Tag Archives: Hugh Train

 The Problem With Fletcher Mott
★★★

Drayton Arms

The Problem With Fletcher Mott

The Problem With Fletcher Mott

Drayton Arms Theatre

Reviewed – 17th February 2019

★★★

 

“in the main, the energy and talent of the performers was this show’s other great strength”

 

The Problem with Fletcher Mott began its life at Goldsmiths College, and premiered last year at the Tristan Bates. It is being presented over two nights at The Drayton Arms as a work in progress, to garner audience feedback; this review is written with that in mind.

The musical is the brain child of Jack Miles – writer of the book, music and lyrics – who also plays a mean guitar in the wonderfully tight three man band. Music is clearly the driver here, and is, most emphatically, the strongest weapon in Mr. Miles’ armoury; there are some terrific songs in this piece. He is at his best as a composer in the high-energy numbers such as The Concept and The Power of the Pen, and he clearly relishes fast and furious W.S.Gilbert-like lyrical frenzy – present throughout, but particularly in evidence in The Headache, a herculean feat of articulation, splendidly sung by Lucy Ogilvie as Angela. The slower numbers are less successful, and the show really loses energy in the second half. The final three songs are pretty lacklustre and it seems a great shame to finish with The Apology, which is the weakest number of all.

The book is, unfortunately, a far cry from the standard of the music, both in terms of the plot itself, and the spoken interludes. The main character, the hapless Fletcher Mott, is not sufficiently interesting for the audience to be fully invested in; nor are the stakes of his situation sufficiently high. He is a non-descript writer, who fails to write a play; ultimately, what does it matter? The show’s padding consists mostly of incredibly broad comedy, which comes across as strangely dated in such a contemporary piece. Being asked to laugh at ‘yobbos’ in baseball caps talking like middle class academics seemed almost offensively retro, as did the tourists sketch. It all seemed faintly juvenile, as did the badly written swearing. Lines like ‘You’ve got a shitload of shit writing to shit’ brought the professionalism of the enterprise right down, and suddenly the cast seemed like a bunch of silly teenagers out to shock. It jarred every time, as, in the main, the energy and talent of the performers was this show’s other great strength.

Although the character of Fletcher’s inner critic was never entirely convincing, Rose Dickson sang with strength, sass and clarity throughout, and Hugh Train’s wonderfully energetic performance as Dan was a treat, culminating in his fabulous rendition of The Writer’s Mind in the second half. The ensemble singing was always on point, and all the performers fully committed to the work, which drove the show forward even in its duller or more ridiculous moments.

The Problem with Fletcher Mott feels like a talented musical theatre composer flexing his muscles. We will definitely be hearing more from Jack Miles, but Fletcher feels like a stepping stone. It might be an idea to collaborate on the writing too; to release a bit of creative control, allow another voice in, and see where that takes him. Watch this space.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Rosalind Steven

 


The Problem With Fletcher Mott

Drayton Arms Theatre

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Are There Female Gorillas? | ★★★★ | April 2018
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee | ★★★★ | May 2018
No Leaves on my Precious Self | ★★ | July 2018
The Beautiful Game | ★★★ | August 2018
Baby | ★★ | October 2018
Jake | ★★★ | October 2018
Love, Genius and a Walk | | October 2018
Boujie | ★★★½ | November 2018
Out of Step | ★★ | January 2019

 

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

 

Fat Jewels – 5 Stars

Jewels

Fat Jewels

Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 5th July 2018

★★★★★

“The space is wonderfully navigated, a clear indication of the quality of Luke Davies’ direction”

 

The smell of late night takeaway wafts through the space as we enter the living room of a flat on a South Yorkshire council estate. Pat has been having violent dreams and they are making him scared of himself. When he meets Danny, a family friend of his mums in the pub, Danny invites him back to his flat to implement a tailored therapy course that he assures Pat will heal him, but this is a sinister sort of therapy involving violence and cricket bats, and Pat isn’t allowed to leave.

The script is fantastically crafted, awfully inevitable yet still pumped with a claustrophobic sense of suspense. Joseph Skelton, the play’s writer, is a clear talent, mixing humour with darkness and presenting a narrative of desperate manipulation and complete abuse of power and trust.

Both characters are beautifully layered, lonely and confused and in crisis, in a climate where male mental health issues are notoriously under discussed and masculinity is defined by power. Robert Walter plays Danny, a man who is so fragile he is dangerous. Pat is played by Hugh Train, wide-eyed with the hope and optimism of this therapy, this friendship, later jaded and darker. Walters and Train deliver faultless performances, both as a pair and individually, at ease onstage, never dropping the pace for a moment.

The design is beautifully thought through, detailed and coherent, tied together by the repeating red of the furniture, the lampshade, a ketchup bottle, a sleeping bag. The space is wonderfully navigated, a clear indication of the quality of Luke Davies’ direction.

This is a brilliant piece of theatre, well-written, well-executed and unapologetically dark, investigating masculinity, mental health and abuse with an unflinching depth.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Laura Harling

 


Fat Jewels

Hope Theatre until 21st July

 

Related
Previously reviewed at this venue
My Gay Best Friend | ★★★★★ | January 2018
Adam & Eve | ★★★★ | May 2018
Cockamamy | ★★★★ | June 2018

 

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