Tag Archives: Laura Perry

Staying Faithful

Staying Faithful

Drayton Arms

Staying Faithful

Staying Faithful

Drayton Arms Theatre

Reviewed – 5th March 2019



“there are simply too many missteps to understand what is being said and to whom”


Six sixteen-year olds battle love, sex, faith and philosophy against their hormones. Chazza is cheating on Fletch with Zac who’s going out with Jess who’s in love with Hope, and April wants nothing to do with it but does end up marrying Fletch. The story switches between early noughties and the present day so don’t worry, these aren’t spoilers.

I liked the premise and thought this may be casting a wry eye backwards on the millennial’s formative years. Unfortunately, the writing is too slight to carry its themes and the young company struggle to make much stick.

The press night felt seriously under rehearsed. Actors often started their scenes before the music transitions played out. Moments of fantasy are marked by a spotlight, but on all occasions the actors were too far upstage of it and essentially playing in the dark. And almost all of the young cast struggled with simply getting the words out of their mouths.

That’s not to say there’s no good here. Suzie Voce stands out a mile as the sexed up sixth-former bringing a confused confidence and vulnerability behind the bonhomie. Anthony Portsmouth is also good fun with his cartoon version of young, male adolescence.

It’s really in the second act of Staying Faithful where the execution moves from fun, if a little predictable, to completely ill conceived. Loose ends are suddenly sawn off in a string of two-handers that present and resolve conflict in moments. There’s a life altering showdown at a party that came and went and a (sort of) twist ending which did little to draw a line under things.

The charge must be laid at the writer’s door. The problem is that nothing is buried in Rosanna Foster’s storytelling. Motives, twists, emotions and desires all swill about on the surface making it very difficult to discern one story thread from the other. Everybody says what they want and feel all the time. Secrets aren’t kept for more than a few lines. If the characters were wilfully vacuous that may actually play well, but Foster is clearly going for something more involved here.

With proper editing and perhaps the introduction of a dramaturg there may be the makings of an unapologetically middle of the road love song to the Bacardi Breezer generation. As it stands though, there are simply too many missteps to understand what is being said and to whom.


Reviewed by Paul Pinney


Drayton Arms Theatre

Staying Faithful

Drayton Arms Theatre until 9th March


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee | ★★★★ | May 2018
No Leaves on my Precious Self | ★★ | July 2018
The Beautiful Game | ★★★ | August 2018
Baby | ★★ | October 2018
Jake | ★★★ | October 2018
Love, Genius and a Walk | | October 2018
Boujie | ★★★½ | November 2018
Out of Step | ★★ | January 2019
Th’Importance Of Bein’ Earnest | ★★★ | February 2019
The Problem With Fletcher Mott | ★★★ | February 2019


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The Secret Letters of Gertie & Hen – 1 Star

The Secret Letters of

The Secret Letters of Gertie & Hen

Time and Leisure Studio

Reviewed – 30th October 2018

“all we are presented with is an off-stage scream and a heavy-handed movement sequence by way of insight”


The Secret Letters of Gertie & Hen tells the story of two families – one English and one German – and what happens to them over the course of World War II. It is an exhaustive account (the evening runs at 2 hours 25 minutes including interval) yet one in which, despite various dramatic ‘events’, there is precious little theatrical nourishment. This is partly owing to the subject itself – there has been a great deal of creative exploration of this period – but largely owing to the manner in which it has been treated. We were presented with a straightforward linear narrative, date-stamped by the characters as the evening proceeded, and various different family mises-en-scènes. We were never given any insight into the inner life of any of these people, and there was far too much clumsy exposition throughout. As a result, it was impossible to feel for these individuals; they existed only as cardboard cutouts.

Many of the extensive (twenty pages!) programme notes invite us to view this piece as an attempt to address the need for a new view of the happenings of the war through female eyes. As terrific and zeitgeisty as this sounds, this is not the show that was presented at the Time and Leisure Studio at the New Wimbledon Theatre last night. The two titular girls age six years during the course of the war, going through puberty whilst history unfolds around them, yet the tumultuous physical and emotional changes that characterise that time were nowhere to be seen. And it’s not as if source material is difficult to come by – Anne Frank was supremely eloquent on this very subject. Similarly, two of the play’s mothers lose young children during the course of the play, and yet all we are presented with is an off-stage scream and a heavy-handed movement sequence by way of insight. Where are these women’s voices???

There were also some fairly glaring factual inaccuracies – chief among them the fact that British child evacuees did not begin to be returned home until 1944, and the mass deportation of Jews from Germany did not begin until 1941 – as well as a ludicrous plot inconsistency. There is not a chance in hell that a German civilian could have posted a letter to London from Berlin in the last days of the war. All of which added together begs the question, why did Imogen Hunter choose to write this play? Given that she is a Drama Studio graduate, as are six of the nine cast members, it would seem that the evening was an effort to showcase her own talent, as well as that of her fellow alumni. A worthy aim indeed, and one which shows both discipline and initiative. It is no mean feat to write and direct a full-length play and new voices should be encouraged, in all areas of the profession.

London theatre feels very exciting at the moment. Terrific new programmes have been announced at the Young Vic and the Royal Court; the newly refurbed Battersea Arts Centre has been showcasing some fantastic new voices, and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s explosive Emilia was a feminist call to arms at The Globe this summer. Instead of rehashing a past that doesn’t belong to them, let’s hear, from this energetic group of recent graduates, about the present and the future, which their fellow young creatives are most excitingly and emphatically claiming as their own.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Natalya Micic


The Secret Letters of Gertie & Hen

Time and Leisure Studio until 3rd November




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