Tag Archives: Jo Collins



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Reviewed – 25th September 2020



“the whole piece is a show of inspiring collective effort”


Three panels hang above the stage projecting footage of the earth. Beneath them facts about the rainforest and overpopulation arrive on the back wall in orange and then disappear. One by one people begin to sing of “The Earth and I” as the stage brightens. Then it is all change. The warm reds and long notes transform into a blue stage which people speed across, an indication of the pace of the modern world. Bodies are packed together, moving herd-like.

This is the impactful opening of ‘Globaleyes’, a contemporary physical theatre work tackling the vast subject of globalisation. Across the course of the performance the dances focus on climate change, poverty, displacement, war and slave labour – hardly a small task. The show originated in 2002, and this recording, which Chickenshed are streaming in response to the impact of Covid-19 on theatres, is of the 2013 production. It features Chickenshed’s company members, 200 Chickenshed students and members of their adult theatre group in a refreshingly diverse ensemble of performers.

Globaleyes features a range of performance styles, some closer to dance, others more in the realm of physical theatre, some solo performances, some unison ensembles. This variety of styles, as directed by Christine Niering with Jonathan Morton and Louise Perry, shaped and defined each of the different themes. In a particularly strong number, two sets of two performers are tied together, turning each duet into many-limbed single beings which create spider-like shapes across the stage.

Changes in light and sound also dictated each new phase of the piece. Branches projected across hanging fabric (set construction by John Mann) are accompanied by incredibly tranquil music. Performers are turned into a homogenous silhouette by light. Sometimes music is interrupted by audio snippets from news reports and politicians speaking, including notably a speech that was made at Martin Luther King’s funeral. The hanging screens display a range of footage, historical and custom-made, to highlight the themes of each number. Both light design, sound design and music are vital to this piece, and Andrew Caddies (lighting design), Phil Haines (sound design) and Dave Carey (Musical Director) do a fantastic job of creating each new atmosphere.

Some of the scenes offer more impact and more clarity than others. Certain sections feel overly long without delving as deep as they could into the topic they are tackling. The challenges of creating a piece that has such a broad focus is apparent at times.

But from the creative team to the performers onstage, the whole piece is a show of inspiring collective effort. Watching this seven years on from when it was filmed, the continued resonance of the themes is clearly evident. The final message of Globaleyes is one of hope in the possibility of change and the power of community.



Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by John Pridmore



Chickenshed Theatre YouTube Channel


Last ten shows reviewed by Amelia:
Afterglow | ★★½ | Waterloo East Theatre | October 2019
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | The Bunker | October 2019
Before I Was A Bear | ★★★★★ | The Bunker | November 2019
I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half) | ★★★★ | The Bunker | November 2019
My White Best Friend And Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid | ★★★★ | The Bunker | November 2019
Potted Panto | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | December 2019
The Girl With Glitter in Her Eye | ★★½ | The Bunker | January 2020
Essence | ★★½ | The Vaults | February 2020
Flights | ★★★½ | Omnibus Theatre | February 2020
Maliphantworks3 | ★★★★★ | The Coronet Theatre | February 2020


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Oranges & Elephants – 3 Stars


Oranges & Elephants

Hoxton Hall

Reviewed – 25th January 2018


“the evening becomes muddled when Music Hall and Musical Theatre seem to pitch battle against each other”


You can see why Lil Warren, the writer and creator behind “Oranges and Elephants”, fell in love with Hoxton Hall. Restored to its former glory it seems to bring history to life the moment you walk in. The perfect setting, then, for her new musical about rival Victorian gangs and their links to London’s Music Hall world.

Impeccably researched (Warren is an East End girl herself) it focuses on two all-female street gangs: the ‘Elephants’ and the more psychotic ‘Oranges’. We are at the tail end of a long running feud as they battle against their wits, each other, and extinction. The all female cast, far from being a modern day, buzz worthy contrivance, pinpoints the historical truth that this underworld wasn’t just the preserve of men. This is a story of how important your wits are to survive if you are poor and a woman in Victorian London. But gender aside, it is difficult to believe in the characters’ desperation and fear when they often drift into caricature.

The evening is presided over by the ringmaster figure of Susannah van den Berg who narrates with equal measures of gusto and smut, getting the audience firmly on her side. She leads us through the streets of London, and through the action. Into the midst of the gang warfare, the ingénue (but don’t be fooled by appearances) runaway Mary wanders. She wants to be a Music Hall star, while the leaders of the two gangs both want to ‘own’ her. Mary is initially ensnared by Flo (a convincingly cutthroat Kate Adams), the leader of the ‘Oranges’, until Nellie of the ‘Elephants’ falls in love with her and they try to escape from thievery to the bright lights of Piccadilly.

Although concisely conveyed, the evening becomes muddled when Music Hall and Musical Theatre seem to pitch battle against each other, and the strength of the narrative gets lost in the scuffle. That said, the level of musicianship is consistently excellent and there are some very memorable and outstanding numbers in Jo Collins’ score. Liz Kitchen’s Sondheimesque solo to name one, along with a fierce revenge ballad superbly delivered by the charismatic Rebecca Bainbridge. But the stars of the show are undoubtedly the multi-talented Christina Tedders who plays Nellie, and Sinead Long (the runaway Mary). It is no surprise to see them share a heart-wrenching duet before tragedy strikes. Tedders’ virtuosity on the violin is matched by her singing voice, while Long has star quality written all over her.

At over two hours this is initially a slow burner that does eventually win you over. With a bit of pruning it could make its job that much easier. Yes – it is the perfect musical for Hoxton Hall – but, like the characters within it, it might find it a struggle to outreach its life expectancy if it strays from its home turf. I’d like to think it has a long and healthy life, and if it can adapt and survive, it deserves to find a wider audience out there.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Sharron Wallace


Hoxton Hall

Oranges & Elephants

Hoxton Hall until 10th February



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