Tag Archives: Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

Review of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – 4 Stars


The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 15th December 2017


“a romping yarn with a wicked sense of humour”


I’m sure somewhere in my childhood I either read the Wolves of Willoughby Chase or it was on tv. I know I was a total coward as a child, I watched Daleks from behind the sofa and refused point blank to see anything with ‘ghost’ in the title. When I was eight, some long forgotten kids thriller (certificate PG) gave me nightmares for weeks and vaguely traumatised me for life, so I was a little concerned this story may well have been it, so I decided not to investigate further and to just go and watch this production with no real idea what tale would unfold (gulp).

It set a very atmospheric scene from the start with mist swirling around frosted oak trees, and the silhouette of buildings looming from the small and well used space (designed by Karl Swinyard) while the distant hint of howling hummed, and sinister dark figures emerged …

The young heroine Bonnie (played with gusto by Rebecca Rayne), is loved, indulged and blissfully unaware of her fate when her parents leave their estate, and her, in the dastardly hands of new governess Miss Slighcarp (villinously played by Adam Elliott). Quickly joined by her treacherous companion Mr Grimshaw (played by Bryan Pilkington) Bonnie’s life is thoroughly dismantled by the greedy pair.

Her poor, frail cousin (played with perfect decreasing wimpishness by Julia Pagett) becomes her companion, with local Simon (played by Andrew Hollingworth) their nearest friend in the remote woods that surround the house and shelter the howling wolves. But the children battle to save home and family, forced to take on a quest with courage and determination, with only a handful of allies – and geese – along the way.

The plot comes from a wonderful 1960s adventure story for boys & girls from a novel by Joan Aiken, but set over 100 years earlier, and has been adapted gloriously by Russ Tunney into a romping yarn with a wicked sense of humour. The pace is amazingly fast as you race through the tale, each classic plot twist embraced, loved and delivered with a raised eyebrow, a flounce, or an outrageous grimace.

Although the two ‘girls’ are a constant in the story, the rest of the roles are played by Adam Elliott, Andrew Hollingworth and Bryan Pilkington via quick change, off-stage voices and sheer physicality of acting. There is a tangible sense of the build up to the final show down, and the inevitable meeting of many of the characters (played by the same actor) making the urgency and humour delight the audience. I loved the way characters excused themselves to return as someone else, it didn’t detract from the story at all and filled the theatre with laughter.

With a few songs thrown in for good measure, an utter obsession with cheese, and a brilliant performance from the whole cast this is a fantastically feel-good, festive production. Oh and the laughs are ‘Simply Ridiculous’!


Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Photography by Tim Stubbs Hughes




The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

is at Jack Studio Theatre until 6th January 2018



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



Review of The Importance of Being Earnest – 3.5 Stars


The Importance of Being Earnest

Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 16th November 2017

★★★ ½

“fast, furious, and sophisticated; littered with delightful bunburying and Wilde’s beloved familiar quotes”


I decided years ago that the great thing about ‘The Importance Of Being Earnest’ is that it is difficult to over-act Wilde’s indignant characters in this play; they are all larger than life. Yet while it revels in stereotypes, the twists and turns we are taken through are not entirely predictable as they lead us to a wonderfully implausible conclusion!


The plot is deceptively simple: a man wishes to marry a woman. But the path to true love raises a few issues along the way like fake identities and disapproving families. These issues lead to more issues, which uncover further issues … which tangle issues even more.

From the start I loved the black and white set, a great backdrop allowing the hugely colourful characters to take centre stage. It was altered just the once to move the action from inside to out, meaning the entire play rested on the performance and the script.

The cast managed to balance the absurdity of the unfolding farce with clarity and what seemed like ease as the play rapidly progressed. The physical comedy required was dependent on expression and small movement, even occasional stillness, to heighten the constant quick witted dialogue full of wit and wisdom. The script was fast, furious, and sophisticated; littered with delightful bunburying and Wilde’s beloved familiar quotes, and delivered beautifully and comically by all on stage.

Both Daniel Hall and Riley Jones (as Algy/Ernest and John/Ernest) confidently trade raised eyebrows, cutting insults and quips like old adversaries. The ladies they fall in love with, Gwendolen and Cecily (played by Sophie Mercell and Emily-Rose Clarkson), sparkle in repartee with their beloved young men, and in both their burgeoning friendship and barely veiled animosity for each other. The dominating Lady Bracknell (played by Harriet Earle) was withering in tone and gaze, while the sneakily pivotal Miss Prism (Kate Sanderson) and bumbling Dr Chasuble (Scott Barclay) were amusingly simpering. Finally, The Butler, played brilliantly by Daniel Desiano-Plummer, as two separate servants at two separate locations, was understated and a constant source of amusement with muted actions in the background often creating distracting laugh out loud moments

Collectively the cast moved fluidly in action and prose, glossing over a couple of tiny script stumbles and a minor injury very professionally. The audience was constantly laughing, from giggles to guffaws. It seemed to me that the actors grew in confidence as the show unfolded and they settled into the pace. The production was good to start with and strengthened gloriously as the story unfolded. I left with the sound of laughter ringing in my ears and a smile on my face.



Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Photography by www.everlockproductions.com




is at the Jack Studio Theatre until 2nd December



Click here to see a list of the latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com