Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | Stop! The Play at the Trafalgar Studios
Ginger Hibiscus | Stop! The Play at the Trafalgar Studios
Ginger Hibiscus | Stop! The Play at the Trafalgar Studios
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-19696,single-format-standard,tribe-no-js,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.2.1,vc_responsive

05 Jun REVIEW: Stop! The Play at the Trafalgar Studios

Stop! The Play2A lot of theatre, possibly even most, is staged with a firm purpose in mind, to make a political statement or to air a philosophical approach, to educate, or critique. But sometimes – just sometimes – it exists for the sole purpose of making you laugh. Take Stop! The Play; with no conceivable agenda, and barely touching sensitive topics, it’s a show constructed entirely with comedy in mind, the uncomplicatedness delightfully refreshing, and the focus allowing it to excel in its field.

A simple premise, Stop! The Play follows a group of actors and their despairing director through the chaotic rehearsals and disastrous opening night of a truly dreadful new play. Self consciously aware that the play is already an unmitigated disaster, pretty boy Hugh (Adam Riches) gets to work tending to his ego and learning the soliloquies that go with being cast in the lead role, of an aspiring artist who teaches to make ends meet, yet leads an inexplicably opulent lifestyle to the tune of fountains in the lobby and a pet monkey. As Hugh’s older, wiser, ex-fling Linda (Hannah Stokely) looks on, he’s keen to massage more than just his pride (enter Hatty Preston as Gemma, the lovely, younger object of his desires), whilst still managing to fit in a power struggle with Evelyn (Ben Starr), their entirely bonkers director.

As the over-enthusiastic (off-stage) writer refines his work, things go from bad to worse for the embattled group, as the many (many) rewrites leave it unrecognisable with no time to rehearse, leaving the actors (or at least those who haven’t already walked out) close to revolt. Save for veteran actor Walter (James Woolley), who really just wants to get paid, and have a good old chinwag in the process.

Plays about theatre productions are a little bit like novels about writing or movies about Hollywood, created by people in love with their art form, who seem to believe that everyone else is, or should be, too. Whilst offering perhaps a touch of insight, it’s arguably just a little self indulgent, and the question that springs to mind is “quite how many farcical comedies do we need about disastrous theatre shows?” Thinking of course of the classic Noises Off, and current West End hit The Play That Goes Wrong to name just two others.

Despite clear overlap in concept, Stop! The Play isn’t actually much like either. Significantly less reliant on the slapstick end of the comedic spectrum, it boasts spoken and situational rather than visual humour, and it has it by the by the bucketload. In covering so many months of rehearsals, David Spicer’s script quickly develops recurring and in-jokes, rapidly making audience members feel like members of this strange and dysfunctional family.

The play’s ridiculous descent into chaos brings with it laughs aplenty, particularly at the expense of the increasingly exasperated, obscenely pretentious director, who experiences the raw end of being at the mercy of a hapless writer whose stage directions are more exciting than his plays. With an array of obscure metaphors that would make any writer take note (both very, very good, and very, very bad), it’s a great example of how to do a farce, without people falling over all the time.

Stop! The Play is an exceptionally funny comedy- nothing more, and nothing less. You won’t go home any the wiser about theories of Einstein, or the philosophies of the Ancient Mayans, and you won’t think about yourself or your life any differently because of having seen it, but there’s a very good chance you’ll go home with a smile on your lips, and a happy ache in your stomach.

For tickets and information:
Venue: Trafalgar Studios
Dates: Until 27th June 2015
Images: Matt Humphrey

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here