A Significant Role – A Season of 3 New Plays (London, October 2012)

As regular readers will be aware, since I’ve moved away from living in London, I’ve had something of an epiphany. I used to be a West End or bust kind of guy, spoilt by the bright lights, grease paint and the jazz hands. With a move back to Manchester, I was forced to re-evaluate my theatre-going habits and to get more in touch with grass-roots theatre, something that I’d always enjoyed, but had never had much opportunity to devote time to. I promised that I would do so more going forward, and that I would share this journey with you all!

With that in mind, and, frankly, as I really like the sound of this one, I would like to give a shout out to Barefaced – a theatre company based in London, who are launching their season of three new plays under the title ‘A Significant Role’ in October 2012. The aim of the season is to put women centre-stage, and I think this is a marvellous ‘concept’ for a group of plays, and something that I, personally, would find really interesting to watch. There’s already so much that I can think of to say about it, and I’ve not even seen any of the plays yet!

Please find details from the Press Release that was sent to me as below – I felt it would be easier to share this with you, than for me to try to summarise and do it an injustice.

Ticketing and performance information appears towards the end of this post.

If you happen to go along to any of the shows, please let me know what you thought – I’m hoping to get to see at least one of them if I am down in London anytime over October with work etc!

A Significant Role – Repertory

By BAREFACED THEATRE 4th – 31st October 2012

Portobello PopUp, London.

“I like to help women help themselves, as that is, in my opinion, the best way to settle the woman question. Whatever we can do and do well we have a right to, and I don’t think anyone will deny us.” Louisa May Alcott

For the duration of October Barefaced Theatre will be taking over the Portobello PopUp digital Microplex cinema, nestled under the Westway, standing proudly on the Portobello Road/Acklam Road junction. It is believed locally that the cinema site is built on sacred ground and radiates a powerful vortex of creative energy. It was also constructed using recycled and reclaimed materials in the heart of Ladbroke Grove/Notting Hill. It makes the perfect setting for Barefaced’s first repertory season, as we will be experimenting with both video art and animation throughout all the productions.

This project revolves around three new plays: Mad Women, Whore, and All Hidden. The season focuses on women who have helped themselves and have strived to succeed in what they were good at. Each play will be performed for 10 shows, running from 4th – 31st October 2012. These are going to be immersive, innovative and provocative pieces of theatre.

These 3 inspiring plays were predominantly written by Berri George, who is currently part of the Royal Court’s invitation writers group. Most recently she had one of her short plays programmed at this year’s High Tide Festival as part of their Brunch plays, and Whore was part of this year’s New Writing Festival at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.



Mad Women

“Monsters Percy. I am hunted by them. They chase me – in my dreams, in my waking hours. Shadows that I catch in the corner of mine eye.”

Directed by Adam Dattis, this re-imagined version of the play Mad Women examines the perceived madness of Mary Shelley, whose sensational personal life and loss of her children found release in her novel Frankenstein; Emily Dickinson, the 19th century American whose poems reached far beyond the confines of her reclusive life; the utopian feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman, plagued by depression, whose story The Yellow Wallpaper highlighted the horrors of confinement for women termed ‘mad’; and Virginia Woolf, the modernist genius whose own demons would eventually consume her.

Praise from original show, part of the Fresh Ideas Season, 2011 New Wimbledon Studio:

‘That the company wrote, produced, directed and performed this work should indeed be praised, it was a treat to see something new on the stage’ Roaming with Intent

‘Very thought-provoking and loved something focused on women.’ Audience feedback

‘Superb – very defined, articulate and excellent characterisation’ Audience feedback _______________________________________________________________________________________________


“It’s all rather messy if you look at it too closely. People don’t tend to do that, put themselves under a microscope. People don’t generally like what they see.”

Directed by Tim Sullivan, this is again a re-imagined version of the play Whore. It is a bold, daring insight into four of history’s most interesting prostitutes. Meet Theresa Berkley, a 19th Century Dominatrix, Marie Duplessis, a famous French courtesan, Polly Adler, a New York 1920’s brothel madam with heavy links to the mob, and Valerie Solanas, American prostitute turned Warhol assassin.

Praise from original show of Whore at the Resistance Gallery, 2011:

‘Whore instills audiences with a heady mix of excitement and anxiety before even a ticket is ripped or a line uttered.’ A Younger Theatre

‘WHORE the new production by the Barefaced Theatre. Simply astounding. Blew our cotton socks right off.’ Cloak & Swagger


 All Hidden

‘It was a life in the shadows, but I think I was suited for it. I could be hard and secret, I could be lonely, I could be independent.’

Directed by Sean Turner, All Hidden is a brand new play that charts the stories of two courageous women; Eileen Nearne was an SOE during the Second World War and Sophie Walker works as an intelligence officer within MI5 today. This is a brand new play that conjoins the worlds of these female spies.


Also involved within the season of work:

What is Scratch Beneath?

What happens when new artists scratch beneath the surface of their potential to bring new ideas out into the world as the beginnings of a new piece of work, presented as a mini show? Let’s see.

Barefaced Theatre is passionate about new writing and is always looking to encourage and collaborate with new writers and theatre companies, so we have opened up a very exciting opportunity to present five new pieces of work from five new groups or individuals alongside our new, one act play All Hidden.

The 5 mini scratch performances include:

14th & 16th Oct: Postcards from Medea by Jose Gandia, a re-telling of Euripides classic Greek tragedy performed by Ophelia Bellio, Cristina Lazaro, Alexia Mankoskaya, Oliver Gatten, Matthew Bianchieri, and Ricardo Gosalbo.

17th & 18th Oct: Halb – Welt Kultur: The life of the Weimar Girls performed by Stephanie Hampton and directed by Padraig Kennedy, is a one-woman mini musical which conjures, recreates and pays homage to six legendary women from the scandalous époque in-between wars in Germany.

19th & 21st Oct: First Night, a welcome distraction? After all, the first night’s always the hardest, written and performed by Pete Maxey.

19th & 21st Oct: Celyn Ebenezer performs her eerie one-woman mini storytelling performance about female mediums and prostitutes in Victorian London.

20th Oct @ 4pm & 7pm: The Lemons, written and performed by Lowri Jenkins and directed by Anna Nguyen, this is a one-woman mini show about living in a world of endless options and our attempts to build a sense of meaning out of the mess.

Barefaced: Fresh New work, from fresh new faces.

We will be introducing some of London’s hottest and newest talent to the theatre scene and we are lucky enough to work with some of the most talented and aspiring directors, actors, musicians, composers and designers that London can offer.

Barefaced are a London based Theatre Company focused on producing ambitious and accessible theatre that invites audiences to expand their imaginations; employing a ‘theatre style that subverts audience expectations and questions the world around us’. Barefaced focuses on strong storytelling, strong physicality and strong women’s roles, both on and off stage.


MAD WOMEN – runs every night Saturday 6th October – Saturday 13th October

Pay What You Can performance – Sunday 7th Oct 3.30pm.

ALL HIDDEN & SCRATCH BENEATH FESTIVAL – showing 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, & 20th October @ 7.30pm – 9.30pm (including 20 min interval)
Saturday 20th October – Pay What you Can @ 4pm – 6pm
Sunday 21st October @ 7pm – 9pm (including 20 min interval)


Wednesday 24th October @ 7.30pm – 8.30pm (no interval, bar open before and after.)

Thursday 25th October first show @ 7.00pm – 8.00pm and second showing 8.30pm – 9.30pm

Friday 26th October first show @ 7.00pm – 8.00pm and second showing 8.30pm – 9.30pm

Saturday 27th October – GALA night @7.30pm – 12pm (includes show, after show entertainment, goodie bags, bar & free popcorn & candy floss)

Sunday 28th October – Pay What you Can @ 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Monday 29th, Tuesday 30th & Wednesday 31st October @ 7.30pm – 8.30pm

Tickets all £10 (except Whore Gala night which is £20)

Booking is online at Event Elephant.




During the Interval there is a cash bar, where wine will be supplied by Griffenwell Wines – serving both red and white wine £4 per large glass.


Marcia Brown Alexa Brown George Bull Berri George Noah James James Naylor Anne Zander

Creative Team:

Executive Producer – Berri George
Senior Producer – Rebecca Hampson
Directors – Adam Dattis (Mad Women), Sean Turner (All Hidden) & Tim Sullivan (Whore) Set Designer – Gyo Kim
Sound Designer – Milly Cook
Lighting Designer – Philip Jones
Costume Designers – Emilia Pope & Gabi Lee
Video/Projection Designer – Marouso Marinpoulou
Video & Set Design Assistant – Ni Wen
Stage Manager – Pete Maxey
Assistant Stage Manager – Kimberley Money
Assistant Producer – Claire Keogh

About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

2 Responses

  1. A review of Mad Women
    We went to review this play on press night in order to possibly bring a number of our book club members along to see it as we had read and discussed Frankenstein recently but…

    This is quite possible the most poorly misconceived play I have ever had the misfortune to subject myself and my friends to. It is wildly over ambitious, interleaving far to many character threads together in a way that would need diagrams for an ordinary audience member to understand, let alone one who is sitting in the cold. Plus adding wholly new characters and plots after the break seemed like the writer was trying to commit theatre suicide. Or drive their audience as insane as the protagonists.

    The second half also showed a marked change in the tone of the play which up unto that point had been making a rather laboured effort to show the cost to the friends and family of the committed, if admittedly troubled, writers. But right after the break it seemed all of a sudden the boyfriends/husbands/lovers of these mad women writers abandoned their understanding and patient attitudes and turned into patronising patriarchs, hell bent on turning them into “nice little wives”. Doctors started agreeing with husbands and encouraging the protagonists into giving up their writing obsessions and go back to domestic bliss. As a man I felt patronised by all of the male characters changing so abruptly. Mary Shelly’s partner even turned to domestic abuse to make his point, just in case the audience didn’t get it.

    We wanted to like it because of the subject matter but the fractured plotting was far to obtuse to allow that and the director badly failed by trying to use all of the available theatre space in a noisy environment. The actors were often unable to project themselves into the audience. Granted using the area under a motorway flyover was already a fairly big ask of an October audience but leaving the entrance open which allowed a breeze right into the auditorium nearly drove me from my seat much earlier than the quality of the show did. In the end I couldn’t wait till the end of the show to leave and left while the actors were wailing and screaming. I expect the writer and director think this is the only way of showing a characters pain. To be honest we only returned after the break because a friend of ours had been talking to a very pretty girl on the seat next to him. She didn’t return after the break :-/ I wish I’d stayed at home.


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