Tag Archives: Cassandra Hercules

Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough

Park Theatre

Hell Yes I'm Tough Enough

Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 26th April 2019



“The satire gets lost in a mish-mash of absurdist comedy and sea-side slapstick, despite excellent performances from a talented cast”


Ben Alderton’s  story is about the political battle between Ned Contraband and David Carter, obvious caricatures of Miliband and Cameron. On the Labour side, Ben Hood plays Contraband as a lost soul, pulled between his hippy counsellor, Will, and tough talking advisor Sharon Slaughter. Michael Edwards is funny and convincing as Will, oozing charm as the exaggeratedly stereotyped yoga, energy healing, hug giving therapist, one of the only characters in the play who actually cares about anyone else. Cassandra Hercules, as Slaughter, is his polar opposite, hard as nails, ambitious and a little too shouty. Contraband is pulled one way and the other between them, seeming to lack any volition of his own. He is a weak character with no depth, and it is just not possible to see him as a real politician. This is in no way Hood’s fault, he does a good job, but what he has been given to work with is not fully realised.

On the Conservative side we have Alderton himself giving us a truly vile, self serving Prime Minister Carter. He bullies and towers above his flunkies, intimidating and unlikeable. Only Annie Tyson’s Glyniss can control, and occasionally dominate him. Glyniss is Carter’s campaign manager, and Tyson gives her a steely reality that only sometimes falls victim to the play’s one dimensionality. Nick Clog, played by James Bryant, is bullied by Carter to such an extent that he even cleans his shoes. Again, the stereotype is too much, but Bryant finds moments of humanity in the chaos, particularly in the second act. Venice Van Someren plays Poppy, a young Conservative, working on Carter’s re-election campaign and practically surgically attached to her Blackberry. Also in the blue camp is a young political consultant, Patrick. He is a fish out of water in the Tory shark tank, intelligent and clever. He is also the only truly human character in the play. He is written with depth and reality, and Mikhail Sen does an excellent job of showing Patrick’s disillusionment with the world of politics, and his eventual rethink about allegiance and ambition.

The final character, played by Edward Halsted, is an Obi-Wan Kenobi/Jeremy Corbyn figure, called Corbz, who appears from time to time, sweeping the floor and uttering profundities. His dialogue with Patrick at the end of the play is a rallying cry about not giving up, of finding a way to be honest and true in the political cesspool. It is impassioned and heartfelt, but unfortunately it is a little long, and feels like a bit of a tirade by the end.

It is in characterisation that Alderton’s writing fails to convince, and Roland Reynolds’ direction, which emphasises exaggerated performance, does not help. The essence of good caricature is its believability, and making such absurd stereotypes of the characters extracts their reality to such an extent that the comedy is often diminished, people seem one dimensional, and the power of the satire is lost. Often, instead of feeling the bite of satire as the two factions fight within and between themselves, it feels more like the playground, where kids yell ‘na na ni na na’ at each other.

The set is simple and effective, using a coloured strip which lights up red, blue or yellow, according to each political party, above a wooden sideboard and carpet tied floor, is enough to give atmosphere and locate the action. Isabella Van Braeekel is the designer, Alex Hopkins the lighting designer, and Julian Starr designed the sound.

Described as a political satire, Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough falls unhappily between two stools. The satire gets lost in a mish-mash of absurdist comedy and sea-side slapstick, despite excellent performances from a talented cast. It’s a pity really, because some of it is very funny.


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Robert Workman


Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough

Park Theatre until 18th May


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Dialektikon | ★★★½ | December 2018
Peter Pan | ★★★★ | December 2018
Rosenbaum’s Rescue | ★★★★★ | January 2019
The Dame | ★★★★ | January 2019
Gently Down The Stream | ★★★★★ | February 2019
My Dad’s Gap Year | ★★½ | February 2019
Cry Havoc | ★★ | March 2019
The Life I Lead | ★★★ | March 2019
We’re Staying Right Here | ★★★★ | March 2019
Intra Muros | | April 2019


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The Incident – 3 Stars

The Incident

Canada Water Theatre

Reviewed – 17th October 2018


“charmingly explores the joys and trials of these relationships, but was lacking that zip needed to really lift it”


Next time you’re on the Jubilee line, stop off at the library next to Canada Water station. There, along with a good collection of books and a cute café, you can go into a fantastic theatre space. Both large and comfortable, and properly rigged for lighting, Canada Water Theatre is an excellent space to put on a show, a sentiment which Two Gents Productions clearly share. Their production of ‘The Incident’ is playing here, and it is a relationship drama about Jan and Monica. Both teach at the same school, both live in Sweden and both are seemingly in love with each other. The big difference: Jan is Swedish and Monica is from Zimbabwe. The play tackles the couples’ struggles to communicate and understand each other, as well as wider social issues concerning racial politics in Sweden and indeed globally.

The two actors both held their own in this two-hander; however it was Cassandra Hercules playing the part of Monica who really shone. She had the difficult task of articulating racial struggle in a way that wasn’t cliché or too bleak. She was successful, as her whole performance was rich with physical energy and clear connection to her thoughts. David Weiss’ Jan was a much more stuck up and stiff character than Monica, however there were moments where I felt his character came across as particularly cold and cruel, especially when ‘consoling’ Monica when she was upset over past racial prejudices she had experienced.

In terms of the writing, there seemed to be a lot of significance weighted onto lines with clear messages, and not as much attention on the subtext and moments in between. Joakim Daun’s award-winning script has a few of these moments of unnecessary exposition, filling the audience in on information that we can get simply through good direction and use of the space. The scene where Jan informs Monica of her suspension from work was an excellent example of using distance between the actors and fast pace to create energy and plenty of subtext. It would have been fantastic if this quality was present throughout the piece.

The play is an international one, and has been performed all over the world. In the lobby before the show I was able to witness a wonderful mixing of cultures, as Swedish and African audience members were meeting and discussing the upcoming show. The piece charmingly explores the joys and trials of these relationships, but was lacking that zip needed to really lift it.


Reviewed by Edward Martin

Photography by Joakim Daun


The Incident

Canada Water Theatre until 19th October



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