Tag Archives: Nell Hardy

To Drone in the Rain

Tristan Bates Theatre

To Drone in the Rain

To Drone in the Rain

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 11th June 2019



“a valiant attempt to speak to modern anxieties but it falls far short”


To actually drone in the rain is to stand outside as it rains and to go on and on about the same thing. To perform To Drone in The Rain is to stand inside as it rains and to go on and on about the same thing. The play, written by Michael Ellis and directed by Lorenzo Peter Mason, is like a flat Black Mirror episode for the stage: a young man (Tom – Michael Benbaruk) with extreme social anxiety is being cared for by Drone Girl (Nell Hardy) and it only gets darker from there …

Well, not exactly. The production stands on some interesting themes which would certainly be likely to resonate with a typical London audience. Drone Girl isn’t just supporting Tom, she is infantilising him. Drone Girl agonises at length about the morality of this decision as Tom descends into total helplessness shouting ‘change my diaper’ by the end. Through their characters, the writer and director worry aloud about society’s over-reliance on technology and particularly on Artificial Intelligence. But that dependence is so outright and divorced from contemporary dependence on mobile phones, that it always feels far away rather than close in. Drone Girl is tempted by Drone Boy (Lino Facioli) to run away from this life of enabling human helplessness and transcend her human shackle. Drone Girl’s struggle to decide whether or not to leave seems to be the main story arc yet mostly expresses itself in drawn-out on-stage agonising and arguing rather than journey, change or development.

Where the script and direction leave a lot to be desired, the acting also fails to light up the circuit boards. The actors had precious little to work with in terms of tension – the stakes were invariably very low – but the performances were mostly flat and without connectivity or personality. Thigh slapping, door slamming and pained looks replaced most of the human connection. If this was deliberate, to symbolise the robots of the show, then the collateral damage was an audience’s desire to actually care about the characters.

Nicole Figini’s set really took centre stage. Looking like an Ikea showroom it set the piece in a world inhabited only by professional Hikikomoris. The white walls and plain furniture were reminiscent of the specific Black Mirror episode Five Million Merits and served the storyline well. The solid audio-visual work and good lighting design break up and structure the moody rants on stage.

Taken together, the show is a valiant attempt to speak to modern anxieties but it falls far short. The politics are blurted out by characters – climate change, social alienation, ‘the bees are dying’ – and the themes aren’t explored or developed. Instead, the characters perform a moody teenage hurley burley that doesn’t do justice to the high-quality production values and intimate venue.


Reviewed by William Nash


To Drone in the Rain

Tristan Bates Theatre until 15th June


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Butterfly Lovers | ★★ | September 2018
The Problem With Fletcher Mott | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sundowning | ★★★★ | October 2018
Drowned or Saved? | ★★★★ | November 2018
Me & My Left Ball | ★★★★ | January 2019
Nuns | ★★★ | January 2019
Classified | ★★★½ | March 2019
Oranges & Ink | ★★ | March 2019
Mortgage | ★★★ | April 2019
Sad About The Cows | ★★ | May 2019


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Review of The State of Things – 4 Stars

State of Things thespyinthestalls

The State of Things

Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 13th September 2017





“a vibrant and highly amusing new British musical”


Brockley Jack Studio Theatre in South East London is currently hosting the premiere of “The State of Things” by Thomas Attwood & Elliot Clay. This intimate venue is a fantastic backdrop for this vibrant and highly amusing new British musical.

The show is set in the music room of a state school that has recently been given academy status. The first scene opens with seven students coming together to practise for their upcoming GCSE performance. The characters make unlikely friends but their love and passion for music helps them to form deep bonds.

The school is functioning under an era of austerity and the students learn that music funding is being cut and they will no longer be able to continue their musical journey at the school. Their passion takes them on a campaigning journey using social media to try and influence the head and their local MP to try and reverse the decision and secure their future.

The writing is excellent – the dialogue is perfectly suited to a group of teenagers. The play offers the right mixture of humour and poignancy making the characters incredibly believable. You are quickly drawn in to the story and hope that they will succeed with their crusade.

The acting is all of a high quality with Hana Stewart giving a stand out performance as Ruth. As she battles to keep her home and school life afloat you really feel her pain and frustrations. Nell Hardy as Kat made me want to rush home and sign up for viola lessons! The actors deliver their lines with great timing and are clearly musically talented.

The lyrics by Elliot Clay (who also takes the role of Adam) are original and beautifully written particularly “Maggie” and the “State of Things”.

The play runs for 90 minutes without an interval. This could easily be extended so the characters could be further developed and given greater depth. The show is highly enjoyable and I left with a warm feeling but also felt that I wanted to know more about the individuals.


Reviewed by Angela East

Photography by Headshot Toby



is at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre until 23rd September



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