Blood, Sweat and Vaginas, from The Write Network (Paula David) at the Bread and Roses, as part of Clapham Fringe

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Our very first Clapham Fringe Show! How exciting! And we’re kicking it off with Blood, Sweat and Vaginas from The Write Network who we interviewed back in August (have a gander <here>.)

So with high expectations we sat down to see our first show of the Fringe- and did it live up to expectations? Short answer yes.

Unaware it was a solo show it came as a pleasant surprise, with brillant multi-rolling from Paula David, who also wrote the piece. She clearly and simply characterised characters younger and of the opposite gender effortlessly.

The show followed a woman as she goes through her divorce and subsequent sexual awakening which caused confusion and delight in equal amounts, as well as simultaneously dealing with a teenage daughter who is discovering herself for the first time. Most of the men in the audience tittered uncomfortably at the mention of vagina, let alone the (accurate) descriptions of what sex felt like as a woman.

I loved the inclusion of an LGBTQ+ storyline, it’s not something that is so often neglected from these stories- and even though Carol-Anne doesn’t actually come out, she has the confidence to go and explore what she couldn’t when she was her daughters age. In my head at least, she could have had a lovely conversation with her daughter about being yourself; when they were both ready, of course.

The second in a trilogy I look forward to the next installment, Paula David is a beautiful and considerate writer and she manages to encapsulates perfectly the experiences of so many women, and I hope many, many more people get to see it.   

Kimberley Turford

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Much Ado About Salsa, by Summerlight Theatre, Drayton Arms Theatre, Kensington

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times, summer is over. And … theatre tried their very best to bring it back. Set in Southern Spain, a salsa-dance fuelled rendition of the Shakespeare comedy Much Ado about Nothing was presented to a room, where I appeared to be the youngest audience member by 20 years. I recognised quickly that I was not the company’s target audience, and settled into a realisation that this show just might not be my cup of tea.

There was good commitment to the characters from all actors, and particularly well choreographed slapstick comedy. It was partly reminiscent of James Corden in A Servant to Two Masters, which I did enjoy. For those of you who are familiar with the story in the original Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing, this adaptation does reflect the undeniable chaos and romanticism that there is. This is present particularly in the second act, for about 5 minutes until the plot dives into misery, anger and destruction. It became uncomfortable, when a character with a one sided view on a story became very angry for what I felt was far too long. Perhaps the playwright could have worked the modern day values more into this, to keep up with the themes in the rest of the play. When this ends, there is a touch more romanticism, which is lovely to watch, although I did feel a bit rude seeing this unfold as there was another recently heartbroken character on the stage. After another lengthy monologues, the play had a cheerful ending.

Although this show has a good energy around it, it needs a boost of freshness to energise a wider audience. It was good, just not for this reviewer.

Kirsty Doig

An interview with Hooked Theatre about their show Little Fools, playing at The Space

Tell us a bit about you as a company and this show?

Hooked Theatre was co-founded by us (Brooke Jones and Holly Kellingray) nearly 2 years ago now. We are two Arts University Bournemouth graduates who both have passion for making new and exciting theatre. We devised our first show together last year, HUMAN, and performed in at Camden Fringe. Since then, we have been writing Little Fools together. It’s taken a mammoth load of research and development to reach the point it has. Little Fools is inspired by True Events and it was important to us to reflect these true events in the right way, being sensitive to all those involved in cases similar to those appearing in Little Fools.

Our inspiration for this play came from Rachel Carling Jenkins, an Australian MP, whose life was turned upside by her husband who was convicted of child abuse and child pornography. There are many people in positions of power in this country and others who are thought to be involved in such disgusting acts of crime and violation. Why are these cases overlooked? And, what happens to the families of people who are convicted or accused of such acts? That’s where Little Fools stemmed from. It follows two sisters, April and Harri, whose lives are tainted by the actions of their father. The forgotten victims of crime.

 

You’re using a mix of spoken word and naturalistic dialogue, what made you go for this mix?

This blend of styles was coined during our first show, HUMAN. In HUMAN we used a range of styles: Spoken Word, Naturalism and Comedy Sketches. We found that, for Little Fools, contrasting the style of Spoken Word & Rhyme against Naturalism allowed for us to connect with our audiences more when telling our stories. It gives the audience a chance to understand all of our characters on a deeper level, thus, helping the message behind Little Fools to clearly reach its potential.

What have you enjoyed the most about this project?

Working with like-minded people. The cast all trained at The Arts University Bournemouth. This means not only have we been trained in a similar way which makes rehearsals smooth and comfortable, we are all in a position where we know each other so well we are determined to push our peers to reveal their full potential.

What do you think people will like most about the show?

The balance between light and dark. As a company we are always determined to have fun whilst creating and also performing, and we hope this is reflected to our audiences. Although we are playful at heart, we are also very passionate in showing the reality of situations. Our stories are not fairytales, they can be gritty and truthful when they need to be.

 

The show uses real events- why was that important to you when creating the piece?

This was important to us because there are so many stories out there and many of them are overlooked. The reason we found Rachel Carling-Jenkins’ story so powerful is because it looks at obscure victims. Victims many people may not think about. Little Fools focuses on the family members of criminals, victims that are often mistaken for as accomplices. We wanted to give a voice to these people.

Are you hoping to develop the piece? If so, how?

Definitely. At Hooked, when we create pieces of theatre they are neverending projects. HUMAN, the show we performed last year, is still in our horizons. Although we now have a new project in Little Fools, we still have plans to take HUMAN perhaps round schools or develop it into a purely comic piece. With regards to Little Fools, we are hoping to take it to Edinburgh Fringe next year – after this preview we will develop and perfect it further and hopefully hit the ground running in Edinburgh next summer!

Favourite line from the play?

“Princess Pancake can’t have just up and left the place. Replaced herself with these? Gone without a trace.”

Three words to describe the play?

Snappy, Fun and Surprising

Tell us a funny story from rehearsals?

Our funny story happened on Opening Night – as we were about to do our final dress runs. We all got to The Space, feeling giggly and excited because it was opening night; but that very quickly changed! To cut a long story short, mid-way through our dress run, as one of our actors sat on our lovely leather sofa (our ONLY set for the show) it completely collapsed! Then as we were in a flurry to fix the sofas legs, our photographer turned up. The boys were armed with drills, nails and super glue; but they were too late and we had to start our final dress run – with a lopsided sofa. Luckily we were able to solve the solution before our evening performance, but was a very hectic day!

Anything else people should know before coming to the show?

Yes! Rather logistical, but anyone planning on coming to the show – be sure to leave time for travel. To avoid being a dreaded latecomer, aim to arrive at Canary Wharf station for 7.30pm, which means you have time to either take the 20 minute stroll to The Space or can grab a bus that should take 5-10 minutes. Hopefully see some of you there!

Little Fools is playing at The Space, Isle of Dogs until Saturday

Bodies, of water, Theatre for Pigeons, CLF Art Cafe, Peckham

It is the first time we’ve been to CLF Art Cafe in the Bussey Building in Peckham Rye, the space was perfect for this piece, the space felt open, like being outside. The piece rarely spoke in full sentences yet was capable of telling the audience so much. Masterful use of recording sound and song and the loop pedal combined with effective costuming and use of props made the hour long piece fly by in what felt like minutes.

Theatre for Pigeons manages to create characters you have a genuine emotional connection to in just under an hour. You really want to know if they find the cat, what they’re categorising so carefully, and what are we all working towards- it’s certainly one that leaves you thinking for hours and days after you leave trying to piece together the events and symbols in hope to draw conclusions that you’re convinced must be there. Aesthetically and aurally the piece stands out as exceptional, growing up surrounded by water as a child the sounds and shapes made me feel whole and engaged the entire time, with the light projections proving that less can in fact be more when it comes to tech.

If I were to have to suggest anything for this piece I would have loved a smidge more speaking- the words that were said were so beautiful and captivating it left me wanting more- but then again that’s not wholly a bad thing.

So, in conclusion; you should go and see this piece, especially if abstract, physical and/or technology pieces of theatre are you cup of tea- but even if they’re not (like in my case!) you can find something in the piece which holds your interest and keeps you entertained

Kimberley Turford

Cold Chips, Tiny Theatre Company, Theatre N16, Tottenham

It’s a stark change, I notice as I sit in Theatre N16 wrapped up in my jacket shivering in my seat. Just weeks ago, London black box theatres were the equivalent of a hot Russian sauna, so I now can decisively say, Winter is Coming.

Game of Thrones fans among you may notice a slightly crass but apt jab at the North there. As was Cold Chips, founded on the basis that Yorkshire born and bred Olivia May Roebuck always found her Northern accent the source of jokes. A room of southerners laughing at a Northern accent is something I am only too familiar with, as I am often that person dealing with roars of laughter when I say words like Bus, Bath and No. Apparently it’s hilarious, and Tiny Theatre capitalised on this, using the character of brash northerner as their lead.

In this two man play, north is polarised against south in a setting which seems slightly geographically confused – am I in London or Leeds? Two friends sort their life problems out on a Friday night, on a park bench, with a portion of chips. The show started 15 minutes late, and it took me a while to settle into the laughs, but when they came they were great. Olivia has a natural charm for comedy, and this lifted the energy of the plot. Jabs at millennial life and issues (primarily rent prices and unemployment) were made with initially gappy scene changes. But then the show seemed to find its flow. Nicely choreographed movement and some well chosen music helped this, before the humour took its own place. The references to the crap nature of adulthood were relatable, and I particularly enjoyed the monologue wishing for romance. Story of my life.

But then, a curveball was thrown, and it was the big C word. C word being cancer. Not to spoil the plotline, but this did answer a lot of the initial questions I had, but I did wonder if it was necessary. It was effective, as many audience members were visibly weeping. Perhaps it’s just me though – is there ever a good night to see a show about cancer?

The ending was optimistic and did a great job of cheering up the audience, and me. This play leads you back and forth between romance, laughter, heartbreak and concern, and uses all components to create what I can describe as lovely show. I would recommend seeing this show.

Portion of chips not included.

I Will Miss You When You’re Gone, Starbound Theatre, Hen and Chickens Theatre, Islington

The lights come up on the black and white world of the living. Evelyn, wrapped in a long, white puffer jacket, jumps off a box. From the accompanying sound effects, it is clear that she has landed on a car and is dead.

One of her colleagues (Celeste) has been trying to contact her dead mother’s ghost (Theresa). Instead, she gets Evelyn. Meanwhile, Celeste’s boss (Robin) is greeted by Theresa’s ghost. The dead are costumed in brightly coloured clothes, clearly signalling their unsuitability for the living world: they are easier to see, but perhaps harder to understand. Both living characters struggle to comprehend what they are seeing and why, yet by the time the ghosts leave, each character has learnt something about themselves. An interesting concept is explored with 4 fantastic female actors, but raises some issues about mental health representation for me, which leaves me thinking about the show.

Characters were believable and mostly well-developed, however in places the writing or delivery seemed a little unsure of itself, using clichés which the actors perhaps felt uncommitted to: moments where characters hyperventilated and tried to determine in squeaky voices ‘How could this have happened?’.

For me, the most memorable moment in the piece, is when Theresa first meets Robin. Robin is trying desperately to ignore the ghost and get on with her work. Theresa is singing along to loud country music, and mom-dancing around the space. Certainly, this was the most heart-warming: this woman (played by Sharon Drain) was fantastically natural, an utterly convincing funny mother. Suddenly, I understood on another level why Celeste missed her mother so much, and immediately felt a little homesick- good performances remind you of your life, and in this case, make you long for your own mother.

The playwright and company describe themselves as feminists, which is (I suppose) why the cast/production team is almost entirely female. It is wonderful to see four women working together on stage, and beautiful to explore the intimate mother/daughter dynamic. Despite this, I think either of the other characters could have been male, and it would have introduced the concept of dangerously neglected male mental health: the over-worker or the secretly suicidal. However, perhaps this would have distracted from the wonderfully portrayed main theme of mother/daughter grief or changed the other characters power dynamic.

This leads me to consider their representation of mental health. The leaflet says it is a play about mental health, but no guidance is given on dealing with a mental health issue, beyond taking ones own life or hugging your boss. Furthermore, neither the performance nor the program direct anyone to where they could get help. Personally,

I think when dealing with potentially triggering themes, it would be beneficial to add to the program a small sign to where you can seek help.

Despite the traditional narrative (ghosts come to teach someone the error of their ways) this play is a truly interesting concept, in which the writer considers the importance of grief. Moss questions how we grieve: is it useful to hold onto someone’s ashes after their death? How does our grief affect those around us? The programme says that the company aim to explore ‘the theme of identity’, and as I left the theatre I was indeed considering my own experiences of death and how these had influenced my world view.

Chloe Phillips-Bartlett (20th September, 2018)

Interview with the producer of ‘Bromance, the Dudesical’ playing at The Other Palace

We are super excited to be chatting to Daisy Smith, of How Very Productions, about the upcoming run of Bromance, the Dudesical which is going to The Other Palace in October!

Tell us a bit about you as a company and this show?

I have a varied past including riding for England, studying to become a Barrister, working in sales, events, journalism….. Producing uses all my skills and I love seeing a fantastic production take shape. This is my biggest ever production and my first London show but I have an amazing team on board – Sarah Redmond (director), Dan Gillingwater (set design), Kim Hollamby (lighting), Joe Morris (sound), Max Barraclough (co-producer) and my incredible husband Andy Smith has done the arrangements and is MD (It’s great when your husband is a world-class MD!)

Bromance came about after seeing a YouTube video of one of the songs, I got chatting to the writers – Ewalt and Walker – and suddenly I’m producing the show! Another one of my crazy ideas – my family often despair of me!

The show is American- what particularly do you think will translate to a British audience? 

The humour is very British – the writers are exceptional and have that quick, clever comedy that Brits appreciate. And I think the characters are very transferable – we have the jocks and nerds over here too, we maybe just call them something different!

What have you enjoyed the most about this project?

Seeing how excited others have got about it! When I first showed the script to Andy and I heard him laughing in his office. When I sent it to the director and she text within 20 mins with “This is amazing!”. The show is really fun and everyone who has been involved in it so far has really got onboard with the feel. “Once a bro, always a bro.”

What do you think people will like most about the show? 

I think they will love the music – there are some great songs and Andy has put an epic band together for the show. Dan is doing some really exciting things with the set which I am looking forward to seeing and I know Sarah will bring out every inch of comedy; the audience will have a really fun night!

The show appears to examine male friendships, what is particularly special about the way the show explores this subject? 

The writers, Ewalt and Walker, have just hit it so truthfully. They have used very definite characters that are all so relatable. We all know a Tom, Dick and a Harry! I think there is something quite special about having a female director for such a male dominated show though too – maybe seeing it from a fresh angle.

Tell us about the development of the show, particularly the transfer to London

From watching a Youtube video to putting together the little production in Henley, my hometown, took about 6 months. After Henley, I was sure we had something special so put a list of possible London venues together from unrealistic, dream scenario to more possible. Amazingly, The Other Palace, my number one choice, came back with a yes. The Other Palace have been doing such great work with new musicals with The Heathers and Eugenius particularly, and I am so excited that Bromance will be following in their footsteps.

Favourite line from the play? 

I love it when Sanchez says “Girls can like video games and sports and even sex, Marty.” And Marty replies “You like video games?!”

Three words to describe the play? 

Comedic, energetic, bro-tastic

Tell us a funny story from the process?

“Raise my Stakes” is a cracking, sexy, jazzy number at the end of Act 1. There are a lot of sexual references hidden within it though and it was funny when the whole production team had to admit to googling some of them or better still trying some of them!

Anything people should know before coming to the show? 

It will be funny but also potentially life changing: Girls will go away with a better understanding of the rules of Bro-tool and men dragged, kicking and screaming to see a musical will question everything when they actually enjoy it.

Once a bro, always a bro!

Bromance The Dudesical is playing at The Other Palace, St James’ Park on October 16th to 24th. Thrilled to see you there

The Space, Isle of Dogs, Autumn/Winter Season Launch

It’s a Thursday – it’s getting cold – and TwoLasses were in the Isle of Dogs at an exciting new venue The Space, invited to their Autumn Winter season launch! How very exciting!

After a long day of meetings (Lass 1) and being an amazing TA (Lass 2) it was little surprise (and very true to form) that we headed straight for the complimentary fizz! As we did, the increasingly inevitable thing happened where we bumped into someone we knew and spent the lead up to the main event having a lovely catch up.

The sneakily staged introduction set the tone for the night, relaxed, funny and friendly. We kicked off with Hooked Theatre’s production of Little Fools- a short extract and a video that encapsulated there style which mixes spoken word and naturalism which tackles the interesting topic of separating how we know a person and the acts that they are accused of. It runs 25th-29th This month, so get yourself down there quick!

Next to the stage was Love Is a Work in Progress by Tara Rankine, a really beautiful blend of music and chat, hilarity and reflection- looks to be a very funny and important night out. It runs from 2nd-6th October.

Anna Nicholson- Woman Of The Year was next, returning from Edinburgh to run at the space from 3-6th October sees one woman present four characters who battle it out for woman of the year- which you get to decide at the end of the night! Shout out to this one as Anna is a fellow Northern Lass, something we always love to see down here!

Little Pieces of Gold run by Suzette Coon is new writing royalty- what you see at theses staged readings are chosen from hundreds of submissions, so you’re really going to get the best of the best on the 10th & 11th October

Halloween is up next, and from the 30th October to 3rd November Feminist Theatre group Scary Little Girls present The Full Bronte. The piece is a two hander that uses clowning- and my only note is that these guys seem really cool, and why would you want to disagree with us?

The Space Productions is the in house company, and this Christmas they present a modern adaptation of Little Women to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of the book. Lovers of classics, updated classics and tales of sisterhood and family should check out what I’m sure will be a warming production running form the 27th November to 22nd December.

Last but by no means least will come Starched Theatre’s production of Laundry that will examine social divides in the Eastend of London in the early 50’s. Think Call the Midwife on stage, but instead of babies the focus is washing. Should be an amazing glimpse into an era still in living memory, and they seem do have done some amazing research and I wish them the best of luck with their rehearsal period.

Arguments about what the theme of the season is I’d be inclined to agree with both of them- Adam Hemming suggested it might be ‘Little’, with Little Fools, Little Pieces of Gold, Scary Little Girls and Little Women all being part of the season but Grace Chapman in charge of the publicity fought back with the fact the shows this season is 70% written and directed by women, and so it is a season led by women. We love this amazing woman led approach for a space that you immediately feel at home in, but we couldn’t help notice a lack of racial diversity in the room- we both really hope that the casting can create an even more diverse season!

Keep an eye out for us reviewing these shows in the coming months, we’re really looking forward to it!

@SpaceArtsCentre #littlewomenplay

@HookedTheatre #LittleFools

@RankineTara #loveisaworkinprogress

@AnnaNicholson_ #womanoftheyear

@suzettecoon #littlepiecesofgold

@scarylittleGs #thefullbronte

@STARCHEDtheatre #laundryplay

#seasonlaunch

#taglinefortheSpace

Congratulations, you B@$t@*D, by Laurence Platt, George Wood Theatre, Goldsmiths College, New Cross, CYBFri ge

It’s a Wednesday, September is slowly coming to a close and we’re in New Cross Gate, in a new university that has a bank inside. We quickly realise we’re not in our old alumnus Central anymore.

We’re here to see Congratulations You B@$t@*D by Laurence Platt and produced by Ghosted Ink: Arts Collective whilst being sponsored by Goldsmiths Drama and Theatre Department. The sponsored nature makes sense when you find out this show has just made the long haul back from Edinburgh, and it might also say a little about funding for Fringe theatre itself.

The show itself focuses around two characters, Nick (Laurence Platt) and Mia (Georgia Crowther). They appear to be friends that live together and work together, with an expected but underexplored sexual tension. The show sat really nicely with me as a writer, a little over reliance on alcohol and frustration at how to get your work out there, the points the show wanted to make were clear, and appropriately funny too as well as being well crafted to suit its audience. I would be really interested to see this played out in front of a non-theatre audience!

Exploring how we represent creativity on stage has always fascinated me, be it the ‘struggling troubled artist’ trope that is getting a little worn or. Like this show, if it tries to bring a different dimension- collaboration. I wish the show could have shed it in a better light with a positive outcome, but the show cleverly switches up how we think about ownership and what success means- perfectly mirroring the characters desire for their own play- a hidden Question Time rollercoaster within a play.

This show has a lot of potential, with some spectacular moments and a self-reflective point to make it could do really well, I would, however, suggest reflecting on which bits could be trimmed a little and other elements that could be explored a bit more, such as Nick and Mia’s relationship, and you will be presented with an amazing, timely pierce about friendship, working and the creative industries.

Play Something, by Paul T. Davies, StageWrite Theatre at the Drayton Arms, Press night

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Everyone has at least one song that resonates with any particular striking memory. When I moved out of my last student house, I spent four hours listening to the various works of James Blunt; not just to waste time, but to assure myself that I would miss the mould and decidedly unsafe electrical sockets – and that I was – in fact – very sad about the whole affair.

Play Something attempted to reflect upon an LBGT love story, changing with the time and accompanying music. It’s an easy to follow plotline, with a romantic, tragic, yet slightly predictable ending. Closely focusing on two characters, portrayed by two actors each. This was a touching contrast, but the risk of having a too chaotic stage was run very frequently. Saying this, there were several times I was begging for more on stage – props. Essentially what was required was super simple, and the way of getting around their lack, was mime. I understand the thought processes behind this, but when you are miming props like a notepad and a drink from a glass with your hand, I do just wish there was an actual notepad, just to make the overall effect more mature.

The speed of the show began fast, and remained fast. Too fast, I feel. There were moments that could have been relished in, particularly those the involved explicit and live sexual acts. Yes, it is brave to put sex, particularly gay sex, directly in front of an audience, and as long as it is there it will provoke a reaction, but that in itself may not be enough. I wanted more emotion out of it, more of a story from these acts. Saying that, there were some touching moments, and some comic moments, which warmed the show, as opposed to the race of the narrative. When it slowed at the end, it almost slowed too much, with a long and (for me) slightly uncomfortable scene portraying the men as elderly and helpless. I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable seeing such scenes. It was an awful lot of grief for a Tuesday night.

Finally, I must comment on the music. Intelligently woven into the script, each song was apt and unexpected. I would have been able to enjoy it more had it been faded more delicately behind the scene, but it served its purpose and enhanced the story. I would also have liked some house music on arrival.

All in all, this is a good show, which achieves what it sets out to do. With some tweaks to the direction and a longer run time, it has great potential to be a fabulous show.