Posts Tagged ‘Jack McMullen’

This is such a perfect pairing of play and venue. Much of the action of Agatha Christie’s 1953 play takes place in an Old Bailey courtroom and the County Hall chamber is a superb stand-in for the real thing. This is not the sort of play I’m usually drawn to, though I went to The Mousetrap (as it was the only theatre I hadn’t been in) and enjoyed it, and I thoroughly enjoyed this. It may not run as long as the other one, but it has HIT written all over it.

It’s the case of the alleged murder of a rich old woman by a charming young man. The prosecution and defence QC’s are arch enemies who love winning their cases. The key witness is a foreigner (not so politically correct today, but it has post-Brexit resonance)! I hadn’t seen the play or film before, so the expertly written twists were genuinely surprising. What more can I say without spoiling it?

Designer William Dudley has a venue which virtually designs itself, but his extra touches are excellent. Chris Davey’s lighting and especially Mic Pool’s ‘soundscape’ add much to create the unique atmosphere. It’s hard to imagine better casting than the triumvirate of Patrick Godfrey as Judge and David Yelland & Philip Franks as the QC’s, all excellent, and Jack McMullen and Catherine Steadman are terrific as the defendant Leonard Vole and his wife Romaine.

It’s a somewhat old-fashioned evening, but Lucy Bailey’s production oozes quality from every pore and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oh, and the seats must be the comfiest in theatre-land.

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This is a hugely impressive first play by someone with real world experience of its subject matter, and it shows. What I like most about it is that it takes a subject rarely staged and it doesn’t take sides; it presents you with single mum Anne & her son Tommy’s tragic story for you to consider for yourself.

Tommy was born in prison when his pregnant mother was incarcerated at just 15. Now Tommy is 15 and he is in turn incarcerated. In eleven scenes, we see their relationships with each other and with prison officer, young offender’s institute case worker and social worker then and now and examine their respective responsibilities for their fate.

It’s a gripping 90 minutes, in no small part due to the performances, particularly from Claire-Louise Cordwell as Anne (also ever so good in Hampstead Theatre’s revival of Ecstasy three years ago) and outstanding newcomer Jack McMullen as Tommy. With the audience on two sides, there’s a claustrophobic and voyeuristic feel to Robert Hastie’s production which provides both intimacy and tension.

Chris Thompson’s play is objective and it oozes authenticity. It’s not always easy to watch, but it needs to be seen. I’ve been puzzling over why its called Carthage and I’ve decided it’s more likely to be the Irish name meaning ‘loving’ than the ancient Tunisian city! The Finborough at the cutting edge – again.

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