Tag Archives: Mark Dickman

Falling Stars

Falling Stars



Falling Stars

Falling Stars

Online stream.theatre

Reviewed – 23rd November 2020



“Sally Ann Triplett’s gorgeous, velveteen voice covers many of the ballads with a sensual warmth, rich in emotion”


In today’s current climate people are either pushing forward towards a somewhat uncertain future or taking a stroll down Memory Lane. The latter is invariably a journey accompanied by nostalgia, and it is through Peter Polycarpou’s rose tinted glasses that we are invited to view a snapshot of the music and the spirit of the 1920’s. Subtitled ‘A Celebration of the Golden Era’, it packs into an hour a treasure trove of melodies; a mix of the familiar with the obscure and in the process, we discover some real gems.

We are told, in the opening credits, that the production was cancelled on day one of rehearsals due to the lockdown, but that Polycarpou was determined to reach his audience, so in the space of three days he recorded the show for streaming online. A timely reminder that the explosion of creativity being celebrated here came out of a world reeling from the aftermath, not just of World War I, but also the third (take note!) wave of the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic. It is a century since such adversity gave way to the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age, and it is shows like Polycarpou’s song-cycle that give us hope that history will come full circle again and there is always cause for celebration.

“Falling Stars” is clearly a labour of love. The premise being that while killing time before a matinee show, he wandered into an antique shop, discovered a battered songbook and bought it for a song. Literally. Polycarpou’s excitement is infectious as he leafs through the pages and recruits Sally Ann Triplett to perform extracts and full-blown numbers from the songbook, translating the dusty, monochrome dots on the page into a multicoloured, multi-layered revue.

It is quite a whirlwind of a tour and comes across as a rather indulgent history lesson at times and, although fascinating, it is sometimes hard work to keep up with the rapid-fire catalogue of composers, lyricists, songwriters, performers and songs. It works best when Triplett and Polycarpou turn away from the camera and interact with each other. But better still when they melt into the songs. Polycarpou oozes personality and joie de vivre while Sally Ann Triplett’s gorgeous, velveteen voice covers many of the ballads with a sensual warmth, rich in emotion.

The title number, “Falling Star”, penned by Meredith Wilson and Charlie Chaplin, is one such fine example. It is quite a revelation to learn what a prolific and talented composer Charlie Chaplin was, particularly on other numbers too, such as the duet, “Now That It’s Ended”, and “Smile”, performed by Polycarpou accompanying himself at the piano. The evening contains a diverse set of numbers that shines a spotlight on many unfamiliar tunes as old favourites, intimately performed by the duo with Musical Director Mark Dickman on piano. Andrew Exeter’s lighting beautifully evokes the setting, merging the shadows of the antique shop with warm washes that tease the sentiment out of the lyrical content. But even in a bare, characterless backroom of a shop, Triplett could evoke the yearning and the passion of these songs, as she shifts from the plaintiff “Why Don’t You Leave Me Alone” to the upbeat duo “Tea For Two” or Buddy De Sylva’s “You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet”.

The show closes with the achingly beautiful Irving Berlin number, “What’ll I Do?”, a bittersweet eulogy to lost love and faded dreams. It is countered, though, with a final echo of Chaplin’s inimitable verse; “You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you’ll just smile.” A bit mawkish, perhaps, but exactly what we want right now.



Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by  Paul Nicholas Dyke


Falling Stars

Online until 29th November via stream.theatre


Recently reviewed by Jonathan:
St Anne Comes Home | ★★★★ | St Paul’s Church Covent Garden | August 2020
A Hero Of Our Time | ★★★★ | Stone Nest | September 2020
Buyer and Cellar | ★★★★ | Above the Stag | October 2020
The Great Gatsby | ★★★★★ | Immersive LDN | October 2020
The Last Five Years | ★★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | October 2020
The Off Key | ★★★ | White Bear Theatre | October 2020
What a Carve Up! | ★★★★★ | Online | October 2020
Little Wars | ★★★★ | Online | October 2020
Right Left With Heels | ★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Marry me a Little | ★★★★ | Online | November 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Ain’t Misbehavin’

Mercury Theatre

Aint Misbehavin

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Mercury Theatre Colchester

Reviewed – 20th March 2019



“The energy that flowed from the musicians was infectious as they recreated the nightlife of the era”


Stepping into the Mercury Theatre to see Ain’t Misbehavin’ was like stepping into the Jazz clubs of Harlem in the 1920s. The smooth tones of the music transported us deep into the life of Fats Waller, the iconic African-American jazz pianist, organist, composer and comedic entertainer. The show, not prescribing to any linear structure or story, explored the musical talents of Waller by embracing a selection of his work including ‘Your Feet’s Too Big’ and ‘The Viper’s Drag.’ The songs were performed by Adrian Hansel, Carly Mercedes-Dyer, Landi Oshinowo, Renée Lamb and Wayne Robinson, who each, with their own impressive array of talents, added a unique flair to every tune. The quality was outstanding, as each performer amazed with their booming voices and effortless dance moves choreographed to perfection by the brilliant Oti Mabuse.

Making his directing debut, Tyrone Huntley proved his creative talents extend to offstage as well as on. He has ensured that every element of the show conveys the period and the true essence and freedom of Jazz.

At first, the absence of a storyline was noticeable and I caught myself thinking that the presence of scripted dialogue could have tied the songs together more efficiently. However, by the second act this thought was disregarded as we journeyed into more slow and sombre numbers.

‘The Viper’s Drag’ was a particularly impressive number, hypnotic as it stirred a silent excitement in the audience. Waller’s words filled the theatre, as Wayne Robinson smoked away, singing about getting high and dancing slickly across the floor. The audience watched as his feet slid across the stage, his body resembling ‘The Viper.’ The song ‘Black and Blue’ delved into the topic of race and importantly touched upon typical white American views towards black identities at the time. The power of the lyrics, “I’m white inside, but that don’t help my case, Cause I can’t hide what is on my face,” created a story and perhaps indicated Huntley’s vision of allowing the music to speak for itself.

It would be criminal not to acknowledge the excellent live band that performed alongside the outstanding cast. The energy that flowed from the musicians was infectious as they recreated the nightlife of the era enhanced by the stunning period set and costume design (takis).

Ain’t Misbehavin’ was hugely entertaining. A beautifully crafted piece of theatre from the Made In Colchester stable reflecting the talents of a bygone era.


Reviewed by Maddie Stephenson

Photography by Pamela Raith


Ain’t Misbehavin’

Mercury Theatre Colchester until 30th March


Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Turn of the Screw | ★★★ | March 2018
Pieces of String | ★★★★ | April 2018
Europe After the Rain | ★★★★ | May 2018
Silence | ★★★★ | October 2018


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com