Tag Archives: Adrienne Truscott



Southbank Centre

MASTERCLASS at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre


“Rachel Bergin’s creative production packs a well-staged punch aimed squarely at the patriarchy”

You will recognise the stage set up from any “A Conversation With…” events you have attended in the neighbouring Royal Festival Hall. Two opposing casual chairs either side of a coffee table, prominent copies of a ‘great work’, and a historically accurate cognac bottle: Ellen Kirk as set designer gets the tone just right.

However, the sincerity lasts for mere seconds before Feidlim Cannon and Adrienne Truscott start unravelling the form with silliness, physical comedy and rat-a-tat dialogue. Over the course of an hour they unpick the work of many of the greats stubbornly taking space in the literary and theatrical canon.

Feidlim Cannon plays the interviewer, entering the stage to smooth jazz (Jennifer O’Malley on sound design), ready to cosily interrogate a great man and his body of work. A moustachioed and body suited Adrienne Truscott is introduced as a writer, director and costume designer whose work allegedly surfaces themes of truth, gender and power, but as unrehearsed readings of one of his scenes demonstrate, are more often channels for misogyny and violence against women.



Quickly, the artifice is revealed, with Cannon’s seventies wig falling off during farcical movement sequences (well designed by Eddie Kay, movement director). This escalates throughout the piece as lines between the characters and the artists playing them are increasingly blurred; they appear to break scene to demand self-examination of themselves. In places the threads of the devising are still visible, though they are mostly welcomed (I am a sucker for a juxtaposed dance sequence). Costumes are shed nearly all the way; which as we are reminded is Truscott’s calling card from previous shows, and extensively examined.

There are some great one liners in the first half of the script from writers Cannon and Truscott, along with Gary Keegan of Irish theatre company Brokentalkers, which jab at well-known theatrical productions that have frankly audacious premises. The exploration of why genius and passion never seems to express itself in calm and considered behaviour when violence is available was another point persuasively demonstrated.

Then as the fourth wall fully breaks, we move into a fairly explicit lecture on feminism, allyship and taking up space. It feels like most of the flair disappears for too long before the ambiguous ending restores the playfulness that has underpinned the majority of the piece. I felt like the stripped back truth-telling felt a bit too much like a classroom and the commentary slightly too surface level to justify the lack of theatricality.

Despite this, the vast majority of Masterclass is creative, gnarly, and cathartic for many a practitioner. Rachel Bergin’s creative production packs a well-staged punch aimed squarely at the patriarchy.

MASTERCLASS at the Southbank Centre

Reviewed on 9th May 2024

by Rosie Thomas

Photography by Ste Murray





Previously reviewed at this venue:

FROM ENGLAND WITH LOVE | ★★★½ | April 2024
REUBEN KAYE: THE BUTCH IS BACK | ★★★★ | December 2023
THE PARADIS FILES | ★★★★ | April 2022



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Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety – 5 Stars


 Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety

Hackney Empire

Reviewed -20th October 2018


“this annual festival is a joyous celebration of the scene in all its camp, disruptive naughty glory”


This is the third year for Jonny Woo’s queer, sexy, ribald, irreverent take on this most British of formats, and it’s clear that this fabulous evening has now rightly taken its place in London’s alternative social calendar. London now leads the world in queer performance, and this annual festival is a joyous celebration of the scene in all its camp, disruptive naughty glory. Jonny is the perfect host – witty, warm and salacious in equal measure – and Julian Smith’s costumes are delicious throughout. It is a long evening, at four hours, but the acts come fast and furious and are well-balanced enough that time flies by. This reviewer has to confess to being utterly disabled by laughter on more than one occasion – a treat indeed.

The whole show is cheerfully sweary from beginning to end, but there is a clear tonal arc to proceedings, and the second half is significantly filthier than the first. If you blanch at nudity and overt drug references, this is really not the night for you! After an explosive opening number, which sets the scene for the gender play throughout, the show begins with supremely professional high-camp drag from Myra Dubois. She opens the floodgates for the surge of talent to follow, and it is worth remembering that the energetic silliness of acts such as Garry Starr (Damien Warren-Smith’s brilliant comedy alter-ego), as well as the anarchic scratch-punk world of Christeene and Lucy McCormick, demand a high degree of artistic skill. Similarly, for those who might dismiss Lip Sync, Rhys Hollis’ mind-blowing routine – a fierce, sexy mash-up of Nicky Minaj, Missy Elliott and more – was a lesson in performance precision.

And there are voices too. From Sooz Kempner’s belting rendition of the Chorus Line favourite The Music and the Mirror, to the magnificent surprise of comedienne Jayde Adams’ huge operatic soprano, unleashed after her whip-smart comedy set, to Carla Lippis’ in-your-face and dangerous ‘I’m a Liar’, the Hackney Empire resounded with song throughout the evening. Special mention must also go here to the wondrous Theresa May choir – in splendid voice as well as being eye-wateringly funny. Laughter is nigh on continuous for the duration of the show, and every audience member will come away with highlights. Bourgeois & Maurice’s outrageous and lyrically brilliant take on overpopulation – Babies – and Mawaan Rizwan’s unique blend of song, dance and stand-up were personal favourites.

It is to Woo’s credit that important issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community were woven in to the show’s glittering fabric – the importance of pronouns, trans equality, femme visibility and female visibility were all part of the tapestry. Equally, the terrific sketch between Le Gateau Chocolat and Adrienne Truscott was an affectionate poke at well-intentioned woke behaviour. The facility for self-parody is the surest sign of confidence, which Jonny Woo and this exceptional line-up exude from their pores. All Hail Their Majesties. Long May They Reign.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Studio Prokopiou


 Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety

Hackney Empire



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