Tag Archives: Maddie Rice

“Villain” at the King’s Head Theatre

This is a great little show. With plenty of issues and just one performer, writer and director Martin Murphy creates a tense and moving story that puts hearts in mouths while injecting some strong comedy. The character of Rachel, a successful saleswoman turned social worker, is likeable from the start. When she becomes publicly demonised after a case goes horribly wrong, sympathy mounts. Flitting back and forth to her former job provides some light relief and exposes her flaws. Making his heroine realistic and modulating a tone of confession with camaraderie is Murphy’s key achievement and it reaps big dividends.

Maddie Rice takes the part. Her performance is superb. Portraying fear while hounded by the press, claustrophobia and panic are all well done. But it’s filling out the portrait that is the point: looking behind the headlines and trolling tweets. With stories of her work life, riotous nights out and colleagues both “coping” and “cracking”, Rice shows her grade-A comic skills. An enthusiasm for life and doing good, along with the character’s selfishness and brutal honesty, endear her further, all balanced with a degree of unfulfilled loneliness skilfully evoked. This is a performance to treasure that complements satisfyingly strong writing.

Until 4 March 2017


“All My Sons” at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s 2014 season got off to a cracking start last night with a new production of All My Sons. The Arthur Miller classic, about a war profiteer and his family, is given a terrific treatment by the theatre’s artistic director Timothy Sheader. The play’s moral concerns and complexity receive due deference while a tremendous amount of suspense is added in.

Sheader has some fine performers to work with. Tom Mannion and Bríd Brennan play the Kellers with care and skill; he seems all conviviality, the working man made good, while her fixed grin belies an iron will corroded by the secrets they share. Rich from supplying faulty goods to the US Air Force, the next generation must share the legacy of their mistakes.

Back from fighting in World War II, the Keller’s son Chris is caught between a family mourning his lost brother and his own noble ambitions to live a better life. Chris’ love for his brother’s sweetheart, Ann, literally the girl next door, forces him to confront the role her father took as a patsy for the Kellers’ crime. Amy Nuttall plays Ann with skilful restraint, building momentum as the play’s shocking revelations unfold.

Charles Aitken excels as Keller Jnr, the war-traumatised conscience of the piece, with a perfect smile that reflects his character’s optimism and the charm to convince us that he is as good as he seems. In a play seething about the hypocrisy behind the poster-perfect American suburbs (aided here by Maddie Rice’s superb performance as a neighbour), Chris has to be the believable beacon of integrity, and Aitken delivers a great performance.

Not surprisingly, Sheader knows how to use the space at his own theatre. Tying the play’s timing to the setting of the sun is hugely effective, while Lizzie Clachan’s set is thought provoking and Nick Powell’s music superb. The play speeds by at a cracking pace and the carefully controlled tension is tremendous. A stunning final scene makes this a truly haunting evening and shows a director in charge of a quality production.

Until 7 June 2014


Photo by Tommy Ga Ken Wan

Written 21 May 2014 for The London Magazine