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Books You Need In Your Life: July - September 2017

Welcome to the third quarterly edition of my Books You Need In Your Life series! I've read some absolute crackers over the course of the summer months, including the following...

Notes On My Family by Emily Critchley

'Dad has made Spaghetti Bolognese...I only have the Bolognese as I don't eat starch and protein together and Nan only has Bolognese because she thinks pasta is exotic.'

Your One Stop Free-From Tea And Biscuits Guide

So here’s the thing. I’m the first one to stick my hand up in the air and declare myself a complete and utter loser, for multiple things in life, but in this case for being THAT person who would choose a nice cup of tea over vodka shots. I’ll take the complete mickey out of myself for the joy I get from sitting down with a nice brew, a biscuit (or five), putting my feet up, and watching This Morning, and I’m more than aware that I’m probably old before my time. 

I’m not gonna lie, I just took a moment to read back what I’ve written and reflect on the fact that I’m twenty two years old and sitting here writing a blog post about my favourite tea and biscuits. But you know what? I stand by my belief that the humble tea and biscuit break is completely under-rated, and I can almost guarantee that I’m not alone in this. LET US ALL ENJOY TEA AND BISCUITS WITHOUT SOCIETAL JUDGEMENT.

In line with that, it just so happens that I am allergic to life. 

The Addams Family UK Tour - Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

Expectations: 4.5/5
Reality: 5/5

Chronic Illness Friendly: 2/5 - Lots of strobe lighting and pyrotechnics throughout with no build-up, each instance lasting for a couple of seconds: I’d be particularly cautious if you suffer from photosensitivity, migraines or any similar conditions. Some surprising, jumpy moments too, enough so that the woman sat next to me physically levitated out of her seat in shock a handful of times throughout the performance… Regardless, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to tolerate odd moments of these things, like me, this is definitely one of those shows that’s worth the payback. 

I’ve just settled down to write this review, and I’m already smiling. The Addams Family UK Tour, directed by Matthew White, was one of the best shows I’ve seen this year, and it feels like a privilege to have experienced it for myself. Ironically, it was only because my best pal Izzy was desperate to see the show that I booked us tickets for her birthday; and once again, something that wasn’t initially my choice has ended up being one of my all-time favourites.

Day One Theatre's No Exit: Theatre Review

“Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.” 

Expectations: 3/5
Reality: 4/5
Chronic Illness Friendly: 3/5 - the performance itself was very suitable for those with sensory issues, although the lack of interval may be something to take into account. The venue is inaccessible to wheelchair users; I've emailed to ask what their plans are to address this, but am yet to hear back. Will update if they do get back to me!

Upon entering Sheffield Montgomery Theatre (with difficulty because lol, steps), I had no idea what to expect for the next 90 minutes. However, I really enjoyed Day One Theatre Group's performance of No Exit; a harrowing play by Jean-Paul Satre, first performed in 1944. This kind of piece is quite far out of my usual comfort zone, but under Laurie Nelson's direction, proved to be engaging and thought-provoking nonetheless. In short, a Valet delivers three seemingly random strangers into a minimalist room located in hell, where they are to spend the rest of their existence. A kind of existentialist Big Brother, if you will. Channel 5, where are you at?

The set and costuming were both appropriate and non-intrusive, and the small cast of just four performers were all committed to their roles. Although brief, Matthew Carroll's performance as The Valet was captivating and a solid introduction to the piece. Throughout the rest of the performance, it was so enjoyable to have three talented and committed actors to watch. Not only were their individual parts strong and convincing, their relationships between each other had clearly been thought about in depth, and added an extra dynamic to the piece. 

John Paul Kubon as Garcin gave a particularly notable performance, with the anguish radiating off him really drawing the audience in. Kate Spivey as Estelle added a comedic portrayal of an ultimately disturbing character, and I found that her parts really helped me to remain engaged throughout the performance. This contrasted nicely with Jade Strain's role of Inez, delivered with certainty and an air of authority which really captured Inez's underlying wit and insight into the nature of the other characters. 

Above all, this performance appeared to be successful in encouraging audiences to think about and question their own definition of what hell is. As referred to in the play, is hell really the physical pain and anguish it's typically portrayed as, or is it mental torture that arises from being trapped in a room with those put there to see the worst in yourself? Personally, I'm not sure which seems like the safer option any more. If you had to, which would you choose?

Many thanks to Day One Theatre Group for initing me to review, and congratulations for putting on an excellent (and now sold out!) show: find out more about their work here!

If you liked this post, you might like this one: my review of What We Wished For by Sheffield People's Theatre!

Current TV, Film and YouTube Faves

It’s no secret that us chronically ill people spend a lot of time in bed, due to our conditions. Whilst not all of us are well enough to handle watching TV/films/videos, many of us do spend a good chunk of our rest and recovery time becoming emotionally invested in various programmes and channels. I’m always on the lookout for new recommendations, so I thought I’d share some of my current favourites and you can judge me on how bizarre/uncool most of them are. YAY!