Experience by Dave Florez, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 28 January 2017

Janie and I love the Hampstead Downstairs and this was yet another little gem down there.

Not for the fainthearted, this play.

It is about sexual surrogacy, which is one part of a three-way therapy treatment for people who have issues with sex and/or intimacy. The other two parts are client and therapist.

It should come as no surprise that the play is a three-hander.

But this play is about a somewhat controversial, experimental use of surrogate partner therapy with offenders.

Is the result a compelling 80 minutes of drama? You bet.

Superb cast, well directed.

Here’s a link to the Hampstead resource on the play.

If you are able, go see for yourselves, don’t take our word for it.

Cracking, it was.

Light supper of shawarmas afterwards; an inexpensive night out, but still a cracker.


The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 20 February 2015

Janie and I thought this was a really excellent play/production; once again the tiny Hampstead Theatre Downstairs proving to be one of the hottest tickets in town.

Sinéad Matthews is a very special up and coming actress. We first spotted her more than 10 years ago, in The Wild Duck at the Donmar, when she was but a nipper. I don’t think she only does plays named after species of fauna. We have subsequently seen her in Giving, again at the Hampstead Downstairs – click here.

Mercifully the Hampstead now has a good resource for each play/production – click here for The Wasp – as that downstairs space eschews formal reviews and I somehow mislaid the little leaflet thing they give out by way of a programme.

In a way this play is a classic revenge tragedy played out in modern terms in the present day. Perhaps some aspects of the coincidence seemed unlikely when you think deeply about the plot afterwards, but as the story plays out the evening was captivating.

Janie and I like these short plays – 90 minutes or so without an interval – when they are done well such plays/productions keep us gripped from start to finish and we feel thoroughly satisfied afterwards…sans bum ache.

The Wasp deservedly got a West End transfer later that year, but Sinéad Matthews didn’t transfer with it. Nevertheless:

I am pretty sure that Janie and I preceded our Friday evening trip to the Hampstead with a meal at Harry Morgans, so we got home early and thoroughly satisfied that evening.

House Of Games by David Mamet, Jonathan Katz & Richard Bean, Almeida Theatre, 11 September 2010

We are big fans of Mamet and also big fans of the Almeida, so Janie and I were really looking forward to this one.

We indeed got a fabulous production, wonderfully well acted, directed and produced. But we were less sure about the piece itself.

Of course with Mamet you get more twists and turns than a country lane. Of course you get even riper language than an expletive-filled debate at our place after Janie and I have both had a bad day. And of course, with Richard Bean in the driving seat for the play script itself, you get some lovely stage devices and coups de theatre.

But the piece itself, based on a 1980’s Mamet film script, seemed surprisingly slight and it was unusually easy to predict the twists. I suspect the film worked better, but I haven’t seen it.

Still, with Alleyn’s School alum Nancy Carroll heading up a pretty impressive cast, plus Django Bates providing the atmospheric jazz music, it was an entertaining evening to be sure. Janie enjoyed it thoroughly, but also claimed she let the plot wash over her.

Here is a link to the Almeida resource on the play/production. 

Sceptics might not trust the above resource to link to all the reviews – quite rightly, as the reviews were mixed. Here’s a helpful search term for your own deep dive – click here.

If you’d like to see the trailer, click below – it’s pretty cool: