Bromance the Dudesical, Ewalt and Walker, at The Other Palace



Arriving at the Other Palace really is quite the experience. Greeted by a doorman wearing a tailcoat, and a palace of 55 different Gins, it is easy to describe the venue as exciting. Taking my seat in the studio, I am met with the smell of red wine. As the four men of the cast enter the stage, the smell is quickly replaced by that of lynx. 4D theatre!
Consistent with well places jabs at modern day masculinity, mixed with the occasional corny one liner, Bromance was undoubtedly a treat to watch. An American musical brought to Blighty often runs the risk of losing its character through culture but I was impressed that the intimate nature of the venue helped the audience feel at one with the Bros. Yes, there was some risqué humour, but it was never taken to a point to make me feel uncomfortable as a woman in the audience. The way the themes were handled was comic enough to create an understanding of no harm intended.
I enjoyed the interaction with the live band, and particularly the song that was an ode to chilli cheese fries (a great snack). There was a painful break up scene, and a genuine sense of joy when all bros reunite.
There must be commendation to the one woman in the cast, Esme Laudat, who showed exceptional skill in multi-role. She brought a unique style and swagger to each role, and really did put the boys in their place when necessary. Overall, the production was smooth and sleek, with an outstanding sense of self. I really couldn’t recommend it enough.

Bromance the Dudesical plays until the 24th of October at The Other Palace

“Dude, you can be a bro and a man”

Kirsty Doig

Advertisements

False Teeth, Fake Fur, True Love, by Joan Ellis and Donna Jones, at the Bread and Roses as part of Clapham Fringe

Its been an emotional Clapham Fringe. TwoLasses have seen all sorts of shows; shows about life, shows about death, shows about love and shows about heartbreak. False Teeth, Fake Fur, True Love perfectly encapsulated it all. A two woman show by comediennes Joan Ellis and Donna Jones genuinely brought a warmth to my heart on a cold, rainy October night.

The show was comprised of stand up humour based on the women’s real life memoirs. There were jokes about the north, jokes about the south and everything in between. Different artistic platforms were used, like poetry and book readings, to give a good flow and element of variety to the structure. This kept the show engaging and with purpose. The women consistently bantered with the audience making the piece feel more relaxed than a traditional end on show, creating a fitting end to the fringe festival. A particular theme to note was Joan Ellis’ commentary about her mother’s battle with dementia, a disease more and more people have experience with, in their families today. Myself included. The way she spoke of this, the bad times, the funny times and the absolutely dreadful times in a way gave me a sense of comfort in my memories of losing my gran. Normally when the theme of dementia is brought up I shut down, bad memories are triggered and I leave feeling miserable. I left feeling great.

Now for a few words on the end of Clapham Fringe. As I said it has been a rollercoaster. It has been another celebration of talent, dedication and a general adoration for the arts. TwoLasses have loved it, but it has also been the season we have had to bid a very sorry farewell to reviews. If we, our team of reviewers and anyone who loves theatre continues to find theatre, find venues like the Bread and Roses and festivals like the Clapham Fringe, it can be sincerely less sad that we are closing this chapter of our journeys. As with the moral of the show, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and you will find it, and probably make a joke out of it. Thank you Clapham.

Kirsty Doig

Much Ado About Nothing, by Exploding Whale Productions at Katzpace, London Bridge

Modern adaptations of Shakespeare always run a risk of falling flat with some elements not quite translating and sometimes it can become distracting away from the story.

When it’s done well, however, modern adaptations can really highlight the timelessness of Shakespeare’s work and make the plays more accessible.

Much Ado is one of my favourite Shakespearean plays, friends meddling in each other’s affairs to set them up- and who hasn’t gone through that in some form?

Starting at a necessary slow pace we are introduced to each of the characters, with a couple including Don John (Aimee Cassettari), being gender-swapped unceremoniously and unapologetically it’s exceptionally easy to pick up relationships and motives, due to editing and typical love at first sight we are launched into Hero (Ava Pickett) and Claudio’s (Julian Bailey-Jones) engagement, without them saying one word to one another and the scheming and matchmaking can begin.

Gregory Birks as Benedick stands out as captivating and funny, the relationship with Beatrice (Talia Pick) is my favourite in the show, and I was craving more time with them battling their wits together, Bailey-Jones really comes into his own during the wedding scene, really cranking it up to 10, which makes sense with how extreme and turbulent their relationship is.

Fun and endearing, this production is a sweet compact version of Much Ado, it does unfortunately fall into the trap of feeling rushed at points, but if you know the plot already it’s a really refreshing production that makes full use of a modern setting- I just wanted more!

Kimberley Turford

Like Lions, by Pregnant Fish Theatre, at the Bread and Roses as part of Clapham Fringe

This show took me by the lapels and didn’t let me go. Based on several workshops with ‘young people’ (I’m still not sure what this is defined as!) The highly self aware performance is unapologetic in its storytelling it takes you on a journey with two twins who beautifully work towards the same thing while going very different ways about it. One ends up starting a cult based on Kant, and the other joins the Momentum and actively campaigns for Corbyn.

Examining a mired of different issues that were heart-wrenchingly relatable the show was hard to watch at times, but it felt necessary, and just the right amount of cliché so that it didn’t quite bug me, but made the people not in the generation being put under scrutiny had a little bit of a chuckle about avocado on toast and the impossible mix of blind optimism and sense of impending unstoppable doom we seem to have. I strongly hope that they took something from the piece- it’s widely known that the “younger generation” is misunderstood by the generations before them, and actually things might be more productive if we all listened to each other- a point the play also highlights.

An example of aesthetically pleasing applied theatre this show works well for what it is, and you do walk away continuing to think about it for a long time- but it’s probably not one if you want a bit of light hearted entertainment, but one if you like your theatre to leave you thinking. –Kimberley Turford

So Bad, by Wild Surmise at the Bread and Roses as part of Clapham Fringe

When I arrived my heart broke a little to see the little white slip on my chair. I know a whole lot of heart and soul goes into these productions, and to see that Ellen Publicover had had to withdraw from the show made me sad.

However, I still held high hopes for the now abridged two-hander, and I’m so glad to report that it lived up to them. If there had not been a slip on my chair I would not have known that half of the cast had only been in the show for one week.

The play follows Sid and Rose as they both try and not try to discover what housemate/boyfriend Leo has been up to, beginning innocently enough you wonder if it’s just going to be another ‘men are such dicks’ play, which it is not by any means, a refreshingly strong female lead that is unafraid to play dirty to get what she wants the plot spirals into a interesting, if a little unbelievable, place but utterly convinces you that the characters are in imminent danger, with no apparent easy way out until the very end. Although the writing fell into the ‘new writing’ style trap of unnecessarily cutting off dialogue in order to appear snappy very occasionally, it on the whole was engaging and realistic. The acting too was, on the whole engaging, (not helped by a noisy stage) and believable and the costuming was brilliant and really accurately reflected the characters being portrayed without shoving it in your face.

This play is brilliant for the rollercoaster it takes you on, I can only imagine what the full production was like, but I recommend this show, and company, highly on their professionalism and delivery. –

Kimberley Turford

Died Blondes, by Joan Ellis, at the Bread and Roses as part of Clapham Fringe

A solo show with a twist Died Blondes written and performed by Joan Ellis really caught my attention when we were perusing the brochure for Clapham Fringe- having recently watched the BBC documentary on Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, I had a gut feeling that her life deserved to be dramatized more than it had been until now. And as for Ellis’s other muse for the show, Marilyn Monroe, she never fails to sell (but this show fully buys into all the conspiracy theories, making it juicy and refreshing).
The first monologue delivered was from Ruth Ellis, a Welsh model and nightclub hostess that lived and worked in nightclubs around London led a very modern life for a woman in the 1950s, sleeping with many wealthy men she encountered at the clubs, including the man she murdered, David Blakely. The monologue takes the form of an imagined last letter written form Ruth to David the night before she hung, it takes you on an emotional journey where you never quite settle on whether she was a victim of physical and mental abuse driven to an event she never intended, or whether she was very conscious of her actions and deliberately and knowingly went after her own justice, regardless of the effect on her husband and young son. At the end the fact is dropped that the doctor told Ruth that she was dying of a terminal illness anyway, the coy slightly cockney accent put on by Ellis hold confidence and conviction in her actions, embodying anger and at times confusion at Blakely’s actions, it’s a brilliantly written piece that takes you on a journey and leaves you with more questions- which (for better or worse) we will never have the answers to, so like all good theatre you are left to make your mind up on whether she should have been found guilty of murder (ie, she intended to kill Blakely when she was driven to Hampstead), or whether she was a victim of her time and of untreated and unrecognised conditions.
The next monologue was delivered from behind a backlit screen reminiscent of one you might find in a boudoir. If you hadn’t have already seen Ellis you might have been mistaken that they had actually raised the dead the voice that filled the room was so uncanny it almost gave me chills. This monologue is a fictionalised account of the last phone call Monroe ever made to her second (of three) husbands baseball player Joe DiMaggio. Before diving into the character we are posed the question- are these the events that occurred, or are they the fictionalisation of an unwell mind. It’s a question you’ve almost forgotten by the end when we see Monroe reacting to the presence of Bobby Kennedy (brother of JFK) who we are led to believe killed her. It is afterwards explained that the official ruling on her death was an overdose on her pills you are left with an impression that Ellis favours one version of events over the other, unlike with the first monologue. The speech itself is informative and engaging, though I was unsure about the continuing use of the screen as it felt a little like I was listening to an amazing radio play rather than watching a piece of theatre.
Overall I loved watching this show- it really satisfied my want for historical females to be portrayed as strong, even in their weakest moments, and I’d love to see if and how it develops (I spent the entire journey home wondering what an actual conversation between the two might have looked like) so watch this space, and watch Joan Ellis. She’s really quite the writer. – Kimberley Turford

My Father’s Dragon, by Cat and Hutch storytelling at the Bread and Roses, as part of Clapham Fringe

There’s something so magical about seeing a children’s show as an adult. It gives you a little sense of being out of place, but in a sneaking into the sweet shop at night and trying all the sweets you haven’t had since you were little because they took all the stuff that makes you hyper out of them now…

I digress, My Father’s Dragon had everything I wanted in it children’s story, it’s framed by a quaint camping trip, where Katrina and Rebecca brilliantly multi-role their way into the adventure of a lifetime with a few, very invested children in tow.

The story follows a young boy make his way through the jungle and encountering various distinct and interesting characters from northern hogs to a vein lion that our brave Elmer meets and helps in order to continue to the journey. I particularly love that she helps, rather than defeats (for the most part, there is a little bit of hopping on crocodile snout) the animals she encounters- promoting positive conflict resolution which is always refreshing to see!

The puppetry work and amazing costuming made the production aesthetically beautiful and engaging. The kids were fascinated by the multi-coloured plastic cutlery as fishes and wanted to play in the sea and swing from the trees and engage with the myriad of characters

Katrina and Rebecca are amazing entrepreneurs that just happen to be fabulous young women, and if you have little ones or space to entertain little ones at your institution you should hire these women because they’re funny, entertaining and you might even learn something about yourself.

Check out their Website here: http://www.catandhutch.com/home/4581828039

An interview with Exploding Whale Theatre Company and their rendition of Much Ado About Nothing at Katzpace



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

Exploding Whale was formed in 2017 as the resident company of London Bridge studio theatre ‘Katzpace’. Our debut show ‘Heroes’, a coming-of-age story set to the soundtrack of David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’, enjoyed sell out runs on tour at the Brighton & Edinburgh Fringe, Bridge House SE20 and most recently headlining Sydenham Arts Festival.

We return home to Katzpace this October with our nappy 5-star revival of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Directed by Ellie Morris, member of the Olivier Award winning Mischief Theatre. Our abridged modern twist on one of Shakespeare’s most loved comedies was a sell-out hit in 2015, praised for its accessibility, hilarity and energy. 

You’re doing Shakespeare, what makes your production relevant and new?

I think the beauty of Shakespeare’s plays, especially Much Ado, is you can always find new perspectives in them depending on the context in which they are put. In our case, the action takes place in a modern office, a setting which lends itself well to the exploration of gender politics, the roles of women in traditionally all male environments and the disastrous effects of toxic masculinity. We’ve also changed quite a few of the male parts to female ones, which has created some interesting new dynamics.
What have you enjoyed the most about this project?
My favourite thing about any new project is always meeting a new group of people. We have an amazing company and they’ve made the rehearsal room such a fun place to be.
What do you think people will like most about the show?
It’s very fast paced. The whole thing runs at about 1 hour 15 (excluding interval) so hopefully people won’t have time to get bored!
What attracted you about Much Ado over one of the more commonly done plays?
First of all I think it’s one of the most relatable plays for audiences today. Secondly, the character of Beatrice. She’s, arguably, Shakespeare’s most modern female role. She is outspoken, witty and has very little care for social conventions. She’s totally relatable to modern audiences and a joy to watch.
Are you hoping to develop the piece? If so, how?
No plans to as of yet, but who knows what may happen…
Favourite line from the play?
‘I love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?”
Three words to describe the play?
Fun. Fast. Fierce.
Tell us a funny story from rehearsals?
During the scene where Benedick is spying on his colleagues, hiding in obscure places round the office, Greg, (who plays Benedick) actually getting stuck under one of the tables!
Anything else people should know before coming to the show?
Nope! Just book your tickets soon, some shows are already sold out!

Metamorphosis, by Different Theatre at the Bread and Roses as part of Clapham Fringe

Metamorphosis, the latest offer by writer/director Sam Chittenden of Brighton-based company Different Theatre, is a clever piece of work which re-imagines Kafka’s The Metamorphosis from the point of view of Grete Samsa, sister to the novella’s protagonist Gregor. At its heart it seems to draw from works like Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad, itself a re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey: Grete recounts the events of the book and her life, comparing her brothers’ transformation into an insect to her own transformation into womanhood, presented as something equally frightening, not in and of itself, but due to the culture of shaming the female body in the nineteenth century. In doing so it highlights the silencing of female voices throughout western history, astutely drawing a parallel between Gregor’s surreal dehumanization and the historical dehumanization of women perpetuated by patriarchal society. It becomes clear very early on how Grete is also a likely representation of Ottile, Franz’s favourite sister, drawing on their correspondence to inform Grete’s complex relationship and fraught to her brother and family. The piece rightly assumes a political dimension, continuing the story of Grete/Ottile past the death of her brother, ending with her arrival in a concentration camp during World War II, evoking Orson Welles’ adaptation of  The Trial, where protagonist K’s death is portrayed as defiant rather than hopeless, a change Welles made in tribute to the resilience of Jewish People. Special mention must be paid toactor Heather-Rose Andrews, who utilises her commanding voice to maximum effect, modulating it to play a Grete in several stages of her life, as well as a host of other characters. Her dexterity with language and emotion made me wish the piece be made as an audio drama, so I may better concentrate on the words themselves. All in All, Metamorphosis is a powerful and affecting show which, particularly in today’s political climate, deserves a wider audience.

Lorenzo Mason

The Half Moon of Shania, by Burnt Lemon Theatre Company, at the Bread and Roses as part of Clapham Fringe

The ‘Half Moon of Shania’, is a vivacious musical spectacular on at The Bread and Roses Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe. The one-act musical written by Cara Baldwin, follows three unique twenty somethings on their quest to be the next big music act of the 90’s. Lola, an astrology freak who plays the lead bass, is the most centred out of the three and is joined by Jill who is the glue of the band, and Kerry who plays lead vocals ( Kerry, known as Ketamine Kerry to her punters, but ‘Kez’ to her besties). Together the three make “The G Stringz”.
For 50 minutes, the Bread and Roses was turned into the Half Moon pub on an actual half moon and it is obvious to say that there was a lot of mystery in the plot regarding the moons magnetic affect on humans, and how it could have had a possible effect on the girls choices.
Full of energy and complete freedom, the musical showcased 3 female actor-musicians in a non-conventional way. All three actresses were allowed to dominate the stage in a way that modern audiences rarely see. Their vocals whilst performing various musical arrangement of Shania Twain songs acted as a catalyst to the plot ; the metronomic strum of the guitars re-created the beating of the human heart during the tense moments and still managed to entertain during the sung moments. The musical relighted the 1980’s girl vibe which we all get when we listen to something as cheesy as Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun or in this case any Shania Twain song. It was not a show of glitter, but more of glam which really evoked the feminist in me!
With direction by Hannah Benson, the show was quite daring in it’s urge to speak to the audience, as every now and then the fourth wall would diminish and we were involved in the fun by being encouraged to sing along or answer questions. Breaking the fourth wall added a lot of comic relief , especially when the audience got warmer as the show went on.
‘The Half Moon of Shania’ left me wanting more and it’s safe to say that 50 minutes wasn’t really enough for me. This is a sheer positive reflection of the work produced and I can’t wait to see it at a bigger venue.
Mauricia Lewis