Divine Chaos Of Starry Things Review

White Bear Theatre 25 April – 20 May.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

After a cursory (and ultimately unnecessary) glimpse of the fall of the Paris Commune in 1871, Paul Mason’s play imagines the convicted female revolutionaries’ lives as both prisoners and colonists on New Caledonia. Louise Michel’s revolutionary zeal and vision of social, racial and gender equality was undiminished, and she was undoubtedly active in the Kanak uprising on New Caledonia, although she refrains from discussing her specific contributions, both on New Caledonia and in Paris, in her memoirs. Mason fills in the gaps in this episodic and fragmented play which, although saying much about issues that are still extremely relevant today, suffers from having a split personality.

The main problem is Louise. Admittedly, her photograph in the programme gives the impression of a bit of a cold fish, but Mason has written her, and Lisa Moorish portrays her, as a near sociopath. Her unending haranguing about equality and justice, her interest in the Kanak culture and her everyday interactions all come across as part of an intellectual experiment. This is a character who just doesn’t know how to live. Even her sharing of stories and knowledge about the Kanak ancestors and their relationship with the land, which could have been beautiful moments, all have the detached air of a scientist viewing everyone around her with cold interest. The whole role seems like an illustrated lecture.

The other convicts, on the other hand, are mostly creatures of pure emotion. The only well balanced character is Nathalie (Jane MacFarlane) – scorned and belittled by Louise for her pragmatism. Adele (Robyn Hoedemaker) and Marie (Ottilie Mackintosh) are almost caricatures – you can’t have a story of Parisian revolution without a prostitute and a drunk, can you? But these two at least show some real passion and humanity, even though Adele’s sacrifice was not just to save Marie, but to keep the authorities from finding out the truth about the deaths of hostages. Adele and Nathalie’s conversation about the killings is a highlight of the play – in fact, it’s only when these three convicts talk about the revolt that it seems real, with human consequences. When Louise reels off lists of deaths and atrocities, it’s just facts and numbers.

The portrayal of the Kanak is also problematic. Jerome Ngonadi and David Rawlins do a fine job with what they are given, but, having lived and worked alongside modern Fijian warriors for many years, Mason’s version of colonial Melanesia is a bit 1960s Disney. The attempt to portray the unbreakable bond with ancestors and the land is laudable, but the attitude of the Kanak men towards the female convicts, and their sudden change from subdued ecowarriors to full on war paint is a little simplistic. In the play, Louise Michel appears to dress up the carnage of the Paris Commune with tales of an enchanted red flag that magically protects warriors, and surely must have known how the Kanak’s uprising would end. Again, Mason makes this whole thing seems like her orchestrating an interesting social experiment.

Director Sasha McMurray does fine things with the material, creating a hot and sweaty atmosphere of impending doom; and the committed cast give their all, but the production comes across as a well-meant history lecture shoehorned into what could have been a moving play.

Octopus Review

York Theatre Royal – 28 April 2107.  Reviewed by Marcus Richardson

Octopus, is a modern play set post Brexit, exploring the issues what it means to British and how we classify people.  Set in an Identification Office there are three women; Sara, Sarah and Scheherazade, all from different backgrounds and all have even more different views. Scheherazade describes that she and the other two are octopuses (or octopi) one part this, the other that.

The Company made up of a cast of three are all waiting to be interviewed to see if they’re going to be deported, have their benefits cut or allowed to have children.  As each character gets interviewed another actor turns into the interviewer, a Muslim with a headscarf that poses questions by the other characters.  I loved this aspect of the play as all three of the actors took on this role in different scenes.

Dilek Rose who played Scheherazade was absolutely fantastic, not saying that the other two weren’t in fact the cast was very strong and each actor bring amazing quality to their performances, but Rose was absolutely hilarious with her facial expressions. Samara MacLaren played Sarah, a plain British woman who stands out as she seems the typical white woman who breaks into song whenever nervous. The third actor Alexandra D’Sa plays Sara the Indian woman who is an upright accountant who voted for this process, the contest here was really impressive, and D’Sa worked really well with this.

The set was made up of 8 chairs split both sides of the stage and a desk with its own desk chair, on this desk was a laptop and piles of paper.  The greatest aspect was the simplicity of the  stage as it meant they could do a lot with a little. There were three tube light at the front and back of the stage, they changed colour and helped set the scene when they were in the interview office and not in the waiting room, the music played a rather large part in creating the comedy and setting the feel, with Sarah breaking out into song with songs like ‘They’re Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace’.

The show, touring until June, proves that theatre is just as good as any other platform to send a political message and does so in a comic way, that will make you laugh at the crude jokes on what it’s like to come from different backgrounds and maybe a prediction how people will be treated after Brexit has taken place.

The Knights of Music Review

Newcastle City Hall – 29 April 2017.  Reviewed by Lindsay Sykes

Saturday night in Newcastle saw a concert celebrating legendary Knights and Dames of Music of the entertainment industry who have transformed the face of music, film and theatre in recent decades.

Without doubt this is a star vehicle for Schofield and his name is clearly selling tickets as the theatre was around 80% full and the audience greeted him enthusiastically throughout the evening. It was a great concept, and he is an expert of his craft, engaging the audience and providing lots of  facts, figures and show business anecdotes, interacting and responding to audience shout outs and he gave the impression that a lot of his chat was unscripted.

With some outstanding vocals The Knights of Music included songs from Sir Elton John, Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Sir Cliff Richard, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Paul McCartney and The Beatles, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Bob Geldof, Bono who was granted an honorary knighthood, and the newly knighted Sir Rod Stewart.

The evening began with a band of very talented musicians, lead by MD and stunning pianist James Harrison who arguably steals the show.  Playing a mash-up of songs which introduced the cast of six singers, all of which I’m lucky that I have seen perform before – Sophie Evans, Liam Doyle, Andy Coxon, Laura Tebbutt, Emily Jane Brookes and producer Simon Schofield.  The band – Harrison, Daniel Allen on sax, Lloyd Wright on guitar, Anth Ord on bass and Tom Chapman on bass offered remarkable arrangements and seamless mixes which drive this pacey and perfectly produced production.

With his charming and congenial manner Schofield starts the show with the songs of Sir Elton John as the singers danced their way through a medley including I’m Still Standing, Rocket Man and Crocodile Rock, before they finished this upbeat section with a delightful Circle Of Life.

Huge portions of the show are dedicated to the West End with glorious medleys from Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera and obviously Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Recognising Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice’s contribution to the music industry, Jesus Christ Superstar and Music Of The Night filled the auditorium, whilst Sophie Evans recalled her time playing Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz with an exquisite version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and an excellent rendition of My Favourite Things.  Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s contribution wasn’t forgotten though – with songs from Miss Saigon and some stunning vocals on medleys from Les Miserables.

There’s relentless choreography that proves a lot of effort and time has gone into almost three hours of musical bliss.  Seamlessly moving from rock, pop and musical theatre.  The Sir Tom Jones, Dame Shirley Bassey and SIr Mick Jagger sections being especially fabulous

And finally the audience got what they were hoping and waiting for Phillip performed Any Dream Will Do as well as Close Every Door from Joseph and even pulled on his amazing technicolor dreamcoat.  Proving he still has that special ability to move and engage an audience, receiving a standing ovation for each song.

This is a powerfully polished show, remarkably staged with sensational vocals and a brilliant band – a huge creation for just four marvellous performances.  So it can come as no surprise that by the end, and throughout, the audience were on their feet in awe of this tremendous production

We can only hope that this show will tour again and that Phillip Schofield will rediscover his love of Musical Theatre and tread the boards again sometime soon.

Knights of Music Review


Edinburgh Playhouse – 28th April 2017.  Reviewed by Linda McLaughlan 


I arrived at Edinburgh Playhouse unsure of what to expect from the evening, would there be dancing, musical performances or a more relaxed feel to the evening. Form the very first chord I was enticed into the wonderful world of musical theatre, jazz,& rock and roll from decades ranging from 1986 to 2016.

‘Vibrant, exciting and toe-tapping’ the first three words which came to the forefront of my mind.

Edinburgh Playhouse was the perfect venue to enjoy the songs and music from some of the West End Musicals, Theatre and Film. The first musical notes from the Knights of Music Band the audience actively participated in joining in with the fantastic songs from various genres from our British musical greats.

Act 1

Philip Schofield had the audience like putty in his hands keeping everyone on the edge of their seats as they eagerly awaited the cast performing their first song from the wonderful Sir Elton John, ‘I’m still standing” and from there the show went from strength to strength.

It was impossible not to find myself singing along to music from ‘Phantom of the Opera’ produced by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber – ‘Music of the Night’ (a personal favourite of mine) to addictive tunes from the Beatles Medley ‘Hard days Night and Hey Jude’. However an addition to this years performance included the newly Knighted Sir Rod Stewart (2016), with Maggie May and Sailing which the Scottish audience fully participated and enjoyed. The first act seemed to pass quickly as everyone enjoyed the wonderful performances from the cast who were all professional West End Stars in their own right as Solo performers (Andy Coxon, Liam Doyle, Simon Schofield, Sophie Evans, Laura Tebbutt and Emily Jane Brooks.)

Act 2

This started with the guitar player from the Knights band (Lloyd Wright) getting us into the theme of the James Bond Medley and the outstanding music from Dame Shirley Bassey. Things started to get hot under the collar when Philip introduced the music from Sir Tom Jones and the cast obliged by twerking and thrusting to ‘Sex Bomb’. A couple of lucky ladies in the front row were sent into overdrive when Simon and Andy put on an up close and personal performance. The atmosphere in the theatre was electrical and the audience participated by dancing and waving their arms to the beat of the music. Another personal favourite was the music by Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Sir Trevor Nunn from the ‘Les Miserables Medley’.

The pinnacle of the night however was the amazing performance from Philip Schofield when he reprised the role of Joseph, which he had performed on this very stage 19 years previously. His voice was faultless and every person in the audience was in awe of his performance, which climaxed when he adorned his ‘Technicolor Coat’.

I would recommend everyone takes the opportunity and spend the evening watching this fantastic performance, it will be an evening well spent and bring back many memories of the wonderful music and talent we have in Britain.

Dirty Butterfly Review

The Bread & Roses Theatre 27 April – 13 May.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Bread & Roses’ revival of Dirty Butterfly is an intense and powerful production that holds no punches.

Neighbours Jo, Amelia and Jason are all suffering because of Jo’s abusive partner. Through their thin bedroom walls, Jason and Amelia can hear everything. Amelia copes by withdrawing to her sofa, while Jason has become steadily addicted to listening to the drama unfolding on the other side of the wall.

Debbie Tucker Green’s bleak but lyrical writing is delivered with conviction and style by the cast, and the interweaving and overlapping conversations are timed perfectly. Under Tessa Hart’s assured direction, Andy Umerah’s portrayal of Jason’s guilt about his obsession with Jo as childlike confusion – imagining how he could recue her – with glimpses of simmering violence is very convincing. Rebecca Pryle’s Jo is finely nuanced, scared and hopeless, but cruelly enjoying her position of power with Jason. Rachel Clarke is wonderful as Amelia – hardly ever still and utterly convincing in her frustration and guilt about trying to survive by not engaging with Jo; and then becoming a whole new carefree person on removing herself mentally and physically from the flat for her cleaning job.

Staged in the round, the lighting and set design – three separate stage blocks separated by moveable perspex panels- enhance the voyeuristic atmosphere of the production. Watching Jason watch Jo through his screen evokes a seedy peepshow, and the uncomfortable nature of the story can make you feel a little unclean at times. There is no happy ending, and no resolution to the characters’ problems, instead you leave convinced that the cycle of abuse and guilt will never end.

Dirty Butterfly is a brilliant portrayal of the impact of domestic violence. Bread & Roses Theatre Company has done it again, a fantastic production that is wonderfully entertaining and thought provoking. Well worth a look.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Review

York Theatre Royal – until 6 May 2017.  Reviewed by Marcus Richardson

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ is early feminism in a romantic novel turned play. Originally written by Anne Bronte, one of the three Bronte sisters, the book has been adapted to stage by Deborah McAndrew.   As it came to the York Theatre Royal there was a lot of excitement for this adaptation of the much loved novel. Set in gods own county Yorkshire, we follow Gilbert Markham a farmer who falls in love with a mysterious and strange woman, who has taken residence in the run down Wildfell Hall.   A woman with a past ,that leaves her on her own without a man, leaves the whole village questioning her ability to raise her son.


Michael Peavoy who played the rugged Gilbert Markham, had a very interesting character as he had to capture the manliness of the nature, but also the romantic man when meeting Helen Graham (Phoebe Pryce).   I found that he portrayed the character rather well, as he gave it a perfect balance between the two.   Needless to say that the whole cast was absolutely stunning with each of their performances and portrayals, from the talented Susan Twist who multi-roled as two characters which I only found that out after reading the programme, to Arthur Huntington who took on a person from Helen’s past.


But the actor who stood out the most was Pryce, the tenant herself, the character with her complex past and even more complex present can be very difficult to get a hold of as she is both reserved and out-there with her attitudes.  Her best feature is her interaction with other characters and how she slowly falls in love with Gilbert.


But I have to talk about the dog, when the dog came on stage, yes it was a real dog, the whole audience had the best reaction with the typical awwws.

The set was rather simple with a low wall that makes up the foundation of a house so we can get a sense of the time period and the setting, that doesn’t mean that it was a poor set, in fact I love the use of an actual fire on stage to help show the setting of the Markham house. In the second act we are introduced to a new location, somewhere grand and elaborate, to show this a gigantic chandelier  came down and gave an obvious change in class and in place, with the simplicity of the set the scene changes were quick and effective.

The show will be at the Theatre Royal until May 6th, if you are classical literature fan then I would recommend this amazing adaptation of the timeless classic, even if you’ve never read the book before it proves a good insight into what society was like at the time and an interesting look on historical feminism.





Derren Brown, the multi award-winning master of psychological illusion is making a triumphant return to Newcastle Theatre Royal with his latest stage presentation Underground (Mon 7 – Wed 9 Aug ’17).


The nation’s favourite dark manipulator of magic and mind control transfixed full house audiences during a week long run ofMiracle in 2016.  Direct from its recent sold-out London run, Derren Brown: Underground features a collection of some of the very best of his previous stage work brought together into a spell-binding experience of showmanship and magical genius.


Derren comments: “It’s not a brand new show, rather an opportunity to see me perform some of my own choice of favourite bits from the past fourteen years of touring.  Hopefully, it will be just as rewarding an experience for those who have seen me before as it will be for first-timers.”


Derren has toured every year since 2003 and been watched by an estimated audience of nearly two million people. He has won prestigious Olivier Awards, for Something Wicked This Way Comes (2006) and Svengali (2012). His last show,Miracle, his most daring to date, was universally acclaimed by critics and the world-wide audience alike.


Derren Brown: Underground is a Michael Vine, Andrew O’Connor, Derren Brown and Paul Sandler presentation for Vaudeville Productions Ltd. Directed by Andrew O’Connor & Andy Nyman, Written by Andy Nyman, Andrew O’Connor & Derren Brown, setting by Will Bowen, lighting design by Charlie Morgan Jones, general manager is John Dalston.

Derren Brown: Underground appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Mon 7 – Wed 9 Aug ’17. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Tues 2 May at 9 am with Friends of the Theatre Royal able to purchase from Fri 28 Apr at 11am and Advantage members from Sat 29 Apr at 9am.  Prices from £29.00. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge) or book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk.




Today, Les Enfants Terribles and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) have launched a crowdfunding campaign for the first ever LET Bursary. RADA graduate Katherine Kelly(Coronation Street, Happy Valley, City of Angels) is the official patron of the award.

Created to help one individual without the financial means to attend drama school, the winning recipient will receive the bursary towards their tuition fees and living costs for the full-time professional acting course for one academic year.

For further information and to donate please visit:www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/LETbursary

Katherine Kelly, patron of LET Bursary said: “Without RADA I simply wouldn’t be where I am today. The training which they provided me with gave me to tools to tackle any role in any script in any production anywhere in the world. There is no way that I would have had the exciting, varied and fulfilling career I’ve had so far but I know that I have been incredibly lucky.

When young actors ask me how they can break into the industry, I always recommend drama school. However so many talented young people, understandably and heartbreakingly, dismiss this as a possibility because drama school seems totally unaffordable.

Talent is not, and should never be, related to how much money you have. The LET Bursary, which I am thrilled to be a patron of, aims to remove some of those financial barriers which may discourage young actors from reaching their full potential.

RADA’s alumni include some the best actors of film, stage and screen and with your donation, you will be allowing a young actor to have the best possible start to their career.”

Oliver Lansley, Artistic Director of Les Enfants Terribles, said: With the gulf between richer and poorer growing ever wider in our society and the cost of drama schools having risen to over £9000 a year it is becoming increasingly hard for young people of less affluent backgrounds to be able to pursue their dreams of working in the arts.

I set up Les Enfants Terribles when I was 19 years old. My parents were not in involved in the arts, my father was a builder and my mother worked for the NHS, and there was no way they could have afforded £30,000 for me to train as an actor. 15 years later I see now how difficult it would have been for someone like me to get a foothold in this industry. I’ve been incredibly lucky. That’s why I feel it is essential for people in my position to help redress the balance and help support the next generation of artists.”

Edward Kemp, Director of RADA, said: “At a time when the higher education funding model puts financial pressure on many students, it’s vital that there is support available to enable talented young performers to pursue their careers through high quality training. I’m delighted that we’re adding to our scholarship provision by partnering with Les Enfants Terribles to offer the new LET Bursary. Founded by actors, RADA has always enjoyed exceptionally close ties with the profession and it’s particularly gratifying that a theatre company should want to support our students in this way.

Having a diverse company of actors training at RADA only enriches our learning experiences and creative output, and we hope that the new bursary will open up a pathway into the industry for a talented performer who might otherwise not have the opportunity.”

Sam Shepard’s dystopian fantasy comes to Theatre N16 this Summer

Craft Theatre presents:

July 12th – August 5th, Theatre N16

After a year making a documentary and volunteering on the front-line of the European refugee crisis, critically acclaimed fringe theatre company Craft Theatre returns to London this summer with Sam Shepard’s The God of Hell, the first piece in a 12 month season of four shows.

“poignant (..) darkly comic (…) masterfully acerbic” USA Today on The God of Hell

The setting is a Wisconsin dairy farm, where the heifer-breeding Frank and Emma live in rustic isolation. But their peace has been shattered by Graig Haynes, a radioactive refugee from a plutonium-producing establishment. While he hides in the basement, a supposed salesman of patriotic baubles named Welch turns up in hot pursuit. What follows is a process of intimidation in which Welch not only gets his man, but terrorises the innocent mid-Westerners.

“fearless, rigorous, heart-breaking, passionate and thought-provoking” Bargain Theatre on Dante’s Inferno

Director Rocky Rodriguez, Jr. says: “Shepard says the piece is “a take-off on Republican fascism”. It is eerie, it is satire, and it is goofy at times. It premiered in 2005, in response to the human rights abuses/justified experimentation revealed from declassified ‘plutonium files’ in which the US government injected/fed/and induced plutonium on unsuspecting citizens including the disabled, the pregnant, and the testicles of convicts, all for the creation of  fancy nuclear developments. The piece was viewed as a touch too far-fetched, but people didn’t really know about these experiments at the time. With the rise of fake news, profit-seeking immigration detention centres, ICE, the far right in the USA/Europe and Trump-ism, climate denialism, undeclared war, prioritising the corporation over the citizen, society is heading towards the same place that they used to justify the plutonium experiments. All of a sudden Shepard’s satire demands real reflection.” Craft Theatre actors have previous experience including the RSC, ENO, Royal Court, and many major motion pictures.

“Mr Shepard’s gift for finding deadpan surrealism in bucolic speech (is) as hilarious as it is sobering” The New York Times on The God of Hell

Craft Theatre are producing a full season of 4 shows over the next 12 months across multiple London fringe venues, including The God of Hell.
Other pieces will include: The Nazi Comparison – devised with excerpts from Hanns Johst’s Schlageter (one of the few “Nazi” plays) juxtaposed with contemporary political rhetoric; and His Name Was Samir Nasrallah – devised from the story of Rachel Corrie, and Craft Theatre’s first-hand experience on the front line of the European Refugee Crisis.

Hedda Gabler tickets on sale now!





UK Tour October 2017 – March 2018

Following a sold-out run at the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Theatre, the NT will tour its acclaimed production of Hedda Gabler throughout the UK.

Beginning at Theatre Royal Plymouth on 2 October 2017 the tour will journey across the UK to Edinburgh, Leicester, Salford, Norwich, Hull, Aberdeen, Northampton, Glasgow, Wolverhampton, Woking, Nottingham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, York and Milton Keynes, where the tour finishes on 3 March 2018.

Just married. Bored already. Hedda longs to be free…

This vital new version of Ibsen’s masterpiece by Olivier and Tony Award®-winning playwright Patrick Marber (Closer, Three Days in the Country) is directed by Ivo van Hove, one of the world’s most exciting directors.  Olivier and Tony Award®-winning van Hove made his NT debut with Hedda Gabler.  His acclaimed production of A View from the Bridge recently played to sold out houses at the Young Vic, in the West End and on Broadway.  Van Hove’s next production for the NT will be the world premiere of Network based on the Oscar-winning film.  It will feature a UK stage debut for Bryan Cranston.

Set and lighting design for Hedda Gabler is by Jan Versweyveld, with costume design by An D’Huys and sound by Tom Gibbons.  The Associate Director is Jeff James.

Patrick Marber said:  ‘It has been a huge honour to work with the great Ivo van Hove on this version of Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre. I am thrilled that this tour will enable more people to see his incredible production.’

Casting will be announced soon.

Theatre Royal Plymouth                        2 – 7 Oct 2017                                    

Edinburgh Festival Theatre                    17 – 21 Oct 2017                        

Leicester Curve                                            23 – 28 Oct 2017                                              

The Lowry Salford                                 30 Oct – 4 Nov 2017                   

Norwich Theatre Royal                           7 – 11 Nov 2017                                               

Hull New Theatre                                    13 – 18 Nov 2017                                           

His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen             21 – 25 Nov 2017      

Northampton Royal & Derngate             28 Nov – 2 Dec 2017                                       .

Glasgow Theatre Royal                             15- 20 Jan 2018

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton            23 – 27 Jan 2018                                               

New Victoria, Woking                           29 Jan – 3 Feb 2018

Nottingham Theatre Royal                     5 – 10 Feb 2018         

Newcastle Theatre Royal                       12 – 17 Feb 2018   

Grand Opera House, York                         20 – 24 Feb 2018                              

Milton Keynes Theatre                          27 Feb – 3 Mar 2018       

Please check with individual theatres for box office information and on-sale dates