Category Archives: Reviews

Review of Moments – 4 Stars

Moments thespyinthestalls.com

Moments

Hen & Chickens Theatre

Reviewed – 22nd August 2017

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

 

“a quality script, beautifully delivered and charmingly performed”

 

 

Coincidence creates connection in this sweet and gentle tale of strangers living in an anonymous city. Julia Cranney’s play tells the story of Daniel and Ava, two unlikely companions dealing with the loneliness of modern life and finding comfort in a chance encounter. The second show, from the already award-winning Pennyworth Productions, is a delicate comedy attempting to address the loneliness of modern living. A gentle laugh rather than a guffaw.

Moments thespyinthestalls.com

This is perfect 6’o’clock viewing – a good cup of coffee at the end of the day. Endearing from the outset, the play presents our two abandoned souls with warmth and humour, never cloying or obvious. The production plays to the venue’s strengths, keeping it simple and open, but not un-sophisticated. The action of the play is mainly told through two voice overs, which is insightful but not over bearing, and Richard Speir’s direction carefully balances the blossoming friendship. The overall effect is very slick, but most importantly frees the actors to really nuance their performances.

As a two hander, the play rests on the strength of the cast and both performers more than live up to the task. Writer Julia Cranney is all too recognisable as the isolated Ava, both desperate and terrified to reach out to others. Nervy and vulnerable, Cranney’s is equally matched by the stoic and easy going Daniel, a man dealing with the aftermath a family breakdown. In lesser hands, this character could have easily been seedy, but Simon Mattacks is brilliant in his portrayal – instantly reassuring and charismatic. The contrast between the world-weary and the naïve have you really rooting for these characters to open up to each other from the get go, and the pay off, though small, is striking.

Moments thespyinthestalls.com

The only slight criticism I can offer is a scene where Mattacks performs with his back to the audience. While I can see the narrative sense and it is in-keeping with the tone of the piece, it shuts Daniel out of the intimacy that Speir’s has built between the audience and the performers. Even that slight barrier, made me feel like I was missing something from the scene as a whole. That said, it gives Cranney a real chance to articulate Ava’s dilemma and Mattacks recovers more than admirably.

I really liked this show. While it may not be the flashiest or most spectacular show on the Fringe this season, what it does it does really – a quality script, beautifully delivered and charmingly performed. This is a company that clearly takes a lot of pride in their work and it certainly pays off – this is new writing at its best. A strong and safe second outing for a new company that I would highly recommend.

 

Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com

 

Moments thespyinthestalls.com

 

 

MOMENTS

is at the Hen & Chickens Theatre on 26th & 27th August as part of the Camden Fringe Festival

 

 

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Sophie

Sophie

Lion & Unicorn Theatre

Reviewed – 19th August 2017

 

⭐️⭐️

 

 

“a laudable endeavour but  …”

 

 

Described as ‘A stark, painful and compelling story,’ Sophie is written and performed by Julia Pagett. I would agree with the description up to a point, but unfortunately it is not compelling. It is also described as a play. It is not a play, it is a fifteen minute monologue. When Pagett walked off stage someone sitting near me said, ‘is that it then,’ echoing my thoughts precisely.

The piece opens with Pagett already on stage, leafing through a shoebox full of what look like letters and postcards. She had a nice connection to the character during this preset, and that would have been a good start were it not for the fact that she kept doing exactly the same thing after the house lights went down. ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ played, and we had to sit through every verse while she looked at the stuff in the box. In all, with the song and the preset, this added up to about eight minutes and she had lost me by the end of the first verse. I find it a strange directorial decision by Keir Mills, to start with the actor on stage and then to continue the same action when the lights go down. If she had walked in to begin the piece we would, perhaps, have been more drawn in.

Unfortunately the problems did not end there. Much of Pagett’s delivery was very quiet and rushed. Sometimes I had no idea what she was saying, as she was practically falling over her words, and seemed to be pitching the volume to someone about three feet away from her. This did not work well in the back row. On the few occasions when she slowed and took a breath she was more connected and interesting.

Some of the writing is good, but at times it slips into a predictable pathos. It is definitely worth working on but the piece does not feel ready for presentation. It would have been much better placed in a new writing night among other shorts. Actor Awareness put on evenings dedicated to Mental Health and this would sit well there as a work in development.

The team are raising money for Mind, the mental health charity. This is a laudable endeavour but I would rather have either seen three fifteen minute pieces, or just donated the £5 ticket price to Mind.

 

Reviewed by Katre

 

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SOPHIE

is at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre until 27th August as part of the Camden Fringe Festival

 

 

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