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Review: Live Garden Launch at Newcastle Live Theatre

The Walls Begin To Talk

Live Garden Launch
Newcastle Live Theatre
Friday 8th - Sunday 10th July 2016

The Live Garden represents a £10.5 million investment that creates not only a live performance space but also Live Tales, a brand new creative writing centre for children and young people and new commercial space. Such a large project deserves the recognition of a big launch event. It is fitting that this show was both reflective of the Theatre’s past and signposts its future too in an entertaining 50 minutes.

Fresh from his door-to-door poetry shows (LINK) Rowan McCabe collects the audience from the bar and guides them to the new garden. He was engaging as the Rhyming Guide, one participant was heard to comment that he must surely be using a microphone given the clarity of his voice projection. No, his experience on the fringe and festival circuit ensured he knew how the get the audiences attention.

Rowan delivers the crowd to Trevor Fox for the single-handed piece Wor Tony And The Great White Shark by Alan Plater. He plays Davie whose brother has told the local press that a great white basking shark is heading up the River Tyne. A great raconteur of tales, Tony has the media in a spin and he has the Tyne Bridge traffic at a standstill. Trevor Fox has a friendly style that draws the audience in. His willingness to use the audience helps break down the fourth wall. Laughs were aplenty.

Rowan, armed with a ukulele, was threatening to break out into a song about the Tyne when he was replaced by Slap, Strum & Squeeze, a musical 3 piece.  Phil Corbett, Jane Holman and Zoe Lambert gave a well executed medley of river based songs from Fog On The Tyne through to Shipbuilding.

The audience were then led to the middle of the garden to watch the specially commissioned Peter And The Wild Flowers.With movement and direction by Liv Lorent and music by Scott Twynholm this was a thoughtful exploration into childhood. This is a piece created in collaboration, and performed by, the Live’s Youth Theatre who have been working with balletLORENT dancers Natalie Trewinnard and Caroline Reece. 
The cast of over 30 begin in a nightmarish world of masks and abstract sound. Quickly the action turns into a full assault of children at play from fights with plastic swords and water pistols to chasing each other around.   
The action is elaborately choreographed building up to a climax in which the trappings of childhood are rejected. In a bizarre scene we see the end of Barbie and this is followed by a Matrix-style choice to accept or reject adulthood. The lively production was enthusiastically received by the audience.

The launch event was completed with another performance by Slap, Strum & Squeeze as they as eventually joined by the young people for If These Walls Could Talk. The overall theme from Rowan McCabe, in his tour, was about the history of the area so it is fitting that the show finishes with song which celebrates the great Live Theatre productions. In the Jane Holman penned song we are reminded of shows from Cooking With Elvis through to Bones.

A release of balloons signalled the end of an eclectic series of performances. From attention-seeking spoken word, through song to a fabulous performance by the Live’s Youth Theatre, the launch was a treat from start to finish.

The cast of Peter And The Wild Flowers included:
Izzy Sorby, Lydia Brickland, Katie Shaw, Leo Wright, Callum Smith, Lilith Allen, Louis Jolly-Passant, Chantelle Gibson, Miranda Williams, Caelan Oram, Finn Conlan, Naimh Conlan, Molly Smith, Saffron Sims-Brydon, Pebble Jolly-Passant, dawn Wangari Hardcastle, Tommi Vicky Otieno, Joe Theobald, Thea Nichols, Freya Moss, Bob Oliver, Elspeth Robinson, Alex Wood, Sean Tyrala, Hannah McEwen, Leo James, Jemima Green, Kalem Patterson, Sarah Armstrong, Reece Lumsden, James Smith and Anna Robinson.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Read the original North East Theatre Guide preview: Review LINK

Future Events:
The Savage is a family friendly play suitable for ages 9+ and is at Live Theatre, Newcastlefrom Thursday 30 June to Saturday 23 July. Read the North East Theatre Guide review here: Review LINK

Live Gardenwill also host further events throughout the year including a Mini Melaon Sunday 17 July between 11am and 3pm. GemArts Masala Festival will culminate with a spectacular outdoor event as it brings Live Gardento life with all the fun, hustle and bustle of an Indian bazaar.

In the autumn Live Garden will participate in the national Fun Palaces initiative on Saturday 1 October between 11am and 5pm, with workshops and performances, including puppetry and illustration, for families and young people, as well as pop up events all day with storytelling, acoustic buskers and much more.

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