Not-a-review: The Fall, Hope Theatre

I should have been reviewing The Fall at the Hope Theatre this week, so why not take a look at the ways in which you might be able to support the theatre and the company in these tough times

“Tell me the truth. That’s all you have to do…”

Thomas Arensen’s first full-length play The Fall should have been opening at the Hope Theatre today, with burgeoning new company The Luminaries promising an intriguing retelling of Paradise Lost via Saw and Romeo and Juliet. I know they managed to do a bit of recording as their set, lighting and costumes were ready to go, so we might possibly get a little taste of what would have been, and what will eventually be, in a trailer. 

The Hope’s Artistic Director Kennedy Bloomer also kindly took some time to speak to me:

“On Monday morning (16.03.17) I walked into the theatre to see the space completely transformed with an incredible set that will now stand empty in the theatre while this period is ongoing. The team behind The Fall have put all their love, energy, time and money into this incredible show and we’re one of the first shows I officially programmed at the theatre. 
The team are in good spirits but obviously devastated that the show can’t go on in for it’s original dates. The company have self-funded the production and we’re hoping to have them back in as soon as possible. 
As a small charity who receive no public funding the future of The Hope is now in uncertain as we heavily rely on ticket sales. The support from audience donating their early ticket bookings is amazing. We now need the help of generous donors more than ever in helping the theatre come back from postponement and to continue to be the little theatre with BIG ideas!” 

Take a look at the different ways you can support The Hope Theatre here, or email Kennedy directly on 

For The Fall
You can follow the company on Twitter here
You can check out their website here
And you can watch a teaser trailer for the show below:

For The Hope Theatre
You can follow the theatre on Twitter here
You can sign up to their mailing list here to get their announcements about future plans, once the dust finally settles 

Review: I Woke Up Feeling Electric, Hope Theatre

What if Siri had feelings? Jack Robson’s I Woke Up Feeling Electric asks some morally and technologically challenging questions at the Hope Theatre

Bertie, what’s the weather like?
Bertie, how’s my commute?
Bertie, define ‘ineluctable’.

Incoming Artistic Director Kennedy Bloomer’s reign at the Hope Theatre begins with this quirky little thing from first time writer Jack Robson. In an ever increasingly digital age, I Woke Up Feeling Electric takes the step of anthropomorphising the AI assistants who now adorn many of our homes and devices and asks what life might be like on the other side of the technological divide.

The play starts strongly, all kinds of comic mileage extracted Robson’s conception of Bertie (such is this Siri-like figure named) as a digital Jeeves, responding to any and every request from his unseen owner for information or alarm snooze or calendar reminder with a patient smile and chirpy demeanour. But at the moment when he’s asked to sync with a new, faster, sleeker device – Vita – trouble starts brewing and not the sort you can fix just by turning it off and on again.

Continue reading “Review: I Woke Up Feeling Electric, Hope Theatre”

The finalists of The Offies 2020

The finalists for the 2020 Offies (for performances in 2019) have been announced and congratulations to all 89 mentioned below. A tip of the hat too to the 400+ nominees who you can find here.


Design: Costume
Adrian Gee, Amour, Charing Cross Theatre
Emily Bestow, 42nd Street, Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Hannah Wolfe , Great Expectations, National Youth
Theatre, Southwark Playhouse

Design: Set
Diego Pitarch, Night of the Living Dead – Live!,
Justin Williams, Whistle Down the Wind, Union
Lee Newby, The View UpStairs, Soho Theatre
Rachael Ryan, Thrill Me, Hope Theatre

Design: Sound
Benjamin Grant, The War of the Worlds, New Diorama
Lex Kosanke, Hunger, Arcola
Matt Eaton, All’s Well That Ends Well, Guildford Bard,
Jermyn Street Theatre
Xana, Blood Knot, Orange Tree

Design: Lighting
Christopher Nairne, Preludes, Southwark Playhouse
Clancy Flynn, An Act of God, Vaults
Jessica Hung Han Yun, Equus, English Touring Theatre,
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Nic Farman, Night of the Living Dead – Live!, Pleasance

Design: Video
Andrzej Goulding, The Unreturning, Theatre Royal
Stratford East
Ben Bull, Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre
Douglas Baker, Moby Dick, Jack Studio Theatre Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2020”

My 10 favourite shows of 2019

I barely saw 250 shows this year, quiet by my standards! And as is the way of these things, here’s a rundown of some of the productions that moved me most…

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Southwark Playhouse
I haven’t lost it in a theatre as much as this in a good long while. I cry at all sorts but this superlative musical had me trying, and failing, to choke back huge, hacking sobs. And I can still sing some of the songs – it has to come back, surely. “It’s all just a matter of time…”

2. Call Me Fury, Hope Theatre
“This is the history we should be teaching, these are the stories we should be sharing”, this striking and soulful piece gave voice to so many whom history have ignored, and was bloody entertaining with it. 

3. West Side Story, Curve Leicester
A musical I love, in a production that I simply adored. Getting to see two WSSs in one year was a privilege and for me, it was the emotional heart of Nikolai Foster’s production that won out.

4. As You Like It, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
The second year of the Public Acts programme comes up trumps once again with this gorgeous musical version of the Shakespeare classic, community theatre at its finest.

5. Islander, Southwark Playhouse
The magic of musical theatre distilled into two voices and a loop pedal – a marvellously inventive and endlessly moving. 

6. Amélie the Musical, Watermill Theatre/UK Tour/The Other Palace
As sweet-sharp as a diabolo grenadine, something truly gorgeous emerges from this film adaptation that simply demands you come up with better words than quirky to describe it.

7. & Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre
Tell me why… About as much fun as you can have in the West End right now, this is a particularly fine example of the jukebox model and I want it that way.

8. Sexy Lamp, VAULT
A standout piece in a standout festival, Katie Arnstein’s brutally honest monologue about navigating the patriarchy may be lightened with songs and sweets but is no less effective for it.

9. Karaoke Play, Bunker Theatre
Deeply confessional and subtly magical, Annie Jenkins’ inter-connected monologues combined to become so much more than the sum of their parts.

10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, National Theatre
A magical family tale, perfect for kids of all ages. Not even reading the exit poll as I left could ruin the feeling! 

Shows 11-25 under the cut

Continue reading “My 10 favourite shows of 2019”

Review: The House of Yes, Hope Theatre

There’s a whole lot of morbid fascination in The House of Yes, Matthew Parker’s directorial swansong at the Hope Theatre

“Were you poor? Did you eat chicken pot pie?”

For his final show as a director, outgoing AD of the Hope Theatre Matthew Parker (interview here) has turned once again to the ever-so-slightly macabre, in reviving Wendy MacLeod’s 1990 The House of Yes. And in a rather pleasing note, a host of familiar faces can be spotted in the cast – Bart Lambert (Thrill Me), Fergus Leathem (Brimstone and Treacle), Colette Eaton (Her Aching Heart) are joined by Gill King and Kaya Bucholc to take a step way onto the dark side.

The Pascals live in Washington DC but though it is 20 years since JFK’s assassination, the shadow of the Kennedys looms large over this clan. And over a hurricane-swept Thanksgiving, twin siblings Marty and Jackie-O are set to be reunited, though as he’s bringing a new fiancée Lesly and she’s got a pills-addled mother and horny younger brother in tow, it is clear this ain’t going to be your average family gathering. Continue reading “Review: The House of Yes, Hope Theatre”

Review: Call Me Fury, Hope Theatre

Out of the Forest Theatre’s Call Me Fury comes highly recommended from me at the Hope Theatre

“It begins with a girl…”

In the space of just three shows, Out of the Forest Theatre have indisputably become a no-questions-asked do-what-you-can must-see company for me and so by extension, for you too. Bury The Hatchet (2018’s 7th best show as I’m sure you’ll recall) and On Your Head Be It whetted the appetite last year and now it is the turn of Call Me Fury to weave its theatrical magic at the Hope Theatre.

Using the Salem Witch Trials as a jumping-off point, writer Sasha Wilson and director and collaborator Hannah Hauer-King attempt no less than a complete recasting of the history we think we know and the societal behaviours to which we’ve unflinchingly clung. The result is a bracing history lesson cum TED talk cum musical odyssey that gives an insistent voice to those whom historians have chosen not to record. Continue reading “Review: Call Me Fury, Hope Theatre”

10 questions for 10 years – Matthew Parker

As the Hope Theatre’s outgoing AD prepares for his final season and new adventures, Matthew Parker takes a little time to answer Ten Questions for Ten Years

It is no mean feat to transform a fringe theatre into a must-see venue but that’s what Mr Parker has done so successfully over the last few years at the Hope. Both as a director (Her Aching Heart and Steel Magnolias being particular highlights) and as an artistic director (his programming really has been reliably delightful), he has flourished and consequently, I’ve kept on going back even on Arsenal matchdays…  
Continue reading “10 questions for 10 years – Matthew Parker”

Review: Testament, Hope Theatre

Bold as you like, Chalk Line’s Testament is a breath of bracingly fresh air into the Hope Theatre

“I’m the mess…hiya”

Bold as you like, Chalk Line’s Testament is a breath of bracingly fresh air into the Hope Theatre with its blend of physical theatre, metaphysical narrative and contemporary issue-baiting. Plays about mental health, especially in young men, are hot currency at the moment as people try and do something, anything, to help tackle the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. And Sam Edmunds’ drama feels like a powerful addition to that effort.

Max wakes up in his hospital bed in a bit of a fug. Having survived a car crash that killed his girlfriend a while back, he’s just tried to take his own life and though he has failed, he’s suffering from brain trauma. The upshot to that is that he’s forgotten what’s happened, he still believes his girl Tess is alive; the downside is that his medical condition is dire and his brother has to convince him to undergo a procedure that will make him lose her all over again. Continue reading “Review: Testament, Hope Theatre”

Review: Thrill Me – The Leopold & Loeb Story, Hope Theatre

A twisted but thrilling true crime two-hander – Thrill Me – The Leopold & Loeb Story is a must-see at the Hope Theatre

“If this keeps going on I’ll go crazy
I’m aroused, you’re conveniently lazy”

How far to go in the name of erotic obsession? You’d hesitate to call Thrill Me – The Leopold & Loeb Story a love story, what happens here is far too dark and twisted for that, but what you do get is a horribly fascinating study of twisting power dynamics and blurred moralities. And with sex thrown into the equation, it becomes a heady combination, enough to drive you to…well, you’ll see.

Stephen Dolginoff’s one-act musical is based on the true story of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold but rather than glorifying their crimes, including murder, it focuses on the extraordinary relationship between these two men in 1920s Chicago. Lovers, abusers, conspirators, victims, they slip and slide from pillar to post as we try to make sense of who they are and what they do to each other.
Continue reading “Review: Thrill Me – The Leopold & Loeb Story, Hope Theatre”

Review: The Ruffian on the Stair, Hope Theatre

Potential incest and homosexual urges rub shoulders with religious strife and emotional co-dependency  fun and games with Joe Orton’s The Ruffian on the Stair at the Hope Theatre

“I’m to be at King’s Cross station at eleven. I’m meeting a man in the toilet”

Having just seen Pinter’s first play The Room as part of Pinter Five, it’s impossible not to think that Joe Orton had seen it just as recently when he started writing The Ruffian on the Stair, a 1964 radio play later retooled for the stage. But even as similarities spring forth in the opening half, the overriding sense becomes one of a playwright finding his own voice.

Joyce and Mike live a precarious existence in their rundown bedsit – her recently off the game, him on the dole, the true circumstances of their relationship never fully spelled out. Their lives are thrown into disarray when a knock at the door heralds the arrival of Wilson, a smartly dressed young man initially enquiring after a room but once he’s over the threshold, revealing far more sinister intent. Continue reading “Review: The Ruffian on the Stair, Hope Theatre”