Tag Archives: Eilidh Loan



Richmond Theatre



Richmond Theatre

Reviewed – 18th November 2019



“This production does breathe new life into Mary Shelley’s story with its inventiveness, but it perilously runs the risk of killing it too”


What’s the name of Mary Shelley’s monster? ‘Frankenstein’ is the unanimous response. Wrong! Shelley never ascribed a name to the creature created by Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who meddles with nature. Although in Rona Munro’s stage adaptation the misnomer is given an extra twist as Munro places Shelley herself into the action. It is an interesting framing device that mirrors the story’s concerns: Shelley has created her own monster which, now set unleashed into the world, is beyond her control.

Eilidh Loan, as the young eighteen-year-old writer, is a feral creature herself with a lacerating energy, scratching words onto her pages as the tale unfolds around her. She is the writer, and the director, of her characters as she prompts and taunts, and is never kind to them. But there lies part of the problem – her grating Cockney detachment strips the drama of its sense of tragedy and sadness. You rather miss, too, the presence of Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. It seems a shame to ignore the real-life story behind the conception of the dark tale, which is almost as famous as the novel itself. Maybe Munro’s intention was that we, the audience, were the ones cooped up with Mary in the chalet on Lake Geneva. Loan frequently spoke out to the auditorium as though she were being challenged to come up with her own terrifying tale. But lines like “Is it frightening enough?” or “It’s my nightmare” are too simplistic to realise the effect.

Although the stilted characterisation and dialogue dampen the atmosphere, it is more than compensated for in Patricia Benecke’s foreboding staging. Becky Minto’s icy set of balconies and bare trees like withered lungs suggest the dread and despair, punctuated by Simon Slater’s bolts of sound that feed the melodrama. At times, though, the cast are forced to try to outdo the setting with occasional overdramatic delivery. Ben Castle Gibb, as Victor Frankenstein, is the most successful at avoiding this with a manic performance that captures the extremes of obsession without drumming home the point. Michael Moreland’s Monster bizarrely speaks like Kathy Burke’s own monstrous creations; Kevin and Perry, which doesn’t help lift him out of the cartoon like portrayal Munro has written for him, and the other characters.

Sprinklings of feminist anachronisms and modern-day analogies to ethnic intolerance, fear and prejudice border on patronising and melt the glacial force of Shelley’s original. Trying to balance the entertainment value with a subliminal sermon is unnecessary and it dilutes the power. This production does breathe new life into Mary Shelley’s story with its inventiveness, but it perilously runs the risk of killing it too.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan


ATG Tickets


Richmond Theatre until 23rd November then UK tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Iolanthe | ★★★★ | May 2018
84 Charing Cross Road | ★★★★ | June 2018
Tom Gates | ★★★★ | March 2019


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me and my left ball

Me and My Left Ball

Tristan Bates Theatre

me and my left ball

Me and My Left Ball

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 8th January 2019


“Ryan, Rainford and Young create a wonderful, believable chemistry with each other”


Darkly funny and inventively staged, ‘Me & My Left Ball’, a new play by writer/actor Jack James Ryan, packs a real emotional punch. Its relatable characters and strong message, that we shouldn’t be afraid to be honest, open and vulnerable with each other, linger on in the mind long after the final bows.

Ryan’s script begins with a simple premise. Clueless Alfie (Ryan) lives with his mum, trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of getting drugged up and going clubbing with alpha-male mates Mike (Daniel Rainford) and Callum (Marco Young). That is, until he meets the whimsical, extraordinary Tess (Eilidh Loan) who gives his life a new direction. All this is turned on its head the moment Alfie learns he has testicular cancer. As his friends and new girlfriend learn to deal with the news in various different ways, it’s up to Alfie to decide how life can go on once it’s altered beyond his comprehension.

The strong ensemble deal with the highly emotional aspects of the show with aplomb. In a short space of time, Ryan, Rainford and Young create a wonderful, believable chemistry with each other, and the length and strength of their friendship is on show from the beginning. To pick a stand-out performance is tricky, but Rainford embodies the duality of being a hyper-masculine man and vulnerable, confused boy beautifully. Loan provides a much-needed breath of fresh feminine air to proceedings and plays the self-aware, flawed girl of Alfie’s dreams expertly.

Natasha Ravenscroft’s direction keeps the ensemble mobile and makes good use of minimal props. Just two white crates serve as bed, hilltop and everything in between. I’ve also never seen toilet roll utilised in such a hilariously inventive way before. After an initial verbal battle with ‘Alexa’, music ends up playing a key role in this piece. From jiving in the club to an emotional self-penned song at the end, music adds to both the weight of scenes and our understanding of the characters. Jodie Sully as movement director has created an excellent array of sequences that move from funny (the boys have a variety of club-based dance moves) to profound (the carrying of a reluctant Alfie into his wheelchair), and the cast prove to be strong and capable movers.

This is promising stuff from Ryan and his group. It’s a short script that could easily contain more, and the ending, with all its resolution, feels a bit too easily achieved. “I would have understood if you’d just told me” feels like the mantra of the play and is an important way of viewing how we communicate with the people we love. Ryan’s script is truly inspiring in that sense. Inventive, well-choreographed and wonderfully acted, ‘Me & My Left Ball’ comes highly recommended.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Tom Grace Portraits


Me & My Left Ball

Tristan Bates Theatre until 10th January


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Meiwes / Brandes | ★★★ | April 2018
The Gulf | ★★★ | April 2018
San Domino | ★★ | June 2018
The Cloakroom Attendant | ★★★ | July 2018
Echoes | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Love Lab | ★★★★ | August 2018
Butterfly Lovers | ★★ | September 2018
The Problem With Fletcher Mott | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sundowning | ★★★★ | October 2018
Drowned or Saved? | ★★★★ | November 2018


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