Tag Archives: Ed Theakston

Mating in Captivity

★★★★

King’s Head Theatre

Mating in Captivity

Mating in Captivity

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 31st July 2019

★★★★

 

“an incredibly unlikely but somehow believable mess of misunderstanding, miscommunication and mishap”

 

We begin with Annie (Jane Christie) and Rob (Rowland Stirling) at their flat door, drunkenly fumbling for keys and clothes. Annie’s quickly down to her underwear, pouring drinks and readying to finish off what has clearly already been a big night out. But as she draws the sheets back, she finds a strange naked man in her bed.

This, it transpires is Jacob (George Rennie), an old school friend of Rob’s, or rather, they used to be “friendly with a chance of meatballs.”

Thus ensues a chaotic game of ‘pass the hysteria’, each character desperately trying to find their footing in what is an incredibly unlikely but somehow believable mess of misunderstanding, miscommunication and mishap.

In a lot of ways this is a typical bedroom farce, moving through unlikely plotlines, various sexual pairings, and deteriorating and rebuilding relationships. But whilst the script (Oliver Page) is relentlessly farcical, it’s clear the narrative is rooted in something more sincere.

Normally with a bedroom farce, the bulk of the play consists of attempts to hide the various pairings from one another, but in this case, we begin with the discovery. You might think there couldn’t possibly be enough meat on this to last an entire play, but somehow the narrative keeps unfolding, causing the audience to actually gasp in unison on more than one occasion. The sexual chemistry on stage is palpable, and it’s very difficult to decide who the audience is vying for.

Jane Christie strikes a perfect balance between wanting to be understanding of a very weird situation, and wanting to punch everyone twice. Sometimes she manages to communicate both in one facial expression.

Rowland Stirling’s rollercoaster of a performance takes us from quiet, close affection to shrill fits of panic, and George Rennie is perfectly understated, that is until the understandably contagious hysteria gets to him too.

With the title in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that the staging consists of a big pile of bedding and not much else (Ioana Curelea). The plot requires bottles of alcohol and a knife (don’t worry, it doesn’t get nasty), but there’s no need for the distraction of a full kitchen. Instead everything is neatly stored in a pillow case. Scene in a toilet? Don’t fret, there’s a bucket in the aisle. Rather than being a fringe show necessity, this lack of frills seems more of a choice. The script and acting are funny and bold enough not to require high production.

Director Ed Theakston brings us confessional grit combined with well-timed slapstick- a surprisingly brilliant pairing. Mating in Captivity is both exceedingly entertaining and unabashedly earnest.

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Jack Whitney

 

kings head theatre

 

King’s Head Theatre – winner of our 2018 Awards – Best London Pub Theatre

Mating in Captivity

King’s Head Theatre until 4th August

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Crown Dual | ★★★★ | March 2019
Undetectable | ★★★★ | March 2019
Awkward Conversations With Animals … | ★★★★ | April 2019
HMS Pinafore | ★★★★ | April 2019
Unsung | ★★★½ | April 2019
Coral Browne: This F***Ing Lady! | ★★ | May 2019
This Island’s Mine | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | June 2019
Margot, Dame, The Most Famous Ballerina In The World | ★★★ | July 2019
Oddball | ★★★½ | July 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Bit of Sunshine

Bit of Sunshine
★★

Backstage Theatre

Bit of Sunshine

Bit of Sunshine

Backstage Theatre Mountview

Reviewed – 9th July 2019

★★

 

a tale full of drama that entirely lacked dramatic impact

 

Bit of Sunshine is a one-woman show written by and starring Nicole Zweiback. Zweibeck is Kira, a young woman still struggling with bulimia, having been orphaned at a young age and brought up by her sister. The monologue jumps between the past and the present, and we learn of Kira’s life as a little girl, her relationship with boyfriend Jason, her ejection from work and her time in an eating disorder clinic.

Much of the detail in the writing is horrific, and yet the audience remained at an emotional distance from Kira and it was, ultimately, a tale full of drama that entirely lacked dramatic impact. For this kind of confessional-style piece to work, the audience needs either to feel a lot, or learn a lot; preferably both. In this case, there was nothing new to learn about this dreadful condition, and we left the theatre unmoved. This was partly to do with a lot of well worn phrases in the writing, and a lot to do with the fact that the unique qualities that theatre can bring to narrative weren’t harnessed.

So much could have been added here with a bolder and less literal approach. All the creative and driven young people involved would benefit by absorbing the work of companies like Frantic Assembly and Complicite, by the work currently being shown at The Yard, by directors like Ned Bennett and Sara Joyce, who get to the emotional meaning of text through exploding it from underneath. Words alone aren’t enough to help an audience connect with the ugliness and pain of bulimia; take us there with the tools of theatre – movement, light and sound.

All of this young team are currently in training, and this is the time to experiment. Be bold. Fail big. And learn stuff along the way. This production played it safe and was the poorer for it. It takes more to create atmosphere than a smoke machine.

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

 

Bit of Sunshine

Backstage Theatre Mountview until 13th July as part of Catalyst Festival

 

 

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