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186

 

Orbis 186

£5 (Overseas: £11/€14/$16); Subs: £18/4 pa (Overseas: £40/€50/$60)

Front cover artwork: ‘Art Deco‘ by Phillip Ward
back cover, detail from image: www.artgallery.co.uk/artist/phillip__ward


A Raven and a Crow walked into a bar? No joke ,
but a tale you’re sure to want to sample, about Ted Hughes, and John Smelcer.
And indeed, such a good start to the year 
with an issue ranging far and wide,
literally from the Sublime to the Ridiculous, if via the rather Grim:
Self Portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle, anyone? Thanks to Kevin Densley.
So perhaps I should ask myself, like Christine Curtis, Am I doing this right?
And move swiftly on to the practical, to watch Lorraine Carey, Patching up Loulou,
or fathom out the perplexing, in Keith Moul’s description of Avid Disinterest:
the Yogi,
the Mentor, the Model. Or we could join Camino Victoria Garcia
By the Aspetuck River, 
well, rather than following Eurydice’s Husband,
in
Úna Ní Cheallaigh’s versionwhile David Mark Williams can bring us
back to Reality in
Light Programme Avenue
Then we’ll finish off
with
Love from Dinah Livingstone – 
and from Orbis, wishing you all the best for 2019.

Featured Poet

Christopher Rice: In Transit; Skylark on Stackpole Head; Decoys; Paranoia

Poems from: Miles Larmour, The Corncrake, Alive and Cupped;
Dinah Livingstone, Love; Geraldine Mills, Above their station;
Lani O’Hanlon, My dream out; John Smelcer, Exodus Raven;
Alec Taylor, The Archaeopteryx and the Smilodon

Prose from: Michael G. Casey, Letter to Meryl; Shirley Jones,The Museum;
Marcie McCauley, Spectators

Translation: Dan Veach: Conde Arnoldos

Past Master: Sue Tyson on Edward FitzGerald

Reviews by Angelina d’Roza, Philip Dunkerley, David Harmer,
Jenny Hockey, D. A. Prince, Lynn Taylor and Noel Williams

Orbis 186 Contributors also include

David Ball, Clare Bevan, J. E. G. Blanchard, Sheena Bradley,
Jennifer Compton, 
Robin Ford, Richard George, Caroline Gill, Chris Hardy,
Derek Healy, Ashleigh John, 
Tim Love, Elspeth McLean, John McOwat,
Keith Moul, Natalie Scott, Roger Singer, 
Sue Tyson and Robert Penn,
Olivia Walwyn, Helen Whitten, Richard Williams


Ghost: The Musical

March 5-9
Touring until May 4

Storeyhouse, Chester

www.storyhouse.com

Reviewed for North West End: www.northwestend.co.uk

Ghost-the-Musical-2018-International-Tour-Istanbul-c-Kalipro-1

4*

I can’t deny there have been times when it feels like I’m the only one in the theatre not laughing – it’s a damn sight worse if it looks like it’s just you with the giggles. When Molly first sits down at the potter’s wheel, she’s probably aiming to create a bowl but what emerges is, shall we say, unfeasibly perpendicular… You get the picture, I’m sure… This is not in fact what has been referred to, curiously, as the ‘infamous image'; unfortunately, the one most of us would describe as iconic, hero and heroine entwined over said wheel, is so abruptly cut short, you barely have time to catch your breath. However, the other thing we all remember, that song, is the most heartbreaking duet and must have had most of the audience in tears.

It was interesting to discover that Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard are responsible for the music and lyrics, and a shame that we weren’t given the opportunity to thoroughly appreciate all the songs with some of them drowned out; not a clue what opened the second half, and ok, the ending is a kind of triumphal apotheosis but too much Brian May guitar hammered out, destroying any sense of poignancy. Just as bad, Act 1 draws to a close with the three main characters battling it out at the top of their lungs, resulting in cacophony, although the return match is more muted and thus more effective. All the more ironic since the first time, it’s done as friends, the second, as enemies. It is also oddly curious seeing city suits and secretaries engaged in a jaunty routine, but the best numbers, inevitably, belong to Oda Mae.

The staging is excellent, giving you a first class view of New York, even if some of the scenery was occasionally recalcitrant. It was particularly inventive to see the scene set when Molly and Tom move into their new apartment because of course, the props and furnishings are quite literally being delivered. Likewise, the special effects, for example, the dead transforming into ghosts; the bad, doomed to Hell; the Subway Ghost demonstrating his powers. Both Lovonne Richards and his opposite, James Earl Adair, the Hospital Ghost, played their part to the hilt, angry and fearsome and sweetly sad respectively.

And those three main characters? You can sort of see what’s coming with Sergio Pasquariello as Carl: too good to be true, charming and caring; a very plausible villain. But Rebekah Lowings and Niall Sheehy as Molly and Sam are simply divine as a couple, a match made in Heaven, totally convincing as star-crossed lovers. It’s as moving to watch their love and passion as it is to witness their grief. And their singing voices – wow. Her crystalline tones are equalled by his powerful renditions.

The applause they justly received was nearly on a par with that for Jacqui Dubois. And well deserved as scene stealer, Oda Mae, the medium with the most who discovers to her horror that she really does have the gift when Tom suddenly materialises. Not that she can see him, which is utilised to extract most of the humour.The scene where he uses her to turn the tables on Carl is brilliantly funny from start to finish, as well as the one where she is introduced, flanked by Clara (Sadie-Jean Shirley) and Ortisha (Chanelle Anthony), all Gospel enthusiasm and spiritually evangelical in every way.

Ghost-the-Musical-Jacqui-Dubois-cMatt-Martin

I’m going to resist the temptation to tell you that the audience went absolutely potty for this lively, delightfully entertaining production, but you could say this review was ghost written because it virtually wrote itself.

What’s Love Got To Do With It

February 19

On tour until October 26

Liverpool Empire

www.atgtickets.com/venues/liverpool-empire/

Reviewed for North West End: www.northwestend.co.uk

3*

Presumably, ‘Simply the Best’ has already been taken. Definitely, I should have read the small print, having assumed this was biographical rather than a tribute. But you could tell straight away because the backdrop is a triptych, three massive portraits of the star in iconic poses.

So let’s get the show on the road. One thing which was rather appealing was the way, albeit to provide time for costume changes, members of the band, in particularly the amazing lady saxophonist, and the backing singers, Claire Newman, Shanice Smith and Amara Smith, got their place in the sun and took centre stage. It did beg the question however: the role of the fourth girl at the back, either presiding over the trio or kept in the background? No idea of her name even, although I guessed correctly about Amarra Smith,  whose solo was acclaimed as wildly as Elesha Paul Moses’s performance; the programme hadn’t been printed in time.

Meanwhile, the staging was well set out with plenty of room to manoeuvre, enhanced, sort of, by four miniature lighthouse affairs which lit up prettily in an assortment of colours. After all, next to that voice, the distinctive thing about Tina Turner is something in the way she moves, whether you could describe it as a thoroughbred prancing or the sort of staccato strutting and shuffling you see when somebody is treading on hot coals.

Similarly, the curious thing about the backing group is that although they were all remarkable singers and dancers, no Greek chorus or strict choreography; each of them was harking to a different drum so little was completely in sync. They also appeared like samples of small, medium, and well, no, not large, just marginally bigger. However, their costumes were just as sumptuous as Ms Moses’ – in one case, even fancier: Vegas showgirls, morphed with ostriches, for the set piece, ‘Golden Eye’, offset by their leader in a comparatively plain silver evening gown. The other set piece was, of course, ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ where she was flanked by glorious black and gold Steampunkettes. This is turning into a fashion show critique… but the choices were so dramatic: black and red, silver and gold, the latter in one instance, an unforgiving bodysuit topped by some sort of antimacassar, then tipped over into burlesque because of a tasselled belt with a mind of its own. Then the final change; back to basics, all glossy brown hair and that red fringed barely- there dress, with the girls in white, so they could all shimmy the night away.

You’re here for the songs of course, and there were several new to me, and no clue in the announcements, all of which were largely inaudible. I was also surprised at the number of covers – and continue to be horrified at the way Anne Peebles’ ‘I can’t stand the rain’, so wonderfully poignant, is junked up and made jaunty to a distressing degree. But the performance is redeemed by a rousing finale, a trio of greatest hits which had just about the entire audience dancing in the aisles, if they weren’t busy on their phones filming.

No need really as everybody was clearly enjoying a memorable night. Packed to the rafters with fans, their adoring reception showed they felt the show had indeed been simply the best.

Fish2ei

Fish Poetry Prize

Closes: March 31

www.fishpublishing.com 

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19th Poetry on the Lake International Competition
Deadline 30th March 2019

www.poetryonthelake.org

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March 31

FEDERATION OF WRITERS SCOTLAND
VERNAL EQUINOX COMPETITION 2019

https://federationofwritersscotland.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/

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Wirral Festival of Firsts / Wirral Poetry Festival Open Poetry Competition 2019
Closing Date: Friday,
March 22

https://wirralpoetryfestival.org.uk/

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March 22

Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition 2019

www.eveshamfestivalofwords.org

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February 28

Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Prize 2019

www.fishpublishing.com

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March 8

Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2018/19

 

www.highlifehighland.com/neilgunn

 

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March 1

The 2018/19 International Book & Pamphlet Competition

www.poetrybusiness.co.uk

 

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