Vagina Monologues review for the Reading Post
October 9, 2012, 7:54 pm
Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , ,

I have always blogged about the great opportunity to do features across the three papers we have based in Reading and last week I reviewed The Vagina Monologues for The Reading Post. It was the first time I have had to be rude about someone but unfortunately Chelsee Healey was awful and I had to be honest!

The original review can be viewed here.

The Vagina Monologues
The Hexagon, Reading
Monday, October 1, 8pm

Ladies if you fancy a night out minus men then it can almost be guaranteed at a performance of The Vagina Monologues (bar the one per cent who get dragged along).

I doubt The Hexagon has ever had so many women in one go!

The thing I love about this text is that each actress can make it her own in each performance – for anyone who doesn’t know, the play is a collection of monologues inspired by interviews with women about their you-know-what.

And although the title may sound crass it is quite the opposite – yes there are lots of laughs as every possible term for the female anatomy is thrown around but the play also confronts serious issues like genital mutilation and rape.

The set up is always the same – three famous women sitting on stools and chatting to an audience who can easily identify with the subject matter.

But since the play made its debut in 1996 it is constantly evolving to keep it current and this production was no exception.

For this UK tour, running until October 27, the line up is Corrie’s Janice Battersby aka Vicky Entwistle, 2point4 Children’s Clare Buckfield and Waterloo Road’s Chelsee Healey.

Vicky Entwistle and Clare Buckfield stole the show and carried the other actress, who looked like she had arrived on stage by accident.

Vicky was a far cry from the disliked gobby factory worker on Corrie and was a warm likeable and versatile performer who had the audience in stitches with her multitude of characters and energy.

Clare took on the two most challenging monologues – My Angry Vagina and My Vagina Was My Village. These tackle everything from tampons to rape camps and her performance was stunning. The Dancing on Ice star also gave When Harry met Sally’s Meg Ryan a run for her money with a scene reminiscent of the well-known cafe moment from the movie. And she reminded the audience she gets to do that six times a week.

Chelsee Healey looked lost and awkward on stage. Her accents were poor, she had her head down reading off a script and she stumbled over her lines. She also looked as if she found saying the word vagina awkward. Maybe stick to the dancing Chelsee.

Despite this puzzling choice of actress, the other two carried the performance and had the majority of lines.

Reading Hexagon was the perfect venue for this show and as hoards of women left the theatre there was a definite vibe of the sisterhood with ripples of feminism unleashed into the town.

I also had a second pop at the 60 second news last Thursday here. It goes up on YouTube too and someone commented ‘bad hair day?’ which made me laugh…then again someone else tweeted I had nice hair, so everyone is entitled to their own opinion!

Looking forward to the Reading Comedy Festival – I have interviewed four comedians/acts so need to get those written up soon 🙂

First ever restaurant review: The Bird in Hand at Twyford
September 26, 2012, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Food reviews | Tags: , , ,

This article was originally published in the Reading Post and Wokingham Times. I could get used to writing about eating!

A country pub restaurant just 10 minutes taxi ride from Twyford train station is an ambient little gem.

The Bird in Hand Country Inn on the A4 Bath Road is a 14th Century inn that isn’t stuck in the Dark Ages.

It boasts a popular bar with a cosy feel, a restaurant and 20 rooms, including two new suites and five superior rooms, so you can enjoy real ales and organic wines without worrying about who will drive home.

Friendly staff could not do enough when we visited on a Saturday night – we were very well looked after.

We didn’t have to ask for table water, always a plus, and staff were keen to share recommendations from the wine and food menus.

The inn offers a range to choose from including a daily meal deal, daily specials, Sunday roasts and a lunchtime buffet.

With one eye on food miles, it aims to source ingredients locally when possible. And, as if that wasn’t enough, it can accommodate special diets without a fuss.

The choice isn’t just with the menu; you can eat in the bar or the restaurant, private dining areas are available and, in warmer weather, you can also dine al fresco.

On our visit there were five starters, one of which – the mussels – had sold out, so we’ll have to be quicker next time.

Thankfully, the warm goats cheese and onion marmalade on a walnut crouton with mixed leaves and roasted beetroot (£6.95) and black pudding, brie and bacon salad with wholegrain mustard dressing (£7.25) more than made up for it.

Hungry as we were, the starters were generous with their portions – meaning we had to pace ourselves as we were planning, all in the name of research, to try three courses.

Mains include everything from fresh fish, veggie dishes, and a range of steaks freshly flamed on the grill.

There are also salads and food from around the world from the very British steak and kidney pudding (£13.95) to aromatic Thai green curry (£13.95).

It is a hearty balance indeed.

My friend chose the rack of lamb in a port and redcurrant sauce, sauté potatoes and green beans (£19.95) and I selected the venison steak in a raspberry sauce with red cabbage and sauté potatoes (£16.95) from the specials menu.

The lamb was perfectly pink and tasted great.

The chef had also supplied us with some extra mint sauce and redcurrant jelly.

The venison had a great flavour and the raspberries were creative but may prove sickly to someone without a sweet tooth like me.

I would have also preferred to have a greater range of sides in smaller portions as again the mains were generous.

Despite the large portions we could not resist pudding and everything looked truly sumptuous.

Signature pudding A Tidy Bird in Hand Mess (£5.95) was again large, but the raspberries, peaches and passion fruit combined with meringue, ice cream and cream was lovely and light after a hefty main.

The Sunken Drunken Chocolate Cake served with ice cream (£5.95) was also delicious.

It’s worth saving room for a tasty pud, but be ready to share.

The dessert menu also includes a Berkshire-based cheeseboard, with Barkham Blue and Spenwood as two of the choices.

I’ll be back to The Bird in Hand as there is so much more to try.

Reading Festival guide for Reading Post

One of the things I love about my job is that I get the opportunity to write features for the Reading Post and Get Reading. From laughter workshops to Cardiff press trips there’s a chance to do all types of writing.

Here are some pre-pieces I did for Reading Festival for the Reading Post Festival guide.

(Oh and apologies for not writing for absolutely ages!)

Click on the links for interviews.

Interview with The Kaiser Chiefs

Interview with the divine Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable

Five minutes with Spector

Dog is Dead are amazing!

Also got street styled by Company magazine at Reading Festival at the weekend.

Here is the pic.

Have just submitted my Reading review to This Festival Feeling  so will post that here soon when it is up.