Nothing to Rave About – Raving at the Hampstead Theatre – Review

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I bought my tickets for this simply based on the casting of Sarah Hadland and Robert Webb, a couple of months ago. I was keen to see a new comedy too, and revist one of my favourite theatres after the brilliant Race that I saw there earlier this year.

Is it worth raving about then? Not really.

The cast give clichéd and stereotype performances to their equally two-dimensional characters. Writer Simon Paisley Day clearly believes his audience can’t handle nuance or depth and so gives us this superficial offering.

Bel Powley appears to be the “teen chav for hire” actress , she duplicates her role from Jumpy here and in the two years since I saw her in that hasn’t appeared to learn that you don’t need to yell on stage all the time, even when you’re playing a stroppy teenager.

Sarah Hadland could just have walked off the set of Miranda and Robert Webb likewise has just wandered off the set of Peep Show. They’re just duplicating their roles from these TV shows. It’s this lack of any creativity by cast or writer that is so disheartening. It did feel they were “going through the motions” a bit too.

The exception is Tamzin Outhwaite with her performance as the depressed new mum Briony, it is superb, but lost in the sea of mediocrity that the rest of the play is.

I did laugh out loud, and in no means did I think it was dreadful. It’ll simply be a forgotten piece of theatre in a weeks time. Shame really as I’m sure the cast and audience could have been stretched and entertained further. It’s ok, but nothing worth raving about.

STARS : ★ ★ (and a half)



Jumpy – Royal Court Theatre – Review

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Apart from the screaming chav, an enjoyable play

To say this play is simply enjoyable, may make it seem quite bland. It’s anything but. April De Angelis’ witty script is a very enjoyable 2 hours in the theatre. However it’s nothing more than that. That’s not to say it should be, there is most certainly a place for theatre to be an amusing and pleasurable diversion, and this play certainly is.

It has some very funny moments, especially the character Frances’ dance routine, done with great abandon by Doon Mackichan. There are also some great witty lines throughout. For me though it felt a bit like a cross between Absolutely Fabulous and an Ayckbourn play, but it never felt as good as either of those unfortunately.

Tamsin Greig certainly steals the show with her touching and funny portrayal of angst ridden parent Hilary. Supported ably by Ewan Stewart as her husband Mark and Richard Lintern as her admirer.

The biggest problem for me was the character of Hilary’s daughter Tilly played by Bel Powley. She seemed so incongruent, this chav spawned from these nice middle-class parents who drink wine and go on holiday to Norfolk. To me it seemed like a device to get cheap laughs and to also do the usual middle-class voyeurism on the english underclass that seems to fascinate so many writers at present. This character is monotone throughout (she yells most of time ) which is a shame as there is little that she does to endear herself to the audience, I think we’re supposed to like her though. I just thought , she got what she deserves, the stupid slut!

One thing that really felt contemporary was Hilary looking back at the Greenham Common protest, as our news is currently focused on the protest outside St Paul’s I really felt like that could be this generations “Greenham Common”.

Lizzie Clachan’s set is brilliant, so simple yet so effective, it allows the cast and the script to shine, but has a nice surprise up it’s sleeve when it takes us to Norfolk.

Nina Raine directs the cast well, although having read the script I do wonder if the finger of blame for making Tilly such a monotone character perhaps lies more with her than with Bel Powley’s acting?

This is very much a play of today, it’s texting and Facebook references, I’m sure will date it pretty quickly, but it certainly does reflect the times we live in. As I said earlier, I did enjoy this play, it was a lovely way to spend the evening and it had some genuine laugh out loud moments.

STARS : * * *