London Walking Tour 19 November 2013

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Here are my tourists with the Queen’s Guard at St James’ Palace today. If you fancy braving the cold, I’m still running tours throughout the whole of winter,  so please feel free to email me for more details!

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NZ’s All Blacks leave England “desperately disappointed” after 30-22 victory

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have a press pass for the All Blacks vs England at Twickenham. What a game it was! Following is my match report / run-down of the big game – published on NZ News UK

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Photo by Getty Images

Article written by Charlotte Everett

The All Blacks remain undefeated after snatching victory from England at Twickenham.

In a match that at times was too close to call, Stuart Lancaster’s team were left “desperately disappointed” by an All Blacks win – despite high hopes after defeating NZ at Twickenham last year, and an overwhelmingly optimistic fan base who were determined to see England triumph.

Twickenham was a sea of black – however this seemed largely attributed to winter coats, rather than the All Blacks loyal. The stands were dominated by a loud chorus of England fans who were determined to throw New Zealand off their game from the get-go – going so far as to drown out the haka with their own calls of “Swing Low…”

Despite their best efforts however, the All Blacks were quick to demonstrate why they are the world’s 1st, with Julian Savea scoring a try within the first two minutes of the match. Savea was also deservedly the day’s Man of the Match – a massive turnaround from being in a French hospital only a week ago. Steve Hansen remarked on his team’s focus on making the most of every opportunity – demonstrated well by Savea – with the All Blacks controlling the first 20 minutes of the game; England dominating the next 20; and the next 20 being shared. Kieran Read scored the second try of the game soon after Savea’s – however being slapped with a yellow card gave England a 10 minute advantage to gain momentum and bring the score dangerously close; half-time seeing England with 16, New Zealand with 20.

The match wasn’t without its injuries, either. Dan Carter – celebrating his 100th cap – had to leave the game after 26 minutes, having injured his Achilles (not the one previously ruptured). Hansen reported post-match that it’s probably not ruptured, but the seriousness of the injury cannot be gauged until scans are done. Tony Woodcock also pulled a hamstring just before half-time, and is subsequently unlikely to play in Dublin next week.

Andy Farrell is “gutted for the boys”, after England “worked their absolute socks off” – but felt that two exits went wrong for the hosts, resulting in a “dejected changing room”. Nonetheless England remain optimistic for the World Cup next year, though they “talk more about belief and building a team” rather than purely looking towards the World Cup as an end game. England’s coaches are grateful that England – and the Twickenham crowd in particular – are 100% behind the team, and are celebrating moving from 6th in the world to 3rd, while inching ever-closer to 2nd.

Richie McCaw’s boys knew today’s match “was always going to be a battle”, but nonetheless have savoured victory yet again with a defeat over England 30-22 – and are now only 80 minutes away from the perfect year.

“Expectations”: brave triumph of NZ playwright’s debut play

I was recently invited by Shaky Isles to review a new play: Expectations, by Emma Deakin. The review has been published on NZ News UK and Theatreview – you can also read it below.

It’s on at London’s Pleasance Theatre until 24 November (click on the link for more details) – do go and see it if you get the chance.

Photo by Jenifer ToksvigImage

Reviewed by Charlotte Everett, 7 November 2013

Expectations is a brave, beautiful and artistically daring production that breathes life into discussion around miscarriage.

Being a “rainbow baby” myself (having been conceived once my parents had seemingly given up after a series of miscarriages), I have to admit I was apprehensive about seeing this production. My mother hadn’t spoken about her miscarriages – and seeing the pain it clearly brought to her eyes, I dared not ask.

For New Zealander Emma Deakin of London-based theatre company Shaky Isles, her own experience in this area prompted her to write her first play – Expectations. Given that 1 in every 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, it’s astonishing that there are not more plays, films, books and poetry dealing with this painful and devastating “fact of life” for so many people.

Deakin has courageously responded to this lack of support around miscarriage, and Expectations boldly brings the discussion out in the open.

Although the play is intense – enhanced by the use of intimate studio space, and a striking set dressed in red, black and white – it is far from depressing. Moments of heartache are balanced with a high dose of humour. The play is set within a game show – “Let’s play Expectations! Where you can play to win the BIG PRIZE!” – the relevant irony being of course that it’s possible for both teams to win the “big prize”, as well as for neither team to win the big prize.

The “games” take us on the journey of two couples: Richard and Amanda (outstanding performances from Kane Bixley and Deakin herself), and Paul and Scarlett (equally well-played by David Eaton and Natalie Ann Jamieson). Richard and Amanda are a typical, seemingly happy and well-rounded married couple who yearn for a family, but are blighted by disappointment from previously miscarrying, as well as the fear of miscarrying again – not to mention additional pressure from those around them. Paul and Scarlett on the other hand tell the story of a young woman carrying through with an unplanned pregnancy where the father is out of the picture – Paul, her housemate, providing her with much-needed love and support, from an entirely unromantic motivation. The contrast between the different lives of these two couples – teams on the game show – highlights the universality of the suffering miscarriage can bring, and the impact miscarriage can have not only on the mother carrying the child, but also on those close to her who have been supporting her through the pregnancy.

The play deals with the expectations not only of the couples who are expecting, but also with the additional pressure of others expectations: soon-to-be grandparents, friends and colleagues, nursing staff and midwives – and even fate itself, portrayed through the presence of children of the ancient gods as the game show hosts. Deakin’s words – “We’re against the odds, you know. It’s actually really hard to be born” – summarise the harsh reality that miscarriage in many respects is down to chance. The play seeks to offer hope to anyone affected by miscarriage; to inspire courage through loss and to demonstrate that life not only goes on after miscarriage, but that it can be – and is – a truly perfect and wondrous thing.

Expectations is a polished work infused with energy. This can be attributed to the talented and committed cast of seven, and the dedicated direction of Stella Duffy – who has been working closely with Deakin and Shaky Isles for a number of years – and the depth of their creative relationship shows. The resulting production – which will no doubt continue to evolve as the season continues – is the reflection of a hard-working and united cast, as well as a director who has clearly nurtured and cared for the work as a whole in a way that shines brightly throughout.

This is a brave, collaborative work that seeks to illuminate the darkness in many lives, and succeeds in doing so. In addition to raising awareness about the heartache of miscarriage, it is a truly stunning production, not to be missed.