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Cry Freedom

Breaking Free

Cry Freedom

compiled by Anne Warrington

Poetry Performance at Hampton Hill Theatre, 4th June

Review by Michelle Hood

This pot pourri of poems, prose and folk songs, compiled and produced by the indefatigable Anne Warrington, under the generic title of Cry Freedom, was a one-off production at Hampton Hill Theatre and presented by the local Teddington group Poetry Performance.  This was a brave and ambitious venture for the group, aimed at helping to bring their work to a wider audience, and judging by the full auditorium on a sunny Sunday afternoon, their mission was completely successful.  In hiring Hampton Hill Theatre, this happy band of poets, together with help from friends, were able to showcase their talents by bringing two hours of excellent entertainment to the stage in front of an appreciative audience.

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Rice Pudding, Lord Byron, and Tortoises


by Tom Stoppard

The Questors at the Judi Dench Playhouse, Ealing until 10th June

Review by Andrew Lawston

Past and present collide, complement, and inform each other in an assured new production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia at Questors Theatre in Ealing.

In 1809, Septimus Hodge attempts to tutor Thomasina Coverly, deflecting her uncomfortable questions about “carnal knowledge” to the mathematical conundrum of Fermat’s Last Theorem.  It emerges that Thomasina has heard of “carnal knowledge” via gossip concerning Septimus’s dalliances with another guest at Sidley Park, Mrs Chater.

The poet Ezra Chater arrives, challenging Septimus to a duel.  Septimus outfoxes the poet smoothly by praising his new book, resulting in the poet signing the tutor’s advance copy.

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Murder in the Cathedral

Internal Conflict and Unshakable Belief

Murder in the Cathedral

by T.S.  Eliot

Richmond Shakespeare Society at St Mary’s Parish Church, Twickenham until 3rd June

Review by Brent Muirhouse

Any play that starts with a single supersonic scream at a pitch a common pipistrelle bat would be frightened by, is a play that immediately grabs attention.  This is exactly the beginning of the Richmond Shakespeare Society’s staging of Murder in the Cathedral, T.S.  Eliot’s play that explores the final days of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, leading up to his assassination in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. 

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Heartbreak House

Good, Old-fashioned Entertainment

Heartbreak House

by George Bernard Shaw

Rhinoceros Theatre Company, at the Hampton Hill Theatre until 3rd June

Review by Andrew Mayot

Described by its author as “a fantasia in the Russian manner on English themes”, Heartbreak House was written by George Bernard Shaw during the First World War, and it was intended to say something about what Shaw termed “cultured, leisured Europe before the war”.  The script was published in 1919 and, in a preface, Shaw stated that he had been unable to find a West End manager willing to produce the play, not on grounds on quality, but because there was virtually no demand for “serious drama” during the conflict.  Curiously the play was first staged, in translation, at Vienna’s Burgtheater in November 1920 after the American premiere was postponed because of concern that it might influence the presidential election. 

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The Incident Room

Splash of Cold Fear

The Incident Room

by Olivia Hirst and David Byrne

BCP and Wild Duck Theatre, at Kitson Hall, Barnes until 3rd June

Review by Harry Zimmerman

“I’m Jack.  I see you are still having no luck catching me.  I have the greatest respect for you, George, but Lord, you are no nearer to catching me now than four years ago when I started.”

West Yorkshire.  1977.  A sixteen year old schoolgirl is brutally murdered.  Her death is linked with five similar fatal attacks.  The chilling description of “The Yorkshire Ripper” is coined by the press, and will dominate the headlines for the rest of the decade.  The murders perpetrated by Peter Sutcliffe left an indelible mark on the national psyche and the perennial coverage by the media at the time compounded the pressure on the police, who, operating out of the cramped Millgarth Incident Room in Leeds, became the central focus of the biggest manhunt in Britain.

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2.22, A Ghost Story

Ghostly Delights

2.22, A Ghost Story

by Danny Robins

Runaway Entertainment at the Apollo Theatre, West End until 17th September, then on tour until 25th May 2024

Review by Andrew Lawston

From A Christmas Carol to the works of M.R.James, via Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, it is notable that many of the most enduring ghost stories are now period pieces, full of sputtering gas lamps and other Victorian or early Twentieth Century trappings.

In this respect, 2:22 A Ghost Story is a breath of fresh air.  The play takes the staple ghost story setting of an old Victorian house in which an old widow has spent long years grieving for her husband, and instead shows a contemporary family stripping away all the details of yesteryear in order to create a modern dream home.

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One Thousand Reviews!


One Thousand Reviews!

The Mark Aspen website is treasury of reviews, previews, interviews and just views.

We are proud to announce that we now have over one thousand reviews posted on

Our thanks go to:

The theatre companies, theatre venues, producers and PR agents for the opportunity to review their enthralling shows;

Our critics, reviewers and editors for all their generous time and hard work;


Our loyal readers for all their support and encouragement.

We look forward to the next review millennium !

Apart from reviews, we occasionally publish previews (largely as interviews with directors or producers) and views in the form of our Theatre Thoughts.

There also is an archive of reviews more than ten years old, which are not on line.

Toothpaste Kisses

Provocative Poignant Parable

Toothpaste Kisses

by Keir Buist

Three Dot Theatre at the Kenton Theatre, Henley-on-Thames until 25th May, then on tour at the Edinburgh Fringe

Review by Nick Swyft

Armed with a short ‘blurb’, as a teaser, I went to see Toothpaste Kisses by Keir Buist at the Kenton Theatre in Henley.  Not knowing what was going to happen, and how it would all turn out, kept me engaged throughout the one hour and ten minute performance, and so I won’t give away any spoilers here.  I don’t think it’s too much to say, however that the play is about fatherhood.

Keir Buist wrote, directed and performed the play, and so it was very much a one man show.  For a play like this, it is a high risk strategy, requiring all these skills to be top notch.  I’m more than happy to report that Keir excelled in all of these roles, providing a production that brought a manly tear to the eye of this reviewer, and judging by the sniffles around me, to many other audience members too.  This was provocative entertainment at its best.

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The Magic Flute

Trills without Frills

The Magic Flute

by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder

Harrow Opera at the Compass Theatre, Ickenham until 28th May

Review by Michelle Hood

Perhaps one of the most popular and frequently performed opera ever written, The Magic Flute can never really fail to excite because of the sheer beauty of its music.  A timeless classic and, despite its abstract and allegorical storyline, the imaginative brilliance of the score always uplifts and stimulates. 

Mozart’s masterpiece was premiered in Vienna in September 1791 and yet, just two months later, Mozart died prematurely aged 35.  This was the only opera ever written by Mozart for a popular audience in which he collaborated with a well-known comic actor of the time, Emanuel Schikaneder, who wrote the libretto and also played the part of Papageno in the first production. 

Given the complex fantasy world in which The Magic Flute exists, the opera has been staged in countless imaginative ways and in many different time periods and costume.  In this production, by Harrow Opera at the Compass Theatre, Ickenham, no liberties have been taken and the production is stripped back to its basic essentials, and is also sung in English.   

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All’s Nell That Ends Nell

In Her Own Lunchtime

All’s Nell That Ends Nell

by Little Nell

Trafalgar Studios Theatre until 23rd May

Review by Heather Moulson

An enigmatic icon of Rocky Horror royalty tapped danced her way onto a very camp set, a splendid throne and quite literally, a table with legs.  Here was Laura Elizabeth Campbell aka Little Nell, backlit with an impressive slideshow, who gave us an honest and open account of her life and success.  As she, resplendent in a sequinned dress, invited us into her rich and generous past we were drawn in from the start.

When I saw Little Nell in The Rocky Horror Show in 1974, she was only nineteen years old, and a former tap dancing busker, discovered by Jim Sharman and Brian Thomson in Kensington High Street.  And what a discovery!  Australian director, Sharman was asked to put on a production for the Theatre Upstairs at The Royal Court, with a budget of a £1,000, a three week rehearsal and a three week run.  While searching for a project, he was shown a musical written by a young Richard O’Brien.  Nell became a natural part of the team of powerful Antipodeans.

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