Review: Human Nurture, Soho Theatre

Short but sharp, Ryan Calais Cameron’s Human Nurture is uncompromisingly frank about racism at the Soho Theatre

“It’s not about what you’ve been through — it’s about what you’ll never have to go through”

There’s something to be said about being direct when it comes to getting your message across. And for Theatre Centre, with their focus on theatre for young people, creating a show that works in both theatres and schools that is particularly true. So if Ryan Calais Cameron’s Human Nurture comes across as being a little didactic at times, you could wonder whether that is necessarily a bad thing here.

His play, directed well by Rob Watt, centres on Harry and Roger, kids who grew up in care in Yorkshire together and tight as brothers can be, their difference in race not seeming to matter. But after Roger is adopted, moved to London and then reunited with his Ugandan uncle, an unexpected reunion for Harry’s 18th birthday exposes the rifts in their relationship which extend far beyond geography into race and socioeconomics. Continue reading “Review: Human Nurture, Soho Theatre”

The finalists of The ONCOMMs 2022

The OnComm is the new award for online shows from across the UK (and beyond) and was introduced in
May 2020. 

LIVE STREAM
GAYATRI The Royal Queen Consort of the Majapahit Kingdom /  7evenotes Production / Alexander Triyono & mhyajo / Available via https://res.cthearts.com/event/34:3465/34:59436/
The Black CatThreedumb Theatre / The Space / Unfortunately this show is no longer available.
TrestleOVO Productions / Maltings Theatre / View until 10 April at https://maltingstheatre.co.uk/whats-on/trestle

RECORDED (DIRECT)
A Brief List of Everyone Who Died / Patch of Blue / Finborough / View at https://www.youtube.com/user/finboroughtheatre
Talking Gods (series of 5 plays) / Arrows & Traps / View at https://www.arrowsandtraps.com/talkinggods
Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life / Keith Alessi / View at https://online.thespaceuk.com/show/tomatoes-tried-to-kill-me-but-banjos-saved-my-life
Touchy / 20 Stories High / View via https://www.20storieshigh.org.uk/show/touchy/ Continue reading “The finalists of The ONCOMMs 2022”

My 10 favourite shows of 2021

Just a little bit late… Here’s 10 of my favourite shows, both online and onstage but fully acknowledging that I saw a lot less than usual, I might actually have broken the back of this theatre obsession – it just took a global pandemic to do it…!

1. Anything Goes, Barbican
A joyous shot in the arm that felt like the perfect welcome back into the theatre this summer. Naturally, it is coming back next year to the Barbican and a UK tour but will it be led by the irrepressible Sutton Foster? You have to hope so as she was the epitome of Broadway class.

2. The Normal Heart, National Theatre
Almost unbearably moving, Larry Kramer’s 1985 loosely autobiographical play got a masterful revival from Dominic Cooke, making the most of the Olivier being in the round and blessed with a cast full of commitment and compassion.

3. Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre
Perhaps predictable for those that know me, but the four-way revival featuring Omari Douglas & Russell Tovey and Anna Maxwell Martin & Chris O’Dowd and Sheila Atim & Ivanno Jeremiah and Peter Capaldi & Zoë Wanamaker turned out to be a great way to revisit this play.

4. Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre
At least there’s a sense that they’re earning a bit of their hugely inflated ticket prices, as Rebecca Frecknall and Tom Scutt’s reinvention of the theatre is matched with a fearless reinterpretation of the classic musical which proves hauntingly effective.

5. What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories), BOLD Elephant
One of the more unexpected theatrical experiences of the year. I had no idea of what to expect and no real idea of why it moved me quite as much as it did. 

6. DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco, Golden Goose Theatre
Gently immersive and quietly heartbreaking, this playful and powerful monologue really took me by surprise, totally captivating as Jack Sunderland’s emotionally broken Baz tries to chase the demons of both the past and present.

7. Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now
5 short stories of lockdown life in Nottingham turned out to be hugely affecting, featuring a wide range of the intimately human stories that make up a global pandemic and star performances from the likes of Frances De La Tour and Julie Hesmondhalgh.

8. Mum, Soho Theatre
Led by a scorching performance from Sophie Melville, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play took a sledgehammer to Insta-perfect narratives of new motherhood to offer up something of a nightmare of early parenthood. Absolutely exhilarating.

9. Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre
With a loose focus on older LGBT+ narratives, this double bill of new gay plays was quietly impressive and in the case of Michael McManus’ A Certain Term made me sob like a baby

10. Romeo and Juliet
The National led from the front in lockdown, able to parlay its resources into transforming its intended stage production of this teen tragedy into a deluxe filmed version with a delicious cast led by Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor.

Review: Mum, Soho Theatre

Following on from the brilliant Emilia, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play Mum is a powerfully bracing experience at the Soho Theatre

“Motherhood’s not for everyone”

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Mum gives us a portrait of a side of motherhood that is often alluded to but rarely fully acknowledged, those early days, weeks, months when the realities of parenthood hit like a sledgehammer and the fear of being overwhelmed is punishingly real. Nina is one such mother, preparing for her first night away from baby Ben after a difficult birth three months ago but as she gets him ready for a trip to Grandma’s, those fears only grow. Abigail Graham’s production opens at the Soho Theatre after playing the Theatre Royal Plymouth earlier this month.

An outsize mobile dominates the gloomy space of Sarah Beaton’s set design and as it turns, Sally Ferguson’s carefully poised lighting casts shadows on the wall that become increasingly hallucinatory. For as Nina cracks open a bottle of white wine with best pal Jackie, determined to have a night ‘off’, the guilt weighs ever heavier as she unburdens herself by saying the quiet parts out loud, talking frankly about how just how fricking difficult it is operate on such tiredness, such helplessness, such conflicting emotions as provoked by something society has dictated you will love wholeheartedly from the off. Continue reading “Review: Mum, Soho Theatre”

News: the Mono Box presents Reset the Stage

The Mono Box is delighted to announce RESET THE STAGEa collection of 7 filmed monologues written by 7 emerging, ethnically diverse writers performed by established actors on the empty stages of 7 London theatres in lockdown will stream live online on Thursday 17th June at 7.30pm.

This series of short films featuring actors Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Star Wars: Rogue One, Sex Education), Ken Nwosu (Killing Eve, Sticks & Stones) and Danny Kirrane (Don’t Forget the Driver, Peterloo) The evening will be introduced by Patrons of The Mono Box, Sir Derek Jacobi, Youssef Kerkour, Susan Wokoma and James Norton. All ticket sales will raise money for the continual work of the company nurturing and providing opportunities to emerging theatre talent.  Continue reading “News: the Mono Box presents Reset the Stage”

Review: Typical

Richard Blackwood excels in Ryan Calais Cameron’s searing monologue Typical, the weight of its enduring relevance painfully clear

“Look, I know me, I got this”

Christopher Alder died in police custody in Hull in April 1998. More than 20 years later, his story still has a terrible resonance in today’s society as the racial reckoning of the Black Lives Matter movement attests but crucially, can we really say anything has changed? The fact that Ryan Calais Cameron’s one-man-show Typical is also inspired by his own experiences of everyday racism suggests not though at the same time, he points to a potential pathway for the future.

Directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, Typical is uncompromisingly direct. How could it be anything else? Talking airily of institutional racism is something like a get-out-of-jail-free card that allows too many of us to get away with shirking responsibility. Here, we have no choice but to look directly into the tight close-ups of a black man’s face as a group of police officers cause his death, in a police station, when he was the victim of the original crime of racial assault outside a nightclub earlier that evening. Continue reading “Review: Typical”

The finalists of The Offies 2021

The finalists for the 2021 Offies (for productions in 2020) have been announced and congratulations to the 47 finalists across 16 of the 28 Offies categories. The winners will be announced at the Offies Awards Ceremony, being held online on 21 February 2021.

The following categories are not going forward for 2021 awards as there were insufficient nominations due to theatre closures arising from Covid-19 lockdowns:

  • Design: Costume
  • Design: Video
  • Choreography
  • Company Ensemble
  • Musicals: New Musical
  • Opera
  • Panto
  • Plays: Most Promising New Playwright
  • Plays: Production
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (0-7)
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (13+)
  • Theatre for Young People: Production (8+)

Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2021”

Review: The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special

Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme tackle Christmas the only way they know how in the highly entertainting The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special

“Jinkx please, not in front of the baby Jesus”

Clearly knowing they’re onto a good thing, Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme have reunited for their third holiday special The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special, a show which sees DeLa producing and directing for the first time as well as co-creating and co-writing with DeLa. And though much of the special electricity that characterises the best drag comes from a live environment, the take-off of a TV holiday special here means streaming feels like the show’s ideal home.

The plot, insofar as it matters, sees DeLa trying to convince Jinkx of the merits of a traditional Christmas but finding her convictions shaken as the spirit of her grandma speaks to her from a glass of eggnog. But even as you may scoff at how OTT the whole thing seems, there’s the kernel of something genuine underscoring the messaging that builds to something more substantial than candy canes and colourful costumes, a hard-won emotional truths that many LGBT+ folk will recognise all too well at this time of year. Continue reading “Review: The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special”

News: Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award 2020 Longlist Revealed

Following a record number of 1,493 submissions to its Verity Bargate Award 2020, Soho Theatre today reveals the 20 plays that have been longlisted for the award. The shortlist will be announced at the end of September and the winner of the award announced in October.

Since 1982, the Verity Bargate Award, Soho Theatre’s foremost playwriting award, has uncovered the best new and emerging writers. It has launched the careers of some of Britain’s most established playwrights and screenwriters including Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), Vicky Jones (HBO’s Run), Toby Whithouse (Doctor Who) and many, many more. This year’s award will be judged by a panel of industry experts including former Soho writers Phoebe Waller-BridgeArinzé Kene and Laura Wade, screenwriter Russell T Davies, actress and playwright Lolita Chakrabarti. The award is sponsored by Character 7 and chaired by film and television producer, Character 7’s Stephen Garrett. The Award honours Verity Bargate, Soho’s co-founder who passionately championed new writing during her time at the small but hugely influential fringe theatre, Soho Poly. Continue reading “News: Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award 2020 Longlist Revealed”

Not-a-review: seeds, Soho Theatre

tiata fahodzi and Wrested Veil’s tour of Mel Pennant’s play seeds should have been opening at the Soho Theatre today but all is not yet lost…

“Well if it ain’t black and white…”

It is some small measure of comfort that seeds had completed much of its UK tour before circumstances dictated its cancellation but I’m still sad that I didn’t get to see it at the Soho, not least because it was another chance to see the excellent Penny Layden (so brilliant in Jellyfish). But as it had done the rounds a bit, there’s a fair bit of content around to ease the pain until theatre doors reopen and potential future life investigated.

Interview with Mel Pennant at Live Theatre
Interview with Mel Pennant at Theatre Weekly

Review of seeds by Yorkshire Post
Review of seeds by Fairy Powered Productions
Review of seeds by Always Time For Theatre

You can also check out ways to support the company and theatre below:

For seeds

You can buy the playtext from Nick Hern Books here
You can check out the website here
You can follow producers tiata fahodzi on Twitter here and Wrested Veil on Twitter here
You can look at the different ways of supporting tiata fahodzi here
And you can watch a teaser trailer for the show below:

 

For Soho Theatre

You can follow the theatre on Twitter here
You can look at the different ways of supporting tiata fahodzi here
And you can sign up to their mailing list here to get any announcements about future plans, once the dust finally settles 

Photo: Wasi Daniju