Tag Archives: Rob Watt



Soho Theatre

WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE at the Soho Theatre


“strong representation of modern mother and daughter relationships with beautifully honest and down-to earth delivery”

Wish You Weren’t Here, written by Katie Redford, tells the story of a mother and daughter from Sheffield going on a weekend getaway to Scarborough. Mila (Olivia Pentelow) is sixteen and overwhelmingly ‘over it’. Her mother Lorna (Eleanor Henderson) is a single mum and desperate to connect to her daughter. Their dynamic grows in complexity as the audience are taken on a whistlestop tour of topical inter-generational issues including feminism, social media and the environment. In a curious, but emblematic of the current era, characterisation Lorna appears more carefree and fun-seeking whereas her teenage daughter is more reserved and uninspired; a sign of the times. The weekend trip proves testing for both characters in this emotive and comical two-hander. The story is modern and well-tuned with realistic and playful dialogue throughout, making up for its somewhat well-trodden subject matter.

The themes of the play, likely as a result of being based on conversations and testimony from hundreds of young people by the Theatre Centre. Its mission to work with young people ‘to write a better future’ is further reflected in the show’s ultimate message of healing. As a piece of theatre in education, Wish You Weren’t Here reflects the zeitgeist of teenagers and does so without cringe-inducing references or ham-fisted observations. Both mother and daughter grapple with phones (adults are equally screen-addicted as youth) and both can relate to insecurities as women.

Scarborough and its trappings as a seaside destination are staged with five simple platforms at various heights (Bethany Wells) and through videos shown on tv screens, which also depicts the intensity of technology in the characters’ lives (Rob Watt). The tone of scenes is supplemented by lighting evoking bright arcades and dark streets (Jess Brigham). The sound design complements the videos and action (Tom Sharkett). Additionally, detailed and accurate images on the prop phones make the large usage of phones on stage infinitely less distracting (no obviously dark or incorrect screens when texting or facetiming! It’s the little things!)

A major success of Wish You Weren’t Here is the heartfelt performances of its cast, directed by Rob Watt. Pentelow embodies an eye-rolling apathetic teenager and impassioned but hurt girl struggling with the world with outstanding realism. Brilliantly, Henderson manages to appear both in opposition and support of her daughter, sharing her experiences as a once teenage mother with energy and presence. She ultimately tries to protect her daughter from hard truths whilst exposing her own flaws as events unfold. The pair portray a funny and tested relationship accompanied with some impressive “Dance Dance Revolution” sequences (Movement by Kiren Virdee) and ramblings about mushrooms “they need shit to grow”.

The show is a strong representation of modern mother and daughter relationships with beautifully honest and down-to earth delivery.


WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE at the Soho Theatre

Reviewed on 22nd February 2024

by Jessica Potts

Photography by Chris Saunders



Previously reviewed at this venue:

REPARATIONS | ★★★ | February 2024
SELF-RAISING | ★★★★★ | February 2024
FLIP! | ★★★★ | November 2023
BOY PARTS | ★★★★ | October 2023
BROWN BOYS SWIM | ★★★½ | October 2023
STRATEGIC LOVE PLAY | ★★★★★ | September 2023
KATE | ★★★★★ | September 2023
EVE: ALL ABOUT HER | ★★★★★ | August 2023
STRING V SPITTA | ★★★★ | August 2023
BLOODY ELLE | ★★★★★ | July 2023
BRITANICK | ★★★★★ | February 2023



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Be Prepared – 4 Stars


Be Prepared

The Vaults

Reviewed – 7th February 2018


“a movingly cathartic piece of theatre”


Darkly entertaining, ‘Be Prepared’ is a compassionate, stirring one-man performance by Ian Bonar as Tom, caught up in a chaos of mixed emotions as he randomly becomes involved in the life and death of a complete stranger, Mr Chambers. More than simply an observation of the entropic nature of life, it is a heart-rending comment on the profound effect a chance event can have. Inspired by the death of his father and amalgamating personal recollections, his grandfather’s treasured memoires and his imagination, Ian and fellow collaborator, Rob Watt, create a character who skips restlessly between remembering and forgetting. From an entanglement of someone he only knows through incoherent phone conversations, he takes us on the journey of his own grief. It is a sincere description of bewilderment as he is confronted by his many conflicting feelings, from the shock of loss to the banality of choosing a coffin. The result is a movingly cathartic piece of theatre.

In the depths and darkness of the Vaults Theatre we are transported into Tom’s confusion with creative use of lighting (Charlie Morgan Jones and Nick Harvey) which cleverly adds intensity and drama to his shifting thoughts. The entrancing, abstract sound by Alex Crispin blends curiously well with the rumbling of the trains overhead and Rob Watt’s artful direction offers the audience a sensitive yet provocative production. The intensity does wear off slightly, however, towards the second half of the show when the script becomes faintly dishevelled, resulting in a mixture of rambling, theatrically-portrayed memories as the two strangers help each other remember those they are forgetting.

Ian Bonar has worked in television, film and theatre. As a playwright he opens himself up to the possibilities of a different path of expression and ‘Be Prepared’ seems to expose something he needs to talk about. He connects immediately with the audience both as actor and writer, luring us into his world to share his personal interpretation of a subject common to all of us and which we rarely divulge with others. He mesmerises the audience and implores sympathy with unabashed earnestness. It is humorous but tastefully balanced, showing the uncontrolled hysteria which takes over in such life-changing moments.

When grief hits, it unplugs a multitude of sensations which bring disorder and distress. The nonsensical picture of life leaves us floundering and leads to a search for meaning. ‘Be Prepared’ is sad, funny, reflective and impassioned, awakening in us a bitter sweet response to an inevitable part of life.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington 

Photography by The Other Richard


Be Prepared

Vaults Theatre until 11th February


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