Tag Archives: Melissa Lowe

Hungry

Hungry

★★★★★

Soho Theatre

Hungry

Hungry

Soho Theatre

Reviewed – 13th July 2022

★★★★★

 

“sometimes funny, but mostly heart-breaking, and brilliantly told”

 

It seems mad that something so silly as lunch can be so heated and rich in discussion, but it is. Somehow it draws in everything else that’s important: Family, culture, politics, self-worth. Everything can be got at by discussing what you just ate, be it a chicken nugget or an oyster. And in the case of Hungry, it’s both a chicken nugget and an oyster.

Lori, a highly strung chef, hires Bex as a waiter, and from their first day, there’s a pull between them. Both could talk for England, and both are bold and vivacious. But Lori shows her love by wanting to show Bex what she’s missing; all the finer things, “Chicken nuggets are not special, your life is not special. But it should be.” And whilst Bex knows there’s something wrong about this, she struggles to name it, particularly when Lori is so impassioned and enthusiastic.

This is not a story about goodies versus baddies. It’s about the good intentions of a white woman being misguided and patronising; a clash of heritage- both class and race. And, as a white audience member, that makes it both very uncomfortable to watch and very necessary. Because it’s uncomfortable when someone looks you in the eye, and gently but firmly tells you you’re wrong.

Writer Chris Bush has a way of writing dialogue that is simultaneously vernacular and rhapsodic, incorporating the personal with the political, so you never feel the characters are simply mouthpieces for a more important message. The first few scenes feel a bit manic, but the energetic characters can account for that, plus it’s a lot to fit in to 70 minutes, and presumably Bush wanted to get a wiggle on.

Two metal trolley tables act as pretty much the whole set. Slamming together at the beginning of a scene, or moving gently apart, they serve as worktop, kitchen table, bedframe, battleground. With two such strong characters, there’s really no need for much else, and the simplicity of Lydia Denno’s design means that, for example, when Bex starts stamping on crisp packets and throwing crisps around like confetti, it’s all the more affecting.

Melissa Lowe and Eleanor Sutton are electric together, matched in spirit and quality of performance. Their timing is immaculate, interrupting and withholding in exquisite tandem. Both roles are difficult in their own ways: Lowe’s Bex is mouthy and quick-witted, but she’s on the back foot in this relationship, which seems a strange amalgam in theory, but makes perfect sense in this performance. Similarly, Sutton’s Lori is nervous and neurotic, but she holds the power. Her arguments are thoughtful and persuasive, and yet deeply problematic- a difficult balance to pull off without seeming disingenuous.

This isn’t really about food, but food is the perfect vehicle for its message, because it is both universal, and personal; unifying and segregating. In short, it’s complicated and important, as is the story of Hungry, sometimes funny, but mostly heart-breaking, and brilliantly told.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by The Other Richard

 


Hungry

Soho Theatre until 30th July ahead of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 3rd-28th August

 

 

Recently reviewed at this venue:
An Evening Without Kate Bush | ★★★★ | February 2022
Y’Mam | ★★★★ | May 2022

 

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The Cat in the Hat
★★★

Rose Theatre Kingston & UK Tour

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat

Rose Theatre Kingston

Reviewed – 10th April 2019

★★★

 

“a cabaret of excitement and a fabulous family romp”

 

As the Dr Seuss classic has entertained the minds of young readers for half a century, this Rose Theatre Kingston and Curve co-production of The Cat in the Hat (originally adapted by Katie Mitchell) has a lot to live up to. So how do you translate the unique writing style of such a celebrated artist to stage? Throw in an abundance of acrobatics, a plethora of singalong songs and a water gun or two and you have got a spectacle that will keep the under fives transfixed.

The story we all know and love is that of two children whose miserable rainy day is thankfully interrupted by a cat, in a hat of all garments. While trying to entertain Sally (Melissa Lowe) and her little brother, the cat in the hat (Nana Amoo-Gottfried) gets up to all sorts of tricks and chaos ensues. Standout performances are Sam Angell as Boy, Sally’s incongruously Scottish yet harmlessly endearing little brother and Charley Magalit as the ever bubbly and surprisingly operatic Fish. With direction from Curve’s Associate Director Suba Das, the second half revs up the pacing to fourth gear when Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Celia Francis and Robert Penny) bamboozle the crowd with seemingly infinite combinations of attractive acrobatics.

The clever design of The Cat in the Hat (Isla Shaw) repeatedly takes the audience by surprise with imaginative costume choices and a cleverly camouflaged, movable set, that plays host to a range of elements bursting out, popping up and dangling all over the place. The beautifully oversized, cartoon backdrop, inspired by Ted Geisel’s original illustrations (with every prop giving a nod to the fifty-two year old publication), is set with angles and colourful lighting that reads like a book.

Performance teeters on the edge of pantomime as each character in turn asks the boys and girls (and grownups) to stand up and call out before, during and after each interactive number. Although this musical is filled with fun fantastical compositions from Tasha Taylor Johnson, most of the melodies are quite forgettable considering the rhyming genius of the source lyrics.

The Cat in the Hat is a cabaret of excitement and a fabulous family romp, albeit some way off the purrfect execution of a page to stage adaptation that one might hope for.

 

Reviewed by Vivienne King

Photography by Manuel Harlan

 

The Cat in the Hat

Rose Theatre Kingston until 21st April completing UK Tour

 

 

 

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