Tag Archives: Silvia Manazzone

The Lying Kind


Ram Jam Records

The Lying Kind

The Lying Kind

Ram Jam Records

Reviewed – 1st December 2019



“Purposefully lacking in festive cheer, there is still plenty to cheer for”


Not seen in London since 2002, Anthony Neilson’s “The Lying Kind” has all the ingredients of a perfectly crafted farce, adding in some seasonal flavours of the Nativity that leaves a delicious, yet undetermined taste in your mouth. But with Neilson’s reputation for shocking his audience don’t expect the usual Christmas fare. Yes, it is set on Christmas Eve, and even throws in a character called Balthasar (although not quite the wise man here) and a couple of Carols. There any similarity ends as we are taken off on a tangent of cross purposes, cross dressing (and undressing); misunderstanding and murder; dead dogs and dead daughters, paedophile vigilantes and closet queen vicars. Dreaming of a White Christmas? This is as black as you’ll get.

The script promises few tidings of joy, but this production bears them in abundance; led by the team that brought Philip Ridley’s “Radiant Vermin” to the same venue last year. Although only their second production, The Kingston Theatre Company – formed by producer/actress Joy Bowers and director Erica Miller – are proving to be a vital asset to fringe theatre on the outskirts of the capital. For “The Lying Kind”, the small music and cabaret venue has been transformed, by designer Amy Snape, into a shabby but homely living room. Into this drab vision of suburbia enter two inept policemen, Blunt and Gobbel. They dither on the doorstep as they pluck up the courage to tell the elderly couple who live there that their daughter has been killed in a road accident. Before they enter the house, a subplot is set in motion as they are assaulted by an overzealous member of the neighbourhood vigilante group: Parents Against Paedophile Scum, who think they are trying to harbour a child molester.

The bulk of the story is made up of the two officers’ sheer inability to divulge the tragic news to the unsuspecting couple within the house. The rules of farce are strictly adhered to and as confusion builds and logic falls apart with surreal abandon, the twists continue to confound the audience’s self-satisfied belief that they are one step ahead of the characters. Joy Bowers, as Gobbel, gets the performance absolutely spot on. Originally written for a male actor she ingeniously switches the gender and is a guiding star throughout the evening with her deadpan comic timing and self-deprecating mockery of her stooge like character. James Dart relishes his role as the put upon Reverend Shandy, mistaken for a paedophile and – quite literally – forced back into the closet. Erica Miller has taken some bold decisions with the text that Dart is all too happy to take on board.

Miller certainly rises to the challenge of staging an ambitious text. The intricate mechanics required by the script, however, do grind to a halt all too often. The piece relies on all the cogs working in unison. Julia Lacey and Cynon Lewis, who play the bereaved couple Garson and Balthasar respectively, lack the skills required to deliver Neilson’s text. The dialogue is a gift, but they barely take off the wrapper. Even in farce more layers need to be pulled back to reveal the reality of the characters and to make us care for them.

Fortunately, though, the laughs keep us going throughout the evening. Laughs that do paper over the sometimes inconsistent acting. But what they don’t cover up is the underlying adage that it is always better to tell the truth. If you want a quiet life that is: Neilson doesn’t want to get too schmaltzy with his message. So, if you want to avoid the usual Christmas message this year, “The Lying Kind” is well worth travelling afar to catch. Purposefully lacking in festive cheer, there is still plenty to cheer for.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Catherine Harvey


The Lying Kind

Ram Jam Records until 9th December


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Radiant Vermin | ★★★★ | September 2018
Three Shades | ★★★★ | March 2019


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Unbelonger – 3.5 Stars



Cockpit Theatre

Reviewed – 9th November 2018


“it doesn’t quite probe far enough, risking becoming just another well-trodden story of one culture failing to integrate with another”


Performed as part of this year’s Voila! Europe Festival, one of the rare festivals in London that brings together British and continental European artists to create what they call a “border-busting mix of multicultural, multilingual, and multidisciplinary performance”, ‘Unbelonger’ is a clever, witty and inventive piece of physical theatre exploring ideas of identity, discrimination and – you guessed it – belonging.

Directed and devised by Finnish artist Erika Eva, the piece uses puppetry and movement to narrate one person’s struggle to feel at home in a foreign environment. What words or actions make us feel excluded, and how does this exclusion affect our own sense of personal and cultural identity? Whether it be work, school or the search for love, the cost of ‘fitting in’ can sometimes be high. To what extent can communities or groups accept ‘different’ cultures, and how could we work to interweave these cultures successfully?

Thematically, ‘Unbelonger’ asks vital and timely questions of its audience and seeing this work here just five months before Britain leaves the European Union reminds us to think more about how our national identity is formed and defined. The international cast (Janaki Gerard, Silvia Manazzone, Tongchai Hansen and Durassie Kiangangu) are energetic and their movement precise, whisking between set pieces effortlessly. Eva combines repetition and an effective use of lighting to explore how good something can look from the outside, but reveal itself to be cold and hollow when we finally get invited in. Xavier Velastin provides a thrilling, almost dystopian, synth-like score, playing it live on his own board of electronic instruments (and what looked like a joystick). Expert use of lighting highlights moments of private reflection, and some cute puppetry from Manazzone creates an intimate relationship between the self and its past.

‘Unbelonger’ is bursting with beautiful, funny set pieces, and the storytelling is clear from the start. As a sum of its parts though, it feels like it doesn’t quite probe far enough, risking becoming just another well-trodden story of one culture failing to integrate with another. It forces some uncomfortable questions nonetheless, and it is work like this that makes the Voila! Europe Festival such a thrilling and necessary part of London theatre.

Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich



Cockpit Theatre until 12th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Cantata for Four Wings | | April 2018
Into the Woods | ★★★★ | May 2018
On Mother’s Day | ★★★½ | August 2018
Zeus on the Loose | ★★ | August 2018
The Distance You Have Come | ★★★★ | October 2018


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