Tag Archives: Aaron Gordon

“One Write Stand” by the Front of House Theatre Company

Those who serve at the National Theatre have created a chance to reveal their other talents with their own company that shows us what they really want to do. Along with several productions under their belt, a night of new writing is becoming an annual event. There’s undoubtedly a friends and family feel – it’s a bit like gate crashing a good party – and an atmosphere this supportive has a special attraction.

The first half of the evening presents three short plays that struggle with their time slots. Gavin J Innes does best with his two-hander, a scenario of a drugs test for an athlete, which works well as a sketch. The next two efforts, Solicitation Games by Carl Blades and Selfhood by Aaron Gordon, take on bigger subjects – sex and race – and have lots of ideas but fall down when they introduce third characters, despite the valiant efforts of the performers.

Innes also directs his play. Along with Neil Gordon and Elliott Bornemann, who take charge of the other two, there is a common flaw here (easily corrected). Each play is just a little too slow: laughs laboured, drama drawn out, so problems in the scripts are elaborated rather than eased over. And it should be noted that quieter performances often have more impact: Omar Austin does well as the ‘Zen’-like character caught between two feuding sisters in Selfhood.

Omar Austin in Selfhood

On to the second half. Michael Ross’s Brutalism, set in a high-rise block and concerning gentrification, shows writing of the highest quality. Not a line is wasted, and the lead, Amy Beckett, knows it –she has great fun with the comedy in her role as a social worker-turned-propertydeveloper. It’s a delicious conceit that makes you want more. The twist is a surreal one that could have real bite. But it arrives too quickly, leaving the feeling of a fuller play truncated and puzzling. To end the evening on a real high is I Heart Mary by Emma Bentley. Director Courtney Larkin is full of ideas, while a trio of performers – Mauricia Lewis, Olivia Seaton-Hill and Tricia Wey – is boosted by the crowd. The trick is simple: this a sketch about working in the customer service industry. Plenty of jokes ring true and hit home, while the frustrations are depicted sincerely and the piece doesn’t patronise. Preaching to the choir maybe, but it’s contagiously effective.

4 November 2018


Photos by Alex Grey

“Write Here Write Now” by Front Of House Theatre Company

It’s a cliché that ‘resting’ actors work as bar staff and ushers in theatres and, predictably, the National Theatre attracts writers, directors and performers whose work you don’t get to see on its stages – yet. An enterprising group, all of whom work at the NT, have set up their own company to showcase their capabilities, creating the best theatre atmosphere I’ve experienced in a long time.

An evening of five short plays show their efforts so far this year. All are energetically performed and cover an impressive variety of styles and subject matter. Michael Ross’s Preoccupied – a superb treat – mixes the politics of the housing crisis with a supernatural twist so effective it got a scream from more than one audience member. Winning performances from Katherine-Ellen Kotz and Karl Mercer show how pin-sharp Ross’s writing is.

Surrender is a tight two-hander by Aaron Gordon, ably performed by Kate Griffin and Luke Gray, that skillfully juggles humour with a serious topic. A similar mix of jokes and tragedy is combined in Katie-Ann McDonough’s We Grew Up in the Back of a Van; a whimsical take on an Irish childhood, brilliantly performed by Emily Carewe-Jefferies and Charlton O’Connor.

Finlay Bain stars in his own piece, Living A Little, a crowd-pleasing Men Behaving Badly sketch with zombies thrown in! And if you think that’s odd, Jill Davy’s Science Experiment is a sci-fi farce that has Ross Virgo as the only human, while Jill Davy, Laurie Harrington and Katie Overstall perform as various planetary bodies.

Perhaps the strongest pieces were the shorter ones, with less time spent spinning scenarios and more emphasis on powerful themes. But there’s no doubt about the talent here: fine writing, brimming with original ideas and great performances. If talent spotting is your thing, keep in touch with Front of House on Twitter. And be nice to the staff next time you order your interval drinks.

15 March 2015

Photo by Patricia Oliveira

“Little Write Lies” at the Vault Festival

With its nightclub vibe and efforts at subterranean cool, the Vault is not the most pleasant place to be on a cold, wet Sunday afternoon. But the aims behind the eponymous festival, located underneath Waterloo Station, are commendable, with a youthful feel and eclectic programme offering something for everyone.

Putting aside the comedy and music on offer, I chose three short plays, packaged as Little Write Lies, written in response to a festival highlight, Yve Blake’s Lie Collector. The pieces, all on the theme of deception, are a great opportunity to enjoy new writing and acting talent.

Doug Dunn’s Brixton Sunrise goes straight to the point, imagining a chance encounter in a McDonald’s, to show the lies ambitious Londoners tell themselves and others. The other two works suffer slightly from their aspirations – setting up more than can be delivered in such a short time. Tom Wright’s I, We, Me is the story of an online hook-up, full of disturbing twists, that leaves you wanting more. Victoria Gimby’s, Forget-Me-Not, tackling the subject of mental health, has a creepy edge that makes it cry out for elaboration.

All the acting is of a high standard. Catherine Dunne gives a nuanced performance as a world-weary young woman, developing her character with perfect pace alongside Shane Noone as an appealing road worker with hidden aspirations. Leonie Marzecki and Amy Murray give careful turns as potential lovers in Wright’s play, dealing skilfully with their multiple online personas. Gimby’s work is a good vehicle for the talents of Alex Khanyaghma and Sallyanne Badger, while Aaron Gordon adds a haunting presence.

Another trilogy is to be presented this Sunday, 1 March.


Photo by Jack Abraham