Tag Archives: Mel Giedroyc

Money

★★★

Online

Money

Money

Online

Reviewed – 29th April 2021

★★★

 

credit goes to this group of five actors whose dialogue flows naturally despite the socially-distanced situation

 

Money by Isla van Tricht is a play written for the time of lockdown, created as a virtual and interactive production performed live and experienced via Zoom. But there is no sitting back to just watch this show as each member of the audience has a role to play. We are invited into a meeting between five members of a charity on the brink of collapse, but which has been offered a large life-saving donation. At the end of the meeting we will get to vote whether the charity should accept the money or not.

Appearing on film is the inscrutable Jennifer Anders (Mel Giedroyc), CEO of the philanthropic corporation, telling us, “We want to give back. We want to make a difference” but the source of the money appears to be ethically questionable. Can the charity in all good conscience accept the donation suspecting that it comes from all the bad things in the world that they campaign against?

The design of the production is clever, exploiting technology into a theatrical media. Our virtual theatre is a computer screen with five boxes each containing one of our five characters. With the movements of his actors limited, the Director (Guy Woolf) concentrates on subtleties to provide visual variation. Glenn (Aaron Douglas) takes a drink of water and gesticulates demonstrably. Angela (Sarel Madziya) for the most part passionate, on another occasion looks demure, embarrassed – “Now would be a good time for a hug” – and she looks away from her camera, no longer able to look us in the eye; Kaia (Nemide May) moves forward towards her camera as her passion rises so her head fills our screen. Avery (Adam Rachid Lazaar) leaves his seat in frustration and we see him in miniature at the far end of his room unsure of where to turn. Flo (Loussin-Torah Pilikian) sits bemusedly centre screen, confused by inner doubts.

There is no set, of course, as such. Each character sits in their Zoom box on our screen. What can we learn from the pristine or cluttered background image behind them? An electric guitar, their own graduation photograph, an obscure national flag (or is it a pride statement?), flowers (from the garden or from an admirer?), a piece of modern art, a picture of a tiger… A bit of something to hint at the private life of each of them.

On two occasions, the meeting divides into breakout rooms and the audience chooses where to go. We absorb the scene in front of us but wonder what we are missing in the other room. In these scenes the conversation turns to the personal and we discover more about each character. It is this slow transfer of information that becomes the focus of interest.

Great credit goes to this group of five actors whose dialogue flows naturally despite the socially-distanced situation. They all remain focused throughout, aware that on Zoom they are always on stage. But the dialogue itself is too often not absorbing enough for the length of the play. Once we understand the dilemma and we see where each character stands, it is the personal circumstances and backstory of each character that becomes more involving. But nothing quite goes far enough and, in the end, despite everyone being involved in the crucial vote, the principal dilemma is somewhat lacking.

 

Reviewed by Phillip Money

 


Money

Online until 15th May via

www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk

 

Have you seen this review?
Bklyn The Musical | ★★★★★ | Online | March 2021

 

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Company – 5 Stars

Company

Company

Gielgud Theatre

Reviewed – 17th October 2018

★★★★★

“the beauty of this musical (a real showcase of some of Sondheim’s finest numbers) is that the songs do not eclipse the characters”

 

A lot has been made of the gender swapping element of Marianne Elliott’s ground breaking production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”. By his own admission, Sondheim was initially unsure that he wanted it to happen. His reservations were understandable: all too often you see theatre where the protagonist has been made female and it doesn’t always work. It is to Elliott’s credit that he was persuaded to allow it (such was Sondheim’s faith in her) and the result is a brilliantly up to date reimagining of the work.

It seems that few alterations have been made to George Furth’s book. There are the obvious pronoun substitutions and lyrical changes, yet it is a seamless transformation – it is easy to forget that this version isn’t how it was originally written. Although it is radical, it doesn’t feel it. It feels natural and poignantly relevant, which is the ultimate compliment. Leave any preconceptions and debate at the door and just revel in the astonishing gorgeousness of this production.

In the absence of any real plot it relies on the sharp dialogue and characterisation and, of course, Sondheim’s inimitable score. Each song is a vignette – a stand-alone moment, but wedded to the narrative and given a sparkle of confetti by Bunny Christie’s ingenious ‘Alice in Wonderland’ design.

Rosalie Craig plays Bobbie, the single, independent woman, as a bewildered onlooker; surveying the inexplicable bargaining, bickering, compromises, trade-offs, understandings and misunderstandings of her friends’ marriages. She perfectly treads the path from amused derision through to a longing to be part of this weird world of wedded ‘bliss’. The dichotomy is heightened coming from the perspective of a woman aware of her biological clock ticking away on her thirty-fifth birthday. There is a spellbinding routine where Liam Steel’s choreography has four identically dressed versions of Bobbie appear to her in a dream as spirits of her future self; stuck in a clockwork loop of morose matrimony and motherhood. Craig gives a performance that will surely make her a West End fixture for quite some time.

But she is in good company. It is a show full of star turns. Jonathan Bailey showers the audience with the impossibly quick-fire lyrics of “Getting Married Today” with the lung capacity of a free-diver. George Blagden, Richard Fleeshman and Matthew Seadon-Young, as Bobbie’s three potential boyfriends offer a gloriously fresh take on “You Could Drive a Person Crazy”. Patti Lupone’s “The Ladies Who Lunch” is an unforgettable cry of self-deprecatory discontent. But the beauty of this musical (a real showcase of some of Sondheim’s finest numbers) is that the songs do not eclipse the characters. Mel Giedroyc and Gavin Spokes as the abstemious argumentative couple in denial, Daisy Maywood and Ashley Campbell as the happily divorced couple, Jennifer Saayeng and Richard Henders as the doped-up, straight-laced couple are all hilarious yet touching (my word count is cautioning me to be self-editing here). The entire piece comes with an immense sense of fun, without losing any of the emotive power. Craig’s solos; “Someone Is Waiting”, “Marry Me a Little” and, of course “Being Alive”, are achingly pure and heartfelt.

The friends that surround Bobbie repeatedly urge her to find somebody who will take care of her. “But who will I take of?” she responds. I think it’s safe to say that the success of this show is well and truly taken care of. I hope nothing is booked into the Gielgud Theatre for the foreseeable future.

Craig’s Bobbie bookends many of the scenes with the simple, singular word ‘Wow’. I left the theatre with the same word resounding in my head. Sondheim’s musical and Elliott’s production is a perfect match.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Brinkhoff Mogenburg

 


Company

Gielgud Theatre until 30th March

 

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