Tag Archives: Nadia Papachronopoulou



The Bunker



The Bunker

Reviewed – 22nd February 2019



“Sacha Voit and Jessica Butcher have written a very good play. If they were to pare down the problems a bit they could turn it into an excellent one”


A line from the show’s publicity is a good introduction to this play. “A funny, heartbreaking adventure through forests, friendship and Femfresh that reveals the loneliness of age and the power of Mother Nature.”

Willow works as a pharmacist, patiently listening to people’s problems and trying to help. Liz, an elderly customer, doesn’t think Willow looks like a pharmacist – she is a young black woman and doesn’t fit the stereotype. But Liz doesn’t fit the old lady stereotype either. She is feisty and funny, keeping her husband in the utility room, walking in the woods smoking and swearing. She is also very good at putting her foot in it. These two very different women talk to the audience and to each other, stripping off the defensive layers they have built up to protect themselves. In the process they discover a shared love for trees. Willow is writing an article and a book about the Wood Wide Web, the underground network of mycorrhizal fungi that link trees underground, allowing them to communicate and share resources. But something in her past makes her afraid in the woods. When Liz persuades her to join a protest against the destruction of the trees to make way for a new superstore, Willow is forced to revisit a terrible memory and to begin the healing process.

Tanya Loretta Dee is funny and moving as Willow; unravelling from the patient pharmacist, with a wry and sometimes hilarious take on her customer’s inability to speak about body parts, to a damaged and vulnerable woman. Nadia Papachronopoulou’s direction and Quang Kien Van’s movement direction give her some nicely stylised physical tropes.

Amanda Boxer’s Liz is engaging, surprising the audience with her quirky eccentricities and swearing. The bad times in her past are revealed straight to the audience without her ever giving way to sympathy seeking. She is very funny, but there is a double layer in the comedy, as humour is a good deflector of sadness.

Papachronopoulou makes good use of Lia Waber’s outstanding set in her direction and allows the two characters to combine naturalism with just the right amount of stylisation. Jack Weir’s lighting design and Chris Drohan’s sound help to tell the story with some lovely atmospheric touches.

Although Boots is a strong production, it does feel as though too many problems have been crammed into the fabric of the play. An hour and fifteen minutes is not really long enough to carry a narrative that includes a dead baby, postnatal depression, racism, ageism, infertility, loneliness, rape, the destruction of nature, incontinence and other ageing related issues. Sacha Voit and Jessica Butcher have written a very good play. If they were to pare down the problems a bit they could turn it into an excellent one.


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by  Tim Kelly



The Bunker until 16th March


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
No One is Coming to Save You | ★★★★ | June 2018
Section 2 | ★★★★ | June 2018
Breathe | ★★★★ | August 2018
Eris | ★★★★ | September 2018
Reboot: Shorts 2 | ★★★★ | October 2018
Semites | ★★★ | October 2018
Chutney | ★★★ | November 2018
The Interpretation of Dreams | ★★★ | November 2018
Sam, The Good Person | ★★★ | January 2019
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019


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After the Ball – 3 Stars


After the Ball

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Reviewed – 9th March 2018


” attempts to deal with some intriguing themes but unfortunately falls short”


Upstairs at the Gatehouse is one of London’s historic fringe theatre venues that exude a strong community spirit inside. The Gatehouse, within which the theatre is located, is steeped in local history and it seems only right that it should house a play focused upon the passage of time and memories such as Ian Grant’s After the Ball.

The story follows William (Stuart Fox) and Blanche (Julia Watson) spanning sixty years, starting in 1914 in the moments just before the outbreak of WW1 and ending in 1971. Its emphasis is upon the ways in which we take responsibility for our individual actions and, consequently, how this affects those around us.

The roles within After the Ball are purposely written for older actors by Grant who believes that not only does it offer the challenge of playing a variety of ages, but also provides substantial new material for ageing actors which is often lacking in modern theatre today. Therefore it is rather intriguing to see both actors constantly transition as the story moves backwards and forwards in time throughout. Aside from this characterisation, the costume design is the greatest indicator of which time period each scene is set in. As each character is introduced throughout the story, they bear the clothing of that particular time. However, this was not consistent towards the end of the play as their daughter, Joyce, appears in a variety of period costumes whereas the remainder of the cast do not.

Whilst the plot revolves around William and Blanche’s relationship over time, it seems the story is much more focused on William’s journey and often asks for the audience to sympathise with his emotional turbulence. William is presented as a four-dimensional character as we learn to understand the reasoning behind his mistakes throughout life. Unfortunately this was not the case for the characterisation of Blanche that at times felt superficial.

Memory is the headlining theme of After the Ball and this is most evident in the creative set (Natalie Pryce) and sound design (Chris Drohan). The soundscapes often blended into one another, as did the minimal set which frequently reminds one of searching into their memories, and the ways in which we can manipulate our memories over time.

After the Ball attempts to deal with some intriguing themes but unfortunately falls short through its execution on stage. Whilst the idea of centring the play around two older actors playing a variety of ages is refreshing, it was sometimes unclear as to which specific point in the timeline the scene was taking place. Additionally the story pays too much attention to the male struggles during wartime, and places less upon those of the female characters.


Reviewed by Claire Minnitt

Photography by Mitzi de Margary


After the Ball

Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 24th March



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