Tag Archives: Lucy Adams

The Amber Trap
★★★

Theatre503

The Amber Trap

The Amber Trap

Theatre503

Reviewed – 29th April 2019

★★★

 

“Barrie offers the majority of light relief throughout the play, her rolling eyes and gurning facial expressions being priceless”

 

Northern town. Tick. The ins and outs of the local offie. Tick. This may sound like we’re venturing into Open All Hours territory, however, Tabitha Mortiboy’s latest play, The Amber Trap, is far removed from the corny jokes and canned laughter of the former. It’s a modern twist on a staple of British culture.

Things have been fine and dandy in the local corner shop. Everything working like clockwork, the same old faces come shuffling in and out. Katie and her girlfriend Hope have been harmoniously working at the shop for two years, stealing kisses in between the aisles. It’s Katie’s little haven, where she can be her true self with Hope, without anyone watching. This soon changes once manager Jo, hires new kid Michael. As sweet and innocent as the boy seems, he instantly shifts the dynamic of their microcosm, becoming a real cat amongst the pigeons.

Where Mortiboy scores most with this play is her examination of Katie and Hope’s relationship, from the highs of young love to the lows of painful truths. The ambiguous and abrupt ending comes as a deflated anti-climax, which leaves a tinge of disappointment. There are also times where Katie’s actions and motivations are a little questionable, or you feel, as an audience, you don’t quite understand her reasonings, however, Olivia Rose Smith plays her with naturalistic sensitivity and believability that allows you to oversee this.

Fanta Barrie as Hope is fiery, fun and has a gob that can get her into trouble, but under it all is a complete softy, infatuated with her girlfriend. Barrie offers the majority of light relief throughout the play, her rolling eyes and gurning facial expressions being priceless. Misha Butler, playing Michael, is skin-crawlingly odd. His progression from sweet with strange tendencies, to full blown creep with a troubled past, makes it uncomfortable to watch at times, although rather predictable – it’s always the nice ones!

The set (designed by Jasmine Swan) has been painstakingly put together to recreate a decrepit, ageing corner shop we all know and love, stocked with cheap booze, packets of crisps that shouldn’t be sold separately, and sad-looking sandwiches. The intricate detail Swan has gone into helps to suck the audience into the claustrophobic, “matchbox” world of the store.

With an ace soundtrack of pounding Noughties indie tunes, the crackly shop radio plays an integral part in emphasising certain moods of the characters or atmospheres within scenes. Annie May Fletcher’s sound design proves an important component within the overall story.

As strong as the performances and as brilliant as the designs are, the writing is where certain cracks show with much of the dialogue falling back on cliches and predictable outcomes. Nevertheless, it’s still an enjoyable trip down the road for a pint of laughter and a box of unnerving drama.

 

Reviewed by Phoebe Cole

Photography by The Other Richard

 


The Amber Trap

Theatre503 until 18th May

 

Last ten shows 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
Wolfie | ★★★★★ | March 2019

 

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A Hundred Words for Snow
★★★★★

Trafalgar Studios

A Hundred Words for Snow

A Hundred Words for Snow

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 7th March 2019

★★★★★

 

“heaps of honesty and bone-dry comedy”

 

I feel a little panic entering a theatre for a one-person play to find a seemingly basic set design. My natural inclination is to want as much distraction from the solitariness of the person on stage as possible – multiple pieces of furniture to move around on, lots of little props to play with, all so we can avoid eye contact and the general intensity that comes from silently praying that this one person will remember their seventy five minute monologue. In this case, the set is a curved white wall with various white blocks, all overlaid by a partial map, and that’s all. Not much of a give-away and certainly not much in the way of distraction.

But as it transpires, there’s no need. Fifteen-year old Rory (Gemma Barnett) saunters on stage and begins talking so casually, she might have been mid-conversation with an old friend. She starts at the end – in a helicopter flying over the North Pole with her dad’s ashes and her mum sobbing – and then continues on to the beginning – a completely commonplace death (a hit-and-run) of a nice and outwardly ordinary Geography teacher, who also happens to be Rory’s dad. Thereafter unfolds the journey from funeral to helicopter.

There is a whole lot of room in this plotline for saccharine catharsis and maudlin sentiment, but Tatty Hennessy’s writing is so perfectly British, deftly avoiding the more obvious route of overly stated loss with heaps of honesty and bone-dry comedy. Lucy Jane Atkinson’s direction sees Barnett deliver the entire play with impossible ease. She repeatedly teeters on the edge of mourning relief and repeatedly pulls back, making the few moments of emotional exposure all the more poignant. The script is also sneakily quite educational; I’ve now got a whole bank of fun facts about the north pole- my favourite involves a chisel made of poo.

Christianna Mason’s design is clean and simple – the camouflaged blocks house the few props used, as well as doubling as beds and chairs when required. But that’s all. And in fact, any more would have felt superfluous and distracting. The sound (Mark Sutcliffe) and lighting (Lucy Adams) follow suit, appearing sparingly and to great effect.

I feel it requires a mention that A Hundred Words for Snow is a story about an adventurous teenage girl, produced by a near-entirely female cast and crew, which is rare on both counts. And if this play is anything to go by, it should happen all the time because it appears to lead to roaring success.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Nick Rutter

 


A Hundred Words for Snow

Trafalgar Studios until March 30th

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Good Girl | ★★★★ | March 2018
Lonely Planet | ★★★ | June 2018
Two for the Seesaw | ★★ | July 2018
Silk Road | ★★★★ | August 2018
Dust | ★★★★★ | September 2018
A Guide for the Homesick | ★★★ | October 2018
Hot Gay Time Machine | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Coming Clean | ★★★★ | January 2019
Black Is The Color Of My Voice | ★★★ | February 2019
Soul Sessions | ★★★★ | February 2019

 

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