Pros: Some well-performed and very witty new short pieces of writing.
Cons: New writing nights are always a little hit or miss and some pieces were more enjoyable than others.
I joined the Everything Theatre team about 8 months ago. Since then I have discovered a veritable wealth of pub-theatres…or pubs where the function room is occasionally used for theatre; or newly opened boutique theatres…residing over a pub. There are a lot of different pub-come-theatres in London. Pub-theatre is cool. It provides quirky and intimate performance spaces which can showcase new and emerging practitioners. Each venue is often very unique because it was a pub first. And of course – and let’s face it importantly – the bar is always nearby; often with a selection of food and drinks far superior to that of most actual theatres in London, who have crumbled in the face of having to be more commercially astute.
The Horse and Stables in Waterloo was first opened in the 1800s but was recently renovated. It has a very cool old-style function room upstairs with a fin-de-siècle, old time music hall vibe going on: for example it boasts iconic red velvet and gold trimmed stage curtains. It was the perfect slightly shabby, but endearingly atmospheric place to see Ghost Dog Productions’ New Writing showcase: Playground.
Ghost Dog Productions are a new production company specialising in comedy. They run a few different projects including the New Writing evenings. The format of which is to run a series of short, newly written plays back to back. Each time there is a theme and this month’s theme was madness. By their very nature new writing nights are often a little hit and miss. Each newly written play is directed and performed by a different crowd each time and thus the quality is bound to vary. On the whole though the overall quality of these short plays, especially of the acting and direction, was good.
The funniest and most original by far was Origins written by Joseph Banks, and well performed and directed by Jonathon R Parsonage and Dave Spencer respectively. The solo performance showed one man’s obsession with superheros turn into a half-hearted mission to become a real life hero; his dreams being stunted by an unfortunate fear of conflict. The other forerunners were Stage Play No. 2, followed closely by The Voices. Each of these pieces were witty and approached the theme of madness with a fresh perspective. The other two, The Interrogation and Saudade, were also well performed but could be accused of being a slightly less original interpretation of the theme.
The series of plays were well placed together and the transitions between each piece were smooth and swift. Witty performances from Jack Blackburn and Jonathon R Parsonage stood out and the more serious performances from Caolfinn Murphy and Alexa Reed were also very good.
One caveat of this evening, and to be honest the pub theatre phenomena in general, is the lack of clear sign-posting. I often find myself stepping into pubs and not being entirely sure whether I am in the right place. This is never a good first impression. Often I spot a person sitting in the corner on a laptop and realise that’s probably the box office. Or occasionally if the bar is fairly empty I ask the bar staff if I am in the right place and it’s usually ok. However, clearer signage in general is always better and it may also help with promotions and upselling on the evening too?
Overall though, the New Writing showcase was a funny and enjoyable evening with some very witty, well written and well-performed pieces of new work. Look out for more of these evenings from Ghost Dog Productions at the Horse and Stables bar in Waterloo because a fun evening in a cool venue is always a winner!
Writers: Brian Cole, Ben Rowntree, Joseph Banks, Tony Hickson & Lou Treleaven
Directors: Simon Paris, Ferghal Crowley, Dave Spencer, Rosie Frecker & Chris Lawson
Producer: Ghost Dog Productions
Booking Until: 1st April 2014
Box Office: Keep up to date with Ghost Dog Productions new writing evenings on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ghostdogproductions