Flo Taylor Productions in association with We are Kilter
Mating in Captivity is a comedy by New Zealand writer Oliver Page. The European premiere directed by Ed Theakston is at The Kings Head Theatre from 30th July-4th August.
The play kicks off with a bang as Annie and Rob burst in from their wedding reception, only to find a naked man in there bed. As the story unravels we realise that the man (Jacob) is not the psychopath which Annie thought but Rob’s ex boyfriend who he invited back to his home on the night of his wedding.
The comedy is masterfully directed, it is fast-paced, witty and full of energy. However, at times it feels like the audience are waiting for the next joke. It is a very funny play which had the audience in stitches but it would be nice to have a contrast in the play to show the gritty reality of the situation. Even when Annie is upset, it still feels comical.
All three actors are exceptional and their relationship on stage is captivating. Jane Christie (Annie) plays a funny and confused Annie who is not scared to say exactly what is on her mind. Rowland Stirling plays the anxious and chaotic Rob and he does this very well, he is a hilarious and sometimes ridiculous character! George Rennie (Jacob) has some sympathy from the audience as he is in an unimaginable awkward situation but his lust for Rob and a hard push from Annie makes him stay.
Mating in Captivity is a fast-paced, funny play with an outstanding cast. There are surprises all through the play and an outrageous ending. It would be great to see this comedy developed further.
Flo Taylor Productions associated with We are Kilter
Mating in Captivity
The King’s Head Theatre
30th July- 4th August
Mating in Captivity is a fast-paced and funny comedy show. Written by New Zealand writer Oliver Page, it is currently at The King’s Head Theatre for the European premiere of the play. The second night of its run saw an excited audience in the house, who proceeded to find themselves in stitches for most of the performance.
Photo credit: Jack Whitney
The play starts off with a bang as Annie and Rob burst into their flat ready for a night of passion on their wedding night. However, what happens next is a surprise for everyone (especially Annie): as she gets ready to prepare the bed, she finds a stark naked man under the covers. As events unfold, it transpires that the man (Jacob) is not a psychopath, as she thought at first, but Rob’s long lost ex-boyfriend. There are several more surprises in store for Annie and the audience as the story develops.
The play is masterfully directed by Ed Theakston, who insures the action is fast-paced and full of energy. The dialogue is very funny, with some outrageous jokes which had us in the audience gasping. However, it would be great to see some contrast in the play and the characters to expose the gritty reality in the story. The characters (again, especially Annie) are upset and confused at times but these moments still come across as comical. It would be great to see a different and more serious side to the action.
Photo credit: Jack Whitney
All three actors are brilliant and there is a great relationship between them on stage. Jane Christie plays a confused and witty Annie who is not afraid of saying what she thinks. Annie has a wild side but it would be nice to see more of a sensitive aspect to this character as well. Rowland Stirling plays an anxious and chaotic Rob who is a hilarious and sometimes ridiculous character. He is very charming and you can clearly see why Annie and Jacob like him so much. Finally, there is poor Jacob, played by George Rennie, who is stuck in very awkward circumstances. Jacob is very likable and the audience feels a lot of sympathy for him. He tries to get out of the situation several times but always fails because of his lust for Rob and a hard push from Annie.
Mating in Captivity is an excellent, outrageous comedy with an outstanding cast. It would be great to see this play developed further as I think it has a lot of potential.
Previous review: Lovers Anonymous @ The Space
Writer: Tatty Hennessy
Director: Lucy Jane Atkinson
Performed by Gemma Barnett
5th March-30th March
Photo credit: Nick Rutter
A Hundred Words for Snow is one of the best solo shows I have ever seen, masterfully directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson. The piece was beautifully written by Tatty Hennessy. Without a shadow of a doubt, it is a fantastic five star show.
The Show follows the story of Rory, a likeable and funny 15 year old girl, who sadly has just lost her dad. Rory’s dad was a geography teacher and would-be explorer. He planned an exciting and almost impossible trip to take Rory to the North Pole, but never had the chance. Rory begins a journey all the way from England to the North Pole, carrying her dad’s ashes in her backpack which she plans to scatter at the North Pole. It is so fantastic to see an empowering story about a strong, courageous but also perfectly normal teenage girl. A very refreshing change!
Gemma Barnett is a fantastic performer and a perfect casting for Rory! She has the audience in stitches throughout the piece and is a lovely but also painfully relatable portrayal of a young teenage girl. Gemma played all the characters in this piece, including her mum and the people she met along the way. I was so engaged in every single one of them that I felt like there were two people on stage. It was clear the audience absolutely loved Rory and were supporting her every step of the way.
The design of the show was great. Christianna Mason created a space which was beautiful and the audience believed for every second they were on Rory’s journey with her. There were several effects in the show which were a wonderful part of the storytelling, for example a fan blowing and suddenly the audience were transported into a helicopter in the north pole. I was completely magicked away from London and placed thousands of miles away, which is precisely the reason I adore theatre.
Photo credit: Nick Rutter
A Hundred Words For Snow is a beautiful piece of theatre which I would highly recommend to everyone, with a faultless performance from Gemma Barnett. It’s fantastic to see this story being put on front of an audience and it is very important to show these stories of young girls. The story really was like nothing I have ever seen on a stage before and I loved it. I cried tears both of sadness and joy. This show will inspire you to go on an adventure, pick up a book or call your loved ones. Personally it reminded me of my childhood where I was desperate to go on adventures around the world like my parents had done. I have since become nervous and scared about doing this, but this show has inspired me to get out there and do it.
Previous review: It’s Not A Sprint Novae Theatre @ Vault Festival
Written and performed by Maddie Rice
Directed by Katie Pesskin
23rd October- 10th November
An incredible, moving and important show.
I loved this piece. I loved every single minute of it. It is an incredibly important show that needs to be seen by everyone.
Pickle Jar is a one-woman lyrical play exploring teaching, Tinder, stranger danger and trying to be a grownup. It is written and performed by Maddie Rice, the critically acclaimed star of Fleabag UK and International Tour. Rice has the audience in stitches for most of the play with her hilarious impressions of the teenage girls she teaches.
The play is very cleverly constructed with Rice revealing tiny bits of information at a time. This makes the sad reality of the story even more shocking. This piece is very relatable to young women with its hilarious dance moves and talks of that annoying ‘everything in my life is perfect’ friend. But, this piece also packs a serious punch, one which made me cry and made me angry.
This is a show I would recommend very highly. An incredible, important show and an emotional roller coaster in all the right ways.
Cast and Creatives:
Nicholas Day, Grace Doherty, Nicholas Farrell, Andrea Hall, Kevin Harvey, Edward Hogg, Lyndsey Marshal, Clara Read, Rick Warden
After Henrik Ibsen, in a new version created by Robert Icke
Design: Bunny Christie
Light: Elliot Griggs
Sound: Tom Gibbons
Casting: Julia Horan CDG
15th October- 1st December
A bold re-imagining of classic Ibsen
I was very excited to see this piece at The Almeida Theatre, being a fan of director Robert Icke; Icke’s previous credits for The Almeida include Hamlet and Mary Stuart.
The Wild Duck explores the family life of James and Gina Ekdal and exposes the life-destroying secrets which lie behind the couple’s happy pretenses. Icke has modernised the production and it has a Brechtian feel. The actors break the fourth wall constantly by explaining their characters feelings and what is going on in the scene. This is a very interesting technique which at first keeps the near three hour piece feeling snappy and fresh. However, as the play went on this technique became slightly patronising.
All actors in this remarkable piece are excellent. The play is extremely captivating due to their fantastic storytelling skills. When the disastrous consequences are revealed for the Ekdal family, the audience were gasping and muttering. It felt like the audience were part of the family, which is what made the play so moving and heartbreaking.
The show is beautifully designed by Bunny Christie. The set is minimal and naturalistic but turns into a beautiful garden at the end of the piece.
The Wild Duck is a fantastic modern take on Ibsen’s classic play. It is exceptionally well directed and all the performances brilliant and captivating. This is a piece which is not to be missed.
Also, there is a real live duck on stage!
Presented by Apples and Snakes
Directed by Rob Watt
4 – 6 October
Apples and Snakes create spaces for unheard voices to be heard and champion poets and poetry. Rallying Cry is a immersive performance exploring Battersea Arts Centre as part of Apples and Snakes 35 year anniversary celebrations.
The space was alive when I stepped into the venue. The previous audience who had the 7.30 slot were all gathered on the stairs of the grand space with a choir performing in front of them. The atmosphere was fantastic and I was excited for my slot to begin.
However, when the performance began it was very chaotic and felt disorganised. The audience were split into groups with a title (mine was Campaigner) yet there was no context to this grouping, it felt like a convenient way to split the audience. Our Leader was pleasant yet failed to rally up the audience therefore it did not feel at all like a protest and the atmosphere was very flat.
There were four spoken word performances that I saw as part of my journey, all of which were very interesting and had captivating moments. Two of these pieces were exceptional, the audience were engaged and the pieces were very moving. However, the other two pieces were interesting but lacked passion and power behind the words therefore it was difficult for the audience to engage or relate.
An excellent element of this performance was that the show had a great community feel to it. There was a performance from the BAC Beatbox Academy and a local choir. Both of these performances were fun and filled with energy.
This show has lots of potential and is a great night out to enjoy some poetry, music and the more quirky elements such as the Beatbox group. It doesn’t feel very powerful which was disappointing considering the content of the speeches.
Leicester Square Theatre- 5th-8th September 2018
Magnificent Bastard Productions
Directed by Katy Baker
Shit-Faced Showtime returns to the Leicester Square Theatre after a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018. The sister company of the famous and outrageous Shit Faced Shakespeare (whose Merchant of Venice we reviewed last year) make their way through a slick one-hour version of Oliver, with some songs that may be dated ever so slightly out of the Victorian era thrown in on the way. As always, the show features one fabulously drunk (and quite brave) cast member.
This show is really really fun. As to be expected the show is a bit of a lottery as a different performer gets drunk every night. The night I went was the turn of Oliver to be drunk. She was a charming drunk despite throwing half eaten food into the audience which had the audience gasping and in stitches… apart from the man sitting beside me who seemed ever so slightly annoyed to have a half-eaten sausage land on his head but hey, that feeling that anything could happen adds to the magic of piece.
Another great thing about this show is that the singing is very, very good which surprised some audience members. A famous musical theatre song is sung beautifully by one character (I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing the song). It may be less beautiful if that certain character is drunk! Another standout moment was when Oliver claimed he was a descendant of Dame Maggie Smith, to great comedic effect. My only criticism is that Shit-Faced Showtime tends to overuse sexual innuendos as a cheap comedic fallback, and I feel bolder choices could be made from this talented cast.
Overall, a very entertaining show which the audience greatly enjoyed; it’s a long time since I’ve heard that many people in hysterics at the theatre! Don’t bring your granny, but Oliver With A Twist is a fun night out with friends.
Developed by Magnificent Bastard Productions
Original Direction and adaption- Lewis Ironside
Director and Lead Producer- Stacey Norris
23rd June- 1st September- Leicester Square Theatre
A Great Night out
Magnificent Bastard Productions have been running shitfaced Shakespeare for eight years. The show is always a hit and a must see at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The unique idea behind Shitfaced Shakespeare is that one actor is outrageously drunk. The other four or five actors are all completely sober and have to stumble their way through the piece. This year it was the turn of the famous love story ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
The actor who is drunk changes each night. Last night it was Juliet who was drunk which was very funny. The actress was an entertaining drunk and came across well, she was very likeable. The first half of the play was great and the audience were in hysterics. The rest of the cast are very strong, particularly Romeo who was very quick at improvisation when Juliet threw some tricky situations his way.
However, as the play went on the focus began to drift and the play got a bit hectic. I feel the company need to add something different and exciting in the second half of the play to keep the audience engaged. This performance was very funny but there were too many sexual innuendos from sober cast members which were not needed.
Shitfaced Shakespeare is a great night out and a must see for all comedy fans. I believe it would be enjoyed more by those who are not sober. So grab some drinks and a couple of mates and enjoy Shakespeare as the man himself would have wanted you too.
4th June-21 July 2018
by Sophie Treadwell
Directed by Natalie Abrahami
One of the best plays I’ve seen in a long time.
“Love!- What does it amount to! Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?”
Sophie Treadwell’s 1928 play ‘Machinal’ is set in modern day New York City and at times it is scarily relevant to the climate today. The directorial decision to set this play in the modern world makes for a very interesting and eye-opening evening.
Machinal is inspired by the true story of Ruth Snyder who was executed for murdering her abusive husband. The play is spilt into nine episodes which each give a different insight into the main character’s life e.g business, home and family life. These short bursts of action are intimate and explosive making the play very gripping throughout the entire piece.
The performances by the whole company are very captivating. The ensemble represent a machine in several scenes which is done flawlessly. The leads Emily Berrington and Jonathon Livingston are both excellent. There were times I felt hate for Jones (played by Jonathon Livingston) and both empathy and fear for Emily Berrington’s character. The characters are fascinating and it was very easy for me to connect with them.
The set design by Miriam Buether is stunning. A cleverly placed mirror gives another view of the stage which I found myself watching at times and this portrayed some beautiful imagery.
Every aspect of the theatre process comes together beautifully in this play and the whole piece feels like a machine, which perfectly represents life in a busy city. Emily Berrington’s portrayal of the main character leaves the audience to decide whether they believe she is a victim of circumstance and abuse or a mentally ill person. The eerie play finished on the line of ‘I will not submit’ which feels like a woman rebelling.
I would thoroughly recommend seeing this play for its interesting portrayal of the 1928 feminist play and the incredible set design.
Written and directed by Michael Pinchbeck
Thursday 14th June- Saturday 16th June- Camden People’s Theatre
Friday 22nd June- The Pound Arts Centre
Sunday 24th June- Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre, Boston, Lincolnshire
Wednesday 1st August- Sunday 26th August- Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe Festival
An intellectual look into a Country Doctor’s life
New Perspectives Theatre Company have developed this play based on the book ‘A Fortunate Man’ by John Berger. The play follows the story of the day-to-day life of a country doctor, John Sassell. John Berger and Swiss photographer Jean Mohr created this book which is still widely read by medical professionals. Sadly, the doctor John Sassell killed himself after the book was published. The play also explores the doctor’s personal life and his mental heath.
The storyline of this play is interesting and the script is very good, some lines are direct quotes from John Berger’s book, and the quotes are very touching. However, it did feel like the audience were given a lot of information at once which made it hard to connect. The information was delivered through a microphone and read as if we were attending a conference. This style was clever but I feel the play would be more engaging if there had been more action on stage.
Both actors Matthew Brown and Hayley Doherty are strong and have a fantastic and energetic relationship on stage together. The performers and storyline make it easy for the audience to empathise with the doctor and also to feel involved in the community in which he lived in.
The set was quite plain and simple which worked nicely and fitted the piece. There are projections of both the life of Sassell but also of the NHS today. These pictures were interesting but the current ones of the NHS didn’t have much effect on the audience.
A very interesting play and an important story to be told.