Tag Archives: Niall Hemmingway



Cockpit Theatre



“a wholesome and welcoming atmosphere which continues into the bar after curtain-down”

Theatre has long benefitted from pop stardom. Whether by using featured artists to draw in the crowds, or more directly providing the soundtrack to the drama. Hits & Pieces from Matchstick Theatre Company draws on this happy relationship by asking four writers to create a 15 minute piece related to a pop song.

Previous selections have included Sisqo’s Thong Song, Don McLean’s American Pie, and Meat Loaf’s I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That). This time, the song of choice is the Spice Girls iconic hit Wannabe – scientifically proven to be the most recognisable and catchy pop song of the last 60 years (look it up!).

Each writer can interpret the cue in whatever way their heart desires – leading to some quite surprising results. Matchstick Theatre Company member, writer and director Mark Daniels also acts as MC for the evening, creating a delightfully homespun atmosphere.

‘Gotta Get with my Friends’ written by Sophie Underwood kicks off the proceedings with a totally whacky, conceptual take on the theme. We meet a couple in crisis, played by Emma Read and Aaron Phinehas Peters, who need a shock to get the blood pumping in their relationship again. But her suggestion of an orgy with her best friends is not the most outlandish idea she has to get them to open up to each other. Kooky in theme and performance, including the bizarre use of vegetable props that are very visibly not what the actors are saying they are, it’s a bold start to the night with a very left-field interpretation of the piece’s title.

‘Ginger’, written by Annette Brook and performed by Roli Okorodudu, is a gear change towards a dose of realism. Okorodudu plays a woman who stumbles upon a queue of other women waiting for their chance to audition for a Spice Girls tribute act. After being assumed to be there for the part of Scary Spice, she muses on why she can’t be Ginger who aligns more with her own conception of herself, rather than just how she is perceived as a black woman in the world. It’s a confidently relaxed and laid-back performance with Okorodudu’s dry delivery enhancing Brook’s wittily written script.

After a short break Emma Read is back, this time as writer of ‘Tomorrow Land Tomorrow Land Tomorrow Land (It Never Ends)’. It’s a brilliant piece of comic misdirection, skilfully performed by Niall Hemmingway and Aisling Groves-McKeown. Groves-McKeown is a highly strung TV producer trying to capture Hemmingway’s experience of being part of a cult, but things aren’t quite as they seem. You’d be hard-pressed to see the link to the song choice of the evening with this one – but that does at least mean the night benefits from variety.

The final piece of the programme is the only one that really deals in the 90’s nostalgia one might have expected. However, writer Mark Daniels takes a unique perspective in the piece ‘Friendship Never Ends’ – that of a pencil case. Ails Duff and Zahra Jennings-Grant are Pencil and Rubber, two items in a woman’s Spice Girls themed pencil case that has been left in a cupboard for twenty years finally being taken off the shelf. Their personification and memories of a well-spent youth will delight any Toy Story fans – as well as the pencil case themed puns.

Matchstick Theatre Company does well to create a sense of community in this short evening of works. The involvement of various Company and cast members as writers, directors and actors, creates a spirit of collaboration for this cabaret-style entertainment. Coupled with audience engagement through polls and suggestions for future song-themes, it’s a wholesome and welcoming atmosphere which continues into the bar after curtain-down with a 90’s themed playlist. You’re gonna ‘Wannabe’ at the next event to check it out.



Reviewed on 14th April 2024

by Amber Woodward

Photography by Natasha Vasandani 



Previously reviewed at this venue:

THE THREEPENNY OPERA | ★★★ | September 2023
MY BODY IS NOT YOUR COUNTRY | ★★★ | August 2023
END OF THE WORLD FM | ★★★ | August 2023
999 | ★★★ | November 2022
THE RETURN | ★★★ | November 2022
L’EGISTO | ★★★ | June 2021



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