knuckleball

REVIEW: Write Out Loud

February 7, 2012 | Category: knuckleball,Stay With Me Til Dawn articles | No Comments

Second Skin Theatre Double Bill

Thursday 21st January 2010

Alain English saw “Stay With Me Til Dawn” and “Knuckleball”, both staged by Second Skin Theatre at the Rosemary Branch Theatre near Old Street, London on 20th January 2010.

 

Stay With Me Til Dawn by Graham Farrow

 

A young boy hides from his abusive father in the room of a troubled man with dark secrets…

 

This was an excellent piece of theatre that explored ideas of masculinity and isolation within society in a visceral and upfront way.  It had a good point to make about the not always accurate impressions we create in our heads about other people, and turned popular stage stereotypes (the middle-aged deviant, the hardman) cleverly on their heads.  It had a nicely ambiguous ending to it, that was open to chilling interpretation.

 

It was very well staged in the Rosemary Branch … accompanied by a pulsing undertone of music that helped create a tense, fraught atmosphere.  The actors have been tightly directed, although I thought the stage violence needed some more sound to give it a little bit more impact.

 

The performances were excellent, notably Peter Glover as Redford who gives a bravely physical performance that keeps the audience guessing as his intentions either way.  Matthew Haigh is at once playful and vulnerable as Nick, and while I thought David Swain could have added a touch more menace to his voice, he nailed the physicality and attitude of his character perfectly.

 

The play last over an hour but it flew by.  A well-paced, exciting start to the evening.

 

 

Knuckleball by William Whitehurst

 

A young couple’s burgeoning relationship is turned upside down when a marriage proposal becomes the catalyst for some horrifying, life-changing revelations…

 

This latest piece by Second Skin co-founder William Whitehurst is brilliant, hitting you with the unexpected, with dark but entirely logical twists to the characters. The staging is excellent, capturing the wayward desolation of its characters and highlighting the play’s main theme – one’s life ends up in a mess when you don’t know who you are.  It was very well lit, with an orange hue to the set that gave you the feeling that this was the kind of place where these sorts of conversation might happen.

 

The play hinged on great performances from Bryan Kaplan and Laura Pradelska.  They made their characters plausible, playing off each other well and handling some well-written but still very difficult speeches with panache.  In this, they handled the play’s darker ideas very well.

 

Fantastic, provocative theatre from Second Skin and hopefully a sign of more good things to emerge from the company this year.

REVIEW: British Theatre Guide

February 7, 2012 | Category: knuckleball,Stay With Me Til Dawn articles | No Comments

Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn by Graham Farrow 
&
 Knuckleball by William Whitehurst

Second Skin Theatre
Rosemary Branch Theatre

(2010)

Review by Howard Loxton

These two plays, linked by themes that explore attitudes to sexuality, violence and secret lives, pack a substantial punch. Drawing room comedy they are not and, in the close proximity of this always interesting tiny theatre, director Andy McQuade and his splendid casts make them almost too real. Come the interval, you’ll probably need that drink and be glad to get downstairs to the warm and welcoming pub, but if you like real theatre and not just saccharine entertainment this is a double bill that gives full valueIn Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn a young lad who’s not too bright seeks refuge from a stepfather who beats him and a drunkard mother in the house of a man who he’s seen in the park feeding ducks and heard people say ‘likes boys.’ I read Matthew Haigh’s performance of Nick as being a child, much younger than the actor, pre-adolescent, but he could be in his teens, retarded and still sexually innocent. Radford, the householder comes home with a bloody nose. He’s been set upon by men who think him a paedophile and to make things worse two local boys have gone missing. Finding Nick there is a shock, it could put him in real danger, but he handles the boy gently, coaxing him to leave but while the child is still in the house his knife-wielding stepfather breaks in.

The violent confrontation between Peter Glover’s seemingly gentle Radford and the sinewy Lewis of David Swain has our sympathy shifting surprisingly back and forth between them. Is Radford a man mourning a wife and children run down by a rogue motorist? Is Lewis a repressed homosexual? Which man is the monster?

The situation escalates in horror adding extra layers of meaning and concludes with an ambiguous image that suggests a continuing cycle of violence and serial killing. Gruelling but gripping.

Knuckleball, for those of you like me who don’t follow baseball, means a slow pitch that’s given a bit of spin to make it unpredictable ball. William Whitehurst’s play, which forms the second half of this bill is far from slow but it is certainly unpredictable (so I’m going to be careful not to give too much away).and its back story concerns a couple of trophy winning baseball chums, one of who disappeared many years ago.

Designer Nika Khitrova sets it in a room with an open, unmade sofa-bed surrounded by boxes and piled possessions: more squat than home. It’s less a real location than a symbol for the disordered life of its owner, like the bleak setting of the first play. When a young couple rush in and bounce onto the bed and immediately, fully-clothed begin to have frantic sex you think could be in for a romping comedy. Good-looking Ross (Bryan Kaplan) is so virile that even his tools smell of masculinity and Laura Pradelska’s Trish is elegantly sexy and there are certainly some laughs along the way but this a play about quite serious stuff.

These two are not just hot for each other – though I can’t believe Ross really needs time to ‘recharge his batteries’ when Trish wants to start a new bout of fellatio. They seem truly a couple in love so; why, when Ross proposes, does Trish say she can’t marry him. It’s not just that he’s a blue-collar worker and she’s a travelled, multi-lingual, cultured lady with quite a lot of money in the bank. It’s a story, which Predelska’s performance makes entirely believable but I’m not going to reveal it. Enough to say that, once again, it explores prejudice and repression – though here with a chance of a happier outcome.

Until 7th February 2010

 

REVIEW: Remote Goat

February 6, 2012 | Category: knuckleball | No Comments
“Double Bill gives double thrill”
by Philip Herbert for remotegoat on 20/01/10 

Directed by Andy McQuade this is a splendid night out at The Rosemary Branch presented by Second Skin Theatre.

‘Knuckleball’
A giggling couple enter kissing and cuddling and end up on the bed. A sexual act is performed and as Ross (Bryan Kaplan) reaches orgasm we all laugh at his enthusiasm. Trish his girlfriend (Laura Pradelska) is a gal who has traveled the world, learnt “I’m coming” in five – no six languages and has stories to tell. She is quite a handful but Ross loves her , tells her so and even wants to marry her. Not bad for a regular guy with no imagination who “likes beer and baseball”. But as this gripping yarn unwinds both characters have secrets to reveal to each other – and us as spectators. “I need a drink” is something they say to each other all the time – but have they been pissed together before. Is there more to this relationship than meets the eye? I don’t want to give the game away but loads of admissions and heartaches follow with plenty of whisky consumed too. Both actors give powerful and believable performances as the secrets fall out and the truth is revealed. This for me was the better play but both are worth seeing.

Event Venues & Times

Rosemary Branch | 2 Shepperton Road, London, N1 3DT

Knuckleball part 4

October 13, 2011 | Category: knuckleball,media | No Comments

PART 4 of 4

 

William Whitehurst’s award-winning ‘Knuckleball’ Directed By Andy McQuade and assisted by Sam German. Stars Laura Pradelska & Bryan Kaplan. Filmed 2010 at London’s Rosemary Branch Theatre by James Page

Work Copyright Second Skin Theatre & William Whitehurst

 

Knuckleball part 3

October 13, 2011 | Category: knuckleball,media | No Comments

PART 3 of 4

 

William Whitehurst’s award-winning ‘Knuckleball’ Directed By Andy McQuade and assisted by Sam German. Stars Laura Pradelska & Bryan Kaplan. Filmed 2010 at London’s Rosemary Branch Theatre by James Page

Work Copyright Second Skin Theatre & William Whitehurst

 

Knuckleball part 2

October 13, 2011 | Category: knuckleball,media | No Comments

PART 2 of 4

 

William Whitehurst’s award-winning ‘Knuckleball’ Directed By Andy McQuade and assisted by Sam German. Stars Laura Pradelska & Bryan Kaplan. Filmed 2010 at London’s Rosemary Branch Theatre by James Page

Work Copyright Second Skin Theatre & William Whitehurst

 

Knuckleball part 1

October 13, 2011 | Category: knuckleball,media | No Comments

PART 1 of 4

 

William Whitehurst’s award-winning ‘Knuckleball’ Directed By Andy McQuade and assisted by Sam German. Stars Laura Pradelska & Bryan Kaplan. Filmed 2010 at London’s Rosemary Branch Theatre by James Page

Work Copyright Second Skin Theatre & William Whitehurst

 

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