Tag Archives: Theatre503

A Fairytale Revolution

★★★★

Theatre503

A Fairytale Revolution

A Fairytale Revolution: Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure

Theatre503

Reviewed – 7th December 2019

★★★★

 

“wholesomely joyous and bitingly witty”

 

We all know how a fairy-tale goes: Baddies and goodies each play their part, the goodies prevail and, of course, they all live happily ever after. But how would you feel playing the same part forever and ever? Wendy (Anais Lone) has spent her forever and ever looking after The Lost Boys, cooking, cleaning, and being the nice little lady she was written to be. But she feels certain she could do something different; she wants a true adventure! Meanwhile on the other side of Neverland, Hook (Louise Beresford) has grown tired of the pirate’s life, and secretly pores over his poetry. No more swashbuckling and kidnapping for him, instead he dreams of perfecting the haiku. The two misfits decide to team up and rewrite their parts. But can they change their stories without suffering the wrath of the narrator?

The idea of the narrator as a fearsome tyrant is brilliant, represented by an omniscient overhead voice and a pink glow. The dulcet, soporific tone we all know as fairy-tale storyteller finally faces the modern world, where women can be any number of things, and men needn’t express themselves through violence, and of course that puts rather a spanner in most classic fairy-tales.

As you can imagine, the land of Happily Ever After is filled with tens and tens of your favourite heroes and villains, so with a cast of only four, they have to get rather imaginative. Aside from each performer playing a bunch of characters, there’s some great use of puppetry and props (as designed by Daisy Blower). I particularly enjoyed the two hats on a stick for Helena Morais to present Hansel and Gretel, swapping between the two as she follows a trail of imaginary biscuits across the stage.

The evening is of course jam packed with big musical numbers (written by Hannah Benson) aping some all-time classics. The musical highlight is most definitely the ode to Rocky Horror with “Let’s do the pirate again” (It’s just a slash to the left, an eye patch to the riiiiight) – hard not to join in with that one I must say. There’s a slight problem with pitch across the whole cast, but it doesn’t really matter when they’re all belting their hearts out and clearly having a whale of a time.

Writers Louise Beresford and Anna Spearpoint have created some absolutely brilliant characters – Baker Swife, for example, as played by Spearpoint has been banished for near on 200 years and has consequently engaged in a romantic relationship with her oven, Ken Wood. She has also created a ‘pick-me-up’ pie which basically induces a mind-altering revelatory orgasm in whomever takes a bite.

Normally a panto is written with kids in mind first and grown-ups second, but The Fairytale Revolution (directed by Carla Kingham), both wholesomely joyous and bitingly witty, is genuinely for the whole family. You don’t even need to take a kid as an excuse.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Helen Murray

 


A Fairytale Revolution: Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure

Theatre503 until 31st December

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Art of Gaman | ★★★★ | October 2018
Hypocrisy | ★★★½ | November 2018
Cinderella and the Beanstalk | ★★★★ | December 2018
Cuzco | ★★★ | January 2019
Wolfie | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Amber Trap | ★★★ | April 2019
J’Ouvert | ★★★★ | June 2019
A Partnership | ★★★ | October 2019
Out Of Sorts | ★★★★ | October 2019
Spiderfly | ★★★★★ | November 2019

 

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Spiderfly

★★★★★

Theatre503

Spiderfly

Spiderfly

Theatre503

Reviewed – 11th November 2019

★★★★★

 

“a fantastically unpredictable play – deeply unsettling its audience one moment and then having them roar with cathartic laughter the next”

 

John Webber’s debut play immediately makes a strong, lasting impression, bursting onto the Theatre503 stage with all the boxes for a winning production ticked and making me wonder why we haven’t come across Webber sooner. It packs high drama, nail-biting tension and po-faced hilarity into one 80 minute two-hander, paired beautifully with a production design that strikes the optimum balance between simplicity and ingenuity – Lizzy Leech (set/costume), Dominic Brennan (sound) and Peter Small (lighting) are to be applauded for their masterful touch here.

Spiderfly follows the story of Esther (Lia Burge), who is still traumatised by her sister Rachel’s death and wants answers from Keith (Matt Whitchurch), the man convicted of and who pleaded not guilty to Rachel’s murder. A blossoming romance with Chris (also Whitchurch) is tested as Esther allows herself to be drawn into Keith’s unsettling world; her dogged determination for truth manifesting in subsequent visits where the two form a dangerous bond. More and more we watch in fascinated horror as Keith’s effect on Esther’s own life outside the visits becomes more profound, and we wonder whether she will fall completely under his spell before finding the closure she so desperately seeks.

It’s a fantastically unpredictable play – deeply unsettling its audience one moment and then having them roar with cathartic laughter the next. A structure where the finer details and context of the plot are drip-fed in a way that gives just enough information to know what’s going on but still maintaining an air of mysterious suspense is part of why Spiderfly remains entirely gripping throughout – it really feels as though you are rewarded for sticking with it.

As for Burge and Whitchurch, they pay absolute dividends to the text. The performances are so well observed you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d written it themselves – director Kirsty Patrick Ward has clearly done a fantastic job in eking out the rich morsels of detail for the characters. Esther’s deep-set trauma is painstakingly etched into everything the character does – never once does Burge lose this, even during the lighter scenes with Chris where despite her best efforts, Esther seems as though something is holding her back. It’s a highly sophisticated performance and never one-note, as the relatability of some of Esther’s lines (“I need to look happy. Nicotine-free, obviously”) thankfully maintain her sense of humour.

Whitchurch’s contrast between Keith and Chris is extremely impressive and in the earlier stages of the play I had to look closely just to check whether it really was the same actor playing both. The lovably awkward, put-his-foot-in-it-again Chris is a favourite of the audience and provides effective comic relief, however Keith is the character that stays with you. Whitchurch’s performance is absolutely chilling – Keith is often friendly and almost charming, but a deep undercurrent of violence is forever present. When his nastier side rears its head the character becomes genuinely terrifying, absolutely dripping with quiet menace. The last scene between Keith and Esther is truly a masterclass in acting and even by itself well worth watching Spiderfly for.

I have utmost confidence that this will not be the last we see of Webber – Spiderfly is absolutely spectacular and as a debut play blows all expectations out of the water.

 

Reviewed by Sebastian Porter

Photography by Josh McClure

 


Spiderfly

Theatre503 until 30th November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Caterpillar | ★★★★ | September 2018
The Art of Gaman | ★★★★ | October 2018
Hypocrisy | ★★★½ | November 2018
Cinderella and the Beanstalk | ★★★★ | December 2018
Cuzco | ★★★ | January 2019
Wolfie | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Amber Trap | ★★★ | April 2019
J’Ouvert | ★★★★ | June 2019
A Partnership | ★★★ | October 2019
Out Of Sorts | ★★★★ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews