Tag Archives: Tom Wright

“Dumbledore is So Gay” at the Southwark Playhouse

Robert Holtom’s short play is, undeniably, niche – the audience demographic is specific. It looks at the youthful experiences of three friends who are Harry Potter fans, so it helps to know the franchise. And the show’s origins on the fringe, at the excellent Vault Festival, are clear, with fun had at the limited cast numbers. But within what some might see as constraints, the piece is strong: focused, solidly written, well-performed and with original touches.

Jack, who is gay, deals with bullying and a girlfriend while having a crush on his best friend. The focus is homophobia (the title comes from schoolyard slurs). Holtom writes insightfully about prejudice, highlighting small insults as well as big threats. An older offstage character called Norman is particularly well thought out. The outcome of the aggression experienced is moving. And, impressively, there is a focus into the damage that internalising hatred can cause.

In case this sounds worthy, it should be stressed that Dumbledore is So Gay is funny (particularly if you’re part of the fandom). The cast are strong comics and director Tom Wright knows this is one of the show’s strengths. There are the “drunken kisses” you might expect, which are sweet. When the actors double up as parents or teachers there’s even more fun. Close observations lead to lots of nodding in the audience.

Now for the twist… Jack can travel back in time (again, something from Harry Potter), so Holtom offers different versions of a coming out and coming-of-age story. Taking the lead, Alex Britt shows subtlety in the variations of this – a smart move. The conceit also means that Jack’s friends Gemma and Oli have characters fuller than might be expected, making strong roles for Charlotte Dowding and Martin Sarreal, who are also superb.

The different scenarios are increasingly positive without feeling forced. The fact that all three characters “deserve to be happy” is plenty – rather than prescribing what that happiness should be. Holtom makes a point of being positive, so you’re sure to leave feeling good. It’s a big achievement for a small show.

Until 23 September 2023


Photo by David Jenson

“Tumble Tuck” at the King’s Head Theatre

Diving into the start of a season of plays written by women and presented under the title ‘Who Runs the World?’, this hour-long show – written by and featuring Sarah Milton – goes swimmingly well as we follow young Daisy in and around the pool during her first competitive race. With family and friends all portrayed by Milton, it’s a bravura performance with plenty of laughs, serious topics and a dramatic trauma. There’s undoubtedly too much going on, but the mood swings mirror teenage life uncannily and the skill behind the show should make it a gold-medal winner.

Milton’s ability as a writer can best be seen with the allowance she makes for an audience’s more sophisticated responses to the authentic young voices we hear. It’s a space in the text that director Tom Wright is sympathetic to. Whether it’s Daisy’s laugh-out-loud insensitivity or comments from adults that we understand the motivation for more than she does, this is a look at a Millennial mind-set that patronises neither young nor old. It’s disappointing that a central plot, around a criminal boyfriend, isn’t elaborated. And overall Daisy’s youth results in observations on life that are predictable and pat; the good will built up towards the character has to save the show. Thankfully, there is plenty of it.

Milton’s skills as a performer are highly impressive, having created a strong central role and some lovely cameos for herself she really delivers. The split-second changes between characters are impressive, if showy. The comedy skills feel instinctive – her timing a joy to watch. But what really makes the performance special is the way the crowd is worked. Wright creates moments when Daisy is removed from us despite her narration – caught up in the cleansing power of swimming or a revealing nightmare. But most of the time Daisy appeals directly and Milton is superb at this: creating intimacy, engendering confidences and truly winning hearts. Let’s hope medals follow.

Until 12 May 2018


Photo by Alex Brenner

“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