Tag Archives: Sam Angell

Tender Napalm

Tender Napalm


King’s Head Theatre

 Tender Napalm

Tender Napalm

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 28th October 2021



“it somehow speaks of the horror and confusion of trauma, unflinching love in the face of howling pain, and above all, it’s incredibly playful and funny and sweet”


Having read his books as a kid and studied his plays in college, seeing a Philip Ridley play at a pub theatre in Angel seems absolutely mad to me. Like having Michelle Roux working at your local caf, or Radiohead doing a gig in your neighbour’s basement. That said, the Kings Head is no ordinary pub theatre, and Philip Ridley no ordinary playwright.

And, stubbornly transgressive as he is, it seems entirely apt that in Ridley’s latest production, at moments of palpable, almost violent silence, you can hear a faint R n’ B playlist, glasses clinking and raised voices trickling in from the bar behind.

The design (Kit Hinchcliffe) is tantalisingly bare: a shiny white floor and plain white backdrop, along with costumes of white tops and grey trousers. No furniture or small props or even a button on a cardi to fiddle with. Just two characters, Man and Woman, and their rich, almost impenetrable fantasy existence.

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I feel myself putting off talking about the actual play itself because I don’t really know how to describe it. At once a game of ‘Fantasy Yes’- we’ve been shipwrecked, says man. Yes, with only hundreds of monkeys for company, says woman. Yes, except that time a giant serpent came and ate me whole and I stabbed it to death from the insides, says man. Yes, says woman, that was my great, great aunt, and I too have serpent blood in me. Yes, well, says man, I’ve led aliens into battle against their enemies, and so the monkeys think I am the messiah. And so on. This, spliced with intensely sexual but equally opaque talk of lubricated grenades and castrating garden sheers, and a surprisingly normal story about an eighteenth birthday party, makes up this seventy-minute straight-through. Despite this sounding unbearably inaccessible, through its opacity, it somehow speaks of the horror and confusion of trauma, unflinching love in the face of howling pain, and above all, it’s incredibly playful and funny and sweet.

In his programme notes, director Max Marrion talks about how skilled our two principals, Adeline Waby and Jaz Hutchins, are at dealing with Ridley’s particular flavour of language, story and imagery. This is mildly put considering their ability to express both humour and passion in this otherwise abstruse text. They embody both the poetic and the realistic; unafraid to be ridiculous, fighting with invisible swords, jumping from one invisible rock to the next, giving each other explosive orgasms with grenades. Equally, they’re two awkward teenagers getting ready for a party, nervously flirting and dancing like idiots. Their chemistry is complicated; it feels full of experience and genuine intimacy.

Ben Lerner once said of John Ashbery’s poetry that while reading, “they always felt as if they were making sense, but when you looked up from the page, it was impossible to say what sense has been made.” I’d say the same of Tender Napalm. There’s no way for me to convey its message, except to tell you to see it and try to explain it yourself.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Mark Senior


Tender Napalm

King’s Head Theatre until 20th November


Other shows reviewed this year by Miriam:
Aaron And Julia | ★★½ | The Space | September 2021
Tarantula | ★★★★ | Online | April 2021
My Son’s A Queer But What Can You Do | ★★★½ | The Turbine Theatre | June 2021
Lava | ★★★★ | Bush Theatre | July 2021
Reunion | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | May 2021
The Narcissist | ★★★ | Arcola Theatre | July 2021
White Witch | ★★ | Bloomsbury Theatre | September 2021


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The Cat in the Hat

Rose Theatre Kingston & UK Tour

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat

Rose Theatre Kingston

Reviewed – 10th April 2019



“a cabaret of excitement and a fabulous family romp”


As the Dr Seuss classic has entertained the minds of young readers for half a century, this Rose Theatre Kingston and Curve co-production of The Cat in the Hat (originally adapted by Katie Mitchell) has a lot to live up to. So how do you translate the unique writing style of such a celebrated artist to stage? Throw in an abundance of acrobatics, a plethora of singalong songs and a water gun or two and you have got a spectacle that will keep the under fives transfixed.

The story we all know and love is that of two children whose miserable rainy day is thankfully interrupted by a cat, in a hat of all garments. While trying to entertain Sally (Melissa Lowe) and her little brother, the cat in the hat (Nana Amoo-Gottfried) gets up to all sorts of tricks and chaos ensues. Standout performances are Sam Angell as Boy, Sally’s incongruously Scottish yet harmlessly endearing little brother and Charley Magalit as the ever bubbly and surprisingly operatic Fish. With direction from Curve’s Associate Director Suba Das, the second half revs up the pacing to fourth gear when Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Celia Francis and Robert Penny) bamboozle the crowd with seemingly infinite combinations of attractive acrobatics.

The clever design of The Cat in the Hat (Isla Shaw) repeatedly takes the audience by surprise with imaginative costume choices and a cleverly camouflaged, movable set, that plays host to a range of elements bursting out, popping up and dangling all over the place. The beautifully oversized, cartoon backdrop, inspired by Ted Geisel’s original illustrations (with every prop giving a nod to the fifty-two year old publication), is set with angles and colourful lighting that reads like a book.

Performance teeters on the edge of pantomime as each character in turn asks the boys and girls (and grownups) to stand up and call out before, during and after each interactive number. Although this musical is filled with fun fantastical compositions from Tasha Taylor Johnson, most of the melodies are quite forgettable considering the rhyming genius of the source lyrics.

The Cat in the Hat is a cabaret of excitement and a fabulous family romp, albeit some way off the purrfect execution of a page to stage adaptation that one might hope for.


Reviewed by Vivienne King

Photography by Manuel Harlan


The Cat in the Hat

Rose Theatre Kingston until 21st April completing UK Tour




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