Review: Jake and Cake

February 22, 2010

Clare Chater and Robert Solar in Jake and Cake

Imagination in theatre is a tool that when used effectively can propel a performance forward into new territories, taking the audience to new worlds and warps of life. Equally, imagination can kill a performance, with writers or directors going too far and letting their own imaginations run away from them leaving the audience stranded in their seats with puzzled expressions. Thankfully Jake and Cake, Theatre Centres latest young persons show has just the right amount of imagination without letting loose of the goals.

Having moved to Essex from London, the countryside seems like a world apart from the city life that Jake is used to. Leaving behind his friends and having to start anew is a daunting task for any teenager, but the thought of the countryside with the grass that “smells of poo”, and the lack of anything to do, makes the matter a whole lot worst. Of course if you’re Cake who has been brought up in the countryside, it’s a place of adventure and wonder – if you let your imagination take over.

Jake and Cake, by Godfrey Hamilton explores the boundaries of friendships, exploration and the notion of looking forward instead of backwards in life. Hamilton combines the tales of wolves in the forest with Jake and Cakes slowly building friendship. The play shifts from fast paced storytelling to adventures in the forest, all delivered by Clare Chater as Cake and Robert Solar as Jake.

Chater and Solar clearly have built a great energy between them during the rehearsals of Jake and Cake. Their energy collides with the story, and together they create the atmospheric story, weaving together the words of Hamilton with the errie sound effects and music.

What is great about Jake and Cake is that you can clearly see that every aspect of this play has been brought together with great skill. Natalie Wilson as director and artistic director of Theatre Centre, has once again proven that she knows how to engage young people through theatre.

The story is very compelling and inventive, and under the direction of Wilson creates a world in which the audience can get lost within. At times we are left frightened by the clashing of thunder and lighting, other times sad for seeing how these two characters desperately need each other to survive the night but are clouded by their judgment of what friends are.

Jake and Cake is a thought provoking piece – whilst still being completely engaging.

Clare Chater as Cake is a bundle of joy to the story. Her enthusiasm and portrayal of her character is fantastic. Bringing the energy and idea that “everything is a piece of cake” to life through the constant shifting of stories and use of imagination. Equally Robert Solar as Jake shows a sensitive side to the affects of having to leave friends behind, allowing the emotion of the character to sweep across his acting.

Wilson has made Jake and Cake into an enchanting piece of storytelling for young people with a soft message of understanding who you are to understand others. It is another great triumph for Theatre Centre in showing what the imagination of an audience with a gripping story can produce: brilliantly entertaining.

On a small side note, the show is recommended for ages 6+ and whilst I am a little older than this, it is quite a frightening piece! Make sure you have your child near you in case they need a hand held or shoulder to cry on! Otherwise I suggest a pillow to hide behind.

Jake and Cake is Theatre Centre’s latest play, and is on an UK National Tour, see their website for more details.


Review: Rigged

October 14, 2009

Rigged at the Unicorn Theatre

Life is full of choices, some as small as deciding what clothes to wear of a morning, others more life changing such your education and career, starting a family or knowing when to ask for help. We make choices constantly, and the choices never stop being made, regardless of what age we are.

Rigged playing at the Unicorn Theatre is all about these choices.

Each of the characters at some point within Ashmeed Sohoye’s new play has to make a decision, a choice, be it right from wrong, or significant life changes. These choices certainly aren’t easy and certainly provoke moral questions.

Staged within the Clore Studio Theatre of the Unicorn Theatre, Rigged is a challenging piece. It forces the spectator to think and possibly question those decisions which we have seen and heard many times before. When is right right? Or when is wrong wrong? Questions which aren’t easily answered.

Natalie Wilson, Theatre Centre’s artistic director and director of Rigged uses a blend of stylistic transitions, music and lighting to punctuate this new piece of writing. Although at times the ‘movement’ between scenes grew a little tiresome, the general feel of the piece resonated through every closely chosen detail.

A growing sense of anger, of a sense of ‘I want more than just this’ is said beneath every line and clenched fist.

Whilst I believe the writing needs some more work to fully bring the piece to life, what I admired about Rigged is its accessibility. It was a treat to be surrounded by an audience so vibrant in ages, and all appreciating the piece itself. Speaking in a matter of fact manner, the characters of Sarah and Nathan are easily likened to those that we witness within our society and schools.

Equally the moral dilemmas raised within Rigged are ones which are prominent within our current society. Teenage pregnancy, school drop outs and gambiling are constant issues that are being raised on a yearly basis. Yet with each of issues comes the matter of choice, and thus the theme of Rigged. At what point do you turn around and say no, enough is enough?.

The casting for Rigged is perfect. Hats off to Niamh Webb who plays Sarah as the cocky-mouthed teen who falls pregnaunt yet aspires to be something much more than just a mother. Equally Kyle Summercorn as the aggressive school drop out, Nathan, shows a vast array of controlled anger and violence but equally a funny character. Daisy Whyte as the mother, Kathy, who lacks the ability to read; plays a sensitive part, weighing out the balance of anger within the piece. Lastly Paul Clerkin as the step-father, Gary, shows that behind a gambling exterier he is just as sensitive and wanting more from the life he has chosen.

Rigged is educational without being preachy. It’s functional without being over simplified. And it’s full of potential for both teens and adults.

Rigged is on at the Unicorn Theatre until 17th October, see their website for more details.