Tag Archives: bath

RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE – RESTAURANT REVIEW: sherry, tapas and a mercifully short wait for our food at Pintxo in Bath – for a lunchtime pre theatre meal (but what about the toilets?) 

Pintxo. Tapas and Sherry Bar. Barton Street, Bath

We had originally sat down in The Garrick’s Head by the Theatre Royal Bath on Saturday lunch time but with no sign of service and curtain up fast approaching next door for the play God of Carnage we left thinking a packet of crisps and sandwich from Sainsbury’s would have to do. However a few doors up from the usually excellent Garrick’s Head was Pintxo. It’s a tapas and sherry restaurant come bar with branches in Cornwall and Bristol. We had no idea what it would be like and so went in and asked how long would it take to get served as the clock was ticking.

We were assured of quick service so took a corner table in an interior that feature wood and muted earthen colours. Having experienced the rip-off tourist tapas bars of Barcelona we were not unnaturally rather hesitant and so chose the offerings on the specials board. I had an Amontillado sherry served in a tumbler and Linda had an Elderflower presse.  A jug of iced tap was placed on the table without having to ask and the food arrived within a few minutes. I have to confess to not making a note of the selection  – but it featured skewered chicken, hot peppers, meatballs and a type of peperonata – and I’m sure mushrooms and melted cheese were in there somewhere – or at least that was the gist of it. The selection was fine. Hot, tasty and above all they came in quantities that made you think they were not scrimping. The sherry was nutty, warming, richly dark, agreeably dry and a generous 75cl in volume. And set me up for the play about couples falling out.

The place was about half full but had a healthy vibe with families and couples and I must report clean toilets – one of my concerns as they can say so much about how a place is run.

The dishes were around six or seven pounds a go so with sherry and drinks the bill came to £40. Expensive but as a one off pre-theatre meal I was happy with as so often eating out can be just so-so in quality. And you can often you think you could do much better yourself at home. But at Pintxo I thought as a wedding anniversary treat it was about right and unlike the couples in God of Carnage we didn’t fall out over the food or the bill.

Harry Mottram

Reviewed at the Saturday lunchtime, September 15th, 2018.

For more from Harry visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

Follow Harry on Twitter @HarryTheSpiv, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook for more stuff.

Pintxo. Tapas and Sherry Bar. 31 Barton Street, Bath, Somerset. BA1 1HG


RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE – THEATRE REVIEW: vomit, violence and how to bring up your children in a lively production of Yasmina Reza’s black comedy God of Carnage at the Theatre Royal Bath

Clash of the mums: Elizabeth McGovern as Veronica and Amanda Abbington as Annette in God of Carnage

God of Carnage, Theatre Royal Bath

The knives (or rather the sharpened spears) are out in Yasmina Reza’s savage black comedy which sets two sets of parents at each other’s throats. An assembly of spears hangs above the stylish round lounge designed by Peter McKintosh in Lindsay Posner’s production of Reza’s God of Carnage. The four characters continue to plunge their savage verbal spears into each other over their petty disputes which widen into politics and beyond as the insults fly. Husband against husband, wife against wife, couple against couple.

The 80 minute clash begins when Alan (Ralph Little) and Annette (Amanda Abbington) visit the home of Veronica (Elizabeth McGovern) and Michael (Nigel Lindsay) to discuss how to deal with a violent dispute between their respective 11-year-old sons. And the fall-out never really ends although Reza moves it to the point of concluding at times only for an ill chosen parting shot to restart the arguments.

The Theatre Royal Bath production of God Of Carnage by Yasmina Reza

Reza constructs the play so that each of the four parents becomes the protagonist as they round on one or all of the others taking it in turns to trigger another round of arguments, accusations and tirades. Vomit, violence and too much rum follows as a range of issues spill out from the adults as they resort to childlike insults and clichés. From racism to homophobia and from misogyny to feminism and from moral choices over dodgy medicine to how to bring up your children Reza slips in big topics to reveal the flimsiness of society’s superficial views.

Getty nasty: Nigel Lindsay as Michael and Elizabeth McGovern as Veronica. Elizabeth is Cora Crawley in Downton Abbey

The cast convinced from the opening moment with the cracks begin to show between businessman Michael and his left leaning wife Veronica while Annette was clearly irritated by Alan’s addiction to his mobile phone. First class performances in a play that uses the awkward silences as well physical clashes and those throw away lines that have devastating consequences. It’s at times excruciating, shocking and surprising with so much fun derived from our recognition of the naked truth of how we all behave.

God Of Carnage:  Pics by Nobby Clark

So much is packed into the tightly constructed living room bust up with shocking incidents and many a home truth that the 80 minutes races through to perhaps an inconclusive finale leaving the questions raised unanswered. Unless, you agree with Alan’s analysis of life and his belief in, the God of Carnage.

Harry Mottram

Reviewed at the Saturday matinee, September 15th, 2018.

Originally written in French and set in Paris by Reza the play at Bath was translated by Chrisopher Hampton. The 2006 drama has previously won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and the Tony Award for Best New Play with different casts. This 10th anniversary production was part of Theatre Royal Bath’s summer season which concluded on September 15th.

A film version in 2011 was well received by critics with the title of Carnage and featured Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christopher Waltz and John C Reilly with a screenplay by Roman Polanski who also directed the movie which was moved to an American setting.

For more details visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk

For more reviews from Harry visit http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/?page_id=91

Follow Harry on Twitter @HarryTheSpiv, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook for more stuff.

RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE – THEATRE REVIEW: from frightfully posh to terribly common in the swish of a mop – a glorious send up of the island whodunnit in Crimes Under The Sun with New Old Friends

Low res 003_Crimes Under the Sun_Pamela Raith Photography low res

Crimes Under The Sun: Heather Westwell and Feargus Woods Dunlop in the comic drama

Crimes Under The Sun. The Ustinov, Bath

A dramatic start as the show is delayed after a member of the audience is taken ill – or were they bumped off? Looking around at some of those packed into the intimate seating of the Ustinov Theatre in Bath it’s hard not to conclude that certain individuals look like potential murderers. Take that tall chap with the beard and that woman wearing shades. And then there is the little old lady who nips up the stairs to the theatre like a 20-something. Surely she’s in disguise. It’s all a bit Agatha Christie.

And the latest New Old Friends theatre production of Crimes Under The Sun borrows and lovingly sends up much of Christie’s style borrowed from her novel Then There Were None or A Caribbean Mystery in a riotous farce and a spoof of the island whodunit. With only four actors playing 14 roles the drama has to rely on the audience being in on the joke as the costume changes (or non-changes) become increasingly crazy. With numerous running gags and humorous physical details Crimes Under the Sun directed by James Farrell is a pacey, pun-filled frolic of a show that has the audience chuckling throughout its 90 or so minutes of plot twists and turns.

Jonny McClean as Alcazar is inspected by Jill Myers as Artemis and Feargus Woods Dunlop in the play. Pamela Raith Photography

Jonny McClean as Alcazar is inspected by Jill Myers as Artemis and Feargus Woods Dunlop in the play. Pamela Raith Photography

Feargus Woods Dunlop is the main creative force behind the company and the unfeasibly tall actor who plays at least three characters. He’s at his best as the stiff upper lip Major Peavey and the nerdy Nelson Cholmondeley who believes foreigners are: er… well, foreign.

The play is anchored by the narrator and self-confessed amateur sleuth Artemis Arinae played by Jill Myers who recounts the story and introduces the characters and is occasionally caught up in the events. She holds the chaos together as she retells the story of that crime filled weekend on an island when a group of eccentrics are marooned by a storm. And in a Poirot-esque accent she completes the drama as she whittles down the long list of suspects at the conclusion. The comic drama doesn’t start with a bang and takes a few minutes to warm up but hits top form in a wonderful song and dance routine composed by Kathryn Levell about the joys of being beside the seaside. A couple more musical interjections wouldn’t have taken anything away from this frightfully British production. British in the best tea and cucumber sandwiches type of tradition.

Crimes Under The Sun featured a song and dance routine about the joys of the seaside

Crimes Under The Sun featured a song and dance routine about the joys of the seaside

The strength of the show lies in the cast who switch roles at an increasingly frenetic pace rattling out the story from Woods Dunlop’s script. An elastic faced Jonny McClean is the hilarious weird boy Lucien as well as the enjoyable drunk ‘I’m like an animal’ Redwood. And he doubles up as the manic waiter Alcazar and sexist Caledonian Inspector Aquafresh.

Crimes Under the Sun: the crime spoof drama is on a nationwide tour

Crimes Under the Sun: the crime spoof drama is on a nationwide tour

One of the many stand-out moments was Heather Westwell playing three policemen at the same time in a drama that had elements of stand-up and improvisation which all added to the mix. Westwell’s scene stealing cleaning lady was a scream while her ability to slip into her various personas was a lesson in character acting as she went from terribly posh to frightfully common in the swish of a mop.

With so much comic content, superb timing and clear diction from a cast who seem to be enjoying the show as much as the audience it really is a crime not to see Crimes Under The Sun.

Harry Mottram

The play runs at the Ustinov in Bath until February 24th before a nationwide tour ending in May.

For more details visit https://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/your-visit/ustinov/ and for the nationwide tour see www.newoldfriends.co.uk and for more reviews visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

You can also follow New Old Friends on Twitter on @newoldfriends and Harry Mottram at @harrythespiv and on Facebook, YouTube and Linked In.

RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE THEATRE – PREVIEW: Agatha Christie spoof with New Old Friends at Bath’s Ustinov Theatre


Crimes-Under-the-Sun-No-Title-A5 crop

A secluded island hotel just off the English coast becomes a crime scene, as a scandal-inducing femme-fatale is felled. All the guests on the island are suspects, but are they alone and is this the first crime this idyllic island has witnessed?

The Bath based theatre company New Old Friends returns with this comedy thriller directed by James Farrell (The 39 Steps, West End) with four actors playing multiple outrageous characters, and a plot that romps along in the company’s trademark inventive style.

Inspired by Agatha Christie, Hitchcock and film noir, the drama is a hilarious but murderous trip to a classic English Riviera retreat.

The Ustinov in Bath is staging the production which runs for the 13th to the 24th February before going on tour around the country until the end of May. For a full list of dates and venues visit http://www.newoldfriends.co.uk/crimes-under-the-sun

For details of tickets in Bath visit  www.theatreroyal.org.uk or call 01225 448844.

CHILDREN’S THEATRE MAGAZINE: REVIEW – Enter a magical world of light and sound, of night and day, and of the sun and moon in a room at the top of the egg Theatre in Bath and see the night sky light up

Aurura Bath egg

Aurora. The egg, Bath.

There’s a sense of wonder as you enter the room at the top of the egg Theatre in Bath. Dimly lit there sits a studious young man in his pyjamas sitting and writing in an eye shaped snow scape that runs the length of the space with a triangular white tent at one end. Around the scene the audience take their seats or simply sit on the floor in touching distance of the snow while above hang large three dimensional stars. A magical soundscape fills the room before the lights dim and a strange drama takes place which initially takes some unravelling to understand.

Once you’ve grasped the sun is Sula Levitt as she bursts out of the tent to tease and taunt the moon played by Yves Morris in his studious and serious night attire it all makes sense. The moon makes sure the sun doesn’t get too carried away and is sent to bed at night while he takes over the duty of caring for the globe representing the earth kept in a box which periodically cries like a baby. There is much playful action between the two characters before the sky is lit up by the northern lights which spark an elaborately folded and illuminated map of the stars below.

Devised by members of the theatre company the multisensory drama which features no dialogue is inspired by Inuit folklore and the Northern Lights. Aurora features movement, facial expressions, mime and playful action aimed at connecting with children and their imaginations. In general it works for the 40 minutes with only some children losing interest which in a way was the only issue. For children of two and three to be transfixed continually there needed to be a little more action and a more understandable narrative to engage them. Directed by John East Aurora’s main strength is its production values of light (Ziggy Jacobs Wyburn) and sound (Dinah Mullen) along with the joyful performance of the duo of Sun and Moon.

The audience was most attentive when they engaged with them directly and when Sun teased Moon. Sudden changes of mood through sound and light or the presentation of a glowing globe or other prop also grabbed attention. Playing, teasing, partying, expressing, explaining, touching and sharing were expressed with a soft touch by Levitt and Morris in a production full of wonder but in need of more content and narrative.

Harry Mottram

An egg Christmas show devised by members of the company, 12 of whom are part of the Theatre Royal Bath Theatre School

Reviewed on December 19, 2017. Continues to January 7th, 2018, for ages 0-4

For more details and tickets visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk

For more children’s theatre visit childrenstheatrereviews.com and www.harrymottram.co.uk

Children’s Theatre Magazine: PREVIEW: Snow White and her seven ‘accomplished short actors’ bring a traditional panto to Bath

The cast line up for a photo call for the production in Bath

The cast line up for a photo call for the production in Bath

Artistic director Michael Gattrell returns to the Theatre Royal Bath to direct a traditional pantomime at the city’s main space with a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Along with Danielle Drayton engineering choreography and Oliver Rew as musical director it is the same trio who staged last year’s pantomime version of Aladdin. Back then there was interest in how Gattrell would fill the shoes of the late Chris Harris who had directed and appeared in numerous pantomimes at the theatre as well as at the Bristol Old Vic.

Last year’s show was noted for its strong dance and choreography content thanks to Rew and a tight and fast paced production aided by a first class cast on top form. Based on that evidence then it is likely this year’s will be a comic drama combined with a variety show feel and above all accessible to children.

The theatre has lined up a cast that has experience of film and TV with Harriet Thorpe as the Wicked Queen perhaps the best known with appearances in Absolutely Fabulous while Jon Monie is a popular local actor who can hold an audience in the palm of his hand with ease. Snow White is played by Devon-Elise Johnson while the dwarfs are all ‘accomplished short actors.’

The show runs from Thursday, December 7, to Sunday, January 7th in 2018. To book tickets contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk


RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE Theatre Review: it’s all about to go wrong as the writers fall out in Daniel Kelmann’s comedy drama The Mentor in an evening of marital bust ups, jealousy and a pond dunking

The Mentor: it's all about to go wrong as the writers fall out

The Mentor: it’s all about to go wrong as the writers fall out

The Mentor. Ustinov Studio, Bath

Four frustrated arty types battled it out for the title of the most arty type of the year award in a leafy courtyard. They were: held-back Gina, ambitious Martin, has-been Rubin and arts administrator Erwin.

And it was the arts administrator (officially the least arty person there) Erwin Rudicek (Jonathan Cullen) as a frustrated artist who appeared the most honest about his work and even threw in his job to be a painter. Now that’s passion for your art.

Erwin had an unenviable task in Daniel Kelmann’s The Mentor at the Ustinov, for he had to humour two ego centric writers along as the old, very rude and arrogant Benjamin Rubin (F Murray Abraham) was supposed to be helping develop the new young writer Martin Wegner with his work. Instead he did the opposite, much to Erwin’s frustration. The young writer (Daniel Weyman) was priggish, selfish and annoyingly self-opinionated. The mentoring session was never going to work especially when Rubin discovered to his horror they were both being paid the same amount of money for the mentoring session. This was art ludicrously priced as a commercial commodity – a point well made by Kelmann.

And then there was Martin’s two dimensional wife Gina (Naomi Frederick) who after despairing of her husband holding her back in life appeared to be about to have an affair with the old, oily, egotistical, bombastic Rubin just because he was famous. Oh, and the fact her husband in a moment of self-loathing made a fool of himself by tearing up his play script and jumping in a duck pond. Grounds for a blazing row perhaps, but an affair? There was sympathy for the exasperated Erwin as he attempted to serve tea or coffee or the wrong sort of whisky to the old bore Rubin. So far, so funny and Cullen’s physical comedy with these domestic duties were well paced by the director Laurence Boswell.

The format of a set piece argument followed by a bust up and the resulting fall out was agreeably comic. As the barbs flew there were occasional sharp intakes of breath from the packed audience. Kehlmann’s script gave some enjoyable lines. Martin announces: “I’m an artist and have different standards,” when challenged by his wife about his childish antics. Guffaws all round. Then there’s his wonderfully empty and meaningless statement along the lines of: “I still want to want, what I want without wanting to want, knowing what I want, to want,” to which Rubin says sarcastically, “did you write that line?” More chuckles at the put down as Martin’s face fell. And perhaps my favourite line came from Erwin who stormed: “Who wants to be an arts bureaucrat, it’s a profession for those who are dead inside.”

Cullen was excellent, Frederick and Weyman made the grade but F Murray Abraham seemed to be almost going through the motions. He had the lines from Kehlmann but didn’t seem nasty enough for such an old so and so.

For 80 minutes it falls slightly short as a traditional drama. An interval could have prompted a what’s going to happen next moment. Instead there’s a steady increase in the two writer’s dislike of each other and although we reach a sort of climax as Martin has a break down it’s somehow not quite enough. They shy away from a punch up as Martin suggests he’d win in a fight as he goes to the gym, and we don’t see the suggested affair between a lightly sketched Gina and unlovable Rubin. For a play about writers it could have done with more of a plot and without the predictable ending – as enjoyable as it was.

Harry Mottram

The Mentor by Daniel Kehlmann, in a translation by Christopher Hampton, directed by Laurence Boswell. 6 April – 6 May 2017