Tag Archives: National Theatre

On Reflection

Underbelly Festival Southbank

On Reflection

On Reflection

Underbelly Festival Southbank

Reviewed – 13th May 2019



“personal, enchanting and all rather marvellous”


It’s not often that you get to see some of the leading lights of theatre and musical theatre in an intimate cabaret setting. On Reflection is a rare opportunity to do so, and it is a great experience. Janie Dee, who played Phylis in the National Theatre’s triumphant production of Follies, has brought together some of the stars of the show to share personal experiences and songs in the intimate setting of Underbelly’s Spiegeltent.

Having seen Follies a few days previously, just before it closed, it was fascinating to see the closeness and friendship between the cast. Dee’s idea to stage this cabaret style show was inspired by the theme of reflection and the connection between past and future that runs through Follies. She asked some of her fellow actors if they would be willing to share a personal story and a song, reflecting on something from their own past. Taking part in this show is a way for them to fill the void left by the end of Follies, keeping some of the company together for a while.

Each actor had brought a photo; themselves as a baby, a loved one who had passed away, something that meant something deep or funny. They told their stories, and sang their songs, weaving an evening full of feeling; sadness, nostalgia, love and hilarity. Aimee Hodnett regaled the audience with her total failure when auditioning for Cats, and attempting to stand out from the crowd in not the wisest manner! She then had everyone in stitches with her rendition of ‘The Girl in 14G.’ Adrian Grove moved people to tears with his story of his father’s dementia, and how sometimes he would know him, and sometimes not. He sang a beautiful duet with Ian McLarnon.

Alyn Hawke took us back to the golden age of musical movies with a medley of his childhood idols, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and Vanessa Fisher belted out an inspiring version of Des’ree’s ‘You Gotta Be’. There were so many outstanding stories and songs. Janie Dee talked about how she was warned off taking a musical theatre job by her agent, because ‘nobody would take her seriously as an actress’. They were wrong. She was spotted in the show by Sir Peter Hall and asked to work with him at the National Theatre. She danced, charmed us all and ended the evening by introducing Stefan Bednacyk, the pianist, and inviting all the performers on stage. Josh Seymour directed the show, allowing everything to seem spontaneous, and to be truly heartfelt. The evening was personal, enchanting and all rather marvellous.


Reviewed by Katre


Underbelly Festival Southbank

On Reflection

Underbelly Festival Southbank until 16th May


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Soap | ★★★★★ | May 2018
Circa: Peepshow | ★★★½ | July 2018
Little Mermaid Circus Sensation | ★★★½ | July 2018
Aliens Love Underpants | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Black Cat: Bohemia | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Little Death Club | ★★★★ | April 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com


Queering Pride

“This year’s Pride was a celebration of love, but we still have a long way to go to encompass and support the entire community”


Due to a mix of scheduling errors and general anxiety over my place within the community, over my three years in London I have never been to the Pride in London celebrations. So this year, invited by some wonderful friends from the Arcola to march in the parade with Hackney Council, I decided to finally brave the crowds and show my support by representing and the LGBTQIA+ community in the creative industries – and I can genuinely say that it was one of the best days of my life.

“following my newly-found dream of being a queer version of Helena Bonham Carter”

In the creative industries, the subject of politics has to be very carefully navigated; whether its a funding application or the sexist undertones of the casting process, being a queer feminist doesn’t always go down well, and it is often necessary to ‘quieten the queer’ in order to earn more mainstream and traditional castings. However, over the last year I have had the fortune of becoming involved with the Arcola Queer Collective, a performance collective dedicated to exploring queer identity and its theatrical representations; a place where I am lucky enough to be encouraged and inspired by strong queer performers, as I attempt to figure out my own identity, searching for my place within the community and following my newly-found dream of being a queer version of Helena Bonham Carter.

National Theatre Queer

Pride plays an incredibly important role in bringing queer stories to the mainstream through a huge variety of art forms; the National Theatre’s ‘Queer Theatre’ programme brings LGBTQIA+ stories to the forefront of the national stage, the DIVA sponsored women’s stage features female acts that have long been relegated, due to the lack of sponsorship and closing of endless queer female spaces. But there is still so much work to be done. This year’s Pride was a celebration of love, of course, but with corporate sponsorship permeating the parade and issues surrounding the representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in their marketing campaigns, many of us recognise that Pride in London still has much further to go.


Walking alongside my friends and colleagues, queer activists and artists, in the Pride parade was one of the most wonderful moments of my time in London. it is the first time that I have genuinely felt comfortable, celebrated, welcomed and supported as a Queer Artist, and I can’t help but hope that the warmth of that security that I was so lucky to feel, my pride in both my politics and myself, can extend to encompass and support the entire community, in all it’s complexity and beauty, equally, fairly and proudly.



Article by Tasmine Airey