Tag Archives: Tristan Bernays

Teddy – 5 Stars



Watermill Theatre

Reviewed – 15th January 2018


“a toe-tapping re-invention of the spirit of the era, interwoven with zippy and witty dialogue”


If, like me the music of the fifties is pretty much a closed book to you, but you’ve noticed the energy and appeal of classic numbers like ʽBlue Suede Shoes’ and ʽThat’ll be the Day’, then can I recommend a rocking show at the Watermill in Newbury which will really knock your socks off?

Dedicated fans of the music of the era should also go and see this compelling show, which is enthusiastically presented by a talented and vibrant young cast in the intimate and atmospheric old mill.

Described as ʽa story of teenage rebellion and the birth of a new musical era’, Teddy had its debut at the Southwark Playhouse in 2015 when it won Best New Musical at the Off West End Awards. It was written by Tristan Bernays with music by Dougal Irvine. In this fizzing revival, cast member Harrison White provides musical direction.

The show’s title refers both to the Teddy boys of the post-war era and to one of two central characters, who is named Teddy (George Parker). He and Molly Chesworth as Josie provide the dramatic focus for the piece, with the plot interweaving music and action provided by Andrew Gallo (drums), Freya Parks (bass guitar), Harrison White (lead guitar and keyboard) and Dylan Wood as the heart-throb vocalist Johnny Valentine.

The Teddy boys were Britain’s own response to American rock ʽn’ roll of the fifties. Their fashion style was inspired by a revival of Edwardian looks, and it was the Daily Express that first shortened the word Edwardian to Teddy.

But this show is more than just a nostalgia trip to the smoke-filled nightclubs and grim bomb sites of post-war London, with soundtrack to match. The music is a toe-tapping re-invention of the spirit of the era, interwoven with zippy and witty dialogue that has a real rhythmic poetry all of its own.

If Judy, the other name for the Teddy girls, was better known, ʽTeddy’ could almost be re-named after them, since it’s Molly Chesworth’s character that often takes centre stage. She and bassist Freya Parks have some witty riffs on the theme of women taking no nonsense from men.

An evocative split-level set-design by Max Dorey is complemented by moody lighting from Christopher Nairne. There’s a great dance number, and some brilliant music that will send you out humming. A great show not to miss.


Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Scott Rylander



Watermill Theatre Newbury until 10th February

ahead of UK tour



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Frankenstein – 4*


Wilton’s Music Hall

Opening Night – 8th March 2017


“the performance is full of energy, at times it feels almost like you are watching a ballet”

If you need to create a spooky Gothic atmosphere then there’s nowhere quite like Wilton’s. A haunting, dimly lit stage, eerie sounds and a haze drifting down into the auditorium. Shivers run down your spine before the performance even starts.

Two people appear on stage, one we soon discover is The Creature (George Fletcher) and the other (Rowena Lennon), we’re left unsure exactly who or what she is. The story starts with a recording, after which we relive the moment that Frankenstein’s creation is galvanised into life. Like a human child, we then witness how the being learns to talk, move and worryingly, start to feel emotion.

The creature in the novel (and in the narrative of this play) is described as a hideous huge beast; George Fletcher who plays the role is neither of those, he’s handsome and of quite normal stature, so at times it’s hard to see him as the grotesque monster he’s portraying. But he does an incredibly good job, his performance is full of energy, at times it feels almost like you are watching a ballet by the way he fills the whole stage with movement. A credit to Movement Director, Tom Jackson Greaves.

Rowena Lennon arguable has a more difficult role to play. She’s billed as ‘The Chorus’ yet appears to not only act out some of the minor parts, but also provide everything from sound effects to creating some moody lighting with the aid of a deftly manoeuvred ‘filament bulb on a stick’ (there’s probably a much better description for that, but you get the idea!).

Next year sees the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Mary Shelley’s novel and it’s seen many an interpretation during the last two centuries. This adaptation (by Tristan Bernays) is fairly true to the original story, but done as it is in near monologue form, makes it an original twist and a delight to watch. 

It’s not particularly scary, but it doesn’t need to. This isn’t necessarily a horror story, it’s an emotional tale of a living being, desperate for companionship but with a savage brutality lurking within. Wonderful lighting design (Lawrence T Doyle) in a splendid location combined with a delightfully energetic cast, make this one to watch.




is at Wilton’s Music Hall until 18th March






 Production photography by Philip Tull




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