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by on 25 November 2022



by Billy Parker

The Hope Theatre, Islington until 25th November

Review by Heather Moulson

The Hope Theatre in Islington on a dim Friday afternoon looked a good prospect for a play reading … particularly when it was written and directed by the versatile Billy Parker.   I had the pleasure of knowing Billy as a poet at Tenby in May this year, and I looked forward to discovering more of his work. 

Walking up some steep pub steps at The Hope and Anchor, we came to a very intimate theatre with the set covered in foil – ingenious, striking and effective.  Centre stage sat the cast of four on a line of chairs, adorned in sixties and other vintage glamour.  With a voiceover of a sexual health warning, the journey really began.  The impressive Zuleika Voegele-Downing as The Knight drew us in with a strong speech.  In time we learnt the other three performers were “Who”, “Me” and “You”, a very clever move.

Reminiscent of the wonderful People Show, their text and interaction was poetic, angry, violent, tender, razor-sharp, sometimes incomprehensible, but with references to drugs, sex, romance, lust, greed among many others, it was never dull.  Even if you couldn’t follow the flow of snippy conversation, you still felt the words needed to be said.  It was important that someone wrote them and spoke them. 

“Who”, played by Jaya Twill, was extremely watchable.  Dressed in white boots and bordering on the destructive, she had a vibrant stage presence.  There was a lot of anger that rang sharply amongst a versatile soundtrack of many music media, but the most outstanding was “Who”’s backing jazz band and her intense introduction.  Surreal, metaphysical and always profound, it was beautifully done.  Some of the other music and dance numbers were intense and exhaustive – for the cast anyway.  We felt for them.

Billy Parker

“Me”,played by monumental Cult Murphy,initially worked hard to keep up, but came beautifully into his own as the play wore on. “You”, vocally stunning, played by Katie Shalka, did occasionally come over as shrill.   However, this did not spoil her impressive performance. The Knightwas just fabulous, watchable and consistently aggressive. 

Written and directed by Billy Parker, here is a name to watch out for.  A graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art, he has held acting workshops, written and directed prolifically, including the play Petrol, and devotes himself to emerging and underrepresented writers.  Billy’s work focuses on the working class experience, a real and definite find.  Catch him if you can. 

Heather Moulson, November 2022

Photography by JM

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