Tag Archives: Oxford Playhouse


13 Feb

Hello out there!

I’ve been silent for a while, I know. Who’d have thought final year would actually be a busy time?! Anyway, I have discovered wordpress for my phone which can only end badly..

I’ve not posted for 3 whole months, they sure went fast. I hope you all had a nice Christmas and managed to see some theatre – I was at York Theatre Royal’s infamous panto!

I’ve not seen much theatre recently, mainly because I’ve been busy studying which really means that I’ve been busy directing a play for the very first time! I meant to blog about the audition/rehearsal process and may still do so but we’re quite far on with preparations now and the performance is in just over a week’s time. I’ll also blog reviews and pics.

Anyway here are the details if you would like to come along.

Teechers by John Godber
21st-25th February
Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford

Tickets are an amazing £6. It’s a really funny but also sentimental and nostalgic play and we have a great cast and a fab soundtrack. I will blog more about it soon.

Rehearsal shot

In the meantime, I’m studying Post 1960 German Drama this term and I’ve already written on Peter Weiss and Peter Handke. If you know any exciting post war German playwrights – whether or not they’re called Peter – do let me know if you think they’re worth a read.

Press Preview: Kafka’s Dick

25 Nov

Last week I reviewed a preview of Alan Bennett’s ‘Kafka’s Dick’ which is on at the Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford 29th Nov- 3rd Dec.

You can read my review here:


From what I saw I’d probably give it 3*s. It was promising but needed a lot of polishing.

Review: Ayckbourn’s Communicating Doors

22 Jun

Just a quick review of The Stephen Joseph Theatre Company’s ‘Communicating Doors’, written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn (at The Oxford Playhouse until 25th June, then Richmond Theatre 27th June- 2nd July).  (edit- when I said quick I forgot that I tend to ramble.)

Having read ‘Absurd Person Singular’ and ‘Absent Friends’, I thought I had cottoned on to Ayckbourn’s style. Unfortunately I think I picked the wrong play of his to be my first viewing of his work on stage. ‘Communicating Doors’ was received well by the audience at Oxford Playhouse, however at times I felt as if I must have been on a different hymn sheet. I did enjoy the play, by the end, but I have to admit that for the first twenty minutes or so I was wondering what I was doing there.

My initial feeling of detachment and disengagement was based on the feeling that I had walked into an amateur dramatics performance (please don’t take offence as I am partial to a bit myself). Laura Doddington as Poopay started off, perhaps conversely, a bit too slow and a bit too over the top. Her punch-lines, if you like, were delivered more to get a laugh pantomime style than from a result of being fully engaged with their immediate meaning within the context of the dialogue and Ben Jones, as Julian, was very two-dimensional. Luckily, unlike Jones, Doddington came into her own as soon as the meaty part of the story got underway. I’m not sure the clunky start did her any favours. Poopay is a dominatrix who thinks she has been hired by Reece (Ben Porter) for her “sexual consultancy”. He, however, only wants her to sign as a witness to a confession he has written, as a dying man, explaining that his business partner and friend, Julian, is guilty of killing Reece’s first and second wives, Jessica and Ruella. The audience is given a lot of information at once, the reasons for which unravel later, but it just seems that Reece’s character is simply there as a catalyst for the plot and there is not much excitement for the audience in the opening.

The play seems to be trying to do too many things at once and, in my opinion, it only manages this to a certain extent. It is a fantasy, comedy and thriller all rolled into one, where the characters time travel through the use of communicating doors in a London hotel between the years 1990, 2010 and 2030. These years have a significance for the characters of Jessica, Ruella and Poopay and their fates and planned deaths by the hands of Julian. The basic aim of the three female characters is to use the time travel to try and save themselves from certain death.

Personally, I enjoyed the second half of the play so much more. Liza Goddard, as Ruella, and Jamie Kenna, as the hotel’s porter and investigator Harold (a relatively unimportant but definitely the funniest role), as well as the increasingly sympathetic and funny character of Poopay played bigger roles and filled the production with a light and shade which lifted it into the witty yet moving production I expected. Goddard, as the put upon second wife of Reece, manages to convey vulnerability, humour, strength of will and a caring side simultaneously and when Reece delivers some news to Poopay at the end of the play I realised that I had been empathising with her character and that I had been drawn in to her story and to her developing friendship with Poopay. Another saving grace of the production was that by the end, it was clear that Ayckbourn had obviously very concientiously and cleverly made sure that the comedy and the thriller aspects balanced very well and there were laughs and gasps from the audience (yes, including me) in equal measure.

All in all, the initial cynic in me who I could feel developing at the start of the first half was just about quashed by a rather amusing and touching play. I’d give it three stars.

(Apologies for any strange sentence structures or spelling mistakes. It’s quite late..)

Happy New Theatrical Year!

4 Jan

It’s 2011 which means lots of theatre for us to gobble up! I’ll be in Germany until the end of May and I promise I will update you with the shows I’ve seen so far but until then here is a small selection of some of my picks for the coming year and what will be going in my diary…

So first up, my home town theatre, York Theatre Royal who have released a really exciting programme for 2011! From April to November, the main theatre will be transformed in to a magical ‘in the round’ space which it saw this summer for its lavish Wind in the Willows and the equally beautiful Youth Theatre production of Coram Boy. The theatre looks entirely different in this state and opens up a world of possibilities for actors as well as designers. Whilst there are still Proscenium Arch type shows before this period and events in the Studio space, I would recommend seeing at least one of the productions in this configuration.

I’m especially excited about Peter Pan (29th July-3 Sept), adapted by Mike Kenny, who adapted both The Railway Children and Wind in the Willows for the theatre, and which I can almost guarantee will be a truly magical delight for all the family and no doubt also a visual spectacle. Following that, I’m definitely booking a seat for 40 Years On (23rd Sept-15th Oct) purely because it is written by Alan Bennett. Can’t really go wrong there.

Further South, in Oxford at The Oxford Playhouse where I spend a lot of my time and where I was a student rep last year there also seems to be a varied and interesting programme. I’ve got my eye on Aykbourn’s The Life of Riley (7th-12th Feb) and Polly Teale’s Bronte (24th March – 2nd April) although I’m not sure I could get back to see them.

As a Shakespeare geek I’m also looking forward to the new shows on at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, especially because of the recent transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The first ‘new’ production in the space will be good old Macbeth (16th April-6th Oct) which was, incidentally, the first play I ever saw by the RSC in the old Royal Shakespeare. I’m not sure if I will go down for this, purely because I have seen the play so many times, but I’m sure it will be well worth it if I do. Although it’s not Shakespeare, one play I will definitely be seeing there this year is Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss (14th Oct-5th Nov). I’m hoping to do my dissertation on German theatre post Brecht and the opportunity to see one of the set texts in the flesh, albeit not auf Deutsch, will be foolish to miss. A play which is shocking and challenging, I think my challenge will be persuading a virgin of German theatre to come along with me! Other straight Shakespeare offerings include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (29th July-5th Nov) which I have a feeling will have a handy Oxford student coach-trip along with it… (16-25 year olds can also check out the RSC Key scheme which you can find on their website and which I will blog about soon)

Unfortunately I don’t often get the chance to see much theatre in the capital, but a long and lazy summer might lend itself to a few trips! Having followed the ‘Dorothys’ I would quite like to see The Wizard of Oz (from Feb 7th) with my favourite Dorothy, although there are many other musicals I should really catch as well. As for straight plays, I’d really like to see Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternate the roles of Frankenstein and his monster in Frankenstein (from Feb 5th) at the Olivier/National Theatre after all I really ought to see something there at some point. The downside, or perhaps the upside?, of this of course is that if you want to see Miller and Cumberbatch play both roles opposite each other you have to go twice! Closing on the 19th Feb is Wilde’s An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville featuring Elliot Cowan who should be seen around more in my opinion! I’m off to educate myself in London theatre happenings now seeing as I clearly do not know enough. Please post your tips here.

Happy Theatre-going!!