Archive for July, 2018


So, one thing that is guaranteed to send me into a hulk-like rampage is a bit of casual everyday sexism.  In either direction, I bloody hate it. Why do we put ourselves into little boxes of who is more capable of doing what based on what’s in our pants? Anyway, just for you lucky, lucky people,  I’ve built up a few little quotes that have made me wince recently, finishing with what we will call ‘the canal calamity’, which tipped me over the edge this week.

  1. ‘Oh, the men are going to sit in the living room’ – OK, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it bugs me. I’ve been at many parties (both family and friends) where, at some point during the evening, we’re expected to split off into our genders. Why? I don’t want to sit with the men! I want to talk to everyone! Is this a party or some sort of cult?
  2. ‘Is that a girl bracelet?’ – No. it’s just a bracelet. From Topman.
  3. ‘Boys, boys, boys’ – anonymous and lovely family member says with mock-disgust to tease my 3 year old male cousin. Yes, she’s joking and there’s certainly no malice, but it happens often and prompts him to retaliate with ‘girls, girls, girls’. I know they’re playing, but I think it sets up an unnecessary divide in his thinking.
  4. ‘Oh and for God’s sake don’t be one of these teachers who let’s boys dress up as girls’. Thanks for that advice, anonymous-family member number 2 but I think I’ll ignore that comment. I was talking about setting up a fancy dress area in my classroom with a variety of costumes for the children to try. I don’t know why a boy wearing a dress seems to be the stuff of nighmares for people of a certain generation, particularly as the person making the comment is never going to step foot in my classroom, so this was pretty enraging. No mention of girls dressing as boys either. I assume that’s allowed but boys lowering themselves into any shade of femininity is clearly too awful.
  5. ‘Girls books here, boys books there’ – Oh, this was a good one. Picture the scene. Summer School, 2016. I was helping out in a rural school, organising activities for a handful of children during the school holidays. Passing through the library one day I was bloody horrified to see someone had taken the trouble of organising ALL of the books into a *shudders* colour co-ordinated and clearly labelled girls and boys shelves. Absolutely hideous. Just let the children choose which books they want to read! Fostering a passion for reading is far more important than boxing them up and controlling what they read. Needless to say, I’ve not darkened their doorway again.
  6. ‘You’ll be alright, Sweetheart. You’ve got a man on board.’ – A bunch of us hired a canal boat for a pleasant trip through Llangollen and over the aqueduct. Captain S, experienced, award winning sailor was in charge of the whole business (as the rest of us were ensuring we drank all of the prosecco, in case the weight of the bottles caused the boat to sink.) At one point, I could hear Captain S having the whole driving process explained to her by a bloke who was walking along side the canal. When I popped my head above deck to see who this mansplainer was, he actually said the above line to Captain S. Little did he know that I didn’t have a clue how to drive the thing, and Captain S was a pro. Yes, I have a penis. Doesn’t mean I can drive a boat.
  7. ‘You’ve got a man with you!’ – To add insult to injury it happened again! We’d just travelled over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and we were mooring up to have some food. Two of my friends (female, for the sake of this story), were hammering in a peg and a ridiculous bloke with a stupid hat and a fag in his mouth sailed past and said ‘You’ve got a man there, ladies!’ in a way that suggested I should be the one using the hammer. I’d already had my go on the other peg! We’re all capable of using a sodding hammer. Look, we can all raise two fingers up to you too. Thankfully, my friends resisted the urge to launch the hammer at his ignorant face.

So that’s the latest rant from RebelliousG. One sure way to fire me up is to assume myself or my friends are incapable (or more capable) of doing something just because of our gender. So stop it.

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Image result for torchwood the victorian ageSomething magical has happened. After years in a Torchwood-drought, I have discovered Big Finish. Creating original Torchwood audio-stories, the seven plays I’ve heard so far have been fantastic, and an excellent consolation to the lack of Torchwood on TV. It has been great to welcome Gwen, Ianto, Jack and Rhys back, as well as characters who played a smaller role in the TV series, such as the formidable Yvonne Hartman who makes a gloriously sassy return in Torchwood: One Rule. The story arc of the Conspiracy has proved to be interesting, especially as each episode focuses on the Conspiracy from various viewpoints and in differing depth. One minor thing to complain about is the lack of answers to the Conspiracy plot thread. In a couple of episodes it’s not even mentioned and I’m hoping we get more answers in the next few releases.

My most recent adventure with Big Finish, Torchwood: The Victorian Age, was one of my favourites. The story features Captain Jack Harkness on secondment to Torchwood London (based beneath the Natural History Museum) in the early days of the institute. It’s a real character piece for Jack and enables us an insight into his life before he ran our beloved Cardiff branch. He’s still the same old Jack; battling danger with the usual cheeky swagger and charm. Though there is the small matter of taking care of Queen Victoria that’s making Jack sweat.

After witnessing the outbreak of a deadly creature, Queen Vic invites herself along on the chase and gives Captain Jack a run for his money as she helps to save the world. As a staple part of Torchwood canon, it’s good to have the founder of the institute interact with Jack and have her own adventure. Rowena Cooper gives a top-notch performance as the monarch, delivering her scathing lines with no-nonsense, stiff-upper-lip Britishness that makes you want to cheer ‘Rule Britannia!’.  It’s also nice to see the softer side to Queen Victoria (as we first glimpsed in the Doctor Who episode ‘Tooth and Claw’) as she comforts the mother of an injured girl, and through her growing respect for Captain Jack.

The themes of regret and loss run deeply through the story and there are plenty of references to living and enjoying the time we have left on Earth. Putting an alien that can cause de-ageing at the touch of its hand against a Queen who is frustrated by her age and desperate to rule her beloved country for longer, is an interesting concept. Just like the TV series, Torchwood reminds us that life is for living and Jack continues to emphasise how dangerous his job is. ‘There isn’t always another time,’ he gently warns Queen Victoria, echoing the ethos of the programme.

Victorian Age is classic Torchwood. It my be on a new platform but it’s still the same cheeky, but deadly, Torchwood, full of fan-favourites and bonkers scenarios. Because of course, only Captain Jack Harkness could destroy an alien whilst flirting with it.

 

Image result for everybody's talking about jamieLimited Edition. Thursday night special. I headed down to my favourite local theatre to catch the one-off live screening of Everybody’s talking about Jamie. I knew very little about the show beforehand. I’d seen the cast perform at West End Live and thought they were very good but, whilst I appreciated the music I had heard,  I couldn’t help but feel this show wasn’t going to be my thing. I know. I’m full of shame for judging it but I think it’s important to admit my preconceptions because….I was bloody wrong.

Everybody’s talking about Jamie was fantastic.  A lively, hilarious, sucker-punch of a show that struts its stuff unapologetically for a glorious two and half hours. The script, by Tom Macrae, is one of the best in the musical theatre I have heard. Witty, sharp, full of acerbic lines from Jamie, but never in a way that is too forced. The way the characters interact always feels very natural and nothing ever seems cringey or false. It’s refreshing to see a modern, original musical where the characters don’t use plummy RP or grating false american accents. This is Sheffiled! The setting brings the production down to the earth, but makes it no less fabulous.

John McCrea is an absolute star in the title role, serving up sass, high kicks and prom queen realness. Jamie’s pain at being rejected by his (bastard) father (played by Ken Christiansen) is palpable, and the fall out from his Dad’s criticism is devastating. Christiansen is also brilliant within his role as Jamie’s homophobic, anti-drag father who struggles to accept his son for who he is. We all know a ‘Jamie’s Dad’, unfortunately, and Christiansen portrays the tough role well. Jamie’s mum is played by Josie Walker, who wins the audience over from the moment she sets foot on stage. Anyone who didn’t have a tiny tear (and wish there mother would sing about them like that!), during ‘He’s my boy’ is made of pure stone. Shobna Gulati also adds glamour and hilarity in the role of Jamie’s alternative parental-figure, and his mum’s best friend, Ray. Lucy Shorthouse plays Jamie’s meek ‘fag hag’, Pritti, to perfection and has a lovely singing voice to boot. The whole cast as an ensemble are something special and you can tell they have worked incredibly hard to build this production into the success it has become.

Dan Gillespie Sells has created one of the best musical theatre scores. Interestingly, each song doesn’t sound like it should be from a stage show. Any one of them could be played on the radio and no one would think any different. From the opening, upbeat earworm, ‘Don’t even know it’, to the heart-breaking, ‘He’s my boy’, Gillespie Sells shows he has a fantastic talent and creates a perfect score for the story.

The message of Jamie is so important. Through its story of drag queens, frustrated teachers, loyal mothers and confused teens, it encourages you to be whoever you want to be – whether that’s a flamboyant drag artist or studious medical student. It’s a vibrant, modern musical that I know the sixteen year old me would have loved. Though I had my doubts, Jamie has strutted its way confidently into my top five and taught me a valuable lesson – I have to get myself to London to see it live.

Jamie is a killer production, with mesmerising choreography, some wicked one-liners and a heart-warming story that urges its audience to get out of the darkness, and into the spotlight. Image result for everybody's talking about jamie

Image result for home i'm darling

Home, I’m Darling is a fresh, original play from Laura Wade with all the makings of a classic. Directed by Tamara Harvey, Home, I’m Darling, is funny, thought-provoking and, in parts, quite sinister, and it certainly leaves the audience with plenty to mull over.

Katherine Parkinson plays Judy, a former business woman who has taken voluntary redundancy to spend six months living the life of a fifties housewife. Problems arise when six months turn into three years, and an obsessed Judy is struggling to hide her money woes from her husband, Jonny. As the couple have to choose between living the frugal, fifties life of their dreams or facing their problems in the twenty-first century, they also have to deal with Jonny’s confused feelings for his boss, Alex, and his desperation to get that important promotion. As the plot unfolds, there are plenty of hilarious moments from women uncomfortable in their time. Judy’s mother laments over her own mother’s post-war suspicions, including when a new dairy product came to Britain. (‘My poor mother. Frightened of a yoghurt’). Then, there’s Judy, who has totally lost touch with the present day. (‘People standing in doorways sucking on a biro’.)

Parkinson gives an electric, and poignant, performance as Judy. When we meet her she is the epitome of perfection, serenely cooking breakfast in her gingham palace, before waving her husband off to work with a peck on the cheek. As the story unravels, so does Judy. Near the end of the play she is dishevelled and terrified at the prospect of stepping foot into 2018 (she doesn’t even know what ‘Bake-off’ is!’). Although some might be frustrated at her retreat into this male-dominated world of a fifties housewife, Judy maintains that it is her choice, therefore it is a feminist choice. She is likeable and you can’t help but feel sorry for her as she makes mistake after mistake in a desperate attempt to keep her fantasy alive.

Judy’s friend Fran acts as a mouth-piece for the audience, gently questioning Judy’s choices and even dipping her toe into the fifties pool herself. Fran’s husband Marcus undergoes quite the transformation as he moves from cheeky, ‘huggy’ chappy, to creepy sleezeball. Drysdale gives an excellent performance as Fran, particularly as she is torn between the love for her husband and the allegations set against him. Sian Thomas is striking as Judy’s frustrated, former-hippy mother, Sylvia, who is fraught at the prospect of her daughter living the ‘repressed’ lifestyle she fought against. Sylvia’s monologue about the forgotten drawbacks of the fifties, and the ridiculousness of modern nostalgia from those who weren’t even alive in the era, is particularly fantastic and delivered so passionately and naturally that it is easy for the audience to forget they were watching a scripted performance.

Home, I’m Darling is a rare thing of beauty. There were no stand-out performances, (although Parkinson was, of course, incredible) because every cast member was a joy to watch. Everyone was playing with honesty which led to a very natural and believable production. It’s not just the acting. Everything about it dazzles. Home, I’m Darling opens up many hot topics for debate, from an uncomfortable case of sexual harassment in the workplace, to the reasons behind Judy’s obsessive, almost fetish-like passion for her fifties fantasy, to the grey-area of Jonny’s feelings for Alex.

Home, I’m Darling is a modern think-piece that will leave you chuckling and jiving long after the curtain call.