Tag Archives: Katherine Nesbitt

Jade City

Jade City


The Bunker

Jade City

Jade City

The Bunker

Reviewed – 5th September



“praise should be given for facing stories of masculine brutality head-on”


Two men circle each other in a boxing ring; they spar, they wrestle, they laugh and, in a sense at least, they fight. The ropes that encircle the ring also encircle their lives, and by the end of performance, it’s clear that those ropes can’t contain them both.

Jade City, cleverly-named for both the local takeaway (with its £3.20 special) and a reference to the proximity of the Emerald Isle, is a two-man show from playwright Alice Malseed. Malseed hails from Belfast, where the play is set, and the whole production resonates with a sense of place. It opens with Monty (Barry Calvert) and Sas (Brendan Quinn) rattling off memories of their hometown. The Goliath crane, the Cregagh, Ormeau Road; cultural and local references which would be bound to strike powerful chords with those who know the city (and, as a nice touch, the Bunker is selling Tayto crisps). This densely-worded production is captioned throughout and in these quickfire exchanges it is invaluable (although at times distractingly serves to highlight deviations from the text, with whole lines missed, that can’t all be deliberate).

As we follow visits to the local, to Monty’s ‘stinking flat’, to the new bar in town, it’s clear that our two characters are knitted into their landscape, but passing references to their past indicate a troubling story. This unfolds, graphically and somewhat predictably, throughout the production. Some of the narrative is delivered via escapist role-plays, as Monty and Sas act out remembered or imagined situations. This is a helpful device, but it feels a bit hard to square the idea of lads who joke about times they’ve lobbed rocks at police and started fights also readily immersing themselves in shared childlike fantasies (‘We’re bin men!’). Given the narrative dwells on the toxicity and dishonesty of masculine posturing, this particular leap feels like a real ask of the audience, although passionate and likeable performances from Calvert and Quinn help.

The Bunker is a simple space in which to represent Belfast’s streets, pubs and clubs but clever lighting (Timothy Kelly) works hard, with strips around the boxing ring starkly setting up the stage and a sickly orange hue invoking the tacky-floored pub. Sound design from Michael Mormecha is also effective.

So many great components, then, but director Katherine Nesbitt isn’t quite able to unite them into a totally winning whole. One challenge is certainly the lyrical but heavy script, which feels like it’d be better served by being read on the page than seen performed. Another is the pacing; billed as a one-hour show, my performance ran 15 minutes over this and this extra time cost us tautness.

Rarely has a production had such a connection to a place; Belfast runs through Jade City like a stick of rock. In this regard, the play excels, and praise should be given for facing stories of masculine brutality head-on.


Reviewed by Abi Davies

Photography by Ali Wright


Jade City

The Bunker until 21st September


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Sam, The Good Person | ★★★ | January 2019
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019
Boots | ★★★★ | February 2019
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Review of Boom – 4 Stars

Boom thespyinthestalls.com


Theatre 503

Reviewed – 9th August 2017





“an extremely entertaining and insightful piece of theatre that breaks the stereotypes of sci-fi plays.”



Boom by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb was a fantastic surrealist production that combined the bizarre with the hilarious. Directed by Katherine Nesbitt, this apocalyptic drama was funny and engaging but also carried some insightful observations of human behaviour and was filled with intrigue and twists. Jules the protagonist places an internet advert for ‘sex to change the course of the world’ an advert that is answered by a young student called Jo. It quickly emerges that Jules is in fact gay and the advert was meant in a far more literal sense than expected. Jules, a marine biologist has discovered that an apocalypse is nigh and has invited Jo to his bunker to survive and procreate with him.

The whole cast was fabulous delivering impressive, high energy performances. Will Merrick’s performance was sensitive and entertaining in his portrayal of the awkward, well-meaning Jules and Nicole Sawyerr played the spunky, stubborn character of Jo with a relatable frustration. Mandi Symonds provided a hilarious and energetic performance as Barbara and really drew the audience into her story bringing even more excitement and humour to the stage.

The set, by designer Nicole Blackwell, added to the intrigue of the story with a variety of bizarre objects. A large yellow door was in the middle of the stage with a fish tank, a strange chair with levers all over it, a chest of drawers, ipod speakers and a stool. As the narrative unfolded all these items became relevant to the story right until the climax at the end of the play. The costume was colourful and intriguing, like the narrative.

Boom provides impressive, impactful performances. Combined with an excellent creative team and exceptional writing, the result is in an extremely entertaining and insightful piece of theatre that breaks the stereotypes of sci-fi plays.


Reviewed by Olivia Ellison

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli 




is at Theatre 503 until 26th August



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