You are currently browsing the archive for the News category.

Alice1400x700_Still-Alice-title-V2Still Alice

November 6-10

On tour until November 17

Liverpool Playhouse


Is it just me, or do we tend to think of Alzheimer’s as peculiarly British? In fact, am I allowed to say, there seems plenty of evidence that it seems to be rife in America… One thing’s for sure, it’s something we must all dread, especially as we grow older; every time we forget something , become disorientated or do something daft (how can you possibly mislay a slice of pizza? OK, binned or eaten most likely, but still). Yes, of course, we all do all of those things, and we still all worry.

Read the rest of this entry »

They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!

October 30 – November 3

On tour until December 2

Liverpool lLayhouse


What a difference a day makes, or a decade or several of them, since ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’ was originally written in 1974, and yes, indeed, plus ça change. So how does it translate? Exceedingly well, thanks to Deborah McAndrew, and what a difference is made by those two pronouns, plus a slight tweak for the title, and for Marx’s statement that history repeats itself, ‘ first as tragedy, then as farce’. What we have here is even more than that: the tragic situation of far too many people today, underlined by the use of surreal farce.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reviewed for North West End:

The Unreturning

October 16-20

On tour until March 1

Liverpool Everyman


‘War, war! That’s all you ever think about, Dick Plantagenet!’ has to be the worst opening line for a review; dreadful piece of film dialogue. But a subject damn near as old as the human race is one which presents any number of obstacles for any playwright and any theatre company. We’ve seen and heard it all a million times; how do you create something different to evoke the pity of war, and all its horrors? And that yearned for homecoming, to comfort and security? Or isolation?

Read the rest of this entry »

Reviewed for North West End:


October 9-15

On tour until October 20

Liverpool Everyman


So this is a modern fable? It could certainly be classed as a fairytale, being extremely grim in places, the tale of orphan Tiny, adopted by his apparent reprobate of a grandfather. The boy grows up to be obsessed with building fences, literally keeping things in as well as out. And having lost father then mother under tragic circumstance, still haunted by the latter, he takes to caring for the eponymous Fup, yes, it has to be said, like a duck to water…

Read the rest of this entry »

Reviewed for North West End; shorter version appears on their website:

October 9-13


On tour until April, 2019

Liverpool Playhouse


Yes, you may be familiar with the story, yet this production keeps you on the edge of your seat: will Anne Elliot ever find true love with Frederick Wentworth, the happy ending she truly deserves? It’s been eight long years since her family dissuaded her from accepting his proposal: no means; no

Read the rest of this entry »

Reviewed for North West End:

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets

October 17-20

Liverpool Playhouse


We’re off to a good start, free bags of sweeties being passed around. Or are we? Along with the not so goodies, there’s no indication in the notes as to who plays which main role. And the title does not do what it says on the can: no animals appear, apart from one cat. However, easy to imagine the anarchic 1927 company having a giggle about that. Or simply indulging in a Gallic shrug.

And we’re off to the seediest of slums, Bayou Masions, along with Agnes Eaves (and daughter Evie), and she is full of good intentions despite the horribly grim environment where nobody dares venture out at night because of the feral children swarming everywhere. Agnes is convinced they just need a little love and understanding; the sinister Council has ideas of quite a different nature to solve the problem.

Her love interest, well, he should be so lucky because she really is not interested, is the Caretaker, and the two other main characters are the owner of the Second Hand Shop and her daughter, Zelda, head of a gang of the children, known as the Pirates, their clarion call being ‘we want what you have out there’. But it’s impossible to tell who plays what, particularly as The Caretaker, with a shock of Struwwelpeter hair, and Robert in ‘The Golem’ look similar yet are played by different actresses. By a process of elimination, Rowena Lennon, I think, is the delightful, demure Agnes as well as naughty Zelda, then perhaps Felicity Sparks is the Caretaker, who, along with Agnes, garners most of our sympathy; both of them stubborn yet reluctantly brave. Which leaves Rowena Lennon, maybe, as the enchantingly roguish Madame Whateverhernamewas, dry wit, dodgy dealer and Molly Parkin lookalike.

The basic design is the facade of the tenements, windows popping up all over the place, and scenes and scenery change at a bewildering pace, sometimes split with each half left and right of the stage. The scattergun switching of images can be confusing; when news headlines are projected on the backdrop, words and letters are every which way making them difficult to read. Again, you suspect this is all done on purpose, so you should just sit back and enjoy the show, admiring the Russian and Parisian influences on what is basically a cartoon or graphic novel brought to life before your very eyes. However, quite a few devices are the same as those in ‘The Golem’, particularly the animation and the pounding music accompanying the Caretaker when administering silly walks as he marches along or runs around. The whole thing, nevertheless, is startling, and bizarre, and very, very clever with delicious word play and exquisite rhymes, interrupted by the occasionally rude and risqué, and enhanced by wonderfully jaunty music and satirical comment enunciated in cut-glass tones.

Such a vividly original story, created with a loving, old fashioned attention to details, it could easily become a classic. You may not believe you should clap hands if you believe in fairies, but this dystopian fairy tale earned plenty of applause from a thoroughly captivated audience. Think Roald Dahl, think ‘Cabaret’, think Tim Burton – and just think what’ll you be missing if you don’t experience this show for yourself.

Reviewed by Carole Baldock

October 17

Fancy a closer look?

Introductory offer: 2 back issues for just £7, down from £5 each,
and that includes p+p: £1.60 (saving £3) –
because reading magazines helps judge the best match with your work
in order to maximize publication opportunities.

Overseas, 2 back issues: £16 (€18/$22),
down from £10 each, saving £4

NB, ‘back issues’ does what it says on the can,
ie here, it doesn’t mean current and previous issue
because they’re still on sale,
although most issues sell out pretty swiftly:
#170 – #173, and #175- #178.

Information is posted virtually every day,
regardless of what the date counter says, unless –

Yep, another ad:

‘dog’s diamonds’ for goodness’ sake?

Subs: £18/4 pa. Single issue: £5, all including p+p

Overseas:  £40/€50/$60. Single issue: £11/€14/$16

NB, cheques payable to me, not to ORBIS.

Paypal: please use Contact Form or post request for email address 

Also, via LinkedIn or Facebook:



Orbis 184, Summer

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

Front cover artwork: ‘Dragon with Hiroshige‘ by Jeff Gettis

back cover, detail from image:

What are we to make of this fabulous Summer? Yes, enjoy the Heatwave,
along with Julie Mellor; it’s a veritable River of Light (Ali Pardoe),
Peter Sutton Echo o o o o (s). 
But let’s start by finding out about
Mark Paffard’s Mountaineers of Leningrad
or trust Margarita Serafimova,
and venture to
The Water’s Edge
However, if we find ourselves wondering about
Colin Pink‘s Beautiful Lies, it may lead to 
Lara Frankena
and The Plagiarist’s Lament, or perhaps all turn out to be Magic,
as Hiram Larew says. So why not stop to smell the (Pressed) Flowers,
from Marybeth Rua-Larsen, although sadly, they’re not to be found
Denise Bennett’s 
account of Blossom Alley, or with Calamity’s Child,
Daragh Bradish explains. 
And before it’s all what Tim Dwyer calls an
Imagined Memory, snap up a bargain, for example, 
In This Style, 10/6
Georgina Titmus). And here’s another one to make the most of –
make this issue of Orbis top of your reading list.

Featured Poet
Ian McEwen: The riches of embarrassment; A spell of wind; Homily on practice

Poems from: Michael Atkinson, Kafka’s Garden; Holly Day, The Sacred Texts;
Briege Duffaud,  
La Vie Simple à la Campagne;
Mary O’Donnell, A Report to the Home Galaxy on ‘Speck’;
John Zedolik, Concluding Comfort

Prose from: Peter Eagan, Mr Tortilla;
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois, Turbine Syndrome and The Baroness;
Fiona Vigo Marshall, The Library of Dreams

Translation: Luba Ostashevsky, Two poems by Anna Akhmatova

Past Master: Hannah Stone on Andrew Marvell

Reviews by
Maria Isakova Bennett, Angelina d’Roza, David Harmer, Jenny Hockey,
D. A. Prince, Andrew Taylor, Lynne Taylor, David Troman
and Noel Williams

Orbis 184 Contributors also include

Anne Banks, Jill Boucher, Peter French, Mary Melvin Geoghegan,
Ann Gibson, Alice Kinsella, Pete Langley, Gill McEvoy, Robert Ronnow,
Paul Saville, Pam Thompson, Carl Tomlinson, Ray Whitaker

Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art

Liverpool PLayhouse

October 23-27; on tour until December 1


Take two famous actors playing two famous actors playing two famous people… complicated enough but you also have Alexandra Guelff dazzling in the disparate roles of ditsy George, the enthusiastic but rather inept Assistant Stage Manager who then, incongruously and inconsistently, rises to the

Read the rest of this entry »

The Lovely Bones

September 25 – October 6

On tour until November 17



The Lovely Bones

No, it isn’t relevant but I just couldn’t resist googling Charlotte Beaumont to see how old she is – her portrayal of 14 year old Susie Salmon is all the more impressive. You would swear she really is a stroppy teenager, just becoming aware of burgeoning sexuality,

Read the rest of this entry »

The Full Monty

September 24-29

On tour until May, 2019

Storeyhouse, Chester


The good, the bad and the ugly – the unfit, the infirm and the overweight, and unemployed, what on earth makes these men think they could be 1970’s Sheffield’s answer to the Chippendales? Question is, whose bright idea is it? That’d be Gaz, the ringleader….

Read the rest of this entry »

« Older entries