Tag Archives: Rachel Hosker




New Diorama Theatre



New Diorama Theatre

Reviewed – 9th January 2020



“Holy What’s excruciatingly incisive and nuanced production wrenches this classical play from its historical resting place and plants it firmly in the modern canon”


Honestly, Greek plays make me think of my GCSE drama theory, and just the idea of actually sitting through one makes me want to take a nap. Fortunately, Holy What’s production is having none of that.

Antigone (Annabel Baldwin) and Ismene (Rachel Hosker), two teenage sisters, are holding up the home front whilst their brothers fight against one another in a war for leadership of the city. The sisters spend their time playing games, talking about boys and sex, and venturing in to city’s nightlife.

When the soldiers finally return, both brothers are dead. Creon, their uncle and the newly appointed leader of the city, proclaims that one brother will be honourably buried and the other will be left unburied on the battlefield. Antigone insists that no-one should be punished this way, no matter their crime. Despite Creon’s decree of death for anyone who tries to bury her brother’s body, Antigone is insistent.

And that is the shortest possible synopsis for the ultimate Greek tragedy. On top of that, we’ve got incest, lots of tragic death, heroic acts, love, and let’s not forget the thing that brings it all together, the lashings and lashings of family drama. All this, undertaken by a two-hander in one act.

Under Ali Pidsley’s direction, Antigone focuses solely on the intense relationship between the sisters. Clearly far less interested in the particular twists and turns of the original character-packed plot, Lulu Raczka’s script is an immensely intimate portrayal of sisterly love. Whilst the generalities of Sophocles’ plot remains, the dialect is hyper modern. But somehow, despite plenty of talk of battlefields and death by starvation in a cave, it doesn’t feel uncomfortably anachronistic. Instead, we’re thoroughly drawn in to crushing moral dilemmas, and the impossible choices between doing the right thing and doing what’s necessary to survive.

The performances of both Baldwin and Hosker are heartbreakingly honest. Their delivery so closely mirrors the intimate nuances of sisterly love that if it weren’t for the fact that this is a rewrite of a Greek drama, I’d assume a lot of the script was verbatim.

The setting (Lizzy Leech), a small tiered platform filled with soil, evades complete understanding but is effective nonetheless. The dirt provides a play pit for the sisters in their jollier moments, and evidence of Antigone’s actions later in the plot. And all that aside, it provides a pleasing texture to a story that otherwise requires few props.

Lighting (Tim Kelly) and sound (Kieran Lucas), both deceptively simple, play almost as much of a role in this production as the script. Lucas’ score artfully navigates between low ominous rumbles, thumping soundscapes and noughties R&B. Kelly’s lighting is similarly emotionally calculating and playful, amping up the drama when a two-person cast can’t quite cut it.

My only real criticism for this production is that the soundtrack was a little too loud at various points – I had to plug my ears for a good couple of minutes in the middle, and I was still capable of hearing everything. And my other criticism would be that I’d appreciate if the lights stayed down for a minute or two at the end so that no-one could see my runny nose and blood-shot eyes. That’s right, I was completely crushed by a Greek tragedy.

Holy What’s excruciatingly incisive and nuanced production wrenches this classical play from its historical resting place and plants it firmly in the modern canon. What a way to start the new year.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Ali Wright



New Diorama Theatre until 1st February


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Trap Street | ★★★★ | March 2018
Left my Desk | ★★★★ | May 2018
Bitter | ★★★ | June 2018
Taking Flight | ★★★ | June 2018
4.48 Psychosis | ★★★★ | September 2018
Boys | ★★★★★ | November 2018
The War Of The Worlds | ★★★½ | January 2019
Operation Mincemeat | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Art Heist | ★★★½ | October 2019
Joan Of Leeds | ★★★★ | December 2019


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Left my Desk – 4 Stars


Left my Desk

New Diorama Theatre

Reviewed – 31st May 2018


“an important piece of theatre which shines a light on a complicated issue”


Produced by the award-winning theatre company Lost Watch, Left My Desk tells the story of Children’s Services social worker, Becca (played by Rianna Dearden) and her struggle to do her job amidst budget cuts, tough cases, and personal sorrows.

The acting overall is of a very high standard, but Adam Langstaff and Rachel Hosker, who both play a variety of characters, from a tough policeman to a young mother with an addiction problem, are the standouts. They switch superbly through their various personas and are highly believable and enjoyable to watch.

The storyline is gripping and gives us a taste of Becca’s personal life and work life, which at times seem to blur into one. There is a lot that is left unresolved and large time jumps, which are sometimes unclear, but this seems to reflect Becca’s job itself as in social work most cases are not tied up neatly with a bow. There are a few cheesy lines that could have been avoided, but overall the plot is fast paced, exciting, and engaging, and clearly shows the breakdown of Becca’s mental health as she strives to do her best at her job. The piece certainly succeeds at pulling you in completely to this world of domestic violence, budget cuts, and class divides, and you can’t help but be affected by the cases Becca has to deal with and impact austerity has had on social work.

The set consists of three white desks and three white rectangular frames on wheels, each with a clear plastic sheet across them. These frames work as office windows, hospital hallways and French windows, and have a lovely reflection effect. They are flexible and work well to illustrate the play’s many locations but also keep the cold, clinical feeling which seems to mirror the way the institution of social work can sometimes feel. As Becca says, “An organisation doesn’t make a great parent.”

The lighting and sound design are excellent and add to the tense mood of the play. The lighting design (Hector Murray) is particularly ingenious in one scene where Becca and her partner, Phil (Jamie Samuel), are driving at night. The scene is the emotional climax of the play and the lights cleverly imitate driving on a motorway at night. Fergus Waldron’s sound design is also very well done, in particular the use of low tones and sound effects underpinning scenes and setting the location (e.g the quiet hum of traffic or the sounds of an office). It’s these small design touches which really lift the piece and bring it all together.

Overall, Left My Desk is an important piece of theatre which shines a light on a complicated issue and tells it from the perspective of those who are on the ground and working in the field. It’s a well-designed, heartfelt, and thought-provoking show and absolutely worth a watch.


Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com

Photography by Scott Rylander


Left my Desk

New Diorama Theatre until 16th June


Previously reviewed at this venue
It Made me Consider | ★★★ | February 2018
Close Up | ★★★ | February 2018
Trap Street | ★★★★ | March 2018


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