Tag Archives: Elijah W. Harris



Brighton Theatre Royal & UK Tour



Brighton Theatre Royal

Reviewed – 8th April 2019



“Jon Brittain’s script is a weaving explosion”


Alice and Fiona have been living in Rotterdam for seven years. They were only supposed to be there for one. It’s nearly New Year’s Eve and Alice is composing an email, and redrafting it, and spell checking it, and redrafting it again. She is trying to come out to her parents as a lesbian. But just as she is about to press send, her partner Fi delivers some unexpected news. Fi is a man, has always been a man, just wants to “stop trying to be a woman”. He asks to be called Adrian, the name his parents would’ve given him if they’d known he was a boy when he was born. The two characters spiral on different journeys, Adrian coming to terms with his gender identity, with the violence of being misgendered and the possibilities of hormones and surgery. Meanwhile, Alice questions her sexuality all over again, as she begins the process of accepting Adrian, and herself.

Jon Brittain’s script is a weaving explosion, each scene launching into the next (also thanks to Donnacadh O’Briain’s energised direction). The relationships between our four characters are gradually revealed, connecting them in different and surprising ways.

The set, designed by Ellan Parry, shows a black and white Amsterdam, splattered with pink, vivid purple, neon light, even covered with blue balloons at one point in the play. It isn’t anything hugely exciting but it doesn’t need to be. It allows for the different places the play takes us to, to be created, and for the story to be told. The mirrored door, throwing light across the audience every time it is opened is particularly lovely. Cleverly, even the details of the set, with backlit gendered toilet signs above a bar, are a constant reminder of the weight of gender, and the way we perceive it, in society. The fireworks thrown out into the audience – or seemingly so – are a really effective moment of lighting design from Richard Williamson.

The play is punctuated by some incredibly powerful and emotional images, but it is also laced with humour, and the actors find the balance between these moments really well. In fact the cast is strong all round. Lucy Jane Parkinson has a brilliant presence onstage, humourous at first, strong to the point of near aggression, deeply vulnerable when Adrian phones his mum to come out to her for the first time. A vivid performance of need and strength. Bethan Cullinane’s Alice is wonderfully played. Still closeted and unable to let go, she meets the vibrant Lelani (Ellie Morris) who takes her to parties and smokes weed with her. There is so much humour and life in this journey, and it is delicately undercut by Alice’s own struggles with her sexuality, and her frequently cruel way of processing Adrian’s transition. Elijah W Harris takes a couple of scenes to become grounded in the role of Josh, but when he does he is immediately likeable, and the relationship between Josh and Adrian in particular, feels warm and genuine.

This is a play through which you will laugh and cry. It discusses gender, sexuality, family, love and Rotterdam, and is delivered by strong, honest performances from a talented cast.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography courtesy I AM Marketing



Brighton Theatre Royal until 10th April then UK Tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
This is Elvis | ★★★ | July 2018
Salad Days | ★★★ | September 2018
Rocky Horror Show | ★★★★ | December 2018
Benidorm Live! | ★★★★ | February 2019
Noughts And Crosses | ★★ | March 2019


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The Poetry We Make – 4 Stars


The Poetry We Make

The Vaults

Reviewed – 7th February 2018


“This thought-provoking love story is one that I feel Dolly Parton would approve of”


Known for her big hair, big makeup and big voice, Dolly Parton is considered a living icon to many. She may have a ‘Barbie doll’ façade but in conjunction with this, she has used her business acumen to build the ‘Dolly’ brand into a multi-million dollar enterprise, proving you can have brains and beauty. It is understandable then, why playwright Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal uses Ms. Parton as the guardian angel and life coach within her new play The Poetry We Make. This touching work examines with sensitivity, the struggles of finding your true identity, and the upheaval to your life, and that of your loved ones, it may cause.

Elliott and Robin have been a couple for four years, steadily and lovingly travelling through the steps of a relationship, such as moving in together. However, Elliott’s world is rocked when she discovers that Robin has made the decision to start his transition into becoming a woman. Whilst metaphysically revisiting her memories, Elliott questions the legitimacy of their relationship, what it means to be a woman and where love can lie – all done with the supervision of her hero, Dolly Parton. Dolly offers words of wisdom through song and apparition, enabling Elliott to find peace and acceptance.

Elena Voce as Elliott and Elijah W Harris as Robin, have a natural chemistry and believability to their relationship that is lovely to encounter, making it more heartbreaking when you see the dilemma’s they both go through. Sam Thorpe-Spinks injects some needed humour as Robin’s best mate Paul, whose laddish behaviour subsides to present his affection and support of his friend’s decision. Mia Hall in full rhinestone-encrusted ‘Dolly’ garb is a lot of fun without being too gimmicky. Hall is a warm, sisterly figure to Voce’s Elliott, whilst also exhibiting her powerful singing voice through the musical interludes between scenes.

As strong as the performances are, there are certainly times when it feels let down by the writing. Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal does a good job at being thoughtful with the subject matter, without ever shying away from questioning what gender and identity means in this day and age. However, it is the construction of the scenes (particularly the flashbacks) and their placement within the production that can confuse. In summary, the content is great but the structure feels a little rough around the edges.

The Vaults space within the Waterloo tunnels are certainly not ideal for The Poetry We Make, being too narrow for any kind of wings. Nevertheless, the company manage, finding ways around this issue, creating the small and intimate environment that the story requires.

This thought-provoking love story is one that I feel Dolly Parton would approve of. Like she does in her songs, the play addresses serious, sometimes philosophical issues of the heart, whilst executed with warmth, sincerity and a small serving of humour.


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole


The Poetry We Make

Vaults Theatre until 11th February



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