The Way Through the Woods

The first night of the theatre season at the ADC for us and we went to see  a late night production of The Way Through the Woods, by ‘The Story Teller‘. It’s a dark telling of Snow White (and the three dwarves). Good and fair review from Cambridge TAB and I agree with the comments about the narrator. Katie Alcock (the Witch) was super and powerful in her part, she carried this off with conviction. I enjoyed the mirror, with the writhing figures in silhouette and great vocals from Chigozie Nri and Hannah Walker: I don’t know how the vocals were done, but the effect was spine chilling! The dwarves were great: the hobbit-esque outfits and TweedleDum-and-TweedleDeee-inspired dialogue were great fun. I had more problems with Will O Wisp. CJ Donnelly was fun and exuberant, but too farcical for me and over the top. The singing was in general dire—singing a funeral dirge on stage probably takes a good singing voice and the cast looked rather dejected and uncomfortable as they tried their best.

Big orchestra for The Way Through the Woods. It's a dark version of Snow White apparently. Opening night tonight. http://www.adctheatre.com

Finally, lots of praise for the orchestra, who were on stage. The score was great, and it was enjoyable to see them highlight the action and taking part in the drama. I’d like to see more of this sort of theatre.

The Way through the Woods

We were there on the opening night, and hopefully the cast’s confidence increased later in the week. Great stuff, lots that could have been improved, but a really good show and exciting to see such experimental and fresh theatre.

From the ADC Web Site:

The Story Tellers presents, The Way Through the Woods, Written by Paul Cooper, composed by Ed Bell

When a bed-time story becomes unnervingly real, a young boy is drawn into a world where nothing is as it seems. Hunted by a witch and her maniacal master, he is forced to make his way in a land where children do not long survive. In the forest, a young girl flees from her evil stepmother—but are her rescuers any less treacherous?

Combining new writing and live music, The Way Through the Woods is the story of Snow White as you’ve never seen it before. With a specially composed score and a twisted take on familiar characters, this is a devilishly dark retelling of a classic fairytale.

Join our Storyteller as he summons a story fit for the coldest winter’s night. When two worlds come together, who will survive? Just how happy an ending can we expect? And how many will find The Way Through the Woods…?

Mill Road Winter Fair

Had a great if freezing time at Mill Road Winter Fair. Super buzz, particularly in the area where the traffic had been stopped over the rail bridge and down into Romsey. The bridge was packed with people on foot and bike.

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We stopped off in Bacchanalia, and tried and bought some Glukriek, pre-mulled kriek that you heat in the microwave for an instant Christmas feeling. Very sweet—bought four bottles! Also tried some nice beer from Cambridge Moonshine Brewery too.

Next some sushi from Green Box—the rice rolls covered with lots of little popping fish roe, yummy!

Also did some important Christmas shopping…



Mill Road Winter Fare

Arabian Nights

Michael was a bit under the weather and had to miss the 11pm showing of Arabian Nights. So, pint of Milton Icarus in hand, I was on my on in a quiet ADC to watch the production. Animated and physical drama from a cast of five: with some hilarious moments—princess whisked off to a far away palace, with a Scottish King (how exotic is that?!) and the many-headed genie. Will Chappell’s crab was super (and highlighted in the TAB), and the cow/donkey parable was amusing. I enjoyed the ‘baby chick’ hammed up to perfection. I agree with the reviewer in the TAB that could could have been briefer, and I’d have cut some of the linking scenes particularly where James Kellett failed to pull off any menace or determination in killing ‘Shaz’.

from the ADC web sIte:

Amateur Dramatic Club presents, Arabian Nights by devised piece

Arabian Nights will be a newly devised production based on the ancient stories from India, the Middle East and North Africa of the Thousand and One Nights. In this saga King Sharyar is only prevented from executing his wife because of her extraordinary skill in telling stories, for the king has had a wedding every day followed by an execution the next day since discovering his first wife’s adultery. Every time the executioner comes awaiting the day’s victim, the king is so captivated by his new wife’s thrilling tales that he pardons her for an extra day in order to hear the end of the story. Arabian Nights will be performed by a small ensemble of actors, playing a multitude of characters, bringing to life the weird and wonderful tales and characters of these ludicrous fables in new, witty and imaginative ways.

Cast – Juliet Cameron-Wilson, James Kellett, Harriet Guillery, Alice Martin, Will Chappell

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Photo from The TAB

4th Annual Cambridge Wine Show

Busy evening for the 4th Annual Cambridge Wine Show in the Guildhall in Ca,bridge, organised by Cambridge Wine Merchants. There were nine tables of wines—an almost bewildering, lovely selection!IMG_0359  

  1. White Wine —New World
  2. White Wine—Austria, France & Italy
  3. Champagne
  4. Red Wine—France & Italy
  5. Red Wine—Spain & Portugal
  6. Red Wine—Argentina & Chile
  7. Red Wine—New World
  8. Sweet Wine & Sherry
  9. Port & Madeira

We probably spent too much time on the white wines: I never really explored the champagnes and didn’t touch the spirits at all.

  • Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough: My favourite wine of the evening. Elderflower and grapefruit, spicy black pepper! 8/10 at £15
  • Tahbilk Marsanne 2007 Nagambie Lake: I’m not familiar with marsanne and I really liked this, which was rich, buttery and zesty.
  • Vina Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Aconcagua: A powerful green leaf nose and gooseberry flavour. Good but I prefered the elegance of the Greywacke.
  • Gewürztraminer Classic 2008 Hugel.: A bit of lychee there, but thisfailed to deliver the floral fragrance and punch I was after. Disappointing for £15 in this line up.
  • Pouilly Fumé 2009 Le Chant des Vignes, Joseph Mellot: £15. Lovely and refreshing. Elegant.
  • Marburg Cuvée Réserve Grand Cru: £27 I liked this (others were less keen). Lovely, elegant champagne, on the lees and next door Krug apparently. The only champagne I tried tonight.
  • Volnay 2005 Louis Jadot: Disappointing.
  • Santenay 1st Cru Rouge ‘Clos Rousseau VV 2008 Bachey-Legros. The wine we all taled about. Powerful taste and smell of fenugreek! Really unusual and caused by ‘torrefaction’. The herby smell goes with time. I had to ask what torrefaction was and luckily Greg’s dad worked int he coffee business so he knew all about it. Michael really liked this wine.
  • Mas Cal Demoura L’infidele 2007: Jammy and a bit too rich. Not for me.
  • Cune Rioja Reserva 2006. Elegant, balanced.
  • Vallejo Vina Pilar Tempranillo Roble 2008, Ribera del Duero: Dissapointing. A bit young perhaps. Lorna is a big fan of wines from gere and she didn’t like this.
  • Errazuriz wild ferment pinot: £11. I love pinot noir and this gae me what I was after—a dirty nose. This is a lovely drinking wine and quite accessible.
  • Bodega Renacer Enamore 2008 Lujan de Cuyo: £20 rich, herby. Tastes of port without the fortification.
  • Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2009 Canberra: Rich and plumy. Heavy.
  • Gonzalez Byass Apostoles Palo Cortado: £17 a half bottle. Wow! This was a wonderful dry sherry. I want more. Everyone who tried this thought it was good.
  • Blandy’s 5 yr old Sercial Madeira: £14. Lovely interesting dry Madeira. Hint of sweetness on the lips. Genuinely interesting and an eye-opener for Madeira.
  • Williams and Humbert Pedri Ximenex 12yo sherry: A nice sherry but a bit one-dimensional.
  • Quinto do Noval Unfiltered LBV 2004: Rich and lovely. £19

So a great range of wines sampled over the course of the evening. There were several hundred people there and also a lovely cheese stall (cave-aged emmental, mmm!) Proceeds of the evening went to the Red Cross.

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After the wine show it was on for a quick meal with Greg at Wagamamas—melamine crockery and an uninspiring menu left me disappointed. Then on for a pint at the Free Press (I have no idea why we did this, but it was fun!)

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The Scientifically Minded

Michael and I went to see an entertaining play produced by the Pembroke Players, held at the New Cellars in the lovely Pembroke College. The Scientifically Minded didn’t get off to a great start—from the very wet ink stamped on our hands (which ended up on Michael’s jumper) to the 15 minute delayed start of the performance. The production was entertaining, with good performances from Juliet Griffin and Nikki Moss. The play didn’t really seem, to go anywhere—the students rambled, and there was a bit of drama, some of the threads followed up, others not.

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There were a few awkward discussions about suicide, pregnancy and then some fun comedy, carried off rather well by Simon Norman. The play ended and it felt a random moment to stop. Possibly the most impressive part of the production was the copy-editing of the promotion, which promised more than play delivered. The programme could have helped a little here by explaining the background of the playwright and some introduction to the form of the play. The boundaries were successfully blurred between stage and actuality—the college setting and us being about 20 years older than everyone else in the room 🙁 helped!

From the Pembroke Players web site:

A table, some chairs, and some lockers Watch as you are drawn into the hyper-realistic setting of The Scientifically Minded. In this student’s hangout, a group of under- and post-graduates discuss their lives, their loves and their futures as we are afforded a tantalising glimpse into their complex lives. Through their everyday, nonsensical conversations, we see moral and scientific issues taking root in the hearts of the students undertaking this research, as topics such as genetic manipulation and animal testing arise. This translation of Oriza Hirata‘s acclaimed play is a modern theatre experience that brings the audience into its starkly realistic world, blurring the boundaries between the stage and actuality. And as these students discuss their everyday situations and the problems of their work, they tackle fundamental ideas of what it means to live, from both a scientific and an immensely personal perspective.

Hidden Glory

An impressive 40 minute monologue from Miranda Cook as a engaging Dorothy Hodgkin. She brought Dorothy’s words and feeling to life in a direct and accessible way—speaking intimately with the audience without a break—an impressive feat. Having the play comprising Hodkin’s words and letters was a nice touch. The setting in the Old Labs of Newnham College added to the atmosphere. A great story of how, from a young girl Hodgkin was fascinated with crystals and how this led, through the war, to her solving (laboriously) the crystal structure of penicillin for which she won the Nobel Prize in 1964.

From Georgina Ferry’s web site: (Programme)

Hidden Glory: Dorothy Hodgkin in her own words is a 40-minute, one-woman show with projected images and recorded sounds. It was commissioned from Hodgkin’s biographer, Georgina Ferry, by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History for performance to an invited audience on 10 May prior to the unveiling of a bust of Hodgkin in the museum to mark her centenary (she was born on 12 May 1910). It received a second performance on 13 May in the new Simpkins Lee Theatre at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

The performance has been created by theatre professionals under the name Hodgkin Centenary Productions. Director Abbey Wright was formerly Resident Assistant Director at Donmar Warehouse where she worked with Michael Grandage and other leading directors; and LAMDA-trained actress Miranda Cook’s credits include performances at the Arcola Theatre, the Orange Tree and Greenwich Park, as well as new writing development for the Young Vic, the Wrestling School and Southwark Playhouse. It is supported by a small professional design and production team: Andy Reader (lighting designer and production manager), Florence McHugh (designer) and Chris Barlow (sound designer).

The script is created almost entirely from Hodgkin’s own letters and reminiscences. It covers her childhood love of chemistry experiments, her student years, love, marriage and children, and her research into penicillin and insulin. It shows how her personal and scientific lives were fully intertwined, and explores the passions that underpinned them both.

Alongside the play we have also created a small poster exhibition (with support from Diamond Light Source) that shows how X-ray crystallography has developed since Hodgkin’s day and explains its vital contemporary role in biomedical science.

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Miranda Cook as Dorothy Hodgkin. Great photo, captures the look and feel of the play really well.

The Alchemist

I enjoyed The Marlowe Society‘s production of The Alchemist, by Ben Jonson. It was a bit too slapstick in places, but the chorus was a fine addition, and the three leads were strong an carried the play along: Nick Ricketts and Joey Batey as Subtle and Face, and Will Seaward made a fine Mammon. James Swanton was very fine as Drugger. George Potts was great as Ananias—always speaking profile in a Northern Irish accent, he was hysterical as he swopped around the stage. I’m pretty sure he was the excellent comedian who played the man in the green frock coat in Silent Canonfire (now with a new web site).

The plot was carried well, and some of the humour was almost off-the-cuff, which I found a little grating, but certainly was amusing.

From the ADC Theatre web site: 4dd1decc-b92e-4873-8724-849a017b56e8.jpg

…I’ll believe
That Alchemy is a pretty kind of game,
Somewhat like tricks o’ the cards, to cheat a man
With charming.

The world-famous Marlowe Society (“a powerhouse of theatrical expertise”—Sir Ian McKellen) is proud to bring to life Ben Jonson’s irresistible comic masterpiece.

Imagine a world where the lust for money and sex drives the greedy to believe the most outrageous of schemes and leads the gullible into extraordinary, farcical situations. Living in a stolen house, master con-artists Face, Subtle and Doll Common are making themselves a fortune. Employing a spectacular array of characters and costumes our three heroes entice, seduce and hustle their way through the playwright’s most colourful and eclectic collection of characters, with hilarious results.

The Alchemist is a satirical tour de force – Jonson’s bitingly witty critique of humanity as relevant today as it was four-hundred years ago.

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Interval–The Alchemist, a busy stage for the ADC

The Tempest

Well, I enjoyed the The Tempest produced by Cambridge American Stage Tour. Miranda, played by Celeste Dring and Trinculo (Adam Hollingworth) were both good. I enjoyed the setting, and some clever use was made of the stage and the photography theme. The TAB have given a fairly brutal, but accurate review and are right that this should have been a better production after being on tour for 9 weeks. I think Oliver Soden has great delivery but at times I felt he was reading lines and a bit bored. I still enjoyed it though!

From the ADC Web site:

The Tempest was written by Shakespeare as a farewell to the stage; the final bows taken by the Cambridge American Stage Tour during their ‘home run’ will see the company bid their own farewell to the Bard’s closing piece following a month touring the eastern coast of North America. Following six months of hard graft, expect a highly polished and thoughtful production.fd36fddc-757e-491b-bb38-ebc9985db921.jpg

O brave new world. That has such people in’t!

The company will have traveled the entire length of the States and the diversity of audiences will undoubtedly test the mettle of some of the best Cambridge has to offer. Faced with a public that might not consider Shakespeare part of its canon this production will focus on the colonial undertones through word, music and dance, still relevant to this day.

As you from crimes would pardon’d be,

Let your indulgence set me free.

Rarely in Cambridge does such a large cast have the opportunity to perform and perfect over such time and distance, so just as Prospero does, this year’s company invites you to watch what will be a truly memorable performance. We look forward to seeing you there.

Sake Tasting at the Punter

We met up with Sarah and Jason for a night of sake tasting, not really knowing what to expect. Jason had had some bland sake in Japan, as had I (but also some lovely cloudy sake!). The evening was arranged by Cambridge Wine Merchants in the Punter Pub, where we had the fabulous sherry tasting in June. The tasting was conducted by Wakana Omija from Akashi-tai (and all the sake was from that small family company too). Wakana makes some sake during the winter, then spends the rest of time on promotion. She was great company.

We started with a plum sake spritzer with soda water, which was refreshing.

Akahashi-tai Honjozo, with opening snacks

Wasabi Beans
Sashimi skewers with soy and wasabi
Chicken Teriyaki skewer w sweet chilli sauce

Daiginjo Akashi-tai matched with Japanese mezze

Tea-smoked duck with ginger and beetroot dressing
Tempura fish with fennel and orange salad

Akashi-tai Honjozo Genshu matched with French food

Pork belly and lentil cassoulet
Wild mushroom, beansprout and spinach filo rolls
Mackerel fillet with black sticky rice, coriander and pink grapefruit sauce

Akashi-tai Genmai aged sake, with French and Japanese Food

Mussels with sake, lime and juniper
Braised beef shin with balsamic and caper sauce
Tofu with pistachio, carrot and radish remoulade

Akashi-tai Shiraume Umeshu, matched with savory and sweet options

Duck liver parfait with roast apricot
Plum and raisin strudel
Binham blue cheese and charcoal wafer
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I was impressed about how the rice is polished into smaller and smaller grains, so that different parts of the rice can contribute towards the quality and flavour of the sake. The brown, aged Genmai was like a dry sherry and this is an unusual style in Japan (and not well accepted) because they prefer more delicate sake with a purer flavour and not made with brown rice.
All the sake we tried was lovely: I preferred the fuller-bodied Honjozo Genshu, and the warm Daiginjo Akashi-tai, which were both on the side of fuller flavour, rather than the lighter honjozo. So i have a bit more confidence about sake—but with one brand and with this set of notes!
From the food menu, the braised shin of beef was beautiful as was the smoked duck. The duck parfait surprised a lot of people, who thought it was icecream to match the sweet plum sake! The chef was amazing (again) in getting this prepared.