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Sweet Nothings review (Barons Court Theatre)

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Last year I had the opportunity to cover Reboot Festival: Barons Court Theatre’s new writing festival which ran for 3 weeks in September. As part of the festival, I reviewed Things Unsaid by American comedy writer Raegan Payne, which was a highlight of week 2 for me with its unique recreation of a date that has gone wrong. When I heard that Payne was going to be presenting four short comedies at the venue again this week, I absolutely made time in my schedule. I was keen to see what the writer had come up with and how they would produce a series of plays in a collective format. Collaborating with director Ed Hulme for the compilation, it is great to see the creatives in action again alongside co-director Liv Gillman (National Theatre Consultant).

Sweet Nothings leaflet outside Barons Court Theatre, London

In a Hole

‘Sweet Nothings’ starts with the bold ‘In a Hole’, which focuses on a local community that has been rocked by a mining disaster. Husbands and partners of the village are trapped in the mine and contrary to the traumatic subject matter, the play humorously looks at how the wives and girlfriends in the village are linked. It’s random but funny, with the eccentric characters struggling to see eye to eye as the structure implodes.

The audience is thrown into this situation after the playing of ‘Heigh-Ho’ from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which fits the theme. The story takes place around a tube at the collapse site which provides air to the buried miners. Unfortunately there isn’t enough time to get to know the news presenter and relatives of the workers and in places, the accents are a little unconvincing. It would work better as a longer piece of theatre, where there is more time to set the scene and develop the characters. At the moment it feels as if no sooner are the characters introduced, the material concludes.

Sweet Nothings leaflet at Barons Court Theatre, London

Things Unsaid

Next up is ‘Things Unsaid’: Payne’s play about dating gone wrong. You can read a brief synopsis in my Reboot Festival review, but it has undergone refinement since its first outing, with the characters really coming into their own. I enjoyed the contrast between the emotional Margaret (Colette O’Brien) and her confident shadow figure (‘Her’, played by Lily Rogers). The exaggeration of the shadows has reached a new level, with ‘Her’ and ‘Him’ (Jack Crutch) dominating audience attention and shining a light on the power of words within a dating scenario. It was great to see the production again and in my opinion it is an admirable example of how to fit a manageable amount of narrative within the structure of a short play.


Centred on a 30 year old who has recently filed for divorce, ‘Ill-Informed’ is arguably the most eventful play within the programme, with a young woman returning from a drunken night out to a stalker on her doorstep (Jack Crutch). It’s zany, unrealistic and absolutely bonkers, but if you take the plot at face value, you can’t help but laugh at this unimaginable scenario. The unlikeliest of characters end up helping each other to grow, at a time of personal reflection and self doubt. It’s a piece of theatre best enjoyed when you don’t look under the surface too much, with Lily Rogers’ portrayal of Olivia reminiscent of Bridget Jones, with a bottle of wine and hairdo gone wild. This light hearted comedy is bound to make audiences laugh, with its chaotic dialogue, unique personalities and its sweet, underlying message about not giving up.

Sweet Nothings poster at Barons Court Theatre, London

Sweet Nothings

The final instalment of the evening is the aptly named ‘Sweet Nothings’ which focuses on Mary (Lily Rogers) and her recent sexual discovery. Set in a shared house with a communal bathroom, Mary’s friend Christina (Colette O’Brien) and ex-boyfriend Rob (Niall Burns) are desperate to hear about her new personal experiences beyond the walls where she has stayed for 5 hours. The play focuses on themes of a sexual nature and the nature of the comedy is too graphic for my taste, but it is certainly laugh out loud funny, even if you find yourself wincing in your seat at the noises in places. Comedy style aside, the staging for Sweet Nothings is brilliant, with Mary obscured from view the entire performance, bringing with it authenticity.

Overall thoughts

Looking at the evening as a whole, the strongest comedies in my opinion are Things Unsaid and Ill-Informed, with their unapologetic characters. The former has grown since Reboot and Ill-Informed manages to be both outrageous and heartfelt. In a Hole adds variety to the programme, but it is most in need of development, with the rollercoaster ride through an eventful time only just getting started, as time is running out for the miners.

Sweet Nothings leaflet at Barons Court Underground Station, London

Careful attention has been given to the overall viewer experience, with a gag-filled slide deck providing some entertaining laughs during the changes of the sets. It adds to the comedy effect of the entire presentation, making the plays feel cohesive, despite the different narratives and storylines. Across all four plays, the standout performers are Colette O’Brien and Lily Rogers. The actors have this incredible alliance on stage, which initially appears in Things Unsaid and sticks around until the title instalment at the end. Sweet Nothings plays at Barons Court until Saturday, with last minute tickets available via the theatre’s website.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

*My ticket for Sweet Nothings was gifted in exchange for an unbiased review.



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