A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!




Live from Leicester Square and Hamish McAlpine present


Burnt Oak



Louis Cardona as Nobby, Jason Wing as George (with mug) and Dan Maclane as Terry in Burnt Oak at Leicester Square Theatre - Lounge


A new play by Lawrence Lynch


Directed by Nathan Osgood


Leicester Square Theatre - Lounge



22 July –3 September 2011

In a true case of life, imitating art, while I was watching Burnt Oak, set in the North London area of the same name on Saturday night, August 6th, Tottenham, North London was burning.

This new play by Lawrence Lynch is in yer face theatre, and nothing is compromised or dressed up in terms of its realistically effing and blindin’ dialogue, all of which issues from the mouths of males: George (Jason Wing) Margaret’s (Donna Combe) husband and Susan’s (Danielle Flett) father, Nobby (Louis Cardona) the young father of Susan’s baby and Terry (Dan Maclane) Nobby’s supportive friend and fellow painter/decorator.

There are a lot of human issues touched on in this play, among them control, ambition (or lack thereof), alcoholism, male rage, self-worth, confidence and friendship, with the glaring absence being love, apart from that shared between Margaret and her daughter Susan. The number of issues touched on is admirable. However, they’re not really drawn together tightly enough to form a digestible conclusion that resonates beyond the moment. But maybe the point is that living in the moment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

George is a man who lives solely for himself, though he continually professes otherwise. ‘You should have seen him when he was young,’ Margaret says of her disgruntled, controlling, verbally abusive, perpetually raging spouse. She’s very close to her seventeen year old daughter, Susan, who rightfully warns people her dad’s ‘a piece of work.’ When Nobby walks hairdressing school student Susan home from a party he doesn’t realize what he’s getting himself into when he succumbs to her charms, though he has a weakness for more than just Susan. Terry stands on the outskirts, all mouth and no trousers as they say, talking big while living the life of a desperate bachelor, not so secretly enamored of Susan.

There you have it, all the ingredients for an East Enders soap opera. Or so it seemed, though the acting of this five person play is such that it leaves such trivialities in the dust. Playwright Lynch does well to mislead us into thinking this play’s about anything other than George. In reality, when someone like that is in one’s life, there’s not much room for anything else. But, it seemed the small audience that evening was willing to be happily mislead.

The set – a lived in looked ‘velvet’ two seater, end table and ‘kitchen’ stuck in a closet/dressing room(?) to one side of the theatre looks appropriate enough for the circumstances, as do all of the costumes, especially George’s ‘posh’ looking shirt and Susan’s clubbing mini-dress, complete with rhinestone clasp.

Nathan Osgood’s direction and Danielle Flett’s performance as confident, forward, sassy, but ultimately naïve Susan seem to be hand in glove on this outing, with no one ever doubting Flett’s performance. Her accent reminded my partner of Martine McCutcheon’s telly one, though I felt it was subtler and more realistic. Louis Cardona as the young man who ‘always pulls’ because he ‘has what birds want,’ is similarly believable as Nobby and the actors form a likeable couple. Likewise, Dan Maclane as Terry, the swearing but trusting fellow who tries to help Nobby in his pursuit of Susan all he can, though he ilkes her himself. There’s a lovely moment after Susan plants a peck on Terry’s lips in which Terry/Maclane’s look is one of genuine surprise. Well done to Maclane for that, as effective silent acting definitely ups the ante in any production! Donna Combe as the long-suffering, ‘you only get married once’ Margaret is also an actress who conveys much with a look or gesture, though her character has no choice, living with a volatile loudmouth like George!  Ah George, surely not named for the patron saint of England, Jason Wing can’t string four words together without at least two of them being expletives and rarely talks when he can shout. In prison for armed robbery until his daughter was ten, he seems an outsider of sorts to all of the aforementioned scenarios, though he professes to do everything he does (including feign a back injury for sick benefits) for his wife and daughter. Wing inhabits his character so fully it was difficult to tell whether the women in the front row were tittering from nervous recognition or a warped sense of humour.

How will this turgid story end, I hear you ask?

Well, you’ll just have to buy yourself a ticket and get down to Leicester Square Theatre to find out! It’s our considered opinion that you should support fringe theatre and new plays in particular. If you don’t, George may just hunt you down, which you wouldn’t want. After all, you never know what he’s got in his bag of tricks.



Leicester Square Theatre - Lounge
6 Leicester Place
London WC2 7BX
Box Office: 08448 733433

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