What a nice experience to pop over the road from my job at the Royal Berkshire Hospital to the fourth Summer Show of the Reading Guild of Artists (RGA) in the UoR London Road campus. The exhibition features a rich variety of paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and mixed media work from over 50 RGA members, as well as showcasing the final year work of BA Ed Art students from the University of Reading.
For the past four years or so, Edible Reading has been the fearless Keyser Söze of Reading’s food scene; the anonymous blogger and local food chronicler of our times. I not only managed to track ER down to the great Katesgrove boozer The Turks (Head) for an 80s-Smash-Hits-style interview, but I also managed to eat an incredible, table creaking five course Georgian meal from former in-residence food sensation Caucasian Spice Box just before they left the pub for pastures new.
By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.
The Progress Theatre’s latest production is Harold Pinter’s 1978 classic, Betrayal, which is famously based on Pinter’s real-life affair with BBC television presenter Joan Bakewell. In this play, he uses clever reverse chronology to explore the complex theme of betrayal.
On a fresh Mayday morning, I went along to the first part of an organised walk at that eleven acre wedge of melancholy calm and beauty known as Reading Old Cemetery. An eager crowd of around a hundred souls had gathered to learn more of Reading’s trees and celebrate the publishing of a remarkable book on the subject.
The author Philip Meeks has had a lifelong obsession with Agatha Christie and was inspired by the idea of turning Agatha Christie sleuth to uncover Margaret Rutherford’s dark secret. His sensitive and witty script is laced with intrigue and delightful humour.
The Progress Theatre’s Premieres comprises two one-act plays by local writers. The Writer Bird by Emily Goode is a comic, absurdist description of the creative process and The Swastika Party by Paul Levy is a more conventional story about how four young women deal with war and hatred.
By Brenda Sandilands.
We mentioned the considerable challenge posed by the Progress Theatre’s decision to stage this play in our review of His Dark Materials part one; the huge cast and the variety of technical skills required to create the versatile set, costumes, props and puppetry, to name a few. The Progress Theatre has met and conquered these challenges by creating a fast-moving and enchanting theatre experience that will stay with you long after we leave Lyra and Will in Oxford.
Staging this play presents an amazing challenge for the Progress Theatre. They have to create over 130 characters with 28 actors, create two major battles and many smaller skirmishes, represent 43 locations on a small stage, costume the 130 characters and create puppetry for the daemons (a physical embodiment of a human soul).
Children from the Palmer Academy on Northumberland Avenue have been regularly attending lunchtime concerts at Reading University over the last year. It’s clear that the children enjoy these concerts, and after a year of being exposed to a wide variety of music from a capella singing groups to string ensembles, it seemed sensible to get a child’s opinion for a change.
The talented Progress Theatre Company are presenting Steve Thompson’s vastly entertaining No Naughty Bits from Monday 16 to Saturday 21 January. The play centres on the controversial legal battle in 1975 between the Monty Python team and a US television network over the latter’s censorious editing of the comedy series.
Do I stay at home to watch England v Scotland on television or should I find out more about King Henry, whose remains are being searched for in Reading’s Abbey Ruins? Culture wins; off to the Catholic Church next to the prison.
by Gillian Tunley
Reading Rep staged an intensely visceral performance of Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs which left the audience emotionally stunned. This high voltage two hander, directed by the acclaimed Cathal Cleary, features Runt and Pig (whose real names are the far more mundane Sinead and Darren) running amok in a dangerous fantasy world, fuelled by cheap alcohol, raucous disco beat and trashy TV.
By Gillian Tunley.
Reading Rep staged an epic and powerful community production of Ben-Hur at The Hexagon last week, in a stage adaptation by the award winning playwright Hattie Naylor. It marked a spectacular opening to the Made in Reading season in the Reading Year of Culture. Over 70 local residents of all ages and backgrounds, playing characters encompassing all aspects of Roman society, joined forces with a small professional cast to thrill the audience with this timeless epic.