Tag Archives: Wilton’s Music Hall

This is not Right

★★★★

Wilton’s Music Hall

This is Not Right

This is not Right

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 2nd October 2019

★★★★

 

“pulls you into its world and keeps you there with beautifully observed performances and a gripping story”

 

This is Not Right is John Godber’s latest play, set in his old stomping ground – Hull. Specifically, a Hull council estate which throughout the play is painted as a very bleak and toxic environment. Perhaps this is why it has been specially rewritten for Wilton’s Music Hall – the minimalist set lends itself to the derelict appearance of the venue, creating the effect of being stuck in the past, a massive part of the play’s identity. The minimalism continues with the lack of recorded sound – instead music is provided by a discordant violin courtesy of Sophie Bevan and changes in setting are shown through the cast’s soundscapes. These feel like appropriate choices for the piece, although with only four actors the soundscapes are somewhat limited and don’t always paint a clear picture.

This is Not Right follows the story of Holly (Martha Godber) through her childhood and early adult life, focusing on the difficulties of growing up in a poor neighbourhood with a doting but very overprotective father (Jamie Smelt), who tries to guard his daughter from danger but only succeeds in pushing her further away. When Holly eventually flies the nest, she breaks contact with Dad in her determination to become independent, but when London life doesn’t work out for her she is forced to “do the thing I said I’d never do” and return home. The overall story is wonderfully engaging with an expertly crafted marriage of beautifully heartfelt moments and witty observational comedy, however the last twenty minutes or so feel like something of a stalemate. Conflict between Holly and Dad continues with the climax being a vaguely political argument about girls going missing, followed by a fight with the noisy neighbours. There are no revelations for either character and the play concludes rather abruptly with Holly leaving to stay at her Gran’s.

Perhaps this is the point John Godber is trying to make – that sometimes things don’t change and life trudges on regardless. Echoing the title, Holly’s last line is “this is not right, is it?” Could that refer to things not changing? Is it a general comment on life in working class Hull? Or girls going missing? For me, it is unclear what ‘is not right’, and the ending feels decidedly washed out, letting down an otherwise spellbinding tale.

John Godber’s direction is triumphant – the acting is superb. Martha Godber performs with a wild energy encapsulating all the hormonal mood swings expected from a teenager; it erupts during scenes with Dad yet is also deftly woven into her narration. Holly’s development in maturity and experience as the play’s timeline advances is also commendably reflected in Godber’s portrayal. Jamie Smelt’s performance is the one that stays with me, however. It is touchingly vulnerable – a poignant, considered portrait of the hapless Dad as he attempts to get through to his daughter. Parents in the audience may find themselves painfully relating – the tragicomedy of his tactlessness and the genuine desperation as he realises Holly is slipping away from him are both etched into the performance. Sophie Bevan and Lamin Touray complete the picture with overall solid supporting characters, although I found Touray’s lack of Belgian accent for Harvey a confusing choice.

Overall, This is Not Right is a play which pulls you into its world and keeps you there with beautifully observed performances and a gripping story. Although you may leave wanting slightly more from its resolution, it is immensely enjoyable – just make sure you leave your ‘HULL AND PROUD’ sweater at home.

 

Reviewed by Sebastian Porter

Photography © John Godber Company

 


This is not Right

Wilton’s Music Hall until 5th October

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Twelfth Night | ★★★ | September 2018
Dietrich – Natural Duty | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Box of Delights | ★★★★ | December 2018
Dad’s Army Radio Hour | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Good, The Bad And The Fifty | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Shape Of the Pain | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Sweet Science Of Bruising | ★★★★ | June 2019
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story | ★★★★★ | September 2019

 

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Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story

★★★★★

Wilton’s Music Hall

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 19th September 2019

 

“full of joyous music, inspired storytelling, ribald humour, and yes, plenty to think about regarding the fragility of life”

 

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story by Hannah Moscovitch comes to Wilton’s Music Hall by way of the 2b Theatre Company based in Nova Scotia, Canada. It is, as one might expect from the title, a story of emigration. The word “refugee” gives notice that this is not about voluntary emigration. As the story of Chaya and Chaim unfolds, we are introduced to a relationship between two people forged out of the tragedy of pogroms and marginalised lives in Europe, and to the challenges that beset them as they struggle to forge a life together in the New World. Old Stock reveals a tale of people poor in material belongings, but rich in culture, even if problems of letting go of the past keep them on the brink of tragedy in a new, and not always welcoming environment. If this sounds like a show full of unrelieved sadness, it is not. Old Stock is also full of joyous music, inspired storytelling, ribald humour, and yes, plenty to think about regarding the fragility of life. It is eighty minutes full of vivid contrasts held together by the glorious singing and acting of Ben Caplan, who, as the Wanderer, serves as commentator and master of ceremonies.

Wilton’s Music Hall is also the perfect venue. The proscenium arch works well as a frame for a stage empty of everything but a modern red shipping container which unfolds to reveal the treasures inside as soon as the show begins. The set design is by Louisa Adamson and Christian Barry (who also directs), and it’s a clever metaphor for the entire show, for what expresses travel across a vast sea holding the belongings of people on the move better? And what expresses the cultural riches of refugees better than the gifted group of musicians and storytellers that the audience discovers inside? 2b Theatre Company has assembled an extraordinarily versatile group of performers. Mary Fay Coady as Chaya is an accomplished musician on the violin, as is Eric Da Costa as Chaim, on woodwinds. Both actors are charmingly convincing as the young couple. If the character of Chaya seems a bit stereotypical from time to time, Coady imbues her with enough complexity to make a good foil for her ardent lover. Da Costa delights as Chaim, who is not only persistent in his suit for Chaya’s hand, but is also quite willing to share her with her dead first husband, who maintains a relentless grip on the memories and heart of his widow. Other members of this accomplished band include Kelsey McNulty on keyboards and accordion, and Jeff Kingsbury on drums.

But, as mentioned before, Ben Caplan is the performer who holds this feast of riches together. Caplan is already well known as a folk singer/songwriter in and outside his native Canada, but in Old Stock, he shows off his early theatrical training to great effect. Moving effortlessly from master of ceremonies at a music hall to the cantor’s solemnity at a traditional Jewish wedding, his voice moves the audience from laughter to hushed celebration without missing a beat. Playwright Moscovitch is also to be congratulated on writing a script – a very personal script, since this is the story of her great-grandparents – that gives this talented company so much to work with. Do take the opportunity to see this wonderful show.

 

Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Stoo Metz

 


Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story

Wilton’s Music Hall until 28th September

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Sancho – An act of Remembrance | ★★★★★ | June 2018
Twelfth Night | ★★★ | September 2018
Dietrich – Natural Duty | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Box of Delights | ★★★★ | December 2018
Dad’s Army Radio Hour | ★★★★ | January 2019
The Good, The Bad And The Fifty | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Pirates Of Penzance | ★★★★ | February 2019
The Shape Of the Pain | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Sweet Science Of Bruising | ★★★★ | June 2019

 

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