The RSC: King John

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This afternoon was a unique opportunity to see Shakespeare’s rarely performed production of ‘King John’ at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

We met Chris and Gill at theirs and headed over to the Theatre in time for a spot of lunch followed by the performance at 1.30pm. (The lunch incidentally, was superb!)

I wasn’t familiar with this production at all, but any performance that features a live food-fight (warning those in the front-row that they ‘may not escape the fallout‘ gets my vote! ๐Ÿ˜„).

On a more serious note, it’s billed as: ‘a tale of a nation in turmoil that vibrates with modern resonance‘ and tells the story of John’s turbulent reign from 1199 to 1216. Now that sounded like something worth seeing! ๐Ÿ˜

So, what of the production itself? If you like your Shakespeare productions on traditional side, then this most definitely WON’T be the one for you. And unlike many of the Bard’s other works, there’s no well-known characters in this, nor any famous one-liners to hang onto!

But overall, none of this really mattered!

For me, although the plot was difficult to follow (no change there then!) the acting, costumes, lighting, music and stage were all definitely something to remember! Everyone gave an excellent performance, and the very wacky production design didn’t distract at all. In fact, the ‘dad-dancing’ (yes, really!), the additional short dance routines, the fight scenes and the encouraged audience participation, made the aforementioned food-fight feel quite appropriate! And yes, some the audience will have had a cleaning bill! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Quite a lot of blood too! ๐Ÿ˜ซ

In conclusion, a thoroughly engaging production but not one for the traditionalists

and maybe it was just me, but the fact that they brought on two Henry vacuum cleaners to clear up the stage during the interval made me giggle – ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ perhaps???? ๐Ÿ˜‚

Rick Wakeman on Tour (2019)

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Entitled Rick’s Grumpy Old Christmas Show, we joined our friends, Ian and Ann, for an evening of superb piano playing punctuated by Rick’s unique sense of humour. This was the last of his twelve-date tour around the UK.

Eventually, we got there!

The venue wasn’t one we’ve it visited before โ€” Warwick Arts Centre โ€” and the surrounding University Campus area is undergoing some significant rebuilding. It was therefore a slightly convoluted route to the car-park (we met Ian and Ann who arrived about the same time) and once parked, the four of us took the equally meandering walking-route to our destination!

Almost time for Rick!

Arriving just before 7pm, we had time for a good natter beforehand and to order some interval drinks. When we arrived at our seats, it was clear that tonight was pretty-much a sell-out, with extra seats added in front of us and to the side โ€” we were about five rows from the front, with an excellent view.

Rick’s Latest Album

Rick is still ‘old school’ and uses his tours, in part, to promote his latest music. This year was no different, as a few weeks back, he released ‘Christmas Portraits‘. It features pretty much all those Christmas Carols we learned as kids, played on the piano, in Rick’s unique and talented style. Listen to this Album from start to finish (we have!) and it’ll put you in the mood for Christmas for sure! ๐Ÿ˜๐ŸŽ… You can listen to samples courtesy of Amazon HERE.

Rick at his best…

Back to tonight’s event! Rick was on stage at just after 7.30pm to a very appreciative audience (judging by the welcoming applause). After a quick ‘true story’ (ahem!), he was at the piano, giving the keys a serious workout.

In addition to promoting his latest Album, he played a wide range of his back-catalogue including excerpts from Six Wives, White Rock, King Arthur as well as some more recent non-prog-rock piano-based compositions, including Morning has Broken. Nerd Alert! Across the whole evening, there were only two tunes I wasn’t familiar with. ๐Ÿ˜Ž In fact, in all the years we’ve been coming to see Rick play (we last saw him in October last year when he was at the Derngate, as part of his 2018 Tour) I think tonight, he played more music than ever before (although I might have imagined that!) ๐ŸŽน๐ŸŽน๐ŸŽน๐ŸŽน๐ŸŽน

And he was in top form! โ€” both musically and (surely his second profession) as a raconteur โ€” I don’t think I’ve heard him play better! And his humour was spot-on too! ๐Ÿ˜‚

What could possibly top last year’s ‘Black Testicles‘ joke? Well, this year for me, it was the one about the old lady breaking wind in Church! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ closely followed by the (very timely) story of the Elf, Pixie and a Fairy!

At just after 9.45pm, he played his final piece, and in return, received a standing ovation (well-deserved!). We got just a single encore, where Rick performed Life on Mars.

All-in-all, it had been a great evening โ€” Rick’s musical talents IMHO deserve to be more widely heard! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Leaving the Art’s Centre proved to be the most difficult part of the evening, as it seemed that most of the audience had parked in the same car-park as us! The congestion meant that we didn’t actually leave the multi-storey until 25 minutes after we got in the car. It was a very wet journey home, but luckily the traffic was very light. We were home just after 11.
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