Tag Archives: Verity Williams

Jake – 3 Stars



Drayton Arms Theatre

Reviewed – 14th October 2018


“Perhaps we haven’t all dressed up an office chair in a shirt, but the sentiment that we can often find solace through fantasy is still there”


It can’t be often that the programme to a show reads ‘please note: in this production, the part of Jake Gyllenhaal will be played by an office chair’. This forewarning is emblematic of Verity Williams’ one-woman-show, Jake. Through a montage depicting some of the most iconic romantic scenes from the movies, Williams tackles the mammoth subject of loneliness.

Told through the framing of an annual meet-up for lonely people (Jake Gyllenhaal branch, of course), the show aptly depicts some of the more unusual sides of loneliness: the pleasure of watching a soppy rom-com, and the fun to be had from a fantastical celebrity crush. Perhaps we haven’t all dressed up an office chair in a shirt, but the sentiment that we can often find solace through fantasy is still there.

The strengths of the show lie in Williams’ ability to perform physical theatre with naturality: she is exceptionally watchable. It’s a rare thing for a first-time solo performer to hold your attention so voraciously. As the actor re-enacts scenes from a range of genres (from Brokeback Mountain to the Lion King), the slight mania that creeps in through Williams’ expressions starts to denote that something is not quite right. She peppers her show with moments of burlesque whilst dressed as the Rabbit From Donnie Darko. These instants become dark intrusions; they are funny at first, then progressively become eerie and frenzied.

The subtle, humorous way that Jake deals with loneliness is not, however, carried right through the show. The monologue that forms the last part, although insightful, undermines a lot of the well-crafted intricacies that were built up through the sketches. The show is asserted from the very beginning to be about loneliness, and the pseudo-reveal at the end of the show is a little pointless. The monologue explicitly lays out the performer’s proclivity for loneliness, how tricky it is to conquer and how it can be unrelenting. The careful research behind the show is evident, but it would be much more interesting to see it wholly integrated into the show’s sketches. There was a vulnerability to the dance, comedy, and clowning that created most of the show that communicated a lot of the things that are then bluntly put on the table in the final monologue.

The was an impressive debut performance. Williams’ gift for improvisation and comedy is a joy to watch.


Reviewed by Bryony Taylor



Drayton Arms Theatre


Previously at this venue:
Are There Female Gorillas? | ★★★★ | April 2018
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee | ★★★★ | May 2018
No Leaves on my Precious Self | ★★ | July 2018
The Beautiful Game | ★★★ | August 2018
Love, Genius and a Walk | | October 2018


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Review of Talkabout – 2 Stars



Rosemary Branch Theatre

Reviewed – 27th October 2017



“started with good intentions, being based around an intriguing topic of debate, but sadly, fell short “


Having had an exciting year at the Edinburgh Fringe and at the Strawberry One-Act Festival in New York, MonkeyMac are ending their year on the road by bringing their short play, Talkabout, home to London. This new absurdist production, written and directed by George Coates, follows two couples sitting around a table seemingly having a normal, if not a little awkward, dinner-party conversation. However, it doesn’t take long to realise that everything is not quite as it seems. The same discussions are being exchanged, over and over again, as it is revealed that no one around the table is able to leave the room. If they do, they will have to suffer the consequences.

Whilst reading about MonkeyMac, they reveal that Talkabout was based around exploring the existential question: “is it better to be benevolently oppressed or have the freedom to live in mortal danger?” However, the play did not examine this as comprehensively as it could have done – it certainly had the potential. The stakes within the play did not seem high enough as to why they were stuck in the room. Details became wishy-washy and not fully conceived. Being an abstract piece, I was not expecting, nor wanting, complete clarity and understanding of the situation, but there was not enough of even a sense as to what the characters motivations were or feelings towards what was on the other side of the four walls in which they were trapped. Perhaps ambiguity was an artistic choice that just went over my head? Perhaps having everyone except Tony (played by MonkeyMac’s Artistic Director, Sam Gibbons) vacant and unbothered by the repetitive conversations, was a way of exploring society slowing brain washing us? Or, perhaps I was just reading too much into the short, absurdist play that should have been taken at face value, for what it was?

Either way, the play itself seemed to be the weakest link in this production, with certain cracks to it that needed tending. Coates’ strength in comic timing and adeptness to one-liners was what helped save the play, as well as the performances from the cast, which overall were very good, if not a little generic and clichéd at times. Talkabout started with good intentions, being based around an intriguing topic of debate, but sadly, fell short in delivering what could have been a brilliantly Beckettian or Pinter-esque production.


Reviewed by Phoebe Cole



Rosemary Branch Theatre



was at the Rosemary Branch Theatre



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