Mates blogger: John Chapman


John Chapman is one of over 45 theatre bloggers who are part of the MyTheatreMates collective. This page features John's posts on MyTheatreMates. Take a look at our full list of theatre bloggers and our aggregated feed of all our Mates' posts. We’re always looking for new theatre bloggers. Could that be you? Learn about how to join us.
John Chapman
John Chapman works as a freelance education consultant, writer and copy editor. Prior to this, he was an Assistant Headteacher specialising in English and Drama. John first took to the stage as a schoolboy pretending to be a Latin frog. Decades later, he has been involved with 150+ productions, usually as an actor or director. He is currently a member of Tower Theatre in Stoke Newington, London. In 2016, he was in their “mechanicals” team that worked as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play For The Nation, appearing both at the Barbican and in Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2004, he served as a panellist on the Olivier Awards; he is currently an Offies assessor. He reviews for a variety of websites, writes his own independent blog 2ndFromBottom about his theatrical life.
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The latest from John on MyTheatreMates

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‘Sombre mood, visual distortions, intense emotions’: THE HAIRY APE — Online

In Features, Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

I remember a student I was once trying to get to read more saying “What’s the point, there are just too many books”. Perhaps I’m beginning to have the same reaction to digital theatre – there’s so much more of it out there than I had ever anticipated and although I think I can claim I’ve covered a fair amount of ground there is still plenty to get to grips with.

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‘Deals with some important issues’: MY BOY DANNY (Online review)

In Audio, London theatre, Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

New online theatre material keeps popping up all the time – or at least it eventually comes to my attention which amounts to much the same thing; this latest one did so by a somewhat circuitous route. My Boy Danny played at this year’s recent Camden Fringe as an online stream, but I managed to muddle the dates and therefore missed it.

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‘Far from the traditional’: SLEEPING BEAUTY ‘DREAM ON’ – Chickenshed Theatre (Online review)

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed one of the many shows which youth theatre Chickenshed put out during the pandemic. In fact, their last released piece came out in May so apologies to them for getting to this so late on. As with some of their previously released pieces it’s one of their boldly reinvented Christmas shows, this time from 2012.

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‘The monk playing an electric guitar is a more recent invention’: THE YORK MYSTERY PLAYS – BBC Sounds (Online Review)

In Audio, Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

It is not with a little sense of surprise that I found myself yesterday experiencing my 800th online production which is the subject of this review. Back in April 2020 I, probably along with the vast majority of people, was only expecting the virus problem to last a matter of weeks and yet here we are and here I am still reviewing daily after 535 days.

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‘I didn’t find that this production ever really took off’: MY NIGHT WITH REG — Online / Turbine

In London theatre, Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

One of the huge advantages of online theatre over the last eighteen months or so has been being able to catch up with plays that any self-respecting reviewer should have seen but for whatever reason hasn’t. My Night With Reg was first produced in 1994 (missed it), has been revived since (missed them) and even turned into a TV film (guess what?)

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‘A feminist fairy tale which entertains first & educates second’: MUSTARD DOESN’T GO WITH GIRLS (Online review)

In Children's theatre, London theatre, Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

I’ve now tackled a very high percentage of shows on the regular list so I’m going to make a rather more concerted effort to engage with those on the junior version and get this up to the same level. I thought I’d start by heading for one where the title had long intrigued me.

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‘Just don’t expect your journey to be a comfortable one’: THE CONTAINER – Young Vic / Digital Theatre (Online review)

In London theatre, Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

Site specific theatre hasn’t been easy over the last eighteen months – in fact you can take out the first two words of that statement. It’s been tricky enough getting regular venues open, let alone some of the more esoteric settings which were used before you know what kicked off. A production that it would probably be almost impossible to revive now is Clare Bayley’s The Container which happened at the Young Vic in 2009. Set in an actual shipping container near to the theatre it allowed for just 28 audience members each time crammed onto uncomfortable benches around the perimeter with a narrow central strip for the 6 performers to use. 34 bodies in close proximity packed into a metal box with no sense of social distancing and not a mask to be seen; even Covid deniers might baulk.

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‘A mesmeric 45 minutes about humanity’: MEET ME AT THE EDGE (Online review)

In Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

And so, to a piece which has long been on my “to see” list but which has kept getting bumped as a whole host of other stuff claimed my attention. As Meet Me At The Edge is a filmed account of an initially intended theatrical piece there hasn’t been quite the urgency that some other titles have had. And now that summer has finally arrived (in mid-September!) it seems like an ideal time to be visiting Cornwall for this meditative and reflective piece which dwells on the twin themes of isolation and connectedness.

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‘A vivid snapshot’: THE COVID-19 TRILOGY (Online review)

In Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

It was just about a month ago that I observed that considering the dominant story of all our lives for the last 18 months has been the pandemic, there haven’t really been all that many direct responses to it in the form of theatre pieces. A new addition to the Scenesaver platform looks to rectify that particular shortfall with three monologues about individual experiences and response. Called starkly The Covid-19 Trilogy it comes from Elysium Theatre Company which is based in Durham. During the pandemic they released two sets of five monologues and the three pieces in this set are taken from these. Presumably they are a “best of” collection to whet the appetite; the rest are available on the company’s You Tube channel

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‘A highly visual show’: FLUX – DIGITAL (Online review)

In Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

Although I’d still give a best company name prize to recent Edinburgh appearees (??!) Expial Atrocious, running them a close second is Smoking Apples – though I’d be hard pressed to identify why. The group have been around for about ten years and have carved out a definite niche for themselves by making use of puppetry and developing a particular visual style in order to explore issue led topics. Their 2018 show to celebrate the anniversary of women’s suffrage has continued to develop and was taken on tour backed by the Institute of Physics as a way of encouraging teenage girls to go into STEM based careers (science/technology/maths). In its latest iteration it has become a filmed record called Flux – Digital.

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‘Gentle, life-affirming production’: Around The World In 80 Days – Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds (Online review)

In Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Regional theatre, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

Around The World In 80 Days is best known for the iconic 1956 David Niven film rather than the original novel by the prolific French writer Jules Verne; this version seeks to restore the original storyline to the centre of the narrative but does so with one playful eye on the theatrical possibilities where much is left to the audience’s imagination.

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‘Thoroughly gruesome but mesmerising’: UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS – Edinburgh Fringe (Online review)

In Edinburgh Festival, Online shows, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

The real life figure of Ed Gein looms large in horror films and literature. Most famously he was the direct inspiration for Norman Bates in Psycho and his terrible influence can also be found haunting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence Of the Lambs. But I’m not sure his real story has been told quite so directly as it is in Under The Floorboards which played live at the Edinburgh Fringe and has now emerged as an online performance film at this year’s Festival.


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