Tag Archives: Bruce Kitchener

Dare to Do (The Bear Maxim) -2.5 Stars


Dare to Do (The Bear Maxim)

The Space

Reviewed – 30th May 2018


“Unfortunately the production falls short of its potential”


They call him ‘The Bear’. In the world of finance he is unafraid to take risks, a giant on the 65th floor where the higher the elevator takes you is a clear indicator of status, “the black boy from Tottenham who took on the city”, Bear says of himself. But when he is let go by the firm because “my face doesn’t fit” his life spirals desperately back down, and soon he is transferring the rules of the finance world to the streets of London. An acute commentary on racism within the world of finance, as well as a scathing observation of a world and a people obsessed by money, this should’ve been a topical and moving story. Unfortunately the production falls short of its potential.

Mark Norfolk’s writing moves between conversation-based realism and spoken word, but the poetry is not brought out in the characters’ delivery. The rhythm and pace required of this style of writing is lacking, and moments of humour in the script are often lost in performance. Moments of uncertainty jar the performance – hesitations as lines are nearly forgotten that affect the production’s flow for example, but this is likely to be ironed out as the run continues.

The set (Alfie Heywood) is basic but functioning, but the lighting (Chuma Emembolu) is bizarrely literal at points and a more subtle design would’ve better complimented the space. The projections on the back wall could have been used more as they work really well, but needed to be more regularly integrated into the production as a whole to create a more coherent piece. At the same time, the projections are sometimes at odds with what the actors are saying and details such as unrealistic typing mean a certain slickness is lacking from the production.

To its credit, this production is an exemplar of gender blind casting. Bear is played by Jaye Ella-Ruth who is consistently convincing, portraying cut-throat trader alongside adoring husband and father, propelled forwards by an impressive tenacity and self-belief. Greater investigation into the emotional depth of the Bear’s character would aid this portrayal. I think this comes back to a question of pace. Where the spoken word moments require a greater rhythm and drive forwards, Bear’s emotional moments require more space around them, a moment to breathe. Bear carries the play, joined by actors rotating parts – a predominantly competent and supportive cast.

This is a script filled with potential and a production that is trying to do some really interesting, but it falls unfortunately short of where it is aiming to reach.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown


Dare to Do (The Bear Maxim)

The Space until June 9th


Previously reviewed at this venue
One Festival 2018 | ★★★ | January 2018
The Sleeper | ★★★ | April 2018
Citizen | ★★★★ | April 2018


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



Review of Flycatcher – 2 Stars



Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 9th November 2017


“a tighter script, clearer concept, and more character development needed”


Set in a bizarre and darkly comic world, Flycatcher, written and directed by Gregg Masuak, is about lust, deceit and the darkest parts of ourselves. The play centres around Madelaine, a young waitress with a fascination for creepy crawlies, who becomes involved with Bing, an American happy-go-lucky door-to-door insurance salesman and Olive, a stand-offish art gallery owner with a striking resemblance to Grace Kelly.


The actors made the best of an ambitious but ultimately disappointing script. Emily Arden did a particularly good job of portraying the obsessive and conniving Madelaine. Susanna Wolff and Melissa Dalton were impressive – playing a large number of characters from gossipy waitresses with filthy minds, to obnoxious cutesy makeup salespeople, with precision and excellent comic timing. Nathan Plant and Bruce Kitchener also did well playing a multitude of roles. Plant’s physicality in particular was well done and added to the comedy. Kooky grandma Mae, played by Fiz Marcus, was also very funny, though her presence in some scenes often felt unnecessary.

The main issue with Flycatcher was that it felt dated and out of time and place. Bing’s dialogue, clothes, and obsession with Grace Kelly made him a 1950s American caricature. In contrast, other characters used flip phones and a chunky 90s landline rang throughout the show. The setting was also confusing; many of the characters had American accents yet paid for things in pounds. Perhaps these choices were intentional to emphasise the unsettling world of Flycatcher but overall the concept seemed to miss the mark.

The set was simple yet effective. Islington’s intimate Hope Theatre was transformed into a spider’s web by placing white tape on the floor in a web pattern. During the pre-set four characters stood at the edge of the web while Madelaine lay on the floor at the centre, entangled in the dark mess of the story. The piano music which played at the start of both acts added to the sinister atmosphere but more sound design would have been useful in clarifying the setting of scenes, as this was often unclear.

Overall, the performances were strong and there were funny moments but a tighter script, clearer concept, and more character development were needed to make it the dark comic thriller it could be.


Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com




is at the Hope Theatre until 2nd December



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