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The International Writers Magazine: Review

All the Fun of the Fair, Sex in the City (The Movie) and Mamma Mia (The movie).
Linda Regan

I am a film widow. I am married to a film buff so it comes as no surprise that one of the rooms in our house has been turned into a home cinema. Most people tell me I am lucky to able to view films in the comfort of my own home, but the down side is having to wait for a film to be released on DVD before I can get to see it. When everyone is talking about a film currently doing the rounds I have to close my ears, and then by the time I do get to see it and want to talk about it, everyone else has moved on and is talking about the latest releases. But being a big fan of Abba music and the television show Sex in the City, there was no way I was going to wait for the DVD of either.

My outing to see the musical play All the Fun of the Fair came about when two girlfriends persuaded me a night out on the town was long overdue and that David Essex was opening in the show at my local theatre. That was all the excuse I needed, having been an avid fan since David first burst on to the musical stage and shook the rock world when he starred in Godspell in the mid-seventies. (If I was honest I would admit that I had seen him live in shows or concerts at least a dozen times since).

Interestingly, I visited all three of those shows in the same fortnight and more interestingly still, I found they had a strong common denominator: Each one was playing to an audience that was 98percent female. What a shame. Did the men know what they were missing?

Sex in the City stars Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis. Four women! And, one of the best and funniest romantic comedies of the year. Not just my opinion, the unanimous opinion of the packed audience that I shared the cinema with.

The film is both funny and moving. It is, as with the television show, rooted in friendship. This one revolves around the relationship between Carrie(Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mr Big(Chris North), developing into a will they won’t they end up married? All the women are pushing forty, two of the other four, Miranda( Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) are already married and now have children.

The message in the story is clear - when all else fails, your girlfriends will get you through. Is that what kept the men away? I found myself wondering. Or is it that times are changing? There was a time, only a decade ago, when women were not written as funny and glamorous; one or the other, but never both. Fortunately, that mould is well and truly broken; now comediennes can use it all- labels, latte and lipstick! If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and these four girls have it- comedy timing that can only come with talent and the experience of working together for so long. Add to that good writing, strong performances from a good supporting cast, including the Candice Bergen, and a few tears and questions to keep you guessing. I think you can say, the film has it all. We had to queue to get in and the cinema was packed, so that is the proof. But why only two men in the audience? Is it the sexist jokes? Have we finally turned the coin girls? The 98per cent female audience had a ball, and I noticed the handful of men were enjoying it as much as the women. So guys, if you still haven’t seen this film, don’t miss the opportunity.

Mamma Mia
is one on its own. The best in Romantic Comedy again, but add to that songs that we all know and have danced too in many discothèques in the eighties- albeit a little more zapped up in pace, but adding only to the momentum of the moment, and you have a massive box office success.

So again, why was the cinema mainly women? Is it love stories that British men can’t hack? Well then put that aside, and go for the cinematography, or the songs, or the performances, all are faultless. Colin Firth has a wonderful singing voice. Piers Brosnan doesn’t, but no one cares, his performance was mesmerising. Julie Walters was Julie Walters, but that’s always good value. Christine Baranski stopped the show with her rendition of Does Your Mother Know. And if there’s any justice in the film world Meryl Streep will get the best actress award for her performance. Her acting talent needs no advertising, but personally I was amazed at her musical talent.

Rather like Sex in the City, Mamma Mia is a celebration of friendship and the bond between mothers and daughters. Is that why the men stayed away? Sorry guys, wrong choice. This film will lift your spirits and keep them lifted. Don’t miss out.

All the Fun of the Fair thankfully stars David Essex. The thick curly black hair of his chart topping and Godspell days is no more, he is now grey and thinning, but has lost none of his charm or fans through it. His voice is still perfect and his sincerity evident. The audiences couldn’t get enough of him. He has that rare charisma that no amount of experience can teach you.

The show is set around a fairground and the Romeo and Juliet syndrome of a fairground boy falling in love with a rich girl, whose Daddy doesn’t approve. (Nothing new there). Essex shares the stage with a cast headed by lovely Louise English who sings his hit song A Winter’s Tale. All David’s hits are featured in the show, and that is the best bit. I’m afraid the story and the rest of the performances (with the exception of Louise English), were unmemorable, or perhaps it was David’s charm that no one else got a look in. Sophie Laurence’s choreography, however, was excellent and bang on the eighties period. It is worth the ticket to see and hear David Essex, but without him I’m not sure the show stands up.

Linda Regan October 2008

Author of Behind You www.lindareganonline.co.uk

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