Tag Archives: Tim Shaw

Thrill Me

Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story
★★★★★

Hope Theatre

Thrill Me

Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story

Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 4th April 2019

★★★★★

 

“you find yourself simultaneously appalled and captivated by these two characters”

 

It’s Chicago in 1924 and two school friends are reunited. Nathan Leopold (Bart Lambert) is obsessively in love with Richard Loeb (Jack Reitman) and wants to resume their previous affair, but Richard has changed. Inspired and seemingly possessed by the controversial writings of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, he exploits Nathan’s devotion in return for making him an accomplice in a series of crimes. Having signed a contract in blood, their pursuit of the ‘Ubermensch’ ideal inevitably leads the pair beyond arson and petty burglary and into more disturbing and challenging transgressions. They gain notoriety as the Thrill Killers – at a considerable cost…

Directed by Matthew Parker, the Hope Theatre’s production of Stephen Dolginoff’s 2003 true-crime musical is stunning. Narrated in flashbacks during a parole hearing 34 years later, it maintains an incredibly high level of drama – considerably aided by the sensitive and dynamic piano playing of musical director Tim Shaw. It helps that the source material – both the script and songwriting – is so consistently strong. When the dialogue stops and the singing begins in lesser musicals, it can often seem like filler. In Thrill Me, every song carries the narrative forwards and sharpens the focus on the personalities and motivations of the two men. Lambert and Reitman are note-perfect throughout – quite some feat given the sheer number of lines and lyrics they have to deliver across the eighty-minute performance.

There are a couple of fairly major plot twists, which means that the show continues to surprise you just when you think you’ve worked out how it will unfold. There’s real intensity conveyed, both in the vividness of Nathan’s feelings for the man he worships and in Richard’s fixation on amoral self-transformation.

Subtle lighting helps to build the atmosphere, particularly in the scene in which they set an abandoned warehouse ablaze – a perfect visual metaphor of their fiery passions. Creative use is also made of recorded voices (those of Dewi Hughes and Bryan Pilkington) and sound effects, providing a three-dimensional framework that instils the action with even more realism.

The play examines the psychology of egos, ethics and manipulative behaviour as well as tackling bigger themes of society and individualism. Primarily, it asks the question: what would you do for love? As it explores those extremes you find yourself simultaneously appalled and captivated by these two characters, whose escalating predicament is all the more chilling for being based on a true story.

 

Reviewed by Stephen Fall

Photography by lhphotoshots

 


Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story

Hope Theatre until 20th April

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Fat Jewels | ★★★★★ | July 2018
Medicine | ★★★ | August 2018
The Dog / The Cat | ★★★★★ | September 2018
The Lesson | ★★★★ | September 2018
Jericho’s Rose | ★★★½ | October 2018
Gilded Butterflies | ★★ | November 2018
Head-rot Holiday | ★★★★ | November 2018
Alternativity | ★★★★ | December 2018
In Conversation With Graham Norton | ★★★ | January 2019
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | January 2019

 

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

 

Lovebites – 3 Stars

Lovebites

Lovebites

White Bear Theatre

Reviewed – 5th April 2018

★★★

“entertaining and consistently energetic”

 


Love is something we all experience and most likely associate strong memories with, both positive and negative. In this way, the universal theme of love is one that will resonate well with audiences. Theatretripp Productions presents the UK premiere of a song cycle, directed by Grace Taylor, telling seven different stories based around the whirlwind that is falling in and out of love.

The show is full of energy from the start, with the four actors bursting onto the stage to perform the opening number. They then begin to tell stories including that of a girl getting more than she bargained for on a first date that’s completely out of her comfort zone, an attraction between a bride and one of her wedding guests and an embarrassing scenario involving a toilet that won’t flush. These scenarios, amongst others, create a good level of laughter within the audience, who can no doubt relate to having been in similar awkward situations themselves.

In addition to an array of funny moments, the show contains stories that tug on the hearts strings. These particular stories are delivered with conviction by the actors, who prove they are able to switch between comedic and serious performances with ease. When not involved in a particular story, the actors are sat on the edge of the stage as if observing the action, alongside the audience, which works well.

As the actors take on more than one role each, a variety of different costume items and props are used to differentiate between characters. A lot of these are brightly coloured, which contrast perfectly against the otherwise colourless performance space.

Some of the individual vocals in the show could do with a little work, but the company should be commended for their emotion-fuelled performances, even if their vocals weren’t always as consistent as they could be.

Despite the small need for some vocal work, Lovebites is entertaining and consistently energetic. There are laugh-out-loud moments, as well as more touching moments, which results in an overall engaging show.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by Pete Le May

 


Lovebites

White Bear Theatre until 21st April

 

 

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