Tag Archives: Camilla Harding

Red Palace


The Vaults

Red Palace

Red Palace

The Vaults

Reviewed – 2nd October 2019



“All the necessary components are there … I could just do with a little more amazement and a little less explanation”


Shotgun Carousel’s reputation for outlandish and stunningly executed immersive events far precedes their current show, Red Palace. After last year’s outrageously decadent Divine Proportions, I was fully prepared for an evening of hedonistic debauchery, expertly implemented to lavish excess.

he concept (Laura Drake Chambers) is strong from the start, and all-encompassing: There is a prophesy known across the land that after a thousand days on the throne, the tyrant prince will come to a bloody end. But the prince has no intention of giving up his rule and instead he’s throwing a party on the very day this prophecy should come to pass. Dress code is “your best ball attire and a mask to match” ( don’t worry, you can borrow a mask at the box office). It really is very effective to walk in to a dimly lit room full of masked faces, even if you know most of those are your fellow audience members.

For those who decide to indulge, dinner is served before the main event in a gallery overlooking the hoi polloi. MasterChef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie has whipped up a true feast – I’ll be thinking about that sticky honey soda bread with whipped rosemary butter for days to come, and I only wish I’d snuck in some tupperware for a little more of that rich, crispy shallot tarte tatin.

Performances are promised throughout dinner, but instead we’re occasionally introduced to a character from the main show’s narrative who we’ll no doubt encounter again later in the evening. This is a little disappointing: A performance suggests something of a spectacle and instead we have a preview of a show we’re already signed up to see. The cast themselves are magnificently adorned (Maeve Black) in gothic glamour, and they each play their parts with impressive commitment, even when hassled by substandard audience banter.

The show itself, directed by Celine Lowenthal, takes over the majority of The Vaults, sending the audience sprawling across various nooks and crannies throughout the venue. Initially there’s a sense that we might wander casually from room to room, making discoveries for ourselves, but after the first, we’re shepherded from one spot to the other to observe various necessary parts of the evening’s main plot.

The aesthetics don’t disappoint. Every space has been lovingly crafted to create vastly different atmospheres in each: Snow (White), styled as Barbie Madonna, is throwing a very sad birthday party in her sickly pink boudoir; Gretel (of the famous brother and sister duo) hosts an illegal cabaret with bathtub gin to boot; Red (Riding Hood) hides in the dark, dank forest, plotting her revenge against the prince. But concepts aren’t quite taken to their fabulous potential so within reach. Instead there’s a slight amateur fiddliness to it all, causing a lag between the evening’s tent-pole performances, and slightly sapping the fun out of it as the audience shuffles from one room to the next.

All the necessary components are there: stunning designs, exquisite food, engrossing performances and a well thought out concept. I could just do with a little more amazement and a little less explanation. No need to continuously force feed us the plot, we just want to have a radically decadent unicorn of an evening. Whilst for most that would be too much to ask, it’s what we’ve come to expect from Shotgun Carousel, and on this occasion they’ve just missed the mark.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Nic Kane


Red Palace

The Vaults until 12th January 2020


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Bare: A Pop Opera | ★★★ | June 2019
Black Is The Color Of My Voice | ★★★★ | June 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019
The Falcon’s Malteser | ★★★★★ | July 2019


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Review of Man Up! – 4 Stars


Man Up!

Camden People’s Theatre

Reviewed – 19th September 2017





“a dazzling two-hander”

Man Up! is a dazzling two-hander, deconstructing what it means to be a woman/man/person in the 21st century. Literally stripping the layers of mythology surrounding the terms of gender, Man Up! provides a unique insight into the deconstruction and reconstruction of self through a mixture of discourses: anecdote, stereotype, popular culture and literature. Gliding through the spectrum of gender, Man Up! explores the fluidity of our gendered selves in an entertaining and relatable story of self.

Man-Up follows the story of Milly and Alex, exploring and discussing their lifetime experiences of gender. Both characters begin in clearly defined gendered roles, a femme beauty queen and a masc gamer guy; two highly gendered ‘selves’ divided and isolated from their culturally opposite ‘other’. But as the piece continues, the lines become blurred between feminine and masculine, as they deconstruct the stereotypes that haunt gender by demonstrating the fluidity inherent within it. Swapping sides, the centre-stage line is stripped away, revealing a common humanity and fluidity at the centre of the piece.

The stage begins as two clearly defined stations of masculinity and femininity, but as the characters begin to transform, the space follows, finally transitioning semiotically from a binary division of masculinity and femininity, to a more fluid and amorphous space, demonstrating the wider spectrum of gender. The narrative is accompanied by a series of sketches, cleverly created through use of props and costume; this intelligent physicality is crucial to the piece, breaking up the language-driven narrative with a more visceral demonstration of the story.

The performances give a sense of a verbatim realism, existing somewhere between truth and fiction, the expressiveness and humanity of the performances demands our attention and our empathy. The transformations between femininity and masculinity are incredible to watch, constructed on-stage throughout the piece, truly highlighting the performativity of gender. Man-Up! is hilariously funny and heartbreakingly relevant, it tackles issues that continue to haunt our social and cultural structures in a manner that feels inclusive and understanding of a wider modern audience.


Reviewed by Tasmine Airey



was at Camden People’s Theatre as part of the

Come As You Are Festival



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