Tag Archives: Alex Brenner

We’ve Got Each Other

VAULT Festival

Weve Got Each Other

We’ve Got Each Other

The Vaults

Reviewed – 6 February 2019



“Because O’Donnell proves he’s a ‘triple threat’, it’s hard not to want more than what we’re given”


We’ve Got Each Other is an anticipated twelve-times Olivier Award nominated musical spectacular. A cast of thirty-five, a full band rocking Bon Jovi tunes, Bruno Tonioli choreography, gorgeous costumes, and confetti cannons make for an unforgettable night of theatre. Or at least it would have, if Paul O’Donnell had had the budget for it. Due to a few logistical snags, the final result is… a bit different from the initial pitch. But ‘the show must go on’, and on it goes, as a one-man musical. O’Donnell reassures us, we’ve got the script, some good music, and most importantly, we’ve got each other. And that’s a lot.

Paul O’Donnell is hilarious, wonderfully awkward and apologetic, as he talks the audience through the show that ‘might have been’. He sits on the side of a bare stage under an Ikea lamp with the script. He invites us to use our imagination to make up for the lack of… everything really. Lighting cues (Arnim Friess) follow actors who aren’t there. O’Donnell narrates the story and the dancing play-by-play, vividly immersing the audience into a non-existent jukebox musical. It’s a laugh-out-loud funny spoof. He relentlessly, lovingly, mocks every aspect of musical theatre from the overwrought melodrama down to the set changes. Various recorded versions of “Livin’ on a Prayer” (acapella, instrumental) serve as the soundtrack.

O’Donnell embraces the very camp he’s poking fun at: his enthusiasm for this terrible Bon Jovi musical is infectious. It’s a bit of a shame, then, that it takes him until the second half to get up out of the chair. He spends most of the time sitting, half-mimicking the would-be dancing. The restraint of his position seems at odds with his eagerness and excitement. It’s gratifying when he finally gets up and fully dances, sings, and acts out the scenes. If he were to do this from the start, it would ramp up the energy of the show, which feels underdone while he’s confined to the chair. Because O’Donnell proves he’s a ‘triple threat’, it’s hard not to want more than what we’re given. Additionally, for a Bon Jovi musical, it would have been nice to hear more than one Bon Jovi song. Not sure whether it’s intentional for humour or copyright reasons, but comedy-wise it seems like loading a six-barrel gun with just one bullet.

One man reading through a musical script on a blank stage sounds like a long sixty minutes. The catch is that somehow O’Donnell is funny, creative, and talented enough to pull it off. Fans of musicals will truly enjoy this hilarious, incisive love letter to the genre. But even my companions who are not regular theatre-goers were repeatedly in stitches. This no-budget musical may be livin’ on a prayer, but it’s living its best life. Give it a shot.


Reviewed by Addison Waite

Photography by Alex Brenner


Vault Festival 2019

We’ve Got Each Other

Part of VAULT Festival 2019




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Honour – 3 Stars



Park Theatre

Reviewed – 30th October 2018


“doesn’t use the opportunity of a revival to explore deeper the rage and disappointment bubbling under the script’s surface”


‘Honour’ is a topical and gripping four-hander that paints an honest portrait of middle-class life collapsing in on itself. Witty and erudite, Joanna Murray-Smith’s script, here revived after a successful National Theatre production in 2003, retains its relevance and is even enhanced playing now in a society were gender politics and the nature of relationships have moved firmly into the spotlight.

Henry Goodman plays George, an affable, “pretentiously casual” writer and intellectual being interviewed for a volume on ‘great minds’ by the ambitious and direct Claudia (Katie Brayben). Her presence in George’s life aggressively rocks the comfortable middle-class boat he and his writer wife Honour (Imogen Stubbs) have been cruising in for the last thirty-two years, and George’s decision to leave forces Honour, with the help of their daughter Sophie (Natalie Simpson), to re-evaluate what her life has become, and what it could have been.

Although familiar territory, Murray-Smith’s play asks some useful questions about resentment, guilt, passion, and above all love. How much should a person sacrifice for another? How much of our own lives do we give up out of a sense of duty to someone else’s? It pits careerism against relationships, a conflict particularly relevant in millennial circles and here a gentle reminder that it’s never too late for change.

The ensemble are convincing in their relationships and expertly play the insecurities, thought changes and verbal stop/starts that pepper the script. Stubbs and Goodman are riveting to watch and handle the emotional weight of their characters’ choices well. Sudden blackouts keep the audience on their toes, and Liz Cooke’s set, with its dilapidated blue wave looming over the course of events, foreshadows the story nicely but fails to ask any real questions of the script. The pastel blues of banal middle-class life are shocked into action by the blacks and reds of Claudia’s costume. Paul Robinson’s direction keeps things pacey and balanced, but again, doesn’t use the opportunity of a revival to explore deeper the rage and disappointment bubbling under the script’s surface.

Luckily, this is a gripping study of marriage with instantly relatable characters played by talented actors. It’s certainly a middle-class play about middle-class problems, but by playing it safe, misses out on directly challenging its seemingly middle-class audience itself. How much resentment, how much regret, do you carry around under the visage of well-to-do urban existence?


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Alex Brenner



Park Theatre until 24th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
There or Here | ★★★½ | January 2018
A Princess Undone | ★★★ | February 2018
Passage to India | ★★★ | February 2018
Vincent River | ★★★★ | March 2018
Pressure | ★★★★ | April 2018
Building the Wall | ★★★★ | May 2018
End of the Pier | ★★★★ | July 2018
The Rise & Fall of Little Voice | ★★★★ | August 2018
Distance | ★★★★ | September 2018
The Other Place | ★★★ | September 2018


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