Friday, 27 February 2015

The King’s Speech @ The REP, Thursday 26th February 2015

Written by a stammerer, David Seidler, who began work on the project way back in the 70s and 80s (putting it on hold at the request of the Queen Mother and only returning to it after she’d passed away) The King’s Speech went on to become a surprisingly huge success and multi-Oscar winning movie. King George VI was something of a hero to the young Seidler who grew up during World War II listening to his broadcasts on the radio and drawing some comfort from the fact that he’d been able to overcome his affliction so perhaps it’s no surprise that the subject was handled so sensitively.

The plot itself is pretty simple. Prince Albert, son of George V, stammers during a speech and seeks help from an unconventional speech therapist, the alliterative Lionel Logue. Bertie believes the results are less than impressive and gives up, safe in the knowledge that he can probably avoid giving too many speeches. How wrong can a chap be eh? Following the death of George V Bertie’s older bro becomes king but gives it all up for American socialite Wallis Simpson forcing him to unwillingly take the crown. As if that wasn’t enough some absolute bounder called Hitler invades Poland and starts World War II. Hell, that’s enough to make anyone stammer. Can Bertie conquer his fears and address the nation...?

If you’ve seen the movie or have a passing knowledge of history you’ll know the answer but this new production of The King’s Speech does a fine job of creating and building the tension. The crux of the whole thing of course is the relationship between Logue and Bertie, played by Jason Donavan and Raymond Coulthard respectively. Donavan’s something of a revelation in this role and it’s great to see him doing something a little more serious with his talents rather than the recent musical stuff which, fun though it was, he often  never seemed 100% comfortable with. Okay so he’s playing a straight talking Aussie so he’s got a bit of a head start there but his sense of timing and faultless performance this evening impressed.

Coulthard is a suitably conflicted Prince, desperate to stay behind the scenes but, when the time comes, equally committed to serving his country. 

It may seem a strange thing to say but perhaps at times there isn’t quite enough stammering and once or twice it was possible to almost forget the depth and severity of his affliction, although equally there’s a danger that by overdoing it you’ll end up going all Awkright from Open All Hours. Speaking of which there were a surprising number of chuckles this evening, seemingly more so than in the movie. One of those responsible, Nicholas Blaine, makes a fine Churchill, Jamie Hinde is suitably caddish as Edward VIII/David and Claire Lams provides some touching moments as Bertie’s devoted wife and protector (a role the real life Queen Mother evidently played right up to the end of her life).

The backdrop to the set’s an imposing giant Art Deco-ish curved wall of wood with doors that pop open occasionally to frame actors delivering the odd speech, various bits and pieces are wheeled on by the cast to change the settings - everything from Logue's room through to Westminster Abbey which, with a bit of imagination, works well enough and the costumes are simply gorgeous, as you’d hope/expect.   

Donovan seemed particularly moved by the enthusiastic applause at the end, putting an arm around ‘his King’ as he left the stage, but it was thoroughly well deserved.  A right Royal success in fact.

The King’s Speech is on at The REP until March 7th. Tickets here!

All photos courtesy and copyright of Hugo Glendinning. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Goodbye and Good Luck!


welovebearwood would like to wish Cherie O’Sullivan the best of luck with her new Parks and Green Spaces Commercial Manager role at Sandwell Valley.

Cherie has worked so hard with the Lightwoods House and Park Restoration Project and was involved from day 1.  Cherie has always been such a friendly, bubbly and helpful person that we know she will be really missed.

Good Bye and Good Luck Cherie! Please remember to pop back to Lightwoods House and Park when the work has been completed.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Thank cue for the music!

Thank cue for the Valentine's Day Valentine's Day Maximum Break-up review to Bearwood's no 1 music blog, The Hearing Aid

Feel the love....

All across the world couples are sitting opposite each other in some posh restaurant somewhere, paying £40 for a bowl of pasta and the price of a small family car for a bottle of ‘Sham’-pagne. Meanwhile we’re Snooker Centre, downing pints of M&B Mild. Who says romance is dead eh? To be fair there’s a good reason, another ‘local’ Miss Halliwell show, a band I’ve been in love with almost as long as I’ve been married, give or take a decade or so.

First up though The Nature Centre, kicking off with a little Syd era Floyd meets quality indie pop, all wrapped up in lovely Brummieness. Bonus points for calling one song BRMB and including the lyric “You’re not from’re from Solihull” in another track and a special gold star for the lady Nature Centre-ist (I was going to say naturist but that’s something altogether different...) who seemed to be able to play pretty much every instrument under the sun. A worthy addition to fellow Brummie indie poppers Misty’s Big Adventure, The Dollcanoes and Kate Goes (we have a sneaky feeling the lady Nature Centre-ist was/is in Kate Goes too).

Next The Crooked Hooks dished up everything from a little alt-boogie through to prog punk courtesy of newbie Cokehead. Gloriously raucous and ramshackle in places any band that has a song called Walt Disney’s Cryogenically Frozen Head has to be worth a listen, right? Highlights included the string bending genius of Factory Filth, the lyrics ‘punched out’ like some huge great metal pressing machine in a suitably staccato style.  

“With power comes responsibility” intones Miles Perhower, Miss Halliwell’s lead vocalist and visionary, as he appears as if from nowhere sporting what looks like a Mexican wrestling mask and wearing a heavy overcoat. At this point I’d normally witter on (blah, blah, blah) and write a standard review but reading back through my notes, written with the benefit of a drink or three, somehow makes a lot more sense this time...

“Miles – leaping savant, soothsayer, sage, demon and goblin. Band gelling brilliantly. It’s the future. It’s subtle, it’s complex, it’s simple, it’s fucking HEARTFELT. In a world of imposters Miss Halliwell shines the light. EVERY SET SEEMS FRESH. Miss Halliwell wanders the dangerous line between disaster and perfection better than anyone. old woman invades the gig from the bar outside and starts heckling the band...”who invited their nan?” asks Miles. Miss meeting a proper character in a bar. The ranters and ravers that somehow make sense. It’s psych, it’s indie, it’s prog, it’s x and y and everything in between. “Don’t give into the world, Everyone will die someday. Don’t capitulate”. Reach Out (I’ll Be There)...the heart attack cover version...a barfly serenading his world at 3.28 am. “Your life is an illusion. DIMWIT!” true. Miles, the only frontman to put on his jacket and coat onstage before exiting the building as swiftly as he arrived. No encore, none of the ‘hits’, leave us wanting more...and more”.

That, pretty much, is what I scribbled down...or at least that’s what I could make out (I struggle to read my own handwriting at the best of times and there was a lot more swearing in the original version plus some words that look like Russian...hmmm) but perhaps it goes some way to capturing the essence of a Miss Halliwell gig...or then again maybe not. Either way you’ll have your chance to find out at their next gig at The Sunflower Lounge on Saturday March 7th or, if you fancy a weekend away, they’ve been booked to play two nights at The Waterhole in Amsterdam on June 4th and 5th. Failing that the digital release of Miss Halliwell’s ‘Best of’ album, The Perhower and the Gory Years 2010-2014, is out now at all good record probably...or whatever you lovely people use these days.  
PS Check out Bearwood's no 1 music related blog, The Hearing Aid, right here.  We are not worthy!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Fish's not just for Fridays!

Fish’s not just for Fridays!  At award winning Chamberlains Quality Fish and Chips Restaurant, on Hagley Road, it’s all year end, in its many different shapes and guises!

To celebrate their love for all things fishy our favourite plaice (geddit!) are holding a 2 Day Tapas Event this Valentine’s Day weekend.  Oysters, salmon & crayfish chowder, jerk seasoned hake, lemon coley, monkfish curry are just a few of the dishes on offer.  All served on small plates for the small price of £4.95 each. 

It’s National Chip Week next week (yummy!) so to celebrate the search for the nation’s favourite chipmaker Chamberlains will be serving FREE chips with each portion of fish bought in their take away and under 12s will be able to enjoy a main course, ice cream and drink for £1 with each adult main course ordered in the restaurant.  Cheap as Chips! 

There will be great chip toppings on offer next week too.  All just for £1!  Whether you fancy pulled pork in BBQ sauce, spicy salt and pepper or melted cheese and fried onion, pop along to Chamberlains to give it a try.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Harvey @ The REP, Tuesday 10th February 2015

David Bamber as William R Chumley and James Dreyfus as Elwood P Dowd
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
First produced on Broadway over 70 years ago before memorably being made into a movie in 1950 starring Jimmy Stewart, Harvey’s an odd proposition, focussing as it does on one man’s friendship with a giant invisible rabbit (decades later Donnie Darko put a much more sinister twist on the idea). Clearly it was all a bit of a challenge for its original writer, Mary Chase, who apparently took over two years to finish it. Who knows, maybe she was busy trying to grow some giant carrots? Given the subject matter maybe she was smoking some too...of the Camberwell variety that is. Ahem.

 James Dreyfus as Elwood P DowdPhoto Credit: Manuel Harlan
In the intervening years it’s gone on to become a much loved classic though, a gentle comedy about an equally gentle man seemingly lost his own little world, a role that seems to suit James Dreyfus perfectly in this charming revival. With frequent knowing asides to his sidekick Harvey, adding just the right dose of camp to proceedings, he’s a different kind of Elwood to Stewart’s version but no less loveable. Maureen Lipman, who’s happily becoming a bit of a regular at The REP, takes full advantage of the more farcical aspects of the production, gamely trying to keep Elwood out of the way during a society function and then, having been accidentally sectioned and released, staggering around on stage in a state of dishevelment. Uniquely though the real star of the show (due entirely to the convincing cast of course) never utters a word, makes a gesture or pulls a face...

Maureen Lipman as Veta Louise Simmonds
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
Part parable, part farce if there’s a lesson in Harvey its not to lose that childlike wonder that shrivels up when we all reach our teens (or, given the insidious internet the first time we log on...which seems to be mere moments after plopping into the world these days...welcome to the age of the digital dummy). Then again perhaps the lesson’s not to be afraid to be yourself, despite what everyone else thinks. Okay so old Elwood likes a drink or three but he sticks by Harvey, and vice versa, throughout so convincingly that eventually others start believing. Hmmmm, maybe it was the interval wine but I too could swear I saw a pair of ears popping up over the door in Act II...could it not?!

Kudos to Peter McKintosh and team for the set too, impressive stuff. Several turns of the rotating stage took us from Elwood’s grand mansion to the local sanatorium and then on to a bar so convincing I very nearly leapt up and ordered a double martini.
Heartwarming and humorous, with some genuinely ‘bunny’ moments, this particular Harvey’s charms will linger long after the curtains have fallen. There’s an all too brief run at The REP now before transferring to the West End’s Haymarket Theatre too, so you’d better ‘hop to it’!
Harvey is on at The REP until Saturday February 21st. Tickets here!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Bearwood Bake Off's Back!

Following on from the success of last year's Bearwood's Bake Off, the baking competition is back for its second year!  This year it will be held at the Coffee Junction (494 Bearwood Road) on Saturday 9th May between 3-5pm.

Master baker Khakan (or as we like to call him Khakan can!) Qureshi contacted welovebearwood with the exciting news...

"Thanks to James, the Manager, the event will be held on Saturday 9 May at Coffee Junction at 3pm -5pm.  This year, hopefully, the event would be bigger and better. Last year, it was open to all regardless of age, but this time, there will be 2 categories to encourage more bakers: for the under 12s and for the over 12s!"

It's FREE (there's our favourite word again!) to enter with prizes to be won so get practising your cupcakes and cakes Bearwood! 
For more details and to obtain an application form please call 07896717678, pop into Coffee Junction to pick up your application form or email Khakan at




Save the Library!

Birmingham Library needs your help. The central Birmingham Library is under threat from council cuts. The impact, if passed, will result in:

- Opening hours reducing to 40 per week 
- No new books
- Limited access to computers and study space
- No library outreach work
- No school events 
- No children's story time
- No business or IP advice
- No school holiday activities 
- No funding for exhibitions or events 
- Limited access to city archives 

- 100 staff redundancies

... lets send a clear message that we disagree!

Join on Saturday for a rally outside the Birmingham Library to raise awareness and take our voice to the council. Whether you can come for 10 minutes or an hour, the more the better. There will be very special speakers, poetry, story telling, open mic, fancy dress, family activities, singing and much more to keep you entertained!

What else can you do?
SIGN THE PETITION and share with your friends & family ASAP:

Tweet: #Rally4LoB

Like the FB page:


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Thimblemill Library February 2015 Calendar's so damn cold that our brains have gone into brain freeze!  

Fortunately Thimblemill Library have sent us their What's On for this month and there's something to warm everybody up!



If you need thawing out why not take your family along to Ronnie Crackers for a fun packed hour of madcap antics on the afternoon of Saturday 7th February....

and then pop back later for the Quiz Night!
And if you need a little passion to warm the cockles...ahem...on Friday 13th The Love and Chocolate storytellers are at the library...

followed by a Valentine's Day Concert on the day itself for all your romantics out there.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Valentine's Day Maximum Break-up!

With a very big thank you to Bearwood's no 1 music blog, The Hearing Aid, we couldn't wait to share the love about this year's Valentine's Day gig....
"Looking for something different to do this Valentine’s Day that won’t cost you a month’s wages and/or involve an emergency dash to your local petrol station for some wilting flowers and a Ginsters Pasty? Relax...unless you only earn £3 a month that which case you’re still a bit buggered...and head down to the Sandwell Snooker Centre (Bearwood High Street) for Miss Halliwell’s Maximum Break-up! See what they did there? The venue used to be a variety theatre back in the day so presumably there's a stage there, either that or the band's just planning on hopping up onto the tables.

The gig also sees the digital release of the Miss Halliwell best of collection, Perhower and the Gory Years (2010 - 2014), a frankly essential introduction to, in my humble opinion, an equally essential group." It's available now from all digital outlets, just click here!
Gig details:
£4 entry (main function room)
Doors 7:30pm
Band times: (approx)
8pm - The Nature Centre (
8:45pm - The Crooked Hooks (
9:30pm - Miss Halliwell (