Tag Archives: Michele Moran

Paradise Now

Paradise Now!


Bush Theatre

PARADISE NOW! at the Bush Theatre


Paradise Now

“Jaz Woodcock-Stewart’s direction makes so much sense and is so smooth and clever, that it lifts the play further off the page”


There’s a moment when the man handing over my ticket says: “You do know the running time is 2 hours 40, right? Including interval!” that I thought ‘how can I make a polite run for it?’ Afterall, as he pointed out, most plays at the Bush Theatre are little more than an hour. I hadn’t eaten, I’d travelled an hour to get to West London; my dog was at home. 2 hours 40 feels like a long time for a play in 2022.

It turns out that I would sit through six more hours of Paradise Now! (by Margaret Perry). I would accept days of an Inheritance-like sprawl of this play – about an intergenerational group of women dealing with loneliness and unfulfilled ambition, as they get sucked into the heady world of multi-level marketing by Alex (Shazia Nicholls).

Five women, from different ages and backgrounds, all on a quest to find meaning in life. The story focuses on Gabriel Dolan (Michele Moran), who lives in a London houseshare with her big sister Baby (Carmel Winters) and TV-presenter-wannabee Carla (Ayoola Smart). Gabriel has recently experienced a significant depressive episode, something her big sister reminds her of constantly when she comes home from her retail job, knackered. “You won’t sleep on the couch again, will you?” Gabriel asks, and Baby immediately falls asleep on the couch.

Gabriel’s journey into selling essential oils to other women is motivated by wanting to help her sister get out of the 30,000 hours she’s given to the store – there’s a heartbreaking scene at the very end of the play where Baby says no-one even gave her a leaving card when she retired (but even the most heartbreaking moments are riddled with Perry’s wry jokes and whip-sharp commentary on life).

Enter the stage: Alex, a woman who recruits other women to sell essential oils. She’s glamorous, an excellent seller, but cracks of insecurity start to show. She’s acted brilliantly by Nicholls, who manages to convey the multi-faceted personality of this multi-level marketing guru with precision and humour. She encourages women who feel they have nothing to be proud of in life to start mini-businesses and become someone – in this case, by selling “a little touch of luxury at an affordable price point.” But she’s no saint, as we see her begin to unravel throughout the play – at one point while being attacked by a robot vacuum cleaner.

The essential oils business (called Paradise) is marketed as a ‘team, a family’, and our band of characters enter into the business with varying levels of enthusiasm. For some, like Gabriel, it appears to be a lifeline, and offers a chance for her to experience a different kind of life where people believe in her for the very first time. The enthusiasm is perfectly tempered by Anthie (Annabel Baldwin), Carla’s girlfriend, who, as an outsider, brings a note of healthy skepticism to the proceedings. Baldwin uses their face to convey bafflement at what’s going on throughout, and they have both outstanding comic timing and dance skills, employed to show their fruitless search for success.

My only (tiny) criticism is the script’s tendency to throw in exciting-sounding backstories that aren’t fully explored. Laurie (a slightly unhinged and blunt character played exquisitely by Rakhee Thakrar) reminds Alex multiple times that she knows her from school. Alex can’t remember her, but we never found out what happened at school to make her reappear in the very offbeat way she has. There’s also a coming-out memory, which didn’t feel completely necessary.

However, these minor dramaturgical questions aren’t enough to detract from the sheer joy of a production that sings: there’s simply no real bum note. The writing is sharp and with one-liners genuinely so funny that the actors sometimes swagger when they say them because they know they’d raise the roof at a stand-up set. The set is modern, dynamic, with space-saving furniture devices that would leave IKEA begging for the patent from set-designer Rosie Elnile. Jaz Woodcock-Stewart’s direction makes so much sense and is so smooth and clever, that it lifts the play further off the page and thrusts it to even greater heights than the already tight and genius-script.

It is, fundamentally, a joy, with meditations on ambition, exploitation and loneliness all delivered in a way that makes the audience genuinely empathise with the characters.

Go, go twice, go again. You’ll have no regrets.



Reviewed on 9th December 2022

by Eleanor Ross

Photography by Helen Murray



Previously reviewed at this venue:


Lava | ★★★★ | July 2021
Favour | ★★★★ | June 2022
The P Word | ★★★ | September 2022


Click here to read all our latest reviews


Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament


Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament

Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com

Reviewed – 23rd February 2021



“a hugely enjoyable alternative to bringing audiences together during the pandemic”


At a time when every evening feels the same, it becomes increasingly difficult to find ways of focussing on our direction and knowing where to go or what to do. Particularly when the road maps we are handed are either vague, or else they just point us towards a destination that seems too far away. It is refreshing, then, to be handed, on a silver platter, something a bit different. ‘Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company’, known for immersive productions such as “Alice’s Adventures Underground” and “Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie” have resourcefully adapted their unique style of storytelling for the online age we have been forced to enter during this past year.

“Sherlock Holmes – An Online Adventure” has evolved from a live version of a similar previous production; “The Game’s Afoot” at Madame Tussauds in 2016. In this new online experience, the audience is invited into a virtual world to become the joint protagonists in what is best described as a mix of board game and murder mystery. Forced to go online by the pandemic, this is an innovative way of keeping creatives active and people engaged in the theatre world, even if the lines are blurred between ‘theatre’ and ‘game show’.

The show is subtitled; “The Case of the Hung Parliament”. Sherlock Holmes had been called away to solve another case, out in some indeterminate wilderness, so Dr Watson is left in charge. It is far from ‘elementary’ to Watson, so he recruits us as private detectives to help him solve the case. And we have just over an hour in which to crack it.

The Home Secretary, The Foreign Secretary and the Lord Chamberlain, have all been found hanging, in their own chambers. Each victim died on their birthday, and on that day had received a card with a mysterious quote written in it. The Prime Minister, it appears, is the next on the list of victims. Watson (a thoroughly convincing portrayal by Dominic Allen) briefs us all with a list of suspects before we collectively go off in search of clues. Oliver Lansley, the Artistic Director of Les Enfants Terribles, has said, in a recent interview, that “the fun of a whodunnit is usually not the answer; it’s the journey”. If you embrace the show with that spirit, then you won’t go wrong. The clues are sometimes hopelessly obscure but, on Zoom, we confer and throw theories into the pot, seeing things through different eyes. As Holmes famously quoted: “When you have eliminated the impossible; whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

The team have joined forces with the virtual reality company LIVR to create a 360° world in which we search for the hidden clues. It is a kind of adult version of the ‘Secret Path Books’ you would read as a child in which the outcome is determined by the choices you make. We have the chance to interview the suspects too and, before we point the finger and name the accused, Sherlock himself (Richard Holt) beams onto our screens guiding us towards a unanimous verdict. “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”. Time is running out, so our scrambled minds reach a majority decision before Holmes tells us we are right. Or wrong.

There is nothing deceptive about the intentions of this company to provide a hugely enjoyable alternative to bringing audiences together during the pandemic. That they succeed is an obvious fact.



Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography courtesy Les Enfants Terribles


Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament

Online via www.sherlockimmersive.com


Last ten shows reviewed by Jonathan:
Rent | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Right Left With Heels | ★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Salon | ★★★ | Century Club | December 2020
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020
The Dumb Waiter | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | December 2020
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★★ | Palace Theatre | December 2020
The Elf Who Was Scared of Christmas | ★★★★ | Charing Cross Theatre | December 2020
A Christmas Carol | ★★★ | Online | December 2020
Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews