Tag Archives: Gabriel Akuwudike

Time is Love

Time is Love

Finborough Theatre

Time is Love

Time is Love

Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 4th January 2019


“Atim and Akuwudike particularly stand out as being well cast and effortlessly engaging”


Set against the dark, urban landscape of modern-day Los Angeles, ‘Time is Love’ is Chè Walker’s new play making its British premiere this year at the ever-intriguing and inventive Finborough Theatre. It’s a tense, urban noir, swerving in and out of lap dancers’ dressing rooms, brothels and police interrogation rooms, making effective use of video and an edgy, percussive score by Olivier award-winning Sheila Atim (who also stars).

Flicking between 2016 and 2019, we are made aware of an impending “catastrophe” by narrator-cum-prostitute Serena (Sasha Frost) that will rock the lives and of Blaz (Gabriel Akuwudike) and his long-term girlfriend Havana (Jessica Ledon). Back in 2016, Blaz is imprisoned for three years, taking the fall for childhood friend and partner-in-crime Karl (Benjamin Cawley). In the three years that follow, Karl and Havana jostle for Blaz’s heart, with Havana ‘playing away from home’ with crooked cop Seamus (Cary Crankson). Sheila Atim’s lap-dancer Rosa offers comfort and wisdom through the smog.

Filled with excellent acting, the ensemble’s characterisations create a convincing image of the Los Angeles underworld. Atim and Akuwudike particularly stand out as being well cast and effortlessly engaging. However, the production has some failings that centre around Walker’s script and direction. A large white screen plays canvas to filmed footage that underscores most scenes, but too often the footage simply shows us the action of the scene ‘on location’ and can be distracting. More interesting is when we see Havana enact violent revenge on an unsuspecting lap-dancer. When film shows us something we cannot see on stage, it really proves its worth.

Too many scenes are created by two characters entering a space and talking. This sometimes works, but with a script littered with lengthy, exposition-heavy monologues, it is easy to lose interest. Walker has a unique take on a classic tale of betrayal, and the world he creates is certainly intriguing, but the focus seems uncertain at times. Los Angeles is a patchwork of people and stories, but we need more as an audience to find these disparate characters worth our time.

Overall, Walker has gathered a stunning ensemble and built a convincing, urban world on stage, but currently it just falls short of being brilliant.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by DWGH Photos


Time is Love

Finborough Theatre until 26th January


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Biograph Girl | ★★★ | May 2018
Finishing the Picture | ★★★★ | June 2018
But it Still Goes on | ★★★★ | July 2018
Homos, or Everyone in America | ★★★★ | August 2018
A Winning Hazard | ★★★★ | September 2018
Square Rounds | ★★★ | September 2018
A Funny Thing Happened … | ★★★★ | October 2018
Bury the Dead | ★★★★ | November 2018
Exodus | ★★★★ | November 2018
Jeannie | ★★★★ | November 2018


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A Gym Thing – 4 Stars


A Gym Thing

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 2nd May 2018


“it is through his use of dynamic and effective drama that he is able to achieve a weightier punch”


If you are a gym goer, you will have undoubtedly seen one of them. Perhaps you are one of them. Perhaps they have intimidated you. The group that I refer to are the gym bunnies. Those, who spend every available moment at their local fitness centre lunging, squatting, lifting, taking protein shakes, supplements, Instagramming their physical progress. I must clarify, that there is nothing wrong with doing all of the above. They can contribute to you keeping up a healthy lifestyle. However, as current production A Gym Thing highlights, it is when these factors are taken to the extreme, being practised or being used excessively, that there could be an underlying mental health issue. Body Dysmorphia and Bigorexia are conditions that rarely get given publicity, let alone being a subject for the stage. Written and performed by Tom Vallen, this fast paced, pulse racing, quest for perfection, is treated with clarity and precision, opening the audience’s eyes to a taboo topic.

Will (Tom Vallen) would spend his days slobbing about at home, playing video games and looking after his mum. When his best mate Jay (Gabriel Akuwudike) persuades him to be his gym buddy, little does Jay know, quite the turnaround it is going to make to Will’s life. From never exercising in his life, to having workout and meal plans – the transformation is great. Bumping into his old high school crush Becca (Jennifer Brooke), Will finds the confidence to talk to her and it doesn’t take long before they are a couple. However, sometime down the line, Will’s increasingly frequent gym going and incessant need to look good, starts to take its toll on all of his relationships, coming to a head in an almighty climax.

A Gym Thing sweatily takes place within the time of a sixty minute workout, emphasising the adrenaline rush state that a gym addict constantly craves. As the action happens from Will’s point of view, never once do we hear of his behaviour as being clear indicators of a mental health issue. It is obvious to the audience and to the other characters; yet, Vallen’s sophisticatedly never feels the need to hammer home his message. It is through his use of dynamic and effective drama that he is able to achieve a weightier punch.


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole

Photography by Boris Mitkov Photography


A Gym Thing

Pleasance Theatre until 13th May


Previously reviewed at this venue
Assassins | ★★★★ | March 2018
Moonfleece | ★★★ | March 2018
Spiked | ★★★★ | April 2018


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