Tag Archives: Rosie Abraham

The Worst Witch

★★★★

Vaudeville Theatre

The Worst Witch

The Worst Witch

Vaudeville Theatre

Reviewed – 28th July 2019

★★★★

 

“The energy of the performance carries the story along, sweeping the audience up in a tide of laughter”

 

This review is a joint effort by me and nine year old Manu, a big fan of the Worst Witch books and TV series. We both enjoyed it a lot.

The book was adapted for the stage by Emma Reeves, who also devised the TV series. She has a real understanding of Jill Murphy’s books, and has done a great job of bringing the world of Mildred Hubble and her friends to the stage. Manu says it was as good as the TV episodes, but different. Theresa Heskins, the director, was faced with a host of challenges including disappearing people, broomstick flying, cats, and a Shenanigans spell. Luckily she had a magic advisor, John Bulleid, an esteemed member of the magic circle, who clearly knows a thing or two about how to make the impossible happen. We were still trying to figure out how they got Enid into the suitcase, as we walked to the tube station after the show.

Danielle Bird is a wonderfully endearing and hopeless Mildred, Out of her depth but brave enough to stand up to bullies big and small and to fight for her friends. Manu’s favourite characters from among the children were Ethel and Enid, played by Rosie Abraham and Consuela Rolle. He said Ethel was really good at being mean and just full of herself and Enid was crazy funny. I agree with him, Abrahams kept Ethel at just the right pitch of vile, making her change of heart quite poignant, and Rolle’s Enid is a real force of nature. Mildred and her best friend Maud, played by Rebecca Killick did an impressive piece of comedy aerial work on their broomsticks and developed their friendship through adversity very nicely.

Manu’s favourite adult in the show was the hugely impressive Polly Lister, who played both Miss Cackle and Agatha, her evil twin. Before the show started we read the programme, and wondered how she would manage to do both. Manu tried to figure out how she would be able to manage if she had a scene that both characters were in. Well, we discovered that she managed very well indeed, giving an absolute tour de force performance in the second act, belting out songs, killing a sock and generally becoming hilariously unhinged. It was Manu’s ‘best bit,’and mine too.

Manu’s final comment is that he would tell his friends to go and see it, because it’s really good and they would like it.

Simon Daw’s simple, quirky design nicely evokes the feeling of a school for witches, and the sound and lighting, by Leigh Davis and Aideen Malone conjure magic when needed, and the right atmosphere all the time. There are some cracking songs too, composed by Luke Potter. I’m humming one as I write this. The music is performed by four versatile cast members, two of them playing multiple instruments.

The Worst Witch is a fabulous fun show for kids and adults. The energy of the performance carries the story along, sweeping the audience up in a tide of laughter, drama and a real empathy for girls like Mildred. It’s a show with a big heart and a large helping of joy.

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Manuel Harlan

 


The Worst Witch

Vaudeville Theatre until 8th September

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Lady Windermere’s Fan | ★★★★ | January 2018
Them/Us | ★★★ | June 2019
Three Sisters | ★★★★ | June 2019

 

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Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde – 2 Stars

Hyde

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Rose Theatre Kingston

Reviewed – 14th February 2018

★★

“The one moment of true violence on stage was badly managed, and failed to convince”

 

Robert Louis Stevenson’s late 19th century novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde revisits the same themes as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, written 70 years earlier. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, its narrative of the duality of human nature and the merits (or otherwise) of scientific investigation, still have the power to fascinate. What a shame then, that this production remains in the dated and formulaic tradition of Victorian drawing room drama.

David Edgar’s script introduces three female characters to the original, but, despite some excellent work from both Polly Frame as Dr. Jekyll’s forward-looking sister Katherine, and Grace Hogg-Robinson as her plucky maid Annie, their inclusion seemed superfluous, and served only to detract from the pared-down tension of Stevenson’s tale. Indeed, the production as a whole was baggy, and lacked both pace and narrative drive. The inclusion of two sub-plots – Annie’s flight and subsequent appointment in Dr. Jekyll’s house, and Lanyon’s actions as a result of the exposure of his past – together with the final reveal of a formative incident in Dr. Jekyll’s childhood, crowded out the power of Dr. Jekyll’s terrifying experiment entirely.

The production failed to provide any moments of genuine fear, and Phil Daniels’ central performance often teetered on the edge of vaudeville, leaving the audience unsure of what was expected from them. Some able, but strangely-placed, pieces of theatrical business from Sam Cox, as Jekyll’s butler Poole, gave us the reason we needed to laugh, but this reviewer was not the only one to feel the comedy inherent in Daniels’ broad Glaswegian, drunken Hyde. The one moment of true violence on stage was badly managed, and failed to convince, and the decision to delay the conclusion, and thus dilute the impact, of Hyde’s original transgression, as witnessed by Utterson, seemed yet another way to diminish Hyde’s monstrous power.

The production design only served to underline the Fairground House of Horrors feel of the piece, with hackneyed visual and sonic tropes throughout. Rosie Abraham’s haunting voice was beautiful, but overused, and the glowing laboratory door and equipment seemed faintly comedic. As did the continual opening and closing of all three on-stage doors, which bordered on the farcical.

Ultimately, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde did not seize the imagination. It is a tale that still has the capacity to bite, but, unfortunately, this production rendered it toothless.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Mark Douet

 


Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Rose Theatre Kingston until 17th February then continues on tour

 

 

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