Powder Room – a review

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(From left to right – Jaime Winstone, Riann Steele and Sarah Hoare)

We were excited about Powder Room – it’s got a stellar cast, from Sheridan Smith, to Jaime Winstone and Oona Chaplin (who I am personally obsessed with. Her hair! The fact that she’s Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter! Her tantalising performance as a sometimes-escort in Channel 4’s Dates earlier on this year. The list goes on).

Basically, this is a Brit flick for the girls.

And it’s good – but not as good as it maybe could have been.

Sheridan Smith (who is always amazing. In everything) plays Sam. She’s on a night out – with two different sets of mates. One bunch, her ‘true’ friends, are are also the so-called ’embarrassing’ ones – the ones who nick drinks because they’re skint, get so wasted they end up hiding in toilet cubicles whilst wrapped in bog roll, and shamelessly shave their armpits in the ladies’ loos (well, the latter is  just Jaime Winstone as man-eater, Chanel).

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(Oona Chaplin, Sheridan Smith and Kate Nash)

Sam’s other bunch of mates are played by super-cool Oona Chaplin (Jess), and Kate Nash (Michelle) -yes, really – Miss Nash is an actress now! I didn’t even recognise her without her fringe, to be honest – what a transformation – though not one I’m totally convinced by. But it’s clear from the start they aren’t Sam’s true friends – just a bitchy friend of Sam’s from the past, and her snobby Parisian mate.

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(Jaime Winstone and Sheridan Smith)

Sam spends the night flitting between the two gaggles of girls – with increasing tension and unease. Who are her real friends? The ones she’s grown up with – and outgrown a little – or the chic duo that Sam aspires to be like?

As the narrative moves forward, we see that Sam’s life has actually been unravelling in front of her eyes for months.

I liked this film. Sheridan Smith gave a great performance – and I sympathised with her character, as many girls will – skint, upset, confused, heartbroken, stuck, bored, whatever – there’s a quality in Sam that we can all relate to. And probably several if we’re honest.

Jaime Winstone and Oona Chaplin too were fabulous, as always.

And I liked that the film revolved around the toilets at a club – which is, though a bit of a cliche, the place you often spend half your night nattering with your friends.

The bits I didn’t like? The random bursting into song. I guess that was too… jazz hands for me, but that’s just me. Others will like that element – and the film is based on a play.

This is a slick, girly film, and it’s one younger girls especially will like. I can’t see it becoming a cult classic or anything – but it’s definitely worth a watch. If only to see Jaime Winstone shaving her armpits in a club toilet.

Our rating: ***

Powder Room is at cinemas  from 6th December. 

Rosie x

The Bodyguard – first night with Beverley Knight at the Adelphi Theatre

the-bodyguard-original1I’ve always loved The Bodyguard.

Whitney Houston is perfect – not only because of her voice (which is obviously one of the main pulls of the film), but also because of her portrayal of superstar in crisis, Rachel Marron.

And a star in crisis Whitney was in real life too – we all know what happened, and I still can’t really believe that Whitney is gone.

For Whitney/Bodyguard fans, the lines are blurred. Are you watching a story about a singer called Rachel Marron, or are you just watching (and gawping) at Whitney and her amazing voice?

So going to see the stage version of the epic film was always going to be pretty poignant for me.

Rachel’s story is different from Whitney’s – in the film/stage show she’s being stalked, and needs the protection of a bodyguard (Kevin Costner in the film, Tristan Gemmill in the stage show), who she then falls in love with.

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Whitney Houston is one of my favourite ever singers, so I was worried that Beverley Knight, though a national treasure with a ridiculously great vocal range of her own, might not be able to emulate Whitney.

But I was wrong – Beverley lends her own twist to Rachel’s story. She hit every note perfectly – and there are a lot of songs in this play! She doesn’t try to emulate Whitney’s voice, but instead sings in her own incredible style.

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The play has been adapted from the film as a tribute to Whitney, and each of her biggest hits is in it – from I Wanna Dance With Somebody to I Will Always Love You.

The stage show is especially tense when the audience realises that Rachel’s stalker is creeping along the side of the seating.

And it was a huge success – Beverley got the standing ovation she deserved, even before the show was finished.

If you’re into Whitney Houston, and want to celebrate her musical achievments, then this is one musical you will enjoy.

A must-see for Whitney fans.

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R.I.P., Whitney Houston – we will always love you!

P.S. As it was Beverley’s first night in the role, there was a good turnout of celebrities, from Emeli Sande to Shingai Shinowa of The Noisettes… and I found myself sitting next to Mel C from the Spice Girls. Which made me feel the ‘girl power’ even more. Perfect.

Our verdict: ****

Rosie x 

The Lamplighters at The Tabard Theatre

“That’s the reality of murder!” proclaim the cast of Glenn Chandler’s The Lamplighters. Chandler, a veritable fountain of knowledge when it comes to criminal psychology, is the BAFTA award-winning mind behind the longest running TV detective series in history: Taggart.

Entering the creaking Tabard Theatre, located above the 1880’s pub of the same name, he is happily greeting guests filing into the small space to the sound of whistling Cumbrian winds.

The first scene is one of disarray, mirroring the mental state of the former-policeman turned drunk, Frank (Mark Forester-Evans) who convincingly bumbles around his country farm house like a “loose cannon”. Fast paced humour ensues as Frank and his former colleague John (Shane Armstrong) exchange barbed remarks about their shared past – a past about to return and remind them of their misdemeanors.

It’s a testament to the writing and performances that the cast are able to fuse black comedy with moments of genuine fear and obsession. The final member of the trio is Alan (Stewart Marquis). Unlike the other two he’s yet to fall victim to alcohol or anger, however, the catch-line “three strokes and you’re out” hilariously betrays the ill-health and cerebral accidents  that have beset him since the murder of a mother and her two children ten years ago.

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Haunted by their failure to solve the case they meet on the anniversary of the family’s deaths to try and solve the mystery. It becomes a tradition, “like Christmas”, as they are drawn back to the scene like moths to a flame. The murders have deeply affected all of their lives.

There are strong performances from everyone, including Tara Howard’s well-calculated movements and condescending looks as the crusader of the play Jo. Praise should be given to Scott Oswald’s quivering demeanor which gradually disappears as his character Billy seizes control.

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The plot’s twists and turns have you guessing until the end, where you are left feeling that the reality of murder is that its effects are widespread and inescapable.

Our rating: *****

Anne x

http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2013/03/22/theatre-review-the-lamplighters-at-the-tabard-theatre/