Tag Archives: The Hope Theatre

Review In Other Words, Hope Theatre by Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

In the top of the Hope and Anchor, one of my favourite venues displays yet another interesting and ground breaking piece of new writing.

Matthew Seager, who also stars as our main man in this duologue of a production, debuts his writing in the form of a tale about a couple dealing with the slow deterioration due to age and dementia.

We run through, back and forth to the past, the present and an almost out of body experience of the couple looking back on their life, giving a narrative to their own torment. Coming into the production itself, the couple interact with us, become playful with each other, and when relating the narrative to us, we are brought in, trusted and engaged with. This in itself connects us and makes us feel as if we have known this pair our entire lives.

The slow deterioration is not referred to by name until near the end – dementia. Without prior knowledge, we can only guess what they are referring to and so it comes as a surprise to us, as it does to the characters despite our inner guesses and assumptions. With only two characters, the character of the Doctor is never seen and this draws us into the couple more, intruding on their thoughts and feelings.

Seagar is a loveable goon. We fall in love with him, just as his character wife does, and so to see him become something unlike himself it painful to us. Using his voice, his facial expressions and the change in his posture is natural and painful to watch but very like an older person conforming to dementia.

Celeste Dodwell is also a natural triumph. I had previously seen her only a week before in Testament by Old Sole Theatre. In the previous production, she also plays a character with an upsetting storyline. However, and it is not just because a change of accent from American to Australian (although her Australian accent in In Other Words is very subtle) but comparing the two approaches to the characters, she sure shows talent, showing such a difference between the two. She draws us in and we soon feel her pain, her thoughts and so the story soon becomes not about a man and his dementia, but how they both cope with the change.

With a basic staging, little props and beautiful old school Sinatra and changing in lighting to flag up a new scene, there is nothing fancy taking away interest from the writing but only adds to the theatricality of the play.

Looking around the audience, not a dry eye was in the house – men who in the queue to enter looked strong and alpha, are reduced to tears and myself… well… my sleeve was soaked with drying my eyes at the end. In Other Words takes on a new approach to the subject and is beautifully tragic.


Review ‘Her Aching Heart’ The Hope Theatre by Hannah Goslin

Image result for her aching heart

 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Another transformative space, The Hope Theatre is compact but also a blank canvas. From my last visit, again the stage is completely different. 3 sections of chairs semi-circle the stage which has minimal setting and a large curtain behind.

‘Her Aching Heart’ sees the cross over story from present day to the days of Victorian gothic romance novels. However there is a twist. There are no Mr Rochester’s’ or Colin Firth striding in drenched in pond water – this story has strong female leads and strong romantic love between the two of them.

Picking up on the nonsensical opinions of the time in comparison to now, ‘Her Aching Heart’ is comical in creating 1 dimensional characters and highlighting these with costuming and casting – The Lady of the Manor type character of Harriet (played by Colette Eaton) is all full of pomp and circumstance – beginning rude, obnoxious and playing upon the upper class stereotype, her being dressed in dark colours and casting a brunette is clever with the contrast to the opposing character. Molly (played by Naomi Todd) is a blonde, innocent and by all means perfect peasant girl, who very much like Snow White, attracts creatures and humans alike and revives them with her pure goodness. She is mostly dressed in white and pinks to enhance her innocence. Both actresses do brilliantly well to be humorous and to play to these stereotypes. The costuming and casting choices are also brought into the ‘present day’ scenarios, despite these modern characters being more likeable and naturalistic.

The production in hammed up, over the top and melodramatic – and this is all good.  The idea of enhancing these ridiculous aspects makes the musical comical and contrasting to the era change. The play is clever in making it seem amateur and with this, the polished production is anything but. Original music and composition is used which is funny, witty and provides breaks between the scenes. The only negative I could give is that it is notable that one singer is more prominent than the other – Eaton has a more husky, attention grabbing voice and is able to adjust to fill the room but not blast us out the door – reminiscent to me of a character you would find in Chicago. This is not to say that Todd is not good – she has a wonderful musical theatre-esque take to her voice, her songs and approach to these reminding me much of Wicked and tells the tale well; the voices are just so different that in harmonies and song after another, Todd seems to get a little lost in the space and this is unfortunate for such a wonderful performer.

Her Aching Heart is comedic, clever and certainly worth a watch. Pushing the boundaries of what we know about gothic romance novels and the heterosexuality of them – writer Bryony Lavery has certainly taken a great concept and ran with it.


Review, Steel Magnolias, The Hope Theatre by Hannah Goslin


 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Steel Magnolias is a well known 80’s film with Julia Roberts – an almost cult film it could be suggested.

So it is perhaps unforgivable that myself and my friend have never seen it. I wonder whether the tears my mother sheds after each viewing was a slight put off to watching it. I don’t think I ever wanted to know the sadness.

In a very 80’s style hairdressers in a transverse set up, the styling, the costumes, the hair is all shining Pretty Woman, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles.

The storyline is a great combination of fun, comical, relatable and sad.  It would seem that not much happens – 5 women run through the year, trading stories, make up tips, tales of men…one may say it is all slightly un-feminist and stereotyped. But it’s all true – it’s all what small town women would talk about and what they would do.

We are drawn into their story very easily. It holds us and at times I wondered how such simple yet witty writing is keeping me from getting distracted. Of course the combination of comedy and reality hooks us but it’s only instilled this way by the wonderful and natural performances of each actor.

Steel Magnolias has you hooked and always crying, whether this is from laughing or because it has touched your heart.