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Monday, 26 March 2012

Gypsy [Theatre]

Captivating, hilarious and raunchy would be three words to best describe Paul Kerryson's absolutely magnificent revival of one of Broadway’s most celebrated yet underrated musicals, Gypsy.

The Broadway classic follows the story of a pushy mother Rose (Affectionately named Momma Rose) living on the breadline travelling from city to city across 1930's America with her two daughters Louise and June desperately searching for fame and fortune on the vaudeville theatre circuit with the hope that her daughters act can bring the kind of fortune Rose so desperately craved for herself as a child.

Following a whole host of unsuccessful, lacklustre bookings in theatres across the states the star of Momma Rose's act, Louise and the adopted sons of the family decide after so many years of failure they must cut all ties to find fame and fortune as it does not lie in the hands of overambitious loud mouthed Momma Rose.

Distraught with what seems to be the end of her dream and the loss of her daughter Rose decides to turn to the ugly duckling of the family, Louise who in the past has showed little promise. Following a mix up in bookings Momma Rose and Louise find themselves booked in a Burlesque house where Rose finds herself pushing her daughter Louise into the industry beginning the career of Gypsy Rose Lee.

Renowned actress Caroline O'Connor (Playing Momma Rose) was undoubtedly the star of the show despite not being the audiences main focus throughout the production, it is my genuine opinion that I have not heard such a powerful vocal performance on stage before I saw Caroline O'Connor sing the closing song of the show 'Rose's turn' it was no surprise to me when the audience were off their feet in standing ovation for the first time of the production following a musical number.

Credit of course must go to Victoria Hamilton-Barrit playing the role of Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee as she did a wonderful job of portraying the transformation from the clumsy child constantly in the shadows of her sister to absolutely stunning burlesque dancer.

It really is difficult not go through each cast member individually and give them the credit they deserve for a wholly excellent performance throughout. The show offers a little bit of everything for anyone who views it, excellent comedic segments, excellent musical numbers and impressive dancing. Gypsy well and truly deserves to be taken to the West End sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Community [Television Series]

Currently on an unfortunate mid-season hiatus American comedy Community is a show that despite getting off to what i beleive was a bad start in its first series is a brilliant Sitcom that has taken a place in my essential television viewing that i could barely go a week without missing.

It is made in such a fashion that it takes inspiration from overused, tiresome and plot cliché's so recognisably obvious that it makes you want to pull your hair out ... But oh no, Community absolutely hits the nail on the head with this and have produced an absolutely excellent show that leeches of pop culture like theres no tomorrow which of cause we the audience lap up.

Community is a show about an ethnically, gender and race diverse study group that find themselves involved in all the tired cliches Greendale community college puts them in from Halloween zombies to Christmas and Glee clubs there is no end to the over the top situations the group find themselves in. The best thing about Community though is, i genuinly beleive if you look hard enough you'll find a bit of yourself in one of the members of the study group, allbeit the Kind hearted good mother of the group Shriley, sometimes self centered and loverman Jeff Winger or the wise-assed dick Pierce (Played by the brilliant Chevy Chase).

Community is well and truely such an easy going show that you can pick it up from any episode and just sit back and find yourself enthralled within minutes. Although it has its bad moments at times the show has thousand more good. I really reccomend anyone looking for a lighthearted Sitcom to sit down and give Community a chance. I'm only keeping this review short so i'll i guess this is all wrapped up!

Overall grade: A-

World of Warcraft series [Game Review]

I'd like to think of myself as huge a secret nerd, i suppose writing this review is like coming out of the nerd closet as i keep my online gaming to myself ... I have a sneaking suspicion that this might just be my longest review yet as i'm going to cover all the expansions so far and maybe even a little look into the latest. So prepare yourself for a long winded slightly opinionated crack of the whip at Blizzards World of Warcraft series.

World of Warcraft is the worlds most popular online game with over 10 million subscribers across the globe, although i'm sure the majority of you reading this knew that already! The game is developer Blizzard's fourth game in a series set in the fantasy universe known as Azeroth, a setting that takes heavy inspiration from dungeons and dragons. The difference with this installment of the Warcraft series is that Blizzard has taken a vastly different approach from the DOTA style games they're used to churning out and instead on November 23rd 2004 (The 10th anniversary of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans) the groundbreaking MMORPG was released.

I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt, sitting down to play World of Warcraft for the very first time is possibly one of the best gaming experiences any gamer can have. You begin with creating your very own in game character, which is one of the hardest choices in the game in my opinion with so many races and classes to pick from you find yourself creating every possible combination you can until you find something that suits your style of play, for example if you like to get into the thick of the action pick a warrior, if you like to keep out of the way and help everyone else roll a priest! The choices presented are well and truely overwhelming for a new player.

The aim of the game can vary depending on what kind of gamer you are (See the similarities here when it comes to how you can play the game?) depending on what realm you pick. Some of the realms cater to role-playing fans that prefer to play in character the whole time, while other realms are made for player-versus-player action. Or if you really want you can just play an ordinary realm. Although since the latest expansion came out it doesnt matter which realm you pick as a lot of the activitys in the game are cross-realm.

The games major accolade is that after countless hours spent playing you just don't want to stop unlike most other games, if you've done enough questing for the day you can go explore one of the various beautifully made zones in Azeroth, team up with your friends to take on a dangerous dungeon for epic loot or if you're in a destructive mood take part in some war games and take on your rival faction in a battleground. The possibilitys are endless.

World of Warcraft provides a constant stream of variety for the player, the combat system isfast, inter-changeable and action-packed! battles that are fun and intense, whether you're fighting alone or in a group. Blizzard well and truely hit gaming gold when they made World of Warcraft.

Of course though with every good game comes updates and over the past eight years three expansions have been released with a third on its way in the not so distant future. The first expansion of the series was World of Warcraft: The burning crusade. This expansion saw the unveiling of a whole new zone Outland which is far far away from Azeroth through a portal, these lands are inhabited with demons last seen in Blizzards Warcraft III. As well as the new zone and antagonists the expansion saw the level cap raised from 60 to 70 and the introduction of Blood elves (Horde) and Draenei (Alliance). Overall i found the questlines and new zone in the Burning Crusade fairly fairly enjoyable but the new races just didn't do it for me.

The second expansion released was World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King. The highly anticipated expansion was released in November 2008 and at the time was the fastest selling game of all time shifting over 2.8 million copies in 24 hours. New to this expansion saw another new zone uncovered, Northrend a continent for higher level players to explore and conquer with areas such as Grizzly Hills and the Howling Fjord being touted by many as the best zones ever created by Blizzard in WoW. Aside from this Wrath of the Lich King also introduced the Hero class Death Knight, an evil class that can played as by any race in the game. Death Knights start at Level 55 and are a mixture of a few different classes rolled into one. Once again the level cap was raised by ten to 80. Personally for i found this expansion underwhelming in terms of content other than the new zone.

The mother of all expansions came early last year, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, one that i myself being a veteran of the game and many other found on one hand absolutely amazing and on the other devastating, as what all Warcraft nerds grew to love was destroyed. In Catalysm an evil dragon aspect, Deathwing the Destroyer has made his way through an elemental plane of Deepholme which has caused the world to fall into a state of cataclysm changing the landscape forever. Along with these changes came a whole handful of new zones for higher level players including an Indiana Jones egypt style zone Uldum and an Underwater zone Vashj'ir, the elemental plane Deepholme, Mount Hyjal & The Twilight Highlands. This expansion also saw two new races, Worgen (Alliance) and Goblins (Horde) who i cannot say i personally like (Although i'm not a fan of any new race) and my opinion is that perhaps they'd both be better served as neutral races. Whilst i absolutely loved the new content that came with Catalysm it has ruined my memorys of Azeroth and i can only look back at my early days of playing and wish for that back.

I'm not going to go onto the latest expansion as quite frankly i think this review has run its course, but when it is released i'll be more than sure to give my opinion. All in all i can safely say World of Warcraft is without a doubt the greatest MMO ever created and its going to take a hell of a lot for it to be knocked from the top spot in online gaming no matter how hard developers are trying. Saying that though i do beleive its glory days have passed and that Blizzard are going to have to pull something big out of the bag in the next five years to stop them steadily losing even more subscribers than they already have.

Overall Grade: A+