Tag Archives: Rob Madge

Millennials

Millennials

★★★

The Other Palace

Millennials

Millennials

The Other Palace

Reviewed – 15th July 2022

★★★

 

“Hannah Benson’s immersive staging bubbles with an energy”

 

There is, and always has been, debate about the purpose or usefulness of demographic tags. But whether we like them or not, or whether they influence an individual or a group of personalities, the labels are here to stay.

If you are a ‘Millennial’ you witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks that shook the world, and were likely to be old enough to comprehend its historical significance. You grew up in the shadow of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; you will have watched the erosion of the global political climate. Reaching adulthood, you would have walked headlong into the height of an economic recession. And the internet has pretty much always been there for you.

Is this significant?

If you are a ‘Millennial’ (according to psychologists) you are likely to be confident, but also confused. You are tolerant, but have an overblown sense of entitlement. You are generous, but at the same time narcissistic. In other words, you merely possess the contradictions that make us human.

Elliot Clay has written a song cycle that tells these Millennials’ stories. But he runs up against the same problems. For the most part they come across as merely human stories; under the Millennial banner. And it is a banner that is waved flamboyantly. Colourful yet superficial. There is little that earmarks a Millennial’s ownership of the subject matter. So we are left with a song cycle. And there is nothing wrong with that. Clay has composed some very fine numbers here. But a trick has been missed, and what is slightly frustrating about the show is the awareness that some sort of thread could have been weaved into the overall concept; or something to bind the characters into some sort of collective. To give them a real, solid context or journey.

Fortunately, that reservation in no way extends to the presentation. Hannah Benson’s immersive staging bubbles with an energy that sweeps aside the misgivings and allows us just to have fun. Andrew Exeter’s design matches, and supersedes, the sheer pizzazz. The Other Palace is transformed into a candied, Wonka-like, emporium. Part disco, part adventure playground; shimmering with colours that overflow with e-numbers. You can taste the sweetness of the set.

The performances are the main attraction. Despite most of their energy being channelled into Tinovimbanashe Sibanda’s slick choreography, the cast of six unleash their glorious voices to the crowd with the dynamism and craftmanship befitting the cream of Musical Theatre. Clay’s songs and lyrics are given the starry treatment and they have the appeal to stand their ground, but “Millennials”, as a show, lacks the cohesive ingredients to ensure a similar longevity. But as a gig, it’s a pretty good night out.

 

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior

 


Millennials

The Other Palace until 7th August

 

All our reviews this month so far – click to read:

I Can’t Hear You | ★★★★ | Theatre503 | July 2022

The Hive | ★★★ | Hoxton Hall | July 2022

Report to an Academy | | Old Red Lion Theatre | July 2022

Barefoot in the Park | ★★★★ | The Mill at Sonning | July 2022

Flat and Curves | ★★★★★ | Toulouse Lautrec | July 2022

Hungry | ★★★★★ | Soho Theatre | July 2022

Pennyroyal | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | July 2022

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet | ★★★★ | Leicester Square Theatre | July 2022

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

My Son's A Queer

My Son’s A Queer, But What Can You Do?

★★★½

The Turbine Theatre

My Son's A Queer

My Son’s A Queer, But What Can You Do?

The Turbine Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd June 2021

★★★½

 

“Twelve-year old Rob is living the dream, and they’re inviting you, pick ‘n’ mix in hand, to watch”

 

All future productions, please take note: I absolutely accept bribes, in this instance a tub of pick ‘n’ mix waiting on my seat, particularly if it’s the fancy kind with chocolate-covered honeycomb and giant squishy jelly babies, which this was.

As it happens, a tub of fancy pick ‘n’ mix (provided for the whole audience) pairs exceptionally well with this evening’s gloriously kitsch, luxuriously self-involved, super extra display.

Using childhood home videos of Rob Madge directing their mum, dad, gran and grandad (and on one occasion aunts, uncles and cousins) in fully scripted, blocked and costumed productions, we’re guided through the seven steps to putting on a seamless Disney parade through gran’s hallway.

In doing so, Rob talks us through their journey of self-discovery and, despite the very best support from their family, battling society’s seemingly insatiable need to try and crush the sparkle out at a very young age.

On the one hand, this is a totally relatable story for anyone who doesn’t fit the mould, who was told they’d be better off trying to blend in than just be themselves. On the other, this is the most self-indulgent endeavour, in much the same way of a child’s living room show which, one supposes, is sort of the point. Regardless, it does feel a bit like it was created with mainly friends and family in mind who, no doubt, will have had the best time ever watching their beloved retrace their steps to their fabulous present selves.

And Rob is absolutely fabulous, as both a bossy 12-year-old sliding down the banister in full Mary Poppins get-up, and standing before us this evening, rocking a petticoat with confetti-filled pockets, and splicing family videos with belting, Broadway-like numbers.

Ryan Dawson Laight’s living room stage design is appropriately phantasmagoric: a set of draws turns into a showtime set of stairs, beneath an armchair hides a glittering golden runway, and tucked inside a TV cabinet is a set of disco lights and metallic streamers.

Costume changes, whilst far from seamless, are brilliant in their homespun charm: Maleficent’s fierce cape billows away to reveal Belle’s sunflower yellow dress, which tears off to unveil Ariel’s shell bra and shining tale.

And this is really the main difference between Rob’s homemade Disney parade over a decade ago and tonight’s performance: the full force of a professional production, replete with director (Luke Sheppard), lighting designer (Jai Morjaria), composer (Pippa Cleary) and projection designer (George Reeve). This is what happens when you give a brilliant, flamboyant twelve-year-old creative control and a budget. Twelve-year old Rob is living the dream, and they’re inviting you, pick ‘n’ mix in hand, to watch.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Mark Senior

 


My Son’s A Queer, But What Can You Do?

The Turbine Theatre until 3rd July

 

Other shows reviewed by Miriam this year:
Tarantula | ★★★★ | Online | April 2021
Reunion | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | May 2021

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews