42 posts categorized "Southwark Playhouse" Feed

10th Birthday list: My favourite theatre curtain call moments

I love curtain calls at the end of plays. It's a revealing time when characters are shaken off - or not - when faces perhaps show the person underneath the acting mask.

Swan Theatre view from the stage
View from the stage at the RSC Swan Theatre. Photo Rev Stan

They can also be a time of japes, fun and banter.

From time to time over the past 10 years of blogging I've mention curtain calls, they even have their own category in my end of year awards on occasions, so I decided to compile a list of  my favourites:

1. Only on the last night of the RSC's Richard II could the King (David Tennant) and his deposer Bolingbroke (Nigel Lindsay) have a final tussle for the crown. It was 2-0 to Bolingbroke in the end, David Tennant's curtain call lunge to take the golden circlet from Nigel Lindsay was not quite fast enough.

2. Another last night, this time the end of the run was all a bit too much for the cast of Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Daniel Mays looked like he'd been crying backstage and Ben Whishaw and Rupert Grint were fighting tears.

3. And another last night...Mark Strong couldn't hide his emotions at the end of A View From the Bridge at the Young Vic but instead of tears, he mouthed a satisfied 'yes' while making a fist.

4. At the curtain call of cold war drama Anna, National Theatre, there was a polite request from the cast who held up a series of cards which spelt out 'No Spoilers'.

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Video: 60 Second review of You Stupid Darkness! Southwark Playhouse

Recorded fresh home from the theatre, here is my 60 seconds worth of thoughts on You Stupid Darkness! at the Southwark Playhouse.

It's on until 22 February (official website here) and you can read my full review over on this post.

Have you seen it? Let me know what you thought.

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Review: You Stupid Darkness! Southwark Playhouse - funny, haunting, moving and strangely uplifting

Sam Steiner's play You Stupid Darkness! is set in a decaying office where four volunteers man a helpline - Brightline - trying to help people look on the bright side.

Andrew-Finnigan-Lydia-Larson-Andy-Rush-and-Jenni-Maitland-in-You-Stupid-Darkness-Credit-Ali-Wright
Andrew Finnigan, Lydia Larson, Andy Rush and Jenni Maitland in You Stupid Darkness! Photo: Ali Wright.

Inspirational posters cover water stains and holes in the wall with messages such as 'It will be alright in the end and if it's not alright, it's not the end."

The world outside the office isn't in a much better state. Nothing is directly discussed but the volunteers arrive wearing gas masks, you can hear sirens going off outside and there are hints from occasional remarks.

Frances (Jenni Maitland) the team leader is heavily pregnant and at one point is asked if she regrets it.

New volunteer 17-year-old Joey (Andrew Finnigan) comments that he hasn't seen a pregnant woman since he was 12.

Not looking ahead

When he says he prefers not to look too far ahead, it isn't the words of an apathetic teenager but a young person for whom the future genuinely doesn't hold a lot of promise.

Brightline, it seems, is like the cheery posters covering up far more serious problems.

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Review: The Night Before Christmas, Southwark Playhouse - festive fun for grown-ups?

Despite the laughter and hints of substance beneath the glitter and lights you'd expect from a Christmas show it is clunky at times and shows its age.

L -R Douggie McMeekin and Dan Starkey star in The Night Before Christmas at Southwark Playhouse - credit Darren Bell
L-R Douggie McMeekin and Dan Starkey star in The Night Before Christmas at Southwark Playhouse. Photo: Darren Bell


It's Christmas Eve and Gary (Douggie McMeekin) catches an elf (Dan Starkey) in his knock-off goods warehouse who claims to have fallen off Santa's sleigh.

His friend Simon (Michael Salami) thinks the elf is a just a burglar trying it on.

But with Gary's ex-wife on the way around to pick up their son's Christmas present and local prostitute Cherry (Unique Spencer) also after him for a promised Power Rangers toy for her own kid, the elf's timing isn't perfect.

Grown-up fun?

This is adult Christmas fare, counter-programming to the Dr Seuss musical which is on next door but what constitutes grown up festive fun?

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Best (and worst) of London theatre for 2018...so far...and the actress in two plays on the list

As the halfway mark of 2018 rushes past, it's time to reflect on the highlights and low lights of London's theatre productions so far (edit: scroll to the bottom for the most read posts).

julius caesar bridge theatre Rev stan
Julius Caesar warm-up gig, Bridge Theatre. Photo: Rev Stan

I'm not sure whether it's a reflection of more varied programming generally or just where my interests predominantly lie these days but it's a list dominated by women protagonists and BAME stories.

Best of the big stuff (West End and off West End)

Girls and Boys, Royal Court

Carey Mulligan's performance is a tour de force, precise, subtle and complex. It is a devastating and brilliant piece of theatre and it's transferred to the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York Theatre where it runs until July 22.

The York Realist, Donmar Warehouse

Like My Night With Reg crossed with God's Own Country and the steamiest flirtation on stage for a long while.

Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre

Stuff with Ben Whishaw in it doesn't always make it into my best of lists but being part of the mob was at times like being at a rock concert, a rally and in the middle of a war - never thought I'd enjoy standing at the theatre.

The Great Wave, National Theatre

Had no prior knowledge about the true events this play is based on but it proved the adage that the truth really can be stranger than fiction.

Summer and Smoke, Almeida

The first of two appearances on this list for Patsy Ferran, Summer and Smoke was a delicate, yet tense and heartbreaking play and I'm so glad it's got a transfer to the West End. See ATG's official website for details.

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Review: Philip Ridley's Angry, Southwark Playhouse or not angry, more disappointed

I love Philip Ridley's plays but this one isn't going to challenge my favourites.

Angry is written as six gender neutral monologues and night to night actors Georgie Henley and Tyrone Huntley switch which monologues they perform.

The suggestion is that there will be gender nuances in the performance or gender tensions in the stories or that it might challenge how you perceived the stories based on your own gender. The suggestion is that it will be intriguing enough that you'll want to watch it another night with the actors performing the alternate monologues.


But the problem is there was no gender tension in these particular stories; in fact there wasn't a single moment when I was curious about how a story would play out performed by the alternate actor. Or where I felt challenged.

Instead it felt merely like a ploy to get repeat visits.

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Interview: Max Lindsay on directing Philip Ridley's gender neutral, role swapping new play Angry #SouthwarkPlayhouse

Philip Ridley’s new play Angry (Southwark Playhouse) has an interesting structure, can you explain how it is going to work?

AngryWebSo Angry consists of 6 monologues that will be performed by both of the actors. However each night we are mixing up which actor performs which monologue.

Both of the actors [Georgie Henley and Tyrone Huntley] will be performing each night but will take turns as to who performs which monologue dependent on which version you see. So you can come and see Version 1 and get a completely different experience to when you come to see Version 2.

Really excitingly Philip has written all of the monologues so that they are gender neutral which means we have been able to really look at what these mean from a male and a female perspective. They come to life very differently.

How did you approach directing a gender neutral piece?

A lot of it stemmed from research that I did for both a female and male perspective but also from the conversations we had as a company. It was really important for the cast to feed in to that because the only way we are going to find truth in these monologues is filtering it through them.

And, how do rehearsals work when the actors are going to be performing the same monologues - is it a collaborative process?

We started off having a couple of days together to discuss all of the monologues and decide the routes we were going to go down with them. We played around with the characters and the interpretations.

It was so useful for us all to understand the different routes we were going to take so that we could push them apart further or bring them closer together dependent on what we wanted to achieve.

After that I was working with one performer at a time in very intense rehearsals. I work incredibly collaboratively so it was a lot of throwing ideas in to the mix and playing before finding what was right between the two of us.

It was then really down to my eye to ensure that things were playing the way we wanted them to.

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Review: Faction Theatre's Liverpool-set Vassa Zheleznova, Southwark Playhouse

Vassa-Image-AWFaction Theatre has taken Maxim Gorky's play about a matriarchal struggle to maintain wealth and status for her family and set it in Liverpool during the 1990's dock strikes.

It made me think of the TV series Bread and there are other parallels too aside from the Liverpool setting. Vassa (Sian Polhill-Thomas) is a formidable woman who runs the family and its business. If you ever saw her at home rather than at work she would surely be sat at the head of the table like Ma Boswell in comedy series. Vassa also has a philandering and alcoholic husband (Luke Shaw) and children that disappoint her.

However Vassa Zheleznova's story is one of a woman who started out with very little, married into money - a shipping business - and quickly realised that if she didn't take control they would lose it all. The irony is that her family, far from recognising all her efforts, seem determined to destroy everything they have.

Her husband has been snapped by the paparazzi with an under age girl, her son has married an environmental campaigner and been arrested and her daughter Nata (Nicole Hartley) has been believes you can only be happy if you are poor. Then there is the little matter of  the dock workers' strike which means the business is losing money.

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Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Southwark Playhouse or when Stan went on stage to play a flower #7actordream

Midsummer-1At the end of this promo video for Go People's A Midsummer Night's Dream an actor says that 'everyone single person will come away with a slightly different experience' and they weren't kidding. I've had actors deliver lines at me, ad lib lines at me, throw stuff at me, sit next to me, even fall in my lap but I've never been dragged on stage to play a part before. Not until last night at the Southwark Playhouse anyway.

This isn't A Midsummer Night's Dream for purists, Go People have added an extra premise that they are a company of seven actors attempting to play all 17 parts. They also only have about four props between them but are going to give it a go with a bit of imagination and imagining from the audience.

When Puck (Melanie Fullbrook) is asked by Oberon (Ludovic Hughes) to fetch a wild pansy to use as a love potion, in lieu of a prop flower Puck grabbed me. So there I am in the middle of the stage with Oberon gripping my hands and intently telling me all about how he discovered said love potion. At least I think that was the speech he was delivering, at the time I was more concerned with the fact that I was actually on the friggin' stage and feeling just a teeny bit self-conscious.

But it didn't end there. I was whisked off to wait back stage by Puck while the next scene was in progress.  Then Puck said something like 'have fun with it' and lead me back on stage to 'work my flower magic'. Randomly waving your hands sort of works for a magic potion being administered, doesn't it? Later Oberon assisted by holding my hand and moving it in a delicately, elegant gesture. And I just wanted to face palm thinking 'yep that would have been better'.

Now at this point I should add that earlier we'd been asked to imagine there was a large oak tree in the middle of the stage which all the actors subsequently stepped around when moving from one side to the other. So when I was excused from my flower magic duties I felt I should carefully avoid the imaginary tree on my way back to my seat, in keeping with the spirit of things, which seemed to go down quite well. 

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Review: Tennessee Williams adaptation One Arm, Southwark Playhouse

One-Arm2Adapted from a short story and un-produced screenplay by Tennessee Williams, One Arm tells the story of Ollie (Tom Varey) a prize-winning boxer who loses his arm and winds up on death row.

Flicking back and forth between Ollie awaiting his execution in prison and the story of how he ended up there, this is a tragic tale of a life full of promise to a life cut short.

When Ollie loses his arm he loses his livelihood and is forced to hustle on the streets. He is good looking and people are drawn to him because of his missing arm but for Ollie it makes him feel incomplete and ugly and he retreats emotionally.

He finds it difficult to settle and ends up travelling widely, making an impression wherever he goes. It isn't until he is in the last few weeks of his life that he realises just what an impression he has made.

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