Tag Archives: Eastlake Productions

Review of The Tailor-Made Man – 4 Stars


The Tailor-Made Man

White Bear Theatre

Reviewed – 9th November 2017


“the dialogue cracks like a whip and never slips into sentimentality or false romanticism”


History has a habit of repeating itself. The current media spotlight on misconduct in the Movie World is nothing new. Neither is the hypocrisy that surrounds it, albeit nowadays it is that much more visible. “The Tailor-Made Man” at the White Bear Theatre is a timely reminder of this fact. This play has come full circle too. Claudio Macor’s play premiered in 1992, and was later developed as a musical at the Arts Theatre in 2013, and has now reverted back to straight drama for this twenty-fifth anniversary.

The ‘Tailor-Made Man’ of the title is William “Billy” Haines, a popular silent screen MGM movie star who was fired by Louis B Mayer because he was gay, and because he refused to give up his lifelong partner, Jimmie Shields, and marry the silent screen vamp Pola Negri. As punishment, his films were removed from release and sealed in the MGM vaults never to be seen again, and his studio photographs destroyed. It was an attempt to erase him completely from movie history.

This is the focus of the text, but Macor, being a master of his craft, effortlessly weaves their very human story into the greater tapestry of 1920s Hollywood. His observations of that world are spot-on, and he is unafraid to rip into the high-flown hypocrisies and homophobic double standards of ‘Tinsel Town’. Aided by a strong cast, the dialogue cracks like a whip and never slips into sentimentality or false romanticism.

Mitchell Hunt plays William Haines. It is difficult to play a love story without affecting the over emotionalism, but Hunt pulls it off. Almost too well, for initially we have no sympathy for the character whatsoever. It is testament to the writing though, and to the acting, that we realise this is a deliberate ploy. Billy Haines was very much a product of the machinations of Hollywood. Once removed, forcibly, from the studios, and free of it all, he is a delight. Hunt smoothly depicts this transformation – the arc of his journey is palpable.

Tom Berkeley’s Jimmie Shields is undoubtedly the backbone of the piece. Intermittently stepping out of the action he narrates, to camera, his own take on the story; a device that reinforces the power of his love. Mention must be made too, of Rachel Knowles, who plays Pola Negri. Still pining for Rudolph Valentino, her monologue describing her failure to make the transition from the silent pictures to the talkies is sublimely delivered, throwing pathos, grief, sadness and comedy all into the same melting pot. A potpourri of ingredients that could so easily go wrong, but she dishes it up with exquisite flavour. She has some of the best lines. In fact it is the mix of gravity and comedy that lifts this piece of theatre. Before the subject matter becomes too earnest the cast remember the importance of being comic.

But the play is the thing. This is a strong piece of writing, made stronger by the fact that it is a true story. A play of hope, of survival, of being yourself and, above all, of triumph. And to that end, this production is clearly a triumph.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography Andreas Lambis




is at the White Bear Theatre until 25th November


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Interview – Niall Ransome



It is estimated that around 100,000 children run away from home every year. Niall Ransome, member of Olivier Award winning Mischief Theatre Company, explores this important issue in FCUK’D: an alternative show for the festive period, dealing with abandonment, loyalty, family, and the real experiences of young working-class lads in Britain today.

FCUK’D tells the brutal and heartfelt story of a teenage boy who kidnaps his younger brother in an attempt to flee his decrepit council flat and escape his daily encounters with the authorities. This one-man show, written entirely in verse, switches between the innocence of childhood and the very real struggle of being fcuk’d by an unfair system.

With only each other to rely on and with nowhere to turn, the boys must keep on the move to avoid being found and the consequences that this entails.



We spoke to director and writer Niall Ransome about the show …

FCUK’D has already been to a few places in the past year including the Vault and Brick Lane Festivals – have you made any changes to the show since these?

Absolutely! What’s been great about performing the show a few times before is being able to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s grown from a 15 min monologue to an hour long piece. I’ve always looked for the best way to tell this story and think the show we have now for the Bunker is very exciting!

You’re more known for comedy roles and being part of the Mischief Theatre Company than as a writer of a dramatic work such as FCUK’D – do you see yourself following a particular path in the future or do you prefer the variety?

I’ve always liked variety to be honest. Since leaving drama school I have primarily done comedy and working with Mischief for years has been fantastic. But there are other avenues I want to explore. I grew up watching plays in Northern theatres like the Hull Truck and Stephen Joseph and it’s been nice to return to that with FCUK’D. There’s a lot that interests me.

Will Mytum is ‘one to watch’ – currently making a name for himself, what made you choose him for the show?

I’ve been friends with Will for years and always thought of passing the role onto him when I couldn’t do it anymore! He’s a fantastic actor and brilliant to work with. Being a Northern lad himself I knew he’d connect to the piece a lot more and having moved to London at the same time we both know what it’s like to have left it behind. I’m excited to have him on-board.

The show deals with some quite heavy issues – is it hard to express such topics clearly in verse rather than as a traditional play?

Not really, the verse sort of came naturally. I’ve always loved poetry and Hull has such a rich history with poets such as Philip Larkin and Stevie Smith that it sort of fits. I find it a nice way to write, it sort of rolls out onto the page then you can stretch it out and play with the words. I focus on the characters and the story most of all. The issues come through that, it’s important that the stories and characters are at the forefront which I think helps the audience understand the issues on a deeper level than if they were just reading a pamphlet.

The show is the story of two brothers – is there a reason why it’s presented then as a one man performance?

I think one of the beautiful things about theatre is its ability to suspend an audience’s belief. If the audience have the opportunity to imagine their own Mattie (the little brother) it’s makes the end all the more personal and sad. It’s exciting that by the end of the play the audience can see him although there’s nothing there! You invite an audience to play an active part!


Three words to describe the show ?

Fast, proud and bold.

What are your hopes for the show after The Bunker?

We’ll have to wait and see! We’re quite keen to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe and we have a few people coming to see the show at the Bunker. I think it’s a piece that could really benefit from moving around. I think it’s an important story.

Do you feel that the government and society in general could be doing more to assist in issues such as those raised in FCUK’D?

Absolutely, as long as issues are still being talked about they are issues. 100,000 children run away from home each year, of course these are for a number of reasons but if those children are running away from abuse or lack of care more must be done to ensure they are given the love and support they deserve.

What do you hope the audience takes away with them?

I hope it makes them think a bit more about how we view others from different backgrounds. There is still a huge stigma in class and I believe we don’t always take time to understand the full story. I hope they can enjoy the play and relate to the characters.

On a lighter note, how will you be spending Christmas this year and what are your hopes for 2018?

I’m still in Comedy About a Bank Robbery until February so will be doing that as well as FCUK’D then will be back into auditions. We have plans to take FCUK’D on and I’m currently writing my second play.


Niall was talking to thespyinthestalls.com







is at The Bunker 11th – 30th December

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