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Plutonium Sox: Snow White Review

December 19th, 2018

snowwhite18rThere’s no such thing as a bad pantomime at Malvern Theatres, but this year’s is a corker. Big name stars, catchy music and a bucketload of fun. In fact, we all agreed that this year’s panto was the best we’ve seen. And we’ve seen each and every one for the past six years.

We meet Snow White briefly as a child, learning the sad tale of her mother and father’s death. She ends up as a slave to her wicked stepmother, the Queen, with only her best friend Muddles to keep her company.

The Queen is desperate to marry Prince Frederick, and summons him to meet her. When he runs into Snow White in the wood, the story takes a dark twist, with the Queen determined to see Snow White dead.

• Continue reading at Plutonium Sox.

Hereford Tmes: Snow White Review

December 19th, 2018

snowwhite18bbMalvern Theatres delights with this year’s seasonal treat of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which has all the ingredients you need for an excellent pantomime.

Mark James returns to the theatre as Muddles after his popular portrayal of Buttons in last year’s Cinderella. He steals the show with his silly humour, jokes for the adults and general slapstick performance, including his “Granny” walk.

James plays the best friend of Snow White, played beautifully by Francesca McKean.

Both Snow White and the Prince, played by Aidan Banyard, are both accomplished singers and it was a pleasure to watch them both on stage.

• Continue reading at the Hereford Times.

Malvern Gazette: Snow White Review

December 19th, 2018

snowwhite18zNot just a case of curtain calls, it was perhaps also a case of destiny calling for the young actor playing Snow White in this year’s Malvern pantomime.

For opportunity has quite obviously knocked twice for Francesca McKean. At the age of eight, she performed in her very first panto as a dwarf in her home town’s production of Snow White… and now, 14 years on, she’s making her graduate debut in the title role of a truly fabulous festive feast of fun and frolics.

And what a Christmas cracker of a performance from a young professional who’s not long out of stage school… the ultimate panto heroine, only the hardest of hearts could fail to melt when her achingly tragic voice rattles the rafters and shakes the chandeliers.

But that’s as it should be, for she’s got Su Pollard as the Wicked Queen to contend with, a battleship of a baddie who steams out of the murk and mists with all guns blasting.

• Continue reading at the Malvern Gazette.

Entertainment Views: Snow White Review

December 17th, 2018

snowwhite18sOur pantomime season has kicked off late this year, however the first of the festive treats that we’ve been able to attend has surely set the bar high, as a five star extravaganza and perfect family pantomime – Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs at Malvern Theatres is not to be missed.

Starring the wonder that is Hi De Hi! star, Su Pollard, as the Wicked Queen, the show transported me back to the traditional pantomimes I was brought up watching. Thanks to exceptional comedy performances from Pollard, Mark James as Muddles and Philip Meeks as Dolly, there were plenty of laughs to be had and the jokes worked on every level, too. My four year old son all but rolled in the aisles with mirth at the physical comedy from Mark James, while I was entertained by the tongue in cheek, political references and occasional overt smut from Philip Meeks who shone in an amazing array of outfits! He was certainly the mistress of quick changes too.

Francesca McKean was a gentile and sweet Snow White, she was the epitome of easy-going, naive Princess. Aidan Banyard possessed the stance, winning smile and qualities of the dashing Prince. The Dwarfs were all glorious, too with Soppy (Charlotte Fawbert) being my favourite. However it was Pollard who stole the show, a wicked laugh like no other, commanding the stage in her unique way and her vocal ability when it came to the musical numbers was quite extraordinary.

• Continue reading at Entertainment Views.

Behind The Arras: Snow White Review

December 17th, 2018

snowwhite18rPantomime season has truly arrived! Snow White and her handsome prince survive the evil machinations of the wicked queen with the help of the wonderful dwarfs in the forest.

This action-packed production makes a thumping impact on the senses in a brilliant variety of colours and sounds.

Mark James returns this Christmas as the lovable and cuddly Muddles and threatens to steal the show with his brilliant, teasing and comic rapport with the whole age range in the audience. His mischievous but loyal role amuses and endears him to us all. If he didn’t steal the show entirely, it is because he is surrounded by many other excellent performances. The young prince is brilliantly portrayed by Aidan Banyard with his elegant height and presence. He has a great voice, long curly locks and transcends the potential flatness of the role.

Francesca McKean is a strong Snow White; likewise she has a very good voice, looks great and provides the necessary charm without being unduly corny. The wicked queen (Su Pollard) is nasty, though not very sinister. Philip Meeks is a playful and entertaining Dolly, mother to Muddles. The dwarfs form an excellent team when they enter the scene in Act One . They are varied, playful and very endearing and their comic timing and delivery is excellent.

• Continue reading at Behind The Arras.

Birmingham Mail: Snow White Review

December 17th, 2018

snowwhite18pSnow White panto at Malvern Theatres – what we thought of the show Su Pollard stars in this year’s panto

Hi-de-ho-ho-ho! It’s panto time at Malvern Theatres and this year’s show stars Su Pollard. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is great fun for all the family. Malvern Theatres has a formula that works for panto – and so they revisit it year after year as it’s what everyone wants.

Back by popular demand is comedy star Mark James as the loveable Muddles. He absolutely steals the show and gets everyone laughing straight away. My two boys were literally rolling in their seats with belly laughs. This is a traditional panto with plenty of ‘Oh no, he’s nots’ and ‘it’s behind yous!’

My favourite bit was when they did the 12 Days of Christmas and it all went wrong – with loo rolls being flung into the audience, wigs flying off and water pistols being squirted into the auditorium! As ever there were plenty of local references, such as the threat of being ‘banished to Worcester’ and the prince coming from Flyford Flavell.

• Continue reading at the Birmingham Mail.

Bromsgrove Advertiser: Snow White Review

December 17th, 2018

snowwhite18fJoyful treat for all the family

Now you know that Christmas is really about to burst upon us. ’Tis the season to be jolly with opportunities to see Santa in schools, stores and elsewhere, visits to heritage steam railway lines offering special festive rides, and there’s also the many special celebratory services in our churches to ensure we remember the real meaning of Christmas.

And, of course, it’s also time for pantomimes… Oh yes it is! Over the years Malvern’s Festival Theatre has built up a deserved reputation for the fun its pantos dish out for children and adults alike, and Snow White is no exception. Possibly it has even surpassed all that has gone before.

It’s a truly traditional offering with a host of side dishes in terms of colourful costumes, a lively up-to-date script, a first rate cast – all of whom can deliver a song, and it’s also the chance for everyone in the audience to let their hair down booing the villain, cheering the hero and having oodles of chortling with the panto dame and her manic son.

• Continue reading at the Bromsgrove Advertiser.

UK Theatre Network: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 24th, 2018

harpy18eSu Pollard is not only famous for her role as chalet maid PeggyOllerenshaw in the eighties sitcom Hi-de-Hi, but also for heroff-screen zany personality and mile-a-minute chatter.

But in Philip Meeks’ play, although her signature earnest delivery is still evident, this is Su Pollard in contemplative mood, as Birdie, a lonely woman who lives among the detritus of life talking to her fish…and her social worker. She also shouts at the woman next door who bangs on the wall when Birdie sings into a hairbrush.

There’s a hint of madness as Birdie’s story unfolds and we get to understand just why she – and maybe other hoarders like her – is the way she is. But there are moments of stillness in Pollard’s performance and she does cut a sad figure.

• Continue reading at UK Theatre Network. (Review by Clare Brotherwood) (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

Theatre Box: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 24th, 2018

harpy18kSu Pollard is Birdie, the infamous hag of her little village. She sits in her house on the hill, perched like a harpy atop her hoard, and waits for the return of the one thing she ever let slip away – the most important thing in her pitiful, lonely life. Throughout the course of this hour-long one-woman show, we watch her converse with her fish, her social worker, her neighbours (through the intervening walls), the local busybody (and almost-friend), and assorted other characters from Birdie’s past and present.

The play was written for Hi-de-Hi! star Pollard, and she brings warmth and complexity to her eccentric character, exhibiting in turns a shrewd Marple-like observant of human nature, and a fragile, vulnerable lost soul. Deftly handling both comedy and aching pathos, she helps her audience forge a deep and personal understanding of this misunderstood old lady.

• Continue reading at Theatre Box. (Review by Sophia Halpin) (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

Everything Theatre: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 20th, 2018

Old age is a scary beast. Scary for those who approach it – as it carries uncertainty – and scary for those who watch it from a distance, because it’s hard to understand. So is Birdie (Su Pollard) scary, because nobody wants to get close to her. They prefer to observe her from a distance, like some sort of mythological creature. Like a harpy.

In reality, she’s just an old lady who lives on her own and has no friends or family. Nobody in the neighbourhood knows her personally, but they call her a harpy, a harridan, and report her to the social services for listening to loud music in the dead of night. In a way, she’s proud of her reputation and giggles at the idea that her presence can make people so uncomfortable.

• Continue reading at Everything Theatre. (Review by Marianna Meloni) (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

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Rev Stan’s Theatre Blog: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 20th, 2018

revstan18aBirdie (Su Pollard) is a hoarder and the bane of her neighbours and social services.

She likes to belt out 80s pop music – Bananarama, Eurythmics – late at night and her house is a health hazard.

Harridan and harpy to most, locals tell children that she’ll take their soul if she catches them looking in the window. Her comments are sharp and insensitive – and often witty – and she sees the ‘mishaps’ that envelop her as not quite how they appear to everyone else.

However, for all her bluster she has a keen observation and there is an organisation to the chaos of her home, a rationale that unfolds slowly in her life story.

• Continue reading at Rev Stan’s Theatre Blog. (Review by Rev Stan)

BritishTheatre.Com: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 17th, 2018

britishtheatre18bMark Ludmon reviews Philip Meeks’ new play Harpy starring Su Pollard at Underbelly, Cowgate at Edinburgh Fringe

The cult popularity of 1960s “hag horror” movies, led by Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, is part of the inspiration for Harpy, an entertaining and heartwarming new black comedy from Philip Meeks. The gothic horror has been relocated to south London to tell the story of Bridget, known as Birdie, who has turned her house into a nest packed with curiosities from dentures, magazines and mannequin parts to a collection of glass eyes. After the sudden mysterious death of her Auntie Maureen in the attic, Birdie has become a figure of hate to her neighbours and a worry for social services.

• Continue reading at British Theatre. (Review by Mark Ludmon)

Edinburgh Evening News: Harpy Review

August 17th, 2018

een18aLiam Rudden: Forgive me for harping on about Su’s Fringe debut

Have to say, it’s long overdue. Yes, at 68-years-young the irrepressible Su Pollard is currently making her Fringe debut in a wonderfully bitter-sweet piece by Fringe First Award-winning playwright Philip Meeks.Harpy tells the story of aging eccentric Birdie. Birdie lives alone. She is a hoarder with a love of Bananarama and singing into her hairbrush. The neighbours call her a harpy, although most have never met her.They see her hoard of treasures as a threat to house prices, but all her bits and bobs aren’t rubbish, well, not to Birdie. Her ‘collection’ is her life’s work. It exists because, many years before, something she deeply cherished was stolen.

• Continue reading at Edinburgh Evening News. (Review by Liam Rudden) (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

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The Wee Review: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 17th, 2018

weereview18aSu Pollard shines and delivers a fascinating monologue.

The set already hints at the characteristics of the eponymous protagonist – played by well-known TV and stage actress Su Pollard – before Harpy has even begun. Looking like a well-stocked jumble sale, bric-a-brac and junk are littered around the stage: clothes, plastic bags, paintings, boxes and a symbolic filthy fish tank. Pollard plays Birdie, an eccentric, scatter-brained but sensitive middle-aged woman living in the house where she was sent as a young adult to live with her now-deceased aunt.

The monologue unfolds to detail Birdie’s day-to-day life as the subject of local gossip. They think she is a mad hoarder who lives alone and who may or may not be a murderer. Woven throughout this narrative are her reflections and memories that give us subtle insights into her fragile, yet defensive psyche and at times upsetting moments from her past.

• Continue reading at The Wee Review. (Review by Matthew Keeley)