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Nick's first professional Theatre review as Director and Producer...

A few reviews of Nick's Shakespeare adaptations...

The Scotsman. Theatre review: Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo & Juliet, Nick Hennegan's fresh, feminist take on Shakespeare's classic
SALLY STOTT

Published: 10:35 Tuesday 13 August 2019 

Romeo, wherefore? Oh, on the sports field perchance

Sex, satire and sport: it’s not an obvious combination, but it’s one that these updated versions of Shakespeare’s witty and tragic, but also exciting and funny, love story often have in common. If you’re looking for something to take your non-theatre loving friends to, they’re all also highly accessible and a great reminder of not only how evocative the original language is, which they each include, but the range of subject matter it’s possible to cover through clever and creative contemporary adaptations.

Meanwhile, there’s another kind of Capulet in da house party – one from the Midlands – in Nick Hennegan’s similarly sport-themed Romeo & Juliet set around two warring football clubs, Birmingham City and Aston Villa. Here, a female Juliet is equally at home kicking a ball as she is listening to R&B and sending gossipy texts. This is a place where “examine other beauties” means getting on Tinder and living your life obsessing over a man is a definite no, no – at least until “lips” start doing “what hands do” and it becomes a definite yes, yes.

Here, the banter is as up to date as the latest i-Phone, thanks to amusing colloquial asides woven into the dialogue by Hennegan to create a culture clash between Shakesperian and contemporary language – one that’s as invigorating as the physical theatre battles between the two teams of players at the start.

With the inevitable tragedy looming, the comic interjections subside in a way that reveals their limitations, but as Romeo and Juliet wishfully plan their future together in Manchester – an unlikely alternative to Mantua – the remaining flecks of humour makes what we all know is going happen next even sadder.
With epic musical interjections reminiscent of queuing for a major theme park attraction, it’s a piece that could be developed through a bigger production that integrates sound and physicality more throughout, as well as a full set. But when the young performers take their bow, it’s a surprising reminder of how large a story they’ve managed to tell with only a cast of four.

HAMLET – HORATIO'S TALE.

William Shakespeare, adapted by Nick Hennegan
Maverick Theatre
Assembly Rooms
2–26 August 2018

****

Solo Hamlets seem to pop up almost every year in Edinburgh but this particularly professional hour still impresses.

Nick Hennegan has filleted the original in satisfying fashion, retaining much of the poetry and characterisation. His angle is unusual, witnessing events through the eyes of loyal Horatio, for whom he has written a series of short linking sections that do not detract from the original, even if the language is recognisably different.

The key though is an outstanding performance from Kizzy Dunn, who plays numerous parts with aplomb and easily distinguishes between them, though one or two accent choices may grate, especially a Canadian (?) Claudius. As a bonus, Hamlet's Ghost is voiced by Sir Derek Jacobi.

Under Hennegan's direction, the story thrills once again in one of those Edinburgh shows that fully meets expectations and should prove very popular.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

Some of Nick's other writing and directing.

PALS

Nick Hennegan
Guy Masterson, TTI in association with Maverick Theatre Company
Assembly George Square
4–24 August 2019

*****

Pete, Andy, Linda and Sue are P.A.L.S. They have been since they were very young schoolchildren. They are well-matched. It’s Sue’s garden so she’s the boss. Sue is number four because Pete is number one and he says so. These are the monumental moments of childhood.

In Pals we see them grow from early schoolchildren to the brink of adulthood. They help each other grow up. The boys test their limits with the girls, becoming aware of their differences, especially as they grow into their sexuality. The girls don’t mind experimenting but here they are the “boss”. It is so familiar. Slowly, the characters and personalities of each grow up. But we must watch closely. They are best of pals who grow to be strangers.

Kizzy Dunn as Sue, Amy Anderson as Linda, Andrew Greaves as Andy and Phillip John Jones as Pete have created realistic children who grow to be adults. These four talented actors, also in Romeo and Juliet, are well-cast and well-matched.

This is based on a on a true story from director / writer Nick Hennegan’s own past. He has constructed a believable and enchanting world that does not reach farther than their front doors and no more painful than a skinned knee with the energy and imagination of children—until the end.

Four white chairs create their world with only one onstage costume change. Kudos to the production team: costume, lights, sound, board tech.

As realistic as his script is, Hennegan's directing is spot-on, especially the one frighteningly well-done moment when the somewhat naïve Andy has an unexpected homosexual encounter. Greaves reaction is so real, so raw, so painful, so mesmerizing. Audiences live for these moments.

This is a winning team of talent and another jewel of Guy Masterson.

Reviewer: Catherine Lamm

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