Category Archives: Theatre

Review, The Queen of Hearts, Greenwich Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This isn’t my first Panto of the year, but I could happily see Panto after Panto all year long. And so my invite to The Queen of Hearts at Greenwich Theatre reverted me to my childhood of Panto tradition around Christmas.

We are all used to a Panto being based on some famous tale: Aladdin, Cinderella, Snow White e.t.c. so I was massively intrigued by a Panto with a title and potentially a premise that I didn’t know about. Of course all the same elements were there; the audience interaction, “HE’S BEHIND YOU!”, the call and response of the tragic yet loveable sidekick, the moment where audience birthday’s are called out and of course, the pantomime Dame and her ever more extreme costumes and lust for… well… men.

However, The Queen of Hearts is to some degree a new story. Following most of the basic pattern, we see a love story between a Prince and a Princess; Jack the side kicked is over looked; The Dame has been widowed and on the search for her next man, yet is the mother to all and finally, the bad guy is only out to destroy the kingdom and support his own cause. But it isn’t as straight forward, when the twists and turns that usually we would see coming as we know the initial story (think of Aladdin will at some point rub the lamp; Cinderella will run away from the ball). It is new. It is shiny. It is fun.

Not a lot of Pantos have live music either. Usually it’s a recording or if they are lucky to, they are in the orchestra pit. But, much thanks to the Theatre’s architecture, some to just sheer genius, the small band featured on stage and they were every bit part of the production. From the piano player breaking out of his pit to come and act, to the guitarist laughing at every joke, corpse moment and funny improv, them and along with the other performers who clearly loved every moment on stage and had liberty to change slightly and corpse, showing that they loved it as much as the audience.

My only grumble was the absence of two distinctive Panto parts – the throwing of sweets (ok, Covid!) and the song and dance when they are randomly in the woods and sing a song to keep the Ghosts away; slowly being picked off one by one. Sadly, I waited for this bit and it never came. I love the ridiculousness of it and how it never fits in with the story and it was just a shame that it wasn’t in this particular production.

The Queen of Hearts is a fresh and exciting take on the traditional Christmas staple. It keeps to all the things we expect but adds something new and refreshing to the age old tradition.

Review, Dog Show, The Pleasance Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

In the upstairs of The Pleasance Theatre, in the cabaret space, a unusual and interesting world unfolds. Firstly, I want to comment on this space and how brilliant it is with what the theatre has done. And it felt sophisticated and relaxing like the 1920’s cabaret theatres of old.

Dog Show is a cabaret meets storytale by the masterminds that are Ginger Johnson and David Cummings. Think drag meets Battersea Dogs Home… in fact, this is the aptly named Crappersea Dogs Home, and we are all the mangey mutts that have been left here. At Christmas, we are told to be on our best behaviour while the highly stylised drag-dogs show us the best ways to be a dog, the dirtiest ways to be a dog, and how we can too find a home for Christmas.

This is, without a doubt, the most unusual of Christmas shows but I think this would be a great start to your Christmas theatre season. It is rude, it is funny, it is utterly hyper real. Each performer has their own Drag-Dog persona: The utterly glamourous who reminded me much of the Poodle in Oliver and Company, the social media Pug star, the raggedy mutt who is a little deranged and so many more. Each are given their own performance moments and they are crude, they are hilarious and in a weird way, recognisable. For instance, a feature of a dog being lustful with a footstool, a age old tale that we hear about dogs and their strange behaviours.

There is also comments and stories that relate to the history of dogs such as the first dog in space. Many were laughing at this, but actually the whole scene was very sincere and quite emotional. It was that perfect addition to the comedy and the camp (although, featuring a swing on stage is a little of both anyway).

Unfortunately for Dog Show, Drag and Cabaret really thrives on its audience and for some unknown reason, the atmosphere wasn’t there. Jokes and beautiful moments fell on deaf ears and while I was cackling in the corner, I felt awful for the performers that there wasn’t that oomph from the audience to support their creativity.

Dog Show is full of comedy, of s-mutt, with excellent content and vision, not to mention beautiful costumes and even more beautiful performers. With a ready and willing audience, they could reach the stars!

REVIEW A Christmas Carol, Sherman Theatre by Barbara Hughes-Moore

It’s Christmastime again at the Sherman, and after 18 months, they’re back – both in the studio and at the cutting edge of theatre. Their ‘Back in Play’ season brought us the stage, and their new version of Charles Dickens’ festive classic has brought us the spectacle. The first full-length production directed by Sherman AD Joe Murphy at the Theatre itself, and adapted by award-winning playwright Gary Owen, A Christmas Carol is led by an exceptionally skilled ensemble of actor musicians who perfectly capture the magic of the original tale with an added Welsh twist.

From left to right: Kizzy Crawford, Seiriol Davies, Enfys Clara, Emmy Stonelake, James Ifan, Keiron Self, Feliks Mathur and Nadia Wyn Abouayen – image credit Richard Hubert Smith

It’s hard to convey how impressive a cast this is, swapping effortlessly between characters, costumes and instruments, and collaboratively weaving a gorgeous tapestry of this much-beloved story of a miser who learns to see the error of his ways. Collaboration is the key to the Sherman’s very particular magic – as with every Made at Sherman production, A Christmas Carol was constructed in its entirety under the Sherman’s roof in the self-proclaimed Heart of Cardiff. And it is a Heart which is worn very deliberately on this production’s sleeve: Newtown, Riverside and Splott all get a mention (it’s even subtitled ‘Miracle on St Mary Street’), and Welsh-language lullabies and folk songs evoke a poignant sense of history and place. Its Cardiff setting is one of the two key things which set this version apart from any other; the second is that this Ebenezer Scrooge is a woman, superbly played by Hannah McPake.

Hannah McPake as Scrooge – image credit Richard Hubert Smith

McPake’s Scrooge is a glowering menace sketched with shades of Malcolm Tucker, but with a swagger and style that is distinctly and deliciously her own. To be alternately horrifying and hilarious is a feat few have ever accomplished, and none quite as brilliantly as McPake does here. The piece requires a lot from her over the 2+ hours runtime but McPake, a stalwart of Sherman Christmas shows like The Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland, takes it all in her masterful stride.

Keiron Self as Jacob Marley – image credit Richard Hubert Smith

Her interactions with the ghosts are especially entertaining, not least with Keiron Self as Jacob Marley, a Michael Sheen-ian master of ceremonies who deftly guides the audience through the story. Singer-songwriter and actor Kizzy Crawford brings an ethereal grace and otherworldliness to the Ghost of Christmas Past in her Sherman stage debut. How To Win Against History’s Seiriol Davies as the Ghost of Christmas Present is truly a gift in every sense of the word and has, as far as I’m concerned, created a new festive tradition: performing Pink’s ‘Get the Party Started’ whilst dressed as a glamorous Christmas tree. (I will never look at baubles the same way again). And when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come made its appearance, I audibly gasped.

Left to right: Keiron Self as the Bauble of Business and Seiriol Davies as the Ghost of Christmas Present – image credit Richard Hubert Smith

The ensemble is rounded out by James Ifan as Scrooge’s sweetheart, Beau; Emmy Stonelake as the gregarious Fezziwig, Mrs Cratchit and more; and Nadia Wyn Abouayen, in her professional stage debut, who plays almost everyone else, from Scrooge’s Mother to Tiny Tim. While Scrooge is Cratchit’s (Feliks Mathur) tormenter, Mathur also plays a very different kind of ghost from Scrooge’s past, cleverly turning the tables on their victim-aggressor dynamic. Last but certainly not least, Apprentice Actor Enfys Clara, who headed the Youth Theatre’s pre-lockdown production of The It in Spring 2020 and features here in multiple roles, looks to have a promising career ahead of her on the stage.

The ensemble take a trip through Scrooge’s tragic past – image credit Richard Hubert Smith

The trip through Scrooge’s past dredges up not only ghosts but demons, though Murphy’s tactile and tactful direction artfully guides us through the emotional twists and turns. Owen’s thoughtful update focuses on the origin of Scrooge’s cruelty, adding a meaningful explanation for the character’s ruthless drive to make money and scorn those without it. This and several other additions wonderfully enhance the original tale – it’s no wonder that Owen (Iphigenia in Splott, Killology) is one of Wales’ best loved playwrights.

Hannah McPake as Scrooge, Feliks Mathur as Bob Cratchit, and Nadia Wyn Abouayen as the Match Girl – image credit Richard Hubert Smith

His adaptation is brought to life by a cast and creative team that have spun nothing short of magic. Lucy Rivers composes a musical deserving of the silver screen while Rachael Canning’s puppetry casts the kind of spell that’s only possible on the stage. Whenever I make a dramatic entrance in future – and, believe me, I will – I would like Andy Pike to light me as spectacularly as he does the cast here (McPake’s silhouetted introduction took my breath away). And Hayley Grindle’s strikingly gorgeous set makes you feel like you’re walking into a storybook.

A Christmas Carol has captured audiences for over 170 years. It endures because it proves that the worst of us can be redeemed, that hope can blossom from despair, and that love is the why and the how of all things. The Sherman Theatre’s wonderful adaptation of this timeless tale is easily one of the best things I’ve ever seen in the theatre: charming, hilarious and heart-warming, it’s a perfect Christmas treat for the whole family.

A Christmas Carol will be playing at the Sherman Theatre through 31 December 2021 Suitable for ages 7+

The Sherman Theatre will also be presenting a production of The Elves and the Shoemaker / Y Coblynnod a’r Crydd a show for younger audiences, with separate performances in Welsh and English.

Review by
Barbara Hughes-Moore


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Review Beauty and the Beast, Theatr Clwyd by Donna Williams

After over a year of auditoriums sitting dark and empty due to a worldwide pandemic that almost left the industry in tatters, it was all the more poignant and I felt all the more appreciative to be able to attend, for me, the jewel in Theatr Clwyd’s crown, its annual rock ‘n’ roll pantomime, this year it was the turn of Beauty and the Beast!

Upon entering the auditorium, we are greeted with a partly open stage where it becomes clear that the band will be on view throughout the show. However, once the action begins, we see that the cast, are in fact, also the band! Belle goes from sitting on her swing, reading a book to grabbing a guitar, her spoilt sisters Stacey and Nessa flit between hilarious comedy skits to playing keyboards and in a surreal twist we see the Beast rocking out on the drums! The small cast are constantly on stage, unless they are darting off for a quick costume change (or in Wesley Charles’ case, changing seamlessly from Prince Daniel to Beast on stage!)

Ever unique at the rock ‘n’ roll panto are the music choices throughout. The cast always surprises with songs you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear in a traditional pantomime; Barry Island (the ‘Gaston’ character of the piece) enters singing Uptown Funk, which is hilarious sung in a typical upper class English accent, Beast gives us a beautiful rendition of a slower version of Higher Love and his duet with Belle, Shallow from the remake of the film A Star is Born, is stunning.

Phylip Harries’ Dame is always a highlight; as Nanna Nerys his timing is flawless as ever, his comic delivery spot-on (with a few more saucy innuendos than I remember from previous years!) and his costumes steal every scene, from his entrance as Mary Poppins meets a traditional Welsh Lady to his final costume as a ‘Once Upon a Time’ storybook, complete with microphone pocket!

As always with a Theatr Clwyd panto, the Welsh language is heard plentifully throughout the production with frequent mentions of local places from Mold to Bangor, Buckley to Rhyl! And it is always refreshing not to have Christmas forced upon an audience too early. I am sure as the lead up to the big day gets ever closer, the cast add a more festive feel, but for now, it is nice for the festivities to be downplayed. Oh, yes, it is!

A big ‘wow’ moment in this production comes near the end of the show as Beast explains to Belle that the library now belongs to her, and she can view it by opening a single, magical book. As she opens the book, we see the stage transform; the scenery rotating to reveal bookshelves upon bookshelves, the patterns on the staircase flipping into more books, hanging books descending from the ceiling and open books above our heads in the auditorium lighting up. Breathtaking!

This panto truly is one not to be missed, it takes all the elements of a traditional panto but, for me, adds a touch more class, oodles more talent (how many panto Dames have you seen playing the saxophone?!) and professionalism that is leaps and bounds above any other!

Theatr Clwyd, Mold

November 26th, 2021-January 15th, 2022

Writer: Chris Patterson

Director: Tamara Harvey

Assistant Director: Sophie Duncan

Casting: Kay Magson CDG

Design: Adrian Gee

Musical Director: Tayo Akinbode

Choreographer: Annie-Lunnette Deakin-Foster

Senior Technician: Chris Skinner

Cast includes Izzy Neish, Wesley Charles, Alice McKenna, Maya Manuel, Seren Sandham-Davies, Lynwen Haf Roberts, Luke Thornton, Daniel Lloyd, Phylip Harries, Ben Locke

Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes (inc. interval)

Beauty and the Beast | Theatr Clwyd

Review, Night, Mother, Hampstead Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Hands up who grew up with Stockard Channing on your screens as Rizzo in Grease? I think anyone alive today remembers this stunning and fabulous woman, gracing our screens wherever we turn. And i’m sure she is sick of us pointing her out for this and only this.

This is where, Stockard Channing, shows that she is not just Rizzo.

Night, Mother, by Marsha Norman is set in a little farm house in the USA. A unusual evening, a mother and daughter spend time together, chewing the fat, but when Jesse, the daughter (Rebecca Night) drops a big bombshell, this chewing the fat turns into a conversation of love, loss, mental health, pain and ultimately a Mother’s love for her daughter.

Firstly, this naturalistic play is utterly captivating. It is simple and yet extremely effective. I felt intrusive, breaking the fourth wall, yet I could have sat and listened to this duo talk to one another for hours. Channing and Night has instant chemistry, that it is actually really hard to believe they are not this Mother and Daughter pair. They somehow show true family love and a bond which lights up the stage and makes your heart ache and miss your own mother.

Night is everything that her character needs to be – traumatic, struggling, proactive and organised. She looks after her mother and organises her life, and as the story unfolds she naturally does things that anyone would in this situation; as she is talking about the most traumatic things, she folds laundry, she puts things away – she is very matter of fact, and that makes the story and her character all the more unnerving.

Channing is the doting mother – she will do anything for her daughter. But she is funny. She’s the mother we all have, who will bend over backwards but can be sarcastic and ridiculous and your heart just warms, but also breaks for her.

The story is inevitable. The premise is set out in front of us and so when the end comes, while we know it is coming, there’s always hope it doesn’t. We hope there is a change. Doesn’t stop it being a surprise when it doesn’t. And we break, along with Channing at this point.

My only criticism is that I would have loved both actors to annunciate more. Such quiet voices for such a big stage. But yet, in a way, completely naturalistic.

Night, Mother is a hard watch. It touches upon difficult topics but at the same time, you are entirely invested in it. It is absolutely heart breaking and Channing and Night’s relationship doesn’t help this emotional reckoning, with how perfect and naturalistic it is.

Review, Outwitting The Devil, Akram Khan Company, Sadlers Well’s, By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Akram Khan is always on the lips of anyone who I speak to regarding dance. I’ve always missed out on their shows and been gutted by this. The fusion of traditional dance with contemporary, exploring the limits of the body has massively interested me and so I was greatly excited to finally see this company.

And by God, am I glad I did. From start to finish, I couldn’t take my eyes off the stage. Suspended into darkness, no one else was there but me and the dancers as they told a ancient tale through physicality.

Outwitting the Devil derives its narrative from the Mesopotamian tale of Giglamesh – The Gods punish King Giglamesh for destroying the cedar forest and killing its guardian. They kill his friend, a tamed wild man. Soon realising the truth about life and mortality, he fades away into memory and history.

What instantly made me appreciate this piece the most was the difference in performers – different race, cultures, ages and gender are represented, highlighting the westernised process of dance, merging into traditional Indian dance, to generally contorting and throwing their bodies. Khan mentions in an interview in the programme that he wanted to ensure that older performers are more represented, and I am in awe at what is possible by any body. This was only a small detail at the beginning, when I forgot about the outside world and was fully in this story – ages, gender, race, shouldn’t be a point and it certainly wasn’t in telling the story of life. A story that any culture could relate to. And by being told through dance, it of course gives way to allowing any audience to interpret their own story.

The aesthetic was dark, it was earthy, it was primitive, animalistic but also contrasting with robotic movements, as if they were being controlled, with classical and instrumental music being juxtaposed by electronic sounds. The movement, sound and change of story kept us on our toes, and almost made you want to look away in case it made you jump, but like a thriller or horror, you still want to watch despite this.

As expected, the movements and dance itself are just breath taking. Fluid, yet silent, all the performers move across the stage with such grace and silence – they interact with one another and defy gravity and science with how they move their bodies and use the space. It is enticing and I’m pretty sure I forgot to blink.

The piece is also incredibly moving – I don’t know what it was but something about it reduced me to tears; perhaps it was how we can relate the state of the world to this crumbling decay of a world on stage; perhaps it was the relationships, the shocking events; perhaps it was the emotion you can feel through every muscle flex; perhaps it was everything.

Outwitting The Devil is absolutely incredible, mesmerizing and moving beyond anything I have seen before. This is dance, and dance at its most perfect state.

Lockdown Artist Prints Being Sold to Support Community Work

Local artist CONSUMERSMITH has kindly given The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre permission to sell prints of his headline-hitting lockdown-inspired street art ‘May Love Be What We Remember Most’.

The prints show the piece in its original home, the street where it was created, as a nod to the fact that it originated as a site-specific memorial for the coronavirus pandemic.

The money raised from the sale of these prints will go back to fund future projects that The Riverfront will be working on with artists and the community to bring people back together to enjoy the arts and being creative in person once again.

CONSUMERSMITH comments ‘I think it’s fantastic that The Riverfront are using my work to raise money to fund projects that will bring artists and the community together. The very nature of street art is being for the people.’

Sally-Anne Evans, The Riverfront’s Community Arts Development Officer adds ‘We are so honoured to be the home of this wonderful artwork. It was central to our community project ‘Share the Love’ that we ran while closed and now the piece is going to allow us to run more activities and reach more people now that we’re back open. As a registered charity Newport Live and The Riverfront are extremely grateful for donations and public support to be able to do a lot of the community work we do and we really hope that these wonderful prints prove popular so that we can use the money raised to run some wonderful workshops and community sessions. Lockdown showed us that the people of Newport love being creative, and we would love to be able to invite more people through our doors to join us for exciting new projects in 2022.’

Throughout the Riverfront’s closure the artwork was on display in the front windows of the building for passers-by admire. The piece stands as a memorial for life lost in recent times and during the pandemic. The elderly, the vulnerable, the isolated, the lonely, the people in care unable to be visited, so apt was its new home in the window of a building built for people to come together to socialise and share joy, yet a building forced to stay closed to keep people safe.

The piece will be on display in the Riverfront’s first floor gallery from the Art on the Hill weekend of 26-28 November through until the new year so that visitors can admire the vibrant portrait in person and up close.

The A3 prints of May Love Be What We Remember Most are available for purchasing at the price of £8 each from the Riverfront Box Office. You can view the Box Office opening times and find out how else you can support The Riverfront online at newportlive.co.uk/Riverfront.

Review, The Snowman, Peacock Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This is my second time seeing The Snowman, on stage. Granted, a few years have passed and in a way, this was great in making me see it with new eyes.

If you do not know the story of The Snowman, it is the tale that is on the screens of us brits every Christmas. A little boy makes a Snowman that one night, comes to life. They encounter lots of exciting events from a Snowman party with Father Christmas, to wearing his Dad’s clothes to, what is the most commonly well known part of the story, flying.

This time around, I had help in the form of my 4 year old Nephew. Obsessed with Christmas, this was the third production I have ever taken him to. The first, he was just a baby, but the last one being in Summer, he is the ultimate theatre go-er. Not one of these loud children, he is just mesmerized by the production as a whole.

The whole thing was very magical – with an element of dance (this is The Peacock Theatre after all), it is fluid and gentle and graceful. Even the throwing of a snowball, or angry Mum at a broken window is full of gentle feeling. The Snowman we are used to is driven by what you can see and beautiful music underneath, picking up little moments and enhancing moments with a crash of a cymbal or a fast trill on a violin. Spoken language is not needed. And this production has kept this the same. It works. It is a dance production and dance is there to evoke the narrative and the emotions – therefore a marriage made in heaven.

I felt transported back to my own childhood and watching it for the first time, the same feeling I have every year I watch it on TV and seeing the awe in my nephew’s eyes, it was clear he was feeling this as well.

While for an adult approaching 30, an interval is a nice addition – time for that ice cream that feels right to have at Christmas, I did experience that perhaps this isn’t the best for a 4 year old. Most children’s productions do a straight hour and bam, home time. Their concentration has reached its peak and they want snacks. This production adds elements to the story – a bad guy, some characters we have never seen before, extra dance elements and while beautiful and lovely and still very magical, I think the elongation of the show was a bit too much for a 4 year old. Knowing Father Christmas features, he just wanted to get to that bit and see his hero, not to see the Snowman have a love interest.

The Snowman is everything and more. Magical, nostalgia inducing for us oldies, fascinating to the little ones. Perhaps just a little long for kids, while aimed at their age, perhaps a condense to the original story would be better.

Review, Rare Earth Mettle, Royal Court Theatre, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

A mixture of traditional music, mixed with techno, easy but interesting staging and serious topics meeting comedy, Rare Mettle Earth was not what I was expecting.

Set in South America, we see the conflict of Western countries pressurizing the indigenous people to succumb to their needs. The salt of this little area contains lithium which could either help fuel energy saving cars or help the mental health of people during the beginnings of the Covid Pandemic. Both sound, on paper, as very useful and morally sound things to strive for, but those behind the initiatives are not quite so angelic. In comes power play; from both the Western societies and Indigenous societies, of the pressure on the poor and the stereotyping of poorer people being for some reason unintelligent.

I did not know what I was expecting. I do not read about shows beforehand, with concern that it might influence my opinion or give me unconscious bias before even seeing the show. And so a really great part of this play is that it strips away layer after layer, bit by bit, adding to the story, making the plot thicker and mixed with moral dilemmas.

As always, the Royal Court’s design is perfection. Simple, yet effective, the transition between places such as America or the UK to the South American countryside is done minimally but it works. White, blank, modern space is created for the former, with something more earthy and natural for the South American town. You can certainly feel the different in spaces.

Majority of the performers double up characters. I heard a person in the audience say this was confusing. That a differentiation wasn’t bold enough to tell. But I highly disagree. The changes in their appearances while, yes, subtle, the performers themselves were able to perform very different characters and I found it very easy to tell. To me, there were more characters on stage and at no point did I come out of that theatrical reality.

The story is, to some degree, a tough one. There is a sense of being, of place, of something that reminds me a lot of conversations that are current and been going on for years in places such as Aboriginal cultures where the impact of the Western societies have pushed aside the true beings of the land. Often, just for monetary reasons. One story thrown in is that the lithium is helpful to others, that it could be a mega discovery in our fight on Mental Health. The other, to save the planet in the long run, with affordable cars. But both of these people are deeply selfish and deeply flawed. It puts you in a conundrum and makes you think truly about your own morals and opinions on the state of our world.

Rare Earth Mettle is a surprisingly thought provoking and intriguing production. It touches upon centuries, of years of white washed culture and in the deep selfishness of those who seemingly are trying to save us and our planet.

Review, Boy Out The City, Declan Bennett, Turbine Theatre by Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Firstly, a comment on this new theatre. Based around the bottom of Battersea Power Station, I was really impressed to see this new theatre, with its new and inventive décor and friendly staff doing so well and with such a brilliant and versatile space. It was perfect for the show I was about to review.

Boy Out The City is a quirky, comical, heart wrenching and heart warming one man, autobiographical story. Written and performed by Declan Bennett, it is the first show I have seen that is based upon the pandemic. I thought there would be more but maybe they are still in the making. I mention this, as I hope this review highlights that this was the perfect show to return to normality with and really picks up on what most of us felt during the last year. Bennett talks about how he and his partner moved from London to the countryside. With his partner also an actor, he gets invited to a job in the States, while Bennett is left alone in his cottage in the middle of nowhere. Bennett talks about mental health, about the bad habits we all adopted to cope, about loneliness, about sexuality but also about nostalgia and how it makes us who we are.

Bennett’s show is absolutely hilarious. Perfect in execution, not a single falter, high energized and full of information, at times it feels very much like sitting with a friend and talking. He is personable, he is down to earth, and this all helps with telling his story.

While he is funny and picks upon things that were huge parts of the pandemic for many (drinking wine at 2am, sleeping till late, being lonely, nothing to do) he also effortlessly moves this into very serious questions and issues in society such an men’s mental health, of sexuality and growing up denying being gay to fit in and avoid violence. These moments, I wouldn’t say, came out the blue, but when they are slotted in, your smile from the hilarity before has gone, and your heart aches for what he has been through.

He isn’t afraid to touch upon, and negatively, about his past and what he thought at the time. Of the mistakes he made just to fit in and be safe. A story that i’m sure many in this community can associate to. In fact, those who also are not but can identify the things they did, growing up, just to feel a part of the world.

We talk about the Pandemic as being different for everyone. Yes, we went through the same rules and regulations, and while mental health issues went through the roof, as individuals, we all coped differently. Bennett is clever and picks up on the ones that he did that we can relate to, and therefore a good chunk of his comedy is laughing at the relatable nature and all we saw and heard during the last year.

He uses the stage well – different points highlight the different parts of his story, from the cottage, to his neighbour, to the bar on St Patrick’s Day, even to his past. Minimal set and props are used but they are effective. Nothing is there just for the sake of it. And I loved this. All too easy do theatre makers find props and set upon props and set to fill a room, when it isn’t needed. I also notice that one person productions also do this, to slightly shy away from their performance. Bennett was loud, he was present, he filled the stage. And that’s one of the many parts that made it perfect. As someone writing their own one woman play, it gave me much food for thought.

Boy Out The City is a cultural revelation after a tough time in the World. It is raw, it is emotional, it is absolutely hilarious and it is essential.

Please do look out for this production which aims to have future life across the country.