Tag Archives: Fergus Leathem

The House of Yes

★★★★

Hope Theatre

The House of Yes

The House of Yes

Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 10th October 2019

★★★★

 

“You’re guaranteed to feel sickened and hysterically entertained at the same time.”

 

Director Mathew Parker clearly has a penchant for tales that are dark and disturbing. Having had previous success with other Hope Theatre in-house productions, Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story, The Lesson and Lovesong of The Electric Bear, they all have a similar theme of sinister unsettlement to them. Parker undisputedly has a knack for the genre of black comedy/thriller and brings his expertise to this latest show. The House of Yes is deliciously uncomfortable yet devilishly funny. A rare outing of Wendy Macleod’s under-the-radar 90’s hit play and film, this is a thrilling revival, losing none of its shock value or humour.

It’s Thanksgiving in Washington D.C. A hurricane is sweeping through the capital, but it’s not just the weather that’s blowing up a storm. The Pascal family, of upper-class, WASP-ish pedigree, who live in a time warp since the Kennedy assassination, are feverishly awaiting the arrival of the prodigal son, Marty (Fergus Leathem). None is as excited for his return as his unstable twin sister Jackie-O (Colette Eaton). However the presence of Marty’s fiancee, Lesly (Kaya Bucholc), there to meet the family, comes as somewhat of a surprise. The obsessive Jackie is not best pleased, younger brother Anthony (Bart Lambert) is infatuated, and Mother Pascal (Gill King) is judging from the shadows as she watches on. In a series of twisted events and manipulations, the night soon becomes a Thanksgiving no one will forget.

The cast, on a whole, do a marvellous job at giving heightened performances that never fall into being camp and melodramatic, which could so easily occur with Macleod’s writing. Eaton as Jackie-O teases you with her fragility, never knowing when she might do something drastic, whilst Lambert’s oddball physicality and leering looks as Anthony are decidedly creepy and comical all-in-one.

The studio space is decked out by designer Rachael Ryan with gold drapes, and gilded frames, to give a nod to the cavernous, elaborate home of the Pascals, yet uses the intimate environment of the theatre, full of shadowy little corners, to heighten the gothic, haunted house aesthetic.

With an Absurdist veneer and Noël Coward-like sensibility, The House of Yes gives an unconventional take on theatrical commonalities, creating its own Frankenstein mish-mash of genres. The subtext hints to deeper messages on the themes of family politics, and the American class system, but never lets this interfere with the stylised exterior. Instead it is just tantalisingly bubbling under the surface. Regardless of being nearly 30 years old, this play still feels rather daring, even if not so relevant to today. You’re guaranteed to feel sickened and hysterically entertained at the same time.

 

Reviewed by Phoebe Cole

Photography by lhphotoshots

 


The House of Yes

Hope Theatre until 26th October

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | January 2019
Getting Over Everest | ★★★ | April 2019
Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Uncle Vanya | ★★★★ | April 2019
True Colours | ★★★★ | May 2019
Cuttings | ★★★½ | June 2019
The Censor | ★★ | June 2019
River In The Sky | ★★★ | August 2019
Call Me Fury | ★★★ | September 2019
It’s A Playception | ★★★★ | September 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

THE FALCON'S MALTESER

The Falcon’s Malteser
★★★★★

The Vaults

The Falcons Malteser

The Falcon’s Malteser

The Vaults

Reviewed – 19th July 2019

★★★★★

 

“wonderful fun for both young and old”

 

The Falcon’s Malteser is the first book in The Diamond Brothers comic detective series by Anthony Horowitz. Directed by Lee Lyford, Feargus Woods Dunlop’s stage adaption of The Falcon’s Malteser revitalises the 1986 novel and brings Horowitz’s quick wit and clever storytelling to a new generation of fans.

Timothy Simple (Matt Jopling) is an ex-policeman who has rebranded himself as Tim Diamond, the world’s greatest private detective. Unfortunately, Tim is not the brightest sleuth meaning much of the detective work is done by his kid-brother Nick (Sian Eleanor Green). Together, they form the Diamond Brothers Detective Agency though business hasn’t been doing too great.

That is until the three-foot Mexican Johnny Naples drops off a mysterious package at Tim’s office and the Diamond Brothers find themselves at the centre of the international criminal world. When the package’s contents are revealed to be a box of Maltesers owned by evil mastermind Henry von Falkenberg, Tim and Nick must decipher the tasty treat’s significance before London’s crime boss The Fat Man (Samantha Sutherland) and German hitman Himmell (Fergus Leathem) close in.

The acting was strong from all with Leathem and Sutherland doing incredible performances as multiple characters. Hiccups such as Sutherland missing a porthole when throwing a wig were handled with humour and played into the parodic and self-referential nature of Horowitz’s series.

The set (Carl Davies) was cleverly designed and allowed for smooth transitions between the different settings. The backdrop consisted of four doors and a window that also doubled as multiple shop fronts. Three of the doors could be flipped as to either form part of the grey wall or act as doorways. The door furthest to the left had a circular panel that could be removed through which characters could pop up and in one scene used to hang a disco ball.

The play’s chase sequences involved particularly impressive staging. In the first, Leathem as Himmell enacted an entire car chase with headlamps strapped to his knees while holding a steering wheel and riding a swivel chair. In the second, Sutherland as the dancer Lauren Bacardi and Green made great use of the set’s numerous doors and chase sequence tropes.

The lighting (Jack Weir) transformed the stage in an instance. A green hue gave the impression of a dingy basement while disco lights instantly conjured a lively club atmosphere. During Nick’s monologues, the stage would go black and Green put under a spotlight. This was an excellent way of keeping the audience engaged with the play’s necessary exposition despite the action on stage.

The music (James Nicholson) was wonderfully atmospheric. Soft jazz reminiscent of film noir detective movies played throughout the performance including as a flank for Nick’s narration. An upbeat remix of a self-checkout machine’s stock phrases such as ‘there is an unexpected item in the bagging area’ was also a particularly creative backing track to a high street chase sequence.

There were also several musical numbers for which Jopling provided guitar accompaniment. Leathem and Sutherland were standout here, first performing a duet as the Diamond brothers’ parents and then Leathem, as Tim’s old boss Inspector Snape, rapping about all the villains in his life to the beat of Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang. The final song was a solo by Jopling who played the guitar in handcuffs which meant he had to comically climb into his guitar strap rather than put it over his head.


This adaption of The Falcon’s Malteser is wonderful fun for both young and old and its quick-paced and witty script is sure to have the audience both laughing and gripped.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Geraint Lewis

 


The Falcon’s Malteser

The Vaults until 25th August

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Check In/Check Out | ★★★ | March 2019
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Bare: A Pop Opera | ★★★ | June 2019
Black Is The Color Of My Voice | ★★★★ | June 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019

 

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