Tag Archives: Ethan Doyle

Shook

Shook

★★★★★

Online via papatango.co.uk

Shook

Shook

Online via papatango.co.uk

Reviewed – 4th February 2021

★★★★★

 

“the model example of what a filmed theatre production should be like”

 

Papatango once again proved themselves fully deserving of their mighty reputation when Shook hit stages after winning the 2019 prize, with the production amassing widespread critical and audience acclaim. In place of the show’s West End transfer which had to be cancelled, it was instead filmed and will be available to watch throughout February 2021. Does the production translate well to film, though? In a word – absolutely.

Shook follows three young offenders – Jonjo (Josef Davies), Cain (Josh Finan), and Riyad (Ivan Oyik) – who are taking parenting classes from Grace (Andrea Hall) in the hope of being good fathers when they get out of incarceration. The ramifications of their murky pasts collide with their aspirations for their futures, forming a poignantly scathing critique of a system that seems more focused on punishment than potential.

It’s Samuel Bailey’s debut full-length play, but you wouldn’t be able to tell – the pacy dialogue consistently feels organic, finding light in dark places while not shying away from frankness where needed. Bailey’s script never punches down, instead ensuring that we root for and empathise with people who are otherwise so often demonised. By giving us a window into these characters’ hopes, jokes, quirks, and fears, Bailey’s script provides vital and stellar humanisation.

The actors elevate this even further. All three men deliver beautifully detailed and textured performances, adding colour and heart to more moments than could be counted. The contrast between Davies explaining the crime he committed with knife-edge tension, and the warmth he displays when playing board games with Riyad is powerful. The moments of weakness and vulnerability that Oyik and Finan pepper into their characters’ bravados are hugely impactful, and are counterpointed excellently by their comedic flairs – particularly whenever they have to demonstrate anything parenting-related in their classes, such as performing CPR or changing a nappy. The dynamic between the three totally moreish, and only gets more nuanced in scenes with Hall’s compassionate but firm Grace.

The direction serves to capture all these moments perfectly – directors George Turvey and James Bobin don’t go overboard with the filming, forgoing any fancy cinematography save for some CCTV view shots between scenes. There’s also an opening sequence of shots highlighting the extraordinary detail of Jasmine Swan’s set design, which effectively helps to establish the place and tone. Shook is maturely and respectfully filmed throughout, ensuring that the cameras are always putting the characters and their story at its centre.

Shook is the model example of what a filmed theatre production should be like – it flawlessly translates the stage experience without losing any of the magic, and there is a lot of magic on offer with this show. Shook is incisive but never preachy, opting instead to lay bare the hearts of a group of people we’re conditioned to think are heartless.

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by The Other Richard

 


 

Shook

Online via papatango.co.uk until 28th February

 

Previously reviewed by Ethan:
Ryan Lane Will Be There Now In A Minute | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Big | | Network Theatre | March 2020
Stages | ★★★½ | Network Theatre | March 2020
Songs For A New World | ★★★ | Online | July 2020
Entrée | ★★★★ | Online | September 2020
Rose | ★★ | Online | September 2020
Apollo 13: The Dark Side Of The Moon | ★★★★ | Online | October 2020
People Show 138: Last Day | ★★★★ | Online | October 2020
The Fabulist Fox Sister | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020
Cinderella | ★★★½ | Nottingham Playhouse | December 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Cinderella

★★★½

Nottingham Playhouse

Cinderella

Cinderella

Nottingham Playhouse

Reviewed – 13th December 2020

★★★½

 

“an experience that will give you all the laughs, cheer, and warmth that panto did when you were a kid”

 

Suffice it to say a lot of Christmas traditions will have to change this year, but in spite of everything, Nottingham Playhouse’s pantomime Cinderella has stayed steadfast. It’s had to adapt, of course, but it still delivers the festive family fun that we’ve come to know and love from panto.

Featuring no close contact on stage, Cinderella was filmed with a distanced audience comprised of the theatre’s staff, ensuring a safe experience for all that still provides that level of liveness and audience interaction that panto thrives off. Despite these alterations, the plot and characters remain as classic as ever – there’s Buttons (Tim Frater), the ugly stepsisters (John Elkington and Tom Hopcroft), a charming prince with his assistant (David Albury and Jessica Lee respectively), an evil stepmother doubling as a fairy godmother (Sara Poyzer), and of course Cinderella herself (Gabrielle Brooks). A great cast all round, with Elkington particularly shining through a cheeky relationship with the audience and some well-placed fourth-wall breaks. Brooks was also excellent in the title role, radiating a sunny wholesomeness that makes you root for her.

Adam Penford’s script and direction work well given the confines, with an abundance of current-events jokes that mostly land – there are some shots at Brexit and Trump which feel a bit tired, but conversely a lot of great humour around everything that’s happened this year that’s in good taste, a feat which I’m sure many other panto scripts won’t have managed. This show smartly also doesn’t over-egg the ‘he’s behind you’ style tropes that might’ve felt cumbersome as someone not participating live, leaving for a show with a quick-flowing pace that’s sure to keep the attention of even the most restless kids.

Of course, the other vital tenet of any good panto is the songs, and this is where Cinderella stumbles slightly. Despite strong musical direction from John Morton, some of the song choices feel very loosely connected to the context of the scene and as though they’re just there because they’re recognisable. Rachel Nanyonjo has clearly put in great effort as choreographer to work around restrictions but certain moments, such as the dance between Cinderella and the prince, simply feel lacking due to the absence of contact.

What Cinderella delivers that in spades, though, is the cosiness of watching a pantomime. Despite some Covid compromises, this is still an experience that will give you all the laughs, cheer, and warmth that panto did when you were a kid, and if you’re looking at online options for your family Christmas show, you need look no further.

 

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Pamela Raith

 

Nottingham Playhouse

Cinderella

Live at Nottingham Playhouse also available on demand online until 16th January

 

Recently reviewed by Ethan:
Republic | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Ryan Lane Will Be There Now In A Minute | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Big | | Network Theatre | March 2020
Stages | ★★★½ | Network Theatre | March 2020
Songs For A New World | ★★★ | Online | July 2020
Entrée | ★★★★ | Online | September 2020
Rose | ★★ | Online | September 2020
Apollo 13: The Dark Side Of The Moon | ★★★★ | Online | October 2020
People Show 138: Last Day | ★★★★ | Online | October 2020
The Fabulist Fox Sister | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews