Archive for August 23rd, 2010


Pocket Change Comedy

Monday, 23 August, 2010

New Players Theatre, Saturday 14th August, 8pm (1hour, no interval)

Dud Fivers

Pocket change Comedy is a weekly Saturday night offering at the New Players Theatre under the arches near Charing Cross.  This stand up gig was performed in the theatre’s bar area to a rowdy crowd of about 50.

This venue is not ideal as a gig space with a staircase going through the middle of the room which means the audience has to fight for the sofa at the front of the bar.  If you were situated anywhere else you would need to make sure your hearing was tip top, since not only are the acoustics terrible, but the compere of the night (Ross Noble) seems to have forgotten the use of diction. No doubt what he was saying was probably amusing but there was only a slight titter throughout the room because unless you were sat at the front the likelihood of hearing much was zero.

The first stand up of the night was Rob Thomas, it was a poor start which was probably a product of nerves – he just didn’t play to the room but only the people sat at the front on sofas.  Half way through the set, only the crowd could be heard over the comedy. His performance was predictable with jokes about suicide bombers, the tube, and an impression of Bin Laden which sounded Spanish; there was no original material here.

The next stand up was Russ Powell originally from Brighton. He seemed very comfortable in front of the crowd with great opening gags and one-liners similar to Jimmy Carr.  The audience we engaged and constantly giggling throughout.  His jokes were about driving tests, French, road names and he even attempted a song which was a good effort even if it didn’t quite come off. Ross Powell has potential for the future as he was able to interact with the audience and perform with ease.

After Ross Powell was Kate Lucas who stole the whole evening with her musical comedy. Dressed in a little black dress, hoop earrings and striking red hair she started her set off with her bright blue guitar. The first comedic song was about getting it on with someone in her ex’s back garden, great delivery and excellent singing, because of the acoustic and sound system unfortunately the title of songs were sometimes lost.  She received the loudest applause of the evening. Her humour was dry and dark and her jokes about being single had some of the crowd at the back of the room crying with tears. Other songs were about Jeremy Kyle and the BNP. Her comedy and her presence were by far the best of the evening.  If this act hasn’t an agent yet she should have and definitely has a future in comedy.

Last stand-up of the evening was Jag Ghankas. He had the most interesting look with wacky hair, but his comedy was uneventful.  From the moment he was introduced his set fell flat, with poor delivery and no comedic timing, this set seemed doomed to fail from the start. None of his jokes seemed to have punch lines or even any obvious jokes; it seemed like an internal monologue that didn’t flow with pauses in between most subjects as though he had forgotten what he was about to speak about. In these pauses he uses the word “f***ing” a lot, which seemed really irrelevant and inappropriate.  He had one good moment where he joked about dating, but this was the only highlight of his set. Mid way through the audience seemed to be talking between themselves and more happy just drinking their pints.

If the acoustic and seating arrangement could be improved this would be a great venue for up and coming comedians to gig.  Russ Powell and Kate Lucas were the stand out comedians of this evening, but other than that there was a lot of mediocre comedy with a very self indulgent compere.

Compere: Ross Nolan: Comedians (in order of appearance):  Rob Thomas, Russ Powell, Kate Lucas, Jag Ghankas

(c) Rebecca Talbot 2010



Monday, 23 August, 2010

Romeo and Juliet, The Sequel

London Festival Fringe – 5-12, 20, 22, 25, 27 Aug 2010 – Rose Theatre Bankside, 19:30

The play is set in the fictional world of Purgatory.  Romeo and Juliet have died and, as punishment, have been thrust into this place ruled by a wicked Marquis de Sade.  He rules this world like his own private brothel and takes pleasure in sexually humiliating his occupants or using them to satisfy his own desires.

To set the scene for this alternate reality, the stage is divided into three areas.  There is a raised platform with an engraved wooden chair on it.  Artificial roses are strewn along the front with feathers on the front facing side.  The rest of the space is divided in two by tube lights.  There is a tree stump in each area with alternative halves of a red heart on the top of them.   A large projection of an illustration is on the far wall, explaining what the stage represents.  It depicts a man up high on a balcony overlooking two figures in two halves of a stone room, separated by a wall.  He can see them but they cannot see each other.

A disorientated Juliet ponders about Romeo’s whereabouts on one side of the wall.  On the other, Cupid ponders the whereabouts of his love Psyche, whilst maintaining his collection of Spanish flies.  The Marquis de Sade oversees all this and toys with his pawns in this giant game of chess.  He insults them, torments them and is generally quite immoral and sexual in his behaviour towards them.  Romeo and Psyche enter the picture also and, similarly disorientated and confused, try to figure out their current situations.  It is then up to Juliet and Cupid to make sense of it all and decide whether they will try to win back their lovers or let the inevitable happen and let the Marquis do what he will with them all.

Kitty Chapman plays Psyche as a vacant and nonchalant woman who lives for the flesh.  She cares not about Cupid, cares a little about Romeo and cares a lot about herself.

Adam Elliott is a fine Cupid.  He is barefoot and wears pair of torn cream knee length trousers.  He is bruised, cut and has two bloody stumps up high on his shoulders, like two wings have been wrenched off.  He portrays the tormented mind well.  Throughout the play the confusion and struggle are played out through his facial expressions, actions and eloquent speech.  He is animated and humorous and able to gain empathy also.

Lucy Grainger is a Juliet with a child’s innocence but quickly matures due to her situation.  She wears a black dress with a metal cross around her neck and is barefooted.  She has a sweet voice, demonstrated near the end in a wedding song.

Adam Hall is a dashing Romeo.  Wearing an embroidered black shirt and black trousers, he strides in, head held high and holds himself well on stage.  He is not in the play that often but when he is, he makes it count.  He is charming and likeable and makes Romeo out to be a kind-hearted man who just wants to love and be loved.

Graham Hornsby is believable as a character plucked from the eighteenth century.  He wears a white shirt with puffed sleeves, cream knee length breeches, red tights and black shoes with a large buckle on them.  He maintains a skilful French accent throughout and it is quite humorous the ways he uses it to say various words to give them that extra edge.  He relishes in his role, is very sexual and has the look of a hungry lover about him.

Tracy Keeling writes in rhyme for the majority of the play and this positively adds to the atmosphere.  It is clever and humorous at times.  The story of Romeo and Juliet beyond death is an interesting one to consider and she has considered it with porn as the main ingredient.  She directs the cast well.  Cupid movements are the most effective as he uses a lot of the stage and has different levels and jumps up onto the fence behind them all at one point.  There are nerving moments however when the actors have to climb up onto the platform and if they are not careful, could end up plummeting to the excavation site below.

Jake Spicer’s illustration depicts the fantasy world cleverly and is essential to aid the play.  At the end, it turns into a disturbing picture of the same scene with Juliet dead and evil with leaves scattered all around her, like a scene from an old horror film.

Pawnography is what it is.  It is a blue version of the star-crossed lovers’ story, set in purgatory with a similar tragic and sad ending.  It could have been worthy of many more compliments but after a scene of a fourteen year old Juliet being sexually abused by the Marquis, there was simply no further merit to speak of.  A play best left on the fiction shelf.

Cast credits: Kitty Chapman – Psyche.  Adam Elliott – Cupid.  Lucy Grainger – Juliet.  Adam Hall – Romeo.  Graham Hornsby – The Marquis de Sade.

Company Credits: Writer/Director – Tracy Keeling.  Assistant Director – Belinda Wylie.  Fine Artist – Jake Spicer.  Musician – Sorana Santos (Lyrebird).  Operations Manager, The Rose Theatre Trust – Pepe Pryke

(c) Chantal Pierre-Packer 2010

reviewed Wednesday 11 August 2010


Kink Ink

Monday, 23 August, 2010

In Basque Country

London Festival Fringe – Seven Dials Club – 18 August 10 – 20:00 (1:45)

The evening took place in the lounge of the Seven Dials club, a smart and relaxed space gracefully decorated with slightly erotic photos, setting the scene for the burlesque-influenced art to follow.

Favouring candles and soft lamps to the overhead fixtures, the Kink Ink models transformed the meeting room into a sultry den, with a simple stage at the front featuring a large leather sofa and small leather ottoman.  Dotted around the performance area easels accompanied by chairs, leather boxed ottomans and tables, offering myriad perspectives.  Brenda Brown provided pencils, pens, erasers, paper sheets of varied sizes and backing boards.  Armed with the supplies, the prospective artists settled into an evening of drawing.

Led by the vivacious Cecilia Lundqvist, the models opened with a series of brisk 2-3 minute poses, accompanied by a slightly indulgent soundtrack of wordless synthesized tones and sweeping ocean sounds.  Although a nautical theme had been introduced at the beginning, it felt an afterthought, neither well executed nor necessary.  In this introduction, the artists focused upon capturing the stance as a whole; warming up to the more demanding poses to follow.  The models then led into a burst of one-minute poses, with the artists scratching and scribbling furiously to old French jazz recordings.  In this case, the setting, costumes and poses harmonised perfectly.  Cecilia Lundqvist then reined in the pace, shifting to longer poses of five to ten minutes.  This allowed the artists in depth forays into the angles, folds and shapes laid forth.  The return to the epic soundtrack of before worked better in this instance, as it essentially suspended time.  Every eye in the room focused entirely upon the models. The evening finished with a return to the one-minute poses of before, welcomed by a fresh burst of jazz and emphasizing the surprisingly dynamic nature of the art of life drawing.

There were three models, providing a spectrum of textures and angles to capture.  Cecilia Lundqvist was the lead model and director.  Dressed in a simple, flowing peach night gown, she looked every inch 1930s pin-up model with her dark brown hair in a bob and bright red lipstick.  The shift was quickly discarded, revealing a sexy black and green under bust corset, black satin shorts and white stockings.  Though perfectly still, Cecilia Lundqvist’s poses radiated energy, similar to that possessed by the best ballet dancers.  She effortlessly presented a series of stances highlighting the intriguing angles and elegant shapes of the human body.  Julie Chaussat was flirtatiously decked out in a short cream satin negligee, with a deep blue trim.  Her short blond hair swooped across her face, escaping from underneath a jaunty sailor’s hat (the only real nod to the nautical theme mentioned above).  Her poses were languid, nearly to the point of being lifeless.  The wilted nature of the poses called for an examination of the long, elegant lines of the body and the soft ripples of satin. Sati Jhutti was resplendent with cascading dark hair, dressed in a scarlet corset and white pantaloons. Her poses appeared refined and contained in comparison to Julie Chaussat, though without the energy of Cecilia Lundqvist.  The combined effect evoked a gothic and old world atmosphere.

Cast Credits:  Julie Chaussat – Model.  Sati Jhutti – Model. Cecilia Lundqvist Model.

Company Credits:  Director – Cecilia Lundqvist. Director and Events Organiser for London Fringe – Brenda Brown.  Company – Kink Ink (  Organising Company – Creekside Artists (

(c) Molly Doyle 2010



Monday, 23 August, 2010

Free comedy

Edinburgh – Base Nightclub – 11-28 August 2010 – 18.15 (0.50)

Freefall is a totally free, fifty-minute sketch show which struggles to keep its head above water amongst the sea of identical sketch based shows which descend upon Edinburgh every August.  The show is on at Base Nightclub – a cavernous warehouse of a bar.  With its gaudy wall-to-wall mirrors and its ‘rustic’ concrete floors it begs a remembrance of the kind of place you tried to sneak into when you where sixteen.  As the audience sit in their fittingly low budget deck chairs – which have been placed rather haphazardly around the raised dance floor in the corner of the club – the lights go dark.

The show begins with writer and performer, Will Lawton, analyzing the pitfalls of social situations and explaining how to act appropriately within them.  He expressed the importance of straying away from your own opinions and staying within the vague realm of generality – unfortunately and rather ironically the same realm which the majority of the show seemed to reside.

The sketches range quite dramatically not only in subject matter but also in quality.  While there where several pieces which proved to be clever, well written sketches, many of the others felt lackluster and underdeveloped.  One of the standout pieces, however, was a spoof of the famous British television game show ‘Deal or No Deal’. In this version, the contestant (Connor Jones) was playing for much higher stakes.  Instead of just money, he was also playing for his wife and kids who had maliciously been taken captive by a banker who apparently thought himself a bit of a mobster.  The sketch appears to be poking fun at the participants of this and similarly styled game-shows who work themselves into such hysterical frenzies over a mere game and a bit of petty cash.

The wit and humor of the piece however was unfortunately let down by the execution.  The entire show lacked energy and the performers all appeared to have glaring commitment issues.  Successful sketch comedy achieves greatness through a strict precision of the execution.  It doesn’t matter how good the script might be, if the performers do not commit themselves one hundred and ten percent to the material then the show will lag and the audience will become agitated as they try to sneak out the back – as many of them did, regrettably.

Even the technical side of the show was lacking.  Many times not knowing what it was meant to be doing.  More than once within the show the lights would go dark at the end of a scene before coming immediately back on – much to the performers bewilderment – and then back down again.  The same issue effected the music which would play between the segments as well.  There was even a distinct sound of a windows computer rebooting itself after apparently freezing up at one point.

The show might well have untapped potential hidden within it, but the production is in need of a heavy dose of caffeine and a fair bit of focused direction.

Cast Credits: Liz Campbell. Connor Jones. Will Lawton. Chris Royds. Kristin Van Steemburg.

Company Credits: Writer – Will Lawton. Director – Will Kemp. Lighting Designer – uncredited. Sound Designer – uncredited. Technical Operator – uncredited. Producer – uncredited. Company – Out The Window

(c) Carl Livesay

reviewed Friday 20 August 2010