s an excellent location to eat if you are seeing a show at the Palace Theatre, which is only a couple of minutes walk from the restaurant.

The pre-theatre menu is available every day, between 5pm-7pm.

Zouk, Chester Street, Manchester M1 5QS / zoukteabar.co.uk