Tag Archives: Olivia Thompson

Up the Bunty

Up the Bunty!


Lion & Unicorn Theatre

Up the Bunty

Up the Bunty!

Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Reviewed – 13th December 2019



“In worrying and troublesome times, I really can’t think of a better way of spending a Friday night”


Following a successful run in the summer as part of The Camden Fringe, ‘Up The Bunty’, returns to The Lion & Unicorn Theatre for a short seasonal revival. Fitting really, as the plot focuses on a theatrical reunion for a little known 1970’s soap opera, ‘The Soaparetta’s’.

Producer, Harry Hepworth has managed to recall most of the stars of the original cast and with a couple of added newcomers, puts them through a less than successful rehearsal period, before packing them up on a train for a run at a theatre in Southend. On arriving in the town, members of the company start disappearing and it seems we have a psychopath on our hands.

The set consisted of a table dressed with a polka dot cloth and some crockery along with half a dozen stacked chairs. All these were well used to depict various scenes and the uncluttered set gave the actors plenty of room to express themselves and they certainly didn’t hold back.

Lighting was fine, although blackout timings were slightly off a couple of times, projected films showing scenes from past episodes of The Soaparetta’s along with talking heads, were very well made and timing for these was excellent.

Most of the budget for this show must have been blown on wigs. The characters were so far over the top that rather than stepping into caricature, these actors jumped in with both feet. This was obviously a decision made by director Suzy Catliff and why not? The whole show was so frantic and loud, I would love for there to have been a few moments of quiet to balance out the frenetic energy.

The cast clearly had a ball, with Welsh, American, Spanish, luvvie and bimbo characters, it was a little bit like watching that other 1970’s series ‘Mind Your Language’, there was nothing subtle about any of these performances. Michael Stafford Wells was the pompous and overbearing director Harry, Jack Donald amusing as the gay actor Brian with Cameron Butterwick playing the Spaniard Juan-Two, although I enjoyed his performance as PC World a whole lot more. Jess Nesling amused me no end as she tried to find her motivation for being an albatross, Lucie Anne Neale was a little underused as Go-Go but had a lovely singing voice with Olivia Thompson, who wrote the play, loving every minute of playing Annie and was excellent in the final scene. Let’s not forget Bunty The Beaver, oh what trouble a glove puppet can cause, although I doubt Gordon The Gopher and Ed The Duck will be losing too much sleep.

Every character seen as a talking head, had a ridiculous name such as Dickie Ticker and Miss Hope Less, again fitting the style that this company were clearly going for. As much as I admired these video clips, I did find that they caused the action on stage to be a little stop start.

Musical numbers were fairly sparse, although I loved ‘I’d Love To See You Up The Nile’ and ‘Anyone Can Be A Psycho’.

I’m not going to remember this as a theatrical masterpiece, a lot of the publicity describes the play as bonkers and I’m not going to argue with that. It did however make me laugh at its pure silliness. In worrying and troublesome times, I really can’t think of a better way of spending a Friday night. I just wish they’d handed out tacky Bunty keyrings as we left.


Reviewed by Chris White

Photography by Jamie Spindlove


Up the Bunty!

Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 15th December


Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Cut | ★★ | November 2018
BackPAGE | ★★½ | February 2019
Like You Hate Me | ★★★ | April 2019
Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow | ★★★★★ | May 2019
River In The Sky | ★★½ | May 2019
Euan | ★★★★ | July 2019
A Shoddy Detective & The Art Of Deception | ★★ | August 2019
Blue Tights, Red Knickers And An ‘S’ On Her Vest | ★★★ | August 2019
Camp | ★★★ | August 2019
The Death Of Ivan Ilyich | ★★ | August 2019


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Romeo & Juliet – 2 Stars


Romeo & Juliet

Waterloo East Theatre

Reviewed – 28th June 2018


“an immense lack of energy from the performers, which rendered the beautiful words they were speaking almost useless”


When facing the prospect of going to see any production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – arguably Shakespeare’s most universally-known play – the first question that pops into my head is how will this production be different from all the other Romeo and Juliets that have either been done or are running now? Upon entering the theatre at Waterloo East for Controlled Chaos’ crack at this timeless tale of love and heartache, my hopes were high. Disco lights, high-energy club music and the cast huddled together in centre stage draped in rainbow flags. The setting was a gay club, aptly named ‘Capulets’, during pride, and for this brief moment in between entering the theatre and the start of the play, there was a genuine excitement for a potentially fresh and unusual approach to Romeo and Juliet. This excitement, unfortunately, ended with the first words of the play. From then on, the audience were presented with yet another amateur Shakespeare production lacking originality or conviction.

There was an immense lack of energy from the performers, which rendered the beautiful words they were speaking almost useless. There were numerous occasions where lines were too quiet, or actors were facing with their back to the audience. This and other issues were clear examples of a show that was lacking clear direction. This was particularly evident in the many pivotal scenes between Romeo and Juliet (both of whom were women in this production). All of the subtleties and deftness of Shakespeare’s language in these scenes were replaced with tiresome snogging and aimless wandering on stage. Thankfully Kevin Kamara and Olivia Thompson provided some much needed moments of energy and purpose as Mercutio and Nurse respectively.

What was perhaps most disappointing was that the production promised something very different to what was actually presented. The play took place during gay pride, and yet there was only one gay couple in the whole piece. The company stated in the programme that one of their goals was ‘to give women a chance to take centre stage in the male dominated classics’. Apart from making Romeo a woman, the show remained heavily dominated by men. These two stylistic choices appear to have been thought of, but not completely carried out. This means that what could have been a unique production has simply fallen into the category of uninspiring Shakespeare shows that you will undoubtedly find in other theatres this summer. On a night where the English football team failed to beat Belgium to top their group, this was also a flat and uninspiring performance.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Florence Odumosu


Romeo & Juliet

Waterloo East Theatre until 30th June


Previously at this venue
Three Mothers | ★★★★ | October 2017
Doodle the Musical | ★½ | January 2018
Unburied | ★★★★★ | March 2018

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