Tag Archives: Amelia Gabriel




VAULT Festival 2020



Forge – The Vaults

Reviewed – 4th March 2020



“a bouncy new British musical about a gutsy fighter with a bold message”


Only those with a Mastermind knowledge of women cyclists are likely to have heard of Annie Londonderry, who in 1895 became the first woman to cycle solo around the world.

She became a global celebrity, but her accomplishment was only half of the story: in new musical “Ride” writers Freya Smith and Jack Williams explore the life of this shameless self-publicist who set out to break down preconceptions of exactly what women can achieve.

It’s a bouncy new British musical about a gutsy fighter with a bold message of liberation and achievement yet never shies away from presenting Annie’s less than admirable qualities.

She was born Annie Kopchovsky but hid her Latvian Jewish background and family situation to undertake the cycle ride in 15 months, setting off from Boston saying the trip was the result of a bet between two businessmen.

Trying to sift through her claims is part of the fun of this brassy show, which features an impressive ten memorable songs as it charts the story of an indefatigable show-woman with a vivid imagination, a knack for self promotion (even her new surname stemmed from a sponsorship deal with a spring water company) and a woman’s heart beating for change.

The setting is a newspaper office where an eager Annie (a spirited Amy Parker) ropes in reluctant secretary Martha (Amelia Gabriel, developing the character from timorous to assertive) to recount her deeds – “more than a cycling activity… a liberation!” Both performers capture the personality of their characters perfectly (starting off as opposites but refining themselves as they learn from and believe in each other) and show off fine singing voices to do full justice to the lively score.

In many ways it is a cross between Maxine Peake’s “Beryl,” the story of Yorkshire’s cycling champion Beryl Burton recently revived at the Arcola, and Queen of the Mist,” Michael John LaChiusa’s musical about Annie Edson Taylor, who determined to be the first person to survive going over the Niagara Falls in a barrel.

But this Bottle Cap Theatre offering courageously faces up to the reality of flawed heroism and gritty determination in a show that strains at the leash to be something very much bigger. While one song proclaims that “Everybody Loves a Lie” there’s a message of never losing sight of who you are to become someone unfamiliar and the joyous challenge of embracing change and progression.

Smith and Williams write with a depth and quality that ensures that even within an all too brief 65 minutes a rounded story is presented which never merely skims the surface. Smith also directs and makes the most of the accomplished performers as well as using every inch of the small set, attractively dressed with period furniture which is cleverly used throughout assisted by careful moody lighting (Tim Kelly).

The writers also play in the dynamic four-piece band on guitar and keys, joined by James Pugliese on bass and Tim Harvey on drums, setting the tone for a new show that genuinely feels fresh and is filled with some lovely melodies which journey between strident, romantic and quietly powerful.

“Ride” is an exciting new musical about people searching for a destination and overcoming self-doubt and it clearly has a life beyond the confines of the seedbed VAULT Festival.


Reviewed by David Guest


VAULT Festival 2020



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Review of The Marriage of Kim K – 5 Stars

Kim K

The Marriage of Kim K

Arcola Theatre

Reviewed – 25th July 2017





“Zesty and Irreverent”


First, a quick note. I am not an ‘opera person’. In fact, The Marriage of Kim K’ is the first opera I have ever seen. And seeing as it is part of the Arcola Theatre’s Grimeborn Opera Festival, whose tag line is ‘see opera differently’, I feel this is important. I have never seen opera, differently or otherwise, so what I find to be brilliant may seem to an opera purist to be sacrilegious. That said, this show is brilliant. And I don’t even care if it’s sacrilegious.

In a dramatically innovative restaging of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, we follow central couple Amelia (Amelia Gabriel) and Stephen (Stephen Hyde) attempting to keep their relationship alive amid the competing pressures of work and their diverging interests. She loves the Kardashians, he loves opera. Into this set-up come Kim Kardashian (Yasemin Mireille) and Kris Humphries (James Edge) and the Count and Countess Almaviva (Nathan Bellis and Emily Burnett), via the TV set. Both of these couples are also experiencing their own marriage troubles and it is through their parallel storylines and eventual interactions that the script has a lot of fun mixing fact and fiction. It is a night that begins with our core couple watching reality TV and finishes with them being watched by it.

The small stage is put to ingenious use. Amelia and Stephen occupy the central space of sofa and TV, whilst Kim and Kris and the Count and Countess occupy the two opposite wings. In a witty touch, these wings are mirror images of each other, both containing a single table and chair, showing us that though our couple may argue about the relative merits of high and low culture, this production knows that they are equal.

The production is great across the board. The story and lyrics by Leoe Mercer are zesty and irrerevant and the cast, all brilliant, are clearly having a lot of fun. Mireille is particularly acute at conveying both Kim’s mercenary artificiality and her real longing for love, whilst Edge is very good on Kris’ bouncing boorishness. Stephen Hyde, also in charge of the music, writes that he took Mozart’s original “melodies … [and] reimagine[d] them as all sorts of music – hip-hop, R&B, musical theatre, film, blues, jazz.” The result is a brilliant concoction, which with Leoe Mercer’s witty lyrics, combines to create a show that provides a lot of laughs and a lot to think about. So much so that you might miss them all the first time around. Best to go see it twice.


Reviewed by Alice Gray

Photography by Shay Rowan




is at the Arcola Theatre until 29th July and continues throughout August at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe



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