Tag Archives: Guy Jones

Blackout Songs

Blackout Songs


Hampstead Theatre

BLACKOUT SONGS at the Hampstead Theatre



Blackout Songs

“the ending is strong enough that the audience’s slight loss of attention is whipped back into submission”


Alice and Charlie have both found themselves at their first AA meeting. Lingering by the coffee table, avoiding taking their seats, Alice persuades Charlie that he needs a drink for medicinal purposes, and off they run. This is the beginning of a tumultuous, toxic, hopelessly sincere love story. Or at least, that’s how one of them remembers it.

Scenes are presented as fact, later disputed or questioned, with no resolution; specific details and conversations repeat themselves in various parts of the story, and the audience experiences the desperate, failing attempt to recall things as they happened. It reminds me of Florian Zeller’s The Father, where we experience dementia first-hand, except in this case, neither witness is reliable, nor does it really matter. The fact is they love each other.

Anisha Fields’ design appears, at first, almost non-existent: stackable chairs line two sides of the stage, and that’s about it. It’s possible that’s just how the auditorium looked pre-rehearsals. After a while, though, despite their avoidance of AA, the chairs seem to suggest that the whole play is taking place at a meeting, someone trying to set the record straight, finally. Alice is dressed like Penny Lane from Almost Famous, in a fitted Afghan coat, large sunglasses, and a little slip dress. The comparison is perfect: Alice has performed as herself for so long she’s become the performance, and what appears false initially is actually just who she is now. She seems so ridiculous on first meeting that I’m worried Rebecca Humphries just isn’t very good, or the script has let her down. But the opposite is true: her façade is ridiculous, but her insecurities bubble just under the surface.

Alex Austin’s Charlie is scrappy and dopey and his near lack of costume- baggy top and jeans- reflects that. He’s the antithesis of Alice, always himself, always honest about how he feels. Austin appears as a nervous puppy, so ready to be loved, and it’s completely endearing and, ultimately, heart breaking.

Sound designer Holly Khan and lighting designer Christopher Nairne do a lot of the heavy lifting: masses of reverb when they’re in a church, a thudding heartbeat timed so perfectly with the on-stage tension, you can’t recall when it started; sickly florescent tubes double as unflattering lighting at the AA meeting, and artful strobes, denoting the strange experience of time, and the eponymous blackouts.

There is no dead space in this script, but writer Joe White does have a problem on his hands. Because despite the fact that there are no scenes to cut, it’s too long. Ultimately it doesn’t matter; the ending is strong enough that the audience’s slight loss of attention is whipped back into submission. But the script is so nearly perfect, it’s a shame it’s not ever so slightly pacier.



Reviewed on 10th November 2022

by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Robert Day



Previously reviewed at this venue:


The Two Character Play | ★★★★ | July 2021
Big Big Sky | ★★★★ | August 2021
Night Mother | ★★★★ | October 2021
The Forest | ★★★ | February 2022
The Fever Syndrome | ★★★ | April 2022
The Breach | ★★★ | May 2022
The Fellowship | ★★★ | June 2022
Mary | ★★★★ | October 2022



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Busking It – 4 Stars


Busking It

Shoreditch Town Hall

Reviewed – 10th October 2018


“There are some great songs in this show and Danusia really can sing”


Danusia Samal’s lovingly crafted show, based on her experiences of busking on the London Underground is engaging, moving, funny and utterly delightful. Anyone who can start a show by singing Otis Redding, and get away with it, is clearly a highly accomplished singer and Danusia more than got away with it, she owned it.

Standing on a set, splendidly designed by Bethany Wells to evoke the Underground, Danusia takes the audience with her on a trip down memory lane that includes characters such as her Mum, her ‘almost Dad,’ Experience, a boyfriend and assorted commuters. ‘Picture this.’ she asks several times, and then draws a portrait through words and song that vividly evoke vignettes from her busking life. The sense of the loneliness of the busker, ignored by passers by, singing her songs to a sea of strangers, is beautifully counterbalanced by the arrival in her life of a character she refers to as Experience. Experience likes to sing, and acts as a sort of alter-ego, pushing Danusia to confront her feelings, to dare to act, and to experience life.

There are some great songs in this show and Danusia really can sing. She is accompanied by two musicians, Joe Archer and Adam Cross and there is great communication between the three of them. Music is the thread that holds the show together, and music can be powerful, often inducing an emotional response better than any other medium. The audience share in Danusia’s feelings as she takes a journey through her memories. Sarah Readman’s lighting Design and Jon McLeod’s sound design work seamlessly with the set to create the underground, the backdrop to her story. The direction has a light touch, leaving the show to feel very natural and immediate, Guy Jones has done a lovely job with this.

I really recommend this show. Catch it while it’s still at Shoreditch Town Hall, you won’t regret it!


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by The Other Richard


Busking It

Shoreditch Town Hall


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Madhouse re:exit | ★★★½ | March 2018
The Nature of Forgetting | ★★★★ | April 2018
We can Time Travel | ★★★ | April 2018
Suicide Notes … The Spoken Word of Christopher Brett Bailey | ★★★½ | May 2018
These Rooms | ★★★★★ | June 2018


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