Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Duke of York's Picturehouse Eurovision Party [BRIGHTON FRINGE 2012]

HEARING THE BEST (AND WORST)
OF EUROPEAN POP IN A BIG
CAMP, SAUCY EXTRAVAGANZA?


OOOH HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH.


The stage, screen and our camp compère.

What's It All About Then?
Event held on Saturday 26th May at the Duke of York's Picturehouse, Preston Circus, Brighton in honour of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012.


The event ran from 7:45pm until 11:00pm - with a compère providing humorous commentary and organising the activities during the show. These included an introductory  song and dance number, some jokes, a raffle, games during the voting interlude and dancing on-stage throughout.


On each audience member's chair, there was a goody bag containing - a Union Jack flag, some Love Hearts, a glow stick, a Eurovision score card, a pen and a condom. I put the condom to good use, mind you - it made an excellent balloon.


The on-stage dancing for the Russian Grannies was joyous

So Was It Any Good?
+++ Big Fun Event +++
The show was fun-packed - although not a lot happened until about 15 minutes before the TV broadcast, there was a whole load of things going on in the theatre to get the crowd excited. 


To begin with, there was a short dance with some gymnast ribbons (see picture - right) and the compère provided the vocals to Eurovision classic, Waterloo. This was vaguely Olympics-themed (the guys came out with Olympic rings and did athletic-type dancing, I suppose) and the compère had an Olympics-themed chair to boot - complete with the 5 rings and there was some laurel branches stuck on top.



The audience were really geared-up to participate too - there were 2 people dressed as Jedward, complete with twin matching shiny silver outfits - some dressed as the Turkish entry (complete with a rendition of the fabric boat scene) - one woman dressed as the Azerbaijani entry and "performed" on stage with a huge, inflatable microphone - one guy came dressed as the German pretty boy who did a live rendition during the real entry's performance!


It was all very good fun and interactive - audience members were actively encouraged to get down on stage and dance during their favourite entries - so the catchy dance tunes from Cyrpus, Greece, Sweden and Russia gathered huge crowds of fans cheering and boogieing on down!


+++ Toilet Humour +++
The main source of the toilet humour was the compère - a very confident and funny host who relied fairly heavily on insinuations about the acts' sexual preferences - which was entertaining enough for the most part.


As a side note, I went to the toilet at the same time as a guy in a full-over bodysuit who needed his friend to completely unzip him before he could use the urinal. From seeing the view from behind, I'd say that counts as toilet humour too.


Anyway, during the voting interval there was a round of audience participation - 4 lucky contestants got to play a round of "Penny in the Crack". In case you hadn't heard of it, Penny is a game where the contestants must take turns to hold a penny between their bottom cheeks and make their way across the stage - in front of 200+ people - and let it drop into a pint glass on the far end of the stage.


The four contestants made a damn good go of it - one guy perhaps being a bit overconfident and dropped it halfway - but most got the penny into the glass or near the glass. The audience roared with applause to congratulate these 4 brave souls for their embarrassingly-public show of arse strength.


So that was Round 1.


Next the host stepped things up a notch - now they were playing Picked Onion Up The Bum - where each contestant now has to (yes, you guessed it) carry a pickled onion fresh out of the jar and soaked in vinegar between their bum cheeks across the stage. 


One guy's strategy here was to suck all the vinegar off to make it more bearable - but then just ate that onion instead. He was given another to make the stage crossing. I felt most sorry for the 2 women in skirts and tights who had to complete the tasks but neither shied away from the task at hand and got their onions in on just missing the glass.


So that was Round 2.


Finally - and I bet the contestants were glad this was finally - came the Raw Egg Up The Crack round. This was a show of arse cheek control rather than strength (obviously) but the 4 were all admirable contestants for the finale. Luckily, none of them experienced the problems that the host warned them about during the game - such issues as "getting the egg in your vag" and "making an omlette in your arsehole". These were very funny and the crowd was really involved - cheering everyone on as they completed the last round.


Through a vote by way of cheers, it was the guy who ate the pickled onion who was voted the overall winner - Ant from Abergavenny! Well done Sir!


The guys playing "Penny in the Crack" - brave, brave people....


--- Wouldn't want to be German ---
All the camp, silly, cheesy and dance acts got some great reception - but some countries didn't even get a chance before the big boos started. In particular, I wouldn't have wanted to have been German going along to support my country due to the loud booing from across the audience as soon as they were announced!

It was a shit act though - bored the pants off me so much that I may have chosen to boo - but to get such a vocal negative reaction from the mention of the country? 

Surely there's more worthy "boo" recipients in the competition? A small smear on an otherwise amazing night.

The rush on the stage during the Swedish act's encore.


Conclusions
The Eurovision Event was as suitably big, fun and camp as you could wish for.


There was plenty of humour and energy throughout the show from both the host and the audience - seeing everyone get involved added to the evening's entertainment.


A brilliant show - I think I'll have to get dressed up for next year's party!


FULL EUROVISION 2012 RUNDOWN

#Eurovision2012 #Moldova 
Weirdest dance of the evening but that mare me like them. That guy must've been on some STRONG drugs...


#Eurovision2012 #Ukraine 
Cheesy dance tune plus men in pink skirts? I'm in love. Probably not a winner though


#Eurovision2012 #Serbia 
Not quite sexy or quirky enough to work. Even ponytail pipe guy couldn't prevent the #yawn on this one. Next please


#Eurovision2012 #Ireland 
Say what you will about #Jedward - they're in their element during #Eurovision. But they're still utterly shite.


#Eurovision2012 #Macedonia 
Nightwish FTW! Pales in comparison to... yep.... here they come.... it's #Jedward


#Eurovision2012 #Malta 
Generic catchy tune. Foot shuffle dance. Fingerless gloves & silly hair. Classic #Eurovision. Bit of a flip too. Nice


#Eurovision2012 #Germany 
Has just led to a round of boos. Sexy man got some interest. Bland song and performance though. Major #yawn


#Eurovision2012 #Spain 
Very intimate dancing on stage @DukeofYorks. Song reminds me of Leona Lewis' cover of Snow Patrol Run. 
Nice finale though.


#Eurovision2012 #Turkey 
Eurocamp gay fantasy meets Borat. More than a little turned on. Wave those capes, bitches! Boat with cloak scene recreated on stage by some drunk revellers @DukeofYorks. Amazing stuff - @DukeofYorks love it! 


#Eurovision2012 #Sweden 
The dance is bizarre (and why the boob grabbing?) but daaaamn that was catchy. Could be a winner #Eurovision


#Eurovision2012 #Greece 
@DukeofYorks Crowd going wild for Greek Shakira. Booty shaking & bass normally goes down well. My booty is a-shaking


#Eurovision2012 #Denmark 
Too much like a crap pop song. Bimbo meets Sgt Peppers look could take off though. Xylophone solo! Mind blown! :-)


#Eurovision2012 #Romania 
This is more like it! Great outfits, dancing and a song you can boogie to! Love it! #Eurovision


#Eurovision2012 #Azerbaijan 
We have a parody performance complete with giant inflatable microphone here @DukeofYorks. Crap otherwise


#Eurovision2012 #Norway 
Justin Bieber will get a few votes. Totes thrown on for the gay crowd though. Shamefully love the campness :-)


#Eurovision2012 #Estonia 
Gary Barlow's singing is pretty good. Loads of wolf whistles here @DukeofYorks. Can see why. Phwoar.


#Eurovision2012 #Italy 
Not too bad. Now everyone quickly back to her dressing room for a quick line. Oh wait, that's NOT Winehouse.


#Eurovision2012 #France 
Good gymnastic shite but song ain't too inspiring. Flailing dress FTW! Go #Gaultier!


#Eurovision2012 #Cyprus 
At least you can dance to it. Live striptease here on stage @DukeofYorks! Could win points for sexy dancing ladies


#Eurovision2012 #Iceland 
Not a great song or performance - still prefer #RussianGrannies and #thehump!


#Eurovision2012 #Russia
#RussianGrannies were AWESOME! #BakeMeACake for the grannies! @StarlightRu #DOUZEPOINTS for grannies or #thehump #Eurovision
#RussianGrannies have swarmed the stage. @DukeofYorks
 Big support here!


#Eurovision2012 #BosniaHerzegovina
 How's that piano still playing!?! No skirt ripping? Wind machines? #yawn #nilpoints


#Eurovision2012 #Lithuania 
From blindfolded magician to Michael Jackson! Amazing! Loving that one! #Eurovision


#Eurovision2012 #Albania 
Getting mocked here at @DukeofYorks but the girl's got some lungs on her! Love the Star Wars outfit!


#Eurovision2012 #Hungary 
Leather-clad but bland. Nothing we haven't seen before on #Eurovision. Not a scratch on #thehump


#Eurovision2012 #United Kingdom
Gotta love #thehump!
Good singing but not too great a song or staging. May not get too many votes though.


Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
Any images in this review were taken by Brighton Games Trader.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Radiant Defense [ANDROID REVIEW]

COLOURFUL SCI-FI STRATEGY GAME IS COMPLEX ENOUGH FOR A FEW PLAYTRHOUGHS - BUT EXPECT A HARD RIDE IF YOU'RE PLAYING THE FREE VERSION.


So What's It All About Then?
Free-to-play sci-fi tower defence (TD) game that has you defending humanity from waves of increasingly tough alien jelly thingies. The Radiant name has been used for a colourful side-scrolling shooter in the past and the developers, Hexage, have now made the action a bit more strategic but still  just as visually-awesome.


The story goes that a series of "vortexes" have opened up in space. Through these vortexes lurks an alien warlord - the Supercreep - who has his evil eyes set on Earth! You play each level by placing walls to guide the alien hordes through the level - keeping them away from your base for as long as possible. You can then place and upgrade a whole bunch of offensive towers (gun, laser, rocket, missile, flamer), a number of support towers (damage-boosting spotlights, cash-boosting tower) and other defences (such as mines and "power blades" to place in the baddies' path).


A limited version of the game can be play for free - this allows you to play through all levels using a very small selection of the available weapons. I have played this version for a while before upgrading to premium weapons - the four weapon packs cost 69p each - so £2.76 for a fully-unlocked version. I will outline how I found each version below.


+++ Colourful Fun +++
The game is full of bright colours and charming humour - each enemy, weapon and environment has a distinctive colour and visual effects to clearly distinguish what exactly is going on during big battles. I really love it when developers take advantage of the range of colours available to them - too often do games only use a flushed-out pallete of different shades of brown. Not here - Radiant Defense makes good use of the entire rainbow - meaning that your phone's screen will light up with face-melting prettiness. 


The game is also filled with moments of brilliant humour - most of the conversations between the alien boss and the human defenders genuinely funny - breaking up the waves of action to reduce the likelihood of the game becoming stale. Take a look at the conversation snapshots below for a little example of this - mild but still worth a giggle.






+++ Strategic Variety +++
Plenty of ways to wear down tough enemies - and plenty of different enemies to test out your strategies. The enemy offensives include huge armoured beasts that take major damage before dying, mass cannon fodder bombardment, shielded enemies that need energy weapons to expose and speedy buggers that have regenerative health.


This means that you need a good arrangement of towers to beat all of these types of enemies - and it takes a bit of practice to know where to place your towers and walls. Knowing when to save your cash, when to buy brand new towers and when to upgrade existing ones all have to be factored in - perhaps try each level a couple of times to see what works best for each situation.


The walls add another dimension too - you set these up at the start of each wave to guide the enemies along and can be used to form very long paths for those tough enemies or to make shorter routes of concentrated fire if facing enemies with regenerative health. This is one of my favourite types of TD game - I find having the power to sculpt the route that the enemies take much more enjoyable.


When combined with the VAST number of towers and tools at your disposal in the premium version - over 15 towers to tinker with and upgrade to your heart's content - there should be many hours of play available here. 


Along with the weapons already mentioned, there are also "superweapons", which cost a great deal but can mean the difference between an overpowering alien invasion and large piles of dead space jelly. These are an extra little thrill to play with - finally getting the Omega Cannon after saving up for ten waves led to several cries of "Oh yes, Supercreep! Time to die!".




--- Unbalanced Difficulty ---
O.K. - let's make this clear - the free-to-play version is hard. Really bloody hard. The number of towers available is very small (only the gun, rocket and laser towers plus some support units), so only a near-perfect array of towers will stop the hordes from getting through. 


If you make a mistake in your set-up in earlier waves, it is near impossible to rectify it later, meaning that you have to restart the mission entirely. The developers were good enough to let you retry a wave if you fail it - but realising that your strategy just isn't going to work on wave 37 out of 40 is still horrendously infuriating. The screenshot below shows the level that I gave up on (mission 3 out of 9), as I could not save up the resources to kill the final boss when the time came.




The harsh difficulty level isn't much of a problem in itself - many TD games make it their business to be as challenging as possible. The real issue is that when I finally caved in and paid for the upgraded weapon packs, the whole game became much too easy! There are even cash boosters - so you can earn extra cash along with having vastly more useful weaponry!


Using the mines and power blades to take down the harder enemies - plus the sheer range of offensive tools - meant that no enemy posed much of a challenge from that point onwards! In fact, I haven't lost a single life on almost all of the later missions thanks to the premium weaponry. 


Perhaps if the mines and power blades could only be placed prior to battle - so once a power blade wears out, it cannot be replaced and so that you can't use mines as ad-hoc explosives placed in the middle of huge groups of baddies - then maybe there would be more of a challenge.


So, in summary:

  • if you like a really difficult TD game - get the free version.
  • if you like an easier TD game - fork out for the upgrades - it's still great fun but won't cause hair loss.



Oh, and if you were able to beat the game on the free version - I would love to know how. Seriously, just "how"?


Conclusions
IN MANY WAYS, RADIANT DEFENSE IS A MASTERCLASS IN "FREEMIUM" ANDROID GAMING - PLAYABLE FOR NOWT BUT WITH CLEAR BENEFITS IN UPGRADING.

IT'S WELL WORTH A PLAYTHROUGH TOO - IF YOU LIKE FUNNY, COLOURFUL STRATEGY THEN THIS SHOULD BE RIGHT UP YOUR STREET.

HOWEVER TO GET THE MOST OUT OF IT, YOU WILL HAVE TO CONSIDER PAYING A FEW QUID AND ACCEPT THAT IT MAY OFFER LESS OF A CHALLENGE.


Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
Any stock images in this review are subject to relevant copyrights and are kindly provided by: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.hexage.defense&hl=en
All in-game screenshots were taken by Brighton Games Trader.

St. Ann's Well Gardens Spring Festival [BRIGHTON FRINGE 2012]

FANTASTIC FAMILY FUN DAY OUT.


ENOUGH SOUNDS, SHOWS AND STALLS TO KEEP MOST PEOPLE HAPPY FOR AN AFTERNOON.




What's It All About Then?

Free festival held on Saturday 19th May at St. Ann's Well Gardens as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival 2012. 


The festival took over most of the park for the day, with a large variety of dance, music and activities on offer. Big thanks to Friends of St. Ann's Well Gardens for helping to put together such a fine assortment for the Spring Festival.

So Was It Any Good?
+++ Family Variety +++
Kids and families were clearly worked into the equation from the start - there was plenty to keep young children and adult children happy all day. With a "Kid's Rave" playing hits from the likes of Michael Jackson, a skate park with a few ramps to show off your skillz, a play park complete with climbing frames, plus plenty of stalls with face painting and kids toys.


All of the performances in the festival were child-friendly too - plenty of bright colours and cheery sounds to keep the young ones entertained. This left parents free to take in the glorious sunshine and the fine food and drink that was available.



+++ A Big Song and Dance +++
The music and dance at the festival were all brilliant. The majority of the photos in this post are of the Brighton School of Samba, who danced and paraded around to a drum company's beats. Both the wonderfully-colourful dancing and the pounding drums were amazing - I couldn't get enough of their vibrant energetic performance which lit up the park for around half an hour. 




Towards the back of the park, there was a stage set up where several bands played. I was only able to stay and watch the band shown in the picture on the left - who had a slightly prog/rock sound that was very enjoyable. The singer had a nice voice too - except when she felt the need to scream wildly and flail around for a while. It seemed a bit noisy for the serene park atmosphere, but the rest of their set was good. To add to this, Brighton's resident dancing dude added some visuals to the music (see bottom picture).


+++ Stalls A-Plenty +++
The stalls and stands that dotted around the park were a credit as well. With foods ranging from falafel to waffles, from pakoras to pancakes, there was something for everyone. Veggies were catered for in the curries, stir fries, cakes and snacks - and meaties had some local cooked meats to be getting on with. 


On top of that were plenty of things to buy - arts and crafts, books, clothes, cosmetic and loads more - I didn't have enough money on me to get all the stuff I wanted!


Then there were stands set up for fitness and martial arts - with some demonstrations that you could get involved with if you fancied running an assault course or getting in the ring with a karate expert! I didn't try these myself (strangely enough) but it was great to see so much going on - and the public certainly seemed to love it too.

This dancing dude really rounded off the festival nicely.


Conclusions
The Spring Festival was a bright and fun
day out - made even better by the wonderful sunshine!


With so much going on, my only complaint would be that I didn't have the time or money to enjoy it all!


Can't wait until next year!

Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
Any images in this review were taken by Brighton Games Trader.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Barricade [BRIGHTON FESTIVAL 2012]

BIZARRE AND INCOMPREHENSIBLE 
ACROBATIC PERFORMANCE
FILLED WITH CRAZY STUNTS, 
MADCAP HUMOUR AND SOME 
INVENTIVE USES OF STAGING.

Image sourced from http://brightonfestival.org/event/584/barricade/
What's It All About Then?

Free dramatic performance held on Saturday 5th May at Hove Park as part of the Brighton Festival 2012. Barricade was created by NoFit State - a company that has performed in previous years at the Brighton Festival.


Description by the creators: "Two trucks block Hove Park. They disgorge their contents, creating an obstacle to normal paths and daily routines. Suddenly, the wind is rising. People are constructing defences to protect themselves from the storm. They hurry to bring tyres, ladders and other objects in impossible volumes. The barricade they build, a spectacular aerial playground, sets the scene for a maelstrom of breathtaking circus. Barricade invokes a glorious spirit of resistance to empower its people to fight for freedom. A freedom from their own fear, doubt and suspicion".



The stage used in Barricade was awesome in its own right.

So Is It Any Good?
+++ Big Thrills and Skills +++
The show was full of huge set pieces, with the entire stage turned into a giant playground for these very talented performers. They used the main floor, the wings, the rigging - and even had room to fit a full band in for musical accompaniment! 


The action that took place was jaw-dropping - seeing the performers lifted into the air on ladders that are hoisted and lowered in alarmingly swift movements (see very bad picture - right). Later on, there was a terrifying trapeze section that included stunts which seemed virtually impossible - and ended up requiring the safety rope to keep the artist from falling to the floor! Fair play to that woman though, she got straight back into it and tried again - this time pulling off a violent swinging spin while raised 20 feet into the air.


It was clear that these were top-quality performers showing off some of the more creative uses of their talents - the whole show was a whirlwind of jumps, spins and flips - all showcasing some of the finest circus skills that Brighton has seen.


+++ Variety Show +++
Small segments of the show diverted our attention to specific areas - the section badly photographed here involved a guy stuck on a perch above the stage with another performer coaxing him down. Every time he jumped down though, he would land on a trampoline and bounce straight back up! The guy down below then joined in, so the two were leaping between perch and stage in all sorts of acrobatic fashions. It was some nice light relief to the tense,  large-scale action in other parts of the show.


Then there was a middle "fight" scene that involved use of pyrotechnics - including flame staffs twirling through the night and bursts of flame shot into the air. This sensational spectacle lit up the entire park, leading to many "oohs" and "aahs" from the audience. The majority, myself included, were captivated by the brilliant visual drama that unfolded - I don't think my eyes turned from the stage once during the hour-long set.

--- Hard To Follow ---
The main problem I found with the show was the "story". There seemed to be a tale about an authoritarian regime and  people rising up against it - but that was guesswork based on costumes really. The dialogue consisted of some guys with European accents shouting "We must fight!" before cartwheeling across the stage in crazed fashion.


Other sections had a multitude of performers talking about being "sorry for their sins" - with one woman seemingly repeating this in French. I wasn't quite sure why they were doing this and it was quite bewildering for everyone watching - all of the conversations I overheard on the way out of the Park generally went "That was good! No idea what was going on!". "Yep, same here. Looked great but was very confusing".


So the hard-to-understand story detract from the fantastic action being shown - it's just that no-one knew what it was all about. A small issue with a dazzling performance.


Conclusions
This show was very impressive -
each of the performers was showing off spectacular skills throughout.


The variety in scale and mood for the action was good to see - quiet, humorous sections broke up the big action.


If only I knew what the show was all about!
Looking forward to next year's production.

Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
All images in this review are taken by Brighton Games Trader (except otherwise stated).

Monday, 21 May 2012

Brighton Must-Sees [BRIGHTON FRINGE 2012]

JUST A QUICK RUNDOWN OF THREE COMEDY ACTS THAT WERE SHOWN FOR FREE AS PART OF THE BRIGHTON FRINGE.

Host - Dec Munro
The Thursday 17th performance was warmed up by Dec from Test Tube Comedy, who tried to get the audience in the right mood by informing us that the plan for the night was to "Say 'Hi', high five and then start with the public sex". As I turned up for this event with my mum and brother, you would imagine that this would lead to embarrassment. Thankfully, my family aren't too shocked by humorous insinuations of incest - so a bit of incestuous banter made the room chuckle uncomfortably. 


Dec got the audience is a cheeky, positive mood and made us feel engaged in proceedings - setting the stage for the first act to really knock us out, yeah? Hmmm...


Mike Sheer
The first act was a young Canadian guy who begun with more crude and controversial jokes to make the audience a little uncomfortable. These focused on hatred of Jewish people (the comedian describing himself as Jewish - and hating Jewish people too), jokes about Canadians and Americans and hints at darker jokes as well.


Sadly, the room didn't warm to these themes - I don't think anyone was happy laughing along too much about Jew hatred and the Canadian/American stuff was a little lost on us (is there some sort of tension there?).


The set wasn't helped by a Brightonian heckler with an Irish accent - so the comedian tried to make jokes based on his accent - to which the heckler kept knocking him back with "I'm from Brighton, you jack ass". Yeesh.


Nick Purves
The second comedian described himself as a boarding school kid and sported a very posh accent. Luckily, he was able to joke about his upbringing in a way that made the crowd laugh - his anecdote about a schoolyard disagreement over "Lord of the Flies" that turned to fisticuffs made the majority of the tough room giggle.


He managed to hold his own through the fifteen minute set, going through other events in his life in a lighthearted fashion - including overcoming his speech impediment which he described in humorous scenes which were very amusing to watch. A good performance. 


Sajeela Kershi
The final comedian was a woman who described herself as coming from a posh town in Surrey but was raised with Asian Muslim traditional values. Her humour was quite centred on issues surrounding the Islam faith, such as her dirty fantasies about Allah sucking on a pork sausage and her experiences as a child... with Elton John.


Sajeela was a confident and talented performer - she took charge of the room as she walked on and got plenty of laughs with her outrageous humour. Getting the audience involved too - she accused one gentleman of coming to her home town solely for dogging purposes. Niiiiice. 


She was possibly the most popular act of the show - providing laughs throughout and showing off her skills as a great comedy storyteller. Highly entertaining.


A nice sneak preview of some of the acts who have bigger shows during the Fringe - I'm not sure how many of the audience would have paid to go and see the full acts but they were certainly a good laugh in fifteen minute slots.


Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!

Eccentronic: We Won't Rock You [BRIGHTON FRINGE 2012]

CHEESY SPECTACULAR WITH 
BUNDLES OF CREATIVITY AND 
TONS OF GEEKY CHARM.


ALTHOUGH NOT THE HIGHEST QUALITY
PRODUCTION YOU'LL EVER SEE
THE ABSURD ENERGY CARRIED IT OFF.


This is John making and handing out cheese toasties during the show. Yes he did.

What's It All About Then?

Free comedy show held on Saturday 19th May at the Caroline of Brunswick pub as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival 2012. Eccentronic are made up of John Callaghan and Ms Hypnotique.


Described as "a zesty melee of electronic musical mash-ups and oddball humour" featuring songs about "...time-wasting, socks and visiting the Welsh town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch".



They moved around so much that it was very difficult to get any decent photos of them!

So Is It Any Good?
+++ Geeky Thrills +++
This was an exceptionally geeky show - and that is meant as a MASSIVE compliment. Starring a guy who quotes one of his biggest influences as Timmy Mallett and a gal who rocks out in a corset playing the theremin, this show is a stadium-filling show-stopping musical masterpiece... condensed into an hour-long slightly-corny pub-back-room show.


Featuring musical nods to Queen (obvs), N.W.A., Electric Light Orchestra, Pet Shop Boys, Sisqo, Pulp and Black Lace - all worked into songs concerning cheffing, coming "Straight Outta Trumpton" and the overwhelming desire to make cheese toasties. Which they then did while on stage. And passed round to the audience. Totally awesome.


The song about the Welsh town - Llanfair-whatsit - was equally brilliant. While sounding like a gimmick, they did actually manage to write a chorus that featured the name broken up into chunks in a sort of Kraftwerk fashion (something like Llan, Llanfair, Llanfairpwyllgwyngyll etc.). To round that off, there was a Welsh guy in the audience who gave us a fluid demonstration of how the name sounds in the native accent - to a huge round of cheers from everyone else!




The subtitles for the song about that Welsh town - maybe as a prompt for the band?



+++ Fun-Filled Blitz +++
The show was energetic from start to finish - the performers "bigged themselves up" in such a humorous and bombastic fashion that the audience came round to them very quickly. They then broke into a song about frying that involved a frying pan to the face (nice!). Before the show was finished, there had been several costume changes, a variety of styles and instruments, an in-depth analysis of the workings of musical comedy and just the right level of audience participation so as to make it enjoyable inclusive.


They had down moments, the slow-tempo version of Thong Song played with a minuature hand barrel piano added a nice change in pace while still being hilariously funny. The last few songs were a middle class rap - with some very bad ("bad" bad - not "good" bad) street dance moves - and a audience-based version of Agadoo/Itsy-Bitsy-Teeny-Weeny-Yellow-Polka-Dot-Bikini that rounded off the evening well. 


We were then asked what final number we would like: a cleverly worded piece by John that artistically wraps up the show or a Queen-based number from Ms Hypnotique that has a grand-finale feel to it?


We actually went for the first one - obviously the audience was like me - they actually really got into the witty, geeky parody writing and wanted one last cheeky, cheesy tune to close things. It was indeed satisfactorily cheesy and it was fun to watch as they performed a fairly complicated canon piece...  fairly badly. We all laughed our socks off because of that though.

--- Slightly Quality Issues ---
So just to offer some constructive feedback on where I think it could have been improved - the volume in the room was a bit offset so that the electronic backing tracks often drowned out whatever jokes were being made by the performers. People near the front laughed a lot but maybe they could hear the performers directly. Further back you could hear faint mumbling and a lot of synth for some numbers. 


Another point is that some of the singing and theremin playing was a little too crap to be funny at points - big long notes wailed off-key and theremin floating loosely near the tune they were trying to emulate (so during one song I had to guess where we were in the tune because it was nowhere near). When they asked a member of the audience to try the theremin - and a randomer just fancied giving it a go - the noise produced was actually slightly better! Ah well, this may have been that on the tracks where Ms Hypnotique was playing the theremin that the speakers setup made it difficult to hear her part - but it was often distinctly wobbly at points.


The rap numbers were good... I think.... but very hard to hear.
Conclusions
This show was great fun -
 they cheated me out of my entry fee though:
they did, in fact, rock me.



The atmosphere was spot-on but perhaps the sound system could be improved upon. 



The show didn't take itself seriously and the guys just went all out to provide a jolly good laugh. Nice work.

Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
Any images in this review are taken by Brighton Games Trader.

Trolleys [BRIGHTON FESTIVAL 2012]


THIS REVIEW IS GOING TO SOUND
AWFULLY STRANGE
BUT BEAR WITH IT.

THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE PIECE
THAT WAS A JOY TO WATCH.....


AND WAS ACTED OUT 
WITH SHOPPING TROLLEYS.


What's It All About Then?
A dance performance held on Saturday 19th May at Marina Square, Brighton Marina.


Trolleys was created by Australian choreographer Shaun Parker and London’s C-12 Dance Theatre.



Described as "a new street ballet for five supermarket trolleys… Five shopping trolleys randomly appear in a public space. Two meet and fall in love. One grapples to find a friend. Three others revolt and ignite a dance of anarchy. Part street dance, part ballet, part acrobatic spectacle, Trolleys is a high-octane, highly physical and humorous outdoor performance – on wheels!".


So Is It Any Good?
+++ Dramatic Performance +++
The tagline of "new street ballet for... trolleys" is perfectly fitting. This is a dramatically-acted piece about five trolleys which interact with each other in weird and wonderful ways. The performers move themselves in perfect co-ordination and make the trolleys spin in beautiful patterns.


At points, two trolleys will take centre stage - playing off one-another and featuring some tense, spectacular moments - which all revolve around these cages of metal on wheels.

The performers show some fantastic acrobatic skills during the course of the show - such as flips, cartwheels and twists - all over the trolleys. The pictures here show some of the moves being performed and there was a lot more where that came from.


This was all weaved in with little sections where different scenes were acted out - one trolley being singled out and  isolated from the others (which presented in a sheep/sheepdog type movement) - others where serenity would be shattered by the sudden flipping, spinning and swerving of a few of the group. Each was placed for maximum effect - so that a slow section would suddenly burst into action all around. It was wonderful to watch and really breathtaking.

Almost captured him doing a back flip off the trolley.
+++ Enjoyable Entertainment +++
The playful way that the performers weaved around each other was great to see - they had smiles on their faces for the majority of the show and as a result I found myself smiling too.


The careful precision, along with some daring moves while standing on the trolleys and a little smile to show they were enjoying themselves, meant that I thoroughly enjoyed watching these five trolley/human hybrids elegantly working their way around the square.


During some of the sections, when all of the performers picked up the trolleys and swung them wildly around in the air, there was the added element of danger for the crowd. There was no barrier between the dancers and the audience - so one slip of a hand could have led to a trolley flying into the onlookers. It was an added thrill that made the performance all the more intense! 



I had serious health concerns for shoppers at the Asda down the road though - the amount of trolley-related injuries through amateur dancing must have skyrocketed following this show!


+++ Violin Complement +++
To round it all off, the violin soundtrack which accompanied the piece perfectly matched the movements being shown. The violin was used in slow, drawn notes during the peaceful sections and rose to sharp, short notes that increased in intensity as the action built to a climax. 


It fitted the tone and feeling of the show so well that it almost faded into the background as I became more absorbed with the performance - just washing over me as I let the flowing patterns formed by these everyday items hold my attention.


As such, every part of the show worked well together - there is virtually nothing that I can complain about. I can only praise the idea, choreography and execution of the performance - and hope to see more from these fantastic dancers/writers in the future.



Conclusions
I found this to be the most interesting thing I have seen so far at the Brighton Festival 2012.


It had personality, flair and showed off some incredible skill. The dancers seemed to enjoy performing the piece and I loved watching it.


Seriously amazing stuff - I really recommend seeing these guys perform if you get the chance.

Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
Any images in this review are taken by Brighton Games Trader.
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