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Why You Should See Princess & The Hustler This Week

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I had a great evening at Hull Truck Theatre last night and this is why you should go and see Princess & The Hustler.

When I arrived at the theatre there was a small stage set up in the foyer. Whilst having pre-show drinks, everyone was treated to a lovely singer called Rebecca Ramone. Rebecca sang quite a few Motown songs, and not only did she set the mood for the evening, she was very pleasant to listen too.

The play is set in 1963 Bristol and follows Jamaican immigrant Mavis (Donna Berlin) and her two children, Junior (Fode Simbo) and Princess (Kudzai Sitima). Junior is a budding photographer and loves to go out and about with his friends. Princess, who is 10 years old, dreams about being the winner of the Weston-Super-Mare Beauty Contest. Mavis also has a best pal called Margot (Jade Yourrell) who injected some great humour into her character as well as giving me some dress envy.

The family is thrown into turmoil by the arrival of Mavis’ husband, Wendell. He is The Hustler; sharply dressed with an answer to everything. However, he is no match for Mavis’ sharp tongue and (impressive) pointy finger. Wendell had left Mavis to bring up the children alone and she was not going forgive, or let him forget. She throws him out, however, he appears moments later along with a young girl. The young girl is his daughter, Lorna (Emily Burnett), who has been raised in Liverpool. Princess is thrilled to get to know her and even more thrilled to discover she is her half-sister. There develops a beautiful bond between the girls.

As usual in a woman’s relationship with her female friend, the presence of a man puts it in jeopardy. When Wendell starts to get his feet under the table, Margot is wary. Matters uncomfortably turn to ‘us’ and ‘them’ when there is a bus strike in Bristol to allow the employment of the immigrants on the buses. This provides an undercurrent of communities at war, leading to a fall out with Mavis and Margot.

Initially I had to wait until my ear tuned into the broad Jamaican accent of Mavis and Wendell; but once tuned in, the rapport between the two characters developed beautifully. Wendell and Mavis were brilliantly played, and Mavis in ‘rant’ mode was very scary (reminded me of my mum in the early 60’s, when a parent only had to look in a certain way to instil fear and discipline).

Princess was played excellently by Kudzai Sitima. She had all the mannerisms of a ten year old and the audience loved her portrayal. When she was on stage with Emily Burnett, as Lorna, they gelled together as convincing young friends.

Related: See what’s on at Hull Truck Theatre

Wendell senior had me hating him for abandoning his family, and for his hustling ways. However, work shy Junior (Fode Simbo) was excellent at holding him to account on a regular basis, which resulted in bad feeling in the household.

This was a great production by Eclipse Theatre, Bristol Old Vic and Hull Truck. It was well written, had convincing characters and the setting was simple; with just a living room set out on stage which eventually morphed into various rooms/homes with clever prop changes by the cast.

I would highly recommend this production. The pre-show entertainment was just as great as the play itself. It’s another show I could sit and watch again (I will have to monitor that obsessive trait).

Princess & The Hustler is running at Hull Truck Theatre until Saturday 16th March. Tickets are available from just £16.50 at hulltruck.co.uk. You won’t be disappointed.

4 Perfect Places for a Good Read in Hull

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Today is one of my favourite days of the year; World Book Day!

Whether you open a novel on the bus journey home, or curl up on the sofa with a book this evening, you should dedicate some time to the joys of reading today. If you’re like me though, you like to combine your reading experience with a nice relaxed setting and perhaps a nice hot drink. Here’s a list of my favourite places to relax with a good book in Hull, so you can share the simple pleasure of literature this World Book Day.

As a recent English Literature graduate, reading was a massive part of my life for four years. Often I would have to read up to around four novels per week, spanning different genres and eras. To keep things interesting, I would try to read in different locations.

Whilst the most optimised place to read for most people is the library, I often found reading from there to be a little intense; the silence can often be deafening and I found I benefited from the ambience of a natural setting. This list is made up of the places I found the most successful for a long reading session.

The Barista, Newland Ave

This one is a little personal for me as The Barista was there for me when I needed it the most. During my Masters degree, I would take my laptop, the current book I was studying and consume a copious amount of coffee at The Barista. The vibe was always chilled enough for me to focus on my work but relaxed enough for me to snap back into reality and converse with my peers. The staff were always friendly, the music was always varied, and most importantly for me, the coffee was amazing. Often I would stay all day and would be opted to eat there too which was always a treat as their menu is varied and the food is great.

One book that sticks out for me there is Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. Being the opening novel to my Masters degree’s thesis, it holds a special place in my heart. The thrilling setting and mysterious plot was a good reason why I spent so long in The Barista; I was glued to my seat and was forced to turn each page to unravel the mystery of oppressive inn.

https://www.thebaristacafe.co.uk/

Ferens Art Gallery, Hull City Centre

This one was a rarity for me. As a student, I never found the time to travel out to town. However when I found myself there with a few hours to kill, there would be nowhere else I would rather be than Ferens Art Gallery with a good book. There is something about being surrounded by art whilst reading that makes you feel a little sophisticated. Plus they have a great cafe that has been refurbished to make it much more spacious and modern.

One book that I read there is George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a must read for everybody. The novel has become ever-so relevant recently and offers a chilling commentary to the political landscape of 2019. However, the novel presents a convincing love story that breaks the restraints of politics. Find the gallery on Queen Victoria Square in the city centre.

https://www.hcandl.co.uk/museums-and-galleries/ferens

The Dancing Goat Coffee House, Beverley Road

Round the corner from my student house is this lovely coffee shop. Usually I would see this place for just five minutes as I got my order to go and drink on my walk to university. However when summer rolled around and it was dissertation time, I would spend a lot longer in their little garden area. We had a blissful summer last year (apparently, as I didn’t get to see most of it) and the heat returned my need for iced coffee. The Dancing Goat had a range of iced coffee, and other iced beverages, that cooled me down during the rare day I got to go outside. Their garden hosted many reading sessions for the novels I had to study and allowed me to get some fresh air during a time when I was stuck indoors writing.

One that stands out is John King’s The Football Factory. The gritty world of the working class that King presented felt very real, and didn’t feel too far removed from home. The novel explored the issues of toxic masculinity and how working class culture often forces young men into violence.

https://www.facebook.com/Dancinggoathull/

Arts Cafe, Middleton Hall at University of Hull

This one is a no-brainier for University of Hull students, but also a great idea for the general public. The Arts Cafe opened in my final year as a student, but offered to be a great place to relax in between lectures and seminars. The space is brand new so has a modern feel but still retains the redbrick feel that the university is notorious for.

With food options of artisan sandwiches, homemade cakes and naturally made ice cream, it is also a valid option for lunch whilst being on campus all day. The cafe is that perfect middle ground of being surrounded by other hardworking students and having that ambient sound that the library is missing, making it a great place to read.

One book I remember reading in there is Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk. The novel’s setting of rural Spain, along with its modernist feel left me in a weird haze where I seemed to float through my consciousness from the front to the back cover.

http://campuslife.hull.ac.uk/where-to-eat-and-drink-on-campus/

4 Places to Celebrate Pancake Day in Hull

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Happy Pancake Day! As it was late this year (by a whole month), it may have caught you off guard. Whilst most the fun comes from making them yourself with your friends and family, sometimes the most satisfying pancakes are those made by the professionals. We’ve compiled a list of some of the sweetest cafes and restaurants in Hull to please your sweet-tooth this Pancake Day.

Just Desserts & Coffee

Located on Newland Avenue, this delightful cafe offers a range of coffee, loose leaf tea, cakes and desserts made daily on the premises. With their latest Facebook post being simply ‘It’s Pancake Day…’, it seems that they are ready to satisfy any sweet-tooth who walks through the door.

https://www.facebook.com/justdessertsandcoffee/

Riverhouse Coffee Co

On the corner of Scale Lane & High street in Hull’s Old Town lies Riverhouse Coffee Co. Whilst coffee takes centre-stage in the shop’s name, they have an impressive menu which includes breakfast/brunch, light bites, and (most importantly for us) sweets. Under the sweets section is buttermilk pancakes with an option for blueberry compote or maple syrup, with vanilla ice cream. Whilst you’re there, you might as well check out the coffee that they so proudly display in their name.

https://www.facebook.com/riverhousecoffeeco/

Caspar

If you read our last article, you’d know that we are very excited about this new crepe bar down Newland Avenue as they specialise in producing delicious Crepes, not just for desert, but for the whole dining experience! Whether you’re into sweet or savoury, they have something for you; including their special pancake day menu just for today.

https://www.facebook.com/CasparCrepe/

Kaspa’s Desserts

In a different spelling of the word, Kaspa’s boast their desserts in the name and are the self-proclaimed ‘king of desserts’; and so they should be with the size of their menu. If you’re after a crepe with all the bell and whistles, this chain will not let you down. You can find Kaspar’s Desserts on Paragon Square in Hull City Centre.

https://www.facebook.com/kaspahull/

Is Cold Pursuit your typical Liam Neeson revenge thriller?

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Copyright: StudioCanal
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By Adam Brannon
Film Reviewer from Movie Metropolis for What’s On Hub

Yes, we all know the jokes. Liam Neeson’s spiral into revenge thriller territory is one of the most meme-worthy things in film, except maybe John Travolta and Battlefield Earth. Starting with Taken and its, let’s be honest, dreadful sequels, the Irish actor has made a name for himself as the go-to guy to rough someone up after a spate of bad-luck.

He’s had kids killed, kidnapped and spouses murdered in cold blood, he’s even been framed for hijacking a jumbo jet – if anyone deserves a break, it’s Liam Neeson. Unfortunately, his films have ranged from great (Taken, Non-Stop), to middling (Run All Night, The Commuter), to downright dreadful (Taken 2, Taken 3) and that’s how the meme-worthiness was born. Nevertheless, Neeson is back for yet another revenge thriller in Cold Pursuit. But how does it stack up?

Copyright: StudioCanal

Nels Coxman’s (Neeson) quiet life as a snowplough driver comes crashing down when his beloved son (Micheál Richardson) dies under mysterious circumstances. His search for the truth soon becomes a quest for revenge against a psychotic drug lord named Viking (Tom Bateman) and his sleazy henchmen. Transformed from upstanding citizen to cold-blooded vigilante, Coxman unwittingly sets off a chain of events that includes a kidnapping, a series of deadly misunderstandings and a turf war between Viking and a rival boss called White Bull.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. This is not a review biased by Neeson’s, shall we say, ill-worded rant on his former life. We all have our own opinions on the matter, but that should not detract from individuals going to see a movie in the cinema. In fact, Cold Pursuitis Neeson’s most accomplished film in years, helped by stylish directing from Swedish director Hans Petter Moland. It’s worth noting that Cold Pursuit is in fact a US remake of Swedish film, In Order of Disappearance and there’s a tasteful nod to the film’s roots in the end-credits.

With a dark, comedic edge, Cold Pursuit is as funny as much as it is gory and it is this hybridity of genres that remains the film’s trump card. The script, penned by Moland himself, is witty and sharp, filled with fantastic line-delivery by the entire cast who look like they’re having a cracking time. There are twists and turns and even a gay-romantic subplot – how very contemporary.

Apart from Neeson, Tom Bateman is an absolute stand-out as the film’s primary antagonist. Allowing him to be a presence in the film from the outset allows the audience to fully feel his character and there’s no doubt that he is a despicable human-being. Neeson performs in typical Liam Neeson fashion. He snarls and growls his way through the film but allows a softer side to creep in than we’re used to, helped in part by that comedic script.

It’s not perfect however. Laura Dern is a massively underused presence throughout and disappears completely from the film about 1-hour in with no other references to her character. This is a real shame as her chemistry with Neeson is good and they make a believable couple, especially when they’re dealing with the ramifications of their son’s death. Dern continues to prove her acting prowess and it would have been nice to see her continue to be a feature throughout the film. The pacing is a little off too. At 118 minutes long, the film plods a little as it gets going and then doesn’t stop until the fun and entirely ridiculous finale.

However, it’s good to see the special effects are up to scratch for the genre. Revenge thrillers rarely have the budget for flashy CGI or top-notch practical effects but Cold Pursuit is one of the better in the genre. With a relatively modest budget of $60million, it appears that was well spent with clever editing and cinematography masking any less-than-stellar visuals.

Overall, Cold Pursuit is a fun, if forgettable revenge thriller that features some delicious dark comedy mixed with an intriguing story. It’s certainly Neeson’s best film since Non-Stopand marks a return to form for the Irish actor. Unfortunately, these type of flicks are ten-a-penny nowadays and I’m unsure whether snappy one-liners and beautiful snow-capped peaks are enough to differentiate it in a crowded marketplace.

Our score: ★★★

Watch if you liked: Taken, Run All Night, The Commuter.

Cold Pursuit is showing now at Odeon Luxe Cinema, Hull

Check Cinema Times

8 NEW Places to Eat & Drink in Hull & East Yorkshire this Spring

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It’s a new month. As we think about saying goodbye to winter and welcome the blooming spring, we should get up to date with great new places to eat and drink in Hull and East Yorkshire. There are a lot of new and exciting pubs, bars and restaurants that are going to be a breath of fresh air and we’ve compiled a list of them so you don’t miss out.

Taphouse

Brew. Drink. Eat.

This exciting new pub has recently just opened in Hull’s Fruit Market. Adjacent to the city’s picturesque waterfront, it is the ideal setting to sit-back, relax and enjoy some drinks with your friends and family. The pub also has an in-house brewery so you will able to see their beers being made, and this also means that you can expect an ever-changing range of real ales, craft beers, larges and ciders. The pub also serves a choice of food during the day, with speciality street food each weekend.

As the weather starts to become warmer, we think that Taphouse will become a key location for you and your friends this spring, and leading into summer.

www.facebook.com/TaphouseHull/
www.taphousehull.co.uk

The Half Moon

At the heart of Elloughton, The Half Moon reopened its doors under new tenancy in February; dedicated to offering great food, great drink and great service in a relaxed, informal setting. The pub is offering a varied menu to suit every taste, with guest beers, and weekly quiz nights. Whether you’re a Elloughton local or not, it is definitely worth a trip out this march.

www.facebook.com/halfmoonelloughton/
www.thehalfmoonelloughton.co.uk

 

Cucina 1884

This impressive restaurant, situated on Ferriby Road in Hessle, was inspired by the owner’s love for all things Italian, and their passion for food lead to this new addition to the 1884 group. Along with locally sourced produce, speciality items are imported directly from Italy which allows them to offer authentic, seasonal Italian food and drink. Their aim is to showcase the food and wine from 20 Italian regions, from Piedmonte to Puglia, throughout the year (so it might be worth a revisit or two!).

www.facebook.com/cucina1884/
cucina1884.co.uk

 

Hessle Craft Beer and Cider Festival

It’s back for 2019! Expected to attract over 800 people, the festival celebrates a fantastic range of craft beer and cider, along with live music from local acts (ranging from rock to folk) and festival food. The third annual event is to be held in Hessle Town Hall on Friday 8th March – Saturday 9th March.

www.facebook.com/hesslecbcf/
hessle.realalefestivals.co.uk

Tanyalak

Want to taste a different cuisine? On Hull’s George Street, Tanyalak is serving authentic Thai street food and beers. The huge menu offers a wide range of different Thai dishes from curries, soups, and Phad Thai. There is also the option of take-away and a light lunch menu.

www.facebook.com/Tanyalakthaifood/
www.tanyalak.com/

The Greek 2

You may have visited The Greek down Princes Avenue already. However, they have recently opened a second restaurant on The Weir, Hessle. Now you can have a little bit of Greek heaven on both Princes Ave and Hessle! The Greek is a great little restaurant with vibrant energy and, most importantly, fantastic authentic Greek food and beer. They also offer gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan dishes too. Along with their option to collect, there is no excuse not to try The Greek this spring!

www.facebook.com/The-Greek-2078308969111840/

Caspar Crepe Bar

Down Newland Avenue lies the home of the ‘Breton’ Crepe. Caspar specialise in producing delicious Crepes not just for desert but for the whole dining experience. They claim that crepes can be used in large variety of ways to produce dining experiences that are both unique and rewarding. So a trip to Caspar could be a great experience for both those with, and without a sweet-tooth.

www.facebook.com/CasparCrepe/

Hang Out Bar

Staying on Newland Avenue, this new bar aims to offer great fun, amazing drinks and food. Opening just last month, Hang Out is a fantastic place to try a range of cocktails and spirits, along with beer, wine, and food. The wide selection of drinks and it’s friendly atmosphere is leaving to rave reviews online which suggests it may become a pivotal part of Newland Avenue’s nightlife.

www.facebook.com/HangOutBarHull/

 

 

 

Why you should see Russian State Ballet in Hull this week

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It’s the return to Hull New Theatre this week of the Russian State Ballet of Siberia who bravely bring a different ballet to audiences each evening. Last night’s production was Giselle; a favourite of mine and I was really looking forward to seeing it.

I love the music and I adore the choreography. This is a ballet I could watch time and time again.

It’s a charming and yet dark tale of a young village girl, Giselle, who falls in love. The young man she falls in love with is Count Albrecht (she doesn’t know this) and they become betrothed. Unknown to Giselle, the Count is already betrothed to a noblewoman (the cad). Meanwhile, Giselle’s mother is hoping that Giselle will marry local forester Hans, but Giselle spurns his attentions.

One day a local hunting party rest in the village and among them is the noblewoman that Count Albrecht is betrothed to. Giselle, who loves dancing, dances for the nobles and is given a necklace by the noblewoman after she tells her that she too is engaged, albeit neither knowing it’s to the same man.

The noblewoman rests in Giselle’s home and when the hunting party arrives back, she goes out to meet them. Count Albrecht meets her as his betrothed and Giselle sees this and realises the meaning of  this greeting.  This is too much for Giselle and the innocent village girl goes into shock, madness and then  kills herself.

Unfortunately, the spirits of the betrothed young women who die before they are married join the Wilis. Ghostly apparitions who haunt the forest at night.  Local superstition is that if a man crosses their path he is doomed to dance until he dies.

That’s the first act.

Giselle was beautifully and sympathetically danced by Anna Feosova, portraying the innocence of a young village girl.  She danced sweetly and shared a beautiful pas de deux with her betrothed the elegant and long limbed Yury Kudryavtsev  who danced with an air of nobility.  Although I felt his face could have expressed more feeling his dancing is beautiful and elegant.   Hans, the forester was more expressive and it is a pity this character does not receive better choreography.  Giselle is supported in the first act by her villager friends who  were made up of the Corps de Ballet and who were a lovely addition to the first act.

Act two takes place in the forest.  Hans is keeping vigil by Giselle’s grave. As midnight approaches Hans flees as he knows the Wilis materialise at midnight. There was clever special effects on the rear scenery to represent the Wilis rising from their graves which gave the act an ethereal feel. I have not seen another company do this and it was charming.

Related: See what’s on at Hull New Theatre

Myrtha (the Queen of the Wilis and danced by Miryam Roca Cruz) appears and summons the Wilis who all join her on stage.  Together they summon Giselle from her grave to join them.    Count Albrecht appears to lay flowers on Giselle’s grave and the Wilis disperse.  Count Albrecht sees Giselle’s spirit and follows her into the forest.

Meanwhile the Wilis have pursued Hans and force him to dance to his death.  He pleads for his life  with Myrtha several times and each time she denies him and he must continue to dance.  Hans dies of exhaustion.

The Wilis who know that Albrecht is in the forest now hunt him down.  Giselle tries to protect him and pleads with Myrtha.  We are treated to beautiful pas de deux from Giselle and Albrecht (one of my favourites) and Albrecht dances like fury (executing a superb set of entrechat six) but as he collapses, dawn breaks.  The Wilis power fades and they return to their graves.  There is a further touching pas de deux between Giselle and Albrecht before she too has to return to her grave and Albrecht leaves.    The romantic in me is touched that Giselle’s love for Albrecht helped to save him, the cynic in me tells me he didn’t deserve saving for being a two timing rat.

The Wilis were danced by the Corps de Ballet and the two senior Wilis were danced by Nerea Ballesteros and North Lincs dancer Perdita-Jayne Lancaster, two lovely dancers who complemented one another well.    It was a pity that Giselle slipped a couple of times – most notably in the second act but she recovered well and made the error seem part of the story.

This is a small company but well trained and their ballets are well put together.  Scenery is minimal for a travelling country but I didn’t mind as it’s the dancers who tell the story.  If you want a relaxing evening with a live orchestra and beautiful dancing then do go along and support this company.  I should add there is a further local connection in that ‘Matty’ Konstantinos Karavos (one of the dancers) is a local lad and it’s lovely to see him dance in his hometown again.

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia are performing for two more days at Hull New Theatre. They’ll be performing Cinderella tonight (Wed 20th Feb) followed by The Nutcracker on Thursday (21st Feb). Tickets available from just £19.50 at hulltheatres.co.uk

Why you should see THE WORST WITCH in Hull this week

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I had a fantastic fun and magical evening at Hull New Theatre last night watching an adaptation of Jill Murphy’s hit story “The Worst Witch”. It was a lively mixed audience of children and adults and my youngest had nattered to go and see this show. I should add he is 26.

As the audience got seated, the cast came around chatting to everyone before the show started. The younger audience members were thrilled.

Last night’s story was all about a group of young witches to be going to start Witching school at Miss Cackles Academy. Young Mildred Hubble who is a bit scatty joins them by mistake and is transported to the Academy with the other girls. We quickly work out who is the class snob/bully in Ethel who was superbly played by Rosie Abraham. She was perfect in this role, with clear diction and mannerisms. She impressed from the start. Ethel wants rid of Mildred and does all she can to make things difficult for Mildred.

Mildred, played by Danielle Bird, was brilliant! She tripped all over the stage, danced completely out of step and quickly learned how to make potions.

Mildred is bessie mates with Maud played by Rebecca Killick. At one point, the two girls are supposed to be giving a display of broomstick flying. Of course it went totally wrong and left the audience in awe at their antics on the broomsticks suspended in the air. They balanced, they span around, they hung upside down and every second you had to hold your breath worried they would fall. They were truly impressive.

Miss Cackle and her twin sister were played by Polly Lister. At one point she was simultaneously playing both characters, switching voices and mannerisms that left us dizzy. She was so talented.

In fact the whole cast is immensely talented. They sang and danced and entertained us constantly all evening.

As with children’s shows there was an element of audience participation. This was fun, almost like panto. The audience were all joining in and enjoying themselves.

Related: See what’s on at Hull New Theatre

I am not revealing the entire plot but I can say that if you go along, join in the fun, let the kids dress up as witches and enjoy a great evening of magical entertainment. If you read the books or saw the TV programme, you will love this show. It’s fun, fast and fabulous and The worst witch of course proves that she is not so terrible after all.

The Worst Witch is showing at Hull New Theatre until this Saturday (16th Feb) and tickets are available from just £15 and hulltheatres.co.uk

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