Jack Studio Theatre
Reviewed – 4th May 2018
“This is the Jack team doing what they do best and once again producing a diamond”
A teenage boy growing up in a northern town discovers a love of falconry when he adopts a young kestrel in Robert Alan Evans’ adaptation of Barry Hine’s A Kestrel for a Knave. Through Kes, young Billy finds an escape from the pressures of everyday life and the looming shadow of a future down the mine.
I’ve long been a fan of the Jack Studio Theatre and always go to their in-house productions with high expectations. I’m happy to say that Kes does not disappoint. It’s a beautiful piece of theatre. Subtle, engaging and deeply touching, director Kate Bannister masterfully creates a rich and detailed portrait of a working class childhood while always staying close to the heart of the story. From the intricacies of the set design (Karl Swinyard) to the detail in the soundscape (Jack Barton), the craft and care that has gone into this production is undeniable and every aspect flows together seamlessly. This is the Jack team doing what they do best and once again producing a diamond.
The cast are equally brilliant giving boisterous and energetic performances. Rob Pomfret populates the play with an array of characters, each one unique and fully realised. He gives charm to each of his creations, allowing sympathy even for the most abhorrent such as bullying big brother Jud and the obnoxious PE teacher. His charisma in his central role, a man jaded by his own heart break and trying to protect the innocence he once had, gives real weight to Billy’s relationship with Kes. Perfectly complementing Pomfret’s gravitas, Simon Stallard fills the space with his enthusiasm and the sheer joy he takes when Billy flies Kes. He’s awkward and goofy and instantly loveable, yet mesmerisingly graceful when he takes Kes to the air.
This is a real treat. Heartfelt and elegant, it is yet further proof that the Brockley Jack is one of the best theatres in London.
Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com
Photography by Timothy Stubbs Hughes
Jack Studio Theatre until 19th May
The Golden F**king Years
Jack Studio Theatre
Reviewed – 19th April 2018
“makes you laugh out loud finding out why life never gets less complicated”
On the hottest April day for seventy years it felt quite fitting to be whisked away to the sunshine of the Med without even having to leave the Jack Studio Theatre – which was gratefully cooled to perfection this balmy evening.
Helen, weary and stifled (played by Deborah Maclaren), and the bemusingly irritating Gordon (played by Adrian McLoughlin) have retired to the Mediterranean. They spend their time mostly on their balcony overlooking the sea, where one reads lots of books and one drinks quite a lot gin and they both watch the world go by.
They’re comfortable. But life isn’t as idyllic as expected and their amusing conversations leave clues of growing dissatisfaction … a mix of boredom brought on by inactivity and a touch of ‘jaded old age’ start to show their differing feelings on life.
The arrival of a confident younger woman (played by Anneli Page) in town shakes them both out of their attempt to relax into old age. Both their lives alter. Are they settled or simply settling …? Sex, alcohol, a couple of dubious brownies and a lot of misbehaviour spirals humorously out of control, and brings serious repercussions!
The simple but effective set (Chris de Wilde) worked well and the lighting (Ben Jacobs) and music (from sound designer Jack Barton) were used perfectly to move the story around the claustrophobic Spanish resort expat area setting.
In the 21st Century, where people live a lot longer, feeling a lot younger, this play aims to challenge what it means to grow old gracefully and disgracefully alike. I liked the way it explored the ‘norms’ of behaviour, ‘standard thinking’, and the trap of stereotyping, as well as pondering what emphasis you ought to give to what others think of you! Three lives are exposed, three pasts and three futures, all proving you don’t need to be young to be stupid! This witty play from Adrian McLoughlin makes you laugh out loud finding out why life never gets less complicated.
Whether you’re retired yourself, planning an early escape from working life, or pretending it’s too far in the future to contemplate, this show makes you wonder what will fill your time when the nine to five comes to an end – just remember growing older may not equal growing wiser!
Reviewed by Joanna Hinson
Photography by Chris de Wilde
The Golden F**king Years
Jack Studio Theatre until 28th April
Previous Shows at Jack Studio Theatre