Tag Archives: Gillian Bevan

Octopus Soup!
★★½

Theatre Royal Windsor & UK Tour

Octopus Soup

Octopus Soup!

Theatre Royal Windsor

Reviewed – 1st April 2019

★★½

 

“In spite of the dogged efforts of the cast, the audience just didn’t get many of the jokes”

 

Billed as ‘an instant modern classic like ‘The Play that Goes Wrong’’, Jack Milner and Mark Stevenson’s ‘Octopus Soup!’ is a new British farce, developed and premiered by the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, before a national tour which continues to May 4.

Where would theatre be without farce? At its best and in the hands of masters like Ayckbourn or Feydeau its ingredients are brilliant wit, sexual intrigue, and a lot of ‘business’ as comedic stereotypes get utterly confounded by impossible situations. But is the recipe right for this particular bouillabaisse?

‘Octopus Soup!’ has an accomplished and hard-working cast, admirably led by Nick Hancock, who helped to create and then presented ‘Room 101’ for seven years from its inception in 1992. He plays the risk-averse but increasingly desperate insurance man Seymour Norse who is about to make the biggest presentation of his life to the CEO of GIT, a troubled insurance company (an authoritative and satisfying performance by Gillian Bevan, who recently appeared as Theresa May in Channel 4’s ‘The Windsors’).

Before a word of dialogue is spoken, Seymour Norse has lost his trousers. A predictable enough part of the mix, but pretty wasted at the top of the show. The arrival of a blundering burglar (a smart performance by Paul Bradley) stirs up the plot, which then takes a few fishy twists before a fairly predictable ending. Norse’s nervy wife is wittily played by Carolyn Backhouse, a regular at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Eric Richard makes a satisfying appearance as a nasty underworld boss with a taste for seal sanctuaries. Terry the octopus twitches, a bullet is fired. Thanks to a well-known casserole company, which got the biggest laugh of the evening, someone is dead, or are they? So much for the slide presentation and for the plot, which stretches pretty thinly over the evening.

Actors often say that a play that seems lack-lustre one night will shine the next, simply because of the mood of one audience compared to another. I have to report that the audience in Windsor on Monday weren’t hungry for octopus soup. The fault seemed to lie not with the performances, or the set, or even the slightly dodgy sound effects, but with the writing. Many of the jokes relied on fairly improbable malapropisms of the ‘Ethics? – I come from there!’ kind. In spite of the dogged efforts of the cast, the audience just didn’t get many of the jokes, particularly in the limping first act.

The final line sank like a damp soufflé, and the cast seemed only too quick to leave the stage.

 

Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Robert Day

 

TheatreRoyalWindsor

Octopus Soup!

Theatre Royal Windsor until 6th April then UK Tour continues

 

Previous shows covered by this reviewer:
Teddy | ★★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | January 2018
The Rivals | ★★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | March 2018
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | May 2018
Jerusalem | ★★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | June 2018
Trial by Laughter | ★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | September 2018
Jane Eyre | ★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | October 2018
Murder For Two | ★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | February 2019
The Trials Of Oscar Wilde | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Windsor | March 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

 

Working

Southwark Playhouse

Opening Night – 7 June 2017

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

A fun musical buzzing with great stories, music and dance

 

 

Anything with a link to Lin-Manuel Miranda is bound to attract attention and for this alone there will be many Miranda followers who will buy a ticket to see Working which features some of his music. For a wider audience anyone lucky enough to attend this show will leave with a spring in their step and a smile on their face.

Working is the European Premiere of an extraordinary musical from Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell) based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 best-selling book of interviews with the American workforce. It provides a portrait of the American workday told from the perspective of those so often overlooked, be it a schoolteacher, millworker, housewife care worker, nanny or waitress, amongst many.

Dean Chisnall in WORKING
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Production Photography by Robert Workman

The Southwark Playhouse has gained a reputation for staging remarkable musicals and Working should be added to the list of current must see shows. There is much to admire of this production. The set and costumes reflect a grimy industrial background, the music is expertly performed and there is an outstanding cast of twelve that exudes enthusiasm and obvious love for the show.

Taking the main parts are experienced stage actors Gillian Bevan, Dean Chisnall, Krysten Cummings, Siubhan Harrison, Peter Polycarpou and Liam Tamne. They play several different characters during the show.

 

LtoR Nicola Espallardo, Huon Mackley, Izuka Hoyle, Patrick Coulter, Luke Latchman & Kerri Norville. Photo by Darren Bell.

A further six carefully selected theatre graduates support the action and those making their professional debut are Patrick Coulter, Nicola Espallardo, Izuka Hoyle, Luke Latchman, Huon Mackley and Kerri Norville. On this showing they have a great future ahead.

The show bursts into life from the very first minute with Fabian Aloise’s thrilling choreography grabbing the audience’s attention and over the next 90 minutes there is so much to enjoy. It is high energy production that rarely stops to breathe. The lighting and sound enhances the overall experience.

A talented cast performs each of the stories expertly throughout though standout songs are James Taylor’s Millwork expertly portrayed by Siubhan Harrison; Peter Polycarpou brings a tear to the eye with Fathers and Sons and Krysten Cummings hits the spot with Just a Housewife, an anthem for a job the importance of which is often overlooked. There is a character for everyone to identify with and at the end the show we get to understand that everyone’s job is as important as everyone else’s, different though they may be.

 

Working is playing for a strictly limited season at the Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD ending 8 July 2017.

 

 

www.SouthwarkPlayhouse.co.uk