Tag Archives: Hannah Cheetham



Upstairs at the Gatehouse



Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Reviewed – 12th September 2019



“brilliant direction by Amanda Noar”


Studs Terkel (1912–2008) was a highly respected American writer and broadcaster who published several collections of oral histories. His conversations with ‘ordinary people’ revealed profound social, economic and personal truths about the times. Adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, this show brings to life the author’s 1974 book, Working, with spoken narratives and songs that illuminate gritty accounts of trying to earn a living in the USA.

The cast of eight actor/singers play multiple parts across professions as diverse as truck driver, nanny, hedge fund manager, prostitute, stone mason and flight attendant. Their narratives range from funny or quirky (a UPS delivery man startling attractive women for his own entertainment) to desperately sad (a woman enduring mind-numbing monotony on a factory assembly line). Cleverly, the script both documents a lost way of life and – bravely building upon Terkel’s source material – offers subtle updates to more recent working scenarios by utilising innovations such as e-mail and mobile phones. At the centre of these varied tales are the same recurring questions. How much should your job define you? What does it mean to spend so much of your existence in employment? And do we have a right to expect our work to be satisfactory and meaningful?

The stage set is an ingenious split-level scaffold structure resembling part of a construction site. This is compartmentalised to allow each actor their own designated area within it. The brilliant direction by Amanda Noar allows for these spaces to be suddenly spotlit or thrown into darkness, emphasising parallels or curious juxtapositions between workers as their confessions and experiences begin to dovetail.

A four-piece band led by musical director Jamie Noar embrace a diverse range of styles and moods, from big, brassy anthems to restrained, low-key heartbreakers. The stand-out moments are numerous, but the most memorable include ‘Just a Housewife’ sung by Lara Beth-Sas and ‘It’s an Art’ performed by Hannah Cheetham as a proud waitress determined to recognise the value in her role.

In parts, it’s hugely emotional – particularly when the full ensemble unite to complement each other’s stories and songs. You really feel you’ve had an insight into other people’s lives. Terkel’s gift was to show sufficient empathy for his interview subjects to bring out the very best in them. It’s a great credit to this production that it does the same.


Reviewed by Stephen Fall

Photography by Colin Allen 



Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 22nd September


Previously reviewed at this venue:
After the Ball | ★★★ | March 2018
Return to the Forbidden Planet | ★★★ | May 2018
Kafka’s Dick | ★★★★ | June 2018
Nice Work if You Can Get It | ★★★★ | December 2018
Bad Girls The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
Strike Up The Band | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Marvelous Wonderettes | ★★★★ | April 2019
Flat Out | ★★★★ | June 2019
Agent 14 | | August 2019
Pericles, Prince Of Tyre | ★★★ | August 2019


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80 Days: A Real-World Adventure

Underbelly Festival – Secret Location

80 Days: A Real-World Adventure

80 Days: A Real-World Adventure

Underbelly Festival Southbank

Reviewed – 25th July 2019



“bring a curious mind and a competitive spirit and you’re guaranteed to have a jolly good time”


80 Days: A Real World Adventure by Fire Hazard Games is a live, interactive role play (that includes using your phone as part of the game) where participants have eighty minutes to dash around London and make necessary purchases for their expedition. In order to do this there are riddles to solve and clues to collect. The more money you accumulate, from solving each challenge, the more purchases you can make for your expedition which heightens your chance of winning.

Greeted by Marta Kane (stage manager) at the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank, we were provided a pre-adventure debrief whilst our team names were confirmed. Although many people play as a group, teams can be singular or up to five members.

We were then introduced to the rather spiffily dressed Pendleton “The Baron” (Nicholas Anscombe) who explained, with great enthusiasm, the task ahead and started all the competitors on their way. On our journey we met a few other exciting characters such as the feisty, no nonsense American explorer, Nightingale “The Navigator” (Kelly Long) and the ever kind and rational Hawkins “The Botanist” (Matt Vickery).

Fire Hazard Games make “…high-energy real-life games…to make competitive, character-led experiences with players at the centre.” 80 Days: A Real World Adventure is no exception. It cleverly encourages the exploration of London by immersing the players into a theatrical treasure hunt. It’s an ingenious way to incentivise even the most jaded Londoner to open their eyes with renewed wonder, as they discover previously unnoticed gems that only a city like London keeps.

Of course the actors were a fundamental element of the whole production. Friendly, witty and completely dedicated to their roles, Long, Hawkins and Anscombe were a pleasure to watch and interact with. They also displayed great empathy and patience to those who, perhaps, required a little more time to figure out the logistics of the game. The attention to detail did not go unnoticed, from the character’s costumes to the layout of our maps. Much kudos to Elizabeth Simoens (Lead Game Designer and Production Manager) and the whole creative team whose efforts and directing choices have positively paid off.

80 Days: A Real World Adventure is something fun and different to do around London. It would serve as a brilliant birthday gift and is an innovative way to go sightseeing. When you embark on this wild caper, be sure to bring comfortable shoes and sustenance to keep you going on your voyage. Most importantly, bring a curious mind and a competitive spirit and you’re guaranteed to have a jolly good time.


Reviewed by Pippin

Photography by Sofia Romualdo


80 Days: A Real-World Adventure

Underbelly Festival Southbank until 29th September


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Soap | ★★★★★ | May 2018
Circa: Peepshow | ★★★½ | July 2018
Little Mermaid Circus Sensation | ★★★½ | July 2018
Aliens Love Underpants | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Black Cat: Bohemia | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Little Death Club | ★★★★ | April 2019
On Reflection | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Transit | ★★★★ | May 2019


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