Seasons Greetings – Chorley Little Theatre

This was, as can only be expected, well-acted and funny. A parody of a family Christmas, with an aunt getting drunk in the kitchen, the hostess falling for one of the guests and the men slouching around trying not to do anything. Although the children were oddly well-behaved in this party, always staying where they were told: just off the stage.

My disappointment was that it all ended in a rather unresolved fashion. Although of course that is how family gatherings do work: a continual rolling conversation spanning months or decades as people travel to group together infrequently. Potentially the unfinished nature is therefore a comment on the subject matter rather than a failing.

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Saffy’s Angel – Hilary McKay

Saffy’s Angel is well-written young adult fluff. It has the bohemian arty family, an adoption, and a strict family to put the artists into context.

Fundamentally, Saffy discovers that she should inherit an angel, and most of the book revolves around her quest to try and recover it. But there are side plots, with sister Caddy’s torturous learning to drive with Michael Darling, the father who spends most of his time at his London studio and other adventures of the rest of the family.

There is lots of rich humour, with some children allowed to do what they want, and some much more constrained, and not a single one of them being set up to be taken seriously. It forms a nice light book, touching on serious topics. However I don’t feel any great need to read the other three in the series.

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) – Chorley Little Theatre

Totting up beforehand we realised we had watched about half a dozen of Shakespeare’s plays between us, although that did count the three times I have seen Romeo and Juliet as one. But of course we have had exposure to the rough plot of many more.

We laughed out loud at this. The actors were lively and the script did not run through each play formularically, but instead tackled them in vastly different manners. From a cook show to a rugby match through to just skipping between main scenes, each was satisfying to watch. The two of us ended up on stage for the audience participation though, with my husband having to scream as I ran back and forth.

Good customer service from the Little Theatre too, who came to find us in the interval and ask if we wanted the same seats next year (a definite yes from us).

 

Knitting Rules – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I don’t add all my knitting pattern books to this blog, because they are hard to judge on similar merits to a ordinary book. Knitting Rules however is not a pattern book, but a book of advice and observations on knitting.

Not intended for the beginning knitter, it instead advocates moving on in knitting, having confidence in your work and taking the necessary steps to plan as you move to the next level of knitting. What makes this a book to read though is not the good advice, although it is packed full of this, but the humour within that advice. There were several moments when I laughed aloud. Sometimes from the joke, and sometimes from guilt that this applies to me as well.

On a hat that is not working:

“Look for a friend with a bigger head…

Is it possible – and I know this may seem a bit avant-garde – but is it possible that you have, in fact, not knit a hat?”

I am delighted to learn that Pearl-McPhee has a blog, which I am now following. Of course it would be better if I made progress on the shawl I’m knitting for a wedding this year, but I’ve done loads this week! Mostly making a Lego-holder for the little lad, but there’s months to go before the wedding yet!

 

Hamish and Dougal – Chorley Little Theatre

Chorley Little Theatre try to produce their own material, and this is something that their director adapted (with permission) from “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue”

You’ll have had your tea?

This was a light, silly play of Hamish and Dougal, as they muddle through life, together with the rest of the village. It was packed with innuendo, along with gags at every opportunity, and we had a good giggle.

You Made Me Late Again! Pam Ayres

Sometimes a bit of light nonsense verse is just what is needed. In You Made Me Late Again, Ayres takes a humorous look at everyday life and how a woman’s place changes through life.

Its a lovely comfortable world, where the worst that happens is

Some lowlife has flashed a knife, and made off with your cauli!

Such wry observations of life draw a smile and the elegant use of language made this a lovely little collection, and has added Ayres to my list of comedians to look out for.

Theatrical Interval – Fallen Angels

I saw Fallen Angels at the Theatre Royal in Bath. Its a Noël Coward play written in 1925 with a backdrop of the swinging twenties in London, and reasonably wealthy characters. The set is purely in the sunroom of the flat of the Sterrolls which for this production was between Art Deco and Victorian in style.

Noël Coward was known for his witty scripts and the basic premise of this play as a farce in itself provides good light comedy. Combined with this is the act which most shocked audiences at the time, in which the respectable middle-aged ladies, unable to cope with their own emotions get completely drunk on-stage and have a row. This maintains its humour although no longer as shocking to see on stage, with the audience laughing at the on-stage antics.

The maid (Saunders) is definitely the stronger of the supporting characters, with the best lines and corralling the drunk main characters along, but despite the men being absent for most of this play I think it still manages to fail The Bechdel Rule (unless the interspacing lines about the alcohol they’re drinking to forget him count). Its a sign of the times the play was written in of course, and the men barely talk about anything other than the women too.

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

As a fan of Gaiman but not Pratchett, it took me a while to pick up Good Omens to read. It has a distinctly different style to books by either of these authors individually, and reads as a fast-paced adventure through a twisted version of modern England.

Armageddon is nigh, and the Antichrist walks the earth. The only problem is that there is an angel and a daemon who rather like life on earth and would rather not be sent back to their respective afterlives. This pair have been manipulating life in England for millennia, and have made quite an art form of it.

Then there’s the mysterious International Express courier delivering holy relics, prophecies, Satanic Nuns  of the Chattering Order of St Beryl and a group of children who are happily enjoying growing up in a rural setting straight out of a story book. Their lives all weave together in a surprising mix as Armageddon draws closer.

This is a hilariously funny book, and when reading the information about how the book was written in the back there is a brilliant paragraph:

“The point they both realized the text had wandered into its own world was in the basement of the old Gollancz books, where they’d got together to proofread the final copy, and Neil congratulated Terry on a line that Terry knew he hadn’t written, and Neil was certain he hadn’t written either. They both privately suspect that at some point the book had started to generate text on its own, but neither of them will actually admit this publicly for fear of being thought odd.”

If you like any form of book with humour and mythical beings, read this one. Its brilliant!