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Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb story by Stephen Dolginoff

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 12th April 2019

Venue: Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, Islington N1 1DL.

It is an absolute pleasure when you find such a powerful performance staged in one of the many fantastic “Off West End” Theatres spread across the Capital. The passion and professionalism can easily be overlooked by those who are not familiar with these venues.

Director Matthew Parker’s latest production at The Hope Theatre of Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb story by Stephen Dolginoff based on a true story about Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold the “thrill me” killers who murdered a young boy in 1924, in what they believed to be the way of proving they were “superior to all” is one these such finds.

It is an unusual harrowing theme to have been set as a musical as the audience become plunged deep into the minds and disturbing actions of the two young sociopaths Leopold and Loeb who are driven by the writing of Nietzsche. Loeb has been devouring his writings and quoting to Leopold. Where we discover “relationships can be murder”.

The narrator Leopold as pictured above played by Bart Lambert begins the story 34 years later after the events took place while he is in prison waiting for the fifth time for the parole board to grant him his release. Before the decision can be made they ask him to tell the truth about what really happened.

The storyline moves smoothly between Leopold’s narrative and the flashbacks exploring how the two men met and how and why their relationship develops. Whereas we discover only crime ignites Loeb’s passions. From the first sex-fuelled arson attack on an abandoned barn to burglary and their final act of murder.

The two actors have an incredible rapport on the stage. As they bring to life these two infamous criminals. While the rich and dense scripted musical leaves you with an unnerving edge combined with the macabre interest wanting to know how it ends.

Throughout the story, Loeb pictured above takes control and superbly manipulates leopold dictating the sinister route these two take. Just how far we one person to go in the persuit of love?

A brilliant unforgettable moving performance. Where I would defy anyone not to leave the Theatre without feeling moved by this disturbingly dark, sinister and fantastic production.

Five Stars

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/04/2019

 

Handbagged a Comedy by Moira Buffini

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 10th April 2019

Venue: Salisbury Playhouse part of Wiltshire Creative, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury SP2 7RA
On from 4th-20th April

Two generations of Her Majesty the Queen and the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher each accompanied by a black handbag adorn the stage in this latest version of the sharp and quick-witted adaptation of Handbagged by Moira Buffini.

Were there a clash of personalities or not? Did any of the conversations or ones similar ever take place between these two exceptional ladies? Nobody but those two incredible ladies will ever truly know. Although it has been documented by those who were close to them that ones similar to these had taken place.

However, the timeline of events that run alongside their meetings during the play is historically accurate. There is a lot of information packed into the two house performance which can be slightly overwhelming at times.

Many events mentioned have long slipped into the pages of History and many of these landmark events have changed the path society walks. From the destruction and death caused in Brighton by the IRA bomb at the hotel many conservative government members were staying in during the October 1984 conference, the bitter battle of the miners strikes between 1984-85, poll tax march that descended into a riot, Two Royal Weddings, death of late Northern Ireland MP Aerie Neave in March 1979 and many many more.

The Queens costumes of plain bright colours are set in contrast against the iconic blue skirt suit which Margaret Thatcher was predominantly photographed wearing. Along with the traditional sets of pearls.

The stage is dressed by stepped staging which has been aptly outlined in the Conservative party blue which was often the colour worn by Margaret Thatcher’s trademark suits. With red leather regal looking chairs befitting of the Queen. Simple touches that add another depth to the visual side of this theatre production.

We are also in the presence of many prominent men associated with the Iron Lady during that period from her devoted husband Dennis Thatcher, Ronald Regan, Michael Haseltine, Jerry Adams, Prince Philip to name but a few all played by the tolerant and very talented Andy Secombe.

Jahvel Hall added a lot of comedy moments to the play. His well-delivered one-liners broke up tension building between The Queen and Thatcher on a few occasions. His timings were excellent and gathered many laughs from an engaged audience.

Director Jo Newman brilliantly matched the older and younger characters of both the iconic figures for their acting prowess as their obvious height differences do not correlate. However, the suspension of disbelief in the theatre is the best asset an audience member can bring with them.

With a lot of “…that never happened” counteracted by “…yes it did” from the Queen we will never really know but that doesn’t detract from both ….great performances in this play. The beginning of act two added a touch of class as both Queens walk in through the side aisles and down the stairs approaching the audience as we see the Queen do many times at Royal engagements with pleasant chit chat as she walks. Brilliant touch to the atmosphere of the auditorium.

The perfect play to introduce younger audiences to a very passionate and volatile period of recent history. Where two very powerful and strong ladies led the helm of the United Kingdom.

Four stars.

Tel:01722 320 333

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/04/2019

 

Herstoric by Test Of Time Entertainment

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 7th April 2019

Venue: The Drayton Arms Theatre, 153 Old Brompton Road, West Brompton, London SW5 0LJ.
On from 2nd-6th April

An outstanding performance by this exceptionally talented cast comprising of two acts. Where strong dominant women from our history books are bought to the forefront in these two musical plays.

The first play is based during the timeline of 1816 during the C19th Romanticism period and the year without a summer. Where free love and romantic poetry walked hand in hand. From my University days studying the Romantic poets and writers, the timeline of events and characters appears to have been accurate.

Many of the famous ladies connected with the two poets, Percy Shelley Bysche and Lord Byron explain their side of how these two men loved and abandoned them. Their hurt and anguish are performed with so much empathy and conviction.

Mary Godwin introduces herself and the audience watch as she agonises centre stage while writing one of the most famous novels of all time Frankenstein. Their portrayal of how this famous book was birthed is as accurate as the History books. Where the group famously are telling each other ghost stories to entertain one another during their long evenings on the Grand Tour across Europe.

The wonderful costumes in the first act were very much in keeping of the period. Amy Lynch as Mary Godwin/Shelley was dressed in a striking all-black outfit boasting a part laced top which drew your attention to her. As she portrayed one of the most famous female authors in Literature whether by name or her novel.

Act two is based during 1455-1485 during the civil war period. The house of Lancaster and York encompassing the famous War of the Roses. I must confess my historical knowledge of this period is limited. This does not detract from the brilliant writing of Will Drake whose passion for this period has been poured into every aspect of this play.

Mothers of past Kings take the centre stage, explaining in depth how each played a role in their Husband’s and Son’s rise to power. The strength of a woman was strongly underestimated throughout History by many.

The entire cast worked exceptionally hard in both performances. The new musical scores brought a fresh feel to the musical genre. Both of these musicals easily have the potential to be taken further in order to be expanded and performed in their own right. With so many older musicals performed year after year these would be a breath of fresh air.

The stamina and acting abilities of each cast member is a credit to the amazing work you see performed in Pub Theatres. Each one-hour single act would have been an entire show for most production companies. However, in act two none of the passion and vigour from act one diminished from their performances.

Rhiannon Drake and Will Drake’s writing and directing skills have excelled in these two plays. With so many actors, lines and historical background blended into the two hours they haven’t put a step wrong. They deserve to be extremely proud of themselves with this successful production.

I would urge anyone who hasn’t seen it during it’s run to do so should this play return to the stage. Two fantastic musicals and a history lesson all in the price of one ticket.

Written and Directed by Rhiannon Drake and Will Drake

Four stars

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 09/04/2019

 

2nd Coming Again by Colin Hubbard

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 6th April 2019

Venue: Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED.
On from 4th-5th April

The 2nd coming is a well-written comedy farce where the audience is entertained by Carl and Jason as they attempt to convince each other that they are the chosen one who will be joining God. Carl is an atheist and Jason is a thief the two perfect candidates on a planet full of people to be chosen from!

We are first introduced to Mary through Carls childhood memory when he first encounters the young and innocent Mary at the age of five where they sat next to each other in school. He fondly remembers her cheese and pickle breath as he reminisces about the day he fell in love with her.

We soon discover that Jason fell in love with Mary too. However, this is years later and their encounter took place while they were at University together.

However, While Carl and Jason spa for pole position as to which one of them is God’s chosen one or indeed Mary’s chosen one too. They both overlook God’s obvious choice as their self obsessed battle of words, raps and guitar playoffs commence and blind their ability to see beyond each other.

The songs are catchy although a bit cheesy, the raps are nothing for Eminem to be afraid of. However, Carl, Jason, and Mary use the stage to showcase all the talents each one holds as the men try to outdo each other in an attempt to prove why they are the best person for both of the vacant positions.

The loaves and fish biblical reference and description of the events that follow are especially funny as their updated version takes the form of five loaves and two tins of tuna. The mind boggles at the idea of how two tins were stretched between the five loaves!

The voice of God played by Babajide Fado has been well cast as it is clear and commands a presence in the theatre without stepping a foot onto the stage.

With an undressed stage beyond three chairs, it is down to the very talented cast of three to bring this show to life and they certainly manage it with comedy, banter and what appears to be great ease.

The hour-long show is great fun and a lot of laughs. It is easy to see how it was well received when it last ran at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Four stars

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 06/04/2019

 

Tony’s Last Tape by Andy Barrett

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Reviewed 5th April 2019

Venue: Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common North Side, London, SW4 0QW.
On from 2nd-20th April

Bookcases, a desk and files with various recording devices scattered across all the furniture set the scene as you first enter the Omnibus Theatre to see the incredible performance by Philip Bretherton as the former socialist MP Tony Benn in Tony’s last tape.

Bretherton’s acting is exceptional as he portrays the frail 87 years old Benn. Who now I believe shows physical signs of the stroke he had suffered during the period in which this play was based. Watching his movements, especially when he climbs up on the desk to change a lightbulb almost falling several times, watching this part my heart was in my mouth waiting for the inevitable to happen which thankfully doesn’t. There is also his shaking hands as he is holding his giant tea mug.

However, his mind is still as sharp as ever. As he talks fondly to Caroline his deceased wife while recording tapes for his family to hopefully listen to after he has died. The passion and conviction in his socialist beliefs are exceptionally strong, regardless of whether you share his political values or not, there has to be a level of admiration for his strong principals and enormous strength of character.

The 75-minute performance balances a historical political timeline which encompasses many famous politicians, for example, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Winston Churchill, and the fourth family generation politician Hilary Benn. Not forgetting “her” as he refers to Margaret Thatcher. With much reflection on their married life and how little he was there and when he was there, he wasn’t as he shut himself away to make his tapes and diaries. He appears to ponder on these memories throughout the play with a touch of regret.

His strong affection towards his Brother Michael Benn is ever present and even though he had died almost 70 years earlier in World War Two, he fondly remembers him as if was only yesterday.

Bananas. The very thing that caused him to be hospitalised as he has overdosed unknowingly on the potassium. He guffaws at this as he eats an overripe one he finds in a drawer. Too much caffeine and smoking the things deemed bad for you and it’s the banana that does it!

The delivery and passion in this performance by Bretherton brings this amazing politician to life in a fitting tribute to someone who unlike many politicians deserves to be immortalized in British political history for having strong principals and a passion for fairness.

There are many things in this well-researched play by Andy Barrett that I learned about his long life and the political battles he had endured. He may not have been popular within the Houses of Parliament but he realises he was to a large section in society as he reflects on the times he attends rallies, Glastonbury and Tolpuddle Marches, with a large volume of people wanting photos with him and their children and shaking his hand. A very heartfelt an interesting piece of social history which has been brilliantly brought to life within this fascinating play.

Four stars.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 05/04/2019

 

Cheriton Players

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A Very International Variety Show (It’s a Little Bit Bonkers) by Cheriton Players

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

3rd-6th April 2019

Songs-Sketches-Music-Laughter is their introduction to this eccentric mixture of performances. Tonight was their opening night, and unlike many first nights where a few missed lines or hiccups happen along the way. This performance felt very well rehearsed and the actors all appeared to be very comfortable in their roles nothing suggested even a glimpse of first-night nerves.

With such a wide range of sketches and different musical spots, from the Can Can to Chitty Chitty bang bang it is impossible to list them all. However, the few selected for the purpose of this review were particular ones that stood out to me. This is by no means suggesting that each act wasn’t good, as they all were.

Alison Carter’s rendition of Habanera from the Opera Carmen by Georges Bizet was outstanding. Her pitch, timing and voice were breathtaking. A very moving performance. This company has an extremely talented and strong lead vocalist in this lady as part of their repertoire.

Each table was treated to a tasty cheese, pate and grapes platter accompanied by a French stick to enjoy through the interval. Added to by the very efficient table service for drinks. The hospitality given by this theatre company is excellent and all credit to the front of the house.

Placed through both acts were very well written and funny four-man sketches titled Language Lessons. David Cradduck as our stereotype English businessman asks nine different foreign men all played brilliantly by John Weston where the train station is in each country. They are exaggerated characters of each nationality and are easily identified. Rebecca Leadley and Marilyn Weston explain the questions and answers as a double act. A touch of genius to break up the acts at regular intervals.

You cannot fail to notice a large number of costume changes held by this company. Claire Smith and Ellie Pulleine have certainly done an amazing job in this department with all of their outfits in keeping with their parts and with some on occasions looking to have been custom made professionally to match.

Helen Gard and Stephanie Durrant in Staycation pokes fun at the British idea of holidays as two antiquated stereotyped housewives sit before you on stage and discuss their holiday plans over a nice pot of tea. One is off to Spain or so she thinks. The other is camping at Mygate, not Margate. The quirky details of the backyard camping are explained in detail from showering with the garden hose to the karaoke evening entertainment. Such a simple idea but hilariously brilliant.

It would be unfair to single any one member out from the production team as I dare say they all worked tirelessly to put on this extremely entertaining and well-cast showcase. Another success to add to their long list of past shows.

The one thing to be taken away from tonight’s performance is the energy and enjoyment the whole cast exhibit while on stage. Big smiles and lots of energy all aides to settling the audience by showing that they command the stage and want us to enjoy ourselves. An absolutely fun night out. If there are still tickets available I urge you to go and sample the best of which Cheriton Players have to offer.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 05/04/2019

 

Newbury Dramatic Society

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Acting by Nick Card

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

20th and 21st March 2019

Venue: The Croft Hall, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 OHY

Nick Card led act one through the programme section titled “Words and Wit”. The three separate pieces Card had written. First an introduction about himself and getting to know the audience appeared more of a formality to those who had come to support him. Then the tale of Tom in ” Toms last call” set during his last day working at the call centre, a very interesting dialogue. Ending the act with a selection of poems he had written.

The third set was comedy performed by seasoned compere comedian Mike Brook, who is an active member of the dramatic society. Some of the jokes were well used and older. However, where the delivery tended to be anecdotal it worked well and raised a few laughs.

Act two was the main production, Card’s play Acting. The scene is set after the Mother of the grieving family of four sisters has died and they are discussing the funeral arrangements with their Father. Along with the more important topic, how the inheritance was going to be divided. Cast pictured below in discussion over inheritance.

It soon descended into a snuff theatre play. Where the actors are being led by the voice coming through the loudspeaker. As each act within the play is performed another actor dies.

There was the addition of actors dotted throughout the audience who are placed to participate in an attempt to raise fear within the general audience. At times they were in slight danger of overacting. This technique will work well although it needs to be subtle and toned down. However, the Mum of one of the actresses bursting onto the stage to save her Daughter added a realistic edge to the play.

The Doctor who wasn’t a real Doctor played by Steven Culpeper pictured below, had some extremely funny entrances onto the stage as you saw the stagehand push him on quite often as he was reluctant to enter. His new technique for assessing a dead body was to kick it, brilliant comedy.

NERD was an intriguing title used by the hoax snuff link that translates into “nobody ever really dies”. As with many new themes in modern writing, it socially comments about the desire to get as many social media hits as possible regardless of consequences.

It’s an enjoyable new twist on Theatre and anything that moves an audience out of their comfort zone is worth watching in my opinion. This would only work in smaller venues as the effect could easily be lost on larger audiences.
Nick Card’s talents for writing span across several genres. This will hopefully boost his confidence after Newbury dramatic Society has performed this entertaining play. He shows a flair for writing well-crafted work and I look forward to seeing future productions.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 22/03/2019

 

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

20th March 2019

Venue: Salisbury Playhouse, Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 7RA

Billed as Shakespeare’s greatest romantic comedy as advertised on the front of the programme pictured above. Much Ado About Nothing has been reworked and relocated in this new staged production firmly into 1945.

The devastation caused by the six years of World War II is now finally over. The soldiers are finally returning home from the battlefields, and there is much excitement on the farm from the ladies who are working there. Setting an unusual but authentic scene for this latest adaption by Northern Broadsides and New Vic theatres of this famous Shakespeare play.

This version didn’t work for me in the beginning as adapting the language and characters away from the original settings to a beautiful farm scene wasn’t very easy and it took about 10-15 minutes to adjust and settle into the play. However, once the suspension of disbelief began to take hold there was nothing about this play to dislike.

The stage backdrop took the form of rolling countryside with an idyllic farmhouse featuring in it. The stage flooring was tile squares joined together and made to look like an ordinance survey map. An original and interestingly dressed stage highly commendable setting created by the New Vic Workshop.

The basic storyline in this well known Shakespeare classic remains unchanged, with the masquerade dance, couplings, deceit, romance and brilliant comedy all present.

Robin Simpson has all the right ingredients for the part of Benedick. He is charming, funny, charismatic and despite his arrogant manner, he is a likeable character. In a couple of solo scenes, Simpson commands his stage presence with ease and fully engages the audience as he delivers his solo speeches.

Beatrice, Benedicks pre-war love interest has been cast well to the very talented Isobel Middleton. Her comedy timings were especially brilliant and the couple’s relationship worked extremely well together on stage as their verbal sparring matches took place quite often throughout the performance. The anger and passion she evokes in the scene after Hero was jilted at the altar are very moving and her passionate delivery was word perfect.

In keeping with the era just after the War, all costumes had been well chosen and created to match the characters status, rank and with some obvious garments made to appear homemade with holes in them.

Musical director Rebekah Hughes had used some original musical ideas in this play. The live band and well-chosen music from that era added a great dimension as several of the cast played their instruments and sang. The barbershop quartet is one to watch out for as they harmony together perfectly.

The comedy, passion and word perfect performance is definitely a must see play. Overall it’s a thoroughly well cast, produced and directed performance. A very good version for younger newcomers to Shakespeare who are studying this play at school as it’s easy to follow, understand and learn more about the characters from the play.

Four stars

From 19th-23rd March 2019

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 22/03/2019

 

Never Trust a Man Bun by Katherine Thomas

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

19 March 2019

Venue: Stockwell Playhouse

The brilliant writing, pathos, humour and heartache poured into this extremely well cast and performed 70-minute play is worth taking a trip to see. The stage is dressed with a sofa and a few pieces of functional furniture and a washing airer complete with washing all in keeping with a flat share.

Good friends from school Lucy and Gus now flatshare, who are pictured above. His ex who is now his current girlfriend Rachael upsets Lucy’s plans of a quiet night in to drink wine and watch Gogglebox. As Unbeknown to Lucy, Caps turns up at the flat on the request of Rachael to be part of a double date. Leading to some very unpleasant revelations and awkward moments as they all attempt to socialise.

Lucy played by the scriptwriter Katherine Thomas is sarcastic, blunt and very direct. During some of her one-liners its hard not to wince as she rips into the other three with cutting quips. Especially the “thick as shit Girlfriend ” Rachael. Who in many ways brings it upon herself with her unthought-out comments and unintelligent remarks. The raw honesty in Lucy’s part is for me refreshing.

Now enter the jealous double dater Caps and in keeping with the title of the play you really “…can’t trust a man bun”. He manipulates and divides the group to win back Rachael and in the process destroying the long-standing friendship between Gus and Lucy. While still managing to play the role of the hard done by the victim who mentions endlessly that he looks after his autistic sister for one hour a day.

Gus the kind and caring but quite naive and unsuspecting boyfriend realises that Rachael is not who he thought she was, as Caps flurts with her and lets the secrets slip on purpose. The innocent blonde who is so extremely nice certainly has a few uncomfortable skeletons lurking in the past. One of which is her past relationship with Caps.

Like Lucy, the play is very honest and blunt. The gasps in the audience behind me when the old flames share a late night kiss highlight the emotions that were provoked by this brilliant writing.

As with many modern plays, we are not witnessing a happy ever after or cheerful resolution. In life, some things are best left and this play finishes leaving me to believe that nothing else needed to be said or done at that point.

Thomas has clearly studied a lot of people around her and many I dare say were possibly her peers. As each character could easily be identified as someone you could have met, known and then more than likely disliked.

Four stars

Written by Katherine Thomas
Directed by Scott Le Crass

Cast:
Gus-Calum Robshaw
Caps-Jack Forsyth-Noble
Lucy-Katherine Thomas
Rachael-Natasha Grace Hutt

Assistant Director-Henry Gilbert
Technical-Alexander Grieve.
Chidell Productions.

From 19th-24th March 2019

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 19/03/2019

 

Funny Girl

Reviewed by: Amy on Am-Dram

Amy on Am-Dram
amyamdram.co.uk

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March 14, 2019

Sounds Musical Theatre Company, Devonport Playhouse, 13th – 16th March

Funny Girl is an intriguing musical based on the real life story of Fanny Brice. From humble beginnings, she rises to fame and shows the audience that funny girls belong on-stage just as much as graceful girls.

Sounds Musical Theatre Company were supported by an eight piece orchestra led by Marcus Alleyne. The overture gave us a tantalising glimpse of the musical acrobatics that were to come. The band created a rich and exciting sound, perfect for setting the scene of Fanny’s story.

Since the story revolves around the life of Fanny Brice, it is a huge part to take on for any professional or amateur actress. Kate Stables boldly stepped up to the job and performed the huge vocal numbers ‘People’ and ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’, but the most impressive aspect of her performance were her acting skills. The audience felt her heartache, her joy and all the emotions in between on her journey to become a theatre star. Her comedic timing was excellent, as was her delivery of the more serious scenes and moments.The scene between Fanny and Florenz Ziegfeld (Tom Harwood) incited laughter from the audience as Fanny peered into the audience to talk to Ziegfeld who was standing in the circle of the theatre. This was a great use of space and added to the humour of the scene.

During some of the ensemble numbers the company could have benefitted from the support of the young dancers with whom Sounds Musical often perform. In particular, for the scenes in which we were watching the Ziegfeld Follies on-stage.

Funny Girl leaves no room to relax with quick scene changes, big ensemble numbers and multiple fabulous costumes. Overall, the cast produced smooth transitions and kept the show moving along at a fast and exciting pace.

See full review here amyamdram.co.uk/latest-news/funny-girl/

 

Posted on 15/03/2019

 

Where is Ban Ki-Moon? written by Sam Rees

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

11th March 2019

Venue: in the basement of Katzenjammers, Nearest Tube – London Bridge (Jubilee & Northern Line) Borough Market Exit

In his new play, Where is Ban Ki-Moon? Writer Sam Rees has tackled depression is an unusual style that I have not seen performed before. Nothing quite prepares you for the energy and passion he pours into this emotionally fueled 60-minute play.

The interactive performance art slips from well-rehearsed outbursts of rage to describing how the couple met, the volatile love story between them and the strange relationship he builds up with the online scammer called Ban Ki-Moon aka Michael.

Rees has added some clever metaphors in describing the symptoms of depression, for example, the woman describes herself as “wired differently ” to the gruesome “wall of spikes” that one day we all might hit.

Every part of the stage is utilized during their performance and the recorded soundtrack of their conversations allow the audience to understand how the couple’s relationship functioned. Despite the sadness of depression, they were very much in love with each other. The chemistry between Hannah and Sam on stage adds to the dramatic effect that this play has to offer.

There are hints that the woman played by Hannah John commits suicide during the performance. However, this plays seems to be set in a postmodernist genre and the audience is left to decide for themselves. Clarity as to whether she did or not isn’t important. Raising awareness of this destructive illness is.

Three Stars.

Cast
Man-Sam Rees
Woman-Hannah John
Director-Pip Williams
Tech Operator-Louis Caro.

Twitter @WTOHTheatre

Facebook We Talk Of Horse Theatre Company

On from 11th-13th March 2019 7.30pm @katzpace

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 12/03/2019

 

Feel More directed by Jess Barton

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

11th March 2019

Venue: The Lion and Unicorn Pub Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED

This weekend the 9th and 10th March 2019 saw David Brady take over the theatre in his new role as Artistic Producer, at the Lion and Unicorn pub theatre in Kentish Town, London. It was launched with pay as you feel performances of the popular “Feel More” monologues performance play. There was a buzz on Sunday evening in the theatre and the play finished to enthusiastic applause. Which is hardly surprising as the seven actors were outstanding.

Feel more highlights the social issues surrounding the predominantly 90s generation. The screen time in public places is destroying human contact and the ability to form lasting relationships. Has the art of conversation and a simple human connection become lost to the history books?

Firstly we meet Brenda the UKIP supporter and campaigner who is blanked, swore at, ignored, mocked and treated like a social leper. While she is trying to hand out leaflets. This isn’t predominantly politically related, as her monologue explains that she has always struggled to fit in. By campaigning, she felt she would be doing something to make a difference. Instead, she isolates herself further from the world she desperately wants to be a part of.

Next is our serial dating app addict, Elise. Desperate to get away from meaningless one night stands, that leaves her feeling used and unfulfilled. She just wants to make that ultimate connection and get married. Her train crush that she has observed daily and has never spoken to, is the one she has her heart set on and their entire train themed wedding is planned in her head and described in great detail.

Ben Fensome playing Luke had a fan base in the audience that evening. As when he pushed back the duvet at the opening of his monologue a small cheer was heard from the left side of the audience. The delivery and compassion of his role as Luke is heart-wrenching. As he is struggling to find the one man he can connect with. His feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and hangover symptoms can be recognised by everyone. However, could the drunken one night stand he has encountered the night before being his one?

The second half is opened by a dual monologue. Jacob and Michael take the same tube journey on a daily basis. They spend so much time watching and observing each other that past bad experiences stop either of them from making the first move. Jacob explains how he mistook a life model he liked for being gay and the awkwardness has left him questioning his ability to know who he can approach.

Matt performed by Ross Kernahan is harder to watch as the deeply traumatised insomniac, who takes to working nights in a bar for the company. We quickly understand he has a keen eye for people watching and summing up every situation around him in order to head off problems before they arise. In an attempt to save people from danger. Although never mentioned the likelihood of him suffering from PTSD would explain the symptoms. Unsurprising though as we learn that he witnessed the man next to him on the platform jumping in front of the tube. The despair and feelings of being helpless are delivered in a powerful performance.

Finally, we meet the outsider and London imposter Mark. After growing up by the sea as a fisherman’s son he never truly believes he belongs in the city job he has worked hard for. Believing the smell of salt has never left him and at any time he will be exposed as a fraud.

There are several themes running throughout these monologues. Our desire for human contact, many describing the touch of hands entwined, their first kisses and the desire to be part of a loving couple. The main scene is recognisable many people nowadays as a crowd stands fixed to screens waiting for the next delayed train.

One thing to be taken away from the feel performances is the bleak commentary on our social habits. I very much doubt anyone will leave the theatre and fail to start observing their outside surroundings in more detail. Or on the other hand, is the communication through our screens masking a deeply lonely society who are desperate to connect by any means they can?

The simply dressed stage used by the Feel More performances allows the audience to focus on the actor. The delivery and connection each one makes are your sole focus. To hold the stage as their own highlights the high standard of actors to be found in fringe theatres. A fantastic start to this launch weekend.

Four Stars.

Cast
Brenda-Demelza O’Sullivan
Elise-Kelly Gray
Matt-Ross Kernahan
Luke-Ben Fensome
Jacob-Jacob Jackson
Michael-Callum Needham
Mark-John Slade

Written by Hannah Bates, Marcus Bernard, Paul Bradshaw, Fergus Church, Jack Albert Cook, Alex Knott and James Lewis.
Lighting by Mitchell Reeve.
Executive producer-David Brady.
@proforcatheatre

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 11/03/2019

 

Little Echoes by Tom Powell

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

7th March 2019

Venue: The Hope Theatre is above the Hope & Anchor pub, 207 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 1RL.
It is found on the corner of Upper Street and Islington Park Street

It was my first visit to the 50 seater venue The Hope Theatre and hopefully not my last. Like many Fringe Theatres, it has a friendly atmosphere, bar and food available. I can see why this one, in particular, has won awards.

All credit must go to Tom Powell for his new fast-paced, thought-provoking and hard-hitting play Little Echoes. The 90-minute performance takes place over a year in the life of Danielle played by Maisie Preston, a young girl groomed into the sex industry by what appears to be a new bright singing career. Running parallel to her story is Shejenthran who witnesses his brothers acid attack and his struggle to get the answers as to who did it.

As the plot develops we are left questioning how the authorities who are meant to protect us can fail. Alongside this we also see June taking the unusual role as the driver and PA for Henson, the lead in the sex industry section featured in the play. Leaving us to question as to who is really capable of doing what when it comes to obtaining a better life.

As Shajenthran played Mikhail DeVille becomes driven by an obsession to find the young lad responsible for attacking his brother with acid. He stumbles into a sinister world where things are definitely not what they seem. The two stories collide ending in tragedy.

June played by Caira Pouncett appears at first to be running around in the role of personal assistant to Henson, who we only ever know through phone calls. The details of the jobs she attends lack detailed information at the beginning. As the plot develops we become exposed to the seedier details as she explains more about the jobs she is doing and her role in the industry.

Drugs are prevalent throughout the play in the form of cocaine, used frequently by June onto her gums in order to numb the pain when she is asked to tackle more difficult tasks. Somehow blocking out the reality of the job she is doing in this seedy society she is involved with.

The trend at the moment in new plays and films is to challenge our concepts about sex trafficking and human traffickers all being run by male-only gangs. By casting the role as female it adds another dimension to these hideous crimes and teaches us that we are all human and gender does not make you immune from committing these offences.

Amazing performances by all three cast members as the nature of their roles must be demanding and exhausting.

Raising awareness of how exploitation begins through the guise of a conventional romance and switching the roles is extremely important. As we need to be aware that these crimes are still being committed and young girls like Danielle are still at risk. The donations collected at the end of this play for the charity beyond the streets who help and make a difference in the people’s lives who are being rescued from exploitation.

Four Stars.

Cast
Danielle – Maisie Preston.
June – Ciara Pouncett.
Shejenthran – Mikhael DeVille.

Written by Tom Powell.
Directed by Stephen Bailey.

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 08/03/2019

 

Staying Faithful written and directed by Rosanna Foster

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

6th March 2019

Venue: Drayton Arms Theatre

As the title suggests Staying Faithful is the prominent theme that runs through the core of this play. Although as you soon discover it is dealt with through several themes. Relationships within all of the characters and the amalgamation of different religions.

Religion is delivered by April played by Maria Anthony who has a desire to want to understand the world I live in and embraces each religious celebration by dressing in costume and making inedible food for the others to sample. Much to the frustration of her friends. Hope tells her she is being unfaithful and disrespectful to those who believe in their faiths.

The student’s conversation at the beginning of the play referencing Descartes and his famous quote I think; therefore I am led into a lengthy discussion. Where one outcome they reach is that the external world is untrustworthy and being misled. This was delivered well and set the scene for how the play would unfold.

The fast transition between the past and the present at times detracts from the storyline. Leaving a slight confusion as to where you are and which era you were currently in.

Some stricter editing would have helped this plays delivery. By tightening up the dialogue, the stronger important parts of the storyline would have then been delivered more effectively. The dramatic scenes were understated in places especially when the car accident takes place.

Sadly being over ambitious with the number of themes that this play contains let’s it down, and some loose ends that were never properly explained left it feeling unfinished.

Three Stars.

By Chocolate Chilli Theatre

Twitter @ChocChilTheatre

Facebook chocolatechillitheatre

Playing at the Drayton Arms Theatre from 5th-9th March 2019.

@draytonarmsSW5

thedraytonarmstheatre.co.uk

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 06/03/2019

 

The Box A New Musical by Jen Bird and Simon Driscoll

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

Sunday 3rd March 2019

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre

Her Majesty’s Theatre in the heart of the West End gave over the stage on Sunday 3rd March evening for an hour-long one-off performance of The Box a new musical written by Jen Bird and Simon Driscoll.

The young cast in the musical were all children who have benefited from the SpotlightUK services. They performed the heartfelt story of a young girl played by Amy Miles as seen below, as she is trying to come to terms and make sense of the death of her father. The metaphor of the box is the place where all her feelings and emotions have been buried to keep her safe from feeling.

The musical was delivered to the audience through a combination of dialogue, singing and dancing. Which flowed smoothly through the girl’s difficult timeline of counselling and acceptance of her grief.

There was only one older member of the cast playing the role of the child counsellor. It was extremely well done as it showed the correct way in which a counsellor works. Where they allow you to find your own way through your pain and problems rather than the misconception that they tell you what to do in order to get better or in this case to come out of the box.

For these young performers, it must have been an amazing opportunity to perform in the same venue which is home at the moment to the long-running award-winning musical The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Llyod Webber.

The musical score was extremely well composed and performed, the excellent acoustics in the theatre enhanced the sound. It has been constructed thoughtfully as it dealt with such a difficult, heartbreaking and often awkward subject to approach, especially for and with children.

My Daughter, who is 14 was moved by some of the performances and understood the message clearly addressed through the musical. It would be a very good performance for larger audiences of teenagers. As grief is experienced by people of all ages.

All monies from this event helped raise money for SpotlightUK. They offer a wide range of services to help children. Check out the website below to find out more.

Further details on Simon and Jen’s upcoming projects can be found on www.TomorrowBird.com

@TheBox_Musical

For more information about Spotlight services please visit www.SpotlightUK.org

@SpotlightUK

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 06/03/2019

 

Dream of a King written and performed by Christopher Tajah

Reviewed by: Elaine Chapman @elainec46302904

2nd March 2019

Venue: Drayton Arms Theatre

Four stars

The depth of passion and attention to detail by Christopher Tajah in the dynamic role of Martin Luther king was an incredible performance to watch. The Drayton Arms fringe theatre was an ideal location to set the play in.

The songs performed by the wonderfully talented queen of rock Paulette Tajah enhanced the introductions to both acts of the play. Her voice is absolutely amazing and added another dimension to the play.

The knowledge held by Tajah about this iconic historical figure was fascinating. His delivery changed style between gospel preacher, narrator and passionate driven campaigner for black rights during that period in history.

With so much information delivered in the 90-minute performance, it was at times overwhelming. However, his performance kept you engaged at all times. To have learned so many lines and to have held his conviction at all times is to be admired.

There were parts to Martin Luther King’s life and career that I had no knowledge of and went away very enlightened. With greater respect for all this man had achieved before his assassination.

A Resistance Theatre Company ltd Production.
The Creators:Christopher Tajah @CTajahOfficial: Writer and actorBernie C. Byrnes @BernieCByrnes: DirectorPaulette Tajah @PauletteTajah: SingerPhotograph credit Elaine Chapman.

Tour Dates:
Drayton Arms Theatre – February 26th – 2nd March
Waterloo East Theatre 12th, 13th, 19th & 20th March
The Bridge House Theatre 21st, 22nd, 23rd & 24th March
The Brighton Fringe Festival – The Warren-Theatre-Box 20th, 21st, 22nd May
Edinburgh Fringe – The Space Triplex Studio, The Space Uk 2nd – 24th Aug

See the full review here theatreandartreviews.wordpress.com

 

Posted on 03/03/2019

 

Legally Blonde The Musical

Reviewed by: Amy on Am-Dram

Amy on Am-Dram
amyamdram.co.uk

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March 2, 2019

Plymkids Theatre Company, The Athenaeum, 27th February – 2nd March

The seniors of Plymkids Theatre Company present Legally Blonde The Musical, a fun filled evening that follows the story of Elle – a girl who is driven by love to apply for law school despite the world only seeing her as a typical blonde.

Talia Robens as Elle Woods has clearly been closely watching Reese Witherspoon in the film version of Legally Blonde. She has perfected the delivery of lines, and the audience especially loved all the times she proved herself to be an intelligent woman. This is Talia’s debut performance with Plymkids and she made the stage her own.

One of the biggest laughs of the evening went to Sam Fogg as Kyle, the delivery guy. He exuded confidence and added his own style of comedy into the role.

Elle is on the case to help prove the innocence of Brooke Wyndham (Rachel Corrigan). Brooke is the owner of a fitness empire and Rachel convinced me, she could have been too! She sang ‘Whipped Into Shape’ while performing a high-energy dance routine complete with skipping rope. Her voice did not falter as she proved she had the stamina to maintain this energetic performance.

This show includes two dogs, Bruiser and Rufus. Rufus the dog (Murphy) definitely took his moment in the spotlight, stealing the scene with a wag of his fluffy white tail.

This modern American musical has the dream combination of a heart-warming story and plenty of humour. For many members of the cast this will be their last show with Plymkids and I am sure they have made some amazing memories to take with them into the next stages of their careers.

See full review here amyamdram.co.uk/reviews/legally-blonde-the-musical

 

Posted on 02/03/2019

 

The Greatest Show

Reviewed by: Amy on Am-Dram

Amy on Am-Dram
amyamdram.co.uk

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March 1, 2019

DJR School Of Performing Arts, Devonport Playhouse, 28th February – 2nd March

DJR School Of Performing Arts present The Greatest Show, a selection of songs and scenes from their favourite musicals. The show opened with an ensemble number and gave the audience a glimpse of all the characters we would meet throughout the evening. The costumes for this production are fantastic, so a big round of applause to the wardrobe department.

The costumes for the Beauty and the Beast characters were particularly imaginative. Mrs Potts (Emily Savage) had a fabulous outfit that totally transformed her into the famous talking teapot. She had a sweet singing voice and played the perfect motherly character.

As well as Beauty and the Beast we were treated to other Disney classics. The scenes from Pinocchio convinced me that DJR should schedule in a future performance of the full version of this show. Cameron Lawson as Pinocchio had a lovely clear singing voice which was perfect for ‘I’ve Got No Strings’.

I must admit I am one of the few remaining people who haven’t seen The Greatest Showman film but it was clear there were plenty of fans of the film among the DJR cast. The enthusiastic performances were well-received by the audience. DJR School Of Performing Arts certainly have a loving fan club!

During their performances of the ensemble numbers from The Greatest Showman the performers worked as a team to deliver the fun dances. We even got to see some fabulous gymnastics from one of the youngest members of the cast. She is going to be one to watch in the years to come!

There were a few technical problems with microphones but the actors did not allow this to distract from their performances. They carried on in true professional style.

The audience reaction at the end of the show proved that all the hard work was worth it. With an adoring crowd of family and friends, the cast of The Greatest Show are sure to be pleased with their performance.

Please note the earlier starting time of 7pm, with a 2pm matinee on Saturday.

See full review here amyamdram.co.uk/reviews/the-greatest-show

 

Posted on 02/03/2019

 




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