An Evening with Aggers and Tuffers

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Source: http://www.simonfielder.com/aggers-tuffers

 

For anyone who is obsessed with cricket like myself, or even just an interest in the sport, an evening with two sporting greats is not something that should be missed. If unaware, both Jonathan ‘Aggers’ Agnew and Phil ‘Tuffers’ Tufnell were well-known cricketers and retired decades ago. They are key figureheads of the game in terms of cricket commentating and personality.

Upon arriving at the theatre it felt rather strange. This was the first time I have been to the theatre and not seen a musical. Not only that, the audience was mostly men, a surprise – I think not! I do want to acknowledge there were women there! This completely changed the atmosphere, especially as it just felt so middle-class. I still, to this day, do not understand why. Many turned up in their suits and cricket ties! I was the youngest person there I could see by at least 10 years, but then does this matter?

I sat in stalls, right in the middle, which was by far the best seats I have ever had! Strange when only paying a little more than £20. Furthermore, any profits were going to the Professional Cricket Association (PCA) Benevolent Fund. This in short helps current and past players with support when misfortunes happen (if interested in finding out more see the video here). It is a very worthwhile charity. The staging was very simple, a table with two chairs and a projector screen behind them, but then what else would you expect.

The first half was simply about their anecdotes from not only in their playing career, but some very recent. It seemed like they had a tale for just about anything! Ranging from Aggers selection as a commentator of horse riding at the Rio Olympics to how Tuffers on an Ashes Tour ended up in a psychiatric ward. I cannot remember the last time I had laughed so much! Best of all, it was cricket humour!

Although you knew there were several of these performances over the country, they still personalised it, for example Hampshire is the local county team and referred to rising stars such as James Vince and it never felt scripted. It was simply fantastic! Some of the parts I remember most was how Tuffers had a hand gesture for just about everything, even dance moves for some, which I still do not understand till this day how he made them so funny. But then he is a born entertainer as was shown in his TV appearances in Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celeb etc., which, to note, stories were mentioned about!

On a few occasions, they used the projector to show various clips, mostly showing both their ‘moments to shine’ shall we say! I can remember listening to a commentary recording where Aggers had made some reference without realising and continued to go on digging a deeper hole, which was just hilarious! Being younger than the average audience member, some of the stories were before my time with players mentioned that I had heard of, but knew little about. I still enjoyed it!

As the second half approached, people had submitted topics/questions they wanted answered. Being as keen as ever, I had submitted on Twitter earlier! This went on for the entire second half and made you feel involved. The topics/questions were varied ranging from who should bat at number 3 for England to whether they agreed with Charlotte Edwards being forced to retire from the England Women’s team. It was so nice to hear the views and opinions from the professionals.

All in all, I had an amazing time! It was something different that I couldn’t recommend highly enough to anyone with an interest in cricket. It was a relaxing environment with such a nice bunch of people who share the same interests as you. You can only feel at home! Both Aggers and Tuffers have a way with the audience that simply does not for a moment leave you uninterested. Furthermore, it was cheap ticket and the proceeds go to a worthwhile cause! A win win in my books!

Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (UK Tour) – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (26/04/16)

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Source: http://www.thelowry.com/event/breakfast-at-tiffanys

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a play with the addition of songs. It’s most known for the 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn. I admit a play was not something that I would normally consider, but I fancied a change partly because I have not been to the theatre since February! Breakfast at Tiffany’s is about a young writer ‘Fred’ and a girl ‘Holly Golightly’ who lives on the floor below. Holly is an enigmatic, glamorous and charming girl who has no job, but spends time with wealthy individuals. She is the kind of girl that every guy falls for, including Fred. She wants to marry someone with money, but over time she starts to fall in love with Fred. Unfortunately, some of her past catches up with her before she properly falls for him.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s has a good following, particularly from the older generation – I was the only person I could see under the age of 40 (of course this is not a problem!). Holly Golightly (what a name!) was played by the award winning Pixie Lott. Whenever I see a big name, I am never sure if they were casted due to talent or by, as my friend calls it, the ‘bums on seats’ approach. The role of Holly is a demanding one, requiring huge amounts of energy and maintaining a high pitch American accent. Amazingly, she prevailed and did an excellent job. Although her voice was required to be high, I found it to get slightly annoying at times, but this is not her fault.

‘Fred’, despite the audience never being told his real name, was played by Matt Barber. His stage presence brought huge amounts of life to the show. With very quick and clever changes from character to narrator, he was perfect in conveying basically the whole storyline. As the show went on you could only like him more. He had very lovable qualities, including loyalty, as seen at the end of the show when kept his promise to Holly about finding her cat and looking after him. It was a shame the character was not opened up more in the script.

There were various plot twists throughout, involving pregnancy, miscarriage and the downfall of Holly. These kept my concentration and focus going! There were three songs: ‘Moon River’, ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’ and ‘Hold Up My Dying Day’. Pixie Lott performed all these songs to the highest calibre! These said a lot about the character that the play could not convey, whilst also slowing the pace. The end of the first act ended with the huge news that Holly is married. This left me in slight shock and an immediate sense of confusion, needing to see how this would progress. The props and backdrops were visually stunning, in particular how they reinforced the idea that Holly lived below Fred by the fact any scene in her apartment, had his apartment above. ‘Doc’ (Robert Calvert) was Holly’s husband. After Fred was told, they went to a bar and talked. This scene was extremely informative about Holly’s past and helped answered a few of the many questions I had. Doc was portrayed brilliantly and the scene itself was full of emotion, which at this point was very needed, also slowing down the pace and allowing me to take a breather!

The cat (Bob the Cat), who’s technically Holly’s, was very well trained, especially in one of the scenes when he was placed (on purpose) onto the stage and ran off to the side, rather than anywhere! Even whilst on stage, he remained still in both Holly and Fred’s arms. The bartender, Joe (Victor McGuire), was easy going and brought new energy to the mix. The show ended on somewhat of a dilemma. Holly has taken off to Brazil and Fred had not had any real contact with her. In the back of his and the audience’s minds, you know she is okay, but of course you could see his difficulties letting go.

All in all, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a fast-paced play with lots thrown at you, but with enough slowing songs and scenes to keep you going. The storyline had me hooked and, with the addition of big plot twists, often led me to the edge of my seat. It may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly was mine, despite having never seen anything like this before. I now have to go the rest of my life without knowing what happened to Holly Golightly!