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

Millennials and the theatre: They’re getting the plot wrong

A lot of young people are not interested in going to the theatre for several reasons, but the benefits of regularly seeing a show outweigh their doubts

|Google images
From the Adelphi theatre in the West End to a fringe show in a 15 seat theatre in East London. The city offers endless amounts of theatrical productions. Revivals, musicals, straight plays and comedies, the choices are endless and cater to every taste. Whether you want a night of dramatic over the top colourful costumes and catchy songs, or a two-actor hour long play that will have you thinking about it for hours afterwards. The choices are as diverse as the audience, or is the audience not as varied as it could be?

According to Andrew Lloyd Webber, London is now behind Broadway with only three new musicals opening until May 2017, whereas New York has 14 new shows.  Instead of supporting new work and giving new writers opportunities to showcase their work, London produces a lot of revivals. But Lloyd Webber claims, it’s not because the West End is not giving enough chances to young writers and producers. He’s criticising the lack of education in the arts in British schools. If there’s no proficient arts education in schools, how are young people supposed to get interested in the arts, particularly the theatre?

Millennials attitudes towards theatre

There’s a community of young theatre lovers in London that can’t imagine anything better than sitting inside an old building and watching people perform. Unfortunately, even more people of the younger generation have no interest in this art form or have the wrong idea about it. The most common thoughts about the performing arts are that it’s unaffordable, not knowing what to expect and thinking it’s too old fashioned.

It’s clear that something needs to change. The theatre has been around for so long, because it has evolved and changed throughout hundreds of years. From the Shakespeare Globe, with bad lighting to contemporary theatre and special effects. The theatre has to change with the times.

The Harold Pinter Theatre | Sarah Louhichi
However, there’s something about the theatre that is captivating and magical. A good play can make you feel like the last two hours flew by in five minutes.

Culture is an important part of human development. Art has always been used as a way of trying to make sense of the world. Whether it’s through a painting, a sculpture or other artistic creations. Most plays and even musicals are written to highlight problems around the world, in our daily lives, and the way we live and how we might influence the future. Shows usually bring attention to things that should concern all of us.  A lot of plays will have you thinking about its content hours after you’ve left the theatre, because you’ll be drawing connections to contemporary life.

It’s going to make you feel emotions that compare to nothing else. Having something happen right in front of you, is unlike any other medium or type of entertainment. Every performance is different, not considering the big hick ups that might happen. Each show the actors might use a different tempo in a monologue or use different facial expressions. Sometimes the energy in the theatre is so intense that you can’t help but feel excited. Being part of a show is always something unique, you’ll never know how other performances went and how other audience members have experienced it. Unless, you see a show several times, but that’s a whole new topic.

There’s a community of theatre lovers that can’t wait to share their favourite hobby with others. Whether they’re theatre blogger, frequent visitors or actively performing. Thanks to social media you can not only connect with the actors and production team of each show, you can also be part of a huge community that is happy to arrange theatre trips and share their thoughts and feelings about issues in the industry.

It’s understandable that a visit to the theatre seems a bit daunting. Not knowing what to expect, how to behave and what you’re going to experience can be scary for anyone who has no knowledge of anything theatre related. However, once you’ve given it a try and see a production that’ll take your breath away, the benefits of regularly attending shows and letting culture into your life, will be clear.

The Enchanted | Review

★★★☆☆ Pharmacy Theatre, The Bunker

An intense and brave tale of evil, the death penalty and the human inside a monster.

The Enchanted
The cast of The Enchanted | Dina T.

The play based on the novel by Rene Denfeld looks at the person behind a murderer and the death penalty. Waiting for your death on death row is lonely. Arden is mute and as he waits for his day, he listens and watches an investigator trying to save some of the prisoners from their deaths. While doing so, she uncovers the sad and disturbing past of some of the ‘monsters’ in the maximum security prison.

The choreography by movement director Emily Orme, conveys a sense of helplessness and sadness that carries throughout the whole play, with an eerie undertone through the music.

The Enchanted-2.jpeg
The Cast of The Enchanted | Dina T.

The stage and background are completely white and chalk is used to draw on it. However sometimes it doesn’t have enough of an impact as the light blue colour of the chalk gets lost easily.

The use of puppetry shows a certain vulnerability each of the characters have, it’s done so delicate and creatively it adds to the aesthetics of the show. However, the puppets are always used during narration, therefore they have to compete for the audiences’ attention with the actor on stage and it looses its impact slightly. It would’ve worked better if they had been on stage by itself.

The Enchanted-3
Corey Montague-Sholay (Arden) | Dina T.

Corey Montague-Sholay who plays the narrator and Arden, a silent killer is captivating. He captured the essence of his character and the play so well, it’s beguiling and so compelling that it would probably work with just him telling the story of all the other characters.

The Enchanted runs at The Bunker until 17 June.

Chinglish | Review

★★★★☆  Johanson Productions, Park Theatre

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.

Chinglish Production PhotosCredit: The Other Richard
Lobo Chan (Cai Guoliang), Candy Ma (Xi Yan), Windosn Liong (Bing) and Gyuri Sarossy (Daniel) | Richard Davenport for The Other Richard

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.

Chinglish Production PhotosCredit: The Other Richard
Duncan Harte (Peter Timms) | Richard Davenport for The Other Richard

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.

Chinglish - Candy Ma and Gyuri Sarossy (courtesy Richard Davenport for The Other Richard) 2

Gyuri Sarossy (Daniel) and Candy Ma (Xi Yan) |Richard Davenport for The Other Richard

Chinglish runs at the Park Theatre until 22 April.

@ChinglishUK, @ParkTheatre

A Clockwork Orange| Review

★★★★☆  Action to the Words,  Park Theatre

High energy paired with stunning choreography and Beethoven’s Symphonies. A Clockwork Orange is an intense theatre experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Luke Baverstock (Georgie) Sebastion Charles (Dim) Jonno Davies (Alex) Tom Whitelock (Pete) |Matt Martin

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.

Tom Whitelock (Pete) | Matt Martin

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.

Jonno Davies (Alex) | Matt Martin

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.

A Clockwork Orange runs at the Park Theatre until 18 March.

@Droogie_Tweets @ParkTheatre


This must be the place | Review

★★★★☆ Poleroid Theatre, The Vaults

Poleroid Theatre presents a captivating tale of living in the 21st century, connectivity and breaking free from old lives.

(Left to right) Feliks Mathur (Tate), Hamish Rush (Matty) Molly Roberts (Lily) and James Cooney (Adam) | Mathew Foster

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.

James Cooney (Adam) | Mathew Foster

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.

Feliks Mathur (Tate) and Hamish Rush (Matty) | Mathew Foster

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.

This Must Be The Place runs at the Vaults during Vault Festival until 12 February.


Henry V | Review

★★★☆☆  Antic Disposition, Southwark Cathedral

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.

British soldiers | Scott Rylander

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.

Photo courtesy: Scott Rylander

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.

Floriane Andersen as Princess Katherine | Scott Rylander

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.

Anitc Dispostion’s Henry V tours across different cathedrals in the country until 22 February.

@Anticdispo #HenryV

Muted | Review

★★★★★ Interval Productions, The Bunker Theatre

Sarah Henley’s heartbreakingly beautiful story of loss and love enchants the audience with emotional songs and astonishing voices.

Muted | Savannah Photographic

Michael is the frontman of a band called Lost Boy. He and his friends are an inch away from becoming a success. Then his mother suddenly dies from a hit and run accident and he never speaks a word again. His friends desert him and he lives with his uncle. Years later, his ex-girlfriend Lauren and his friend Jake who is now Lauren’s boyfriend, want to make things good again. When the band gets another shot at stardom, Jake tries to get Michael back in the band, because the label wants him to be the frontman once again. When Lauren tries to bring Michael back to normal, old feelings are re-emerging and a dark truth uncovered.

Teenage Michael ( Ed Campbell Bird) | Savannah Photographic

Jamie Jackson’s direction of the musical is fresh, artistic and contemporary, which works well with the venue, the story and the songs.

The teenage version of Michael, played by Ed Campbell Bird, appears as the inner voice of him, while he stays muted the teenage Michael sings and expresses his inner feelings. During flashbacks with the mother that explains their relationship, which was sometimes difficult, due to his mothers drinking and disappointment of his father leaving them. His uncle Will had to deal with the loss of the sister but couldn’t mourn her loss having cared for his nephew at a young age. Now he is torn between living his own life and staying with his nephew.

Lauren ( Tori Allen-Martin) and Micheal (David Leopold) | Savannah Photographic

Michael played by David Leopold has the ability to show Michael’s pain and sorrow of losing his mother. His life being turned upside down, the confusion of not knowing who the driver was and his friends suddenly abandoning him weighs on him heavily. His facial expressions and body language convey his feeling’s perfectly, making you instantly connect with Michael. He is a lost boy, which coincides with the name of his former band.

Tori Allen-Martin is not only an incredible musician and writer, she plays her part as the ex-girlfriend that was driven away by her guilt and, feeling helpless but unearths old feelings for Michael. Her voice also touches everyone in the audience. It is soft, yet strong, beautiful and emotional.

Muted runs at the Bunker Theatre until 7 January 2017.