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An Evening with Helen Sharman – Town Hall, Birmingham

Reviewer: Tim Harding “Astronaut wanted, no experience necessary”.  This was the strapline from a commercial that 26-year-old Dr Helen Sharman heard in 1989.  Sharman was, at the time, working as a chemist for the confectioners Mars, working on a team developing a Mars Bar flavoured ice cream!  She says she had no big dreams of going into space as a ...

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Writer: William Shakespeare Director: Andy Barrow Reviewer: Selwyn Knight Oddsocks Productions continues its quest to ‘tell good stories in a fun interactive way’ with their latest offering, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While they typically perform outdoors with a colourful array of larger-than-life characters, on this occasion they are resident in the Belgrade Theatre’s less formal B2 studio space, but they ...

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Reparation Island – The Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome

Writer: Kevin Fegan Director: Christopher Elmer-Gorry Reviewer: Katie Burchett Reparation Island: a place to share, to think, to repair, to rebuild. Kevin Fegan’s one-act play is performed by the ex-service men and women who make up Bravo 22 Company and is based on first-hand experiences from within the Armed Forces community in the Midlands. As the lights come up, eleven ...

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The Pope – Royal and Derngate, Northampton

Writer: Anthony McCarten Director: James Dacre Reviewer: James Garrington A world-premiere, The Pope is the latest production to come out of the Made in Northampton stable – and like many of its predecessors it is a spellbinding piece of theatre. It is based on a true story, the story of two men and what is arguably the most powerful job in ...

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Aida – Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Composer: Guiseppe Verdi Libretto: Antonio Ghislanzoni Director: Annabel Arden Conductor: Sir Richard Armstrong Reviewer: Tim Harding It’s easy to think of Verdi’s Aida in grandiose terms: extravagant sets, large choruses of soldiers and priests, dancers, horses and chariots.  But is that what this opera is all about?  True, the Triumphal March in Act 2 traditionally contains all these elements, but there is ...

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Thriller Live! – The Alexandra, Birmingham

Creator: Adrian Grant Director:  Gary Lloyd Reviewer: Gemma Fincher Despite the controversy and unwanted headlines that plagued him during his life, and that haven’t abated since his premature death in 2009, the enduring strength of Michael Jackson’s musical legacy is undeniable. Still widely regarded as the undisputed King of Pop, Michael Jackson enjoyed unparalleled worldwide success and, thanks to his ...

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The Worst Little Warehouse in London – Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham

Writers: Lala Barlow and Robbie Smith Director: Sarah Redmond Reviewer: James Garrington As the lights dim we hear, in nature documentary style, that this is a tale of two koalas venturing forth into the world. They find themselves in a strange and distant place, full of excitement for what the future holds – or, more mundanely, it’s an Australian couple ...

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Venice Preserved – Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon

Writer: Thomas Otway Director: Prasanna Puwanarajah Reviewer: Gemma Fincher Political unrest, anarchy, rebellion and corruption meet futuristic ‘80’s cyberpunk in this dystopian re-imagining of Thomas Otway’s restoration thriller. First staged in 1682, this tragedy of disillusionment,unfulfilled expectations and distrust of the establishment yields eerie parallels with today’s political climate and the appetite for a change to the status quo. Set ...

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