Tag Archives: Cara Chase

A Funny Thing Happened – 4 Stars


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit …

Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 4th October 2018


“opens up the walls of free speech to challenge our notions of offence”


“I’ve been single so long? I’ve started having sexual fantasies about my vibrator.” At odds with the sombre hospital ward setting, this opening line of the European premiere of Halley Feiffer’s script sets the tone for piece determined to find comedy in life’s darkest moments. Spunky and spirited Karla (Cariad Lloyd) is trying out some new “bits” for her mother (‘Marcie’, played by Kristin Milward), bedbound by her cancer treatment. On the other side of the curtain, unassuming forty-something Don (Rob Crouch) arrives to visit his mother (Cara Chase). What starts out as offence turns into friendship, and over the course of the play, the relationship between this mismatched couple deepens as the tragedy that underpins the reasons for their connection grows ever more present. Family is at the heart of this touching and witty play, and this production offers genuine laugh-out-loud moments – often at the expense of others – gently mixed with tender and nuanced moments of introspection and revelation.

What’s so glorious about the comedy on display is how fresh it seems. Shifting from the off into the murky realm between ‘funny’ and ‘offensive’, “A Funny Thing…” invites the audience to admit no topic is off-limits. Are only certain groups of people allowed to make certain jokes? Is, as Karla declares, there “anything funnier than rape”? This audience in particular seemed to enjoy gasping and laughing in unison, and, especially by giving this shocking and foul-mouthed voice to a female comedian character, opens up the walls of free speech to challenge our notions of offence (something Ricky Gervais has spent many years trying to do).

The performances on display are exceptional, showing an acute awareness of comic timing whilst still producing believable and relatable characters on stage. Cariad Lloyd flows with natural energy and it utterly compelling, whilst Rob Crouch, although seeming sometimes too heightened in comparison to Lloyd, embodies the everyman battered down by the pains and disappointments of his life. Chase and Milward, silent and asleep in bed for most of the play, hold a lot of presence, and their moments of speech come as a pleasant and hilarious surprise. Milward especially justifies everything that comes out of Marcie’s mouth making her perhaps the most memorable character in the show.

It is the nature of a script set in a hospital ward that much of the action takes place sat down in chairs, but Bethany Pitts’ direction still makes space for dynamic moments of motion that disrupt the normality of sitting, reading and waiting. Isabella Van Braeckel’s detailed costume design deserves a mention for its simple awareness of each character, allowing us to truly see these whose these people are at a glance.

With gasps and guffaws in equal measure, “A Funny Thing…” translates well into British culture, being moving, wince-inducing and really funny all in one go. Not one to be missed.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by James O Jenkins


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit

Finborough Theatre until 27th October


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Imaginationship | ★★ | January 2018
Into the Numbers | ★★★★ | January 2018
Booby’s Bay | ★★★★ | February 2018
Cyril’s Success | ★★★ | February 2018
Checkpoint Chana | ★★★★ | March 2018
Returning to Haifa | ★★★★ | March 2018
White Guy on the Bus | ★★★★ | March 2018
Gracie | ★★★★ | April 2018
Masterpieces | ★★ | April 2018
Break of Noon | ★½ | May 2018
The Biograph Girl | ★★★ | May 2018
Finishing the Picture | ★★★★ | June 2018
But it Still Goes on | ★★★★ | July 2018
Homos, or Everyone in America | ★★★★ | August 2018
A Winning Hazard | ★★★★ | September 2018
Square Rounds | ★★★ | September 2018


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Rope – 4 Stars



Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Reviewed – 17th February 2018


“George Kemp is entrancing as the amoral, braggadocious Brendan”


Rope, written by Patrick Hamilton, debuted on the London stage in 1929 and this revival at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch transports the audience back to those hedonistic days with verve. It is based on the real-life case of Leopold and Loeb, two wealthy American students whose aspirations to prove their intellectual superiority executed what they hoped would be ‘the perfect murder’. Hamilton’s version transports the duo across the pond, becoming Brendan and Granillo, two Oxford undergraduate students driven by the same Nietzschean ideals to ‘live dangerously’. The arrogant swagger of privileged Oxford by-way-of public school boys portrayed here will be familiar to those who have seen Posh or it’s cinematic adaptation, The Riot Club, highlighting the enduring fascination of playwrights and audiences with this sect.

George Kemp is entrancing as the amoral, braggadocious Brendan, revelling in the feat he’s masterminded. His reluctant accomplice Granillo (played by James Sutton) is much less excited by it all, drinking to excess to calm the nerve he often comes close to losing. Rather than following the machinations leading to the murder, the audience instead meet the pair stuffing the body into a chest in Brandon’s Mayfair apartment as they discuss that night’s dinner party which will use the same chest as a buffet table. Guests include the murdered boy’s mother and aunt; two vacuous friends representing the average man and woman; and an artist friend, Rupert Cadell, played with gusto by Sam Jenkins-Shaw, who Brandon sees as his intellectual equal and therefore the most thrilling to evade.

The divide between what the audience and the guests know keeps tensions high and is enhanced by the clever lighting, designed by Mark Dymock, that’s opening red glow conveys the mood and enables just enough light to observe the murderous pair.

At times, some of the dialogue feels clumsy and lacking sophistication for contemporary audiences – particularly when Brandon tells the audience via Granillo the ‘facts’ of the murder they’ve just committed. There are also jokes which belabour the gag so as to feel like filler. However, this is all delivered with style by the cast and is a fault of Hamilton’s script, rather than this production. There was, however, an unfortunate technical issue which spoilt the final moments of the piece, resulting in ripples of laughter from the audience which can only be assumed not to have been the desired effect. Despite this damp squib, the skillful exploitation of dramatic irony and resulting macabre humour, makes for a thoroughly gripping night of theatre.


Reviewed by Amber Woodward

Photography by Mark Sepple



Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch until 3rd March



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