Tag Archives: Review

Review: One Under

By Keiran Potter

‘One Under’ is a production presented by Graeae and Theatre Royal Plymouth, and is a show that becomes a thrilling scavenger hunt for jigsaw pieces. But even when all the pieces are found, you are still left believing you are missing another piece of the puzzle. A piece that you may never find in the duration of the production and the time that follows.

One Under was an emotionally charged show that left me scratching my head, and I say that in the most positive way possible. I am the kind of person that, when I read something or watch something, I am only truly satisfied when I am presented all of the answers in their entirety. One Under was an exception to the rule, bringing more questions at its curtain call, than it had posed throughout its runtime.

Dealing with important themes such as suicide, mental health and racially charged issues, this story is presented in disorderly fragments, displaying the holes that are left in our lives when someone we love leaves us with no real explanation. The pain that comes from not knowing the story and true feelings of another.

I feel slightly uncomfortable trying to fully portray some of the racial themes. As a white man, I don’t want to incorrectly interpret some aspects of the production. However, what stood out to me was the way in which ethnic minorities were criminalised by society in this production, perhaps something that unfortunately mirrors aspects of real life. They are collectively judged and can be made to feel guilt just for the colour of their skin. Our titular character, Sonny, discusses this and his feelings of obligation to do good deeds as an unnecessary act of reparation. It really raises questions, and highlights the cross sections of discrimination, mental health and suicide within our society.

I don’t want to give too much away, as this production is a brilliant one. However, I would like to finish off by highlighting how brilliant the acting was through out. Whether it was during the most emotional scenes or the comedic moments, every actor became a truly believable, realistic character. In doing so, they brought the important topics and themes explored, that much closer to home.

Review: The Cunning Little Vixen

By Keiran Potter

Going into The Cunning Little Vixen, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t even realise it was an Opera until the very last minute and I think I was better off for that. Instead of going in with a set idea of what would happen, the story unfolded in front of me like the vibrant pages of a fairy tale. It really was quite magical and equally as charming.

I think I originally had a very different and narrow perception of what an Opera actually was. I thought it would be serious and dramatic. I’m not saying it wasn’t those things but it was certainly much more than that. 

Broken into three acts, this magical story follows a cast of forest animals but more specifically the Cunning Vixen herself. We follow her through her capture and escape from the Forester. We are then privy to how through her actions she inspires many, humans and animals alike. A story of two enemies becoming equals.

Another thing I truly wasn’t anticipating was the stunning set design and costuming. It had such a vibrancy and irreverent energy to it. The acting was phenomenal. The only thing I would say is, sometimes I was too busy captivated by what was happening on stage, that I forgot to look up to the small screen that subtitled the Czech Vocals. Nonetheless, the energy outgrew the language being spoken. Even when I missed something I could easily catch up, and enjoy the charming humour peppered throughout.

Even in its seemingly innocent portrayal of forest animals, this production had several strong messages which really did resonate, whilst still adding to the comedy at the same time. For instance, the Vixen at one point tries to rally the Hens, to rise up against the Cock whom is manipulating them, purely for their eggs. This scene had the audience in hysterics yet still held a powerful statement. The importance of challenging authority and pushing back against patriarchal oppression. The story had real heart, even when shrouded in humour.

I am probably not alone when I say, as a 21 year old, who happens to love theatre, I just didn’t think Opera would be my cup of tea. However, I spoke too soon and judged far too early, I was blown away and would encourage anyone who may be hesitant, to experience the magic for themselves.

I would highly recommend visiting the Spring Operas from WNO, coming to Theatre Royal Plymouth early next year, each production for one night only. An experience not to be missed. I promise you.

Review: The Rocky Horror Show

By Megan Dibben

A timeless musical returns…and is still as energetic, hilarious and transfixing as its debut! If you are a theatre fanatic or just looking for evening entertainment which is like nothing else you’ve witnessed before, then this is the perfect production for you. Not only does it include huge amounts of audience participation (which makes the show that much more amusing), it also has the most amazing Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired soundtrack- which really gets the audience on their feet, and I mean literally! If you are considering maybe paying a visit, then I would suggest that you book your tickets as soon as possible because this is a performance you will never forget. You would not regret your choice…

Not only does this play include witty jokes and songs within the performance, but it also allows for audience participation – something you wouldn’t normally get in a regular theatre production. Going to watch Rocky Horror for the first time is very, very strange yet wonderfully entrancing at the same time. You see masses upon masses of people dressed up as their favourite characters, and others dancing around, belting out their favourite show tunes- creating the classic Rocky Horror atmosphere before you even take your seat. And throughout the production, there are a number of pauses, put in place to allow the audience to shout out whatever profanity they choose- which only makes the show that much more enjoyable and comical! It is somehow a perfect combination of pantomime and Broadway style theatre, so cleverly intertwined that it becomes its own type of theatre, which is what makes it so unmissable.

If you think this still isn’t enough to inspire you to purchase some tickets immediately, then you wait until you listen to the songs! Not only do they fit so perfectly in with the dialogue it’s hard to decide which is more entertaining, the crowd goes wild for them every time! As soon as ‘Time Warp’ came on, it was like we were transported to a Rock ‘n’ Roll concert. The audience seemed to know the whole dance, and from first hand experience – it’s not easy to learn!

So, whether you want to try something new or return to an old favourite, I’d suggest this show to absolutely anyone – as it appeals to the masses. This show is proof that no matter how uptight you may be, there is always a way to loosen up and let your hair down!

The Ladder (Review)

By Tobias Chalcraft

If you seek a production that will convert procrastination and grief into motivation, look no further than THE LADDER at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

This intimate, absorbing & emotional show is a real treat for drama fans. The use of excessive volumes, audience interaction and unorthodox casting leaves you engaged and entertained for the duration of this Brechtian-styled performance.

Simple props, including a laptop, water bottle and stationery, provide the cast with a beneficial set of tools to add to their presentation – this includes the use of a water bottle as a spanner in a game which ends up with serious repercussions. Microphones are also scattered around the stage, to allow lines to be delivered with emphasis and boldness, but also to provide a cosy, podcast-like atmosphere at times.

On reflection, the introduction to THE LADDER really sticks out. ‘Emerging’ actor Hugh Hughes, portrayed by Shôn Dale-Jones, starts off by entering the audience to greet us and shake our hands, whilst we are unaware that the show has even started. It is this interaction that ensures we continue to root for him, whether that is by laughter or stunned silence. This is returned by Hughes, who shares his thoughts and feelings like we are imaginary companions.

Initially, the casting of Julian Spooner as the Father is interpreted as comedic, due to the fact he is visibly younger than his on-stage son. However, Spooner’s acting soon captivates hearts and minds as the audience develop empathy for a character that has faced a broken family, illness and a livelihood lost at the hands of urbanisation in the late 1900s.

The layers of an onion are perhaps inferior to the quantity of sub-plots within THE LADDER, and these expertly intertwined stories are tied up by three main events: Hughes’ fascination with Greta Thunberg and the Youth Climate Strikes, his writer’s block and the death of his Father, as a result of him falling off a ladder.

This web of plots provides THE LADDER with its ability to confidently convert unpleasant and relatable behaviours, such as grief and procrastination, into pure motivation to do better in the world. This created a big struggle in reviewing this show, as the simplicity of being absorbed into the storyline maintains a high level across the production – which at one point will allow you to experience joy, sympathy and inspiration in a matter of minutes.

Review: Influence (Theatre Royal Young Company)

By Megan Potterton

The Theatre Royal Young Company return with their latest production this week. Influence is on at The Drum theatre from Wednesday 21st – Saturday 24th August, and is yet another amazing example of the exceptional talent that this young theatre company brings to the stage.

Influence, written by Andy McGregor, is thought provoking, entertaining, funny and at times frightening, and the Young Company have done an amazing job at bringing its characters to life.

The play follows a group of young people who ‘enter a world of illegal data collecting and mind manipulation’ when a local boy goes missing. Without revealing too much of the plot (the twists, turns and shock factor of the play truly make it what it is), the play revolves around technology, adventure, and everything not being as it seems. The writers of Influence have taken inspiration from the likes of Stranger Things, Black Mirror and The Matrix (we were given blue and red ‘pills’/Tic Tacs on our way into the auditorium) to create a story that you can’t help but be drawn into from the very moment the play opens.

Of course, it was not only the play’s plot that captured the audience’s attention on opening night. The company (consisting of a principal cast aged between 14 and 17 years old) immediately brought the play to life with their powerful dialogue and synchronised movements. They created believable and memorable characters and worked incredibly well alongside each other. Each member of the cast was engaging and energetic, adding to the plot with every interaction and facial expression made.

You could certainly feel the energy and excitement of opening night emanate from the cast. Notable performances were given from the young actresses who played Bobby Raferty and Marj Ainsworth, both of whom portrayed interesting and complex characters with what seemed like ease.

The direction, choreography, lighting and sound of this production are also impressive, and definitely play a part in creating a show that leaves such a lasting impact.

Influence is on at The Drum at the Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 24th August. You can buy your tickets here: https://theatreroyal.com/whats-on/influence/#book

Kinky Boots Review: Giving Toxic Masculinity the Boot

By Keiran Potter

A story about family ties and the bounds of friendship, Kinky boots is a fun but moving celebration of humanity. It succeeds in challenging the idea of what it means to be a man, in a world smothered with toxic masculinity. 

A story revolving around a young man inheriting his family business didn’t initially excite the musical theatre geek inside of me. Especially when 1000 pairs of boring brogues are introduced as a plot device. 

However, despite having very little knowledge of the show before attending. I truly loved this musical. It’s silly and fun, yet carries a real message, as great pieces of art often do. It is a political presentation of the working class and the impacts of capitalism and gentrification. More importantly,  it is a touching reflection on masculinity and powerful females, and how humans don’t have to fit into the cookie cutter mould of expectations. Kinky Boots states how the act of accepting people for who they are, is the real key to what makes a man. 

My favourite character was undeniably Lola, the real heart of the show and bringing tears of laughter and of sadness on numerous occasions, portrayed by the talented Kayi Ushe. Lola enters the humdrum city of Nottingham and injects it with her fabulosity. She makes unconventional friendships along the way, allowing the audience to learn the importance of acceptance at the same time as the characters do.

Her presence highlights the power of a pair of heels and passion. The character separates gender from sexuality and shows that all you need is some glitter and determination in order to turn a dream into a future for yourself and those around you. 

The entire cast were excellent, taking you on a real journey with each of their characters. Joel Harper-Jackson, as troubled protagonist Charlie, also deserves a special mention.  At its heart, Kinky Boots is a story about two very different men who realise that, beneath their exterior, they’re made of the same stuff. 

I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say, what an amazing message to share with numerous generations. I couldn’t help but notice the crowd predominantly full of elderly people. To see them laughing along with the numerous drag queens on stage was quite beautiful, an unfamiliar yet stunning dichotomy. 

Looking around further though, I did notice that a lot of the seats were empty. This confused me, as the show progressed and got better and better, with an unmissable moral message. Unfortunately there were just not enough people around to see it. 

I do hope that this was a coincidence and just a quiet night, as I’d hate to think it is the presentation of the characters and subject matter; of drag and breaking down gender barriers, that could have stopped anyone from experiencing this eye opening show for themselves. 

Kinky Boots was on at the Theatre Royal Plymouth from Monday 8th – Saturday 20th July.