Co-Artistic Director Bryony Shanahan’s last hurrah at the Royal Exchange is a political farce that feels as though it was written directly from today’s news.
No Pay? No Way! is a translation of a 1974 Italian play Non Si Paga! Non Si Paga! by Dario Fo and Franca Rame. The English translation by Marieke Hardy debuted in Sydney, Australia in 2020 (before its run was cut short by the pandemic).
The play centres on women, particularly unpaid domestic labour usually done by women, and Margherita (Katherine Pearce) and Antonia (Samantha Powell) guide the action as they lead the revolution – from the supermarket all the way into their own marriages.
The standout performance was from Anwar Russell, who multi-roled his way through the action with real talent. His knack for comedy is incredible to witness, particularly as the Sergeant and the Inspector in scenes shared with Roger Morlidge’s Giovanni. Russell’s handling of the (planned!) show stop is the hardest I’ve laughed in a theatre in a LONG time.
When a play is described by its theatre as a “ferocious and feisty political comedy” and “an urgent exploration of our global economic reality”, you go in with certain expectations. Expectations of its gravitas, its No Pay? No Way! fell slightly short and played its politics frustratingly safe. We ask: ‘Why now? Why this?’ a lot in theatre, and while the play certainly answers those questions, it doesn’t really do anything with it. Margherita’s final monologue builds into a powerful crescendo of absolute exhaustion at the state of the political landscape and then… the play just ends. I know that it’s not very realistic of me to expect a play to solve the cost of living crisis in the space of two and a half hours, but it starts as if it’s trying to. And then they sing Bella Ciao. Why?
No Pay? No Way! is a very strong play, incredibly staged and wonderfully acted. While its politics aren’t particularly cutting-edge, you probably won’t disagree with anything it says and the comedy is strong enough to carry it through. The on-stage slide is worth the ticket price alone.
The infamous Sh!t Faced Showtime are back in London with a festive edition, they have taken Dickens’ classic and put a drunken spin on it. The formula is the same as other iterations of the Shi!t Faced shows, one member of the cast has been boozing, and this time it is John Milton who plays Scrooge. Before the show, half a bottle of Jim Beam, some wine, and beer have been consumed in the previous 4 hours. The rest of the cast, try to keep the show on track, also aided by James Murfitt as the compere, Charles Dickens. The … More A PISSEDMAS CAROL – REVIEW – LEICESTER SQUARE
Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, HighTide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and daughter’s … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE