Archives For Audience feedback

At the beginning of August, Offbeat Theatre had an absolute blast performing The Frog King in Bredenbury. Our unusual location required us to convert 4 rooms and a few corridors into a magical fairytale-land – which we did over the months preceding the show. The audience moved from room to room with the action – not quite ‘immersive’, but a blurring of the lines that usually separate audience from actors. A few thoughts from our lovely audience members, including notes we encouraged people to write on the walls of the ‘Frog Inn’. More posts featuring our main review and the amazing sets we created coming up soon.

The newly transformed Frog King revealed

“The Frog King – Well… I have never seen anything like it. Totally wacky and brilliantly written. The artwork is amazing and how they all remember their lines is as mysterious as the play, written by Barbara Hockley. Do go and see it. Miss it at your peril. The Cox Team and Boz are at their brilliant best.!!!” Continue Reading…

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Dark, Depressing, Dripping with Symbolism and Ultimately Uplifting….
The Killing of Poe – Offbeat Theatre at St. Richard’s School, Wednesday 17th February.

Mark Cox and Hugh Farey. This must be one of those 'dark bits'.

Mark Cox and Hugh Farey. This must be one of those ‘dark bits’.


Extraordinarily apposite for the BBC’s ‘In the Mind’ week, ‘The Killing of Poe’, conceived, written, designed and directed by Barbara Hockley is a dark, neo-gothic tale about the power of the mind. The Actor (Mark Cox) is fading and ‘coming to the end of his time’ – only his mental faculties are keeping him alive. Reason, Survival instinct, Cunning, Emotion and Self-perception (in equal measure with Vanity) are all he has left. These faculties are assailed by the Narrator, (played with characteristic gusto by Hugh Farey) who threatens to attack and destroy the Actor’s mind. Ironically, it is the Actor’s own powers of persuasion that give the Narrator a ‘voice’, thus allowing him to adumbrate his particularly twisted and dark notions of death into the deepest reaches of the Actor’s mind and into the individual and collective psyche of the audience. Utilising tales from the macabre imagination of Edgar Allan Poe the Narrator figuratively, and in some cases literally, disarms his opponents. Continue Reading…

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IMG_2383_Fotor
Sounds fun doesn’t it!
The Killing of Poe, Offbeat’s latest show, is playing a few venues locally and (if we’re honest) we’d quite like a few more. But, that aside, this has been quite a journey. When I start to write a play I never really know where it might lead. I begin (usually with some idea of the destination), but it always twists and turns and goes to places I didn’t realise were there. So, some of the play emerges as we rehearse, gradually revealing hidden layers and my trusting cast indulge the inevitable changes until we reach the conclusion (always a surprise). It’s a fascinating process, but it requires a certain amount of faith in the process. We always get there. Last year we created ‘The Ghost Hunters’, this year it’s ‘The Killing of Poe’. What is it with me and death, darkness and creepy stuff….

It's a bit of a 'spot the Poe story / poem' throughout, but Act II is littered with 'Poe deaths'.

It’s a bit of a ‘spot the Poe story / poem’ throughout, but Act II is littered with ‘Poe deaths’.


So .. it’s dark. Dark, macabre, intriguing (I picked that up from the reviews) and with a certain amount of humour. I’m glad the audience laugh, otherwise my tragicomedy description on the flyer would look rather silly. I’ve used lots of black paint, a wonderful raven was created by Alison Stobart (company raven maker) and Hugh Farey created a ‘radio thing that looks like a coffin’. Why on earth I imagined this thing on the stage I may never know, but it worked. I liked it. It’s HUGE and commanding and jolly useful for all sorts of Poe-ish moments. Costumes are, well, interesting. You’d laugh if you saw us trying to get the ‘shroud’ dresses sorted in the interval. It’s like some bizarre maypole event with metres of muslin (bit of a spoiler there, sorry).

Anyway .. This is what the reviews have said so far ….

The Killing of Poe brings The Raven back to life!
It’s taken seeing someone else’s creative work to prompt me to post here after too long an absence… Last night I went to The Falcon Mews in Bromyard and saw ‘The Killing of Poe’ written by Barbara Hockley and performed by Offbeat Theatre.
From the moment I read the programme masquerading as ‘Helpful Notes’ I knew we were in for a witty treat. Despite only having a tiny performing space to work in, we were taken inside the vast space of the protagonist’s head – he’s a failing actor – and entertained while the voices within it assumed Shakespearean roles in order to keep the failing actor sane, and alive…
I recognise some of these stories in my own head, but you’ll have to book and see the show to discover them, or I’ll be in danger of sharing spoilers.
Armed with gloom and a raven, Hugh Farey, as a devilish Poe, is both beguiling and macabre. Mark Cox as the actor in whose head we find ourselves is utterly convincing and Ann Smith provides some delicious tongue lashings to anyone who crosses her.
There’s still a chance to see this brave and thought-provoking new play at St Richard’s School, Bromyard, on 16th and 17th February.
‘The Killing of Poe’ has many layers, unflinchingly looks at death and draws on rich metaphors. It has action, pace and its dialogue will have all lovers of ‘the bard’ rifling their brains to match phrases with different plays. Its potential for a professional company on a large thrust stage are endless and exciting… I can see it being a ‘must see’ at The National or the RSC’s Swan Theatre.
As a lover of metaphors it was always going to be a winner with me. Thanks Barbara and team for bringing it to life – or should that be to death?

Liz Darcy Jones from her blog lovingmetaphors.org

The famous 'balloon moment' -  but is it Shakespeare or Poe?

The famous ‘balloon moment’ – but is it Shakespeare or Poe?

Definitely go and see this play!
Voices inside the deteriorating mind of an actor parry words and swords as his career disintegrates into vaudeville.
Serious stuff.
But this work by Barbara Hockley has humour too, plus great quotes from Shakespeare and Poe, clever costume changes and a wild raven caw.
Original and thought-provoking. Our audience was intrigued.
Acting and directing reached Barbara’s usual high standard, so thanks cast and crew – we enjoyed ‘Poe’ and we’re sure your next audiences at St Richard’s will love it.
(Linda Swinford)

“While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”
Well, I didn’t take a nap as I was absorbed by the intriguing drama before me. Dark, complex, flashes of humour and professionally played. Boz commanding as ever and Mark Cox completely in character.
Go see – Embrace the darkness…..
(David Evans)

Well done, Barbara Hockley – a really interesting piece of new work. Congratulations, cast and crew – intriguing and absorbing. Worth going to St Richard’s to see it, people!
(Chris Barltrop)

A great night, brilliant actors, great script, receptive audience….. if you missed it still a chance to catch up at St Dix
(Jane Merry)

I told you it was dark

I told you it was dark

If you thought a spot of darkness-with-comedy-shakespeare-and-poe might do well in your venue, we really would love to hear from you.

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One of the most entertaining and original productions I have seen anywhere for quite some considerable time

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Comment by Nic Walentowicz on Beauty and the Beast

This is a magical, wonderful family show, the children were enthralled throughout!

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Beauty & the Beast – audience feedback