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Times of Tunbridge Wells Column for 30 March 2016


We are now in the middle of the Easter Holidays so the special themed events continue at all the major venues. Groombridge Place looks the most interesting with it's Alice in Wonderland spectacular featuring a range of Carroll's fantastic characters.

How Lion Became King Of Tinga Tinga Land, is a fun-packed performance that will transport children through an adventure on the African Plain. Sing along with the characters and dress as your favourite animal. This perfect experience for young children comes to Trinity today and tomorrow. This is followed this evening by the biopic of art collector, bohemian and socialite Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict.


There's a new venture starting at Scallywag tonight when the 368 Theatre company bring a new murder mystery to Tunbridge Wells cafe nightlife every month. I have to say, the regular entertainment at Scallywag is different from anywhere else in town.

If you prefer more traditional comedy then it's time for the monthly Camden Quarter Comedy Club, this week's line up features David Whitney and MC Stuart Laws.

At the Oast Theatre in Tonbridge there is a youth group double bill from the National Theatre Connections programme. The first play is Bassett where some pupils have been locked into a classroom in Wootton Basset School as fallen British soldiers are repatriated nearby. Then it's Pronoun, a love story about transition, testosterone, and James Dean which explores gender issues in the young. These are on until next Saturday.


The Forum departs from their regular musical fare tonight as Miss Chantilly Lace brings you Burlesque Fever, with magic, comedy, a little bit of music as well as a bevy of burlesque beauties all in a vintage setting; it's another night of original Tunbridge Wells entertainment.

Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton star in the film A Bigger Splash at Trinity this evening where a whirlwind of jealousy and passion create danger for everyone involved in this French/Italian (but English language) erotic thriller.


There's a Wild Child Weekend Workout from the Kent High Weald Partnership at Barnett's Wood this morning. A good chance to check out this fantastic resource in the town while the kids have some Easter themed fun in the great out-doors.

Madama Butterfly by Puccini, a story of love and betrayal set in Japan, is one of the world's most popular operas and is the inspiration for the musical Miss Saigon. This production comes from New York as part of the Met Opera Live on Screen season and is showing at the Odeon and the Picture House in Uckfield this evening.


It's the first Sunday of the month so it's the regular Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra concert at the Assembly Hall this afternoon. This month it's an all-American spectacular infused with jazz and dance rhythms that are guaranteed to get the feet tapping! Featuring music from Copland, Gershwin and Bernstein with soloist Freddy Kampf.

There's two films at Trinity today, this afternoon it's a British comedy Dad's Army with it's fantastic cast headed by Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring. If you like the original stories you won't be disappointed with this. This is followed in the evening by Chronic, a Franco-Mexican drama starring Tim Roth. As is usually the case with Trinity's lesser known films it's received good reviews, so worth a look.

The Picture House in Uckfield is celebrating it's centenary this year with some special screenings. Today Radio 4 presenter Francine Stock is introducing and leading a discussion on the 1957 classic Sweet Smell of Success starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. One for film buffs.


Tonbridge Folk Club welcome the duo Ninebarrow to their new venue Ye Olde Chequers Inn on the High Street. Ninebarrow are an exciting award winning duo who are impressing audiences across the country with their innovative take on the folk tradition. So if you want some entertainment on a Monday night this should be good.


The Museum doesn't open on Monday's these days so this week's Holiday Happenings starts today and runs until Friday, just hop in for this free Easter themed art and craft session. While you're there it's almost the last call for Wycinanki, the current exhibition of Polish paper cuts which finishes in a couple of weeks, if you've not been it's worth a visit.

The week ends with a couple of films at Trinity. First it's The Big Knights, a short animation from the Peppa Pig team, showing at 11 and 2 so perfect for the young ones. This is followed in the evening by Hector, a captivating study of a homeless man with a tragic past starring Peter Mulllan.

Author: Dave Barnett
Date article published: 30 March 2016
Times of Tunbridge Wells Column for 23 March 2016

Wednesday 23 March

This week starts with a Bulgarian film at Trinity, Urok (The Lesson) tells the story of a small-town teacher who is driven to desperate measures as a result of financial and other pressures. I don't usually know these films so rely on the film ratings sites to see what they are like, this one comes out quite highly!

I don't know if this is a rescheduled event or if it was popular last week, anyway, the Hawkhurst Kino has the prize-winning Icelandic film Rams on today and tomorrow in it's Arthouse season.

Thursday 24 March

It's a good week for dance fans. First this week Ballet Central features a sparkling programme of ballet, neoclassical, contemporary and narrative dance. The company’s young and dynamic dancers showcase their talent at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge this evening with a diverse performance of newly commissioned works and celebrated revivals.

Comedian Simon Evans regularly performs on TV and radio but heads to Trinity Theatre this evening with his show In The Money.

Friday 25 March - Good Friday

It feels like Christmas was only yesterday, but no, it's Easter and the school holidays are here already! As this usually marks the start of the new season of events all the major venues have special activities.

Groombridge Place is marking the season with an immersive Alice in Wonderland experience, featuring a cast of 17 actors. It's on until the 10th April so plenty of time to experience the Mad Hatter's Tea Party or sing along with Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Penshurst Place also takes it's inspiration from Alice as they dive underground with the White Rabbit to see what lives down there. There's a different sort of rabbit at Hever Castle where there's a Lindt Chocolate Bunny Hunt as well as other Easter themed activities and crafts.

The National Trust have teamed up with Cadbury's again as all the local properties have an Easter Egg Hunt, most all weekend, some for the school holidays. Many have other themed events going on, so if you like castles, old houses, gardens or just being out-doors there's something for you.

Closer to town the team behind Calverley Adventure Grounds have organised an Easter Eggstravaganza to raise funds and awareness for this very worthwhile project.

There's more rabbits (sort of!) at the Assembly Hall this afternoon as the Northern Ballet perform a child friendly production of the Aesop classic The Tortoise and the Hare. Who wins the race (I know), the fast and fickle Hare or the slow and steady Tortoise?

It was World Water Day earlier this week and as a spa town Tunbridge Wells is known for it's water, and you won't get many more varied sources of water than Grosvenor and Hilbert Park. So slip on your wellies and head to the new hub where the rangers there are organising a day of celebration of water and it's uses.

Saturday 26 March

It's time again for the monthly Saturday Craft Club at the Museum where the theme is Terrific Tunbridge Ware; there are sessions at 12 and 2 and it's free to attend. While you're there don't forget to check out the Polish Wycinanki exhibition that is coming to an end soon.

The Assembly Hall has different sort of show town today; the Champions of Magic are five world class magicians who will perform death-defying and mind-boggling illusions. Prepare to be astounded!

Bardolph's Box is at The Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks this afternoon, this is a lively, engaging introduction to Shakespeare's stories for children and their families.

Today sees the spring reopening of the magnificent gardens at Hole Park, near Rolvenden. There's lots to see including the renowned Bluebell walks, which will be a few weeks yet, so make a note on your calendar to head down to have a look.

Sunday 27 March - Easter Sunday

Last week we had several revival and tribute bands there's one more today as a show that features the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons called Let's Hang On! comes to the Assembly Hall. Next week it's Buddy Holly and the Cricketers.

Trinity are showing the film Radiator, in which a teacher's life is turned upside down when he is summoned to his parents' remote farm to help them adjust to their new squalor. Looking at the rating sites it has a high score but from a relatively small number of votes, so should be worth a look.

There are repeat screenings of the Royal Opera House's Boris Godunov at the Odeon and Trinity today.

In addition to their Easter themed events Penshurst Place have storytelling from Aardvark Productions today and tomorrow.

Monday 28 March - Easter Monday

The theatre on screen phenomenon moves on to the National Railway Museum in York this afternoon as a stage production of the classic EL Nesbit story the Railway Children is performed where the star of the show may be the original train from the 1970 film. It's on in several places including The Odeon and Trinity as well as the Uckfield Picture House and the Hawkhurst Kino.

At Trinity this is followed by the recent Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. So if you missed it when it was in the mainstream cinemas or just want to see it again this is your chance.

The team at Grosvenor and Hilbert Park have some late Easter Festivities for the whole family including egg decorating and a egg hunt. As on Friday, I should put on your wellies!

Tuesday 29 March

One of the great things about these culture on screen events is that you get a chance to see performances that normally you wouldn't be able to. There's an example of this at the Odeon today where the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater [sic] is your chance to witness Revelations, an iconic masterpiece of American dance. It has been described by The New York Times as one of the great works of the human spirit. This stunning, soulful tour de force draws on African-American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues. As I said earlier a good week for dance fans.

Trinity is showing three films today; first this morning, it's Star Wars again, then this afternoon it's the Australian film Paper Planes, then finally this evening, it's the Oscar winning Room starring Brie Larson.

There's a session of practical action and Easter crafts at Sherwood Lake with the Kent High Weald Partnership this morning.

Author: Dave Barnett
Date article published: 23 March 2016
Times of Tunbridge Wells Column for 16 March 2016

I can't ignore music this week, I usually leave that to Paul, but there is such a strong theme running through the week's schedule. Thursday night sees the first tribute/revival/homage act (call them what you will) with Rumours of Fleetwood Mac at the Assembly Hall. On Friday it's Think Floyd at the Assembly Hall, Letz Zep at Trinity and the Smyths at the Forum. On Sunday we're back to the Assembly Hall with Purple Zeppelin and the Forum for the Kast off Kinks. See what I mean, to much to ignore.

Wednesday 16 March

It's an Open Mic Night with a difference tonight as dapper cabaret performer Champagne Charlie hosts and Tom Carradine tinkles the ivories, pick up your song sheets and head along to Scallywag Cafe to perform or just go to be entertained.

Meanwhile Trinity have an additional screening of the Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance in his Oscar winning performance as Russian spy Rudolf Abel.

Thursday 17 March

It's back to Trinity for a live theatrical performance as Oscar Wilde's masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest gets The Pantaloons treatment in an anarchic take on the classic comedy of manners. This energetic show features all the usual Wildean wit, plus a few surprises including a singing butler, travel by means of musical montage and a post-interval Hollywood style recap.

The Uckfield Picture House is reshowing the 2015 concert of Puccini classics by Jonas Kaufmann, filmed at La Scala in Milan.

Friday 18 March

It's only a couple of week's to Easter as it's early this year. Get your children ready at the Tunbridge Wells museum where the Friday Fun arts and craft session is themed around Easter Bunnies. As always it's free and no need to book.

It's Bond, James Bond as Create bring you an evening of Fleming inspired fun at St Barnabas. First it's a one-man show Bond the Unauthorised Parody where Bond follows a trail of clues, with a deadline to beat and encounters a few villains on the way. A typical but original story. This is followed by a Quiz and there's even a prize for the best dressed Bond character. All in aid of next year's Lantern Parade.

Saturday 19 March

Step back in time at Penshurst Place as Aardvark productions transport you back to 1588 for a live re-enactment of the difficulties, luck and success that befell Queen Elizabeth I before her triumphant defeat of the mighty Spanish Armada!

Trinity have another film screening, this afternoon it's the winner of the Best Picture at the Oscars, Spotlight. Staring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and many others it tells the story of the investigation into child abuse in the Catholic church by the Boston Globe. With a quick change of mood this is followed in the evening by the monthly Comedy Cafe, so pull up a chair, order your food and enjoy the humour of up and coming comedians Lloyd Griffith, Javier Jarquin and Marlon Davis

This evening the Tonbridge Philharmonic will be performing Handel's Messiah in the chapel at Tonbridge School. One of his most memorable pieces, this was written as long ago as 1741 but is still performed throughout the world by many local and professional groups.

Continuing the 60s music theme there's nine hours of Northern Soul in the heart of Tunbridge Wells. Slip on your dancing shoes and head to the Camden Quarter for a night of spins and flips with some top DJs!

Sunday 20 March

There's two competitive Arts shows on in the area today. First at Trinity is the GEMS concert where winners in the Tunbridge Wells Arts Festival perform and are awarded their prizes. And at the Stag in Sevenoaks there is a Young Musician of the Year featuring some outstanding performers aged 12 to 21.

Both of these events are early in the day giving both venues an opportunity to entertain you again in the evening. The Stag has the Kent Police Band perform Happy Days are Here again, very suitable for the International Day of Happiness! While Trinity roll out another Oscar nominated film with Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston as a screenwriter blacklisted by the US Senate.

If you enjoyed yesterday's Handel you might want to head over to Tudley where the Baroque Singers will be performing Mozart's Requiem at All Saints' Church.

The Picture House in Uckfield is celebrating it's centenary year in 2016 and today they are launching the season by showing one of the owners favourite films 2001: A Space Odessey, which is remarkably almost 50 years old itself.

Monday 21 March

In what is a light week for culture on screen, this evening you can catch the Royal Opera House production of Boris Godunov, written by Modest Mussorgsky in 1870. This is being shown at The Odeon, The Hawkhurst Kino and the Uckfield Picture House.

Ahoy there! There's an evening of sea songs and shanties as Hard Pressed come to the Tonbridge Folk Club at the Forester's Arms in Quarry Road, audience participation is welcome.

Tuesday 22 March

Trinity finishes it's film week with Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, showing three times today and the Museum finishes it's short series titled the Art of Faith with a lecture on Buddhist and Hindu art.

Finally, Mark Beaumont is at the Assembly Hall tonight to recount his journey of extreme endurance, through deserts, mountains and the vast savannah as he cycles the length of Africa in a world-breaking 42 days.

Author: Dave Barnett
Date article published: 16 March 2016
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The Best of February

The Forum continue their 25th anniversary celebrations with more excellent bands including, this month, BBC Sound of 2018 nominee Pale Waves. Perhaps closer to their roots they are hosting a series of gigs under The Stable banner. Each event gives four local acts a chance to perform on the stage of one of the South East's premier live music venues, why not check them out you might just get to see some stars of the future.

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