Worth A Flutter at Hope Theatre

As Musical Theatre Musings gets busier we are thrilled to have some guest reviewers helping out. Here is out first guest review by Elle Janus.

Worth A Flutter Review

I always like a review that gives me an idea of whether or not a production is of good quality, and something that I would find interesting and like to see. So you will not find any flowery language here, just an honest review of the piece I saw, what I liked, and maybe, what I personally, in my own subjective opinion did not like. This will be a direct and honest review.

Worth A FlutterTonight I was privileged to go along and see ‘Worth A Flutter’ by Michael Head at The Hope Theatre in Islington, London. The theatre is one I know rather well, and it is indeed the ‘little theatre that has BIG ideas’. The blackbox space is transformed every single time I enter this fringe venue and it has been made to feel much smaller and intimate, or large and sparse as needed to be.

Tonight, on this occasion I walked in and found the space to be open and spacious with very little set but enough to represent a small ‘greasy spoon cafe’ typical of what you would find in the South East of London.

Worth A Flutter begins with us meeting ‘Matt’ a typical South East London bloke who is with the beautiful but somewhat dim ‘Paige’. The two are meeting in this cafe where Matt informs us how unhappy he is with his life, especially with Paige. Next we are introduced to ‘Paul’, who was once upon a time quite the ladies-man, although he now appears to be stuck in his glory days with his out dated fashion sense and possibly in need of a fix due to his constant fidgeting and heel tapping.

We then meet the waitress and owner of the cafe, ‘Helen’. A no nonsense, dry and sarcastic young woman who puts on no airs or graces for anyone. The play proceeds with Matt falling for Helen, but how this is a path filled with obstacles or as Matt puts it just before the interval, “There are two sides to every story…” Later on we meet the tragically endearing character of ‘Sam’. I wont say too much about him as I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but, Helen puts it best “Some things are just the way they are, and you cant question them…”

Worth A FlutterThe performance was slow to start in my view. This was not aided by confusing lighting changes which may have been there to clarify for audience when we were being spoken to by a specific character onstage, and to show that they were removed from the core action of the piece, unheard by the other characters almost as an ‘aside’. This confused me as at points as the other characters could hear them and not at others, providing no sense of continuity. So I found myself removed from the action, trying to figure that one out for a while.

Once I forgot about this I realised how much Matt’s narration and storytelling of past moments from his life somewhat reminded me of the Film Snatch. Michael Head who plays ‘Matt’ has a great way of connecting with the audience and a genuine, natural flow to his story which makes you feel like you know this man. He is a good guy and you care what is going to happen to him. I especially enjoyed his rant about his friend Paul because “every office and school has a f****** Paul!” Michael really has a great energy and does well to carry this piece. I also enjoyed him in his other role of ‘Martin’
which at times reminded me of Matt Berry’s ‘Steven Toast’.

Lucy Pinder plays an assortment of roles including those of Paige and later on Emma. Her Paige is the beautiful girl that we all have met, practically harmless due to a lack of intelligence but can have a bit of bite should you cross her. I especially enjoyed Lucy as Emma. She captures the stale and drained tension of the married wife so well, and should be applauded for her multitude of roles within this piece including, my favourite, a Scottish… well, I wont spoil it.

Worth A FlutterPaul Danan plays ‘Paul’ and later the very phlegmy ‘Mr Edwards’ which he does to a delightful extreme. He works Matt into a state of stress and outrage wonderfully and gives us the creepy shudder intended for the role on his departure.

Jack Harding plays ‘Sam’ and I must say my favourite moments in the play come from Sam and Helen. His honesty and natural delivery gives you chills as you feel him holding back the emotion of something he hates to feel. After learning that he only had four days to be rehearsed into this production I feel he deserves a big pat on the back and a well deserved pint!

My biggest congratulations must go to the wonderful Clare McNamara who plays ‘Helen’. She has amazing stage presence and an expressive face that lets the audience know exactly what this character is thinking. She also plays a Grandad at one point completely changing her physicality, voice and face that we fully accept her jumping between the characters in front of us on stage.

Clare gives Helen a voice that rarely gets heard. The people that go around guarded and afraid of being hurt, but cover it with a smile and a sarcastic comment. The one that we don’t think of as lonely, or deeply sad and scarred. Clare delivers this with such truth and takes her time to let it breathe for the audience. The chemistry between Sam and Helen is amazing and these scenes are a joy to witness.

While the play requires sometime to smooth out the technical issues that I mentioned, both with its lighting and sound, it is still a great piece of storytelling from a honest and real South East London voice rarely heard in today’s theatres. In conclusion, I would say if you want a nice evenings entertainment filled with laughter and some great performances it is definitely “Worth a Flutter’. Yep. That’s right. I said it.

If you like this review you might also like my reviews of Greater Game and The Sword and the Dope both also by Michael Head.

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