Tag Archives: Anthony Lamble

Cops

Cops

★★★

Southwark Playhouse

Cops

Cops

Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 17th January 2020

★★★

 

“Sometimes it’s like a fine vintage wine, in other places, it’s dusty and antiquated”

 

Southwark Playhouse starts the new year Stateside as it transports us over to the Windy City. Cops, a new play by Tony Tortora, focuses on personal conflicts and professional unrests.

Chicago, 1957. A time and place where change and betterment is on the horizon in every aspect of society. But the murky underworld of Mafia crime and dirty police corruption is hard to erase. Stan (Roger Alborough), Rosey (Daniel Francis), Eulee (James Sobol Kelly), and Foxy (Jack Flammiger) work together in the Police Department. They may be of different ages, ethnicities and social standings, but their joint disgruntled attitudes towards the work and each other bonds them together. They’re on the hunt to bring in a gangster-come-star witness, before the Mob gets their hands on him. However, the operation soon becomes trickier as the cops get more entangled in the thickening plot, whilst their lives and relationships with each other begin to crumble.

There’s definite Arthur Miller-type undertones to Tony Tortora’s writing. Stan, for example, is a downtrodden everyman, with only his job to live for, much like Miller’s Wille Loman from his masterpiece Death of a Salesman. Yet, like Foxy who yawns during a long all-night stake out, it’s hard to not want to do the same at times. The stake out scenes in particular move at a dirge-like pace. The dialogue may be fast moving, but any physical, engaging action comes in dribs and drabs. The storyline of mob violence and corruption in the police department promises being full of grit and suspense but is rather lacklustre in final execution. Tortora is excellent at nailing the vernacular and true day-to-day movements of a 1950’s cop, but for theatrical purposes, this doesn’t translate into being engaging enough.

Where Tortora and director Andy Jordan do shine is the examination of interactions between the intergenerational, interracial work colleagues. The office offers a dissection of society at the time. The throwaway un-PC comments, and racial nicknames flung around by Stan, reminds you how much things have changed since 1957, but also how relevant social injustice still is today.

The cast give near-faultless performances as each and everyone one are believable and truthful in their delivery. From the scenes of bantering office talk, to introverted moments of opening up their hearts, they balance the fine line between the two with utmost precision.

The set (designed by Anthony Lamble), accurately captures the look of an American cop shop of the 1950’s. Maps, documents and photographic evidence plaster the walls. Archaic ash trays are dotted everywhere. The four detectives have their own desk. A charming, subtle touch from Lamble is that each workspace is arranged in the style of each characters personality. Stan’s is messy and full of paperwork, Rosey’s impeccably clean and organised. The back half of the stage is exposed brickwork and undecorated windows, making the transitions from office to stake-out in an abandoned warehouse run smoothly.

As contradictory as it sounds, this is a refreshingly traditional piece of new work. Cops examines masculinity in a classical style and structure that is fitting of the time period the play is set. Minus some in-jokes for the modern day audience, the play feels like it could have been written sixty years ago – for better and for worse. Sometimes it’s like a fine vintage wine, in other places, it’s dusty and antiquated. Authenticity is clearly the driving force, meaning captivating, gripping action is sadly put on the back burner.

 

Reviewed by Phoebe Cole

Photography by Robert Day

 

Cops

Southwark Playhouse until 1st February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Oneness | ★★★ | May 2019
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Afterglow | ★★★½ | June 2019
Fiver | ★★★★ | July 2019
Dogfight | ★★★★ | August 2019
Once On This Island | ★★★ | August 2019
Preludes | ★★★★ | September 2019
Islander | ★★★★★ | October 2019
Superstar | ★★★★ | November 2019
Potted Panto | ★★★★ | December 2019

 

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Friendsical

Friendsical

★★

Assembly Rooms

Friendsical

Friendsical

Assembly Rooms – Music Hall

Reviewed – 15th August 2019

★★

 

“it becomes an over the top, pantomime of character traits and gestures”

 

“How YOU doin’?” Not great! After seeing my favourite 90s American sitcom Friends has been turned into a confusing musical parody.

Friendsical disappointingly misses the mark in many ways. Branding itself as a parody but it is clearly a failed attempt to recreate a condensed version of David Crane and Marta Kauffman’s original hit show with a few beige musical numbers thrown in for good measure. Iconic colourful umbrellas in hand – the cast of Friendsical take to the stage, singing a second rate adaptation of the “I’ll Be There For You” theme song. Although their umbrella-ography by Darren Carnall is slick, and energetic that is about the only thing worth note in this ninety minute “romp”.

The premise for the show as Ross Geller (Jamie Lee Morgan) explains to the audience is that he has decided to make a “musical spectacular” to celebrate their ten years of friendship together but particularly commemorating his relationship with Rachel (Charlotte Elisabeth Yorke) and so he has cast his friends to play themselves and re-enact their own memories through song in this live performance. Get it? No? Me neither.

Miranda Larson’s writing makes excuses from the beginning when Ross explains that the ‘timelines’ might get mixed up but the audience just have to allow it in the name of “theatrical license”. This prerequisite allows Larson to cram the rest of the show with word for word re-creations of moments such as: ugly naked guy, the wedding dress scene, Janice and Chandler’s break up and out of context catchphrases in the hopes that we won’t notice the lack of any real substance.

These are the characters we know and love – as if they are on acid. The actors do a great imitation of each of their parallels with clear in depth research in physicality and voice. In particular, Sarah Goggin’s up-tight, control freak Monica and Thomas Mitchell’s snarky and awkward Chandler couldn’t BE anymore spot on. However, once the novelty of seeing these imitations wears off it becomes an over the top, pantomime of character traits and gestures.

Anthony Lamble’s set design is one of the things this production got right. With the iconic purple door, the huge bay window and the neon Central Perk coffee sign. Lamble has recreated in great detail the famous locations of Manhattan life, generating an overwhelming sense of nostalgia which this show is definitely lacking.

In truth Friendsical doesn’t feel like a lovingly made homage to the sitcom with 236 episodes which we have all rewatched at least ten times. It feels like a ‘play by numbers’ venture, riding off a multi-billion dollar brand to get hyped fans bums on seats. This ambitious remake is a steep price to pay for fans with not much given in return.

 

Reviewed by Liz Davis

Photography by Dale Wightman

 


Friendsical

Assembly Rooms – Music Hall until 25th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019

 

 

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