Tag Archives: Jez Bond

Winner's Curse

Winner’s Curse


Park Theatre

WINNER’S CURSE at the Park Theatre


Winner's Curse

“Anderson’s regular convivial contributions raise the tone, giving the sense that we’re simply having a lovely chat with an old friend”


Clive Anderson is just a pleasure to be in the company of. Never mind if he’s any good at acting, because despite the fact he’s introduced as Nobel Prize-winning negotiator, Hugo Leitski, he’s really just being his charming, endearing self.

Via the premise of giving a talk on international negotiations, Anderson takes us back to his first peace negotiation alongside dab hand Anton Korsakov, the first man to truly teach him the art, or as they say, the dance of negotiating. The story plays out between two countries in a 24-hour cease-fire, with Anderson loitering just outside the limelight, pleasantly interrupting on occasion to give the audience various tips and tricks, which they’re to practice on their neighbour.

I’ve come alone, and thus have to thumb-war with a stranger, but presumably most of the audience is bartering and thumb-warring with their friend or partner, a gentle form of audience participation which I think most people would be comfortable enough with.

Seeing as the disputing countries are made up, director Jez Bond is free to present them as he pleases. Costumes and names would suggest these countries are somewhere in Eastern Europe, but most characters speak in received pronunciation, whilst Nichola McAuliffe and Barrie Rutter use various regional accents. This encourages a much-needed silliness in the plot, which would otherwise be a rather tense tale of bureaucracy and personal selfishness.

The details of the dispute are a bit muddled, but we’re given to understand that they’re not especially important. What’s important is not what’s on the table, but rather who’s sitting round it. That being the case, I wouldn’t mind if the first half were a bit shorter, the warring dialogue cut to the absolute bare necessities, because as it stands, a lot of the chat is wasted on nonsense politics that have no bearing on the plot.

The characters in Winner’s Curse are what we’re supposed to be focusing on and, indeed, what writers Daniel Taub and Dan Patterson have done best. Each bringing their own grievances and quirks to the discussion, and each appearing to represent the types of people that might very well be in such a meeting: the jaded diplomat, the wide-eyed idealist, the young militant, and the embittered traditionalist.

This is Arthur Conti’s professional stage debut, but you’d never know it. Playing the young Hugo Leitski, he embodies the well-meaning, charming, but ultimately privileged and naïve apprentice. Coming from the National Youth Theatre, I’ve no doubt this is his first step in following past alumni such as Daniel Day Lewis, Collin Firth and Matt Smith.

Winnie Arhin excels in moments of high tension, but she seems slightly miscast as Conti’s love interest; the chemistry isn’t there, and in those more informal moments away from the negotiations she seems uncomfortable rather than playful.

Taub and Patterson lean a little too heavily on glib or silly one-liners- McAuliffe’s dialogue, for example, is largely made up of nonsense antimetaboles such as “Better to shoot your load than load your shoot”, or “better to clap your deal, than deal with the clap”, which grows tired quite quickly.

That being said, Anderson’s regular convivial contributions raise the tone, giving the sense that we’re simply having a lovely chat with an old friend. This is the first time Park Theatre has set up in the round, and it works perfectly for this gentle atmosphere, giving Anderson the opportunity to move freely. The revolving stage has a similar effect, allowing everyone a little piece of the action.

Whatever faults there are in this production, casting Anderson as the host is a stroke of brilliance, because you want to take whatever he’s serving, and so it feels easy enough to shrug off any plot holes, or casting issues, and simply enjoy his company for the evening


Reviewed on 13th February 2023

by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Alex Brenner



Previously reviewed at this venue:


Another America | ★★★ | April 2022
The End of the Night | ★★ | May 2022
Monster | ★★★★★ | August 2022
A Single Man | ★★★★ | October 2022
Pickle | ★★★ | November 2022
Rumpelstiltskin | ★★★★★ | December 2022
Wickies | ★★★ | December 2022


Click here to read all our latest reviews


La Cage Aux Folles


Park Theatre

La Cage Aux Folles

La Cage Aux Folles

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 19th February 2020



“a gem of a play, tightly timed and focussed”


Simon Callow’s translation of this celebrated French farce is a triumph of hilarious camp, full of double entendres, sparkly dresses and genuine affection. Georges and Albin are a gay couple, living above the Cage Aux Folles nightclub. Albin is its ageing star who still looks good in a frock, but is no longer the sexy sylph. Georges is the harassed manager, continually fending of crises. They bicker and squabble, but, as Michael Matus and Paul Hunter show, they still love each other anyway. But their world is about to be turned upside down. Georges’ son Laurent arrives and announces that he is getting married, and that his girlfriend and her parents are coming to stay. Unfortunately the parents are conservative in the extreme, and the father is running for election on a ticket of morality and rectitude. How can Georges rearrange and tame his gorgeously queeny household and survive their arrival? That is the central dilemma that drives the action, and it is quite a task!

Syrus Lowe is a total class act as the screamingly camp and beautiful employee, Jacob. He struts and pouts his way through the play with a charming outrageousness and his attempt to walk in men’s shoes instead of his high heels is a masterpiece of physical comedy. By the time Laurent’s girlfriend Muriel and her the parents arrive the apartment has been transformed from its boudoir aesthetic to something almost monastic, complete with crucifix, Tim Shorthall’s design creating the physical changes Laurent persuades Georges to make, in his attempt to portray a ‘respectable’ family. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong. Laurent has invited his absentee mother to dinner much to the horror of Georges and Albin, and Albin has given up in his attempt to play the masculine uncle, opting for a totally different role that complicates everything. As the dinner party goes rapidly downhill the club downstairs is plunging into chaos and Georges has to act. Throughout the play other drag artists appear from downstairs and a reporter snoops around, looking for dirt. The reporter is played by Mark Cameron, who also has a hilarious cameo as the butcher, a tough guy macho man who turns out to have an unlikely love of art.

Jez Bond has directed a gem of a play, tightly timed and focussed, but feeling like an outrageous disaster as all good farce should. I hope this gets a transfer after it’s life at the Park. It deserves it.


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Mark Douet


La Cage Aux Folles

Park Theatre until 21st March


Last  ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Black Chiffon | ★★★★ | September 2019
Mother Of Him | ★★★★★ | September 2019
Fast | ★★★★ | October 2019
Stray Dogs | | November 2019
Sydney & The Old Girl | ★★★★ | November 2019
Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis | ★★★★★ | December 2019
The Snow Queen | ★★★★ | December 2019
Rags | ★★★ | January 2020
Shackleton And His Stowaway | ★★★ | January 2020
Time And Tide | ★★★ | February 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews