Thursday, 27 October 2016

'The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures' Hampstead Theatre **

You can sometimes tell that a play can be a bit of a mouthful because of its title, specifically the Bush Theatre’s production of, ‘We Are Proud to Present…’ a number of years ago and for me individually the play’s title can be exceedingly pretentious and longwinded too. The Hampstead Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s play, ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures’  was rather aloof and for me it appeared there was an array of nonsense and actually quite dull, additionally, the performances were tedious.

‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures’ is set in Brooklyn, New York City in 2007 where we are acquainted with the Marcenatario family who have been brought together due to the fact that the Patriarch of the family, Gus (David Calder) is yearning to commit suicide as he is suffering from Alzheimer’s and is seeking acceptance from his family. Fractious energy intensifies as Gus’ three children, lawyer Empty, gay history lecturer Pill and labourer V (Lax Shrapnel) have opposing views on this as Gus is their parent, and furthermore, Gus’s sister and ex-nun, Maoist Cleo (Sara Kestleman) has her say on the subject too. Over the course of the performance, the Marcenatario’s relentlessly quarrel with one another when they talk over one another as they discuss the pressing issue of Gus’ suicide plans and this is a regular occurrence in the play. The tension becomes rather overwhelming when the ex-spouses and present partners enter the fray and begin to argue about Gus’ own self-destruction and this includes Pill’s soon to be former boyfriend, Paul Davis (Rhasan Stone), Empty’s ex-husband, Adam Harvey (Daniel Flynn), V’s wife, Sooze Moon (Katie Leung) and Empty’s girlfriend, Maeve Ludens (Sirine Saba). One sources of the conflict is who will be the new owner of Gus’ house and we soon learn that Adam has already purchased the house which leaves the family gob-smacked. On a slightly different note, Pill has a been visiting a male escort, Eli who in actual fact is one of Pill’s students and it seems that Pill does have a soft for Eli despite that Pill is seeing Paul and Eli is in need of the cash. Throughout the performance, Gus has some deep and meaningful scenes with all three of his children and how he is a much needed person in their lives. Nonetheless, Gus is adamant that he will go through his suicide plans and the instruments are placed neatly on the table and in the process he is interrupted by Pill’s toy boy, Eli and at the finale, Gus goes through with what he originally planned to do and now the children are left to mourn and of course bicker. Kushner’s narrative is enormously verbose as the political elements within the plot does not cut the mustard is just vague and boring and the actual premise is disjointed and simply ludicrous and a bit of a shambles if I am brutally honest.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures’ were slightly horrible as I couldn’t get into the characteristics of the roles due to an abysmal lack of emotions and this is truly disastrous and garbage. Tamsin Greig is surprisingly lacklustre as Gus’ daughter, Empty; mainly the moments where she is with her apparent love of her life, Maeve and these moments appeared rather limited and this is a shocker as Greig is an awesome actually normally and also there wasn’t a decent amount of realism within the dynamic she has with her father. Richard Clothier is average as Gus’ gay son, Pill; especially how false he comes across where he tries to persuade Paul to stay, then again, it is rather harsh to see how he treats his toy boy,Eli and this is not exactly how you should be with anyone a part from the fact that he is an escort. Luke Newberry is satisfactory as Pill’s male escort, Eli; primarily how at times he does prove quite normal because the Marcenatario family are a bunch of nutters and more often than not he has quite an intelligent mind and he must like Pill enough for the constant sexual advances.


Michael Boyd’s direction is horrendous here as he has not really been able to smooth round the edges of a plot that just doesn’t do it for me and the appalling characterisations from the company means there must have been a limited amount of rehearsal time and I just lost too much enthusiasm and excitement as the performance went on.  Tom Piper’s set and costume design is extremely cruddy as the set itself may be rather large and this could not improve the show itself and the costumes did not impress me either and I was not taken to a Brooklyn atmosphere and did not look that great on the proscenium arch stage whatsoever. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures’ wasn’t that appealing and probably one of the shoddiest shows I have seen at the Hampstead Theatre and a waste of three and a half hours of my life which I won’t get back. 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

'A Man of Good Hope' Young Vic ****

In some continents on the globe, nationalities are enduring a troublesome experience with poverty and wars etc. and for some people, their only escape is to move out and become immigrants in countries that are more wealthy i.e. the UK and the USA. The Young Vic’s production of Isango Ensemble’s sort of musical of Johnny Steinberg’s book, ‘A Man of Good Hope’ was such an astonishingly gripping tale of a specific civilisation having no choice but to breakout of their home nation in the hope for better lives, furthermore, the depictions were tremendous all over the whole shows duration.

‘A Man of Good Hope’ in set in Africa from 1991-2011 where we are acquainted with eight year old, Asaad who along with his Mother (Zannelle Mbatha) are living in a rather precarious situation where they’re basically residing on the breadline and due to this, Asaad’s future appears rather bleak. Asaad’s young life takes a turn for the worst as this mother is brutally murdered right in front of him and due to the fact that his in now orphaned, his cousin has to take responsibility for him. When Asaad and another one of his cousins decide that their only option for a better life and that is to move to the USA, however, the two try and gain entry to the border and immigration forces, Asaad’s cousin is allowed to take the voyage but Asaad is refused a ticket for the boat so once again he is left on his own. Over the course of the performance, Asaad transforms from boy to man and it appears that in order for him to have an opportunity for a good life is that he is educated in English by an English Teacher (Noluthando Boquana) and as such; he begins to work from his mobile phone so he was earning quite a bit of money. Nonetheless, he builds up a business by running his own grocery store and he becomes married to Yindy, then again, it is obvious that Yindy’s mother (Sindywa Sityata) and Yindy’s father (Ayanda Eliki)do not think Asaad is the most suitable person for their daughter. Regrettably, for Asaad, his life is turned upside down as his wife decides ro move out of Africa and makes it clear that this is the climax of their marriage. As such; it is notable that Asaad’s life is jam-packed full of disasters and another instance is that his business is ran-sacked by a rogue force so basically it is the tip of the iceberg and due to this, Asaad’s luck is an increasingly rare existence. At the finale, Asaad’s journey culminates in his first meeting with the writer, Johnny (Mandio Dyanto) where they are sat in a car and Johnny asks him to offer his side of the story which quite frankly is tragic and therefore the commencement of a story is in the pipeline. Isango Ensemble’s narrative is rather fascinating as we are taken through a bleak life story of a boy who became a man and the countless level of terrible situations is honed in with such considerable detailing.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘A Man of Good Hope’ to be eloquent with impressively dynamic movement sequences that grab the African environment with such vibrancy and colour. Ayanda Tikolo/Zoleka Mpotsha/Luvo Tamba/Siphosethu Juta/Phielo Makitle is resplendent as Asaad; in particular how we see that Asaad’s life really has been chaotic and with what he has been through, it would be understable if he was bitter but in actual fact he isn’t and the emotions shine through. Pauline Malefane is joyous as Asaad’s wife, Yindy;  principally how we see that she is rather bossy towards her husband and when she explains that she will be leaving Asaad with his unborn child where he will not be allowed to have anything to do with he or she, we see that Yindy has no clue what this might do to Asaad’s confidence so she is altogether not a pleasant person.


Mark Dornford-May’s direction is dazzling here as he has captured Isango Ensemble and Jonny Steinberg’s story of a boy who became a man and how each and every chapter of his life leads to nothing but despair and this is conveyed through the enthralling characterisations and the musicianship of the African beats did actually make you want to do a bit of a jig and the sadness makes you moved too. The design by an unknown designer was definitely interesting as the set itself changes through each stage of Asaad’s journey through the west of Africa and the lighting by Mannie Manim really worked in showing the hot temperatures and the loneliness that Asaad must have felt. Overall, the experience of, ‘A Man of Good Hope’ was one of such intrigue and signifies that visiting companies can bring different cultures to a British audience who may not be aware of these issues which has been done so successfully here. 

Friday, 7 October 2016

'The Go-Between' Apollo Theatre ***

For me, personally there are moments in my life that I wouldn’t appreciate being reminded of and I am sure that some other people would feel the same; on the other hand, some would like to revisit their childhood memories. The West End musical production of Richard Taylor and David Wood’s, ‘The Go-Between’ which is based on L P Hartley’s novel of the same name was quite an amiable show on a part of a person’s life and with delightful presentations all round.

‘The Go-Between’ is situated in 1900 where we are introduced to elderly gentlemen, Leo Colston who guides us through some of her childhood memories; in particular when he used to go on his summer visits to Brandham Hall in Norwich with his best friend, Marcus (Samuel Menhinick/Matty Norgen/Archie Stevens). Nonetheless, when Marcus becomes exceedingly ill and as such; it is Leo’s responsibility to be the enigmatic messenger to one of the ladies of the manor, Marian and local farmer, Ted as it appears that they are having some sort of a love affair. However, Marian is in fact already engaged to Viscount Tremingham (Stephen Carlisle) and due to this very fact, Marian makes it increasingly clear that the young Leo that if the note-passing is found out by Tremingham , Leo will have to face the consequences for his failure. Over the course of the performance, when Leo is sent to deliver one of Marian’s letters to Ted, Leo has a rather nasty accident and because of this, Leo is the subject of interrogation; especially from the likes of Mrs Maudsley (Issy van Randwych) and her spouse, Mr Maudsley (Julian Forsyth) as he has been making an abundant array of disappearances. However, Leo begins to think that he sending these letters may not be such a good idea and that Marian has been vulgarly using Leo’s immaturity and youth as he would not question her motives and he wants to cease all involvement. But Marian pushes him to continue. Throughout the performance, Leo is discovered as the go-between  messenger which ultimately climaxes with horrendous consequences for Ted as he uses his shotgun to shoot himself  in the head so both Leo and Marian have questions to answer. Years and years plod on by and Leo, now an older man returns to Norfolk for what might be the last time where he meets Marian’s grandson who states that Marian indeed married Viscount Tremingham and is a widow and practically near the end of her days so he visits her to say one final goodbye. At the finale, it is obvious that the effect that being a go-between has had to Leo’s mental state and that he has been forced to keep this situation to himself for all those years and not to blab about it all over the place. Wood’s narrative and Taylor’s music and lyrics were pleasing due to the fact that because of Marian’s vindictive nature has actually impacted on a young boys life which is rather bad as he has traumatic scars and the musical numbers were of an acceptable standard too.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Go-Between’ to be quite appealing as there was a good balance of the tension of Leo’s childhood through to the scenes with Leo and Marian and the vocals and choreographic sequences were acceptable.  Michael Crawford is reasonable as Leo “Colston”; predominantly how very well cast he was in the role as someone has been forced to revisit a moment that he probably didn’t want to be reminded of, moreover, when it came to seeing his childhood self, it was interesting to see as he was standing behind him and narrate us through the whole plotline.  Johnny Evans-Hutchinson/Luka Green/William Thompson is satisfactory as the young version of, Leo; mainly how we see that as he has a big crush on the lady, Marian where at first of being the go-between he rather likes doing this task, nonetheless, when he realises what he is doing, he shows that he is starting to mature slightly.  Gemma Sutton is conventional as the sneaky vixen, Marian; for example where we see that she has a rather distasteful manner with how she speaks to the young Leo when he says he wants to stop doing her dirty work and she actually does come across vile. Stuart Ward is alright as Marian’s secret lover, Ted; essentially how when he tries to help Leo with his rather bloodied leg suggests that he doesn’t want any repercussions and throughout the show we see that if he remains alive when all is exposed that he may be murdered by the Viscount Tremingham for being her love-interest so he shockingly commits suicide.


Roger Haines’ direction was reputable here as he has been able to convey how Leo’s summer holidays as a child was not exactly the most cherished memories one could have had as an end result for one of those holidays caused someone who was pretty lovely to kill himself all because of a relationship that could not have occurred in reality due to social classes. Michael Pavelka’s design was appropriate as we were taken to the house of Brahdham Hall and its grounds will a sense of panache and this was aided with Tim Lutkin’s dark lighting design and as the set in really static the darkness does help with the whole atmosphere. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Go-Between’ was a fully clad production, then again, it could have been more flawlessly realised as there are elements that were not that outstanding so not perfect all round really. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

'The Plough and the Stars' National Theatre, Lyttleton ***

When the beginning of World War I first exploded on the globe in 1914, no one knew what tragic consequences it would cause to not only the nations that were most effected, but to the families of soldiers who had lost a loved one. The National Theatre’s revival production of Sean O’Casey’s 1926 play, ‘The Plough and the Stars’ portrayed how an Irish community was completely annihilated and the psychological issues of a death of a husband could ensue, in addition to this, the interpretations were transcendent throughout the length of the show.

‘The Plough and the Stars’ is set over the course of a year from 1915-1916, in Dublin, Ireland where we are familiarised with Nora Clitheroe, the wife of respected Irish soldier, Jack Clitheroe, it appears that they are a happily married couple who live in a well-decorated flat. However, when Captain Brennan (Adam Best) comes to their home and refers to Jack as “Commandant Clitheroe”, of course Jack is extremely perplexed as he was not aware that he had indeed been promoted and has to report to General James Connolly as Nora had burnt the letter; understandably Jack is enraged at Nora as she was not honest with him. We are soon transported to a typical Dublin pub where speeches are occurring outside, yet inside, gigolo Rosie Redmond (Grainne Keenan) is disappointed that these speeches are going on outside as it may not be too great for her trade. Over the course of the performance, an array of confrontations happen from Bessie Burges and Mrs Gogan (Josie Walker) and also from The Young Gogan (Tom Vaughan-Lawler) and Fleuther Good (Stephen Kennedy) . Jack now bedecked in his army uniform enters with his colleagues, Captain Brennan and Lieutenant Langon (Kieran Gough) and all of the three men promise to fight to their deaths in order to protect the people of Dublin. Throughout the Easter celebrations, the Rebels are on top form and are obliterating the enemy and as such; the Dubliners think it is okay for them to break into the shops and shoplift, nonetheless when Jack and Brennan arrive with a wounded soldier; Nora grovels to Jack to not go back. Unfortunately, Jack refuses and a return to face the opposition and a heavily pregnant Nora goes into labour. As World War I is destroying everything, Nora, Bessie, The Young Gogan and Fleuther have fled to an abandoned flat where Nora has become delusional as she has had a still birth and Brennan has arrived with the sad news that Jack has been killed in action. As the pressure intensifies, two British soldiers lead The Young Gogan and Fluether out, at the finale as Nora and Bessie are alone where a crazed Nora goes to the window screaming for Jack and when Bessie tries to grab Nora, Bessie is shot in the back and dies because she was wrongly identified as a sniper.  O’Casey’s narrative is brilliant as we get to see what the war what was supposed to end all wars has done to excessive amount of families, moreover he presents a realistic account of the mental pressures the women had to endure and the loss of a husband can completely destroy someone’s mind.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Plough and the Stars’ to be sophisticated and increasingly poignant due to the hard-hitting moments throughout the show, and the annunciations of the Irish accents were spoken with such excellence.  Fionn Walton is wonderful as the soldier husband, Jack Clitheroe; mainly how we see that he is horrified by his wife’s deception for not telling him the truth about his promotion, then again, when he wears his uniform, he feels the sense of pride as perhaps this is his true calling and fight for his country. Judith Roddy is grand as the Jack’s wife, Nora; for example how she knows that due to the fact that the war itself may end up in her losing her husband forever and I liked how that with the many tragedies she has faced in a small amount of time , her mental expressions made her look rather insane.  Judith Mitchell is pleasing as the rather boisterous, Bessie Burges; expressly when how at first, she is quite unpleasant, but as the play develops, when she is caring for Nora and when it leads to her ultimate demise, we observe all areas of her person and I particularly admired how her diction and projection was in her death monologue.


Jeremy Herrin and Howard Davies’ direction is decent here as the two gentlemen have showed us how the Dublin community in that time period were pushed to the absolute limit and this was the same for many nations and the actual characterisations were polished to a degree as I would have liked a bit more tension between all characters in the fourth scene as Nora makes it harder for people to be rational. Vikki Mortimer’s design is vivid as each of the four sets that comprise of the Dublin environment work wonders here as there is an intense nature of bleakness especially in the third and fourth scenes and the scenic art and construction was awesome and the costumes were just right. 
Overall, the experience of , ‘The Plough and the Stars’ to be a somewhat riveting and strong revival performance about what war can do and that that we way be on course for another World War which would be a catastrophic disaster. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

'Funny Girl' Savoy Theatre *****

The diminutive Menier Chocolate Factory has a bulky list of triumphant West End transfers such as; the 2013 production of Sondheim’s, ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ which won an Olivier Award and this year has guaranteed another success for the theatre. The West End transfer of, Isabel Lennart, Julie Styne and Bob Merrill’s 1963 musical, ‘Funny Girl’ was an extraordinary production about a person who may not have and the best talent, but her personality shone through, additionally, the offerings were tremendous throughout.

‘Funny Girl’ is set in America where we are habituated with performer, Fanny Brice who is sat in her dressing room awaiting the return of her spouse, Nick Arnstein who has been facing a stint in prison and for Fanny, she has to figure out what the future of them is. She remembers a time when her own mother, Mrs Brice (Marilyn Cutts) and her poker playing friends mocked Fanny’s dreams of becoming a performer, on the other hand, when Fanny is introduced to manager, Eddie Ryan (Joel Montague) they become friends and he then agrees to sign her and as such; Fanny’s career in the entertainment industry could just be around the corner. When she is performing her act, Fanny meets suited and booted, Nick Arnstein and she instantly becomes besotted by him, then again, her career comes first as producer, Florence Zeigfeld (Bruce Montague) wants to employ her for his upcoming Follies. Over the course of the performance, we see Fanny and Nick develop a relationship with one another and this is due to their yearning for being together. After a bit of time apart, Fanny and Nick reunite as Nick had to go back to his farm in Kentucky, so the two have dinner with each other. It appears that Fanny is completely smitten by Nick and decides to cancel a part of her tour to be with Nick in New York City as she seems that her only chance of happiness so she does not care that her performance career could take a tumble. Fanny and Nick soon marry and live in a gargantuan Long Island mansion and with their family and close friends who join them in their celebration; Fanny is so overjoyed with her life.  Throughout the performance, Fanny’s mother, Mrs Brice is being pushed by Eddie and neighbour, Mrs Strakosh (Gay Soper) to find another husband as her daughter’s career has sky rocketed which is a huge change to Mrs Brice’s immediate reaction to Fanny’s hopes for the future when she was a child. Fanny’s husband, Nick has quite a lot of money problems because of a business deal that has fallen through and Nick is rapidly arrested and convicted for embezzling money and Fanny’s mother states that Fanny is also to blame for Nick’s capital troubles.  At the finale, Nick is about to be released from prison and it seems to Fanny that their marriage will ultimately bring pure sadness despite the fact that the two still love one another no matter what. Lennart’s narrative is world class here as we get to see how novelty acts can actually have such long lasting careers and in today’s modern world we have Jedward who have forged a fruitful career and to be honest I do love Jedward. Also musical numbers from Styne and Merrills such as; “I Want to be Seen with You”, “You Are A Woman, I Am Man”, “Who Taught Her Everything She Knows?” and “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” were excellently composed and the lyrics were captivating.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Funny Girl’ to be phenomenally depicted with exemplary vocals and choreographic sequences from a brilliant ensemble and there is a marvellous camaraderie from the entire team. Sheridan Smith is out of this solar system as central protagonist, Fanny Brice; specifically how we see that a person with such aspirations of a future in the entertainment becomes a reality and there is a deep sadness that exudes from her as her marriage to Nick is diminishing as money hasn’t done them any favours; moreover, her vocal ability in, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” was amazing. Darius Campbell is remarkable as Fanny’s husband, Nick Arnstien; for example how we see that he may try his best to be the top husband for Fanny but he has a lot of disadvantages because of the problems he is having with obtaining investments for his businesses , yet he has an array of respect for his wife which does show to us that he loves her and that he can be a good man to her throughout their marriage.

Michael Mayer’s direction and Lynne Page’s choreography is fabulous here as Mayer has categorically presented a revival that is magical and compelling and with Page’s choreography we are brought back to Follies and the whole Vaudeville era to such elegance and the flawless energy states how wonderful the show is. Michael Pavelka’s set design and Matthew Wright’s costume design are extraordinary as the set itself has been designed to bring us into Fanny Brice’s rise to fame and notoriety and the costumes were blissful and constructed with the finest detail so nothing was taken to chance here. Overall, the experience of, ‘Funny Girl’ was distinctively dreamy and a worthy addition to the West End theatre landscape so it would not surprise me if the show is the big winner at the 2017 Olivier Awards.  

Sunday, 18 September 2016

'If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You I Love You' Old Red Lion Theatre ****

Love and passion are remarkable things to achieve in relationships and when race plays quite a bit of the troubles in the relationship, can drugs help resolve those difficulties? The Old Red Lion Theatre’s production of John O’Donovan’s play, ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ was such an enlightening tale of an interesting love story between a young gay couple, what is more, the performances were delightfully compelling.

‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ is set in Ireland where we are made known of Mikey and Casey wo are at present sat on the top of a roof of quite a grand house. However, the small town of Eniss has been caught up in Ireland’s financial struggles where most people have been forced to turn on each other due to the fact that money is a major issue and as such; community spirit is non-existent. We are soon informed that Casey has stolen money from his own mother and had the audacity to steal his step-father’s stash of cocaine. Over the course of the performance, Mikey who has previous criminal acts against himself with the police and he explains to his boyfriend that he has been the victim of homophobic bullying which has somewhat contributed to his behaviour in the past. There is a lot of excitement from the two young lads where Mikey has even stolen from his friend at a local petrol station; it appears that they feel a sense of freedom for doing so and being together fighting against the odds. You can see that despite their differences of personalities they are extremely compatible as there are moments of such tender love between them. During the entire show, the two boys are immensely apprehensive that they’ll be found on top of this roof and carted off to the local police station which probably is a second home for Mikey.  It appears that Casey is not that experienced with being in a relationship so it seems that it’ll have to be up to Mikey to teach him how to be passionate and we really see that Mikey has so much respect for his partner, Casey.  Casey who was born in South London really misses his grandmother and is desperate to return to his natural home, and understandably Mikey becomes upset, then again, for Mikey, he is soon reassured by Casey that they will not split up. At the finale, the owners of the house return home so Mikey and Casey make a quick exit so that the authorities won’t catch up with them and because of this, they abseil down the roof and down the wall very much together as a pure partnership. O’Donovan’s narrative is wonderful as he has really captured the spirit of the relationship of Mikey and Casey and it is pretty cool that we are observers of how they are as a gay couple which makes us a fundamental part of the whole plotline and the flow of the plot is smooth and less than lovely.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ was so alluring and engrossing through deliciously juicy scenes of romance of love and affection, moreover, the voice work and movements were very much pleasing. Ammar Duffus is flawless as the slightly reserved, Casey; especially how we learn that he hasn’t has it easy not only with the fact he is gay, but he has had to face a massive level of racist abuse from people, yet, when he is with Mikey, we see that nothing will ever come between them and they will stand up for true love. Alan Mahon is superb as the rather confident one of the couple, Mikey; particularly how his experiences that he has had to go through in his life has actually lead him on the wrong path, nonetheless, it appears that when he is with his beloved Casey, he becomes quite the charmer and even though it is not visible, I felt that he was the protector of Casey and this was pretty interesting to understand.

Thomas Martin’s direction is acceptable here as he has brought together the themes of O’Donovan’s writing with such visualisation where the characterisations of the relationship of Mikey and Casey was so thorough and increasingly mesmerising because there was so much positive body language and eye contact was such a pleasure and joy to watch, also I liked how differences in the character’s personalities worked with the context of the play itself. Georgia de Grey’s set and costume design was impressive as the detailing of the roof of a rather massive house was definitely easy on the eye and with the costumes really worked with the identities of the characters and the lighting design by Derek Anderson helped create the atmosphere of the cold and the darkness of the lack of money in this Irish town. Overall, the experience of, ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You I Love You’ was a brilliantly engaging piece of LGBT Theatre which is full of love and passionate moments and a good show from a highly regarded fringe space.

Friday, 16 September 2016

'Jess and Joe Forever' Orange Tree Theatre ****

There are numerous occasions that theatrical experiences that give me so many surprises, but there are surprises that leave you open mouthed as I was not expecting it and it is intriguing to find out the secret. The Orange Tree Theatre’s production of Zoe Cooper’s current play, ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ was an absorbing and colossal show about friendships and gender in particular; furthermore, the representations were amazingly delineated.

‘Jess and Joe Forever’ is set in Norfolk where we’re acquainted with Joe, who is naturally born and bred in Norfolk himself is a rather reserved individual who appears to be lacking in friendships with people who are of the same age. He soon comes into contact with, Jess who frequently spends her summer holidays in Norfolk with her au pair, in addition to this, she has a somewhat lack of confidence as she us quite chubby as her summer dresses do not fit her too well. Their initial meeting occurs when both Jess and Joe are nine years old where she sleuths Joe who is skinny dipping in incredibly tight Speedos and when she is caught by Joe, we can see that Joe does not have an abundant amount of body issues. However, as Jess keeps visiting Norfolk annually, the friendship between Jess and Joe flourishes as both have to deal with the challenges of growing up; especially their teenage years where both are experiencing puberty and the other life difficulties. Over the course of the performance, Joe who at first was exceedingly sceptical of Jess in the first place begins to become more comfortable with being in Jess’ presence and some lovely moments with the two friends. Joe seems to think that everything happens for a reason and even when he discusses his own mum’s funeral, he appears to be somewhat emotionless and declares that his mum’s death was just meant to happen.  Throughout the performance, we learn a lot more about Jess and Joe as the two really like one another and they have a real understanding of each other’s stories and what is most fascinating is that in a number of scenes that a promising romance could be on the cards and that the proxemics of the two of them may be rather close but in actual fact they are miles apart. At the finale, in what could possibly be one of the biggest shocks in a play that the real reason that Joe has a mammoth amount of body issues that he reveals that he is transgender and even though Jess is perplexed, she doesn’t reject him and the two carry on with their relationship development. Cooper’s narrative is so enchanting as she has taken us on a journey that is crammed full of twists and turns all the way through which makes us the audience desiring what is about to occur, moreover, I really admired how she has crafted a charming relationship of Jess and Joe.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ be fascinating as both characters go through a whole range of emotions that keeps you wanting more which in turn the movements and the voice delivery were rather polished in depth. Nicola Coughlan is sublime as, Jess; mainly how we see that in the shows duration we come to see that she wants to make Joe become increasingly more confident and this is so decent for someone to do despite the fact she has issues too and this shows that she likes to help others first before herself. Rhys Isaac-Jones is outstanding as the shy and quiet boy, Joe; specifically how with the way in which he tries to cover up his body shows that there is more about his bashfulness and when it is revealed why he is body conscious then we can see how people within the transgender community still today have stigmas attached and this should not occur.

Derek Bond’s direction is out of this world as he has brought Cooper’s plot to such brilliance as we are not only witnessing the story of friendships and the development of the relationship, we are given a perspective of gender and how the transgender community still have a long way to go before it is accepted in the world and the understanding of it, plus the characterisations were directed with such accomplishment. James Perkins’ design is grand too as we are definitely transported to the Norfolk landscape and the set really works in conjunction with the sound equipment which is quite tricky to do but this is rather fruitful here and the actual costumes work within the personalities of the characters that are Jess and Joe. Overall, the experience of, ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ was a worthwhile visit to a space I have really come to like and the gripping tale of twists and turns reminds me of an episode of ‘Big Brother’ were twists and turns are a part of the norm.