Review: Pity, Royal Court

What happens when whack-a-doodle becomes wearying – find out in Pity at the Royal Court

“What happens next is verging on the ridiculous”

Things start off well at Rory Mullarkey’s Pity. We’re directed to the rear of the Royal Court, enter through the back and get to walk over the stage with tombolas, ice-creams and brass bands all around (I’d happily listen to the Fulham Brass Band’s version of ‘Hello, Dolly’ all day). Chloe Lamford’s design certainly looks a treat in all its cartoon-comic brightness but ultimately, is indicative of a real issue with Sam Pritchard’s production.

“You need to turn your attentions to different people”

For Mullarkey’s play is concerned with violence – paradigm-shifting, society-shattering violence and the way that the British might very well respond to it. And as he suggests that we’d react to the collapse of civiliisation by making a cup of tea, you can’t help but wonder, really? On the one hand, everything here is telling you not to take things so seriously. On the other, communities across the world are being ripped apart in actual conflicts. It’s a tension that never satisfactorily resolves here.  Continue reading “Review: Pity, Royal Court”

Pinter at the Pinter

The Jamie Lloyd Company, Ambassador Theatre Group, Benjamin Lowy Productions, Gavin Kalin Productions and Glass Half Full Productions present an extraordinary season of Harold Pinter’s one-act plays on the tenth anniversary of the Nobel Prize winner’s death, performed in the theatre that bears his name.

Pinter at the Pinter is a unique event featuring all twenty short plays written by the greatest British playwright of the 20thCentury. They have never been performed together in a season of this kind. Continue reading “Pinter at the Pinter”

Review: Julius Caesar, Bridge

“He thinks too much – such men are dangerous”
Though it is billed as ‘a promenade staging’ and the website refers to ‘mob tickets’ and ‘immersive ticket holders’, make no mistake that if you’re in the pit for Julius Caesar, you’re standing. For two hours. There’s a bit of movement, as in five paces that way or this when a new bit of the set has to wheeled into place but don’t be distracted into thinking there’s anything more on offer here than can be gotten further along the South Bank at the Globe (apart from a roof of course, which allows them to charge five times the price, or three times if you book your tickets via TodayTix).

And as with being a groundling, there are decided pros and cons to experiencing theatre this way. The first half of Shakespeare’s political thriller works extremely well under this modern-dress treatment from Nicholas Hytner. As you enter the Bridge’s auditorium, reconceived into the round here, the pit is filled with a rock gig, vendors sell beer and baseball caps, a febrile energy fills the space which carries through to the arrival of David Calder’s populist Caesar with his red cap and puerile slogan ‘Do this!’ (Contemporary allusions are clear but later on you may find the mind gets weirdly drawn to Murdoch more than Trump…).

Continue reading “Review: Julius Caesar, Bridge”

Full cast of the Bridge Theatre’s Julius Caesar announced

The full cast for the Bridge Theatre’s second production – a promenade version of Julius Caesar – has been announced and obviously the news that Adjoa Andoh will be playing Casca is the bee’s knees.

The company is: Adjoa Andoh (Casca), David Calder (Caesar), Leaphia Darko (ensemble), Rosie Ede (Marullus/ Artemidorus), Michelle Fairley (Cassius), Leila Farzad (Decius Brutus), Fred Fergus (Lucius/Cinna the Poet), Zachary Hart (ensemble), Wendy Kweh (Calpurnia), David Morrissey (Mark Antony), Mark Penfold (Caius Ligarius), Abraham Popoola (Trebonius), Sid Sagar (Flavius/Popilius Lena), Nick Sampson (Cinna), Hannah Stokely (Metellus Cimber), Ben Whishaw (Brutus) and Kit Young (Octavius).

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

How to respond to a week such as that? Defer to those more fearlessly eloquent, and listen.

— Sean Kent (@seankent) October 12, 2017

Emma Rice’s tenure at Shakespeare’s Globe is winding to its close – the outdoor season is done but there’s still a winter’s worth of programming in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to get through. Musical Romantics Anonymous will be one to watch out for and now that casting has been released for Anders Lustgarten’s The Secret Theatre, directed by Matthew Dunster, looks to be another fascinating entry.

Aidan McArdle plays Sir Francis Walsingham, while Tara Fitzgerald plays Elizabeth I, and the rest of the cast is made up of Abraham Popoola as John Ballard, Cassie Layton as Frances, Edmund Kingsley, Sam Marks, David Partridge, Ian Redford and Colin Ryan.

I’m pleased to be able to share the first track from the Leading Ladies – Beverley Knight, Cassidy Janson and Amber Riley – in advance of the release of their debut album Songs From The Stage. It’s a glossy take on Dreamgirls‘One Night Only’ and the shimmering harmonies that kick in at 1.04 make me most excited for the possibilities of this record (which you can pre-order here).

© Mark Sepple
The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is proud to be producing a world premiere of a new adaptation of H.G.Wells’ sci-fi classic, The Invisible Man, which runs from 27 October – 18 November.

This new commission is written by Clem Garritty, Artistic Director of Kill The Beast. Garritty’s adaptation explores H.G.Wells’integral theme of the pursuit of knowledge and how Griffin, a smart man exploring a strand of physics, can end up going mad at the potential power it gives him. One of the ways in which Clem is utilising his aesthetic, bringing a breath of fresh-air to the iconic novella, is by creating the character of scientist Lucy, a strong female counterpart to Griffin. Set against a backdrop of a Victorian, gothic London and completed with thrilling illusions and live music, this classic thriller will be innovatively bought to life by using an ‘anything is possible’ approach.

Kill the Beast is a multi-award-winning theatre company formed in 2012. The company has mounted three full-length, critically acclaimed productions (The Boys that Kick Pigs, He Had Hairy Hands, Don’t Wake the Damp) that have played to sell-out audiences across the UK. Combining darkly comic scripts, slick physical stagecraft and inventive use of projection, the Beasts have created their own recognisable brand of exciting, original comedy theatre and are fast building a reputation in the industry.

The cast includes Matthew Spencer (1984, Playhouse Theatre & International Tour; The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre & Tour); Paul McEwan (The Seven Acts of Mercy & The Two Noble Kinsmen, Royal Shakespeare Company) and Eleanor Wyld (Don Juan in Soho, Wyndham’s Theatre; The Alchemist, Royal Shakespeare Company).

The production is directed by internationally-renowned Ryan McBryde (Faust, Altes Schauspielhaus, Stuttgart) and designed by Lily Arnold (Snow in Midsummer, The Jew of Malta, RSC) with lighting by Nic Farman (Working, Southwark Playhouse), movement director Ellen Kane (Tony-award nomination for Best Choreography on Groundhog Day the Musical), sound and music by Rebecca Aplin (first female winner of the Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer Scheme), illusions by John Bulleid (The Star, Liverpool Everyman), fight consultant Bethan Clarke (Rc-Annie Ltd) and casting by Matthew Dewsbury (Royal Shakespeare Company).

The Invisible Man runs at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch from 27 October – 18 November. Tickets are £12.50 – £29 with £10 tickets available for Under 26s at certain performances. Bookings can be made by calling the Box Office on 01708 443333, in person at the theatre or online at

Review: Boudica, Shakespeare’s Globe

“I’d rather walk in blood than walk a slave for he thy Emperor!”

For every Blue Stockings, there’s been a Pitcairn, with a Bedlam inbetween. No matter the AD, the commitment to new writing in the later part of the summer season at Shakespeare’s Globe has thrown a marked inconsistency. And Tristan Bernays’ Boudica proves no different, given an ambitious production by Eleanor Rhode which strives a little too hard to situate the play in an Emma Rice house-style, fun as it may come across. 
So Game of Thrones-style storytelling mashes up against spirited covers of the likes of ‘London Calling’ and ‘I Fought The Law’, a great sense of energy percolating through this wooden O. But Bernays’ play doesn’t always fit easily with this treatment, written in blank verse that has to balance the required info-dump to flesh out this historical fiction with something more fascinatingly insightful about what might have driven the Queen of the Iceni.
And regardless of superbly self-possessed and powerful Gina McKee comes across as this totemic figure uniting tribal Britain against the invading Roman hordes, it is hard not to feel that the potential of Boudica as a character goes untapped. For all the contrast between rival tribe leaders (Forbes Masson and Abraham Popoola) and also between her daughters (Natalie Simpson and Joan Iyiola), Boudica’s central character remains too vague to do her justice. 

Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 1st October