Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Legend of Captain Crow

Based on the children's book by Eoin Colfer, The Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth is a thrilling and sometimes scary show now on at the Unicorn Theatre.
Caravan holidays will never be the same again for young Will thanks to the legend that is Captain Crow.
The Captain's teeth are rocks part submerged by the sea near a holiday caravan site at Duncade Point where Will and his family spend their summer holidays and which sometimes gleam and flash.
Although Will's dad says the glow is due to phosphorescence, Will's brother Marty delights in scaring Will and younger brothers Donny and Bert with tales of the terrifying Captain Crow who is still searching for the cabin boy who attacked him with an axe at the same spot 300 years ago.
Things come to a head one evening when Marty abandons Will on their way back from a disco and he is left to come home on his own.
Stumbling about and losing his way, Will fears he can hear noises which sound like the Captain's ghost and thinks he sees some of the pirates.
He has to summon all his courage to get home without the Captain catching him.
The parts are played by a cast of five who do a fine job.
Alasdair Hankinson gets the nine-year-old Will spot on with a mix of the raw fear of wondering if ghosts do exist and the energy and self awareness of a child.
Miles Yekinni is suitably scary as the enormous Captain Crow dressed in huge boots and a dark trench coat complete with black feathers and big gloves as well as Will's gentle father.
Itxaso Moreno and Cath Whitefield play the younger brothers and two of the Captain's pirates and Ashley Gerlach hits the mark as the boys' older brother Marty, full of irritating jokes and creepy ghost stories.
Although there are some funny moments such as the disco dancing and the antics of the two younger brothers, the play is also very dark, eerie and sometimes just plain scary, and with plenty of thunder claps, blackouts and sinister music, it's not for children of a nervous disposition!
The Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth is on at the Unicorn Theatre on Tooley Street until Sunday 15 April
Box Office: 020 7645 0560

Dream Space

SOME of Shakespeare's best loved characters have come to life as part of a new show for young children.
The Dream Space explores the magic and mayhem of one of the Bard's best loved and funniest plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Globe Education Sackler Studios on Bankside.
The fun and interactive show invites children and their families to join a team of Fairy Finders on an expedition searching for a missing fairy.
Dressed as though they are going on a hike into woodland, the Fairy Finders, Snout, Barbara Snug, Peter Quince, Frances Flute and Nick Bottom, greet us with enthusiasm and excitement.
The quest leads everyone from the Globe Theatre down the road to the special enchanted Dream Space inhabited by the classic characters of the play including Titania, Oberon and the mischievous Puck.
Along the way we are given instructions such as wearing our clothes inside out and looking for buttons which fairies like taking from humans. We are also told to keep our eyes peeled for the fairies who may be lurking in the grass between the paving stones.
The five Fairy Finders then lead us into the Dream Space, an enchanted garden full of flowers, soft lighting and treasure boxes.
Using an array of magical puppets, creative costumes and beautiful soundscapes all creating the Dream Space world, this beautifully conceived show brings the characters and themes of the play to life.
The five Fairy Finders, Karina Garnett, Luanna Priestman, Tom Frankland, Michael Imerson and Nick Ash, are wonderful and really capture the children's imaginations and make them feel very much part of the action.
Suitable for children aged five and over, the shows run daily at 11am and 2pm until Saturday, April 14. It's just lovely and well recommended!
Tickets cost £8 or £25 per family ticket and are available from the Globe Box Office on 020 7401 9919 or online

Friday, 6 April 2012

Stained glass windows

Without wishing to sound too much like TV's Kirstie Allsopp, I've always been envious of those who use their imagination and creative skill to make something amazing and useful.
Even more so those who put their talents to good use and make a living out of their crafts.
One such is Emma Blount who has been designing and making stained glass windows from her Streatham Hill studio for the past 16 years.
The 44-year-old, who trained at Roehampton University in Barnes, south-west London, is one of few artists practising this centuries old craft in the UK.
"It's very specialist and there are not many of us, so it's quite competitive when it comes to bidding for commissions," she says.
"It's very time consuming both in terms of designing and making the piece and sometimes hard work physically but it's a beautiful art form and the end results are stunning."
Commissions can be anything from making something for a house's front door to designing and creating a huge window in a church.
Although her "bread and butter" is domestic work, including doors and windows, she also loves teaching people the art and holds regular courses from a studio in Wandsworth.
Lasting 10 weeks, the classes cover design, template making, glass cutting, leading, soldering, glass painting and ultimately taking home a piece you've made.
I've always wanted to have a go so Emma very kindly invited me to her studio for a crash course.
I was a bit dubious I could create something in a couple of hours but Emma is a good and patient teacher and gave lots of encouragement.
"Glass making is a skill," she says. "There are some who will pick it up quicker than others but with a bit of coaching and help it can be done by anyone.
"I love teaching people because it's great seeing the sense of satisfaction everyone has at the end of the session. The sense of accomplishment of creating something special is lovely and it gives everyone a real buzz."
So, without further ado Emma kits me out with an apron and sets about giving me the low down on what to do.
The first thing was to have a go at cutting pieces of glass with a special glass scorer. This wasn't as easy as it looked especially when it came to doing curves.
Despite Emma airily insisting that cuts were an occupational hazard, scoring the glass and then breaking it with my hands required every ounce of concentration - and courage! To begin with I was sure I'd end up slashing my fingers and see blood everywhere!
For thicker pieces of glass you can use a pair of pliers to break it but there is definitely a knack to breaking it at the right point!
Once I'd got the hang of it, the next stage was to get some paper and design a picture and use it as a template. Emma suggested something small and simple using four pieces of glass.
Secretly I was a bit disappointed as I'd had visions of creating something rather bigger and more elaborate but undeterred I did as suggested and drew a square with four different sized shapes.
I chose red, yellow, turquoise and blue glass, each a different texture and thickness, and then set about cutting them to size using the template as my guide. This proved a bit more tricky and was quite time consuming but despite one or two disasters I managed to fashion them in to the right shapes under Emma's expert, and encouraging eye.
When the glass had been cut to the right shape it was time to fit them into strips of lead.
After putting on the required mask and gloves - essential to protect against potential lead dust - Emma showed me how to stretch the lead and then cut it to size with what looked like a metal spatula. Surprisingly it was quite pliable and relatively easy to cut.
Thicker lead is used for the border and thinner pieces for the insides.
Fixing the glass into the lead channels was very fiddly as the pieces of glass had a habit of moving about. However, with a bit of effort, I managed to get them slotted into position and ready for the joins to be soldered and then cemented.
After a couple of hours work I was able to stand back and admire my efforts.
Despite never being that artistic at school, my glass square looked pretty good for a beginner with Emma even saying she thought I had "natural flare"! Praise indeed!
Although a bit rough around the edges, I have to admit I was pretty chuffed and it's certainly whetted my appetite to do some more.
And my square? It's hanging up in my kitchen window!
If you would like to have a go, Emma's classes cost £250 for 10 weeks and start on Monday, April 16 at Juno Glass Ltd, 46 Lydden Road, Wandsworth, SW18 4LR. Each class lasts for three hours.
Visit for details.