Review: The Snow Queen –Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Monday December 16 2019

Three Stars

Stage adaptations of The Snow Queen are a staple of the festive season, but Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of friendship overcoming adversity is almost unrecognisable in Mark Calvert’s production for Northern Stage. Even the title character (played by Elizabeth Carter) is reduced to a cameo appearance.

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Review: A Christmas Carol

First published in The Times, Monday December 10 2018

Two Stars

The transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from “tight-fisted hand at the grindstone” to a man who “knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge” is as much a fixture of the season as advent calendars and fairy lights. Neil Bartlett’s stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’s tale is a perennial favourite because it so perfectly captures the blend of melancholy and compassion in the story, without recourse to sentimentality.

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Review: Alice in Wonderland – Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Tuesday December 5 2017

Four Stars

In true Wonderland style, the sign above the bar at Northern Stage reads: “We’re all mad here!” Yet the young audience members who have gone to the trouble of dressing up in spotless pinafores and Alice bands look out of step with what’s happening onstage. This festive show may share its title with the enduring classic but its raucous tone is a world away from Lewis Carroll.

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Review: James and the Giant Peach – Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Friday November 25 2016

Three Stars

If you are going to stage Roald Dahl’s children’s adventure, the big fruit in question had better not be limp and past its best. Fortunately, when it comes to spectacle, Mark Calvert’s production for Northern Stage is both eye-catching and mouth-watering. The opening scene alone features the cast whizzing around the circular stage on scooters, a skipping routine and a basketball display, all set to Jeremy Bradfield’s jazzy live soundtrack.

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Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Tuesday December 8 2015

Four Stars

 

It is one of the most influential children’s stories of all time. Yet, when most people hear the title the image that leaps to mind is that of Judy Garland skipping down the yellow brick road in glorious Technicolor with her three dysfunctional companions in tow. It comes as something of a shock to be reminded that the ruby slippers, the Wicked Witch’s greenish complexion and even the phrase “There’s no place like home” were all inventions of the 1939 musical film version and nothing to do with L Frank Baum’s original 1900 novel.

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