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Trigger Warning


Camden People’s Theatre

Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning

Camden People’s Theatre

Reviewed – 24th October 2019



“has an interesting premise, but ultimately, it is a bit hit-and-miss”


The notion being ‘triggered’ is certainly a hot topic of cultural and artistic debate. ‘Trigger Warning’ tackles this head on, as audience members are guided through a minefield of possible triggers for their upcoming performance of ‘Hope’. The play is a mix of elements reminiscent of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ and David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth’, combined together in what certainly is a statement piece.

Audiences are directly addressed from the very beginning by a duo of energetic and some-what frazzled flight attendants, played by Kath Duggan and Daniel Hay-Gordon. The play itself is structured in two halves; the first consists of audiences being prepped for the story ahead called ‘Hope’ which may or may not ever take place. Warnings include that it may make us feel a certain way, including boredom and frustration. The directorial decisions by Natasha Nixon are very strong, as the performers use clowning and voice-overs to tremendous comedic effect. Duggan and Hay-Gordon’s knowing glances, elastic facial expressions and needless faffing about with failing props make for a series of guaranteed laughs. The beginning sequence is inexplicably hilarious: however, this is unfortunately short-lived.

The second section, in which the play ‘Hope’ takes place, is incredibly confusing and loses the momentum that had been set by the strong opening. Audiences are then told of the story of ‘Hope’, a young migrant who was crossing the border. The narrative is unclear as we are told to read a ‘synopsis’ that we had not been given. This is clearly ironic, but it is then followed by Duggan and Hay-Gordon staring at the audience for five minutes whilst elevator music plays. Nixon’s direction in the second half loses the sense of pace and energy created in the first twenty minutes of action. It does, however, fulfil the trigger warning given of creating feelings of boredom and frustration.

The play’s design (Lily Arnold) is striking yet satisfying. Bold pastel colours frame the stage and costumes. Sound (Owen Crouch) and lighting effects (Amy Daniels) feature very heavily throughout. In particular, we never hear Hay-Gordon’s character speak, he lip-syncs all his lines. The most exciting design element is on the audience’s entry to the space, as we see Duggan struggling to pull a huge pink carpet through what appeared to be a side window. It is a spectacle made by the illusion that the window was going directly into the street. Concepts of the space itself are reversed, as we entered through the fire exit outside the theatre and exited through the entrance. It is details like these that summarises the play’s irreverent playfulness.

This play has an interesting premise, but ultimately, it is a bit hit-and-miss. This dark comedy teeters around the edges of offence and acceptability. However, it is done so in a way that is so conceptual that it often leaves the viewer completely perplexed.


Reviewed by Emily Morris

Photography by Harry Elletson


Camden People's Theatre

Trigger Warning

Camden People’s Theatre until 9th November


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Asylum | ★★★ | November 2018
George | ★★★★ | March 2019
Mojave | ★★★ | April 2019
Human Jam | ★★★★ | May 2019
Hot Flushes – The Musical | ★★★ | June 2019
Form | ★★★★★ | August 2019
Muse | ★★ | August 2019
Ophelia Rewound | ★★★★ | August 2019
The Indecent Musings Of Miss Doncaster 2007 | ★★★½ | August 2019
A Haunted Existence | ★★★★ | October 2019


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Love-Lies-Bleeding – 4 Stars



Print Room at the Coronet

Reviewed – 14th November 2018


“The cast’s depictions are all pin sharp, yet McGann stands out”


Alex is an artist enduring the final stages of his life following a brutal, second stroke. Living, barely, in the arid, American South West, he is the subject of practical and philosophical contemplations between his son Sean (Jack Wilkinson), second wife Toinette (Josie Lawrence) and fourth, younger wife Lia (Clara Indrani) as to when and how he should be guided into the beyond. We see Alex (Joe McGann) at different stages: in his cavorting and carefree prime, between strokes in a wheelchair, and finally in a vegetative state to be sedated at the whim of his significant others. His fate is now dependent on the trio’s conflicting views of him as a father or husband, as much as on their ponderings on morality and mortality.

As a novelist for whom writing is ‘a concentrated form of thinking’, Don DeLillo seems impossible to transfer stylistically to the stage. His slow and sublime evocation of mood and abstract themes don’t promise much for a theatre-goer to engage with. Director Jack McNamara admits his reservations were eventually overcome only by having the resources to create theatricality by other means. That he pulls it off is a noteworthy feat. Lily Arnold’s set design shows us the comfortable sofa and wooden floor of Alex’s home, essential for long, angsty interactions, but surrounding it is the sand and scrub that symbolises the immense unknown, creating a sense that Alex and everyone else sit at the edge of eternity. Over this scene looms a huge transparent screen, host to some stunning video and lighting effects (Azusa Ono and Andrzej Goulding) which somehow create the distance and nostalgia of memories by technical means, assisted by cinematic sound design from Alexandra Faye Braithwaite.

Given the sedentary nature of the main character, action is difficult to contrive. The brilliance of the script prompts regular chuckles of appreciation from the audience, but emotional connection is harder to come by. The cast’s depictions are all pin sharp, yet McGann stands out, despite or because of having the hardest task, by breathing authenticity into a mostly cerebral role; an artist creating art out of his bleak context. This may or may not be a parallel with De Lillo himself, but given the control and precision in every aspect of the play, including this production, it seems unlikely to be a coincidence.

A memorable production, this Love-Lies-Bleeding matches poetic imagery with precise staging. However, if you’re left pleasantly haunted by the show, it’s accompanied by a strange desire to find a copy of the text to experience it properly, as a reader.


Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by  Tristram Kenton



Print Room at the Coronet until 8th December


Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Open House | ★★★★ | January 2018
The Comet | ★★★★ | March 2018
How It Is (Part One) | ★★½ | May 2018
Act & Terminal 3 | ★★★★ | June 2018
The Outsider | ★★★★★ | September 2018


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