Tag Archives: James Douglas

Twelfth Night
★★★

Rose Playhouse

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night

The Rose Playhouse

Reviewed – 24th April 2019

★★★

 

“Energetic music and some incredibly talented actor-musicians stop this production sinking”

 

“And we’ll strive to please you every day,” sings Feste in the closing scene of Shakespeare’s gender-swapping comedy of errors, and it’s certainly a maxim adhered to by OVO and director Adam Nichols in this entertaining production of ‘Twelfth Night’. A 1920s nautical setting relocates the play to the ‘SS Illyria’, where washed up music hall stars and famous actresses bump uglies and drink cocktails. Energetic music and some incredibly talented actor-musicians stop this production sinking, but it never quite sails along as smoothly as you would hope.

Viola (Lucy Crick) arrives on board having lost her twin brother Sebastian (Joshua Newman), so she of course dresses up as a man to enter the service of lovelorn Orsino (Will Forester), captain of the ship. Rather than wooing Olivia (Emma Watson – no, not that one) on Orsino’s behalf, Viola, now Cesario, becomes the object of Olivia’s affection, just as Viola realises she’s in love with Orsino. Cue mayhem. Alongside the main plot, the antics of Sir Toby Belch (Anna Franklin) play out in admirably foolish fashion.

Personally, I could watch ‘Twelfth Night’ all day long. It’s a cracking comedy that becomes richer for every watch. Director Nichols has vamped up the fun factor, replacing the original tunes for 1920s-style remixes of pop classics. Music is obviously key here, with each actor dexterously picking up different instruments throughout the night, and there are a couple of amazing singers in this cast, most notably Hannah Francis-Baker. However, the comedy value of hearing characters like Viola singing the likes of ‘Oops I Did It Again’ grows old quickly, and the singers need to own their songs more to convince us they are worth hearing.

The ship-based setting is also confused and underused. Forcing all these characters into a small, confined space could lead to some amusing quick-paced comedy capering, but in the end it just distracts from the storytelling. Decent cuts and some nice wiggling around of scenes keeps things short and snappy, but I did miss Antonio and Sebastian’s presence, and a cruel twist on the ending leaves Malvolia (Faith Turner) singing ‘Creep’ looking very forlorn in her yellow stockings.

Taken altogether, this is a fun and frothy take on Shakespeare’s comedy that certainly entertained this audience. Some unsteady songs and shaky acting almost take this production of course, but it picks up a pace and energy halfway through that means it makes it to dock safe and sound.

 

Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Lou Morris

 

TheRosePlayhouse

Twelfth Night

The Rose Playhouse until 5th May

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Macbeth | ★★½ | February 2018
Love’s Labour’s Lost | ★★½ | March 2018
Will or Eight Lost Years of Young William Shakespeare’s Life | ★★★★ | March 2018

 

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

 

Baby Blues

Baby Blues
★★★

Bread & Roses Theatre

Baby Blues

Baby Blues

Bread & Roses Theatre

Reviewed – 8th December 2018

★★★

 

“has a lot of potential with a strong vision and direction and an energetic cast”


Baby Blues is a children’s show, merging physical theatre with verbatim monologues in its attempt to explore post natal depression (PND).

The performance excels in its moments of physical theatre that underscore the whole show. Michael Greenwood’s direction is slick and cleverly thought out. The various movements that accompany the monologues, as well as the choreographed group dances, successfully demonstrate the overwhelming depression, anxiety and claustrophobia that comes with PND. The performers (Tabatha Gregg-Allured, James Douglas, Abi Slade, Eden Tinsey, Mohamed Bangura) really spring to life in these moments – their expressions are impassioned; Tinsey’s performance in particular gave every action a very specific feeling. Excitement is also produced by Alfie Rackley’s music and the use of torch lights, which create drama and utilise the minimalist nature of the show.

Unfortunately, where the show slacks a little is in its verbatim nature. The monologues do exactly what the show needs them to do, which is detail the experience of PND in a way that is easy to understand for its audience, and yet the speeches tend to become a little too matter-of-fact. Despite them being grounded in authenticity, allowing for us to clearly understand the message of the show, they risk becoming slightly disengaging at times, verging on being repetitive. While the stories feel important, they struggle to takes us on a real journey, which is crucial when needing to evoke empathy. As a result, moments that almost reach an emotional peak never really find it.

The show has a lot of potential with a strong vision and direction and an energetic cast. Children’s theatre definitely offers the chance to use a safe space to educate and excite audiences, but the innovative physicality of this show feels let down by the lack of a satisfying arc in the verbatim speeches. Hopefully this company can continue to develop this piece and deliver the important message that PND shouldn’t be a taboo topic, and that those who suffer from it aren’t alone.

Reviewed by Tobias Graham

 

 

 

Baby Blues

Bread & Roses Theatre

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
F*ckingLifeMate | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Talos II | ★★★ | March 2018
The Buzz | ★★★ | May 2018
Once a Year on Blackpool Sands | ★★★★ | June 2018
Richard II | ★★ | August 2018
Like Lions | ★★★★ | October 2018
Metamorphosis | ★★★★ | October 2018
Testament | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Enemies | ★★★ | October 2018
The Gap | ★★★★ | October 2018

 

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