Tag Archives: Louise Bakker

Assassins – 4 Stars



Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 22nd March 2018


“a commendable production of a show that seems more significant than ever”


As we are in the midst of shaky political times, where uncertainty is widespread, and volatile tyrants lead some of the world’s most powerful nations, it seems only right to revive a musical that follows the anger and frustration of citizens who put all their blame on the heads of their government. Stephen Sondheim’s darkly humorous Assassins, whose last London revival was three years ago, now comes to the Pleasance Theatre with a highly pertinent, and thought-provoking adaptation. It is one of the King of Broadway’s less well-known productions, yet, it still blends some of Sondheim’s most recognisable qualities of bringing challenging yet powerful stories to the foreground.

Starting as a murderous fairground game that offers the gun-slinging attempt to ‘Hit The Prez’, it unfolds into the true-life tales of the nine men and women who have tried, or, succeeded in assassinating the President of the United States. Set in the Vaudeville/Revue-style of yesteryear, we in turn focus on each person’s story, getting a better understanding as to his or her motivations. Whether it is fame, notoriety, delusion, or simply a troublesome stomach pain, each assassin has a reason for wanting to strike.

The use of a brilliant revolving stage helped to establish the swift variety performance style, yet there were moments, particularly halfway through, where the pace seemed to be lacking. Musical Director Jordan Clarke did a fine job at leading the small group of musicians through Sondheim’s demanding score, whilst the rather large cast all gave commanding performances, with not one weak link. Particular standouts were Andrew Pepper as Charles Guiteau, whose eccentric characteristics resembled that of crooked Fagin, and Alfie Parker as Samuel Byck, whose one-sided rant into a tape recorder, meant for Richard ‘Dick’ Nixon, is a standout scene.

A nod to Donald Trump is made towards the end, which rather forcibly and heavy-handedly reminds the audience that this show is relevant to the present climate. Anyone with half a brain could already make the connection, so it feels like an unnecessary gimmick, however, regardless of the unwarranted ending, this is a commendable production of a show that seems more significant than ever.


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole



Pleasance Theatre until 8th April



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Review of Pravda – 3 Stars



Bridewell Theatre

Reviewed – 7th November 2017


“Sections of dialogue that should be snappy, drag instead, making many witty lines fall flat”


Howard Brenton and David Hare’s satire of 1980s newspapers is performed too rarely. After winning several awards at its premiere in 1985, it was not revived until 2006. The writing is sharp and funny, and the passing of time has rendered its jokes about the press even more relevant. The script is the real star in this performance, which is otherwise rather a mixed bag.

The play is centred around Lambert La Roux, a South African businessman and thinly veiled caricature of Rupert Murdoch. Alongside him is Andrew May, a young journalist he promotes at first to editor of a local paper, and then a national broadsheet. La Roux’s amoral profiteering and manipulation prove a struggle for Andrew’s ethics, and the bleak emotional heart of the second half of the play focuses on the loss of both his self-respect and his relationships with those closest to him.

La Roux is played with great success by Max Fisher. His South African accent is occasionally implausible but he inhabits the role fully, from the shambling gait he adopts to La Roux’s air of certainty that he is always the most important person in the room. He is constantly on the verge of over-acting, but with a character like this that doesn’t feel like such a drawback. Oliver Ferriman makes an endearingly earnest Andrew May, giving a performance that seems a little shallow, but that makes Andrew easy to empathise with. The other roles are for the most part inoffensive but unremarkable. David Hankinson stands out as the corrupt MP Michael Quince, but some minor parts are played very poorly.

The performance’s biggest stumbling point is the pacing. Sections of dialogue that should be snappy, drag instead, making many witty lines fall flat. Otherwise, director Louise Bakker has done an admirable job creating this production on a less than ideal stage – it is simply a space surrounded by black curtains, the effect spoiled by the gallery running round the top. The minimal sets (desks, chairs, and so on for the most part) work well, though a little more evocation of atmosphere would be welcome. On balance, this is a moderately successful production of a wonderful play. It’s worth seeing for the rarity at the very least.


Reviewed by Juliet Evans

Photography by Ruth Anthony


St Bride Foundation [logo]



is at the Bridewell Theatre until 11th November



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