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Flexible Productions



Directed by Danielle Coleman


Cock Tavern Theatre


18 Nov. - 5 Dec. 2009





ry Couzens

A review by Amrita Chatterjee for EXTRA! EXTRA!



We all have secrets; some are innocent follies and others potent enough to destroy someone’s life. Though a lot has been written and said about the consequences of keeping secrets, little thought has been given to the reasons behind why we keep secrets in the first place. And flexible production’s new play Secrets tries to do just that. A devised piece directed by Danielle Coleman, Secrets derives its dramatic substance from the real life experiences of the actors involved. Thus the play endeavours to weave the different threads of these real experiences, the secrets revealed and the secrets concealed, in an interesting and thought provoking manner.

A devised piece is always interesting to watch as one is well aware of the fact that the performer is the creator and writer of the material as well. This tends to provide the piece with a wonderful sense of spontaneity and the dialogues between characters transform into dialogues between people. And Secrets is no exception. Although the acting by all the cast members is fantastic, it’s their honesty and openness to share their private experiences with the world that is truly commendable. Sarah Baxendale as Rachael eludes a strong sense of poignancy. Andrew cleaver as the psychologist and the catalyst that links all the characters together is a charming mix of intellectual aloofness and understated hilarity. Emilie Cohen Boulakia brings with her a sensitive and feminine perspective on the issues discussed in the play.

Shireen Walton displays her brilliant comic streak but comes across as a bit too contrived in more serious scenes. Richie Cloete is funny and loveable in some scenes,.though in others he seems to be struggling with the dialogues in a way which makes it difficult to pass it off as just an intentional nervous tick. Ishbel Nicol is fantastic when it comes to bringing out the real within the surreal. She once again demonstrates how a mere scene is enough to imprint oneself on the minds of the audience forever. However, the two characters/actors who truly stand out in the play are Helen Briscoe as Helen and James Dutton as Jeremy/Rob. Briscoe is a delight to watch and also a mirror held up to our conscience, criticizing the moments when we let someone humiliate and belittle our self respect. And Dutton, who for some reason has been marked out as the resident villain of the play, does a mean job of inducing hatred and disgust in the audience’s heart. And finally one must commend the director Danielle Coleman for subsuming the creative instincts of so many actors under her own unique style. Coleman manages to keep the narration coherent and the direction simple, bringing out the relevant and important moments beautiful. Her instincts to highlight certain scenes with surrealism are also well founded.

The only problem area in this production is perhaps its scene changes. Though it may sound trivial, the unimaginativeness of the entrances and exits makes the experience of visually watching the play as one similar to sitting in front of a strobe light; as there are moments of brilliance followed by confusing darkness. Perhaps these moments could have been made a bit less conspicuous by more thoughtful light design, but Claire Childs sticks to tried and tested formulas rather than experiment with something new. The same could be said about the production's set/costume design by Phoebe Cole and sound design by Robert Lewis. Though the designs may be appropriate to the production, they fail to offer any sort of a visual or aural novelty.

All in all Secrets comes across as an entertaining and thoughtful production, which has the potential to be brilliant. Go watch it for its excellent performances.




2hrs approx


Tickets: £12 (conc £10)

18th  Nov - 5th Dec 2009

Tuesdays – Saturdays - 7.30pm; Sunday – 5.00pm

Cock Tavern Theatre
125 Kilburn high road, London, NW6 6JH





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