Tag Archives: Reece Connolly

Last Orders


Old Red Lion Theatre

Last Orders

Last Orders

Old Red Lion Theatre

Reviewed – 10th October 2019



“Believer or not, this was thoroughly anxiety-inducing”


Since 1415, the Old Red Lion pub has been a notorious hangout for highwaymen, a popular billiards venue and, as of 1979, also a small studio theatre. The walls of the Old Red Lion have seen many things and Last Orders by The Knock Knock Club explores the pub’s exciting and chequered past with the hope of communicating with some of the pub’s supernatural inhabitants along the way.

In July 2019, Reece Connolly, Christopher Keegan and Caroline Buckley – a believer, sceptic and agnostic respectively – spent a night in the Old Red Lion with Twilight Ghost Hunts and its founder Laura Goff. From midnight to 6am, the team explored the three floors of the pub theatre, using both old – a planchette to facilitate automatic writing and a ouija board – and new – EMF meters, audio recordings and infrasound monitoring – methods to communicate with any paranormal residents. In Last Orders, the trio present their findings from this night to try and answer the ultimate question: are ghosts real?

Connolly is the star of the show. He is engaging, funny and keeps the play moving forward. Keegan and Buckley do at times fade into the background, especially the latter who due to being ‘on the fence’ about the supernatural often does not have much to contribute to the debate. Regardless, the chemistry between the group is strong and they are all confident in their deliveries.

The play begins with Connolly telling a ghost story with a candle illuminating his face. This happens two more times throughout the play with Buckley and Keegan taking the lead instead. These scenes unfortunately come across as weak filler to bulk out a lack of actual findings from the real-life ghost hunt. Interviews with staff past and present (including the pub dog Rolo) shed some light on the pub’s mysterious goings-on but apart from some anecdotes about sockets being unplugged in a locked room there is little concrete evidence for a haunting.

The performance’s best (and most frightening) scene is when the team re-enact their exploration of the building’s cellar which used to be a morgue. The stage is plunged into complete darkness and the trio flash torches randomly to prevent the audience’s eyes from adjusting. This also builds a great sense of dread. Down in the cellar, Connolly and Buckley claim that they saw a full-bodied apparition which Goff encouraged to come towards them, and the audio of this moment is played as the audience sit in darkness. Believer or not, this was thoroughly anxiety-inducing.

The staging is simple but, in most instances, effective. Malicious words such as ‘HANG HIM’ are scrawled in red across the theatre walls and a battered sign for the Old Red Lion hangs in the centre of the stage. For most of the play, a white sheet is hung from the sign to be used as a backdrop for a projector which displays images and videos relating to the ghost hunt. This use of multi-media was a nice idea but with the lights still on it was often hard to see the apparitions that apparently lurked in the displayed photo. This however did give Connolly an opportunity to show his passion for the paranormal as he offered to show audience members any photos or videos in the pub after the performance.

Last Order’s greatest merit is sparking the audience’s interest in the extraordinary history of the buildings around us but actual ghost hunting will have to be left to the professionals.


Reviewed by Flora Doble


Last Orders

Old Red Lion Theatre until 26th October as part of London Horror Festival


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Indebted to Chance | ★★★★ | November 2018
Voices From Home | ★★★½ | November 2018
Anomaly | ★★★★ | January 2019
In Search Of Applause | ★★ | February 2019
Circa | ★★★★ | March 2019
Goodnight Mr Spindrift | ★★ | April 2019
Little Potatoes | ★★★ | April 2019
The Noises | ★★★★ | April 2019
Flinch | ★★★ | May 2019
The Knot | ★★★★ | June 2019


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Chutney – 3 Stars



The Bunker

Reviewed – 14th November 2018


“There are a few moments sprinkled throughout where the asides subside, and the story and characters are allowed to actually breathe”


Chutney is a play brimming with potential – an intriguing premise, intelligent intentions, slick design, and a talented pair of actors helming the two-hander. Despite having all the recipe for brilliance, however, not all the ingredients are used effectively.

Reece Connolly’s play aims to transpose the murderous couple dynamic seen in the likes of Macbeth and Sweeney Todd to the thoroughly middle class Gregg (Will Adolphy) and Claire (Isabel Della-Porta). After primally killing a dog one evening, the pair ignite a bloodlust that they find in equal parts exhilarating and terrifying as it consumes their lives, and the paranoia of their misdeeds starts to infect their relationship. It’s an exciting setup for a story, but the script unrelentingly dismisses the old adage of ‘show, don’t tell’ with a constant barrage of narration and exposition to the audience; having the characters incessantly explain what they are thinking at any given moment removes all notion of subtext, and frequently kills the dramatic potential for scenes. Claire and Gregg will often deliver intercutting monologues to the audience which would have been more far more engaging as dialogue between the two where they are forced to challenge and change each other. Instead, it at times feels like two one-person shows simply running parallel.

It’s a shame the script falters in this way, as Connolly’s writing is often witty, sharp, and poetic. There are a few moments sprinkled throughout where the asides subside, and the story and characters are allowed to actually breathe – moments such as Claire drunkenly dancing with a crossbow, the couple reservedly eating pasta, and a particularly enthralling confrontation in the second act are all stellar, and made it all the more disappointing that more of the script did not place an equal amount of faith in the audience to engage with the story. It is also in these moments that Adolphy and Della-Porta are allowed to shine, finding opportunities to bring depth and nuance to the characters, and delivering energetic and intense performances.

The design helps to gloss over the script’s shortcomings, with Matt Cater’s sumptuous lighting and Ben Winter’s biting sound lending weight and impact to dramatic peaks that would have otherwise been lacking. Jasmine Swan’s aesthetically delightful middle-class kitchen set also depicts the world of the play very effectively, and Georgie Staight’s direction incorporates this with the actors to create some striking imagery.

Ultimately, however, it all feels hollow. It’s always concerning when the writer’s note in a programme claims the play is achieving or exploring ideas that simply aren’t present in what transpired on stage. Chutney, unfortunately, is one such example of this. It aims to critique the middle-class utopia of Britain but, for a play which spends the majority of its runtime lambasting the audience with quips and asides, finds itself with very little to say.


Reviewed by Tom Francis

Photography by Rah Petherbridge



The Bunker until 1st December


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Ken | ★★★ | January 2018
Electra | ★★★★ | March 2018
Devil With the Blue Dress | ★★ | April 2018
Reboot:Shorts | ★★★ | April 2018
Conquest | ★★★★ | May 2018
Grotty | ★★★★ | May 2018
Guy | ★★★½ | June 2018
Kiss Chase | ★★★ | June 2018
Libby’s Eyes | ★★★★ | June 2018
Nine Foot Nine | ★★★★ | June 2018
No One is Coming to Save You | ★★★★ | June 2018
Section 2 | ★★★★ | June 2018
Breathe | ★★★★ | August 2018
Eris | ★★★★ | September 2018
Reboot: Shorts 2 | ★★★★ | October 2018
Semites | ★★★ | October 2018


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