Review: Salmon @ Exeter Phoenix

Entering Exeter Phoenix’s Workshop, we find protagonist Angus (Josh Smith) sprawled on a mattress, surrounded by marks of decay and neglect. In his litter of crushed beer cans, empty wrappers and cigarette packets, it’s easy to see that this is a man who’s not doing well. Yet Angus is much less capable of admitting this to himself. On this journey towards acceptance, writers and directors Constance McCaig and Eva Lily have shaped a compelling narrative that bravely faces drug-culture, mental health, and the difficulties of youth, delving into these complex themes with fierce honesty and intensity.
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Review: A Taste of Honey @ Trafalgar Studios

A Taste of Honey, Shelagh Delaney’s debut play (written when she was just 19 years old), proves that being a product of its time does not stop art from being important to contemporary audiences. Bijan Sheibani’s current touring production, for the National Theatre and showing at Trafalgar Studios in London this holiday season, only serves to reiterate this point. When the play premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1958, it was considered part of the post-war ‘kitchen sink’ genre because of how it revolutionised British theatre by questioning class, race, gender and sexuality in mid-20th century Britain. Continue reading Review: A Taste of Honey @ Trafalgar Studios

Review: The Taming of the Shrew @ The Barbican

Until recently, all that I knew about the plot of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew was what I had seen in 10 Things I Hate About You: the frosty, hostile Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) softens when she accidentally falls for the slightly intimidating Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger). On my way to London, to see this production I felt reasonably excited by the prospect of watching the original play. The idea of going to see a performance at the Barbican over the Christmas period sounds enticing – especially when it is to watch something as cultured as a Shakespeare play. Little did I know that I would not be so pleased afterwards. Continue reading Review: The Taming of the Shrew @ The Barbican

Review: Quirk Theatre’s ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ @ Exeter Phoenix

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A delightful, magical, and charming rendition of the timeless children’s book to warm every audience member’s heart this festive season.

When I went to see Quirk Theatre’s adaptation of Margery Williams’ classic children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit, I must admit that I was dubious and had a few questions. In particular, how was this cast going to convey and embody the actions and emotions of a stuffed rabbit? However, Quirk Theatre quashed all my doubts and left me yearning to re-read the charming children’s book in order to re-live their heartwarming production of the story.  Continue reading Review: Quirk Theatre’s ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ @ Exeter Phoenix

Review: Substance and Shadow Theatre’s ‘Walking with God’

Substance and Shadow Theatre are an Exeter-based theatre company with a propensity for horror and history, shown in their most recent production, Walking with God. An immersive and creepy original play, the show demonstrates the company’s inventive and unique nature, which perfectly suits the darker side of Exeter’s past.  

Performed in St Nicholas Priory, the eerie ex-monastery gave a ghostly edge to their dark piece on Jack the Ripper, and with a large portion of the action set in Exeter Digby Mental Asylum, Substance and Shadow convincingly brought the London murders to its Devon audience. Even upon entering the building through Exeter’s darker alleyways, it felt as though we were transported to the labyrinth of 19th Century Whitechapel. Their choice of venue and aptly decorated, candle-lit scene perfectly combined with the immersive nature of their theatre, culminating in a time-travel experience to Victorian London/Exeter. 
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Romeo A Juliet @ Exeter Northcott

Ballet Cymru, led by artistic director Darius James (OBE), claims to do things a bit differently. If we are to judge by this revival tour of their 2013 ballet Romeo a Juliet, choreographed by him and assistant artistic director Amy Doughty, that statement is indeed true. I applaud the moves towards inclusivity, which feel genuine and never tokenistic. To have a female dancer portraying Benvolio and Friar Lawrence, as well as a wheelchair-using dancer (Joe Powell-Main) in ballet are mention-worthy. It would have been wonderful to see Powell-Main featured even more prominently, but this inclusion is definitely the move in the right direction for ballet and dance in general. Continue reading Romeo A Juliet @ Exeter Northcott

Review: Bleak House@Exeter Northcott

Atmospheric, theatrical, dirty and playful. Artaud and Brecht as a way to explore this episodic novel.

A dark and challenging night of theatre. If that’s what you like, you will be a fan of David Glass Ensemble’s production of Bleak House. What they do, they do very well.

The company of actors in white face paint with exaggerated facial features emerge around the audience, inciting gentle participation and thrusting the story right in our faces. It is expressionistic, visceral and self-aware. Scenes gel into one another, actors transform into different characters in front of our eyes, and the set of two-story scaffolding with removable wooden slabs and vertical steps literally frames the narrative. The whole stage is placed onto a layer of dirt and the costumes indicate the worn-out feel so vividly presented in Charles Dickens’ novel. Continue reading Review: Bleak House@Exeter Northcott

Review: Spork’s First Birthday

I must have walked past A Little Drop of Poison dozens of times during my time in Exeter. The pub on Fore Street blends away into the background, unlike the Chev or The Black Horse, with even the doorway quite easy to miss. But in this pub in Exeter, where the ceilings are so low your whole hand can lie flat on it if you stretch up, there is a spoken word night once a month called Spork. Continue reading Review: Spork’s First Birthday

Review: The Lovely Bones @ Exeter Northcott

***** 5 stars A thrilling story of love, loss and growth is brought to life on the Northcott stage. WARNING – Strobe lights used throughout, so if you go and see this play, which I urge you to, beware of this. Prior to seeing the play, I considered myself superficially familiar with the intentionally messy and complicated plot, due to the smash hit film. Quick … Continue reading Review: The Lovely Bones @ Exeter Northcott