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Noughts and Crosses

Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour

Noughts and Crosses

Noughts and Crosses

Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour

Reviewed – 19th March 2019



“misfires terribly, covering too many issues without any real cohesion and substance”


The idea of Noughts and Crosses appears a simple one. The tables have turned and the power in the world rests with the black population, not the white. We have the Crosses that epitomises power, wealth and political dominance and then the Noughts, second class citizens who are discriminated against because of their beliefs and are banned from interaction with the Crosses.

The story of Noughts and Crosses follows two teens from opposing sides of society, Sephy (Heather Agyepong), a Cross and Callum (Billy Harris), a Nought. We start by seeing their childhood innocence but that soon shifts onto much darker tones.

Throughout the piece we identify the rest of the cast (Doreene Blackstock, Jack Condon, Daniel Copeland, Lisa Howard, Chris Jack and Kimisha Lewis) jumping between characters. From parents of the two teens to members of rebellious militia groups amongst others. This could be a real strength of the piece but however falls flat with no real clear distinction vocally from the actors to differentiate between the roles which is ultimately confusing for the audience.

In the Noughts and Crosses novel series Malorie Blackman understands who we are as people better than most. The characters she’s created, in Sephy and Callum particularly, have depth but are poorly transitioned onto stage by adapter Sabrina Mahfouz. I do sympathise with Mahfouz however as it is an ambitious effort to translate all the themes from the first two novels, which Noughts and Crosses is based on, into just two hours. Above all I feel there is a clear generation gap in the writing, condescending in its approach to youth issues. The use of phrases such as ‘Flipping Sod’ makes us cringe rather than connect.

The saving grace in this production however comes from the design team, in that of Josh Drualas Pharo (Lighting) Arun Ghosh (Music), Xana (Sound), Adam McCready (Sound Engineer) Ian William Galloway (Video) and Simon Kerry (Design). The arrangement echoes The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time, a sparse stage with hidden compartments and doors. The attractive set helps the transitioning of scenes seem effortless.

Overall Noughts and Crosses misfires terribly, covering too many issues without any real cohesion and substance. Rape, physical abuse, teenage pregnancy and radicalisation are all pertinent issues however the end result is chaotic and clumsy; a condescending scattergun of the analysis of youth and love.


Reviewed by Nathan Collins

Photography by Robert Day


Noughts and Crosses

Theatre Royal Brighton until 23rd March

then UK Tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
This is Elvis | ★★★ | July 2018
Salad Days | ★★★ | September 2018
Rocky Horror Show | ★★★★ | December 2018
Benidorm Live! | ★★★★ | February 2019


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The Incident – 3 Stars

The Incident

Canada Water Theatre

Reviewed – 17th October 2018


“charmingly explores the joys and trials of these relationships, but was lacking that zip needed to really lift it”


Next time you’re on the Jubilee line, stop off at the library next to Canada Water station. There, along with a good collection of books and a cute café, you can go into a fantastic theatre space. Both large and comfortable, and properly rigged for lighting, Canada Water Theatre is an excellent space to put on a show, a sentiment which Two Gents Productions clearly share. Their production of ‘The Incident’ is playing here, and it is a relationship drama about Jan and Monica. Both teach at the same school, both live in Sweden and both are seemingly in love with each other. The big difference: Jan is Swedish and Monica is from Zimbabwe. The play tackles the couples’ struggles to communicate and understand each other, as well as wider social issues concerning racial politics in Sweden and indeed globally.

The two actors both held their own in this two-hander; however it was Cassandra Hercules playing the part of Monica who really shone. She had the difficult task of articulating racial struggle in a way that wasn’t cliché or too bleak. She was successful, as her whole performance was rich with physical energy and clear connection to her thoughts. David Weiss’ Jan was a much more stuck up and stiff character than Monica, however there were moments where I felt his character came across as particularly cold and cruel, especially when ‘consoling’ Monica when she was upset over past racial prejudices she had experienced.

In terms of the writing, there seemed to be a lot of significance weighted onto lines with clear messages, and not as much attention on the subtext and moments in between. Joakim Daun’s award-winning script has a few of these moments of unnecessary exposition, filling the audience in on information that we can get simply through good direction and use of the space. The scene where Jan informs Monica of her suspension from work was an excellent example of using distance between the actors and fast pace to create energy and plenty of subtext. It would have been fantastic if this quality was present throughout the piece.

The play is an international one, and has been performed all over the world. In the lobby before the show I was able to witness a wonderful mixing of cultures, as Swedish and African audience members were meeting and discussing the upcoming show. The piece charmingly explores the joys and trials of these relationships, but was lacking that zip needed to really lift it.


Reviewed by Edward Martin

Photography by Joakim Daun


The Incident

Canada Water Theatre until 19th October



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