Head/Lining written and performed by Charlie Heptinstall.

Introduced to a “chav with an asbo” in the form of Charlie Heptinstall. Music, poetry and lyrical storyline bring to stage his emotive autobiographical childhood and entry into adulthood. Heptinstall is accompanied by the extremely talented musician Jordan El Balawi, who becomes his therapist at certain points in the performance.

A broken family, years of abuse by his Father, neglect and abandonment from his Mother. Mental abuse scars run throughout the core of this outstanding performance by Heptinstall. Owning his story and taking the audience through his heart-wrenching journey never defaults into a tale “woe is me” which could be an easy format to have taken.

As E’s thoughts wander to how that gorgeous man over there would look naked. Bought up by a racist, violent and homophobic role model. Fighting between nature and nurture the struggle and pain unfold before the audience on stage. Once you decide to turn your back on nature’s influences the real struggle to the freedom in finding the “you” you choose to be then begins.

Growing up with an alcoholic father whose moods depended on which number pint he was currently on. As he Lunges from the flirtatious womaniser to a violent bully with sudden destructive outbursts. Demonstrated when Heptinstall relives one such fight on stage, spasms and reactions extremely realistic, at one point I found myself recoiling from the blow.

Hard-hitting autobiographical Theatre such as “head/lining” offer audiences an insight into the harsh and angry struggles that go unspoken behind many homes throughout the country. Heptinstall deserves to be proud of how far he has travelled emotionally on this ever-changing journey, called life as he discovers the person he now chooses to become.

Five Stars

Photograph credits Danny Kaan.

Performing at the Pleasance from 27th-30th July 2021.

https://www.pleasance.co.uk/

Quentin Crisp:Naked Hope.

Famous flamboyant, charasmatic homosexual writer, raconteur and actor Quentin Crisp aka Denis Pratt returns to the stage through an entertaining and heartfelt performance by the extremely talented writer and actor Mark Farrelly.

Refering to himself as a “Stateley homosexual of England” this phrase for me is a wonderful way to have described himself. Unique and stylish creating a path for himself to follow and understanding that he was flawed just like everyone else. Allowing the audience to see the vulnerable side of Crisp as well as the famous.

Wilton’s Music Hall plays host to this intriguing one man production. The fairly large venue didn’t at any point appear to drown a solo performance. Seeing the wonderful features of this old building bought back fond memories.

The philosophical side of Crisp was something I knew very little about before watching Farrelly’s production. The quotes and anecdotal references throughout the performance allowed the audience to see the deep thinking side come alive. Profoundly intune with himself and understanding a meaning for life that made perfect sense to me.

Ending the performance with some personal memories. We learn about the personal experiences that led Farrelly to write and perform this outstanding tribute to Quentin Crisp. I would highly recommend catching this online performance especially those who are unfamiliar with Crisp, as I was.

Five Stars.

https://www.stream.theatre/season/161

Tethered by Chewboy Productions.

If you ever wondered what goes on in the rehearsal space, between creatives, then Tethered or The Adventures of the Adequately Excited People, writer Georgie Bailey alongside Hal Darling, might just be in a position to answer your questions

Want and Moins artistic differences rise throughout rehearsals. Tethered together by a short length of rope deciding on which way to be pulled next to escape the life of being Tethered together.

Working with a script that is slick, with lashings of dark humour and fast-paced. The main part of the humour is delivered throughout in off piste slapstick style comedy. The pinning up of the birthday banner reminded me of the famous and talented double act Laurel and Hardy.

The duo works extremely well together. You could see how much they were in tune with one another throughout allowing the performance to flow effortlessly. It’s a pity for the pair that the props hadn’t read the script as the elastic kept breaking on the party hats, providing additional comedic value to the play.

It was interesting to listen to the conversations taking place between them as they discussed how they imagined the audiences would respond to their actions and different scenes. Breaking the fourth wall to talk to the audience yet pretending we weren’t there and ignoring any reaction that anyone replied to their rhetorical questions.

An alternative production with a tight scripted fast-paced dialogue. An extremely clever example of new work that Fringe theatres can be proud to host.

Four Stars

Running from the 20th-24th July at The Lion and Unicorn in Kentish Town please use the link. below for further information.

https://www.thelionandunicorntheatre.com/whats-on#/event/tethered-or-the-adventures-of-the-adequately-excited-people

Big Boys by Tom Foreman.

When childhood friends Ben (Tom Foreman) and Oscar (Owen Igiehon) start Secondary School they feel like they are all grown up now, they have successfully made it into the world of grown-ups and will be friends for life. However, as all grown-ups know life never quite goes to plan though.

Big Boys explores the ups and downs of life through the eyes of these two young boys spanning over roughly the next fourteen years of their lives. Facing the harsh realities that life throws into our paths when we least expect it to.

Igiehon’s debut performance in Big Boys has bought us a very fresh talented actor to the Theatre industry. Switching emotions in a moment combined with some outstanding dance moves and miming skills. This young actor has a promising career ahead of him should this be a path he continues to follow.

I especially liked the recorded element of the production operated by Jamie Atkinson. His timing skills were faultlesss. The recording of the parental voices added an element of authority into the story through secondary conversations with the two boys throughout the performance.

The identity of the parents isn’t important within the storyline and we are only given insights into each of the boys home life through this dialogue, and the audio can hear how certain events mould and influence the boy’s relationship with their peers, drugs, alcohol, social lives and their friendship.

The broad range of emotions delivered by both actors as the boys discover and explore their range of feelings in this coming of age production is “handled with care”. Overall Foreman has written and directed an open, honest and passionate heartfelt story of two (BFF’s) who despite their growing differences remained loyal friends.

Playing from 6th-10th July 2021 at The Lion and Unicorn in Kentish Town. Please check out the link below for ticket details although I know there are a very limited amount left.

Four Stars.

Photos credit Dan Clarke

https://www.thelionandunicorntheatre.com/whats-on

https://alwaystimefortheatre.com/2021/06/24/interview-tom-foreman-talks-new-play-big-boys/

Voices From Home by Broken Silence Theatre.

Warned at the beginning that these recorded pieces are for over 18’s only. After listening to them I can fully understand why. These five recorded shorts contain adult themes of death, sexual violence and assault. With graphic descriptions and honest accounts of the events experienced by each of the cast members be prepared for some uncomfortable listening at times.

Woo Woo by Sarah Milton we hear as Michelle hears about the death of her long-standing friend and ex-lover Tom. Told from a recent nostalgic perspective we learn about her feelings on losing her virginity with Tom and she never regretted it. Although I am not convinced this isn’t for the benefit of the audience and she is trying to convince herself. I thought the use of grim reaper in the game of Simms that Michelle is playing at the time when she learns about Tom’s was very poignant.

Vinegar Chips by Grace Merry describes a disappointing and extremely risky date that takes place in Worthing. After a few messages on “Tinder”, the couple who know very little about each other and some of these reasons why soon become dangerously apparent. The explicit description of the couple’s sexual encounter under the pier turned my stomach over as the description of the smells experienced left an unpleasant “odour” behind.

As an avid Radio 4 extra listener, these short plays are something I would happily tune in and listen to. They aren’t easy listening but they are engaging and cutting edge. Focusing on the “seedier” side of human nature isn’t an easy subject to write about. These five new up and coming writers are in tune with the world we are living in and have shown that they are not afraid to tackle them head-on.

I didn’t want to write a brief synopsis about each of the recorded pieces. Instead by keeping the details brief, it will hopefully encourage listeners to visit Broken Voices at the Brighton Fringe and listen to these stories for themselves.

Four Stars

https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/voices-from-home-154190/

The writers

Sarah Milton http://www.twitter.com/_SarahMilton

Madeleine Accalua https://www.madeleineaccalia.co.uk/

Georgie Bailey

Grace Merry

Lucy Dobree.

Blackbox Theatre presents Blithe Spirit.

This is the second production from Blackbox Theatre that I have had the privilege of being invited to review. Yet again they haven’t failed to deliver an extremely accomplished production.

Amidst the current covid restrictions Blackbox Theatre has set their adaptation of Blithe Spirit outside in the garden of the Condomine’s country house. It’s a gamble with the weather though and last night the rain was not on our side “good old British weather”.

With a strong cast of six Blackbox have delivered a strong adaptation of this Noel Coward classic. From erratic new housekeeper Edith (Scarlett Briant), the sceptic Doctor Bradman (David McCulloch) to the hosts Mr and Mrs Condomine (Peter McCrohon and Anna Mallard). Each character was exactly what you expect to see in this classic play.

Francesca McCrohon in the role of Madame Arcati the eccentric tongue in cheek underrated medium bought a touch of elegance to the production. Her beautiful black velvet evening attire with a long purple velvet coat is stunning.

The star in my opinion of Blithe Spirit has to be the ghost of Elvira. Amelia Sweetland looked incredibly wraithlike in a full-length silver evening dress, wild hair and the chosen style of make-up bought the dead to life.

I am not sure who organised the costumes and make up for this production or whether the cast selected their own. Each one of them was dressed in the desired period and looked fantastic ” quintessentially English”.

With all the challenges that have stopped our Theatre companies from working “normally ” since March 2020. Director Chris Hawley’s latest production has thought outside the box and successfully bought it outside. Listening to the audience around me they were all very pleased to be back watching live theatre again and we’re extremely complimentary about the production.

Please try and catch them while they are out on tour. Use the link below to check out the upcoming dates.

Five Stars

WHAT’S ON

Photo Credits – Spice Art

The Great Gatsby.

The Wardrobe Ensemble and The Wardrobe Theatre’s co-production has been adapted from the American novel by F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby and is now playing as part of the online Brighton Fringe.

Tamsin Hurtado Clarke and Jesse Meadows bring to life the classic story of the flamboyant self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby and his friend Nick Carraway in this two person’s performance. The rich depth of the storyline is bought to life by their brilliant performances.

Without the aid of a big-budget set, lavish costumes or a large cast which are familiar with previous adaptations of The Great Gatsby, the audience can focus primarily on the storyline without other characters distracting them. In my opinion, I prefer this style of adaptation as a smaller accomplished cast can bring far more depth and life into a story.

Nick Carraway a young Batchelor is invited to a Long Island party hosted by the flamboyant self-made million, Jay Gatsby. The two strikes up an unlikely friendship, the two descend into an honest, intriguing and heartfelt trip down memory lane

Running for just under 1 hour and 40 minutes Clarke and Meadows’s performance was flawless. Both actors rose to this challenging lengthy in-depth depth script brilliantly and I can imagine it was incredibly demanding for them at times.

Director Tom Brennan overall has adopted a fresh approach to The Great Gatsby and without using grand props and period costumes allows the novel to be removed from its 1920’s setting and allows a new audience to appreciate the text in an impartial setting. This particular direction works extremely well front perspective, as I don’t necessarily want to always watch a production that is firmly placed in an historical context.

For performance details or to check out the companies involved please use the links below.

Four Stars

Photo credit to Jack Offord

The Wardrobe Theatre

https://www.thewardrobeensemble.com/

https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/the-great-gatsby-153733/

Doody by Aaron and Caitlin.

Aaron Hickland’s solo performance in Doody delves into the mind of a self-entitled, privileged, toxic male with a dangerous distorted high opinion of how others see him in the outside world.

The performance starts with Niall Care pretending that he is in front of an audience of fans as he delivers his acceptance speech for being a “star” descending into the story of where his path to stardom began.

His Mum filmed him throughout his childhood praising him for every slightest thing. As he explains he might have been only playing with his transformers. She told him time and again he would be a famous star one day.

Cast to perform as Danny in the school production of Grease he describes one of his co-stars, Jenny, as “Cosmetically Challenged” and explains how he was doing her a favour when he started sleeping with her regularly. Of course, she was grateful for his attention!

Care’s blatant misogynistic behaviour spirals deeper out of control as the years pass and he faces one personal rejection after another. You only need to look at the picture gallery behind to understand how it has affected him. On the surface, though his attitude remains assertive and vain.

Doody isn’t comfortable to watch and it could easily be triggering to some audience members. Cares character evokes an array of emotions ranging from disgust, uncomfortable to a small amount of pity.

Writer and director Caitlin Magnall-Kerans have brilliantly captured the disturbing mindset of a vain, obnoxious, self-entitled male chauvinist who is well versed in victim-blaming.

The subject matter is extremely uncomfortable at times however it is written with such accuracy that I thoroughly recommend taking half an hour out and watching it. Please use the link below for further information.

Four Stars.

https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/doody-153168/

Hematoma directed by Grace Millie.

Written and performed by Keiran Dee Hematoma is an extremely clever and entertaining one-man performance. After a year in lockdown Dee attempts to take the audience on a world trip with his Hematoma while explaining how it feels to live with “having a part of your brain fixture missing”.

In a desperate attempt to fix the “gap” and find a way to escape the gap he takes himself off to find new adventures from his failed bungee jumping attempt, dancing scenes from a Hong Kong nightclub and the nocturnal events in the shared hostel rooms in Australia.

Dee’s performance is outstanding with a faultless range of emotions, moods and dance moves. He effortlessly adapts throughout the scenes in the performance. When I watch a one-man show whose only prop is a stool along with his immense charisma which held the audience’s attention throughout the 70-minute adrenalin-fueled performance.

The combination of humour, grief and hilarious storytelling makes Hematoma one of the must-see Fringe theatre productions to put on your watch list. Hopefully, Dee will take this fantastic play into more Theatres for future audiences to appreciate.

If you’re one of the lucky audiences the resident fly might make a guest appearance and join Kieran on stage. Dee’s ability to incorporate the random fly appearing around the stage was brilliantly bought into the travel scene. His capacity to create an additional character at such short notice was the sign of an extremely creative actor.

Hematoma is running from 8th-12th June 2021. Please use the link below to catch one of the remaining performances.

Five Stars

http://www.thelionandunicorntheatre.com

Twitter @moon_loaf

#HEMATOMA

Alyssa Memoirs of a Queen!

The Vaudeville is playing host to the amazingly talented, gorgeous, larger than life Drag Queen Star Alyssa Edwards. The short run is from 7th-13th June 2021.

American born Alyssa Edwards has been a drag queen for 16-years, the first 6 of which were spent shut away hiding from the world and practicing her skills. Taking the audience through the life story leading up to where we are today is told in a charismatic, humorous, and open performance. We are entertained with stories about failing at sport while at school and trying to “fit in” baseball was a massive fail and after numerous arguments with the ball hitting Justin, it was decided enough was enough. Granny made the life changing suggestion that Ballet school was a better option.

The relationship Alyssa/Justin has with Granny is one told with warmth and affection. The non-judgemental anecdotes are explained through childhood stories. From listening to the tales, it was clear how much of a positive influence Granny has been throughout the years. Nowadays Granny is Alyssa’s biggest fan.

The famous “tongue clicking” is a trademark that Alyssa is well known for in her act, and it makes a couple of appearances, mainly at the start. If it had been overdone it would have spoilt the atmosphere of the show.

Alyssa’s accompanied throughout the performance by four talented dancers (Luke Vella, Alex Brown, Austin Farrell, and Billy Savage), the line dancing routine was especially entertaining.  Along with a lady called Miss Pam the stage manager who was supposedly monitoring the show to make sure it ran on time. However, when it was mentioned about Alyssa following a script the response is extremely funny as the response is “I don’t read the script, I am the script” there is a fantastic air of confidence surrounding the entire show and the professionalism is outstanding.

Ru Pauls Drag Race launched Alyssa’s international career and many stories and anecdotes are shared throughout the two-hour performance. Personally, many of these passed me by as I have not seen the programme. The interaction and response from the audience confirmed to me how popular and well-liked Alyssa is.  It has now inspired me to make a point of watching some.

We were treated to an amazing selection of outfits throughout the evening. I especially liked the short black and white outfit worn at the beginning of act two, sadly there is not a press shot of this one available to share with you. Alyssa has the most amazing legs which she displayed over the balcony of the upper box to tease her audience below and it certainly worked by the cheers received.

With a West End performance of this calibre more exceptionally talented Drag Queens need to bring their costumes, sequins, large hair, fabulous make up and glorious array of colours to the larger stage. With the size of the audience there tonight it would confirm to me that there is a market for this genre of entertainment appearing in the larger theatres.

Choreographer Justin Johnson also known by the stage name Alyssa Edwards is the perfect choice to choreograph this fabulous performance. As a trained choreographer teacher nobody would know the strengths and abilities that Alyssa possesses more than the Drag Queen herself. With director Spencer Noll’s expertise and eye for detail this is an absolute must see show.

Whether you are a lifelong fan, recent fan or a first timer, such as myself I would highly recommend buying tickets and treat yourself to a fantastic evening of entertainment. Please use the link below to book tickets or find out more about this show and upcoming productions at Nimax Theatre’s.

Four Stars

Photo credit Pamela Raith

https://www.nimaxtheatres.com/shows/alyssa-memoirs-of-a-queen/