Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Universal Acclaim for Sophie Melville

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

Pops- Jake Orr Productions, HighTide and Live Theatr , Assembly Roxy- Downstairs , August 28, 2019
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by Pops- Jake Orr Productions, HighTide and Live Theatr From Broadway Baby

“Sophie Melville appears in the living room, a slight and fractured soul oozing nervous energy and regret. Few words are spoken between the pair, and Pops’ response to the awkwardness is to turn up the wireless, as it competes with the television for attention.

“There’s a reticence in Melville’s character, a hesitance which hints at a sinister undercurrent. The two engage in a cycle of avoidance; he continuing to blast music and TV simultaneously; she closed off and refusing to interact on any meaningful level. There are spells when this cycle is broken – as she mentally unravels after a hard day at work; being stood up by a date; and failing at a job interview. The subtle nuances are deafening as we search for tiny clues as to why she’s failing on every level, and why he can’t seem to reach across the chasm of the unspoken to save her from herself.

“From a performance perspective, this piece is passionate, profound and polished – Melville and Barrett inhabiting their characters consummately. The rhythm of the piece ebbs and flows, almost offering a kind of hope, which sadly comes to nothing. The writing is at times poetic, and at times stilted and stuck – echoing the nature of the addiction, and the fluttering moments of hope and despair.”

From Edinburgh Fringe Review

“Charlotte Josephine’s Pops is devastating in a very ordinary way. It presents a dysfunctional relationship between an alcoholic father and a 29-year-old who has come home just until she’s back on her feet. This intimate, emotionally bruising play explores how two people dealing with addiction try to connect when “sorry” isn’t enough.

“Sophie Melville and Nigel Barrett’s performances are nothing short of breathtaking. Melville is constantly tense and on edge, with anxious eyes and the need to wrap her arms around herself like a barrier. At one point she is stood up by her date and she quite literally seems to fold into herself, all the hurt and humiliation of her life threatening to collapse her. Barrett clearly wants to connect with his daughter, but he doesn’t know how; he wants her to apologize, though it’s unclear what for. The two of them talk over and around each other, never connecting and not really listening.”

From the Stage

“Charlotte Josephine’s new play, Pops, hits you like a train. It’s a poleaxing, two-handed depiction of a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship, driven by a taut emotional logic and featuring two brilliant, bruising performances from Sophie Melville and Nigel Barrett.”

From Fringe Review

“In an hour of stunning theatre (in both sense of that word) this is a perfect synchronicity of talented actors (Nigel Barrett, Sophie Melville), delivering a cracking script, guided by intelligent direction and choreography.”

From What's On Stage

“Dealing with addiction is no simple thing, so it's entirely apt that Charlotte Josephine's new piece plays with form, language and time to represent it. There's no linear structure to Pops, which progresses in cycles. Beginnings, endings, middles all get jumbled up together.

“Melville is a remarkable performer – she convinced us of that in Iphigenia in Splott – and here her talent is fully on display again. The tiny flickers around her eyes, the up or downturn of her lips are an incredibly accurate display of the pain her character is feeling. And Barrett is an excellent foil. At times, it feels as though you are trespassing on two wretched unhappy lives.”

Cited with thanks:

The Stage: subscription

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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