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


Review of Attic – 4 Stars


Attic - Kilter Theatre Company


King’s Head Theatre

Opening Night – 26th June 2017




“Attic is an emotional tennis match, a back and forth between a deep love and an intense loathing”


No one can deny that human relationships can be complex, often unconventional and sometimes dangerous. This work, written by Meriel Hinsching, explores the fractious and fragile way in which two people can’t be with or without each other.

From the very first scene, it is apparent that our characters share a lot of history as they each perform their soliloquy full of longing and reminiscence. However, only fragments of information are relayed to the audience – why did their relationship fall apart? What brought them back together again? Can they make this work somehow?

Attic Kilter Theatre Company

Ed Theakston (award winning director, Best Play award for Bit of Sunshine, LOST Theatre Festival 2016 & Theatre503) has created such a tense atmosphere, which leaves us on the edge of our seats, and yet there are still moments of humour, which break through in the most refreshing way. Sharing a sneaky bottle of whiskey, tripping over their jeans in an attempt to get out of them, acting like a couple of teenagers, reliving carefree days.

These moments are suddenly juxtaposed with erratic episodes, often triggered by Leonie (played by Phoebe Stapleton) who is seemingly unable to stay within the confines of happiness and begins to question everything all over again.

Hinsching wants the audience to ponder over this because haven’t we all been there at one time or another? Floating along in a bubble of happiness but so afraid that the whole thing may come crashing down, so we retreat back into our safety net?

Attic is an emotional tennis match, a back and forth between a deep love and an intense loathing. The real darkness to the play is the connotations of the concept of death, from Leonie threatening to fall from the open window, to her screaming at Bay (Connor Harris) to make her feel ‘more alive’ – are they so tormented by their individual lives? Is the idea of a life together absolute heaven or sheer hell?

In Attic, this changes from one moment to the next.


Reviewed by Stephanie Legg




is at the King’s Head Theatre for a further two performances on 2nd and 3rd July