Tag Archives: Top Tiny Theatres

Spinach – at King’s Head Pub Theatre until July 7th 2012

Cassandra Compton & Ben Gerrard. Photo credit: Claire Bilyard

This is a ‘sung play,’ (keen to specify that it is not a musical), where the characters communicate in song all the time – kind of like an opera with less pretention. It works!

Spinach is a great little show – incorporating memory lapses, drugs gangsters, strangers meeting in the street and… Halloumi kebabs. Why not? The two leads, Cassandra Compton and Ben Gerrard are great. Compton’s voice is breathtaking (she was an X Factor finalist in the first series in 2004), and the two of them have great chemistry, enabling them to carry off the tricky task of 80 minutes of unbroken song with apparent ease. In fact the two of them are so good, it’s a bit of a shame when the narrative of them just getting to know each other is interrupted by their captor appearing on the scene (did I not mention? They wake up tied back to back at the beginning with no idea what’s happened…).

The King’s Head’s back room theatre is exactly the right place for this small production – it’s always a wonderful spot for intimacy. It’s a refreshingly original (if slightly bizarre – no bad thing in my book), fun and upbeat show, probably closest to Betwixt if we’re going for comparisons. Well worth a watch if you fancy something a bit different, informal and entertaining in Islington. Enjoy!

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Daybreak – at the Tristan Bates Theatre until June 30th 2012

Image provided by Notion Theatre Company

The Tristan Bates is one of my favourite spots in London – a tiny theatre tucked into the Actors’ Centre, it manages to be intimate and feel like a real find whilst being situated right in the thick of theatreland, between Cambridge Circus and Seven Dials.

Notion Theatre have impressed me before, I was a massive fan of their debut production of Edges last year at The Landor and the innovative colourful set, fresh faced and talented performers were trademarks that both shows had in common. Good use was made of the space and the vocals were top notch.

This was a European premiere of the new musical Daybreak, in which the stories of two couples of consecutive generations in one house are insterspersed. The protagonist is Dylan, and we discover some home truths about his own marriage and that of his parents. It’s an interesting concept, but some of the more unbelievable aspects of the structure as the generations communicate make it feel slightly awkward. It’s sad because so many elements of this production are successful, but these more challenging aspects are not convincing – creating hurdles to building up any real connection between the audience and the characters. I found myself appreciating the production but not really rooting for anyone. I didn’t come away from the final song feeling particularly satisfied or uplifted, and despite the show being in my favourite format of 90-minutes-no-interval, it didn’t feel snappy.

So, worth a look to see a new production and some promising talent, however I don’t think that this musical will be the next big thing. The search continues!

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