In Everglade Studio @ The Hope Theatre

In Everglade Studio opens in a small, forgotten recording studio, some three or four floors
underground in 1971 England.

We meet Skye, an aspiring country music star, Baron, her surly keyboardist, and Clarke, their enthusiastic but temperamental producer. Clarke has big plans for Skye and is trying to squeeze every last drop of talent and creativity from her and Baron before their studio time runs out.

The play introduces these characters with the first of many brilliant original songs by Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller and Aveev Issacson, performed live by Isaacson and Emily Moment who play Baron and Skye respectively. From its opening moments, In Everglade Studio cements itself as a masterclass in acting and performance combined, only further solidified by the play’s fourth and final character Matilda (Hannah Omisore), a black singer/songwriter who Clarke has invited to the recording session to establish more “soul” into Skye’s music.

Matilda is a destabilising presence in the recording studio’s already volatile working environment. She is black and she is beautiful, posing an immediate threat to Skye. Clarke becomes frustrated as the person he has backed to be the next big thing is no longer the most talented voice in the room. As the performing trio record more and more of Matilda’s songs under the guidance of the clueless Clarke, the audience is shown the deeply uncomfortable and antagonistic circumstances that Matilda must contend with to have her voice and music heard in 1971 England, each character posing a unique threat to Matilda’s wide-eyed innocence.

Baron is that subtle disparaging presence that acts friendly yet holds his tongue when it comes to defending the minority in the room. Clarke, meanwhile, represents the black person who would rather shed his race and identity to get ahead in life and avoid facing, head-on, the challenges that come with being black and successful. Skye is an outwardly hostile force towards Matilda, trying to undermine and outshine her at any and every opportunity.

The third act looks to flip the natural character dynamics on its head, as the strange behaviour each character has been exhibiting throughout the play is finally explained. A harmful chemical substance has been slowly leeching through the walls of the tiny underground recording studio, turning our characters crazy in the process. In Everglade Studio melds the bizarre and ridiculous behaviour of four people who are unknowingly inebriated, with their fundamental biases and hang-ups, all the while having them perform original songs that take on new meaning under these new circumstances.

This comedy thriller toes the line between hilarity and a claustrophobic terror that is exaggerated tenfold
by the intimate space in which the play is performed. The Hope Theatre in Highbury and Islington is the ideal place to watch madness settle into these characters and, at times, it felt as though we too were feeling the effects of those poisonous walls.

This play is brilliantly written in both the music and script. Each character feels distinct in what they say and sing and there were several laugh-out-loud moments. The times where the characters do sing don’t feel like a separate entity to the storytelling as could often be the case in musicals. Instead, the songs become just as important at propelling the plot as any of the spoken dialogue.

However, Matilda’s significance as a character is capped by the plot. She is demeaned and spoken down to throughout, is interrupted in songs and never truly gets her chance to fight back before the effects of the contaminated walls take over the bodily functions of her and her oppressors. I loved the characters for all their flaws but found Matilda to be the least developed of the group, with not enough in the way of motivation like some of the other characters.

Overall, I had a lot of fun watching In Everglade Studio. The music was an absolute highlight for me and brought an interesting new twist to the idea of a musical. The acting is excellent and directors Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller and Phoebe Rowell John, along with stage manager Summer Keeling, create a brilliant atmosphere, really bringing to life the feel of a tiny recording studio with volatile peers and poisonous walls. I would recommend going to see the play here in London after its critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2023.

In Everglade Studio ran @ The Hope Theatre from 16th April- 4th May 2024

OUT OF 100

95 %
100 %
95 %
75 %
100 %
90 %
100 %
Production Design
90 %
For the Culture
60 %

Latest articles

Related articles