Tag Archives: Julia Faulkner

A Glimpse of the Domesticity of Franklin Barnabas – 3 Stars


A Glimpse of the Domesticity of Franklin Barnabas

Pentameters Theatre

Reviewed – 12th October 2018


boils up into something incompletely satisfying, though satisfying nonetheless


The voice of Bernard Shaw crackles like a tinny old wireless, sharing the postulate of Franklyn and Conrad Barnabas: that human life should span three-hundred years, increasing the complexity of modern society. This – the Creative Evolution – is a central idea explored in Shaw’s Back to Methuselah. It is worth pointing out that the Barnabases in question are characters from that very play. By introducing to the original petri dish new characters that elicit effervescent reactions, the production focusses on relationships.

Warm lights bring out a well-to-do 1920s living room full of gold gilt-edges of books, heavy-looking portraits and ceiling roses overhead, offering the glimpse into the heart of this boisterous domestic comedy.

They start as a pair; Franklyn (Edwin Flay) and Conrad (Anthony Wise) who teeter on the edge of clunky exposition as they outline their idea of Creative Evolution and its relevance to the situation at hand: that Clara, Franklyn’s wife, has left the household. Any clunkiness is forgotten when Franklyn’s brother-in-law, Immenso Champernoon (Jonas Cemm) enters the room. He is a brash, hilarious caricature of Shaw’s contemporary, G.K Chesterton (Shaw himself described the portrayal as libellous), who is shoe-horned into the play to commence a contest of ideas.

The rest of the cast are introduced one by one, bickering with Champernoon over the institution of marriage, eastern philosophy, the empire – a seemingly endless list of moral coordinates. Laura Fitzpatrick, as Franklyn’s wife and Immenso’s sister, Clara Barnabas, trails a knowing, contrariness around the stage, winding up the men in her midst and allowing them to argue over the fallout. Her daughter Savvy (Johanna Pearson-Farr) hams-up her flirtation with the Reverend Haslam (William Keetch), but this works with, not against, the action.

Cemm, as Champernoon, bears an uncanny likeness to Chesterton and every fast-paced line spat out with haughtiness feels like it might have been improvised by Chesterton himself. He puns and plays with paradox, blurting out words, arguments and ideas with a blistering wit that’s hard to keep up with at times.

With telegraphed nods to Shavian ideas of feminism and beauty, Mrs Etteen (Julia Faulkner) and Champernoon enter into a long and flirtatious quarrel. The gravity of these interactions is lost among the quick-fire comedy and, when it ends after eighty minutes, I can’t honestly remember having stopped to breathe.

This is a boisterous, rollicking, no-second-wasted production, although it is not without flaws. Published originally in a work entitled Short Stories, Scraps and Shavings, it follows that the structure of the thing is not wholly satisfying. There are no great payoffs to be found here, no sudden intakes of breath, no witty barbs building up, act after act, scene after scene. It is funny. But it all boils up into something incompletely satisfying, though satisfying nonetheless.


Reviewed by Sam Joseph


A Glimpse of the Domesticity of Franklin Barnabas

Pentameters Theatre until 21st October


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One Last Waltz – 3 Stars


One Last Waltz

Greenwich Theatre

Reviewed – 10th March 2018


“The actors’ energy is going into the objects, rather than each other and as a results it sucks out the intimacy”


Luke Adamson’s play about Alzheimer’s and old age, One Last Waltz returns to the Greenwich Studio Theatre. Mandy takes her mother Alice on a trip to Blackpool for one last dance in the Tower Ballroom – but Alice finds things have changed beyond recognition triggering a frightening realisation.

This has the makings of a great show. The script is both heartfelt and humorous, the characters well drawn and the cast are spirited. But it falls down thanks to one thing; there is simply too much stuff on the stage. The cast are way laden with things, each scene having a multitude of costume changes and props to show off. While in a show with a bigger budget, this attention to detail would be admirable, in a stripped back studio space it’s fatal. It affects the pace that too often drags and worse still comes to uncomfortable pauses. Every scene change, every action depends on positioning the props before the emotional beats. It’s pre-emptive and it’s just not necessary with a cast this talented. Most damningly they get in the way of the most important element of the play – the character relationships. The actors’ energy is going into the objects, rather than each other and as a results it sucks out the intimacy, undermining some of the key moments of the play.

I’ve seen plays where this is a bigger problem before, but none where it has left me so frustrated. Because this should be a brilliant review. This is a gentle, loving story with both genuine feeling and a message that is incredibly relevant. While occasionally drifting into exposition, on the whole the script is well plotted and nicely crafted to find the humanity and positivity in what could be a terrifying reality. The performers are all excellent. Amanda Reed’s Alice is charming, giving the character real strength even in the moments where her memory starts to play tricks. Julia Faulkner’s Georgette is a buzzing comic antidote, never allowing the play to dwell too long in its own sobriety and Julie Binysh’s devoted Mandy anchors the piece with her down to earth, pragmatic optimism as she deals with both the loss of her father and the decline of her mother. But too often the direction gets in their way, and as a result the relationships feel unearned. In the confrontation on Blackpool beach, I knew what I should feel but it did not hit home.

This is not a bad night at the theatre by any means. But it is annoying when you see how much better it could be. This is a beautiful piece – it just needs to trust its performers and literally get out of its own way.


Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com


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One Last Waltz

Greenwich Theatre until 17th March




Odd Man Out – Hope Theatre – August 2017 – ★★★