This Mojo’s Working

After much excitement me and KPH finally got to see Mojo.  We actually went on Thursday, but this week has been so crazy busy that I’ve only just had time to write anything down about it.

untitledFirst things first. If profanities bother you, then perhaps Mojo isn’t the play for you to go and see. I could say that there is some swearing, but more accurate would be that there are some normal words, connected into sentences by quite a lot of very bad words. Secondly, you get to see Colin Morgan in his pants (that’s underpants, just to be clear). For quite a long time.  Now, there has been many a daydreamed hour about witnessing that moment, but when faced with it from 3 rows off the stage and when it features some grubby fifties style Y-fronts, it’s rather off-putting.

The subject matter is the blackest of comedy, and the ending of the play will leave you speechless, particularly the penultimate scene. All the performances were typically amazing, though some were worthy of a mention: Rupert Grint in his first stage run was impressive and did a fantastic comic turn as Sweets, partnered with Daniel Mays who was manic, Ben Whishaw was suitably unhinged as Baby and Colin was a very twitchy, whiny club doorman called Skinny Luke.  None of the characters were what you could call likeable, but the actors got this across perfectly. KPH and I both agreed that Baby was so horrid that you were actually glad when he wasn’t on stage, but that’s got to be a testament to the skill of the man playing him.

There is so much I want to say about this play but can’t for fear of spoilers.  The Harold Pinter theatre is small and intimate and has a sort of grunge feel all of its own that lends a great atmosphere to what’s happening on stage.  This is not my favourite play that I have seen Colin in, probably because the era and subject matter don’t appeal to me personally, but I can appreciate that this is excellent stuff.

4178-1384515481-mojo7We went to a matinee, and there was a sign up at the stage door saying that no photos with the actors were allowed after matinee performances. There wasn’t many of us waiting, and not many of the cast came out, so perhaps people already knew that they wouldn’t. Daniel Mays emerged, and I’ve never seen anyone run so fast from a stage door! We would have stopped him for an autograph but it didn’t seem like he wanted to be stopped (I will never ask someone who seems like they’re reluctant), although some people further up the road collared him.  We came away from the stage door after while, as neither Colin nor Rupert came out, but as we were checking out the posters at the front door of the theatre, the guy who played Silver Johnny, Tom Rhys Harries, came up the street looking very relaxed and happy so stopped to talk to a few of us.  He posed for a few illegal photos (naturally, I had to get one) and was really very adorable (cue fangirling as I go to investigate his other work), so all in all, I was glad we waited around. Someone asked him if Colin was coming out, and Tom said that he was sleeping, but as Colin has never emerged at any other matinee I’ve been to, and after seeing some of the photos of him being mobbed on the web, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he really just didn’t want to.

colin-morgan-skinny-in-mojo-at-the-harold-pinter-theatre-photo-credit-simon-annandA great day, only marred by the fact that all the trains home were delayed and it took forever to reach the comfort of my bed…

 

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Cute guys reading… You’re welcome!

After a mental week or so being crazy busy with the release of Runners, I don’t mind admitting that my brain is slightly fried.  Then  I looked at my poor neglected blog and thought that I probably need to post something.  As my brain is ever so slightly less functional than it was last week, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to say today.  Then I was perusing Pinterest (if I have a job that needs doing, I find avoidance a great tactic) and I came across a photo of the divine James McAvoy reading Narnia with the tagline ‘Hot Guys Reading Books’.   Anyone who knows me knows I needed no further invitation, I was straight in there with possibly the least politically correct post that has hit the net this year.  So here it is.  It’s not big and it’s not clever, the photos are a bit wonky on here, but I didn’t half have a lovely time researching it! Don’t panic, normal service will be resumed at some point this week…

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The Tempest at The Globe 28th April 2013

It’s been a while since I did a theatre review, mostly because what I’ve been to see hasn’t really moved me to review it. But, of course, Colin Morgan at The Globe was always going to get a review!

I have actually wanted to go to The Globe for quite a few years now and, for one reason or another, the opportunity never presented itself. So when I heard that they were staging The Tempest (one of my favourite Shakespeare plays) featuring Colin (my favourite actor) it was going to take the arrival of the four horsemen of the apocalypse to stop me from going. And they wouldn’t have found me an easy target either.

Because I am still quite overwhelmed by how much I loved this production, and because the delicious memories are still jumbled up in my brain, each trying to tumble out at once, I have to make a checklist of what pops in first and then cover them in turn:

• Tumbling and swinging
• Costumes
• Cute little dances
• Singing and chanting
• Funny moments
• Prop malfunctions
• Audience reaction

Firstly, I have to say that the entire cast was amazing. Quite often, I’ll see a play and always pick out one duff performance that bugs me. But with this one, for me, every single person was perfectly cast and gave the most beautiful performance. Neither can I adequately express how perfect The Globe is. I’ve been to RSC at Stratford and, even though I enjoyed my visit immensely, it felt quite elitist, in some ways, more reserved. It felt like somewhere I had to behave in. The Globe feels like I’m sure it would have been in Shakespeare’s day: welcoming, levelling and merry. It feels like a place where friends would have got together to be entertained and to have a laugh. There seems to be more of an ethos of Shakespeare being something for the masses to enjoy, rather than for people with English degrees. The atmosphere was fantastic and if you haven’t been and get the chance, you really must go.

So, what’s next? Oh yeah, tumbling and swinging! Colin, as Ariel, did a lot of that. He cartwheeled across the stage, hung from beneath stairs with one arm like a monkey, climbed up staging and walked on funny stilt things. It was pretty impressive. All that and he still managed to deliver his lines! And that was pretty impressive too. I wasn’t sure what to expect from him for Ariel. As you may know, it’s not the first time I’ve seen him on stage and the last role was very different from this. I’ve seen The Tempest performed before too and, if I’m honest, the last time I don’t recall Ariel being a character that had much of an impact on me. Colin made his Ariel a strange mix of childlike naivety, jester, powerful spirit, nimble nymph, camp flirt and cheeky monkey! There were moments where he was like a little lost boy: the point at which Ariel asks Prospero if he loves him drew a collective sigh from the audience that very likely could have been heard from the Mir space station. And there were moments where Ariel really showed his power, like when he appears as a vengeful harpy to pronounce judgment on Prospero’s enemies. You’ll be happy to learn that the reports of his singing are well founded too – he can actually sing and it’s rather lovely! One moment where he sings and almost breaks down crying – oh, my heart!

I loved the costumes. They were inventive whilst still keeping to the ethos of not being over-produced; I loved the kind of rustic-ness about them. Some of the actors came into the crowds during the performance and I loved seeing the costumes up close for that reason. It reminded me of school play costumes, but in a really good way. It all added to the feeling of a sort of social accessibility around the theatre itself. Eek, someone is going to comment now and tell me they cost millions to produce! The same can be said about the props. The iconic stage was barely dressed at all, so that most of the setting came from your imagination, but what was done was really clever. Caliban first emerges onto the stage from a hole beneath a rock and the shipwreck at the beginning is done by actors carrying a model ship through the crowd as though it was a heaving sea. There was one funny prop malfunction moment where Ariel had to tie a washing line up between two posts. The line was clearly stuck on something and wouldn’t stretch. He tried twice but it wouldn’t budge, so he tripped off the stage very professionally and the washing had to stay in the basket!

This production definitely felt more humorous too than the one I’ve seen before. In fact, there was a lot of laughter and the audience clearly loved the jokes. There was one ongoing one where Trinculo keeps pulling fish from various parts of his jester outfit and they get bigger each time. And then there was a little wedding dance for Ferdinand and Miranda where the spirits joined in and that was just hilarious. There was another dance right at the end of the play where all the characters joined in and that was such a feel-good moment that everyone was just smiling their heads off and even the actors looked as though they were having the time of their lives. Of course, I was just mesmerised by Colin’s little version of the dance – just the cutest thing ever!

I’m just so happy that I got to see this performance but I think I need to go again!

One last bit, though I’m sure I’ve forgotten lots of things. I didn’t do the stage door waiting game. I have done before, but I figure it’s time I left the poor chap alone. And I had my 11 year old daughter with me – no young girl needs to see her mother behave like that

If you fancy seeing The Tempest for yourself, here’s the link.  Tickets start at £5, so what are you waiting for?

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing

Questions and Answers signpost

I’ve been tagged in the next big thing blog hop by the surreally hilarious Laurence Donaghy.  I have the same list of questions that I have to provide entertaining answers to and then I tag two writerly friends.  Oh well, here goes internet oblivion….

1. What is the working title of your next book?

It’s called ‘the one where Sharon’s writing fairy locks away her Merlin DVDs and uninstalls the youtube app from her phone and ties her to a chair until some words come out’.  Maybe that’s a bit longwinded, though.  We’ll go for The Young Moon instead.  It’s the second of the Sky Song trilogy.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

As it’s a sequel, I suppose I have to say that the idea came from the first book! At the end of Sky Song, we left Jacob **Sound of a truck roaring past** so, The Young Moon picks up two years on from there. There was always going to be three books and each one continues the overall story arc. Sky Song was as much about Jacob’s dilemma over his life choices as it was about his battle with the bad guy.  In The Young Moon there’s a whole bunch of different dilemmas around loyalties and who gets to choose who lives and who dies. Jacob gets faced with some really tough decisions and quite often has to deal with the consequences of making the wrong ones.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

If you wanted to be pedantic you could call it Young Adult fantasy.  But there is a feel of realism about it, and I’m very influenced by magical realist works, so I suppose, in that sense, it’s not fantasy in the way most would think of that genre.  There are actually a couple of my favourite TV shows that you could probably point to and say ‘like that.’ If you look at something like Life on Mars or Misfits, outwardly, the setting is very ordinary and mundane, but something extraordinary is happening just beneath the surface.  I think that Jacob’s story is like that.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

This is where I come undone.  Colin Morgan’s face just pops up every time – not because he looks remotely like any of the characters, but just because I’d make sure I was on set every day!  This is a tricky question, though, because the main characters are all teenagers so the actors young enough to play them would probably be fairly unknown.  I think for Jacob’s best friend, Luca, Jonathan Bailey (from CBBC’s Leonardo) would be pretty cool.  For Jacob, I could really see Jeremy Sumpter looking right, although he may be a little old now as I’m still remembering him like he was in Peter Pan. Maybe someone similar.  But if Colin Morgan would dye his hair blonde then he’d be a definite Jacob!  Actually, for Ellen, someone who looks sort of like Katie McGrath would be good, only she’d have to look seventeen (sorry Katie!). Luckily I’m not a casting executive – my requirements would be pretty vague!

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s bad enough writing an ordinary synopsis!  One sentence?  Ok. I’m totally rebelling with one and a half…

All Jacob has to do is cheat death, yet again, find another like him amongst the seven billion people that swarm over the face of the planet before Makash does, and thwart the prophecy that spells his doom. No pressure then… 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agent?

Sky Song is self-published so The Young Moon will follow suit.  Unless some miracle occurs between now and March and an agent takes me on.  What’s that you say?  More chance of hitching a lift in the Tardis?  To be honest, though, I’m quite enjoying self-publishing at the moment – it can offer a lot of freedom to a jobbing writer like me in terms of deadlines and creative decisions.

7. How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

If I have a good run at it, a first draft can take maybe 5 or 6 weeks.  I don’t exactly remember how long The Young Moon took but I’d say it was around that. It’s the editing and fine tuning that takes a lot more time than that.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within the genre?

I genuinely can’t think of anything like it. That’s not me showing off my originality, it’s me showing off how woefully unread I am lately!  There are lots of books that tackle ‘chosen ones’ with great destinies, but I don’t know any of them that do it in such a domestic setting with so much emphasis on the emotional impact of that.  The only one I can think of that deals with it any similar way is Harry Potter, but Jacob’s story is nothing like Harry’s other than he does have a destiny that he can’t escape.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Oh dear.  I have to say, again, that the first book inspired this book!  Sky Song came to me as a vague idea about a little girl whose father watched the skies every night.  She wondered why and it took her a few years to figure out that he was watching for someone, rather than something.  The little girl turned into a teenage boy and the thing that came from the stars was his destiny. Then I started to think that if someone just pitched up at my door when I thought I had my life worked out and landed me with a destiny I hadn’t asked for, how would I react?  That’s pretty much the heart of Jacob’s dilemma.

10.  What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It features hot teenage boys.  Am I allowed to say that? Oh… erm, then it has a very important message about friendship and… oh hell, who am I kidding, hot teenage boys is my USP!

Next it’s the turn of Emma and Jack…

Emma Adams is 21-year-old author of THE PUPPET SPELL, a quirky YA fantasy published by Rowanvale Books. She is currently studying English Literature with Creative Writing at LancasterUniversity whilst writing the sequel and also working on the creepy paranormal Darkworld series. Check out her  blog about her writing journey, where she posts weekly updates and writing tips, and also regular book reviews and features.

Jack Croxall is a YA fiction author and science writer living in Nottinghamshire. He tweets via @JackCroxall, and you can find out more about his novel, Tethers, by visiting www.jackcroxall.co.uk

Look out for their Next Big Thing Q&As next week.