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A Magazine for Sheffield
Live / stage review

Sheffield Theatres in January.

There’s been a lot of good stuff going on at Sheffield Theatres recently. This month we take a look at a three plays from the eclectic mix of theatre, ballet and musicals that’s been on offer. Blink Jonah, one of the two protagonists of Blink, astutely sums up what this play is in his opening line, “This is a true story, and it’s a love story”. Blink explores how we narrate our own lives, how cope with what we want something to be and what it really is, through Jonah and Sophie and the story of their relationship. Both characters have lost parents to pancreatic cancer, Sophie more recently than Jonah, and both are examples of people who struggle to make substantial human connections with others because they are too affected by grief. We’re first given the back story of how they have both ended up in the same block of flats and then we see the unfolding of their relationship. Sophie anonymously sends Jonah a device on which he can watch her. She sets up the camera in her flat. Jonah receives the package and switches it on and so begins their story together. The pair eventually meet, and subsequently pursue a relationship. It’s an odd, funny play, so idiosyncratic in plot that it could become something of a classic. It manages to painfully, charmingly and exactingly capture the wonder and innocence of human fantasy and the sombre reality of how difficult it can be to know each other. Both performances from Lizzy Watts as Sophie and Thomas Pickles as Jonah were excellent and the set was noteworthy too. Blink is well worth seeing if you ever get the opportunity. Dreamboats and Petticoats ‘Nostalgic’ is the best word to describe Dreamboats and Petticoats, a whimsical musical set in the early 60s. Long before the days of social media and texts, it seems that to be a teenager meant hanging out at the local youth club and writing song with your mates. The (mainly) young cast blasts through pop songs such as ‘The Wanderer’, ‘Shaking All Over’, ‘Bobby’s Girl’, ‘Teenager In love’ and ‘Da Do Ron Ron’ which tell the story of the trials and tribulations of teenage love. The live band are characters in their own right, which helps to make the show seamless and more believable as they interact with the leads in the show, Bobby (Greg Fossard), Norman (Matthew Colthart), Laura (Hanna Boyce) and the rest of the cast. Standout performances come from Will Finlayson playing Ray, whose cheeky charm fits the part of Bobby’s best friend and wingman perfectly, and Mike Lloyd (playing Frank/Slugger/Compere) who steals every scene he’s in with his comedic timing and bass voice. The cast are certainly talented singers and the two a capella songs, ‘Poetry in Motion’ and ‘Donna’, which Will Finlayson takes the lead for, backed by the entire cast, are beautiful. Overall, Dreamboats is a candyfloss of a musical which is easy to watch and full of catchy songs and uplifting live music. The Nutcracker It must seem an easy sell, The Nutcracker. One of the best known ballets in the world, with an unchallenging story and music you can easily hum along to, there must be a temptation not to put much effort into a production, given you've got a guaranteed audience. While some of the limitations of Moscow City Ballet's Nutcracker - the sets and costumes, far from lavish, looked to have been mostly chosen for how tight they packed in a suitcase - must be due to its existence as a touring production, this doesn't account for the overriding laziness of the piece. The choreography was repetitive and dull, and frequently seemed entirely disconnected from the music. The Nutcracker isn’t an emotionally complex story, but this production struggled to engage at even the shallowest level with any kind of characterisation. When (the programme reveals) two characters vie for Clara's affections, it was hard to care, or even to tell them apart. There were moments of technical skill, and occasional interesting dances - more so during the second act, after the story runs out - but at no point did this Nutcracker live up to the promise of Tchaikovsky’s music. )

Next article in issue 71

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