Tag Archives: Lauryn Redding

Bloody Elle


Soho Theatre

BLOODY ELLE at the Soho Theatre


Lauryn Redding in Bloody Elle. Photo by Lottie Amor

“The audience are putty in her hand as Redding navigates along the highs and lows”


You should expect to leave Bloody Elle having fallen in love with ‘Elle’. Lauryn Redding, who wrote and stars, has created a superb one woman ‘gig musical’ show fizzing with life, music and humour.

Elle is a regular teenager who lives in a northern city in 2009, with home a tower block apartment that she shares with her mum. She escapes the daily monotony of working at her local ‘Chips and Dips’ shop by writing songs on her guitar. But then Eve starts working next to her on the counter, and her whole world changes. In many ways this is a classic Romeo and Juliet, both-side-of-the-tracks story, but the sensitive exploration of class and queerness ensures this still feels fresh.

Redding flips between roles as she tells Elle’s story, affecting comedic tell-tale mannerisms and accents to clearly differentiate colleagues, friends, her mother, and Eve. Although these characterisations initially feel slightly forced, Redding relaxes into the role so that transitions become smooth. Several characters stand out: Elle’s dour, Welsh Chips and Dips manager, and Eve’s Patsy Stone-like mother elicit laughs every time they appear. As Elle, Redding flirts outrageously with the audience, and it is impossible to resist her charm.

The music is the beating heart of this piece. Redding uses clever looping to create beautiful soundscapes with just her voice and guitar, occasionally supported by pre-recorded backing tracks in the same style (Alexandra Faye Braithwaite supports with Sound Design and Additional Composition). There are more musical snippets than full songs which keeps the piece bouncing along at speed. Redding’s strength is her lyricism, which is always fully consistent with Elle’s character, and she enunciates with such clarity and energy that you do not miss a moment. The audience are putty in her hand as Redding navigates along the highs and lows of a revolutionary first love, erotic sighs and choice vocal effects building exquisite tension to back ‘moment moments’. Redding is a supremely talented singer, comfortable in big, ballad-like moments as well as sensitive, softer songs.

The direction (Bryony Shanahan) is smart, with a sequence where Elle first enters Eve’s house particularly notable for some excellent physical humour, and great lighting effects (Mark Distin Webster).

Redding hops nimbly around a simple stage set on three raised levels, plain black but with splatters of white paint that are reminiscent of ubiquitous early social media ‘emo’ wallpapers. It is beautifully 2009. The platforms are set up like a back-of-pub gig with Elle’s guitars and mic stands spread between them. When singing, Redding uses mics to strong effect to add echoes and reverberations, but moves freely between them, not relying on amplification for spoken passages between songs that have the rhythm and thrust of spoken word poetry.

Though the majority of the action takes place in the late noughties, this is framed top and tail with present day Elle looking back, a decade on. The Unprologue is a cleverly meta introduction to the themes in the piece, though the ending contrasts this and the rest of the show with its ‘unproduced’ feel. Elle almost steps outside character to deliver a diatribe against suppression in all forms. This isn’t subtle by any means, but Elle has built up so much goodwill that she can spend a little time on a soapbox.


Reviewed on 13th July 2023

by Rosie Thomas

Photography by Lotti Amor



Previously reviewed at this venue:


Britanick | ★★★★★ | February 2023
Le Gateau Chocolat: A Night at the Musicals | ★★★★ | January 2023
Welcome Home | ★★★★ | January 2023
Super High Resolution | ★★★ | November 2022
We Were Promised Honey! | ★★★★ | November 2022
Hungry | ★★★★★ | July 2022
Oh Mother | ★★★★ | July 2022
Y’Mam | ★★★★ | May 2022
An Evening Without Kate Bush | ★★★★ | February 2022


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A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Wilton’s Music Hall

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 29th January 2020



“keeps a smile on the face throughout, finding glorious new dimensions and unexpected joyful twists”


With a sprinkling of fairy dust and a liberal injection of soul, the Watermill Theatre’s enchanting version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will put a spell on you.

This Dream’s a scream – and with its Edwardian setting fits perfectly into Wilton’s Music Hall. The Shakespearian shadows at the heart of this comedy certainly don’t offend and one senses the ghosts of variety past may be smiling in approval.

It is a play performed so often it takes something special to breathe new life into it and director Paul Hart and a bright young company do the Bard proud with a simply staged version that tells the story with clarity and manages to be joyfully creative too.

There’s some terrific doubling and mirroring of roles, several different to the “normal” and sometimes it’s hard to remember there are just ten performers in the Watermill Ensemble such are the quick changes and versatility of the company.

One innovative reflection here is that balancing out the down to earth thespianism of the Rude Mechanicals the fairies are all trampish shadows of some of the great music hall clowns, such as Fred Karno and Charlie Chaplin.

The Athens set (great stripped back design throughout from Katie Lias) appears to be backstage at a Victorian/Edwardian theatre, all ladders and fly ropes, which is transformed into the magical forest by the falling and raising of a red curtain and a beautifully ornate backcloth. The question being suggested is where the melodrama of real life ends and the otherworldly theatricality begins. Tom White’s lighting adds its own ethereal depth.

We are warned in advance that Lauryn Redding, due to play Bottom, is out of action following an accident during a performance of Macbeth, which runs in repertory with this production, and the 11th hour replacement is Victoria Blunt, who has played the role with the company previously.

There is no need to make any allowance for the substitution as this must be one of the best Bottoms ever seen. In what will go down in history as one of the truly great Shakespeare performances, Blunt finds comedy in every single line and action. Her weaver is a bluff and cheerful Northerner, childlike and cheerful, foolish and charismatic. There are some lovely moments where the fellow mechanicals gaze at her in wonder, enchanted by her daft artistry.

It’s a scene-stealing performance of the highest quality, yet such is the skill of the company and the director that it never overshadows the rest. This is exceptional ensemble work with the actors also playing instruments and delivering some pitch perfect albeit wonderfully incongruous versions of songs ranging from Sam Cooke’s Cupid and Jay Hawkins’ I Put a Spell on You to Laura Mvula’s Sing to the Moon. Joey Hickman’s arrangements conjure up moments of magic themselves.

Molly Chesworth is a sprightly and less than deferential Puck, as fed up with the power games of Oberon (a haughtily smooth and sexy Jamie Satterthwaite) as queen of the fairies Titania (a sultry Emma McDonald).

McDonald doubles as Hippolyta who is equally dismissive of her imperious new husband Theseus (Tow Sowinski who, in a clever and wry touch, also plays Snout the tinker, who in turn plays the ill-treated wall in the hilarious Pyramus and Thisbe play within a play) while Peter Mooney tries to keep the amateur actors in order as an enjoyably enthusiastic Peter Quince.

Robyn Sinclair shows off a magnificent singing voice and a talent for comedy as Helena, one of the four unfortunate lovers toyed with by the playful fairies in the forest. The quartet connects exquisitely and is completed by a dashing Billy Postlethwaite (Lysander), Lucy Keirl (Hermia) and Mike Slader (Demetrius).

This reimagined vibrant version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream keeps a smile on the face throughout, finding glorious new dimensions and unexpected joyful twists to this familiar piece that never loses its lustre.


Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by Pamela Raith



A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Wilton’s Music Hall until 15th February


Previously reviewed at this venue:
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
This Is Not Right | ★★★★ | October 2019
Much Ado About Nothing | ★★★★ | November 2019
Christmas Carol – A Fairy Tale | ★★★★ | December 2019
Macbeth | ★★★★ | January 2020


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