Tag Archives: Bart Lambert

Thrill Me

Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story
★★★★★

Hope Theatre

Thrill Me

Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story

Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 4th April 2019

★★★★★

 

“you find yourself simultaneously appalled and captivated by these two characters”

 

It’s Chicago in 1924 and two school friends are reunited. Nathan Leopold (Bart Lambert) is obsessively in love with Richard Loeb (Jack Reitman) and wants to resume their previous affair, but Richard has changed. Inspired and seemingly possessed by the controversial writings of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, he exploits Nathan’s devotion in return for making him an accomplice in a series of crimes. Having signed a contract in blood, their pursuit of the ‘Ubermensch’ ideal inevitably leads the pair beyond arson and petty burglary and into more disturbing and challenging transgressions. They gain notoriety as the Thrill Killers – at a considerable cost…

Directed by Matthew Parker, the Hope Theatre’s production of Stephen Dolginoff’s 2003 true-crime musical is stunning. Narrated in flashbacks during a parole hearing 34 years later, it maintains an incredibly high level of drama – considerably aided by the sensitive and dynamic piano playing of musical director Tim Shaw. It helps that the source material – both the script and songwriting – is so consistently strong. When the dialogue stops and the singing begins in lesser musicals, it can often seem like filler. In Thrill Me, every song carries the narrative forwards and sharpens the focus on the personalities and motivations of the two men. Lambert and Reitman are note-perfect throughout – quite some feat given the sheer number of lines and lyrics they have to deliver across the eighty-minute performance.

There are a couple of fairly major plot twists, which means that the show continues to surprise you just when you think you’ve worked out how it will unfold. There’s real intensity conveyed, both in the vividness of Nathan’s feelings for the man he worships and in Richard’s fixation on amoral self-transformation.

Subtle lighting helps to build the atmosphere, particularly in the scene in which they set an abandoned warehouse ablaze – a perfect visual metaphor of their fiery passions. Creative use is also made of recorded voices (those of Dewi Hughes and Bryan Pilkington) and sound effects, providing a three-dimensional framework that instils the action with even more realism.

The play examines the psychology of egos, ethics and manipulative behaviour as well as tackling bigger themes of society and individualism. Primarily, it asks the question: what would you do for love? As it explores those extremes you find yourself simultaneously appalled and captivated by these two characters, whose escalating predicament is all the more chilling for being based on a true story.

 

Reviewed by Stephen Fall

Photography by lhphotoshots

 


Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story

Hope Theatre until 20th April

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Fat Jewels | ★★★★★ | July 2018
Medicine | ★★★ | August 2018
The Dog / The Cat | ★★★★★ | September 2018
The Lesson | ★★★★ | September 2018
Jericho’s Rose | ★★★½ | October 2018
Gilded Butterflies | ★★ | November 2018
Head-rot Holiday | ★★★★ | November 2018
Alternativity | ★★★★ | December 2018
In Conversation With Graham Norton | ★★★ | January 2019
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | January 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Dracula

Dracula
★★★★

The London Library

Dracula

Dracula

The London Library

Reviewed – 7th February 2019

★★★★

 

“Creation Theatre are able to harness the power of the space to great effect, resulting in an exciting and engaging piece of theatre”

 

So it turns out that Count Dracula, whose Transylvanian castle has surely been the site of many a nightmare, was a Londoner the whole time. He was born, from the pen of Bram Stoker, between the shelves of the London Library. Appropriately, upon entering the library’s Reading Room on a gloomy February evening, it emits the same eerie atmosphere that Stoker was able to evoke through words over a hundred years ago.

This is the first play that the London Library has ever staged; at first, it may strike the sceptic as nothing more than a novelty. But Creation Theatre are able to harness the power of the space to great effect, resulting in an exciting and engaging piece of theatre.

Dracula himself never appears in person: instead, the story traces his effect on newlyweds Jonathan and Mina Harker. Jonathan is a solicitor who visits Transylvania on a business trip and returns a different man. Mina, who is staying in Whitby with her cousin Lucy, is witness to many strange events, including the kidnapping of children and Lucy’s sudden death. The play opens at the aftermath of these traumas, with the Harkers attempting to piece together what happened, and why.

Adaptor Kate Kerrow’s decision to re-order Stoker’s narrative might lead to some confusion for those who are unfamiliar with his expansive, detailed plot. Nonetheless, her narrative is engaging and allows the audience to play detective. Every role is played by either Bart Lambert or Sophie Greenham, who throw themselves into the action with relentless energy. Lambert thrives at playing extreme characters. He invests the mentally scarred Jonathan with a very believable sense of mania whilst avoiding the trap of caricature. Greenham is a strong ballast against the frantic energy of her co-star, providing a sense of reality through her grounded portrayals of Mina and Dr. Seward. They also give Kerrow’s narrative arc – on the theme of repressed sexuality – some credibility, though perhaps not enough for it to feel entirely at home in the story.

The third actor in the piece is obviously the Reading Room itself, every aspect of which is harnessed by the creative team. Director Helen Tennison draws our attention to different parts of the room: action happens in front of us, above us, behind us – even outside. Projections and sound effects initiate genuine moments of fear, even if they occasionally lean a little too far into melodrama. Designer Ryan Dawson Laight also fills the shelves with hidden treasures: not just props, but books and objects. The colourful Romanian-English dictionary slid between the old volumes is a reminder of the elusive Count’s omnipresence.

It remains a mystery how compelling this production would be without the aid of its setting. Nevertheless, the London Library and Creation Theatre must be praised for creating such a vivid piece of theatre. Dracula is a unique experience, especially for those with a love of books and their creation, or who have a fascination with libraries and the secrets that they hold.

 

Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography by Richard Budd

 


Dracula

The London Library until 2nd March

 

Last ten reviews by Harriet Corke:
Debris | ★★★★★ | Theatre N16 | October 2018
Metamorphosis | ★★★★ | Bread & Roses Theatre | October 2018
Reboot: Shorts 2 | ★★★★ | The Bunker | October 2018
The Full Bronte | ★★★ | The Space | October 2018
To Kill a Mockingbird | ★★★½ | The Tower Theatre | October 2018
Jeannie | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | November 2018
Super Duper Close Up | ★★★★★ | The Yard Theatre | November 2018
Gentleman Jack | ★★★★ | Jack Studio Theatre | January 2019
The War Of The Worlds | ★★★½ | New Diorama Theatre | January 2019
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | Hope Theatre | January 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com