Tag Archives: Dominic Brennan



Southwark Playhouse

STRIKE! at the Southwark Playhouse



“There are more laughs than might be expected balanced with a poignancy that brought some of this audience close to tears”


Ardent Theatre Company presents the story, written by Tracy Ryan, of nine Irish shopgirls and one shop boy who after refusing to handle South African goods embark on nearly three years of strike action which culminates in a landmark ruling from the Irish parliament.

The set is effectively simple (Designer Libby Watson): a set of double doors in front of which a picket line will be formed for much of the action. The name of the Dublin store Dunnes is spelt out in coloured lights. A monochrome outline of what will become South Africa’s national flag is painted out on the floor.

The story starts within the store itself and a group of high-spirited shop girls are preparing to start work, changing their clothes into the regulation shop uniform. One of them, Mary Manning (Chloe O’Reilly) is about to change their lives forever when following an edict from their Union, she refuses to handle a South African grapefruit. She is duly suspended by the shop management and a walk out in solidarity from all the shopgirls ensues.

From time to time, a narrator tells us where we are. Karen (Jessica Regan) ably takes the brunt of this task but the role is nicely shared around other characters. There are two stories being told here. Firstly, that of the camaraderie and resilience of the striking shop-workers and then that of the bigger picture, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Amidst much light-heartedness, a dignity is provided with the arrival of Nimrod Sejake (Mensah Bediako), a South African exile of twenty years and former prison mate of Nelson Mandela. From him the shop-workers (and the audience) learn of the horrors of the apartheid regime and why the strike really matters.

As the story progresses, we learn small bits about each of the strikers in turn. Much amusing repartee forms around the effervescent Liz (Anne O’Riordan); Vonnie (Doireann May White) is in danger of losing her house; Tommy (Adam Isla O’Brien) is beaten up by the Garda in a brilliantly danced solo scene with effective blood red spotlighting (Lighting Designer Jamie Platt). Versatile Paul Carroll takes up the double roles of sleazy tie-fiddling shop manager Paul and Union Leader Brendan with just the change of a sweater and a restyling of his hair.

But this is predominantly an ensemble piece and the slick movement of the group, directed by Kirsty Patrick Ward, is excellent and the sharing of dialogue fluent. Small set pieces within the narrative provide dramatic variety. The ensemble don headscarves to become a group of angry mothers, sport plastic bags and umbrellas for a scene in the rain, sing a beautifully performed rendition of trade union folk classic Which Side Are You On?

There is much to be enjoyed here in a non-stop ninety minutes. There are more laughs than might be expected balanced with a poignancy that brought some of this audience close to tears. The tale is well-presented, brilliantly performed, and, at the same time, both genuinely moving and entertaining.



Reviewed on 17th April 2023

by Phillip Money

Photography by Mark Douet



Previously reviewed at Southwark Playhouse:


The Tragedy Of Macbeth | ★★★★ | March 2023
Smoke | ★★ | February 2023
The Walworth Farce | ★★★ | February 2023
Hamlet | ★★★ | January 2023
Who’s Holiday! | ★★★ | December 2022
Doctor Faustus | ★★★★★ | September 2022
The Prince | ★★★ | September 2022
Tasting Notes | ★★ | July 2022
Evelyn | ★★★ | June 2022
The Lion | ★★★ | May 2022


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Shackleton and his Stowaway


Park Theatre

Shackleton and his Stowaway

Shackleton and his Stowaway

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 10th January 2020



“an extremely interesting and watchable play”


After being lucky enough myself to explore north of the Arctic Circle just two months ago, I eagerly arrived at the Park Theatre for a trip to Antarctica.

This play by Andy Dickinson and directed by Simone Coxall tells the story of Ernest Shackleton, who along with his crew, attempts to sail his ship Endurance across the Antarctic. His plans are immediately thrown into chaos as a young stowaway appears on board. Much of the story then focuses on the relationship between Shackleton and the stowaway and how this develops as the voyage progresses and doesn’t exactly go according to plan.

The stage is set (Kajeel Patel) using wooden crates and trucks, along with ropes and sheets to depict various parts of the ship and later, tents and rocks on the pack ice; these are well utilised. A ladder and the gantry are used to strong effect to establish different levels on The Endurance.

Lighting (Pablo Baz) is well designed, there is also clever use of projection (Enrique Muñoz) with snow and other icy shots. I would like to have seen more blizzards rather than gently falling flakes and maybe the occasional map to depict the distance and location that these adventurers explored. Sound (Dominic Brennan) is well thought out with waves, wind, creaking joints and some suitable dramatic music. Again, maybe the wind could have been stronger, howling gales could have added to the bleakness of the locations.

Richard Ede has some great moments as Shackleton. I thought when he first met the stowaway, he took this a little too much in his stride. He was strongest in his monologues. His opening dialogue beautifully set the scene and introduced us to the drive and motivation behind Shackleton’s journey, his long speech as he desperately searched for help over hundreds of miles, was quite inspiring. Elliott Ross as the Welsh stowaway was a nice contrast and he brought a huge amount of youthful energy to all his scenes, until the freezing conditions got the better of him.

Despite there being twenty seven men on board, this is actually a two-hander. The actors had a nice chemistry and a decision had clearly been made to bring out the humour in this script, I think possibly a little too much. There is definitely a place for the lighter side to be explored, but this is beautifully poetic script and the play was at its best when the drama was highlighted.

Act Two focussed on the time after the ship had been crushed by the ice and eventually sunk. I would have loved to have seen the actors dressed with some frost bitten make-up and I could not understand how in one of the most frozen and remote areas of the World, they were not wearing gloves.

This is an inspirational story in many ways and considering the helpless situation that Shackleton found himself in, it was remarkable how he mostly brought his crew home. Stolen Elephant Theatre has produced an extremely interesting and watchable play. I definitely felt like I’d been on a voyage, although I was not entirely convinced that I’d been all the way to the Antarctic.

Hard to believe that this story took place only just over one hundred years ago. Now, due to climate change, some of these unnavigable, remote, frozen areas, that caused Shackleton and his crew such trauma, are disappearing before our very eyes.


Reviewed by Chris White

Photography by Elena Molina


Shackleton and his Stowaway

Park Theatre until 1st February


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Summer Rolls | ★★★½ | June 2019
The Time Of Our Lies | ★★★★ | August 2019
The Weatherman | ★★★ | August 2019
Black Chiffon | ★★★★ | September 2019
Mother Of Him | ★★★★★ | September 2019
Fast | ★★★★ | October 2019
Stray Dogs | | November 2019
Sydney & The Old Girl | ★★★★ | November 2019
Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis | ★★★★★ | December 2019
The Snow Queen | ★★★★ | December 2019


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