Tag Archives: Elijah Ferreira

“Help! We Are Still Alive” at the Seven Dials Playhouse

What a sweet little show Tim Gilvin and Imogen Palmer have made. Imagining a couple after the apocalypse, making a life together that’s a bit like lockdown (but in this case without the baking), this play with songs is entertaining, endearing and obsessed with comfort food.

Palmer’s book takes the cliché about falling in love with the last person on earth and adds extra flavour – think Worcester sauce on your cheese on toast. Because Jass and Finn were a couple in the ‘old world’… yet she has a secret. Even after world catastrophe, true love doesn’t run smooth.

The action relies too much on audio diaries for exposition, going back and forth in time. Director Georgie Rankcom tries hard to keep the action moving and uses the sparse stage well. Gilvin’s music and lyrics are catchy and satisfyingly neat but leave you wanting more.

If this reaction seems lukewarm, like a pizza slice from Gregg’s after five o’clock, then why am I so keen on the show? And I really am. The answer is its humour, its characters and its performers.

Jass and Finn are adorable. For want of a better description, they are as cute as chocolate buttons. Their affection for each other is believable, as are their problems, sensitively examined in the light of their self-proclaimed Queer status. Deep-rooted anxieties and misgivings are intelligently explicated and – surprise – they have little to do with the end of the world.

The glacé cherry on top of the Mr Kipling cake is the show’s humour. This is what makes Help! We’re Still Alive memorable. With songs about canned pineapples and supermarkets, the mix of quirks and down-to-earth concerns is just… lovely. The jokes provide that je ne sais quoi, as Jass might say, that great shows require.

Elijah Ferreira and Jade Johnson play Finn and Jass. The casting and the chemistry are perfect – they are both superb comedians who aid the script enormously. Angst is acknowledged, but Ferreira and Johnson make you care and try to reassure.

The affection and respect the characters share give us a sense that things will be all right in the end. After all, even if your Ginster’s pasty is cold, it is still delicious.

The affection and respect the characters share give us a sense that things will be all right in the end. After all, even if your Ginster’s pasty is cold, it is still delicious. The affection and respect the characters share give us a sense that things will be all right in the end. After all, even if your Ginster’s pasty is cold, it is still delicious.

Until 15 October 2022


Photo by Danny Kaan

“Safe” from The Hackney Empire

Highlighting the shocking statistic that a quarter of homeless and at-risk youths identify as LGBTQ+ is the laudable aim of this theatrical work created and directed by Alexis Gregory.

Safe is a verbatim piece with the words of four contributors – Jack, Samuel, Alicia and Tami – performed by Elijah Ferreira, Taofique Folarin, May Kelly and Mary Malone. Judiciously given equal consideration, all four are carefully shown as individuals and not just representatives of their sexuality.

These lives have not been easy. Hearing about them can be a challenge and many questions are raised. Abuse at home and school unites all four. There is a distressing amount of physical violence. Drugs and drink play a part too: Alicia’s account of her alcoholism is particularly forceful.

Gregory is smart to make sure we get to know the four before we learn about their housing problems. It’s important to see how ‘homelessness’ is more complex than the issue of sleeping on the streets. Support, in particular from the Albert Kennedy Trust, thankfully kicks in. Homes – in a profound sense – are a part of a wider support system.

For all the troubles Safe is a positive show. The spirit of this quartet shines out. Moments when the actors double as other characters (mostly parents) are well done but might be unnecessary? The words of the subjects are powerful enough without another layer of performance. Frankness, honesty and Jack’s emphasis on the joy of his transition into a man (a particularly welcome narrative) show four survivors who inspire.

Gregory’s finale for the show is strong. Including a poem from Yrsa Daley-Ward that mentions “many possible ends” the four begin to address one another. Discussing how they feel about being interviewed enforces the theme of testimony. It’s possible to see what part the very act of representation might play towards safety itself.


Photos by Jane Hobson