Tag Archives: Scott James

F*ckingLifeMate – 5 Stars



Bread and Roses Theatre

Reviewed – 2nd March 2018


“digs below the clichéd façade to the personal relationships between family and friends”


Set in South-East London’s Thamesmead, dubbed a ‘post-war dream gone wrong’, Scott James brings to life the archetypal sink-estate community, surrounded by the familiarity of domestic abuse, crime and racial and sexual prejudice, in an astute yet imaginative drama. ‘F*ckingLifeMate’ digs below the clichéd façade to the personal relationships between family and friends, drawing the audience into the quagmire of emotions, violence, dejection and survival. The play centres around Kirsty – a brilliant tour de force from Kelsey Short – who is determined to break out of the comfortless cyclic pattern of teenage pregnancy, unemployment and social benefits. The script flows smoothly in and out of dialogue and narrative and James’ direction is the perfect blend of natural and choreographed movement (Michael Flanagan and Cristian Valle) creating a piece of theatre which is impossible to disengage from.

The strong chemistry between the actors reinforces the important bond which holds the group of friends together as they manage problematic home lives. The stereotypes and stereotypical predicaments are all there, but the exceptional standard of the cast prevents it becoming a parody. Chelsea, the defiant lesbian, played by Samantha Jacobs, grounds her brashness from the moment she enters. Roisin Gardner as Jorden conveys fragile, teenage sensitivity reminding us that even pretty girls have feelings and Hayley (Jasmin Gleeson) adds her own assertive fire, herself suffering from a variation on a dysfunctional family. In a particularly bold performance, Gleeson doubles as Kirsty’s mother, impassioned and troubled. Chantel Richardson as Cassie, the newcomer, holds an enigmatic figure until she gradually develops an unexpected friendship with Kirsty, kindling aspirations for a different future. In a poignant outburst of anguish, Nathan Lister as Kirsty’s brother Bradley, pours his heart out to his family, one by one, displaying a range of nuanced tensions and Michael Flanagan moves skilfully from Kirsty’s long-suffering father to her bright-eyed friend, Peter. All also contribute colourful cameos to the scenes, widening the perspective of the social story.

Using a handful of lights, Emilie Nutley transforms the modest Bread and Roses Theatre with hues and shades, often cinematographic in effect. The uncomplicated black and white costumes avoid what could become a pastiche, and the style reminds us of their young age, despite what they have lived. The bare performing area, clever music and only the necessary props accentuate the ingenuity involved in this production – the variety and continuity of movement, dynamics of mood and well-balanced characters.

Although, as pointed out at the beginning of the play, ‘F*ckingLifeMate’ is representative of a condensed portion of Thamesmead, symbolic of the recurrent social problems, this is a production which reaches the audience’s empathy through the essence of theatre. Even the strong language and graphic descriptions fit relevantly into the style. Innovative writing, commanding, expressive acting and free-flowing direction make this an exhilarating theatrical experience delivered at full throttle by a talented team.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Robert Piwko



Bread & Roses Theatre until 10th March



Between a Man and a Woman ★★★★★


Review of Between a Man and a Woman – 5 Stars


Between a Man and a Woman

Etcetera Theatre

Reviewed – 20th October 2017



“an incredibly hard-working cast, that have excelled in portraying an immensely gripping story”


From the moment I walked in, there was an immediate tense and eerie atmosphere. It was dark, there was no music and it was silent, and now having seen the show, one can only speculate that the reason for this was to highlight how victims of domestic violence, are suffering in silence. Written and directed by Scott James, ‘Between a Man and a Woman’ is an extremely powerful production. James certainly doesn’t shy away from tackling such a taboo subject, and his cast undoubtedly deliver a raw and emotional performance.

Tom (Millin Thomas) and Polly (Jasmin Gleeson) appear to be a happy married couple, but things begin to change. Tom repeatedly abuses his partner, he hits, kicks, bites, strangles, and at one point even rapes his wife. This was a difficult scene to watch. It was uncomfortable and at times I wanted to look away, but then I’d be turning a blind eye, a typical reaction some people have when dealing with abuse.

This dark and disturbing piece gave me goosebumps throughout, and Jasmin’s performance as the very fragile and vulnerable Polly, was outstanding. Thomas’ performance as the violent, manipulative Tom, was equally as good. What I found so intriguing about his performance, was his ability to suddenly switch from being manic and child-like (often mimicking his wife), to an aggressive, sinister young man. It was clear that he had a very split personality, and Thomas did a remarkable job at conveying his erratic and unpredictable behaviour.

The whole cast have dedicated a lot of time, energy and commitment into producing what I believe, is one of the best Fringe shows in London. One can only imagine that rehearsing a piece about domestic violence isn’t just physically draining, but also mentally and emotionally too. This is an incredibly hard-working cast, that have excelled in portraying an immensely gripping story.

However, I can’t help but wonder what difference it would have made if James had reversed the roles around. So, instead of a man abusing a woman, it would have been a woman abusing a man. This would have been interesting to watch, as it’s very unusual to see a production that not only tackles such a sensitive topic, but where the woman adopts the role as the abuser and the man is the victim. Nevertheless, this was still a very well executed performance.

During this 90-minute production, the audience soon become aware that Tom, and his younger brother Harry (Greg Arundell), were both physically abused by their father during their childhood. Here, James somewhat asks the question if abuse is hereditary or imitated, and if the vicious cycle of abuse can ever be broken. This is a harrowing piece of drama, that really does make you think.
Towards the end, Polly seeks help from her friend and soon escapes her abusive husband. Polly later confronts her abuser and says “you broke me.” This is such a poignant line and I couldn’t help but get very emotional.

One can only hope that this well-written production transfers to a bigger venue in London, so it can raise even more awareness about domestic violence to a much wider audience. All in all, I feel so fortunate to have witnessed such a remarkable piece of theatre.


Reviewed by Jessica Brewer




is at The Etcetera Theatre until 22nd October



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