After London 2012

In September 2012, straight after working on London 2012, I begain working as a development manager for The Atrium, Norfolk’s newest arts centre and creative hub. At Christmas time that year we presented my own adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first professional show produced in the town of North Walsham for many years. It was very well received and helped establish the venue as a hub for art and cultural activity. In early 2013, we set up The Atrium as a limited company and registered charity, leasing the venue from Norfolk County Council. As Director and Chief Exec, I produced in-house shows from variety, plays and Christmas treats, welcoming touring theatre and engaging the local community with a cinema and diverse workshop programme.
We became a registered charity in June 2013 and rebranded in August 2014 as Arts North Norfolk – moving our operation from The Atrium to a town centre box office and hub. We still use The Atrium for our larger and regular events.

BELOW: reviews, blogs and meanderings about things that interest me (and perhaps others).

Blog: End of the rainbow, beginning of a phenomenon

End of the Rainbow written by Peter Quilter. Directed by Terry Johnson. Pinstripe Productions and Royal & Derngate, Northampton. At first, you could think of the many biographical pieces of theatre that attempt to delve into the life of a diva. I also think of the many GCSE drama students who try to immortalize Marilyn Monroe and her tragic ending. At a time when the ink telling the sad news of Amy Winehouse is still wet, comes this poignant and intense piece of theatre that blew me away.

Out of the set (a gorgeous London Ritz hotel room that provides the backdrop to most the play) comes the club venue ‘Talk of the Town’ where Judy ploughed on with her umpteenth comeback show. Tracie Bennett (a string of UK theatre, TV and film, mostly recognized from Emmerdale) gives an outstanding performance that raised the hair on the back of my neck. She delivered what felt like a true raw performance, moving from dark humour and wit to pieces of intense drama – crumbling the international sensation of Garland before our very eyes – one moment she’s up, the next she’s literally down on the floor begging for more drugs and liquor.

Just before the interval we’re treated to Gershwin’s  ‘The Man That Got Away’ – a haunting performance where you’re allowed to engage with and left vulnerable with the wreck of a woman that’s crumbling before us.

“It’s a terrible thing to know what you’re capable of and never get there.”
Judy in End of the Rainbow.

Bennett is joined by Hilton McRae (Anthony), Norman Bowman (her last husband, Mickey Deans) and a variety of guises from ASM Robert Maskell. McRae plays her gay (and bitter) pianist, which balances dry wit with Judy’s dark humour. A nod to Judy’s gay fans (and the many that made up the audience) continued throughout the play adding comic relief often amongst moments of intensity that deal with the star’s demise that seemed to have begun as that child star we all remember.

The opening night at the first leg of the UK tour, here at Theatre Royal Norwich, got a standing ovation and I’m sure it will be getting many more.

For more information about this production and its UK tour, check


9 February 2013
Review: Hitchcock

I had eagerly anticipated the opening of Hitchcock – the latest film starring the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlet Johansson and even Toni Collette, directed by Sacha Gervasi.

Now I’m running The Atrium, a small arts centre that has a lovely 190 seat theatre for live performance and cinema, I have to choose our films carefully as we have not got the license budgets or resources like the large cinema chains. We’re also new – I only started in September and we’re still finding our way as an independent venue in rural Norfolk, in the market town of North Walsham.

Our ticket prices are just £5 or £4 and I want to keep the full cinema experience accessible to lots of people. I knew this would lead me to question the £30 experience I got when I saw Hitchcock last night at a cinema in Norwich. Two tickets, popcorn and a drink for just under £30. At The Atrium the same experience would have cost just £14.30. when writing this blog I was unsure it would be a review of the film or a comparison between the two venues and like the film I went to see, this has turned into a meandering skit – with a knowing smirk and dose of hopeful charm.

There have been a few takes on aspects of Hitchcock’s life. As an avid Hitchcock fan I’ve seen all the films, directed the stage version of Strangers On A Train, developed some stage-works loosely based on his style, but I can honestly say it was a warming 98 minutes – with enough references in there to make the Hitchcock novice chuckle. Perhaps even those who haven’t yet seen his most famous Psycho.

Having acting greats such as Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren in the lead (I saw the whole film as a shared lead) means there’s quality. It means that even scenes of pure conversation are watchable. It means every single movement, flicker of an eyelid or chewing of food for the always-peckish Hitch was just right.

The film was full of charming nostalgia of the time, with the hairdos, fashion and cars. The familiar faces of Janet Leigh, Vera miles and Anthony Perkins carefully recreated to take us through the process of making the infamous shocker Psycho. The story only just scratches the surface of Hitchcock’s fascination with his blondes, and instead, gives us the insight into his married life with Alma Reville. I’m guessing the part was written with Helen Mirren and no other in mind.

There are moments of charming references such as using the same final-cut camera angles to record the filming of the famous shower scene to the habitual grotesque eating.

Unlike the actual films of Hitch, there was no shock factor or episodes of revelation – but I do think it’s a charming film that has exposed just a fraction of what only Hitch himself could reveal – and I’m sure he’d do it in his own way.

Watch the trailer.
Check out What’s On at The Atrium.

Above: Anthony Hopkins as Hitch and Scarlet Johansson as Janet Leigh.
Top image: Anthony Hopkins as Hitch and Helen Mirren as Alma Reville.