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Sunday, 1 May 2022

REVIEW: If. Destroyed. Still. True. at The Hope Theatre

No matter where you come from or where you choose to live, the concept of home or where one identifies with throughout their lifetime is in constant flux. Moments of growth are met with moments of stagnation, people we love move at different speeds and even when some sort of peace is made, there is no way of knowing how something unexpected might unravel everything you know. In the intimate space of The Hope Theatre, Jawbones, an upcoming young company celebrating new writing, attempts to start a conversation about these feelings of disconnection in their latest production If. Destroyed. Still. True.

The play is set on the coast of Essex in a small town where everyone knows each other's business. It is here we meet John (Jack Condon) a born and bred local young man, who, like a kid on Christmas Day is revelling in the return of his best friend James (Theo Ancient) who has moved away for Uni. It becomes evident early on, however, that with little direction in his life John can't quite move on from the fun and chaos of their adolescence while James has clearly settled into his newfound academic life with a steady girlfriend Charlotte (Whitney Kehinde) by his side. A divide opens up between the two friends and each struggles with feelings of resentment, loss, a longing for the past and/or future and ultimately, the uncertainty of life becomes overwhelming for both when tragedy marks their final chapter. At the heart of the story is a friendship between two young men who have grown disparate from one another yet at the same time are forever connected by the tangled roots of their youth.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

REVIEW: The Good Dad (A Love Story) at the Hope Theatre

The online flyers for the Good Dad (A Love Story) appear quite daunting at first glance. Decrees to honour thy mother and thy father are spiritually demanding propositions; and mean many things to many people. However, it becomes evident this is a powerful story based on true events from the 1980s. It naturally gives the play greater impact because we easily connect with real characters. Be warned, this is no easy ride as it tugs at family dynamics and raw nerves exposed by conflict. For the audience, it will educate and enlighten before it entertains. With the ‘E’ words in that order, we know what to expect. 

Playwright Gail Louw pulls absolutely no punches in this hard-hitting one-woman show starring Sarah Lawrie. She plays Donna who awakes incarcerated in a cell. Over the course of the next 60 minutes, we get to find out exactly why. The audience are presented with the detailed exposition of a dysfunctional family; nothing unusual there, all families are, to a greater or lesser extent.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

REVIEW: Tier Three Sisters at the Hope Theatre

The works of Anton Chekhov are always challenging even for the most erudite of theatregoers. Whilst his place in the pantheon of playwrights is assured he might be considered heavy going for some. I happily sighed with relief when an adaptation dropped invitingly through my inbox. A re-worked version of ‘Three Sisters’ is just the job for a long-overdue visit to the Hope Theatre in Islington. Based in the Hope & Anchor pub it was the complete entertainment venue pre-Covid; live bands playing in the basement, an excellent bar at street level and the theatre upstairs presenting some of the coolest plays on the fringe circuit. Like all theatre venues it’s beginning to find its feet again and a reassuring sign that normality is close at hand.

For the uninitiated, a brief cantor through the author’s work might be helpful. Anton Chekhov is now widely recognised as one of the great playwrights but was only properly appreciated after his premature death in 1904. His most notable works include the Cherry Orchard, Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters which was first performed in 1901. Three Sisters tells the tale of siblings Olga, Masha and Irina. They live in a remote Russian town but dream of returning home to Moscow where they felt true happiness. 

Friday, 28 June 2019

REVIEW: The Censor at The Hope Theatre

Female-led production company RoundPeg Theatre have brought back a revival of Anthony Neilson’s ‘The Censor’ 22 years after it was written. The controversial play demonstrates the relationship between female pornographer, Miss Fontaine (Suzy Whitefield), and film censor, Frank (Jonathan McGarrity), as she convinces him to recommend her film so it will be produced and seen by men, women and children worldwide. Fontaine convinces Frank to look deeper into the sexual relations in the film, meanwhile, manipulating him into a physical relationship of their own. The Censor covers many interesting topics on sexuality, empowerment and infidelity, to name a few. It is ‘18’ rated and will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly worth watching. 
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