Tag Archives: Timothy Speyer

Review of Awful Auntie – 5 Stars

Auntie

Awful Auntie

Richmond Theatre

Reviewed – 2nd November 2017

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

“The creative team have worked their magic to such an incredibly high standard”

 

Whether you are six or ninety-six, I can guarantee that the hilarity of this show will appeal to everyone. David Walliams, with his impressive career as a writer and comic actor (who can forget his first number one best seller ‘Gangsta Granny’? Or his TV co-creations ‘Little Britain’ and ‘Come Fly With Me?’) delivers this wonderful story which is adapted for the stage by Neal Foster (actor, writer and creator of The Birmingham Stage Company). I knew I was in for a treat!

It is a story of a young, recently orphaned girl Stella (Georgina Leonidas). Having survived a car accident in which both her parents were killed, her Aunt Alberta (Timothy Speyer) decides to take care of her and the family estate. How kind and responsible, you might think – but things are not what they seem. As the story unfolds, it appears that Aunt Alberta has stretched the truth and well, completely lied about most of it. Realising that she is in danger, Stella does what anyone would do; befriends a friendly ghost, avoids a terrifyingly large owl and climbs up the chimney, on more than one occasion.

Timothy Speyer brought the house down. His portrayal of Aunt Alberta was both funny but equally terrifying at the same time. From his screechy high-pitched wailings to his ability to rock a matching jacket/knickerbocker combo, it’s safe to say we counted ourselves lucky that we weren’t the ones locked in that tower under Alberta’s care. I have to say, my favourite character however, was the elderly and bonkers character of Gibbon, the butler (Richard James) who never failed to present the audience with a veil of absurdity. 

The creative team have worked their magic to such an incredibly high standard. The use of puppets in the production, directed by Roman Stefanski (Polka Theatre, Wimbledon and creator of touring puppet shows ‘Charlie and Lola’ and ‘Sarah and Duck’) brings Wagner the owl to life and we are also treated to a scene that turns all of our characters into puppets!

Jacqueline Trousdale, the set and costume designer for the Birmingham Stage Company, has brought so many great things together for ‘Awful Auntie’. From the set, comprising of individual turrets that are spun around to reveal the inside of Saxby Manor, to the chimney sweep uniform of Soot, our friendly ghost.

The show highlights the fabulous work that goes into a production and is inspiring for theatre-goers of all ages. Such an entertaining spectacle – I want to see it again!

Reviewed by Stephanie Legg

Photography by Mark Douet

 

Awful Auntie Tickets at ,

 

AWFUL AUNTIE

is touring the UK until July 2018

 

 

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

 

The Cardinal

Southwark Playhouse

Opening Night – 28 April 2017

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“An exceptional evening with a top quality cast”

  
The Southwark Playhouse has a reputation for staging lost musicals. Recent productions there have received rave reviews and played to full houses. So would audience reaction be to a show written some 375 years ago be a positive one? An emphatic yes. It is a must see show.

The Cardinal, a blood thirsty tragedy of lust and power was written in 1641 by James Shirley a year before theatres were closed by Oliver Cromwell at the outbreak of the Civil War. Modern productions of Shirley’s plays are rare so seeing it in 2017 is both an historic education and gift.

The story tells of a power hungry Cardinal and the recently widowed Duchess Rosaura.

Despite the King’s promise that the Duchess will be free to choose her next husband, she finds she has to marry the Cardinal’s nephew Columbo, whom she abhors. When Columbo is sent off to lead a military campaign the Duchess asks in a letter for him to release her. Columbo mistakenly thinks she is merely testing him, shows himself generous and does so.

In Columbo’s absence Rosaura claims the hand of the gallant Alvares whom she has secretly desired.

This sets up an intriguing mixture of revenge, bluff and counter bluff, feigned madness, happiness, sadness, a terrific sword fight and the odd death or two.

A strong cast of eleven gave faultless and word perfect performances. The titular role is played expertly by experienced actor Stephen Boxer who brings a ‘John Hurt’ feel to the role. It is a joy to watch Natalie Simpson as Rosaura, her credits for the Royal Shakespeare Company include King Lear and Hamlet. She commands the stage space bringing both laughter and tears in her performance. Jay Saihal brings to life the menacing character Columbo and Timothy Speyer is the funny and likeable Antonio.

There is strong direction from Justin Audibert and Anna Reid’s design is a stark set of grey stone which transports to viewer into what seems to be a cathedral nave and allows to audience to focus solely on the actors. The overall experience is enhanced by clever lighting and sound.

Overall this was an exceptional evening out in Southwark. To be able to experience a top quality cast in a 375 year old play in such intimate surroundings was rare. The production would not seem out of place at a larger venue and perhaps it does deserve a larger audience.

 

This highly recommended play is at The Southwark Playhouse until May 27th

 

 

Photography by – Mitzi de Margary

 

 

 

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