Sunday, 18 May 2014

Les Miserables - Review

The lights dim and the first few iconic bars of 'Look Down' blare from the speakers, travelling from the band below. There isn't a free seat in the house and people are standing in a line at the back to watch the performance. I've watched the film of Les Miserables several times, the soundtrack is one of my most played albums, I thought that I knew what to expect, I thought that I had already been fully affected by the storylines and emotions in the script. I was wrong.

One of the first things which I noticed about the play was that the songs are slightly different to the ones featured in the film. Not dramatically, just the rhythm of the singing or the way in which some of the phrases were assembled, some of the sentences had been swapped around. I thought that this was going to be a problem, that the unfamiliarity of the songs would somehow taint my enjoyment of the show. It's safe to say that didn't happen.

Another very big difference about the show in contrast to the film is that the actors on the stage could actually sing. Now, I'm not dismissing Hugh Jackman's, Russell Crowe's or anybody else's performance in the film, I thought that they portrayed the characters brilliantly but some of them didn't have the strongest voices. In the play the actor's voices sounded flawless, with such power and empathy it was amazing.

The set changes were done so quickly and quietly that often I didn't notice what was going on until they had already been changed or rearranged. In the middle of the stage a large circle was set into the floor which could rotate, this allowed the scenery to change, for us to have a different perspective of certain scenes and for characters to change their appearances quite often without the play being held up or becoming disjointed.

All of the actors were amazing as I've mentioned before and their voices were phenomenal. There were quite a few occasions of goosebumps and shivers I can tell you, and many tears were shed too! I'm just going to quickly touch on the actors who I particularly enjoyed watching, which may be a long list because they were all so talented.

Carrie Hope Fletcher plays Eponine and she was amazing. Her performance was brilliant and tears were streaming down my face when she sang 'On My Own' and 'Little Fall of Rain' which were, in my opinion, the most emotive songs of the show. I thought the effort and finesse put in by Carrie was amazing and inspiring. She also has a very popular personal YouTube channel ItsWayPastMyBedTime with some great videos including her own Cup Song Mash Up which is genius. I am wondering how she tamed her gorgeous hair enough to fit under the cap during the barricade scenes though!!

Thenadier and Madame Thenadier, played by Cameron Blakely and Wendy Ferguson, were hilarious. Their presence, even in a serious scene, really brought some comic relief to a play which, without it, could be rather overwhelming and depressing. Their performance and timing was spot-on and they had the whole audience laughing several times.

Gavroche, the little cheeky chappy who also has some brilliant one liners, was played by Tom Burgering. He had confidence and swagger which fit Gavroche perfectly and his voice was also amazing for such a young person. I have found out through research for this post that Gavroche is actually Eponine's younger brother and the Thenadiers' son which really surprised me.

Another actress who I felt deserved a mention is Ne-Young Jeon who played Fantine. She is a Korean singer and actress who was born in Holland but her accent was impeccable, I would never have guessed that she was not British. Her protrayal of Fantine, especially during her 'protitute times' was excellent. She didn't over dramatise or overact but you knew exactly what was happening to her. Her love for Cosette and determination to help her shone throughout her performance and when she sang 'I Dreamed A Dream' it was really heartfelt and harrowing.

Overall I absolutely loved the performance, I could go and watch it again straight away and it is a performance which I will hopefully see a number of times in the future. And the soundtrack is still a regular favourite of mine. I think the next step in my Les Miserables obsession will be to actually read Victor Hugo's book Les Miserables.

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Monday, 12 May 2014

To Love Another Person Is To See The Face Of God.

My Mum came up last week which was brilliant. I met her after work onThurday and we went for dinner in a lovely local Italian restaurant called Little Italy. The food was delicious and I'd never seen such an enormous pile of pasta, my favourite.

On Friday she met me at work and spent some time with the children I look after. She bought them a comic each from the newsagents then we walked to the park for a quick go on the swings. The children were great, chatting away with her. We all had a lovely time.

We went straight to the hotel after I finished work. We were staying in the Eurotraveller Hotel which I cannot commend highly enough. It was spotlessly clean, had a hot shower and a blissfully comfy bed, what more could we have needed? We bought a picnic on our way to the hotel and ate it on the bed in our pyjamas. Sharing a bottle of wine, some olives and salad and chatting for a few hours is what I love most about when we spend time together. I love how our relationship has evolved as we've grown older into one of best friends rather than just mother and daughter.

The next day we were up and out of our room quite early and made our way to Camden. I've been there a few times now and I think it might be one of my favourite places in London. When I'm there I just want to wear Doc Martins and get a facial piercing and drink beer with a shisha like all the cool kids who spend their time there. It was my Mum's first time there and she loved it, she's definitely a convert.

We went round the markets and, to be frank, there is a lot of shit there. There are quite a few things which you see over and over again, the same clothes, the same handbags, crappy phone cases and counterfeit 'designer' goods, but if you're prepared to look past all the rubbish and dig a little deeper you can really find some gems. The stalls with really individual items that you've never seen before. I bought a few bits and bobs, a Harry Potter picture which i thought was really unusual (anything with Harry Potter will usually get my attention!!), a VW Camper photo on owl print travel holdall and a sketch of the Southbank.

My favourite type of stalls are the ethnic stores, the smokey dens filled with the smell of incense, beautiful fabrics and gleaming wood. From these stalls i bought two wall hangings and a notebook. I have a soft spot for notebooks and when I looked inside it contained the most beautiful handmade paper, so I added it to my ever growing collection. Plus, it was only £3 so I couldnt say no could I?!

That evening, and the main reason for my Mum's stay, we went to see Les Miserables in the theatre. I'll write a full review soon but I will say now that it was phenomenal. Absolutely breathtaking.

On Sunday we got up a bit later, not much because check-out was at 10am, boo! We pretty much drank coffee, people watched and chatted until it was time for her to get the train back to Wales. We talk for hours when we're together, I haven't got a clue what we find to talk about but the only time we stop is when we're asleep.

So all-in-all it was a brilliant weekend. Tiring and busy but so much fun, and I could go see Les Mis again tomorrow!

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