New voices in theatre can often feel hard to find but Central Goes South at the southwark Playhouse illustrates the variety of creative work that is ahead. The first piece Couplet took rhyming couplets and made spoken word a conversation between three well defined characters. I found myself trying to figure out the rhymes before they were spoken. It finished with me wanting to know what more the writer, Ben Fensome, could do with this form as he illustrated a great ability to use it to his full advantage in both comedic and serious moments. Following this was Know You Well. The backdrop of donating blood was so immediately captivating that it felt easy to want to know the characters. Writer, Charlotte Paradise exploration of vulnerability was unique and relatable. The third piece Serve and Protect by Lynn Evertowski again had an interesting backdrop. The piece was an exploration of good and bad illustrated through a girl meeting the real life Angel and devil that had guided her through her life. The piece was comedic but I was unsure whether something was being said about autonomy or whether this was truly just a look in at the good and bad choices our protagonist had made in her life. Henry and The Betty’s followed this, a piece with particularly good acting. The characters felt real even though the situation at hand was one of a woman who changed bodies every-time she went into the kitchen. The piece was gripping as you waited for each entrance to the kitchen to move the plot and characters along. Again though I wasn’t sure if this was just an interesting form being used or whether the piece was trying to say something about infidelity. Ms Socialshite took us to half way through the first act this piece was both commentary on the internet as well as a performance of internet performed on stage. I thought this piece held a lot of potential for theatre that performs and discusses internet culture. After this we moved into a comedic piece entitled ‘do not say what is it.’ This piece was that lovely level of comedy which hurts no one and is still funny. The audience loved this piece and laughed from start to finish. The actors were incredibly taken with it and fully committed to the ridiculous course of events taking place. Following this was the most serious piece of the first act, Compassion Fatigue by Molly Sweeny which explored the limits of care giving and empathy. I really felt with this piece that we entered into the middle of it and left in the middle of it. I wanted to know what had happened to the character before and after but left not feeling that I didn’t. Finishing the first act was Grey Widow a comedic piece about being a widow, something I questioned going in but actually worked really well. The setting of a confession box quickly changing to that of a husbands funeral and then the sudden realisation that maybe the widow had more to do with their husbands death than they were letting on kept the pace and the audience engaged. All in all the piece in the first act showed great ideas that often suffered from lack of time which only tells the theatre world that what new writers need is to be given more time, something I hope we can give them.
‘Splinter’ is a snapshot of a life when an important part of their life leaves. A patchwork of scenes in a cleverly jumbled timeline which leaves doesn’t reveal the loss until the end. Throughout, the audience know she stands to lose either her boyfriend or her best friend, and it’s only as the plot unfolds that we realise who.
The Clapham fringe is well underway and Choose Your Own Adventure is a fantastic illustration of what it has to offer. Helen Suis, a narrator and friend throughout the piece, takes us through an adventure that many of us have lived before- the adventure of moving house. Helen stands centre stage with a black clipboard flicking through pages that include our many options for the adventure ahead. She is quick to point out that we will need to make choices otherwise the forty minute show will quickly become an awkward twenty minute piece of her speaking to herself. The tone of the piece made me feel like I was chatting to a good friend over a milkshake and three custard creams: items that had been provided underneath each audience members chair.
As a current London renter I found myself laughing along at the sheer misery of the situation. High ceilings are traded for a cement box in the back of someone’s garden. Zoopla is filled with illusions of a better life only to enter a windowless building with a cockerel as a neighbour. Just like real life London renting our situation as adventures went from bad to worse when we found out that the cockerel next door crowed all through the day.
Despite the naturally uneven and grim climate of the London rent market the show was one filled with joy and laughter. Not only was Helen funny but she brought out any comedy that came from the audience members. Audience participation was mandatory without being filled with that uneasy level of pressure that makes you wish you’d sat at the back, instead we were a team battling through the terrain together dodging high council tax and lynx perfumed estate agents.. Helen would point out our audiences whimsical London fantasies of high ceilings and balconies bigger enough to put a plant in without making us feel silly. She laughed along with us and we with her as she shared London renting stories of her own.
The show was a fun forty minutes of silly comedy that occasional touched on the current socio ecumenic climate. It reminded me that you have to laugh at the state of things in order to not cry but that doesn’t mean that the jokes you make can’t leave you in hysterics. All in all it was defiantly the funniest discussion I’ve ever had with a group of strangers about the London rent market.
Two boxes. One washing line. 8 paper bras. Charmian enters. Dishes out some real bras, and some real, belly laughter comedy. Reflecting on her recent experiences of travelling to New Zealand, Charmian makes well connected jokes, that all connect to the theme – bras. Now anyone who’s ever worn a bra can understand the certain level of stress involved in buying a new one. The fit, the style, the purpose – Charmian covered it all with brutal honesty and a relatable tone; poking fun at her upbringing and where she is in her life now. This may be one of the most personal shows I have seen in a while, as it unashamedly broke the fourth wall and became almost a conversation with the audience. It was wonderfully structured; understanding what it was going to say and when it was going to say it. An experienced comedienne, Charmian brought her own style of self reflective comedy to the stage at the Bread and Roses, in a one woman spectacular which was a simple pleasure to watch.
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.
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.
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