Archive for January 14th, 2010


Play on words

Thursday, 14 January, 2010

Female eunuchs

London – Tristan Bates Theatre – 4 – 23 Jan 10 – 19:30 (1:05)

Black Eye Peas ‘I gotta a feeling’ is being played by DJ Jonnie – Tom Crawshaw, as bums fill seats, he welcomes everyone in.  Especially the ladies.

Eddie played by Yaz Al-Shaater sits on a chair at the front of the stage. The set, which is designed by Amy Penrose, is an office with white walls, three white blinds covering three windows, two desks and one clock where the time has stopped at 10.23.  Most of the furniture has a brown label/tag attached – the desks, the wastepaper bin, the laptop, the briefcase.

Eddie talks about the four walls of theatre and breaking down the fourth wall.  Fred – Michael Grady-Hall shouts stage directions at Eddie from the stairs next to where everyone is seated.  Fred has shaken the fourth wall because of where he is standing.  Eddie changes the style of his monologue accordingly – ‘Tense’ ‘Cadence’ ‘Shakespeare’.  He picks up a gun with the tag still on it as though he’s going to commit suicide.  A verbal bang, as it is a fake.

Fred joins Eddie on stage.  The men wear identical outfits with subtle differences such as Eddie’s ripped jeans.  Blue jeans, navy shirts, grey jackets.  This is a theatre company but they don’t seem terribly busy. Eddie does a crossword which is interjected with Fred’s phone call.  Some of the words from one are the answers for the other.  They have an argument about putting a sharpener in the bin.  Anger results in swearing, even lifting up a desk.  The penalty for swearing is to put 20p in a swearbox.  They also have an honesty box.

The lights go off and on again.  The phone rings.  The audience are accused of leaving a phone on.  Fred tries to explain to Eddie that you should never exchange a cross word.   Which is a saying.  The character of Eddie is slow and he doesn’t understand this.  There is some humour from this and many other puns.  An actress arrives late and tries to sit with the audience.  She speaks to Fred over the heads of the viewers and explains she had arrived for an audition for the part of a doctor.  They had already cast the doctor but Fred likes the look of this strawberry blonde girl Jen who is played by Meriel Rosenkranz, so she is invited on stage and asked to read an audition piece from an envelope – she reads an office supply costs letter in the context of her brother dying.  Which is very funny.

Jen and Fred hit it off, and after some discussion about a casting couch they kiss.  Eddie gets rather excited and squeezes his water bottle which explodes over him and the set when he talks about sex.  Fred likes his plays on words.  He says he’s writing to get girls.  Maybe not just him, but also writer Tom Crawshaw.

From this point on the play spirals into a downward descent.  The play doesn’t seem to respect the character of Jen or women.  She is treated like a sex object and dispensed of.  There is plenty of testosterone from the lads, lots more anger, desk lifting, fighting and guns.  Fred and Eddie reverse roles but this is not enough to detract from the teenage angst and adolescent hormones that seem to waft through and pervade a play that has a lot of clever thoughts and nice touches to it.  A shame that women are portrayed as mysterious emotional objects whose function is to culminate in sex and nonsensical suicide.

Cast Credits: (alpha order):  Yaz Al-Shaater – Eddie.  Tom Crawshaw – Jonnie.   Michael Grady-Hall – Fred.  Meriel Rosenkranz – Jen / Doctor. 

Company Credits: Writer – Tom Crawshaw.  Director – Tom Crawshaw. Designer – Amy Penrose.  Lighting Designer – Jacob Mason-Dixon.  Dramaturgy – Neil Keating.  Graphic Design – Yaz Al-Shaater / Haz Al-Shaater.  Sound Design – Yaz Al-Shaater.  Fight Director – Jeremy Barlow.  Technical Operator – Uncredited.    Production Manager / Stage Manager – Bekki Coward.  Co-Producer – Natalie Eskinazi.  Company – Three’s Company.

(c) Wendy Thomson 2010

reviewed Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Adventure Time

Thursday, 14 January, 2010

Spontaneously enthusiastic – genuinely amusing

London – Tristan Bates Theatre – 4 to 23 Jan 10 – 21:00 (0:30)

Adventure Time is a thirty minute show which is staged like a live radio broadcast.  There are three men and four stools.  Martin Brady-Small played Michael Grady-Hall wears a cowboy straw hat, red tie and a waistcoat.  Jon Grimshaw played by Tom Crawshaw wears a red T shirt and a dark blazer.  Jazz L.Carter played by Yaz Al-Shaater looks cute in a red and white striped t-shirt, badge and big glasses.  It doesn’t really matter what the cast looks like, because they are on radio.  Nice they made an effort though.

One broadcaster is missing, hence the empty fourth stool, this cast have problems.  The actress Theresa Compangnie hasn’t shown up for work.  They don’t want the non-present DJ – MC Phale to know – he’s in another studio and will hand over to them for a live reading in a couple of minutes – so the team asks for a volunteer.  A member of the audience (uncredited/unknown) is asked to read the missing part.  Don’t worry, says Martin Brady-Small – he will explain what to do.

As the new Theresa Compangnie takes her seat and starts to read through the script, audience instructions are given.  Jon Grimshaw holds up signs: ‘Applause’ ‘Cheer’ ‘Laugh’ and when they are whipped out of sight the reaction must stop.  A short rehearsal and everyone involved becomes quite tight with their whoops and clapping.  Laughter on demand does not come as easily.  However, this is one thing the cast don’t have to force because this is a genuinely amusing show.

Now the radio play begins – so what’s it about?  The willing audience member plays Flora, a slave girl on FunnyHaHa island who is trying to escape from an evil steward read by Jon Grimshaw.  The details of the plot get lost in the fun of the characters and interruptions for participation or problems on set.  There is a Hip-Hob goblin voiced by Jazz L.Carter.  There are jokes about elves including Filofax the leader of the elf army who is Elf conscious.

Martin Brady-Small has an impressively realistic sounding west country accent for the character of Miner Problem who reports to Jon Grimshaw’s Major Setback.  Martin Brady-Small with or without accents has a great radio voice.

The sound effects by Yaz Al-Shaater range from squeaking doors to Windows shutting down – oh no the laptop has stopped working.  Disaster – but Jazz L.Carter manages to save the day.

The cast asks for audience volunteers to be a goblin group called the Fairer Six who will need to play scrabble and read lines.  No scrabble is played but the volunteers read their parts with spontaneously enthusiastic interpretations of goblin voices.

Jon Grimshaw as the evil steward is about to do something nasty to Flora and he inhales the air from a balloon.  There is not any helium in the balloon so his voice does not become squeaky.  However the expectation of such makes this process amusing.

For the dramatic finale, the audience is asked to make sound effects for the sea, a snake, an explosion and monsters.  There is time to rehearse during an ad break, then its back ‘on air’.

It may help that the actors are performing with their scripts in front of them, which on this occasion is perfectly allowable, it being a radio broadcast.

A fun show which felt relaxed for everyone involved, whether or not it was truly spontaneous – audience member participation – are they plants?  It’s left for the public to decide.  If everyone had a good time, does it matter?

Cast Credits: (alpha order):  Yaz Al-Shaater – Jazz L.Carter.  Tom Crawshaw – Jon Grimshaw.  Michael Grady-Hall – Martin Brady-Small.  Guest Stars:  Theresa Compangnie.  The Fairer Six.  MC Phale.

Company Credits: Writer – Tom Crawshaw.  SFX – Yaz Al-Shaater. Director – Uncredited.  Designer – Uncredited.  Technical Operator – Uncredited.  Producer – Uncredited.  Company – Three’s Company

(c) Wendy Thomson 2010

reviewed Wednesday, 13 January 2010