Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Theatre Review: Dreamboats and Petticoats

Image Source: British Theatre
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Musical
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Date: July 31 2017
Location: Liverpool Empire Theatre

The summer is well and truly upon us, and for the older generation, there will be plenty of memories flooding back from summers gone by, whether it be having fun at the seaside, outings with friends, first loves or even the unforgettable music of the time.

Dreamboats and Petticoats provides all of these and more through a fun, nostalgic musical which has several familiar story arcs, along with a plethora of classic songs from the swinging 60s. For those who can remember the heydays of such acts as Cliff Richard and The Shadows, the music alone makes this a worthwhile show to see, but the production as a whole makes this one of the more enjoyable shows around.

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Monday, 31 July 2017

Game Review: WWF Royal Rumble (2000)

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Publisher: THQ
Developers: Sega and Yuke's
Genre: Wrestling
Series: N/A
Released: August 1 2000 (US) and September 22 2000 (UK)
Certificate: 15+ (Nowadays 16)
Consoles: Dreamcast (also Arcade)

When wrestling fans reminisce about the golden age of wrestling videogames, the year 2000 is a vintage one to look back upon. We had the first two SmackDown! games as well as the incredible No Mercy. Sure, we also had WCW Backstage Assault which was, quite frankly, woeful, and two ECW games, but it's the WWF titles which first come to mind.

One WWF game which is easy to forget, however, is Royal Rumble. An arcade game which was later released on Sega Dreamcast, Royal Rumble is almost always overshadowed by the more famous WWF games on PS1 and N64. Mind you, there's a good reason why: Royal Rumble is nowhere near as good as any of its three counterparts from that year, but that isn't to say that it's a completely bad game.

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Friday, 28 July 2017

DVD Review: Kurt Angle - The Essential Collection

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 531 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: July 31 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

Kurt Angle is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all-time. Mixing his previous outstanding amateur wrestling ability, style and credibility with his desire to learn allowing him to quickly pick up the pro style along with unseen charisma and a great sense of humour, all during one of the hottest periods in wrestling history, Angle quickly established his legacy as one of the very best in record time. His return to WWE in early 2017 was hugely anticipated, and fans immediately gravitated back to the legendary Olympic gold medallist.

Therefore, it was inevitable that a DVD celebrating Angle's big return would be released, and so we have this collection of matches from 1999-2006. You can't really go wrong with a Kurt Angle match compilation, and this is proven to be the case as this is one of the best WWE DVDs that you will see. We also get pre-match comments from Angle who discusses how pivotal specific bouts were to his career, though they do occasionally border on being slightly self-indulgent at times. But more often than not, they're insightful, and a welcome aspect of the feature (this incidentally does not have any bonus material).

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Thursday, 27 July 2017

WWE 2K18 - Roster Prediction

Image Source: WWE 2K18 News
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Doesn't a year fly by? It only feels like a few months since we were contemplating whether Goldberg's appearance in WWE 2K17 would lead to a proper return to the company (it did, and in grand fashion too), and it doesn't feel like it was that long ago when we were debating the decision to have Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator characters as the pre-order exclusives for WWE 2K16. Hell, even the meltdown regarding the purged WWE 2K15 roster is still fresh in mind.

Getting back to the point of this article: it is that time of year once again where the WWE/2K collaborative team are hard at work preparing this year's flagship game for its annual autumn release. The hype for WWE 2K18 began several weeks ago, and whilst we haven't seen any screenshots of the game yet, it's only a matter of time before we do. Around that time, we should start properly hearing about which wrestlers have made the grade for the nineteenth installment of this hugely-popular yet somewhat flawed series (I'll gripe about the shortcomings of recent WWE games another time).

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Theatre Review: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

Image Source: ATG
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Play
Genre: Drama
Date: July 25 2017
Location: Liverpool Empire Theatre

I had heard about The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and I had seen the billboard advertisements, but I didn't really know anything about it. Having seen it for the first time at the Liverpool Empire, I would now find it hard to forget anything about the show, which is a very, very good thing.

The show begins with Christopher Boone (Scott Reid), a 15-year-old boy, discovers a dead dog which belonged to Mrs Shears. The dog has a pitchfork through it, and Mrs Shears (Eliza Collins) immediately blames Christopher. A policeman tries to intervene only to arrest Christopher for striking him, and Christopher's father Ed (David Michaels) has to bring him home from the police station. Despite his father telling him otherwise, Christopher decides to investigate the death of Mrs Shears' dog Wellington, quizzing neighbours and other local residents. Around this time, Ed informs Christopher that his mother Judy (Emma Beattie) has died in hospital after suffering a heart attack.

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Action-Packed July Guaranteed At The Epstein Theatre

Image Source: Epstein Theatre
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Provided By: The Epstein Theatre

Be sure to get down to The Epstein Theatre this July as there is a whole host of fantastic performances on offer. With end of year showcases, comedy nights, live performances and musicals, there really is something for everyone.

Go on an epic journey through dance, music and drama on Wednesday July 5 with Wigan and Leigh College: End of Year Showcase. Expect contemporary and lyrical dance, well-loved and devised acting pieces, stunning vocalists, as well as show-stopping musical theatre numbers from top West End shows that will be choreographed by former West End leading actor Graham Tudor. To top it all off, this magical performance will be compered by Wigan-born Hollyoaks actor, Helen Noble.

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Monday, 24 July 2017

The Chemsex Monologues

Image Source: West End Wilma
Written By: Scott Gunnion

Format: Play
Genre: Drama
Date: July 21 2017
Location: St Brides Church, Liverpool, England

Chemsex, for those who don't already know, is the practise within the gay community of consuming an indiscriminate amount of drugs whilst engaging in orgies and casual, often reckless sex. It is a burgeoning epidemic and a very real cultural menace.

The venue hosting the event was a church. I can envision scratching your head in disbelief. Yes, a church, but one well-known for its trendy liberal posturings. Before the start of the performance, I scanned my fellow audience members and it soon became apparent.

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Music Review: Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra

Image Source: Liverpool Philharmonic
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Music Show
Genre: Music
Date: July 15 2017
Location: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Jools Holland has been a staple of music for many years, with his talents ranging from singing to piano-playing to song-writing. His New Year's Eve Hogmanay, in particular, stands out for its unique blend of music, entertainment and big-name performers covering a range of genres. Therefore, the prospect of seeing Jools and his crew performing live in person was a tantalising one, and so it proved, as the show was a superb platform to showcase the true art of music in its finest and purest forms.

Before the main show began, we were treated to Jack Lukeman. Jack, an Irish folk singer with previous experience of performing in Liverpool, delivered several stunning and unique vocal performances, with perhaps the best being his acapella version of Old Man River. This was an incredible rendition, and one of the true highlights of the evening with the greatest of respect to Jools and co.

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Monday, 17 July 2017

Theatre Review: Horny Handed Tons Of Soil

Image Source: Unity Theatre
Written By: Scott Gunnion

Format: Play
Genre: Drama
Date: July 13 2017
Location: Unity Theatre, Liverpool, England

L8, L8. It seems I hardly know thee. Not if Horny Handed Tons of Soil is anything to go by.

Ordinarily, a love story usually takes the form of boy-meets-girl, man-meets-woman, or open-minded individual meets gender neutral individual. Not on this occasion. This performance was a love story between geography and biology. Between reason and nostalgia, or a parable on how one struggles to marry the two.

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Friday, 14 July 2017

DVD Review: WWE Double Feature: Payback 2017 & Backlash 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 356 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: July 17 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

Since WrestleMania 33, the fortunes of Raw and SmackDown have changed, mostly due to the Superstar Shake-Up which switched several wrestlers around. Raw has improved with a more star-heavy main event scene, some interesting mid-card feuds and Kurt Angle returning as Raw General Manager. SmackDown, however, has lost much of the shine it had prior to Mania, largely due to the sudden and unpopular ascension of Jinder Mahal from an opening match act to the position of WWE Champion.

It remains to be seen as to whether this will continue (it's possible that these trends will carry on until the next roster switches, which may not be until 2018), but in the meantime both brands served up their first PPV events after Mania, Payback and Backlash respectively. Both cards ultimately followed the same pattern as the television shows, with Payback being pretty good but not truly great, whilst Backlash was a disappointing event which couldn't shake off the B-level tag that SmackDown in general once again has.

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