Reviews: Callum Hughes: Thirst, Love’s A Beach, For A Brief Moment And Never Again Since and Intruder | Intruz, VAULT Festival 2023

Callum Hughes: Thirst, Studio

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Pure magic from start to finish, one of the most incredible storytellers we’ve every seen. 

Callum Hughes’ Thirst is the perfect blend of music, storytelling, comedy and purpose. Navigating Callum’s relationship predominantly with alcohol, secondarily his relationship with music and performing, it tenderly comprises of stories from childhood, up to just a few years ago. Hughes dextrously weaves known and original music into this autobiographical tour-de-force, as well as underscoring his own storytelling, creating a beautiful and eclectic soundtrack to his life so far. Perceptively capturing both a sense of his thoughts and feelings in those moments, as well as providing an elucidation on his character, relationships, influences and background. 

Dealing mostly with alcoholism, concluding with how Callum nearly joined the 27 Club a few months ahead of his 28th birthday, the direct result of his reliance on alcohol and ability to convince himself that his intake was normal. It is through this stark storytelling that, Hughes’ delivers both an honest and impactful piece that is sincere and meaningful, but ultimately not too heavy, as it is equally full to brim with light comedic moments, and a much-appreciated conversational approach. The piece does wonderful job of shedding light upon sobriety, something few are willing to talk about, or see little need for, Hughes’ excellently de-stigmatising it. Callum’s intake is initially influenced by pub culture and goes unchecked by himself as he becomes known for being a bit of a boozer and uses it as a coping mechanism for feeling a bit down. He experiences some gentle warnings from friends and family, but interprets them as out of proportion. The way this is communicated expedites his experience perfectly, in a tangible and entertaining way.

Leaving the audience with an impactful insight into alcoholism and sobriety. Hughes is also an incredibly charismatic performer, as well as a stellar musician, he holds the audience in the palm of his hand from the off and creates this safe space, that feels laid back and almost like being in the pub with mates (even when you’re not), it’s fun, nostalgic, musically inviting and simply wonderful!

Callum Hughes: Thirst is on at VAULT Festival until Sun 29th Jan, or on tour. Click here to book now.

Writer/Performer: Callum Hughes

Co-Directors: Roann Hassani McCloskey & David Shopland

Producer: Fake Escape

Marketing and Design: David Shopland 

PR Consultant: Annie Abelman 

Love’s A Beach, Cage

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Side-splittngly good fun!

Katie Sayer and Will Johnston‘s exposé on influencer culture is a Gen Z theatrical feast and masterclass in comedy writing. The show imagines the life of an influencer power-couple who, having been runners-up in a popular TV dating show (cough, cough Love Island – although not explicitly named), are trying to navigate both their relationship. 6 months after being on the show together and, the varied options of brand deals / opportunities that derive from their large followings and TV exposure. Cyrus and Ben, the LGBTQ+ couple and protagonists couldn’t be more different in their views and approaches to social media and influencing, delving deep into the pressures of keeping up follower counts, the competitive nature of staying relevant and having a moral stand-point on brand promotions. With as many twists and turns as a modern tabloid media circus, Sayer and Johnston’s piece is a satirical triumph, coupled with Phoebe Barrett‘s expert direction, the hilarity doesn’t stop.

When Cyrus is offered a golden opportunity, in the form of a one-month influencer trip with Sam to Dubai in order to promote a hotel chain, Sam is the only one who sees the obvious issue with them taking up the opportunity, whilst Cyrus is absorbingly focussed on growing his follower count up to, and beyond 1 million, whatever it takes. Making the piece, not just a barrage of comedy, but also intuitive of today, from its commentary on the LGBTQ+ experience, to the cut-throat nature of online relevancy and the fragility of public image, particularly how it can be manipulated and is constantly dissected by the masses online. Segueing perfectly in the design, as sound bites of a chorus keyboard warriors, tabloid views and gossip blogs, expertly weave the piece together, doing much to insinuate the dangerous and efficacious nature of social media and how opinions voiced behind a screen can be insensitive and radicalised.

Performance-wise, James Akka (Cyrus) and Iain Ferrier (Sam) are the top of their game. Akka has impeccable comedic timing, whilst their talent for physical and facial comedy is certainly something to be jealous of here. Ferrier is the perfect foil to Akka, equally as quick-witted and engaging, they are a robust performer, able to bounce off the flamboyance of Akka, effortlessly creating a diametrically-opposed and more down-to-earth character, the ideal contrast. And both are clearly names to watch out for in the future.

Writers: Will Johnston and Katie Sayer

Cyrus: James Akka

Ben: Iain Ferrier

Director: Phoebe Barrett

Technical Director: Sam Frakes

Intruder | Intruz, Network Theatre

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Intruder | Intruz is one of the strongest one-man performances you will ever see. This bilingual, autobiographical storm is one man’s journey through trauma, PTSD snd forgiveness. Told from Remi’s own perspective, by himself, in his native language, (Polish) and in English, the piece uniquely time hops, and bounces between Scotland and Poland, charting Remi’s life before and until he reaches his ambition to be an actor.

Although the piece is so fast-paced and at times, disjointed, making it hard to navigate at times, requiring those who only speak one of the two languages, to follow it partially based on tone and action alone, Remi Rachuba is simply a spell-binding performer and it is difficult to truly feel lost with them guiding you through it. Rachuba captures the vulnerability of a victim, the PTSD and embarrassment involved in experiencing trauma eloquently and powerfully, he also shades this to perfection with humour and warmth in the delivery. Whilst Rachuba’s writing is equally as raw, brutal, combative and filled with intelligence, we feel as if we are right there with him in his consciousness as he processes events and battles with fear. In fact there is so much there, it can feel like an overload at times.

Marcus Montgomery Roche‘s direction is inspired, they keep the energy up and the story flowing, navigating a complex web of events and mental triggers with ease. The design compartmentalises these events and triggers into an array of shoes, some becoming indicative of characters, helping Remi’s sporadic mental processing of the attack become more tangible.

Overall Intruder | Intruz is not light watching, it is challenging and complex, but it is also incredibly unique and a story well-worth telling. Whilst Remi Rachuba is a star.

To keep up to date with Intruder | Intruz click here, on again at VAULT Festival Sun 29th Jan.

Actor/Writer/Producer: Remi Rachuba

Director: Marcus Montgomery Roche

Set and Costume Designer: Basia Bińkowska

Lighting and Sound Design / Show Op Technician: Charles Webber

Poster Design: Cindy Derby

For a Brief Moment and Never Again Since, Pit

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Judi Amato‘s writing provides a solid exploration of a relationship, weaving in the joy from its beginnings, to its challenges and its final fizzling conclusion. Demonstrating the best and worst of Owen and Sarah and the couple’s best and worst moments, Amato does a wonderful job of exploring criminal incarceration from both the offender’s and their family’s perspective. Doing much to elucidate upon the complexities of relationships caught up in the judicial system and the strain it causes from both sides, particularly the negative stigma faced by the family, socially punished for a crime they didn’t commit.

Stylistically, the piece is fantastic. Lisa Miller‘s direction is clear and concise, the physical theatre moments do much to break the piece up and convey the character’s frustration. Performed dextrously by Monique Anderson (Sarah) and Peter James (Owen) who are both excellent actors and physical performers. The work is also performed in the round and does much to envelope the audience into this world of Owen and Sarah. Whilst the design, is incredibly performative, the central green circle within which much of the piece is performed, becomes indicative of the couple’s entrapment from Owen’s physical incarceration, to their marriage and also Sarah’s tarnished reputation and need to escape to something better. Whilst the large baby mobile above their heads is a dreamworld, that they simply cannot get to, suggestive of Owen’s crime, which keeps them from a better life and also, the baby girl, they perhaps didn’t intend to have, but that they both cherish dearly, she is the one thing at the end that still ties them together.

If work is done to develop the characters further and streamline some of the dialogue, showing more tender moments of the couple’s deep love for each other in the beginning of their relationship, in order to contrast the shouting and toxicity, the piece would become more affecting and apperceptive, but as is, it shows great potential and an eye for untold stories.

For A Brief Moment And Never Again Since is on again on Sun 29th Jan or at Greenwich Theatre in February.

Writer & Producer: Judi Amato

Director & Dramaturg: Lisa Miller

Set Design: Damien Stanton Light

Lighting Design: Marie Colahan

Cast: Monique Anderson & Peter James

To find something else to see at VAULT Festival click here now to view the entire programme.

Review: On The Ropes, Park Theatre

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Packs a punch!

What is most striking about brand new piece On The Ropes, is the fact that it is astonishingly honest, an authentic take on the Windrush Generation, told for them and by them. Beautifully delivered from the protagonist’s perspective, Vernon Vanriel, (portrayed here by Mensah Bediako), with the help of two ‘Chorus’ members, dubbed ‘The Entertainer’s, in reference to Vernon’s boxing epithet, the piece materialises as an autobiographical, musical spotlight on the Windrush Scandal and it’s consequences for real victims. Humanising the reverberations of the shocking actions of the UK Government into a tangible personal tale, rather than a written paper trail of statistics.

On The Ropes Park Theatre – credit Steve Gregson

On The Ropes is therefore, first and foremost Vernon, (a British-Jamaican, former Boxer)’s memoir split into 12 chapters or “Rounds” to thematically tie it into Vernon’s profession, written by Vanriel himself with Dougie Blaxland, it is a comprehensive life story. A life full of joy, which this production captures magnificently, but also of course, as earlier alluded to, a life also full of turbulence and tragedy. It is the open and frank quality to the storytelling, that seals the charm of this production. We see the ups and down of Vernon’s Boxing career until it splinters, but even though his fighting days fall behind him, his biggest fights are the ones for his life after this. In 2005, having lived in North London for over 40 years, (arriving in the UK at just 6 years old), he returns to Jamaica and after remaining there for just over 2 years, is prevented by policy changes, from returning home and a bare-knuckle fight for his right to citizenship with the British Home Office ensues, the separation from his home and family being further intensified by his lack of aid, homelessness and non-existent health care. These ‘fights’ to survive, get home and acquire citizenship are importantly, not sugar-coated by this performance, they are however balanced with some satire and comedy to add in light and shade, as well as proficiently punctuated and emoted by the music woven in.

On The Ropes Park Theatre – credit Steve Gregson

Segueing nicely, onto the musical elements, the piece is the soundtrack to Vernon’s life, it is a mixture of blues, reggae, sprechstimme, soul, funk and other styles, and although inclusive of newly written/rewritten sections of song, it mostly eventuates as a jukebox musical, including such hits as Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen. It is from these sections you truly get the sense of joy Vernon feels in regard to song, music demonstrably being what has kept him going through such a disrupted life and it being, of the utmost importance to him. Vanriel was in fact, one of the first boxers to request music upon his entry to the boxing ring and dancing with his sister Blossom, was one of his favourite hobbies, a perfect way to prepare for the quick footwork needed for avoiding punches in boxing. These highlights of his career in the 70s and 80s are subsequently tenderly staged here. The songs are also suitably delivered with ebullience by this cast of just three, all three have incredible vocal presence and blend effortlessly together, often in three-part harmony. Amber James‘ soulful voice is a highlight.

On The Ropes Park Theatre – credit Steve Gregson

The piece does not always flow, however Anastasia Osei-Kuffour‘s direction is fairly robust. Osei-Kuffour’s choices are somewhat Brechtian in tone, from the direct address and connivance of the audience, to the slightly caricatured characters that Ashley D Gayle and Amber James instantaneously jump into and present to us. The storytelling is clear and concise, it is the poetry that feels slightly out of place and at times the pacing is off. Yet the comedy is strong and deliveries sincere, all-in-all a stellar job has been done. Similarly Zahra Mansouri‘s design absolutely shines and intuitively complements Osei-Kuffour’s direction. Being performed in the round, audience members on each side, Mansouri builds on this to emulate a boxing ring and the arena it is within, as if an actual fight is about to take place before our eyes, stylistically becoming the setting and an indicator of the fights Vernon is going to face throughout his life, as aforementioned these are performed as rounds 1 – 12 throughout, indicated to the audience again in a Brechtian style, by projections stating the number, when the actors announce the scene. These ‘fights’ include but are not limited to trouble in school, the experience of growing up black in Britain, mental health, Bipolar disorder, medication, drug use and substance abuse, homelessness, navigating health issues without health care, grief, denied visas, citizenship, appeals and court battles. The lighting and sound (Holly Ellis and Gareth Fry), also does an exemplary job of perpetuating the boxing thematics built into this piece, from the subtle dings of the signifying bell to start a round, to the microphones used to reproduce an essence of sporting commentary – and from, the blue and red gels used for the iconic red and blue corners of a ring, to the flashes of light and blackouts creating suspense and intensity, the theatricality of a real fight. There is just so much thought that has gone into the style and themed nature of this piece by Ellis, Fry and Mansouri, particularly in the versatility of the ring central to the piece, it is pulled apart just as Vernon’s career shatters, the cross in the middle and hues of red and blue signify a Union Jack for the UK and the next time it is moved, Vernon’s heads to Jamaica, and hues of yellow and green for the Jamaican flag are displayed, this subtlety in design is perfection. The two flags are displayed at either end of the auditorium as a reference point too. Similarly the chorus members who must adopt an innumerable number of characters in order to deliver the story, are dressed in the signature black and white of sporting referees, they are refereeing the match between Vernon and his various demons, they are also, as per the back of their shirts, ‘The Entertainer’s (Vernon’s epithet), storytellers who continuously move the story on and entertain. This is what functional, clever and complementative design is all about.

On The Ropes Park Theatre – credit Steve Gregson

Now we absolutely cannot end this review without talking about the performances. Mensah Bediako‘s Vernon is understated gold, a candid and layered protagonist, who Bediako brings to life with such dignity and warmth. Whilst Ashley D Gayle‘s ability to deliver multiple characters with such precise detail and ease, is enviable. As aforementioned Amber James‘ voice is beautiful, and her quality of characterisation and malleability absolutely matches this. To conclude, a trio of pure talent.

On The Ropes Park Theatre – credit Steve Gregson

It’s imperfect, but boy is it soulful. Catch this unique treasure of a show – On The Ropes at Park Theatre runs until Saturday 4th February 2023, book here now. A story worth seeing.

On The Ropes Park Theatre – credit Steve Gregson

Cast and Creatives:

By Vernon Vanriel and Dougie Blaxland

Directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour

















Photographs of Vernon Vanriel kindly gifted by Seán Anthony and David Levene.



Review: A Final Act of Friendship, White Bear Theatre 


Star Rating: ★★★★★

Black Lives Matter. The messaging of this piece is as clear as it’s Title Treatment, as is the urgency of the story it tells. 

Photo Credit: Natalya Micic

A Final Act of Friendship is a funny, charming and sincere, gut-punch of play. Engendering both an articulate, warm and razor-sharp dissection of friendship, as well as enacting as a powerful discourse on systemic and institutional racism. Everyday racism that leaves young boys having to explain to their, even younger, siblings why they are being stopped and searched by police again and, that strips mothers of their children, another black individual dying in police custody due to a disproportionate use of force. 

Photo Credit: Natalya Micic

Diametrically opposing a white middle class experience to that of a black working class individual’s, A Final Act of Friendship beautifully interlinks the two character’s perceptions of each other, and their versions of their story. Not only uniquely and humorously telling of an unlikely friendship, that despite a number of bad assumptions and insensitivities, outlasts, it uses it’s own form, to comment upon how we can be better ally’s to our black friends, why it is important to have difficult conversations and most importantly, to stand up and show up for your friends. A poignant and well-written commentary on small acts that can make a big difference in the fight against racism. Imperative work, that can easily be described as first class. 

Photo Credit: Natalya Micic

‘Acts’, thus forming an important core to the piece, with it ultimately reminding you to ask yourself, what acts can you do for others to make yourself a better friend? (As aforementioned there is an important emphasis on the power of allyship). On the other side of this, the title is also a play on words, as A Final Act of Friendship is, from a narratorial point of view, a play about acting and one that many in the industry will find endearing as well as strikingly realistic, providing a startling appraisal of the industry and it’s culture. Though it picks up on the prevalence of inequality within the system, it is also a love-letter to the passion and creativity of the industry, joyfully shouting out the Fringe Theatres of London who strive for excellence in accessibility and inspire hundreds, Following two young men, both from different backgrounds, as they meet and begin to compete in an industry that inherently favours one over the other, the play builds a narrative, where at first they are rivals in auditions, competing for a spot at drama school, (with some opinionated assumptions of each other), and though they clandestinely do finally become friends, there remains a disruptive sense of bitterness and rivalry that underpins the rifts in their friendship. It is the character’s differences that ultimately bring them together as they realise they can learn from each other in order to get ahead, but it is also these differences and ambitions, alongside their inability to see from each other’s perspective that fosters the animosity between them.

Photo Credit: Natalya Micic

Therefore, A Final Act of Friendship is also a play about perspectives. As aforementioned in each situation we are told first-hand from both character’s point of view, a dual-narration, as it unfolds. From their first meeting, to their first acting jobs, to the times when they needed each other most, we experience what each are feeling and thinking and, as universally different characters this is often an opposing thought, feeling or act, showing us how truly different these characters are because of their different upbringings and cultural polarity. Yet, when they do briefly find common ground it is hugely heartwarming and pure. Making for a deeply emotive and truly humorous dichotomy, particularly when they misconstrue the other’s viewpoint. And this is where the intelligible and enigmatic direction by Natalya Micic comes into play. The White Bear Theatre space is particularly unique, because it has an audience on two faces of the playing space, one directly in front and the other, along the left-hand side. This challenge, allowed for there to be a lot of precision and thought about where each piece of address is going to be directed, like a game of cat and mouse the characters flit between talking to one side of their audience, whilst the other addresses the alternative side, there’s no particular pattern to this, enabling it to flow naturally. The result is a pacey, personable, inviting and without a doubt, engaging hour of storytelling. There were some gleaming moments where their dialogue overlaps, directed in different directions, and in those sections there is an overwhelming sense of ephemerality based on where you chose to sit yet, the perspectives, playing side by side, remain a shared and understood experience. An important lesson to remember to try and walk in someone else’s shoes for a while, to see it from their side. Most importantly, these characters are both flawed, neither Is morally better than the other, and this is hugely important because the characters feel real, a necessary factor to make the peace as powerful and relatable as it is. And with the depth achieved in these characters in mind, it isn’t hard to see familiar themes of toxic masculinity creeping in as they struggle to both empathise and to open up, unable to be honest with one and other. Here then, credit must be given to Stephen Hayward and Gbenga Jempeji for their sensational deliveries. Both are exceedingly watchable, responsible for creating characters that full of depth and can only be described as mirrors to life, masterful.  

Photo Credit: Natalya Micic

Thematically then, the work eloquently strives towards promoting positive change. A Final Act of Friendship is thus, a near perfect race play. It all encompassingly tackles the subject of racial injustice from both a black and comparative white perspective, working from the ground up to start the debate about how we can improve, it’s duplicity of perspectives doing much to underline the need for positive change – in order to do better by one and educate the ignorance of the other, as well as highlighting the injustice in the disparity of their experiences. The piece is therefore astutely peppered with motives that dutifully pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, from it’s momentum fuelling use of archival sounds from rallies as an underscore, to it’s painted cardboard protest sign, to a protest speech that exuded the energy of John Boyega’s iconic, viral BLM rally cry and the endin, a moment of finality that is desensitising, yet hits the tone of what the protests were fighting to put an end to without even skipping a beat. The design also intrinsically supports the idea of these two converging antipodean perspectives, in it’s monochromatic, compact simplicity. Methodically, A Final Act of Friendship also sets itself the task of painting an authentic picture of the black experience that many would deny exists in the UK, from the persistent stop and search instances experienced by black men, to the challenges of accessing equal opportunities, to the higher likelihood of them being arrested for a minor or non-offence. And in this sense, there is a certain intuitive depiction of the difference in the action and consequences faced by the the two men because of their race, we begin to see the divide with the piece delicately comparing experiences and determining that, that which is ‘normal’ for one character is far from the other’s experience, we hear of expensive taxi rides, regular high-end theatre trips  with parents and fancy soho bars, compared with fringe theatre, working two jobs and looking after younger siblings in your free time and having a mum whose never even stepped foot in a theatre. Conceptually this is more than proficient. 

Photo Credit: Natalya Micic

To conclude, I’ll be disappointed if this piece doesn’t go anywhere else after it’s simply too short run at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington. A Final Act of Friendship is a play about Race, a play about Friendship, about ‘Acts’, about Perspectives, about Theatre and about Finality. It is a much-needed, provocative, powerful and bitter-sweet piece. Thoughtfully written and expertly directed. Book tickets for Saturday 15th Jan here now

Photo Credit: Natalya Micic

Cast: Stephen Hayward & Gbenga Jempeji

Director: Natalya Micic

Lighting Designer: Matthew Kalorkoti

Review: fester, The Cockpit (Camden Fringe)

Star Rating: ★★★

Halfpace Theatre’s new devised piece fester intriguingly takes inspiration from, and adapts itself from within, Goethe’s Faust, using the classic play as a springboard to explore marginalised identities and what would happen if they chose to reject the paths set before them, ferociously fighting back to stop the narrative in its tracks. Playing on the idea that many find the conclusion of Goethe’s original tragedy (Part One) unsatisfactory, much like many find the roles typically available to marginalised identities (such as those in Faust), equally as unsatisfactory. fester thus writes a new ending, a different part two if you will. Centring on Faust’s Gretchen, it gives her a little more fight, as the character is usually portrayed as a two-dimensional, innocent pawn with very little agency in the tempestuous games between man, heaven and hell. The narrative here, begins immediately after her death, Gretchen, having mistakenly woken up in hell in place of her would-be lover Heinrich Faust, hurriedly makes a deal with the devil, Mephistopheles, to bring him Faust in exchange for her freedom, thus igniting this idea of Gretchen wanting to be in control of her own destiny, no man, devil or god to puppet-master her. With Faust nowhere to be found, we are thus entered into this dual reality, Gretchen’s reality, an off shoot from the original play’s and then in conjunction with this is, that of a distressed writer who has lost Faust and is inserting himself instead into the piece, maliciously controlling the characters, to fix his creation so it will go back to the beginning and play as written. The writer seemingly enacting as a physical representation of the patriarchy and its oppression on marginalised groups. We watch with baited breath as the two world’s collide, the piece sinisterly toying with the fourth wall. A truly insightful preposition and reimagining. 

The piece is very much a work in progress, but it does throw up some interesting ideas and motifs like those aforementioned. In eerie silence five ensemble members enter, they stand in a circle and surround a copy Faust centre stage, after taking several slow inhales and exhales, they then go on to establish the world of the play, tenderly recanting the classic’s original plot and then beginning their version from the end of the original. As they do this they adopt various costume pieces and props transitioning from performers into characters, perfectly establishing the earlier mentioned dual reality, engendered in a theatrically representative manner. This is then revisited at the end, the actors transition back from characters to actors by removing these representative pieces and placing them on the ground, a direct rejection of the limited character(s) written by Goethe. This methodology establishes both the plot, as well as the intention behind the piece. We see the marginalised identities in both the actors and the characters. Mephistopheles is non-binary delivered by non binary performer Niamh Smith, God is female played by Kyrgyz actor Aijamal Nova, whilst Gretchen is now a determined Protagonist who wants more than what is ordained, portrayed by British-Czech actor Pavlina Karlo. They, (a duplicity of characters and actors) reject the boxes ‘the writer’ has seemingly tried to put them in and leave. Some excellent meaning making. We can vividly see, in the characters presented that there is room for improvement in both representation and the prevention of limiting actors, people even, because of their identity and, that this is not the end of the conversation, yet we also see how detrimental and un-motivational this can be for an actor, as here, they leave the space in a melancholic manner, a moment that seems to be defiantly stating that there is so much more work to be done. A moment that also pays homage to Goethe’s original, it is beautifully tragic, with very little resolve, everything still hanging in the air. There’s something incredibly clever about it and a sense that those without the biggest of voices are being given a space to make themselves seen and heard.

fester is also highly reliant on physical theatre, of which there are some wonderful expressions, demonstrating the ensemble’s skill and creativity. A particular moment of intrigue was the use of blackout, torches and movement sequences to create the impression of hellhounds observing the audience. At times the physical moments did however, have a tendency to fall flat or lack precision/clarity regarding varying sight-lines and the way the stage was lit at that moment in time. So, in the piece’s next iteration these will need to be looked at, cleaned up and developed, particularly in the transitions between dialogue and physical motifs. Similarly the piece has moments that are comedically vibrant, fester is after all a self-professed fusion of the silly and the sinister. The unrelentingly savage and abrupt nature of Mephistopheles, an unapologetic character with huge personality, is a wonderful example of this. As are their hellhounds who use physical comedy and non-verbal attributes to provide much of the humour in the early scenes of the piece, alongside some well-placed elevator music, need we say more? That being said the dialogue, particularly that of Mephistopheles needs further development in order to give the character more depth. There was one too many jokes about being on a fringe budget, alongside a few unnecessary expletives, a couple of these are of course are fine, but going overboard can mess with the integrity of a character and makes the dialogue appear unnatural/forced. A final development that would benefit the piece, is in the protagonist Gretchen, her bargaining with Mephistopheles is a great first step in taking control of her destiny, but beyond this, there needs to be more of a clear definition of her actually fighting back and taking control. Rather than a number of subtle hints. something else larger and inadvertently dramatic would work best, she’s almost a badass female protagonist but there needs to be a switch in her to take it to 100.

Performance-wise you cannot fault this five-strong ensemble, nor the direction provided by Megan Brewer. Particularly in the sound, which was mostly ensemble driven, intricately created by an eclectic, live mix of percussion instruments and vocal patterns, doing much to build atmosphere, sense of location or tension, demonstrable of the team effort required in order for this piece to succeed. The sound also ameliorating Jonathan Chan‘s lighting, to deliver a sharp, precise and dynamic synergy, ensuring the piece flowed with ease, quickly switching between scenes and sequences. To conclude, fester has great potential and will be a must see for anyone interested in work that breaks the mould or even those passionate about Goethe’s Faust, as it is a genuinely provocative adaptation. To find out more about Halfpace Theatre and what they have coming up next, click here

Credit: @HalfpaceTheatre

Ensemble: Bethany Monk-Lane, Niamh Smith, Pavlina Karlo, Aijamal Nova, Milo Juan. Director: Megan Brewer, Producer: Sarah Jordan Verghese, Movement Director: Monica Nicolaides, Designer: Daria Vasko, Lighting Designer: Jonathan Chan, Stage Manager: Morgan Lee.

Review: Every Sinner Has a Future, Chelsea Theatre (Kensington + Chelsea Festival)

Star Rating: ★★★★

In 2020, according to GOV.UK’s ethnicity facts and figures service, ‘Black men were over 3 times as likely to be arrested than White men – there were 60 arrests for every 1,000 Black men, and 17 arrests for every 1,000 White men’. In Frank Skully‘s youth, he, as a black man, had his fair share of run ins with the police, many through no fault of his own but the colour of his skin and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His retelling of these instances, Every Sinner Has a Future, recanting how they eventually led him onto to small-scale crime and then explaining how he then found a life beyond crime, is therefore as relevant and vital as ever. Seemingly taking it’s name from a quote in the Oscar Wilde play A Woman Of No Importance: “The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future“, the piece therefore sides itself with the motifs of Wilde’s work such as inequality/double-standards in the forgiveness for indiscretions or moral failings, again relating to the inherent societal racism that played a part in Frank’s developmental years.

Every Sinner Has a Future is a brutally honest, incredibly witty and comedically vibrant autobiographical memoir by Frank Skully. Depicting his tumultuous early years, born in the 1960s and growing up on All Saints Road, it is told by him, through his eyes, in what enacts as a compelling and personable retelling of the black experience past and present, and the affect preconceptions can have on those constantly subjected to them, from the way they are treated, to the decisions they make and the way they start to view themselves. A hilarious series of coincidences, bad luck and wrong decisions land Frank repeatedly in the back of a police car, intuitively delving deep into the inherent prejudices that ultimately led Frank to this destiny, from paperboy to prison. Questioning was it really by choice or chance that he ended up stuck in the webs of crime? Taking a hard, cold look at both societal racism and the criminal justice system, a system that does little to rehabilitate or prevent those within it from reoffending, the piece is both a searing, candid and intentionally funny portrait of Frank’s experiences as a young black man, as well as a love letter to the opportunities in theatre that freed him from a life of crime.

Frank Skully‘s performance is sensational, he is instantly likeable, a loveable rogue if you will, who is able to vividly and engagingly recant the instances where his life changed, peppering them with a series of knowing glances and cheeky grins. The audience were instantly won over and became audibly affianced with the story, from it’s relatability, to it’s short, sharp episodic nature and it’s comedic ebullience. His writing is incredibly clever and well thought out, for example he weaves in childhood memories with ease, comparing and contrasting his first experience in a court room to his next, two very different sides of the coin, the first as a witness rewarded for his bravery, the next as a defendant and considerably less kindly treated. We are also told of one of his first experiences with racism, when he, chopper bike in tow went to apply for the open paper round at Mr Patel’s shop, only to be told ‘people don’t want to see your people at their door at that time in the morning’. This huge blow not disheartening him, but instead lighting his entrepreneurial flare, as his refusal to give up meant he asked if he could sell papers in the pubs instead, and unsurprisingly the custom came easy. We then go on to see that racism like this would play a larger part in his development in spite of his business smarts. Leading on to the question of destiny and how much of a choice Frank would have in the direction of his life, making Frank’s autobiographical work feel much like The Hero’s Journey, unavoidable and preordained, yet as he goes on to bravely and emotively admit to his mistakes, and talk of the sentence he served for them, he therefore acknowledges his hubris and responsibility and now an omission of it, shows how he has atoned for it and has returned changed, thanks to a prison theatre programme that is. Whether this adoption of the The Hero’s Journey was intentional or not, it shows why the piece is so engaging as it contains what seems to be the winning formula regarding plot and takes the audience on a true moral and relatable rollercoaster ride.

Direction and design-wise the piece is also particularly strong. Nathanael Campbell ensures the work is conversational, delivered outwards, so as to involve and engage the audience as much as possible, and it works. From start to end, you feel as if you are part of the story and that you can see it unfold before you, there is little need for set and props, so this was a smart choice to keep it minimal as Frank Skully‘s enthralling storytelling is all that is needed. It is wonderfully bookended and underscored by the sounds of Frank’s home All Saints Road, from Rasta and Reggae music, to Afro Punk, Drum and Bass and beyond, the sound design intricately creates a sense of the area as a melting pot of ethnicity, culture and beliefs. The lighting also is used to divide the piece up into motifs and keeps the delivery at a snappy and manageable pace. Some fantastic work by all involved.

To conclude Every Sinner Has a Future is a moving and exceedingly well written memoir, tangibly painting a picture of the past and today’s reality, it is a relatable and a powerful look at the criminal justice system as well as the inherent racism still present in our society today. But most importantly it is real, truly heart-warming and actually laugh out loud funny. You can see the show again on 17th August at Chelsea Theatre, click here. Or to find out more about the team behind Every Sinner Has a Future click their names below.

Photo Credit: Sarah Jordan Verghese

Written and performed by Frank Skully, Directed by Nathanael Campbell and Produced by Sarah Jordan Verghese.

Review: Charged: Kids In Focus Showcase, Tramshed (Greenwich Family Arts Festival)

Star Rating: ★★★★

Presented as part of Greenwich Family Arts Festival and Tramshed‘s Artist Development Programme: Progression, the Charged: Kids In Focus Showcase consisted of two unique pieces in development from a pair of emerging companies/artists, each aimed at younger audiences. The tasters both providing an interesting and imperative perspective on the emotional and mental health of children today. A particularly predominating notion in retrospect of the disruption presented by the pandemic, a child’s experience of lockdowns and restrictions inevitably being overlooked despite the detrimental affect it must have had on them and their development.

Credit: Unblurred Lines, (Photo from Tech Rehearsal)

The first piece, Exploding Emily, is a charming, tender and uplifting portrait of a child’s perspective on re-integration into society/school following the upheaval the pandemic has caused. It intuitively considers the often not observed perspective of a child and imagines the possible challenges children might face upon returning to some semblance of normality. Such as social anxiety, as they engage with more people than they have been used to, particularly classmates they haven’t seen for long periods of time, as well as the legitimate tentative nature many might have at the prospect of engaging in physical contact such as hugs, something that has been off the table for so long. The piece delicately and simply tackling the subject of body autonomy in a universally understandable and tangible way, for children and adults alike. Unblurred Lines, the company behind Exploding Emily, state that they intend to ‘create dedicated time and space in the lives of children and young people for them to discuss, and better understand, their rights and responsibilities in relationships of all kinds.’ A notion that is eloquently staged here, engendering the perfect starting point for young people in the audience and their guardians to start conversations around Bodily integrity.

The piece itself is told from Emily’s perspective in an episodic form as part of the self-titled ‘The Emily Show’, which is put on with the help of her younger sister Tilly. It employs some stunning and effortless projection work as well as sound design, playing on child-like creativity and the idea of kids having to find several different outlets for themselves whilst in lockdown. Cartoon drawings are presented by Tilly (Emma Lamond), to emphasise Emily’s thoughts and feelings and are displayed though a phone camera projected onto a white cloth centre stage. An uncomplicated yet sensationally executed and enigmatic effect. From a practical stand-point, the piece is hugely engaging due to it’s interactive, direct address nature, it’s highly conversational and makes allowances for the actors to converse with the young people in the audience, keeping them switched on and interested. Furthermore, though the piece is set in this transitional period as lockdowns begin to cease, it doesn’t set itself too deeply in the pandemic, yes there are mentions of being in and out of lockdown and finding things to do such as TikTok dances or starting your own show like ‘The Emily Show’, as well as schools being closed for a while, a few lateral flow test kits propping up the projector and hand sanitiser/anti-bacterial wipes being on hand, yet the plane of the pandemic simply makes a good landing point for the catalyst in Emily’s anxiety and ensuing emotional outburst, whilst also shedding a light on the way it has affected children’s wellbeing and making it hugely relatable for them as it resembles their lived experience, but the piece itself doesn’t dwindle too heavily on this. We wouldn’t call it a COVID play, the more important key issues such as teaching children that they have the right to choose what happens to their body and acknowledging that they can need help with their mental health too, even if this is just by having open and honest conversations with them, all becoming the prominent, overarching thematics, and could easily reside in a narrative outside of the pandemic if one so desired. These themes being delivered in a friendly, candid and often comedic way. The children behind us belly-laughing throughout, particularly due to some excellent moments of physical comedy. The show is also smoothly layered, you have the story Emily tells us, as well as the action and ‘real-life’ conversations that occur in tandem with her tale, we are therefore not only introduced to Tilly and Emily, but also their Auntie Lauren and cousin Mason who they live with. The work also subtly suggesting that families come in all shapes and sizes. We are therefore party to a fight Emily has with her four year old cousin Mason, a reflection of her wishing to be treated as an adult, or at least different to a baby, (in her eyes), like Mason, a need to differentiate herself from him. We are also provided with the opportunity to listen in to Emily’s conversation with her Auntie Lauren about how’s she’s feeling. The result is a heart warming and meaningful glimpse into what its like for a child on the cusp of so many changes, a 10/11 year old who is about to go to secondary school and wants to feel like she belongs. Emily’s meltdown, that gives the piece it’s name, is also very toddler-esque as she throws all her toys (out of her pram) well, around the stage and makes a huge mess that Tilly kindly ends up tidying. Ironic in the sense that it is the kind of meltdown you would expect from Mason, yet her apology soon shows her transgression into a kinder, more mature individual armed with the knowledge she needs to feel less anxious. The work is therefore, hugely relatable for the intended audience of 8-12 year olds and delivers it’s message with poise and precision. The only thing to be worked upon before a full staging, is to tighten up some of the quieter moments where the action dips as well as the transitions between episodes, and to enhance the technical elements for a more conducive use.

 Credit: Natalya Micic

The Loudest Mind is a joyful piece of theatre written by Laura Shoebottom that enchantingly explores the pressures placed on children to “fit in”. Vividly staging the mind-palace of a child, it uses the plane of the protagonist’s (Ezra’s) imagination to stage and explore the common anxieties of children, from the newness and unknown of a new school, to the social anxiety of interacting with new people, as well as the inherent need for a kind of ‘comfort blanket’ in a transitional period to ensure some sort of normality. The narrative follows the space-adventures of Ezra and his Ferret friend Fenton, whilst symbiotically showing Ezra facing his first day in a new school, separated from the familiarity of his bedroom and Fenton. We see Ezra flourish as he explores his imagined worlds across the galaxy with his Ferret second-in-command at his side, as well as his struggle to fit in and find his way with his classmates. What ensues is a magical inter-galactical adventure that celebrates the joy of creativity and imagination as Ezra comes into his own and finds a love of short story writing. The piece thus perfectly champions the idea that you don’t have to shout to be heard and that every child has something to offer if they are given the chance. Though aimed at younger audiences the piece can be enjoyed by adults and children alike, it has a certain sense of childhood nostalgia and paints a tender picture of the childhood innocence conjoined to the novelty of imaginary friends,but necessity of real-life friends.

From a performative point of view, the work is hugely engaging and feels as vivid and captivating as a cartoon, it employs a beautiful use of physical theatre, soundscapes and subtle changes in lighting (using more colourful hues, in contrast to the stark white of the moments seated in reality), to immerse the audience fully into Ezra’s imagination. I’m sure, from the sounds being made by the children in the room, these sections are equally as magical and enthralling from a child’s perspective. We float through space with him and Fenton, fight off evil aliens and blast off in a rocket ship before returning back down to earth in what is a wonderful use of storytelling and adventure play. The work fantastically contrasting the idea of space as Ezra’s imagination and escapism, against his return to earth and reality, somewhere he is less confident and not as able to express himself. Whilst the puppetry, performed exquisitely by Amy Bianchi, brings Fenton dextrously to life and is, without question, a highlight. The skill and precision here dominates, bringing a huge amount of nuance to the character as well as an emotive quality, as Ezra’s best-friend, he is able to listen to, support, encourage and empathise with him despite being a non-verbal character, (in a piece about not having to shout to be heard, having a non-verbal character that can be understood also does wonders to highlight the notion of non-verbal intelligence and could give any non-verbal audience members something to relate to). Fenton is also given a cheeky and playful edge, perfectly balancing the tentative and shy nature of Ezra, helping him to come out of his shell more. Similar to the sensational puppetry, is the piece’s overall slickness, the scenes effortlessly transition from imaginary adventures to reality, in these moments there are some particularly clever symbolic and visual motifs as well as a malleable use of set pieces. What is also interesting is the overall staging, Ezra’s room in central to the piece, it includes a small rocket ship that is, in reality, a play tent. The ship, as his self-engineered place of safety/comfort, remains centre stage throughout the piece, not just out of practicality, it wonderfully symbolises Ezra’s imagination and his potential, Fenton as part of this often residing within there. The school setting is thus, delivered further downstage on the left and right corners, as the outer playing space, it can also be seen as a visual representation of Ezra initially being out of his comfort zone. Performing alongside Bianchi, were Liam Ashmead (Ezra) and Laura Shoebottom (Martha), who are equally as adroit performers as Bianchi, bringing these younger school characters, (who initially clash), faithfully and energetically to life, with excellent chemistry between the two of them. Other older characters such as Ezra’s mum and their teacher, being created through a clever use of off-stage dialogue and voiceover. To conclude The Loudest Mind has immense potential as a heart-warming and meaningful piece of theatre for all ages, it is carefully written, intelligibly directed and wonderfully well performed. It most importantly has the ability to keep younger members of the audience utterly enthralled throughout.

You can find out more about Unblurred Lines’ work by clicking here and more about Laura Shoebottom‘s work here. And more about the Greenwich Family Arts Festival here.

Exploding Emily presented by Unblurred Lines: Artistic Directors – Emma Lamond & Imogen Cahill.

The Loudest Mind: Writer/Producer/Actor-Martha: Laura Shoebottom, Director: Natalya Micic, Puppetry/Fenton: Amy Bianchi, Ezra: Liam Ashmead.

Review: Viable, The Bread & Roses Theatre (Online)

Star Rating: ★★★★

Viable is an exceedingly well curated, passionate and multifaceted love letter to fringe theatre. A scratch night with a whole lot of heart, it is an urgent and much needed digital celebration of the arts at a time where the industry is being increasingly undervalued. Viable gives a crucial platform for new writing in an epoch where few opportunities are being presented due to the perceived risk and instability of the present day. Featuring some very promising short plays, extracts from new musicals and spoken word, it was filmed at The Bread and Roses Theatre and has been edited together to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. This riotous full-length production is thus, a strong message that those in the arts are resilient, they are still creating, they are still passionate and are still raising their voices defiantly to be heard, despite the anguish the past year has caused.

Reality Bites. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

Viable presents sharings from eight unique productions, collectively focussing on relatable and didactic topics such as: loneliness, love, growing up, misogyny, the male gaze, posing as something you’re not and more. Resulting in an invigorating scrapbook of singular snapshots of humanity. We will now go on to talk about each piece and it’s merits.

Seaside. Screenshot taken from stream with permission


Seaside is a short but sweet monologue about the conflictions of an adopted child in adulthood. The want to know more about their identity and where they came from against, the guilt and not wanting to upset adoptive parents who provided so much and did so much. From the what ifs, to the what might-bes, the piece perfectly captures the frustrations of knowing you had a parent who chose not to be in your life, in conjunction with the natural curiosity when their details are available to you. Martha Reed‘s writing dextrously builds a thought process in real time, we see the character, as she arrives early and waits to meet her birth mother at a beach for the first time; the bitterness she harbours towards her birth mother, transcends into a intrigue as she wishes she could imagine what certain times in her life would have been like if her biological mother had been there instead. She comments how she wanted for nothing growing up and seemingly feels contrite at the thought of hurting her loving parents who welcomed her into their lives, before wondering what she’s even doing here, conflicted between a thirst to know more and the painful abandonment she feels. Valenzia Spearpoint‘s direction is similarly intelligible, bringing out this journey of the mind, you can see the different thoughts flickering behind the eyes, as well as in the movements of the character as she stands and abruptly changes direction as another thought or feeling takes root, playing with her hands to distract herself as if anxious and fighting the temptation to run, this thought process is thus eloquently and meticulously staged. Nadia Wyn Abouayen‘s delivery is particularly emotively rich and impassioned, engendering an element of pathos as the character’s conflictions manifest before us. There is a beautiful soundscape underneath the piece of waves crashing on the sand, which does much to cement the place-making, at the end a wave of blue light crashes over the character, drawing it wonderfully to a close as if the diverging worries have all been simultaneously been dowsed, just beautiful.

Written by Martha Reed, Directed by Valenzia Spearpoint & Starring Nadia Wyn Abouayen

Supernovas For Super Loners. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

Supernovas For Super Loners

Supernovas For Super Loners is a brand new musical following two strangers, Emily and Dylan, who are unexpectedly brought together after a night out gone awry in Swansea. The excerpts presented are full of depth and determinedly clever, defined by it’s thematic beauty, the piece takes this idea of a Supernova, occurring when two binary companion stars merge, their encounter being the catalyst for the explosion, the explosion even possibly aiding in new star formation, and thus Supernovas For Super Loners‘ narrative sees two strangers meet by chance, the sparks of love begin to ignite and a chain of events that will see their lives intertwine is set in motion. The songs, which are charming, energetic and uplifting, are therefore beautifully peppered with planetary terminology, such as: universe, galaxy, meteor and more, they focus on a future with several different outcomes, like the unpredictability of runaway nuclear fusion, Ryan Mellish thus beautiful threads a theme of destiny and seizing your own path into his compositions, he powerfully challenges preconceptions, having a homeless character selflessly come to the aid of a struggling writer during a night out, this convention-breaking ideology being written into the piece. The themes of storytelling and finding home, (related to each each character), subsequently emerge, these add great depth, projected trajectory and ambition to the characters, their wants and desires being laid bare. Mellish’s writing intuitively gives his characters a self-awareness of their flaws, seeking to normalise the imperfections and emotional baggage that are just part of life. The song Coco Pops & Orange Juice is particularly witty and enchanting, whilst Benjamin Mowbray‘s direction engenders excellent chemistry between Emily (Saskia Pay) and Dylan (Glen Jordan). Both delivering their character’s with elements of nuance, from a side glance, to a half smile, to convey their innate desire to stay with each other without saying it outright, their lives before being defined by their loneliness. A promising and spell-binding new musical.

Written by Ryan Mellish, Directed by Benjamin Mowbray, Starring Glen Jordan & Saskia Pay

Dear Little Me. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

Dear Little Me

Dear Little Me is a lyrical and vivid moment of storytelling in a spoken word format, it is formulated into a prologue and three chapters. What begins as a tender portrait of childhood memories from an adult perspective, devolves into a swirl of memories blending into one. It beautifully encapsulates it’s themes of growing-up and the inherent nostalgia of one’s youth. Written & Performed by Cherry Eckel, Dear Little Me enacts as a perspicuous and hopeful letter to oneself, looking back at what you were, to what you are now and what you hope to be, it is delicately written and intuitively performed.

Written & Performed by Cherry Eckel, Music by Creative Commons

The Last Beacon. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

The Last Beacon

Written by Alan Diment, The Last Beacon is a witty and satirical look at the responsibilities of adulthood, it follows Live Action Role-Play* enthusiasts and long-time friends ‘Bjartr’ and ‘Lundron’ who are set to light the last beacon on a glorious night of role-playing a series, entitled The Chronicles of Kalarhan. ‘Lundron’, (or Kevin) clings to his passion for role-play as an escapism, whilst ‘Bjartr’, recently married with a baby on the way, struggles to find time to get away and see his friend, Kevin on the other hand is equally too busy avoiding reality to visit the expectant couple. Tenderly focussing on friendship in a transient period of life and on the need for an alternative reality to escape to when the stresses of real-life mount up, The Last Beacon wonderfully weighs up the need to be grounded in reality to undergo one’s responsibilities (‘proper grown up stuff’), against the need to escape the grief or violence and destruction that is so prevalent in today’s reality, creating two character’s who are equally as scared to face the reality before them. Diment’s writing is thus fantastically characterised by it’s grounding in the tropes of *LARP, from the anecdote of Kevin wearing his battle suit to the wedding, the description of making a baby being like making a battleplan or, of things being safe from Kevin’s perspective when they are planned out like the role-playing he throws himself into so wholeheartedly, to the hilarious description of a baby as an ‘angry pink goblin throwing everything intp chaos’. This is further perpetuated in Danäe Cambrook‘s enigmatic direction, the hilarious embrace of deep, melodramatic voices from the men as they embody their role-played characters, before being transitioned out of abruptly to have the ‘real-life’ conversation beneath, as well as the staged sword combat moments, adventure music underscoring and dramatic raising of the torches in preparation of lighting the beacon, are all energetic motifs that build this fantasy land Kevin wishes to reside in. Whilst the moments of sword-combat do much to portray the contending views on responsibility of the men, despite the fact they are both somewhat scared of reality. The Last Beacon is a charming and witty portrait of desires against culpability packed with comedy, the characters are humorously and lovingly brought to life Nicholas Limm (Kevin/’Lundron’) and Harry Boyd (‘Bjartr’).

Written by Alan Diment, Directed by Danäe Cambrook & Starring Nicholas Limm & Harry Boyd

Slow Dating. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

Slow Dating

Slow Dating is a heart-breaking and devastating look at companionship and love from an elderly perspective. It conversationally follows a very prim and proper 70-something who continually rationalises her curiosity. Having spotted a flyer for speed dating for seniors, the week later she ‘unintentionally’ finds herself there, intrigue getting the best of her, or so she suggests. She hilariously comments on the toothless or forgetful collection of men she is subjected to and wonders what she is even doing there considering she is happily married and has been for quite some time, that is until an unexpected stranger (Leon), forwardly shoots his shot. Adam Szudrich‘s piece is so dextrously written, it expertly contrasts the prudish and sentimental nature of the character, with the giddy sensation of a whirlwind romance and sends this 70-something on vital journey of self-discovery, to find she is more than just Albert’s wife. It beautifully portrays this women who is holding on to all she has even known, yet subconsciously she wants crack her hard exterior and let her vulnerability take over, in turn, finding something more for herself. Directed so tenderly by Colette Cullen, Wendy Fisher phenomenally tells this story of love, loss, guilt and desire, her portrayal is full of character and nuance.

Written by Adam Szudrich, Directed by Colette Cullen and Starring Wendy Fisher

Born for Today. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

Born for Today

Born for Today is a new musical telling the story of Nellie Bly, famed for travelling around the world in under 80 days, (the record set by fictional character Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne‘s novel Around the World in Eighty Days). Having just begun her journey on a boat, the song presented here, portrays Nellie’s sudden realisation of the enormity of the task and her lack of pre-planning, it is a powerful and uplifting number where her she sets out her determination to prove herself and knows she will find her way. Playing on the rebuttal Nellie Bly actually made to the misogynistic article ‘What Girls are Good For’, earning her a position as a reporter, the song plays on this refute, including the lyrics ‘I’m gonna show the world what girls are good for’. The song is an uplifting pep-talk that Nellie gives to herself, she processes the madness of her idea of trying to turn a fictional record into reality and envisages herself succeeding, proving herself to those who bet against her and the boundaries and conventions she would break. Born For Today is a wonderful play on Nellie Bly being a pioneer, ahead of her time, that she was destined for greatness back then, but today she would be much more at home, in an age where equality is much closer to being a reality. The composition is a fantastic call to arms for women to challenge anything that limits them, it’s memorable, powerful and intelligible. Whilst Natalie Durkin‘s performance directed by Alice Eklund, is hugely enjoyable and dynamic.

Written by Carrie Caffrey & Earl James Marrows, Directed by Alice Eklund & Starring Natalie Durkin

Blue & Dishwasher Safe. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

Blue & Dishwasher Safe

Blue & Dishwasher Safe is a particularly matter-of-fact, Fleabag-esque, direct address. It focusses on sex, more specifically, girl-on-girl sex, an area of mystery, hardly ever reliably portrayed in the media and almost never talked about. Written and Performed by Sassy Clyde the piece is wonderfully frank and makes several interesting observations on the reasons for underrepresentation of queer women and sex, such as the outward lack of understanding of how sex works for them, as heteronormative sex is observed as two components that slot together, making men who have sex with men, similarly as comprehensible from a hetero perspective, whilst queer women who have sex with women are inherently seen as unfathomable by others. Clyde going on to talk about sex as a controlled commodity, the idea sexuality or the expression of it being owned by men, subject to the male-gaze and confined by patriarchal structures, all set out to deny queer women a place in the conversation, as they essentially lack a penis. Sassy Clyde intelligibly aims to lift the curtain on what her idea of sex is, intuitively indicating that actually the experience is different for everyone, her anecdotal and conversational elucidation tackles the shame and stigma surrounding the topic, normalises the use of sex toys and reminds us sex should always be consensual and legal, she also devolves that sex is an ever-evolving human experience, that u-porn generation find more pleasure in mutual masturbation than ever before. What ensues is a provocative and exceedingly smart discourse on sex and representation.

Written and Performed by Sassy Clyde

Reality Bites. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

Reality Bites

Reality Bites is a new interactive musical, centring on a reality TV show entitled purgatory, in which you decide out of 9 Z-listers who will reach the heavenly heights of superstardom or face obscurity hell. The musical presents three numbers from the show entitled, Bitch, Girl on Screen and Know Myself. Conceptually the work is very strong, it focusses on the fake personalities engendered by the characters as a ploy to win, as well as the way reality shows are edited to twist the narrative for more views. Bitch is Instagram Influencer Taryn’s confessional as she convinces herself she’s not a bitch, despite her various complaints over her roommates and that her game plan is to make fake friends with another contestant in order to win. Madeleine Leslay‘s delivery is seamless, she embodies this frustrated and driven character to a tee. Girl on Screen is a one-sided love story, as editor and producer Jamil, sings about his love for contestant Natalie as he witness the raw footage of her poor treatment by the other contestants. Lenny Turner excellently portrays Jamil’s enamoured attachment to Natalie and the power the character has to edit a new perspective onto the obnoxious bunch of contestants before him. Finally Know Myself is Natalie’s fiery rebuke of her abusive boyfriend who wants her even more now he’s realised she is worth something, it focusses on the cost of changing yourself for someone else and presents the idea, that she will come back stronger now she see’s clearly after all the times he’s lashed out at her. She knows her worth. Amy-Leigh Storer‘s delivery is hugely robust and impassioned. The musical itself seems promising and it will be interesting to see how the interactive side of it works.

Book & Lyrics by Dave Payne, Writer and Composer Aron Sood, Orchestrated by Will Turkwell & Starring Madeleine Leslay, Lenny Turner & Amy-Leigh Storer

Reality Bites. Screenshot taken from stream with permission

To conclude, Viable is 90 minutes well spent, it provides an audience for some immensely promising work and as a concept is strong. As it has set out to do, it fiercely champions new writing. Whilst the polished multi-cam nature and editing of the digital production is also to be commended. You can stream Viable until 3rd July and tickets can be found here, if you intend to watch in a group please do consider buying more than one ticket to support the venture and also consider making a donation to The Bread and Roses Theatre as well.

Production Team: Camera Operator & Editor Ryan Powell, Camera Operator Sarraa Ali, Sound Engineer & Editor Seah Hotson, Production Assistant Nathalie Maher, Produced by Gwenan Bain & Sarah Hartland Productions

Review: The Human Connection, Omnibus Theatre

The Human Connection - Omnibus Theatre

Star Rating: ★★★★

In a triumphant reopening, Omnibus Theatre in association with Savage Artists present not one, but two world premieres of new work by Irish actor and playwright Eugene O’Hare, performed in an exhilarating double-bill. With the evening being entitled: The Human Connection, both new works symbiotically present gritty examinations into the relationship between a parent and their child, intuitively being delivered as a direct address, each piece enacts as an intelligible dialogue between actors and audience. Broaching the moral complexities of the relationships from the idea of parental guilt, to body autonomy, mental health, grief, political and moral opinion, generational differences and more.

Photo credit Damian Robertson

The first, Larry Devlin Wants to Talk to You About Something That Happened, originally intended to premiere as part of the Barbican’s cancelled Ghost Light series, follows Larry as he is stiffly remains frozen in time, cyclically remembering the guilt of how he once struck his son over 22 years ago, a father’s guilt that is as fresh as if it just happened, despite Larry’s son Domhnall not even remembering the incident. As the loop ensues, Larry tries to talk through his guilt, but his vivid memories begin to cloud his sense of reality. O’Hare writes a beautifully tender and bleak portrait of a father’s devotion being eaten away by guilt and despair, whilst his direction is particularly balanced and tenable. Stephen Kennedy’s Larry is simply exquisite, he delivers a multilateral performance of this trapped and utterly broken father, that is defined by such poignancy and it’s sense of frustration, conveying perfectly how Larry can’t seem to come to terms with both Domhnall and himself about how sorry he is about what he did, authentically emanating this idea of Larry being a shell of a man, swallowed by grief unable to get closure and thus creating this sense of stasis, confusion and a detachment from reality. From Kennedy, we see the piercing sadness behind Larry’s eyes and the guilt in his stance, from his slouched inward posture to the way he distractedly plays with his hands and places them in his pockets. The delivery is wonderfully balanced, it provides an energetic semblance of the other characters involved and is excellently paced, the tension building to dysregulate Larry’s emotions and confused grip on reality accordingly. Furthermore, Damian Robertson‘s Lighting design, which contrasts the vastness of the black-box space behind Larry, with a stark spotlight beating down on him, does much to build this sense of Larry’s entrapment in his own guilt/grief and the memories of it, as well as physically demonstrating the pressure he is seemingly putting on himself to make things right. The piece is ultimately hugely evocative and emotionally rich, clean, precise and strong. A masterclass in conversational storytelling.

The second premiere, Child 786 is an exceedingly dextrously and meaty black comedy for today. It focuses on the less than ideal life of twenty-two year old Lennox, who has finally left his already deserted university campus to move in with his single mum, Hilary. Both of them have big personalities and both hold very different opinions on the global crisis of today, they talk, or rather argue at length about their thoughts on: policy and procedure, scientific guidance, mental health, the treatment of the elderly, the idea of body autonomy and more. The work thus vividly pits the generally opposing opinions of Gen Z against Boomers, providing a tangible and decadent political and moral discourse, particularly as it is directly addressed to the audience, inviting you to settle on your own opinion. O’Hare’s writing here is incredibly intelligent, he lays the opinions of individuals, left and right leaning, all over the floor, and asks why there isn’t a true middle ground for holding those responsible accountable, determining that we are encouraged to fight amongst ourselves rather than aiming our frustrations at those who have all the power. Hilary is a classic, stiff-upper lip, keep calm and carry-on Brit, she unquestioningly wants everyone to stick to the rules and get through this together whatever it takes, whilst Lennox is full of ‘conspiracy theories’ as she calls it, such as the government using the lockdown and extending it further, to hide a lot of the issues thrown up by Brexit. He is a particularly extreme and outspoken character, yet his stances are entirely plausible and somewhat grounded in realism, whilst Hilary’s oblivious is optimism is both humorous and admirable and is very in keeping with the sentiments of many. Lennox is a fountain of facts and knowledge, fighting on the side of the mental health of the younger generation, he describes the elderly as being left abandoned, whilst highlighting the economic devastation that will ensue. Whilst Hilary determinedly takes the stance that the virus is and was something to be feared and that all actions taken have reason behind them. Making the piece a wonderful plain of dialectic discussion. On top of this, is the sinister idea that Lennox thinks he was part of medical trials as a child, in which he was vaccinated with something and observed over night, he repeatedly comes back to this idea of body autonomy and that he didn’t get a say, whilst Hilary denies the instance outright, it being Lennox’s estranged father that told him of the trials before he left them for good. Lennox thinks he has found other participants online and discovers several have died around his age, he feels unwell so assumes the same is happening to him, yet it is never clear if the medical trial really happened and who is telling the truth, leading on to this idea that political opinions are often based on perception rather than fact. Making the work overall, incredibly subjective and provocative. Having Lennox return from a facility, does however create this idea that his mental health was struggling and that he, with his mother’s assistance sought help, providing an incredibly moving portrait of how this global crisis has affected most people’s mental health in some capacity, whilst the subtleties of performance even hinted towards Lennox considering suicide, an urgent impression of the resulting global mental health crisis we are also in the midst of. Whilst we see the character’s fight, we also see them embrace, giving such of spectrum of their family dynamic, it goes from one extreme to the other, eloquently demonstrating the pressure these times have put on families, the home environment being a pressure cooker for extreme emotions.

Photo credit Damian Robertson

Performance wise, the chemistry that Josh Williams (Lennox) and Ishia Bennison (Hilary) engender is incredibly authentic and full of wit, they fight like mother and son and they apologise, saying, with conviction ‘I love you’, like mother and son, a spellbinding duo. Bennison’s charmingly obtuse Hilary, the overbearing mother often seen fussing about her son, is delivered by Bennison in a wonderfully jovial and humorous manner, she tuts at Lennox and looks knowingly at the audience as he steamrolls into yet another rant. Her energy and visible concern/upset, do much to convey the torn complexities of this strangely optimistic single mother, who evidently always tries to put a smile on her face and do her best, and who, unconditionally loves her son, him being the only thing she feels as if she has left. So though, she is outwardly upbeat, Bennison’s delivery is full of nuance, the smile briefly dropping every so often, to determine the fear underneath that she might one day lose him and be left with nothing, whether that be by an argument they can’t recover from or in death. Whilst Williams’ Lennox is fixated on having his opinion heard, encouraging his mother to enter into a discourse with him, getting more and more erratic as he spirals into everything he believes. Williams’ performance is particularly energetic and dextrous, not only does he enchantingly deliver a self-righteous character who has a lot to stay and is clearly hugely frustrated, his capricious physicality and pacing of dialogue reflecting this, Williams’ refinement of character is multifaceted and strong, giving the sense of Lennox’s unsettled mental health status underneath.

Photo credit Damian Robertson

To conclude, Eugene O’Hare writes and directs a double-bill of palpable and provocative theatre. His writing is a phenomenal mouthpiece for the modern human experience, divulging lot of food for thought and realistically quantifying the relationship between a parent and their child. The performances are similarly of the highest calibre and not to be missed. Click here to book now for The Human Connection at Omnibus Theatre, running until 4th July. Find out more about the Omnibus Theatre’s Summer Season here.

Photo credit Damian Robertson

Creatives: Director and Writer – Eugene O’Hare, Producer – Bridget Kalloushi, Lighting Designer – Damian Robertson.

Cast: Larry Devlin Wants to Talk to You About Something That Happened: Larry – Stephen Kennedy (22-27 & 29 June), Ed Hogg (30 June – 4 July). Child 786: Lennox – Josh Williams & Hilary – Ishia Bennison.

Review: The Distance You Have Come, Apollo Theatre


Star Rating: ★★★

The Distance You Have Come is a beautifully crafted song cycle by American songwriter Scott Alan that features his most acclaimed works and authentically, captures love and the journeys that take us to and from it. Focussing on the universality of love, the cycle intertwines the lives of six individuals, who could quite simply be anyone, utilising these variegated characters to convey all aspects of the sensation, from the unbearable pain of fresh heartbreak, to the excitement of the first sparks of a new love, from the mourning of a love that will never be, to friendship, healing, parenthood and more. With a clear focus on decision making, big or small, The Distance You Have Come highlights how these mundane or grandiose choices impact the steps we take and subsequently, how those we meet along the way will alter our course unequivocally. Giving the piece a similar vibe to both Jason Robert Brown‘s The Last Five Years and Tom Kitt and Brain Yorkey‘s If/Then.


The individual performances The Distance You Have Come bolsters for its two performance stint at the Apollo Theatre are sensational, but we will get onto those soon enough. Pleasingly, the production, though described as a song cycle, has a strong, clean narrative and isn’t un-assuredly tied together, like most song cycles with a loose thematic idea, often harbouring an absence of plot or direction. It is however, somewhat top heavy as much of the action happens in the first half, with the second act enacting more like an elongated resolution. This also provides on imbalance in the piece from an emotional perspective, as the first act is packed with a series of dramatic and powerful ballads, conveying the passions, heartbreaks, regrets and emotionally vulnerabilities of the characters, feeling much like you are being repeatedly bombarded by heavy, weighty moments of reflection, with little relief between these moments of high intensity. The second act provides a much more gentle and lighter exposition, but as previously mentioned this all feels a little unbalanced. We see: new lovers Brian and Samuel experience a spark on their first date and their love quickly blossoms, Joe struggle through a deep depression and alcohol dependency after losing Maisey, watching her prepare to get married to someone else, Anna decide to leave Laura falling out of love with her, hoping she will understand and even thank her for it, and so forth. What is so beautiful about this engendered narrative is that each character is respectively unique and their stories slot together so effortlessly. Maisey being an aspiring performer, calls her best friend Brian to tell him how it went, Anna meets Joe in a park that they both frequent as he adds routine to his life to help him stay clean, a like-minded friendship blossoms and Samuel is also close friends with Laura, eventually asking her to do something huge for him and Brian. As I’m sure you will have noticed from the names, this means The Distance You Have Come, harbours not one, but two queer narratives, that’s 60% of the characters being something other than heterosexual, amazing representation. And something so clever about Alan’s piece, at least for the first act, is the fact it’s not made a big thing of regarding these character’s sexual preferences, as aforementioned it feels as if these people could be anyone: straight, gay young, old etc, which is something so lacking in regards to queer stories, many narratives if they mention queer love at all, will be built around the fact that a character is gay and often become bogged down by every possible hurdle that comes with this, failing to also celebrate the relationship as a natural and universal thing of beauty, Alan instead strips this back and tells love stories that are simple, focussing on the love at the core, from the desire to the agony, yet in this he doesn’t diminish or white wash the character’s queerness. As one love in his piece grows exponentially, he seemingly goes on to say, well of course they would naturally want to take the next step after marriage and start a family, and thus matter-of-factly explores how a gay couple would go about this, in doing so he ventures into another aspect of love, the unrequited love of parents for their child. Though, Anna’s awkward make out with Joe after which she proclaims she is still a lesbian, although comedically very funny, felt like it slightly undermined this unforced, legitimate inclusivity of the narrative.


Musically, Alan’s compositions are rich and enigmatic, delivered consummately with eloquence and immense skill, they are hugely witty and impassioned. However it is their placement and perhaps the direction of this production, that adds to the imbalanced nature of the work. As previously mentioned the first act feels like a bombardment of dramatic ballads one after the other, with little light relief between them. The piece, therefore initially enacts as an intense pressure cooker with nowhere for the drama to go, remaining on one intensified level throughout, which can feel like a sensory overload at times, the songs eventually sounding very same-y and even somewhat aggressive and hard to understand diction-wise, that is until the second act ensues and wave of calmness breaks. That is not to say that Kirk Jameson‘s direction is uninspiring, he does a lot to engender a sense that these narratives are converging on each other, playing around with pathways and directions throughout, doing much to build a picture of six different journeys being made by the individual characters. Using the six wooden stools of the set in a representative manner, Jameson intuitively toys with placement, proximity and levels, to give a sense of relationships, feelings and even locations, using them as centres for the characters or to divide the space and tell multiple parts of the story at once. Beyond the wooden stools were the 3 piece band, under the musical direction of Scott Hayes, they are deservedly centre stage, working in tandem to create a bright, strong and full sound characterised by its bounce and use of string instruments. The band are framed by vintage-looking stage lights beaming down on the performers, this Brechtian visibility of the lights and band does much to cement the storytelling as such. Whilst Andrew Ellis‘ lighting design is intelligible, reflective and emotive, highlighting the character’s feelings and intents, he intuitively draws on what is going and visually represents it in a tangible and breathable manner, his lighting spills out into the auditorium intertwining the audience within the stories being told on stage. Fantastic work.


Finally onto the performances, each as stellar as the last, vocally none could be faulted they all sound exquisite and display innumerable power and prowess. Andy Coxon‘s Brian and Adrian Hansel‘s Samuel make an adorable pair, they have incredible chemistry, authentically conveying the awkwardness of a first date and excitment of new love as it flourishes, their performances are full of intricacies and warmth. Whilst Alice Fearn‘s Anna is comedically vibrant and stoically decisive, she contrasts Maiya Quansah-Breed‘s Laura, perfectly. Quansah-Breed delivering a heart-wrenching and mature portrayal of a women who has been emotionally decimated by the love of her life unexpectedly leaving her. Dean John-Wilson‘s alcoholic Joe is equally as complex and raw, Wilson authentically building a picture of the character’s inner turmoil and self-destruction. Whilst Emma Hatton‘s Maisey is exceedingly likeable and relatable as she presses on with her musical theatre dreams and euphorically proclaims she is star after smashing an audition, in a very NBC Smash moment. Six sensational deliveries.


To conclude, The Distance You Have Come is definitely worth a watch. At times it is smart, engaging and emotively raw. There is a sense of imbalance that is prevalent throughout and hinders the storytelling somewhat, but there’s certainly still a lot of heart and grit to be enjoyed at the centre of this production. The Distance You Have Come plays at the Apollo Theatre again on Monday 28th June 2021, click here to book now.

Creatives: Scott Alan – Book, Music & Lyrics, Scott Hayes – Arrangements & Orchestration, Kirk Jameson – Director, Scott Hayes – Musical Director, Simon Daw – Set & Costume Design and Andrew Ellis – Lighting Design.

Cast: Andy Coxon, Alice Fearn, Adrian Hansel, Emma Hatton, Dean John-Wilson & Maiya Quansah-Breed.

Review: Copenhagen, Theatre Royal Bath

Copenhagen 2021

Star Rating: ★★★★

Theatre Royal Bath‘s revival of Michael Frayn‘s acclaimed Copenhagen, has finally found it’s way to stage. Having been postponed last Autumn, the production had barely made its way into technical rehearsals when another lockdown was announced, forcing the Theatre Royal Bath to seek new dates in order for Copenhagen to eventually be enjoyed by live audiences. And we are so glad to proclaim that it was most certainly worth the wait.

Starring Philip Arditti, Haydn Gwynne and Malcolm Sinclair, Copenhagen imagines and calculates the clandestine encounter that is known to have taken place between two Nobel Prize winning physicists, the Danish Niels Bohr and the German, Werner Heisenberg in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen, in 1941. Aiming to depict the rift between the old friends and long-term colleagues, as they found themselves on opposite sides of the war’s divide. Going through a cycle of different ‘drafts’ of the encounter, the piece enacts as a cyclical and speculative analysis of what possible exchanges and transformative ideas could have passed between the pair, based, both on what they knew at the time and the fact that they would have each suspected that they were being listened to, intrinsically determining the ramifications for both sides of the war and for our world today, the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation, as described in the piece at its conception, looms large, hanging thickly in the air.

Having enjoyed a hugely acclaimed run at the National Theatre before transferring to the West End and Broadway and winning the 2000 Tony Award for Best Play, Copenhagen has, in its own right carved a place for itself as a classic 20th Century work. Proclaimed as a daring, fascinating and stimulating drama, it cannot be argued that Michael Frayn‘s historical discourse on the meeting is anything short of genius, he weaves scientific fact with incalculable knowledge on the men and their lives, building an authentic and realistic series of versions of what may have been discussed between the two men under the watchful eye of Bohr’s wife, Margrethe. Emma Howlett‘s, (originally directed by Polly Findlay), direction here, is therefore clean, precise and engaging, fitting like glue to a piece that is so seated in its microscopic, analytical nature, frankness and scientific subject matter. As the evening’s encounter is repeatedly re-played and re-examined by the characters, who inadvertently mention how they are now dead, the piece is somewhat Brechtian in style. Enacting as, and shown to be an existential, retrospective and meticulous series of reenactments by the characters, who themselves analyse and explore each new iteration, breaking the fourth wall in their observations, as well as out of these replays, to show them for what they are, staged. What ensues is a series of intriguing expressionist circles exploring ideas of morality, friendship, humanity and geopolitics, in which Frayn provides a series of prepositions for us to consider. Such as the fact that Heisenberg, a promising young scientific pioneer in quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle, who was working at the forefront of the Nazi’s nuclear programme, never actually created an atomic bomb, despite his obvious potential. Did he fail on purpose or was it a genuine huge miscalculation that halted his progress? Whilst on the other side of the coin, Bohr was somewhat indirectly linked to the catastrophic nuclear destruction of Hiroshima, was Bohr responsible for hundreds of deaths and would Heisenberg have been, or did he not actually want to succeed? the German remaining not responsible for a single death. These almost thesis-like ideas and observations enigmatically twist and turn, providing much light and shade to the piece, rather than bogging it down in their analytical nature.

The stylistic quality of Frayn’s work is therefore, intuitively sewn into the design, the representative set being hugely complimentary to the Brechtian style. We are therefore faced with very minimal set design in which there is a side table and three chairs to suggest the Bohr’s sitting room, residing on top of a square of wooden panel flooring, the walls of the stage being left exposed, not only suggestive of the fact this is a performative reenactment of the meeting of the men, but also the existential side of the piece, the vastness of the black, empty space suggesting a sort of nothingness after life. Furthermore there is a revolve which turns with each new ‘draft’ of the encounter or subsequent discourse, this is a quite literally a beautiful visual representation of turning the page into a new version, as well as moving in order to get another angle on it. Similarly the circular revolve on the stage is mirrored over head where a ring of light hovers above the actors, this also plays with the idea of finding another angle or perspective to look at things, as it is tilted and repositioned throughout, the lighting being used at points, as if throwing more light on the prepositions in front of us, providing a microscopic effect in keeping with the piece’s scientific subject matter. Again this giant ring of light and the onstage revolve are hugely representative and metaphorical and can be seen as suggestive of many other things throughout, such as the cyclical nature of the piece as the evening is continually revisited, the way electrons revolve around a nucleus in prescribed orbits – part of Bohr’s understanding of quantum theory as a deviation would emit radiation, or even the weight of a bomb hanging over them – an implosion assembly fission weapon being circular in design the reaction housed in the centre, suggestive of the men’s involvement in the birth of these kind of weapons, whether they wanted to be responsible for mass destruction or not, the action similarly happening in the centre of the design. Alex Eales is therefore an aesthetic erudition, not only does the work look stunning and crisp, it is meaningful and can be used to spur a million interpretations, very in keeping with Frayn’s intent. This effect can also only be achieved by the consummate work of James Farncombe (lighting design) and Jon Nicholls (composer and sound design), who do much to not only achieve aesthetic and resonate excellence, but perfectly define and bookend the moments in which the action breaks.

Performance-wise, Philip Arditti (Werner Heisenberg), Haydn Gwynne (Margrethe Bohr) and Malcolm Sinclair (Niels Bohr) are, as expected, fantastic storytellers, engaging and power wielding throughout. Sinclair is a wonderful fatherly Bohr who dutifully loves his young protégée, but grapples with his own conscience, Jewish heritage and compassion, Sinclair wonderfully conveying the complexity of Bohr’s weariness, integrity and regrets. Whilst Arditti’s Heisenberg is an exceedingly ambitious and gifted younger man, Arditti fantastically delivering the whirring of Heisenberg’s astute mind in his energetic and direct pacing and physicality. Determining the man as perhaps too clever for his own good, making it an even more interesting preposition that he failed to achieve a nuclear weapon when he appears here, so adroit and quick thinking, was it his deliberate failing or overconfident intelligence that caused this? Whilst Haydn Gwynne‘s Margrethe Bohr is a wonderfully strong moral centre of the piece, commanding the space, she watches and delicately guides the men, until it is her turn to take charge and determine that ‘all decisions are personal’, pushing politics and the personal together as Frayn states, you can never truly separate them.

To conclude, Michael Frayn‘s piece is as complex and juicy as ever, spurring on a whole host of thoughts to be enjoyed after the piece is over, this version is clear-cut, precise and lets the play speak for itself, whilst adding some intriguing symbolic moments of wonder and being expertly delivered. Copenhagen runs until Saturday 26th June before heading out on a mini tour, click here to book now.

Creatives: Directed by Emma Howlett, originally directed by Polly Findlay, Set & Costume Designer – Alex Eales, Lighting Design – James Farncombe, Composer & Sound Design – Jon Nicholls, Casting – Ginny Schiller CDG.

Cast: Philip Arditti (Werner Heisenberg), Haydn Gwynne (Margrethe Bohr) and Malcolm Sinclair (Niels Bohr).