Moonchild Theatre Company stages an impressive first production of a new play that captures many important issues in today’s world, by personifying likeable planets, comets and moons.
The New Horizons probe lands on Pluto in 2006 and brings bad news for the planet, who is currently having a party which no one has turned up to, except for his best friend Charon. The probe that arrives bears news from NASA telling PLUTO that he’s no longer a planet. He’s now labelled a ‘Dwarf Planet’ which throws Pluto into total chaos, “I’ve been conned into hosting my own funeral”. He’s confused about his identity and has only Charon (and a stripper she hired), to cheer him up and help him to understand.
“Pluto: The subject of much confusion,” as his friend Charon puts it, is mirroring people in our society who have things decided for them, often by men in power who cannot even begin to understand their situation.
The production touches on a fair amount of social and political issues, maybe too many to completely be sure of its message. The staging is sparse but it works, due to the dark walls of the tiny Baron’s Court Theatre, giving you a feeling of deep space.
Callum O’Brien takes Pluto and turns his story into a perfect metaphor for issues such as labelling others, accepting people for who they are and feeling lonely. His direction is clear, fresh and ideal for millennials who would love to see their first play but are daunted by big Shakespearian productions.
The stripper scene is hilariously awkward. The overall humour of the play manages to cover up many of the issues and problems in today’s society. Liam Joseph’s Saturn impression is brilliant and draws the audience on his side. He brings Pluto to life and turns him into a character that you like instantly. He’s not just a planet but a man with a heart and soul.
Charon, played by Charlotte Price is extremely gripping and intriguing. You find yourself hanging to every word during her monologue about her friendship to Pluto. She simply leaves you wanting more.
Pluto might not be as smooth sailing as a West End production might be, but as a brand new play, it definitely is a strong first production for the Moonchild Theatre Company who’ve managed to capture the current issues perfectly.
Pluto runs at Baron’s Court Theatre until 23 April and will transfer to the Cockpit Theatre from 14 August until 17 August.
A new theatre company has landed in London. The Moonchild Theatre Company is staging its first play Pluto at the Baron’s Court Theatre, starting 18 April.
The two co-founders Liam Joseph and Callum O’Brien met as Front of House staff at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Liam, whose background is theatre and acting and Callum who studied film, teamed up and not only co-found their theatre company but also created their first production. Callum wrote the script and is directing the play with Liam producing and starring in it. They both have a passion for space and astronomy and are interested in current affairs; socially and politically. Liam had already paid for the space at the Baron’s Court Theatre, so he asked Callum to write him a play.
“Pluto was an alignment of planets”, says Callum.
“When I was writing about space, at the same time I was reading an article on North Carolina passing a law in 2016 that makes you use the bathroom that you were born into. So, if you’re transgender that causes confusion. It was passed by a bunch of people who would never see the effect it would have on the community.”
He continues: “I was thinking about space and I was thinking about this story. People who have had their identity defined by people who do not know them and it’s quite similar to Pluto, who was a planet but is no longer a planet and it was defined for “him” based on people who have never been to the planet. I took these two stories and married them and we’ve created this unusual piece of work, but it works.”
“It could mean a lot of things to a lot of people, we deal with politics, we deal with friendship, depression and you could take it literally and it could be a story of planets.”
The two criticise the London theatre industry. “A lot of shows nowadays cater to a very specific or older audience.”
Callum adds: “I think new writing can cater more towards a millennial audience. A lot that Pluto deals with is frustration, your voice has been stolen from you, your agency has been deprived, you cannot speak out for what you want to and it reflects the way millennials are portrayed as; numb observers.”
As director, Callum wants to make Pluto and turn it into an iconic object that could be the “figurehead of the LGBT cause.” However, he is worried about trying to tackle too many issues in their production. “We run the risk of writing something that could be about everything and nothing.”
Unlike many other theatre companies, Moonchild Theatre Company caters to millennials; “I’d rather make theatre accessible, but a lot of shows follow the older generation, and the tickets are so expensive.”
“All great artistic movements cater to the young and it’s foolish to overlook them, they will inherit the world one day. What you teach them now, that’s what they’ll take with them later in life and if you can get them interested in theatre and art now, hopefully there will be a future for art, especially in a world with an administration that cut art funding and pride things like guns and war.”
Looking at the news and everything that’s been going on recently the play seems to “come at the right time. I think there’s something happening right now, something is going to happen soon, the young people are beginning to regroup and feel there is this slight injustice against something.”
The two recount how everything has happened at the same time and how the timing of meeting at the Harold Pinter couldn’t have been better. “It’s like a volcano, everything has come at once, LGBT communities, Trump and technology. It never would’ve happened hadn’t we worked in the theatre together. Liam and I wouldn’t have met. Charlotte Price, who is also in Pluto also works at the Harold Pinter as front of house, so does Aimee Leigh the production manager and Giuliana Davolio the set designer for Pluto.”
“We’re incredibly lucky to work in such a supportive venue”
Their manager Rachel is interested in what their doing, as well as ATG. “It makes it worth what we’re doing, to know that your manager is interested in what you’re doing outside of work, it’s really warming and quite rare, not many theatres have that kind of support. She’s been so nice, she’s let us put the flyers around the building and helps us put them in other theatres as well”, says producer Liam Joseph.
“It’s encouraging to know that someone in such a high position cares about new writing and helping her staff .”
The rehearsal for the play is going well according to Callum. Even though this is a stressful time, he finds it rewarding. “It’s the most interesting learning curve for me, knowing how to develop the script. All four of us have fine tuned it and arranged it and moulded this play to be something that we all want to be part of.”
In the future the team wants to create and produce theatre as well as film. “We also want to look at merchandising our company, because we feel like we’re very sell-able”, says Liam. “We’ve got a cool logo.”
“Creatively we would like to go off in every branch in media and art.”
After Pluto, the theatre company will potentially put up an exhibit of pictures from Pluto’s set and production in an art gallery in Camden. “That’s what interested us, because theatre is never looked at through still images, with the exhibition, you meet theatre and film in the middle.”
Help Moonchild Theatre Company stage their first production and donate to their IndieGOGO page.
David Henry Hwang returns to the Park Theatre with his European premiere of Chinglish. It explores the contemporary issues of doing business between two different cultures, East and West.
Andrew Keates directs this laugh-out-loud comedy, that starts with Daniel doing a presentation on poorly translated Chinese signs. “To take notice of safe: The slippery are crafty” and “Fuck the certain price of goods” pull the audience in with laughter in the first few seconds of the play.
Daniel, an American, wants to start a business arrangement with China on the behalf of his company ‘Ohio Signage’. When he meets Peter, an English teacher, he employs him as his business consultant.
Peter has lived in China for over a decade and gives Daniel advise on how to close a deal with the Chinese. The one important thing he says, is taking the time and trouble to build a relationship and understand the customs of the Chinese people in order to be successful.
When Daniel meets Xi Yan, the Vice-Minister for Culture, secrets are uncovered and a forbidden relationship begins.
Gyuri Sarossy and Candy Ma are an ideal leading duo who bounce off each other perfectly.
The theme of the play looks at the language barrier between different cultures, as well as how to make business deals. A plethora of funny incidents occur over the duration of the show, which makes it so relatable, we’ve probably all encountered the problem of trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak our language. It also goes deeper – as it seems that everyone has something to hide from each other, and it shows the nature of making business decisions.
The staging is incredibly clever, by using a closet-like backdrop with small doors that open in different sizes and ways -transforming the stage into something completely different for each scene.
Gyuri Sarossy (Daniel) and Candy Ma (Xi Yan) |Richard Davenport for The Other Richard
High energy paired with stunning choreography and Beethoven’s Symphonies. A Clockwork Orange is an intense theatre experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Written by Anthony Burgess and based on his book from 1962, showing the worst side of humanity, which is scary as it’s still relevant today. The all-male cast hits the Park Theatre with force, style and raw sexuality.
The story follows Alex and his droogs, who commit horrific acts of violence in the underworld of Manchester. Their acts are fuelled by battling boredom. They are warned to stop but don’t listen and end up in prison, where Alex tries everything to be released. Later he becomes a Guinea pig, where scientists are trying to cure him. He’s stripped of his aggressive behaviour and changes from evil to good. Now, he’s merely a vague memory of his former self.
Jonno Davies as Alex is bold, dynamic and has the audience following his every move and word. He clearly transitions from an ultraviolet Alex to a mere shell of him. Tom Whitelock is a great addition, who plays a seemingly insane Pete, almost animal like. Sebastian Charles as Dim is scary and aggressive, adding another level of intensity to the play.
The direction by Alexandra Spencer-Jones is incredible and turns this play into a masterpiece. She uses the stage surrounded by the audience to her advantage, using different entry points and not only focusing on aiming the action at one side of the stage.
The choreography is one of the highlights of the show, complementing the high energy that has the theatre buzzing and paired with the aesthetics. When two gangs clash, she turns it into a beautiful movement. The play is a piece of art and leaves you wanting more, feeling like the 90-minute play was not enough.
★★★☆☆ European Arts Company, Jermyn Street Theatre
This dark comedy about the celebrity Beau Brummell is entertaining but too long.
Beau Brummell; the first person who was famous for being famous. Nowadays, there are many alike him, The Kardashian clan being one of them. In the 18th century he was the modern narcissist, watching himself in the mirror all day long and letting people stare at him while he was getting dressed.
After a public incident with his friend the Prince of Wales, he’s forced to live in exile in Calais. Now poor, due to his lifelong addiction to gambling and driven into madness by Syphilis, Beau lives in a small flat in a covent with his valet. When the Prince of Wales, now King, comes to visit, Brummell hopes to be reinstated and be able to go back to his old life.
On the surface, this play is well done. The set design is beautiful and intriguing, the acting is superb and leaves no reason for criticism. It’s funny and the dialogue is written well and witty with a lot of opportunities to make the audience chuckle. The story and the length of the the show is what lets the production down. It’s not clear what we’re meant to take away from the story.
The production would’ve worked better in a shorter more compact version, as a lot of the conversations didn’t lead anywhere or uncover something essential. After a while it just felt stale.
Overall, it had its highlights through jokes and funny anecdotes, or the way that putting on his clothes was almost a sacred act.
Poleroid Theatre presents a captivating tale of living in the 21st century, connectivity and breaking free from old lives.
Many dream of living in London, but with sky high house prices and the pressures of life in the capitol, only few make it.
This Must Be The Place tells the story of Adam, a young Londoner who is sick of city life, everyday rush hour, unaffordable flats and bad financial situations. He needs a clean break. One day after work he throws his phone into the Thames and disconnects himself from everything and everyone. He needs to find home.
Somewhere else, two friends are ready for a new start. With hopes of a better future, they are ready to leave their problems behind and head off to London.
The play explores relationships in the 21st century. In a society where mobile phones hold more value to people than real life connections. A like on social media is more important than a meaningful conversation with a friend, and sharing anything with anyone in the world is more interesting than talking to your family.
We’re addicted to our phones and the abilities to do it all, whether it’s through connecting with people across the world, or to give you answers to every possible question you might need to know. This play shows us that we’ve disconnected ourselves from reality and the outside world while being so connected, we’re essentially on our own.
These two stories are are creatively intertwined. Directed by Justin Audibert and Josh Roche, they conquer the hearts of the audience with wit, honesty and words only. No props, costumes or setting is even needed. The words grab you and pull you into the lives of each character.
Poleroid Theatre explores the “Dark undercurrents of life in the 21st century” and gives young actors and writers a chance to develop and thrive. James Cooney (Adam), Feliks Mathur (Tate), Molly Roberts (Lily) and Hamish Rush (Matty) all achieve to captivate the audience.
A beautiful adaptation of Henry V, but it’s missing something to make it unforgettable.
Antic Disposition’s production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, embarks on its second UK tour of the most historic cathedrals.
It’s France 1915, the first world war and two groups of wounded soldiers, French and British are brought to the same military hospital. While recovering, the soldiers and nurses stage the production of Henry V – 500 years after the Battle of Agincourt.
It’s not something for a Shakespeare newbie. Since it’s not easy to place the story or understand the context, if you’re not familiar with it or haven’t done some research beforehand you might find it slightly confusing. In this case, it’s almost essential to get a programme and give it a good read through before the start of the show.
The production moves between 1415 and 1915, and adds original songs with live music inspired by the poetry of AE Housman.Whereas the transition between reality and play are smooth, you need to have some knowledge of Henry V to distinguish these at once.
The play being performed solely in cathedrals, gives it an opportunity that it wouldn’t have in a regular theatre and it’s obvious what was behind the thought process. It gives it the chance to use the acoustics to its advantage. The vast cathedral, with its high ceilings makes some scenes, songs and the sound of bombing more powerful, making the play more intense. However, the acoustics are also the downfall for the production. If the actor doesn’t directly face you, it is barley distinguishable what they are saying, therefore you’re losing out on the story.
Even though the cathedral makes the setting more unique and genuine, it has its downside as several scenes happen on the ground or sat down and even sitting in the second row, the view is obstructed resulting in missing out on several moments of the play.
The cast overall has uneven performances, some outstanding and touching, others rather forgettable. Floriane Andersen delivers a flawless performance, eloquently switching between English and French.