Tag Archives: Michael Greenwood



The Hope Theatre

UNCLE VANYA at The Hope Theatre



Uncle Vanya


“driven by a kind of energy and commitment that make it hard not to become invested”


I have to start this review with a confession. Despite loving theatre, and consistently pretending that I know lots about it, I have never consumed the work of one of its greatest writers. That’s right, I’ve never seen a single minute, nor read a single word, of Chekhov. And so, for me, the Hope Theatre’s production of Uncle Vanya was actually quite significant. Would it interest me? Would I understand it? More importantly – would I like it?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Adapted by Brendan Murray, Chekhov’s four expansive acts are stripped down into four tightly directed scenes bursting with emotion. The play begins in the aftermath of the disruption caused by Serebryakov, a former professor who has returned to the family estate along with his young wife Yelena. The estate is thanklessly managed by his brother-in-law Vanya and daughter Sonya, but now Serebryakov has new and worrying plans for it. Meanwhile, Vanya and country doctor Astrov have fallen in love with Yelena, Sonya is hopelessly in love with Astrov, and Vanya’s mother is ignoring them all in the pursuit of women’s rights. They are a family full of hope as well as hopelessness, both longing for something more and relishing the order of conventional life.

Despite the small size of the space, the world of 19th century Russia comes to life brilliantly, as does the emotional core of the play. The portraits on the wall, bureau in the corner, and samovar perpetually present on the dining table give a distinct impression of the era without being too distracting. The only downside of the stage design is that actors often have to squeeze past tables and chairs (and each other) in order to enter and exit. Nevertheless, the use of the space is effective.

There is excellent acting, particularly from Esme Mahoney (Yelena) and Cassandra Hodges (Sonya). Both have gravitas, a strong stage presence, and a firm grasp of their characters’ complexities. Hodges is particularly impressive in the final scene, delivering the closing lines in a bold and moving manner. Rory McCallum’s Serebryakov is both wearying and invigorating; Adrian Wheeler’s Vanya is dry-humoured and world-weary. All capture the inner conflicts of their character in a believable manner, making them sympathetic if not always likeable.

There are places where I wish things had come to life more vigorously. I wish that certain scenes weren’t so rushed, or that more was made of Chekhov’s frequent injections of humour. But these are minor points. On the whole it is very enjoyable – not perfect, but driven by a kind of energy and commitment that make it hard not to become invested.

So if you, like me, desperately need to improve your street cred by finally seeing some Chekhov, this is the show for you. Accessible, well-acted, and engaging: an ideal introduction to the work of a great and complex writer.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Reviewed – 25th April 2019

Photography by Cameron Harle


Uncle Vanya

Hope Theatre until 11th May


Last ten reviewed at this venue:
Medicine | ★★★ | August 2018
The Dog / The Cat | ★★★★★ | September 2018
The Lesson | ★★★★ | September 2018
Jericho’s Rose | ★★★½ | October 2018
Gilded Butterflies | ★★ | November 2018
Head-rot Holiday | ★★★★ | November 2018
Alternativity | ★★★★ | December 2018
In Conversation With Graham Norton | ★★★ | January 2019
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | January 2019
Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story | ★★★★★ | April 2019


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


Baby Blues

Baby Blues

Bread & Roses Theatre

Baby Blues

Baby Blues

Bread & Roses Theatre

Reviewed – 8th December 2018



“has a lot of potential with a strong vision and direction and an energetic cast”

Baby Blues is a children’s show, merging physical theatre with verbatim monologues in its attempt to explore post natal depression (PND).

The performance excels in its moments of physical theatre that underscore the whole show. Michael Greenwood’s direction is slick and cleverly thought out. The various movements that accompany the monologues, as well as the choreographed group dances, successfully demonstrate the overwhelming depression, anxiety and claustrophobia that comes with PND. The performers (Tabatha Gregg-Allured, James Douglas, Abi Slade, Eden Tinsey, Mohamed Bangura) really spring to life in these moments – their expressions are impassioned; Tinsey’s performance in particular gave every action a very specific feeling. Excitement is also produced by Alfie Rackley’s music and the use of torch lights, which create drama and utilise the minimalist nature of the show.

Unfortunately, where the show slacks a little is in its verbatim nature. The monologues do exactly what the show needs them to do, which is detail the experience of PND in a way that is easy to understand for its audience, and yet the speeches tend to become a little too matter-of-fact. Despite them being grounded in authenticity, allowing for us to clearly understand the message of the show, they risk becoming slightly disengaging at times, verging on being repetitive. While the stories feel important, they struggle to takes us on a real journey, which is crucial when needing to evoke empathy. As a result, moments that almost reach an emotional peak never really find it.

The show has a lot of potential with a strong vision and direction and an energetic cast. Children’s theatre definitely offers the chance to use a safe space to educate and excite audiences, but the innovative physicality of this show feels let down by the lack of a satisfying arc in the verbatim speeches. Hopefully this company can continue to develop this piece and deliver the important message that PND shouldn’t be a taboo topic, and that those who suffer from it aren’t alone.

Reviewed by Tobias Graham




Baby Blues

Bread & Roses Theatre


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
F*ckingLifeMate | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Talos II | ★★★ | March 2018
The Buzz | ★★★ | May 2018
Once a Year on Blackpool Sands | ★★★★ | June 2018
Richard II | ★★ | August 2018
Like Lions | ★★★★ | October 2018
Metamorphosis | ★★★★ | October 2018
Testament | ★★★★ | October 2018
The Enemies | ★★★ | October 2018
The Gap | ★★★★ | October 2018


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