Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Culture Clash Blog - 1/3/11

Hey Guys,

Happy first of March to one and all, and with a new month must come new reviews of the cultural variety!

This week's blog has a slightly theatrical theme, mainly because I was lucky enough to get to see two amazing plays in one week! It's worth mentioning at this stage the amazing 'Under 26's Pass' scheme which is run by the National Theatre, that allowed me to see Danny Boyle's Frankenstein for only £5! This scheme is completely free to join, and allows under 26's to attend performances in participating theatres for only £5 every time, and you can get a friend (who must also be 26 or under) in for £7. Check the scheme out at 



This play was an adaptation of a series of Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected, brought to the stage by none other than the brilliant part creator of the League of Gentleman, Jeremy Dyson. These stories did not at all suffer by being transferred from the page to the stage. With minimalistic yet effective settings and a minimal cast, the stripped down and simplistic way of presenting these tales only served to heighten the impact of the stories. Short and snappy dialogue coupled with strong characterization from all the players served to suck the audience in to the mystery of the stories completely. I loved all the twists and turns, and the naughty black humour of all the best Roald Dahl stories was present in spades. I came out feeling as if I'd been treated to 80 minutes of completely cheeky indulgence, despite these tales being from Dahl's adult books, they definitely indulge the child inside!!



I felt so very lucky to get tickets for this amazing performance. Sadly both Benedict Cumberbach and Naomi Harris were missing from the performance I attended, due to being 'indisposed'. However this did not mar the performance, as all the understudies turned out an outstanding performance. The star of the show however had to be Johnny Lee Miller as the Creature. The sheer energy of his performance was breathtaking, and he managed to carry the monster from a childlike new being to an experienced and dangerous creation in a sensitive and powerful way.

The adaptation did not twist the themes or narrative too much to fit the stage, which was great as you felt the gravity of the messages of the text just as much as you would reading it.

The music provided by Underworld heightened the performance without it being massively noticeable above the action. It served to emphasise and accent the actions of the performers rather than compete with them for dominance. Coupled with the amazing use of the stage and scenery, this helped to completely immerse the audience in the story. I felt that I was as much a part of the monster's journey as Frankenstein himself as the sensations created by the illusion on stage were fully engrossing and spellbinding.

The cast came back on stage to an almost full standing ovation - one that was very much deserved. I would recommend this performance to anyone, whether you are a fan of the novel or not, it is a fantastic piece of theatre, which carries a message about human life that is more relevant today than ever.

The play is going to be broadcast at cinemas nationwide on the 17th and 24th of March. See below for details:



As I have been speaking about Roald Dahl's adult books frequently in this blog, I felt it only appropriate to recommend a collection of his stories. ' The Great Automatic Grammatizator and other stories', is a great jumping off point for newcomers to Roald Dahl's stories, and it is also good for people who are a fan of his children's books; and want an easy transition into his adult stories. From sly and cunning waiters playing cruel tricks on their employers, to fur coats that cause more trouble than the usual to their new owners, these short stories showcase a fun; and yet clever and intelligent collection of Dahl's work. They are great to read in succession, or to just be dipped into at your leisure, as the stories do not link on in any particular way. This is definately another book I would recommend for the commute to work as well!


This week I want to flag an interesting adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. This disturbing story tells of a world where women are used primarily for reproduction. A 1984 style society where fear and an excess of control has led to knowledge being restricted to the few and pleasures curtailed. This is not a book that I enjoyed reading, but as a radio adaptation it is far more easy to digest. I think in the current climate in the CCTV society we live in, it is a scary premonition of how bad things could be. Lets just hope Atwood and Orwell's premonitions never come to pass!! Have a listen via the link below:


Next week I'll have more music recommendations, as well as a new film recommendation section for you all to check out. I hope this has been of interest, please let me know if you have any feedback or comments


Natalie 'Cherry' Hill

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