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Tuesday, 28 May 2019

REVIEW: All I See is You at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

We’ve all felt the irresistible pull of love. The sensation that the world could melt away, but if that one person was left behind with you all would be ok. However, what happens when that love is between two men in a world where the law forbids it. That world is our world, 50 years ago when being who you were warranted a prison sentence. 

Bobby spots Ralph and immediately falls in love, but after they’re caught having an intimate encounter by Ralph’s father, Ralph calls it off and they’re forced to live apart leading polar opposite existences. Bobby chooses to follow who he is and ends up dominating the secreted Manchester gay scene, whilst a closeted Ralph pursues his ambition of becoming a school teacher and courting a woman in order to deny his true identity from himself and others. However, when the two men finally see each other again they’re love is instantly reignited and they embark on a passionate affair. But in a world where their love is illegal, it’s only a matter of time before they’re reported, forced into interrogation rooms, maltreated, and talk of jail sentences and aversion therapy arises. 

Thursday, 29 November 2018

REVIEW: Proof at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester

Proof. That’s all any of us search for as humans. Affirmation. We seek to be validated for our own successes, to prove, in our own personal way, that our own position in society is absolute; and in order to survive we provide proof that we are worthy. However, what happens when your proof gets questioned by the ones who mean the most to you?

David Auburn’s 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning play sees Catherine; the daughter of this generation’s most celebrated mathematician, come to terms with the loss of her father, and the fear she might be succumbing to the same early onset dementia that took him from her; whilst also dealing with her sister Claire flying in from New York to help the post-mortem dust settle and the sudden increased presence at the family home of Hal; her fathers ex student. However, soon enough Catherine’s sanity is started to be questioned by those around her, and her claims of mathematical discovery are challenged as by products of her own mental instability and deemed as her father’s intellectual property and not her own. Through the fractured narrative of flash back, present day and within Catherine’s mind, Auburn takes you on a twisted journey chartering the genial exploration of Catherine’s own sense of self worth, whilst not only questioning how she can prove herself as a mathematician (whilst standing in the shadows of a great,) but also prove her own sanity. 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

REVIEW: Flesh and Bone at the Soho Theatre

Flesh & Bone. The basic composites of every living human being on this planet. If you rip the skin and personality away to reveal the raw foundations, we are all the same. So why do we judge? Why as humans do we have this innate desire to push people into boxes or into societal ranks? Why do we deem certain people above or beneath us... better or worse? ‘Flesh & Bone’ at the SOHO Theatre is here in unapologetic ferocity to unearth the brutal truth of working class existence.

Terrence lives on a council estate with his brother Reiss, their Grandfather and Terry’s girlfriend Kelly; whilst below them lives Jamal, the local drug dealer. The hair raising 80minute play rushes through their lives, the societal stereotypes they are inherently forced to maintain and their deep desire for something greater. The writing is unbridled, visceral and evocative. Elliot Warren dances between brash colloquial vocabulary and poetic Shakespearean beauty. What hits the most is that his writing is honest and real. You sit there and feel sick knowing at some point or another you’ve had these feelings about this “class” of people you’ve assumed you’re better than, but why? Because you were more fortunate to be given more opportunities? He highlights the damaging concept of privilege without having to hammer it home, it naturally falls over you, and you sit there and relate to it guilt ridden. He brings the humour and heartache with wonderful nuance, pace changes and articulation are wonderfully crafted by the company of five. This is kept in check by Warren and Brady having directed it themselves. It is fluid, explosive and still: not an easy combination to master, but master it they do especially Warren who manages to nail acting, writing and directing the entire piece.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

REVIEW: Section 2 at The Bunker

A few months ago actress Patti Murin made the headlines by having to bow out of a performance of FROZEN on Broadway due to a sudden anxiety attack. After a slew of support she took to Twitter last week to admit that she suffered from issues with her mental health such as anxiety and depression in order to help #EndTheStigma surrounding the subject of mental illness. Murin’s bravery, like many others recently has started a very important conversation, and theatre company ‘Paper Creatures’ latest play ‘Section 2’ unearths the harsh truths of living with mental illness as a young adult. 

Cam is 24. Cam has been sectioned. He is on a Section 2 which means he is held in a psychiatric hospital for 28days in order to review if he is a danger to himself or others. He is cared for by his Key Manager Rachael, whilst he receives regular visits from his girlfriend Kay. However, when his best friend Pete turns up after 5 years of estrangement at the request of a confused and forgetful Cam, they all have to question how far this illness has spread and who it’s really harming. 

Georgie Staight’s direction is natural and fluid. She uses the space perfectly, creating a small claustrophobic environment which allows us to read every nuance and emotion each character is experiencing. Conversely she also allows the piece to breathe, making fantastic use of the pauses to lengthen the thought and to raise tension. The scene traditions aided by movement director Amy Warren, create a beautifully piercing extension of Cam’s mental insecurity: one minute his friends are helping him, the next they’re pushing past him and dropping things before he has time to catch them.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

REVIEW: Nightfall at the Bridge Theatre

The patriarch dies and the son inherits the family farm out of tradition, pride, fear and resentment. The farm is failing and a developer wants to buy the land and turn it into a new housing estate. It’s a story that’s been told before, but what ‘Nightfall’ the latest production at ‘The Bridge Theatre’ so beautifully encapsulates; is the lengths we go to to please others at the cost of our own happiness. 

Siblings Lou and Ryan live on the family farm with their widowed mother Jenny. When Ryan’s best friend and Lou’s ex-lover Pete gets out of prison, he and Ryan come up with an idea to skim oil off the pipe that runs through their farm to sell on and save the foundering family business. However, when Jenny finds out about this plan she’s less than happy that the life she helped build with her husband is being forced in a new illegal direction away from their traditional roots.

What ‘Nightfall’ does so effortlessly is it dances around its own subject matter, almost trying to escape it as much as the characters are; but it’s as harsh and as unavoidable as that pipe running through the centre of their garden. At it’s core it is a piece about loss and how we as humans deal with grief on any level, be it death, livelihood, friendship or love. It forces us to confront the innate ownership we have over our own pain, and the way we inadvertently manipulate others to heal our wounds whilst selfishly hindering them from curing their own. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

REVIEW: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Based on the hit 1994 film and after enjoying successful runs on both the West End and Broadway, ‘Priscilla: Queen of the Desert’ makes its regional professional premiere at the Queen’s theatre Hornchurch. This also marks the first time the show has been done as actor-musician following suite from their production of ‘Made in Dagenham’ and looking forward to their future production of ‘Once’.

Personally I’ve never been a fan of making a show actor-musician unless it adds something to the concept or is integral to the narrative of this show, and in this instance, to a degree, whilst always impressive, is slightly damaging. It unfortunately limits the ensemble from really getting involved in a show, hindering the choreography and direction of a piece that is at its heart about togetherness, community and celebration. 
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