Hamlet Review

Park Theatre 22 August – 16 September.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Hamlet. In 90 minutes. With a cast of three. One of whom is Gyles Brandreth.

Sounds like they’ve given it the 39 Steps treatment. Alas, not.

Edited by Imogen Bond, and the directors and cast, this production hurtles through the text like a runaway train, cherry picking the greatest hits and consigning some wonderful moments to the rubbish heap. Anyone coming to this play without a working knowledge of the plot (that Simpson’s episode won’t be enough here) could end up wondering just what the hell is going on in the state of Denmark. There’s not a skull in sight.

The action all takes place in a beautifully designed country kitchen, amplifying the family claustrophobia, but with no relationship to the royal status of the characters at all. And the rain sound effect gets a little tedious – yes, it’s miserable, wet and stormy for the characters inside and out – but after about 75 minutes, it just serves as a clarion call to weaker bladders.

The casting conceit is intriguing – Benet Brandreth playing Hamlet, his wife, Kosha Engler playing Gertrude, Horatio, Ophelia and Rosencrantz, and his father Gyles playing Claudius, Polonius and the Player King. It does bring a more obvious frisson to Hamlet’s relationship with his mother, and makes any signs of tenderness between Gertrude and Claudius slightly more unsavoury, but isn’t enough on which to pin an entire production.

Benet Brandreth’s Hamlet isn’t given enough time to build. There’s a reason the original play is so long – the audience is watching the inner turmoil of the man, and the unrelenting pace of this production doesn’t allow for any nuanced building of tension and mental anguish. So, Benet Brandreth just comes across as angry and loud. Or angry and quiet. His soliloquies give a glimpse of what he could achieve in a better production, as he spears the audience with his eyes to great effect, but this is a very one-dimensional prince. Kosha Engler gives a phenomenal performance (performances?) in her roles. The changes between characters are rapid, with sometimes just a breath between them, but Engler’s shifts in accent, tone and body language make it instantly clear who she is portraying. Gyles Brandreth just can’t get rid of the twinkle in his eye as he acts – it’s like watching your favourite uncle pratting about on stage. But even if the darker moments aren’t quite as dramatic as they should be, he has his moment in the sun as the overacting Player King. Actually, this is quite a funny Hamlet, the highlight being Benet Brandreth giving a pitch perfect impression of his father in the play within the play.

Directors Simon Evans and David Aula’s decisions can be puzzling, but some pay off – the madness of Ophelia causing her to take on another personality led to an interesting final confrontation that showed promise, but ultimately lost any emotional impact as actors switched between characters. This production isn’t a disaster, but it has an identity crisis, which is appropriate for Hamlet, I suppose. This production is a brave, but flawed, attempt at editing one of Shakespeare’s most intricate texts but it has no heart. Lots of brains, but no heart at all.

Adam & Eve Review

Jack Studio Theatre 29 August – 2 September.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Wow. Adam & Eve is one of those plays that will stick in your mind for a very long time. Incredibly and intricately written by Tim Cook, at first you think this is going to be one of those trite “We had a perfect relationship, but let’s look back at how it all went wrong” plays, but it soon becomes clear that this is so much darker, deeper and disturbing than any of that fluffy nonsense.

Teacher Adam (Christopher Adams) and estate agent Eve (Jeannie Dickinson) meet in uni, get married and follow the norm, buying a house in the country to start their perfectly planned family. They seem perfectly happy, until an incident at Adam’s school, involving teenager Nikki (Anuschka Rapp) makes Eve question their entire relationship.

Cook’s writing is just phenomenal. To begin with, when the couple are happy, the rhythm and cadence of their conversations are wonderful, portraying the image of two entirely different people completely in tune and accepting of each other. The pressure to do what is expected by society and settle for a life that isn’t quite as you’d imagined is stressed without being overegged, and you instantly warm to the couple. As the story unfolds, and Nikki is introduced, the darker side of Adam’s personality emerges, with his instinct to protect Eve and his need for control creating lots of conflict and doubt about his true character.

Nikki is a brilliant enigma – petulant and precocious (and initially just begging for a slap) she is the perfect antagonist in Adam and Eve’s little garden of Eden. The audience is taken on the same journey as Eve – who is telling the truth? The writing and acting causes you to shift your allegiance many times as new evidence and strange behaviour emerges. You will not have a clue what is going on – which is a rare pleasure nowadays.

The cast are sublime – Christopher Adams manages the nuanced changes from sweet everyman to shifty possible pervert with aplomb, never allowing Adam to get too unlikeable. Jeannie Dickinson is a treat as Eve – full of energy and fun, but bringing out her steely side as the play progresses. Their chemistry is superb. Anushka Rapp has a tough job with Nikki, keeping her from becoming the caricature of stroppy teenager we are all familiar with, but she succeeds brilliantly – spitting out the snarky comments with glee and brilliantly vulnerable in one crucial scene.

With pleasingly simple design that lets the actors shine, this is a pitch perfect production. Fantastically written and performed, the play hits you in the guts, making you question your own judgement and gullibility. Brilliant, just brilliant. Adam & Eve MUST get a longer run – people need to see this play.

Glue by Louise Wallwein | Ovalhouse | 3-7 October 2017

Time Won’t Wait presents
Glue by Louise Wallwein
Ovalhouse, 52-54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW
Tuesday 3rd – Saturday 7th October 2017
Handsome Louise Wallwein, raised by nuns, raised hell in the Queer scene for the last 30 years!

Glue is a gripping true story by award-winning poet, playwright and performer Louise Wallwein whose ground-breaking work allows us to reflect on our own sense of familial identity. Her acclaimed one-woman show, Glue, will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 Drama on 30th September 2017 in advance of a much-anticipated run at Ovalhouse this October.

This comedic live art performance, fuelled by rhythmic poetry, is about getting to grips with our family relationships and, therefore, our identities.

Born, transferred, placed, discharged, returned – what can we learn from a life in care? Having grown up in the care of nuns from the age of nine, Glue tells the true story of Louise Wallwein’s first meetings with her birth mother, three decades after being put up for adoption. The world as she knew it was turned upside down and this is how she learnt to fight and dance.

Wallwein is currently under commission from the National Theatre Wales and is a featured poet for Hull’s City of Culture, BBC and Humber Mouth Contains Strong Language Literature Festival.

Director Susan Roberts comments, Louise is an explosive artist with a gripping, personal story about the care system and we’re delighted to bring the show to Ovalhouse with Time Won’t Wait, who are both renowned for bringing social issues to the forefront of their work.

Wallwein…blends gritty dialogue with poetry, which is both appealing and immediate (What’s On Stage).

In addition to the run at Ovalhouse, Glue is supporting the advocacy of National Care Leavers week with outreach activity supporting the performances. Glue will be dramatised on 29th September by Julie Hesmondhalgh and Fiona Clark with a live performance broadcast from Hull’s Contains Strong Language Festival on Saturday 30th September on BBC Radio 4 Drama. There will also be workshops
in partnership with the National Theatre and Ovalhouse during the Ovalhouse run and a special performance at the House of St Barnabus in Soho Tuesday 11th October at 7.30pm following a workshop with the club’s members and alumni participants. Glue is also part of And What? Queer Arts Festival.

Glue is supported by Arts Council England.

Producers Sonia Friedman Productions and Neal Street Productions today announce new cast members for The Ferryman

The Ferryman
By Jez Butterworth
Directed by Sam Mendes

  • Producers Sonia Friedman Productions and Neal Street Productions today announce new cast members for The Ferryman.
  • Maureen Beattie, Charles Dale, Laurie Davidson , Sarah Greene, William Houston, Ivan Kaye, Mark Lambert, Catherine McCormack, Fergal McElherron and Glenn Speers will join the company from October 9th 2017
  • Currently booking to January 6th 2018

The original company will give its final performance on October 7th 2017, following which the cast will be comprised of:

Maureen Beattie  – Aunt Maggie Far Away
Charles Dale  – Father Horrigan
Laurie Davidson – Shane Corcoran
Fra Fee – Michael Carney
Stuart Graham – Muldoon
Sarah Greene  –  Caitlin Carney
William Houston – Quinn Carney
Ivan Kaye – Tom Kettle
Mark Lambert – Uncle Patrick Carney
Carla Langley – Shena Carney
Catherine McCormack – Mary Carney
Fergal McElherron – Frank Magennis
Conor MacNeill – Diarmaid Corcoran
Rob Malone – Oisin Carney
Dearbhla Molloy – Aunt Pat Carney
Glenn Speers – Lawrence Malone
Niall Wright – JJ Carney

As previously the full company comprises 37 performers: 17 main adults, 7 covers, 12 children on rota and 1 baby.

The Ferryman, directed by Sam Mendes, will run at the Gielgud Theatre until 6 January 2018.  The production won widespread critical acclaim when it opened at the Royal Court and was the fastest selling show in the theatre’s history.  This phenomenal success has continued at the Gielgud Theatre where it has been playing to sold-out houses, with early morning queues on Shaftesbury Avenue for the £12 day seats each day.

The Ferryman is directed by Sam Mendes, designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Peter Mumford, and sound and original music by Nick Powell.


Sonia Friedman Productions, Neal Street Productions
& Royal Court Theatre Productions
with Rupert Gavin, Gavin Kalin Productions, Ron Kastner and Tulchin Bartner Productions
The Ferryman

By Jez Butterworth
Directed by Sam Mendes
Designer Rob Howell
Lighting Designer Peter Mumford
Composer & Sound Designer Nick Powell
Casting Director Amy Ball CDG

Gielgud Theatre
Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, London W1D 6AR
Until 6 January 2018
Box Office: 0844 482 5130*
*calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your standard network charge

Monday to Saturday 7.00pm, Wednesday and Saturday matinees 1.30pm. 
There will be no performances on Christmas Day or Boxing Day and extra performances added – check online for full details.

Day seats will be available to purchase at £12 for every performance from 10.30am at the Box Office in person
Premium tickets are available

Age Guidance 14+ Contains strong language

Twitter: @TheFerrymanPlay
Facebook: /TheFerrymanPlay


Emma Williams and Lukus Alexander complete the principle casting for the London Palladium Pantomime this Christmas playing the role of Alice Fitzwarren and Eileen the Cat respectively.  They will join the previously announced Julian Clary (Spirit of the Bells), Elaine Paige (Queen Rat),Ashley Banjo (The Sultan) and Diversity (The Sultan’s Special Advisors), Paul Zerdin (Idle Jack),Nigel Havers (Captain Nigel), Gary Wilmot (Sarah the Cook) and Charlie Stemp (Dick Whittington).

Dick Whittington will run at the London Palladium for five weeks only over the festive season from Saturday 9 December 2017 to Sunday 14 January 2018, with press night on Wednesday 13 December 2017 at 7pm.

Dick Whittington is produced by Nick Thomas and Michael Harrison for Qdos Entertainment, the team behind last year’s twice Olivier-nominated London Palladium production of Cinderella, which broke box office records for the highest grossing week in West End theatre history. Dick Whittington is written by Alan McHugh, directed by Michael Harrison,choreographed by Karen Bruce with musical supervision and orchestrations by Gary Hind, lighting by Ben Cracknell, set designs by Ian Westbrook, 3D Creations, costumes by Hugh Durrant, visual special effects by The Twins FX, projection design by Duncan McLean and sound design byGareth Owen.   

Emma Williams completes an award-winning run as Helen Walsingham in Half A Sixpence at the Noël Coward Theatre tomorrow having also played the role at Chichester Festival Theatre alongside Charlie Stemp. She returns to the Palladium where she made her West End debut as Truly Scrumptious in the original cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Her other theatre credits includeMrs Henderson Presents at the Noël Coward Theatre, Zorro at Garrick Theatre and Love Story forChichester Festival Theatre as well as in the West End.  Her television credits include Silent Witness, Casualty, Bleak HouseDoctors, Marple: The Body in the Library, Heartbeat and Where the Heart Is.


Lukus Alexander’s recent theatre credits include the UK Tour of The Who’s TommyDick McWhittington at the SECC, Glasgow, Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Guys and Dolls at Cambridge Arts Theatre and Doctor Atomic at the London Coliseum.

As the world’s biggest pantomime producer, over the past 35 years Qdos Entertainment has established itself as one of the largest entertainment companies in Europe. Over the past three decades the pantomime giant has staged 684 pantomimes and this season expects over two million people will see one of its shows this season.


Theatre:                           London Palladium, Argyll St, London W1F 7TF

Dates:                              9 December 2017 – 14 January 2018

Press night:                       13 December 2017 at 7pm

Box Office:                        0844 874 0667 (no booking fee)

                                      All ticket prices include a £1.25 Theatre Restoration Levy

Website:                           www.DickWhittingtonPalladium.com

Twitter:                            @DWhittingtonLDN




C A T   O N   A   H O T   T I N   R O O F



The Young Vic’s highly praised West End production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, currently playing to capacity each night at the Apollo Theatre, will be broadcast to cinemas around the world on 22 February 2018 marking the fourth collaboration between the Young Vic and National Theatre Live.  Tickets will be released for sale on Monday 25 September 2017.  The National Theatre’s ground-breaking project broadcasts plays live from the stage to over 700 cinemas in the UK and over 60 countries internationally. Cat On a Hot Tin Roof concludes its 12 week limited West End run on 7 October 2017.

The cast includes Sienna Miller (Maggie), Jack O’Connell (Brick), Colm Meaney (Big Daddy),Lisa Palfrey (Big Mama), Hayley Squires (Mae), Brian Gleeson (Gooper), Richard Hansel (Doctor) and Michael J. Shannon (Reverend).  Directed by Benedict Andrews, this twelve-week limited run at the Apollo Theatre, which had its official opening night on 24 July, has its final performance on 7 October 2017.  Set designs are by Magda Willi with costumes by Alice Babidge, lighting by Jon Clark, music by Jed Kurzel and sound design by Gareth Fry.

The truth hurts. On a steamy night in Mississippi, a Southern family gather at their cotton plantation to celebrate Big Daddy’s birthday.  The scorching heat is almost as oppressive as the lies they tell.  Brick and Maggie dance round the secrets and sexual tensions that threaten to destroy their marriage. With the future of the family at stake, which version of the truth is real – and which will win out?


For this production there are seats at £10 for under 25s for each performance booked through the Young Vic Box Office.  Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is the Young Vic’s first production to debut in the West End and is presented by the Young Vic and The Young Ones


Details of all NTLive screenings can be found at  http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

Launched in 2009, National Theatre Live broadcasts have been seen by an audience of over 7 million people at 2500 venues in 60 countries. The first season began in June 2009 with the acclaimed production of Phédre starring Oscar winner Helen Mirren. Recent broadcasts include Angels in America with Andrew Garfield, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill, Rosentcrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead with Daniel Radcliffe, Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson and Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in No Man’s Land, Sky Arts is the UK sponsor for National Theatre Live.


Theatre:                  Apollo Theatre, 31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7ES

Box Office:              Apollo 0330 333 4809, Young Vic 020 7922 2922

Website:                 www.youngvicwestend.com

Suranne Jones and Jason Watkins to star in new West End production of award-winning play Frozen




By Bryony Lavery

Frozen by Bryony Lavery

Theatre Royal Haymarket

Friday 9 February 2018 – Saturday 5 May 2018

Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster, Scott & Bailey) and Jason Watkins (Line of Duty, Taboo, W1A) will star in FrozenBryony Lavery’s Award-Winning play. This psychological thriller about a mother whose child goes missing is directed by Jonathan Munby and will play a strictly limited twelve-week season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from Friday 9 February 2018.


One sunny evening a young girl walks to visit her Grandma, she never arrives. A play about retribution, remorse and redemption, Frozen explores the interwoven lives of three strangers as they try to make sense of the unimaginable.

Suranne Jones is about to reprise her BAFTA Award-winning title role in the second series of BBC One’s hugely successful drama Doctor Foster. She recently completed filming for Save Me opposite Lennie James and Stephen Graham for Sky Atlantic. Other recent television work includes five series of the popular ITV drama Scott & Bailey, playing ‘Rachel Bailey’ opposite Lesley Sharp, as well as The Brian Pern Show and The Crimson Field for the BBC. Other television credits include Lawless, Touch of ClothDoctor Who, Unforgiven and Coronation Street. Suranne’s theatre credits include Top Girls at Chichester Festival Theatre and in the West End, A Few Good Men at Theatre Royal Haymarket with Rob Lowe, for which she received the Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress, Blithe Spirit and Terms of Endearment. Suranne played the role of ‘Sandra’ in the 20th anniversary West End revival of Beautiful Thing at the Arts Theatre, as well as the title role in Orlando at the Royal Exchange in 2014.

Jason Watkins is best known for his performance in the title role in acclaimed drama The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, for which he won Best Actor at the 2015 BAFTA Television Awards. He is also known for playing ‘Gavin Strong’ in Sky 1 comedy series Trollied, as well as ‘Simon Harwood’ in the popular BBC comedyW1A. Airing this September, Jason will be playing ‘Roger’ in the BBC One sitcom Hold The Sunset. He has appeared in over 70 plays and was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2001 for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in A Servant To Two Masters for the RSC/Young Vic production in the West End. Recent theatre includes The Late Henry Moss by the late Sam Shepard at the Almeida Theatre and A Farewell to the Theatre at the Hampstead Theatre. Film credits include Hampstead opposite Diane Keaton, Gordon Shakespeare in the Nativity! film series and future releases, The Children Act with Emma Thompson and The Man Who Killed Don Quixotedirected by Terry Gilliam.

Bryony Lavery’s plays include A Wedding StoryLast EasterHer Aching Heart (Pink Paper Play of The Year 1992) Smoke, Dirtand More LightHer play Frozencommissioned by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, won the TMA Best Play Award, the Eileen Anderson Central Television Award and was then produced on Broadway where it was nominated for four Tony Awards. Stockholm, for Frantic Assembly, won the Wolff-Whiting award for Best play of 2008. Beautiful Burnout for The National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly received a Fringe First at Edinburgh, before performances in the UK, New York, Australia and New Zealand. Stage adaptations include 101 Dalmatians (a musical), Chichester 2014, A Christmas Carol (for Birmingham Rep/Chichester Festival Theatre), Precious BaneThe Wicked LadyTreasure Island (National Theatre 2014-5) and Behind The Scenes At The Museum for York Theatre Royal. Recent work includes The Believers for Frantic Assembly, Thursday for ETT/Brink, Australia, Queen Coal at Sheffield Crucible, and Brideshead Revisited for York Theatre Royal/ETT and Our Mutual Friend for Hull Truck. She is currently writing Balls for One Year Lease Theatre Company, New York, Forever Young for Manchester Royal Exchange, adapting Brighton Rock for Pilot Theatre The Lovely Bones for Birmingham Rep, and developing Cruising for TV.

Jonathan Munby’s UK Theatre include: King Lear starring Ian McKellen and Sinead Cusack, First Light(Chichester Festival Theatre); All The Angels: Handel and The First MessiahThe Merchant Of Venice starring Jonathan Pryce, Anthony and Cleopatra starring Eve Best and Clive Wood and A Midsummer Night’s Dream(WhatsOnStage nomination for Best Shakespearean Production) (Shakespeare’s Globe); Wendy and Peter Pan, The Canterbury Tales (Stratford, Tour and West End) and Madness In Valencia (RSC); Twelfth Night (UK Theatres Awards nomination for Best Touring Production) Company starring Daniel EvansThe Comedy Of Errors and Bird Calls (Sheffield Theatres); Thérèse Raquin starring Alison Steadman and Pippa Nixon (Theatre Royal Bath); ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Prince of Homburg starring Charlie Cox and Life Is A Dream starring Dominic West (Donmar Warehouse); A Number (WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice nomination for Best Regional and Best Off-West End Production) (Menier Chocolate Factory and Sheffield Theatres); Serious Money and She Stoops To Conquer (Birmingham Rep); The White Devil(WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice nomination for Best Off-West End Production) (Menier Chocolate Factory); 24 Hour Plays (Old Vic); Henry V And Mirandola (Manchester Royal Exchange); Nakamitsu (Gate Theatre Notting Hill); Opera includes: Carmen (Opera Holland Park); Don Giovanni (English Touring Opera); Sweetness and Badness (WNO Max Project). International Work includes: King Kong: Legend Of A Boxer, the South African Musical (Fugard Theatre Cape Town and Joburg Theatre Johannesburg); Othello and Julius Caesar (Chicago Shakespeare Company); The Crucible (Cocoon Theatre Tokyo); A Human Being Died That Night (Recorded for BBC Radio 3) (BAM New York, Fugard Theatre Cape Town and Hampstead Studio); Measure For Measure and The Dog In The Manger (Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Director) (Shakespeare Theatre Company Washington DC); Romeo And Juliet (Akasaka Act Theatre Tokyo and Theatre Brava Osaka); The Recommendation (Old Globe San Diego); The Winter’s Tale (Guthrie Theatre Minneapolis); Noises Off (Kreegar Theatre Washington).

Writer                                   Bryony Lavery

Director                                Jonathan Munby

Designer                              Paul Wills

Lighting Designer             Jon Clark

Video Designer                  Luke Halls

Composer                           Rupert Cross

Sound Designer                 Christopher Shutt

Frozen is presented by Jonathan Church Productions, TRH Productions and Scott Delman.


Further casting to be announced in due course.




Theatre Royal Haymarket


London SW1Y 4HT

Box office number: 020 7930 8800

Website: FrozenThePlay.com

Dates: Friday 9 February – Saturday 5 May 2018

Press Night: Wednesday 21 February 2018

Performance Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday at 3pm

Ticket Prices: From £15

Premium tickets available.


Social media handles:

Facebook: Frozen The Play (url: Facebook.com/FrozenThePlay)

Twitter @FrozenThePlay

Hashtags: #FrozenPlay