Theatre Review – The Elephantom at The Shed, National Theatre

Avye Leventis (Elephantom) and Audrey Brisson (Girl)_credit Charlotte Macmillan

Avye Leventis (Elephantom) and Audrey Brisson (Girl) Photo credit – Charlotte Macmillan

My good friend Natalie and her gorgeous son went to the National Theatre’s The Shed to review the Elephantom, for A Residence last week. It is one of our all time favourite kid’s books, and just looking at the photos I want to be there!

Natalie is a drama teacher who I had the pleasure of working with in my teaching days. Isn’t her youngest gorgeous (below), looks like he was loving the South Bank. Find out how they got on… Continue reading

A Christmas Carol – @LakesideArts Centre, Nottingham #xmascarol

cc2 Lakeside have once again triumphed with this superb retelling of Dickens A Christmas Carol, which works brilliantly for both children and grown ups. Cleverly I think the characters will also appeal to the student population too, the theatre being in the grounds of Nottingham University.  Continue reading

Pantomime – Jack and the Beanstalk: Nottingham Playhouse

Jack and the PlayhouseI will start by saying I am not a fan of pantomime, as I think it is only fair you understand where a review is coming from. It has also been a tough week at home, the storms were raging last Thursday night, we all just wanted to hibernate indoors. Would I find the magic? Continue reading

Hot tickets: Cirque de Soleil’s Alegria is in Nottingham!

alegriaIt is freezing cold, wet and windy in Nottingham this week, forget fireworks, what better way to inject some colour and passion than by catching Cirque de Soliel ‘s Alegria at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham this week? It shows from Weds 6th to Sunday 10th November.

We’re feeling a bit meh after coming back from holiday. There is nothing like an amazing holiday to remind you that life is about what you see, dream, experience, partake in, the senses and not the possessions! Which is exactly where Alegria comes in. Continue reading

Theatre Review: The Planet and Stuff at Polka Theatre, Wimbledon

I am really excited to be collaborating with my oldest Drama teaching friend, Kerry Bratt who has reviewed Polka Theatre Wimbledon’s latest show.  Bratt-Brereton (Brereton being my maiden name) were a force to be reckoned with, so it is lovely to have Kerry to guest post, please give her a warm welcome!

“Is it going to be boring though mum?” After a morning of Drama and Dance lessons (the kids not the olds) the Bratt-Ward-Sparks clan trotted off down to The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon to experience the delights of climate change.  We have been to The Polka before, both as a family and I as a teacher with large groups of children.  The Polka programme has developed over the years, moving from a repertoire aimed at younger children into the heady heights of pre-teens and dreaded teens. Continue reading

Magic Beans

Nottingham Playhouse challenged us to grow a beanstalk as their panto this year is Jack and the Bean Stalk. My magic beans arrived in the post. I thought I’d left it too late to join in, everyone else’s beans were growing so fast. We really needed to get some gold too, as we’d spent so much money already, and it was only the start of the holidays.

But once a magic bean breaks out of it’s hard case, then wow it wastes no time. In three days it was this big and peeping over the top of its jam jar. I was hopeful. Continue reading

We came, we saw, we conquered, Camp Bestival 2013


This was our second year at Camp Bestival and we still found loads of new things to keep us busy. I think it took us longer to get into the festival mood this year, Mr A and I had less time to switch off from work, and the kids being older, wiser and more used to the site, had very strong ideas about what they wanted to do which caused some frictions. (TIP: On Friday everyone is fresh faced and wants to do everything, so there are more queues and people, so try to save some things for other days!)


No I will not wait ’til Sunday when it is quieter to make slime in the Science tent Mummy!

But I always think festivals are a winding down, transformative kind of ritual, and by Sunday breakfast, Camp Bestival’s magical work on us was complete, look: Continue reading

My definitive #CampBestival Packing list

I think this year I might have cracked it. My definitive Camp Bestival Packing List. Last year I had lots of help and advice, which I have added on to last year’s list. It will keep growing I know, so keep hitting me with what I missed in the comments!

I’ve just reviewed  kattoos temporary phone number tattoos and ear defenders, the giveaway on those two has closed, but I have a fab melamine camping set to giveaway still. I’ve also just reviewed a Coleman cool box on wheels and double sleeping bag. I’m loving the Olpro range of tents, sleeping bags, windbreaks and melamine dinner set, for bringing a splash of colour and coordination to camp. We’ve also played with festival tents you can paint from Outwell.

Here’s my account of Camp Bestival last year which gives more background on some of the things on the list as well as our fab experience! If you’d rather see it there’s also a video here. Even queuing for the toilets is fun, not that we ever had to queue for long at all, in fact the toilets were pretty impressive. So, on to the Camp Bestival Packing List!
Continue reading

Nottingham Playhouse – backstage video tour

We were really excited to be invited to take a backstage tour of Nottingham Playhouse. Having studied Drama I was excited to see the set up, but for L and G and all many of the other children there, it was their very first glimpse back stage. I did wonder if going backstage would spoil the magic, but quite the opposite, I think it added to the buzz we all felt that evening!

The Playhouse is celebrating its 50th year this year, it is a producing house, meaning that it makes lots of it’s own theatre rather than just taking touring shows. It was fascinating to go backstage and see where it all happens, stage, props, set and costumes. We even managed to say a quick hello to some of the cast and crew involved in Grandpa in my Pocket.

I took my video camera so you can sneak a look too….

Grandpa in My Pocket is at Nottingham Playhouse until 31st May 2013, then touring the UK via Swindon,  Crewe, Wolverhampton, Croydon, Cardiff, Cornwall, Hastings, Bradford,
Dartford, Exeter, Oxford, Wycombe, Rhyl, Richmond, Brighton!

For more tour info check here.

This is a really bright, sunny adaptation, guaranteed to lift your mood in a wet half term. It has a very strong cast, beautiful set, bold lighting, colourful costume, moving and magical puppetry and a playful approach to storytelling. It also had a pirate theme which always goes down well in our house.