Skip to main content

Review of Flash Festival: Headcase Theatre Company - Under The Hat at the Looking Glass Theatre

I had already felt I knew quite a bit about Under The Hat by Headcase. They had via Twitter been the most active in teasing about their mysterious play in the lead up to performance. It was all about what was under the hat and it wasn't a rabbit. I don't think I still know what was under the hat after watching the show. I do however know that a hat is not a mug.

Based on case studies from 'The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat' by Oliver Sacks, Under The Hat explores the effects of different neurological disorders. They do this in an extremely clever and entertaining way, perhaps teaching the audience more through a lighthearted way than laying the subject matter on thickly. We therefore see a character who has no perception of things to their left who misses that moment of love from another character because of it. We have a character who is unable to stand upright and his doctors have to catch him from an endless spiral. Then there is Jimmy who is unable to live past the year of 1945. Finally we have most devastating of all the young woman who as we progress through time loses more and more of her ability to move.

Each of these characters are played by a different member of the four strong group consisting of Kate Fenwick, Michael Whelbourne, Steve Banks and Nikki Murray. These also in turn get a personal monologue after passing through the picture frame and breaking the fourth wall. This frame is stunningly used throughout the piece with them arriving at the start of the play and leaving through it as well to end the play. I particularly liked the movement of slow into the frame and quick once through it. A neat touch which worked perfectly. The monologues themselves are all excellent with Steve's the most powerful in content, while Michael's lack of one, the most funny. They all however are wonderful in their very different styles.

There is also wonderful activity of the stages and playing with the audience, especially the 50 shades granny handing out "stale" popcorn and sitting on the lap of an innocent audience member. One of a number of occasions where the audience feels part of the play.

I also thought that the use of music was superb throughout particularly through the first Oliver Sacks scene (Scissor Sisters I believe) and the final breakthrough scene of music coupled with excellent lighting made it a stunning scene. However no scene was as stunning as that moment featuring Nikki trying to break from the picture frame. Staggering, powerful and wonderfully played. A magic and at turns truly sad moment.

Heavily worked on and prepared is obvious from every moment of this superb play, and I think for the first time this week a group this large had truly given each of the performers a fair share of the material to perform. Unbelievably excellent.



The Flash Festival 2015 is all over! It ran between 18th-23rd May, 2015 at four venues across the town. Details can be found at http://ftfevents.wix.com/flashtheatre2015, while tickets cannot now be booked via the Royal & Derngate. Details at: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2015-2016/Other/FlashFestival15

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Disney's High School Musical by NMTC Youth Society at the Cripps Hall Theatre, Northampton

As a regular theatre-goer, and indeed reviewer, I have learnt over the years that not all theatre is really for everybody. It's pretty obvious a statement really, but with reviewers, unlike regular theatregoers, you end up by default attending shows you might not dream of going to see as a normal customer. Maybe High School Musical is one pretty close to the top of the list I would only see on "official reviewing duty", as it's not really for a 40-year odd person. However, beyond that, the Northampton Musical Theatre Company Youth Society has come up with a really pretty impressive production of Disney's classic teen musical.

This is a very dramatic departure from the inaugural production of the Youth Theatre in 2018, Les Misérables (much more my thing), however, perhaps unsurprisingly it is better suited to the performers here. Their enthusiasm is even more evident to that previous production. Here, unlike the horrors of revolution-torn France, they can have fu…

Review of The Full Monty at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The 1997 film The Full Monty is one of the best regarded of relatively recent British films, due to it being both a warm and emotionally strong tale, solid comedy and a wealth of acting talent, and it's no surprise that its very theme has spawned an immensely successful touring stage version. It literally overflows with the opportunity to be performed in front of a, probably mostly female, audience, well, the final scene does, in any case. However, what of the rest, and how about for a male audience member? So to speak. Well, it was time to find out.

The first thing that is apparent from The Full Monty stage show, is how faithful this is to the film. Much of the show is what you have seen if you have seen the film, but translated cleverly to the stage, it feels just that little more real and gritty as well. It opens with a nicely staged scene of darkness and flashes of a torch as Gaz (Gary Lucy), his son Nathan (Fraser Kelly) and Dave (Kai Owen) break into their former factory wo…

Review of The Bodyguard at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

The 1992 film The Bodyguard starring Kevin Costner and the acting debut for singing megastar Whitney Houston, was a slightly average romantic thriller, which is really mostly remembered for its musical turns from Houston, so, it is perhaps surprising that it took a whole twenty years to make it's transition to the stage as a musical version. Premiering in London in December 2012, ten months after Houston's tragic death, the show has had great success around the world, and with this, it's second UK tour, has a recognisable face in the star role, of Alexandra Burke, former X-Factor winner (curiously not mentioned in her programme biog).
The Bodyguard follows the story of former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer (Benoît Maréchal) who is hired to protect multi-award-winning music star Rachel Marron, following her receiving threats from a stalker.
It's clear from the bold opening performance that Alexandra Burke as Marron is not looking to imitate Houston in…