Tag Archives: Alex Hinson

Fanny and Stella


The Garden Theatre

Fanny and Stella

Fanny and Stella

The Garden Theatre

Reviewed – 11th August 2020



“the show is a light and frothy bit of fun”


Sitting in The Garden Theatre, the newly-named performance space at The Eagle in Vauxhall, on a hot summer’s night, sipping an icy vodka and tonic and watching six actors strut their stuff, accompanied by a pianist, is as close to heaven as this reviewer has been for six long months. It was, quite literally, an oasis, in the desperate COVID-created cultural landscape in which we currently find ourselves. And let’s shout it from the rooftops: WE NEED THEATRE! WE NEED LIVE PERFORMANCE! There is a frisson to seeing real people – people like us – telling us a story. We feel it in a different way. So, congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this first taster back to us. It was managed beautifully; a track and trace system and social distancing were in place, but handled with ladlefuls of welcome and humanity by the Eagle staff, and the whole event fizzed with a sense of delight and solidarity.

The show itself is a musical, based on the true story of two young men in Victorian London – Frederick William Park and Ernest Boulton – who were put on trial for dressing as women and conspiring to commit sodomy. Frederick and Ernest – the eponymous Fanny and Stella – were well-known figures, having public dalliances with a bevy of society gentlemen, as well as attending drag balls, which were a feature of gay London life of the period. Glenn Chandler’s book and lyrics emphasise the freedom the young men feel within this world and their right to live as they choose – which is a reminder of the battle against misogyny that femme-presenting gay men and trans women still battle with today. The reminder is there, but the piece is far from a polemic. Steven Dexter (director) and Nick Winston (musical staging) have done a terrific job of bringing some real MT pzazz to this tiny space; the choreography is simple but tight throughout, and the performers make it sing, with Jed Berry (Stella) in particular, leading from the front and dancing with real skill, style and showmanship.

There are a few stand-out numbers, as you would expect, and the opener – Sodomy on the Strand – starts the show with a bang. Alex Lodge (Louis Charles Hurt) does some lovely work in one of the more tender romantic songs, but (’twas ever thus) the show really belongs to the barn stormers, and Kane Verrall (Fanny) gives them exactly the level of gutsy ribald chutzpah they need. He gives a terrific comedy performance throughout, and helps get things back on track on the few occasions when the script loses a bit of energy and pace. There are a couple of jarring moments tonally (the horribly invasive medical scene just didn’t sit right as light comedy) but, as a whole, the show is a light and frothy bit of fun, providing a very welcome 90 minutes of laughter and joy in this strange hot summer of 2020.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Alex Hinson


Fanny and Stella

The Garden Theatre until 25th August



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Review of America’s No 1 Detective Agency – 3 Stars


America’s No 1 Detective Agency

Drayton Arms Theatre

Reviewed – 7th August 2017





“With time, and with more conviction, I think we have a little gem”



We’re in downtown LA, in the run down offices of private investigator Vivian O’Connell (Fleur de Wit). A single overhead light bulb casts its sad glow as Vivian sits at her desk, feet propped up next to a half empty whisky bottle. A detached air belies her anxiety as she draws on a cigarette. A jazz trio plays in the corner as other shadowy figures whisp through the haze. One almost expects to hear Sam Spade’s dreamlike drawl over the rhythms and arpeggios of the ‘film noir’ music.

The aptly named “Fatale Femme” Theatre Company have transformed the upstairs space of the Drayton Arms into an evocative replica of a film noir setting and, right on cue, a femme fatale bursts through the door. She is Betty Channing (Alex Hinson), a Hollywood wannabe who has (supposedly) come to enlist the services of the private investigator and her sidekick Joey (Siobhan Cha Cha). The scene is set, but then all too quickly dismantled as the various strands of the convoluted plot twist and knot together in a whirlwind of hidden motives and double crossing.


It is all great fun, and part of the fun is trying to keep up with the action. But it can leave you breathless and wanting the cast to just slow down a little and let you come up for air. Liv Hunterson’s writing is as sharp as a knife but, in the hands of this ensemble cast, didn’t always cut the mustard.

The script needs more careful handling and a calibre of acting that this more than able troupe didn’t quite reach. Anna Marshall’s direction was assured (the use of a live band to underscore and punctuate the action was an inspired choice), and the mix of ideas worked well to achieve a balance of humour and menace, ingredients essential to the classic film noir genre. And the stock characters were all there in the ensemble; the anti-hero Bobby Munroe (Hamish Adams-Cairns), the villainous mob boss Larry Siegeli (Oliver-David Harrison) and squealer “Teddy” Worthington who has some of the best lines, incisively delivered in a cut glass English accent by Iain Gibbons.

However, all the ingredients came out of the pot slightly half-baked, with too many ideas vying for centre stage and too little time to concentrate. This could certainly benefit from both a longer running time and a longer run. With time, and with more conviction, I think we have a little gem, and a format that could really work in the theatre.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans




was at the Drayton Arms



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