Category Archives: Reviews

Dust | Review

★★★★☆  DEM Productions, Trafalgar Studios

Dust is a bold, honest and heartbreaking one woman show about mental health, depression and the aftermath of a suicide.

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Milly Thomas as Alice in Dust | The Other Richard

Alice struggles with mental health and one day she gives up and kills herself, but she’s stuck. She’s like a fly on the wall, in-between worlds, watching the aftermath of her death and  the effects it has on the people around her. We first meet her on the mortuary slab, where she examines her dead body, almost like she’s looking at someone else. We’re with her when she’s at her own funeral, when she commits suicide and when she wants to hug her parents.

There a light and funny times during the play, where Alice jokingly talks about things in her old life but the dark and more intense scenes, such as her suicide outweigh the lightheartedness. In combination with the mirrored stage by Anna Reid and the direction by Sarah Joyce, the show leaves an aftertaste of feeling lonely, vulnerable and weak.

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Milly Thomas as Alice in Dust | The Other Richard

 

The show itself has a millennial feel to it, not only because Alice is a typical millennial but it also focuses on issues like the addiction to smartphone and the constant urge to check social media that we all know to well.

Milly Thomas’s raw, vulnerable and more than honest performance transfixes the audience. I kept catching myself trying to hold my breath during certain scenes. The overall effect of the production is so powerful that it goes beyond thinking about it afterwards. It almost had a physical effect on me while watching it, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced when watching a show.

Dust runs at Trafalgar Studios until 13 October. Tickets are available here

 

Inside Pussy Riot | Review

★★★★☆ Les Enfants Terribles, Saatchi Gallery

Inside Pussy Riot is a powerful and relevant immersive production that needs to be experienced.

Inside Pussy Riot - Les-Enfants Terribles - Production Shot
Roseanna Brear| Kenny Mathieson

In all honesty, I was very nervous before going into the play. Having previously read about Pussy Riot and Nadya Tolokonnikova, I couldn’t imagine how this would be turned into an immersive production.

Naturally, when being led into the first room, I was nervous. Surprisingly, Inside Pussy Riot starts out light and funny, when the audience are led into a room and an ‘incapable’ tour guide welcomes everyone. This was great as this made all of us feel more relaxed and it was a nice ice breaker to the experience.

Then we are led into a cathedral and encouraged to take part in a short protest, to show what we believe in. We get caught and arrested, interrogated and sentenced to labour camp and experience things similar (but toned down) to what Nadya went through during her time in the penal colony.

Inside Pussy Riot - Les-Enfants Terribles - Production Shot
Kenny Mathieson

However, having been to other Les Enfants Terribles productions, this one slightly dissapoints. Some things feel a bit forced and not as natural as in previous productions. There are also parts that slow down the story-telling.

Nonetheless, Inside Pussy Riot feels contemporary and right at the time, hinting at a Trump-led America and the Weinstein scandal that led to the uncovering of countless of other sexual abuse cases in the entertainment industry. It sets up the audience with just the right amount of anger before we are encouraged to vocalise our beliefs.

Another great thing is that it feels like a very millennial way of showing people social issues around the world. Instead of reading or hearing about those issues, we get to experience it, which has a much deeper impact. We walk away finding ourselves thinking: Would I stand up for my beliefs? How would I react in the same situation? Would I be brave enough to stand up for myself and for others?

Inside Pussy Riot - Les-Enfants Terribles - Production Shot
Kenny Mathieson

It seems as though the intention was to raise awareness of oppression, the judicial system and injustice, what happened to Nadya and other members of Pussy Riot and how quickly basic human rights can be taken away from you. As well as adding that typical Les Enfants touch of quirkiness to it, this was completely achieved.

Inside Pussy riot is an immersive production that needs to be experienced. It raises attention to important issues and shocks the audience, so be prepared!

Inside Pussy Riot runs at the Saatchi Gallery until 24 December.

@LesEnfantsTerr

 

Stick Man | Review

★★★★☆  Scamp Theatre, Leicester Square Theatre

Sally Cookson directs Stick Man and enchants kids with delightful music, creativity and playful characters.

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Lara Cowin (Stick Lady Love), Sam Heron (Stick Man) and Alex Tosh (Musician) | Steve Ullathorne

The best-selling adaptation by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler returns to the Leicester Square Theatre for the festive season. 

When Stick Man accidently gets pushed into a misadventure and taken away from his family, he sets out on a long journey back to find his tree and family again. On the way he encounters people and animals that often confuse him with an ordinary stick and he gets lost even more. Will he ever find his way back home?

Children’s laughter echoes through the theatre ignited through the shows comedic value, that even leaves adults chuckling in their seats. The whimsical stage design thrills and engages everyone in the audience, keeping children captivated throughout the performance. 

Stick Man - courtesy of Steve Ullathorne
Alex Tosh (Musician), Sam Heron (Stick Man) and Lara Cowin (Stick Lady Love) | Steve Ullathorne

Sam Heron embodies Stick Man and gives the character a voice that young audiences can interact with, while Lara Cowin plays his wife and other endearing characters. Everything that happens to Stick Man, Cowin conveys with charm and comedy.  

Alex Tosh (Musician) emphasises and compliments what’s happening in the play, with sounds and music. Many things are purely conveyed through music and choreography which sparks imagination and creativity in kids and adults alike.

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Sam Heron (Stick Man), Lara Cowin (Stick Lady Love) and Alex Tosh (Musician) | Steve Ullathorne

The show is an hour long which is the perfect amount to keep the children entertained without them becoming bored of sitting still. Every time the young ones engage in the play, many of their faces light up with excitement. It also breaks up the show, so they [the kids] don’t get restless.

This Christmas production fires up children’s imagination with props and loavable characters. A perfect family show to see during the festive season.

Stick Man runs at the Leicester Square Theatre until 7 January 2018.

@stickmanlive 

 

The Secret Keeper | Review

★★☆☆☆  National Theatre Studio,  Ovalhouse

The Secret Keeper promises mystical mystery but only delivers cringy songs and confusing themes.

The Secret Keeper - production image 1 - Angela Clerkin (photo by Sheila Burnett)
Angela Clerkin| Sheila Burnett

In a fairytale village the daughter of the Dollhouse maker has a ‘gift’. She helps her father by keeping his deepest and darkest secret which changes him. He tells everyone to share their most intimate secrets with her to feel better. But what happens when one girl knows all the secrets in the village, including who killed her uncle?

Going into the theatre the atmosphere is eerie and promises a night of gothic and mysterious tales. However, that is only partly the case. The show switches between styles, which is confusing and lowers the quality of the production.

The Secret Keeper - production image 4 - L-R Niall Ashdown _ Angela Clerkin (photo by Sheila Burnett)
Niall Ashdown and Angela Clerkin | Sheila Burnett

It starts out feeling like a fairytale and the audience expects to watch a gothic style play, but then the style suddenly switches to a much more modern tone. This ruins the illusion and rips the viewer out of the story. The constant switches make it difficult to get lost in the play.

Things happen that don’t need to happen as they don’t help to tell the story and move it along, such as spontaneous singing.

The Secret Keeper - production image 6 - L-R Anne Odeke _ Niall Ashdown (photo by Sheila Burnett)
Anne Odeke and Niall Ashdown | Sheila Burnett

The spontaneous songs might be fun in a different, more modern setting, but with the fairtytale-like setting they seem silly and unnecessary.

Parts of the production were confusing, such as the gathering of the secrets. It wasn’t needed for the development of the story as the Good Daughter already showed that she was struggling to keep the secrets in.

Overall, the intentions of the production were good with a great storyline. The premise is intriguing but the execution of the production thoroughly disappoints.

The Secret Keeper runs at Ovalhouse until 21 October

All the Little Lights | Review

★★★★★ Fifth Word, Arcola Theatre

Jane Upton’s ever so important and powerful play is heart-breaking, thought-provoking and cannot be missed.

Esther-Grace Button & Tessie Orange-Turner in ALL THE LITTLE LIGHTS by Jane Upton - credit Robert Day
Esther-Grace Button and Tessie Orange-Turner |Robert Day
In the midst of rubbish, wrappers, empty bottles and fallen autumn leaves just off the railway tracks, three young girls are celebrating a birthday. Joanne and Lisa reunite, while Amy wants to belong. Lisa got out, but now she’s back and their past is haunting her. Where alcohol abuse is celebrated, a life threatening game where entertainment and violence is normal. In a society where the forgotten just want to belong and predators lurk around the corner. When does the victim become the villain?

Tessie Orange-Turner & Sarah Hoare in ALL THE LITTLE LIGHTS by Jane Upton - credit Robert Day
Tessie Orange-Turner and Sarah Hoare | Robert Day
The play makes several important points. No one cares about children without a family, how easy it is to turn villain after being the victim and the horrendous, long-lasting effects of sexual abuse.

In times where you can’t flick on the news without men getting away with saying things like “grab them by the pussy” and making it seem normal, and Harvey Weinstein who uses his powerful position to sexually assault women, this play needs to be seen. It needs to be seen now.

People need to be made to feel uncomfortable, their hearts need to break for the girls and what they’ve had to go through.

Tessie Orange-Turner & Sarah Hoare in ALL THE LITTLE LIGHTS by Jane Upton - credit Robert Day
Tessie Orange-Turner and Sarah Hoare | Robert Day
All three leading ladies, Esther-Grace Button, Sarah Hoare and Tessie Orange-Turner are remarkable. It cannot be easy to convey three forgotten and vulnerable teenage girls, who all have had horrible things happen to them, but Button, Hoare and Orange-Turner take the audience on a dark journey through unimaginable experiences.

Jane Upton’s script, directed by Laura Ford is simple, touching and shocking that will have the audience holding their breaths.

All The Little Lights runs at the Arcola Theatre until 4th November.

Flood | Review

★★★★★ Paper Creatures Theatre, Tristan Bates Theatre

Flood is a flawless debut production for Paper Creature Theatre and another hit for Tom Hartwell.

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Emily Céline Thomson (Jess), Nathan Coenen (Michael), Jon Tozzi (Adam) and Tom Hartwell (Ben) | @HeadshotToby

While his village is flooding, Adam feels like he’s drowning with it. His mother has just died and all his friends have moved away, closer to the capitol. Everyone is moving on with their new lives, millennials leaving the village in search for a better future. Adam  feels abandoned by his friends and sister. When his friends return to the village for the funeral, secrets are uncovered.

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Jon Tozzi (Adam) | @HeadshotToby

Playwright Tom Hartwell creates a wonderfully slick and heartfelt play that flows from scene to scene with characters that feel natural. The comedy drama deals with millennial themes such as how our culture is dominated by viral videos, occupied by the constant use of social media and how it’s made us lazy when it comes to social interactions. As well as all this, the play also touches on how millennials deal with loss and bereavement.

We find ourselves sending condolence messages and birthday wishes over social media which have just as much meaning as poking someone on Facebook. Hartwell seems to be able to tell relatable stories about different aspects and hurdles of millennials’ lives and finds the right tempo and tone with ease, by creating characters that are relatable and real.

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Tom Hartwell (Ben) and Molly McGeachin (Laura) |@HeadshotToby

Adam (Jon Tozzi) and Michael (Nathan Coenen) compliment each other well and have a fun character dynamic. Jess (Emily Céline Thomson) brings a slightly more mature note to the play with her  relationship with Michael that is moving forward and developing through the play. Overall, the chemistry between the actors aids the brilliant direction by Georgie Straight.

From the set that looks like floating furniture in a flooded basement, to the swift and creative scene changes, everything in this play works together perfectly and turns this debut production into a must-see for Paper Creatures Theatre.

Flood runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe until 5 August.

Disco Pigs | Review

★★★★☆ Tara Finney Productions, Trafalgar Studios

Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs comes to London for its 20th anniversary and brings a punch of energy and youthfulness.

(c) Alex Brenner
Colin Campbell (Pig) and Evanna Lynch (Runt)| Alex Brenner

John Haidar directs this upbeat, whirlwind of a story that follows Pig (Colin Campbell) and Runt (Evanna Lynch), who are born on the same day, at the same time. They’ve been inseparable ever since, dancing and drinking. They’ve created a world just for the two of them, in which they speak their own language, slang and only follow their own rules. Their friendship almost has a Bonnie and Clyde-esque feel to it, it’s them against the rest of the world, or at least their hometown of Cork. On their 17th birthday however, something changes. They find themselves growing apart.

The production manages to take the audience on the lively and adventurous journey with Pig and Runt through their life in Cork, their own little world with humorous stories and their hopes for the future.

(c) Alex Brenner
Colin Campbell (Pig) and Evanna Lynch (Runt) | Alex Brenner

Evanna Lynch, who is best known for her role as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series, gives such a strong performance as Runt. She shows versatility and skill, switching to other characters in a heartbeat. A shimmer of dreaminess shines through when Runt is dreaming of a different life, away from her home and even her best friend Pig.

Colin Campbell is excellent as the youthful, quite intense Pig. His range of emotion keeps the audience on their toes and surprises them when he shows his true feelings for Runt, something other than just the friendship they clearly have.

(c) Alex Brenner
Colin Campbell (Pig) and Evanna Lynch (Runt) | Alex Brenner

Many things are left to the audience’s imagination. The movements created within the play, with thanks to Naomi Said, plays a big part of the production as it creates the space for the audience to use their own imagination. Wonderfully executed, the lighting is magnificent (Elliot Griggs) and transports the viewer into a 90s disco, with (almost) magical lighting effects.

Disco Pigs runs at Trafalgar Studios until 19 August.