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Review: Bang Bang! @ Exeter Northcott

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bang Bang!, John Cleese’s stage debut, gives us everything we could expect of a farce: dropped and misplaced trousers, slammed doors and hiding in wardrobes. While it’s undeniable that the audience enjoys this, there’s a lingering feeling of nostalgia for a genre which has certainly passed its heyday.

Adapted from Georges Feydeau’s French farce Monsieur Chasse!, Bang Bang! centres on a story of marital deceit with the wronged Leontine (Tessa Peake-Jones) taking revenge on her philandering husband, Duchotel (Tony Gardner), by setting up her own affair with Doctor Moricet (Richard Earl). The two couples end up conducting their affairs in opposite apartments which the fallen Countess Latour (Wendi Peters) manages. Leontine and Duchotel’s desperate attempts to conceal their affairs from the other result in tremendous laughter from the audience. Continue reading Review: Bang Bang! @ Exeter Northcott

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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.
Continue reading Review: Salmon @ Exeter Phoenix

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Interview: Tessa Peake-Jones, Actor in Bang Bang!

Farce is “a particular sense of humour”, Tessa Peake-Jones admits as we sit down to chat in Bang Bang!’s rehearsal space at Exeter’s Maketank. It’s less than a week before their opening night at Exeter Northcott and for Peake-Jones, known for her roles in Only Fools and Horses and Granchester, this is her first experience acting what she refers to as “proper farce, traditional farce.” It is also the stage writing debut of British comedy legend, John Cleese, who has previously achieved global success with works such as Monty Python and Fawlty Towers. Continue reading Interview: Tessa Peake-Jones, Actor in Bang Bang!

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Interview: Wendi Peters, Actor in Bang Bang!

Adapted by John Cleese from a late 19th century comedy by Georges Feydeau, Bang Bang! begins its UK tour at the Exeter Northcott Theatre, performing from 6-15 February. It’s a farce about extra-marital affairs, deception, revenge, traps and chaos!

I interviewed Wendi Peters, who plays Countess Latour, prior to the show’s opening and was intrigued to hear how she’d describe the play in her own words. “Bang Bang! is a fast, funny farce. It’s absolute mayhem. But it’s brilliant mayhem.” Audiences can expect things to go “horribly wrong,” the unusual breaking of the fourth wall, for doors and wardrobes to come in, and a pair of trousers to play a role in the comedy (as is typical of farce). She affirms, “it is just brilliant, and it will definitely keep your attention and keep you laughing for a full two hours.” Continue reading Interview: Wendi Peters, Actor in Bang Bang!

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Review: Exeter University Shakespeare Company’s King Lear

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

King Lear is fundamentally a play about intragenerational power struggles, and Exeter University Shakespeare Company’s powerful performance, directed by Megan Shepherd and Matt Smith, explores the intricacies of jealousy, love and madness in a remarkably insightful way. The close environment of the cathedral setting allows the audience to take on the role of Lear’s court, almost becoming part of the painful deterioration of the kingdom. Continue reading Review: Exeter University Shakespeare Company’s King Lear

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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