Friday, 21 March 2014

What's the Value of a Creative Writing Degree?

On the first day of my MFA in creative writing, I entered my first workshop and looked at my colleagues, the people who would critique my work and make me a better writer. Our tutor had us go around the table and introduce ourselves. 

Hello, I’m Sinéad. My favorite book is Dracula, my favorite fiction author is Margaret Atwood and my favorite creative nonfiction writer is Bill Bryson.  I write memoir and I've been blogging for ten years. I’m interested in writing a humorous literary travel memoir.

Hello, I’m M---- and I don’t read. I don’t really write either.

WHAT? What the hell are you doing here? This guy is never going to be any help to me. Cue eye-rolling, not-so-suppressed sighing and general outrage from me. I could not fathom what this man was doing in a postgraduate writing course and I took it as a personal affront that he did not have the dedication that I did.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Let's Celebrate the Real Ireland

Last night, the taller half and I went to see the new musical, The Commitments, which is based on the novel of the same name by Irish author, Roddy Doyle, although perhaps better known from the 1991 film adaptation. After waiting at the bus stop for twenty minutes and watching the clock tick ever closer to show time, we gave up faith and hailed a cab. Our lovely Limerick driver laughed at us worrying about missing the show when we clearly had loads of time. An Irish driver for an Irish writer on the way to an Irish show the day before St. Patrick's Day. Surely, we'd be fine.

Then we sat in traffic on the Mall for ten minutes and we didn't laugh so much. Turns out, Trafalgar Square was in total gridlock as St. Patrick's Day celebrations finished up. We bailed on the cab and ended up walking the last ten minutes to the Palace Theatre. And what a walk. I wish I could say it made me proud to be Irish.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Man Inside is a Big Musical on a Small Stage

From the moment the first notes left Dave Willetts' mouth, I knew I was in for an enjoyable evening. The new musical, The Man Inside, with music by Tony Rees and book and lyrics by Rees and Gary Young is a take on the classic novella The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Limited space, sets and costumes in no way dampen the energy of this production. Even a cheesy, child-friendly lab and under-developed characters can't take too much from the talent that is clearly on show and the catchy, musical numbers. It's easy to imagine that this is on it's way to being larger production with ensemble, but, before it gets there, the ideas need more time and space to breath in this densely packed show.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Ushers Transfers to the Charing Cross Theatre

It's a pleasure to announce that Ushers: The Front of House Musical that I reviewed back in December is now playing at the 265-seat Charing Cross Theatre until 19 April 2014. Many of the same actors are still in it, including the fabulous Liam Ross-Mills. Tickets are just £15 and can be purchased online.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

The Mistress Cycle Forgot the Story and the Feminism

The Landor Theatre in South London is a lovely little black box theatre with the rare distinction of comfortable seating. It's currently hosting the new American musical, The Mistress Cycle, with book and lyrics by Beth Blatt and music by Jenny Giering, until the 9th of March as part of the Page to Stage series. The set is lovely, the actors talented and the music enjoyable and it starts on a promising note with correlations drawn between the current situation of 30-year-old photographer, Tess (Caroline Deverill), and mistresses from throughout history.

Unfortunately, after the opening laughs, things go downhill. Or rather, they fail to move anywhere at all. On entering, we were told the show was 117 minutes, which it, thankfully, was not. It was more like 90 minutes and it takes 30 of those before the audience even finds out what the story is. Fully one third of the musical is devoted to introducing the 'mistresses' of history all of whom are more interesting and have more interesting stories than the main character, Tess. She has to decide whether or not to become a married man's mistress, but really there's no reason for her to do so, other than he's asked her. She doesn't know him, she doesn't need him to survive, she's just hasn't had a lot of luck with dating. It is no fault of Deverill, but her character just wanders through the other women's stories like a wet dishrag.

Full cast - Photo credit Charlotte Hopkins