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The 6pm Frazzled Mums' Club by Nina Manning #Review

I am delighted to be part of the celebrations for the publication of Nina Manning's The 6pm Frazzled Mums' Club . It was published by Boldwood Books on September 26th.     Whatever the question, the answer is wine! They’ve swapped the dark and lonely baby days for school gate chaos, but Aisha, Sophy and Mel are discovering that there are new parenting pitfalls just waiting for them… Influencer Sophy, is trying to keep on top of home and work life but is finding it all a bit tough! Everyone thinks she’s living her best life, but the pressure to maintain perfection at the school gates when all she wants to do is cry, is taking its toll on Sophy. Aisha doesn’t know what to do with all her spare time now her twins are at school. Maybe it’s time to focus on herself and the dreams she’s put on hold? But when her mum suddenly begins to feel unwell, Aisha has to rethink everything. And when Mel is offered a chance to live her dream, she grabs it with both hands. But there’

Play: A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play for the Nation by William Shakespeare

Performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon and directed by Erica Whyman

    This play has been a centrepiece of the celebrations for the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death. Styled as 'A Play for the Nation', it has toured the UK for the past year and has involved local communities as never before. The parts of the Mechanicals have been played by regional amateur theatre groups and local school children have been included as 'The Fairy Train'. This alliance of amateur and professional actors seemed to give the performance real energy and exuberance. Now back in Stratford upon Avon, each of the amateur groups have been given performances in the main theatre. When we saw the play, it was the turn of The Belvoir Players from Belfast in Northern Ireland. They brought out all the humour you would expect. It was the schoolchildren who made the performance for me. Primary Schools of all shapes and sizes have had their turn but on our night, we saw Welcombe Hills Special School. It was great to see the children, included just as the mainstream children had been, and given their chance to shine. Confidence building, learning co-operation and social interaction - it was all there.
    Set in a 1940's post war torn world, the stark stage transformed from a cabaret inspired setting with grand piano and broken staircases and doors going to nowhere, into the magical forest shot through with red, and took the audience with it. I particularly enjoyed the exuberant Robin Goodfellow, Puck, dressed as a blend of the Artful Dodger and a Second World War spiv. There was just the right blend of mischief and spontaneity kept in check by having to carry out Oberon's wishes. The schoolchildren, Titania's Fairy Train were dressed as evacuees, which seemed appropriate, as if they were escaping from a bleak reality.

    The live music added to the atmosphere, especially in establishing a dream like context with the fairies and also at the end when the whole cast were on the stage together. The pairs of lovers were believable and on occasions had great comic timing, particularly the men. The prize for the best death must of course go to Bottom, who died in heroic over the top fashion. An amateur group playing an amateur group who are hamming it up, takes some doing. There was sincerity in each and every performance and for me, the play deserved its standing ovation. 

In short: A Play for the Nation
                                                   If we shadows have offended.
                                                  Think but this, and all is mended,
                                                  That you have but slumber'd here
                                                  While these visions did appear.
                                                  And this weak and idle theme,
                                                 No more yielding but a dream.

My earlier post relating to my visit to Stratford upon Avon can be viewed here.


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