Tag Archives: Hannah Goslin

Review Stud, Paloma Oakenfold, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

Photo credit Bernadette Baksa

 out of 5 stars (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


 out of 5 stars (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 Evros : The Crossing River, Seemia Theatre, The Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (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

Review Madonna or Whore? The Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

Practically living at the Vault Festival, I decided last minute to book into another show – Madonna or Whore? With 4 and 5 star reviews, I was eager to see what looked like from the posters a different and comedic production.
Madonna or Whore takes a look at misogyny through time, highlighted by Freud’s ‘Madonna or Whore’ theory, and emphasised by  (very good) karaoke Madonna songs.
Now that all may sound like a random concoction but it isn’t. Holly Morgan and her fiancé Tom Moores bring together not only each of their own essence to the production, bouncing off one another as naturally as you can imagine they do in person . Whilst also looking at history, they bring in their personal experiences. With the current #MeToo movement, this production is relevant, shocking but also so true and close to our own lives and experiences.

Now, as really this is some deep stuff to be watching, Morgan and Moores turn it on its head; part stand up, part farce, part comedy duo, they are turned into comical overturns helped by home made props and audience participation.
It is for sure that a review cannot do it justice.
Madonna or Whore? is nothing short of brilliant – topical and very important, Morgan and Moores are just hilarious, clever and totally bonkers. This really is the type of work that should be seen by everyone not only for its importance but for its sheer hilarity and clever approach.
 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Review Red Bastard : Lie With Me, The Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Bouffon : A theatre concept that is unique, niche and rarely seen in contemporary theatre. Red Bastard could easily be said to be the father of this style.
As a student studying performing arts 5 years ago, I was introduced to Red Bastard and fell in love with not only him but Bouffon – a type of theatre where a character who is misshaped and says the things no one should ever say, it is shocking, hilarious and fantastic. Not for those who are too PC!
Lie With Me is Red Bastard’s second show. This time he takes on love, and asks the questions we are all scared to ask and think about – What counts as cheating? What even is love? And pointing out that we all LIE.

Red Bastard uses 3 alter egos – Red Bastard is the devlish and mysterious figure who gets off on our lies, our infidelities, our animal instinct. Eric is the performer – he almost does not agree, he is apologetic and horrified by Red Bastard. And finally a man with no name, who just wants love and to be loved – he’s respectful, giving and rounds up the show with a wonderful soulful ending.
Red Bastard moves across our stage, like a little round devil ; licking his fingers as he enjoys our lies like a delicious cake, miming making sandwich’s, cutting deserts, and filling his evil belly with it. You cannot help but laugh at this but admire his precision in his movements; his known movement of walking and rubbing his misshapen body as he speaks to us is almost like a star struck moment to us fans.
It is unclear how planned and how much improv he uses – he interacts with us but seems to be ahead of us all. This shows true skill as a performer that we know he cannot possibly predict all the infinite options that can come from the audience, but he is so precise and perfect that he takes it in his stride and reacts perfectly every time.
Red Bastard is a hero of mine and he did not disappoint. A well researched performance, he has no qualms, fears or want to not offend, to not tell us what we are thinking, and makes us come away contemplating what life really is, whilst our stomachs hurt from laughing so much.

Hannah Goslin

Review Fourteen Days, Balletboyz, Exeter Northcott, by Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Balletboyz have been a favourite of mine since my university days. Always heading to the Taliesin in Swansea, this company have never struggled to surprise me with their brilliance.
Today was of no exception.
Looking in the crowd the audience was of a mixture – dance enthusiasts like myself, an older generation who may or may not have seen them before and know their unique and modern take on dance and a huge amount of boys and young men. Beating the stereotype of ballet and dance being for girls, these masculine role models are obviously very influential.
Fourteen days comprises of 4 short pieces followed by a longer finale. As the programme states, these dances are created by a host of different choreographers, including Strictly Come Dancing’s, Craig Revel Horwood and all feature an underlying theme of balance and imbalance.

“The Title is in the Text” is our first piece by choreographer, Javier De Frutos and really draws on the theme. Set around a see saw, the dancers balance, propel and manoeuvre around it creating beautiful shapes and a sort of child-like playtime with each other . It’s simplistic, yet powerful and with elements of subtle humour with the interaction and response between them. Dressed in jumpsuits, firstly it feels mechanic and as if they are workers but the play in the dance makes them feel more childlike.

“Human Animals” by Iván Pérez changed the dynamic completely. The floral shirts with legs bare for all muscles to be seen makes this animalistic – the routine gentle, light and almost mimicking deer jumping in a forest as one. It’s repetitive but easy and lovely to watch.
To me, “Us” by Christopher Wheeldon was the highlight of the show. With only two dancers, the performance is intimate, a consistent flow and full of emotion. Along with the music by Keaton Henson, this very minimalist piece but full of vigour and emotional power resonated personally with me, leaving me in tears at the beauty of love and conflict.
“The Indicator Line” by TV star Craig Revel Horwood is in itself a surprise.  There is a Soviet element to the narrative and comes across as very dictator-like but with bells on. Mostly I would expect something musical theatre based from him and that’s a little of what we get but it’s strong, powerful and full of momentum. The dancers also show a great talent in their trade when ballet and contemporary turns to tap. However there’s anger in the tap -no Fred Astaire here, this tap dancing means war.
And finally, “Fallen”by Russell Maliphant – a rebirth from it’s debut in 2013. Until I read that fact, there was something familiar about the piece but nothing less enjoyable. The whole ensemble is involved and there is always something to watch. Different scenes broadcast from different areas; crescendos come and go and levels change from all to duo to solo and back again. This piece has a fluidity to it, not just in dance but in its expression, leaving you struggling to take your eyes away.
What I love about Balletboyz is their ability to be about the dance. Yes the odd bit of staging and changing of lights adds to their composition but mostly the stage is naked, stripped bare of trickery leaving us engaged with the dancers who make every element look effortless and with sheer beauty.

Hannah Goslin

Review Fiction, Bikeshed Theatre by Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
In the brick theatre of the Bikeshed, we are separated into singular seating, correspondent to our numbered headphones. Instantly we are dubious of what is about to happen especially when you end up in the front row and your guest is right at the back.
The only other things in the room apart from us spaced out is a large projection screen and a lectern. The projection screen acts as our welcome party before we are delved into sheer darkness.
Fiction sees us travel through a world of imagination and suggestion. Being in pure darkness, we feel vulnerable and open to the elements. Therefore sounds effect us more than normal, we do not feel as safe as we normally would and suddenly there are voices describing and taking you through an almost apocalyptic world and story.
One hour of this would, from the outside, seem tiresome but somehow the content of the narrative and what we create in our mind keeps the entire experience interesting and new.
The wonderful thing about this event is that while the narrative is the same, our own minds create a world that would be different to the next person. An uncertainty of whether the person speaking is sat next to you or not – yet you still do not reach out and move despite a 95% assurance it’s all coming from the headphones.
Fiction is very clever, intense and very simple, yet brilliantly executed. Such a clever experience is very unique and totally worth undertaking.

Hannah Goslin

Review People, Places and Things, Headlong, Exeter Northcott Theatre by Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
People, Places and Things by Headlong Theatre has taken the theatre scene by storm. Debuting at the National Theatre, London , the production was all anyone could talk about.
Touring the UK, a different cast still brings the story and theatrical experience from a world famous stage to our local venues.

Taking on the issue of addiction, we are taken though the life of Sarah as she undertakes rehab and combats her stubbornness against asking for help. We meet other characters, learning their stories and the different ways addiction manifests.
The naturalism from the actors is fantastic. There is no stereotyping of ‘junkies’ or the help they receive that we see on television and projected by the media. The stories are hard hitting where we are thrown from sympathy to dislike and to understanding.
Adding to the performers, the staging, lighting and sound adds to emphasising the clinical rehab atmosphere as well as helping us to understand moments of reaction from drug taking and the reaction of coming off them.

The stage is interchangeable and develops into different rooms with ease. The audience are placed either side making it feel as if we looking into a box – something like a zoo or science experiment adding to the sense of combating our original thoughts of addiction.

People, Places and Things is a hard hitting revelation of a play, taking our initial misconceptions and bringing forward the truth.

Hannah Goslin

Review Mixed Grill?, Beyond Face, Barbican Theatre Plymouth, by Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)
My first time at the Barbican, this little theatre tucked away in an alley opposite Plymouth Aquarium is a little gem in itself.
For my first trip here, I came to see Mixed Grill? by Beyond Face. The production uses many elements of music, video, real life story telling and picking up on history and present day topics related to race, with some physical theatre/dance fusions thrown in. One could say this is for sure a multi-media production.
The premise of the show is to highlight and explore race, from two mixed raced performers where they share their personal stories and feelings but also make comments on well-known worldly stories. They support this with mixture of music that represents the Caribbean and Britain and combine this with a narrative of making a traditional Caribbean curry for their British friends. Not only does the smell of real life cooking add to the senses and bring you into the room, but the naturalism of the performances invites you to the discussion.
A simple set, we see a bookcase with blank frames, adding to the tales of not feeling placed or at home with who you are and where you are. Other than that, it is set like a standard kitchen and with all the appliances and ingredients for the performers to make this curry, it is very lifelike and relatable. This puts us in the room and makes us feel affiliated with the performers, giving us the option to side with their ideals and opinions on race.
The performers themselves pick up on very good points – showing physically with black and white liquid the ‘one drop system’ in America which was originally unknown to me; transpiring their uneasiness with their own difficulties when it has come to race and their stories and, for example, the male performer and the 50/50 life he had growing up in London where he was accepted but other times not, through dance and physicality. They were lovely additions but it did feel as if a lot of the other points they made could have been presented this way.
While you can tell they have theatrical backgrounds and a want to show important points through this, the script was lengthy and, at times, were just chatting but without conviction. Such a huge amount of facts and points must have been hard to recite and therefore lost a little personalisation and theatricality – unfortunately it felt over rehearsed and scripted. As previously said, the physicality, while it  was good but seemingly also felt in production still,  perhaps throwing more of this into the performance to compliment the speeches would have made this feel less like a lecture and more of a performance. With this also comes projection – at times their voices did not quite fill the room or music drowned them out and this was a real shame as I really wanted to hear what they were saying from the important points to the comedy they were also trying to bring.
Saying all of this, Mixed Grill is a great concept, comical and a joy to watch but it still felt in a scratch stage and could become something really interesting and amazing – physicality, energy and more theatrical projection is needed just to push it that little bit further! And there is something about this pair and their approach to comedy and vast knowledge and research into an obviously personal subject that makes you really root for their success.

Review Running Wild, Theatre Royal Plymouth by Hannah Goslin

Image result for running wild tour
 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Let’s start with a bold but true statement – Michael Morpurgo is one of our country’s literary geniuses. From World hits such as War Horse, from book to stage and film, Running Wild seemingly is following suit with such success and ingenious theatrical approach.

Running Wild sees the modern day tale of a young girl, on a trip with her mother to Indonesia after the death of her father, who finds herself lost in the jungle after a natural disaster and help of a beach elephant; along the way meeting new animal friends and facing terrifying situations. This tale sees the growth of her and her developing relationship with her family, both those alive and passed away as well as making bold and blunt points about human destruction of nature.

The narrative itself is well formed, in a way relatable in the sense of love and loss and pulls at your heartstrings constantly – whether this is with relation to her passing father or the bond she makes with her new animal friends. A tale that, like War Horse, has taken a lot of perfecting and trust in theatrical ability from actors to puppeteers, stage and lighting technicians to designers – the collaboration from all involved syncs this production well and seems perfect for the stage – as if Morpurgo wrote it for theatre.

Like War Horse, which coined the large puppeteering techniques used, the animals are to size and travel the stage in a very lifelike manner – the puppeteers making sounds and at times many controlling different parts of an animal, made this all seem very lifelike and by getting lost in this, you forget that the puppeteers are even there. As someone who has been up close to a real elephant, the detail and natural/lifelike nature of the animal was on point and extremely real. Obvious time and investment in the research and performance is abundant and really makes the difference for the experience.

To agree with the modern day story, Running Wild is modernised and at times takes on a ambiguous and alternative lighting, staging which creates another difference in the two productions – Running Wild is not just a carbon copy of War Horse and its techniques, but its own incredible production. The set itself gathers understanding and sense – a stage covered in random objects then compliments the natural disaster and the destruction from this that occurs. The puppeteers bringing out rectangular harsh lighting to represent the unusual environment while the girl and elephant run through the jungle and a big favourite of mine, moveable trees with fruit represented by shower luffas to add to the nature vs human element.

And finally the performers – from actors to puppeteers. Some puppeteers doubled up as actors, and some took on several characters and puppetry. To invest the performers in all elements adds to the great understanding they have with the storyline and at no point was concentration, energy or enthusiasm lost in either/all performances.

Running Wild is by far a triumph. Following in War Horse’s footsteps in some theatrical elements, there is, however, no competition; both performances are perfected and in their own right, theatrical perfection. Running Wild not only makes you well up in happiness and sadness, create shock and fear, comfort and protect you, and make severe points of modern human impressions on nature, but it manages to get you lost in the jungle with all your new animals friends.