Tag Archives: Will Adolphy

Chutney – 3 Stars

Chutney

Chutney

The Bunker

Reviewed – 14th November 2018

★★★

“There are a few moments sprinkled throughout where the asides subside, and the story and characters are allowed to actually breathe”

 

Chutney is a play brimming with potential – an intriguing premise, intelligent intentions, slick design, and a talented pair of actors helming the two-hander. Despite having all the recipe for brilliance, however, not all the ingredients are used effectively.

Reece Connolly’s play aims to transpose the murderous couple dynamic seen in the likes of Macbeth and Sweeney Todd to the thoroughly middle class Gregg (Will Adolphy) and Claire (Isabel Della-Porta). After primally killing a dog one evening, the pair ignite a bloodlust that they find in equal parts exhilarating and terrifying as it consumes their lives, and the paranoia of their misdeeds starts to infect their relationship. It’s an exciting setup for a story, but the script unrelentingly dismisses the old adage of ‘show, don’t tell’ with a constant barrage of narration and exposition to the audience; having the characters incessantly explain what they are thinking at any given moment removes all notion of subtext, and frequently kills the dramatic potential for scenes. Claire and Gregg will often deliver intercutting monologues to the audience which would have been more far more engaging as dialogue between the two where they are forced to challenge and change each other. Instead, it at times feels like two one-person shows simply running parallel.

It’s a shame the script falters in this way, as Connolly’s writing is often witty, sharp, and poetic. There are a few moments sprinkled throughout where the asides subside, and the story and characters are allowed to actually breathe – moments such as Claire drunkenly dancing with a crossbow, the couple reservedly eating pasta, and a particularly enthralling confrontation in the second act are all stellar, and made it all the more disappointing that more of the script did not place an equal amount of faith in the audience to engage with the story. It is also in these moments that Adolphy and Della-Porta are allowed to shine, finding opportunities to bring depth and nuance to the characters, and delivering energetic and intense performances.

The design helps to gloss over the script’s shortcomings, with Matt Cater’s sumptuous lighting and Ben Winter’s biting sound lending weight and impact to dramatic peaks that would have otherwise been lacking. Jasmine Swan’s aesthetically delightful middle-class kitchen set also depicts the world of the play very effectively, and Georgie Staight’s direction incorporates this with the actors to create some striking imagery.

Ultimately, however, it all feels hollow. It’s always concerning when the writer’s note in a programme claims the play is achieving or exploring ideas that simply aren’t present in what transpired on stage. Chutney, unfortunately, is one such example of this. It aims to critique the middle-class utopia of Britain but, for a play which spends the majority of its runtime lambasting the audience with quips and asides, finds itself with very little to say.

 

Reviewed by Tom Francis

Photography by Rah Petherbridge

 


Chutney

The Bunker until 1st December

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Ken | ★★★ | January 2018
Electra | ★★★★ | March 2018
Devil With the Blue Dress | ★★ | April 2018
Reboot:Shorts | ★★★ | April 2018
Conquest | ★★★★ | May 2018
Grotty | ★★★★ | May 2018
Guy | ★★★½ | June 2018
Kiss Chase | ★★★ | June 2018
Libby’s Eyes | ★★★★ | June 2018
Nine Foot Nine | ★★★★ | June 2018
No One is Coming to Save You | ★★★★ | June 2018
Section 2 | ★★★★ | June 2018
Breathe | ★★★★ | August 2018
Eris | ★★★★ | September 2018
Reboot: Shorts 2 | ★★★★ | October 2018
Semites | ★★★ | October 2018

 

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That Girl – 3 Stars

Girl

That Girl

Old Red Lion Theatre

Reviewed – 5th September 2018

★★★

“The actors are engaging to watch, but That Girl’s overall concept could do with some development”

 

For anyone who grew up in the 90s, the film Madeline should be a familiar one. Its star, Hatty Jones, was thrust into the limelight at ten years old. Now approaching thirty, Hatty has written That Girl, inspired by her experiences as a child actor and how this has impacted her adult life. Fundamentally, it’s a play exploring female friendships, modern life as a twenty-something year old and letting go of youth.

As Hatty herself has noted, she wanted to create a world that is “not hers, but could have been”. The play opens with a scene involving Hatty (played by Hatty Jones herself) in an interaction with a colleague who is adamant she knows her from somewhere, but can’t figure out where. This opening, clearly based on situations Hatty has no doubt found herself in on numerous occasions, is entertaining and sets the play up well.

That Girl’s main strengths lie in its relatable themes and scenarios. Following the opening scene, we are introduced to one of Hatty’s housemates, Poppy (Alex Reynolds), as the two young women prepare to move out of the flat they share. Their friendship is explored well in their exchanges of dialogue. From the fun they clearly have together, sharing a Turkish takeaway every Friday and joking around, to the jealousy that can also come from comparing your life to that of your friends. The latter comes to light when Poppy’s new boyfriend appears on the scene and her priorities shift.

Online dating is explored when Hatty goes for a drink in a local pub with someone she met on Tinder. This scene will most likely resonate best with those more familiar with online dating, but anyone who has been in similar uncomfortable, somewhat awkward, situations should be able to empathise as well as laugh along.

The actors are engaging to watch, but That Girl’s overall concept could do with some development. It sometimes just feels as though we are watching quite a self-obsessed girl, clinging on to her childhood of fame. This is mainly apparent during a scene where Hatty sits in the dark watching a scene from Madeline and mouthing the dialogue, as well as when she’s chatting to Poppy’s boyfriend (Will Adolphy) and appears, at times, to be showing off about her childhood experiences. Is it a coping mechanism? Is it because she can’t let go of her past? Or is she just a bit narcissistic? These are questions the audience is left with quite frequently.

Directed by Tim Cook, That Girl deals with universal themes and benefits from good performances, but I was left not quite knowing what its overall concept or aim was supposed to be by the end. The play shows promise, though, and it would be interesting to see a revised or developed version, if one ever materialised.

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

 


That Girl

Old Red Lion Theatre until 15th September

 

 

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