Tag Archives: Lisa Spirling






Reviewed – 26th March 2019



“The poeticism and rhythmic word play from writer Ross Willis is spell-binding”


Talking trees, talking cabbage foetus, a yellow boulder for a mother, this isn’t your average story about the care system. Where the topic is more often than not touched upon with bleak pessimism, filled with only doom and gloom, Wolfie tells the tale of abandoned children with lively vibrancy that leaves you laughing and crying all in one go. The bold, imaginative creativity and, quite frankly, mad-hat ideas from the writing and direction (Lisa Spirling) blows your mind. Another wonderfully bonkers and surprising theatrical element is always around the corner. But this trippy spectacle never detracts from the story. So full of heart, this affectionate tale of two sisters is disparately painful and warming, proving the power of love.

This is about the Sharkey Twins. Together through birth, together through – no, that’s the wrong narrative. Life never takes you on your expected course. As these two sisters are suddenly separated, days old, will they ever be able to find each other again? As one is taken in by an unreceptive mother, the other discarded in the woods and brought up by the surrounding wildlife, their lives go down similar debilitating avenues in differing circumstances.

Yes, we hear about children raised in the wild by packs of animals, a la The Jungle Book, but in this production, there is a deep subtext running through where the woods personifies the care system. When you’re released from the wilderness of a care home, and forced into the real world, you’re not equipped with the right tools to be human, let alone an adult. Without blatantly pointing a finger, Wolfie reveals the flaws and general lack of support the care system offers with evocative subtlety.

Tour de force performances from Erin Doherty and Sophie Melville leave you in complete awe as they masterfully glide or jolt between the twenty-odd characters that together they assume with such precision. The poeticism and rhythmic word play from writer Ross Willis is spell-binding. It’s astonishing to think that this is his debut play! Certainly one to watch for the future as are Doherty and Melville.

It is a multi-sensory experience with bubbles, glitter galore, balloons, rave music and audience participation, effortlessly integrated into being integral to the story. I’m not one for being incorporated into the action, as an audience member, but Doherty and Melville do so in such a playful and inviting way that it feels a pleasure to be included in some small form.

An epic journey from inside the womb, through to the difficulties of adulthood, our human struggle and constant pursuit for love takes precedent in this production. The message to take away is that a life without love, or little of it, may affect our path forever. Never lose your sparkle. Wolfie certainly never does. It shines brightly as one of the best theatrical experiences so far this year.


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole

Photography by Helen Murray



Theatre503 until 13th April


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Her Not Him | ★★★ | January 2018
Br’er Cotton | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Reared | ★★★ | April 2018
Isaac Came Home From the Mountain | ★★★★ | May 2018
Caterpillar | ★★★★ | September 2018
The Art of Gaman | ★★★★ | October 2018
Hypocrisy | ★★★½ | November 2018
Cinderella and the Beanstalk | ★★★★ | December 2018
Cuzco | ★★★ | January 2019


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Ken – 3 Stars



The Bunker

Reviewed – 29th January 2018


“Fans of Ken Campbell and those knowledgeable about his work will enjoy this show”


Entering the auditorium at The Bunker you are transported into a 70s time warp thanks to Tim Shortall’s clever set design. The space is decorated with a garish orange shag pile carpet and a mismatch of seating including battered sofas and wicker chairs. Choose your seat carefully, making sure it’s comfortable for the 90 minute ride that is about to follow. Frilled flock lampshades adorn the ceiling, piles of scatter cushions invite the audience to kick off their shoes and relax, burning incense dotted around the room completes the look and rewinds you back to the 1970s.

Terry Johnson, the writer, plays himself and takes you on a journey which is part play, part tribute to, part audience with and part eulogy. The tales are about the real life maverick Ken Campbell and how a chance phone call impacted on Terry’s life and future path. Terry delivers most of his lines from a lectern centre stage and admits that not all of the stories and anecdotes are “entirely true”. He hints that the most unlikely of stories are the ones that are actually based on true events. Terry reads his lines from a script in a monotone voice that lacks enthusiasm. It is only when he steps away from the lectern and seems to ad lib that his story comes to life and you can see the passion and respect he had for Ken.

Jeremy Stockwell plays the maverick Ken Campbell. He is the polar opposite of Terry – jumping around the stage with a hyperactive, manic energy that you can imagine was difficult to squash and even more difficult to work with. He plays the part well and is able to switch roles with a remarkable ease.

Fans of Ken Campbell and those knowledgeable about his work will enjoy this show, as many in the audience certainly did. Those who aren’t may find some of the stories uncomfortable to listen to, especially in the current climate with revelations of inappropriate behaviour within the entertainment industry making front page headlines.


Reviewed by Angela East

Photography by Robert Day



The Bunker until 24th February



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