SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST.

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES – Pentameters Theatre, London.

The quaint Pentameters Theatre of Hampstead is an ideal setting for director Jesse Cooper’s charming and intimate production of Tom O Brien’s No Blacks, No Dogs, No Poles. The play weaves a rich tapestry of cultural perspectives on the Irish diaspora, racism and immigration using the central storyline of the Kennedy family and their social dilemmas as a conduit. The use of space vividly reflects the claustrophobia of both the small minded views frequently depicted within the play as well as the closeness of the complicated relationships which play out on stage.

Having said this, despite the underlying tensions seen both in the tense relationships and strong socio-political opinions; there is great warmth in all of the actor’s performances. The combination of a very funny script and some larger than life performances allow the audience to feel like we have been invited into this Irish household free of airs and graces. The result is a lively and homely political dialogue full of both cliche and insight depending on which character is speaking. A script laden with Irish in jokes, music and family banter is thoroughly entertaining. Meanwhile, clever direction allows the audience to see through the comedic defence mechanisms key characters husband and wife Con and Marion Kennedy employ throughout to disguise their true feelings of despondency in an unhappy marriage.

The theme of home is juxtaposed throughout the plot as despite the deep rooted hatred Con (played by Matthew Ward) expresses about the English oppression of the Irish, his wife Marion ultimately feels that England is her true home. Similarly, the return of son Michael to this household where he no longer feels at home having lived abroad reveals the small minded opinions of his father. As Con shows prejudice towards Michael’s Australian black wife (beautifully played by Rachel Summers), the irony in his previous arguments about the English prejudices towards the Irish is exposed. Sam Turrell gives a brilliant performance as Michael; adopting with ease the measured diplomatic liberalism his character needed to show throughout to contrast the seemingly old fashioned views of his family and their friends. His apparent disgust and embarrassment at his Father’s prejudice and Jimmy’s aggression as well as his genuine attempts to protect his wife from it, seemingly represent a more modern take on ethnicity and immigration.

As well as the catalysts of Michael’s return, and the revealing of an ex-marital affair on the part of Marion, we then have the plot turn full circle as Con’s bisexuality is exposed by Jimmy. The fact that Con finally seeks emotional refuge in his homosexual relationship with a local black construction worker is the ironic icing on the cake so to speak! All in all, the play emphasizes some very relevant disputes about immigration today in a carefully crafted display of love and hate at their most extreme.

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Reviewed 07/06/14

By Emily Mae Winters
@emilymaewinters

20th May- 7th June 2014
Pentameters Theatre, London, NW3.

BUT THERE’S MORE!  MY NEXT PLAY – BRENDAN BEHAN’S WOMEN – ALSO OPENS AT PENTAMETERS NEXT MONTH. 1st – 20th JULY.  DON’T MISS IT!

MONUMENTAL THEATRICAL COCK-UPS

 

Interesting performance of NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES last night. Our black box technician fail to put in an appearence for the start of the show! The first act was performed without lighting/music cues – not that it affected the performances- or the audience’s enjoyment, it seems! Fortunately he appeared for the second act, so normal service was resumed. Well done to the cast!
Last week this week – DON’T MISS IT!!

Sky Leith says;  Once I was performing at the Las Vegas Hilton, in one of those tacky mega-productions complete with an onstage volcano, 50 topless women, and elephants. The star elephant, Tanya, was doing a handstand on a revolving platform during her solo act, and chose this moment to relieve herself. A fountain of pee, as if from a garden hose, drew a large wet circle on the stage as her platform rotated. The show, of course, went on.

Danny Kaye in the musical TWO BY TWO; . singing a love song to his ‘wife’ while sitting on a rock together, she wiggled uncomfortably all through this wonderful song he sang to her … when the song was over, she turned her back to the audience, laughing and rolling her eyes – he had complete unzipped her dress while singing to her.

My own favourite comes from St Nicholas, being performed at the BUSH THEATRE by Brian Cox. Brian comes on stage and after less than 10 minutes he ‘dries’. He speaks to the audience; ‘I am sorry ladies and gentlemen but my mind’s gone blank. Would you mind if I left the stage for a moment?’ He leaves the stage and returns in a few minutes, starts from the beginning again, and sails through the performance as if nothing had happened. What a professional!

REVIEW TIME

First review is in for NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES. The reviewer sees the play as ‘a new look at an old problem’ and gives it a fairly decent write-up. I was pleased with it, and I think the cast can be too. There are several more reviews due out on Wed/Thurs this week. Looking forward to them!

 

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http://www.reviewsgate.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7449

 

 

 

EAT YOUR HEART OUT ALAN AYCKBURN!

OUR FIRST WEEEK DOWN AND WE LEARN THAT WE HAVE OUT-PERFORMED THE LAST PLAY AT THE VENUE – WHICH WAS AN ALAN AYCKBURN OFFERING!  EAT YOUR HEART OUT, ALAN!

AUDIENCE NUMBERS HAVE BEEN VERY GOOD, AND THE RESPONSE EVEN BETTER. EVERYBODY SEEMS TO HAVE GOOD WORDS TO SAY ABOUT IT. ONE INTERESTING COMENT I MUST RELATE; A WOMAN FROM CORK WHO HAD MARRIED A BLACK MAN TOLD ME SHE HAD RECEIVED DOGS ABUSE – AS HAD MANY OTHER IRISH WOMEN IN THE SAME POSITION. HOWEVER, SHE SAID, IRISHMEN WHO HAD MARRIED BLACK WOMEN HADN’T HAD THE SAME ABUSE. NOW, THAT IS INTERESTING!

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES

PENTAMETERS THEATRE, HEATH ST, HAMPSTEAD, LONDON NW3 6TE

TUE – SAT 8pm  SUN 5pm.  ENDS 7th June

box office 0207 435 3648

MISS IT AT YOUR PERIL!

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES – REHEARSAL PHOTOS

Rehearsal pictures of NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO IRISH POLES, taken at Pentameters Theatre

All photos are by SIMON PURSE

Image Matthew Ward as Con

ImageJack Badley as Jimmy

Image                                               Rachel Summers as Cathy & Lucy Aley-Parker as Marion

Image                                                  Jimmy, Con & Nathaniel Farnington as Michael

Image Jesse Cooper as JJ with Marion

BISEXUAL FATHER + RACIST COUSIN + ABORIGINAL WIFE = RACISM AND BIGOTRY IN IRELAND.  DONT MISS!

NO BLACKS NO DOGS, NO POLES

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This preview of my new play appeared yesterday in the London/Irish newspaper, the Irish World. However, sods law was at it nefarious work without anyone knowing, for no sooner than it had appeared than we had to postpone opening night for a week due to problems with the cast. It now runs from 20th May – 8th June. Ah well, these things are meant to try us! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

see my books @  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tom-OBrien/e/B0034OIGOQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1388083522&sr=1-2-ent

 

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES.

A MUST-SEE NEW PLAY

WARNING – THIS PLAY IS NOT FOR THE COMPLACENT!

THIS PLAY MAY MAKE YOU THINK!

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The following is a synopsis of the play;

The dysfunctional Kennedy clan are having a re-union. There’s the father, Con, a successful building contractor in London who has had to relocate back in Ireland because of tax irregularities in the UK.  Con is secretly bisexual, although not-so-secret from his wife, Marion, who has known it all along and kept quiet about it. His estranged son, Michael, turns up after five years in Australia with Cathy, his new aborigine wife.  To say his parents are surprised would be putting it mildly. His nephew, Jimmy, also turns up and it is soon apparent that his racist, bigoted views haven’t mellowed any as he has got older. We learn that he is there at Con’s invitation; his real reason being to spy on Marion, who Con suspects of having an affair. Jimmy also has his own agenda, selling crack/cocaine to the local drug users – a plan which backfires when the drugs, which he has buried in the back garden, are discovered by Michael, heightening the already tense atmosphere in the house. Add in JJ, construction manager for Con, whose attraction to Marion must be obvious to everyone except Con.