Rowan Recommends: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead

Thanks to Kate, who follows some excellent mailing lists, I managed to get a cheap ticket to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Old Vic theatre on Thursday night, the same day it was broadcast as a National Theatre Live showing. The play is basically an Absurd take on Hamlet, and it’s very entertaining. You can still catch a repeat of the NT screening, so read on for why you should see it (or, if you’re so inclined, why you shouldn’t). 

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The 12 Days of Christmas 10: The Archers (yet again)

Well, it’s been a strange and eventful day. I generally avoid doing reviews on this blog because I’ve always been irrationally afraid that the person whose art I’m insulting will read what I have to say. It’s never been a big worry, because my online profile is pretty low, but now it’s happened.

I woke up this morning to find that my post about The Archers from the very first 12 days of Christmas had been shared on social media by the official Archers page. I now find myself in the confusing position of being both slightly star-struck to be tweeted by Lynda Snell, and horrified that I know who Lynda Snell is. And apparently I’ve displeased the fandom.

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Rowan Recommends: Bookbarn International

I’m sure my excuses for the yawning gaps between posts are beginning to wear a little thin, so I won’t bother to make any this time. Just rest assured that I have excellent reasons for disappearing into the ether, and as usual I promise I’ll try to do better from now on. As an apology for my silence, here’s a quick roundup of a weird and wonderful place Dom and I stumbled across yesterday: The Bookbarn.  Continue reading

Everything you need to know about Port Eliot Festival*

* if what you need to know is a jumbled collection of the things I did and thought while I was there, excluding all practical and objective details.

Once again, it’s been quite a while. This month’s excuse is that I was very very busy working onsite at Larmer Tree festival where I did Very Important Things like running around with a radio and explaining to large numbers of people how to use a website. It’s a pretty solid excuse for my absence as long as you ignore the fact that the festival only lasted a week…

I’m back from festival-land for now though, and I’ve been taking a well-earned break by going to another festival with Bonnie, my ex-flatmate and the co-star of most of my year abroad posts. The festival in question is Port Eliot, which I’ve mentioned on here before, and of which I was going to do a solid, all-corners-covered review. However, I’m still quite busy what with moving away from Salisbury to an uncertain future this weekend, so it’s going to be a review of the patchy and subjective variety. Enjoy! 
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Rowan recommends: The Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare’s Globe

I’ve decided to stop calling these things reviews, because they’re entirely restricted to shows I love. This is because I seem to be chronically incapable of stomping all over people’s artistic babies on the internet, just in case they read what I’ve written. So from now on, they’re officially ‘recommendations’, dubbed with the coveted Lyster Seal of Approval. 

I went to a Shakespeare play at a castle yesterday. I know, I’m living the Radio 4 dream. Wardour castle is monumentally difficult to find, as I discovered to my cost when I spent over an hour completing a 30-minute journey, and my friend got so entangled in the web of single-track lanes on the way that she missed out on the entire first half. The castle is worth finding, at least – it’s not big, but it’s pretty impressive, sticking out of the hillside like a broken tooth and surrounded by dramatically purple flowers.

Wardour castle.jpg

Even in my poor phone photography, it’s not bad-looking.

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Review: Trygve Wakenshaw

An awesome perk of my new job is that I get to go to other gigs to promote the festival. This is how I wangled tickets to see improbably named New Zealander Trygve Wakenshaw at the Salisbury playhouse last night, having become an instant fan after seeing his show Kraken at the Edinburgh Fringe. As you’ll probably gather from the following, I remain a fan. 

People don’t like mime. It’s not considered cool, or even that entertaining. We expect, at best, to be mildly impressed by the fact it looks Quite Difficult, but basically it’s just a bit rubbish. Right? RIGHT?

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Six excellent reasons to see Matilda The Musical

You may know that I’ve recently done a couple of weeks’ work experience in London (more on that distressingly overpopulated metropolis later, probably). Despite my obscenely full timetable, I squeezed in a trip to Matilda the Musical, which I so heartily enjoyed that I felt the need to share my enthusiasm with the internet. Here’s why it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever seen on stage… 

1) It will make you feel all of the things a musical should make you feel

Some people look down on musicals. Those people are joyless snobs, and they’re missing one of the greatest highs available within the limits of the law. A good West End musical can make you laugh, cry and boggle at the sheer razzle-dazzle that no other art form quite possesses. It takes a great deal of raw skill to simultaneously offer the best in music, dance, acting and design, and that combination can sometimes backfire in expensive flops.

Luckily, Matilda is not one of those; along with most of the audience, I was grinning uncontrollably from the first few seconds of the opening number. The emotional pacing is impeccable throughout, with just enough quiet moments to make the big showstoppers even more exhilarating.  I particularly liked the set, which is full of surprises (I won’t tell you what they are, for obvious reasons) and which contributes to some moments of purest showmanship. Continue reading