No Place Like Hope, So & So Arts Club/Pinpoint Create @ The Old Red Lion

7 – 25 November

by Callum McGowan
Directed by Carla Kingham


Photography by Jennifer Moyes

No Place Like Hope follows the unlikely friendship between a teenager sentenced to community service cleaning a hospice and a terminal cancer patient she finds in there.

Callum McGowan’s writing comes straight from the heart. Delivered with humour and grace, the play approached the subjects of cancer and mortality in a way that is never maudlin or gratuitous. It’s original writing that, in the words of a fellow theatre-goer, was ‘so true it hurt’. I couldn’t agree more. Elegantly directed by Carla Kingham, the play is as joyous as it is tragic.

If I were to nit-pick I’d say a couple scenes suffered from very occasional pacing issues, going on a touch more than needed before the next emotional beat. Aside from that, this show is as close to perfect as these things get.

All three cast members shine. Max Calandrew (Bri) is a fussy and often detested health assistant, who plays the role with quiet assurance, sensitivity and soul.

Holly Donovan not only played the seventeen-year-old Becca, but also produced the play. Her work has more than payed off. Her performance is often hysterical, painfully human, mischievous and vulnerable.

Lastly, Clare Corbett is simply masterful as Anna, sending us on an emotional roller-coaster from her heart-breaking confessions to her unadulterated joy at smoking a cigarette. Charming, wry, tragic, and raw, it’s a performance that will stay with me for a very long time.

The play had me laughing one moment and crying the next. Corbett and Donovan are terrific leads, their on-stage chemistry is moment-to-moment truthful and endlessly playful. The monologues, when they happen, are spellbinding, standout moments for every performer.

See it. Go book right now.

It’s one of the best pieces of fringe all year.


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No Place Like Hope was made in partnership with Victoria’s Promise, an incredible charity filling critical gaps in social, emotional and practical care for young women and their families going through cancer. For more info and to support a good cause click here.

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