Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All Hail Edward II - Royal Exchange, Manchester

Theatre: Royal Exchange, Manchester
Play: Edward II
Date: 12th September 2011
Director: Toby Frow
By JoJo Kirtley

Toby Frow’s updated direction of Marlowe’s Edward II is set in the 1950’s. It starts before the actual performance and outside of the normal theatre space; the foyer of the Royal Exchange transformed into a cosy jazz bar for all to see. The atmosphere is certainly electric as the audience arrive to see a couple canoodling on the dance floor and a live jazz band entertaining the crowds. We are happy and merry. We are all ready to be entertained. We take are seats and watch the characters of this 50’s bar flirt, dance and kiss; smoking roll ups, smudging red lipstick, clicking their heels and admiring each other’s beauty. We are drawn into this ambience, this beautiful, alluring, false sense of security. Then, the real action begins and the gasps and murmurs from the audience say it all as we follow the story of Edward II’s very demise.
The action begins when on the death of Edward I, Edward II, brilliantly played by Chris New, calls for his banished lover, Gaveston (Samuel Collings) to be reinstated from exile. On his return, the King neglects his duties and indeed his wife, in favour of being controlled by his favourite lover. This does not please the king’s nobles who vote for Gaveston’s re-exile. However, Queen Isabella hatches a plan with her own lover, Mortimer to destroy the King. She calls on the nobles to welcome back Gaveston so that they can plot to kill him. Gaveston does eventually return (to an airport arrival lounge) and is brutally murdered. The King, devastated continues to ignore his wife (and duties) but is eventually brutally murdered himself, by a hired hit-man.
Once again, the Royal Exchange has taken a play and made it their very own. Frow’s direction is clever, yet suggestive with a fresh take on this historical play, which is originally set in the fourteenth century. The cast command the stage with confidence and make full use the remarkable set, designed by Ben Stone. Edward II is a physically demanding, brutal piece of theatre where I wholeheartedly struggle to empathise with any character but this is what makes it so tragic. I felt that setting the play in the 50’s was a tall order met wonderfully by the talented cast and creative crew. The use of police adds an interesting dimension to the production and there is almost a strange echo of Margaret Thatcher in Emma Cunniffe’s tormented but vengeful Queen Isabella, especially as she regains power and plots her retribution with an army of policemen behind her.
For me, it was Samuel Collings who absolutely stole the show. First, as the King’s eye-liner-wearing lover; his version of the James Dean look-a-like, Gaveston, was electric and secondly, as his disturbing portrayal of the King’s torturer, which is almost unwatchable.

An enticing and chilling production of Marlowe’s play, which raises its very own questions about the existence, influence and importance of the British monarchy.

On until 8th October, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Walkers Sunbites: The tasty wholegrain crispy snack

Walkers Sunbites, the tasty wholegrain crispy snack, have added two brand new flavours to their range. Lightly Sea Salted and Cheddar and Caramelised Onion have joined their Sweet Chilli, Sour Cream and Onion and Rosemary cousins in a line-up of ‘natural flavours that charm your taste buds’.

Need to shift the pounds you put on in cocktails over the summer holidays? Attempting to start your Christmas-do diet early? Yeah, we are too. BDT thoroughly recommends picking up a pack of Sunbites. Your standard 25g bag contains just 120 calories - 6 per cent of an adult’s Guideline Daily Allowance (GDA) - but as they are brimming with flavour, you really would never guess.  

If you are more concerned by content than calories, you’ll be as pleased as we were to hear that Sunbites are true to their tagline. The ‘Wholegrain Crispy Snack’ really is just that with an impressive 67 per cent wholegrain content, made up of whole corn, whole wheat and Quaker® whole oat flour. That’s an impressive one third of your recommended daily intake of wholegrain. Say goodbye to baddies, Sunbites contain no artificial colours or preservatives.

As the BDT girls are making and effort to add more wholegrain our diets, we love the ‘How to get Wholegrain into your Diet’ section of the Sunbites website. Sunbites are more than just a healthy substitute for your regular packet of crisps; crush them over your salad for an interesting texture or snap over your soup for an autumn alternative

A taste innovation, the wholegrain adds a sweeter dimension to the snack. While the crisp, yet particularly crunchy texture makes these snacks one on their own. We found it easy to enjoy Sunbites without feeling as though they are attempting to replace a much tastier, bad-for-you alternative.

The extended range of flavours means there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. While we enjoyed the delicacy of the new Lightly Sea Salted Sunbites, the other four really were a flavour sensation. Unlike many low fat products, this is a snack which does not compromise on taste and the contemporary flavours aptly match the butterfly-laced, voguish finish of the packaging.

Give them a try by heading over to the Sunbites Facebook Fan Page and grabbing a free bag off Auntie Aggie. She’s not going to give up without a fight though; those Sunbites are worth the battle. If they’re good enough for Rebecca Ferguson, they’re good enough for us girls at BDT.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Weighty Issue!

Weight; come on, who can honestly hand on heart say that they don't have a issue with theirs? Be it that you feel you are too skinny or even too fat, a bit extra around the waist, or your cankles you disapprove of, we all have something we don't like.

Over at BDT weight is a constant discussion point for us all, we are a woman heavy team so it is very rare that a day doesn't go by were the talk of diet. Between us we follow Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Lighter Life and a do it yourself.

But why is it we strive for perfection so much? We have all read and seen that the magazines airbrush celebs photos.

The nations average dress size is now a 14, so in fact we are normal and we consistently push ourselves to become something that is abnormal!

I myself after baring two rather heavy boys have received, stretch marks an extra two inches around the hips and, dare I say it, saggy breasts. Would I return my boys to get my old body back? Hell no. They give me hours of laughter each and every day and whilst I still have a husband that loves me, why should I care?

So do I ditch the diet and live my life to the full instead? Can I not just live in Bridget Jones' and wear scaffolding for a bra? Only I can decide the weight that I am happy with, however at some point we all need to remember that every now and again that slice of cake or bar of chocolate is just what the Doctor ordered. So kick back relax and remember you are normal.