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The Watcher’s Kaleidoscope, The London Theatre

Chris Thorpe
Presented by New Write Productions

Pros: An interesting actor in the central role.

Cons: Full of annoying and unprofessional mistakes from start to finish.

Our Verdict: A dull and occasionally infuriating evening.

Please note that this review was for a preview performance of The Watcher’s Kaleidoscope.

The Watcher’s Kaleidoscope is the story of Paul, an awkward but outwardly sweet young man as he deals with the news that he has cancer. As the story develops we see that he has a few painful issues that need sorting out before he dies. We learn that like a lot of shy people, Paul had a hard time while he was at school. Paul is joined by old school chum Linda and together they paint a picture of how their childhood traumas shaped who they are now. I tend to agree that much of our childhood experiences mould us into who we are as adults but from what I could see nothing in particular happens to either Paul or Linda that is any different from the schoolyard politics nearly every person has to deal with during their formative years. How a bit of youthful meanness ends up in such over-the-top revenge tactics in adulthood is beyond my understanding. I couldn’t help but feel somewhere after the second murder that perhaps the characters should maybe just get over it already.

Ben Williams-Lee brings plenty of interesting nuances to his role and I certainly can’t find fault with his performance. Likewise, Roberta Geremicca who plays Susie is very strong on stage even if her character has little to do. The two leading ladies are pouty, huffy, eyerolly female stereotypes who I could not sympathise with on any level, though one of them is meant to be 18 yrs old so the cross-armed juvenile defiance would make some sense. Some of the violence on stage didn’t work very well either. At one point, one of the girls is dragged behind a couch and bashed over the head but from where I was sitting I could see her lying on the ground while her attacker punched an inanimate object repeatedly. The show felt like a series of endless scene changes with dull bits in between. At several points, the nice chap who sat in the ticket booth greeting the audience at the start of the show appeared on stage as a waiter. This turned out to be the Assistant Director for the show; the poor chap had been drafted in to man the box office because apparently The London Theatre doesn’t provide box office staff.

Now, let me give you a summary of my evening. I arrived at 7.20pm for a 7.30pm show, got my ticket and sat in the bar with the rest of the audience. The show then started somewhere near 8pm. I assumed it must have been my fault for getting the times wrong. I later checked both the theatre website and the ticket issuer – it is advertised as 7.30pm. Nobody at the theatre mentioned anything or made any kind of announcement about a time change or delay. If something had gone wrong like a tech fault or a poorly actor backstage, I would have completely understood. These things happen.

Next, we’re ushered into the theatre, we watch some of the play and then the house lights go up. This is followed by a collective awkwardness as the audience members look to each other asking if the show is really over or not. The lady beside me turns to ask me the same question. I assure her that it must be the interval. Then one man clapped his hands nervously, followed by another before everyone else joined in a very weak round of applause. I strolled out leaving my bag behind, wallet in hand, to get us some interval drinks during what was most definitely the interval. Then my plus one follows with my bag saying she’d overheard the lighting guy tell someone that the director doesn’t agree with actors bowing after the show and that the the performance was over. Slightly confused, I then sat in an armchair in the bar area to gather up my things only to find myself accidentally sitting on a pile of props from the show.

Give me strength.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

The Watcher’s Kaleidoscope has now finished its run at The London Theatre.

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  1. I watched this play last night and it is common practise for some plays to end without a bow, to compliment a sombre or profound ending, which this play certainly offered. I’m not sure if you were aware before seeing the show, but all involved in this production were professionally trained actors, including the young man who worked front of house. As a young company where funding is non existent, actors have to call upon themselves to multi task and juggle roles they might not be expected to undertake in a more established company, including also the stage management and lighting of the show. I feel that half of your review is completely irrelevant, with the start time of the play having little revelance to the quality of the production. Given the limitations due to funding, quality of space and lack of stage hands, I feel this production displayed real promise, let us not forget that this was a preview outing. Yes, the material was ambitious at times, but it was highly thought provoking and original. It saddens me when I read reviews that have little meat to them and have clearly not taken into consideration the background of the company, the obvious limitations of the space or indeed the obvious display of clever and original writing. Instead, you have focused on your personal annoyance with extraneous factors which appear to have clouded your vision of a diamond in the rough. I hope this play develops into a fully fledged piece of theatre, as it deserves too and offers something fresh to a repetitive and dying theatre scene.

    • Firstly, thank you very much for commenting! We’re always up for people disagreeing with us on any level, and it’s always good to see a balance of opinions. We’re not so arrogant to assume we are right all the time!

      I completely take your point about funding; we know how hard it is, but I think our point was that it perhaps broke the illusion somewhat to have an actor also working the box office – maybe that’s an issue for the venue.

      With regards to the irrelevant parts of our review, I have to respectfully disagree. For an audience (which is the perspective from which we review), theatre is an all-round experience. It is my opinion that we are entitled to comment on the late start time and the slightly confusing format in places; and that isn’t an issue of funding, that’s an issue of customer service, both of which are entirely relevant issues.

      And finally, we were not informed that this was a preview outing – it doesn’t say that anywhere, so that is an issue for the production team to address.

      Hope that all seems reasonable, but thanks once again for engaging in discussion!

  2. Hello, I managed to watch the play last night, think it was their final night. There must have been a different guy on the door, as he did not feature in the play, so maybe they took on your feedback?!. I just wanted to clear the preview bit up, as see there is some confusion there. I wasn’t sure either way, as as far as I was concerned I was just popping to the theatre with a friend. But having read the programme, which were left on every seat, I have to say it is written clearly on the front and back that it is a “a preview showing of The Watchers Kaleidoscope”!

    I do think your main review is a bit confusing, especially for someone who has seen the show. Maybe there was some technical issues on the night you went, but I wouldn’t have summed up my CONS into “Full of annoying and unprofessional mistakes from start to finish.”. That doesn’t really seem to say anything about the actual play. I think the CONS were the frequent set changes, which didn’t suit the space and that there was some clarity missing in the storyline, but i’d have to disagree with the bit where you say: “How a bit of youthful meanness ends up in such over-the-top revenge tactics in adulthood is beyond my understanding.”

    As people, we are all different, and although you may not have seen major differences between your own or other people’s experiences at school, they effect people in different ways. Only to often actually, we here about shootings in schools in America, commonly carried out by bullied or humiliated students. Don’t get me wrong, these people are most likely to be mentally ill, insecure and fragile, but being in the Teaching profession myself, I can completely buy into the story, as all too often I see how school experience shapes people and you would be surprised how they literally alter your path completely.

    You have dedicated two paragraphs of your review to your experience of customer service and the fact you didn’t realise the play had finished. Perhaps last night it was clearer, as we all clapped excitingly and left accordingly.

    I was impressed with the performances, again perhaps the night you went happened to be a weaker evening and liked the little details of the photos and pictures on the floor and on the wall. These could have been exploited more and perhaps blown up, but I felt they added to the backstory in a really quirky way. i’m sorry your night was not as interesting or satisfying as mine!

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