Tag Archives: Mimi Monteith

Sleepless, A Musical Romance

★★★

Troubadour Wembley Park

Sleepless

Sleepless, A Musical Romance

Troubadour Wembley Park

Reviewed – 1st September 2020

★★★

 

contains moments of honestly and heartfelt brilliance, but it is undoubtedly let down by its inconsistencies throughout

 

Sleepless closely follows the storyline of Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks’ smash hit film Sleepless in Seattle; a tale of two lost people, brought together by a little boy who calls up a radio station to seek out a new bride for his widowed father. In this story, the widow Sam (Jay McGuiness), was an awkward, hopelessly romantic architect and Annie (Kimberley Walsh) was a journalist, desperate to escape her current romantic predicament. This production was beautifully played by a 12-strong band, which worked with elements of Jazz to create a 1930s elegance and atmosphere whilst successfully, under Morgan Young’s direction, managing to remain in its 1990s setting.

Michael Rose and Damien Sanders have clearly put together this production for no financial gain, but only to demonstrate a total love of theatre and bring us all to what we have been starved of for too long. But despite really wanting to love this show, its disjointed nature left the production falling slightly flat. The opening numbers, intended to imitate a bleakness of the couple’s lives without love, were limp and awkward, making the intensely contrasting colour, that was unsubtly injected as the show progressed, too much. What I found particularly frustrating was that there was no moment where either protagonist sang about how they actually felt about the other, instead, all of this tangible emotion was given to secondary characters, and it was these songs, along with the technical aspects of the show that were the best parts of the production.

Jonah (Jobe Hart) outshone the rest of the cast with his confidence and commitment to be the naïve but cheeky son of Sam. In particular, his performance of ‘Now or Never’ where he showed off his ability to be the ‘triple threat’, conveying his agile dance moves and crystal-clear singing voice. Other standout moments from secondary characters were ‘Dear Sleepless,’ performed by Patsy (Charlie Bull), Marissa (Leanne Garretty) & Nancy (Dominique Planter), which was a welcome burst of energy, expressing the actual emotive response to the radio station call. Planter was particularly brilliant in this; her short solo was packed with humour and confidence. Finally, Harriet Thorpe, whose portrayal of Eleanor, Annie’s mother, was filled with charm and promise; her song ‘The Way He Said My Name’, was genuine and heart-warming.

I wasn’t entirely convinced by the two lovers, who both did have moments of relieving brilliance and whose singing was as expert as you’d expect, but whose awkward demeanours didn’t quite work. Annie’s song ‘Things I Didn’t Do’ was entirely captivating and showed a flash of true humanity. However, and maybe at fault of the script, in moments of panic, whereby she spoke quickly about the pronunciation of different words (a theme that was carried out across the show) was unconvincing and false. Jay McGuiness’ portrayal of Sam lacked gumption. His awkward, bereft demeanour didn’t play hand in hand and so the moments which did work, which were solely linked to his relationship with Jonah, felt as if they were entirely carried by Jobe Hart’s energy and dynamism.

The key brilliance in this piece came from the set (Morgan Large) and lighting (Ken Billington), which worked spectacularly together to create an architectural vision in order to mirror Sam’s profession. The set spun centrally to convey various rooms seamlessly, whilst externally to this, a stressed paint on wooden boards worked to imitate the waterside accommodation of Sam’s house as well as giving an ‘edgy’ feel to Annie’s home and workplace. Cabaret seating was used by both the cast and the audience at the front of the theatre and it worked beautifully to include the audience as part of the chorus; making us a part of the hustle of New York or joining them in an intimate and romantic restaurant.

Sleepless definitely contains moments of honestly and heartfelt brilliance, but it is undoubtedly let down by its inconsistencies throughout. It is a show for people who really like musicals, but not an all-time great.

 

Reviewed by Mimi Monteith

Photography by Alastair Muir

 


Sleepless, A Musical Romance

Troubadour Wembley Park until 27th September

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Soul Of Shaolin | ★★★★ | September 2019

 

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F**k Off

F**k Off

★★★★

Bread and Roses Theatre

F**k Off

F**k Off

Bread & Roses Theatre

Reviewed – 25th August 2020

★★★★

 

“Brave and Bold”

 

When social distancing guidelines mean that only a handful of people are able to be in the theatre at one time, I was fearful that the intense atmosphere that was clearly intended to emulate from the outset of the show, with rap music and a deep blue lighting when the audience entered, would be dissipated. I need not have feared, Integrity Theatre’s production of F**k Off succeeded in creating an all-encompassing atmosphere of rage and regret.

This was not a show filled with revelry, instead, immense tension was built through hope and a clear vision of redemption. Henry M’Gill (played by Michael Dunbar) is desperately trying to win back the favour that he used to carry as a boxing star, whilst struggling with his past failures as a son and boyfriend. The show centres itself around a climactic boxing match against an American up and coming boxer, who thinks that a win against M’Gill will be his ticket to make a name for himself across the pond. It was the American Dream setting of the show, coupled with a raw and gentle emotion, that allowed it to entirely captivate the audience for the full sixty minutes.

Michael Dunbar, who wrote and starred in the piece was electric. His troubled demeanour was made endearing through a raw goodness which was saturated within his character. This juxtaposition of emotion led us to care about him and his journey a huge deal. M’Gill struggles with the rage from his past, as well as the lack of support in his present, in order to create a brighter future. Arieta Visoka, who played Karolina, gave depth to our care for M’Gill as she portrayed the selfish lover, who only wished to use M’Gill for his money. Visoka’s performance was strong, not fearing to shy away from the clear villain that she portrayed in the story.

Hayley Mitchell, who played Jess, gave a standout performance in a physical scene where Jess and M’Gill share their past intimacy with the audience. The tension in this scene was rife and beautifully directed by Taoana Tsiki and Christopher Lowry as they switch between looking out at the audience and sharing physical moments with each other; the chemistry between the two was intangible.

Dunbar’s writing was excellent and proved to be a masterclass in subtext. The final scene allowed for a rhythmic explosion of emotion by which his poetic writing collided expertly with his final expression. There was a slight lack of clarity over what had happened previously to put M’Gill in the position that we see him in at the beginning of the show; there was a great deal of rage centred around his past with his father and ex-girlfriend Jess. A clearer understanding or revelation of this would have been welcome. However, on one level, these twisted and incomplete secrets make the discovery of the subtext all the more gripping, it just needed to give a little more.

The tech in this show was outstanding. With dramatic lighting and music portrayed expertly throughout the production. A shining moment was after the climactic boxing match, where M’Gill struggles to regain his mental strength. Will Hunt’s jittery exploration of the space between the conscious and unconscious mind was fantastic and gave the audience a real entry into M’Gill’s headspace.This show was brave and bold, not fearing of a total expression of rage; this, coupled with the gentle and almost childlike hopefulness of a bright future made F**k Off a hopeful return to theatre. The bar has been set extremely high.

Reviewed by Mimi Monteith

Photography by Taoana Tsiki

 


F**k Off

Bread & Roses Theatre until 29th August

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

Coco’s Adventures | ★★★ | September 2019
Room Service | ★★★★★ | September 2019
The Bacchae | ★★★ | September 2019
Trial Of Love | ★★★½ | September 2019
By The Light Of The Moon | ★★★★ | October 2019
Smashing It! | ★★ | October 2019
The Gravy Bunch | ★★½ | October 2019
The Signalman | ★★★ | October 2019
Buzzing | ★★★★ | January 2020
All Of Us Want Something To Get Over | ★★★ | February 2020

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