I suppose I was very lucky at school. Although being short, wearing glasses and having ‘FA Cup’ ears, I don’t remember ever being bullied about theses things. Though I did get my ears fixed and once ‘lost’ a pair of NHS glasses as I hated them, so maybe things did get said after all. The point is, that whatever may have happened it was obviously pretty mild and so I’ve forgotten about it. I’m one of the lucky ones. For some people school is a place they go to to be tortured either mentally, verbally or physically. For them, school doesn’t end when they hit 16 and leave. For them, these events may live in their mind for years to come, and this is the premise behind Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s play The Wasp at the Jermyn Street Theatre.
Outside a nondescript coffee shop, two women sit and drink tea. Heather (Selina Giles) is well dressed and poised, whilst Carla (Lisa Gorgin) is, not to put too fine a point on it, the ultimate definition of a pregnant chav. In appearance and manner, they are poles apart but they are united in a shared history. Twenty years ago, they were students at the same school. As they share memories, it is obvious that their time at school was very different and there had been some major league bullying going on. Still, that was all in the past. The two girls have grown into women and, have matured so all can be forgiven and forgotten can’t it?
From the start, I had a feeling I was going to enjoy The Wasp and I was right. Small, the stage at the Jermyn Street Theatre may be but Set Designer Mike Leopold managed to make it seem much larger – but still keep the intimacy – with his really impressive set. The story itself could be described as a psychological thriller and certainly, there were a few twists and turns from the opening scene to the wholly unexpected climax of the show. However, I do feel that at times the first act was slightly wordy and things did seem to switch between reminiscences, accusations and ‘chumminess’ in a rather random way. Apart from that, the story itself was really gripping.
Turning to the actors and full praise to both ladies for a first rate performance. Lisa Gorgin was the epitome of a working class girl, with a terrible back story. Carla obviously struggles with her multiple children and a drunken husband to make ends meet and is constantly hoping that something would happen to take her away from the humdrum life she led. There were quite a few moments during both acts – but especially the second – when Carla’s tale was told simply by the posture and the movement of the eyes and Lisa brought them out superbly. I don’t think there was any time when I looked at Lisa and could not have taken a stab at what she was thinking.
Selina Giles was the total opposite. Her Heather was virtually always a model middle-class woman. Her voice, gentle and unemotional giving no indication of the thoughts inside her head. Selina’s voice, coupled with her clothing and physical posture served to reassure a nice theatre going audience that, although people like Carla do exist – and one should do everything one can to help them (up to a point) – the world is safe in the hands of Heather and her ilk. However, Like so many such women, especially in literature, be very careful if you cross her and, without giving too much away, Selina really manages to cover the range of emotions and characteristics that Heather requires. Individually then, the actors are really brilliant and together they make their characters quite scarily real to watch and travel with over the length of the narrative.
Director Anna Simpson really has done a good job by not doing too much. There is little movement of the actors during the first two scenes and that is exactly as it should be. From a logical point of view, a 7-month pregnant woman and a middle-class lady having tea, are really not that animated and so the direction is just right. When movement does occur, it is slow and deliberate and, as with the dialogue, sometimes used to throw another red herring at the audience.
So, to sum up. Apart from a couple of issues I found with the story, The Waspis a first-rate psychological thriller. Being me, I correctly worked out about a third of the final ending but the other two-thirds took me completely by surprise. The production is superbly put together and really makes one think about the past and its influence on the present and the future.
Southern Baptist Sissies
Above the Stag is a theatre that specialises in putting on LGBT+ shows. I’ve been there a couple of times previously and seen some very well produced and very funny plays about gay life. So, I was really looking forward to another visit last night to see their latest show, the European premiere of Southern Baptist Sissies by Del Shores.
This is the story of four people emerging from childhood and becoming adults. These boys are all from the great state of Texas – the ‘buckle’ in the bible belt – and all are regular attendees at their small town Baptist church presided over by a real old fashioned ‘wrath of God’ style preacher (Stephen Parker). The four boys are all really good friends who each bring something different to the group. So, there is preacher’s son Mark (Jason Kirk) the thinker, TJ (Daniel Klemens) the brawn, Andrew (Hugh O’Donnell) the introverted and…
So, I wrote a review for this play for http://www.carnstheatrepassion.com/review-snapshot/ but I also wanted to write another. to see if I could effectively write two reviews for the same play but make each review distinct in its style. So, if you fancy another read of my thoughts then read on................
As I charge headlong into the twilight years of life I do start to wonder if human beings really should be in relationships at all. I know as we go through our teens, twenties, etc we all look for that one person to settle down with but as a species, are we really that monogamous? This question has sprung to mind after seeing George Johnston’s new play Snapshot at The Hope Theatre in Islington. Foreign Currency trader Daniel (Joey Akubeze) is doing OK. Let’s be honest he is doing better than OK. Well educated - private school then Magdalene College, Cambridge - He now earns a significant salary - the likes of which we mere mortals can only dream - and has a lovely apartment in le…
The Chemsex Monologues at the King’s Head Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet
Some of you may have heard of an app called Grindr. It is a social app for gay men that enables them to chat and arrange to meet up. Okay, it may be a bit more than that but once again I must remember my mother reads these things. Anyway, if I was to download it and switch it on now, two things would become apparent very quickly. The first is that a lot of people take really bad photographs which seem to cut off their heads and the second is that the world is divided into those that say ‘chems OK’ and those that say ‘No Chems’. Being firmly on the ‘No Chems’ side, it is interesting to delve, if only briefly, on the other. Such an opportunity is available as Patrick Cash’s play The Chemsex Monologues makes a welcome return to the King’s Head Theatre in Islington.
As the title suggests, The Chemsex Monologues are a series …