Archive for March, 2011


Comedy (and a kids’ show) at the Pleasance – Coming Soon

Friday, 11 March, 2011

Humphrey Ker: Work in Progress
Tuesday, 15th March
One third of The Penny Dreadfuls, the best-loved sketch troupe at the Edinburgh Fringe, and star of BBC2’s Fast & Loose,

Crash Test Comedy
Wednesday, 16th March
Hosted by Idiots of Ants, this monthly sketch, stand-up, music and character comedy night sees the best acts on the London circuit ‘crash test’ their most recent material.

Delete the Banjax… and Friends
Friday, 18th March
A chance to see an extended set of new material from host act Delete the Banjax every month as well as the best stand-up, character and sketch guest acts on the live circuit.

The Humble Quest for Universal Genius
Saturday, 19th March
This quiz show sees comedian Mark Allen pit top stand-ups against each other in a bid to find a modern-day Universal Genius, someone who excels in every single facet of human understanding.

Itch: A Scratch Event
Sunday, 20th March
Comedians Theatre Company brings us a mixed bag of brand new work. Rehearsed and unrehearsed material, a bunch of talent, and lots of fun!

Storytellers’ Club
Sunday, 20th March
The monthly storytelling club, for people who like their comedy a little more magical

Comedy Reserve Try-Out
Monday, 4th April – Tuesday, 5th April
Come and join us at the Pleasance London as we try and select the cream of the crop of young comedians to take with us to Edinburgh.

The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Tuesday, 5th April – Friday, 25th April
Using everyday objects found in the attic, five of the best-beloved stories that have enchanted both children and adults for generations are discovered and brought to life.

Working Title
Friday, 8th April
The new improvisation show from Feature Spot, featuring the stars of BBC2’s hit improv show Fast and Loose

The Hollycopter
Saturday, 9th April
Comedy preview by the Chortle Best Newcomer, Holly Walsh – as seen on 8 out of 10 Cats, Mock the Week, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Dave’s One Night Stand.

Arnab Chanda
Sunday, 10th April
Arnab Chanda’s first solo show, a work in progress pointlessly entitled ‘Dr. Sad Cookiepants and No Spring Chicken’. No jokes. No stories. Just reading out and doing his favorite little weird things

Beat This
Monday, 11th April
A music-based game show from Rob Deering. Each night four different stand-ups and one audience battle and banter it out over the highs and lows of rock and pop

Benny Boot: Set-up, Punchline…Pause for Laughter
Wednesday, 27th April
NBC’s Last Comic Standing (UK Finalist) previews his debut hour show Set-up, Punchline


Shakespeare, Stand-up, Modern Dance, Greek Myths – All coming to the Blue Elephant

Wednesday, 9 March, 2011

Spring and Summer at the Blue Elephant

Comedy, tragedy, dance - this summer at the Blue Elephant in Camberwell

The Blue Elephant theatre in Camberwell has an interesting Spring/Summer season coming up, beginning with Shakespeare’s Macbeth from 22 March to 16 April.

This is Shakespeare’s classic, but with a contemporary edge and delivered by Lazarus Theatre Company, whose director, Ricky Dukes, rarely disappoints.

The dark world of witchcraft and sorcery is followed by the Elephunny season, on 4th and 11th May, with stand-ups previewing their Edinburgh offerings, and a double bill of contemporary dance and new writing from 19 – 21 May.

Unmythable (25 – 28 May) is an action packed show featuring the Greek myths as you’ve probably never seen them before – The Odyssey told from a disgruntled foot soldier’s perspective is just one example – presented by Temple Theatre.

And the rich mix of performance continues throughout the summer.


In Dundee, Manchester

Tuesday, 8 March, 2011

Fringe performers are out there across the UK

In Manchester, award-winning Organised Chaos Productions are staging Peacefully At Home, written by Nicola Schofield, at Taurus Bar, from 6th to 9th April.

In Peacefully At Home an unseen Dad drifts away upstairs, and Bridget and her grown up children gather for their last respects. As long held secrets threaten to be revealed, and new ones vie to be created, tensions crackle below the surface. Dad might be leaving peacefully, but will he be taking peace away with him?

Nicola Schofield won the 2004 Royal Exchange Theatre WRITE 2 Bruntwood Playwright competition with Maybe Tomorrow.

Meanwhile in Dundee, from 28th March to 9 April, Dundee Rep Ensemble presents The Firebird a witty and wise family adventure by children’s playwright Neil Duffield. Directed by James Brining this thrilling production follows young Prince Ivan as he embarks on a magical adventure to a place far from the world he knows.

Designer Colin Richmond (Sweeney Todd) works with Lighting Designer Chris Davey (Peer Gynt), Composer John Harris (Mother Courage) and Puppet Designer Rachael Canning (The Three Musketeers, Traverse) to create a world of sorcery and witchcraft where true love is only a wooden heart away.


Waterproof, by Teresa Burns

Saturday, 5 March, 2011

Some gentle wonders, very good stagecraft

Waterproof is a one-woman show played with a lot of charm by Eva Sampson, as a wide-eyed innocent, fascinated by water, devastated by the loss of her job at Luton’s (fictional, we hope) Waterworld, and upset by the loss of a boyfriend she never had. At its best – and its best was really very good indeed – it had an elegant, self-deprecating humour that was reflective, insightful and delivered with a real awareness that entertainment was the goal. The extensive range of props on the stage were brought to play in ways that met the needs of the subject matter head on.

Early on, Laura admits us to her fantasy, a red-headed girl who finds a compelling vision of herself as a princess in a fairytale world under the sea, using a big book and a few cut out figures to make her point, and it all works beautifully.

The magic doesn’t end there; there are many other moments of revelation (about the nature of Laura’s character mostly) and the way she uses props is often reminiscent of a Jacques Tati character. Madeleine Scott Cree should also be given a mention here, because this is a busy show for lights and sound and the chief technician from the Archway Theatre in Horley hit every cue on the night.

Its not all good news though. The storyline is thin throughout (why is she still in the abandoned Waterworld building?) And though Eva Sampson puts a lot of effort into making her character big enough to fill the stage, the idea of a ‘love at first sight’ attraction to one of the visitors to the acquarium in its final days isn’t really enough to sustain more than a pale imitation of a Bridget Jones scenario, even if – in this case – girl doesn’t get boy. Something extra is needed to pull this into a different category if it  really is to be powerfully, or just wittily, different.

There is though, a piece of lovely fantasy once more towards the end of the ninety minutes of so of the performance, and the way that the wheelbarrow becomes, with the aid of a couple of torches and some balloons, a ship of dreams is a simple but wonderfully effective piece of showmanship.

In the end, this production is full of heart and nicely mounted, but charming and engaging are the adjectives most appropriately used about the performance, while the subject matter remains just a little bit tired.

Eva Sampson – Laura

Writer – Teresa Burns; Lighting and sound – Madelaine Scott Cree; Production – How it ended productions

reviewed Friday, 4 March 2011, at the Courtyard Theatre Studio

(c) michael spring 2011


Fen, by Caryl Churchill

Friday, 4 March, 2011

Playing now, at the Finborough Theatre

Featureless, abundant, windswept - the landscape of drama

Fen is a 90 minute drama, first performed in 1983, the first play in a three-month season of plays by women writers at the award-winning Finborough Theatre.

The play is a snapshot of rural life in that slightly strange area of Norfolk south of Kings Lynn, and north of Ely where landmarks are rare and the dark, rich earth – reclaimed from sea and swamp – is extraordinarily productive. But the drama attempts much more than just a snapshot. It links the continually changing and often personally painful circumstances of the area – from the draining of the fens to the problems of making agriculture economically viable in the 20th century – to the world of the 1980’s and to the tragedy of one particular woman, a mother who deserts her children for a lover, and yet finds that she cannot live without them.

All of the actors here are called upon to play multiple – and often very different – roles, moving from, in one instance, Japanese businessman to grandmother for example. It has to be said that in most cases, these are extremely successful. In a few instances though, a character doesn’t have quite enough to sustain it, and there is an element of trickery for trickery’s sake. Nevertheless, there are a lot of strong perfomances. Nicola Harrison for example, moves smoothly from a boy scaring birds to a supremely vindictive step-mother to a born-again Christian in a seamless manner. The same is true for others with less dramatic shifts of character to cope with.

The play is made up from a number of short illustrative scenes – some concerned with agriculture and the particular circumstances of the area, others with individuals and the circumstances that surround their lives, given the limited possibilities that have been open in this peculiar part of the world. The whole thing revolves around the passionate Val (Katherine Burford) whose story is at the heart of the elements of the plot.

Designer James Button has given director Ria Parry an imaginative set to work with and the pace is nicely sustained throughout. Whether the strength of the passion at the heart of the drama is enough to keep the other elements of the plot in perspective is something that will be a personal judgement. Sometimes, there seemed to be slight imbalances between scenes based on what was obviously painstaking research and the need to keep a focus on the central proposition, but this is a very watchable play, albeit with moments that are acutely painful. And what cannot be denied is the overwhelming authenticity of both the voices and their stories, springing from the soil as readily as the abundant crops that have only sporadically sustained them.

Cast: Alex Beckett – Wilson, Frank, Mr Tewson, Geoffrey; Katharine Burford – Val, Ghost; Elicia Daly – Mrs Hasset, Becky, Alice, Ivy; Nicola Harrison – Boy, Angela, Deb, Mrs Finch; Wendy Nottingham – Shirley, Shona, Miss Cade, Margaret; Rosie Thompson – Japanese businessman, Nell, May, Mavis

Director – Ria Parry; Designer – James Button; Lighting – David W Kidd; Sound/composer – Dave Price; Assistant Director – Laura Keefe

reviewed Thursday 3 March

(c) michael spring 2011


Off Cut Festival welcomes new writers

Thursday, 3 March, 2011

On 1st March, In Company Theatre launched its Off Cut 2011 and is accepting short play submissions from new and undiscovered playwrights.

Following the successes of previous years, In Company Theatre will be moving the festival to the renowned Riverside Studios in Hammersmith this coming autumn.

Writers may submit plays of no more than 15 minutes in length. There are no restrictions on style, topic or genre.

Closing date for submissions is 1st June, after which, 28 plays will be selected to show in rep at the Riverside Studios over the first two weeks of the festival. During this time, the audience will be voting for their favourite plays. The top eight plays will run for the whole of the third week, with the audience still voting for the ultimate winner.

This winner will have a full play produced by In Company at The Riverside Studios.

There will also be a panel of industry professionals – headed by the National Theatre’s Writer-in-Residence, Moira Buffini – on the final night. They will award further prizes for writing, directing and acting. Past panel members include Patricia Hodge, directors Nigel Douglas and Psyche Stott, writers Josephine Melville, Tena Stivicic, and literary agents Lisa Babalis and Anna Brewer.

For more information on how to apply please visit


Hoopla Season, at the Miller London Bridge

Wednesday, 2 March, 2011

It’s Hoopla time – Improv and Stand up – at the Miller, London Bridge. The following is the same for all the shows.

Doors 7:30pm, Show 8pm – 10pm with interval. £5 on the door. At The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London Bridge, London, SE1 3SS.

Individual shows:

Tuesday 22nd March 2011
Improv. The Simple Show with improvised scenes and sketches, followed by Fingers On Buzzards the improvised comedy meets pub quiz meets game show.

Tuesday 5th April 2011
Improv. Murder mystery themed improv show with The Faux Pas, followed by an improvised musical from Music Box.

Tuesday 12th/13th April 2011
Description: Stand Up For The First Time. 15 people do stand up for the first time ever.

Date: Tuesday 19th April 2011
Improv. TV inspired improv show from Do Not Adjust Your Stage followed by an improvised musical from Music Box.

Tuesday 26th April 2011.
Improv with The Maydays, award winning improvised comedy troupe from Brighton

Wednesday 27th April 2011.
Avant garde improvised comedy from Friendly Fire’s collective of musicians, dancers, actors

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