Tag Archives: Melissa Dunne

Lola

Lola
★★★★

VAULT Festival

Lola

Lola

The Vaults

Reviewed – 23rd January 2019

★★★★

 

“the incredible writing, coupled with Dunne’s fluid, lively direction, allows the performances to spring to life”

 

Papercut Theatre have created something truly special with Hannah Nixon’s play Lola. Under Melissa Dunne’s direction, and using Nabokov’s Lolita as a source of inspiration, the play effortlessly addresses issues of power and gender that are timely and highly impassioned.

The play follows Lola (Gemma Barnett), an 18-year-old sixth former who is attempting to navigate the restraints and obsessions put on her gender and sexuality by the boys, and men, around her. In seeking the council of two of her teachers, Jez (Rob Ostlere) and Olivia (Joanne Ferguson), the play spills into a gripping and highly relevant drama of gender politics that refuses to stay silent.

Nixon’s writing is intricate and subtle and yet so full of weight. She’s able to capture so much story in a few sweeping statements, thus giving space for some excellent drama to play out between the play’s three characters as they struggle for power. The dialogue is seamless and flows like everyday conversation, constantly building in tension and allowing us to read deeper into all three personalities. The script does, however, lose some of its feeling when slipping into the dream sequences, which are a little jarring and occasionally act to take us out of the drama, rather than to throw us in deeper.

That said, the incredible writing, coupled with Dunne’s fluid, lively direction, allows the performances to spring to life. Ferguson’s Olivia is proud and human, funny and heartfelt. Ostlere’s Jez is charming and unnerving, and there is some real genius behind the actor’s creation of this untrustworthy ‘nice guy’ who proves difficult to work out. As Lola, Barnett’s performance takes centre stage; it’s mesmerising, raw and so beautifully executed. She’ll make you laugh, she’ll make you cry.

Lola is one of the best new plays I’ve seen a long while – it’s exciting, it’s slick, it’s inspiring and it showcases some real upcoming talent. Contemporary drama about gender politics can so often miss the mark, but this company have produced something that challenges social norms in a way that feels original, rousing and ultimately moving. I urge you to go and see this play if you can.

 

Reviewed by Tobias Graham

Photography by Ali Wright

 

Vault Festival 2019

Lola

Part of VAULT Festival 2019

 

 

 

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

 

Dangerous Lenses

Dangerous Lenses
★★★

VAULT Festival

Dangerous Lenses

Dangerous Lenses

The Vaults

Reviewed – 23rd January 2019

★★★

 

“The writing has a really interesting rhythm that creates tension and fear, but occasionally this tension leads nowhere.”

 

Brooke Robinson’s one-woman thriller has an interesting concept and an exciting premise, playing with our inherent voyeuristic desires to watch lives unfold around us, despite us never really knowing anyone’s truth.

The play is about Ann (Grace Chilton), a lonely recluse who obsessively watches her neighbours through the windows to their flats. The arrival of a new neighbour and his daughter – a girl in a pink dress – sparks Ann’s attention. When the new neighbour denies the existence of the girl in the pink dress, Ann is left to question the accuracy of her own vision, regularly complaining about her sight and thereby leaving her dangerous obsessions to spiral.

The set of hanging blinds that set the stage is simple but effective, not only making great use of the Studio at The Vaults but also allowing us to focus on Grace Chilton’s disturbing performance as Ann. Although the fast paced monologues occasionally become confused, they are delivered articulately and succinctly, allowing Chilton to give life to this unstable character who is frightening and endearing all at once. Through Melissa Dunne’s neat direction, the performer manages to break through moments of obsessive intensity and create moments of genuine comedy, like when she phones a neighbour in distress to then proudly admit to us, with a humble smile, that she knows all the tenants phone numbers by heart.

However, it is these changes in tone that the play lacked. The writing has a really interesting rhythm that creates tension and fear, but occasionally this tension leads nowhere. Chilton packs an emotional punch when the action climaxes, but the play feels like it needed more of these outbursts. Despite the fast paced nature of the writing and the performance, the often unchanging tone somewhat slowed the piece down.

The play certainly has some tension and mystery and the performance does have a haunting quality to it, but there is opportunity within it to create even greater suspense, even more fear, and perhaps just a little more clarity.

 

Reviewed by Tobias Graham

 

Vault Festival 2019

Dangerous Lenses

Part of VAULT Festival 2019

 

 

 

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