Tag Archives: Hope Theatre

True Colours
★★★★

Hope Theatre

True Colours

True Colours

Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 20th May 2019

★★★★

 

“the play zips along with the next gag never more than a moment away”

 

With the preponderance of baggy sportswear on the streets, The Lion King set to be the summer blockbuster and the White House occupied by a smooth-talking sex pest, you could be forgiven for checking your calendar to check we haven’t slipped back into the 1990s.

It’s the start of this hopeful decade in which True Colours is set, a one-act play written and directed by Paul Stevens about a pair of laddy decorators. Ray Stanford (Paul Marlon) and Leon Goodwin (Jack Harding) are the sort of people you don’t see on the stage all too often, but they’re instantly recognisable characters – wise-cracking, wide-accented manual labourers that spend more time on leisurely tea breaks than they do applying a second layer to the doorframes. They both channel that unique brand of hyper-aggressive masculinity where you’re not entirely sure if they’re best friends or if they completely hate each other, ready to immediately jump down the other’s throat at a moment’s notice for misdemeanours as minor as reading a graphic novel or taking body-conditioning classes.

It’s a pretty simple set-up (design by Kala Sinton): two foldable camp chairs, a thermos flask, a couple of paintbrushes and a copy of The Sun brandished brilliantly at one point for a big laugh. The first half is spent shooting the proverbial about mixed-up orders at the caff, all with the chummy humour that’s in vogue with sitcoms at the moment, such as Mum, Lee and Dean, and Home. As the show goes on, however, their respective insecurities and latent ambitions gently fester and eventually bubble up to the surface. Of course, being blokes, the only thing they can’t talk about is their feelings. Both Marlon and Goodwin are spot-on at capturing the awkward way in which some men approach their emotions as if they’re some sort of inconvenience. Their unenthusiastic heart-to-hearts involve half-finished sentences, evaded eye contact and much shoe-shuffling, before one of them loses their rag at a harmless misinterpretation. The pair have developed a convincing chemistry between them, which veers into father-son territory at points. You’re willing them to just hug it out, but that’s not their style.

Clocking in at an hour, the play zips along with the next gag never more than a moment away and there’s certainly no worry of any of the audience reaching for a lazy ‘paint’ and ‘drying’ analogy. Setting it in 1993 doesn’t really add much to the equation, and without the Technotronic blaring out the speakers, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell otherwise. There’s even a mobile phone used at one point, which fans of pedantry will be more than happy to baulk at.

All in all though, Stevens has put his name to an original play that’s both touching and timely, bolstered by two understated performances from the leading pair. They may be handy when it comes to glossing a skirting board, but hopeless when it comes to admitting what they really want from life.

 

Reviewed by Joe Holyoake

 


True Colours

Hope Theatre

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Lesson | ★★★★ | September 2018
Jericho’s Rose | ★★★½ | October 2018
Gilded Butterflies | ★★ | November 2018
Head-rot Holiday | ★★★★ | November 2018
Alternativity | ★★★★ | December 2018
In Conversation With Graham Norton | ★★★ | January 2019
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | January 2019
Getting Over Everest | ★★★ | April 2019
Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Uncle Vanya | ★★★★ | April 2019

 

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

 

Getting Over Everest
★★★

Hope Theatre

Getting Over Everest

Getting Over Everest

The Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 29th April 2019

★★★

 

“a little more finesse in both writing and performance could have shifted things up a gear from good to really, really great”

 

Being dumped sucks. Being dumped after a decade in a relationship? Well… that’s something else. Natasha Santos’ script and performance explores the trauma – and ultimate redemption – in forensic detail.

The Everest of the title is Rob Everest, Libby’s (now) ex-boyfriend and sometime nemesis. Santos has great fun as Libby, clearly enjoying the playfulness of her script and exerting considerable charisma. And she gives us lots to enjoy; Libby regales us with her woes via clever musical accompaniment and much wit. We’re treated to flashbacks to her childhood friendship to the strains of the Spice Girls, an excruciating workout class to Salt-N-Pepa and, poignantly, José González’ Heartbeats as we see the first glimmers of Libby’s hope for a new life.

The music choices are uniformly great (what better break-up song is there than Nothing Compares 2 U?) and special mention must go to the choreography, which is hilariously on point. The trio flick into movements in perfect unison (including a memorable impersonation of Libby’s ex’s sexual prowess), adding a polish to the fast-moving performance.

With all the riotous humour of the piece, though, the production can at times feel overdone. Characterisations, such as that of Libby’s ghastly colleague Sandra, can creep towards parodic gurning, and this does a disservice to the quality acting on offer (both of Santos’ fellow actors Grace Dunne and George Vafakis more than hold their own here, with some beautifully wry performances). Some of the more extreme caricatures of heartbreak feel more than a little hackneyed, as Libby knocks back the Pinot and drunk dials Rob to sing Whitney down the line. And small details can feel distracting and detract from an otherwise smooth production; pretending to swig from empty wine bottles feels like a mimicry too far, for example.

It’s great to see such a defiantly female-led production, from Santos as writer and lead to director Katherine Timms and especially great work from technical designer Abi Toghill. And it’s an appealing production, too. Just a little more finesse in both writing and performance could have shifted things up a gear from good to really, really great.

 

Reviewed by Abi Davies

 


Getting Over Everest

Hope Theatre

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Dog / The Cat | ★★★★★ | September 2018
The Lesson | ★★★★ | September 2018
Jericho’s Rose | ★★★½ | October 2018
Gilded Butterflies | ★★ | November 2018
Head-rot Holiday | ★★★★ | November 2018
Alternativity | ★★★★ | December 2018
In Conversation With Graham Norton | ★★★ | January 2019
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | January 2019
Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Uncle Vanya | ★★★★ | April 2019

 

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