Tag Archives: Kyle Cox


Treason the Musical


Alexandra Palace

TREASON THE MUSICAL at Alexandra Palace Theatre


Treason the Musical

“The show is visually stunning, Jason Taylor’s lighting taking centre stage in the vast auditorium while Philip Witcomb’s looming, slatted set opens and closes to successively release and confine the protagonists”

Just as the fireworks are beginning to die down across London, the new musical “Treason” blasts into town on a wave of publicity that casts its fire glow across the rooftops of N22. The light is thrown on a handful of the conspirators who planned to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5th November 1505. It is a day that everybody “remember remembers” even if the detail is buried in the archives. “Treason the Musical” presents us with some of the background which, like the real events, gets a bit lost behind the celebration of the occasion.

We all know Guido ‘Guy’ Fawkes who was hanged for his part in the failed gunpowder plot (no – he wasn’t burned on a bonfire), but – be honest now – who can name the others? It was, perhaps, Robert Catesby (impressively played here by Connor Jones) who masterminded the scheme, spurred on after King James the First backtracked on his promise of greater religious tolerance towards the English Catholics. A reluctant recruit was Thomas Percy, and it is the relationship between Thomas and his wife Martha that dominates much of the story. Guy Fawkes is given the role of narrator, distancing himself from the action while filling us in with the details. It is a neat device, successfully pulled off by the writers Charli Eglinton and Kieran Lynn; but the credit surely goes to Gabriel Akamo who commands the space as Guy Fawkes. With booming voice and charisma, he laments his fame, decrying his status as scapegoat, all the while commenting and directing. It is Akamo who opens and closes the show, instructing us to “remember me”. We would like to see more of his presence in between and sometimes long for him to step down into the throng.

Leading the ensemble are Sam Ferriday and Nicole Raquel Dennis as the newlyweds Thomas and Martha Percy. Ferriday and Dennis form a dynamic duo. No sooner are they married than are wrenched apart as Thomas goes off to “fix things” for the Catholic cause. Jones’ formidable Catesby has recruited him into the gang, along with Robin and Timothy Wintour (Alfie Richards and Lewis Edgar) and Jack Wright (Kyle Cox). All are exceptional singers, with breath-taking harmonic skill in the rousing ensemble numbers, and a controlled, emotive power in their solo numbers and duos. Of which there are plenty. Ferriday and Dennis again shine when they come together in song. Another one to watch for is Emilie Louise Israel – as the peripheral, though striking character, Anne Vaux – whose voice and personality cuts through the chorus to grab our attention.

“This show lights the blue touch paper but again the real explosion eludes us”

On the other side of the fence is Joe McFadden’s King James. Arrogant but a bit dim, McFadden initially plays him for laughs. He is not the villain, as his descent into paranoia manifests itself in the second act, but manipulated by Oscar Conlon-Morrey’s more reprehensible, yet comedic, Robert Cecil who historically uncovered the gunpowder plot (though in this production it is somewhat unclear how or when the whistle was blown and by whom). All the principal players are buoyed by the ensemble, giving justice to Ricky Allan’s anthemic score.

The show is visually stunning, Jason Taylor’s lighting taking centre stage in the vast auditorium while Philip Witcomb’s looming, slatted set opens and closes to successively release and confine the protagonists. There is often an ecclesiastical feel, which does pour over into the narrative, resulting in the show feeling a bit like a sermon in places. The emotions run high, but we often feel it comes from the pulpit rather than from the heart. The overall austere approach is a touch at odds with the attempted quirkiness, and at times the echoes of ‘Les Misérables’ clash with those of ‘Hamilton’.

In 1605 the gunpowder plot failed in its mission. This show lights the blue touch paper but again the real explosion eludes us. There are definite sparks, though, within the plot and between the characters that reach us and make us fizzle momentarily. They say not to return to a firework that doesn’t go off. “Treason the Musical” invites us to ignore that safety rule and we are tempted to give it another go to see if it can find its true light.

TREASON THE MUSICAL at Alexandra Palace Theatre

Reviewed on 9th November 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Danny Kaan






Previously reviewed at this venue:

Bugsy Malone | ★★★★★ | December 2022

Treason the Musical

Treason the Musical

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Ain’t Too Proud


Prince Edward Theatre

AIN’T TOO PROUD at the Prince Edward Theatre



“great songs, sensational dance but lacks emotional content”


Ain’t Too Proud, described as The Life and Times of The Temptations, directed by Tony-award winner Des McAnuff, and based on founder band member Otis Williams’ own memoir, is a whistle-stop journey through the history of the band from Otis’s discovery of music as a way off the Detroit streets, to becoming part of one of the most successful R&B groups of all time.

Otis tells us of his ambitions from the outset, “Singing is going to be my salvation” and the ethos of his group is that of all band members are brothers, “We all men, we all equal”. As the demanding life on the road, and the usual reliance on drink and drugs, takes its toll on the group, this maxim is severely tested. But, in essence, there isn’t a lot of life depicted on the journey and only a cursory look at the times. What there is, is some sensational song and dance routines.

The tour de force of this show is the outstanding Sifiso Mazibuko as Otis Williams. Stepping in and out of the song and dance line to narrate the story without missing a beat, he is close to ever-present throughout and if he begins to show signs of flagging by the finish, we can put it down to the aging of his character.

The opening half of the show though lacks spark. The songs are excellently performed and look amazing, but they are presented in small snatches, an accompaniment to the narrated story, which in itself does not excite. This begins to change with the arrival of the unpredictable David Ruffin (Tosh Wanogho-Maud) into the band and The Temptations’ first number one hit, My Girl. Some extra colour is provided with the inclusion of a three-song medley from The Supremes, described by Otis as The Temptations’ main rivals, which is one of the first act highlights. And as an example of how the songs reflect the narration, the group sings If You Don’t Know Me By Now just as Otis and his wife Josephine (Naomi Katiyo) split up.

As the group becomes more successful and looks to cross-over into the mainstream, a question is raised as to whether they are doing enough for fighting racial inequality. A clause in the band’s performing contract means their audience must not be racially segregated but the vital question is left open as monochrome projections show images of Detroit and Memphis ablaze, followed by the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Extra poignancy is found in the second half with the suicide of singer Paul Williams (Carl Cox) and images of the Vietnam conflict accompanied by a snatch of War (What is it Good For). The musical performance gets a lift too with longer song numbers, and a light show, particularly with the Reunion Tour and seven singers on stage rather than the usual five. The over-extended story of recording Papa Is A Rolling Stone becomes connected with Otis’s own story of missing his son growing up but any empathy is quickly swallowed up into the outstanding final number.

Ain’t Too Proud has great songs, sensational dance but lacks emotional content.



Reviewed on 19th April 2023

by Phillip Money


Photography by Johan Persson


Ain't too Proud  

Recent five star reviews:


The Net Kill | ★★★★★ | VAULT Festival 2023 | March 2023
After The Act | ★★★★★ | New Diorama Theatre | March 2023
Dance Of Death | ★★★★★ | The Coronet Theatre | March 2023
The Black Cat | ★★★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | March 2023
Britanick | ★★★★★ | Soho Theatre | February 2023
Cirque Berserk! | ★★★★★ | Riverside Studios | February 2023
Dance Me | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | February 2023
Gay Witch Sex Cult | ★★★★★ | VAULT Festival 2023 | February 2023
Hedda Gabler | ★★★★★ | Reading Rep Theatre | February 2023
The Lehman Trilogy | ★★★★★ | Gillian Lynne Theatre | February 2023


Click here to read all our latest reviews