Netflix and Chill at Drayton Arms Theatre – Review

Netflix and Chill at Drayton Arms Theatre

Have you ever wondered what goes through people’s head in certain situations? What do you think about during a date? Or the random thoughts that go through your head during sex? What about when someone’s mental health is deteriorating?

Netflix and Chill is a story that follows Ben , a working class chef, who’s life spirals out of control after trying to rekindle a relationship with his mum. His work, friendships and love life are all tested as his week goes from bad to worse.

 Netflix and Chill at The Drayton Arms Theatre

Netflix and Chill is essentially an in depth look at male mental health and how our inner dialogue can have such a massive impact on how we see and react to everyday situations. It follows the story of Ben, played by Tom Stocks who also wrote the play, who works as a chef in a pub and has been estranged from his mum for over 11 years. It opens with him meeting his mum for the first time since she left her abusive partner and is now trying to rekindle their relationship, something that is only touched on at the start of the play. Immediately the inner dialogue becomes apparent and we get the feel of how the story is going to be told.

Netflix amd Chill at The Drayton Arms Theatre

It seems like nothing is working out for Ben at the moment, from the relationship with his mum to his lack of progress on Tinder with most dates cancelling on him at the last minute. Only Ryan, his good friend at work, appears to be a constant. Ryan is over the top, loud, upbeat and appears to be living life to the fullest at the weekends. He’s crude, outspoken and tells it like it is, however inappropriate at the time. The connection between the two characters highlights the pressures men face in modern life, with the toxic world of ‘lad culture’ and the difficulties they face in all situations when it comes to talking about their feelings.

Netflix and Chill at the Drayton Arms Theatre

The inner dialogue that runs throughout will be familiar to most people. We all have those ‘what if’ moments, those constant nagging doubts and the replaying of conversations over and over in our minds. Then add in the bravado of the early twenties age group, modern dating, online and off, and the pressure to be living life to the fullest and you will have an idea of the types of subjects covered in this play. The name ‘Netflix and Chill’ is an indicator itself due to the modern meaning attached to it.

It certainly doesn’t shy away from awkward topics, scenes or conversations throughout. It uses crude and raw language as would be used by that age group and is an unapologetic look at how tough navigating a new relationship can be with all the modern pressures pushing heavily from the edges. This is harshly highlighted with Ben becoming overwhelmed on a night out, having had too much to drink and seeing his friend Ryan head home with his schoolgirl crush, it culminates in a monumental breakdown of sorts at the club. This whole scene and the lead up is an incredible piece of acting by Tom Stocks and it certainly feels like it comes from the heart.

Tom Stocks Netflix and Chill

However dark the play becomes, it is portrayed with great humour and the bravado of lads banter lifts the dark moments into something completely relatable and real. Using the deflection of comedy there are stories of tragic sexual conquests, prostitute encounters in Magaluf and dare I even mention the bus tray ejaculation! Throw in the bedroom scene with Ben and Sophie, which leaves no holds barred in its hilarious internal narrative, and you will be laughing out loud. The play is entertaining throughout regardless of its subject.

Netflix and Chill at the Drayton Arms Theatre

At different points in the play both Sophie and Jill give Ben the opportunity to talk about what is going on, however, this only encapsulates the fact that men are the ones that still need to breakdown the stigma of mental health amongst each other. The play is a stark reminder that with male mental health there is no one mask that fits all, it can present itself in different ways and can be very hard to detect. It’s a story written from personal experiences and aims to be a pathway to approach and open conversations around mental health and male suicide.

Netflix and Chill is at The Drayton Arms Theatre until Feb 29th 2020

Tickets £16 / £14 (concessions)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Cast

Ben – Tom Stocks

Mum – Julia Binysh

Jill – Charlotte Price

Ryan – Joseph Lindoe

Sophie – Emily Ellis

Creative Team

Writer – Tom Stocks

Director – Luke Adamson

Producer – JLA Productions & Actor Awareness

Sound Design – Luke Adamson

Set and Lighting – JLA Productions

Photography – Cam Harle Photography

My 50 things before I’m 50 list

                 50 things before I’m 50 list

50 things before I'm 50

**UPDATE** Due to the lockdown I have extended the time limit on my 50 things before I’m 50 until the end of this year for obvious reasons……….and I hope I will be able to achieve a lot of what I have listed (fingers crossed!)

This is a 50 before I’m 50 list with a difference. Not a fantastical bucket list of amazing things to do, but rather a ‘make time for the smaller things’ that will make your day or weekend special list. I’ve also added a few extra special events thrown in that I wont need to win the lottery in order to fulfil them.

I’m due to turn the big 5-0 in July this year. Most of the lists I see for people hitting milestone birthdays are pretty epic and in fairness they give themselves a year or more to do them.

I, on the other hand, only really thought about it recently when it dawned on me that my 50th birthday is in fact this bloody year……………I still can’t quite believe it.

For me though, I feel I have a lot of things I could easily do at any time and yet I don’t actually set the time aside to do them. I’m not really talking about big holidays or jumping from a plane, my body could no longer cope with that. In any case, I have wing walked twice ( on the original Crunchie plane, one of which was at an International Air Display). I’ve also been dangled out of Sea King rescue helicopters too many times to count,so I think I’ve done my daredevil bit when I was much younger.

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Blitz at The Union Theatre – Review

Blitz at The Union Theatre – Review

Blitz is just one of the shows at The Union Theatre that is part of the Phil Willmott Company’s Essential Classics season 2020: V.E DAY – 75 YEARS ON.

It is based during WWII in London where both the Jewish Blitztein family & the cockney Locke family live. When the children from these opposite families fall in love a wonderfully poignant wartime romance starts to unfold.

Blitz at The Union Theatre London

This classic style musical from Lionel Bart has an instant feel of being a much bigger show. The songs tell the story and the dance routines portray that old fashioned  ‘good old knees up’ atmosphere that gives a sense of inclusiveness with the audience being so close. The set is bustling and busy with lots of individual connections between the characters going on, whilst the main premise of the story starts to develop. The space is cleverly utilised not only to create the claustrophobic feel of being stuck on an underground tube platform but also the winding feel of the  narrow lane aspect of the area at that time.

Mrs Blitztein ( Jessica Martin) instantly presents as the strong matriarch of the Blitztein  family as well as the natural leader of the group. She has inevitably earned the reputation of ‘Queen of Petticoat Lane’ with her being both loved and feared by her neighbours and friends. Her rivalry with the outspoken Mr Locke (Michael Martin) is blatantly apparent from the outset, it generates the witty undercurrent of disdain between the two characters, focusing on the differences in their families throughout the performance.

Blitz is essentially a celebration of the working class spirit during a time when unspeakable horrors occurred, night after night, as bombs were dropped relentlessly on London and other British cities throughout the war. It captures the unquestioned camaraderie of the time in London’s East End, the pulling together as one against the Nazis as a whole, and the simple fact that life still goes on regardless. Yes there was raw, heartbreaking suffering and terrible loss and complete terror, but it was faced with that  ‘stiff upper lip’ high spirits and the typical unwavering humour making the most of a bad lot.

This musical encapsulates all the emotions across the board. Enthusiasm exudes from all the cast keen to make you connect with all their individual stories. The highs and lows of life during the war and what people had to do to survive. Jessica Martin’s portrayal of the formidable Mrs Blitztein reels you in helplessly from the very start. We are left knowing that in spite of everything we do need those natural leaders, those strong family characters that hold everyone together in difficult or uneasy times. Which is even more prevalent now in 2020 with all its impending uncertainty.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

PERFORMANCES

  • DATES5th February – 7th March 2020
  • TIMESTuesday to Saturday @ 7.30pm
    Saturday and Sunday @ 2.30pm from February 15th

TICKETS

  • FULL PRICE £22
  • CONCESSIONS £20
  • UNDER 18S £15

SEASON TICKET OFFER
See Tom Brown’s School Days, Blitz and Peace in Our Time for just £50. Bookable in Advance until February 1st

CAST

Jessica Martin  – Mrs Blitztein
Caitlin Anderson – Carol
Anna Robertson – Cissie
Robbie  MCartney – Harry
Corinna Marlowe – Esther
Michael Martin – Mr Locke
Connor Carson – George
James Horne – Ernie
Vicki Mason -Miss Joseph
James Georgiou -Mr Finklesstein
Danniella Schindler – Rachel
Beaux Harris – Elsie
Eleanor Sandars – Joyce
Charlotte Bradley – Peg
Eleanor Griffiths – multiple roles
Jack Slatter – multiple roles
Lorne Taylor – multiple roles
Stephen Hayward – multiple roles

CREATIVES

Director
Phil Wilmott

Musical Director
Rosa Lennox

Choreographer
Daniel Maguire

Set Designer
Reuben Speed

Costume Designer
Penn O’Gara

Lighting Designer
Harvey Nowak-Green

Sound Designer
Ralph Warman

Assistant Director & Dramaturg
Phil Setren

Casting Director
Adam Braham

Producer
Sasha Regan

Associate Producer
Maison Kelley

At Last at Lion and Unicorn Theatre

At Last at Lion and Unicorn Theatre – Review

I’ve had a lot of firsts for me this year on the blog and now I can add Fringe Theatre to that list.

When someone says Fringe Theatre what do you think?

I literally had no clue what to expect when I was invited along with another theatre lover to see the play At Last at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in the Kentish Town area of London, to see this production by Proforca Theatre Company, written by James Lewis and Alexander Knott and directed by David Brady.

At Last

 

The pub itself looks as though it has been quite newly refurbished and was inviting and welcoming inside. The theatre is upstairs and reminded me of my son’s blacked out school drama theatre, so think small and intimate and as a guesstimate there was about 45 of us there last night (give or take a few). So it was a sold out performance.

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London Escaped Vampire Slayer escape room – Review

First of all I want to make it clear that this was my very first time in an escape room ever, so this review is based solely on that one experience rather than a comparison to other escape rooms of other styles.

London Escaped have a couple of different rooms to experience such as the Da Vinci and The Prisoner, but I went with a lovely group of escape room veterans via Love London Pop Ups to give their new Vampire Slayer game a try.

So, as someone who hasn’t been to an escape room before I was literally going in blind with absolutely no clue of what to expect. I knew there would be clues and puzzles to work out and obviously you are under a time pressure to ‘escape’. We were a group of 7 people and for this game they advise between 2-8 people but it can accommodate up to 10 people if necessary and it lasts for 60 minutes. We were there for a 4pm start and at that point in the reception area it wasn’t busy and it was great for a novice like me to get a sneak peek into some of the other rooms.

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Review- Buck Buck Games – The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar

I was recently invited to attend the new immersive theatre game, The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar, by Buck Buck Games in their residency at The Owl and the Hitchhiker pub on Holloway Road, London.

I’ve never really attended anything immersive theatre related, or escape room related before so I literally had no idea what I was walking into, but the Buck Buck Games website describe it as ‘ Our event games and characters combine escape rooms, immersive theatre and murder mystery with fun fuelled challenges’ so I thought I would take my husband along for unique evening out!

The pub itself is a complete hidden treasure in, it’s quirkiness is apparent as soon as you walk in ( it has hairdryers all hanging from the ceiling above the bar!). It has a table tennis table around the back of the bar and there were a group of people playing card games at one of the tables and a couple in one of the booth seating areas playing monopoly……….so not your typical pub in any sense. They have a great menu ( our plan was to eat before we played but unfortunately the traffic was not on our side that evening and we didn’t have enough time) including an extensive vegan selection, and although we didn’t get the chance to eat, the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked very good.

Anyway, on to the games. As we arrived and got a drink we could see more groups turning up and congregating at the bottom of the stairs were the games were advertised.

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So, what’s next for Mrs B?

I’ve certainly been asking myself that for a while now. I’m a mum of 2 boys but they are now 20 and 17 (almost18), finding their own independence, as one is at uni and the other is at 6th form and also working a part time job. I have been married for 24 years and my hubby is a shift worker so that means I now spend the majority of my time alone! Due to my illness and chronic pain I’m no longer able to work a conventional job (I was a driving instructor), but I’m lucky that blogging and running social media accounts can be done in pj’s even on a bad day if necessary.

Yet when the boys where younger my life was busy (illness or not) with after school clubs, kids parties, meeting up with friends in the holidays etc, and although I am still officially a taxi service, a cook and a bank, my life is much more subdued. That in itself gives you time…………………..LOTS of time! Time to ponder and think about your own role in life. Yes I am still a wife and a mum but I am also ME. So, with 48 looming very quickly (and my hubby turning 50 last year!) I am starting to think about my time. How do I want to spend my time now my kids are off doing their own thing most of the time? Read more

Bella Italia Oprington review

This time last week I had the chance to pop along the the new branch of Bella Italia that has opened in Orpington just next to the new cinema complex at The Walnuts centre. I have to admit it has been a few years since I was in a Bella Italia restaurant and so I was interested to see what had changed both in style and menu.

On entering the quirky style decor caught my eye immediately with vibrant colours and fabulous wall art. What did catch my attention was the brilliant use of lots of huge old picture frames painted in bright colours that made up the so called ceiling which you could see much higher up. I also adored the wire framed bulb lights which really suited the style perfectly.

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Coast to Coast America Grill Bar- review

Coast to Coast America Grill Bar- review

Last week I went along to the Coast To Coast American Grill Bar near Rochester to try out their menu and one of their lovely cocktails. I have never eaten in this chain of restaurants before so I was keen to try out something from their menu.

When we walked in it reminded me of another chain of ‘american grill style’ restaurants. It was nicely laid out with lots of booth seating and it automatically gave off a lively, fun, easy going feel.

We were seated in a circular booth seating area that looked over the restaurant and we could could also see the open style cooking area. It was a Saturday evening so the restaurant was fairly busy but this did not distract from the service we received while we were there.

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Brewers Fayre- Midweek Value and Autumn menu

Brewers Fayre- Midweek Value and Autumn menu

I will admit the only time I have used a Brewers Fayre is when I have stayed in a Premier Inn. It was a branch of the restaurant attached and each time we have been happy enough with the style of food and the choice offered.

Recently, in my local area a new Brewers Fayre has popped up next to a new hotel branch in Bexleyheath and I was lucky enough to get the chance to try out their menu.

In general there is a good varied choice of dishes available. But along side that there is a ‘midweek value’ style offer which allows you to get 2 mains off the list for £10.99, with the bonus of 2 starters for £2.50, and 2 desserts for £2.50.  Their fizzy soft drinks are also sold as a refillable option which offers amazing value when you have teenagers that eat and drink like adults. They also have added some new menu choices under an ‘Autumn range‘ throughout the main menu such as Cock- a – Leekie soup, Chicken and ham pie or even Smoked Haddock Florentine to name a couple.

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