Pi­anist’s bright start to sea­son

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ON STAGE -

ANEW clas­si­cal con­cert sea­son will be opened by an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed mu­si­cian.

The Amer­sham Con­cert Club will start its 48th sea­son on Satur­day with pi­anist Paul Roberts per­form­ing. The fu­ture con­certs will take place in Novem­ber and in the new year.

Trea­surer of the con­cert club Sylvia Avery said: “Paul was born in Bea­cons­field, he’s ab­so­lutely won­der­ful, it’ll be bright and a good way to start the sea­son. He’ll be play­ing 1920s French and Span­ish mu­sic com­posers.”

The con­cert club aims to give world class mu­si­cians an op­por­tu­nity to per­form lo­cally and in an in­for­mal at­mos­phere.

The con­cert will be held at 8pm at Dr Chal­loner s High School, in Cokes Lane, Lit­tle Chal­font.

Tick­ets for in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances, or all five con­certs, can be ob­tained by email from the book­ing of­fice tick­ets@ amer­sham­con­certs.org.uk or by phone 01494 765 420.

BASED on the best­selling novel by James Dash­ner, The Maze Run­ner is a testos­terone-fu­elled ur­vival thriller cast from the same obust mould as The Hunger Games and Di­ver­gent.

Like those dystopian nightmares, Wes Ball’s film cen­tres on naive har­ac­ters, tee­ter­ing on the cusp of dult­hood, who are forced to make tark choices be­tween life and death o se­cure free­dom.

Only here, ado­les­cent males are apped in the moral mire and orced to es­tab­lish a mi­cro­cosm of elf-gov­ern­ing so­ci­ety a la Lord Of he Flies in which the strong­est take charge and the meek keep their heads down.

While The Hunger Games and Di­ver­gent ex­pended valu­able time es­tab­lish­ing character back sto­ries and mo­ti­va­tions, this open­ing salvo of The Maze Run­ner em­ploys a nifty cheat – am­ne­sia.

All of the pro­tag­o­nists are stripped bare of mem­o­ries in­clud­ing their iden­tity, emerg­ing from the dark­ness of a lift shaft into an en­closed green space called The Glade as blank slates.

“I can’t re­mem­ber any­thing,” whim­pers new­bie Thomas ( Dy­lan O’Brien).

“You get your name back in a day or two. It’s the one thing they let us keep,” ex­plains Alby ( Aml Ameen), the de facto leader, who emerged into this strange prison three years ago.

Gar­gan­tuan walls en­close The Glade and ev­ery morn­ing one wall parts to re­veal a maze which ‘run­ners’ like Minho (Ki Hong Lee) map while avoid­ing hideous denizens called Griev­ers in the vain hope of find­ing an exit.

The run­ners must re­turn be­fore dusk when the wall closes and the maze re­con­fig­ures.

Hav­ing plucked his name from the fog of his mind, Thomas forges friend­ships with Alby, sec­ond-in­com­mand Newt (Thomas BrodieSang­ster) and runt of the lit­ter Chuck (Blake Cooper), but falls foul of brutish ri­val Gally (Will Poul­ter).

Out of the blue, a girl called Teresa (Kaya Scode­lario) emerges from the lift.

She woozily claims to know Thomas and para­noia runs ram­pant...

For the open­ing hour, The Maze Run­ner is lean and taut, rat­tling along at break­neck speed to the beat of com­poser John Paesano’s propul­sive score.

The threat of blood­shed hangs in the air, but it’s only when Thomas strays into the labyrinth that the film un­veils a sur­pris­ingly nasty streak, despatch­ing the good-look­ing cast in a shock­ingly cold, clin­i­cal fash­ion.

Di­rec­tor Ball doesn’t suc­cumb to squeamish­ness or sen­ti­men­tal­ity: death comes quickly and grue­somely and the strong­est, most noble and en­dear­ing char­ac­ters are prime fod­der for the ram­pag­ing Griev­ers. The film earns its 12A cer­tifi­cate with­out flinch­ing.

O’Brien and Ameen an­chor the young en­sem­ble with fine per­for­mances, with ster­ling support from Lee, Brodie- Sangster and Poul­ter, the lat­ter flesh­ing out his pun­ish­ment-fix­ated bully with aplomb.

Scode­lario is no­tice­ably short­changed but pre­sum­ably, she will play a piv­otal role, from beyond the grave or in the flesh, in next year’s fleet-footed se­quel, The Scorch Tri­als.

Burn, baby burn.

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