337 posts categorized "Fringe/pub theatre" Feed

Review: It's Headed Straight Towards Us, Park Theatre - fun but lacking in bite

Samuel West (Hugh)  Nenda Neururer (Leela) and Rufus Hound (Gary) in It's Headed Straight Towards Us at the Park Theatre small. Pamela Raith Photography (041)
Samuel West (Hugh), Nenda Neururer (Leela) and Rufus Hound (Gary) in It's Headed Straight Towards Us, Park Theatre 2023. Pamela Raith Photography

Actor Hugh Delavois (Samuel West) has never made it big but has a steady stream of bit-part work. Meanwhile, drama-school chum Gary Savage's (Rufus Hound) star burned Hollywood bright for a while but has since faded under a cloud of being a drunk and unreliable.

Hugh is jealous of Gary's catalogue of past roles while despising his reckless and unpredictable behaviour. Gary sees Hugh as uptight and an uninspired performer.

In It's Headed Straight Towards Us, these frenemies are thrown together while filming on location on the side of a volcano in Iceland.

It is Hugh who has the more significant role and the bigger Winnebago, and Gary, when he remembers where he is, behaves like he's the biggest name on the film's poster.

When a natural disaster cuts them off from the rest of the unit and leaves them isolated, it is 21-year-old runner Leela (Nenda Neururer) who has to keep the peace while trying to manage their 'rescue'.

It's an interesting time to be watching a comedy set in the entertainment industry, given the news headlines surrounding a certain comedian/actor.

While some did, I couldn't laugh at Gary's lecherous behaviour towards Leela, even if it's intended by writers Ade Edmonson and Nigel Planer as a satirical poke at 'old school' behaviour.

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Review: Infamous, Jermyn Street Theatre - a light introduction to a richly interesting woman

Caroline Quentin and Rose Quentin in Infamous_Jermyn Street Theatre_ photography by Steve Gregson 4 sml
Caroline Quentin and Rose Quentin in Infamous, Jermyn Street Theatre. Photo by Steve Gregson

Can a woman be famous and respectable? That's the question posed by April De Angelis' play about Lady Emma Hamilton, but I'm not sure it's the right question in the context of this story.

Real mother-and-daughter actors Caroline and Rose Quentin play Emma at different stages of her life.

In the first half, Rose plays the young, flirtatious and ambitious Emma, set on catching the eye of newly victorious admiral Nelson. The fact that she's married doesn't give her a moment's reflection.

She's risen from poverty via maid, model and dancer to a place in society where she's not only a lady by marriage but the 18th-century equivalent of an influencer. And just as social media influencers continually seek clicks, Emma is determined to build on her fame.

Caroline plays her mother - put upon but grateful to have escaped her own dodgy and dark past. Age and experience have given her a more grounded outlook on their situation.

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Review: Spiral, Jermyn Street Theatre - growing unease and suspicion

Spiral image - Ben Wilkin
Abi Hood and Kevin Tomlinson in Spiral. Photo: Ben Wilkin

Last year Abi Hood's play Monster had one particularly shocking scene which has lingered in my memory; in contrast, Spiral is a play of unease and suspicion.

It centres on the friendship between Tom, a teacher (Jasper Jacob) and Leah (Abi Hood), an escort, the motivation for which has one or two grey areas and the impact that has on their other relationships - Tom's wife, Gill (Rebecca Crankshaw) and Leah's boyfriend Mark (Kevin Tomlinson).

Tom and Gill's teenage daughter Sophie has gone missing taking nothing with her, and they are coping in different ways. Gill has turned to drink and the church, while Tom meets with Leah, who looks a bit like Sophie.

Leah isn't in a good place herself. Her mother is no longer around, and she lost contact with her father when she was a child. Mark, who came to her rescue at a low moment, isn't the guardian angel he first appeared, rather, he is increasingly controlling and abusive.

His moods swing between the kicks he gets from her escort work, which he encourages her to do, and jealousy if punters show the wrong sort of attention.

I was mentally screaming 'leave him' from very early on.

But it's Leah and Tom where the unease really centres. They meet more and more to share chips and conversation; are they fulfilling an innocent need for each other? Is it merely that Tom's way of coping is to try and recreate his relationship with his beloved Sophie? Is Tom a much-wanted father figure for Leah?

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Review: Violated, Camden People's Theatre - raw and relatable

Violated rebecca holbourn art work
After watching Violated at Camden People's Theatre, we stood in the bar talking about what we related to, our own experiences and how the play had changed our perspective.

Rebecca Holbourn's play explores real-life experiences where consent isn't given or is assumed. It is the seemingly micro-violations that add up and can leave a lasting impact.

It's told from the perspective of a woman (Tamsin Harding) and a man (Arthur Perdreau), highlighting how stereotypes and peer pressure compound the problem of consent - or lack of it.

There is a range of incidents from playing kiss chase to having a stranger sat next to you on the bus and put their hand on your thigh when you were a child.

The play demonstrates the lasting impact these violations have: Anger, guilt, regret, problems with trust...

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Interview: Writer & director Rebecca Holbourn on her new play and what she loves about theatre

Later this week, writer, director and producer Rebecca Holbourn will be at Camden People's Theatre preparing for the opening night of her new play Violated.

I asked her about the play and her thoughts on theatre, and you can watch the interview, or there is a transcript below.

How would you describe your play Violated?

Violated is based on real-life experiences. It explores and discusses broken consent and violation in many different forms, not just sex.

Why did you want to tell this story?

This story is obviously very personal to me as it includes a lot of my past, and that gets explored, which is very tricky. But I think everyone has their own tricky memory that they don't necessarily want to face.

And everyone needs to consider if actually some of the things they're holding on to might be because they didn't say yes.

How will you be feeling on opening night?

Opening night sounds scary, but I honestly cannot wait for my actors to be in front of an audience because they're smashing it, and they deserve to be seen.

I should probably be proud of my words too, but I can't wait for people to see my actors.

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Review - the inventive, fun and moving Wonder Drug: A Comedy About Cystic Fibrosis, Omnibus Theatre (Edinburgh preview)

Wonder drug a comedy about cystic fibrosis
Wonder Drug: A Comedy About Cystic Fibrosis, Omnibus Theatre Edinburgh Preview

Wonder Drug: A Comedy About Cystic Fibrosis is more than its title suggests.

Writer and performer Charlie Merriman, who has cystic fibrosis (CF), takes us back to March 2020 when he's been told that a new drug treatment is coming; he just needs to stay healthy.  Charlie has also just met a woman he likes on an acting job who shares his love of 80s music.

But then the first COVID lockdown hits.

Having CF, which affects the lungs and digestive system, means he's at high risk and needs to shelter.

He mixes up his monologue with puppets, game show elements, audience prompt cards, impressions, rewriting famous song lyrics and snatches of 80s pop. He also gives his various treatments and drugs characters with different voices to distinguish them.

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Review: Bones, Park Theatre - rugby, mental health and toxic masculinity

Bones park theatre poster

Hot on the heels of Dear England at the National Theatre, which explores mental health and emotions in the England men's football team, we have Bones at the Park Theatre, which looks at men's mental health through the prism of a rugby team.

Both plays highlight some of the negative impacts of toxic masculinity, which forces self-reliance and emotional repression.

In Lewis Aaron Wood's play, the rugby team throws gendered insults and references to sexual acts with each other's mothers. Problems are 'solved' by drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

The story centres on Ed (Ronan Cullen), who is a reluctant participant despite scoring the winning try in an important game and is considering drastic measures to get out of the next big match.

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Review: Jules and Jim, Jermyn Street Theatre - Alternative lives and love but the effect feels muted

Alex Mugnaioni  Samuel Collings and Patricia Allison in Jules and Jim_Jermyn Street Theatre_photography by Steve Gregson
Alex Mugnaioni, Samuel Collings and Patricia Allison in Jules and Jim, Jermyn Street Theatre. Photo by Steve Gregson

Jules and Jim is an exploration of love and friendship told through the lens of three people living an unconventional lifestyle. Jules (Samuel Collings) is a German poet who meets Frenchman Jim (Alex Mugnaioni) in Paris.

They share a love of art and travel together until Kath (Patricia Allison) arrives with an enigmatic smile that mirrors the one they saw on a statue of a Goddess in Greece. Naturally, they both fall in love with her.

Jim has a history of falling for Jules' girlfriends, but when Jules says Kath is out of bounds for him, you can easily guess what is going to happen.

Over 90 minutes, we follow the trio across the decades that straddle the first world war. They move about, live in Paris, Berlin and rural Germany, visit each other, marry, take lovers, they have children and miscarriages.

Solid friendships

But all the time, they are open with each other about their relationships and feelings. There are flares of jealousy, but nothing seems to rock the foundations of their friendship and love. 

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Review: Snowflakes, Park Theatre - dark but flawed

Snowflakes Production Images Park Theatre April 2023 (c) Jennifer Evans (49)
Robert Boulton, Henry Davis and Louise Hoare in Snowflakes, Park Theatre, April 2023 (c) Jennifer Evans


Robert Boulton's play Snowflakes takes cancel culture to the extreme. A start-up business metes out 'justice' for offences and offending on social media. Live streamed, the 'defendant' is given a chance to put their case and the audience votes on whether they can walk or are killed on camera.

The 'hitman/hitwoman' decide on the style of death. Yes, it is dark.

Waking up in a hotel room having spent the night with a woman that isn't his wife, Tony (Henry Davis) is ambushed and drugged by Marcus (played by Boulton) and Sarah (Louise Hoare).

The former is an old hand at this 'work' and relishes it. Sarah is on her first job and wants to do everything by the book, but that seems to include riling Marcus by accusing him of disliking women which had me jumping ahead of the story.

Setting up the equipment while discussing the job, their route into it and the pros and cons turns into rather a long preamble to the actual 'trial'. It stretches the tension of the first half a little too thin.

But when Tony is conscious, and events truly kick off, it is not the most relaxing watch having events unfold in such close proximity (this is in the Park's studio theatre).

Having an unseen digital audience voting on the 'defendant's' fate is an interesting idea. Keyboard trolling is taken to the extreme; it highlights the ease with which people can separate themselves from the real impact of their actions if viewed via a screen.

And our two assassins carry out the audience's will; it's a job like a judge handing down the results of a jury trial.

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Review: Mediocre White Male, King's Head Theatre - a gradual shift makes a powerful point

Mediocre white male 2023 Press Image
Will Close is the Mediocre White Male, King's Head Theatre March 2023

The mediocre white male of the title, or MWM as he's referred to by a colleague, is angry. His school friends have moved on, and he's stuck playing a talking statue at the local stately home.

To make matters worse, he's been sent on a gender awareness course for referring to his female colleagues as 'girls'.

He yearns for the past when life was simpler, there was banter, and he knew where he stood.

But this isn't a story of unfulfilled ambition and navigating a world that is "politically correct". Well, it is, but over the course of an hour, our MWM (played by Will Close) reveals more and more about himself that sheds him in a different light.

He is a man who doesn't take rejection well or accept responsibility. He's also incapable of understanding a different perspective. MWM is prone to using phrases like 'nobody told me' and 'how was I supposed to know'.

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