‘A Clockwork Orange’ at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley and Matthew Farrall.

‘A Clockwork Orange’ at the Progress Theatre. Photo (c) Richard Brown

The fabulous Progress Theatre Company take us on a dystopian romp in their latest production of A Clockwork Orange, based on Anthony Burgess‘s cult novel and tautly directed by Matt Tully.

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Katesgrove talent shines on a rainy night in Basingstoke

Katesgrove based carry-on country band the Rumpo Kidz and the bard of Elgar Road Nigel Pounds crossed borders into Hampshire last Saturday to perform at the White Hart, a lovely big old boozer at the old end of Basingstoke town. After negotiating the consumer-Narnia of a shopping mall at the heart of the new Basingstoke, our redbrick troubadours traipsed through the heavy rain with all their gear on their backs.

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Children helping children concert rocks the Hex

Children helping children at the Reading Hexagon, February 2018

In a brilliant night at the Hexagon on Tuesday 6 February, talented children from Reading schools came together and put on a great show, Children Helping Children, in front of an audience of 600 or so. Introduced by John Cosgrove, the head teacher of Whitley’s Christ the King Primary School, this charity fund raiser and showcase of local youth talent got the toes tapping and the fingers clicking while tugging at hearts and minds too.

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Maskerade at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.

Nanny Ogg (Liz Carroll) and Granny Weatherwax (Melanie Sherwood) in ‘Maskerade’. Photo (c) Aidan Moran

The Progress Theatre are staging the late-lamented Terry Pratchett‘s Maskerade this week, a Discworld play full of mystery, murder and musical mayhem. Chris Moran’s production fizzes with delicious lunacy – opera has never been such fun!

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Book Review – Parched City by Emma M Jones

Parched City‘ was an impulse buy from the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) bookshop. The cover featuring the 1859 opening of London’s first public drinking fountain in the wall of St Sepulchre’s Church in the City of London was a magnet for this Whitley Pump correspondent.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray, at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.

The Picture of Dorian Gray. Photo (c) Richard Brown

The Progress Youth Theatre staged a winning and witty production of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Progress Theatre, Reading this week. It was skilfully adapted and slickly directed by Ali and Liz Carroll and engagingly performed by a mercurial cast of six, who slipped effortlessly between characters with the help of imaginative headwear and accessories, draped around the atmospheric set.

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Apollo, After Dark and the Central Club: “when the music hits you, you can feel no pain”

Matthew Farrall (left) and David Archibald (right), making a sign for ‘Africa’

I was on a lunchtime walk from work with colleagues recently and among them was Jamaican-born Rastafarian, David Archibald. David’s knowledge of the Afro-Caribbean history of three Katesgrove buildings had us all enthralled. He gave us some real insight into the cultural and socio-political side of life growing up in Reading in the 70s and 80s. With vivid joy, he talked of the great times he had at the Apollo Youth Club, the Caribbean Club and the Central Club; David explained most of his life at the time revolved around social gatherings with music at the heart of everything.

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Hamlet at the Progress Theatre – ‘unmanly grief’

Hamlet (Megan Turnell). Photo (c) Aidan Moran courtesy of the Progress Theatre

This is the play where Shakespeare put language into orbit, elevating words far above their station and onto a higher shelf of consciousness and depth. Any amateur production of Hamlet is ambitious; the lead actor has 1400 lines if played in full, and you need to be thespian mob-handed to cover so many other roles and speaking parts. Even the minor roles seem to have more layers than the earth’s crust. But the Progress is a theatre with ambition, courage and  enthusiastic actors who seem to pull off most theatrical challenges with brio and aplomb. Even so, I would hate to “go on alone” for such a challenge (West end actor-speak for sober) and for the audience, a large G&T would seem mandatory.

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The Life and death of Reading’s King, in the Oracle on the Kennet

Courtesy of the “Reading-on-Thames Festival“, which is sadly a misstatement when clearly Reading’s whole history is based on the River Kennet, came free culture in the form Reading Between the Lines Theatre Company’s play The Life and Death of Reading’s King. For the lucky 700 ticket holders on the night of 15 September this was a history making moment.

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