Tag Archives: Eifion Ap Cadno

A Great Big Sigh


Hen and Chickens Theatre

Great Big Sigh

A Great Big Sigh

Hen & Chickens Theatre

Reviewed – 5th September 2019



“a lot of the audience roared with laughter at his antics and I would be foolish to ignore this feedback”


Formed just last year, ‘Moose & Noodle Soup’ theatre company follow up an earlier run at The Hope Theatre with this two handed show.

As we enter the theatre, we are presented by a man and a woman, both gagged and tied to a chair and sitting facing each other in a basement. It soon becomes apparent that this pair have been kidnapped and they discover that they have a set amount of time to solve some clues, each of which has a number as its answer, these numbers being the code to a safe from which they can retrieve a key and escape. Failure to do this in the time limit and we are led to believe that the room will explode.

A fairly bare stage with just the two pieces of furniture, a small suspended window, a hotel like small safe and a few books. The action takes place in real time and occasionally a voiceover informs the characters how long they have left to complete their task. A little like watching an episode of The Crystal Maze, although the cryptic clues are not exactly Times crossword level.

A Great Big Sigh is not a drama though, it is very definitely a comedy. Walter (Riley Marinelli) has the majority of the humorous moments. Dressed a little like Rupert Bear in green checks and red trousers and bizarrely sporting roller blades, he is a wacky, hyperactive, hugely frustrating character who will not focus on the task in hand for more than a few seconds. On the other hand, Tina (Maryhee Yoon) is a calm, focussed, delightfully normal young lady who you would be quite happy to spend an hour of your time in a basement with. This is a very physical show. Walter expertly manoeuvres himself around the stage whilst tied to a fallen chair and one moment where he lifts Tina, almost drops her which then ends in a perfect handstand, is so expertly and casually done that I wanted to leap out of my chair with a scorecard of ten.

But for all the noise, irritation and over the top acting from Walter, occasionally the tempo slows and we discover the characters’ back stories. Tina’s, so worryingly commonplace in this day and age, you wondered how such a strong character emerged. Walter’s so tragic, so poignant, that you suddenly wanted to buy him a beer and give him a big hug.

“You make stronger friendships when you go through adversity together” was a line from Walter that tied the whole plot together for me. Walter’s character is not my type of humour, but a lot of the audience roared with laughter at his antics and I would be foolish to ignore this feedback.

Moose & Noodle Soup’s mission statement is to transport audiences into ridiculous scenarios and they certainly achieved that in A Great Big Sigh. I left the theatre thinking of loneliness, friendship and how poor my long division is. I couldn’t help thinking that however extrovert a person may be, however outrageous their behaviour is, there is often a little cry for help beneath the surface which is extremely dangerous to ignore.


Reviewed by Chris White

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli


A Great Big Sigh

Hen and Chickens Theatre until 8th September


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Abducting Diana | ★★★½ | March 2018
Isaac Saddlesore & the Witches of Drenn | ★★★★ | April 2018
I Will Miss you When You’re Gone | ★★½ | September 2018
Mojo | ★★ | November 2018
Hawk | ★★★ | December 2018
Not Quite | ★★★ | February 2019
The First Modern Man | ★★★ | February 2019
The Dysfunckshonalz! | ★★★★★ | May 2019
No One Likes Us | ★★★ | August 2019
Scenic Reality | | August 2019


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The Dip

The Space

The Dip

The Dip

The Space

Reviewed – 1st February 2019



“It’s hard to resist the fun clearly being had here, but there is perhaps a risk of too much fun at the expense of structure and ultimately purpose”


Looking for a quiet night? This raucous performance from an ensemble of impossibly young talents won’t be what you might have in mind – but the psychedelic charms of The Dip are near irresistible.

The narrative, such as it is, is a trippy look at a night of sexual awakening. But plot is secondary here. The music is standout, with cast members seamlessly instrument-swapping (and, on the night I visited, Sophie Hammer on bass keeping a cool head when the sound tech wouldn’t play ball).

The sweetly amusing ‘kiss’ character at the start (Iulia Isar, who is consistently strong) is an indication of the playful surrealism that lies ahead. The night brings us a life-sized fish, aubergine-brandishing police and not one but two naked behinds. But anarchic comedy works best when we’re given shades of light and dark, and moments without frenzied physicality or high volume. These are pretty hard to come by here; not for nothing are we given earplugs at the start in case, we’re cheerfully told (by a staff member at this wonderfully welcoming venue), ‘we want to protect our hearing’. It’s hard to resist the fun clearly being had here, but there is perhaps a risk of too much fun at the expense of structure and ultimately purpose.

If the night is intended as a look at the complexities of figuring out sexuality and love, the tendency towards too much anarchy erodes the chance for (and fleeting moments of) real sincerity. But this is not to diminish the acting. Max Young does a great job as Nick, offering badly needed moments of levity, and Eifion Ap Cadno – on stage almost nonstop – is an effective protagonist and guide through the confusing parallel words (although it must be said: the on-stage kisses between our male leads lack chemistry. Buckle in, guys!). The cast in general are likeable, each with flashes of real warmth and humour.

Occasional forays into the realm of the totally absurd, such as an awkward stage dresser strewing bunting with a narrative of bizarre sound effects, feel like time lost that could have supported onward momentum. The risk of these detours is appearing self-indulgent; it’s easy to imagine how they must be side-splitting in the rehearsal room, but tough decisions need to be made about what can be justified in a final cut and some emotional integrity prioritised.

And some jokes naturally work better than others – the flatfish character is confused and a little overplayed, with some of the detail of his ‘backstory’ (as much as a giant fish can have one) being obscured with some missed diction (although Nick Mauldin is commendably entertaining throughout). One joke about the incestuous and downright abusive nature of the curious village our hero is stranded in is certainly a misfire, now more than ever, and has no place here.

Despite these occasional distractions, the rollercoaster seventy minute show sweeps the audience along with it and leaves us brushing party confetti from our shoulders. Infectious music and laugh out loud moments? To borrow a phrase from The Dip: baba ganoush!


Reviewed by Abi Davies

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli


The Dip

The Space until 2nd February


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
I Occur Here | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Rush | ★★★½ | August 2018
Fleeced | | September 2018
Little Pieces of Gold | ★★★★★ | October 2018
Love is a Work In Progress | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Full Bronte | ★★★ | October 2018
Woman of the Year | ★★★ | October 2018
Little Women | ★★★½ | December 2018
Brawn | ★★★ | January 2019
Laundry | ★★★ | January 2019


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