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Tag Archives: films

The Cecil Hotel, LA

Recently I binged the Netflix documentary series Crime Scene The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel, it was an interesting watch, if you’re into real life oddness.

It centres around the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, a 700-room hotel opened in the mid-1920’s just before the Great Depression, along with several grand hotels in the area it enjoyed a period of opulent prosperity and was aimed at the middle class traveller and business men. After World War II the area, also known as Skid Row, fell further into transience as fortunes changed, the stark increase in sex workers, drug dealing and users, along with those unable to afford rents and the increasing protocol to herd the homeless into a manageable area of the ever expanding City, increased criminal activity.

Curiously ever since the Hotel first opened it has been linked to suicides, mysteries and murders. The first documented suicide was January 22, 1927, when Percy Ormond Cook shot himself in the head while inside his hotel room after failing to reconcile with his wife and child. In 1967 “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood long-term resident, a retired telemarketer was found dead in her room, she had been raped, stabbed, beaten and her room ransacked. Her murder remains unsolved. The Press often linked the hotel to numerous serial killers. Frequently residents had died from drug overdoses or long term substance and/or alcohol abuse. There is even a Wikipedia page detailing some of them.

The documentary beds itself around the disappearance in February 2013 of young Canadian student Elisa Lam. She was an avid blogger and frequently documented her travels, fashion, life thoughts online garnering many regular followers. When away from home she called home everyday, after her parents hadn’t heard from her they called the LAPD and news started circulating about a missing person. As the Police struggled to piece together Elisa’s movements they released the elevator CCTV footage, it went viral and set in motion an interesting series of events.

An army of ‘web-sleuths’ scrutinised in meticulous details, frame by frame, the cctv sparking the beginnings of numerous conspiracy theories, many still perpetuate. Things like, why’s the time stamp jumping, the door isn’t closing, whose that shadow. Suddenly people across the globe were gathering in FaceBook groups to discuss minute anomalies, some visiting the hotel to re-enact and trace where she had been. What I found very telling as the documentary continued was how this congregation of unqualified amateurs ardently believed they could succeed where the professionals could not and that they believed every morsel of conjecture and hypothesis from a straightforward mugging gone wrong to the CIA using vanishing vaporise lasers. But there was more to come.

SPOILER ALERT :: if you don’t want to know the outcome I’d suggest ceasing here …. thank you for reading ….

……

….. Okay dear reader, I hope you’re not eating or drinking while you read on.

…….

About two to three weeks after Elisa’s vanishing a few hotel guests and residents started to complain that the water had an odd odour and taste and the water then started to change colour to a sludgy brown. A maintenance worker was sent to inspect the four roof top water tanks. Sadly one of them contained the floating bloating remains of a young girl, later identified as the missing traveller.

Now the merry band of web sleuths really had something to get overly involved with. From behind their screens and keyboards they pieced together bits of facts with leaps of notions, ignored some elements and fantasised others, to quite catastrophic levels.

Attention turned to how did Elisa get onto the roof. The access door was locked and alarmed, this meant that the hotel management had to be involved, a member of night staff had to have killed her. The design of the building meant that there was a metal fire escape on the outside, a series of stairs and platforms covering all fifteen floors, including the roof, accessed from a hallway window that was not alarmed, locked or monitored in anyway. Debris on the roof showed that it was frequently used by people to smoke, drink, take drugs, have parties etc.

The nature of her discovery caused a media frenzy as a police chief was leaving the hotel trying to get through the jostling crowd of reporters he was asked a question which he hastily replied “When Officers approached the water tank the hatch was closed”. The web brigade pounced on this to mean that she must have been dumped because no-one could close the hatch from the inside, so it must be murder. The officer was correct in his statement, because when the maintenance worker noticed the hatch was open and that’s when he discovered the grizzly contents and had closed the hatch from habit as he called for help.

Searches across the internet brought up ‘evidence’ of a Mexican death metal singer called Morbid, due to his chilling lyrics, which included a reference to a girl drowning and his dark videos addressing death (one was filmed at The Cecil), along with having stayed there, meant he must have lured her to the rooftop and killed her. He was hounded, trolled, and harassed over a period of months, received death threats and villanised as a murderer by the Court of Online Public Opinion. It caused him to suffer a breakdown and such depression that he attempted suicide. The ‘evidence’ grasped by the onliners was years old and at the time of Elisa vanishing Morbid was in Mexico but even still today eight years later he still get mail labelling him a murderer.

One aspect of Elisa’s life was, to some degree, suppressed until late on in the investigations and not readily available, she had been diagnosed as bi-polar and had a history of intentionally not taking the prescribed medication, which had caused her to experience strong psychotic episodes, along with hallucinations in the past. Armed with this knowledge, along with the Coroner’s report showing toxicology levels and there being no evidence of any assault or violence on her body, it was concluded that her death was accidental.

At the end, I felt sad that this young life had ended, that so many innocent people had been branded and abused because of tenuous links but mostly I was concerned, almost worried, about the mob mentality and power of online collectiveness. This ferocious hungry entity eagerly hurrying for instant information, affirmation and inconsequential action feels a little bit like Pandora’s box.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2021 in Films, In The News, people, Review

 

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My Bubble Done Burst

My bubble just burst and BFF has left to return home. You see she had planned to come visit as soon as she got home from her June/July visit and again as her travel date approached there were changes with Covid rules that threw everything in the air. Anyway, it was decided that her visit would indeed be classed as ‘essential’ because she’d be my primary sole care provider, leaving the hovel only to get food. So our plans went ahead ……. a few minutes ago her taxi turned the corner and she’s setting back for home.

We always have fun, eat foods we don’t usually eat, watch films and documentaries, play games, talk, laugh, cry, discuss, entertain and be entertained my Signor NotMyCat, go to bed late, lay in even later. A few chores get done and of course online shopping for those thought-about-semi-essential items. I became designated yarn unwinder as she crocheted a ripple blanket, this time breaking her speed record (I’m claiming credit for it). But all too soon it comes to a close, and I am eternally grateful to BFF’s hubby for letting her come for the extended pj-party.

Our viewing list is quite extensive when seen altogether.

  • The Queen’s Gambit
  • The Crown (series 4)
  • Making A Murderer (both seasons)
  • Joe Exotic The Tiger King
  • Secret Love (Netflix documentary)
  • Stepmom
  • Johnny English
  • Johnny English Returns
  • Johnny English Strikes Back
  • Mr Holland’s Opus
  • Extremely Loud Incredibly Close
  • Forrest Gump
  • Sweethome Alabama
  • Atonement
  • My Big Fat Greek wedding
  • Bridge of Spies
  • October Skies
  • Little Man Tate
  • Most Hated Woman in America
  • Twenty Feet From Stardom
  • As Good As It Gets
  • Ruth & Alex

I cannot begin to fathom the intelligence of Joe Exotic and the Making A Murderer documentaries, it certainly made for conversation and the Making A Murderer became compelling viewing as we waited for the next twist and turn to the fates of the family members. If you’ve got twenty hours spare I’d recommend it, it will boggle and bewilder beyond sanity.

Soooo, yeah, back to my usual with a bump…..

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2020 in Films, Life, people, Projects

 

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Tall Ship Chronicles

A FaceBook member of a sailing group posted that the first eight episodes of this series had been released on Amazon Prime. Hmm, might be interesting to watch life aboard another ship, curiosity had me tapping play.

The premise is Andrew Younghusband (a Canadian actor and broadcaster) joins the 3-masted barque Picton Castle as volunteer crew for the 19-month around the world voyage. Along with his film crew of one, they document life on board, their fellow crew and places visited on this sail training expedition. This series covers leaving Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, heading south to the Panama Canal, and across the South Pacific to Vanuatu.

Bearing in mind it was filmed in late 2000 and across 2001 I was prepared for it to feel a bit dated and the clarity of filming not crisp, but I was not prepared for the lack of informative content and blatant lack of continuity in editing. It had an amateurish feel to what was supposed to be a professional production. You would imagine the first episode or two would tell you about the ship, it’s routine, the watch routine, the victualling and feeding the crew, maybe an introduction to some of the equipment, methods of rope handling and knots and what a job title means (Bosun, lead mate, etc). Sadly all that was missing or skimmed over in a throw away comment.

Considering they left snowy Canada in November within minutes the crew were seen clad in t-shirts and shorts. There was no way to perceive the passage of time, not even a little ‘day ?’ type logo in the corner.

By episode three you begin to recognise characters and can see that after a significant number of weeks, personalities within this isolated, confined bubble are gelling, cliquing and romances are developing. People become comfortable with each other, whilst remaining comparative strangers, many not knowing whether their fellow crew member is married or single, their day job, or much about their past, but willingly share clothing, shampoo, hugs and thoughts.

There were also one or two surprise reactions, sailing is not a democracy and cannot be done by committee, there has to be a leader and that leader is always the Captain. Living on a vessel that is moving constantly, through weather that is ever changing, people’s action or inaction can have a dramatic consequence. As learning crew you will get corrected and criticised for things not done ‘the ship’s way’, laziness or apathy along with sassy sarcasm quickly becomes not tolerated. Some people became resentful of being told how to do something they felt they are doing correctly and begrudged what felt like working in a dictatorship, especially when you’ve paid a lot of money to be there. But that’s the nature of the beast.

It was interesting to see how they all pulled together, how actions became instinctive, the perilous become normalised and whether they all realised it or not, they were learning a lot about sailing, the world and getting along with people. It reminded me of my first voyage how the ship became our complete world.

I think I was looking to come away from the eight episodes entertained by things that happened, having learnt about areas of the globe, reminded of some of the sailing language I had forgotten, and intrigued by the characters. It felt like an opportunity missed with how the programme was edited together – still it was heaps better than things like Big Brother and TOWIE.

There is one thing that has left me hanging and will likely never know the answer to, there was a twelve year old onboard (without his parents too), I wonder what life was like for Sloan when he returned home and started high school, and how is life eighteen years on.

There are another eight episodes to complete the series but with no idea when or if Amazon Prime will drop them, I might have to see if YouTube has them.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2020 in Films, Review

 

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Staycation

This morning BFF flew home to Bonny Scotland after staying here to take care of me for a smidge over two weeks. After the stress and worries this year has thrown at me, the postponement of our April pj-party due to CoVid19, it was so unbelievably uplifting to have BFF walk through my door.

Our time together has three main heading, films, food and yarning. Now that might be silly chatter yarning or the more creative productive yarning. This time as well as some cat protection blankets we also tackled some rather cute cat toy mice and fish.

Previous visits have been invaded by the black and white bundle of adorability, affectionately known as Mickey #NotMyCat, this time he brought his brother Ginger #NotMyCat2. He’s a lot more timid but did like to snooze comfortably and alone either on my bedroom windowsill or the woollen blanket on my bed, he’s also very vocal and announces his arrival. Both offered their approval of the crocheted toys, plus the rubs and snooze spots, and especially the edible treats.

My BFF is multi talented, not only did I get a much needed hair cut but a pedi soak too. Mickey gave the humming, vibrating bowl of water a glare, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d decided to dip a paw in but instead he gave it the usual cat statesmanship glare of indifference crossed with that ‘stupid humans’ expression they are so adept at.

After 187 consecutive days I escaped the confines of my dusty hovel and we ventured along the High Street, suitably covered in my new denim jacket (Christmas and birthday present from BFF) and wearing a natty face mask. A few errands were ticked off the list, social distancing guidelines and hand sanitising adhered to, the find trousers task one sadly was not successful.

This visits films included

  • Spitfire
  • The ugly dachshund
  • Armstrong
  • The absentminded professor
  • Kinky boots
  • Summer in February
  • Hidden Figures
  • Broken Flowers
  • The Great Gatsby
  • First Man
  • The Parent Trap
  • Flight
  • Born On The Fourth Of July
  • A summer place
  • A single man
  • First Wives Club
  • Calamity Jane
  • The Iron Maiden
  • A map of the world
  • Capote
  • Pollyanna
  • There’s No a Business Like Show business
  • American Pastoral
  • Walk The Line
  • The Crown Seasons 1 & 2

Back to our respective routines, counting down and conjuring up, until we can get together again.

Oh the tasty treat pictured, it’s enchilasagne …. enchiladas but layered in a lasagne fashion, it is so delicious and no layer out weighs another. BFF made a second batch so there are more for me to enjoy. Did I say my wonderful BFF was multi talented???

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2020 in Films, General, Life, people

 

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The Professor And The MadMan

The film is about the professor, James Murray played by Mel Gibson, who in 1879 began compiling the first comprehensive edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, (aiming to find the first usage of, continued usage of, correct spelling and correct pronunciation of every single word) a task led the overseeing committee, and Doctor William Minor played by Sean Penn, a doctor who submitted over 10,000 entries while he was undergoing treatment at Broadmoor Criminal a Lunatic Asylum, London.

There was something very gripping about this based on true events film. We see the hidden power of women behind these men, as well as the blind patronising manner of those in authority. Not only the Overseeing Committee and it’s inner politics but also the medical officer at Broadmoor.

The story behind the story that brings these people (and so many others) together is the true glue. The kindness of the guards when the Doc helps one of them who is injured, saving his life. The anguish of the wife of the man Dr Minor shot dead accidentally one fateful night. The family support and strength of the Professor. The Committee members supporting and dropping allegiances at the drop of a hat.

The one thing above anything that spoilt this film, was not Mel Gibson’s Scottish accent, but the diction and clarity of Sean Penn’s American one. There were numerous times where due to his gravely tone and quiet manner it was almost impossible to hear what he was saying and I nearly resorted to subtitles.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2020 in Films, Review

 

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Review – Hunters

It’s been a while since I wrote a review, after binge watching this series I thought I’d put digits to keys.

WARNING. :: This series is not for the faint hearted, it is highly explicit in language, violence, sex, torture and gore, if you are alright with that sort of thing then it is a very watchable series.

PREMISE :: Shortly after WW2 there was another kind of battle, who could claim the highest intelligent scientific and medical minds for their country. Thousands of former card carrying or oppressed into Nazi-ism people were given opportunities to relocate around the globe, some to the U.K., a high number to Argentina and other South American countries but the biggest tussle was between the USSR and the USA.

This brought much conflict in the USA as the nation had also become a refuge for many thousands of Jews, who either fled Europe or survived the atrocities. Known as Operation Paperclip, many Germanic scientists were instrumental in the space program, as well as thousands living peaceful lives as doctors, teachers, business leaders, bankers, police officials, government agency personnel etc.

Across time these hiders would be discovered, or recognised and attempts would be made to bring them to war crime justice, but the politics often meant they were just spirited away to another part of America.

THE SERIES :: A very affluent Jew puts together a rag bag of people to hunt down these villains, the torturers of the Death Camps and administer a little retribution of their own. Centering around the young teen Jonah, whose Safta (Grandma) was shot by a Nazi when she threatened to uncovered his truth, he is taught the horror and truth by those connected to those haunting names of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen and how it is right and relevant for his generation to keep up the fight. But it is not that straightforward, everyone has their secrets, their own reasons and motives for working together. The biggest being that potentially a fourth Reich could rise and take over the largest democratic country, from the inside, with help from those in South America (and an enigmatic leader with eyebrow raising connection).

THE DELIVERY :: I didn’t really ‘get’ into the style of delivery until the third episode. In general I found the whole thing frustrating and gripping, straightforward and complicated, over exaggerated and subtle, far fetched and plausible, thought provoking and fanciful, and list of contradictions. Other reviewers have labelled these contradictions as Tarantino-esque and that’s a deserved description.

The interspersed stories of Meyer (Jewish Nazi Hunter leader) and Ruth (Jonah’s Safta and Meyers true love) during their time in the death camp, and others cleverly connects the past with the present, which for this series is 1977 New York.

THE ENDING :: Hmm, without giving too much away, the ending was equally satisfying and not so. I don’t know if this was written as a one series drama or whether it was written with a potential second or spin off, let’s just say that door is slightly ajar.

There were some excellent plot twists, confessions and character actions. There were also some very annoying confusions, I’ve no idea why the Vietnam Vet was kidnapped and taken to the Argentinian hub of the uprising, other than to reveal a twist. I’ve no clue about the English catholic Jew nun (don’t ask, I’m not sure either) her story, motive, truth.

Over all it was worth the watch and I would watch a second series.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2020 in Films, In The News, Review

 

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Read the Read.

After reading the tweet from the QI Elves, it again reminded me that learning a new language is fraught with oddities and difficulties. I’ve always been slightly envious of those who are multi lingual, I’d have loved to been competent in Spanish, but having to try and wrangle with French and German at school, scarred by enthusiasm or persistence to try.

I have a vague recollection of an old black and white movie, possible with Stanley Baxter where he was trying to teach potential German spies during World War Two how to speak English clearly, I remember them tripping up over how to pronounce Slough but getting confused that rough isn’t pronounced ‘rouw’.

Another tweeter added a link to a poem called “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité written in 1922. Quite the read.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2020 in Films, Uncategorized

 

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Fun No More (until April)

I’ve been wonderfully distracted for the past two glorious weeks, BFF has been to play, stay, I meant stay. … and this time it was greatly needed by us both. Finally after all the stress, anxiety and sorrow attached to so many happenings I could cry my heart out and get physical console. But all too soon, the suitcase is being zipped up and it’s that dreadful time to try and hold the stiff upper lip and say ttfn.

Pre arrival plans had been put in place, a few DVD’s were ordered, two mahoosive boxes had arrived with the neatest of handwriting upon them (more wool to add to the packed suitcase stash) and the dozen bottles of cherry cola added to the grocery order.

We may both be in our golden years, but you’re never too old for a PJ party, and that’s what we do. It’s not all indulgent fun, there were chores and errands done too, the dentist visit with deep deeeep clean and the annual hospital appointment with my neurologist (test results, blood pressure, heart rate all ‘normal’, never thought that word would be attached to me). I supervised while BFF cleared out, sorted, organised my kitchen cupboards (nothing last century lurking in the dark corners), general tidy up of the bathroom and lounge, the resort and reorganising my bedroom draws and I feel sorted, organised, prepared for carers and helpers, etc.

We’ve mooched up and down my High Street, been back and forth to Morrison’s for eats and treats, sat outside enjoying the sun and breeze, took an afternoon stroll along the esplanade and I, yes me, suggested a ice-cream (it was lush), we even went to the cinema to see Downton Abbey (rather good).

Mostly we snoozed, nattered, laughed, chatted, rested, and watched stuff

  • Last Viceroy House
  • Mad Men Season 6 and 7
  • The Green Book
  • Trumbo
  • Edie
  • A Cat Named Leonard
  • Norma Rae
  • Pursuit Of Happyness
  • My Old Lady
  • The Favourite
  • Colette
  • Don’t Eat The Daisies
  • The Right Stuff
  • Spotlight
  • The Girl On The Train
  • Billy Rose’s Jumbo
  • Glass Bottom Boat
  • Man With A Horn
  • To Kill A Mockingbird

Of course the REAL prime reason for being together is a certain four legged furred charmer, known as Mickey, aka #NotMyCat, wandering in when he pleases, playing with his new toys, choosing one of the many seats to snooze upon, getting head rubs and chin scritches galore.

Three quarters of an hour ago we hugged, smiled, said “call you tomorrow”, and off she goes ……… just 199 days to go until we’re back together *fingers-crossed*

Thank you BFF for being everything I need and a heck of a lot more, words are not enough to convey all you do for me, help me, cajole me, entertain and help me.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2019 in Films, General, Life, people, Pets

 

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The Holibobs Blues


Like the weather, my mood has dipped to decidedly chilly since my BFF fly off back home just over a week ago.  I’m sure the seventeen days she was here are the absolutely fastest of the year.  It’s amazing how a few days of simple changes can make such a difference.  Okay, so we are not the most adventurous vacationers, infact our greatest outing was to the cinema.  Spending our days chatting, reminiscing, stitching, playing with ‘Not My Cat’ (didn’t take him long to catch on treat giver was back, lol).  

So viewing pleasures ….. I’ve forgotten a few.

  • Funny Girl
  • Funny Lady
  • Churchill
  • Another Mother’s Son
  • Christine
  • Hitchcocks Lifeboat
  • The Girl
  • Breath
  • Shepherd & Butchers
  • Eight Days A Week
  • Love & Mercy
  • Eat Pray Love
  • Before You Go To Sleep
  • Deniel
  • Sully
  • Doc Martin
  • The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

Good food, treat food, tasty food, thoroughly enjoyed and relished.

It’s horrid to say good bye when we know it will be a few months before we are together again. 

To add salt to my blue mood, you remember that list, just a few things, that I set to do before BFF arrive Do? Yeah, well, erm, that didn’t go so good either, but that’s for another post.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Films, General, Life, people

 

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Jane Eyre Tour


It is a reasonably well known tale, orphaned child reluctantly brought up in disdain by Aunt, sent off to an ‘educational institution’ at the age on ten. Many years later the child as an adult is a teacher in the same institution, working for bed and board, wishing for something better. She secures a post of Governess at an isolated mansion for a child, where Jane for the first time has freedom, warmth from friendship, and a sense of inner contentment. When the master returns from his travels, his aggressive demeanour, their differing stations in life, her straightforwardness, fuel a tender passion. But there is a heavy secret, locked in the attic is his mad first wife. When Jane discovers the truth she runs away from the lies and the liars as well as trying to distance herself from the distress and disappointment, however something draws her back, and when she returns she finds the mansion in ruins and Mr Rochester blinded from injuries. 

Both my sister and I had seen several adaptations of this classic Charlotte Brontë story.  As this was a National Theatre production we knew it was not going to be the traditional theatrical setting, however as we took our seats the stage was set with what looked like a grown-up sized childs playground climbing frame. Slowly the auditorium began to fill but with just five minutes before curtain up, there were still more than half the seats vacant. The complete cast of 12 took up their starting positions.  Whilst the dialogue, accents and costume stayed close to the original story, the staging was contemporary and sometimes difficult to properly grasp its concept and symbolism. The introjection of music and singing sometimes felt disconnected. By the third act seeing the quiet cast move and climb up and down the various ladders and stairs without seemingly purpose, became rather annoying and children climbing in the playground.

This in no way means the performance was bad. The actors did a brilliant job of portraying the various characters, and by far the most enjoyable was a bearded gentleman who played the part of Pilot the dog, who often raised a mild laughter from the audience with his instantly recognisable dog like antics. The actor portraying the arrogant Mr Rochester brought with it a sense of distraction, of brooding resentment of how his life had been mapped out for him by his father without making him evil or wicked.

For us the thing missing from the production was the sense of a sinister secret. In everything we have seen or read there was always a sense of foreboding, of Jane being told not to go into the attic, of sounds and happenings that indicate all is not right. There was absolutely none of this at all throughout the whole performance, only twice was manic laughter heard. For us it was a significant element that was missing.

With a mixture of live music and recorded sound effects these had a tendency to drown out the dialogue of the actors, and on occasion I felt I had missed a vital piece of information that carried an element of the story. This is not unique to this production but something I have experienced at other performances at this Theatre.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Books, Films, Review

 

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