Tag Archives: Sophie Mackenzie

Standard: Elite – 5 Stars


Standard: Elite


Reviewed – 24th May 2018


“The whole performance situates the audience in a mental space of outrageous laughter and simultaneous thought provocation”


As we continue to hear more details about the Grenfell Tower fire through the latest in the inquiry this week, it seems the subject of class difference in the U.K. is more prevalent than ever before. There couldn’t have been a more appropriate time to see Hidden Track Theatre’s award-winning production, Standard:Elite.

For many, audience participation is the stuff of nightmares, particularly if said participation is forced, accompanied by a copious amount of pressure from both the cast and the rest of the audience. Often theatre pieces that are driven by audience participation can feel a little stressful for the audience, and frequently are held together with “planted” audience members who are really extended members of the cast. However, in this instance, Hidden Track Theatre make a point that whilst audience involvement is an important aspect of the piece, it is not the focus and that no one should at any point feel pressured to join in. This is mentioned before the start of the show, as well as repeated throughout to the point where under each seat there was a card that anyone could use if they felt uncomfortable.

With this careful consideration, Hidden Track manages to create a beautifully inviting environment from the moment you walk into the theatre space. The seating is divided between ‘standard’ and ‘elite,’ the latter of which sits on the stage itself. The piece presents itself as a game, through various intricate narrative layers, whereby the aim is for ‘standard’ audience members to gain ‘elite’ audience status where you have control over the play’s storyline.

Standard:Elite is a show brimming with energy and heart, wonderfully written by Elliot Hughes and brought to life by both himself and Sophie MacKenzie. For a show that constantly jumps between a variety of performance styles as well as narrative spaces it is no mean feat for the actors who were outstanding.

It’s a wonderfully refreshing concoction of hilarity, Derren Brown-eque psychological torment, captivation and incredible depth. The whole performance situates the audience in a mental space of outrageous laughter and simultaneous thought provocation. Standard:Elite is a timely social commentary of Britain today and provides the perfect vehicle to spark conversation about the class disparity around us and what we can try to do, as a collective, to change the future.


Reviewed by Claire Minnitt


Standard: Elite



Previously reviewed at this venue
Medea Electronica | ★★★ | January 2018
This Restless State | ★★★ | March 2018
Random Selfies | ★★★ | March 2018


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com



Review of The 39 Steps – 4 Stars


The 39 Steps

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Reviewed – 4th October 2017



“Moulder played Richard Hannay, the protagonist, amusingly well”


The 39 Steps was originally a thriller novel by John Buchan. It was famously brought to the silver screen by Alfred Hitchcock in the 1930s. Tonight’s take by the Tower Theatre Company was based on Patrick Barlow’s comic adaptation that ran for over nine years in the West End. The plot and characters are broadly in line with the film, with the notable difference that the scenes are now being played for laughs and with a cast of only four.

It was an accomplished performance by all concerned, and I would never have known it was the first performance of the run. It is a skilfully written adaptation and the actors served it well under the spot on direction of Rob Ellis.


Adam Moulder played Richard Hannay, the protagonist, amusingly well and there was a real ensemble feel between him and the other actors. Sophie Mackenzie, cleverly changed characters as required, as Annabella Schmidt initially, and then two other ladies romantically linked to Hannay. Dom Ward was excellent at bringing humour to each of his numerous roles, and made clever use of voices and characterisation. Emily Grimson was also a good sound part of the team, and there was no dropping of pace, by anyone, even when doing set changes.

By necessity, the staging was fairly simple. Costumes fitted the period and the part, but were quite basic to allow the actors to don different outfits quickly. Props were used effectively and imaginatively.

This production would perhaps benefit from a bigger space, and a longer run, as it was an incredibly entertaining way to spend an evening. I thoroughly enjoyed this pacy piece as did my companion, and the rest of the audience!


Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com

Photography by Robert Piwko




is at Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 14th October



Click here to see a list of the latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com