Tag Archives: Casey Jay Andrews

The Archive of Educated Hearts – 4 Stars


The Archive of Educated Hearts

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 24th October 2018


“She keeps it on the right side of awkward, eliciting giggles as well as tears through poetic language and relaxed delivery”


‘There is no artifice; it’s just me’, quips Casey Jay Andrews as she welcomes us into her tiny, purpose-built shed. So begins the forty minute piece; less theatre, more installation, at the Pleasance this week.

The Archive of Educated Hearts is a fluid narrative, really more of a sister to spoken word and a cousin to acting, around themes of breast cancer, love and memory. British as we are, one would be forgiven for suppressing a gulp on entering the space. Intimacy is written large, with low lighting (an indication of the excellent lighting design, also by Andrews, to follow), family photos and antiquey objects scattered around. We’re an audience of just four on mismatched chairs around a vintage table. There’s nowhere to hide.

We’re quickly plunged into velvety darkness, before cosy lighting comes up on some photographs of four women on the table in front of us. Andrews doesn’t spare details of her own personal experience; her mum and all three of her aunts have a form of breast cancer, leaving her wider family at risk too. Again, this glut of emotion – love, joy, profound grief – would be liable to make your average Brit’s toes curl, but the experience is mediated through Andrew’s warmth and generosity. She keeps it on the right side of awkward, eliciting giggles as well as tears through poetic language and relaxed delivery.

Words alone don’t make this piece, though. Huge kudos must go to George Jennings, the composer, who was also apparently responsible for bringing on board the dulcet tones of Michael Cochrane of Archers’ fame for some voiceover interventions. We’re soundtracked throughout with lilting melodies, but cleverer still is the use of ambient sound – car horns in a frenzy of tooting below the voice of one breast cancer sufferer who made a trip to Vietnam, and beyond, to create memories with her daughter before – who knows what? The unfairness and mystery of cancer is fully explored here, with anger given space as well as love. Jennings’ score leaves room for both.

If any criticism can be levelled at this piece, tender and thoughtful as it is, it might be that it was at times hard to follow who, of the many women living with breast cancer whose voices are heard, was who. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, experiences shifting into one another kaleidoscopically. Similarly, a mealy-mouthed critic might wonder whether the rhythm of the piece, oscillating between Cochrane fruitily reading from a 1930s etiquette manual, recordings of participants and Andrews’s own discourse could start to feel a little repetitive; the pattern of leaning in whilst listening to personal accounts as Andrew lays out photographs of the speakers would, after much longer, start to feel formulaic.

But these would be rather ungenerous criticisms for a piece that wears its ongoing connections to the outside world so plainly on its sleeve. As we close, Andrews hands out cards from Coppafeel. These (‘keep me! I’m your handy reminder to check your boobs!’) include symptoms to look out for, demonstrating a streak of integrity that helps the piece resist any danger of being mawkish or memorialising.

Ultimately, the success of any theatre this intimate will rest in the hands of those guiding a tentative audience through it. With her generosity of experience and of welcome, Andrews ensures this is a success that will be meaningful for anyone who has loved – or lost.


Reviewed by Abi Davies



The Archive of Educated Hearts

Pleasance Theatre until 28th October


Previously reviewed at this venue
Assassins | ★★★★ | March 2018
Moonfleece | ★★★ | March 2018
Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy | ★★★★ | April 2018
Dames | ★★★½ | April 2018
Spiked | ★★★★ | April 2018
A Gym Thing | ★★★★ | May 2018
Bingo | ★★★ | June 2018
Aid Memoir | ★★★ | October 2018


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Neverland – 3 Stars



The Vaults

Reviewed – 1st February 2018


“the immersive element needs a lot more thought and a little reworking”


Neverland is “an immersive musical adventure”, a spin on the classic Peter Pan tale told from the perspective of JM Barrie. A Peter Pan story for grown ups if you like, which keeps the central characters of the original. The show starts well in a central set with the Llewelyn Davies children (the real life inspiration for the original story) getting ready for bed and reliving fantasies and stories from the depths of their imagination with a little help from JM Barrie himself. They interact with the audience, drawing people in to become involved with their stories and participants in the show. Dominic Hall plays a wonderful JM Barrie and delivers a particularly poignant monologue at the end of the show.

The musical sections are very good. The voices of Casey Andrews (Michael) and Simran Hunjun (Captain Hook) are magical. You eagerly await their next song. Lucie Treacher (George) is a gifted musician who entertains throughout the show with a range of conventional and non-conventional instruments.

Rachel Sampley uses strobe lightning with great impact for a battle scene which I felt was one of the highlights of the show.

The problem with the show was that it became chaotic when the audience was split up and taken to different locations. There was no coherence to this and it all seemed a little bit random. The breakout groups were taken to mini sets behind thin curtains. This added to the confusion particularly if you remained in the main room as you could hear part of the sub plot happening in the next room. The audience was left trying to figure out if you should follow what you could see or what you could hear.

This piece of theatre does have a lot of potential however the immersive element needs a lot more thought and a little reworking. The sub plot sets are a delight but not everyone gets to experience them. Possibly with a smaller audience and a more promenade style of immersion this could be a hit.


Reviewed by Angela East

Photography by Helen Maybanks



Vaults Theatre until 18th March


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