We’re all mad here

… discovers Abi Manning, as she becomes bewitched by the circus at Movez Maniax Youth Circus’ performance of Almost Alice

Be plunged down the rabbit hole into a circus of visual delight with this lively youth production, which incorporates familiar Wonderland themes with an impressive acrobatic display from a group of talented young women.

Cries of ‘I’m late, I’m late’ and other recognisable lines were interspersed with a series of well-synchronised and imaginatively choreographed interludes, from juggling to hoop throwing to aerial acrobatics – where Alice, the White Rabbit and other familiar characters were suspended from scaffolding set up in the middle of Green Lanes. The stunts continued as the Queen of Hearts got her come-uppance in a grand finale of a spears-through-the-coffin nature – much to the gasps of the younger audience members. ‘Off with her head’ indeed!

The girls delivered an energetic performance that portrayed, through body-bending tricks and colourful costumes, the madness, mayhem and confusion of Lewis Carroll’s famous novel.

Catch them again on Sunday at 1.30pm.

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Self-deprecating British rap from comedy duo Harry and Chris had Abi Manning chuckling all the way down the High Street

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They are hailed as the ‘nation’s favourite comedy rap jazz duo’ and if there are any others around, Harry and Chris claim they must be ‘at least in the top two.’

Their brilliantly fun – sometimes poignant, always hilarious – melodic-poetic mashups are earning the pair rising star status after success at Edinburgh Fringe and the Russell Howard show.

The set list is utterly nonsensical in the most joyous way imaginable. Convinced their ‘comedy rap jazz superpowers’ somehow impregnated an endangered giant panda (it was a ‘be there’ thing), the pair set about writing uplifting songs to save the world, from solving the plastic problem (written the day before and inspired by our glorious coastline) to curing Chris’ wife’s hayfever. All this is interspersed with a bonanza of bonkers tunes including a Teletubbies/Beyonce mashup (eh oh, eh oh, eh oh, oh no no) and a Christmas number including a freestyle set about things the audience felt were underrated: kittens, Caroline Lucas and good grammar, as it turns out (admittedly I suggested the last one).

And you know what? Questionable superpowers aside, Harry and Chris turned out to be true heroes of the stage. Because, let’s face it, what greater power is there than using humour to bring folk together over the big (and little) things in life.

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What is a man to you? Rosanna Rothery found this dance theatre piece by Benjamin Wisken evocative and provocative

Gently he circumnavigates the light, his body open, playful and fluid; his face curious. The gentle glow is soft and warm. It seems to compel , comfort and invite the occasional caress.

Next time we see him with the light it’s surrounded by wooden bricks – the kind young boys traditionally build boats and aeroplanes out of. He’s petulant, angry, his body language more twisted, defensive – the gestures more tortured and repressed. One by one he picks up a brick and reads the messages written on them: ‘boys don’t cry’, ‘man up’ ‘pussy’ ‘take it like a man’ . Angrily he flings each piece of indoctrination across the floor, bitterly dismantling the wall of repression surrounding the soft luminosity.

Benjamin Wisken’s offering at this year’s fringe is part contemporary dance, part installation and part chat. He is concerned that no-one is asking the questions: why do young men turn violent? Why are 85 per cent of perpetrators of domestic violence men? Why are most mass shootings carried out by men?

This was only the second time he had performed this piece Softly Falling….my hope is that it continues to evolve and act as a catalyst.

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How the West Was Lost by a Bristol bard

George Chapman found this spoken word performance by The Bard of Windmill Hill absolutely hilarious from start to finish.

The anthology of satirical poems deals with the theme of lust in all its various forms: from the lust for land and guns to a lusty proposition aimed at Mother Nature. Each one is crammed with clever multi-syllabic rhymes and great wordplay.

The best part is the energy that goes into each and every poem (the one about guns for the blind is fantastic fun) and this momentum even makes the one dedicated to Mother Nature (a poem that was featured in last year’s show) every bit as enjoyable as it was on first listening.

The poem that gives How the West Was Lost its name, the only sombre addition in an otherwise hilarious anthology, is arguably the best of the entire show: written with a depth of emotion that makes it really memorable.

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Another thumbs up for The Two Robbies

There’s a lot expectation when a show is presented by not one but two seasoned performers. However for George Chapman, The Two Robbies was even better than anticipated.

The combined talent and whimsical poetry of Rob Barratt and Robert Garnham kept the audience chortling away throughout. The poetry of these two esteemed talents complements each other well: similar humour, with occasional cheesiness, yet different enough to be distinctive.

It’s hard to choose any stand out poems as they are all so funny and change slightly every time; however, for me Robert Garnham’s Poem probably had the edge.

Hilarious poems delivered by two experienced performers.

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Wondering which show to go to tonight?

George Chapman is raving about A Cautionary Tale which explores the dark side of ambition and success

First and foremost this show is amazingly written: there’s an overarching cautionary tale about Lotte Belle who enters into a Faustian pact which grants her success at the expense of others. The story is also interspersed with an exploration of various cautionary tales, some of which ease the transition between different scenes, keeping the pacing constant.

To say that this performance is multi-layered and thought provoking is an understatement, even the supporting characters and their story arches were great, adding to the underlying message of a cautionary tale.

The use of lighting to signal the tonal shifts in the show, the great use of props that help set the scenes – there really weren’t any areas that A Cautionary Tale didn’t excel at or could have improved upon. From start to finish it was a really great show that delivered on its interesting premise and more.

A Cautionary Tale by Rabblerouse Theatre is at The Guildhall on Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 5.45pm.

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Reformed terrorist – have you seen this man? Make sure you do

Rosanna Rothery enjoys the witty outpourings of a rebel without pause

A few left-wing demos and a spot of placard waving does not a terrorist make. Despite his slightly alarming title Andrew Silverwood really doesn’t have the demeanour of a terrorist, albeit a reformed one. Bounding about like a toddler after one too many Haribos, this pixie of polite protest is way too charming. More imp than insurgent.

Admittedly, there was an unfortunate incident when he was a teenager involving his head and a policeman’s fist which, he believes, led to him being put on the constabulary’s ‘dodgy’ list but it’s hard to imagine him sparking an international incident.

If his comedy does veer into radical territory (his tour merchandise does include his own line in condoms don’t cha know?) he doesn’t shy away from extracting mirth from the mundane or the MOR either – his hilarious skit on the frustrations of attempting to buy a hot water bottle from Argos would have sat neatly in a Michael MacIntyre routine.

Expect fresh, precocious, teetering on edgy at times yet thoroughly endearing and funny … go see.

Andrew Silverwood Reformed Terrorist’s show Fragility is at the Golden Lion Tap on Saturday at 8.30pm

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