From Here Brings Joy Back to the Theatre at The Chiswick Playhouse

Covid-hit performance maintains the highest quality

Grace Mouat nails The Scarlet Woman
Grace Mouat nails The Scarlet Woman. Picture: Lucy Gray


Comedy Returns To The Chiswick Playhouse

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‘FROM HERE’, written by Ben Barrow and Lucy Ireland, is the new musical that has just opened at the Chiswick Playhouse and you can catch it, if you hurry to book your tickets online. NOTE: Sadly it finishes on 7 August.

What a treat it is to enter a theatre again and become immersed in this beguiling production. On Monday night the toe tapping, masked, socially distanced audience applauded vigorously and left the theatre brimming with joy and goodwill. I could have hugged and hugged everyone on stage that night. Fortunately, for them, hugging is now against the law!

Delightful, charming and witty - excellent pace as the timing is spot on and each of the four actors complement each other perfectly. The story line, that at times references the Seven Ages of Man, is totally original. In a nutshell it questions the audience’s attitude to life. Do we dream for a fairy tale ending to our lives? Or are we constantly striving for more and more?

The characters are not given names. These wonderful actors portray four persons known as “he/him, she/her & they/them” as they explore lives that all of us (we/them) will be able to recognise.

Annabelle Hollingdale’s experience as a director manifests itself in the deft way she managed her actors to enable them to give top quality, exuberant performances. The pace and timing are faultless and, even sitting eagle-eyed in Row A the show seemed immaculate - even though the whole cast, that morning, had been hit by a crisis.

Yes, on Monday morning the company was told that two of the cast had to isolate: Grace Mouat and Aiden Harkins (they/them) as well as, Paul Lennox (Lighting Designer). As a result the writers Ben Barrow (he/him) and Lucy Ireland (she/her) had to substitute. They were superb. Both performances were perfectly nuanced and this was reflected in their exquisite duet ‘If the World Could End Tonight’.

Lucy Ireland and Ben Barrow
Lucy Ireland and Ben Barrow. Picture: Torin Douglas

The vigour and cohesiveness off the cohort of four was spectacular: they darted from character to character - he to him, she to her, they to them. Playing a combination of convincing rolls like a kaleidoscope in its full glory.

All four actors neatly zipped from tiny school child to old codger or glamorous star. And Grace Mouat (Person 1) nailed the scarlet woman in ‘7.30pm’. I believe her performance lifted the rafters off the theatre!

Andrew Patrick-Walker’s poignant performance as a sensitive person singing ‘The Monster Under the Bed’ was a memorable moment. Interestingly the dissonance of the music added to the pathos of Person 3’s mind set.

Ian Oakley, Musical Director, created an intriguing score. It combined melodic, catchy tunes with moments of atonal dissonant sounds - at times reminiscent of a C20/C21 operatic score. Ian Oakley plus Jessica Brydges, on cello and James William-Pattinson (guitar) sensitively accompanied the actors. This micro-sized orchestra (as they are not a band) added an allure to the production.

Jessica Staton, Set and Costume Designer, managed well. Her budget, during these dire times, will have been tight and yet she imaginatively created a set from scaffolding and costumes that fitted in neatly with the characters portrayed by persons One, Two, Three and Four.

Fingers crossed, and toes, that this valiant, bouncing production continues to bring joy to more audiences throughout 2021 and beyond. The script and score should be snapped up by groups of actors everywhere. It’s a gem.

I look forward to more productions of this ilk from Barrow & Ireland. They are young. They are strong. In fact this company is young and strong and they will have worked their ‘socks off during’ Lockdown. What a credit the team are to the Guildford School of Acting where they recently trained.

Barrow /Ireland, Holingsdale/Oakley must be elated with the enthusiastic response from the audience to their splendid production that added zest and hope to a cold, wet Monday evening.

Susan Stanley-Carroll

‘Here Now’ finishes 7 August. Tickets from the Box Office at


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July 18, 2021

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