Theatre Review: Concrete Jungle

Concrete Jungle

The story is right up my street, being myself a chronic sufferer of white, middle class guilt, as well as being lucky enough to work in an industry in which the family behind me gave me greater chance of success than someone without such advantages. In others words my evening at the Whitefield Garrick was a real thinker . . .

Concrete Jungle, by Sarah O’Connell, is the story of Natalia (Katy Federman), an idealistic young journalist hoping to change the world with her documentary film, set deep within the drug underbelly of the city of Leeds.

Natalia starts her journey in London amongst the world of privileged, rich, white men whose own personal views of the world heavily dictate how news is disseminated to the public. Natalia must convince her producers, Verity and James (played brilliantly by and Portia Booroff and Shaun Hennessey), that it’s time to fund something a bit different. Eventually, they oblige, giving her a shoestring budget to get the footage. Natalia sets off, bags full of equipment, to complete the task in six short weeks. Little does Natalia know her bosses have their own agenda; they have no intention of telling the story that she intends to document.

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FrightFest Directors Share Their Filmmaking Insights

With FrightFest hitting London last week, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with a few directors whose work was showcased as part of the official selection to find out all about how their films came to, what they have in store for us over the forthcoming year, and how hard it actually is to get a short film or feature made, not to mention into festivals in today’s ever increasing tough market. Here we talk to feature film director Brad Watson and short film director Bob Pipe.

CNI: Can you share a little about your film, the cast, and the premise? Hallows Eve

Brad Watson (BW): The movie is called Hallows Eve and it wears its influences proudly on its sleeve, being a love letter to John Carpenter and other horrors of that period. The simple pitch is it’s about a modern day Estate Gang who get thrown into a scenario that is reminiscent to a late ’70s early ’80s slasher movie. So the cast consists of some very talented young actors who had to fulfill this idea realistically, but also get the spirit the film was made in.

Bob Pipe (BP): The Monster is about an iconic monster from the golden era of horror movies who has been persuaded to star in a modern day slasher movie. He’s an old fashioned gentleman in a world he doesn’t understand, the attitudes of the filmmakers having changed so much since he was making films. It’s also a love story and a comedy . . . a horror rom-com I suppose.

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Top Five Takeaways From Our UK Event With Casting Director Sue Needleman and Agent Paul Spyker

Last month we were thrilled to have a double act for our regular series of Q&A events: Sue Needleman, who casts for CBBC, and top UK theatrical agent Paul Spyker. We breakdown the top points from the event here for you.

1. “It has to be as good as the real deal.” (S.N.)


If a brief calls for an American accent, then it has to be a believable American accent, not an impression, because you will be up against genuine American actors. Remember, play to your strengths and don’t apologise or come up with excuses as to why your accent is not spot on. Do you research and practice, practice, practice.

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But I’m A Film and TV Actor, Why Do I Need Voice Classes?


Well, maybe you don’t want to be a theatre actor. That’s cool. ***quietly sobs in a corner over how many actors think theatre is dead***

Okay, I accept that. Maybe you don’t need to be heard in an outdoor production of The Tempest in Regent’s Park, but do you want to risk being re-voiced or dubbed in post? Do you want to play more powerful roles? More vulnerable roles? Do you want to be taken more seriously as an actor?

Having a “good voice” isn’t just about volume. It’s about being expressive, emotionally connected to your resonance, and, among other things, being specific with diction.

Actors assume that they are cast purely on looks for their type, but have you thought about your vocal type? Do you want to risk being emotionally disconnected, via your breath? Do you want to be told by the sound guy that they have to reposition your mic or check it constantly? Or worse, do you want them to make a decision to take your mic off and choose a different actor to mic? Not a good sign.

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Theatre Review: Beetles From The West


When it comes to heavy subject matters, Cancer is definitely up there at the top of the list, so it was with great pleasure and surprise that Beetles From the West wasn’t all doom and gloom. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of drama and some very touching raw moments during the intense hour-long performance, but there were also moments of light comic touches in the relationship between Boyd and Jenny.

Having emerged from the dark hot confines of The Hope Theatre on a summery Saturday evening, I felt as though I had witnessed something quite special. New playwright James Hartnell tackles the themes of masculinity and the stigma attached to men’s health head on, and there is little pause for reflection during continuous dynamic dialogue on stage.

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Theatre Review: The Book of Northern


If you love the North, Fringe Theatre, and are desperate to find a piece that includes references to the Philosophy of Rene Descartes, the musical genius of George Formby, and the phrase “Once you go black you never go back,” then The Book of Northern: The Entire History of the North West, Told In Under An Hour is one for you.

In a small, stuffy 20-seater studio above the Kings Arms in Salford, KinkyBoot Institute made us all forget our problems, sweaty backs, and place of origin as we embarked together, as fellow Northerns, on a “Reet Good” journey through time.

Opening with the epic music of Star Wars, you know you’re in for a spectacle, but this quickly transitions into the calming tones of the Corry theme tune. Sitting in darkness, the everyday sounds of the North ring out: Peter Kay, The Beatles, Oasis, Warburtons. The audience is told the story of when God created the North and its many wonders, such as Wigan, and when he was done “He looked down at all the gorgeous Northernness and said ‘That’s Reet.'”

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Three Minute Theatre: An Independent Theatre Venue


After 35 years in “the Biz,” John Topliff and Gina T. Frost decided to call time on their wonderful careers as performers and start a new journey in life as teachers. This didn’t last long in this current climate’s attitude towards the arts. Before they knew it, they were hauled up on the 3rd floor of Afflecks Palace, selling off 35 years worth of costumes and props. This led to an idea, an idea that flowered into a beautiful story of two unique people risking everything and coming out on top . . . well, just! Sitting with the two of them in their own theatre, on a warm Wednesday afternoon, they shared their inspirational story. Here it is in their own words.

We felt that it was very quiet on the 3rd floor of Afflecks; we didn’t necessarily get as many people in as we would’ve liked. So we thought we’d put an ad out on the “Arts News” section of the Arts Council website asking for short, three minute scripts to be performed in our tiny shop; it was worth a go. Little did we know that this would be the catalyst for a tsunami of replies from a host of budding writers, so what else do you do but put on as many as you can? We started presenting three minute plays every 30 minutes on Saturday afternoons and it was a big success. “Big” may be an inapt word here since we had audiences of 12, six sitting, but we knew we were on to something, as mad as it seemed. In fact, David Slack, organiser of the 24/7 Theatre Festival (very well known amongst the independent theatre goers in Manchester), described it as “bonkers.”

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