Tag Archives: Linnie Reedman

“Hutch” at the Riverside Studios

Hutch is the story of Leslie Hutchinson, a hugely successful cabaret and recording artist of the jazz age who was once the toast of London. The Grenada-born lover of Cole Porter and Edwina Mountbatten, his is a story of racism, sex and scandal played out to a fantastic soundtrack. The material is a gift, but its adaptation by Joe Evans into a play with music is a frustrating disappointment. Hutch’s life cries out to be dramatised, but it deserves better than this.

Evans seems to have got too close to his material: there‘s not enough background and little sense of period. Using Cole Porter’s lyrics adds some neat ironic touches, but it often seems forced and simply interrupts the music – these are great songs and we don’t get to hear them properly

Director Linnie Reedman goes for an informal party feel – starting well with the Halbwelt Kultur cabaret making a giggling guest appearance that gets the crowd going – rather than attempting big musical productions. Fair enough but, with the exception of a lovely solo by Alma Fournier-Carballo, there isn’t enough time to successfully create an atmosphere.

The relationship between Porter and Hutch, presented at one point as an abstract division between composition and interpretation, sounds fascinating but is glanced over. Instead it seems we’re supposed to be shocked by their relationship and the Mountbattens’ open marriage. Even worse, the racism Hutch was a victim of receives only tokenistic mention.

Sid Phoenix as ColePorter

The cast do their best but cannot save the show. Janna Yngwe does a terrific turn as Jessie Matthews and Nell Mooney’s performance as a long-suffering Mrs Porter is thoughtful. Sid Phoenix makes Porter a rakish, arrogant figure who commands the stage – something of a problem since all eyes should really be on Hutch. In the title role, Sheldon Green isn’t given the chance to convey the charisma that we are constantly told he possesses. Still at college, Green’s performance, like the show itself, is one of potential wasted.

Until 8 June 2013


Photos by John Watts

Written 20 May 2013 for The London Magazine

“Romeo and Juliet” at the Leicester Square Theatre

The young Ruby In the Dust Theatre company now have a semi-permanent home in the basement auditorium of the Leicester Square Theatre. Having done so well with their production of Dorian Gray they now present a fresh and bold version of Romeo and Juliet.

The action is set in Fascist Italy, with the warring families recast as either Mussolini’s “blackshirts” or Jews. At the risk of sounding mean-spirited, this ambitious concept adds little to the production (apart from the odd Star of David). Some people despair at the slightest change in the Bard’s text, but that isn’t the objection here. Unless you’re a purist, you’ll be happy with the changes made by director Linnie Reedman, especially as the result is a fast-paced and exciting show.

Very much in the spirit of Shakespeare, this is a show with plenty of music. Joe Evans has composed some delightful tunes that sit well next to an eclectic soundtrack. It is a shame that we can’t hear more, as the score adds to both romance and drama.

The cast take on board the show’s adventurous spirit, resulting in a series of virile performances. Dan Moore plays Paris with great stage presence. He rises above the sinister overtones of his black shirt to show why his character is described as having so much promise. Martin Dickenson does well as Tybalt, instantly establishing his strong-arm credentials and excelling in a superb fight scene with Christos Lawton’s dandyish, yet dangerous, Mercutio. A strong, appropriate sensuality marks all three performances and is echoed by Imogen Viden-North in the role of the Nurse. A considerably younger actress than we are used to in this part, she uses her age cleverly and makes the indulgence she shows her ward convincing.

Any production of Romeo and Juliet depends on its leads and here the evening excels. Daniel Finn and Olivia Vinall are young, vital and sexy. They treat their speeches naturally and bring out plenty of nuance. Their love is convincing, as is their fear of the situation they find themselves in. We are sure to see more of these young actors in the future and with this eye for casting are keen to see more Ruby In The Dust productions as well.

Until 11th July 2010



Photo by Patrick Dodds

Written 7 June 2010 for The London Magazine