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This is not Right


Wilton’s Music Hall

This is Not Right

This is not Right

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 2nd October 2019



“pulls you into its world and keeps you there with beautifully observed performances and a gripping story”


This is Not Right is John Godber’s latest play, set in his old stomping ground – Hull. Specifically, a Hull council estate which throughout the play is painted as a very bleak and toxic environment. Perhaps this is why it has been specially rewritten for Wilton’s Music Hall – the minimalist set lends itself to the derelict appearance of the venue, creating the effect of being stuck in the past, a massive part of the play’s identity. The minimalism continues with the lack of recorded sound – instead music is provided by a discordant violin courtesy of Sophie Bevan and changes in setting are shown through the cast’s soundscapes. These feel like appropriate choices for the piece, although with only four actors the soundscapes are somewhat limited and don’t always paint a clear picture.

This is Not Right follows the story of Holly (Martha Godber) through her childhood and early adult life, focusing on the difficulties of growing up in a poor neighbourhood with a doting but very overprotective father (Jamie Smelt), who tries to guard his daughter from danger but only succeeds in pushing her further away. When Holly eventually flies the nest, she breaks contact with Dad in her determination to become independent, but when London life doesn’t work out for her she is forced to “do the thing I said I’d never do” and return home. The overall story is wonderfully engaging with an expertly crafted marriage of beautifully heartfelt moments and witty observational comedy, however the last twenty minutes or so feel like something of a stalemate. Conflict between Holly and Dad continues with the climax being a vaguely political argument about girls going missing, followed by a fight with the noisy neighbours. There are no revelations for either character and the play concludes rather abruptly with Holly leaving to stay at her Gran’s.

Perhaps this is the point John Godber is trying to make – that sometimes things don’t change and life trudges on regardless. Echoing the title, Holly’s last line is “this is not right, is it?” Could that refer to things not changing? Is it a general comment on life in working class Hull? Or girls going missing? For me, it is unclear what ‘is not right’, and the ending feels decidedly washed out, letting down an otherwise spellbinding tale.

John Godber’s direction is triumphant – the acting is superb. Martha Godber performs with a wild energy encapsulating all the hormonal mood swings expected from a teenager; it erupts during scenes with Dad yet is also deftly woven into her narration. Holly’s development in maturity and experience as the play’s timeline advances is also commendably reflected in Godber’s portrayal. Jamie Smelt’s performance is the one that stays with me, however. It is touchingly vulnerable – a poignant, considered portrait of the hapless Dad as he attempts to get through to his daughter. Parents in the audience may find themselves painfully relating – the tragicomedy of his tactlessness and the genuine desperation as he realises Holly is slipping away from him are both etched into the performance. Sophie Bevan and Lamin Touray complete the picture with overall solid supporting characters, although I found Touray’s lack of Belgian accent for Harvey a confusing choice.

Overall, This is Not Right is a play which pulls you into its world and keeps you there with beautifully observed performances and a gripping story. Although you may leave wanting slightly more from its resolution, it is immensely enjoyable – just make sure you leave your ‘HULL AND PROUD’ sweater at home.


Reviewed by Sebastian Porter

Photography © John Godber Company


This is not Right

Wilton’s Music Hall until 5th October


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Twelfth Night | ★★★ | September 2018
Dietrich – Natural Duty | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Box of Delights | ★★★★ | December 2018
Dad’s Army Radio Hour | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Good, The Bad And The Fifty | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Shape Of the Pain | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Sweet Science Of Bruising | ★★★★ | June 2019
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story | ★★★★★ | September 2019


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As You Like It – 5 Stars


As You Like It

Arundel and Ladbroke Gardens

Shakespeare in the Squares 

Reviewed – 26th June 2018


“Tatty Hennessy’s perception and imagination bring this production alive”


Love and music, freedom and flares! The gardens of London become the Forest of Arden in this brilliantly updated version of ‘As You Like It’. By setting the production in the late 60s, early 70s, director, Tatty Hennessy, transfers the essence of Shakespeare’s pastoral, romantic comedy to the hippie era with its optimistic ideas of free thinking, breaking rules and getting away from conformity. In addition, it underlines the strength of his women characters, complementing the positive female spirit of the play by changing the genders of Jaques and the Dukes and generating a mother-earth forest community, supportive and nurturing.

The excellent performances by the whole cast bring vibrancy and shade, several members having two or three roles to portray, creating texture and fluidity with an array of well-defined figures; Stanton Plummer-Cambridge and Lamin Touray excel in this multitasking.

Set against a background of growing feminism, the women are unapologetically feisty and demanding in their pursuit of life and love. The enamoured Rosalind, in a spirited performance by Katharine Moraz, takes control of her destiny, accompanied by Comfort Fabian’s Celia, whose genuine enthusiasm is astutely modernised in movement and speech. Phoebe (Emmy Stonelake) and Audrey ((Jodie Jacobs) are beautifully unabashed and determined in procuring their hearts’ desires, and Julia Righton steps assuredly between good and evil as both Duchesses. Sian Martin plays Jaques with a cynical sneer, perfectly counterbalancing the enjoyment and love for life which surrounds her. And up against all this feminine zeal, Orlando (Jack Brett) is the picture of bemused, love-struck youth. A special mention for Sydney K Smith’s ‘Motown’ Touchstone, who encapsulates the foolish image, moves and talk of those disco days (which some of us remember!), while wholly attuned to Shakespeare’s words.

The importance of music in ‘As You Like It’, being Shakespeare’s most musical play, naturally lends itself to the 70s ambiance of the early music festivals which blends into the parks and gardens milieu and draws the audience into a convivial atmosphere. The stylish singing which sets the scene and the diverse incidental songs and instrumental music (Richard Baker) show an added facet to these talented actors. Simple, colourful decor (Emily Stuart) immediately conveys a feeling of rustic celebration and the casting (Becky Paris) allows for a balanced variety of accents which add depth and clarity to the characters.

Tatty Hennessy’s perception and imagination bring this production alive with relevance to those years not so far gone and to today’s similar issues of inequality and oppression. The changes of era and gender have sense and purpose, showing the fortitude and quality of women and the need to escape authority, but also the timeless quest for love and happiness. ‘As You Like It’ is the perfect end to a sunny summer’s day…or any other day.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by James Millar


As You Like It

Shakespeare in the Squares



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