Hannah Goslin

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Review Love Me Now, Michelle Barnette, Tristan Bates Theatre by Hannah Goslin

(4 / 5)

 

This little black box of a room is unexpected in The Actors Centre, London, but lovely none the less.

Faced with a slanted bed, Tracey Emin-style mess around it and red wired lights above, it is a simple but provocative set.

Love Me Now sends us on the journey of one woman, her want for love, her mixed relationships and the general lifestyle of single, young people in Britain.

Without delving too personal, the narrative is full of situations, conversations, thoughts, feelings and actions that are not unusual for a 20-30 something these days. How anyone only meets through online apps; women being chastised to this day about their sexual prowess but men still looking like the true ‘stud’ for the same actions; the fear of sexual abuse; and the characters we all relate to.

Alistair Toovey plays the cool bad boy that every girl has fallen for – the one who somewhere deep down cares but realistically is too frightened themselves to really let down their guard. But full of masculinity, he sees Helena Wilson’s character as nothing but a sex object, when once they were friends despite his arguments against this.  Toovey is the right kind of stand-offish but with the right amount of charm that we still fall for him, like Wilson.

Wilson’s character is full of insecurities; the one guy (Toovey) who completely rocks her world turns her into something she no longer recognises and that leaves her unsure of what she is doing, what she wants and what she believes. A character played so well that any woman could project themselves into her spot.

Gianbruno Spena has a small but still vital role – playing the boy after Toovey’s character has left, he is nice enough, not as fun or interesting as the bad boy but also a complete opposite – believing women shouldn’t swear, very traditional and very… urgh. Spena plays a great part, still bringing this character to fruition but also, with Barnette’s writing, is able to still become ‘like all men’ and still think and see that same things in Wilson that Toovey did.

She is still an untouchable – not worth anything.

Barnette has done well to take all insecurities, situations and actions from today’s dating and sex scene and transformed it into one short play. She summarises how women and indeed how men feel, and highlights a culture where we define our personal worth on a romantic outcome.

Love Me Now is funny, meaningful and really in keeping with today’s society. If you have ever had a bad date, loved the bad boy/girl, or just didn’t feel good enough, you will relate to Barnette’s play.

Hannah Goslin

 

Review Stud, Paloma Oakenfold, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

Photo credit Bernadette Baksa

(3 / 5)

 

When someone said to me to watch a play about Football, I did an audible groan.

I like football (not as much as rugby) but what could a play about Football really draw upon (let’s ignore Bend it like Beckham a sec…)

Stud, by Paloma Oakenfold, is not just about Football. Stud sees the current state of the sport and its homophobia in a society and world that is ever increasingly adjusting and accepting of LGBTQ+ communities. We are forever moving forward, yet in 2018, we are still going backwards in sport. Not only with homophobia but racism and sexism.

Stud sees a fantastic player, who has the whole world ahead of him, realise his sexuality, fall in love and yet make a real life changing decision which means either hiding who he really is or losing everything. There is a large essence of family and that union which also preys upon this big decision.

Stud only has two performers – Tom who is a constant. His life is the story and so it is imperative we always see him on stage, his emotions moving and how he continues life. The performer does this well and he plays a boy at a teenage age very well – all the moody, confusion that comes with teen life, with the addition of sexual confusion.

His Dad/Coach/Love/miscellaneous characters chop and change with the other performer, all becoming very hammed up and comical, all apart from his love interest. While he does all of this in a brilliant way, I am not sure this works. Okay, it brings plenty of laughs and maybe we need that but to me it almost turned into a way of laughing at the conundrum Tom is going through and showing his love is all that matters. Which we soon find out is not the case – love, family and being yourself are all important and I feel that with these cartoonish characters, a little of the heartfelt emotion is lost.

I did however love the modernisation of the stage. The floor is astro-turf, the changing room seat is there, and all utilised no matter what the scene is. The music is camp and upbeat, also utilising  the lighting and tech. And it suddenly gives a new dynamic to the duologues.

Stud is good fun, and while it tries its hardest to be everything, it struggles to merge the comedy and the serious.

Hannah Goslin

Review You, Longsight Theatre, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(5 / 5)

 

You. What would YOU do if were young and made to give up your baby? How would you life change or would it? And what would happen if 30 years later, your baby contacts you to met you?

You is a play focusing on all the different parts of adoption- from the beginning, how the mother feels, the father feels, how HER parents feel about their daughter and baby on its way, to how the baby feels once they reach adulthood, and the lives of those who adopt him.

We see plenty of programmes, documentaries, films about adoption and how it feels from the mother’s point of view, but this production brings all the lives and elements together. We see the heart break, the joy, the hard parts and the easy, lovely parts.

This production is really simple – two performers and two chairs, beautiful music in the background and soft lighting that changes throughout. The performers differentiate the characters well – especially seeing as the stories chop and change within each other. We are addressed by the performers with their stories – they are telling us their story and we can’t help but be captivated, staring into their deep eyes and feeling the true emotion that comes from their performances.

I always say that while tech, fancy lights and props can be great, sometimes the real skill and the real emotion is brought through the simplistic. By just engaging with us as an audience, inviting us into the story, and telling it to us, filled with the emotion that comes with the narrative, we are hooked and time speeds by.

You is a beautiful play. It has real emotion and what feels like real stories. And while we may not all know how adoption feels from any party involved, we can definitely relate to the feelings that these performers evoke, coming away feeling personally touched.

Hannah Goslin

Review The Vagina Dialogues, The Volvas, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

(5 / 5)

 

We’ve all heard of the Vagina Monologues. While maybe a little dated , it is a key theatrical production in the history of performing arts for women and with International Women’s Day fast approaching, The Volva’s bring a freshened up version with The Vagina Dialogues.

These women are clever, talented and fierce. The are all able to play different characters, changing their voices, general approach to show this and so the transition between the scenes are flawless and easy; with minimum set as well, we are able to focus on the story and their performance rather than gadgets and gizmos.

The Vagina Dialogues takes three stories ; the story of two sisters, long drifted apart, the story of best friends facing a pregnancy scare and one of a comedic office woman that we all can relate to in many different ways. The stories and sliced and interlink within each other to create a suspense to the conclusions. It is interrupted by comical songs and an advert for finding the Female Orgasm, shown by (the attempt) to juggle balls and dropping them every time with their eyes closed…

Somehow all these pieces of theatre, these stories are so relatable, making us feel safe and somehow settling our minds that we are not the only ones. And therefore, that brings on the comedy. I have never laughed so much in my life and agreed so much with every point being made.

But it is not all about the comedy – there are heartfelt moments; moments of real pain, struggle and unease. And they are important parts of the story to tell. It is all well and good having a good old laugh, but with issues such as the Weinstein news and #MeToo trending on our social media, more than ever we need these stories told; of harassment, of mistreatment of women.

The Vagina Dialogues is a must see – any woman would come away with not only sides hurting from laughter but with a real sense of camaraderie with fellow woman kind and euphoria at the state gender politics are in.

Hannah Goslin

 

Review A Serious Play About World War II, Willis and Vere, Vaults Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(5 / 5)

 

!THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

What do you evoke in your mind when you hear “a serious play about World War II?

1) Would it not be serious anyway?
2) This is going to be full of meaning, of tears, there will be horses… oh wait, that’s War Horse!
3) By no means will you create in you heads what actually happens.

The first 10 minutes is hammed up, not very PC and in this way shocking. We come in believing that we have come to see a War play and some how they are degrading the entirety of it but they are serious about what they are doing. A Jewish man is in the front row, obviously very upset – this is meant to be based on his story of the Holocaust and yet they are making a mockery of it.

And then this very awkward play becomes something different. It’s a play within a play. A farce. Our real play begins when everything goes wrong and the performers must find their way out of the mess they have made. There’s a low budget essence of Mischief Theatre with The Play that Goes Wrong and it’s later counterparts. And to be able to do ‘stunts’ without a large traditional theatre basis and all the theatrical tricks that come with that is brilliant.

It’s full of manic, frenzy and endless comedy. It is ridiculous yet brilliant and a real surprise to what we not only expected to see but also from what we began watching. Awkwardness becomes falling off your seat with laughter. The un PC moments become farcical events going wrong. And we finally breath a sigh of relief that it is not some racist, not very well thought out production but a very clever trick.

A Serious Play About World War II is full of hilarity, surprises and not for the weak stomach (just you wait and see why!).  And they are a pretty swell company to boot.

Hannah Goslin

 

Review Red Bastard : The Original Show by Hannah Goslin

 

(5 / 5)

 

How lucky am I, that less than a week after seeing a theatrical hero for the first time, I was able to see the show that started it all – Red Bastard : The Original Show.

While Lie With Me focuses on love and how we all lie, the original show questions our dreams, our lack of or even fear of the truth and our lack of being interesting. What a perfect audience are the British to tackle these issues!

Red Bastard has a commanding power. Unlike other performances when audience members hesitate and struggle with being interacted with, you expect it with Red Bastard. But part of you wants to be commanded by him, you want him to interact and his clever approach to the performance is to feed off what we give. How amazing is this performer that he is unfazed by this and utalising it for his own theatrical creation.

He is mean. He is loving. He gives 0 sh**s and we love it. We are masochistic in a sense that we crave his abuse, his comedy and his surprises. Because BOY are there surprises. You can never tell when the next one will be.

It is admiring to watch his ability to push boundaries with a sense that the fundamentals are rehearsed but that Red Bastard is the master of improv.

If you ever do anything with your life – see Red Bastard. Join in. And come away with possibly one of the funniest, most enjoyably insulting performances that you will never want to end.

 

 

Review AI Love You, Heart To Heart Theatre, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

 

(4 / 5)

 

Sometimes interesting theatre is simple theatre.

Welcomed into a blank canvas of a room, there are only two performers on stools, and a mirror suspended behind.

With no prior knowledge (I personally avoid this before shows so that I am surprised and can deduce my own conclusions and interpretations) it is daunting to see such little to the room of a performance.

We are handed a blank piece of white paper and are smiled at one performer and almost frowned by the other.

As the title suggests , AI Love You features a) love and b) robotics. Now stay with me – this is no sci-fi, out of this world, incapable apocalyptic world where everything is alien and new. This is actually a heartfelt production, questioning morals and seeing the inside of a relationship.

April and Adam are a couple. A normal relationship, they are in love and… April is a robot. Created to be Adam’s ‘perfect woman’ , she has now reached a point where she is breaking, ‘malfunctioning’ and plans to end her life. But Adam is against it as he loves her. For all intense and purposes, they seem like a general couple with all the feelings and experiences any would, and if this was two human’s it would be a difficult decision, suicide, anyway but morals are questioned when you consider that April is an AI.

The great thing about this piece is the set up – we are fully included. Like a court room trial, we hear each side of their cases which is ordered by the facility that made her and are asked to vote who we agree with. And so we can only assume they have prepared alternative options dependent on the vote conclusions. This in itself is pretty impressive when you think that these performers have potentially learnt two different scripts.

April is at times cold and well… robotic, at times breaking into recognisable sensitivity and love but is still different to the obvious torment Adam is facing. And it works well, and gels in a way you would not think it would.

Adam is more comedic, almost dry in humour but little of this is given to April which I feel lacked with continuity – if there is an element of comedy then it needs to run through with both performers.

However, over all the concept and writing is brilliant. When reading the blurb after the show, they performers also change who is the robot and who is human, and this makes me wonder how changed is the performance and does it change what we think and how we would vote.

AI Love You is heartbreaking but also a very intelligent production – of something that with recent news… well who knows, could it become true?

 

 

Review Be Prepared, Ian Bonar, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

A room with only a table, bible and vase of flowers, Be Prepared certainly is not preparing us for what is ahead.

As the lights go down, some quirky music begins from the audience and out comes our performer, hidden within us.

Be Prepared takes a look at one man, his grief of losing his father, reminiscence of his childhood and life and his chance encounter with a stranger that brings his life and grief into perspective.

The majority of this production is a monologue; chopping and changing the story, we pick up bits and pieces of his narration and feel the tense and nervous mannerisms of the character. Ian Bonar is captivating in his production and this monologue is never boring and always engaging; taking the time to look directly at us as he talks, making us feel included and that this production is very personal.

This addictive speech is interrupted by physical breaks, highlighted by changes in light and sound. It shocks the system, shocks you out of rhythm and emanates the system interruption that grief must also give.

This combination of two theatrical forms is never boring and we sit wishing to hear more, to know the story and find out what happens. He is comical, earnest and friendly and all we want to do it sit and listen.

Ian Bonar has taken on a creative and unusual approach to story telling in theatre. Be Prepared is honest, warm and in a way relaxing to watch which is what captivating theatre should sometimes be.

 

 

Review The Poetry We Make, Flugelman Productions, Vaults Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

What is wonderful about the Vault Festival is the eclectic mix of theatre and performance on show.

Last week I faced the refugee crisis and misogyny and this week, a LGBTQ+ story of change and pain.

The Poetry We Make sees the story of a loved up couple, the decline of the relationship and the change when Robin begins to realise that they are the wrong gender. Elliot struggles to face this truth and we see the decline of not only their love but their friendship, along with the questions, curiosity and frustration behind such a huge life change. And then there’s Dolly Parton – you cannot go wrong!

We affiliate so much with the characters’ – the loved up couple, their painful break up and the coping afterwards. We recognise the ladies man best friend, void of feelings for women but a laugh all the same. And Dolly Parton is there, creating comedy and musical interludes.

The performer’s bring such a honest and heartfelt approach to the characters, letting us not only relate but also question ourselves in their situations. The story is tough and it is great to see it brought to the forefront through theatre.

My only issue with this is that it is written from the perspective of Elliot. We see her decline, her pain and frustration at knowing Robin is not the gender they once were and questioning their relationship and love. I see that perhaps this highlights the issues of loved ones and even outsiders when they feel personally victimised, threatened or even frightened by something that is not ‘the norm’ and the general approach LGBTQ+ persons sometimes come accross. But at the same time I would have liked to hear more from Robin and what they were going through and their feelings.

The stage is simple yet effective; easily changed to fit the scene and does not need any huge changes to do so. The acoustics of the tunnel of the Vaults only helps to add to this vibrating feeling of a sensitive, funny and honest piece.

The Poetry We Make is heartfelt, not afraid to tell the truth but also full of comedy. A culturally significant piece of theatre.

 

 

Review Evros : The Crossing River, Seemia Theatre, The Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 

(4 / 5)

 

Very regimental, emotionless and demanding, walking into Evros : The Crossing River, we are split into different seating through the tunnel in direct fashion. This production has many layers to it, with our entrance only being of one, highlighting the narrative.

Evros is a production that looks at and gets in depth with the Syrian refugee crisis. Taking several stories, we see the sheer terror, the difficulties and the tragedy that many families have and do endure, while contrasting this with normal events of happiness, family, and love. It is an emotional play, tugging at your emotions but also opening your eyes to the sheer truth.

The performers from Seemia Theatre have happily (and what a rarity) gone back to basics – we have character swapping with identity being confirmed by small changes of costuming, translating into their character development. The performers do well to change ages, relationships through physicalisation and change in voice.

Back to basics, they also use basic lighting, a simple wash with a spotlight change – nothing fancy and distracting, this production is purely about content and physicality. And there is no recorded music – the performers take it in turns and also join together with instruments and their voices which resounds across the tunnel creating the ultimate atmospheric feeling.

It’s also refreshing to see a narrative combined with physical theatre – encompassing the feeling of running, of loss, of exhaustion with repeated, almost light-motif’s of movement to enhance the deterioration of these lives.

The narrative itself is split; we see characters go from normal happy lives, to tragedy; creating the basics we need to affiliate with them as people living normal lives, to then question and try to understand how such awful events can change that simple dynamic quickly.

The performers are at all times in character – from the moment you walk in to when you leave. This becomes a safe space where we experience these stories but feel contained and in a way, involved.

Evros : The Crossing River is steeped in emotion, creating the most intense atmosphere and leaving you feeling a sense of sorrow unlike any other.

Hannah Goslin