Tag Archives: Max Dorey

Two for the Seesaw – 2 Stars


Two for the Seesaw

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 17th July 2018


“a drama that feels outdated, lacking the high stakes needed to make this two-hander as compelling as it could be”


An “intimate character driven comedy-drama” (as described by director Gary Condes), Two For The Seesaw premiered in 1958 and has enjoyed a successful history since then, including a Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine starring film adaptation. Now in the intimate Studio 2 space at Trafalgar Studios, this new staging is painfully faithful to William Gibson’s original script, producing a drama that feels outdated, lacking the high stakes needed to make this two-hander as compelling as it could be.

Jerry (Charles Dorfman), a lawyer from Nebraska, has recently separated from a wife he is financially and emotionally reliant upon and moved to New York. There, he meets aspiring dancer and Bronx girl Gittel (Elsie Bennet). Representing two clashing personalities, the pair seesaw between loving embraces and tempestuous arguments, each keeping secrets from the other until a climactic duel that decides the duo’s fate. The success of this show hinges on powerful and, to use a slightly vague term, truthful performances, which Dorfman and Bennet, though both highly committed to character and given circumstances, fail to provide. We never quite connect with these characters’ drives, or feel what’s at stake, and delivery at times feel one-note, lacklustre and constrained.

The actors aren’t helped by Condes’ direction, who seems intent on making his actors sit and talk over the phone, or sit and talk in person, scene after scene… after scene. Max Dorey’s lovingly naturalistic set design too seems orchestrated to provide areas for actors to rest their tired feet. This prop-heavy design leads to soul-crushingly long blackouts that actually counteract the naturalism and make it harder to reconnect with the setting and situations. Though attractively working to support the story, the set seems to simplify the characters’ differences (Jerry’s apartment is blue! Gittel apartment is pink!) rather than interrogate the play’s themes further.

Revivals work best when we can question older plays from a contemporary point of view, and Condes lets Two For The Seesaw off the hook too easily. For some, some good old fashioned, barbarous exchanges between the sexes and a heartfelt exploration of marriage and power are enough for an entertaining evening of West End theatre. But ‘The Apartment’ this is not.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by James Davidson


Two for the Seesaw

Trafalgar Studios until 4th August


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Teddy – 5 Stars



Watermill Theatre

Reviewed – 15th January 2018


“a toe-tapping re-invention of the spirit of the era, interwoven with zippy and witty dialogue”


If, like me the music of the fifties is pretty much a closed book to you, but you’ve noticed the energy and appeal of classic numbers like ʽBlue Suede Shoes’ and ʽThat’ll be the Day’, then can I recommend a rocking show at the Watermill in Newbury which will really knock your socks off?

Dedicated fans of the music of the era should also go and see this compelling show, which is enthusiastically presented by a talented and vibrant young cast in the intimate and atmospheric old mill.

Described as ʽa story of teenage rebellion and the birth of a new musical era’, Teddy had its debut at the Southwark Playhouse in 2015 when it won Best New Musical at the Off West End Awards. It was written by Tristan Bernays with music by Dougal Irvine. In this fizzing revival, cast member Harrison White provides musical direction.

The show’s title refers both to the Teddy boys of the post-war era and to one of two central characters, who is named Teddy (George Parker). He and Molly Chesworth as Josie provide the dramatic focus for the piece, with the plot interweaving music and action provided by Andrew Gallo (drums), Freya Parks (bass guitar), Harrison White (lead guitar and keyboard) and Dylan Wood as the heart-throb vocalist Johnny Valentine.

The Teddy boys were Britain’s own response to American rock ʽn’ roll of the fifties. Their fashion style was inspired by a revival of Edwardian looks, and it was the Daily Express that first shortened the word Edwardian to Teddy.

But this show is more than just a nostalgia trip to the smoke-filled nightclubs and grim bomb sites of post-war London, with soundtrack to match. The music is a toe-tapping re-invention of the spirit of the era, interwoven with zippy and witty dialogue that has a real rhythmic poetry all of its own.

If Judy, the other name for the Teddy girls, was better known, ʽTeddy’ could almost be re-named after them, since it’s Molly Chesworth’s character that often takes centre stage. She and bassist Freya Parks have some witty riffs on the theme of women taking no nonsense from men.

An evocative split-level set-design by Max Dorey is complemented by moody lighting from Christopher Nairne. There’s a great dance number, and some brilliant music that will send you out humming. A great show not to miss.


Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Scott Rylander



Watermill Theatre Newbury until 10th February

ahead of UK tour



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