REVIEWS - PLAYS
Audience Reviews of Just Cuckoos
"An audacious thing to do, to fit such breadth and depth of drama, information and emotion into such a minimalist production, but it worked well enough to more than justify the attempt, especially with the balance created by the more light-hearted parts. The whole thing was great and a real pleasure to attend. Hope you get the reviews and impact you and it deserve."
"Really enjoyed the play on Friday night, such talented young actresses with faces alive with joy and enthusiasm."
"Your story reached every corner of everyone's memory, real or known of.... to think all that inhumanity existed in our own generation is sad."
"What a well written and well acted play. Really touched a few nerves with people. You have a wonderful gift of touching people’s emotions through your writing. Congrats to you all for a job done really well. Thank you."
Review of Swing
The premise is simple. Four young offenders are made to take part in an arts project. This is a sharp, funny, insightful and occasionally bleak play in a very fine production.
Kelly, Beth, Josh and Mark start off with stereotypical elements. “Gay-boy” Mark knits his pink blanket, Beth struts and gives “Whatever” lip. Over the course of the play they reveal, in Ayckbourn mode, their real lives and problems, disrupted homes and pasts, parents’ own difficulties. Great lines sparkle: “I was involved in a skirmish” “You’re talking like you’re on Downton” “What’s that, drugs?” The dialogue is as naturalistic as Mike Leigh, real and accessible (thanks to the cast, rehearsal process and Directors, as well as Cathy Grindrod, by the sounds of the after-show talk) and the writing is so well character-driven, that the issues that arise, of adoption, marital grief, care homes, drink, abandonment, never feel contrived.
Noone is blamed, and nothing is overtold. Sam, the arts project manager, is heartless and unsympathetic, whilst caring Dave, who looks after the project for a while, gives the group more room and trust, and they don’t achieve that much art! But they learn to understand each other, find each other, and during the play we make the journey with the characters exploring who each other really is. In the final scene, cleverly, the group show us the final results of their arts project. Which only lasts 2 minutes, but packs a real punch.
The ensemble playing is excellent, with all the cast outstanding in their main roles (Shannon Walker marginally shines out as Kelly), and perfectly at ease switching to other roles like parents, police etc. The staging is simple and effective, in the round, with a kitchen table on one side, the arts project/ police interview table on the other. But centre stage is a swing, a great device, always bringing us back to their innocence, as well as other moods - anger, frailty, confusion. In a few scenes Beth uses a video camera, with live footage on screens above the stage, showing poignant close-ups, and reminding us of representation, reality and the dominance of the media.
The play won the Write Track (new writing programme at The Palace, Mansfield) annual competition. Let’s hope this play, and indeed this production of it, can go further. The play wisely holds back from pointing its finger at economic conditions and Government policies that discriminate against these lives, but dates on the screens show 2014 and 2015. It almost feels like these difficult lives are ticking their way towards the election.
It’s simple. For a powerful and entertaining evening - I suggest you go and see this play if you can.
Audience Reviews of Always in the Afternoon
"We admired your play and, like the rest of the audience, were totally absorbed, It held our attention from beginning to end."
"We talked about the play all the way home. This is our yardstick of appreciation of a play - how long the discussion lasts on the way home."
"The dialogue sparkled."
"A powerful evening in the theatre."
"All my friends would be told in no uncertain terms to go and see this play."
"A very tender and well realised piece."
REVIEWS - POETRY
Reviews of Something the Heart Can't Hold
"In this book the verse is always well-written and precise but there is for me a sense of something being conveyed that is not actually contained in the words on paper...
These poems have exuberance and a love of language (and some of the more unorthodox things it can do) that make Cathy Grindrod a name to watch out for in the future."
Steve Leckie, Various Artists
"Cathy Grindrod explores the dark underside of life with great strength. Music and meaning are beautifully combined. A considerable talent."
Stella Stocker, Orbis
Reviews of Fighting Talk
"This is a rare talent. Cathy Grindrod comprehends the voice of the obstinate child, the hostile teenager, the been-there-seen-that woman, the resentful disillusioned employee, with the voices of love for the helpless dead as well as the splendidly alive… She moves the reader at all sorts of levels. There is not a poem in Fighting Talk that doesn’t work."
U A Fanthorpe
"She has a winning way of convincing us that pity and bitterness are surprisingly close emotions in cogent, engaging writing."
Will Daunt, Envoi
"Humour, fun, tenderness; a quiet understanding of the heartbreak at the heart of things… One always returns to the wonderfully sympathetic poems of childhood. Cathy Grindrod has a remarkable skill for recapturing that intense time of lost content/discontent we half remember, a time of strong emotion coupled with powerlessness, a state which has its own powerful emblems … Her talent for the recreation of childhood gives her work a special authenticity, not mere memory or dusty nostalgia, but immediate and springing with life. Many poets write on the subject of childhood but I can’t think of anyone who does it better."
Julie Lumsden, Staple
Review of Still Breathing
"I keep remembering Cathy Grindrod’s words from Straight Talking:
'If there’s anything we can do. No.’
The poet explores her relationship with her father through his illness and death. I feared being excluded but soon felt I knew the dapper tailor, who wore his ‘Tie knotted even to tea,’ now ‘putting on the woollen glove,/unable to separate the fingers.’
In Holding On, I walked with Cathy through the hospital to the bed where ‘We were all reduced to hand-squeezing, /My mother, for love, / my sister for diagnosis, / my brother, for wanting to do it right / Me, for everything.’ And from there, onwards to when she appeals:
'Dad, go now, this clear white day.
Find your walking shoes,
a cairn to add a final pebble to,
clean wind to whip your breath away.'
This is a poet who uses simple language to convey a myriad of painful emotions."
Sue Butler, Sphinx
"This is genuinely a poet of feeling who questions her own responses and also other people's depths and darker sides."
Reviews of Laureate Lines
"Cathy has produced an outstanding body of work which is celebrated in this collection."
Cllr Bob Janes
"We have just finished reading 'Laureate Lines' in our literature class where it has been a great hit! Everyone spoke very highly of your work and really enjoyed the range of emotions and subjects. They could relate to many of the situations you describe and felt you used words and images with great warmth and precision. They loved the humorous poems and were intrigued by the sad/wistful ones like 'A Certain Way' and 'Falling'. Thank you for being poet laureate and giving us such a lovely collection to study."
"I loved this book. I loved the varying styles - from a limerick inviting others to write limericks to an historical ballad about a Derbyshire man caught up in the Gunpowder Plot. There were poems about Bakewell Pudding (not that you knew that until the end), about well dressing, about the nail making heritage of Belper, the Carnegie funded library in Long Eaton and the dubious delights of public transport (I don't think Trent Barton buses commissioned that one...) The poetry had a light touch but was of very solid quality throughout. I enjoyed the addition of a few poems written by workshop attenders and the Laureate's diary at the end."
Online Book Review
Reviews of The Sky, Head On
"Characters in these poems are seeking escape, their experience of life is often weighed up and revealed through observation of the natural world, while evocative images of flowers echo from one poem to the next - as ineffective herbal medicine, photographic subject and sexual metaphor: ‘A girl stands waiting / waiting at a bus stop / arms full of cornflowers / that uncompromising blue.’
Cathy’s poems have appeared in a number of publications and anthologies through the years. Her skill at capturing intense emotions with a reflective, original voice, shines through in this latest collection."
Aly Stoneman, Left Lion
"Cathy Grindrod has a quiet individualism which colours her work with a distinctive identity.
Her very strong sense of the ordinary is often recognised in the past, sometimes with longing and with ‘the future still unfolding like a view from hills.’ What gives these poems their particular quality is that although her observation gives an importance to detail, they are always set against ‘the scheme of things /all the time people falling, rising, falling.’
Her imagination, too, takes in a range of subjects. In the ordinary lies the extraordinary, if you look in the right way… This collection has an attractive line in narrative and a consistent emotional intelligence."
Ian Caws, The South