Christmas Review



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The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre presents


Writer/Adapter: Jonathan Clarkson


Director: Kate Bannister


Musical Director: Darren Batten


Brockley Jack Studio Theatre


9 December 2010 – 8 January 2011







A review by Jafar Iqbal for EXTRA! EXTRA!

It’s Christmas! All the family coming together, tons of shopping sales, Doctor Who making his annual return to primetime television.

It’s not all bad, though.

There’s mulled wine and Christmas dinner, which is good. Mulled wine leads to drunkenness, which is also good. But overall, it’s the theatre that excites me most about this time of year. Granted, I get excited about it most times of the year, but this season is just something different. Theatre makes a sudden transformation; gone are the tragedies and socio-political parodies of some war or another, replaced instead for a month by pure, unadulterated, feel-good entertainment. Beautiful.

One place to get your fill of that Christmas goodness is the Brockley Jack, where The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is currently being staged. Adapted for the stage by accomplished writer Jonathan Clarkson (this being his first full-length play), Sleepy Hollow is a gothic tale involving romance, mystery and the supernatural. Ichabod Crane are the two men out to prove the existence – or lack thereof – of the infamous Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, while trying at the same time to court the beautiful Katrina van Tassell. Along the way, we are introduced to some of the other colourful residents of North Tarrytown, helping to move the story along and chiming in with ghost stories of their own.

The first thing that sticks out when watching this play is the direction. In short, it’s fantastic. Director Kate Bannister deserves full praise for what she has achieved here – from accomplished performances to clever use of the stage to an excellent use of sound and lighting; the different pieces all fit together almost perfectly to create a well-rounded production.

It’s the staging that I admired most about …Sleepy Hollow. Taking advantage of the surreal and tongue-in-cheek nature of the script, Bannister was able to move between scenes and locations without disrupting the action. There were no blackouts or stagehands here – at times, scenes seemed to change midway through a sentence, without jarring the performance or disrupting the illusion of the play. Lighting also played a key part, enhancing the gothic ambience very well.

Performance-wise, nobody disappointed. Most, if not all, of the cast seemed to have musical theatre experience, shown through some great live singing and music. Each actor had their moment to shine, whether in major or smaller roles, and you could feel the joy of that in each performance. Highlighting certain performances over others would be a disservice to those not mentioned – each actor is equally strong.

As you can see, I found very little to fault about this play. This is the kind of production that makes me look forward to the Christmas season. If you’re tired of all the pantomimes, and you want a break from the more serious stuff out there, this is a good choice. You don’t need to think too hard, you just need to sit there and admire a well-written, well-directed, well-acted play that leaves you with a good feeling in your tummy. It’s Christmas!



Tuesday-Saturday at 7.45pm

No performances: Sundays, Mondays, 23-27 December 2010 & 31- 2 Jan 2011

Tickets: £12, £10.

Family Tickets (2 adults & 2 under 18s): £38


Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

 410 Brockley Road, SE4 2DH

Box Office: 0844 847 2454









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