Archive for August 9th, 2010



Monday, 9 August, 2010

Clowns deliver creepy cabaret

London – The Lion and Unicorn Theatre – 4 – 5 August 10 – 18:30 (1:00)

Clowns At Work’s second outing together does what it says on the tin.  Only it’s written in clown: this is macabre cabaret.  Three clowns in far more than three guises entertain with a variety of morbidly and spookily themed skits.

Cabaret clowns, it would appear, are gloriously aware and unaware of stagecraft.  As cabaret performers, they all perform willingly to a soundtrack which encompasses the thrillingly chilling, the suitably dramatic (Beethoven’s 5th) and sometimes the delightfully inappropriate (Elvis’s Love Me Tender).  But the clown in them can still be surprised or frightened by music and sound effects as well.  A prop will be stylishly caught in the wings then comically dropped a moment later.  And one clown clearly hasn’t read the horror brief at first.

A member of the undead (Marc Frost) writing a suicide letter to his mother is a wonderful conceit.  While his amusing attempts at the act itself could do with more polish, Alica Da Cunha’s inanely grinning helmeted aide to undead euthanasia is a sight to behold.  Her later turn as a clown pursued by death, whilst simultaneously performing death pursuing a clown is also very funny.

Marc Frost has a great stage presence as Dracula, but is at his best as a cross dressing story-telling clown with a macabre appetite for babies.  Watching him feed is fantastic; he should indulge us more.  Daniela Bitzi is a charming yet sinister clown.  Her Germanic witch’s cookery class is highly entertaining and her turn as a boxer, wooing ladies to less savoury ends, is a clownish triumph of mime, performed to a wonderfully comic choice of musical accompaniment.  All three performers move well, however there is mime which could do with more clarity.  Some sketches drift in search of an ending, and the Frankensteins do not deserve such lengthy stage time in their present form.

Adding horror to cabaret and vice versa brings humour to both.  The laughs are there, though more could found and some moments edited to avoid excess.  The show is restricted a little by the constraints of the space (these clowns could do with wings).  Despite the theme, there’s little in the way of frights, but Macabret can be very funny and the spectacular climax is both gruesome and haunting…

Cast Credits: (alpha order):  Daniela Bitzi,  Alice Da Cunha,  Marc Frost

Company Credits:  Devised by the Company.  Stage Manager – Elizabeth Scales.  Company – Clowns at Work.  Website –

(c) Ben Neale

Reviewed Thursday, 05 August 2010 / The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, London UK


Kooky Babooshka

Monday, 9 August, 2010

The edited review can now be read here:


The Philanderer, by George Bernard Shaw

Monday, 9 August, 2010

Caught between two women

The Greenwich Playhouse 20th July – 15th August 19:30 (21:40 2 Acts, 15 min interval)  Sundays at 4pm.

Charteris (Michael Longhi) a self-confessed philanderer, is caught between two women.  The women in question are his new flame, Grace (Sarine Sofair), and Julia (Kelli White), the old flame who is determined to secure him in marriage by any means necessary.  By the end of the first scene, one woman has retreated to her bedroom, the other is raising hell in the living room and the fathers of both (Craven – Marcus Taylor and Cuthbertson – Robert Rowe), long lost friends, are advancing towards the front door.  After a delicate aversion of social disaster, the group plans a trip to the Ibsen club where ‘modern’ values, namely sexual equality, are championed and displayed to varying degrees of success by its members.  Here Paramore (Darren Munn) feverishly reads the medical journals and obsesses over his scientific discovery, Craven’s ‘terminal’ disease, and Julia’s sister Sylvia (Kirsty Lee-Turner) sets about being the least ‘womanly’ woman she possibly can.  Thus the stage is set for a comedy built on romantic ruses and a generous helping of Bernard Shaw’s tongue-in-cheek turn of last century social commentary.

Michael Longhi is The Philanderer

Shaw’s script is a gift and the cast presents it with enthusiasm and energy. Structural features, such as a particularly pacy opening 15 minutes and a second act that is considerably shorter than the first, really work in the play’s favour.  The director (Bart Williams) has taken these cues and pushed the play through at a satisfying speed.  Even the scene changes are executed with energy and interest, as led by Adam Glass who takes on the stage management as well as the small acting role of Paige.

The one major difficulty of this play is vocal.  Too many of the characters make their points by shouting and screaming.  In the case of Julia at least, a high level of hysteria is definitely justified in the text, but in such a small theatre the decibel levels reached so often in the play did become hard on the ears.

On a more positive note, the simple, period, design worked well. The accessories to the characters costumes (costume design by Lisa Gaunt) were particularly enjoyable.  Charteris’ scarf, Sylvia’s spats and Grace’s hat gave an appreciable visual finishing touch to the production.

Michael Longhi’s Charteris is energetic, flamboyant and fun, and he delivers a large amount of text with very clear story telling. Darren Munn’s Paramore is delightfully earnest, romantically inept, and likeable above all.  Kelli White’s Julia is an unerringly difficult woman who pulls off a very impressive faint. Marcus Taylor and Robert Rowe are a likeable duo as Craven and Cuthbertson and are a good counterpoint to many of the more frenetic characters, while Adam Glass’s behaviour as Paige is fittingly inappropriate.  Particularly enjoyable characterizations are Sarine Sofair’s Grace, executed with admirable poise and believability and Kirsty Lee-Turner’s Sylvia, who has lots of get up and go and great comic timing.   

There are several enjoyable features in this production, most notably the cast’s energy and George Bernard Shaw’s wit.

Cast credits (alpha order):  Adam Glass – Paige, Michael Longhi – Charteris, Darren Munn – Paramore, Marcus Taylor – Craven, Kirsty Lee Turner – Sylvia, Robert Rowe – Cuthbertson, Kelli White – Julia.

Company credits:  Director – Bart Williams, Costume Design – Lisa Gaunt, Sell a Door core team – Phillip Rowntree, David Hutchinson, Ally Thornton, Robert Gilbert, Scott Weston, Carl Vorwerk and Felicity Jackson.

Greenwhich Playhouse credits:  Artistic Director – Alice De Sousa,  Co-director Jamieson, Box Office – Elizabeth Buckeridge.

(c) Jennifer Skapeti 2010