Category Archives: Reviews

THE FALCON'S MALTESER

The Falcon’s Malteser
★★★★★

The Vaults

The Falcons Malteser

The Falcon’s Malteser

The Vaults

Reviewed – 19th July 2019

★★★★★

 

“wonderful fun for both young and old”

 

The Falcon’s Malteser is the first book in The Diamond Brothers comic detective series by Anthony Horowitz. Directed by Lee Lyford, Feargus Woods Dunlop’s stage adaption of The Falcon’s Malteser revitalises the 1986 novel and brings Horowitz’s quick wit and clever storytelling to a new generation of fans.

Timothy Simple (Matt Jopling) is an ex-policeman who has rebranded himself as Tim Diamond, the world’s greatest private detective. Unfortunately, Tim is not the brightest sleuth meaning much of the detective work is done by his kid-brother Nick (Sian Eleanor Green). Together, they form the Diamond Brothers Detective Agency though business hasn’t been doing too great.

That is until the three-foot Mexican Johnny Naples drops off a mysterious package at Tim’s office and the Diamond Brothers find themselves at the centre of the international criminal world. When the package’s contents are revealed to be a box of Maltesers owned by evil mastermind Henry von Falkenberg, Tim and Nick must decipher the tasty treat’s significance before London’s crime boss The Fat Man (Samantha Sutherland) and German hitman Himmell (Fergus Leathem) close in.

The acting was strong from all with Leathem and Sutherland doing incredible performances as multiple characters. Hiccups such as Sutherland missing a porthole when throwing a wig were handled with humour and played into the parodic and self-referential nature of Horowitz’s series.

The set (Carl Davies) was cleverly designed and allowed for smooth transitions between the different settings. The backdrop consisted of four doors and a window that also doubled as multiple shop fronts. Three of the doors could be flipped as to either form part of the grey wall or act as doorways. The door furthest to the left had a circular panel that could be removed through which characters could pop up and in one scene used to hang a disco ball.

The play’s chase sequences involved particularly impressive staging. In the first, Leathem as Himmell enacted an entire car chase with headlamps strapped to his knees while holding a steering wheel and riding a swivel chair. In the second, Sutherland as the dancer Lauren Bacardi and Green made great use of the set’s numerous doors and chase sequence tropes.

The lighting (Jack Weir) transformed the stage in an instance. A green hue gave the impression of a dingy basement while disco lights instantly conjured a lively club atmosphere. During Nick’s monologues, the stage would go black and Green put under a spotlight. This was an excellent way of keeping the audience engaged with the play’s necessary exposition despite the action on stage.

The music (James Nicholson) was wonderfully atmospheric. Soft jazz reminiscent of film noir detective movies played throughout the performance including as a flank for Nick’s narration. An upbeat remix of a self-checkout machine’s stock phrases such as ‘there is an unexpected item in the bagging area’ was also a particularly creative backing track to a high street chase sequence.

There were also several musical numbers for which Jopling provided guitar accompaniment. Leathem and Sutherland were standout here, first performing a duet as the Diamond brothers’ parents and then Leathem, as Tim’s old boss Inspector Snape, rapping about all the villains in his life to the beat of Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang. The final song was a solo by Jopling who played the guitar in handcuffs which meant he had to comically climb into his guitar strap rather than put it over his head.


This adaption of The Falcon’s Malteser is wonderful fun for both young and old and its quick-paced and witty script is sure to have the audience both laughing and gripped.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Geraint Lewis

 


The Falcon’s Malteser

The Vaults until 25th August

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Check In/Check Out | ★★★ | March 2019
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Bare: A Pop Opera | ★★★ | June 2019
Black Is The Color Of My Voice | ★★★★ | June 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Margot, Dame, The Most Famous Ballerina In The World
★★★

King’s Head Theatre

Margot Dame

Margot, Dame, The Most Famous Ballerina In The World

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 17th July 2019

★★★

 

If allowed to, I think this piece will grow up to match the quality of Macor’s other plays

 


It’s in the title. And it is fundamentally undeniable, which is probably why writer Claudio Macor has separated the dancer from the dance to focus on the lesser known events of Fonteyn’s life. Commissioned to write the piece for the King’s Head Theatre’s annual ‘Playmill’ festival of new writing, Macor has rightly refused merely to tell us what we already know. Here we see Margot Fonteyn reinventing herself as a cattle rancher, we learn some of the reasons she kept on dancing long after she should have stopped. We get snapshots of her childhood and her relationship with her mother. And at its heart is her marriage to Roberto (Tito) Arias, the serial adulterer and dodgy Panamanian politician.

But at barely an hour long we don’t really feel the pulse of this story. We are, in fact, left wanting it to be massaged into life and given the prospect of a long and healthy future. Even given the limitations of being part of a festival, “Margot, Dame” feels underdeveloped. Thankfully we are aided by a back projection informing us when and where we are in the action as the narrative jumps about chronologically. We have fewer pointers, however, to help us decide whether we are watching a comedy or an earnest piece of drama.

Abigail Moore gives an assured portrayal of the eponymous Fonteyn. An unenviable task but she mixes the imposed affectations of the grand dame with the down to earth girl from Reigate. Neat touches such as the origin of her stage name (“… named after a hairdresser’s on Tottenham Court Road…”) season the exposition with a bit of spice. Fanos Xenofos has more scope for dramatic licence as the husband, ‘Tito’. It was a complicated relationship, and Xenofos’ performance only occasionally hints at the mystique of the man that Fonteyn had to put up with. After a failed coup to oust the President of Panama, Tito escapes and returns to Peru. Margot is arrested for her involvement in her husband’s botched attempt at gun-smuggling. When Tito was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life after an assassination attempt, Margot uses up all her savings to care for him – one of the main reasons she continued to dance so late into her life.

The story is not so much sidestepped as danced over lightly. It is a fascinating angle on Fonteyn’s life and one that refreshingly avoids the obvious. But, as if worried that the audience might lose interest, director Robert McWhir and choreographer Robbie O’Reilly have shoehorned flourishes of ballet to cover the scene changes and time shifts, which dilute rather than add flavour.

But one mustn’t lose sight of the purpose of the Playmill Festival at the King’s Head, which is a vital platform for new writing. “Margot, Dame…” has only two performances in which to reveal its essence. As Fonteyn herself famously said; “… the first night is the worst possible time to make a hard and fast criticism: the baby never looks its best on the day it is born…” If allowed to, I think this piece will grow up to match the quality of Macor’s other plays.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Peter Davies

 



Margot, Dame, The Most Famous Ballerina In The World

King’s Head Theatre until 18th July as part of Playmill New Writing Festival

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Carmen | ★★★★ | February 2019
Timpson: The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
The Crown Dual | ★★★★ | March 2019
Undetectable | ★★★★ | March 2019
Awkward Conversations With Animals … | ★★★★ | April 2019
HMS Pinafore | ★★★★ | April 2019
Unsung | ★★★½ | April 2019
Coral Browne: This F***Ing Lady! | ★★ | May 2019
This Island’s Mine | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | June 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com