Tag Archives: Gemma Wray

Asking for a Raise – 2 Stars


Asking for a Raise

The Space

Reviewed – 3rd July 2018


“The ensemble work produced by this cast was of the highest calibre, and the skill required to pull off this type of work should not be underestimated”


Asking for a Raise is a devised comedy which explores one of the central and perennial demands of office culture; exactly how do you pluck up the courage to ask for a raise? It’s a situation familiar to many of us, although the ‘universal office’ in the piece had more in common with offices of the past than with contemporary work spaces. One of the performers – the excellent Poppy Lawless – mentions her time at a call centre in her programme biography, and this reviewer couldn’t help feeling that the piece would have been taken to the next level by properly drawing on the experiences of these young actors, rather than rehashing an office setting that essentially hasn’t changed since the 1950s.

There’s no doubt that Hugo Aguirre (designer/director) and Franciska Éry (director), ably assisted by Liam Murphy (music), have produced a slick piece of theatre. It is visually arresting and tightly choreographed, with some well-orchestrated set pieces. Stylistically, it is reminiscent of the wonderful formative years of Theatre de Complicité, and there is still a lot of fun to be had within that absurdist European tradition. Again however, there was a feeling of disconnect. It felt like a well-mastered technique, as opposed to an organically-developed theatrical language, unique to this company, and as such, was lacking in soul. The office is, of course, an alienating soulless space, but the subject shouldn’t affect the performance quality. The ensemble work produced by this cast was of the highest calibre, and the skill required to pull off this type of work should not be underestimated. It was just a shame that the substance of the piece was not there for them to work with, and that they were not more present as individuals.

Fifty minutes is an awful lot of time for one relatively flimsy scenario to fill, no matter how much flair there is in its execution, and the script would have benefited from the same attention to detail as its performative realisation. Congratulations though to Poppy Lawless, Imogen Parker (with special mention to her wonderful solo smoky jazz pastiche), Jacob Ward, Jack Westgate and Gemma Wray. It would be exciting to see this gang work together again, taking a few more risks and bringing in some heart.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by LivLeopard Photography


Asking to a Raise

The Space until 7th July


Previously reviewed at this venue
One Festival | ★★★ | January 2018
Citizen | ★★★★ | April 2018
Be Born | | June 2018


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Feel – 5 Stars



Lion & Unicorn Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd March 2018


“forces its audience to acknowledge the value of time and the sadness of life’s brevity”


James Lewis’ authentic and relatable new play ‘Feel’ makes for an extraordinary evening’s entertainment as it hops between being ingeniously witty and soul-wrenchingly moving. Directed by David Brady and set in the summer of 2016, the scenes cross cut between the bench on the platform of an unspecified train station and the bedroom of an understated flat, as four Londoners struggle with their life-long search for love, laughter and meaning. The set is simplistic but perfectly functional and its lack of bells and whistles is undoubtedly a blessing. This is a very wordy play and its real-world costumes and recognisable images allow the audience to pay close attention to the dialogue of the piece; for it is here that the magic really lies.

The text follows Nick and Karen, who meet on a train platform and whose differences in humour, countenance and spirit draw them closer to each other by the second; and Jamie and Naomi who turn out to be far more similar than either of them would like to let on. The couples fall madly, and sometimes begrudgingly, in love with each other and the performances of all four actors are stunning. Jonathon George’s portrayal of a man on the brink of self-destruction is incredibly moving and Isobel Eadie’s exceptional take on a reckless, grieving young woman makes the character’s on-the-page spite miraculously endearing. Gemma Wray and James Vincent bring an enviable chemistry to Nick and Karen and bring to life the relationship most of us fantasise about. Never predictable, these four actors truly astonish with the depths of their performances as they prove that there is something of Nick, Karen, Jamie and Naomi in each of us.

‘Feel’ serves as a punishing but worthy reminder that everybody you meet is dealing with their own heartache. It forces its audience to acknowledge the value of time and the sadness of life’s brevity; and the exquisite score brings the sometimes repetitive blackout transitions back to life. ‘Feel’ will leave you with a burning need to remind your loved ones that you care, but will also leave you with a will to smile at the boy who’s crying in the seat opposite you on the tube, or to buy a coffee for the girl behind you in the queue in Starbucks. If everyone is dealing with their own issues, ‘Feel’ is the perfect piece of persuasion to just try to be a little bit kinder to the world.


Reviewed by Sydney Austin

Photography by Nick Brittain



Lion & Unicorn Theatre until 31st March



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