Tag Archives: Michael Lumsden

For Services Rendered


Jermyn Street Theatre

For Services Rendered

For Services Rendered

Jermyn Street Theatre

Reviewed – 6th September 2019



“A deliciously haunting production from a plucky and dedicated theatre”


It’s late summer, a stifling atmosphere pervades the Kentish home of the Ardsley family, all of whom are in some way affected by the ending of the Great War. Whether by injury, hasty marriage, stagnating economy or the stultifying culture of abandonment dressed up as just getting on with things, each face a future of anxiety and diminishment. Only the youngest, Lois, seems to have escape routes, though none without penalty.

Somerset Maugham’s angry and sullenly anti-war work, premiered in 1932, was not deemed a huge success, despite or because of its scathing lines satirising attitudes to returning combatants. Over time the drama’s unblinking appraisal of human motivations led to more literary critiques and a smattering of recent revivals. Opening the Jermyn Street Theatre’s Memories Season, at a time of when England is again wracked by change and the younger generation must again face shrinking horizons to a chorus of entreaties to be optimistic, it fits like a well-made suit, though modern parallels are thankfully not forced.

The set by Louie Whitemore establishes a world of tennis and tea on the lawn very much as the writer intended and, as the action ensues, Emily Stuart’s beautifully tailored period costumes underline the sense of a moment in time, perfectly preserved. Diane Fletcher as the weary matriarch, Charlotte, portrays with precision the slow acceptance that nothing seems to matter anymore; every glance and micro-expression accumulating dejection.

The four Ardsley children all have different reasons to feel frustrated in their pursuit of a meaningful life and after the interval the masterful writing chillingly depicts how human nature turns venal as a consequence of being starved of options. All performances do their bit for the cause. Richard Keightley is particularly unerring in his performance of the war-blinded, still fragile but chipper Sydney Ardsley, but no character is overplayed, which only makes their suffocating predicament more so. Even the lower class, drunken oaf, Howard played by Burt Caesar restrains his boorishness, slurping beer in noisy measured gulps, advancing on young Lois in the same methodical way, using the sinister wartime logic of enjoying life while you can, alarmingly transposed to peace time. Sally Cheng as Lois, Rachel Pickup as Eva Ardsley and Jotham Annan as Collie Stratton follow suit, politely unravelling their tragic prospects at the same rate with varying degrees of brittle cheerfulness.

Direction by the theatre’s Artistic Director Tom Littler is subtle, possibly unadventurous, but in doing so, he allows the mounting frustration to moulder into angst and finally to a very English version of hysteria, all at an insidiously clockwork pace, marked by distant church clock chimes, refilled whisky and sodas, tea and the dropping apples and rose heads. We feel we are watching England decline before us in real time. A deliciously haunting production from a plucky and dedicated theatre celebrating its 25th anniversary.


Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by Robert Workman


For Services Rendered

Jermyn Street Theatre until 5th October


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Burke & Hare | ★★★★ | November 2018
Original Death Rabbit | ★★★★★ | January 2019
Agnes Colander: An Attempt At Life | ★★★★ | February 2019
Mary’s Babies | ★★★ | March 2019
Creditors | ★★★★ | April 2019
Miss Julie | ★★★ | April 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (A) | ★★★ | June 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (B) | ★★★ | June 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (C) | ★★★★ | June 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (D) | ★★ | June 2019


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Review of A Christmas Carol – 3.5


A Christmas Carol

The Paradiso Spiegeltent – Christmas at Leicester Sq

Reviewed – 10th December 2017


“this is one show to warm your heart and also leave you in absolute stitches


Whether you are among the excited crowds at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland or enjoying a glass of mulled wine whist appreciating Covent Garden’s impressive Christmas Tree, the festive season in London promises a never ending supply of fun activities leading up to the big day – and this is no exception when it comes to the theatre.

In the heart of Leicester Square, The Fitzrovia Radio Hour entertained us with a classic Dickens tale. Self acclaimed enjoyers of ‘wearing pencil moustaches and dinner jackets’ the group specialise in writing and performing material in a rather twee 1940s way.

On one hand, being tucked away in a cosy, dimly lit tent was quite appropriate given the somewhat spookiness of the narrative, but when you can faintly (or not in the case of the busker singing Britpop classics not far away) hear the hustle and bustle of city life outside, it can be a tad distracting. Hats off to the cast though who, despite the background noise, put on a fabulous performance.

The show is acted out as a live broadcast radio show in the style of days gone by. This is juxtaposed with the relationship between the characters when they are ‘off air’. Hellbent on playing the character of Scrooge, Ernest Andrews (played by Samuel Collings) may or may not have had something to do with an injury that took out the previous leading man (Michael Lumsden). Vanity Fair (Alix Dunmore) and Beau Belles (William Findley) get a little too cosy when acting out their roles – if only the radio audience could see what they were up to!

Poor Gretchen Haggard (Dorothea Myer-Bennett) is easily distracted, pining for her original Scrooge. In order to make their story more realistic to the listeners, the sound effects are of huge importance and visually it is so entertaining watching them juggle reading their lines into the microphone with clambering around trying to find the correct prop. We’re talking everything from balloons to a skull and lets not forget the signboards signalling that the audience should a) applaud and b) make seagull noises.

Distractions aside, this is one show to warm your heart and also leave you in absolute stitches.


Reviewed by Stephanie Legg

Photography Geraint Lewis



A Christmas Carol

is at The Paradiso Spiegeltent, Christmas at Leicester Square until 30th December 2017



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