In the Wake of
Lion & Unicorn Theatre
Reviewed – 4th August 2018
“Morris’ emotionally charged delivery of a monologue in the final scene proved to be a highlight of the entire production”
Set on a council estate in Hull, In the Wake Of is a new piece of writing by Michael Black, who also appears in the production. Black plays Jimmy, who has recently been released from prison and turns up at the house of a friend, Rob (Mickey Mason), and his girlfriend, Chelsea (Rachel Morris). It’s not long before we learn of dark secrets when past events rear their ugly head and relationships are threatened.
The acoustics of the Lion and Unicorn Theatre worked well with the production, making it almost feel as though we were in the room with the characters. This did sometimes mean that outbursts and confrontations were a bit harsh to the ears, but overall it could be said that it added to the gritty nature of the play.
Confrontational scenes were generally well played and directed (Matt Strachan), but it was sometimes a case of the energy then dropping and the pace lagging, before the next outburst. In some of these scenes, actors also occasionally had their backs to the audience, which meant we missed some of the emotion delivered by them.
All actors displayed a good level of commitment to their characters, but Rachel Morris as Chelsea stood out, particularly during the final scenes. She presented great raw emotion and was believable as someone caught up in other people’s dramas, culminating in her character doing something to create drama of her own. Morris’ emotionally charged delivery of a monologue in the final scene proved to be a highlight of the entire production.
In the Wake Of is not a play to see if you want a relaxed evening, but it’s certainly a realistic and powerful display of human emotion and the impact past events can have when they resurface.
Reviewed by Emily K Neal
Photography courtesy Faded Ink Productions
In the Wake of
Lion & Unicorn Theatre until 7th August
as part of The Camden Fringe Festival 2018
Mosley Must Fall
Lion and Unicorn Theatre
Reviewed – 22nd February 2018
“the low-key performances fail to engage the audience emotionally”
Set during the social upheaval of 1936, Martin McNamara’s new play “Mosley Must Fall” integrates the prevailing social conflicts, placing them compactly under the roof of the McEnroe family. As Mosley and his fascist supporters prepare to march through the Jewish and Irish quarters of East London, Dublin Easter Rising veteran, Liam, tries to convince his sons of the futility of fighting for a cause. But youth sees life differently and each son has his own convictions and predicaments.
Green Curtain Theatre presents this year’s Festival of New London Irish Plays under the title ‘Against the Odds’, this being one of their three works. The script is enlightening and absorbing but the production sometimes lacks direction and with it, a lapse of theatrical contrasts and pace. Aonghus Weber and Fiona Cuskelly give reserved performances as the disillusioned parents, Liam and Maureen, and fail to transmit their deep-rooted worries and anger. Mickey Mason, as their son Jim, adds strength to the scenes with more nuanced acting but is often let down by a want of dramatic response. The unabashed Bernard Duffy (Kevin Bohan), at the risk of occasionally bordering on clownish, lightens the tone and Lisa Lynn plays a confident yet accepting Ruth Cohen, adding another thread to the tapestry of the story. The most powerful moment comes from Michael Black as son Dessie when a final outburst breaks through his cool demeanour.
The spartan set and bleakness of the lighting help to emphasise the frugal lives people were living and this is brought to light by references to food and meals and the recognition of the desperate, scrounging neighbour. Nevertheless, the scene changes could be slicker to avoid the on-stage congestion.
In “Mosley Must Fall” the McEnroe family represents the fractured society, torn by roots, loyalty, generations … This was a time when people lived side by side and helped those in need, but were agonising over ingrained beliefs. However, the low-key performances fail to engage the audience emotionally and, subsequently, create an imbalance in the play’s message. The most striking speech is made in defence of Mosley which, despite the support he gained in London’s East End, is probably not the intended moral focal point. By intensifying the energy and dynamic interpretation of the characters, their conflicts would come across more powerfully on stage. As it stands, it inclines to the more intimate nature of radio – a medium McNamara is very experienced in.
This is a restrained production of a fascinating period in this country’s history with a well-crafted script which reminds us of the many strands which lead to and from Mosley’s instigation of the British Union of Fascists and the parallels past and present. There are some spirited and touching moments, but the tension of the family’s predicament is simplistically handled and expressed.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Mosley Must Fall
Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 3rd March
Part of Against The Odds:
Festival Of New ‘London Irish’ Plays