Tag Archives: Jacob Welsh

The Indecent Musings Of Miss Doncaster 2007

★★★½

Camden People’s Theatre

The Indecent Musings Of Miss Doncaster 2007

The Indecent Musings Of Miss Doncaster 2007

Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Reviewed – 10th August 2019

★★★½

 

“Some lines are stellar but the occasional too-easy joke could be lost without ill effect”

 

2007 was a big year. The first iPhone hit the shelves, as did the last Harry Potter book. We got Gordon Brown as PM. And, in Doncaster, our ‘Miss Donny’ is crowned Miss Doncaster, with the sash and tiara to prove it. A starry start indeed – but The Indecent Musings of Miss Doncaster 2007 shows what happens next. And, spoiler alert: this is where the glamour ends.

The one-hander, written and performed by Annabel York, spans confessional, spoken word and stand-up, and although just how biographical it is isn’t clear, it’s hard not to see it as intimate. Staging (design by Elle Loudon) supports this; lighting and choreography are exceptional. The sound design (Jacob Welsh) is terrific; scenes of Donny dancing work brilliantly, with clever and thoughtful music choices and just the odd scene where the sound levels are awry and we struggle to follow York’s quickfire delivery.

Sound effects are also strong. The gentle hiss and suck of Donny’s father’s ventilator in the quieter moments she spends beside him (and the staggering silence that follows once it’s turned off) are particularly poignant. Given that the use of props is almost non-existent, effects do the hard yards in giving us a sense of place.

In the same vein, Rebecca Loudon’s skill in direction is clear, especially in the detail that sets up each scene – the clever little adjustments to the office chair height that tell us that Donny is once again slouched at the desk at her ghastly office job, for example.

Naturally in any solo show all eyes are on the performer, and the clearly-talented York doesn’t disappoint. Primarily a comic piece, almost all scenes are played for laughs. This is perhaps a shame, as York’s excellent and nuanced acting gets a fuller airing in the few emotionally-charged scenes. Make no mistake, though – York is incredibly funny, and throws herself around to terrific effect. We’re introduced to a cast of characters through her, not least the pageant queen persona, Miss Doncaster 2007, herself.

Garbed in the full regalia of evening gown, pink sash and twinkly crown, it’s this version of Donny that opens and closes the production. This deadens the night’s impact just a little; the opening scene is one of the weakest of all and the all-smiles characterisation of Donny’s showbiz embodiment is less affecting and harder to like. After the journey Donny has gone on, it feels reductive, too, to return to the crown and fixed grins at the end.

Generally, the whirlwind of Donny’s chaotic life can risk feeling a bit one-note; exploration of the emotional impact of some of her fraught sexual encounters, for example, including ones where her dates’ behaviours are downright abusive, is lacking. These disastrous, drunken dates are suggestive of Donny’s vulnerability but that gets lost when they’re unrelentingly played for laughs. This is a pity, as a message about female fragility and strength is suggested throughout (it can’t be an accident that empowering tracks by feminist superstars Lizzo and Janelle Monáe feature).

Scripting could also stand to be just a touch tighter. Some lines are stellar but the occasional too-easy joke (‘I call a spade a spade… unless it’s a shovel’) could be lost without ill effect, and a little more light and dark introduced into those more frenetically active scenes.

Raw emotion does come, though, as we see grief take over from nights out on the town, and it’s here that the performance really sings. Our Donny may not be the darling of Doncaster, crown and all, any more. But a new kind of stardom may just beckon – and she’ll be ready.

Reviewed by Abi Davies

 

Camden Fringe

The Indecent Musings Of Miss Doncaster 2007

Camden People’s Theatre until 10th August as part of Camden Fringe 2019

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Absolute Truth About Absolutely Everything | ★★★ | May 2018
A Fortunate Man | ★★★½ | June 2018
Le Misanthrope | ★★½ | June 2018
Ouroboros | ★★★★ | July 2018
Did it Hurt? | ★★★ | August 2018
Asylum | ★★★ | November 2018
George | ★★★★ | March 2019
Mojave | ★★★ | April 2019
Human Jam | ★★★★ | May 2019
Hot Flushes – The Musical | ★★★ | June 2019

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

 

Cockamamy – 4 Stars

Cockamamy

Cockamamy

Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 14th June 2018

★★★★

“Ultimately, though, I was gripped on every level; transported, whilst being very aware of the presentness and relevance of the issues being discussed”

 

Louise Coulthard’s tender, funny and eloquent play has all the theatrical ingredients for something uniquely beautiful. Written and performed by Coulthard, Cockamamy is awesomely executed by its vibrantly talented cast of three, and achieves a level of realism heightened by the closeness of the space, and brought home
by the emotive subject matter.

Cockamamy is full of wit, and fleshes out its characters from the opening scene. As Alice, Mary Rutherford performs with such detail and skill that the audience is invited right into her world of grief, confusion and gradual loss of control. Alice’s descent into Alzheimer’s is all the more tragic, because the play begins with her as a modern, healthy, cool grandmother. Expertly paced and realized, Rebecca Loudon’s direction coaxes out so many beautiful images and moments between Rosie and Alice. Equal to them being grandmother and granddaughter, they are friends, and it was a joy to see an intergenerational female relationship portrayed in all its complexity on stage.

Rowan Polonski shines as the patient, supportive Cavan. The chemistry between Polonski and Coulthard is unmistakable: the contrast between their new passion, and Alice reliving the memory of her dead husband, is nuanced, well-balanced and truly novel. Rosie’s restlessness to escape the life of being a carer, whilst feeling intensely guilty for wanting to leaving someone who has also acted as a mother for her, is subtly, yet masterfully, played out.

Cockamamy continually entangles humour with poignancy. When it rises to its peak, in a final scene which takes the audience through every inch of tension and release, the result is truthful and tightly-wrought drama of the best kind. Frequently, Jacob Welsh’s sound design was a strong support for portraying the recession of Alice’s mental state. A wartime song is Alice’s theme which provokes her past. She sees ghosts, relives an air-raid, and – in a neat bit of doubling – sees her husband, played by Cavan in uniform – come into the living room and eat a bourbon biscuit. These elements of Cockamamy deepened it further, and clever changes of perspective between Rosie and Alice made sure that our emotional position was always in flux.

Chris May’s lighting design helps create an abstract tone in a naturalistic space. The choice to leave the stage bare for most scene changes was occasionally very effective, but more events in the sound and lighting cues would have made these seem artistically intentional. Elle Loudon’s design was a perfect creation of intimacy and warmth in the Hope’s black box, and Rebecca Loudon’s direction, supported by Oliver de Rohan, fit perfectly in thrust, with only occasional sight line problems when two characters conversed on the sofa at a time.

Ultimately, though, I was gripped on every level; transported, whilst being very aware of the presentness and relevance of the issues being discussed. A play about love, family, and what it means to be of sound mind, Cockamamy must be seen, shared, and talked about with those you love.

 

Reviewed by Eloïse Poulton

Photography by Alex Brenner

 


Cockamamy

Hope Theatre until 30th June

 

Related
Previously reviewed at this venue
My Evolution of the Cave Painting | ★★★★ | February 2018
Our Big Love Story | ★★ | March 2018
Adam & Eve | ★★★★ | May 2018

 

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