Tag Archives: Hen and Chickens Theatre

A Great Big Sigh

★★★

Hen and Chickens Theatre

Great Big Sigh

A Great Big Sigh

Hen & Chickens Theatre

Reviewed – 5th September 2019

★★★

 

“a lot of the audience roared with laughter at his antics and I would be foolish to ignore this feedback”

 

Formed just last year, ‘Moose & Noodle Soup’ theatre company follow up an earlier run at The Hope Theatre with this two handed show.

As we enter the theatre, we are presented by a man and a woman, both gagged and tied to a chair and sitting facing each other in a basement. It soon becomes apparent that this pair have been kidnapped and they discover that they have a set amount of time to solve some clues, each of which has a number as its answer, these numbers being the code to a safe from which they can retrieve a key and escape. Failure to do this in the time limit and we are led to believe that the room will explode.

A fairly bare stage with just the two pieces of furniture, a small suspended window, a hotel like small safe and a few books. The action takes place in real time and occasionally a voiceover informs the characters how long they have left to complete their task. A little like watching an episode of The Crystal Maze, although the cryptic clues are not exactly Times crossword level.

A Great Big Sigh is not a drama though, it is very definitely a comedy. Walter (Riley Marinelli) has the majority of the humorous moments. Dressed a little like Rupert Bear in green checks and red trousers and bizarrely sporting roller blades, he is a wacky, hyperactive, hugely frustrating character who will not focus on the task in hand for more than a few seconds. On the other hand, Tina (Maryhee Yoon) is a calm, focussed, delightfully normal young lady who you would be quite happy to spend an hour of your time in a basement with. This is a very physical show. Walter expertly manoeuvres himself around the stage whilst tied to a fallen chair and one moment where he lifts Tina, almost drops her which then ends in a perfect handstand, is so expertly and casually done that I wanted to leap out of my chair with a scorecard of ten.

But for all the noise, irritation and over the top acting from Walter, occasionally the tempo slows and we discover the characters’ back stories. Tina’s, so worryingly commonplace in this day and age, you wondered how such a strong character emerged. Walter’s so tragic, so poignant, that you suddenly wanted to buy him a beer and give him a big hug.

“You make stronger friendships when you go through adversity together” was a line from Walter that tied the whole plot together for me. Walter’s character is not my type of humour, but a lot of the audience roared with laughter at his antics and I would be foolish to ignore this feedback.

Moose & Noodle Soup’s mission statement is to transport audiences into ridiculous scenarios and they certainly achieved that in A Great Big Sigh. I left the theatre thinking of loneliness, friendship and how poor my long division is. I couldn’t help thinking that however extrovert a person may be, however outrageous their behaviour is, there is often a little cry for help beneath the surface which is extremely dangerous to ignore.

 

Reviewed by Chris White

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli

 


A Great Big Sigh

Hen and Chickens Theatre until 8th September

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Abducting Diana | ★★★½ | March 2018
Isaac Saddlesore & the Witches of Drenn | ★★★★ | April 2018
I Will Miss you When You’re Gone | ★★½ | September 2018
Mojo | ★★ | November 2018
Hawk | ★★★ | December 2018
Not Quite | ★★★ | February 2019
The First Modern Man | ★★★ | February 2019
The Dysfunckshonalz! | ★★★★★ | May 2019
No One Likes Us | ★★★ | August 2019
Scenic Reality | | August 2019

 

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Scenic Reality



Hen and Chickens Theatre

Scenic Reality

Scenic Reality

Hen and Chickens Theatre

Reviewed – 11th August 2019

 

“J B Pichelski’s script does have interesting concepts buried somewhere”

 

The Camden Fringe can often be a hotbed for exciting, thoughtful, creative new work that screams out for a larger platform or further development. Scenic Reality unfortunately does not fit into this category. Despite some interesting ideas fuelling the play, the execution results in a hugely disappointing experience.

Scenic Reality centres around four friends reuniting under unfortunate circumstances – Janet (Amy Woods), Lucy (Francesca Mallett), and George (Brodie Husband) all convene at Damien’s (Patricia Gibbons) flat, in response to a letter Damien had sent. There’s a tension amongst the four as it transpires that they haven’t seen each other since before they all went separate ways after college, and that a film that Damien made when they were last together caused a severe falling out. The events surrounding this are revealed through a plethora of flashbacks that intersperse this reunion – and when I say plethora, I mean it. There are approximately ten jumps back in time throughout the play, which means twenty scene changes as it travels back to present day. That’s three minutes between each scene change on average, which is blisteringly quick for any piece of theatre, and subsequently creates a stilted, juddering pace with no momentum. No scene is given any time to breathe or develop organically, instead vaguely alluding to something that’s happened or going to happen and then jumping in time again before allowing any conflict or theme to really be explored.

That’s a shame, because J B Pichelski’s script does have interesting concepts buried somewhere – the role of art in a continually gruelling and dissatisfying system, adapting to disappointment and post-university life, and the way artists are expected to exploit their trauma for the sake of their craft are ideas that all briefly pop up, but the breakneck rush through time instead means that none of these are allowed to establish themselves as themes, instead just making a fleeting appearance and then being absent for the rest of the play. The hollowness of the script is exacerbated further by dialogue that operates only on the surface level, which facilitates flat and low-stakes direction from Samantha Wright.

The performances, too, feel unengaged with the story. Woods is notably authentic, and Mallett and Husband provide solid enough work, but Gibbons just seems bored, as every line she delivers feels disinterested and follows the exact same inflection. This greatly dampens the energy of the piece, resulting in a protagonist that the audience simply cannot invest in.

Scenic Reality clearly has good intentions – its representation of a non-binary character, for instance, is mature and exemplary. It makes it all the more of a letdown that the rest of the play feels comparatively immature and undercooked.

 

Reviewed by Tom Francis

Photography by J B Pichelski

 

Camden Fringe

Scenic Reality

Hen and Chickens Theatre as part of Camden Fringe 2019

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Abducting Diana | ★★★½ | March 2018
Isaac Saddlesore & the Witches of Drenn | ★★★★ | April 2018
I Will Miss you When You’re Gone | ★★½ | September 2018
Mojo | ★★ | November 2018
Hawk | ★★★ | December 2018
Not Quite | ★★★ | February 2019
The First Modern Man | ★★★ | February 2019
The Dysfunckshonalz! | ★★★★★ | May 2019
No One Likes Us | ★★★ | August 2019
Vice | ★★½ | July 2019

 

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