Tag Archives: Emily Leonard

Henry V


The Barn Theatre

Henry V

Henry V

The Barn Theatre

Reviewed – 27th March 2020



“Aaron Sidwell is a terrific Henry for our times, and moves deftly between his different incarnations”


The Barn’s Henry V, which ran for a month in 2019, was both a critical and commercial success. The production played to packed houses and added to that theatre’s growing reputation, which led to the Best Fringe Theatre Award at last year’s Stage awards. Now sadly dark, along with all the UK’s other theatres, The Barn live-streamed the production at 6pm last night, in honour of World Theatre Day, and to keep their own flame alive.

Henry V is not an easy play to stage. The action is choppy, and it is blessed and cursed with some of the most famous speeches of the Shakespearean canon. Not only have those speeches been given by some of the titans of theatrical history, but they have also been co-opted time and time again to serve patriotic fervour, for good or ill; most recently by Tommy Robinson and his band of thugs in the Brexit war, which is, of course, the political landscape that this production came out of, and which Hal Chambers (director) quite rightly references. Benjamin Collins’ terrific video projection work makes this quite clear, as does the staging of the political meetings: leaders behind podiums, turning on the charm for the press. The contemporary references don’t stop there; Harry himself is compared to our own Prince Harry – the party prince – and the extended rave montage at the play’s opening firmly situates him in the world of clubs and cocaine, showing the distance he has to travel to be taken seriously as a monarch. The sequence could arguably have been shorter, but the point is well made.

Aaron Sidwell is a terrific Henry for our times, and moves deftly between his different incarnations – monarch, soldier, politician – all the while displaying a charming eagerness to do the right thing. This is a Henry who cares, so very much, about his country and his countrymen, and watching the profound weight of that leadership grow within him as the play progresses is one of the pleasures of this performance, and this production. He is supported by a committed and talented cast, whose energy fills the stage to such an extent that it’s hard to credit that there are only eight of them all told. Special mention here to Adam Sopp (Pistol/Constable) and Lauren Samuels (Katherine/Boy) each of whom light up the stage with utterly connected, truthful performances. Pistol’s final breakdown is truly heartbreaking, and Samuels’ physical and emotional embodiment of two such different characters a testament to serious theatrical skill.

The battle scenes are tremendous. Expertly choreographed chaos with bone-chilling moments of explosive violence. Credit to Christos Dante (fight director) and Kate Webster (movement director) here, two members of an exceptionally talented production team, also including Harry Smith, whose original compositions provide the soundtrack. Although there are moments in which an underscore seems surplus to requirements, the music is for the most part used effectively throughout, and is the sonic realisation of the brilliantly-used industrial scaffolding set design.

It is impossible to watch this production without feeling what is missing. And it is as well to be reminded of the irreplaceable electricity of live performance. Filmed theatre is a strange phenomenon; akin to caging a tiger. Zoos have their place, of course, but living, breathing creatures need to be free.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Eve Dunlop


Henry V

On The Barn Theatre’s social media channels until further notice


Last ten shows reviewed by Rebecca:
Dadderrs | ★★★ | The Yard Theatre | January 2020
In A Way So Brutal | ★★★★ | The Yard Theatre | January 2020
Santi & Naz | ★★★ | The Vaults | January 2020
The Maids | | Hen & Chickens Theatre | January 2020
Tom Brown’s Schooldays | ★★ | Union Theatre | January 2020
Ghost Stories | ★★★ | Theatre Royal Brighton | February 2020
Since U Been Gone | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
The Fourth Country | ★★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
The Tin Drum | ★★★★ | The Coronet Theatre | February 2020
Superman | ★★★½ | The Vaults | March 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Other People’s Money

Southwark Playhouse

Other People's Money

Other People’s Money

Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 23rd April 2019



“Lin Blakley stole the show as Bea Sullivan”


Blue Touch Paper Productions present Jerry Sterner’s 1989 drama-comedy with style and credence as audiences find out what men and women of all shapes, sizes and classes can do with Other People’s Money.

Touching base at a time when America is clawing its way back from the precipice of bankruptcy, we meet a coasting, family-run wire and cable company in New England who are about to have their business acumen and their morality tested by Wall Street tough guy Lawrence Garfinkle, a.k.a. Larry the Liquidator (Rob Locke). Friendly, neighbourhood business owner Andrew Jorgenson (Michael Brandon) and his company manager William Coles (Mark Rose) seek help from Jorgy’s secretary/no nonsense lawyer Kate Sullivan (Amy Burke) when Larry’s interest starts to cost more than smiles and doughnuts.

Director Katherine Farmer and designer Emily Leonard carefully align two contrasting offices opposite each other in traverse staging. The raked seating that straddles the stage allows the audience to spectate, jury-like as Garfinkle and Jorgenson play corporate hard ball on a sneakily camouflaged, faded tennis court flooring. As well as creating a cold, war room atmosphere, the confidently selected set throws into relief the essence of the two armies; the rich versus the poor. The modern, sleek, uncluttered desk of a tycoon facing down the, honest, simple hardwood workstation of a man’s livelihood.

Interestingly, it is easy to tell when the actors enjoy the scenes; Larry and Kate, though initially struggling to find each of their character’s presence on stage, give us a fun flavour of their chemistry together in the later scenes. However, the writing is wordy and difficult to navigate if you do not have a calculator for a brain or actors who liven up the figures.

Lin Blakley stole the show as Bea Sullivan, Jorgy’s steadfast secretary with a shining soul. Through her candid, controlled performance the audience are able to access the heart and true value of what family can mean in a company like theirs. Her relatable characterisation marries comedic timing and fierce emotion so easily making her a pleasure to watch and a home comfort to hold onto in the world of money madness.

This production successfully leads us to believe that the corporate world is killer, which begs the question: is it even possible for good people to do good business?


Reviewed by Vivienne King

Photography by Craig Sugden


Other People’s Money

Southwark Playhouse until 11th May


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Wasted | ★★★ | September 2018
The Sweet Science of Bruising | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Trench | ★★★ | October 2018
Seussical The Musical | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Funeral Director | ★★★★★ | November 2018
The Night Before Christmas | ★★★ | November 2018
Aspects of Love | ★★★★ | January 2019
All In A Row | ★★ | February 2019
Billy Bishop Goes To War | ★★★ | March 2019
The Rubenstein Kiss | ★★★★★ | March 2019


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