Tag Archives: Jordan Clarke


King’s Head Theatre



King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 20th July



“A brave and charismatic performance”


Whilst comedy has always had a hand in social commentary, the last few years have brought a new strain of honesty to the mix; shows such as Richard Gadd’s ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’, Adam Lazarus’ ‘Daughter’ and Jessie Cave’s ‘Sunrise’ have relied more directly on personal experiences, creating a much riskier but ultimately richer and more engaging performance. ‘Oddball’ endeavours to do the same, talking at length about a subject that polite conversation dictates we circumnavigate.

Oddball has got herself a date. And this one is set to be a whole lot better than the endless duds who came before. Only thing is, it’s in a restaurant, the menu’s calorie content unknown. Which, Oddball assures us, is barely a thing. OK, it’s a bit of a thing. Actually, it’s kind of a major problem: Oddball was previously diagnosed with an eating disorder, and whilst the generally accepted narrative is that someone is diagnosed, treated and hey presto they’re cured, it’s rarely that simple.

‘Oddball’ tells a story of ongoing struggle with great humour and zeal. With director Micha Mirto opting for no props and a basic costume (shorts and a tank top), Francesca Maria Forristal (writer and performer) has nowhere to hide. She takes on the whole production, striding resolutely across the entire stage, miming any necessary accessories, including, somehow, changes in camera angles, with only a few sound effects (Jordan Clarke) to aid in her imagined creations. She is fearless in her undertaking, talking directly with the audience throughout, often bursting in to song. What’s most commendable is her effort to find the comedy in what is, no doubt, a very common and serious problem.

There’s a slight immaturity to the delivery – Forristal seems unsure whether the audience will in fact enjoy the combination of vaudeville and pathos, and recognise that there’s a difference between laughing with and laughing at affliction. But we do. It’s perhaps the only way to tell a story like this, spliced generously with laughter. The plot could also be a little pacier, maybe making room for a meatier story line, and even a second half.

A brave and charismatic performance, Forristal is clearly one to watch. Whilst she may have a way to go it’s exciting to see the beginning of what will no doubt be a long and successful venture in comedy.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Chris Cox


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King’s Head Theatre as part of Playmill New Writing Festival. Then at Upstairs at the Gatehouse from 20th – 24th August


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Carmen | ★★★★ | February 2019
Timpson: The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
The Crown Dual | ★★★★ | March 2019
Undetectable | ★★★★ | March 2019
Awkward Conversations With Animals … | ★★★★ | April 2019
HMS Pinafore | ★★★★ | April 2019
Unsung | ★★★½ | April 2019
Coral Browne: This F***Ing Lady! | ★★ | May 2019
This Island’s Mine | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | June 2019


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Assassins – 4 Stars



Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 22nd March 2018


“a commendable production of a show that seems more significant than ever”


As we are in the midst of shaky political times, where uncertainty is widespread, and volatile tyrants lead some of the world’s most powerful nations, it seems only right to revive a musical that follows the anger and frustration of citizens who put all their blame on the heads of their government. Stephen Sondheim’s darkly humorous Assassins, whose last London revival was three years ago, now comes to the Pleasance Theatre with a highly pertinent, and thought-provoking adaptation. It is one of the King of Broadway’s less well-known productions, yet, it still blends some of Sondheim’s most recognisable qualities of bringing challenging yet powerful stories to the foreground.

Starting as a murderous fairground game that offers the gun-slinging attempt to ‘Hit The Prez’, it unfolds into the true-life tales of the nine men and women who have tried, or, succeeded in assassinating the President of the United States. Set in the Vaudeville/Revue-style of yesteryear, we in turn focus on each person’s story, getting a better understanding as to his or her motivations. Whether it is fame, notoriety, delusion, or simply a troublesome stomach pain, each assassin has a reason for wanting to strike.

The use of a brilliant revolving stage helped to establish the swift variety performance style, yet there were moments, particularly halfway through, where the pace seemed to be lacking. Musical Director Jordan Clarke did a fine job at leading the small group of musicians through Sondheim’s demanding score, whilst the rather large cast all gave commanding performances, with not one weak link. Particular standouts were Andrew Pepper as Charles Guiteau, whose eccentric characteristics resembled that of crooked Fagin, and Alfie Parker as Samuel Byck, whose one-sided rant into a tape recorder, meant for Richard ‘Dick’ Nixon, is a standout scene.

A nod to Donald Trump is made towards the end, which rather forcibly and heavy-handedly reminds the audience that this show is relevant to the present climate. Anyone with half a brain could already make the connection, so it feels like an unnecessary gimmick, however, regardless of the unwarranted ending, this is a commendable production of a show that seems more significant than ever.


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole



Pleasance Theatre until 8th April



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