Tag Archives: Charlie Allen

Skin in the Game

Greenwich Theatre

Skin in the Game

Skin in the Game

Greenwich Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd July 2019



“The three leads perform their powerfully naturalistic lines with immaculate timing and almost exhilarating rancour”


In a crime and drugs plagued central Birmingham district, three siblings grapple with the seemingly everyday task of disposing of their father’s flat following his move to a care home. However, the central role of Jamie (Paul Westwood) is haunted by a gambling addiction, presaged even before the play opens by the sinister sounds of gaming machines. So, there’s a growing sense of unease from the off as Jamie bickers and banters first with his domineering brother Danny (Charlie Allen), then with his sister Michelle (Kathryn O’Reilly), run ragged by single-motherhood and poorly paid work leavened only by casual drug use. The filth-flecked dialogue flows in a breathless stream of malign gossip and invective, barely concealing all the characters’ craving for one form of instant gratification or another and the reduction of their relationships to the purely transactional.

What starts as a topical, issue-led drama heading for a morality tale ending, then shifts its ground in the last quarter with the appearance of the father himself (David Whitworth) in a flashback scene revealing a goodness behind Jamie’s fecklessness, and much badness elsewhere, turning kitchen sink realism into a slightly contrived whodunnit. On our way to this denouement we discover that documents have gone missing, the flat has been taken off the market, and the sinking feeling widens into a bottomless chasm, drawing all three in.

The three leads perform their powerfully naturalistic lines with immaculate timing and almost exhilarating rancour, with the refreshingly sympathetic role of their father bringing a well-judged counterpoint at the end. Direction by Clemmie Reynolds is just as precise, benefitting from some imaginative sound and lighting from Alex McNally. Emily Megson’s set somehow makes the grim, claustrophobic flat fill the ample Greenwich Theatre stage whilst making the grimy furnishings form a pleasing tableau and costume by Emily Ntinas is subtly spot on – literally, in the case of the stains ornamenting Michelle’s stretch jeans.

A very impressive full-length debut from Paul Westwood, though lacking in resonance for anyone expecting an indictment of the causes and culture behind these blighted lives. As satisfying as the twist is, and as masterly as the characterisations are, a move from social commentary to a plot revelation in flashback does entail a loss of emotional engagement, not to say a few questions in the mind of the audience as they leave.


Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by Stephanie Claire


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Skin in the Game

Greenwich Theatre


Previously reviewed at this venue:
One Last Waltz | ★★★ | March 2018
Eigengrau | | August 2018
Outrageous Fortune | ★★★ | May 2019


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The Hope Theatre

TORN APART at The Hope Theatre


Torn Apart thespyinthestalls


“The women in particular in these stories are incredible, and are acted so emotively it is hard not to be enthralled”



Where do our most intimate moments and conversations take place? The Bedroom. It is only fitting then that from the moment you walk into the theatre, we see the beginnings of one of three troubled love stories already taking place. Torn Apart (Dissolution) interweaves these three very different stories: A soldier and a student (Nastazja Somers & Charlie Allen), a young chef and an Australian on a working visa (Elliot Rogers & Christina Baston) and a mother and her lesbian partner (Sarah Hasting & Monty Leigh).

Despite these three very different stories sharing the same intimate space and a very well placed deck of cards, the themes and issues could not be more different. Although inevitably, as in love, there is always some crossover, and the moments when the actors from different stories share the same lines are particularly beautiful. It would not be right to say “there is something for everyone”, more there is something we can all relate to in the stories told, and all three strike a chord.

As well as the very immediate issues of love, separation, distance and family, the play beautifully addresses the aspects of love and relationships we inherit from our own family environments as well as externally by society and how we are conditioned to expect these intimate situations to play out. The cage that surrounds the bedroom perfectly mirrors these constraints and the actors actively try to break free from them, but ultimately these constraints we have created for ourselves can be too hard to break.

Finally, when leaving, the word dissolution from the title is particularly poignant as we see the opening couple lying on the same bed, worlds apart from where we started. Echoing the resolution we so often fail to find when it comes to matters of the heart.

The women in particular in these stories are incredible, and are acted so emotively it is hard not to be enthralled. Writer and director Bj McNeill has created a wonderful piece dealing with so many issues, putting women at the forefront and really allowing them to shine within their respective roles.


Reviewed by Thomas Perks

Reviewed – 6th July 2017


Photography by Scott Rylander


The Hope Theatre thespyinthestalls


is at The Hope Theatre until 22nd July



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