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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

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What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

Oughta be in pictures: The Biograph Girl @Finborough

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Musicals are usually about a love story. In The Biograph Girl, the love story is about the love of going to the flickers and the people who made them. The flickers were what people called the short silent movies. Before they started treating the medium as a form of art. And a source of serious money making. The show is having its first professional production in nearly forty years at the Finborough Theatre . While there’s much love for the subject, a musical covering the early years of film is a tad ambitious. Covering the stories of Lilian Gish, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith doesn’t allow much time to explore them in any detail. Or any of the peripheral characters that surround them. People come and go. Only by reading the programme notes do you get a sense of who they were. And while the musical numbers are fun, they also tend to slow down rather than advance their stories.  It’s a minimalist production too with its plain white walls, a few chairs and an electric piano. It’s a pity

Carpe diem: Mr Gillie @Finborough

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Poor Mr Gillie. A headmaster at a small village  school railing against the norms and expectations of the time. It's like a poor mans Dead Poets Society... Without the privileged young men, the cliches or the sentimentality. It's funny too which makes this piece enjoyable even if it is a little long. Here life is the pits, and Mr Gillie was the only hope for anyone who didn't care for that. It's playing at the Finborough Theatre and is the first London production in over 60 years of James Bridie's work. It opens with the a judge and barrister discussing the life of Mr Gillie. Mr Gillie and his wife had been evicted from their schoolmaster's house after the closing down of the school. The furniture van was coming to clear out his things but had run over and killed him. Now the  judge and barrister would have to decide whether his life had any point.