Cordial Productions
Plays and Performances

Duke of Hamilton
Review of Macbeth from London Theatre 1

Cordial Production’s Macbeth is a strong piece which is both clearly told and enjoyable. Director Stuart Clarke’s treatment of the material makes this production of Macbeth very much his own. Clarke’s creativity emerges in unique moments within a traditional Jacobean setting. From the start, the intimate size of the Lion and Unicorn is utilised. The Weird Sisters join the queue of audience members before we are let into the theatre and sit with us, their laughter building until they launch into the opening scene. This sense of the Sisters manipulating the events is smartly continued as Act Two begins with the guests at the banquet dancing with the Sisters while the audience return to their seats: the Sisters seemingly puppeteering the guests’ movements. It is suitably eerie and these details neatly create a world in which we are convinced of the Sisters all-pervading influence.

As a team, each and every member of the cast does well at rooting each scene in a sense of place. I’ve seen several productions of Macbeth and this one managed to make the change of locations between scenes clear without relying on the set to do the work. Again, credit goes to Clarke for this: a small cast were used at every stage to effectively convey the context of the stage action and convince us of the wider world in which the scenes were set. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the scenes of preparations for battle towards the end of the play. The soldiers’ sense of anticipation as events lead to Macbeth and Macduff’s confrontation was exhilarating to watch.

As Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Anthony Cord and Cristina Dohmen do a great job at producing a passionate relationship which gives their scenes a great intensity. Each of the actors who make up The Weird Sisters (Rebecca Bell, Karlina Grace and Siobhan Cha Cha) deserve special mentions. They double as Lady Macduff, a Gentlewoman and Macduff’s daughter respectively and in these second roles each shows neat characterisation which made these scenes particularly enjoyable to watch. However, the cast had a range of approaches to dealing with the verse; while some embraced and emphasised the moments of poetry and heightened language, others seemed to shy away from these moments.

Overall, this was an absorbing production which was extremely watchable and engaging.

Review of Macbeth from THE STAGE


Lucid moments peppered throughout Cordial Production’s Macbeth captivate the imagination thanks to the vision of director Stuart Clarke, whose precise and thoughtful treatment of the text delivers an engaging and often gripping piece of theatre, which doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel.

This very watchable take on Shakespeare’s famous tragedy is at its strongest during a number of enchanting asides delivered by its leading cast members.

Standout moments from Cristina Dohmen (Lady Macbeth) Yinka Awoniyi (Macduff) and Clarke, also in the title role, bring depth and colour to the inner and outer world turmoil facing the characters they’ve brought to life.

While certain staging choices such as the infamous banquet scene featuring Banquo's ghost (JR May) feel a little clumsy, this does not undermine the steady pace, which carries momentum into a satisfying second half and violent finale, although some of the impact is dampened with most of the bloodshed taking place off stage.

However, this is not such a bad thing for the intimate space of the Lion and Unicorn, coupled with smart and simple design choices by Nate Gibson and Steve Culnane which includes period costume. It keeps things understated, and does not distract the cast from letting the language of the text shine.


Review of Voices from THE STAGE

In the early 1920s two men meet up in an act of remembrance of their comrades who died in Europe. Adapted and devised for the stage by director Stuart Clarke, Voices is a two-person drama using the poetry and prose of real soldiers who fell in the Great War.

On one hand there are elements of the supernatural at play, with the two protagonists bringing to life the words and philosophies of the young soldiers with ghostly realism. On the other hand there are subtleties to this simple tale that make it deeply moving on a purely human level, as the two survivors grasp at fragments of the past to try to make some sense of their present.

The poetry is understandably moving and Clarke punctuates the narrative for dramatic effect with moments of occasional humour and song. A fitting piece of theatre to coincide with Remembrance Day, actors Benedict Waring and Anthony Cord effortlessly capture the mix of pride and disillusionment of those who came home.

The venue, in the basement of the Duke of Hamilton pub, next to the old New End Theatre, is intimate and vaguely claustrophobic, but this only adds to the atmosphere created by the unsettling material.

Published Monday 11 November 2013 at 11:41 by Paul Vale












Devised by its director Stuart Clarke, this is a moving two-hander that presents two soldier veterans of the First World War meeting up and performing an act of remembrance. They call it playing the game of ghosts as they recall their own experiences and the lives and deaths of others.

It is constructed from the letters, poems and retold memories of the men themselves with snatches from songs sung in the trenches and while marching: the words of ordinary soldiers and of their officers, those who lived and those who died, even those of a veteran soldier in the workless peace that followed encountered by his former officer selling matches.
It is simply staged, making it the more effective, two men, in shirtsleeves or in greatcoats, lit mainly by a single candle. Flashes of light and bursts of sound suggest artillery thunder and a bombardment that bowls the actors over.

Anthony Cord gives a powerful performance, differently voicing a succession of older, more experienced men from different regions and different classes, their messages and memories packed with strong emotion. Richard Zanik, playing the younger men, is less clearly spoken but he too is full of feeling. This is integrated playing as the two pass a piece of verse phrase by phrase between them, conduct a dialogue or sing a few bars of a song together.
Clarke’s direction uses the space to embrace the audience, contrasting stillness with sudden movement, touched occasionally with poignant humour.

The sound of a regimental piper in the darkness creates a potent atmosphere followed by the elegiac sound of Vaughan Williams’s Tallis variations and birdsong. Some of the material is familiar—a few lines from Wilfred Owen for instance, snatches of popular songs—but most is not.

One veteran who shared memories of things he had never spoken of for fifty years was Royal Fusilier Alfred Razzell who told of trying to save his fellow soldier William Hubbard but having to leave him in no-man’s-land.

An earlier version of Voices was introduced by “Alf Razzell and his wife Wynn. Writer-director Clarke offers this revival in memory of Alf and, as he himself put it, “all those lovely lads who joined with him and never came home. It is a tribute much more touching than any pompous state occasion.

Camden Review

IN the dark, almost bare Lion and Unicorn stage, two First World War veterans play a "game of ghosts" recalling memories ripped apart by gunfire. Short anecdotes are interwoven with war songs and poems, Stuart Clarke and Anthony Cord evoking young soldiers writing heart-renderingly positive letters home next to the horrific reality of trench life, rife with rats and stacks of disfigured bodies.

Camden director and performer Stuart Clarke was partly inspired by late-veteran Alfred “Alf Razzell whose experiences fed directly into this series of moving vignettes. Alf, a member of the Royal Fusiliers, would introduce earlier incarnations of Voices with his wife Wynn and this latest version is dedicated to his memory.

Clarke’s personal relationship to the material is obvious and his performance is utterly engaging. He is set to return to the theatre with Macbeth in the autumn. Audience members could be seen mouthing the words to the more well-known songs and poems – proof of how deeply embedded some of the First Word War experiences are to people 100 years on.

Clarke and Cord deftly move between the brief sketches, short sharp blasts of gunfire and red light scorch the space cutting between the memories. Cord’s dialogue was at time rushed and Voices could benefit from greater space and moments of silence to give breath to such heightened emotions.

"I loved the elephant man play so much i went 3 times! best experience i have had at a fringe theatre play."
Kyran Bracken MBE
"I totally loved the theatre, such a great feeling to be close to the actors but more important made the play even more touching."
Antony Costar from boy band BLUE
"I really enjoyed the elephant man, great cast and the venue is so intimate it makes you feel like your in the play, a very moving play and venue."
Kara Tointon