Tag Archives: Philip Wilson




Wilton’s Music Hall



Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 6th June 2022



“Gethin Alderman relishes the opportunity to show off his versatile speaking voice”


This ingenious new play by Rachel Garnet takes on the theme of love but rather than offer up the age-old story of Romeo and Juliet’s star-crossed lovers it runs with the what-if possibility that Romeo’s friend Mercutio and his deadly enemy Tybalt should be struck by the same love arrow. We are given not a new version of R&J but a parallel story, a tale that is there but not explored in Shakespeare’s play. In so doing, we also get a fascinating origin story for Tybalt.

The production looks and sounds Shakespearean. A simple wooden stage (Set & Costume Designer Ruari Murchison) with a central double door and doors on the left and right provide a perfect symmetry and the opportunity for quick and versatile entrances and exits. Garnet’s text incorporates lines from the original alongside her own – drawing audience laughs and sighs of appreciation when recognised – and she deserves huge plaudits that this interpolation doesn’t sound contrived. The cast of three are dressed in doublets and hose with simple accoutrements where required and obligatory rapiers at their sides.

The Player (Gethin Alderman) sets the scene, immediately breaking the fourth wall with knowing looks to the audience and gentle clowning. He will continue to do this during scene changes to remind us we are watching just the telling of a story. He is joined by Mercutio (Connor Delves) and Tybalt (Tommy Sim’aan) for a rousing three-part harmony rendition of the Scottish folk song Twa Corbies and we know our evening is in safe hands.

Philip Wilson’s masterly direction has the three actors skipping light-footedly around the stage and only towards the very end of the piece does their pace and intensity begin to wane. Gethin Alderman relishes the opportunity to show off his versatile speaking voice in the many multi-roles he fulfils: a touch of Prince Charles about Lord Capulet, a smattering of Scottish for the Friar, a bit twee for Paris, and an aggressive Londoner for the beggar Salvatore. The largest laugh of the evening is brought about by his coy falsetto for an appearance of Juliet herself.

The role of the Player ties everything together around the main scenes between the two fateful lovers. Tommy Sim’aan’s war-mongering Tybalt undergoes the biggest journey. Beginning with macho posturing and showing off his fearsome sword play, we hear that maintaining his aggressive reputation is to secure his position within the house of Capulet. It takes a surprising kiss to throw him off guard and we share his confusion as Sim’aan drops the posturing façade and brings his voice down to a velvet undertone. The power of the kiss brings out the Prince of Cat’s inner kitten and has the strength to potentially end a conflict.

That kiss has come from the wastrel Mercutio as a means to distract Tybalt from seeing and therefore fighting with Romeo (another role for The Player). In a dashing red doublet, Delves plays the wine-happy party animal just on the right side of camp. Mercutio is out for a good time and to live for today until that kiss changes his life too.

The occasional song to the strumming of a mandolin lightens the mood as Tybalt and Mercutio strive to find a future. The three actors work superbly together – there is no weak link. Garnet’s poetry is clearly projected and there is no holding back during the raunchy bits either.

Not since Tom Stoppard’s exploration of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern has there been such an audacious rewrite of Shakespearean off-stage antics.


Reviewed by Phillip Money

Photography by Pamela Raith



Wilton’s Music Hall until 25th June


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Roots | ★★★★★ | October 2021
The Child in the Snow | ★★★ | December 2021
The Ballad of Maria Marten | ★★★½ | February 2022


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This Island’s Mine

King’s Head Theatre

This Island's Mine

This Island’s Mine

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 17th May 2019



“Constantly on the move, they change their characters as quickly as they move around and into the Chinese box like set”


What do you do when your country’s politicians take a backwards step and pass something like Section 28 as Britain did in 1988? You take a heartwarming, poetic drama like This Island’s Mine, and produce it for the iconic Gay Sweatshop. Philip Osment’s mostly uplifting drama, filled with positive affirmations of gay life, was a revelation for audiences then and deservedly so. It’s a treat to see the Ardent Theatre Company, under the skilful direction of Philip Wilson, revive it in 2019.

This Island’s Mine — the title taken from Shakespeare’s Tempest, the words spoken by Caliban — follows the stories of a disparate group of people who, for one compelling reason or another, wash up, or are washed up, on the shores of not so swinging London. It is the 1980s after all. There are eighteen characters (including the cat, Vladimir) and in this production, they are seamlessly performed by a talented ensemble cast of seven. Every audience member will have their favorite characters, but the play begins and ends with Connor Bannister’s sweet and eager Luke. Luke is a seventeen year old growing up in an economically devastated north, knowing he is gay, but not knowing how to tell his friends and family.

Osment’s play gives the actors plenty to do. Constantly on the move, they change their characters as quickly as they move around and into the Chinese box like set (design by Philip Wilson) that opens enchantingly to show interior scenes of tender intimacy. Whether it’s Luke’s Uncle Martin, played with just the right amount of world weary charm by Theo Fraser Steele, or watching Tom Ross-Williams shift effortlessly between Londoner Mark and northerner Frank, or Rebecca Todd slip from American Marianne to Shakespeare’s Miranda, we are drawn to these characters and their struggles.

Corey Montague-Sholay impresses with his sensitive but steely Selwyn, a black gay actor who grows up thinking he “was the only one/Who’d been letting the side down.” On top of that, he hilariously shape-shifts into Dave, the ten year old son of Marianne’s lover, Debbie. Rachel Summers takes on four roles, an incredible range of female (and male) characters including a North Carolina African-American and a refugee Russian princess, and then there is the always marvellous Jane Bertish holding the audience spellbound whether she is Miss Rosenblum, struggling to survive after fleeing Nazi Austria, or Vladimir, Princess Irina’s indulged and equally aristocratic cat.

This Island’s Mine at the King’s Head Theatre is a triumph. See it if you can.


Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Mark Douet


This Island’s Mine

King’s Head Theatre until 8th June


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Momma Golda | ★★★ | November 2018
The Crumple Zone | ★★ | November 2018
Outlying Islands | ★★★★ | January 2019
Carmen | ★★★★ | February 2019
Timpson: The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
The Crown Dual | ★★★★ | March 2019
Undetectable | ★★★★ | March 2019
Awkward Conversations With Animals … | ★★★★ | April 2019
HMS Pinafore | ★★★★ | April 2019
Unsung | ★★★½ | April 2019


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