Saturday, December 17, 2011

Drop the boy - review of Daniel Sloss

Daniel Sloss at Arlington Arts, Snelsmore, on Friday, November 25

I WOULD have such a crush on Daniel Sloss if I was 20 years younger. He’s good looking, funny, has cool hair (young men should always enjoy it while they’ve got it), a lovely Scottish accent, smells nice (I can verify that), and he gives good hugs (I can verify that as well). Having made his comedy club debut aged 16 after a two-day workshop, and crammed so much live, television and writing work into the four years since then that at an age where most stand-ups haven’t even considered their first open mic spot, he’s already a veteran comedian at just 21.

His current show, The Joker, is the result of the curious combination of worldly experience and insularity that the comedy circuit provides   - Sloss has a style and professionalism honed over his years of performing, but beneath that he is still a very young man, with all the verve and enthusiasm for the simple experiences in life (moving out of home, first major relationship, and still being able to jump - grrr) that belong to youth alone.

I don’t think he needed to swear quite so much (it’s not really shocking, just a bit annoying) as it grates with his generally sweet demeanour, but Sloss is no precocious child performer; his material is often adult in nature, although the older generation in his life (parents and grandmother) still loom large, and he is a long way from delving into the new dad land beloved of comedians who have settled down and started families. His world is still one where potentially emotional relationship endings turn into a race to “win” the break-up by changing your status on Facebook to “single” before your ex-girlfriend does.

Sloss is probably looking forward to the day when his reviews don’t mention his age, but the current schtick that makes him stand out from the crowd is his youth. However, his slick confidence and good-quality material transcends the generational gap, with his gentle teasing of his elders and betters often working on both sides of the coin. I therefore have no fear that he will continue to craft and hone his skill and material to mark his mark on the comedy world well into the future, and still be around in many years to come (although he may find that his hair is not).

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Good Enough for a comeback - interview with Math Priest from Dodgy

The purveyors of the finest British pop Dodgy are back in their original line-up and preparing to brighten up January for the good people of West Berkshire with a date at Arlington Arts. CATRIONA REEVES is rather excited as she interviews Dodgy’s drummer MATHEW PRIEST 

AH, the 90s. Happy days. Life was easy back then. Summers were longer (for those of us at uni), alcohol didn’t give you hangovers (honest, kids), and no one made any effort whatsoever with their hair. And the airwaves were full of shimmery, summery guitar pop sounds all year round, with the toppermost of the poppermost being Dodgy, a trio of cheeky chappies from the Midlands who delighted (and maybe occasionally slightly grated - not everyone is a fan of their biggest hit, Good Enough) with the cheeriest sounds around, including Staying Out For The Summer, In A Room and If You’re Thinking Of Me (OK, that one wasn’t so cheery).

But before those of you too young to remember Dodgy are thinking “must have been a boyband”; the band comprised three strong musicians, songwriters and harmonising singers with an inspiration that meant their reformation in their original line-up around 2008 after nine years without frontman Nigel Clark was more than just about getting back on the road to revive their greatest hits. And so a new album has been written; the sound of  a band older and wiser, but still with that distinctively shimmering Dodgy vibe, and the band’s current live dates include a showcase of the whole album (due for release in January) before a second set of old favourites.

“The idea of playing an album live in its entirety has been around for a few years now, but doing it before its release is unusual,” explains drummer Math Priest, whose effervescent presence was once a regular fixture on TV pop quiz show Never Mind The Buzzcocks (I am currently campaigning for his return). “However, Paul Weller is now doing it, so it must be a good idea. Nowadays, the shelf life of any album is a lot shorter. This way, people can hear about it and look forward to its release.

“Playing new songs is always tricky. We want to give the audience a good show, to get them clapping and cheering and going home on a high; then you slot in a new song and it’s almost apologetic. So we thought “sod that, let’s challenge people and give them the whole album”. We’ve done it with confidence, and give them a payoff with the hits at the end, and the audiences have risen to the challenge. It’s a great relief to be free of the old way of doing things.”

Luckily, the new album Stand Upright In A Cool Place (instructions on a bottle of bleach) has gone down very well indeed, both live and in reviews, with BBC 6Music’s Chris Hawkins calling it “the best stuff they’ve ever done”. But Priest says that although some of their older songs may not be as relevant to the band members today as they were back in 1994, they still enjoy playing the old hits.

“To many of our audience, those songs are part of their lives, and we won’t disrespect that. For example U.K. R.I.P. - a response to the jingoism of Britpop; one of our fans has told us that one was a lifeline to her growing up as a teenage Asian. It’s a great feeling that our songs can affect people in a positive way and make their lives better.

“And Grassman - we heard from a couple who got married to that.”

Ah yes, Grassman. My favourite Dodgy song, a sweeping, piano-led epic, soon due to be remixed by German electronic musician Kris Menace: I haven’t heard the band play that since they came back on my radar (I’ve seen them live twice this year). “The trouble is,” says Priest, “in the days when we were a four-piece with a keyboard player we had to play that all the time at the end of the set. We’re trying to vary things, to revisit some other songs, which are still some fans’ favourites which they thought they’d never hear live at all.”

I won’t hold my breath to hear it at Arlington, then [although I later discovered via Youtube that the band had in fact played it at a gig in Bristol the night after I interviewed Priest. So you never know.

So, back as a three-piece and writing songs that are relevant to them today; Priest says that although he and guitarist Andy Miller carried on with the band after Clark left in 1998, “it was like having a limb missing.

“Nigel was my best mate, so when we weren’t talking for years, it wasn’t nice. Now we know that we can go and do music with other people, but nothing will ever feel like the chemistry of the three of us working well together.

“It all feels so right now - we’ve got a team around us who are all friends and people we've known for a long time, and they’re doing it because they love it. The other day, out of the blue, we got contacted by a computer whizzkid who used to do our website years ago - he’s done a Dodgy phone app.

The band are fully embracing the digital age, with an “Advent calendar” of treats running throughout December in conjunction with Cancer Research UK (join the mailing list at to access it), and Priest says that there is a growing number of new, younger fans turning up at their gigs who have discovered the band through blogs and Youtube. “We’re hoping to reach a whole load of new people, because we really want to carry on doing this,” says Priest. “We’re not expecting to sell millions, but we’d like to make a living out of it again.

“So far, everything has exceeded our expectations. It’s all really exciting.”

Dodgy are playing at Arlington Arts in Snelsmore on Wednesday, January 11. Tickets cost £15 via

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sexy stand-up - review of Tom Stade

Tom Stade at Arlington Arts, Snelsmore, on Thursday, November 17

I AM totally rubbish at spotting the next big thing when reviewing them in relatively small venues in and around Newbury. Those I have failed to predict would go on to play massive arena tours include Russell Howard (Arlington), Jason Manford (New Greenham Arts), Tim Minchin (NGA), Michael McIntyre (a tiny makeshift stage at Donnington Valley Golf Club) and Russell Brand (an audience of 16, including his dad, at The Forge in Basingstoke). I gave them all nice reviews (am I ever anything but encouraging?), but I didn’t foresee any of their careers going stellar. I’m just too pessimistic by nature for that sort of sagacity, I suppose.

So it’s a major thing here for me to stick my neck out and declare Tom Stade, just might, potentially, with a fair wind and enough television exposure (that might be a problem as he’s a bit of a sweary Mary), make it big. Possibly.

It was the atmosphere at Arlington Arts that made me think that there might be something going on here that transcended the average Thursday night comedy gig in the wild woods of West Berkshire. For a start, the place was heaving, but it wasn’t just that; there was a buzz in the air, an electrical prickling of something, suggesting that tonight wasn’t just a night out, but a happening. “Who is Tom Stade?” I thought, getting a sense that everyone in the building - representing an unusually wide age range - knew exactly who he was except me [I don’t tend to do much research before reviews. That’s just the way I roll].

And then, the man himself. Greeted with a cheer akin to that heard usually at rock concerts, British-based Canadian comedian Stade strode on to the stage, short, dark and handsome, a rhapsody in double denim. Bit of a potty mouth, and slightly dubious attitudes to women (his wife is the brunt of many of his tales), but you can tell it’s all part of the act. I’ve grown tired of getting huffy every time a comedian makes a dodgy joke about their partners. I’d much rather they didn’t, but I’m not going to let it spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the act, and I’ll go with the assumption that no one who goes to see Stade is going to be offended by things like that. Slick, relaxed and with a rough-hewn charm, he’s a professional who knows his audience, and who am I - clearly the only person in the entire universe who didn’t already know and love his work before the show - to opine differently.

And then, the big moment. The joke that everyone had been waiting for (except me; I was still convinced I had never seen Stade before in my life). The Meat Van joke. And finally, the penny dropped. Ah yes! The Meat Van joke! I remember seeing him do that on the telly, on one of those stand-up shows! Again, the audience reception was like to a band saving their biggest song until last - and performed by Stade in a similar way that an oft-played hit might be - slightly off-kilter, with a “you all know the words, but I know you want to hear it anyway” feel to it. Really quite obliging - as he was outside afterwards, already there as the crowd left, happy to pose for photos. Best to catch him while you can - it won’t be so easy to catch him for a snap when he plays the O2.

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hail and Hardy - review of Jeremy Hardy

Jeremy Hardy at The Corn Exchange, Newbury on Saturday, November 5

“THANKYOU for coming tonight to this organised event,” quipped Radio 4 stalwart Jeremy Hardy as he stepped onto the stage on Saturday night. “Because holding a comedy event in your own back garden can be dangerous... and remember, you should never return to a comedian once lit, as it may still go off...”

For, of course, this was the fifth of November; and Hardy was in sparky mood; the touchpaper was lit, the audience were standing well back, and away he went. starting by questioning why we should celebrate the failure of a plot to bring down the monarchy. No damp squibs round here; Hardy was in incendiary mood, as he launched a barrage of sky rockets towards the Establishment,.

When Hardy last visited The Corn Exchange two years ago (if it’s November in an odd-numbered year, it must be time for Hardy’s snappily entitled Autumn Tour), I described him as “like a cup of cocoa with a dash of edgy political comedy hiding beneath the whipped cream and marshmallows.” It may be his age - now Hardy has passed the dreaded half-century landmark, he can count himself a card-carrying grumpy old man - but more likely he has been invigorated by the change of Government since his last tour. The “mild-mannered Marxist” isn’t so mild any more  - transfused with a passion by intense frustration and irritation for the way the country is going.

Disappointed that the student protests of last December petered out “just as it was getting interesting, baffled by the interest in the Royal wedding, and frustrated by many of the Government’s current policies - free schools came in for a particular bashing - Hardy concluded that much of Britain’s problems came down to class divisions, which the ruling classes would never truly understand or solve effectively.

Hardy apologised if he came across as preaching, but also highlighted his frustration that he was considered by the media to be a veteran propagator of the alternative comedy of the Thatcher era. However, while ranty young men were always eventually going to get tiresome, those like Hardy that resisted being sucked in by the establishment, have found that middle age suits their  outlook on life rather well, and life experience gives credence to their really quite reasonable opinions.

Not so much a cup  of cocoa as a mug of gunpowder tea. Ka-boom.

(Oh, and one of his fly buttons was undone throughout the second half. The audience couldn’t see this under his untucked shirt; but he mentioned it out of concern that it would be spotted and mentioned in the local newspaper review. Wasn’t spotted, but mentioned anyway. Consider it my little bit of anarchy - I think Hardy would approve.)

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011

Homegrown is the way that it should be (or: Cottaging with Dodgy)

Dodgy at River Cottage HQ, Axminster, on Saturday, October 22, 2011

YOU know that you're finally a grown up when one of your fave bands hosts an event which includes the words "yurt", "mulled cider" "tractor ride" and "petit fours" in the description, and instead of running for the hills, you think "ooh, that sounds like a lovely evening, as long as I don't have to eat offal".

And indeed, as it turned out, River Cottage HQ - of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall fame - was the perfect venue for the launch of Dodgy's fourth album featuring the original line-up (after a few years' break), as the ethos of Dodgy (and their music) and River Cottage aren't that dissimilar - organic, respectful of tradition, harmonious and, er, tasty.

After a tractor-pulled trailer ride down to Park Farm, home to River Cottage HQ, the 60 holders of the "Willy Wonka golden ticket" (the words of singer Nigel) were greeted with glasses of mulled cider and chunky cheese straws (always a winner in my book) with members of the band mingling as if they were just ordinary people, like you and me.

Dinner was served in a converted barn at long tables, with the school dining room vibe continuing through the set menu, introduced in person by two incredibly posh chefs (pity about the inappropriate faggot joke, but it probably means something different at public school),  featuring seasonal and local ingredients (dietary requirements had to be notified in advance - my opportunity to describe courgette as "the devil's vegetable"). The River Cottage approach is not to over-prepare food, most noticeable in the fruit crumble, which had been prepared in its separate constituents - granola-like crumble, lightly cooked fruit and crab apple jelly - before being assembled in situ.

With our usual lager and vodka off the menu (we're classy types), the man and I were obliged to sample organic wine, cider and ale, which proved quite a revelation the next morning, when our heads weren't aching as we expected. Hooray!

And so to the band. Having not eaten with the rest of us, to avoid pre-performance bloating I presume (I bumped into drummer Math outside, who informed me that he wasn't "a pudding person"), the band were in fine form for a two-part set which included their new album in its entirety. Entitled Stand Upright In A Cool Place (instructions on a bottle of bathroom bleach apparently - note to self: move bleach away from radiator), Nigel assured us that it wasn't a concept album as such, but it is top and tailed by two songs based on the legend of a 14th century monk forced to crawl daily up the ominously named Ragged Stone Hill in the Malverns for the sin of falling in love. The folk-style, near-medieval lilt of these two songs continues throughout much of the album, drawing on old English roots which felt perfect in the earthy, rural setting of River Cottage.

The night was rounded off with a clutch of uplifting and anthemic hits from the 1990s - In A Room, So Let Me Go Far and more - when they were the kings of stoner pop, featuring the rich harmonies of the core trio's blended voices. An unexpected and unplanned treat was an acoustic singalong rendition of hardcore fan favourite Big Brown Moon when the power briefly went kaput. Back on track, the performance finished with a rare outing for Homegrown - perfect as a thankyou from the band to the staff at River Cottage. It may have been the warming effect of the cider, but the night felt like a true communion, and on the tractor ride back up from the valley, it was clear that new friendships had been formed among those who had come to worship at the alter of Dodgy.

And no, there was no offal. Just an offal-y good time. Boom, and indeed boom.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Making friends with the enemy - review of Scamp Theatre, Friend Or Foe

Friend Or Foe, by Scamp Theatre,at The Corn Exchange, Newbury on Thursday, October 13 and Friday, October 14

AFTER meeting “Joey”, the magnificent horse puppet at Highclere Castle’s Heroes at Highclere event on Sunday, I am more inspired than ever to save up the pennies and myself up to the West End to see the London production of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse. But in the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the plethora of touring productions based on Morpurgo’s many other children’s books, using the excuse that they’re good for George’s cultural education (although on this occasion he was unable to make it, so I took a rather older, hairier stand-in boy along to The Corn Exchange).

Written specifically to fit in with the National Curriculum Key Stage 2 topic of Second World War evacuees, Friend Or Foe tells the story of two London boys evacuated to a Devon farm, who find that they haven’t entirely left the Blitz behind when they spot a German bomber crash landing on the moor near their new home.

On a sharply raked stage (which, it was later revealed in a post-performance actors’ talk, played havoc with their calf muscles in rehearsal) designed to represent, not the expected countryside setting but a bombed house back in London, the boys told the story of their discovery of the surviving German airmen, and the changes it brought about of their views about “the enemy”.

Having worked with a movement director to use the set to its full advantage, including a beautifully-lit near-drowning scene inciting a heart-in-mouth response, the five-strong cast worked incredibly hard to pare down the complex to the elegantly simple. As well as the paring of the novel’s story to a manageable one-act stage play, the three actors playing the adults in the boys’ lives coped excellently with the many quick changes required, not only of costume but also accents (and sometimes language) and characterisation; from a curmudgeonly farmer to a half-starved German pilot, and from a widowed mother to a chain-smoking no-nonsense teacher.

The busy feel to this piece contrasts with the starkness of Scamp Theatre’s one-man production of Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, but it is nevertheless another engaging production in which the warmth of Morpurgo’s words shines through, and one which works on many levels for young audiences, from the power of the touching story to the questions it elicits about the experiences of children in wartime. 

* First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stepping out of the shadows - review of Stephen Merchant

Stephen Merchant: Hello Ladies at The Anvil, Basingstoke on Friday, October 14

FOR a extremely tall bloke, Stephen Merchant has spent a long time in the shadow of his ebullient screenwriting partner Ricky Gervais (well, in fact, not so much in the shadow as stood behind him, with his head cropped off by photographers, as in an ignominious shot taken on stage at the Golden Globe Awards). But finally he has chosen to go it alone return to his stand-up comedy roots.

So be it because he doesn’t have to share the profits with “you-know-who” or wishing to forge a career in his own right when Gervais is living it up in Hollywood. Whatever the reason, it turns out that for all the hype of a performer who can book a large venue tour without the traditional stand-up slog of the Edinburgh Fringe and endless club slots, Merchant is a natural funnyman who can hold an audience of hundreds in the palm of his hand and tickle them until they giggle helplessly.

Based around the schtick that he can’t attract a potential wife, despite his top geek credentials (including a treasured Blue Peter badge which gains free entry into all sorts of attractions) and careful ways with money (always attractive in the early throes of romance), Merchant mixed self-deprecation and outrage (being called “Stephen Mitchell” throughout his first national press interview, and used as a landmark by a girl wishing to rendezvous with friends in Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve).

Playing on his gangly awkwardness and boggly-eyed features (and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible; he isn’t an unattractive man) to the max, Merchant’s onstage persona is generally the polar opposite to that of the often-spikey Gervais;  not just physically but in his easy likeability. Sure, there were echoes of Gervais’ stand-up performance when Merchant demonstrated (mock) false modesty in using his BAFTA in place of a baby in his audience-participatory staging of his GCSE Drama script Choices.

However, with much of Gervais’ own person having been developed through his screen characters of David Brent (The Office) and Andy Millman (Extras), both co-written with Merchant, any reflection was likely to come from Merchant’s own style rather than the inspiration of his writing partner.

Merchant’s management certainly know what they’re doing, with a forthcoming release of a tour DVD in time for Christmas, but quite rightly - I left wanting to see much more. Sadly aside from having an aversion to stand-up comedians performing in the arena-size venues that Merchant is more than likely to sell out on his next tour, I fear that his Transatlantic television writing/acting career may mean that such solo shows may not be as regular an occurrence as would be desired. In the meantime, I would be happy to find Merchant in my stocking on Christmas Day... if you see what I mean.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Memories of a master storyteller - review of Anthony Pedley, A Taste of Dahl

A Taste of Dahl, at The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, on Saturday, October 8

HAVING played the title role of The BFG in a theatre production just a few months after author Roald Dahl’s death, actor Anthony Pedley was inspired to devise a one-man show to inspire in children a love of Dahl’s wider work, and in turn, a love of reading.

Transforming himself by way of a cardigan into the great man himself, Pedley performed the entire show using only words written or spoken by Dahl, to blend in a little of his life story, his most famous children’s books (identified by shout-outs from the audience), and some of his lesser known work, such as those published posthumously, demonstrating that even ardent Dahl fans will often have more to explore.

Jumping from the elderly Dahl into his childhood self, trembling as he anticipate a caning from his headmaster, Pedley explained how the author never lost his childhood sense of fun, holding on to a love of cheekiness and  combining it with a moral sense of comeuppance and a touch of the grotesque inspired by the folklore stories told to him by his Norwegian grandmother.

And so, we learnt about The Gremlins, Dahl’s first published book (based on his screenplay for an aborted Disney film - no, not THAT Gremlins!), and his last children’s book for 18 years, until James and the Giant Peach in 1961. In between, he wrote some of his dark, dark adult short story collections, touched upon in the show, obviously not in too much detail, but to hint that there was a world beyond when the young readers were older and ready.

However, he did read an excerpt from The Swan, one of the short stories in The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar, his collection for older children, which certainly traumatised me as a child, reading it at a younger age than that for which it was intended. Parents with avid readers should approach with caution. However, including it (not in its entirety) in a show which mainly focussed on fun emphasised Pedley’s point about the wide scope of Dahl’s work, and how a love of his stories can indeed inspire a lifetime of reading.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, October 13, 2011

I love Cox - review of Chris Cox

Chris Cox: Fatal Distraction, at New Greenham Arts on Friday, October 7

I’M a sucker for a freebie, but I’d like to make it clear that the free “I Love Cox” button badge given to me will not be influencing this review. They were given out to the entire audience, and it would have been churlish to refuse. Anyway, I don’t think us Newbury Weekly News reviews have a “declared interests” obligation - if we did, I would also have to admit that my sister was one of the audience members selected to participate in the show. Chris Cox did indeed read her mind magnificently - but then, I consider her particular easy to read. I’ve been able to do it for years.

Oh yes, and I got a hug from Cox after the show. But in no way does a hug from a handsome young man implant in me the urge to write a positive review. Promise. The thoughts below are all my own... I think.

“A mind reader who can’t read minds” (also a BBC Radio 1 producer - and still in his 20s), Cox’s show had a lovely conceit, built around the poignant tale of a girlfriend found by fate and lost by harsh reality, with many of his tricks allowing audience members to build up a picture of his dream girl as his performance progressed. Often items from a cluttered bookcase were used in the act - but I’m sure that some of them were there to influence our train of thoughts during the show, and possibly into the future (since Friday I have had an unexplainable urge to see the RSC production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda).

The problem with writing about magic-style acts early on in their tour, particularly with local-ish dates to come (Swindon Arts Centre on November 12 and the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot on November 25) is that revealing too much about the performance could spoil things for readers spurred on by a glowing review to book tickets. So to a certain extent, you’ll have to trust me on this. Cox is fab. Slick, charismatic, confident and extremely likeable. Think about what Derren Brown might do if he had a smaller stage and a broken heart.

Oh yes, I think I can safely mention that prior to the show Cox had memorised last week’s edition of the Newbury Weekly News in its entirety, proved by audience members calling out page numbers. I’m not sure even our illustrious editor would be able to pull that one off (go on Brien, tell us what’s on page 44).

I for one will be wearing my “I Love Cox” badge with pride, and it is entirely my own choice to do so. I think.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So good, I bought the T-shirt - review of Frisky and Mannish


Frisky and Mannish: Popcentre Plus at New Greenham Arts, on Thursday, October 6

I HAVE a confession about Frisky and Mannish: after seeing them perform on BBC Three’s Edinburgh Fringe showcase, I dismissed them as “a bit pants” and knowing that their Newbury date was one of several I was reviewing that week, I was ready to jack in my ticket. But then, friends and family started raving about having heard them on the radio, so I thought I might as well tag along and see who was right - me, or four of my nearest and dearest.

Reader, I loved them so much, I bought the T-shirt. Literally. Got it signed on the back as well. Having spoken to the mum of another participant in the BBC Three showcase (I am now of an age where I don’t know the bright young things, but I do know their parents), it appears that Frisky and Mannish weren’t the only act who struggled to wow as they should without the bangs and whizzes of their own production arena.

That’s not to say that this comedic musical duo are nothing without their effects buttons, as Frisky & Mannish - aka Oxford University graduates Laura Corcoran and Matthew Floyd Jones  - are seriously talented singers and performers. It is surprising to learn after the show that neither have much formal training in the performing arts arena. Corcoran in particular is a virtuoso vocalist who can switch her powerful voice between pastiches of Madonna (in her many incarnations), Adele and Ellie Golding  among others, with graceful ease.

The Popcentre Plus concept of the Frisky and Mannish show was a workshop for would-be popstars, with education - the “revelations” that Rhianna’s Rude Boy was written by the Bee Gees and that Florence & the Machine’s songs are recycled late 90s pop; enlightenment - that any song can fit the grime genre (think N-Dubz), even The Carpenters’ On Top Of The World; and dire warnings of “Good Girl[s] Gone Bad”, those teeny boppers who grow up to find their sexy side.

There was great fun to be had in the audience participation as we were divided into the Elvis Presleys (singers), Britneys (dancers), Razorlights (great hair), Biebers (no discernible talent) and Greg (so fabulous, only one name needed). This culminated in the formation of a new boyband on stage, given the moniker The Other Direction, and obliged to perform a Take That standard to the best of their abilities.

Even the song that had been my BBC Three bugbear - a version of Girls Aloud’s Sound of the Underground, with lyrics changed to the words of nursery rhymes (“the wheels on the bus go round and round”) worked fabulously in the context of the show. With their performance of their Kate Bush/ Kate Nash mash-up during the Fringe coverage leading me to comment “that would have been so funny five years ago”, I was concerned that with the fast pace of pop music, some of their act would have already dated. As it turns out, it was me who couldn’t always keep up with them; having to check with my younger sister who a certain song belonged to (it was Jessie J) proved that.

With their fingers on the musical pulse of the moment, Frisky and Mannish turn the glitzy world of throwaway pop into something to be cherished through pastiche, satire, and lots of laughs. They have already sold out their two dates at Reading’s South Street later this month, but there are still a very few tickets left for Swindon Arts Centre on December 20. And remember - if you have great hair, you too can be a chart topper. Just ask the boys from Razorlight.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Boxing clever - review of Compagnie Luc Amoros, Page Blanche

Page Blanche, presented by Compagnie Luc Amoros, in Newbury Market Place, on Saturday, October 1

IT may in part have been the unexpectedly balmy weather that attracted people in their masses to the Market Place on Saturday evening; but it is becoming increasingly common knowledge that The Corn Exchange’s Outdoor Arts Programme (funded by Greenham Common Trust) are free events not to be missed if at all possible.

Page Blanche involved a high scaffold installation divided into nine boxes, with six continental European artists creating a series of powerful, thought provoking, often intricate pieces of artwork and graffitied prose on plastic sheeting, using paint, etching and printing, only to destroy each piece within seconds, leaving a “blank page on which to start again”; questioning the place of art in the world, and whether it has to be permanent to be important. The painted sheets were in turn ripped off their perspex canvas and flung down to the ground, gathering in a colourful pile, as the artists themselves - five women and one man - became daubed in the paint as the hour progressed.

As they worked with intensity and urgency, the six artists chanted, danced, drummed and sang, accompanied by a double bassist, using live looping the music and singing to create an aural tapestry as complex as the creations appearing on the canvas. Indeed, this may have been fast art, but it was far from simple; there were many “can you tell what it is yet?” moments as each artist worked on different levels of the scaffold to reveal the cohesive whole on an epic scale.

Much of the artwork and its presentation had a point to make about various atrocities through human history, although the subtlety and cleverness of some of the images - a “carved” mandala depicting the wiping out of an Orinoquian tribe, where the weapons were the last part to appear - was not always reflected by the bluntness of the words, both written and oral. Some interesting points were made, but to me, comparing taking children to see celebratory fireworks to the horror of the atomic bomb seemed a little harsh.

Among the colourful paintings and stark black-and-white etchings, representations of famous artwork were sometimes created. Van Gogh’s self-portrait appeared, and the final giant depiction was reminiscent of Gauguin’s paintings of the women of Tahiti. Hypnotic and energetic, this was a rich and exhilarating performance that will leave those fleeting images imprinted in the memory for a long time.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, October 6, 2011

I fought the Law... and the Law won - review of Tony Law

Tony Law at New Greenham Arts, on Thursday, September 22

I SAW the Marmite effect in action at Tony Law’s show last Thursday - I loved him, my plus-one hated him, and we could see the rest of the audience split among similar lines into the laughs and laugh-nots.

Well, “hated” is too strong a word, as Law’s surreal deconstruction of the craft of comedy didn’t elicit the barely-concealed anger with which my companion (a different chap) responded to a performance by Wil Hodgson during the Newbury Comedy Festival a few years ago. But barely a smile was raised from this particular guest last week, while I was more than happy to relax and enjoy the magical mystery tour of Law’s mindwarping musings.

Law dresses like a 19th century polar explorer (the only surviving one, he propounded, to be doing stand up comedy; the others having formed the bands Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons), sounds like a lumberjack (he is indeed, Canadian), and picks apart his own act using the schtick that he isn’t a terribly skilled comedian, when actually he quite clearly is as savvy as they come.

Law’s themes are fairly random, although nature pop up in some of its strangest forms throughout the show - who would win a fight between a shark and a bear (you have to paint the shark as a salmon to get the bought started), adopting a prostitute panda, and how trees are great gossips. His self-styling as a “dangerous” comedian was applied with a reasonable dose of irony, but his act certainly never fell below the bar of “mild peril”. Law appeared fully aware that his performance was likely to divide his audience, a risk raised exponentially by the smallish turn-out for his Newbury gig. This didn’t seem to worry him - in fact, I rather suspect that he revels in such diverse reactions.

I suppose some of the appeal (for those, like me, that do laugh at him) is that audience members can feel awfully smug and clever if they “get” him, over those that don’t. Whereas those that don’t laugh are in fact more confident in their own intelligence, and therefore don’t need the validation. I don’t care - I’m quite happy to be made to feel clever, so Law’s act works for me, and so yah-boo to those erudite brainy types who can rise above such ingenious verbal trickery.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, September 29, 2011


Dog and Bone - interview with magician Robert Bone

ROBERT Bone isn’t a magician he is a demonstrator of extra-sensory curiosities, so don’t expect him to pull a rabbit out of a hat - unless it’s a virtual bunny, and the hat is a figment of your imagination. By Catriona Reeves.

I KNOW that Robert Bone won’t mind being compared to master mentalist Derren Brown. After all, the quote on his poster and flyers is from the great man himself: “What a lovely chap”. Robert’s use of it is rather tongue-in-cheek - “He’s never seen me perform; we just had a chat at the stage door after one of his shows. But that was what he said to me, and it was too good an opportunity not to use it in my publicity!”

Derren, as always of course, is entirely right: Robert is indeed a lovely chap, both in his dapper three-piece stage suit, and in mufti as he chats about his new project, branching out from the performance of close-up magic at social functions with his first full-length stage show, which he performed for this first time to an audience at New Greenham Arts in early September.

Robert describes the process of preparing and rehearsing for the show as “like practising tightrope walking on a piece of rope lying on the ground, then suddenly trying to do it up in the air”.

“You have no idea who’s coming up on the stage, and the entire second half of the show involved lots of unpredictables, much of which I had never done before”. Not everything went exactly to plan, but overall the big picture came together.”

His preparation involved memorising the contents of books using image mnemonics, and learning to slow his pulse dramatically - verified during the show by a midwife in the audience.

As a self-styled “Demonstrator of Extra-Sensory Curiosities” - a moniker he took on two years ago to differentiate himself from more traditional conjurors - Robert’s performance is about much more than sleight of hand, and he will never use pure, simple trickery when a feat of memory, psychological reading and hypnotic suggestion will provide more gasp-inducing results.

“In rehearsals I had a ‘drop-everything’ idea which I had to include in the show, involving getting a volunteer to focus on a memory to get him in the right mood, then using Scrabble tiles to build up a picture. This replaced my original plan to use a ouija board, which could have been amazing, or fallen completely flat.”

Originally from the New Forest but now living in Brimpton, Robert’s interest in magic started 10 years ago when working as a mortgage advisor. Bored while on a residential training course, he began teaching himself card tricks. In 2006 he turned professional, rebranding himself in 2009 to shake off the magician’s usual dickie bow get-up - “although I only once got mistaken for the wine waiter” - and to focus more on his psychological skills, which had fascinated him since the earlier series of Big Brother, when psychologists used to decipher the housemates’ behaviour and body language.

Although Robert performs under his own name, it was the acquisition of a handmade three-piece suit that helped create his performing persona - affable and charming, yet also slightly quirky. “My girlfriend say it’s weird, that I do become someone else. It’s still me - but it’s a different part of me.

“I want to be remembered and talked about, whether it’s for going up to three people at the bar at a wedding, or on stage in front of 150 people. It’s not just about doing tricks, it’s about making an impact. It’s like what David Blaine did with his street magic - that was as much about his audiences’ reaction as the tricks themselves.”

Despite Robert’s unusual approach, he has the greatest respect for the traditions and history of magic, citing David Nixon and Paul Daniels as heroes if not direct influences. He also loves the work of Penn & Teller, and recommends Dynamo, who recently had a series on digital television channel Watch as the next big thing.

“My ambition is to get my own television series,” confesses Robert, whose television debut was live on BBC Three in 2008, as an act on a live talent show called Upstaged, which saw him perform for eight hours in a glass box in Millennium Square, Bristol. “It was an experience,” he laughs. “I had one day’s notice to prepare enough material, and it was February, so there were no passers-by!” He is hoping that his latest stint in front of the camera will lead to more success, as his recent Greenham show was filmed by a professional crew for an extended showreel and potential television pilot. 

“Magic goes through peaks and troughs in terms of mainstream popularity, and it’s back on prime time right now. I think the trend will continue more towards the psychological stuff - mind reading and body language. Hopefully that will mean that there’s a place for me on TV!”

* To find out more about Robert Bone or to contact him, please send him a message through thought waves, or alternatively visit

  • First published in Out & About magazine, September  2011

I can see for Mills and Mills... - review of Chris Mills

Chris Mills at Ace Space, Newbury on Friday, September 16

COMMUNITY arts venue Ace Space scored its first international coup on Friday, with a performance by American singer-songwriter Chris Mills - it was just a pity that the audience that turned up to see him and local alt-country band Case Hardin was rather select.

While Ace Space’s monthly Unplugged ‘open mike’ nights are regularly bursting at the rafters, music lovers seem rather more reluctant to take a punt on professional acts, even when the entrance fee is only a couple of pounds more.

Luckily Mills didn’t seem at all perturbed by the select turn-out - the previous night had seen him perform a semi-impromtu gig at a fan’s request in the Scottish town of Newton Stewart, where the venue had been a “information booth”, so after a nine-hour drive down to Newbury, he was entirely laid back about playing “a bingo hall in Newbury” (a phrase received with the humour it was intended).

Reminiscent of an American Badly Drawn Boy - he’s got the beard and the guitar, if not the woolly hat -  Mills performs songs of love and longing with power and passion that should be filling venues far larger than Ace Space with ease. His music might be described as “urban country” - the lilt and themes of Nashville are there, but with an edgier tinge which reflects Mills’ roots in bluesy Chicago,  and his current hometown of Brooklyn.

Particularly powerful was Napkin In A Wine Glass, a tale of domestic violence told from the point of view of the abuser, which brought a hush to the entire room, and contrasted with the unbearable romance of In The Time Of Cholera, a song about lost loves reunited in old age, inspired by Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s novel - described by Mills with a smile as “a really disgusting book about old people having sex”.

It may have bee a small crowd for the final night of his short UK tour, but Mills jetted back to the USA on Saturday having converted a good percentage of them into fans, clutching signed copies of his retrospective compilation CD Heavy Years 2000-2010 as they went away, mostly likely to play them many, many times.  

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, September 22, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Curiouser and curiouser... - review of Robert Bone

Robert Bone: Demonstrator of Extra-Sensory Curiosities, at New Greenham Arts, Newbury, on Wednesday, September 7

MAGIC, feats of memory, achievements of mind over matter and hypnotic suggestion: Robert Bone, a professional magician and mindreader from Brimpton, crammed it all in to his 90 minute show and pulled it off with aplomb as he expanded his close-up magic and mind reading skills for a wider, and far larger audience at New Greenham Arts.

More used to performing his trickery while mingling with guests at social events, it was impressive that this was Bone’s first performance of his full-length show. He demonstrated well-filled arsenal of skills and techniques allowed him to bombard the audience with prestiges that virtually all hit their intended targets.

Particularly striking was his ability to sense objects while blindfolded with gaffer tape, slowing his pulse dramatically - verified by a midwife in the house - and demonstrating a memory feat by remembering specific words from three different books held by members of the audience.

Participants were selected at random to take part in various on-stage activities, including having their body language read to select the liar amongst truth-tellers, and selecting certain cards and letters, and having their hands glued together through hypnotic suggestion.

Of course it is impossible to write about this type of act without referencing master mentalist Derren Brown, a mention that Bone is unlikely to mind, as he quotes him on his poster. Similarly to Brown’s stage shows, Bone’s performance followed an arc, with all the set pieces being tied up nicely in the finale.

Dressed in a dapper three-piece suit, Bone had a delightfully affable air that appeared to make his participants feel relaxed, and an easy charm. It was a lovely, warm show, and while Bone may not yet have all the sparkle of a polished Vegas performer, he has a quirky persona that deserves to be seen by a larger audience than wedding guests. Saying that, his success as a wedding performer paid off on the night, as the audience included couples who had come to support him in his new venture.

Bone’s transition from magician-for-hire to stage performer deserves to be a success, and it can be hoped that his debut show, which was filmed for a showreel, leads on to exciting opportunities. And no - he didn’t hypnotise me to make sure I wrote nice things about him. At least, I don’t think he did...

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dishing up a laugh - review of Dinnerladies

Dinnerladies at The Corn Exchange, Newbury, from Thursday, June 9 to Saturday, June 11

ADAPTED from Victoria Wood’s much-loved late-90s sitcom, the Dinnerladies stage show saw the factory canteen and its employees transposed lock, stock and toaster into the theatre. With Wood and most of the main television cast members a little bit busy with other projects, it was mainly up to a cast as fresh as the canteen’s daily-delivered bread to bring the well-known characters back to life, and they did so with performances that verged on spot-on impressions.

The exception was Andrew Dunn, reprising his role as steadfast canteen manager Tony, whose presence in the production is a useful lynchpin as a link back to the source material. Also joining the cast for this tour was Sue Devaney, “Jane from the planning department” in the television series - who, after a brief appearance onstage in that character, drew gasps of surprise and delight when she reappeared as Petula, the geriatric mother from hell. It was an excellent performance considering she was paying tribute in it to the near-irreplacable Julie Walters; a task possibly even more challenging than that faced by Laura Sheppard, taking on Wood’s central role of Bren, the outwardly dappy but inwardly complex canteen worker.

Adapted from Wood’s television scripts rather than an original storyline, the story (at least in the second act) mainly followed events of the final series, with Bren attempting to win money on a quiz show to fulfil her and Tony’s dream in the face of imminent redundancy. It resulted in quite a bit of plot being crammed into two acts. but still retained the gentle pace of the on-screen version, partly because it could be safely assumed that most audience members would remember the series well, and therefore not need too much background information.

Its reliance on the source material meant that the show had Wood’s dry and often hilarious wit and focus on health, aging and bodily functions stamped all over it, although those who knew the series very well were likely to have found the jokes a little less lustrous for being well-remembered. However, as a revisiting of a sitcom thought of by many with much fondness, it was a heart-warming celebration presented and received with a great deal of goodwill.

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Dickens of a show - review of Gerald Dickens, An Audience With Charles Dickens

An Audience With Charles Dickens, at Arlington Arts Centre, Snelsmore, on Friday, January 21

THE actor great great grandson of one of Britain’s most celebrated authors, Gerald Dickens was surely destined in some way to bring his ancestor’s work to the stage. As it happens, although his books are now well known through their many transitions to stage and screen, as well as enduring in print, Dickens himself became famed for public readings from his pages, and so recreating such performances has become Gerald Dickens’ calling.

Dickens Junior explained how his great great grandfather’s love of the theatre helped bring his characters to life, not just in the readings he performed towards the end of his life, but also in their creation, as he was observed by his daughter pulling faces and trying out voices in the mirror during his writing process.

After a dabble in amateur theatricals that brought him to the attention of Queen Victoria, Dickens fulfilled his longing to tread the boards for the last two decades of his life through the public readings of his work that were to bring him even more fame, a goodly fortune and, some consider, to an early grave.

It is possible that Dickens’ health was hit hard, not only by the trials of touring both Britain and the USA, but also by the intensity of these live performances. Far from staid readings, Dickens threw his all into every performance, in particular a specially-written three-act reading of the murder of Nancy in Oliver Twist - judged for its success each night by how many ladies in the audience fainted.

And so Gerald Dickens now brings to life some of the colourful characters of Dickens’ work, from a Gollum-like Uriah Heap to the schadenfreude of Mr and Mrs Micawber, on a stage laid out how Dickens himself would have had it on his tours, draped in red velvet and with a raised block on which to rest his arm as he read.

The second part of the evening was a one man performance of Nicholas Nickleby, with Dickens demonstrating his talent and passion for his ancestors characters as he took on such roles as the deeply unpleasant schoolmaster Wackford Squeers, ailing pupil Smike, and the demure Fanny Nickleby and her various unwanted suitors.

After such an enlightening and enjoyable first half, which would have stood alone in its own right as a perfectly acceptable evening’s entertainment the idea of an hour-long performance seemed something of an obligation come the interval, and others in the audience may have felt this quite strongly as there were a few empty seats on returning to the auditorium.

However, Gerald Dickens held the attention well as he presented his abridged version of the story, which first inspired his intense interest in his ancestor’s life and works when he saw it performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1980s. That production was eight hours’ long, which was probably harder going than Dickens’ lively and energetic 60-minute dash. It may have made the evening slightly longer than required for an amusing Friday night’s entertainment, but Dickens’ fascinating performance certainly lived up to any great expectations.

  • First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gogolplex - review of Newbury Youth Theatre, Gogol's The Portrait

Newbury Youth Theatre present Gogol’s The Portrait, at The Corn Exchange, Newbury, on Saturday, July 30, and The Quaker Meeting House, Edinburgh, from Monday, August 8 to Saturday, August 13

HAVING built up a reputation at the Edinburgh Fringe over the past 15 years as a force to be reckoned through their powerful ensemble productions, Newbury Youth Theatre will be returning to Scotland on Monday with another vibrant performance, this time based on a short story by 19th century Russian author Nikolai Gogol.

Adapted and directed by Amy and Tony Trigwell-Jones and devised by the company, this was a story fizzing with thrills, shocks and humour, as a crowd gathered at an auction house to observe the sale of an infamous portrait, said to bring doom to its owners “as the devil changes hands”. Using the bric-a-brac surrounding them, the crowd told the history of the portrait, and its subject, a mysterious moneylender whose loans similarly led to disaster for those obliged to borrow from him.

With the ensemble cast of 17 made up with ghostly faces in varying shades of pale, this was a spooky tale, but one shot through with a strong sense of humour and a big dose of jollity, as portraits came to life, ghosts wafted into dreams and ghastly deaths were recreated through physical theatre, slapstick, clowning, shadowplay and puppetry.

An ingeniously designed set filled with picture frames, atmospheric music played on broken instruments (and beautifully-tuned water-filled jam jars) and folk-style songs and costumes reflecting the Russian setting added further strength to an impactful and, most importantly, fabulously entertaining performance.  In the telling of a morality tale warning of the dangers of creating art for gain and glory rather than for its own sake, the wholehearted investment of the entire Newbury Youth Theatre company into the production was clear.

The result was a devilish delight of dark pleasures, which deserves to wow once again in Edinburgh.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, August 4, 2011

Out on his Moloney - review of John Moloney

Newbury Comedy Festival: John Moloney at New Greenham Arts, Newbury, on Saturday, July 23

NEWBURY Comedy Festival has been a most civilised affair this year. Spread comfortably over 20 days, it has included big names (Mark Watson and Rory Bremner),  delightful treats (Running On Air, performed to an audience of five in a campervan), the welcome return of old favourites (Clare Plested) and slightly baffling performance poetry (You Look Like Ants). There was even a pleasing last-minute addition in the form of Dave Gorman, previewing his Edinburgh Fringe Powerpoint Presentation at New Greenham Arts on Thursday (I did see it, but he doesn’t want reviews - I think it’s alright to say that it was rather excellent, though).

And so, eventually, the comedy festival drew to an end on Saturday, with two seasoned performers - Joe Pasquale at The Corn Exchange, and John Moloney at New Greenham Arts. Moloney’s performance was a warm-up before returning to Edinburgh Fringe for a short run with his 2010 show Butterflies With Stretchmarks; an opportunity to ensure that he remembered it all (it looked like he did), and to bring it up to date with some relevant topical asides.

Butterflies With Stretchmarks was a lovely, gentle monologue focussing on the small things in life. From the noise his cat made when the vet surprised it with a thermometer (“Maugh”. Moloney spelt it for us.) to minute observations remembered from earlier life experiences out on the pull (hence the title of the show - it refers to tattoos), Moloney wove the mundanity of the everyday into a word painting, and left the audience well alone to relax into the evening without fear of reprisal.

There was nothing earth-shattering about the subject matter of Moloney’s whimsical musings, but his delivery was pure craftsmanship; the creation of a comedian who has spent years honing his work. A former German teacher, Moloney’s love of language and linguistics is central to his performance (and also elicits the trivia gem that the German word for nipples translates as “breast warts"). When the even the scatological and the curmudgeonly is transformed into poetry, you know that you’re in the safe hands of a comedy journeyman who is fully at ease in his work.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News, Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mills & boom - interview with Chris Mills

NEWBURY community venue Ace Space has scored a coup this month by securing the services of cult singer-songwriter Chris Mills for a night of hard-hitting Americana on Friday, September 16. Catriona Reeves spoke to him at the start of his eight-date UK tour, bringing his highly-regarded music over from Chicago 

Catriona Reeves: You started off at school in a speed metal band - when did you discover that folk/alt country was really more to your taste?

Chris Mills: I don’t know that I would say that any genre is actually more to my taste than any other. But as I got into my late teens I started to really appreciate great songwriters – starting off with Dylan, as we all do, and then moving on to people like Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and Lou Reed. 

Looking back , I think that was what I was always after; even in my high school metal bands we played things because we liked the songs. There is a big difference between good speed metal and bad speed metal, and we only played the good stuff.

CR: Your current album, Heavy Years: 2000-2010,  is a career restrospective - can you tell me a couple of your favourite songs on there, and why you're so fond of them?

CM: That’s like choosing between your kids! I really like all of the songs on the record, but I think I’ll always look back on the songs from my Wall To Wall Sessions album (Farewell To Arms, You Are My Favorite Song, Escape From New York) with particular fondness. The three days I spent making that record, in one giant room with 16 other people all playing at the same time, is one of my favorite memories of all time.

The closing track, Signal/Noise is also one of my favorites. It was the first high concept track I ever did, the first one where I pushed the production side of beyond anything I’d done up to that point. And I’m really proud of the writing on that one, as well.

CR: Is there anything you enjoy particularly about touring in the UK? How does it compare over here with the Chicago scene where you started out, or US audiences in general?

CM: I’ve always loved playing in the UK. People there have a real appreciation for songwriters, and when they go to see them, they actually take the time to listen and find out what’s really going on. The States is a great place to be from, but I definitely think it’s more difficult as a solo performer to gain traction there. Chicago and New York both have amazing music scenes, but the country as a whole is so big it can make it difficult to reach everyone.

CR: Are there any other European/worldwide countries where you are particularly well received? Anywhere that you wouldn't have necessarily expected?

CM: I’ve actually been spending a lot of time playing in Scandanavia, teaching school kids about American political folk music. The fact that that’s become part of my regular musical life was definitely something I never expected. But it also gives me the opportunity to play my own music in a lot of clubs and at festivals there, and has allowed me to slowly nurture a pretty devoted fan base over the years.

CR: What are your plans for the future? What can we expect from the album 2010-2020? More Heavy Years?

CM: I’m currently recording an EP with some guys in Oslo that may see release sometime next year, and I’m building a library of other new songs that I hope to record sometime in the next few months.

As for the next 10 years: who knows?

* Chris Mills will be supported at Ace Space, St Nicholas Road, Newbury, on Friday, September 16, by Pete Gow and Jim Maving playing as Case Hardin Acoustic, and other acts to be confirmed. Doors open at 7.30pm; tickets cost £6 in advance from Hogan Music in Craven Road and Jacqui’s Shop in  Blenheim Road, or on the door while still available.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, September 8, 2011