Tag Archives: Unsung


King’s Head Theatre



King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 14th April 2019



“there are a few too many abstract scenes where dialogue is paused in favour of movement”


Can you calculate achievement? Can you quantify recognition? Is it possible to predict, without fail, the value of a legacy?

Ada Lovelace thinks so. But somehow her equation is undermined by an unexpected factor: gender. Whenever the subject is female, the value of recognition is minimised, sometimes erased entirely. Determined to explore this idea further, Lovelace gathers female representatives from four areas of society: science, education, the military, and the arts. Together, they endeavour to understand why, in the presence of F, A does not equal R.

Written by the Unsung Collective’s Lisa Holdsworth and performed by four of its members, Unsung is sharp, engaging, and surprising. I never thought I’d see two Victorian women, a war veteran, and a playwright solving an equation inside a submarine, but I’m glad I have. The combined visual of Antony Jones’ set (pipes running up the walls, noticeboards heavy with ideas), frustrated pacing, and khaki boiler suits suggests four women on a mission, boldly venturing into difficult and dangerous territory.

The most memorable aspect is the performers themselves. Olivia Race captivates as Ada Lovelace, whose confinement cannot stop her mathematical mind. She is passionate, enthusiastic, and personable, guiding the audience with gentle commitment. Kirsty Pennycook is dry-witted and stoic as Sophia Jex-Blake, the first female doctor in Scotland. Her anecdotes about emasculated professors and rioting male students are told casually and caustically; Pennycook makes it clear that Jex-Blake was a force to be reckoned with. Lilian Bader, one of the first women of colour to serve in the military, is portrayed with warmth by Riana Duce. She radiates love and respect for her work, but is not blind to the ingratitude of the country that she serves. Claire-Marie Seddon’s performance as Andrea Dunbar, author of Rita, Sue and Bob Too, is the most enjoyable – perhaps because it is the most real. It is not hard to laugh with Dunbar, or feel for her as she is beaten by her boyfriend, but it is sometimes hard to watch knowing her life’s tragic conclusion.

Unfortunately, other aspects of the show dampen the effect of these performances. The background music is often too invasive, stifling the dialogue and its effect. Moreover, there are a few too many abstract scenes where dialogue is paused in favour of movement. This can be a little frustrating: I would much rather hear the women share their stories. Such moments are the highlight of the show, but sadly there weren’t enough.

Despite its flaws, Unsung succeeds in telling the stories of these four forgotten women. With strong performances and a striking visual style, it tackles their lives with the same creativity, individuality and determination with which they were lived.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke



King’s Head Theatre


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Beauty and the Beast: A Musical Parody | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Brexit | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Buttons: A Cinderella Story | ★★★★ | November 2018
Momma Golda | ★★★ | November 2018
The Crumple Zone | ★★ | November 2018
Outlying Islands | ★★★★ | January 2019
Carmen | ★★★★ | February 2019
Timpson: The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019
The Crown Dual | ★★★★ | March 2019
Undetectable | ★★★★ | March 2019


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


Edinburgh 2018 – Top Five Shows

Our reviewer Claire Minnitt had a whistle-stop visit to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, here’s her top five shows she managed to see …


It’s that time of year once again, where the majestic city of Edinburgh is brimming with an immense assortment of creative endeavours from all over the world. Regular Fringe-goers have their own method of navigating through thousands of shows, many meticulously sticking to an almost militaristic itinerary. Whilst this may work for some, I have to say such methodology does not suit me and I therefore vowed this year to enjoy my brief five-day visit by basing my show choices purely on recommendations from friends, those who successfully pitched along the Mile and ones I simply stumbled across by sheer chance. Hence, here are my following Top 5 Edinburgh Fringe 2018 shows in no particular order.




Who: SKaGeN/KVS, Big in Belgium, Richard Jordan Productions, TRP, Summerhall

When: 12:00 / Aug 19, 21-26

Where: Summerhall (Venue 26)


Today we give you the all-time politician: the power junkie, rogue, strategist, but also the husband, father and in the end, the very lonely human’

Originally titled ‘Onbezongen’ before being directly translated from Flemish into English for the Fringe, Unsung is an innovative piece exploring the ‘DNA of the politician.’ Taking inspiration from an array of existing political figures Valentijn Dhaenens presents the audience with in-depth view of the life of a politician. Unsung has been incredibly successful in Belgium and has now continues to captivate Edinburgh audiences.


Hot Gay Time Machine


Who: Zak Ghazi-Torbatti, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss

When: 22:00 / Aug 19-26

Where: Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61)


‘Hot Gay Time Machine covers all the most important moments in a gay man’s life, from coming out to your mum to trying not to look at cocks in the locker room. So what are you waiting for? Gay marriage? Well, we got that already so come party with the gays’ 

Returning after an award-winning debut at the Fringe last year, Hot Gay Time Machine takes the audience on the most intensely musical journey through all the milestones in a gay man’s life. This incredibly cheeky show is bursting with energy, countless laughs and copious amounts of fun. It’s a guaranteed party-starter equipped with a beautiful poignancy that tackles important LGBT issues.




Who: Kenny Wax and Global Musicals

When: 15:30, 19:30 / Aug 19-27

Where: Underbelly, George Square (Venue 300)


‘Divorced. Beheaded. Live in concert!’

Whilst previously reviewed by thespyinthestalls.com earlier this year, it was such a joy to see this show in one of the Fringe’s more prominent venues. The original show has already made quite an impact at this year’s festival, and subsequently will immediately be transferred to London’s Arts Theatre at the end of the month. Six reclaims the stories of Henry VIII’s wives and is retold through a series of original songs in the forum of a pop concert.

Think Little Mix meets Horrible Histories but much, MUCH better! It’s definitely not one to miss.

Six is at the Arts Theatre, London from 30th August until 23rd September, click on image below for further details

Lola and Jo: Focus Groupies


Who: Berk’s Nest

When: 16:00 / Aug 19-26

Where: Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61)


‘Research purpose only; no refreshments, travel reimbursements or life-affirming insights. Laughter not guaranteed’ 

Lola and Jo are the ultimate female comedy duo you had no idea you needed in your life until you see one of their shows. Focus Groupies is a cleverly written sketch-show with an abundance of laughs, drizzled with the perfect amount of audience participation. It was so enjoyable that I felt obliged to drag my friends who had not yet been just so I could see it for a second time!


The Durham Revue present: Zeitgeist


Who: The Durham Revue

When: 13:20 / Aug 19 – 26

Where: Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61)


‘Known for their irreverent style and peerless chemistry, they are ‘highly professional, wonderfully witty and perfectly paced’’ 

It is a universal fact that there is no shortage of sketch comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe however, well-established student group, The Durham Revue in many ways rises above the others. Their sketches are punchy, topical and often beautifully bizarre. Additionally, it’s rather refreshing to a see a young comedy group with strong performances from both the female and male members. With performances in the early afternoon it’s certainly a perfect start to your typical Fringe day.


Recommendations by Claire Minnitt


Edinburgh Festival Fringe

until 27th August