“Complicated, isn’t it?” says one of the characters early on in James Woolf’s The Play With Speeches – and they’re not wrong. As writer Anthony (Matthew Parker) sits down with director Penny (Katherine Reilly) to audition actors for his new play, they discover to their surprise that someone’s been selling tickets, and now they have an audience (us).
Performed by two singer-actors, a pianist, and a voiceover, Thrill Me is staged in a richly detailed set by Rachael Ryan full of newspaper clippings and photographs.
Stephen Dolginoff’s 2003 musical Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story was the latest in a long line of cultural products inspired by this infamous murder case in 1920s America.
Stewart Pringle’s beautiful two-hander Trestle is revived digitally and delectably by Matthew Parker for Maltings Theatre.
The Invisible Man manages to combine both panto and more serious fare, bringing a modicum of seasonal mirth to a tale about the darker side of human nature.
As Matthew Parker’s swansong as artistic director at the Hope Theatre, The House of Yes isn’t afraid to show the underbelly of ‘respectable society’.
Excellent direction combines with all design elements to create a truly atmospheric piece in The House Of Yes at the Hope Theatre, a bold choice of play that serves as a fitting end to Matthew Parker’s tenure.
Initially, Foul Pages has a surfeit of innuendo, as the actors revel in saucy banter. However, once things settle down, Foul Pages reveals itself to be about the love of acting and what it was like for the boys who played all the female roles.
The narrative arc of Foul Pages at the Hope Theatre is woolly and lacks clear authorial intent, making for a frustrating experience of unfulfilled potential.
Matthew Parker has announced the spring season in his fully curated year of shows at The Hope Theatre, an award-winning performance space in North London. The year features a mix of new writing and established work with a 50/50 gender split of writers and containing a world premiere directed by artistic director Parker. 2018 gets […]
The post Brush up your Shakespeare. Parker curates a year at The Hope Theatre appeared first on Stage Review.
Have you seen the great reviews for our Featured Show, the 40th anniversary revival of Dennis Potter’s controversial masterpiece Brimstone and Treacle, which continues at London’s Hope Theatre until 20 May 2017. A selection of some of our favourite review quotes are gathered below…
Dennis Potter’s controversial and previously banned, dark, harrowing and twisted comedy, is perhaps not as shocking today as it undoubtedly was back in the 70’s. However, what’s notable about this 40th anniversary revival which has been innovatively directed by The Hope Theatre’s resident Artistic Director, Matthew Parker, is the boundless sub-text that flows throughout the piece.
I play the mother, Mrs Bates, who is a full-time carer for the Bates’ daughter who was left injured and insensible after a car crash. It’s controversial and dark and pretty shocking and it was banned when it first came out in 1976 because of its disturbing content.
Off-West End Award-winning Artistic Director Matthew Parker will direct the 40th anniversary revival of Dennis Potter’s controversial masterpiece Brimstone and Treacle. The new production – for which tickets go on sale today – runs at London’s Hope Theatre from 2 to 20 May 2017, with a press night on 4 May.
The end-of-year lists of favourite plays and performances should be on their way soon, once the food coma has abated, but to tide you over, here’s my list of 9 of my top moments in a theatre over 2016, the things that first come to mind when someone says ‘what did you enjoy this year’. For reference, here’s my 2015 list and 2014 list.
The ‘arrival’ of the Hope TheatreI’ve been gazumped by The Stage in recognising this Islington fringe theatre for a stellar year but it is no more than Matthew Parker and his team there deserve. Over the course of 2016, intelligent and exciting programming has made the Hope into a must-see venue for me, no mean feat in a market already full of fringe venues and new ones opening every time you look up. From promoting new writing to astutely chosen revivals, scorchingly personal writing to themed seasons culminating in delightfully campy lesbian musicals, this theatre has been on fire all year long and has made me excited to see every single thing they put – and there’s precious few places, large or small, that can say that.
Wizards and magic and owls, oh myI’d have to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again before deciding officially whether it is a great piece of drama or not, but there’s no doubting that it is a stonking piece of theatre and the atmosphere at the very first shows was something quite amazing to be a part of, even from the back row of the balcony. The romantic sweep of Christine Jones’ set and Steven Hoggett’s movement, John Tiffany’s endlessly imaginative direction and of course, the masterfully jaw-dropping effects from Jamie Harrison. It felt like something I’d never seen before and in the case of Sprocket the Owl, it was something no-one else saw either!
(c) Stephen CummiskeyMiriam Buether turning the world upside downIt’s incredible that in the same month that I saw Harry Potter, a play at the Hampstead Theatre matched it for simply astounding set design. Miriam Buether’s work on Wild was jaw-droppingly good and what I was particularly proud of on a personal level, was how I managed to reference it in plain sight in the review, yet still managing to avoid spoilers.See also: opening in the same month, Bob Crowley’s design for Aladdin was impressive against such stiff competition
The Hired Man brought to orchestral lifeI knew the concert version of The Hired Man at Cadogan Hall would be good, but I wasn’t prepared for just how emotional it would be. Hearing Jenna Russell and John Owen-Jones duetting on ‘No Choir Of Angels’ took me to the edge, being joined by Matthew Seadon-Young for the soaring ‘If I Could’ pushed me right over to leave me quietly sobbing for most of the interval.See also: Glenn Close ripping through ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’
Discovering Lorraine Hansberry, for myselfBefore March this year, I’d never seen a Lorraine Hansberry play and seeing two in a month – Eclipse’s touring A Raisin in the Sun and the National Theatre’s Les Blancs – absolutely blew me away. Both will rank very highly in my end-of-year list but more than that, I enjoyed finding my own way into loving Hansberry’s work. It’s all very well being told someone is good (even when that someone is my mum, who has ranked Raisin… as one of her favourite plays for a while) but I much prefer forming these opinions for myself and now I can hand-on-heart agree that Hansberry’s was a superb talent.
The glorious rise of Noma DumezweniThere’s something beautiful in seeing karmic justice being served, especially to an actor who you’ve admired for a goodly while. Noma Dumezweni may not have been a household name at the beginning of the year but the trifecta of stepping into the lead role of Linda at a moment’s notice, making her directorial debut in I See You, and then nailing her inspired casting as the adult Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has seen her profile rise stratospherically. Most impressive of all the serene grace with which she has handled all manner of racist trolling on Twitter.
Finally getting ‘Satisfied’In a most rare example of restraint from myself, I had the Original Cast Recording of Hamilton for something like a year without listening to it, knowing that I would be doing my damnedest to see the show. And sure enough, with several months planning and the help of a generous birthday gift, I got to see the original cast live at the Richard Rodgers Theatre whereupon I experienced the absolute genius and glory of Renée Elise Goldsberry’s ‘Satisfied’ completely unspoiled. Without exaggeration, one of the best moments of musical theatre ever written.See also: getting to relive the sumptuous harmonies of Jessie Mueller, Kimiko Glenn and Keala Settle in ‘A Soft Place To Land’ from Waitress thanks to the wonder of Broadway cast recordings
(c) Pascal VictorIsabelle Huppert being Isabelle HuppertI’d argue that Isabelle Huppert is one of the finest actors in the world and what is particularly exciting about her is that she rarely takes easy, predictable decisions in her choice of collaborators and material. From films such as Elle to La Pianiste, she always provokes and so perhaps it was no surprise that a rare UK theatre appearance would be equally challenging. If anything got me through the nearly 4 hours of Phaedra(s), it was the undeniable electric star quality that she radiates, no matter what she’s doing.See also: getting to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart is always a pleasure, even if I had to suffer Pinter for the privilege
Holding the curtain in Derby A personal one here but one that still makes me chuckle. Back in March, I was invited to Derby Theatre to see the double bill of Look Back in Anger and response piece Jinny but the train I was booked on was cancelled. I got on the next one, knowing that time would be extremely tight, but I wasn’t expecting that when I got to the station, the wonderful Heidi from Derby Theatre bundled me into her car along with Mark Lawson, Michael Coveney and some other bloke, drove us to the stage door, where we were rushed into the theatre where they had held the beginning of the performance for our arrival! Not bad for a two-bit blogger 😉
Quirky, exaggerated entertainment is just one way to describe this show, which combines fiction and reality quite effectively.
Have you seen the myriad five-star reviews for our Featured Show, the 25th anniversary revival of Bryony Lavery’s bodice-ripping musical comedy HER ACHING HEART. A selection of some of our favourite review quotes are gathered below
Small, perfectly formed, alternative Christmas treats: I saw two two-hander musical gems last weekend: Her Aching Heart at the Hope Theatre in Islington and, on the opposite side of town, Another Night Before Christmas at the Bridge House Theatre in Penge.
It might be more of a ‘play with songs’ than a full blown musical but Bryony Lavery’s Her Aching Heart now playing at the Hope Theatre, is one of those rarely performed gems that displays just the sort of quirky wit in its writing that many of today’s new musical offerings could do well to emulate.
Bryony Lavery’s Victorian send-up Her Aching Heart has all the OTT melodrama and silliness of a pantomime, but this two-character, lesbian love story is decidedly not a panto. Full of innuendo and comedy, the play-within-a-play is a well executed, richly designed and utterly delightful affair.
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