Tag Archives: Anneli Page

The Dysfunckshonalz!

Hen and Chickens Theatre

The Dysfunckshonalz!

The Dysfunckshonalz!

Hen and Chickens Theatre

Reviewed – 28th May 2019



“challenging and clever … while being fun, funny and downright exhilarating …”


Punk isn’t dead. And, if it is, then the body still smells. That smell is tHe dYsFUnCKshOnalZ! – coming up through the floorboards and still offending, still challenging but somehow thought-provoking. The play, written by Mike Packer and directed by Steve Thompson has all of that punk spirit but takes advantage of the time passed and the theatrical format. The delivery is a moving and hilarious story of a band coming back together so they can sell out to corporate America.

Packer has written a deeply challenging and cryptically sincere play that drives the audience through the late lives of four estranged bandmates, skewered together by the offer of hundreds of thousands of pounds from an American credit card company for their song to be in an advert. Billy, the band’s lead singer, disappears after a mysterious event in Copenhagen but each of the band’s members grows into a complicated, meaningful and developed character. The show rises and crescendos with clever themes about capitalism, integrity and death served to the audience enciphered as offensive and simple-seeming punk rock behaviour. Despite the shouting and screaming which sets a world record for fucks and shits and the awesomely loud on stage punk performances, the show whispers its ideas and never thrusts them on a single audience member.

The direction from Thompson is superb as the actors navigate a tight space at the Hen and Chickens Theatre. The music and on-stage band are weaved nicely to create a real sense of the punk in each set change, each prop and the stubborn refusal to turn anything down for an older, more mature, Islington audience. With the script setting each scene well, the musical instruments in the back of each conversation give a sense of thematic space rather than a physical location.

The acting was fantastic with Danny Swanson leading the way as Billy Abortion but others in the cast giving equally comprehensive and intense performances. Swanson finds the paradoxes in Billy the washed-up lead singer but somehow resolves them with clarity – his erratic and destructive behaviour end up enigmatically making total sense. As the evening progresses, Emily Fairman as Louise Gash delivers emotional depths that are best experienced in person, not through a review.

tHe dYsFUnCKshOnalZ! Is not to be underestimated. Although it pays homage to a genre of the past, the production is entirely of the present. Its questions, anxieties and characters make sense in our world of ‘brand authenticity’ and Instagram art. A challenging and clever play that rejects forced intellectualism without throwing away thoughtfulness – all while being fun, funny and downright exhilarating.


Reviewed by William Nash


The Dysfunckshonalz!

Hen and Chickens Theatre until 1st June


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Abducting Diana | ★★★½ | March 2018
Isaac Saddlesore & the Witches of Drenn | ★★★★ | April 2018
I Will Miss you When You’re Gone | ★★½ | September 2018
Mojo | ★★ | November 2018
Hawk | ★★★ | December 2018
Not Quite | ★★★ | February 2019
The First Modern Man | ★★★ | February 2019


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The Golden F**king Years – 3 Stars


The Golden F**king Years

Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 19th April 2018


“makes you laugh out loud finding out why life never gets less complicated”


On the hottest April day for seventy years it felt quite fitting to be whisked away to the sunshine of the Med without even having to leave the Jack Studio Theatre – which was gratefully cooled to perfection this balmy evening.

Helen, weary and stifled (played by Deborah Maclaren), and the bemusingly irritating Gordon (played by Adrian McLoughlin) have retired to the Mediterranean. They spend their time mostly on their balcony overlooking the sea, where one reads lots of books and one drinks quite a lot gin and they both watch the world go by.

They’re comfortable. But life isn’t as idyllic as expected and their amusing conversations leave clues of growing dissatisfaction … a mix of boredom brought on by inactivity and a touch of ‘jaded old age’ start to show their differing feelings on life.

The arrival of a confident younger woman (played by Anneli Page) in town shakes them both out of their attempt to relax into old age. Both their lives alter. Are they settled or simply settling …? Sex, alcohol, a couple of dubious brownies and a lot of misbehaviour spirals humorously out of control, and brings serious repercussions!

The simple but effective set (Chris de Wilde) worked well and the lighting (Ben Jacobs) and music (from sound designer Jack Barton) were used perfectly to move the story around the claustrophobic Spanish resort expat area setting.

In the 21st Century, where people live a lot longer, feeling a lot younger, this play aims to challenge what it means to grow old gracefully and disgracefully alike. I liked the way it explored the ‘norms’ of behaviour, ‘standard thinking’, and the trap of stereotyping, as well as pondering what emphasis you ought to give to what others think of you! Three lives are exposed, three pasts and three futures, all proving you don’t need to be young to be stupid! This witty play from Adrian McLoughlin makes you laugh out loud finding out why life never gets less complicated.

Whether you’re retired yourself, planning an early escape from working life, or pretending it’s too far in the future to contemplate, this show makes you wonder what will fill your time when the nine to five comes to an end – just remember growing older may not equal growing wiser!


Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Photography by Chris de Wilde


The Golden F**king Years

Jack Studio Theatre until 28th April


Previous Shows at Jack Studio Theatre
Fear and Misery of the Third Reich | ★★★ | Jack Studio Theatre | January 2018
Stuffed | ★★★★ | Jack Studio Theatre | March 2018
Three Sisters | ★★★★ | Jack Studio Theatre | March 2018


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