Brighton Fringe: Jerry & Tom by Rick Cleveland: Quids In Theatre Company

31 05 2013

Jerry and Tom

Jerry and Tom are both professionals; one a master, the other a mere novice.

They are hit men. But just because your job is about death doesn’t mean it isn’t just as much about life, as Tom tries to work out where it all went wrong in this unique, dark comedy.

On Tuesday 28th May 2013 I went to see Quids In Theatre Company perform in the Temple Bar in Brighton. It was part of the Brighton Fringe and as I was on a short break it would have seemed rude not to take in a fringe show when I had the opportunity.

I discovered there was a 1998 film version but I am not familiar with it.

Three actors walked the audience through the troubled relatonship between a hitmen and his mentor as they handled their “marks”. Two current day scenes bookmarked the rest of the action performed as a montage of flashback sequences. The acting was energetic and engaging with compelling dialogue delivered in a naturalistic and conversational manner that helped audience members to engage with the characters. The mundane details of the characters day to day lives and concerns were juxtaposed with the sinister reality of their work and this helped to secure empathy and compassion from the audience.

The set design was good with clear suggestive staging; such as a counter drapped with bunting and promotional signs to suggest the interior of a second hand car lot, or a table dressed with oriental tableware and chopsticks to indicate a Chinese restaurant. However the transitions between scenes were laboured with multiple blackouts and much unnecessary shifting of chairs, sometimes only inches from their former position. This slowed down the action and did little to enhance the experience. The facilities at the Temple did little to help and the clumsy timing of lighting changes meant actors were often left speaking in darkness or moving between scenes fully lit.

Although I have not participated in a Fringe performance myself I am familiar with the contraints of working in a pub venue due to my murder mystery work. I was disappointed that the presentation at the Temple Bar was extremely sloppy. The performance was hampered by the economy feel and restrictions of the venue in many ways. The upstairs room provided for the occassion was cramped and uninviting. The wooden stools were uncomfortable and the proxemity to the stage meant that actors entrances were obstructed by audience members. The curtains over the windows were old and torn in places preventing a total blackout and the black backdrop was split down the middle to reveal the pub wall. The stage area was cluttered with debris which added to the amateur feel to the performance – although this was not necessarily the fault of the theatre company.

I am not a fan of props to be honest but given the restrictions of pub theatre I was surprised by how many scenes featured unnecessary props and costume changes. This not only slowed down transitions but made performance conditions even more difficult. It was an odd combination of eating actual fries and burgers hampering the vocal performances but in later scenes actors mimed eating noodles. The inconsistency was frustrating.

I was impressed by the quality of the individual performances and given the necessity in such a small cast to play multiple roles the differentiation between the characters achieved through token costume and accent changes, was impressive. Jamie Begg played the brooding Tom and Chris Begg successfully switched between a range of characters. Due to there being no program available I have been unable to discover the name of the third actor who captured Jerry’s twitchy nervous disposition.

I would be interested to see future work by this company with better production values and elements.

That said it was an entertaining night out and well worth the £5 per head to experience something a little different.





Review: Umi Hotel Brighton

30 05 2013

Umi Hotel

The Umi Hotel in Brighton is a three star establishment right on the seafront. I was concerned on arrival as it was not much to look at from the outside but I was pleasantly surprised when we went in.

On arrival – one hour before the check in time – no attempt whatsoever was made to to even check to see if our rooms were ready. Whilst we had no expectation that our rooms would be available early; it is unusual for hotels not to at least check the system.

We were shown to a storage space for our luggage to enable us to go out for lunch rather than spending the hour in the lobby. On our return check in was efficient and there was good natured banter from the friendly and polite staff. Having booked our two rooms seperately we were on very different rates and it would have been nice to see some effort to reduce the difference in price.

The hotel was clean and comfortable and appeared to be well maintained. The rooms were suitable for our needs during our two night stay although a little on the small side. I would not however, recommend this particular hotel for a longer stay.

The shower was adequate although very low for the tallest member of our party and the hair and body wash provided was dreadful. Although a hair dryer – that I can only assume dates back to the 70’s – was provided it was not particularly powerful so it is advisable to bring your own.

The location was perfect. It was right on the seafront (we were however offered an upgrade to a seaview for £10 per night that we declined), and a short walk to the Pavillion, beach, pier and sealife center and the shops on the Lanes.

We had paid for breakfast as part of our booking and it was a theatrical experience in the lavish operatic design of the dining room complete with theatre boxes drapped with red velvet curtains and  ornate art work. It was a little cramped and not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. It was exactly what I expect from a breakfast buffet service with a selection of fruit juices, tea and coffee, cereal, toast, yogurt and cooked options including: bacon, sausage, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, beans and tomato.

There was no parking available on site but the hotel did offer a 50% discount at the NCP multi-story just over the road.

All in all it was a great choice of hotel that suited our needs on this occassion.

 

 





Mini break

29 05 2013

Mini break

FFOMC and I are enjoying a mini break. As well as giving us some much needed time off together I am of course looking for inspiration for some topics to write about when I get home.
I may blur the boundaries between fiction and fact when I write about this trip on my return but a number of possible topics have presented themselves.

While I continue to ponder – may I wish you all a happy half term!

 





Off to Brighton

28 05 2013

Brighton

A few days away together to enjoy each others company.

We plan to visit Sealife (where I will absolutely NOT be holding a crab or starfish) and there has been talk of a Fringe play. I am pushing for afternoon tea and apparently out friend is insisting that will be going to a Trolls pantry (think this is a food related event but I am not entirely sure what Trolls eat).  My students have also highly recomended something called choccy woccy do dah.

To be honest I will be just be glad to get out of the house, enjoy a change of scene and watch the flowers blooming.

There has been too much stress and drama of late a traditional English break is exactly what the doctor ordered.





Meet the Bings

27 05 2013

The Bings

Comedy Central has kept FFOMC and I entertained today with reruns of Friends. But each weekend they select a theme to inform the episode choices and today “Meet the Bings” was the title. Monica and Chandler took centre stage as 10 years worth of reruns walked audiences through the various stages of their relationship.

I would love to do this with my own life. It would be pretty amazing to revisit my “greatest hits”.

I have had great fun reminiscing and coming up with my own selected episodes outlining how our relationship has grown over the years.

  • The one when we first met. I walked into the pub where he worked in full 80’s costume ready for a theme night out with his best friend. He greeted us with frizzy hair standing on end and chef whites stained with a colourful range of sauces. We were equally unimpressed.
  • The one with the nachos. FFOMC used to pay regular visits to the cinema where I worked before we got together. He got into a habit of bringing in nachos that we would munch together in the back row before the film started.
  • The one when we got together. He and some other friends came to keep me company while I was house-sitting. We spent the whole night talking and the entire next day together.
  • The one with the car crash. He met my parents when my dad was in a car crash and we made a sudden trip over to check he was OK.
  • The one with the bad karaoke. FFOMC discovered his own personal hell when he attended a karaoke evening where a group of musical theatre students performed Queens Bohemian Rhapsody.
  • The one with the graduation. I walked out in my graduation robes to discover him in a shirt and tie with ill fitting faded jeans and leather jacket combo.
  • The one when I got a job away from home. A six month acting contract living away from home was a great opportunity but it was really hard being away from each other for so long.
  • The one with the friendship rings. It was hard being separated because of work so during a short break we exchanged friendship rings to symbolise our commitment to each other.
  • The one with the engagement. Decision made to get married we made the trip to Norn Iron so FFOMC could ask my father’s permission. When they were left alone Dad simply turned to him and said “you can have her”.
  • The one when we moved into our flat. Just three months before we tied the knot we found our own place together. We have lived here ever since.
  • The one with the hen and stag nights. Messy! FFOMC started drinking at noon before heading to a comedy club in London and I had a Vicar and Whores themed evening with my friends in a restaurant followed by a local nightclub.
  • The one with the wedding. The best day of our lives, so far!

Great days. Wonderful memories. And the best is yet to come.

 





Data

26 05 2013

Control

I have never been someone who has coped well with the aspects of my life that our outside of my control. As such I have a tendency to obsess over the things that are within my power.

I also have a deep love of things that I can track and monitor. Monitoring DATA is definitely one of my guilty pleasures.

Sometimes these obsessions are very healthy and have a positive impact on my daily life; but on other occassions they are more destructive and lead me into more dare I say it…obesssive behaviour.

Taking my personal finances as an example: it is of course beneficial for me to keep track of the APR on my credit cards; but, it is a poor idea to continuously scrutinise my savings and agonise over how many months it will take me to raise a desposit for my own home. In both scenarios I benefit financially as these obsessions can have a positive impact on my bank balance. However in terms of affecting change – I only earn so much each month – so constantly berating myself about the state of my finances does nothing for my emotional health.

Pound

 

We are all faced with an overwhelming amount of data on a daily basis that places each of us in a particular category. For example:

JOB: inadequate – satisfactory – good – outstanding

FINANCES: poor – fair – good – excellent

WEIGHT: underweight – average – overweight – obese

RELATIONSHIP STATUS: single – co-habiting – married – divorced

WORK: unemployed – self employed – employed – billionaire playboy/girl

 

While I unfortunately tend to buy into these systems – attempting at all costs to control the figures to ensure that I am in the optimum category for each aspect of my life…I cannot help but wonder…wouldnt it be easier to simply…be?

I am not going to have a personality transplant as a result of this post but it has made me reflect on the things that I value and the  high value I place on being top of each and every list I could possibly be placed on. There is no point in playing the game if you dont want to win but maybe – just maybe – some of the games in life just arent worth playing.

 

 





You look…different

25 05 2013

Mirror

On Friday a close friend said to me “You look “different”.

She was in part making a direct comment about my current appearance – due to my sudden and unplanned weight lossparticularly noticable round my face. But as the conversation progressed I realised that there was more to it than a simple change in how I look. Over a period of time, even I have perceived in myself a subtle shift in my attitude, confidence, priorities and perhaps personality. Every experience, reaction and decision that I have ever had has resulted in miniscule shifts that combine to shape who I am as a person.

I have come to realise that – I am different.

I do not say this in a teenage angst “nobody understands me”, sort of way or by way of attempt to capture in words some sort of religious or spiritual process of enlightenment; but to acknowledge the contrast between the person I am now and the person I used to be. I would find it impossible to identify what exactly has changed – after all I have not had a personality transplant – but I do have a renewed sense of focus, confidence and purpose. None of these are qualities I was previously lacking but they somehow seem sharper and more clearly defined.

Is this simply an age thing? I am not sure.

I have experienced no life altering events or inspirational moments of late that have resulted in any deep reflection and periods of transition. Although I am comfortable in my own skin, deeply content with my lot in life, confident about how to affect the changes I desire and clear headed about my goals moving forward.

Change is inevitable. One of the most inspiration things I ever learnt from my father was the phrase “this too will pass”. We all change. Life moves on. The key thing is to identify the next step and be ready for it.